Saturday, December 26, 2015

Taking the Initiative

There are times in the Bible when people took the initiative and the Lord was pleased. These are times when people didn't wait for the Lord to tell them to do something, but went ahead with what was in their heart. Of course there are times when people have done things without consulting the Lord with devastating consequences, but yet we see these times where He was pleased with what came from a person's heart.

Jacob was on his way to go get a wife when he laid down and slept with a stone for a pillow. (Genesis 28:10-22). He dreamed of the ladder with the angels of God ascending and descending. The Lord spoke to Him of the land which He would give to him and his descendants. He gave him a promise that He would be with Him and would bring him back to that land. Jacob woke up and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it." He took the stone that had been under his head, set it up as a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He then named the place Bethel, which means the house of God. This was the first time oil was used as an anointing.The Lord seemed pleased with this because we see many instances of oil used in anointing after this, in the tabernacle, the temple and anointing kings and priests. Yet here we see Jacob anointing the stone with oil and naming that place the house of God.

David wanted to build a permanent house for the Lord. He didn't like that fact that he, David, lived in a house of cedar, but the "ark of God dwells within tent curtains." 2 Samuel 7:2. The Lord said that He had never asked him to do that, yet He said, "Because it was in your heart to build a house for My name, you did well that it was in your heart." 1 Kings 8:18. The Lord was pleased with David's desire, however He told him to have his son Solomon build the house (the temple) instead of David doing it. The Lord didn't initiate the building of the first temple, David did. Yet the Lord was quite pleased with it. He even told David that He would make a house for him. (2 Samuel 7:11, 19).

Both of these instances have to do with building the house of God. It seems God is pleased when we desire a place for Him to dwell among us. Today, we can prepare our hearts for Him. A willing heart that is open for Him to come dwell must make Him very pleased. When we are filled with His Spirit, what comes out of our heart will be in accordance to His will. Our thoughts and ideas might bring pleasure to Him also.
"Thus says the Lord "Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being," declares the Lord. "But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word."" Isaiah 66:1-2
The house that the Lord will dwell in today, is the heart of a humble, repentant person, one who fears the Lord and His Word. May we prepare our hearts for Him. May every heart, prepare Him room.

Personal Sabotage?

It seems to me that the deaf and dumb spirit that Jesus cast out in Mark 9 was a self-destructive spirit--a spirit of personal sabotage so to speak. This was the spirit that Jesus said would only come out by prayer and fasting. But let's back up a bit. Jesus had taken Peter, James and John up in the mountain where He was transfigured before them. Elijah and Moses appeared and spoke with Him. Peter thought it would be a good idea to make three tabernacles, one for each of them. He said this because "he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified;" (Mark 9:6). Just then a cloud formed and overshadowed them and a voice came out of the cloud:

"This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!" 

I imagine that quieted the disciples for a bit. They came down the mountain and the crowd ran up to Jesus. A man in the crowd told Him that he brought his son who was possessed with a spirit to his disciples for deliverance but they couldn't cast him out. This spirit, whom Jesus called a deaf and mute spirit, would seize the man's son, slam him to the ground and would often throw him into the fire and water to try and destroy him. This deaf and mute spirit seems intent on destroying the person it possesses. It may appear as self-destructive or personal sabotage. 

Jesus said it comes out only by prayer and fasting. I think this kind of prayer and fasting is more than us talking non-stop to God without taking time to listen to Him. This is evidenced by what they had just experienced on the mountain top. God had spoken from the cloud and said to listen to His Son! When we don't know what to say, we may just need to listen. To have victory over the attacks that would try and destroy a person, even self-destructive actions, we need to listen to the Lord.

Jesus spoke of those whose heart was dull, their ears couldn't hear and their eyes were closed. These people would not be able to receive from the Lord. But He said of His disciples, "Blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears because they hear." (Matthew 13:15-16). Lord, may we remember to be quiet before You and listen!

Sowing in Your Own Field

When Abraham returned from Egypt to the land of Canaan after the first famine, he was very rich. When he came into Canaan he was "very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold." Genesis 13:2. Gold represents the wealth among all nations. Silver represents wealth within his own nation, and livestock represents the ability to produce wealth--it's the ability for increase, to produce more seed. It's a protection on wealth because if you are producing wealth you do not use up your "stored" wealth, and the stored wealth is a protection during times when increase is slow.

A similar concept is true concerning seed and bread. Seed gets sown (planted) in the ground and bread gets eaten. The Bible tells us God gives seed to the sower and bread to the eater.
"Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness." 2 Corinthians 9:10
Paul is talking about the Corinthians' generosity towards the ministry to the saints--giving to those in need. Most Christians understand the idea of sowing seed for the benefit of others--such as giving to the poor, supporting ministries that preach the Gospel etc. However, there is a concept of sowing in our own field that many have missed. 

When we cast our bread, not our seed onto the waters, it returns to us after many days. (Ecclesiastes 11:1). Bread is what we eat, not what we plant in the ground to produce a harvest. When we give bread, we are sacrificing what we would normally be eating so others can be blessed. This type of fast is a form of giving.

There is also a sowing seed into our own field to produce a harvest that provides a perpetual supply for us, that we use for our own provision, the provision of our family and future generations, and to preach the Gospel to the poor--the good news of the Gospel. Our wealth also affects our communities as we spend our money on righteous businesses.

What is our own field? It is the ability to produce wealth--like Abraham's livestock. It begins with a heart of righteousness. Throughout the book of Proverbs we see a correlation between righteousness, wealth, and diligence. As we work in the field we are called to, in obedience to God with a heart of righteousness, wealth will be produced in our life. Those who are righteous are also generous and not only use their wealth to help the poor, but use their wealth to perpetuate righteousness in the earth.

"The wages of the righteous is life, the income of the wicked, punishment." Proverbs 10:16

The wages, increase, of the righteous lead to more life. When the righteous spend money it is spent on that which will promote more righteousness. The righteous are not giving to promote evil in the earth. Their hearts are pure so what they spend or give their money on is also pure. Once our righteousness is evident then God gives the increase. When we sow and give to that which will promote righteous living, God increases us. If our money goes towards wicked purposes then punishment is attached to that. 

