No One Is Guaranteed One Minute Beyond Now

Scripture Reading:  Matthew 16:26-28

[26] “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?  [27] For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. [28] “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming to his kingdom”  (NIV Bible).

Let’s face it; we live in a world that bases our success on how much stuff we’ve accumulated.

And Jesus, on the other hand, told us that our success won’t be based on stuff.

Matthew 6:24 (AMP)

[24] “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon” (deceitful riches, money, possessions, or whatever is trusted in).

So I guess what we really need to be asking ourselves each and every morning before getting our day started is “What’s really important to us?”

Are we more concerned with our bank account that the account we have with Christ Jesus?  Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:10,

[10] “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

And it isn’t always money.

For a lot of us, we put the stuff that money can buy ahead of our RELATIONSHIP with the Lord.  And for a lot of us, it comes down to not so much how much we’ve got but what we do hang on to what we’ve got.

For some of us, even if we don’t have much, we put our relationship with the Lord on the back burner in the pursuit of the almighty dollar.  We live in a material world that shoves it down our throats by having the latest and greatest.

We want more, more, more!!!

Yet we fail to hear the Lord’s words of wisdom on how we handle our STUFF.

Read what He says…,  Matthew 16:26 (a)

“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”

What we need to remember, and I don’t want to ever take things from Scripture out of context if I can help it, that this particular sentence was spoken AFTER Jesus encouraged us to deny ourselves of worldly pleasures, take up our crosses and follow Him.

He was asking us what would it matter if we had everything of earthly value in our possession; what if we had everything we ever wanted?  What if we never wanted for anything because we already had everything there was to have?

And we were still locked out of Heaven.

If we could have it all and do nothing but seek the pleasures of this world we would still be waiting in the end.

Because if our SOUL was lost, we couldn’t and wouldn’t find anything to replace it.

You lose it, it’s gone forever!

You lose it to Hell and it’s lost forever!!!!

Even so, we as the Body of Christ seem to not see the importance of a person’s SOUL.

Yet Jesus wanted us to understand that we gain nothing from the world if we turn our backs on God.

YOU CAN’T PUT A PRICE ON A SOUL –

If you die with the most toys, you still die.

You can work hard all your days and have everything money can buy.

You can hold all kinds of powerful positions, awards hanging on the wall, trophies on your desk…and your portfolio will never stack up to the condition of your SOUL.

THE HUMAN SOUL will either go to HEAVEN or HELL.  It will either be SAVED or LOST.  There isn’t a middle ground, no exchanges, and no do-overs once we close our eyes for the last time.

Your family can’t buy your way or pray for your way out of Hell.

You can’t bargain your way out either.

You may be wondering right now as you read my words why I’m writing a blog on a subject like our souls. 

You may be sitting there thinking “I’m saved, what difference does it make?”

What about those that you know who haven’t made that decision?

I wonder at times if any of you give two cents about the lost people who you know?

DOES HELL EVEN KNOW THAT YOU EXIST?

I remember the story from Acts in the Bible about the demon-possessed man who told some Christian wannabes  “Jesus I know, Paul I’ve heard of.  Who are you?”

When you fail to tell them about the life-changing, life-saving POWER of Jesus Christ, you’re basically telling them that it’s okay that they go to Hell!

Is that a harsh statement to make?

 Matthew 16:26b – “Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Jesus asked this follow-up question regarding our service or lack of it to Him.

What will you give to SAVE your soul?

What are you willing to  SACRIFICE, give up?

What’s ironic here about life is this:  The more we live for our own selfish needs, the more miserable we become.  But the more we do for the Lord, and the more we do in His name, the happier and more satisfied we become.

Can we really put up enough for our souls?

Jesus seems to be telling us that there are many people who would rather spend their entire life pursuing gold, silver and “stuff” in this world of ours than to hear about your Jesus.

Is there anything in this world that you possess right now that can or will be a suitable payment in exchange for your SOUL?

Jesus knew ahead of time that people would wait until the last-minute and get in by the “skin of their teeth.”  Who in their right mind would ever believe that this world gives us the best we can get and that’s all there is to it?

If we were to correctly answer this question, we would have to say we would give EVERYTHING in exchange for our soul!

And we should be willing to do it right now!!

And we should want to tell everyone we come in contact with!!!

And why is that?

No one is guaranteed one minute beyond now.

We could leave here this very minute and step into ETERNITY.  And the truth is that so could any of your friends, neighbors, or relatives who think they’ll skate by because they’re nice and don’t bother anybody.

And a lot of those ‘nice people’ aren’t gonna make it because they’re embarrassed that someone will find out they’ve become “religious”.

Mark 8:38 says:  “If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when He comes in His Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

I sometimes find myself wondering how much of my church family, and when I say “church,” I mean the greater Church, is ashamed of their relationship with Jesus Christ.  A lot of self-professing Christians talk a good game on Sunday, but when it’s time to put up, they clam up!

What will you give in exchange for your soul?

Better yet, what will you give in exchange for your SAVED SOUL?

If you are SAVED, you were SAVED with time to spare.

What about that person who isn’t SAVED yet?

If living for your own selfish desires does nothing but make you miserable and unsatisfied, why not SURRENDER ALL of that and turn it all over to Christ?

EVERYTHING I do, say and experience can attribute to what He is doing in me.

I’M HIS!

HE BOUGHT ME with His blood on the Cross!

So what would I give up in exchange for my SOUL that belongs to Jesus?

EVERYTHING OF ANY VALUE!!!!

We have something much better to look forward to ~ Matthew 16:27 (AMP)

[27] For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory (majesty, splendor) of His Father with His angels, and then He will render account and reward every man in accordance with what he has done.

The same JESUS of Genesis 1 is the same JESUS of John 1 and Acts 1.

It was JESUS who originally said “I’ll be back,” not The Terminator.

None of us know the date and time that He shall come but the bottom line is that everyone is going to know when He gets here.

Acts 1 says:  [11] “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you to heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

It will be unlike any event in human history.  And those who have intentionally lived to fill their pockets and fatten their bank accounts will find themselves in a world of trouble.  For all that they have won’t be enough to pay the COST for their SOUL.

On that day there will be TWO kinds of people in the world.  Those who have a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus Christ and those who don’t!

The SAVED and the LOST.

There’s GOOD NEWS for you if you feel that you’re missing the mark.

We can prepare for ETERNITY now.  We still have time to turn it around right now.

You may not be guaranteed one more minute but you can make a commitment to Christ for the next minute of your life right now.

It’s impossible to live a perfect life.  No one can.  But if I have learned nothing else in this long life of mine, over those years I’ve learned the difference between living for Jesus and living for me.

Jesus came to SEEK AND SAVE the LOST.

He commanded us to go into the world to SHARE the Good News, to witness for Christ, to disciple, baptize and teach.

A few years ago my wife gave me for Christmas one of my favorite Bible verses framed and hung on the wall over my desk as a reminder of my commitment to spreading the good news–to teach and disciple others around the world for Christ.

He will come back soon I hope.  But in the meantime, what will He find us doing?

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CREDITS –

Source:  Bible Study Tools, Matthew 16:26-27

Bible Translations:  NIV Bible, except where noted.

