“Shall We Gather At The River” – The Book of Revelation To John – (Part Six)

Pastor Kyle began his new series this morning regarding HEAVEN. I thought I would Reblog one of The Word Detective’s posts on a study in Revelation.

The WORD Detective

rev-22-1-And-he-showed-me-a-river-of-water-of-life-bright-as-crystal-proceeding-out-of-the-throne-of-God-and-of-the-Lamb-in-the-middle-of-its-street

This will be my final series study in the Book of REVELATION TO JOHN.  I hope you have enjoyed the study as much as I, and… although I didn’t address ALL the issues and questions most have in the reading, I’ve tried to highlight what the Holy Spirit was leading me to present to you.  That said, let’s look at the last Chapter in the Book, and “Shall we gather at the river”?

The River of Life – REVELATION 22:1-2:

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb  [2] down the middle of the great street of the city.  On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.  And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the…

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HEAVEN IS MORE ABOUT A PERSON THAN A PLACE

Bible Text:  Philippians 3:20, 21

Setting out on a Summer Vacation has always been a special occasion in my life. Although I don’t travel on long road trips as much as I used to, I still love planning vacations.

When our children were young, some parts of the journey on a family vacation were much enjoyed…while other parts, not so much (He’s touching me…No, I’m not…She’s touching me!).

I remember going on family vacations with my brother, mom, and dad and on the way we would stop for a fresh peach ice cream cone on a hot Summer day in Bakersville, California, but that wasn;t our destination…our destination was Yosemite National Park and the RESERVATIONS were long in place at Camp Curry.

And if you remember Family Vacations as I do and find after arriving at your destination there are NO RESERVATIONS available and you wind up spending the night in a car with a family of five…behind a park ranger’s cabin…hearing strange noises in the dark….you might want to punch a night prowling racoon on the nose!

Arriving At The End Of The Journey

Our loving Father, who wants us to make it to the end of life’s journey posted many road signs designed to get us and keep focused on the road.

It’s why the Apostle Peter writes… “Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God’s people; once you were unpitied, but now you are pitied and have received mercy. Beloved, I implore you as aliens and strangers and exiles [in the world] to abstain from sensual urges (the evil desires, passions of the flesh, your lower nature) that wage war against the soul.  Conduct yourselves properly (honorably, righteously) among the Gentiles, so that, although they may slander you as evildoers,  [yet]  they may by witnessing your good deeds [come to] glorify God on the day of inspection [when God shall look upon you Wanderers as a pastor or shepherd looks over his flock]”  (1 Peter 2:10-12AMP).

The Apostle Paul and Apostle Peter are in complete 100% agreement. 

OUR HOME ISN’T HERE!  OUR CITIZENSHIP IS IN HEAVEN, NOT HERE ON EARTH.

We are on a JOURNEY, not to see and taste ice cream or punch a raccoon in the nose, but “We eagerly wait to see our Savior, from heaven.”

We long to glorify God here, because, through that, others might also glorify Him on the day He visits us.

As we look towards the end of the JOURNEY it’s important we realize that HEAVEN IS MORE ABOUT A PERSON THAN A PLACE.

Got whatever the reason we’ve been bombarded, saturated with pictures of heaven showing white fluffy clouds, Angels with halos, and a lot of singing and strumming.

George Bernard Shaw wrote these somewhat cynical words about HEAVEN:

If heaven is nothing more than a place where we sit on white clouds and play a harp day after day, frankly, it’s not a place to really get excited about…

It’s better than HELL–to be more comfortable than being ‘burnt toast’s-but it’s not a great motivation to keep on the narrow road until the end, especially when Satan offers all kinds of side-excursions on the journey.

Behavior and Hearts Will Never Ever Be Changed Spiritually by Viewing Heaven As A Place.

Don’t get me wrong!  I believe HEAVEN to be real, tangible, rock solid!!

Here’s the problem viewing HEAVEN in a place.

1 Corinthians 2:9, 10  (Good News Translation – GNT)

However, as scripture says, “What no one ever saw and heard what no one ever thought could happen, is the very thing God prepared for those who love him–but it was to us that God made known his secret by means of his Spirit.”

I had to re-read the above verses several times before I really understood.  Don’t try to present or understand HEAVEN as the end, your earthly, non-glorified eye, ears and mind are not capable.  But you have a RELATIONSHIP with God through His Spirit.  His spirit made Him “Abba” Daddy to you, and this relationship reveals the PROMISE of HEAVEN, not as a place, but as His people.

I want to share Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:21 with you:  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’  will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”  

When you think of HEAVEN as a place…trying to be good enough to get there, to keep the Law–the 10 Commandments–do church stuff, and Jesus says “you have to know my Father’s WILL (and the only way we know it is through the Holy Spirit), don’t just do STUFF…have a relationship with Me…know Me…and then HEAVEN isn’t a place you go, it’s a family reunion.