"Sow with a view to righteousness,
Reap in accordance with kindness;
Break up your fallow ground,
For it is time to seek the Lord
Until He come to rain righteousness on you."
Hosea 10:12

Our righteousness is attached to Jesus Christ. We are not righteous apart from Him. The first recorded tithe was when Abraham gave a tenth of all to the priest of God Most High--Melchizedek. This was right after Melchizedek, of whom Jesus is a priest after the order of, blessed Abraham and gave him bread and wine. Jesus also gave us bread and wine (His body and blood which provides righteousness) and blessing. (Genesis 14:17-20, Hebrews 7:1-3). As we accept the righteousness that Jesus Christ provided for us, and that righteousness is proven in our lives, the blessing of God is attached to that. Our response is the tithe, and really a righteous heart that affects everything associated with our finances.

The very first blessing in the Bible was to Adam and Eve--"God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over  the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." Genesis 1:28. The very next verse is God telling them what they will eat--His provision. 

What does this mean? As your heart is pure before the Lord, made righteous through Jesus Christ, and as you live according to that righteousness in obedience to Him, you are sowing into your own field which will produce a prosperity--like Abraham's livestock--that will be a perpetual provision. Its the ability to produce wealth, given because you have lived out the righteousness of your heart before the Lord--even during difficult times. Don't give up! If your financial situation seems bleak, continue to live according to the righteousness of your heart that Jesus provided--the new man, the new creation--and receive His perpetual blessing!

The Word of His Power

"And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature,
and upholds all things by the word of His power."
Hebrews 1:3

The purpose of disciplining a child is to teach them there is power backing up words. Kids need to know this at the very core of their being in order to have a strong faith in God. When your child does something and you tell him not to do it, you have used a word of authority to give him a command. If he disobeys, you remind him with your word of authority. However, if he chooses to continue to disobey even though he knows what you've said, then you back your words with physical power. Using your physical strength to stop him, even the rod of correction if necessary. Not abuse of course, but using your greater physical strength to show him that there is a power that backs your words. God designed it this way so children will learn this while they are young--before they have an equal or greater amount of physical strength than the parents.

"But let your statement be, 'Yes, yes' or 'No, no'; anything beyond these is of evil." 
Matthew 5:37

By consistently enforcing your words, your child will learn the power of words, and ultimately, the power of the Word of God. This is vital.
"For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard. God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will." Hebrews 2:1-4
God "testifies" with the Word that is preached by signs, wonders, miracles and gifts of the Spirit. He reveals the power of His Word, the authority of His Word through the display of His power. This reveals His authority over all. It reveals that He is the Most High--the One deserving of all worship. Children will be better able to believe if they have an understanding of this whole concept of the power of words.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

From Seed to Fruit

In the parable of the sower, Jesus talked about the seed sown among the thorns. These are people who hear the Word of God, but the worries of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (Mark 4:18-19). In this parable Jesus is comparing different types of soil. The Word of God fell onto four different kinds of soil, but only the seed planted in good soil produced fruit. The desired goal is not just for the Word to go out, but for it to produce fruit in the lives of people. If the soil is not properly prepared, the preaching of the Word will not produce fruit.

In looking at the seed sown among the thorns, I think the "deceitfulness of riches" is more than just a caution to not worship riches or wealth. I think there is a deceit that blinds peoples minds about how to be fruitful. You could say, the deceitfulness of how to obtain riches--true riches. There are true riches in God's kingdom. There is fruit that He desires for us to produce. The purpose of the Word going out into the hearts of men is not for it to accomplish nothing! It's for it to produce fruit. He said His Word does not return to Him empty without accomplishing what it was sent to do. (Isaiah 55:11). God wants us to be fruitful! This was the original command to Adam and Eve, and then again to Noah.

What exactly does it mean to be fruitful? I sometimes think Christians don't appreciate the value of having fruit in their own life. We get hung up, probably because of a guilt or works motivation, on trying to do so much so other people are fruitful that we miss a very important point. In order to see what we typically think is fruit--other people getting saved, healed, delivered, taught and sent out into their purpose and call--the seed must first be planted in their life like it was in ours right? So where do you get the seed to give to others? From your own fruit. If you don't have fruit growing in your life, you won't have seed to sow. This fruit that first grows in your life will produce the seed to plant in others. This means that as you experience the fullness of the salvation that Jesus provided for you, you will be able to pass it on to others. The salvation, healing, deliverance, peace, joy and victory that you receive from your faith in Him, from the preparation of your heart to receive His Word, will produce fruit which carries within it seed that others may benefit from.

God's kingdom is a garden. The key is the seed. Seed takes time to grow. Sometimes God will do things miraculously and instantly and that's awesome, but apart from that, the kingdom of heaven operates on this principle of seedtime and harvest. The "Word" seeds that were planted in your heart will produce fruit if you've properly prepared the soil of your heart. Your life will be fruitful. Your life's meaning and purpose will become clear. And you will produce plenty of fruit to not only maintain the joy of your salvation, but to sow into the lives of others so they too can become fruitful. Don't neglect cultivating fruit in your own life. Take time with the Lord, wait on Him, receive from Him. Fruit does not struggle to grow, and neither will yours.

Free Will is of the Heart

One thing I love about God, (and there are many things), is the fact that He's given people a free will. Free will is not an American concept--it is a God concept. America created a country based on free will--free speech, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness etc, because it was God's idea, not the founder's own wisdom. Of course there are consequences to a person's choices, as there was in the Garden of Eden, but God has given the power of choice to everyone, at least for now.

God gave mankind a choice to obey Him or not, to worship Him or not. He's not interested in gathering a people who are forced to worship Him. True worship is of the heart, and so is free will. In a person's heart is where we find what is important to them. So if a person does not understand, or has never experienced, the love of God for himself in his heart, there's no sense in us as Christians to look down on him for not wanting to worship God. The question, rather, becomes how can this person experience the love of God in his own heart so he can then make an informed choice? I believe if he were to have just one encounter, not with religion, but with God Himself, he would be ruined for anything else! Nothing satisfies the human heart like the love of the Creator--who sacrificed His Beloved Son on the cross for whoever wants to believe in Him.

If someone has encountered the love of God in this way and still chooses to reject Him, then that's their choice. Even God won't force Himself on them. Consequences later? Yes. However, my prayer is that everyone at least have an opportunity to experience His true love, His genuine Spirit, and not a misrepresentation of Him. At least then they can make a choice based on truth. I pray that I represent His genuine Spirit, His truth and His love, to everyone who intersects my path. How about you?