IMAGES:  Google Image Search, setting advanced; 

Romans 10:15 “How beautiful are the feet…” image unknown source.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The “Great Expectations” of Discipleship

After reading my Bible this morning and given inspiration by the Holy Spirit for my next blog, I decided to borrow the title from a 13th century novel by Charles Dickens.  The book depicts the personal growth and personal development of an orphan nicknamed Pip and I thought there must be some parallels between Christ’s followers and Dickens’ character published in 1861.  I don’t think Mr. Dickens will mind too much.

TEXT:  Matthew 10:32-39

In this passage, Jesus tells us what He expects of His DISCIPLES.

The Dictionary defines a “disciple” as “one who accepts and follows a teacher or a doctrine.”  

We could use that definition to define what a DISCIPLE of Christ is:  A person who follows Jesus Christ and His teaching.

Every Christian is a DISCIPLE.

We read in Acts 11:26 that “the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”  Frankly, I don’t see a distinction between a Christian and a disciple.  Every Christian is a DISCIPLE; every Christian is a follower of Christ.

The Big Idea:  Christ EXPECTS complete commitment from His followers.

In this passage of God’s Word, Jesus tells us what complete commitment looks like in the lives of His followers’

Matthew 10:32-33 (AMP)

[32]  Therefore, everyone who acknowledges Me before men and confesses Me [out of a state of oneness with Me]. I will also acknowledge him before My Father Who is in heaven and confess [that I am abiding in] him.

[33]  But whoever denies and disowns Me before men, I also will deny and disown him before My Father Who is in heaven.

#1.  CHRIST EXPECTS HIS FOLLOWERS ACKNOWLEDGE HIM BEFORE OTHERS.

The phrase “whoever denies or disowns me” (v. 33) doesn’t refer to a moment of DENIAL of Jesus.  Peter denied Christ three times one night, but he never denied Him again.  That’s a comfort to me.  As a follower of Christ since 1972, I’ve had moments of denial, but I’ve repented my sin and proudly announce today that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour.

A DISCIPLE of Jesus is NOT ASHAMED of the One he or she follows.

#2.  CHRIST EXPECTS HIS FOLLOWERS TO LOVE HIM MORE THAN ANYTHING OR ANYONE ELSE.

A college student once walked into a photo studio with a framed picture held closely against his chest.  It was a picture of his girlfriend and he wanted it duplicated which involved removing it from the frame.  In doing this, the owner of the studio noticed the inscription on the back of the picture which said, “Dear Tom, I love you with all my heart.  I love you more and more each day.  I will love you forever and ever.  I am yours for all eternity!”  It was signed “Mary,” and it contained a P.S.:  “If we ever break up, I want this picture back.”

There can be no P.S. in a life given to Christ.  We can never break up with Him.  His amazing LOVE for jus demands that we LOVE Him more than others.

CHOICES will have to be made –

SOMETIMES when a person becomes a Christian and his enthusiasm overflows from his/her decision, his or her family turns against them.

Therefore, a CHOICE must be made between Christ and family.  Family ties cannot be allowed to pull a DISCIPLE from complete allegiance to his LORD.

#3.  CHRIST EXPECTS HIS FOLLOWERS TO GIVE UP EVERYTHING TO FOLLOW HIM.

IN THE 1ST CENTURY, if anyone was seen carrying his CROSS, it was clear that he was on his way to die.

Jesus uses this word picture to describe dying in our own personal pursuits and follow Him completely.  Don’t get me wrong here.  It’s a good thing to have personal pursuits–goals for yourself and family.  But when they take precedence over following Jesus completely…

In Luke’s account, we are told that before Jesus spoke these words, “Large crowds were following Him” (Luke 14:25).

BUT the crowds gradually disappeared.

And we know the reason why.

It was because Jesus DEMANDED TOTAL COMMITMENT from His followers.  He made sure that people knew the cost of DISCIPLESHIP was high.

Luke 14:27-33

Christ has already counted the cost of DISCIPLESHIP for us.  The COST is…EVERYTHING we have!

Jesus once declared, “The kingdom of heaven is like something precious buried in a field, which a man found and hid again; then in his joy, he goes and sells all he has and buys that field.”  (AMP)

What the man received was so much more valuable than what he gave up–though it was everything he had.

The cost of DISCIPLESHIP is high; but compared to what we receive from Christ Jesus, the price is a bargain!

“MANY DISCIPLES TURNED BACK AND NO LONGER FOLLOWED HIM”  (John 6:66-68)

The TWELVE DISCIPLES had given up everything to follow Jesus, BUT, with the exception of Judas, they never regretted it because, as Peter declared, Christ has “the word of eternal life.”

The apostle Paul wrote,

He said, “Know this: DISCIPLESHIP is going to cost you whatever you have.  Don’t expect comfort and ease.”

Let’s READ what Jesus said to His DISCIPLES in Mark 8:34-35:

Mark 8:36 (AMP) Continues…

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his life [in the eternal kingdom of God]?”

The WHOLE WORLD refers to all the things that could possibly be achieved or acquired in this lifetime.

GAINING the WHOLE WORLD looks more appealing than losing everything for Christ.

BUT… the REWARD for following Christ is ETERNAL LIFE, while the RESULT of gaining the whole world is the loss of one’s soul.

Under Obedience As True Followers Of Christ Jesus –

A. W. Tozer said, [Years ago] no one would ever dare to rise in a church meeting and say, “I am a Christian” if he had not surrendered his whole being to God and taken Jesus Christ as his Lord as well as his Saviour, and had brought himself under obedience to the will of the Lord.  It was only then that he could say, “I am saved!”

Today, we let them say they are “SAVED” no matter how imperfect and incomplete the action, with the stipulation that the deeper Christian life can be ‘tacked on’ at any time in the future.

Do we really think we don’t owe Jesus Christ our OBEDIENCE?

We have owed Him our OBEDIENCE ever since the second we cried out to Him for our SALVATION, and if we didn’t give Him that OBEDIENCE, I reason to wonder if we are really converted!

I see and hear of things that Christian people are doing, and as I watch and listen to the profession of Christianity, I do raise the question whether they have been truly SAVED.  I believe it is the result of faulty teaching, to begin with.  They act as though the Lord is a hospital and Jesus is the chief of staff to fix up poor sinners that have got into trouble!

“Fix me up, Lord, so I can go my own way!”

The person who says, “Save me, Jesus, but stay out of my life!” is NOT a Christian.

To that person, Christ says,

“Why are you so polite with me, always saying ‘Yes, sir,’ and ‘That’s right, sir,’ but never doing a thing I tell you?  These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living.  They are foundation words, words to build a life on”  (Luke 6:46-47, The MESSAGE Bible).

If your commitment to Christ has faltered you can RENEW your commitment to Christ in 2018.

THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP IS HIGH–

Complete Commitment–but it’s benefits are eternal!

BELIEVE that Jesus Christ died for your sin and rose from the grave.

COMMIT YOUR LIFE TO HIM!

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CREDITS –

Dictionaries:  Merriam-Webster.

Great Expectations – Wikipedia.com

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  NIV and Amplified Bibles, except where noted.

 

 

PRAYER PITFALLS

SCRIPTURE READING:  Matthew 6

Our Scripture in Matthew 6:5-8 is speaking to those who PRAY; people who take prayer seriously.

