At this particular time in our world we are under siege by an invisible, minuscule yet powerful opponent. Hitching a ride through unsuspecting carriers, this enemy has swiftly yet stealthily, attacked nation after nation with no regard to race, culture, creed, dialect, language, religion, age, sex, sexual tendency, royalty, pauper, rich, middle class, poor, famous or barely known, political party affiliation, believer or atheist, doctor or patient. Its main mission is to affect, effect and infect. And we must admit it is doing its job. A lot of people have proposed this epidemic is coming from God, bringing judgment upon the earth and going after the “gods” we have erected in our different societies. I, personally, do not ascribe to that theory as it is not Biblically supported. I personally would not want to be the one to point at Him and say to both the “believing” and unbelieving” world He did it! Does He allow things to happen, yes… possibly. For example, when teaching babies to walk, we allow them to fall, but we do not during this process push them and make them fall. Yet when we allow them to fall we also allow them to understand the lesson of getting back up.
Roberta Flack – Where is the love? (I don’t know)
Tina Turner – What’s love got to do with it? (EVERYTHING!!!)
There is one, true nature of God clearly represented in and of the Word, and that is LOVE!
1 John 4:16 says,
“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”
In other word, God does not love, love is the nature of God, yeah God is love, inseparable! Jesus gave us the greatest representation of the true nature of God. Love, unbiased and free flowing. God’s love for us is the most important thing we can receive. First Corinthians 13:13 says, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (God’s kind of love). After all, think about it, faith will be gone one day, because we will be with the one we fully trusted in. Hope will be gone, because we will see the Lord and being with Him will fulfill all expectations and aspirations, but love will never end. Love will exist forever and ever, because God is love eternal.
Believers should have more than just a superficial knowledge of God’s love. In Ephesians, chapter 3, Paul prayed that the Ephesians would get a greater revelation of God’s love for them. He said, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Eph. 3:14-19).
Notice in verse 18 that God’s love isn’t just one-dimensional. There is height, depth, length, and breadth to it. Many Christians only see God’s love as one-dimensional. They’ve never seen the multi-dimensional reality of God’s love. It includes all space and time. It also encompasses all people. John 3:16 “For so loved the World…“ not just Christians, not just people of a specific culture, not just an explicit nation, race or creed. His love encases the world, His whole creation. Let me say this, anytime we see a preference of who is loved based on religious beliefs, color of skin or any other external factor, as believers you do not represent Him.
In verse 19, Paul said as we experience God’s love, which is superior to mere knowledge of God’s love, then we would be filled with all the fullness of God. Experiencing God’s love equals fullness.
We think we have to do something to earn God’s love and we tether it, like a work contract to our human performance. I need to pray more, read His Word more, do Christian acts more. We have to merit God’s love. That is not what the Bible teaches. We are not employees of God. Our reward is not based on our job performance. God’s love for us is unconditional. Understand, God doesn’t love us because of some virtue we possess. God loves us because He is, not because we are.
Religion is one of the biggest broadcasters of the conditional love of God propaganda. Many “Christian churches” teach that God’s love for us is conditional, based on performance. If we pray, go to church, pay our tithes, etc., then the Lord loves us and answers our prayers; but if we fail, then the Lord won’t answer our prayers. There is no Biblical truth to that theory pertaining to the New Testament church. Remember we are no longer under law but Grace.
People who love one minute and then act the opposite way the next minute simply don’t operate in God’s love. God’s Word tells us to even love our enemies (Matt. 5:44). It is a command. He didn’t say to do it if you feel like it. A command given by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords does not generate an optional, what do you think, response.
Galatians 5:22 says that love is a part of the fruit of the Spirit. This is specifically speaking of the Holy Spirit; and our new man was born of the Spirit, so it has to be true that God’s love has been shed abroad in our spirits too. We have the capability to love as He loves. God’s kind of love is a choice that you make on the basis of what God said, and then you act on it through faith until it becomes a reality in your whole being.
Romans 5:8 says, “God commendeth ( committed) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God’s love wasn’t based upon what we had done for Him or what we deserved but upon His choice, His free choosing to love us. We didn’t do anything to merit God’s love. He just chose to give it. We can receive His kind of love and then give it to others in the same way. The Word (John 13:35) says “By this shall ALL men know that ye are my disciples, my students, my apprentices, my representatives that you have love one to another”. What is the “this”? That we love one another, even as He has loved us. (verse 34)
His love was extended toward Hitler just as much as it was toward Billy Graham. The difference is our acceptance or rejection of it, not His offer of it. God’s love is unconditional. What about your love for the “world”? Can you walk in lock step with God “so loved the world”, recognizing that He is in you and you in Him which would indicate that you too should unconditionally love the world…and ALL of its inhabitants or are you caught up in this spirit of tribalism introduced by the demonic great opposer, Lucifer? I leave with this… 1 John 4:20-21, “If a man says, I love God and hateth (disregards and show little empathy) his brother, he is a liar. For he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath seen? And this commandment (not suggestion) have we from Him, that he who loveth God love his brother (another creation of God) also.
One of the situations we have today, not only affecting and infecting the United States but also across the world is the remembrance of history. The remembrance of how we got to the point of where we are. We have lost sight of connection and human brotherhood. Yes, our past has many injustices and atrocities that cannot be ignored, but when we choose to learn from them, we can garner added benefits.
Exodus chapter 1 gives us an example of how this ignorance of history can lead to the downfall of a nation. Exodus 1:6-8 speaks of the death of Joseph, of his brother and their generation. It speaks of the fruitfulness of the children of Israel and the prosperity of the Egyptian nation but there is a problem. The passage states that a “new king” arose which knew not Joseph. Joseph’s name means “Jehovah was added”. In other words increase, exceeding and continued abundance was added just because of the presence of Joseph. The reason that the nations of Egypt prospered was because of the children of Israel who lived and operated under the covering of Joseph. Yet all the “new king” of Egypt could see was a growing immigrant culture of people who were infiltrating his land while completely ignoring the benefits and fruitfulness that they were producing not only for themselves but the nation of Egypt as a whole. The unlearned “new king” instilled into the nation of Egypt a mindset of being overran by the “immigrant” enemy. The “new king” knew not Joseph. He did not know that Jehovah adds. Don’t forget to remember where all your blessings come from. How is it that the “new king” knew not Joseph? How do you not know your history. When the “new king” issued edicts to undercut and enslave the very people that contributed to the success of the nation, things began to falter. Where were the “new king’s” advisors? Were they also ignorant of Joseph? We sometimes tend to believe that new is better so we ignore the wisdom, the taste, the aroma of that which has been aged by time. When you as “new king”, fail to see the hand of God on your nation and how He through His own sovereignty is blessing you, you then begin to negate and forget Joseph. Soon you drift into a state of tribalism. It becomes an us against them, even within the same community. We forget it was the “us” along with “them which was added” that made the nation great, prosperous and fruitful.
Understand, in the seven Jehovah titles there is not one that illustrates that He brings division. It is the nature of Satan to bring the opposite of what the Father desires. Always with the addition of Jehovah connotation there is peace. The Father delights in adding, that it might be even more fruitful. Herbs, spices and salts adds to the flavor of the original food . How is it that we miss that concept in community, governance and yes even ministry? Wake up world. A house divided against itself cannot stand. Across the globe division seems to be the preeminent call for today. The word diversity does not mean division, it means variety, assortment, mixture, range and multiplicity. The nation is strengthen when we remember Joseph, Jehovah was added. Jesus prays to the Father in John 17 His desire for us to be a s one even as He and the Father are one. If the message is division and “us against them” then we have failed to remember Joseph. Don’t forget to remember…
If He Is In Control, It’s Out of Control.
One of the things that we hear especially when things go chaotic in life is that God is in control. To our human intellect this would ring true. After all He is God and we are mere mortals. But to have that thought introduces several questions that we cannot answer especially from the unbeliever. Why does He allow bad things to happen to good people? Why did He not intervene in the Sandy Hook situation or the Las Vegas situation or the church shootings? Where was He when slavery and racism took the lives of millions of people? How could He allow His own to die under the hand of the Nazis? He is in control and He is our Father but millions have died via illness, disease and starvation? Children, babies are innocent victims yet bare the ultimate penalty? Where is your God? Where is this Heavenly father? Why, does He let the wicked prosper and allow others suffer? These are valid questions that we sometimes must field from the unbeliever and if you are honest with yourself, ones you have asked yourself. To be honest these questions creates a wrestling in your soul that struggles to produce an answer that is Biblically supported, an answer that makes sense. If that is how He looks after His children, His creation then something is wrong.