1 John 4:19

Monday, December 14, 2015

When The Wolves Come

So someone calls you on the phone and says, "Hey, there's a wolf going around your neighborhood. He's dressed up like a sheep. He's knocking on doors and when someone answers he says he's hungry and tired and asks for help. When people let him in the house he slaughters the men, rapes the women and sells the children. Be careful!" No sooner do you hang up the phone when there's a knock on your door. You open it. It's a wolf dressed up like a sheep. He says he's hungry and tired and asks for help. What do you do? Is it your "Christian duty" to let him in?
"Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith..."1 Peter 5:8-9
If we allow ourselves to believe the lies of our enemies, they will destroy us. Just because someone says they are poor and needy does not mean they are. We must properly identify the poor and not be deceived by enemies who try to use our own generosity to plunder the blessed land God has given us and capture it for wicked purposes. We have a responsibility to take care of what God has given to us.
"But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ." 2 Corinthians 11:3
We have a responsibility to care for the poor too, however we can't care for the true poor if we are dead or enslaved. We can only care for the poor if we maintain freedom. There is a difference between the poor and our enemy.
"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves." Matthew 10:16
Does the Bible tell us to feed our enemy if he is hungry, and give him drink if he is thirty? Yes, we return good for the evil they do to us rather than seek revenge. We address their true needs. (Romans 12:20). We love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. (Matthew 5:44). Yet we have a responsibility to our own children and future generations.
"But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." 1 Timothy 5:8.
Once a community of wolves is established they kill or enslave the righteous. They enslave their own people. They pass laws which do away with freedoms. People cannot speak freely, worship freely, or create freely. A once vibrant community becomes dark and depressed.
"When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when a wicked man rules, people groan." Proverbs 29:2
Did the people who let the wolves in do their "Christian duty," or did they allow wickedness to take over simply because they wanted to "be nice." Did they sacrifice their children on the altar of cowardice because they were afraid of sounding mean, afraid of sounding like an alarmist, or afraid of retaliation?
"But for the cowardly...their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone..." Rev. 21:8
Those who are in authority are responsible to protect those under their care. The military of a nation is armed to protect its people against those who would take it over. In America "We the people" are the government.1 We are the ones ultimately called to protect our homeland. If we allow wickedness to overrun us, we are abdicating our position, and our responsibility. We elect leaders to represent us, and we must watch over them, hold them accountable and pray for them.
"First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity." 1 Timothy 2:1-2
Ultimately, the Lord is our defense. We are defenseless against all evil if the He does not defend us. Trouble is everywhere in the world. Yet when we dwell in His shelter and shadow, He delivers us and protects us (Psalm 91). We build our house on the rock--the hearing and doing of His Word. He is our rock, our fortress and our deliverer.
"How could one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had given them up? Indeed their rock is not like our Rock..." Deuteronomy 32:30-31
When Jesus was here with His disciples and sent them out, He told them not to worry about taking provision with them--He would provide. (Luke 10:4). However before He was killed He told them to take money and a sword. (Luke 22:35-38). We are to be prepared, yet trust in Him. Our fight is not against flesh and blood. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). We are in a war of truth. Our captors are thoughts. If the wolves come knocking, our fight is to ensure righteousness and justice prevail in the land, not just for us right now, but for our children and grandchildren.
"Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne."Psalm 89:14

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Article X. the Constitution of the United States.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Deluding Influence? Arise & Shine!

There seems to be a "deluding influence" going on in the world today that is quite mind-boggling. Some of the "logic" being applied to political and social issues make no sense--even to someone like me who is by no means an expert in these kinds of things. (Fighting climate change as a way to attack ISIS? Really?) I thought maybe some people were being sarcastic, or even intentionally trying to mislead people, but now I'm not so sure that's what it is.

The apostle Paul wrote that before the coming of the Lord there would be "the deception of wickedness" because "they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved." He says that God will "send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false" so they may be judged. (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11).  Isaiah said that "darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples." (Isaiah 60:2).

There is a darkness, a deception, which has clouded the minds of people to the point where you could almost say they look foolish in their arguments. I'm not just talking politics here, I'm talking about what seems to be a confusion that has so clouded people's minds that they have no idea how irrational they are. (A guy who feels like a girl today should be able to use the girl's bathroom. Huh?)

Paul also said that the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:4). The ultimate goal of the enemy is to blind minds so they reject Jesus. When people reject the truth they have opened the door to "gross darkness" and a "deluding influence" that brings such confusion that the lines of right and wrong becomes blurred. Good and evil is blurred. Common sense is questioned. Accusations and paranoia prevail. Freedom seems wrong and control seems right.

So what do we do? Isaiah said it--"Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you." Arise and shine! Our struggle is not against flesh and blood. (Ephesians 6:12). We don't fight our enemy with our own strength or our own knowledge.

We shine with the light.
We shine with the truth.
We shine with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

When the enemy tries to cloud our shine, we are prepared with the armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10-18). We destroy speculations and lofty things that rise up against the knowledge of God. We bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). We properly identify our enemy and move him out of the way and shine with the glory of the Lord! Minds will become free and the Gospel will reach hearts! Don't let all the delusions going on bog you down--arise and shine!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Restoration of a Nation to Sonship Through the Spirit and Power of Elijah

When the Lord spoke to Moses out of the burning bush, He was discussing with Moses what to say to Pharaoh when Pharaoh would refuse to free Israel from slavery. In the course of the conversation, the Lord said, "Israel is My son, My firstborn." (Exodus 4:22). Of course, we know that Israel (Jacob) was not Abraham and Sarah's firstborn son--Isaac was.  Israel was Abraham's grandson. So what does the Lord mean by calling Israel His firstborn son? He is referring to the nation Israel as His son. He goes on and tells Moses to say to Pharaoh, "Let My son go that he may serve Me." (vs 23).  So we see that He is referring to the nation Israel, not the person, and calls the nation His son. (His firstborn nation of many nations as He promised Abraham).

Now fast forward to Joel 2 where the Lord says in the last days He will pour out His Spirit upon all mankind. "Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days." (Joel 2:28-29). The sons will prophesy. Just as individuals (sons) prophesy, so will nations (sons) also prophesy. Nations have a voice just as communities, churches, families and individuals have a voice. Some nations have a prophetic voice just as some communities, churches, families and individuals have a prophetic voice. Here is why.

