‘TIS THE SEASON

‘TIS THE SEASON

The Calendar continues its steady march towards the New Year. But first, we pause to celebrate the birth of our LORD and Savior, Jesus, the Messiah…born in a manger – unpretentious…. born of a virgin – a miracle and fulfillment of prophecy given hundreds of years earlier… born to die – salvation through the shed blood of the innocent Lamb of God.

We have just endured the major shopping holiday of the year: Black Friday… so named because it heralds balance sheets of business being ‘in the black’ – profits. News reports showed people around the country acting like animals: fighting, screaming, attacking others…to get to those incredible deals that are customer draws. Not sure how much money is actually saved on those deals because I don’t go near the stores from the week before Thanksgiving till mid-December, and then only because I have to restock the pantry or prepare for Christmas company….I basically ‘hibernate’ until either the week between Christmas and New Year’s, or the week after New Year’s. Much saner, much calmer… way less stress! And I’m ‘for’ way less stress!

So prior to the frenzy that (especially) last-minute shopping brings, we should certainly pause and think about what this Christmas means to us. We celebrate…but are we too caught up in the secular celebration… or are we showing our love, as God did, as we carefully choose each gift for each recipient on our list. God so loved the world that He GAVE…. He gave His only begotten Son. What are we giving? Are we giving to get? Are we giving because ‘we have to’? Or are we giving because we want to bless someone near and dear to us? Hopefully, it’s the latter. Too many give beyond their means… too many give for the wrong reasons. And while I know many of us would love to be able to spend multi-dollars on very special gifts, the gift that means the most – to both the Giver and the Recipient – is the gift from the heart?

God gave from His Heart – He gave because of HIS LOVE. It was not beyond His means…He had a willing Sacrifice – the Bible tells us: Jesus was crucified before the foundation of the world! (Rev. 13:8).

Let’s pause now and be renewed in the magnitude of the awesome Grace of God! His Grace leaves us without words – renders us speechless – the GRACE that leaves us without an answer – without an argument.

God’s magnificent GRACE in the sending of His Son. In John 1:17, we are told that ‘…grace and truth came through Jesus Christ….’ Until Jesus, people lived ‘under the law’… not the free Gift that came through Jesus.

GRACE: from the Greek charis. (from the same root word as chara, meaning ‘joy’; and chairo, meaning ‘rejoice.’ It is the word for God’s Grace as extended to sinful man. It signifies unmerited favor,, undeserved blessing. a free gift! And our response should be untold JOY that we can partake of His GRACE. God even has a Throne so-named: Hebrews 4:16: “Let us come boldly to the Throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  This is one of the most wonderful, most amazing verses in the Bible – that WE have direct access to God’s Throne Room! … that WE can be the recipients of His amazing Grace and Mercy. We obtain His Mercy because He is such a loving God; and we find Grace there. We don’t have to beat ourselves over the head because of some transgression and guilt. When we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness. (I John 1:9). (emphasis added)

We didn’t ‘deserve’ Jesus, but God’s GRACE sent Him to die for our sin, that we might be forever reconciled to God.

The Gift of the Lord Jesus, that Baby in the manger we see now on the Christmas cards, the nativity scenes springing up in church yards, on town Greens, in town parks, in front yards all over this country, is indicative of the very REASON for this SEASON.

Political correctness will try to eliminate every semblance of Christmas from our lives, but without the birth of Jesus, there would be no Christmas. The very word: Christmas is from 2 words: Christ and mass: Christ is the Greek word for Messiah.  Mass means Holy Day, or Feast. celebration …CHRISTMAS, then is the celebration of the birth of Messiah Jesus, the Christ of God.  While no one knows the exact date of His birth, we celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ on the same day each year: December 25th.

So without the birth of Jesus, there would be no Christmas… it simply would NOT exist – just another day on the calendar… no gifts, no big dinners with all the family and friends gathered, no special Church services, no beautifully decorated tree, no squeals of delight as presents are opened, no non-stop shopping in the days leading up to December 25th, no mulling over lists, requests, hopes and dreams of a better year to come, etc., etc., etc. 

I for one am determined to wish everyone with whom I come in contact in these weeks and days leading up to Christmas a Blessed, Merry Christmas, regardless of political correctness. They can receive it (and everyone I have said that to in the past has always smiled, said ‘Thank you,’ and usually responds with either ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘same to you.’ People WANT hope in this dark world – so I challenge YOU to be the GIVER OF HOPE! Wish everyone a Merry Christmas… and perhaps you will be blessed with a query from someone to ask about your faith…and then rejoice that you have crossed the path of someone seeking Truth in this dark world!

Without the Birth of Jesus Christ, we would all still be dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1-3), but verse 4 of that same Chapter begins with two of the most thrilling of words to the person trapped in sin: BUT GOD…. BUT GOD! Rejoice with me… BUT GOD, WHO IS RICH IN MERCY, BECAUSE OF HIS GREAT LOVE WITH WHICH HE LOVED US, (5) EVEN WHEN WE WERE DEAD IN TRESPASSES, MADE US ALIVE TOGETHER WITH CHIRST (BY GRACE YOU ARE SAVED)…. Hallelujah! Praise Him for His great Love and for His amazing Grace!

We rejoice  as we close in on December 25 because of God’s incredible Gift of LOVE to a lost and dying world – that WHOSOEVER believes in [Jesus, the Christ] shall have everlasting life! (John 3:16)

Let us remember and proclaim the Joy of the Season – JESUS IS THE VERY REASON FOR THE SEASON.

MERRY, BLESSED CHRISTMAS TO ALL!

BEHOLD, ALL THINGS HAVE BECOME NEW....

BEHOLD, ALL THINGS HAVE BECOME NEW….

CHANGES

As I sat by the window this morning with a steaming cup of good, strong coffee, watching the drizzle, the leaves continuing their spiral to the ground as the Fall season revs up and temperatures begin to nudge down, signaling the coming Winter months, I was impressed with how we are changed by God.

Romans 12:2 tells us… “…and be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Conform in the Greek means: to fashion alike; conform to the same pattern; fashion [your]self according to. (Strong’s Concordance, #4964)

Transform in the Greek means: metamorphose; to change, transfigure; transform (from 2 Greek words: (Strong’s #3326 – meta, meaning modified; accompaniment; and #3445 – morphe).

We are most familiar with the butterfly – beginning its life cycle as a caterpillar, spinning a cocoon, and while wrapped in the cocoon, the ‘change’ takes place; exiting as a butterfly. Totally ‘metamorphosed’/transformed from one likeness to another.