But and because He is a good good Father how do we reconcile? I would submit for your consideration that God is not in control. Before you hang me from the highest tree let’s consider if the Word supports this conclusion. Logically, a good place to start is in the beginning. In Genesis 1:26-28 through we read “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created He Him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it. So what I am hearing that He gave man the authority the edict to run things and rule over His creation. While He is in charge, all powerful, and sovereign that does not mean He is in control of the earth.
Now I know you are probably saying to yourself wait a minute, the Bible says that “the Earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwells therein.” (Psalm 24:1) True…but there is a notable difference between ownership and sovereignty and being in control. As I was thinking on this point, the Father showed me an example. He said you have a car that you own. It is yours, however if you give the keys to someone whom you allow to drive it, say to run an errand, who is in control of that car? What if an accident takes place? Who is in control, the one who owns it or the one who possesses the keys and is behind the steering wheel? A king can be sovereign over a nation having not to answer to anyone yet still not be in control of the activities of his subjects. Consider Psalm 115:16. “The heaven, even the heavens, arethe LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.” Yes, the Father created it for man’s use supplying everything needed for man to live and thrive, howbeit retaining ownership. Understand, He has given control of the earth to men and we will have to give an account how we maintained it. I am afraid, however, that we have advocated our responsibility of being a mindful tenant. Being a renter of my place of residence does not mean that my landlord is in absolute control of the residence. It is given to me.
There is a point in the New Testament that many miss that illustrates this point. When Jesus is tempted in the wilderness by Satan in Luke 4:6-7 Satan declares that he would give Jesus the kingdoms of the world along with their authority and splendor, because it was given to him…through the fall, but with the resurrection of Christ ALL power was given to Him. His desire is that God’s will be done on EARTH as it is being done in Heaven. This would point to a probable fact that His will is not always being done on earth. We have advocated our responsibility in parenting, in governance, in the earth maintenance, and nature itself. Sadly we have not demonstrated loving our fellow man. Even to those proclaiming the banner of Christendom have advocated our call, our duty to love our fellowman with the unshakable, the unbiased love of Christ. As a renter it is MY duty to maintain the property as I am answerable to the owner. We Are answerable to the Owner and will one day give an account for that which He left in our hands. God’s sovereignty and ultimate ownership does not abate or eliminate man’s accountability.
I have been on hiatus for the last three months taking a break and hearing and listening trying to see what is going on in my life’s experience. Many things have transpired during this time both in the spiritual realm and the natural realm, some pleasant and many not so pleasant. Death had made its untimely presence in my personal life and unjust decisions have made it appearance in another part of my life. Enough to where anger rose up as lava from a volcano, yet the Father calmed my storm by saying ,”I see and I know”. But Father they are supposed to be of Godly character and fairness, yet He said, “I see and I know”. So the decision to hibernate for 3 months and rest was a needed decision. Now after 3 months I am back, awakened on the day we celebrate the “He’s back” day of the Christ.
In my time of hibernation I kept hearing “ok I know this is going to get me in trouble with Christian religious folks”, it is not about the cross. Hear me out before you judge, condemn and put me on one (lol). The Father said it is and never will be about the instrument of death that the church has highlighted and illuminated. No…it is not about the nails in the hands and the feet. If you recall the two thieves who were on both sides of Christ also hung on crosses and their hands and the feet were also nailed. There were thousands of people who were crucified before and after Christ on the cross. How do you think the Romans were such experts in that horrific operation? Christ’s crucifixion was not their first rodeo. Even the scourging was not isolated to the episode of the Christ’s suffering. So what… is the special, significant event of the most important event in the eternal history of the mankind? I heard him say it was the One on the cross. It was the sacrifice.
Sounds simple and that should be easy to understand now but it really was not at that time. So again, what was significant was the sacrifice,.That is where the difference lies and when we look at the sacrifice, when we look at Jesus the Christ we have to understand how the many people viewed Him. What do I mean? Well let’s think realistically and outside of the proverbial box. I offer the following as cases in point. The Roman soldiers looked at Christ on the cross not as a savior of the world but they looked at him as an object to be tortured, someone they were assigned to hang, nothing more nothing less. It was an assignment cloaked by an accusation of Roman government opposition not a religious objection. The hanging of Jesus was just an assignment. On the other hand the priestly Sanhedrin court looked at Christ as someone who was a heretic. He was someone who was a blasphemer and a threat. Someone that needed to be destroyed less He would bring an end possibly to their way of life. Maybe their intentions were good based upon what they understood but their vision, their comprehension was blind and their intent was evil.
Mary, the mother of Jesus looked upon her son on the cross as just that, her son. The babe born in a manger, raised to be a loving child that had a curious, miraculous God initiated conception. Yet He was her son, her heart. John looked upon Jesus on the cross as his rabbi, his teacher, his friend. His companion for a 3 years period, and yes maybe, possibly the one that would deliver Israel from the heavy hand of Roman oppression. That was the viewpoint of all of the disciples. They thought they knew He was the one. Jesus was really the deliver of the nation.
Mary Magdalene saw Jesus on the cross as a friend and a rescuer when it seemed like all was against her, pronouncing her guilty in her biblically highlighted event when indeed she was guilty. The peering crowd who were around looking at this scene looked at Jesus as someone who was a good person, a prophet. He was a Holy man, a healer.
The two thieves perceived the “sacrifice” from different outlooks. One thief looked at Him on the cross as someone that was on his level. Jesus was someone who he had heard the crowd jeer and heard the negative accusations of those watching below and promptly joined in. Maybe not out of his personal knowledge and belief but from an understanding born of ignorance. His words were “If you are the Christ, save yourself and me too”. Prove it. If? Are you kidding me? If? Yet the other thief looked at Jesus as someone who was an innocent man. He was someone who deserve better than what He was getting. He did not fully comprehend but he understood that there was something different about the man in the middle. There was something different about His words, His demeanor, His prayer. The second thief did not understand that Jesus was the sacrificial offering that would save mankind and take away the sins of the world. He just knew there was something about this man and there was a kingdom.There was a place that this man would enter and he was saying, imploring let me enter in with you. Despite the possible perspectives identified not one really understood the sacrifice that was hanging on the cross nor why He was there. They just knew He was there, dying a miserable death in the heat of the Judean day.
But the Father said the sacrifice knew. Jesus knew He was the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. He was the Lamb slayed before the foundations of the world were put in place. He understood the other perspectives could not save satisfy or deliver from the Father’s wrath. The viewpoints of all the others could not reach above their own understandings and desires. So understand, Douglas, it was and is not about the instrument of execution that should be illuminated and focused upon. It is the sacrifice, the One that was on the cross that should be the emphasis.
Here is the jackpot question. Today how are we looking at the One who is no longer on the cross? Yes, He is the one that was resurrected. He’s back!! Does that resurrected life resurrect your life, resurrect your relationship to where you exemplify, illustrate, emulate and demonstrate who Christ really is? Do you see Him as the Savior, kinsmen Redeemer, the sin bearer of the entire world? No, not just to Christians? Not just to followers of Christ, but Savior to the entire world? Yes, even those who views are not clear and in murderous error. Those who do not know who He IS!!! Oh yeah… He’s BACK!
“But about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:25)
Attacked, stripped, beaten and thrown in the INNER prison; in stocks; bruised and bleeding; in pain and extreme discomfort, surrounded by the very worst criminals, in the worst of places. What does one do? Pray and sing praises to God, of course!
Well, ok, perhaps not for most of us, but these two men had a different mindset. They were more interested in pleasing God than men, more interested in Kingdom principles then social edicts and perils. God had given them great boldness and confidence even in that horrendous, I do not want to be here, God how could you allow this to happen to me, place.
I have not written to my blog in a couple of months. I have just been sitting, listening and thinking on the events that are taking place in our world today. From the circus act we now call politics, police actions, humankind on humankind criminality and greed, acts of terrorisms, we as a people across the globe are in a time of midnight. In the natural, midnight is the starkest period of gloom and darkness and it is made to appear that the sun has gone away. However, the real truth is the earth has turn away from the sun. Whether you realize it or not, darkness, extreme intense gloom is covering our world today and it is made to appear that the Son has gone away. However, the real truth is the world has turn away from the Son. Not only are we in a dark time but also we have been thrown into a dark place, prison. Not just prison but an inner prison. What is an inner prison?