God created Adam and Eve who were male/female, father/mother, and told them to 1). have children and 2). rule over the earth. Those were their first two commands. God's plan was for the family unit to become the foundational governing authority in the earth. The same thing happened with Noah and then with Abraham. With Abraham, God established a family who would become a nation of people set apart for Him. They were a family first before they were a community or a nation. Nations who are the Lord's are considered His sons, just as He called Israel--the nation--His son.

America was once a son-nation and a prophetic voice in the earth. We were a nation established by God for religious freedom. But America has lost her prophetic voice, not coincidentally, as the family unit has become broken and distorted. The way to restore America is to restore the families--God's ruling authorities--back to Him. We must restore the families to restore sonship to the nation. For this to happen we need the spirit and power of Elijah.
"Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse." Malachi 4:5-6.
These are the last words of the Old Testament. John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah as Jesus said, but it was not before the great and terrible day of the Lord. This day is yet to come. The spirit and power of Elijah will once again come and restore the families. As the families are restored this brings about the restoration of the son-nations. America can once again be restored if her families are. The earth is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19). It's time for this restoration to come!

Consistently Christian

Who am I? I am one who believes that Jesus is the Christ--the Savior who came from God in heaven to die for the sins of mankind. I believe He spoke the truth, and my faith in Him justifies me in the sight of God so I will not have to suffer the consequences of my sin. He purchased me with His own blood, imparting eternal life to my spirit even before my physical death.

As a Christian, I follow Jesus--strengthened by His Holy Spirit who He imparts to those who ask. I take up my cross and die daily to follow Him. Which means that I don't pick and choose when I want to "be" Christian and when I don't want to be Christian. I don't decide on Sunday morning that I'm a Christian so I go to church, but then on Tuesday I'm ashamed to admit I know Him.

To be a Christian means I am consistently Christian. When it's easy and when it's hard. When it's popular, and when it's not. When it pays off and when it costs me something. This is who I am, not a garment I take on and off. In this day and age we have American schoolteachers who are teaching our very young children that they can choose to be a boy or a girl. So it's no wonder people think Christianity is something that can also be worn or discarded. This idea will only get worse if we don't stop the madness and speak the truth without apology. We must not allow our children to be indoctrinated with these lies.

I am a Christian--all the time. I seek to become more like Jesus today than I was yesterday. If I am not consistently Christian then I doubt if I am a Christian at all. How can I be a true Christian if I am not always Christian? I cannot, anymore than I can choose to be a part-time male or part-time female.

If you are a Christian, please stand up in this kind of committed consistency so our children can find stability somewhere in this chaotic society.

1 John 5:1-4; 1 John 2:1-2; Romans 5:1; Acts 20:28; Luke 11:13; Luke 9:23; Proverbs 23:23; 1 Peter 2:20; 2 Corinthians 3:18

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Lord of the Sabbath

Keeping the Sabbath is an outward act which expresses an inner faith in God. By resting on the Sabbath, no matter how much "work" needs to be done, it shows that I am trusting in God to provide and not trusting in myself. If I think that my provision comes from my own work then I will not want to take that day of rest or take time to wait on the Lord and seek Him.

We can get wrapped up in what I call the time-provision tail chase. Provision really comes as we hear and do what the Lord says. When we slack in that we end up in lack. If we try to solve our lack by our own work (working for ourselves) rather than seeking the Lord concerning our lives (working for Him) then more lack is produced. This cycle of trying to chase after money to get rid of the lack goes on until we stop and trust the Lord. I'm not saying we shouldn't work, or that we shouldn't work hard, but that we must seek the Lord to hear and do what He is saying to us, or all of our hard work will do nothing for us. His work comes first. As Haggai says, it's like putting your money in a bag with holes. Haggai 1:6. By spending time with the Lord we begin to break the time-provision tail chase.

Worship is not waste! Matthew 26:6-13. Rest is not waste either, and consider this--if the Lord is in us and we insist on working, rather than keeping the Sabbath, isn't that like making Him work on His day off? The Sabbath is not a drudging obligation we have to keep. It's both He and I resting and rejoicing in His provision. I delight in Him on the Sabbath, and take joy in the fact that He gives me rest and provides--even if my hard work isn't enough. He is a loving Father who provides for me. He is not a hard taskmaster. He gives us the rest we need and still meets our needs.
"Also the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the sabbath and holds fast My covenant; Even those I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples." Isaiah 56:6-7
If we keep the Sabbath then God will accept our sacrifice--the offering representative of our work. It becomes acceptable to Him once we show that we are not trusting in our own selves--our own work--to provide for us, but we trust in Him. In fact, our own attempts to work hard and provide for ourselves apart from trusting in Him, is considered evil in His eyes. Isaiah 56:2.

We see from what Isaiah says that those who:

  • Minister to the Lord
  • Love His Name
  • Will be His servant
  • Do not profane the Sabbath
  • Hold fast to His covenant

will be brought by Him to His holy mountain, where He will make them joyful in His house of prayer--both Jew and Gentile, and He will accept their sacrifice. In other words, their offering--which comes from their work or increase--will have His blessing on it.

When we bring our tithes to His house, it represents the dedication of our work, and our increase, first to Him. When we keep the Sabbath, it represents the dedication of our lives--our time and energy--first to Him. Resting from our work is an expression of both faith and dedication to the Lord. Besides, no matter how hard we work, it will accomplish nothing if we do not seek Him first anyway.
"If because of the sabbath,
you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day,
And call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable,
And honor it, desisting from your own ways,
From seeking your own pleasure
And speaking your own word,
Then you will take delight in the Lord,
And I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
And I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken."
Isaiah 58:13-14

By ceasing from my own works I show that I believe and trust in Him. It's not by my works that I succeed at anything. Keeping the Sabbath shows my faith, and I will delight in Him, and He will provide!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Inherited Faith?

Sometimes I wake up with an entire blog, or article, running through my mind. In fact, probably the majority of the blogs I write begin this way. This was the case today as I woke up with this thought about inherited faith, specifically Christian and Jewish faith, so here it is...

As Christianity has perpetuated now through several generations, one may have the idea that they are a Christian by heritage. By that I mean a person thinks they are a Christian because their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents etc. were Christian. Somehow they think it is a family thing that is passed on and inherited, much like a race or nationality. This seems especially true today in America where we have many people who have grown up never going to church. When asked what religion they are, they say they are Christian because that's what their parents or grandparents were.