PRAYER is one of the greatest acts of the Christian believer.  It’s talking to God, whether by thought or tongue and the way a BELIEVER fellowships with God; and the one thing God desires is FELLOWSHIP with His people.

So it is essential that we PRAY and PRAY often and sharing all day long.

However, that we pray is not the concern of Jesus in this passage.  His concern is HOW WE PRAY.

It’s possible to PRAY and never be heard by God.

It’s possible to PRAY AMISS– with wrong motives and the wrong way.

Let me rephrase that in a different way.  An omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God cannot fail to know what’s going on this planet.  But when we pray with wrong motives, God chooses to ignore that prayer.

It’s possible to PRAY and to be speaking only to ourselves, to have our prayer go no higher than our own ears.  Therefore, Christ sets out to teach us the right and wrong motives for PRAYING.

  • The WRONG MOTIVE; praying to be seen by men (v. 5).

PRAYER CAN BECOME HYPOCRITICAL

A person can pray for the wrong reasons, with the wrong motives.

PRAYER is a wonderful experience, very rewarding emotionally and mentally and in having our needs met as God answers our prayer.  We can begin to LOVE PRAYING and still be praying amiss.

Praying Amiss is simply praying outside the will of God; it’s the offering of prayer but one that is done in ignorance and it’s akin to asking God to go against Himself.  For this reason alone is why at times I pray Bible verses–God’s Word for I know with confidence that I’m praying in God’s will.

And it’s easy to PRAY AMISS!

The Scripture declared that we don’t know how to PRAY as we should, hence the GIFT of the new nature and the Helper in the person of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26; 1 Corinthians 2:12).

So what is “Hypocrisy”?

In essence, it refers to the act of claiming to BELIEVE something but acting in a different manner.  The word is derived from the Greek term for “actor”–literally, “one who wears a mask”–in other words, someone who pretends to be what he isn’t.

The Bible calls hypocrisy a SIN.

There are TWO forms HYPOCRiSY can take:  that of professing belief in something and then acting in a manner contrary to that belief AND…that of looking down on others when we ourselves are flawed.  OUCH!  Both forms are prayer blockers!!

PRAYER can also become empty repetition.

A person can take any phrase or form of prayer and make it a meaningful experience, or make it a formal and meaningless occasion.

Every Sunday morning before our pastor gives the message, he calls the ushers forward and asks for one to PRAY for the tithes and offerings.  And that’s a good thing!  However, when it becomes just a ‘formal and meaningless occasion’ the words go unnoticed to man and to God.

Just think how often the LORD’S PRAYER is repeated from rote memory with the mind focused elsewhere.

PRAYER can become too long.

A believer can begin to feel he is heard because of “many words”.

“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words”  (Matthew 6:7 – New International Version).

“Many words” OR “babbling” – 

“Babbling” in the Greek language, the word is “kenophonia”, literally, “making an empty sound” (1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 2:16).

BABBLE sounds like Babel, the Biblical tower where everyone was talking in their own language.  Everyone was babbling without paying attention to their neighbors, like the kid who won’t stop talking about his trip to the water park three years ago.

PRAYER can become self-glorifying.

A person can begin to feel he/she must inform and convince God somehow of their great need.

PRAYER can become self-deceptive.

Christ says “when you pray”… He is referring to personal prayer.

I believe that Christ assumes that the BELIEVER does pray, and the idea conveyed is that the BELIEVER prays often.

What do I mean by PRAYING OFTEN?

The Apostle Paul tells us this about praying:  “Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Thess. 5:17-16).

I don’t believe that Paul is commanding us to bow our heads, eyes-closed posture all day long.  He’s talking about an ATTITUDE of God-consciousness and God-surrender we should carry with us all the time.  That’s more than “often.”

Jesus says in His teaching that some love to PRAY, and they are the very ones who stumble in the PITFALL of praying amiss with the wrong motives.

Christ pictures TWO MEN PRAYING.

  • One man prays for other people to hear.
  • The other man prays to the Father.

The first man is a HYPOCRITE and the second man is a true son of the Father.

CLOSET PRAYERS –

Matthew 6:6 (NIV)

I have to tell you, I like The King James Version when it refers to the place Jesus says to go and pray, in your closet.  Just because it’s smaller, more private that “your room”, or “your [most] private room”.

PRAYER is God’s appointed medium through which He acts for mankind.

Sharing and talking together are the ways all people communicate, fellowship, and commune together.  This is true for most people and in my opinion, women more than men because they are just more sociable.  Don’t ask me why that is, it’s just so.

PRAYER requires our presence, sharing and talking; and God looks forward to His sons and daughters’ fellowship. their communion.

It seems as though few people take PRAYER seriously.  Prayer in many cases has become a “rabbit’s foot”–‘wishin’ and ‘hopin’ type of communication.  Therefore, if we want the BLESSINGS of God to shower upon our lives and ministries; if we want the work of God going forth in POWER and bearing fruit–we must PRAY and we must INTERCEDE in PRAYER.

Matthew 6:9 (NIV)

“This, then, is how you should pray:  “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…”

Luke 18:1 (NIV)

Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them they should always pray and not give up.

PRAYER, even loving to pray, isn’t a sign that a person knows God.  The fact that a person really knows God means that he does pray.

All YAMS are sweet potatoes, but not ALL sweet potatoes are YAMS.

No matter what a person may think in their mind, if they really know God, really believe in God, they will talk to God.

There is nothing that could keep one from PRAYING,

Remember Daniel, even though he knew that if he prayed he would be thrown to the lions, he prayed.

A child of God knows God’s personality, knows Him as His Father who loves and cares for him ever so deeply.  Therefore, just as any child who truly loves his father, the BELIEVER talks, converses and shares with his/her Father not because they have to, but because they want to!  That’s what you do when you LOVE someone.

This says something to a person who prays primarily in public and prays little if any in private.  One must search the GENUINENESS OF THEIR HEART AND PROFESSION.

Jesus says that a man (or woman) who PRAYS TO BE SEEN AND HEARD by others loves to PRAY, but is a hypocrite.  Their LOVE is really for the public recognition.  Afterall, that’s what people expect from them.

The PLACES where he loves to PRAY….out in public, in the synagogue (church), in the streets (restaurants, and other public areas).

Some love to PRAY PUBLICALLY.

Their LOVE representing the group around them and vocalizing their praises and needs to God.  Some have become very charismatic and at ease with public prayer, yet they lack that essential LOVE for private prayer.  Christ calls them “hypocrites”. 

Some PRAY only in public.  They pray for their family (at meals and family prayers, usually with children); in church (when called upon); and in public (when eating in restaurants).  How destitute is the PRAYER LIFE of so many!

PRAYER is to be offered to God both in church and in public.

But PUBLIC PRAYER is to be public, not private.

Too often a person has their personal devotions when called upon to pray publically.  They have neglected their private prayers and their inner needs haven’t been met.  So when he begins to PRAY publically, he/she slips into praying for their own private prayer instead of representing the group.

Man’s ESTEEM is temporary.

The person who prays on the street corner or in the synagogue receives his reward of public recognition.  This man’s ESTEEM, this public recognition, fails at several points.

Everything passes even so quickly.  A man soon forgets and moves on to other things.