Inner prisons in the days of Paul were not pleasant or healthy. In the mind of the people, prison was equal to death, despair, sickness of mind and body, and humiliation. They did not have TVs and cable. They did not have commissaries and work out areas. They did not even have windows. It was devoid of light. There was no natural light at all. Sometimes we find our lives can be that way. Naturally we cannot see a light at the end of our proverbial prison tunnel. We struggle to bring a light of solution to our place of darkness and entrapment. Prisons, in the time of Paul had no air conditioners or heaters. The minimal comfort needed for sleep, were nonexistent. The floor was their mattress.
But far worse was the psychological and spiritual impact of total darkness on the prisoners. Some prisoners chose to commit suicide. They purposely decided to QUIT where they were. They purposely sabotaged their own life… BUT it still did not get them out of their situation. You know what I am talking about. God did not come through like YOU wanted Him to so now you do not believe in Him. Now you quit serving Him and going and BEING the church. You refuse to pray and bow the knees of your heart to Him because He failed you in your darkness. Spiritual suicide but you are still in locked up in your situation, dead. In Paul’s time dead bodies could lay in the inner prison for weeks at a time.
The bleeding, suffering apostles uttering their prayers and singing the praises of God must have amazed the other prisoners.
They sung hymns to God at midnight. In there location they could not be aware of time so the fact of it being midnight to them did not matter. They chose to BLESS the Lord at ALL times, in ALL times, through ALL times so the time of the times did not matter. It was not just midnight for Paul and Silas. It was midnight for everyone. It was midnight, not merely in that inner prison, but throughout the Roman Empire outside of prison, also. It was a midnight of morals, humanity, justice, forgiveness, kindness and TRUE love as well.
We are living in a time of midnight and the whole world knows. What song are you singing? And how are you singing it? How convinced of you of your own song? You can sing the right words but not be convinced of those same words! You sing “I Trust in God”, but do you? You sing “Great Are You Lord”, but are you convinced? You sing “You’re a Good Good Father”, but do that come with favorable conditions? You sing about loving Christ and Him loving you and wanting more of Him, but are you loving others with the same passion He possessed and displayed. Yeah you know, I am talking about that, “Father forgive them cause they know not what they do”, type of love.
Imagine the impact of the things heard in prayer and hymns on the jailer and the other prisoners. It was a far cry from the wails, threats and curses usually heard in such places. The message, the song, had its effect on the listeners, it always does. The kind of effect depends on each individual heart, but there will be an effect. What is the “world” hearing from you?
What is your song? “Nobody knows the trouble I see?” “Take this job and shove it?” “We can’t go on?” “Crash and Burn?” “Let’s Build a Wall, ten feet tall?
We understand the main objective of chains is to restrict mobility and prevent escape. Chains were made of rough iron that would eventually rust with the perspiration of the prisoners, causing infectious pain, saying nothing of the weight of the chains. Finally, chains were noisy, and that clanking noise of chains prevented even less sleep for the prisoners. Paul and Silas’s chains become apart of their song and provide accompaniment like a rhythm section, tambourines.
Every link became a part of their praise. The link of failure, PRAISE, link of pain, PRAISE, the link of plenty and the link of lack PRAISE. The Link of bad choices PRAISE, the link of right choices, PRAISE. Everything that is weighing heavily on my mind and causing me to lose rest and peace and feel fearful and powerless will be an accessory to my song.
I am certain that Paul and Silas didn’t feel in their natural man like praying and singing praises unto God. They were going directly against all their natural feelings and deliberately exercising their will to enter into praise.
Notice this final point, the prisoners heard Paul and Silas praying and singing praises unto God. This explains why none of the prisoners escaped when the earthquake came and their prison cells were opened. They had apparently been so moved by Paul and Silas’ demonstration of faith in God to such a degree that they recognized the earthquake as an intervention of God and followed Paul and Silas’ leading in not fleeing the prison. What a song, what a message they must have delivered in that “midnight” hour.
Paul and Silas had the audacity to forgive, before they were asked, to trust where they could not see and sing a song that shook the world.
It’s midnight… what are you doing? What song are you singing?
Real love is a mystery to most people. Most people never realize the true potential or value of love. It is usually very poorly defined. There is a great deal of confusion and cross-referencing of the terms LOVE, ROMANCE, INFATUATION, AFFECTION, TENDERNESS and so forth.
Love may include romance, infatuation, affection and tenderness. But even if those elements are not present, it could still be love.
How? Love can come in many ways, facets and or degrees.
But love requires one aspect… giving. Love requires the giving of one’s self to another. It involves an element of self-depletion, self-exhaustion. Love also may involve RISK. Love is empathic. It puts itself in someone else’s shoes. Love seeks to understand another’s perspective yet love is bold and honest and truthful. Love cares. It does not pre-judge. It does not pass sentences. Love does not jump to conclusions. Love does not throw down ultimatums. Love does not declare war on its object. Love is tender, it is kind, and love is forgiving.
Love is tuning into another’s sensitivities. Love sense’s another’s strengths and weaknesses. It uses the other person’s measuring stick. It suffers and rejoices on another’s terms.
Love seeks rapport and connection. It seeks to bond in every facet of being. It seeks to relate emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually. Love sacrifices personal whims if they are incompatible with the one who is loved. Love abandons pursuits that hurt the one who is loved. Love will do without. Love bends. Love stretches. Love must sometimes keep silent, while screaming inside. Love is a desire that someone will fare better than yourself. It is the willingness to spend all that you are for the well being of another. Love will pay a debt the other cannot pay. It will bail them out for the sake of survival. Love wants the other to survive even if it means death to oneself. Love will die so someone else can live. Love is color blind, it does not deem one nation, culture, country or race over another. Love seeks o satisfy those who would partake of it.
SO JOHN SAYS SOMETHING SIMPLE YET PROFOUND…
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
God so loved the world that He “gave.” This is the secret of love, to give, to share, that others may benefit. Jesus Christ, the begotten Son was given to the world for all and to all.
God delivered His love through the Son. It wasn’t enough for God to speak from Heaven and say, “I love you, world.” God showed His love through His action. His Son dying on the cross for our sins saw the apex of God’s love. In fact, God IS love.
When Christ walked our world He shared His love by opening the eyes of the blind, healed lepers, caused the dumb to talk, and raised the dead. He gave power to His disciples over all the forces of the devil. Christ gave us an example that we ought to love one another. He set the example of how we are to be in this world. How far it seems we have strayed from the foundation He laid. As Christ loved us, we are to love one another.
We are called to be disciples. We are not disciples of Christ by building a huge church and having a huge membership that do not exemplify the love of Christ. We are not disciples of Christ by giving large sums of money. The cattle on a thousand hills are His and even the thousand hills are His. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein. Believe me He is not impressed by our stuff.
We are not disciples of Christ by outward appearance. We are disciples of Christ if we LOVE one another.
The O’Jays had a song back in the day, perhaps you heard of it. It says, “People all over the world, join hands, start a love train, a love train. ISIS is tweeting and propagating hate, murder and mayhem. How much more should we use the same venue and proclaim LOVE is King. PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD… let YOUR love reign and rain down on this dry and thirsty world desperately in need of its benefits.
I Samuel 1:11
Verse 11 – And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.
Mom, you’ve got a tough job regardless of the role you play in society. It’s a tough world…difficult society…and a harsh reality that we face today. Everything is against the home and motherhood. Today’s mother does not face the normal situations that mother’s of previous day’s faced.
Today you face drugs, alcohol, sexual diseases, crime, violence, divorce, and abuse. Today you have to guard your children from everything harmful and these are things that your grandmother did not have to face.
There are struggles in the home that have never been seen before. There are disciplines in the home that never have been observed. There are pressures in the home that have never been placed there before. So to say a mother’s job is difficult is to say much. Yes and sometimes you have to face down your child with the WHOLE world watching as in the case of the Baltimore mother a few weeks ago. LOVED IT!!
Even though it is difficult how do you succeed in accomplishing the daunting task of motherhood? Through this snapshot of Hannah’s prayer, we are being shown a blueprint for success.