However, Christianity is a personal faith in Jesus Christ. It doesn't come by heritage. It's not passed on like an inheritance without each individual having their own personal faith and confession of Jesus Christ as Lord. In this way, the true Christian Gentiles are an example to the Jewish nation today. The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans that "a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in." He said that salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them (the Jews) jealous. (Romans 11:25, 11). Christians can be a sign to the Jewish nation that salvation does not come by heritage alone. The Jewish people themselves must each one have a personal faith in the Messiah. They, just as we, cannot rely on salvation "automatically" being passed on. 

I believe this is what God was addressing to the Jewish people through the prophet Isaiah when He said concerning the foreigners who follow Him, "Even those I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples." Isaiah 56:6-7. Even then, He was letting His people know that His salvation would be extended to all people groups. Jesus also quoted this verse in Mark 11:17.

To be clear, I do not believe in the "replacement theory" which says that the church has replaced the Jewish nation. I am not, by any means, trying to make light of the Jewish nation or culture. I do believe that the Jewish people have a very important place in God's plan and coming kingdom. I believe Christians can learn much from the Jews. I also believe that, as Christians, it is very important to teach our children the way of Christianity and to guide them in their own personal faith. We need to be sure that our children understand that they will need to accept the Lord Jesus for themselves, and grow in their own personal relationship with Him. There comes a point in time where each person, Jew or Gentile will be responsible for their own faith, and can't just rely on the "family faith."

God made families and intended for them to be the ultimate ruling authority in the earth. He has made unique people groups that are each a blessing in their own way. Quite often gifts and callings are passed down generationally and remain in family lines--skills, businesses or ministerial callings for example. Children are meant to experience a great sense of belonging through their families. However, as important as that is, no one should be overlooked or taken for granted concerning their faith. Our heavenly Father loves every one, individually, to the point where He would leave the 99 to go find the one. (Luke 15:4). May we pray for each member of our families individually and by name. May we pray for the Jewish nation to understand this as well, that each one must individually accept the Messiah, and may we pray that they know His name--Jesus.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Only Way...

If you believe that Jesus is the way, then you must also believe that He is the only way, otherwise what you believe in is not Jesus, but a false representation of Him. One can't believe in Jesus without believing the Bible. One can't believe in Jesus without believing what He said. So what did He say?

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6

No one. That means He's the only way. Some people who consider themselves to be Christian, will say that you may not have to believe as I do, but as long as you believe in something then you're okay. The one who says that is not really a Christian, or at best they are a naive Christian who is on a dangerous path. That may sound harsh, but when we are faced with those who are willing to do whatever it takes--lying, deception, betrayal, murder etc.--so that their "religion" can rule, then it needs to become clear who really believes in Jesus and who doesn't. It's time that He stop being misrepresented. We need to see Him for who He really is. The world needs to see Him for who He really is. His people need to reflect Him to the world truthfully and accurately and not just according to our own opinion anymore. He is the only way.

If I've offended anyone, then good. Because the one who is offended by this message is the very one who needs to do some soul-searching, myself included. I pray all of God's people, all those who call themselves Christian, do some serious soul-searching and ask ourselves to what extent do we believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father. Call Him God, Daddy, Pappa or whatever, but if a person doesn't believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to Him, then they will never reach Him. Not only that but they give a false sense of security to those who also believe in something false. If I don't believe that He is the only way, then I don't believe His words, I don't believe in Him, even if I say I do. If I think you can get to God some other way, then I don't really believe Jesus myself, because He said He is the only way. He didn't lie. He can't lie, He is the truth.

At the time of this writing, we are in the Feast of Trumpets period with the Day of Atonement approaching. This is, of course, a time of repentance and fasting before the Lord. I don't write this because I think I'm perfect and that we should be judgmental and intolerant of the world who disagrees with us. I write this because I see those who present themselves as Christian being tolerant of those things that hurt the heart of God--the One who died for them. They are misleading those who don't believe in Jesus by telling them that as long as they have some kind of faith in something then they are okay. It's not mean to tell someone the truth, it's love! Love for the Lord, as well as love for the person.

I encourage everyone to press in to the Lord and hope that, just as the apostle Paul told the church at Corinth to examine themselves to see if they are in the faith, we too have times of examining our faith and presenting our hearts openly to the Lord for His truth and light to shine, clearing out all of our misconceptions.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Repost: The Gall of Bitterness

I was reading a blog I wrote and posted on the Pray For Waterford Michigan blog that I do, dated September 18, 2012. I felt it needed to be highlighted again today so here is the post:

"I woke up today thinking of this Scripture and recent revelation from the Lord and I felt it wasn't just for me today so here it is...

In Acts 8 we read of Simon the sorcerer from Samaria. He had dazzled the people with his sorcery and then he, and the people of the city, heard the Gospel and became believers in Jesus Christ. Simon himself was amazed at the miracles and signs that Philip did. Then Peter and John came and prayed for the people to receive the Holy Spirit.

Now Simon saw that the people received the Holy Spirit when they laid their hands on them and he offered them money asking them to give him the power to do the same thing. Peter rebuked him for thinking that the gift of God could be purchased with money. He told him his heart was not right in the sight of God. He told him to repent and ask God to forgive him.

Now this is the part that I was reminded of today--Peter said in verse 23, "For I perceive that you are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity." No longer could Simon dazzle the people with sorcery and he wanted the Holy Spirit. But his heart motives hadn't really changed. Peter could see that he was bitter. Bitterness opens the door for a counterfeit spirit that may appear to be genuine, but really isn't. If we want God to move among us in a genuine true way, the true, authentic, Holy Spirit and not just religious works or impressive signs that will dazzle people, then we need to be sure and remove all bitterness, resentments, criticisms, judgments, jealousies etc. from our heart.

The power of the Holy Spirit is motivated by the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 12:15 tells us to watch diligently to see that no root of bitterness springs up and contaminates us. If you are in a position where people have given you opportunity to become bitter against them, or maybe against circumstances, then you have an amazing opportunity to pull out that root of bitterness that would try and spring up and get rid of it! As Rick Joyner says, don't waste your trials! When the opportunity to be resentful or critical is there, pull that thing out! As you overcome you open the door for the genuine Spirit of God to move on in!

In Luke 11:11-13 Jesus says that if we ask our Father for bread, fish or an egg, He will not give us a stone, a serpent or a scorpion. He will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. He will not give us a counterfeit!