Man’s ESTEEM becomes commonplace.

Even the excellent, oratorical skilled that elicit man’s praise becomes routine and commonplace when performed day by day, Sunday after Sunday.  Soon no one acknowledges the public display.  Such abilities are merely expected and accepted, and man’s praise and recognition disappear.

Man’s ESTEEM is powerless.

It cannot answer PRAYER; it can only recognize man’s ability to put words together, to see man’s expression, fervency, and emotion.

Man’s ESTEEM can do absolutely nothing about the spiritual needs of the heart.

Let me Post Matthew 6:6 again.

 

The right motive for PRAYER is praying to be heard by God and God alone.

Our personal PRAYER LIFE is not for general consumption.  It is between me and God.

The willingness to take time to PRAY:  “When you pray”

There has to be the WILL to pray.  Every BELIEVER must take (make) time each and every day to get alone and pray.

A “CLOSET” or “PRIVATE ROOM” is a necessity!

This set-aside, private place is where a personal relationship id developed with God: a Father-son/daughter relationship is absolutely essential.

What then, when we do pray, is our motive?  Do we pray in public to be seen, heard by others?  Or do we pray in private to be in communion with our heavenly Father?

Again Jesus is talking about MOTIVE and ATTITUDE regarding PRAYER.

Are our prayers intended to be communion with God, a heart-to-HEART conversation?  It should be!

In that “closet”, at that time in your heart, you and the Father commune Father-to-child.

Know this!

That His ear is attentive and His eye sees, and in your quiet time His presence is precious!!

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SOURCES FOR THIS BLOG-POST

PHOTOS:  Google Image search.

Bible Translations:  NIV and Amplified Bibles, except where noted.

The Bread From Heaven Ministries:  “Prayer blockers – Praying amiss”

gotQuestions?org. :  “What does the Bible say about hypocrisy?”

Hypocrite@ Dictionay.com

 

 

A King Will Be Born In Bethlehem

Scripture for this Bible study – Micah 5:1-5; Isaiah 7:10-16; Isaiah 9:1-7

MICAH 5:1-5 (NIV)

[1]  Marshall your troops now, city of troops, for a siege is laid against us.  They will strike Israel’s ruler on the cheek with a rod. 

VERSE One is a prophecy or a “foretelling” of what is to come in the near future.  It is the PROPHECY that king Nebuchadnezzar was going to attack Jerusalem and that king Zedekiah would be struck on the cheek with a rod.  This all came to pass and king Zedekiah, the “ruler” at that time was taken captive and tortured resulting in the king being blinded.

This initial verse in Chapter 5 describes a picture of strife, defeat, and hopelessness.

The following verses are a contrasting picture of Micah 5:1 as the Prophet Micah changes direction in Verse 2 to a PROPHECY for the distant future.

Micah quotes the LORD who states He will send a King with the following attributes: 

He will be born in Bethlehem, a town approximately 5 miles south-southwest from Jerusalem.

Compared to Jerusalem which was a large city with majestic buildings, Bethlehem was small.  When people ask me where I grew up I tell them San Diego, California.  But actually, I grew up in Pacific Beach/Clairemont, California which is an area located about 9 miles north of San Diego.  Very few people outside of the area know about “PB” because of its small and relatively insignificance.

Out of something small and weak God brings significance and strength.

Out of Bethlehem…verses 2-5

Out of this insignificant little town would come to the Messiah, the King of Kings who was in the beginning and forever will be.

He will be a shepherd His flock.

He will provide for them physical and spiritual needs.

He will care for them, unlike the earthly kings that look only to their own interests and well-being.

He will RULE by the strength of the LORD and not the strength of engineering, technology or reason.

His extent of Authority will not be limited to Jerusalem or Israel but will stretch to the ends of the earth.

He will have complete AUTHORITY over every tribe, every kingdom, and every nation.  All because His flock can never be out of His reach or authority and He will be their PEACE.

Through the Christ-child born in Bethlehem, we have eternal security knowing that He has conquered Satan, death, and the grave that provides an eternal home for each one of us who believes in the miracle.  That is PEACE that cannot be shaken if we live our lives according to our Faith.

The Sign of Immanuel – Isaiah 7:10-16

The second PROPHECY to look at regarding the BIRTH of Christ Jesus is in the Book of Isaiah.

Ahaz was the king of Judah at the time (approximately 700 B.C.) and was under the threat of attack from both Syria and Israel who made an alliance together.

God sent the Prophet Isaiah to Ahaz to give him the message not to lose heart but instead be calm, quiet and do not be afraid.  The LORD was telling him that he didn’t need to look to Egypt, or any other nation for armies of flesh because God was going to provide. He even tells Ahaz that “if you do not stand firm in your faith you will not stand at all.”  [Isaiah 7:9]  

That MESSAGE applies to us as well.  Our FAITH isn’t something that should be worn around your our necks as a medal but it should dictate how we live our lives.

Ahaz must not have heard God’s message because it says “Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz”  (verse 10).  This time God even tells Ahaz to ask for a sign from Him that what He says is true.

Is it then OK to ask God for a sign?

Well, that depends on the motivation of the heart!

During Jesus’ earthly life the Pharisees asked for a sign but would not have believed because their only motivation was to trick Jesus.

Gideon asked for a sign to make sure that he was going to do God’s will and when he received the sign he obeyed the Lord’s directions in FAITH.

That’s what the LORD offered Ahaz but Ahaz in his pride and arrogance answers with a spiritual cliché saying, “I will not ask.  I will not put the Lord to the test.”  

The truth here?  Ahaz didn’t believe, he didn’t have FAITH and he didn’t want to hear anything that was contrary to what he already planned.

Like Ahaz, many times we come-up with our own plans for the future and when God intervenes through the Holy Spirit we sense that still, small voice telling us that we should PRAY, or He gives us that uneasy feeling that what we are planning on doing is not what God wants us to do and many times we don’t want to hear it.  We like OUR plan and it makes perfect sense to us.

But the sign that God gave to Ahaz is the same sign that He gave to the whole world.  Isaiah told Ahaz,

To Us, A Child Is Born!

The third prophecy I want to look at with you regarding the BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST in Isaiah 9:1-7.

The NINTH CHAPTER begins…

[1] But [in the midst of judgment there is the promise and the certainty of the Lord’s deliverance and] there shall be no gloom for her who was in anguish.  In the former time [the LORD] brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time, He will make it glorious, by the way of the Sea [of Galilee, the land] beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.  (Amplified Bible)

“And His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”

This is the very reason for us to REJOICE, this year and every year and every single day because you and I have seen a great light and that great light has dawned on us.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God has been given to us in a spectacular way.  Jesus refers to Himself as the Light of the World in John 2:12. This LIGHT shines regardless of the circumstances that surround us in this life.  It is the LIGHT that gives us hope because it shines in a DARK and DYING WORLD.  It is Jesus Christ who calls us and says…

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden”

With Jesus, we have HOPE, FORGIVENESS OF SIN AND ETERNAL LIFE.

All of this comes about because of God’s zeal.

It was God’s zeal for you and me that caused Him to send His Son Jesus to be born of a virgin in the little, insignificant town of Bethlehem so that God Himself could take on flesh and walk among us, experience life just like you and I, but without sin so that He could become our SACRIFICE paying the penalty for our sins.