You might be saying I am not a mother or I am not trying to have another child, or I’m a man, or I am not married, or I’m too old, or I’m too young so how is this blog relevant to me?
You see the real truth of this text is not about having a child per say. But the real truth of this text is about the desire to birth something, to be productive, to produce life and all of us whether male or female, young or old, single or married should have a desire in the inner core of our belly, the city our soul, to be PRODUCE.
If we are part of the body of Christ and the body of Christ is the bride, then the very nature of the role as bride indicates that we be female. If that be true, then the very nature of being female says we have a womb, which then has the potential to nurture and produce life. We as the church, the bride of Christ, SHOULD desire to PRODUCE!!!
You must have a Desire.
What about you? Is something stirring inside of you to propagate, or increase? Is there something growing and moving in your belly or are you satisfied with earthy things? Hannah went to the temple yearly, when allowed.
She was at church every time the doors opened. She was on the usher board, sang in the choir, taught Sunday School and baked pies and cakes for the bake sell, BUT she was not producing. INSIDE she was empty and the things that her man was giving her just wasn’t enough anymore. Inside, she had a desire. Do you have a desire that earthy things can’t satisfy?
You Must Pray.
In verse number 10, we see her praying and weeping before the Lord.
The desire in Hannah became more than an “I wish”, it became so strong that it became something she has to verbalize. And she takes it not to her husband, not to the priest, not to her girlfriend or to the pastor but she goes to the one that can open up her closed womb,
We have a desire to produce, and we want to be productive. We recognize that earthly religious things just are not fulfilling and life producing BUT ARE WE PRAYING? Are we not seeking Him? Who else can fill this void, this empty womb within us? We have tired many earthy things but all it was a feel good, that still left us empty. You must pray and seek HIS face! NOT ONLY PRAY BUT SEEK TO BE IN HIS PRESENCE. It was not enough for Hannah to pray at home, she came to the temple where the presence of God was. There is a place where we need to be, this place where we know God hovers. She did not have a “God come see about me” attitude, but she sought Him. Verse 15 says she poured out her soul before the Lord. Hannah, her name means Grace, is pouring out before the FACE of GOD.
You Must Commit.
Verse 11 Hannah… made a vow. Hannah is not only making a vow, a commitment, but she is being very specific about it. Before we are ready to receive many of God’s blessings, we must commit them to Him.
To all mothers WORLD WIDE, even if your country does not celebrate this day.. I wish you a Happy Mother’s day and thank you for all you do.
Whom do men say that I am…no wait… whom do YOU say that I am?
Mt 16:13 “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” The original Greek is more specific, and means, “Who do the common people say that I am”? He does not ask for the opinion of the religious people, but of the everyday people.
Of course, there was a reply to that question. “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah (a strong man, a great prophet) and others say Jeremiah (someone who lifted himself up, or an appointed prophet) or one of the other prophets.” Curiously though all of these responses from the common people still reduced Jesus to being just a man. There is nothing really special about Him, in their mind, when you come to the finality of their response. Yes, He is strong, exalted an appointed prophet, like Jeremiah and Elijah, but there was already a Elijah and Jeremiah so they saw Him being in the same category. Their opinion cannot be faulted, that is the conclusion they came to because of the lack of relationship and closeness. He is a good man, He is a prophet who is a good speaker and seems to have a good heart. Some one who came from impoverished beginnings and lifted Himself to some notoriety in society. What other answer could He expected. I am one who is imaginary in my thoughts so hang with me. I imagine Jesus saying with a smile saying, “that’s cool, but tell me guys, since you have been with me for about three years, whom do YOU say that I am”.
I can see the disciple’s faces now as they hear His question. Can you see John, the youngest follower, slightly turning his head to Thomas saying “oh snap, dude…say something”. Thomas might have responded “no man, you answer Him, beside you, Peter and James are always taking those side trips with Him. If anyone should answer it should be one of you three”. John’s head, I imagine, is spinning to give an answer to Jesus’s question, but then John hears Simon (Peter) answering, and I am sure a sigh of relief came upon him. “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”. What? What did you say Simon? I can see the other disciples whispering to each other, “did you hear that?” What hat did he pull that rabbit from?” I can see them looking at Jesus, then looking at Peter, then looking back at Jesus, waiting for a response to that blasphemes answer. OMG, Jesus is getting out of His seat and walking towards Simon Peter, it is about to get interesting now. “Matthew leans towards Andrew and says “See that is why I was not going to say anything”.
They watch as Jesus slowly approach Simon and (in my imagination) put His hands on Simon’s shoulders and says “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And upon that solid truth, that rock I will build my church…” Not upon you Peter, but upon the Truth you uttered without really understanding what you just said.
Ok, that is when I, Douglas, asked the Father what are you talking about? This is what He said to my spirit. “The Father, through His Holy Spirit will INSTILL the truth to you, but it is your life’s walks that REVEAL the Truth of what you proclaim.” Ok… explain. He then said many have accepted me as their Lord and Savior… They “say” I am the Christ, the Son of the living God and I AM, know that. But what do their life choices; decisions, motives, words, and attitude say about who I AM. It is in hard times, under pressure in the work place, in finances, in relationships, in their society where they reveal their embracing of that truth. Look at Peter after that spot on answer, he soon followed up by denying me 3 times. He lied, he cursed, reneged and recanted the instilled Truth. That is why I built my church on the TRUTH of the revelation not the one who uttered the revelation.
Today, many who have the instilled truth of Jesus, when asked the question of whom do you say that I am, are strangely answering, You are prejudice, You are heavy on homophobia but not overly concerned about lying, adultery, fornication, greed, envy, lust and a multiple of other “lower class” sins, as if. You are only for one race, one creed, one denomination. They say, through their life, that You are impatient with those who do not measured up to their standards. You are judgmental, you are intolerant and you are vindictive. You are disrespectful to those whom you, through your divine decision, given to rule over us. However, on the other hand we expect you to be patient, tolerant and delay judgment on our obvious sins. We say you will treat us differently for the same faults we condemn our fellow men. We say You are not the God of the second, let alone the two hundredth chance.
Who do YOU say that He is? Peter later through his life revealed that he embraced and yes cherished the Truth of his statement. What true answer will your life reveal? I am reminded and confronted by the life’s revealing Truth of those who have recently been beheaded in the Middle East because they would not recant of their revealed Truth. He is the Son of the living God. Even as recently as a few days of this blog there were university student in Africa who would not denounce “the Christ” but were brutally murdered because they chose to stand on that Truth. But sadly today we see others who so easily abandon against much lesser challenges and opportunities turn their proverbial backs on the instilled Truth, which they espouse. Who do you say that I am? No not the readers, Douglas… you!!!
“How many of you think God is really pleased with you?” In the natural a person can choose to love you because of his or her own goodness, but to be pleased with you, they actually have to like your performance. Right?
With God, no one could ever be pleasing to Him based on performance. His standard is perfection, and no goodness on our part can ever compensate for our sins. We may please man with our actions, but “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
Once one becomes more thoroughly aware of the exceeding sinfulness of sin within himself it calls up the question, “What must one do?” Notice the word “do.” Does this not indicate activity of some kind? In other words, are we willing to expend some measure of energy—work—to begin stopping actions of sin in our lives?
The way we receive the forgiveness that’s available through Jesus’ blood is by faith (Rom. 10:9-17). When we put our faith in Jesus as our Savior, we are pleasing God. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him.”
Faith comes from the heart (Rom. 10:10), and God looks on the heart — not the actions.
It’s our hearts that really concern God, and faith in Him (trust, reliance) is what He is searching the heart for.
A person whose actions are not right but who trusts the Lord is more pleasing to God than an individual who is doing the right things but has no faith in God. It’s not a case of those who act the best will get accepted, and those who act the worst get rejected. That would put some of the followers of other religions ahead of many Christians, but that is not what the Bible teaches.
This is exactly the point Paul is making in Romans 11:6: “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” The amplified says it this way “6But if it is by grace (His unmerited favor and graciousness), it is no longer conditioned on works or anything men have done. Otherwise, grace would no longer be grace [it would be meaningless].” It’s one way or the other but it cannot be a combination of the two. We’re either saved by God’s grace through what Jesus did for us, or we’re saved by what we do without Jesus, but not a combination of the two.
If God used performance as the basis of whether or not He was pleased with us, no one would ever pass the test. “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” (Ps. 130:3).