When we are Born Again, we are metamorphosed from one likeness to another – from spiritually dead to now Alive in Jesus Christ. That is what takes place within our spirit-man. But what happens on the ‘outside’ of us? Not our appearance, as the transition from caterpillar to butterfly, but our ACTIONS?

Let’s go back to the Word for that answer:

In the previous chapters, the Apostle Paul, the writer of The Book of Romans, has been expounding on the great theme of Redemption, the guilt of all of mankind, our own inability to earn ‘favor’ with God, explaining how God sent Jesus to die for us and that the FREE GIFT of SALVATION through Jesus is by faith alone – not of works. Then, in Romans 12:1, he writes: “I beseech you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service, (then to verse 2:) and be not conformed (shaped according to the same pattern) to this world but be transformed (metamorphosed – changed) by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

So the question then becomes: how is my mind renewed so that I can ‘prove’ (Strong’s 1331 ‘to test, by implication: to approve: examine; try’) to everyone I come in contact with how God has changed my life? ANSWER: OUR MINDS ARE RENEWED THROUGH GOD’S WORD! WE READ THE BIBLE AND ALLOW IT TO DETERMINE OUR LIFESTYLE; OUR BEHAVIOR; OUR ATTITUDE; OUR ACTIONS.

This personal example from my own life is a prime example: When we first got saved/born again, we had always lived in sickness and lack. If there was any germ around, we were sure to invite it right on in and we were sick with whatever was the seasonal ‘sickness.’  – flu, hay fever, colds, etc. But one day, we heard that Jesus is the LORD, our Healer – and we had to make a decision: were we going to continue to be sick? or were we going to believe God and be healed and live FREE from sickness and disease as an example of God’s goodness in our lives. We had lived with sickness for years… We decided that being well was better, so whenever those germs came calling, we would stand on the Promises of God. Soon, we were living sickness-free! And today we live in Divine Health and Healing!

The same situation was evident in our finances… living from paycheck to paycheck, payday to payday. We heard the Good News that God was Jehovah Jireh, the LORD our Provider, and we decided to find out what HIS principles of prosperity were. Now, let me say here that ‘prosperity’ is not necessarily being a millionaire. One of the ways God prospered us was we no longer had to pay for a doctor visit, or medicine… and believe me, that added up!

God’s definition of Prosperity is found in the Laws of Sowing and Reaping: 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 “But this I say, he which sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which sows bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to all good work….;”

That is just ONE of MANY Scriptures where God speaks of a bountiful return on your ‘giving’. In Malachi 3:10, He admonishes the Nation of Israel for ‘robbing Him!’ Robbing God? Seriously? YES! In verse 9 He says that they have robbed Him! But in Verse 10, He tells them what to do – how to stop robbing Him: “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in My house; and prove Me now herewith, says the LORD of Hosts, if I will not open to you the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing  on you that there shall not be room enough to receive it….verse 11: And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, says the LORD of Hosts….”

Giving cheerfully; being faithful to tithe. God’s BLESSINGS will fall all around you. But, you may say, I don’t have anything to give… Remember the widow who gave the ‘two mites’ …(Mark 12:41-44). You say, but the Bible says she was a ‘poor widow’… but she and she alone got Jesus’ attention. He lumped all the others together in that He said of them: “…For all they did cast in of their abundance” (in other words, it didn’t ‘cost’ them anything to throw in a few dollars of their wealth. Jesus continued: verse 44: “… but she of her want did cast in al that she had, even all her living….'” Insofar as the Gospel writer is concerned, that is all we needed to know about the widow. BUT I GUARANTEE YOU THAT JESUS WASN’T FINISHED! HE NOTICED HER! HE KNEW HER HEART! Her needs were met according to all His riches in glory! We are not privy to what He did for her, but it was important enough for both Mark and Luke to include her in their Gospels.

Our obedience to God does NOT mean that we will have a life of ease, free of pressures, or stress, or even lack. When our attitude reflects HIS attitude, then He supplies our need (not our wants) according to HIS riches in Glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). There are a lot of preachers who will tell you that God will give you wealth beyond your wildest imagination; that if you want a Rolex watch, or a new car, or a new house, etc., just ask God… Unfortunately, they are perverting the Message of Redemption. The Apostle Paul was anything but living in luxury. He was beaten often, thrown into jail, thrown into the sea, once stoned so that everyone thought he was dead. The Apostle John was boiled in oil and eventually exiled to the Isle of Patmos. Some of the Disciples were beheaded, stoned, crucified, etc. No, we are not called to a life of ease but we ARE called to a Life in Him!

We are seeing an increase in persecution of Christians worldwide. Those of us in the United States NEVER thought we would see the rise of persecution of the Church like we are seeing today. We are called to STAND for Him in our lives. If we stand for Him, He will stand with us!

Read the Word and determine to make it a part of your life, so that your very actions display the Love of God. The sweeping move a number of years ago: What Would Jesus Do.. should be the  determining model of your life situations today and every day. Not some squishy ‘feel-good’ sign but what determines your actions and reactions. Will it happen automatically? No… you will have to make that motivational decision numerous time throughout each day… and each day it will be easier… less difficult each time, until like a mirror, the world sees Jesus in you! WOW! What a goal! LET’S DO IT! And then, like James we will count it all joy when we fall into diverse temptations (James 1:2). That does NOT say we have to succumb to the temptations (because, believe me, YOU WILL BE TEMPTED), but instead you will recognize the plots, ploys and schemes of the enemy of your soul and THEN, because you have been obeying God’s Word, you will KNOW what Jesus would do in that same situation, and you react as He would. You will be an OVERCOMER! You will be MORE than a conqueror! SHOUT HALLELUJAH!

HOLINESS

HOLINESS

I Thessalonians 4:4: FOR GOD HAS NOT CALLED US TO UNCLEANNESS BUT UNTO HOLINESS.

Leviticue 11:44a For I am the LORD your God; you shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy….

In Chapters 21 and 22 of Exodus, God was giving His instructions to the people on how to live, how to conduct themselves, how they were to relate to their family, their friends, their community, their entire nation… how they were to conduct themselves in the presence of other nations and peoples, and then in Exodus 22:31, He tells them: YOU SHALL BE HOLY…!

Were they little goody-two-shoes? Hardly!

Were they Teacher’s pet (God was ready to wipe them out on several occasions).

Were they the ones who always did the right thing at all times? Not exactly!

BUT GOD CALLED THEM HOLY!

We have concocted some cockamamie definition of HOLY so that it doesn’t mean anything near to what God had in mind when He gave the instructions to the children of Israel that they were a people set apart from all other peoples on the earth!