He was crucified, dead, buried, rose again on the third day and ascended to heaven where He purchased a place for you and me and offering it as a FREE GIFT!

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!

One day He is coming back because Jesus said,  “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am”  (John 14:3 – NIV Bible).

The proof given in God’s Word and is true and His PROPHECIES will all come to pass.  So this Christmas let’s CELEBRATE His birth remembering what He did for us, but let’s go even further than that, taking heed of what Micah said to Ahaz in Isaiah 7:9:

“He will bring me out into the light; I will see His righteousness”

Let’s live our lives according to what we BELIEVE so that others will truly understand the true meaning of Christmas and see that Great Light shining in the midst of darkness.

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CREDITS & SOURCES

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV; Amplified Bible (AMP, except where noted.

PHOTOS:  Google Image search.

Bible Gateway Commentary.

 

 

 

 

 

Our Perception of Divine Sovereignty

BIBLE STUDY:  AMOS 9:1-15

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND MAN’S RESPONSIBILITY

The FIRST question before getting into this study is to ask ourselves the question “What does it mean that God is sovereign?”

God is described in the Bible as ALL POWERFUL and ALL KNOWING (Psalm 147:5), outside of time (Exodus 3:14; Psalm 90:2), and responsible for the Creation of everything (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1).  These divine traits set the minimum boundary for God’s Sovereign control in the universe, which is to say that nothing in the universe occurs without God’s permission.  God has the POWER and KNOWLEDGE to prevent anything He chooses to prevent, so anything that does happen must, at the very least be allowed by Him. [From gotQuestions?org. ].

After studying in the Book of Amos, you might begin to wonder, “Is there any good news?”  It seems as if all Amos can talk about is death and destruction.  So many ways Amos tried to get his message to the Israelites, the talk, the sermons, and finally, the personal visions he had for himself.  In all of this Israel wouldn’t listen–in one ear and out the other ear.  The people of God had wandered so far away from God, they couldn’t find their way back.  And even worse…they had deceived themselves into thinking that because they were God’s people who He would threaten JUDGEMENT but not carry the threat through.  How mistaken they would be.

They forgot that one of the recurring themes of the book was the Sovereignty of God.

And frankly, over the last few years, I have the same fear about the churches in America than anything else.  With the loss of REVERENCE of the power of God, comes a loss of dependency on Him.

We think we can go about our lives and do it on our own.

We devise our own IDOLS, our own centers of worship.

We decide that on Sundays, instead of actually worshipping God, we’re going to go to a ball game instead.  And whats worse, we’re making a public witness that it’s all right to do.  The center of our WORSHIP ceases to be in church but rather at the ball field or wherever.

There are similarities between the people of Israel and the people in America today.

If the people of Israel were to see JUDGEMENT of their transgressions, how can the churches in America fail to expect the same judgment?

So how can taking a book that’s so negative and find the roses that are planted in it?

I believe we’ve forgotten the element of JUDGEMENT.

Judgement and punishment traditionally have been seen as negative.  We want people not to do a certain activity, so we PUNISH them for doing so.

Children may be able to recognize that we LOVE them when we punish them but their view of PUNISHMENT is still not to do a certain thing.  There is an element of restoration that happens as a result of the punishment and judgment.  Just as parents, God disciplines or judges His people to bring them back into a good relationship with Him.

So God’s Judgment in His SOVEREIGNTY can correct the political, the religious, the cultural conditions that allowed for the people to turn from God and shows that He still wants a RELATIONSHIP with His chosen people.

WE ARE THE CHURCH!

Amos knows why the judgment is to come.

It’s a vision that God shows Amos the extent of the JUDGEMENT,

The very foundations of Israel are to be destroyed.

All of the people were involved.

Their land, their buildings, all were involved and destroyed.

WHY?

One reason is that it establishes the sovereignty of God.

Just as a child challenges his parent’s authority.  When the PARENT doesn’t answer the challenge by discipline, then the CHILD doesn’t fear the AUTHORITY of the parents.  How the parent exercises that DISCIPLINE affects the challenge.

When my first-born daughter was a child, a good strong word or a timeout on the couch would be good enough.  For my other two children, that would do no good at all!

For some, nothing but a spanking will do.  They see that type of discipline as either a strength or weakness on the part of the parent.

If DISCIPLINE is to be effective it must present the PARENT in a sovereign position over the child, and not visa-versa.

The same is true of God.  He doesn’t send judgment just for the sake of judgment.  He sends it to exert His SOVEREIGNTY on a people who have challenged it, or no longer believes it.  He allows us to know who is really in control of this world; that it is the Creator, not the created.

Amos Chapter 9 begins by establishing the SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD in the first four verses.

AMOS begins to show God’s sovereignty as pictured by the altar with a sword in His hands.

There is no defensive armor mentioned.  He would not need it!  He was to attack as the sword is only an offensive weapon.

After He destroys the Temple, God then continues His JUDGMENT on the survivors.

  • They couldn’t hide in the center of the earth, or in caves.
  • They couldn’t hide in the mountains.
  • They couldn’t hide in the depths of the sea.

The SOVEREIGN GOD would find them wherever they hide.

AMOS continues to describe God’s SOVEREIGNTY in VERSE 5:

[5]  The Lord, the LORD Almighty–he touches the earth and it melts, and all who live in it mourn; the whole land rises like the Nile, then sinks like the river of Egypt;

Amos identifies God as the LORD, THE LORD ALMIGHTY.

God who can control the actions of the earth and the water.  We’ve seen this before with Noah and the flood and Moses and the Red Sea.

Having established His SOVEREIGNTY, we then look at VERSE 7:  “Are not you Israelites the same to me as the Cushites?” declares the LORD.

In this VERSE, God establishes the fact that He considers Israel to be the same as the idolatrous Cushites, the Philistines, and the Arameans.  God has in the past delivered countries not His chosen people out of captivity.  They wouldn’t recognize it, but AMOS does here.

But in VERSE 8, there seems to be a dimmer of HOPE for Israel.  God’s SOVEREIGNTY is established in His righteous JUDGEMENT.

[8]  “Surely the eyes of the Sovereign LORD are on the sinful kingdom.  I will destroy it from the face of the earth.  Yet I will not totally destroy the descendants of Jacob.”

God also is to destroy Israel from the face of the earth as Israel is recognized as EVIL by God.  The people also show no signs of REPENTANCE by the leaders.

But in His destruction, God makes a PROMISE not to totally destroy Israel or the house of Jacob.

You can’t just talk about the destruction of Israel without looking at its RESTORATION.  In fact, the only time we can speak of JUDGEMENT without restoration is the great white throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).

It is here that I can see the ROSEBUD start to develop.

The RESTORATION of ISRAEL:

God had promised in VERSE 8 that He will not destroy the house of Jacob.  This means that while a great number will be destroyed, as we learn from verses 1-4, that not all the Israelites will be destroyed.

In my Bible investigation, this brought up some interesting questions:  Who will be destroyed and whom will be the remnant? And why?

To find some answers to understanding the reasons for destruction in JUDGEMENT I needed to turn back the pages of history at what led up to this JUDGEMENT.