Satan used to accuse me and say, “What makes you think God will use you?” The truth is that none of us are perfect. We don’t deserve the blessings of God. We must put our faith in Jesus. It’s hard for some people to accept this. It has been ingrained in us that if we aren’t holy, God won’t bless us. When God looks at you, He doesn’t see your goodness — He sees Jesus. If he saw us we would all be doomed.
If you’re walking in faith, God is pleased with you even though your actions don’t measure up. The worst sin is self-righteousness. The attitude that God owes it to you because you’ve been good is erroneous. When it comes to God, your performance can’t earn you anything. Because you have, do and will sin, you need a savior. It is your faith in the FINISHED work of Jesus that will grant you access to God.
I’m not advocating sin. Your actions are important. Your holiness is important because it changes your heart toward God but it does not change God’s heart toward you.
The actions and consequences of sin will hurt you. Even though God will love you just as much, you won’t love God as much. It will harden your heart toward God. If you constantly live in sin and never feed yourself spiritually, it will kill you. I am not saying you should ignore your actions. You will never do everything perfectly, but don’t let it keep you from receiving the blessings of God.
Look at Peter during the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. He denied the Lord three times. He cursed and blasphemed God, and yet Jesus prayed that his faith wouldn’t fail. Jesus’ prayers were always answered. Peter’s actions failed, but not his faith. He was restored to God and went on to become a pillar of the church.
Some of you may be thinking, this is great — I can live like the devil and still get what I want from God.” If you think that, I would ask are you truly born again, because a True Believer wants to please God. This word is for Believer’s who have a desire to serve God and live by FAITH in His completed work.
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all.
Joy to the WORLD, the Lord has come, let earth receive her KING! For unto us a son was born, a Son was given. Isaiah 9:6 (NIV) – “ For to us a child is born,to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
He is our Wonderful Counselor – Wonderful (extraordinary, hard to understand thing), Counselor (to advise, consult, give counsel, purpose, devise, plan). The name “Counselor” speaks of His wisdom (Omniscient-ALL KNOWING). Do you know when wisdom is worthless? It is when it is not available and when it cannot be applied to your Life. But with Jesus it is available and can be applied to your life. As the Wonderful Counselor, God Became Available to us. He became a personal God. As Wonderful Counselor, Jesus came with an assurance of hope in a world that sometimes seems hopeless; Jesus brought hope to those who had no hope. No situation or problem is too difficult for Him to solve. With that truth surely He has brought JOY to the world.
I declare upon every readers life the prosperity of His WONDERFUL Counsel, Joy, Peace and prosperity, as we begin our exit of 2014 and the entry into the awesome prospects that await you in 2015. I speak a blessing over your health, finance, families and life. No matter your nationality, race, creed or color or religion leanings, He THE wonderful counselor is available to you. For some 2015 is going to be LIFE CHANGING as you begin to walk in His counsel.
Be Blessed and God Bless the WORLD and cause us your children to be a blessing!!
Division, separation, disunity, disease and destruction seem to be the order of today. Probably in our history of mankind have we not seen such a state of chaos, especially here in America. Not to say this is new, because history will support the treacherous actions of mankind, however in this age of “enlightenment” we are amazed at how these atrocities still exist in such a great percentage. And it is happening all over the world. Your nation is not excluded.
Jesus says a “truth” that is not religiously based, because you must remember He was not a “religious” man. Here is what Matthew 12:25 state. “And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:” Every kingdom? Every city? Every house? Yes, every, every!
When we look at the word “divide” there are 2 meanings. The first definition can be a good thing meaning to bestow or impart as in bestow money to a charity or imparting wisdom to the next generation of life students. The second meaning is to split into factions, separate into parts or parties, or to cut into pieces. Let’s look at it this way. When healthy cells divide and reproduce they can impart positive traits and genes and cause growth and life. The dividing of the egg cell produces life. However a cell can also be divided and produce a cancerous result. This is the meaning Jesus was inferring.
It is a simple yet profound truth that somehow we do not grasp or at least tend to forget. In America, we have a government who for the last 6 years would rather be consciously impotent than productive. This has nothing to do with political parties or biases. It has nothing to do with the race of one or the creed of another. It has nothing to do with the old order versus the new reality. It has to do with the entity, in this case government being productive able to stand for the good of its citizens. Stand means to be upright and in a place of balance. It means to be firmly established and have the ability to be mobile. Standing illustrates strength and unity between parts needed to be progressive.
There are so many examples today of division:
Nations (Civil wars)
Religion (Denominations and factions)
Human Race (Nationality, creeds, race, sexes)
These are kingdoms that cannot and will not stand. They might exist and appear strong and right in its ability to separate, but it is still impotent and crippled in it reality. The only final result that occurs is death, in its many forms. The first biblically recorded separation was recorded in in Genesis when Adam became impotent when Adam broke from his source of life, God the Father. The result was even forewarned, “the day you eat, you will experience a death, a separation. Even when our human house becomes ultimately divided, our spirit will depart, separate from the physical body leaving and empty shell unable to stand.
So the question is where is the kingdom, the house divided in your sphere of life? Oh and do not go to far down this road of searching because it might be good to look in the mirror first. I know, I know, impossible, but just maybe, just maybe there might be a potential division to inspect. The Bible speaks of a double minded man in James 1:8 stating that man is unstable or divided in his own interest, in all of his way.
At the time of this writing is the 25th anniversary of the taking down of the Berlin wall. This wall symbolized division that separated friends, families, father and sons. The wall not only kept people out but kept people prisoners or confined…on BOTH the east and west side. Oh if we could know true unity and live it out, especially those who label ourselves as believers. I rephrase President Reagan’s request to the Russian President at the time, Mr. Gorbachev. Believers…encompassing all nations, creeds and colors, tear down this wall. John 17:20-21 says it better through the words of Christ, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”
I can understand why the world does not really believe in the Jesus they see every day illustrated by us. I can almost understand the dissolution of our young people that they search for the answers of life through drugs, cults or false religions. They turn to gangs and other demonic promises that say join us and feel free. They say believe in our human ideology because the one you have been shown is falling short on what is being preached. Love for ALL mankind? Yeah right! What Christ are we illustrating? One of bigotry, racism, sexism and preference? To do so would make our Father the same. We see that in our churches where we label churches, music and ministry. We have the Hispanic church, the black church, the oriental church, and the Protestant church, the Catholic Church. There will be no white, black, brown, yellow or red church in Heaven. There will be no favoritism of music of praise being sung. This leads to the labeling of music. Gospel music, which is different then southern gospel, which is different, then hymns which is different then sacred liturgy. How dare we!!! Each really is all the same to the Father because there is only ONE CHURCH and your INDIVIDUAL preference of style of song does not indicate HIS preference. Yet we continue for the MOST part I want to believe unconsciously divide the representation of even HIS Kingdom so thus the church is impotent. Father I hear you… and thanks for already forgiving me BEFORE I came to this realization and my need for repenting, turning, doing a 180, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”
What does that look like? “You do what you are”. That line I heard in an old movie called “Along Came A Spider”. The response was “you mean you are what you do”. No…you do what you are. I thought about it and I understood. You see, the character that has been developed and established in you determines what you are. The gifting that the Father has given you helps determine who you are. America likes to say that we are a Christian nation. I would beg to question that description and say we are a “church going” nation. The reason I say that is because you can look at what “Christians” are doing and at times.. we must wonder… if we are to take the term “Christian” to be Christ like, we would be amazed if not be wilder by the image presented and displayed. You find “church going” people of all denominations have racism, bigotry, prejudice and classism pervading in dominant display, is that Christ like? You find “church going” politicians and company executives who do not give a “fe, fi, fo, fum” about the average worker barely making ends meet on $7.20 an hour yet their profits and bonus are in the 6 and 7 figure range BEFORE the decimal point, is that Christ like? What you consistently do, is who you are.
If I were to ask you “Do you know who you are?” your immediate answer would be, “Of course I do.” Well, it is also a necessity that you know who you have become in your spirit. You are a new creature in your spirit (2 Cor. 5:17), and you have to reeducate your mind to think that way before the perfect will of God will be made manifest in your flesh (Rom. 12:1-2). We are more than conquerors through Christ, and once we realize that truth and until we convince ourselves of it and walk in it, our “doing will not align to who we are. We must know who we are in Jesus (in our spirits) and of the rights and privileges that are ours. Our doing will then illustrate who we are in Christ, and are we not to be transformed and changed?