I Peter 2:9-10: “… But you are  chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show for the the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”

I Peter 2:9-10 (Amplified Bible): But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood; a dedicated nation [God’s] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people [at all], but now you  are God’s people; once you were unpitied, but now you are pitied and have received mercy.”

We are a chosen generation… we are a royal priesthood… we are a HOLY nation, a peculiar people.

Now, we are not ‘peculiar’ in the sense of weird… well, maybe to some we are  a little weird… to the world’s standards, we are REALLY weird. But according to the Greek word rendered “peculiar” it means a purchased possession. And that we are! We were purchased, we were redeemed… we were bought back, not with corruptible things as silver or gold, but with the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, as of a Lamb, without blemish and without spot! Hallelujah!

We re a HOLY NATION.

We hear a lot being preached today about holiness. We are admonished to ‘be holy….’ We re told that God is looking for a Holy People! In Hebrews 12:14, we are told to ‘follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.’

We seem to labor under the delusion that Holiness is somehow unobtainable in our present state and condition as human beings… that holiness is something reserved for Heaven. Preachers yell and entreat us: O People… BE HOLY! Some people crawl on their hands and knees for miles…trying to be ‘holy.’ Some people say ritualistic prayers over and over and over and over and over… all day, thinking that somehow makes them ‘holy.’ Some people adopt some sort of pious expression… hands folded prayerfully, head bowed… oyezahman… But no one ever tells us HOW we are supposed to assume that pious condition. We expect waves of God’s radiance to emanate from our very being… we expect to walk into a room and an audible hush falls over the audience because we are sooooo holy! We want to walk down the street and have everyone bow in our presence because of the holiness that oozes from our very being.

Sounds pretty stupid, doesn’t it?!?!

In 1 Peter 1:13-17, God tells us to BE HOLY because HE IS HOLY!

You see, He wants us to be like Him. He is our Father… so we as His children will naturally have his attribute of Holiness. He cannot be a Father to unholiness. He cannot be a Father to rebellion.

God is NOT some old fuddy-duddy, sitting in some palatial Throne Room in the heavenlies trying to think up ways to ‘get us.’ He said: Be holy because I am holy. He didn’t say: Try to be as holy as you can and if you get good enough, I’ll love you. God did not give us some unattainable goal and then judge us for not attaining it. That would make Him an unjust Judge…a respecter of persons.

I have known people that I would have described as ‘holy’… that is before I studied out HOLY. One of the pastors at my church in another city was a man I would say was a ‘holy man of God. He LOVED the Lord with all his heart…and he just seemed always to be so spiritual… until one day, I was with my Dad who stopped by the church for something (the pastor lived right across the street from the church) and my Dad had forgotten his keys, so we went across the street to have the pastor let us in. Well… all I’ll say is the pastor and his wife were have a really doozy of a domestic dual… the hollering that was going on… so much for ‘holiness.’

But, you see, that was NOT God’s definition of HOLINESS. Looking ‘spiritual’ and talking in spiritual platitudes all the time do not holiness make!

God’s definition of HOLINESS is really quite simple: it is BEING SEPARATED.

If you go back in Exodus and read Chapters 21 & 22, in their entirety you will see that God is giving the Israelites statutes, judgments and commands that are to govern their living. He is dealing with legal matters; He is dealing with relationships within the family and the nation. He is giving them moral laws that are to govern their day-to-day living. The laws against stealing; the laws of servanthood; the laws governing their work ethic; the laws of restitution; the laws of sexual purity; morality; laws protecting women, children, widows, workers; laws to ensure fair judgment in all cases, etc. Everything that should govern their day-to-day relationships that would ensure their success in every area of their lives. God gave us these relational laws so as to eliminate greed, injustice, poverty, sickness, barrenness, to eliminate every type of failure!

Then, in Exodus 23:20, He says: “Behold, I send an angel before you to keep you in the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him (that word: beware … means to take heed; pay attention)… [Pay attention to him] and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my name is in him. But (I love it when God says BUT because that usually separates the rewards of obedience from the judgment of rebellion)…BUT if you shall indeed obey his voice and do all that I speak, THEN I will be an enemy unto your enemies, and an adversary unto your adversaries. For My angel shall go before you and bring you in unto the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off….(these were the inhabitants of the Promised Land… the Land which God told the Israelites that He would give to them.

In other words, God is saying: I will bring you into your promised land, and whatever problems you may encounter on the way, I will cut them off! GLORY! No matter what problems you are going through today, God has already defeated them and overcome them. NO weapon formed against you shall prosper, He tells us in Isaiah 54:17! It cannot prosper because the LORD goes before you! SHOUT HALLELUJAH!

Why did He do this? His purpose was to have a Nation of people so supernaturally blessed that every heathen they encountered would want to be a part of their nation. He wanted all those nations to be jealous of His People – the Israelites were called out by God for greatness! Rehab, the little woman in Jericho, had heard about the Jews and she wanted to be a part of their mighty army… and she was (read Joshua 2).

In Exodus 23, God tells the Israelites that He will an enemy to their enemies; an adversary to their adversaries. And He goes on to declare more blessings that will come on them as they possess their Land in obedience to Him.

What He is saying, in effect, is this: You conduct yourselves as separated unto Me and you will not only be walking in the blessings of obedience, but He will be with you… He will lead you into ‘abundance’ (not necessarily of ‘things’ but of His wisdom, understanding, able to make the right decisions, bringing you before people to minister His great love, mercy and grace!  He will see to it. You have ministering spirits that go before you to prepare the way. Everything you set your hand to will prosper; you will be like a tree planted by the waters: you will bring forth fruit!

We are not, as born again, Spirit-filled sons and daughters of the Most High God to serve Him on Sunday, maybe Wednesday night prayer meetings and any other day you might attend church services… we are to serve Him 24 hours a day/7 days a week. We don’t put our ‘holy’ life aside while we are at work, at school, at play. We are not to chase after the gods of this world: greed, an abundance of ‘things’; practice ‘situational ethics’ in our dealings with others; lust after riches and the limelight of celebrity. The Bible says that a man’s gift will make room for him and bring him before great men. GOD is the One who promotes you.

When I looked up the word for ‘holy’ and ‘holiness’ in the Greek and Hebrew I found it is the same word for sanctify, sanctified, and saint. They are all from the same root word meaning dedicated to God; set apart!

The moment we are born again, we are set apart unto God for His purposes…for his use. According to Vines Expositorty, “Sanctification is used of separation to God; the course of life befitting those so separated. Sanctification is that relationship with God into which men enter by faith in Christ and to which their sole title is the death of Christ. Sanctification is also used in the New Testament of the separation of the believer from evil things and ways. This sanctification is God’s will for the believer and His purpose in calling him by the Gospel; it must be learned from God as He teaches it by His Word; and it must be pursued by the believer, earnestly and undeviatingly. The Holy character is not vicarious; in other words, it cannot be transferred or imputed, but it is an individual possession, built up, little by little, as the result of obedience to the Word of God and of following the example of Christ.”