It goes back to the death of Solomon and the division of the 12 Tribes into two countries.

Jeroboam, the king of the northern country, Israel, wanted to make sure that the countries stayed divided.  So he introduced IDOL WORSHIP to Israel so they wouldn’t go to Jerusalem to make sacrifices to God.

From then on, things went downhill.

The series of successive kings didn’t look to God for leadership but trusted rather in their own power to lead.  This was the foundation of their problems.  They challenged the SOVEREIGNTY of God and in essence, were saying that we can lead God’s people better than God can.

So all matters of EVIL enveloped Israel for literally hundreds of years.  God wouldn’t stay His JUDGEMENT forever in light of all this.

It’s important to note–not all the Israelites bowed to Baal.  They would all be a part of the JUDGEMENT, but God would protect them.

God also left an opportunity for individual repentance, even though the country would be judged.

With what we know, we can tell who is to be judged:

  1. The religious leaders for their allowing idolatry.
  2. To the political leaders who wouldn’t look to God.
  3. To the wealthy for how they abused the poor.
  4. To the judicial leaders for abusing the system of justice.
  5. To the people who followed these leaders.

VERSES 11 and 12 tells us that God will RESTORE the fallen tent of David.

[11] “In that day I will restore David’s fallen shelter–I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins–and will rebuild it as it used to be,  [12] so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear My name.” declares the LORD, who will do these things  (NIV).

God will repair the broken places and restore its ruins.  He will bring out a NEW NATION that is stronger and more powerful than what was there before.

This is a NEW DAY of the LORD. 

One that isn’t a day of judgment but one of restoration.  A day when the people of the House can once again enjoy the goodness of the relationship with the Lord.

Looking at VERSES 13 and 14…

The reaper will overtake the plowman…

The planter with the one treading grapes…

New wine will flow from the mountains and hills…

They will rebuild their cities…

They will make gardens and eat their fruit.

All of the talk of JUDGEMENT at this point now turns to RESTORATION and HOPE!

The Agent of Restoration is Revealed –

It’s not enough to know that RESTORATION was to take place.  We must know HOW that restoration will take place.

The restoration for Israel came in TWO ways.

One is immediate:

This would be their return from captivity and the rebuilding and leadership headed by Nehemiah and Ezra.

The other is or future RESTORATION when Christ comes back:

The future restoration that God brought about was even more reconstructive than just returning to an existing form of worship.  The form of worship had to change for throughout Israel’s history, they showed that they repeatedly turned from God under the Law.  They couldn’t keep ALL the Law, therefore they could keep none of it.

For Israel’s RESTORATION to be complete, they would have to have a NEW WAY to worship.

That NEW WAY OF WORSHIP would come with Jesus

He came to complete the Law.

With Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, God completed the RESTORATION of the Law.  The restoration of the Law became the DOCTRINE of GRACE.

The doctrine of grace wrestled control of religion from the hands of men and placed God in control.  It was no longer a “system”, a bunch of rules and regulations that mere mortals could follow, like directions on a roadmap.

SALVATION was now a GIFT open to everyone.  It was based on what God in His SOVEREIGNTY can do for a man, a GIFT that God and God alone could give.

Whit Christ, the RESTORATION of Israel was complete!

CHRISTIANITY was to become the new Israel.

Israel was restored to worship under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

We are part of the RESTORED Israel.

One day we will be in the land never again to be uprooted as we join Christ in glory.  Oh, what a day that will be for those who are part of the RESTORED KINGDOM!

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CREDITS ~

Commentary:  “What does it mean that God is sovereign?”  gotQuestions?org.

Photos:  Google Image search.

Video:  YouTube time-lapse of a rosebud.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV), except where noted.

 

Living Out Our Lives In the Anointing

SCRIPTURE STUDY:  AMOS 3:7-8 (ESV)

WHAT WE SHOULD KNOW AND UNDERSTAND –

VERSE 7:  “SURELY the Lord God will do nothing without revealing His secrets to His servants the prophets” (AMP).

We know that we can prepare boldly for what is coming because Jesus gave us the prophetic signs of our time.  He told us what we should look for and because of His words, we know that we’re living in the LAST DAYS because prophetically the Bible has shown us where the CHURCH will be in the future.  We know that it will end in glory and will end strong and not weak.

The Laodicean Church, one of the 7 churches mentioned in The Revelation to John (Rev. 3:14-17).  In this passage of scripture, Jesus spoke about the last days but it will not be the final church because the LAST CHURCH will be united and strong and will grow into the full stature of Jesus.

God is equipping and preparing us for great and mighty things so we will finish strong!  We will take the NATIONS for Jesus’ sake by PREACHING the Gospel of Christ to the ends of the earth!!

The DEVIL has already been defeated and although he will exert great power on the earth, his reign of terror will end in the lake of fire.

THE ENTIRE WORD OF GOD IS PROPHETIC…meaning “foretelling,” and “forth telling.”

But it is also apostolic because the word “apostolic” is a DOING word.

James 1:22 (The Message Bible)

“Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other.  ACT on [or “DO”] what you hear.”

To be apostolic means we must be “doers”: acting on what you hear!  And what we do should extend beyond the four walls of our church by extending to the ends of the earth.

An APOSTLE is a person who performs the Word IN DEED.

At Pentecost, the disciples became apostles because they were ANOINTED to do ministry.

Jesus’ ministry was apostolic because of what He did (Acts 10:38).

[38] How God anointed and consecrated Jesus of Nazareth with the [Holy] Spirit and with strength and ability and power; how He went about doing good and, in particular, curing all who were harassed and oppressed by [the power of] the devil, for God was with Him  (AMP).

And since Jesus gave us the command to “go then and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19), as fellow disciples we are ANOINTED to do ministry.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (AMP)

[21] But it is God Who confirms and makes us steadfast and establishes us [in joint fellowship] with you in Christ, and has consecrated and anointed us [enduing us with the gifts of the Holy Spirit];  [22] [He has also appropriated and acknowledged us as His by] putting His seal upon us and giving us His [Holy] Spirit in our hearts as the security deposit and guarantee [of the fulfillment of His promise].

The definition of an APOSTLE is, “one who is sent forth” to represent another.

And as the ANOINTED, we, as believers are sent by God to represent heaven on earth.  We are to be the answer to a distressed world.

The true definition of the apostolic ministry is “Someone who is anointed by God [not man] to perform a supernatural task on earth by adding to God’s Kingdom.”  It implies that we can ALL be apostolic through the indwelling Holy Spirit’s power!

But are we really “doers”?

God has always been building His Kingdom or building His church which is the same thing.

Some Terminologies in the WORD May Change.

The first time the word “apostle” was used was in the New Testament.  It was never mentioned in the Old Testament, but its meaning carries the same function in the Old and New Testaments–because God has always sent man and woman to represent Him and to perform work for Him.

There are ANOINTED people who are DOING in the name of the Lord but they are not sent by God to do whatever they’re doing.  If we are not sent by God we will not be acknowledged by Him.  So it is important to DO only what God directs us to DO.  That’s what Jesus did.  He never did anything without God’s permission.

God has called each one of us to work with Him and He is building His Kingdom with us and through us.

GOD IS THE BUILDER!!!