Keeping believers ignorant of who they are has been Satan’s strategy against the church. As Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” What is the knowledge that they lack? It is the knowledge of who they really are.
First we must understand that we are not of this world but of a different kingdom. Being citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom gives us the knowing of what we are sent to this earth realm to do. Romans 12:2 says it this way, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Paul didn’t pray that they would receive some new thing from God, but rather that they would renew their minds and prove (or make manifest to the physical senses) what was already there. ” Ignorance of who we are, has made it impossible for us to act in faith accordingly and do. “I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me.” We are world overcomers (1 John 5:4). So, what are you doing? Who are you, that you do so well?
1 John 4:17-21
“Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”
Are you saying I cannot just proclaim my love for God and that be my identification as being a “Christian”? No you cannot.
This past week has been a revealing week spotlighting the heart of man. Not only as a country, race, culture, religion but most importantly, individually. Where have you stood in regards to the many events that have taken place? The horrific and demonic killing of the American journalist by ISIS, the aftermath of the killing of the unarmed teen in Ferguson, Missouri that has grasped the attention of not only the United States (that is becoming an oxymoron) but also the world. What of the crisis in Iraq concerning thousands being murdered not only Christians but also Muslims by terroristic bullies who sole purpose is to be feared, and in control? Where are you, where do YOU stand as an individual? It does not matter the country, the race, the culture, the religious belief or non-belief… where are you?
For instance concerning the event in Ferguson Missouri, it was stated that it is a “They” problem, meaning black people. That how they are raised and taught. It was stated “it’s their culture, it is what we should expect from “them. It is how they think. I wrote in response that I submit it is not a black or white (and throw in every other race and culture), thing. It is the heart of man. I have never been to Ferguson and I do not know anyone in Ferguson, so I do not know what “they” think. The truth is it is not a “they” problem. It is a “we” problem. If we look at ourselves as separate, superior and more “Godly” (whatever God you are worshipping or not worshipping) then we are disconnected. So what part of the we conversation are we? Are we the “we” that does the looting? Are we the “we” part that guards the stores and homes and confront the “we” looters”? Are we the “We” that hear of these crimes perpetrated upon our businesses and neighbors and without being solicited go and help clean up the mess and board up windows? All 3 of the “We” were demonstrated in Ferguson this week. Are we the “we” that will put political parties motivated by division based upon classism, racism, and greed aside and stand united against the spirit of murder, rape, torture and extortion? I live in America but I am neither “conservative” nor “liberal”. Forget that nonsense. I AM A BELIEVER!!! Deal with that Democrats and Republicans. Our (citizens of this world) skin color might vary but our spiritual opposition is the same. Prejudice, division, hate and the spirit of antichrist.
So 1 John 4:17-21 basically says stop with the bravado, the grandiose idea you have of yourself. All of you religious radio and television personalities that act as if you care about the cause of Kingdom while you really care about the size of your bank account… I declare you shall receive your just reward. IF YOU DO NOT LOVE those you do see, the people of different races, cultures, creeds, religions, sexual orientation, financial class, colors, ages, etc. How can you love God whom you have NEVER seen? In fact through John the apostle that Jesus loved, God, not me but God, calls you a liar!! Accept their choices no, but love them through their choices. Of all of the HUNDREDS of churches of all denominations that proclaim the name of Christ in the St. Louis area, why did they not join together (black, white, yellow and brown) and have a worship service in the streets by the THOUSANDS and pray that the His Spirit would so saturate the place that the looters would have bent their knees in humble submission, police would have laid down their shields and refused to bring harm bending their knees in humble submission. That news people, CNN, FOX, ABC, MSNBC, CBS, BBC and others would not have sought out the chaos but would have bent their knees in humble submission. That the cities across the nation and yes even the world would have seen such a manifestation of Christ that their knees would be bent in humble submission. That the cry of you can kill indiscriminately ISIS but at the name of Jesus, every knee WILL BOW and every tongue SHALL confess that He is Lord. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” In your nation, your city are you showing love, not yours but His love or are you just talking? Have you positively effected just one person this month by being Christ to them? Or is it a “they” problem. In response to my comment noted previously, silence. I wonder if people this weekend, in our mosques, synagogues and churches heard a message of loving and coming together as passengers on this ship we call earth and joining together to rid this atmosphere of hate?
I finish with this. A coworker during a lunch break asked me are we living in the end times, spoken of in the Bible. I responded affirmatively. The signs are all to clear and the stage has been and is being set for the return of Christ. In America we are concerned about racism, but it is a diversion, a smoke screen. The real culprit that will catch you by surprise is classism. This will supersede race, religious beliefs and political ideas. But that is another topic.
I have been off-line for a week or so because my youngest son and his family came to visit me here in Florida. I have not seen them in over a year and a half’s time and I thoroughly enjoyed the visit. During that time my grandson illustrated something to me. He’s approximately 15 months old and I had not seen him since he was about a month old and obviously he did not recognize me so when I saw him last weekend I went to pick him up and hold him and to show him affection. I was calling his name and immediately he began to cry and to reach out for his father despite my best efforts of trying to woo him and to demonstrate and show him love. He still with adamant fervor tried to make his way into the arms of his father, crying and with tears running down his face reaching for dad. In that, even though it was disappointing I saw the God lesson.
John10:4 – 5 “…and they follow Him because they know His voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.” His sheep will not follow a stranger. They indeed will flee because they don’t know this strange voice.
Now in my case, as a grandfather naturally that is kind of disappointing but in the spiritual how much more should we have the reaction of my grandson? When we hear and listen to the voice of a stranger many times we are wooed and pulled in by the voice and its promises or perceived benefits. Draw back to memory the event of Eve and the serpent in the Garden. But the Word of God says my sheep know my voice. They know the tone, yes, they know the accent, yes, but they also have an intimate understanding of the being, the persona, projecting the sound, the voice. They have an understanding of who He is. This understanding is far more than words and sound. It is knowledge derived from personal experience. His care, His loving kindness, his provision, His protection, His tender touch when He draws you in close to Himself. However, His sheep, upon recognizing that the sound, the voice, is not familiar but strange will flee and turn away and will not follow it.
Now traditionally I think most “religious” people put that “voice” that “sound” into context of the stranger being the devil or being something of a demonic nature but let’s have a Nu Mind thought. A lot of times that voice, that sound which we should flee from, are closely related to us. It is recognizable DNA. It is a part of our nature from the first Adam. The sounds are comprised of many things that we are embracing instead of fleeing. These voices or more specifically this sound is foreign yet prevalent throughout the world today. Religious or not, a Christian or not, believer in nothing or an unbeliever in everything, can you hear them? The voice of greed, treachery, manipulation, deception, seduction, adultery, bullying, sabotage, false accusation, superiority, murder, destruction, pride (cultural, self, or national), self-love, racism, sexism, politics and religion etc. They are a strange voice not illustrating or eliminating the voice, the sound, and the character, of the Father. Yet for many these voices are seductive. The promise, the bribe of power, fame and fortune is alluring. Can you hear them? Come here and hear little girl, would you like come candy? Come here and hear young man, sell this dope and make a quick buck. Come here and hear government rulers, politician, corporate executive and “religious” leader and presume a dictatorial stance against your own people and amass personal wealth and prorogate fear to bolster you own insecurities. These are familiar strange voices.
I tried animal cookies to entice my grandson from his daddy’s arms, but to no avail. A one-year-old child said I don’t know this voice, and I am not trying to get close to it. This sound, it is strange and it doesn’t sound like what my Father would say.
My lesson learned and reinforced this past week was this. RUN with arms outstretched to the Father! Flee the voice of strangers and reach out and cry for the one you can depend on to protect, hold and shield you from the strangely familiar. Understand, no matter your race, creed, religion or nationality, these voices are not from without but are from within. They are family by nature. Quit pretending you do not hear them. They are whispering to you in the darkness of the night and beckoning to you in the brightness of the day. BUT my sheep know my voice, my sound, my character and a strange sound he will not follow.
Question, what is the voice, what is the sound that is trying to move you from your Father’s presence? What voice is trying to move you from the lap of He who loves you? What voice is making you curious? What voice is it trying to seduce you with things and with positions and with power and with fortune? What is the promise? What would it take to draw you from the lap of your Father into the arms of a familiar stranger? What is getting you to compromise?