So whether you are frustrated at people, annoyed, angry, resentful, or whatever it may be, it's not worth sacrificing the presence of the Spirit to hang on to those things. And rather than letting it annoy you, look at it as an opportunity to overcome, when you do the heavens can be opened above you!"

Re-post Pray for Waterford Michigan, September 18, 2012

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

If the Lord is God...

A person can't trust in the Lord Jesus for salvation and trust in their own "good" deeds to get into heaven at the same time. You can't have it both ways. It's one or the other. In the denomination I was raised in, I was taught that Jesus died for my sins, but there was always an understanding that you had to be a good person in order to get into heaven. Many people I talk to today, still think that because they haven't murdered anyone, or been any kind of habitual criminal, that they will make it into heaven. Yet this is not what the Bible teaches.
...for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12
It's not Jesus and Rose's name together that gets me into heaven, it's His name alone! It's hard to admit that you are not a good person. If I have to say I'm a resentful, stingy, angry, bitter, arrogant or lazy person, it's hard to do. Yet that's exactly what we have to do. Once we admit that we are not "good enough" to get into heaven, we are almost there. I suspect that some people avoid taking a deeper look at the subject because it is uncomfortable. However, we need to shine the light into this dim place now, before its too late. 
but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7
If we half-way believe in Jesus and half-way believe that being a good person will get us into heaven, then it might seem like we are on a safe path. But this is compromising and "watering down" the power of Jesus' blood. There is not one person "good enough" to get into heaven. (see Romans 3:10). Jesus is the only one who lived a perfectly holy life. Thankfully, He sacrificed Himself for our sins, but we must not only believe that He did that, but trust in Him and Him alone for our salvation. 

Why do we hesitate to trust Him completely? Why do we compromise by trying to add our own good works? I suggest its because to trust in Jesus completely, means that we are crossing a line. On the other side of this line we may have to stand up and defend Him, and our faith in Him. We may become unpopular. There may be socially awkward moments. Some could be arrested or even killed. On this side of the line, we have completely surrendered to Him. This might make us feel vulnerable or out of control. How can faith in Him be enough? Don't I need to add something to it? These are all legitimate feelings we need to address, and ask ourselves to what extent do we believe in Him? Some might ask, "What if He's not real? What if I'm wrong about Him, about heaven, Christianity and all of it?" Rather than avoiding these questions, everyone who calls themself a Christian needs to face these doubts. Face them in prayer. Face them by looking at Scripture. Face them on your knees, sincerely asking God to show you the truth. He will!

Our own good works or good lifestyle will not get us into heaven. As the writer of Hebrews said, "how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Hebrews 9:14). We know that sin brings death, but even our attempts to justify ourselves through "good" works, are dead works that will not cleanse us from sin. To say that the blood of Jesus is not enough to wash away our sin and create a new spirit within us, is like spitting in His face. He is that pure and that holy. One drop does it all. Who are we to say that it's not enough? It's time to decide who, or what, our faith is in. 
Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him..." 1 Kings 18:21
This other side of the line is not a scary place, it is a safe and joyful place--in Him who loves you more than anyone else does!

Saturday, August 29, 2015


"You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect."
Luke 12:40

When do we expect Him to come? At first glance, looking around at the world today, I feel like the Lord's return to earth could come at any moment. Some, many who are in the midst of the worst horrors, are praying, "Come quickly Lord Jesus!" The wars, rumors of wars (terrorist threats), physical, legal and social persecution of God's people, make me lift up my head and expect to see Him come bursting through the sky at any moment. However, Jesus said He's coming at a time that we don't expect

I'm not saying He couldn't return at any moment, but Jesus gave us a clue about what would be going on in the earth right before the end. He said "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come." Matthew 24:14. That word testimony is the Greek word marturion which means a testimony, witness, evidence or proof.* So at the time of His return, or just before, this gospel will be preached, in the whole world, to all nations. The preaching and His return will bear witness with each other.

Will this preaching be coming from those under severe persecution who refuse to deny their faith, even at the risk of death or loss? Or will it come from those who have great blessing on their life in the midst of great turmoil in the world? I would guess it to be both. There are two equally telling tests of faith. One is persecution and the other is prosperity. Persecution either presses people to draw closer to the Lord out of both need and faithfulness, or causes them to question and abandon their faith. Luke 21:36, Prosperity either causes people to draw closer to the Lord out of thankfulness and gratitude, or to become comfortable, arrogant and with a false sense of security, abandon their faith. Deuteronomy 8

The point is, as Christians, we want to guard against both the hopelessness and fear that comes with persecution (or the threat of persecution), and the pride and complacency that comes with prosperity. The gospel of the kingdom needs to be heralded and proclaimed throughout the world. That is to be our focus no matter which situation we are in.

*Strong's Concordance of the Bible retrieved from 08/29/2015

Monday, August 24, 2015


"...Who brings forth the wind from His treasuries." Psalm 135:7

I just returned from vacationing upnorth and the one thing I always notice up there is the fresh air. My entire body is refreshed just by breathing. I often bring back rocks or other little treasures when I leave, but one thing I cannot bring back is the air. If you want to breathe the air in a region you have to go there. However, you can breathe the air and then breathe out the refreshment you receive in other ways. You can breathe out words--spoken or written. You might even breathe out that refreshment in the form of art--an inspired dance, painting, sculpture, song or even a culinary creation. Your life and your work can become revitalized by going someplace where you connect with the Lord and breathe in that refreshing air. You breathe it out through your words and your work.

What you breathe out after breathing in from the Spirit of God can bless other people. There are refreshing places on earth, and there are refreshing places in the spiritual realm where we can breathe in from the breath of God and breathe out life-giving refreshment to others. This is good for us to do. This is what God wants us to do. However, at some point each person needs to inhale from the Spirit for themselves. It's good to be inspired from others, but the air becomes stale if we do not, at times, go to the Lord ourselves and breathe in the air of the Spirit--inhale the wind and words He gives to us individually.

What exactly do we breathe in when we inhale from the Spirit of God? Well, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are characteristics of the Spirit Himself. This is how He treats you. You must receive these things from Him first--breathe them in--before you can exhale these things towards others. If I try and extend goodness to others without having received the goodness of God first then I'm offering stale air, something that is not refreshing like His Spirit is. 

Today is a good day to inhale the refreshing breath of the Spirit of God. If you can, enjoy the beauty of His creation while you do so. If not, He is still here, waiting for you to come breathe in from His breath, His Spirit and His life.

See also "What's in Your Atmosphere?"