It is the Word of God that is going to set you apart. In John 17, as Jesus was praying His great prayer to the Father for His followers, He said: “…sanctify (set them apart) through Your Truth; Your Word is Truth.”

In other words, you are set apart unto God at the New Birth; but in order for you to walk in that holiness your mind has to be renewed by the washing of the water of the Word!

So I encourage you today: take time to read the Bible every day. Purpose in your heart that you will follow the leading, guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit. Attend to His Word! and rightly divide the Word of Truth!

In Proverbs 4:20-23, it says: “My son, attend to my words, incline your ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life unto those that find them n health to all their flesh. keep your heart with all diligence; for out of are the issues of life. “

God desires a Holy people – a people set apart for HIS purposes and plans. He will not require that you do something that you cannot do. He will not lead you where His Grace will not keep you. He calls us to be set apart… and He provides for those He calls. His Provision will sustain us no matter where we might find ourselves. And I, for one, can tell you: HE is my provision and He has NEVER failed me! But I had to do something – I had to leave my comfort zone… follow His leading and direction and I found that my old ‘comfort’ zone was a place where I was ‘deteriorating’ spiritually. I was not growing in the Word and in the knowledge of the Lord, but as soon as I stepped out in faith, I found new strength, joy, purpose and LIFE!

I encourage you – let HIM be your provision. Let HIM be your guide. Let HIM show you the path of the Just!

RELATIONSHIP

February… the month of “LOVE” – when chocolates, red roses abound and platitudes of undying faithfulness to ‘the relationship’ fall from adoring lips!!

In all that celebration, LOVE is at the core.

John 3:16: FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE.

God’s LOVE is NOT the world’s love. The world’s love is temperamental, based on feelings and emotions. It is conditional. It is swayed by mood, words, actions (or non-actions) and can be destroyed or tossed out on a whim. Marriage vows: till death do us part… have no meaning. One partner has become disillusioned and love takes a walk. Teenagers, so in love, see their ‘steady’ even looking at another person… fights ensue and ‘forever’ no longer has any meaning. On and on and on in the worlds definition of ‘love.

But the main topic of LOVE is GOD’S LOVE… from the Greek word: AGAPAO (verb) AGAPE (noun). Vines Expository defines it thus: Agape and agapao are used in the New Testament (a) to describe the attitude of God toward His Son; the human race, generally; and to such as believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; (b) to convey His Will to His children concerning their attitude one toward another and to all men; (c) to express the essential nature of God.

Obviously, this is NOT the love of complacency or affection. In other words, it is not dependent upon the actions of humans!

Vines further defines God’s LOVE: “It is an exercise of the Divine will in deliberate choice, made without assignable cause save that which lies in the nature of God Himself…. In respect of agapao as used of God, it expresses the deep and constant love and interest of a perfect Being towards entirely unworthy objects, producing and fostering a reverential love in them towards the Giver, and a practical love towards those who are partakers of the same, and a desire to help others to seek the Giver.”

“…as used of God, it expresses the deep and constant love and interest of a perfect Being towards entirely unworthy objects….” Think about that. first of all, we are entirely unworthy objects of God’s LOVE, yet HIS Divine Will is to love us unconditionally…not based on anything we do, have done, or could do.

Romans 5:8: BUT GOD COMMENDS HIS LOVE TOWARD US, IN THAT WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS, CHRIST DIED FOR US!

God’s LOVE is about relationship. It is about a FOREVER HEART RELATIONSHIP. It is NOT dependent upon our actions. It is NOT ‘rewards’ for doing good. It is about relationship – the Creator with the created. God doesn’t throw us out when we fail Him (hallelujah!). God doesn’t hold our faults against us (Praise the LORD!). God’s LOVE never fails.

We may fail Him multiple times in every day, yet His LOVE remains. We may feel so unworthy, but He says, “Come to Me….”(Matthew 11:28)   He says, “…if you confess your sin, I am faithful and just to forgive you of that sin and to cleanse you from ALL unrighteousness! (1 John 1:9)

He doesn’t turn us away to punish us. He LOVES us and His relationship with us is as permanent as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. His RELATIONSHIP with us is permanent.

Won’t you give Him the opportunity to show you how He loves you?

In the famous Love poem, Elizabeth Barrett Browning penned these words:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

God’s LOVE is far greater, oceans deeper and galaxies further than any human can fathom. His ways are past finding out. We try to wrap our finite mind around the Great God who is INFINITE. Our relationship with Him can only be penned by human frailty. But His relationship with US is penned on the scroll of the heavens… it is eternal and will never fail.

Here is one of my most favorite hymns. If you can imagine the view of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Maine, or Florida; if you can imagine the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California… or the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa… imagine… filled with ink… and it still wouldn’t be able to write the words to describe THE LOVE OF GOD By Frederick Lehman
Verse 1

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

Refrain:
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Verse 2
When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race-
The saints’ and angels’ song.

(Refrain)

Verse 3
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky

(refrain)

A relationship with God is the greatest, most important decision you will ever make. If you haven’t taken that step yet, I encourage you to not let another second pass without asking Jesus, Yeshua… the Messiah of God, into your heart. It’s easy (God didn’t make it so difficult that we have to work our way to Heaven – He is standing at the door of your heart now… knocking. Will you open that door and invite Him to take control of your life today? Just pray this prayer:
Oh God, without Jesus I am lost. I don’t want to be lost. I want to be saved. Jesus, as the Son of God, who died for me on the Cross for my sins, I ask you to come into my heart and save me now. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me. My name is now written in Your Book of Life and I have been transferred out of the kingdom of darkness in the Kingdom of Heaven. I am saved! I AM SAVED!

Now: you need to tell someone that you have accepted Jesus. You can respond to this website and let us know that you have been born again… born out of darkness into God’s Kingdom.

The next thing you need to do is find a good, Bible-teaching Church to attend so you can grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ!

May God richly bless you this day and every day as your relationship with the Almighty God grows!

JESUS IS LORD!

NEW BEGINNINGS

NEW BEGINNINGS

We have just celebrated the New Year, along with the requisite New Year’s Resolutions, many of which have already fallen by the wayside. But there are New Beginnings that can happen every day – it’s never too late to have a New Beginning in your walk with the LORD!

Joshua 3:15-17: (New King James Version)

15 and as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest), 16 that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan.