The more I look, the more I realize how the Word of God is synchronized. Sometimes because of our lack of understanding of the culture and times of 2 thousand years ago we put things in the context of our own specific culture and reasoning. Obviously that presents a problem. Each culture, each country produces its own uniqueness and to really appreciate the history, the music, the tradition and other nuances one must try to become acquainted with those different aspects. So when we read the Word of God, for an example, we must understand the culture, the time and the people the Scripture is addressing. How does it line up with other factors found in Scripture?
We will be in the season, within a few weeks, where Christians will be remembering the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus the Christ, commonly known as Easter. It is also the same time of the Jewish Holiday Passover. Coincidence, no I think not. Maybe, just maybe in order to bring even more clarity of the perceived ending chapter of Jesus’ earthly life, we need to go back to the beginning.
Luke 2:6-14 – “And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger. Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.””
As an American, chances are one of the first songs you learned as a child was “Mary had a little lamb”, remember? “Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb…Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow….” I believe upon close inspection we will find yes, it is true. Mary indeed had a little Lamb.
Have you ever wonder why the shepherds were out watching over their sheep at night? Who were these Shepherds that the angels made the announcement found in Luke 2:11-12? How did the shepherds know where to go to find this babe? Why did they not have any hesitation or discussion as to what direction to take? After all it was not like the angels gave them a location. The answer is simple. These were not ordinary shepherds. They were “Priestly Shepherds” and the sheep they were guarding were “Sacrificial Lambs” which were used during the Passover. Because these particular sheep were used for sacrifice they had to be watched 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These sacrifices had to be perfect and anyone wanting to buy a lamb for the Passover would come to Bethlehem to be guaranteed of getting “the best”. Bethlehem was considered in that day the “Holding Pen” for the “Sacrificial Lambs” so on this night Bethlehem became the “Holding Pen” for God’s Sacrificial Lamb, Mary’s baby. Is it no wonder that the angels would appear first to these “Priestly Shepherds” and they would be the ones to first join Mary and Joseph in welcoming “THE ULTIMATE” sacrificial Lamb, Jesus Christ. If this indeed is true, then the nativity scene we traditionally see at Christmas with the baby Jesus surrounded by cattle, and sheep and donkeys in a lean to shelter is not a reasonable picture of this birth event. I point back to my initial comments in understanding the times and culture. If truly Christ was born in a special place for special sheep for a special event then the environment would have to be favorable for the expected outcome.
MICAH 4:8 “And thou, O tower of the flock (Migdal Eder), the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem, O tower of the flock” –
Migdal Eder was the watchtower that guarded the Temple sheep that would be the sacrificed in Jerusalem. Again these were not just any sheep and the shepherds who watched over them were specifically trained for this job. They were educated in the requirements and it was their job to make sure that none of the animals were hurt, damaged, or blemished.
Migdal Eder was where the shepherds would watch over their flock from the second story and the first story was where the newborn lambs were placed from the fields of Bethlehem. The shepherds would wrap the newborn lambs in SWADDLING CLOTHES to protect the body of the lambs which would be offered as sacrifice at the Temple just about four miles away in Jerusalem. Swaddling clothes were used to tightly bind the new lambs from being bruised and injured by thrashing around. I imagine it provided a form of comfort just like when a human baby is wrapped in a blanket at birth. The lambs would be laid in a manger until they had calmed down. They immediately understood where to go to find the newborn Messiah, Jesus Christ. He would be found where the angel had told them, wrapped in SWADDLING CLOTHES lying in a manger in the lower floor of the tower of the flock, Migdal Eder. Jesus was born in Bethlehem where all sacrificial lambs were born, and died in Jerusalem where all sacrificial lambs were killed. He was born as the Lamb to be sacrificed to take away the sin of the world.
Abraham saw the arrival of the Lamb. When he was going to offer up Isaac, Isaac asked where was the sacrifice. And Abraham said, my son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering:
In order for Christ to be the Passover Lamb of God, He would have had to fulfill the role in its entirety. The Lamb had to be born in Bethlehem, without blemish. He would have to be a male and in the prime of life as a one year lamb was accept to be in prime strength. A man in his early thirties is to be assumed to be in his prime.
In John 1:29 – John proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.” In other words this is no ordinary man, this is the “Lamb of God”. Yes it is true!! Mary really did have a little Lamb! What other events significantly point out the fact that He indeed is the ‘sacrificial’ Lamb of God? We shall see next week.
Briefly, a couple things I saw in writing this blog post. First, the shepherds were not watching the flock from the comfort of the second story of the tower at night. When the enemy, wolves, bears and lions are most likely to strike in the darkness of night, they were in the field to protect. They took their call to guard, protect and serve seriously, boots on ground, realizing the value of those charged to them. What say you Pastors and Ministry Leaders? Second let’s give the innkeeper a break. There was no room in the inn because there was not supposed to be any room in the inn… and it’s not the innkeeper’s fault. In order to fulfill and satisfy Christ’s end, Mary and Joseph could not get in at the inn. Here a thought some of you have tried to get in with the in crowd and try as you might, you never really get in. It could be because you are pregnant with something special and it cannot be delivered in the company of the “inn” crowd.
The other day, I retrieved my monthly budget excel folder. I keep a log of all of my financial obligations. I list what I bring in and how much is going out to those I owe and what I am able to save or invest for that proverbial “rainy day”. It helps me to maintain a handle on what must be done, what I should prioritize and focus on. No one desires to be in debt. All of us would like the experience of being “debt” free. While I was looking at my natural budget file, the thought occurred to me, what does your budget folder look like, spiritually? How much debt have you incurred? Who and what do you owe? To owe some one is to be in debt, or even more sinister it means to “be bound to”. Think about it, when you are in debt to someone or something, you are bound and even in part a slave to that which you owe.
Just like I recognize my natural debts, what does my spiritual debts look like? Am I being diligent in this responsibility or am I accruing late charges and interest? In my personal budget folder I categorize my file into two categories, “one time pay offs” (ie. medical bills, furniture, clothing, repair expenses, credit cards, etc.) and “on going and revolving” (ie. food, gas, credit cards, car payments, insurance, mortgage, utilities, rent, etc.). Spiritually what expenses are in my two files? Wait… there not two files, only one. It is “on going and revolving”. All of my debt can be placed under this category. What are some of the expenses found in my spiritual file? Well, I owe you prayer, I owe you a smile, I owe you a shoulder to cry on, I owe you the gifts and calling on my life, the poem inside of me, the song, message, book, play, compassion, listen ear, a safe harbor, encouragement, recognition and validation. These are just a few, BUT they are not just my expenses, they are yours also. You owe the world the same.
The Bible says in Romans 13:8 to “owe no man anything, but to love one another”. So let’s call this one category “Love/ Forgiveness”. Why is forgiveness mentioned in this category? In order to truly love there must be perpetual forgiveness. The need to pay on our personal forgiveness expense is huge. There is a need to forgive the past and even present hurts that we have buried and tried to ignore but not forgiven. The old relationships, friends, parents, ministries, the ex’s, the ones that just walked away without any explanation or goodbye. Oh here is one we do not like to confess that is on our expense docket. We need to forgive…wait for it… GOD! I was talking to my wife on just yesterday and she was telling me about a friend’s 10-year-old son who is very mad at God because for over a year, the boy has been praying to God to heal his father who had a stroke and God has not done it. I told my wife that if I would have conversation with that young man, I would say that it understandable and okay. God is not upset with you for how you feel. In fact, (a confession)… even in my fifties, I have been angry and mad at God and needed to “forgive” Him. Do not look at me funny, be honest…you have felt the same way. There has been many times when God in our own estimation, disappointed us and let us down. Understand it is really not the person or persons you are forgiving, it is the perceived (real or imaginary, intentional or unintentional) offense you are forgiving. Many times an individual have no idea that you are harboring that debt.