For more on discovering art as worship visit 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Expanding Kingdom

The Kingdom of God is Expanding. 

It is expanding with each person who enters. Each person who comes into the kingdom brings their life, their gift and they have a place. This place is not a cheap addition or an afterthought, but an intricate part of the kingdom of Heaven. In fact, God had each person in mind before the foundations of the earth. Ephesians 1:4-5. He wants everyone to enter in. We enter His kingdom by faith in Jesus Christ.

The heroes of faith we read about in Hebrews 11 admitted they were foreigners on the earth, but their heart was after a heavenly country, one not of this earth, and "God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them." Hebrews 11:11-16. There is a city, a heavenly place that God is preparing for those who believe.

Jesus said to His disciples before He left this earth that there are many dwelling places in His Father's house. He left this earth to go prepare a place for those who believe in Him, those who come to the Father through faith in Jesus Christ. John 14:1-6. There is a place being prepared for you right now if you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will fit perfectly into this place!

It's More Than a Place.

Yet, the kingdom of heaven is more than a place. It's more than a city. God promised Abram/Abraham both land and people, sand and stars. He told Abraham that his seed, his descendants, would be as numerous as the stars of heaven and the sand on the seashore--innumerable. Genesis 22:17. Heaven is more than a place. The real estate of heaven is made up of people. People are the real "land",  the real jewels of heaven. We are living stones "being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 2:5. Jesus Christ is the choice corner stone. People make the kingdom of Heaven what it is and what it will be.

Jesus answered the Pharisees when they asked Him when the kingdom of God was coming, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, "look, here it is!" or, 'There it is!" For behold the kingdom of God is in your midst." Luke 17:20-21. I like the Amplified Bible which says, "the kingdom of God is within you [in your hearts] and among you [surrounding you]." The kingdom of God is within us and among us. He is with each one of us individually and when we gather in His name He is in our midst. His kingdom is within our hearts, yet it is among us when we come together. It expands, multiplies and surrounds us when we come together.

The War Over Territory.

What we must realize is that we are in a war. A war over territory. A war over people. We see this war expressed as a fight over land, but it is also a war over the hearts of people. To maintain our ground, we must teach our children the ways of the Lord. We must pray for them, pray with them, and do all we can to strengthen the family unit. The family is God's ruling authority in the earth. Genesis 1:27-28. We must not neglect our children!

To be rescued from the kingdom of darkness and brought into the kingdom of light that you were created and predestined to live in, you must know the good news of Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:13, 1 Corinthians 1:21. You have a place in God's kingdom. You have a gift. You are a beautiful, valuable, and vital part of the kingdom of Heaven. But you must believe in Jesus Christ. You must accept righteousness God's way. You must be rescued from the darkness and deception that is filling the earth today. By believing in Jesus you will inherit your place in God's kingdom. God is making it so. Jesus is preparing the place. Receive His rescuing light that shines into a dark heart and brings it into His glorious kingdom for a perfect fit!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Knowledge of the Truth

"1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6 For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." 2 Timothy 3:1-7

Knowledge and truth are not the same thing. A person may acquire a lot of knowledge about something, but it may not be truthful knowledge. All knowledge must submit to truth. If the knowledge in a person's life is not built upon a foundation of truth it will eventually crumble and fall. It may look impressive for a period of time, but it is not going to hold up with age or crisis.

You can't find the truth through knowledge alone. As Paul said in this verse, one may be always learning, but never come to the knowledge of the truth. Just because you know a lot, doesn't mean you know the truth. Truth is found only in the Word of God, and a person whose life is built on truth is one who will stand, not one who has simply acquired a lot of knowledge about a lot of different things.

Increasing in knowledge will not make you a good person. It will not change your heart or make you holy. Education may do a lot of good things, but it will not make a person righteous. We find a living truth in the Lord Jesus Christ which recreates the heart of the believer into one who is righteous before God.

This holds true not only for an individual's life, but for a society as well. An educated society is not necessarily going to be a righteous society, any more than a wealthy one is. Man tries to make everything fair for everyone, rather than submitting to the justice of God and it simply creates a mess. We will not have a good, holy, righteous society unless we submit to the truth--the Word of God--and live according to His definition of justice. When we try to make everything fair and everyone equal, than we end up with a "gray" and dull society with no life. God is not this way, He separates the light from darkness.

Truth is the only thing that will hold up. It is more stable than any law. It is true whether man chooses to live by it or not. Those who accept the truth receive eternity into their hearts, which will cause them to remain standing when man's attempt to prevail through his own knowledge fails.

John 1:14-17, John 14:6, Psalm 15:1-2, Psalm 40:11, Psalm 51:6, Psalm 119:142, 151, 160; John 16:13, John 17:17, John 18:37

Saturday, July 4, 2015

God's Freedom of Speech Definition

"...As they observed the confidence of Peter and John...
they were amazed
and began to recognize them
as having been with Jesus."
Acts 4:13

Peter and John were arrested in Jerusalem and the authorities asked them by what power, or in what name, they had healed a lame man. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, answered them by speaking of Jesus. As he spoke, they observed their confidence. The confidence of Peter and John was something recognizable. The rulers and elders of the people realized that Peter and John had the same confident, authoritative, free speech that the Lord Jesus Himself had when He walked among them.

According to Strong's Concordance, the word confidence is parrésia which means freedom of speech, confidence. Because of the freedom of speech Peter and John displayed, the authorities saw Jesus in them. They didn't like it, but because of the open miracle done, they couldn't deny it. They did, however, "warn them to speak no longer to any man in this name." (Acts 4:17). Peter and John's response to the warning was, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard." (Acts 4:19-20). They could not, and would not, stop speaking about what they had seen and heard in Jesus Christ.

After further threats, they were released from custody. What did they do? They gathered with their own people and prayed. They prayed for the Lord to grant them to speak His Word with all parrésia. (Acts 4:29). They knew that the authority to speak freely in the Name of Jesus was granted by the Lord Himself. This authority to speak freely is a God-given authority. No authority on earth can take it away. Freedom of speech, specifically freedom of speech about Jesus Christ, is granted from God Himself. It cannot be prohibited by any earthly authority! "When they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with parrésia." (Acts 4:31).