Colossians 1:15-17 –

From this revelation in Scripture (God’s Word), we can see the great apostolic power of Jesus as the Creator and because He created everything, He has POWER and AUTHORITY over everything He created.

Those who have an apostolic anointing are also creative and the things they BUILD for God are a testimony against the kingdom of darkness.

Matthew 16:18 (NIV)

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

What God BUILDS will defeat the devil and the things we BUILD with God cannot be destroyed by the enemy.

To be APOSTOLIC…and I know there are those reading this blog who are uncomfortable using this term…is being sent in BUILDING SOMETHING that exults God and overcomes the enemy.

Anything that was built by God and His workers in the Old Testament, by definition, is APOSTOLIC and anything built by God and His workers since then is APOSTOLIC.

GOD IS NOT YET FINISHED BUILDING HIS KINGDOM!

For example, He has not yet created a new heaven and a new earth which He will do in the future.  That’s part of His future plans and we are part of His present plans.  That is why we need the BLUEPRINT for today.

God has ANOINTED every one of us to BUILD apostolically.

Everything we see in the physical or natural environment responds to WORDS.  That’s the way God’s creation is designed:  “God said…God saw”  (Genesis One).

God has given us the ability and the authority to frame our world with His Words.  Prophetic Words have POWER and can be spoken into our circumstances in order to shape our world so that it reflects the MAJESTY AND POWER of God’s Kingdom.  So watch your words!

When these spoken words are applied to God’s creation, there will be a response.  However, there’s a time to SPEAK and a time to DO things.  That’s why we need both the APOSTOLIC AND PROPHETIC ANOINTING.

Any impressive building has a CORNERSTONE to show that it is valuable.  It usually contains inscribed the names of the Architect, the Master Builder, and the Visionary.

All that God BUILDS is valuable and JESUS is the Chief Cornerstone of everything He builds (1 Peter 2:6-8).  If Jesus isn’t part of the building then it’s not worth building.  And if it is not built by Him, then it’s not His building.

When Jesus is the CORNERSTONE, what we build, whether it is our spiritual life, our marriage, our home life, our career, our businesses, the name of Jesus will always be a stumbling block to those who oppose Him because the CORNERSTONE will reflect heaven.

God wants everything to be built on His apostolic BLUEPRINT.

The reason being that it can EXALT Jesus who is the Creator and the greatest example of the APOSTOLIC ANOINTING.

Hebrews 3:1 (NIV)

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.

God wants every family to have an apostolic blueprint so that they can be built according to His plans with Christ Jesus as the Chief Cornerstone.

When others see the building, not necessarily a physical building…God will be given the GLORY.  God wants to be glorified in our families, our ministries, our businesses, and every other aspect of our lives.  But He can only be GLORIFIED if things are built according to His design.

When His name is on the building, it becomes a stumbling block to the kingdom of darkness, but LIFE and HOPE to the world.

Every Ministry Should Have An Apostolic Blueprint to Succeed.

In order to fulfill our the requirement, we need to find the BLUEPRINT of the cities and nations that God is giving us to REBUILD.  And because anything that hasn’t been built according to how God wants it built MUST be broken down and rebuilt.

AND…there’s nothing wrong with rebuilding.

Rebuilding because there are things that must be redesigned, restructured, and repositioned so that God can be given the GLORY.

If your life, my life, is not offending the kingdom of DARKNESS, that means that Jesus is not the CORNERSTONE because the Cornerstone will be the Rock of offense to everything that refuses to bow to Hum.

The laying of the CORNERSTONES is in accordance with our apostolic built-up anointing because God wants us in our ANOINTED lives to place Christ back in the cities and the nations.  And when the building is complete, Jesus is going to be the CORNERSTONE of that city or nation.

Revelation 11:15 (AMP)

The seventh angel blew [his] trumpet, and there were mighty voices in heaven, shouting, The Dominion (kingdom, sovereignty, rule) of the world has now come into the possession and become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (the Messiah), and He shall reign forever and forever (for the eternities of the eternities)!

WHEN WE BUILD THINGS FOR GOD He places us into the foundation of that building as a TESTIMONY for eternity.

The New Jerusalem – Revelation 21:12 & 14 (NIV)

[12] It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates.  On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.

[14] The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

The names of the twelve tribes and the twelve apostles are etched on the FOUNDATIONS of the New Jerusalem that contributed to the building.  God advanced His Kingdom through the TWELVE TRIBES of Israel who possessed the Promise Land and laid down the FOUNDATION for the nation of Israel performing their apostolic part.

After Pentecost in the New Testament, God built the CHURCH through the early apostles and they laid down the FOUNDATION of the New Covenant for Believers (that’s us) to build on and they completed their apostolic part.

Ephesians 2:20 (AMP)

You are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus Himself the chief Cornerstone.

What we do for God today means something and He remembers the names of those who have worked for Him and with Him.  God doesn’t merely use your life and resources and then forgets about you, but He remembers your name and blesses you and your children up to the THIRD and FOURTH generation.

When we operate prophetically and apostolically in our lives God will make sure that your name is in the FOUNDATIONS for all to see and He will send others to BUILD on that Foundation generation to generation.

You Have An Unique Anointing – 2 Corinthians 6:1 (AMP)

Laboring together [as God’s fellow workers] with Him then, we beg of you not to receive the grace of God in vain [that merciful kindness by which God exerts His holy influence on souls and turns them to Christ, keeping and strengthening them–do not receive it to no purpose].

That unique anointing should express itself in you PASSION.  And as an example, if you have a PASSION for seeing people HEALED…God will use you for healing.

Remember, we can’t do anything without Christ because He is the SOURCE OF THE ANOINTING.  ALWAYS!

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CREDITS FOR THIS BLOG:

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

Commentary:  What is the anointing?  What does it mean to be anointed? – gotQuestions?.org.

PHOTOS:  Google Image search, using the referenced Scripture verses.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP) except where noted.

 

 

 

 

WARNING: Who’s That Knocking At Your Door?

SCRIPTURE:  2 John 1:1-13

Verses 10-11 (The Message)

10-11  If anyone shows up who doesn’t hold to this teaching, don’t invite him in and give him the run of the place.  That would just give him a platform to perpetuate his evil ways, making you his partner.

The cults will always come knocking on our door, especially during the holidays.

The ESSENCE of this little letter, a biblical Postcard as some have said, because of its brevity and it is a caution against endorsing a CULT.  But I’m a little ahead of myself and need to begin at the beginning of John’s letter.

The Elder…

The writer of this letter, the apostle John, is referred to as “the Elder”–this is referring to age–usually an old man (Luke 15:25; 1 Timothy 5:1) and perhaps an Elder in the local church as well.

John was clearly an aged man when he wrote this “Postcard”, or small letter.  In David Guzik’s 2 John Commentary: 

John the apostle, who was now a very old man, generally supposed to be about ninety…He is allowed to have been the oldest of all the apostles, and to have been the only one who died a natural death.”  (Clarke).

So the use of the word “Elder” is not necessarily referring to an office in the church.  That said, the word could also refer to the rank or office in the Jewish Sanhedrin (Matthew 16:21).  It can refer as well to the local church (Acts 11:29, 20:17; 1 Timothy 5:17, 19).  What really matters here is his position rather than his personal name.  The word “Elder” simply means, “a venerable figure in the church known with affectionate [respect] as ‘the old man’.”  [referenceMarshall]

Who is the Letter Written to?  (verses 1b-6)

To the Woman who is CHOSEN–ELECT (v. 1, 13).