Notice here that the priests had to take that first step themselves. They didn’t wait for God to dry up the Jordan. In fact, in verse 15, it tells us that the Jordan was overflowing its banks at that time of the year – during the Harvest season. Notes on this particular passage indicate that perhaps God chose this particular time of the year to further confirm the fact that indeed a MIRACLE took place, giving Israel a yet another sign that God was with them and that the nations of Canaan would be overthrown by them with His help.

Remember: this was the all the Israelites – a million+ people (estimates range in number for 1-5 million!). The crossing wasn’t accomplished in a few minutes – not even a  couple of hours – we’re talking a FULL, FULL day at a minimum! They hasted to get over, it says in verse 10. Also, remember: the priests had been standing in the middle of the river bed all day with the Ark of God. The heads of each tribe took stones out of the river bed where the priests had been standing and built a memorial where they would camp that night, as a memorial to this great miracle.

(Joshua 4:5-6 (New King James Version)5 and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, 6 that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’

What are your ‘memorial stones’ as you enter the New Year? We need to move forward…not look back to the ‘what might have beens’… we’re looking ahead to what WILL BE in this time of New Beginnings! … looking forward to God’s Presence; to MORE of God in our lives… more of His Miracle-working Power.

You are taking the Word of God into your ‘area’ right now. We don’t know what lies ahead, but we are obeying God in stepping out in faith. Our feet are in the ‘Jordan’ and we are wading out into the midst of the waters. We are not looking back – we are looking ahead. We are not looking downstream, we are looking upstream from whence the blessings come.

Water, in the Bible, is usually symbolic of the masses of humanity. Therefore, we are launching forth into the sea of humanity right where we are, to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost, the hurting, the sick, the captive, whether held captive by sickness or disease, or maybe someone is held captive by error in teaching from the Word of God. You know, there ARE churches today that don’t even teach the Bible. They don’t believe the Bible is true! Or they don’t believe that the Bible could possibly be relevant today. But God tells us in Hebrews 13:8: JESUS CHRIST IS THE SAME, YESTERDAY, TODAY AND FOREVER! People are held captive by whatever force that prevents them from hearing the truth of God’s Word – they are captive and need to be set free!

We are here to proclaim God’s Word and set the captives free! Goes DOES have a better way – and His way is Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the WAY….” As we follow Jesus, our lives are changed day by day, and we grow up in Him Who is the head!

Ezekiel 47:1-5

 1 Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar. 2 He brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gateway that faces east; and there was water, running out on the right side.

3 And when the man went out to the east with the line in his hand, he measured one thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the water came up to my ankles. 4 Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters; the water came up to my knees. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came up to my waist. 5 Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed.

Verse 1: “Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar.”

“Afterward” – after the prophesy of the previous several chapters concerning the millennial sanctuary [temple] and the New Jerusalem.

[WE are the temple of God. In I Corinthians 3:16, Paul says, ‘…don’t you know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? …’ and verse 17 continues with: ‘…the Temple of God is holy, which temple you are….!]

Back to Ezekiel 47….

The waters are flowing out of the temple. Jesus told us that out of your belly shall flow rivers of living water. (see John 7:27)

These ‘living waters’ that flow out from you are for the multitudes – these Living Waters are for EVERYONE. These living waters are not for a select few! You know, God uses all inclusive, non-confining, all-encompassing  adjectives and nouns. He says in John 7:37: If ANY man thirsts… not just a few… ANY… that means YOU… that means ME! The only condition is belief in Him. Trust on Him… have FAITH in HIM!

Are you thirsty today?

Ezekiel 47:2-3:

He brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gateway that faces east; and there was water, running out on the right side.

3 And when the man went out to the east with the line in his hand, he measured one thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the water came up to my ankles.

Oh – our feet are beginning to get wet now. W are wading out into the sea of humanity. We are witnessing to a few folks… we are talking to them occasionally about God’s Love… we might even offer to pray with them about something.  Our feet are beginning to get wet!

Verse 4:

Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters; the water came up to my knees. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came up to my waist.

Up to our knees now. Well, since we’re this far, let’s go on out up to our waist.

Verse 5:

Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed.

Swimming! That means your feet are off the bottom, and you have to let the river direct you!

….                ….                ….                ….                ….                ….                ….                ….                ….

You see, as long as your feet are on the bottom, you can determine your own destiny. You can determine which direction  you will go. BUT!!!! But as soon as the water is too deep, and you take your feet off the bottom, you have to swim for yourself. You have to get in it up to your neck and deeper, and we all know from swimming in the ocean, that we go with the current.

The ‘current’ in this case will be the Holy Spirit! HE leads us! HE guides us! HE directs us to certain people! HE directs certain people to US so we can minister to them!

You may say, “But I don’t know what to say to anyone.” Let me reassure you: you are already ministering to your family, to your friends, to your roommates, to your co-workers. You encourage them when they don’t feel well… you lift them up spiritually when they are depressed… down in the dumps. You don’t have to have a degree from some Theological Seminary to be able to tell someone about he Love of Jesus.

These waters that are flowing out of us are those LIVING WATERS!

This ‘river’ in Ezekiel is flowing out toward the desert… through the desert (the dry and thirsty land, a barren wasteland) and into the sea (the multitudes of humanity!). We are to bring the LIVING WATER of the Word of God to the multitudes… and not just a little seed every once in awhile and then leave them on their own. We are to nurture that seed with water…we are to continually bring that refreshing water of the Word to the masses of humanity. When we do that, people will be caught up in the river and will flow into the sea of Believers! And as you read further in that chapter in Ezekiel, you will find that those waters are for bringing LIFE to the multitudes! These waters bring healing and deliverance!

Out of your innermost being shall flow rivers of living water! Jesus is the Healer… The Holy Spirit is the agent carrying on the work of Jesus through YOU! Jesus healed the masses. He taught the people and healed them. Acts 10:38 tells us that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil, for God was with Him.

Jesus told us that we are to go into ALL the world and preach the Gospel to EVERY creature! There are those all-inclusive, all-encompassing nouns and adjectives again. That means that ALL the world is possible to go into… and EVERY creature is possible to reach!

Better yet: Jesus told us that He would be with us…and He gave us His Name to use to get the job done! Whom God calls, He equips! And that’s the Good News!

Do not be afraid. He said He would be with us! Tell someone today that God loves them! Tell someone today that God has GOOD plans for them! Tell them of the great love, mercy and grace of the LORD! They will be blessed – and so will you!

HAPPY NEW YEAR IN JESUS THE MESSIAH, THE CHRIST!

JOY TO THE WORLD

We have just finished what, I am sure, for most of us was a wonderful
Thanksgiving, and now the world’s attention is turned toward Christmas – the celebration of the Birth of our LORD and Savior, Jesus…Messiah… the long-awaited One who was prophesied to come in the Garden of Eden!