In order to “owe love only” we must first realize the definition of “forgiveness”. It means to “abandon, forsaken, to let die, leave destitute and irretrievably broken”. We cannot truly realize Romans 13:8 unless we handcuff love to forgiveness. We cannot obtain the “new” if we are still in debt, bound and enslaved to the old. The latter part of Romans 6:4 reads “…even so we also should walk in newness of life”, so through what the Father did through the sacrifice of His Son we have access to the “new”. Understand not only did Jesus take our sin, the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he who had not known sin made himself to become sin in your place”. AWESOME SAUCE! We are no longer bound to the penalty and power of sin. God, the Father “forgave” abandon, forsaken, let die, left destitute and irretrievably broken, the offense, the sin (noun). JESUS! (read 2 Corinthians 5:21 again) Did not Jesus cry from the cross, “Father why have you FORSAKEN me? (just something to think on
We too can pay our debt of love, through our resolve to forgive, freeing ourselves from what has us shackled, enslaved and obligated to the pain, memories and power of past and even present offenses. Paying this debt is a conscious effort, especially in the beginning. Just as in the natural it must be planned and purposed. It just does not happen through mere happenstance. How much better our world would be if every man, woman, boy and girl began to make payment on their debt of love and forgiveness. Would we see so much conflict in our world? Would there have been and continue to be the countless numbers of wars where nations are against nations, tribes against tribes, races against races, brother against brother? Would those who espouse different religious beliefs treat each other so inhumanely understanding God have given all men free will and choice? Would there be the crisis in Syria, Russia, Ukraine, Afghanistan and countless other locations that have not been in the international spotlight? When will we pay on this “Love/Forgiveness” bill? I did write “we” didn’t I? Well anyway… let me pull out my checkbook! I am late with my payment. Not to just Christians or Americans… but to the world! “For God so love the WORLD that He “FOR” gave His only begotten Son…”
In the 1990’s there was a very popular phrase centered on a gifted and highly touted basketball player named Michael Jordan and every young basketball player wanted to be like him. He had a signature look and a habit of sticking out his tongue as he drove towards the goal of scoring a basket. He could score seemingly at will. So advertisers, seeing an opportunity, coined a phrase for all who played basketball. The phrase was simple. It said, “If I could “be” like Mike”. Everyone who played the sport wanted to “be” like Mike. That was their aspiration, their ultimate goal, to “be” like Mike. To this day, none have attained that dream.
The other day, examining my own spirit and life as a follower of Christ, I asked myself, why am I not like Jesus? After all that has been my aspiration, my spiritual goal, to “be” like Jesus. Do not all believers want the same? Have we not been told to aspire to “be” like Him? Yet walking down the corridor of my life, I found myself falling short many many times. While in the midst of those prodding thoughts I heard something most powerful. I heard you can’t “be” like me BUT you can allow me to “be” in you. With my lightning quick ability to comprehend the deep incomprehensible, I asked, “what are you talking about Father? (lol) This is what I heard…
“First, you must look at your starting point. To want to be like says you are not a part of, so that makes you separate from. So for you to want to “be” like me says you and I are not one, not in unison but we are separate. Does this line up with the Word? I came to dwell in you, my temple, and for you to dwell in Me. I came to have unison. Just as the Father and I are one, we are one.”
During this time I was looking into a full-length mirror and the question came to me, what do you see? I said I see me. The response came back, no you don’t, to which I responded yes I do, to which I heard no… you don’t. What you see is a reflection, an image of you. There is a big difference. Secretly, hoping He would not hear me (hahaha) I thought, now you are just splitting hairs Father. BUT since according to Matthew 10:30 He knows the number of hairs on our head that would give him the adeptness to “split” them. (lol) But as I reflected on that image, that reflection, He continued to speak, and I slowly began to understand why I, Douglas, cannot “be” like Jesus, BUT He can “be” in me.
As I looked in the mirror I saw one head, a torso, two arms, two legs and hands with fingers. I saw my image with all its strengths and weaknesses. Head and body fitly joined in unison, as one entity. Then I heard how and why would the hand or arm or leg desire to “be” like the head? After all who are you? I am the body of Christ, the church according to 1 Corinthians 12. Ephesians 5 says Christ is the head of church, the body. Just as with the natural there is a need for only head. The hand should never aspire to “be” like the head, it will not happen.
You and I are an intricate part of a wondrous and mysterious body called “the church”. However there is a question we have all asked ourselves no matter what our faith or religious belief. That simple question is why am I here? What is my purpose? I think the answer is found just by examining your passions. What sets your heart aflame? Are you the hands of Christ showing compassion reaching out to others applying healing ointment and gentle touches of love? Are you the arms that gather the downtrodden and gently lay them to the breast for comfort and nutriments? Are you the legs that stand as strong pillars of support or means of advancement? Whatever part of the body we are, how do we allow Him to “be” in us? By walking in our call and being directed by His Spirit, which according to Scripture came to lead and guide us. This might not look like what we commonly associate with religious ministry. Someone passion is making quilts and blankets. They are not a preacher or Bible scholar, but how would the reflection of Christ look to the world if that person made little blankets for new born babies in crisis at a children’s hospital that are freely given to parents who are blanketed with fear for their child? How would the image of Christ look to the world where business people who understand the corporate world offer interviewing, resume writing and other training classes to those who otherwise would not know how to enter that world, for free. What about restaurant owners occasionally providing free meals to the homeless in their neighborhood? It is not all about money, it’s about Him. There is a young woman who just this week asked for me to fill out a reference form so that she might go on a foreign missions trip to a third world nation. Since she was a young teenager her desire has been to do missions. She is artistic, beautiful and talented and could be anything she wants to “be”, but the call, the pull to which she is submitting is to let Him “be” in her. Whether your passion is sports, acting, singing, writing, baking, cooking, sewing, entrepreneurism, teaching, preaching, music, nursing or missions, whatever your niche, how can we allow Him to “be” in us? That is His desire. There is a blog I am subscribing to by a young lady who just have recipes of Holistic healthy foods. That is ministry. How many physical live can be improved even saved by her passion?
What does a “selfie” of Jesus look like? What is the image, the reflection the world sees? According to 1 John 3:2 only when He shall appear will we “be” like Him. Let’s strive to walk in our gifting. Let’s “be” the church allowing Him to “be” in us.
I am giving up my “Christian card”. The term “Christian” is no longer what I want to be known as. Before you turn away hear me out. The word “Christian” is only found 3 times in Scripture, none of which Jesus’ uses. It was initially used as a derogatory term, like the “N” word. It was not a term of endearment. Gradually, through acceptance of it’s meaning “Christ like”, the word “Christian” became a standard for a religious viewpoint. For me, it is not the word, “Christian” that I can know longer align myself to, but it is the definition and the illustration of that word. Have you been paying close attention to our world today? Answer me this, what as an unbeliever would inspire you to become a “Christian” today? What can you point to that is universally the indisputable and unshakeable standard of the word Christian across the board? If the word’s initial definition is “Christ like”, then why does “their” Christ like, and “your” Christ like and “my” Christ like look different from each other’s? Is Christ schizophrenic? Is it denominationally or culturally, or racially or politically based? It appears to be the case based upon its nature of separatism. I am personally so ashamed of how so called conservative “Christian” have either bought into the ploy of politics or are treacherously hypocritical in order to reach a political goal. Their actions of name-calling, lying, denigrating, fighting, etc., is that “Christ like”? What is the draw to a un-believer? The word “Christian” has become a joke to the world because it leaves so much too one’s interpretation of the “word” and the personal manipulation of the one using the “word”. This too is also where the real problem lies. We argue and differentiate between the “interpretations” of the words of Christ instead of what He ACTUALLY did. I heard an “evangelical Christian” politician quote the Old Testament verse” “if you do not work, you do not eat” as a reason for not helping the poor and unemployment increase etc. Hhhmmm! I seem to recall Jesus saying in Matthew 25:33 – 40, “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me…. Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. How can one misinterpret or remotely over look that as a “Christian”? John 13:34-35 says “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples (not Christians), if ye have love one to another.”
Let me say this, I want to be identified only as a “disciple” and follower of Jesus Christ. He never once said become a Christian, but over 90 times He says, “follow me”. The word “follow” in the Greek does not just mean “trail” as we know it in the English language. It also means to be a particle of union or to be an attached piece to the whole. It means to copulative, bonded, yoked as one. His footsteps are my footsteps. His actions are my actions. His words are my words. His showing of love is my showing of love. If we mirrored Him completely and became His reflection in the earth would there be so many different “Christian” images? You might have your own interpretation on what He said and what He meant but you cannot question what He did. No I am no longer a Christian. I want to be a follower of Christ. I want to be one of His disciples. I also learn I cannot “be” like him, but He can “be” in me, but that is next week’s thought. So from this day forward… let me be a “follower of Christ”.