“ELECT” is eklektos, one picked out or chosen.  The reference is to the fact that this lady was one of the elects of God, one chosen-out one of God, chosen-out from among mankind by the sovereign grace of God for salvation.”  [reference – Wuest]

ELECTION –

“The eternal act of God whereby He, in His sovereign good pleasure, and on account of no foreseen merit in them, chooses a certain number of people to be recipients of the special grace of eternal salvation.  This ELECTION is unconditional [i.e., there is nothing in the creature that conditions God’s choice] pre-temporal (before the foundation of the world), unmerited (by grace), as the basis of SALVATION.”  [reference – Basic Theology, Ryrie]

(Ephesians 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:9)

Caution –

Whoever this lady was, it opens the door for a variety of interpretations:

  1.  Figuratively referenced to a local church.
  2.  A lady named Electra [meaning, chosen].
  3.  Karia [a Greek word for lady].
  4.  Or, it could be that the lady’s name is anonymous.

“whom I love in truth–also to all those who have known the truth.”

John uses the word agape (“love”) which is not a word of personal endearment, like agapetos (“well-beloved”).  He omits the word to avoid anybody in the church making something out of his correspondence to her.

  • He also uses the word “truth” – lit. “his love was in the sphere of truth.”
  • He equally includes her children as the object of his love.

All of this would stop any gossip in its tracts, keeping everything without the appearance of anything improper.

The CONTINUATION of the TRUTH –

“Because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever.”

WHAT IS THE TRUTH?

  1. Jesus Christ Himself (John 14:6).
  2. The Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17).
  3. The Word of God (John 17:17).

The SOURCE of the TRUTH – 

From God the Father and Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father is TRUTH and LOVE.

Here we see God the Father and the Son placed on equal footing, something the Gnostic denied.  [See Got Questions.org “What is the definition of the term Gnostic?”]

The SUBSTANCE–What Comes from God to us (verse 3).

  • GRACE – God’s unmerited favor for everything we need to do God’s will.
  • MERCY – God not giving us what we deserve.
  • PEACE – The result of grace and mercy (heart peace AND not absence from war).

The COMMANDMENT (v. 4 b) –

WALK IN LOVE…

John is about to hit the old nail on the head.

The Problem–

In that day, hospitality was essential because a safe places were rare, and often unsavory people lurked in the few places open for a traveler.  Traveling ministers, or missionaries, were dependent upon godly people taking care of their needs.  To respond to such visitors required serious discernment since not every minister was of God.

Romans 16:17-18:

 

The Implication…

This woman might have been guilty, though without intent, of taking in these cultic deceivers.

2 John 1:10 (PHILLIPS):

[10] “If any teacher comes to you who is disloyal to what Christ taught, don’t have him inside your house.”

But aren’t we as Christians supposed to show our love to all others?  Good question.  Let’s see what the Bible adds to what LOVE is and isn’t:

1 Corinthians 13:6 (AMP)

[6] “It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.”

So turning away CULTS is not a lack of LOVE, but actually an expression of it.

The Warning Against Receiving Cults (verses 7-11) –

“The DECEIVERS” (v. 7) –

Deceivers: derived from a verb meaning “to wander, rove, to mislead, to lead into error, imposters.”

“Not the content to be deceived themselves, these men/ women cannot rest until they have deceived others for they do not bother pagans,  Their prey is true Christians”  [Lenski].

2 Corinthians 11:13-15

 

DANGER EXPOSED (v. 8) –

2 John 1:8 (AMP)

Look to yourselves (take care) that you may not lose (throw away or destroy) all that we and you have labored for, but that you may [persevere until you] win and receive back a perfect reward [in full].

Being seduced by FALSE TEACHERS is one way Christians can lose their reward at the judgment.  With this in mind, John writes that the reason to guard against DECEIVERS is our own desire NOT to lose our rewards.

Every Believer has the potential to receive a full reward or complete loss of a reward:

“If a man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet as through fire”  (1 Corinthians 3:15).

The determining factor is our FAITHFULNESS to Christ Jesus.

Justification isn’t in view here because it’s not something we worked for, but something we received as a GIFT from God.

The Only Defense (vs. 9) –

Here we have the present participle “proago-ago, LEAD” and pro “before.”  So the verb means “go before, precede, to go on ahead.”

It may be translated in verse 9 “goes too far” (NAS), or “run ahead” (NIV).

Our defense is to abide in  God’s TRUTH as found in His written Word.  So the verb “runs ahead” [goes too far] in 2 John might be understood as “is so advanced”.  So here it carries the importance of “to go beyond” or “go on ahead.”  They. the deceivers thought of themselves as having been so “advanced” beyond these unenlightened Christians.  The truth is that the CULTIST believed they had “advanced” beyond the TRUTH.

The Godly Disgust (vv. 10-11) –

REFUSE HOSPITALITY —

It shouldn’t take long to find out if a person is sound as to the Doctrine of Christ:

  • His deity,
  • Virgin birth,
  • Atoning death,
  • Resurrection,
  • Ascension,
  • His coming again.

TWO major CULTS today specialize in going door to door; Mormons and so-called Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Both CULTS are heretical with regard to the person of Christ.

“Meet them at the door,” John says, but don’t invite them in–you’ll find them hard to get rid of–persuasive and persistent.  Shut the front door firmly in their faces.

This isn’t talking about the unsaved, the lost who come to visit us, but people who are on a mission to spread a false gospel message that DENIES the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.

If we encourage them in any way, we’re helping the devil do his work through them.

Let’s say I let one of them in and then they go to my neighbor’s house and say, “Hellow, I just came from your neighbors’ house.  Isn’t he a great guy?  We had a great discussion about ‘spiritual things’ and we would like to take a few minutes of your time to share something very important to you and your family.”

The form of “IF” used in verse 10 assumes that this sentence is a statement of reality.  FALSE TEACHERS actually were coming to this woman’s home; men who didn’t carry with them the genuine teaching of Christ.  When this happened, John’s command was clear.

DO NOT RECEIVE THEM!

Coming to a CONCLUSION –

The next time a CULT member comes knocking on your door–maybe you should begin singing, “I hear you knocking…but you can’t come in!”

Some sound advice:  If there are those who deny the DOCTRINE OF CHRIST–that He is God…that He was manifested in the flesh–don’t invite them into your home.  If they make Jesus out to be less than God, whether they say He is “the Son of God” and not God Himself [as the Jehovah’s Witnesses contend], or whether they say He is the spirit brother to Lucifer [as the Mormons teach].

DON’T LET THEM IN!

And don’t let heretics into your house through the Internet or the television set.

SHUT THE DOOR on False Teachers!

__________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS –

Commentaries Used for this study:  Townsend, Nelson Study Bible, Basic Theology, by Ryrie. Marshall’s Commentary; Wuest; Clarke; David Guzik; Lenske.

Hebrew and Greek Dictionary:  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search, Advance settings.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); or as noted in the text.

Song Recording:  “I Hear You Knockin,” by Smiley Lewis -YouTube