LUKE 2:8-11

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the lord shone round about them; and there were very afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of GREAT JOY, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ (Messiah) the Lord. (emphasis added)

Most all of us have read that Scripture… or have heard it read… especially  at this time of year, as we gather with family and friends to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

The angel said it was “…good tidings of GREAT JOY….” and to me that sounds like GOOD NEWS!  GREAT JOY!

I don’t know about you, but if something gives me joy, then it’s GOOD NEWS! Now we are all pretty excited when a baby is born… a son, a daughter, a niece, a nephew… a tiny infant just brings smiles to everyone’s face. The birth announcements to out … we celebrate with the new parents their joy.

But THIS “JOY” is something different. An angel appears to shepherds and announces that he is bring you news of GREAT JOY to ALL people… not just the immediate family and friends…but to ALL people. How can this be? What is so special about this particular baby?

We have to celebrate not just the birth of this Child, but His life and what He accomplished in His life, His death, His burial and HIS RESURRECTION! We don’t just ‘leave this Special Baby in the manger in Bethlehem… He didn’t stay there… He grew up… He walked this earth that He had created… He walked among us teaching us how to live… was crucified for OUR sin, was buried and on the 3rd day, He arose from that grave, conquering sin and death and now sits at the right hand of God the Father, ever living to make intercession for us…. THAT’S GREAT GOOD NEWS!

Now, let’s turn to Colossians 1:20-22: (Living New Testament paraphrase): “It was through what His Son did that God cleared a path for everything to come to Him. All things in heaven and on earth for Christ’s death on the cross has made peace with God for all by His blood. This includes you who were once so far away from God, you were his enemies and hated Him. And were separated from Him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now, He has brought you back as His friends and He has done this through the death on the cross of His own human body. And now, as a result, Christ has brought you into the very presence of God and you are standing there before Him with nothing left again you. Nothing that He could even chide you for.”  And then the last part of verse 23: “And I, Paul, have the JOY of telling it to others.” (emphasis added)

2Corinthians 5:17-19 (The Amplified Bible translation) “Therefore, if any person is ingrafted in Christ the Messiah, he is a new creature altogether, a new creation; the old previous moral and spiritual condition has passed away. Behold the fresh and new has come! But all things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself, received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself, and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation – that by word and deed we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him. It was God personally present in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against (men) their trespasses but canceling them and committing to us the message of reconciliation – of the restoration to favor.” 

So just what is THE GOOD NEWS? Jesus told us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel (Good News) to everyone. Isn’t is wonderful to have a message of GOOD NEWS in a world of so much bad news!

In Colossians 1:6 (Living New Testament) it says “This same good news that came to you is going out all over the world and changing lives everywhere, just as it changed yours the very first day you heard  it and understood about God’s great kindness to sinners.”

So the GOOD NEWS is a message that CHANGES LIVES! If what you are hearing preached doesn’t change your life, then there’s something wrong with what’s being preached! There is POWER in the Gospel to change your life… to break the power of the devil. Paul said: “It’s changing lives everywhere just as it changed your life when you heard it and understood….”

Number 1: You must HEAR the Gospel. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). Paul said the Gospel changed lives because they HEARD the Word of God.

Then Paul also said you not only need to hear the Good News, you need to UNDERSTAND the Good News. You understand the GOOD NEWS! And Paul tells us what that Good News is: GOD’S GREAT KINDNESS TO SINNERS!

The Holy Spirit is saying that the Good News is a message about God’s great kindness to sinners. That’s our message! God’s message is not a message of condemnation… it’s GOOD NEWS! That God was in Jesus reconciling the world to Himself… so that we who were once lost and undone can be reconciled to God! We are reconciled to God through the Blood of Jesus.

There have been many people crucified on crosses down through the ages. Crucifixion was Rome’s preferred method of killing people during Jesus’ time on earth. It continued for many years. We are hearing about it now taking place in the Middle East against Christians who defy the terrorists in their country. It is one of the most inhumane, torturous ways to die. But when Jesus was crucified, there was something different that transpired. When He was lifted up, something tremendous happened. Only when we get into eternity will we ever understand the depth of the love of God. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). That’s God’s message! God sent His Son into the world not to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved! (John 3:17)

When Jesus was lifted up on that cross, the earth shook … there was an earthquake. The sun his its face. The earth trembled. He cried: “My God, My God, what have You forsaken me?” What was happening? The Bible says that the veil of the temple that hid the very presence of Almighty God – the Holy of Holies – was ripped in two from the top to the bottom!

What does all this mean?

Jesus came into the world as God’s Lamb. He came to bear our sins. He took every sin of Adam and Eve, down to the last man, woman and child that will ever live. Every curse word; every act of adultery, fornication, murder; every lie… EVERY SIN! He took it all! John said: “Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” He took our sins. He took our sicknesses. (Isaiah 53:4-5; 1 Peter 2:24)

The Bible tells us that He tasted death for every man. Not just physical death but spiritual death – He was separated from God. Some people might disagree with that statement about spiritual death, but what is death? It is a separation from…. Physical death is the separation of the spirit from the body (James 2:26). Spiritual death is separation from God. Jesus said, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” Jesus was separated from God -so you and I would have to be! He tasted the death of being separated from God so we wouldn’t have to be! GLORY!

Jesus also took our judgment! The judgment of our sin that belonged to you and me – our wickedness… our rebellion… Jesus took it in our place! You might say, “…well, I’m not wicked… I’m a good person… I give to the poor… I’m nice to people… I’m not rebellious, I’m a religious person … I go to church every Sunday….” Truth is, NO ONE is going to get to heaven because they are a ‘good person,’ or they are ‘religious’… God said that our righteousness… the very best that we can do… is as filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6). It’s like rags wrapped around a leprous person with all that corruption running out of it. That’s the stench of OUR own righteousness… But thank God, HE TOOK OUR JUDGMENT!

He bore the wrath of God upon Himself. He became what we were that we might become what He is. He took our sins that we might have His righteousness. He took our place so that we could have His place. He went to hell so we wouldn’t have to to hell… we can go to heaven. He tasted our death. He took our judgment. He took our sicknesses and diseases. He took the curse that was due us. He took our sins. THAT IS WHAT GOD’S SON DID TO CLEAR A PATH FOR US … FOR ALL… TO COME TO HIM!

THAT’S THE MESSAGE: ALL Your past does’t matter. Where you are doesn’t matter. What you have done doesn’t matter. GOD HAS CLEARED THE PATH FOR YOU TO COME TO HIM!  and that Path is through the Lord Jesus Christ!