They went out in unity and gave testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power (Acts 4:33). Many signs and wonders were taking place (Acts 5:12-16) and the apostles were arrested. The authority of man took hold of them to stop their freedom of speech. However, an angel came and let them out of prison during the night and told them to preach to the people in the temple, which they did. While the Council was trying to figure out what happened to their prisoners overnight, someone told them they were in the temple teaching the people. The restraints of man could not hold them while they had the parrésia--God's free speech authority--with them!

The apostles were brought in and questioned. (Acts 5:18-27). The high priest said, "We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching..." (Acts 5:28). Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29) and he preached Jesus to them. They became furious and wanted to kill them, but Gamaliel persuaded them otherwise. However, before releasing them, they beat them and ordered then not to speak in the name of Jesus. (Acts 5:40). What was their response? They went away rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name, and they continued to preach Jesus as the Christ every day. (Acts 5:41-42).

Father God, I pray that we, Your people, recognize that our free speech right--the right to teach and preach in the Name of Jesus, and to heal and do signs and wonders in Your Name--is an authority given to us by You. May we gather and pray for this parrésia so we do not shrink back from what You have called us to do. May we go forward in boldness and confidence, freely preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the message of Your kingdom. May we determine in our hearts to obey You and understand that the authority You've given us is the greatest authority of all, and even Your angels will help us to fulfill Your purpose for us.

The Apostles and Believers Prayer:
"As Your bond-servants may we speak Your word with all parrésia, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus." (Acts 4:29-30).

See part two of this blog: The Parrésia Anointing by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Bible and Same-Sex Love

"God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; 
male and female He created them."
Genesis 1:27

Setting the marriage question aside for a moment, let's address the question, do two people of the same sex have a right to "love" each other? This question of the "right to love" seems to be at the core of the same-sex marriage debate. As Christians, we need to know what the Bible says about this and not speak or act out emotionally. The real question is not about the right of two people of the same sex to love each other, it's about what kind of "love" they are involving themselves in. We read about the love of Jonathan and David. This was a brotherly love, a knitting together of the hearts, but not a sexual relationship.1 Samuel 18-20. God is not against same-sex friendships. The line is crossed when the relationship becomes sexual.

Paul makes this clear in his letter to the Romans. He says. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness..." He goes on to explain that there is evidence of God within every person and in creation as well. Yet when people chose not to honor God, but began speculations that led to worshiping creatures and creation instead of the Creator, then "God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error." The homosexual desire came as a result of people dishonoring God and entertaining pointless speculations bringing deception to a foolish heart. We see this sin as specific evidence of a people who have rejected the holiness of God and "exchanged the truth of God for a lie." It's simply an outward expression of how far away from God the heart of a people have gotten. Historically, it's been the expression that has come right before judgement! (Noah, Sodom). God created male and female. He created us in His image. By distorting our maleness and femaleness we are distorting the image of God Himself. He doesn't take this lightly! Romans 1:18-32. See also 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12.

Paul continues, "And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with..." and he lists many sins that any of us have committed at least one or two of. Things like greed, envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, gossip, slander, arrogance etc. Paul goes on and says, that "those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them." Whatever the sin, whether it's homosexuality, or any other sin, we must not only refrain from them, but not approve of those who continue to practice them. This is why Christians cannot condone homosexuality. And this is why Christians need to judge themselves as well. In fact, we should have been judging ourselves well before homosexuality became prevalent. 

Jesus said, "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." He commanded us to "love one another, even as I have loved you." John 13:34-35. Of course we know that God is all about love. God is love. Jesus died for all mankind because of this kind of love. We're instructed to love one another with this same kind of love. However, our love for God must trump any kind of love for another human being. God says, not to engage in acts of passionate, or sexual, love for someone of the same sex, and even of the opposite sex if it's outside of the marriage bed. If we are to love and honor God first above all, then we cannot participate or condone this kind of sexual behavior. We approve of same-sex friendship, but not same-sex sexual activity or marriage. 

If you need more Scripture to convince yourself of God's opinion on this, look at the laws God gave to Moses, "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination...If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. their bloodguiltiness is upon them." Leviticus 18:22, 20:13. If anyone says, yeah but we're not under the law anymore I would say this, do you really think God has changed His mind on this? Something He wanted the death penalty for under the law is not something He is going to change His mind about now! A true Christian is not going to try and find out how much He allows us to get away with, but cares about pleasing Him and building His kingdom according to His precepts and judgments, which are the only ones that will make a society work. 

"A woman shall not wear man's clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman's clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God." Deuteronomy 22:5. 

Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of homosexuality. The men of Sodom tried to forcibly take the two angels, who appeared as men and came to rescue Lot and his family, in order to have sex with them. Lot even offered them his virgin daughters but they rejected them and tried to break down the door to get to the "men." Of course we know they were all destroyed. God saw homosexuality as wicked, to the point that they were entirely destroyed because of it. Genesis 13:13, 19:4-9. 

Before the flood, sexual perversion was rampant, to the point that God said of man, "Every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Genesis 6:1-5. After Noah and his family got out of the boat and onto dry ground, the hope of completely wiping out man's wicked thoughts was lost when Ham molested his father. Genesis 9:20-24. It was this unrestrained sexual behavior that caused his son to be cursed. 

Jesus said, "the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark." Matthew 24:37-38. So it's not surprising that we are seeing all kinds of sexual sins today. This is how it was in the days of Noah.  

God cares about His seed, especially the seed of mankind. His design is for male and female to have children, creating families which make up nations. The family is the base unit, the ruling authority, in the earth. Of course this is why it is under such attack. The very first command given to Adam and Eve after God blessed their union, was for them to procreate--to have children. See my blog, The Marriage Blessing: Legal or Not? 
The legality of marriage was man's recognition of God's blessing on the union. Man gave the union a legal status, with resulting benefits, as an acknowledgement of God's blessing on this union, and a recognition that it is the basic governing unit. God's blessing on marriage came first, not the legal status. The legal status came because of the blessing, not the blessing because of the legal status! 
We need to remember that nothing will be able to take God's blessing off the union of a godly marriage, no matter what kind of laws man passes. There may be laws passed that allow legal status to marriages that are something other than the union of a man and woman, but that will not change the blessing of God upon a marriage union as He defines it. (Quote from The Marriage Blessing: Legal or Not?)
As Christians, we need to know what God really says about this issue and not just base our beliefs on what our Pastor or Christian friends say. This is becoming more necessary each day. Our convictions must be based on faith in the Word of God and a desire to please Him in all we do. This must be this kind of heart-felt convictions we have or we will never be able to hold true to them or speak truthfully.