THAT IS GREAT GOOD NEWS! And that is what we celebrate this Christmas. That Baby was born for purpose! The Good News is that He fulfilled that purpose and no one has to ‘stay where they are’ stuck in sin and death! You can be free through the Blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God!

Maybe you’ve never heard these words before… maybe you’ve heard something but never understood. Remember what we read in Colossians 1:6 (Living New Testament) it says “This same good news that came to you is going out all over the world and changing lives everywhere, just as it changed yours the very first day you heard  it and understood about God’s great kindness to sinners.”

Now you have heard it… and if you now understand it, you can make Jesus the Lord of your life. Just lay one hand on your heart and lift the other to heaven and say: Oh God, without Jesus, I’m lost… I don’t want to be lost…. I want to be saved. I have heard the message of the Good News of Jesus and I understand what Jesus did for me.  I ask Jesus to come into my heart and save me right now. I repent of my sins. I am so glad for the Good News of Jesus. I declare that Jesus is my Lord from this every moment on. You are the Lord of my life and I’ll never be ashamed of you, and wherever I go, I shall tell the world of this Good News!

Hallelujah! If you prayed that prayer from your heart, you have passed from death into Life and your name is now written in the Lamb’s Book of Life! And we shall all rejoice together in Heaven!

Thank you, LORD, for the GREAT GOOD NEWS of this Christmas Season! JESUS IS LORD !

MERRY, JOYOUS CHRISTMAS!

 

 

THE INTEGRITY OF THE WORD OF GOD

Our God is a FAITH GOD! In Genesis 1, He spoke and released His faith and created this Universe!

Whenever God speaks, He releases His faith!

The Bible is God speaking directly to US! In 2 Peter 1:20-21, it says: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in ole time by the will of man, but Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

I always like to say the Bible is the first book written by a Ghost Writer….

There is One author of the Bible: GOD HIMSELF! 

Think of today’s writers – one person writes a book… some are better than others, but there is ONE person weaving the thread of a story throughout the pages of one particular book. And it might take him or her a few months…. and maybe in rare cases, a number of years, to complete that story. One book – one writer. Occasionally there might be co-authors, but for the most part, One book – one writer.

The Bible, however, is quite different. The story line is woven through centuries of time. And the number of writers and the writing style vary. BUT THE STORY LINE DOES NOT WAIVER! The coming of the Messiah – the Redemptive Plan of God – the redemption of God’s Creation, and OUR place in God’s Plan. 

There are more than 30 writers, separated by centuries of time. But the thread of the story-line never fails… the narrative never exalts frail man, but it always exalts the Sovereign, Living God!

The pages of the books of our writers are filled with THEIR views of a particular situation. Even so-called ‘objectivity’ must take a back seat to the writer’s own beliefs and prejudices.

The Bible, however, centers on GOD! Not on what the writer THINKS about God… not the writer’s BELIEF of what God would have him say… but what GOD HIMSELF says! Webster’s Dictionary defines PROPHECY is the inspired utterance of God. Prophecy is not necessarily, nor even primarily, fore-telling. It is the declaration of that which cannot be known by natural means; it is the forth-telling of the will of God, whether with reference to the past, the present or the future. … Then Vines Expository goes on to give Scripture references for each of those definitions of the original Greek word.

The writers of the Bible spanned centuries but the message never varied. They were not carrying on some story line thought up by Abraham or Moses or Isaiah. The Bible is not just a history of the Jewish people – it is a GOD-INSPIRED, GOD-BREATHED ACCOUNT OF GOD’S PLAN FOR MAN!

Take for example, the New Testament writers. The 4 Gospels were written years after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Luke’s Gospel was written around 60AD. The Gospel of John was written around 90AD. Matthew and John were in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost. They experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the miraculous revival that took place in Jerusalem, and  yet, their Gospels reveal nothing of that Power. They KNEW the Pauline revelation of what happened from the Cross to the Throne, but their Gospels reveal nothing of the mystery surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection. WHY?

One of the greatest literary miracles had occurred. They wrote ONLY what the Holy Spirit had inspired them to write. Can you imagine anyone writing a book like Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, who had the experiences that they had without those very experiences intruding themselves into the biography of Jesus… the very Man that they were writing about? 

John did not write his Gospel until nearly 60 years after the ascension. John had met Paul during that time and had even spent a good deal of time with him. Yet, there is NOTHING in the Gospel of John that would give any hint that John even knew about the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus.

Luke was a convert of Paul’s and, in fact, travelled with Paul for 18 years. He had been Paul’s helper and had taken care of him when he was in prison. Go through the Gospel of Luke and try to find ONE sentence that indicates he knew anything about the Pauline Revelation! Nor in the Book of Acts can you find any mention of the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus. Luke lived in the very consciousness of the finished work of Christ. Luke KNEW of the present-day ministry of Jesus, seated at the right hand of the Father, and yet, he does not mention it. Likewise, Mark was Paul’s companion for years, yet you see no hint of the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark.

Why? These four men who had written these Gospels wrote OLY what the Holy Spirit inspired them to write!

Further proof of he Divine inspiration of the Bible: In John’s Gospel, when Jesus meets Nicodemus and tells him he must be born again, Nicodemus did not understand it. Here would have been a perfect place for John to explain the New Birth – the New Creation reality … yet he does not!

No – God enabled him to say exactly what GOD wanted him to say and nothing more. When you read the four Gospels, you are standing in the presence of God Himself. Unseen – but He is there. HE is the author of those 4 documents. HE is there, unveiling His Son…and the Son is unveiling the Father. In the Pauline Epistles, we have the Father unveiling the work that He wrought in and through Jesus…He is also unveiling “The Family” – the Body of Christ – the Sons of God… OUR place in this magnificent redemption!

There is also the revelation of the contrast between Paul’s teaching and the teachings of Jesus – Paul’s treatment of “FAITH” is an illustration.

Jesus continually urged His hearers, who were the sons of the First Covenant, to BELIEVE. In Mark 9:23, Jesus says: “All things are possible to him that BELIEVES.” In the midst of the storm, Jesus says: “O ye of little faith…why did you not BELIEVE.”  In Mark 11:23-24, “Whosoever shall say to this mountain, be removed and cast into the sea and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall BELIEVE that whatsoever he says shall come to pass, he shall have it…and… BELIEVE that you receive those things that you ask and you shall have them….” (emphasis mine)

Paul, however, doesn’t urge you to believe… why? Oh, he urges the unsaved to believe on Jesus Christ, but he NEVER urged the Church to believe… why?

We are called “BELIEVERS.”…. we ARE BELIEVERS… WE ARE THE SONS OF GOD!

1 Cor. 3:21: “Wherefore, let no one glory in men. For all things are yours.” Paul was unveiling what was already ours! What belongs to us!

In Ephesians 1:3, it says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing….” We are IN GOD’S FAMILY! All that the Father has and all the He did in Christ…and all that Jesus IS… belongs to US! We don’t need faith for something that is already ours!

Paul’s revelation shows our perfect redemption. It shows our place in God’s Plan.

Paul prayed one of the most wonderful prayers in Ephesians 1 and it is OURS… it is for US TODAY! Aren’t we the faithful in Christ Jesus? So this prayer is for us! Even if he hadn’t said that one phrase, these letters are still for us today. The Pauline Epistles (Letters) were written to the Church – WE ARE THE CHURCH! These letters were written to US!… not some ancient message to the analyzed… they are filled with God’s Truths for us TODAY!

Ephesians 1:15-23: 

“…Therefore, I also after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet and gave Him to be the head over all things in the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all….”

Verse 15: Paul said he does not cease to give thanks for us – insert YOUR name or personal pronouns for yourself in this prayer. Starting in Verse 17, you would then read: “…that the God of MY Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto ME the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of HIm; the eyes of MY understanding being enlightened; that I may know what is the hope of His calling and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in ME, one of His saints….” 

Make the Word of God PERSONAL to YOU!

Now, notice this: Paul is praying that we may have a spirit of wisdom. Remember: wisdom and knowledge are different. Wisdom is the ability to use knowledge. Wisdom doe not come from the reasoning faculties – it comes from the human spirit…whether it is natural wisdom of man outside of God, or whether it is God’s wisdom that is given to the New
Creation.

Paul is praying now that our spirit-man will have WISDOM to GRASP the riches of the work that God accomplished in Christ Jesus FOR US!

Paul had revelation knowledge concerning the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus. Paul had revelation knowledge concerning what happened from the Cross to the Throne. Paul had revelation knowledge concerning the present-day ministry of Jesus Christ. And Paul’s prayer is that WE are to have the wisdom to understand that knowledge. He says: “…having the eyes of our understanding (our spirit-man) enlightened…that our spirit man would understand what is the hope of His calling – and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in us – the saints.” WE ARE THOSE SAINTS! EVERYONE WHO ‘BELIEVES’ IS A SAINT! God’s inheritance is IN us!

We are PRICELESS TO HIM!

Continuing in Verse 19: “… and that we would know what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, FAR ABOVE all principality, and power and might and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come; and has put all things under His feet and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that fills all in all….” (emphasis added)

He wants us – the Believers – to KNOW the exceeding greatness of His ability on our behalf. The definition of ‘exceeding’: to go beyond the limits of. In other words, His ability goes BEYOND the limits of greatness – and that ability works on OUR BEHALF! (That’s worth a Hallelujah shout!!!)

“According to the working of His might power which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.”

This is powerful! Let this sink down on the inside of you! It will transform you!

That same ABILITY – that same POWER that raised Jesus from the dead, is at work WITHIN you and me! It’s at work within us! It was the same power that raised Jesus from the dead that caused our New Creation. … that same ability; that same power is at work within us. The Spirit of God works within OUR spirit – within our body. Remember: in Romans 8, it says: if the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you, He will quicken (make alive) your mortal body. He is working within us not only in the spiritual realm but in the physical realm as well – our MORTAL body!

Think about it: we cannot fail because we become the instruments through which God is working! God Himself indwells us!

That same power that raised Jesus from the dead is IN you… it is IN me… that Holy Spirit POWER… THAT RESURRECTION ability is IN OUR BODY!

That means healing… and strength… and vitality. That means everything we need to live every day of our lives!

Verse 20-23: “… and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above….” (say: FAR above….. faaaaaaaaaar above) ….. “ all principality, and power and might and dominion,” (remember the angel in Daniel said he had to fights the principalities to get through to Daniel with the message from God….)  “… and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come, and has put all things under His feet and gave Him to be the head over all things to the CHURCH, which is His Body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.” (emphasis mine)

Now look at verse 20 again:  “… and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power and might and dominion….”   

Go to Chapter 2:6  “…and raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus….”

God sees us sitting NOW… far…. faaaaaaaaaaaaaar above all principality and power and authority. That is where God Himself sees us! This is Paul praying through the Holy Spirit for US! 

ALL things are under the feet of Jesus. So, ALL things are under our feet! We are here on this earth. We are the Body of Christ… even if we are the soles of Jesus’ feet, ALL THINGS HAVE BEEN PUT UNDER HIS FEET! (are you shouting yet?!!!!)

We must not forget that Satan is defeated. As far as God the Father in concerned, WE were in the depths of hell with Jesus during that great substitutionary sacrifice. WE conquered the Adversary through Jesus. And when Jesus arose from the dead, WE were raised up together with Him… and when He was enthroned, WE WERE ENTHRONED with Him!!!!

Paul is praying through the Holy Spirit; The Holy Spirit is praying through Paul that we might KNOW this fact…that we might have revelation knowledge of this fact. He is praying that we should know this…understand this…and work in the fulness of the knowledge of this fact!

Look at Verse 22 again: “…all things have been put under His feet, and He is the head over all things.”  If ALL things have been put under His feet…and if WE are raised up together with Him, then ALL things have been put under OUR feet!

Now, that evidently includes everything – ALL things sounds pretty inclusive to me. “ALL” doesn’t leave much room for exclusion! ALL is ALL! There’s not any more! That includes everything that can touch my life – ALL things are subject to the Head, which is Christ Jesus, and if they are subject to the Head, then they must also be subject to the Body – which is US!

The Body is the fulness of Him that fills all in all (verse 23). 

Think for a minute about a company – Sears is not one person who works in one of their stores in, say, Wilmington, Delaware. The president of Sears is the HEAD of the Company – but the body of employees is what makes the company work! 

Jesus’ work on earth is completed. He can’t do anything else here. He is now in Heaven at the right hand of God the Father. The only way He can get anything done here on this earth is through US – His Body! WE are the Body of Christ. The Body is the fulness of Him. The Body is the completeness of Him – and the ability of the Body should dominate all things around it.

Our spirit-man is filled with His fullness: with His love; with His grace; with His wisdom; the fulness of His ability to bless and help mankind. 

If we would each get this revelation into our spirit-man – what a mighty force we would unleash on our communities!… on our towns… on our States… on our Nations! WORLD CHANGERS!

Meditate on WHO you are IN CHRIST JESUS! Meditate on what the Word of God says about YOU! Meditate on WHO HE is in your life, and determine to partner with Him every day in every way to reach the unreached and tell the untold of His great Love, Mercy and Grace!