It’s Paul’s understanding that his CITIZENSHIP IS IN HEAVEN…

VERSE 20:  “But our citizenship is in heaven…and we eagerly WAIT…

And it’s Peter who is excited to give glory to God on the day He visits us.

THE WORK OF GOD can only be carried on by the POWER of God.

The CHURCH isn’t an organization (or it shouldn’t be), but it’s a spiritual organism–a living, breathing thing fighting spiritual battles…and only spiritual POWER can make it function as God ordained.

THE KEY…

It’s not money, organization, cleverness or education, the KEY is God, His Spirit and His POWER moving us forward on the journey.

Romans 8:14 reads “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

“Sons of God”…This is exactly the RELATIONSHIP Paul is talking about.  

God has made us spend eternity in relationship with Him…and we severed that relationship.

How is it RESTORED?

He calls us back…

He pays for our misgivings, our SINS through the BLOOD of His own Son.

We REPENT and ESTABLISH the relationship through the DEATH, BURIAL, AND RESURRECTION.

The Holy Spirit enters this earthly tent…

Lives within…which is God’s down payment for an external RELATIONSHIP.

Our text in Philippians 3 tells us something so important about the relationship at the end of the journey.

The Greatest Miracle…

The most amazing aspect of ETERNAL RELATIONSHIP is guaranteed by Holy Spirit.

JESUS CHRIST THE ALL POWERFUL WILL TRANSFORM US TO BE LIKE HIM!

VERSE 21:   Who will transform and fashion anew the body of our humiliation to conform to and be like the body of His glory and majesty, by exerting that power which enables Him even to subject everything to Himself.  [AMP]

WHAT KIND OF AUTHORITY DOES JESUS HAVE?

“ALL AUTHORITY,” ACCORDING TO MATTHEW  28:18-20 –

Empty tomb with three crosses on a hill side.

WHY?  Because He made Himself a servant, was made in human likeness, came to earth in the appearance of man…and then humbled Himself completely in obedience to His Father, even dying on a Cross.

As JESUS prayed before His crucifixion in John 17, look closely at His request:

This PLAN, this RELATIONSHIP, existed before the world begun as did God’s PLAN for SALVATION through Jesus!

Jesus knew this SALVATION would be presented through the DISCIPLES.  Here’s what Jesus wanted more than anything else while He approached the Cross.

But He wasn’t just thinking about the 12…

John 17:11-19

HE WAS THINKING ABOUT THOSE WHO WOULD BE SAVED THROUGH THEIR MESSAGE.

LISTEN TO THE HEART OF JESUS!!

 

Powerful Stuff, don’t you think?  The RELATIONSHIP that Jesus has with the Father and the Father has with Him, flows powerfully into the lives of His followers through the Holy Spirit… 

Not just for the TWELVE, but even those who would be SAVED by their message,

Those who have been ADOPTED into the Family of God.

You see it’s the Spirit that’s transforming us into the IMAGE of Jesus.  Holy isn’t His first name, it’s the work He performs in us as believers.  He’s molding (as we surrender) our hearts, minds, attitudes into being shaped like Jesus’ heart, mind, attitude…

CROSS SHAPED!

So while this is occurring, our inward TRANSFORMATION through the Holy Spirit taking place in a body that’s wasting away, a TENT, inwardly we are hopefully becoming Holy – H.O.L.Y.

But our earthly bodies are becoming Holey – H.O.L.E.Y. …

  • Holy=filled with Jesus
  • Holey=filled with holes.

“Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!  (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

I can probably bet that Paul wasn’t focusing on clouds, harps, and golden streets.  He was looking straight at the face of a Savior Who reversed His blasphemous, violent, persecuting hide!  The One Who pulled him out of the angry dust on the Damascus Road one day and redirected his path towards home.

And in that place, we call HEAVEN, in the presence of Jesus…spiritual perfection is attained, and our satisfaction becomes GLORIFICATION.

And then folks, that perfect Spirit will then be housed in a perfect body…

“Transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.”

Spending A Day Or A 1,000 Years On My Face…

Telling Jesus how much I love Him, how grateful I am for His grace, my salvation, and I’ll get up to my feet, and look for my Dad and ask “Want a fresh peach ice cream cone?”  And he’ll say, “You know, you look great without all your scars.”  And then we’ll both fall at the feet of Jesus again for a day or 1,000 years, it really doesn’t matter, does it?

REUNION

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS –

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

PHOTOS:  All Photos used for this post were found on Google Image Search, Advanced Search settings.

DICTIONARY:  VINE’S COMPLETE EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY.

 

Putting OFF the Old Things / Putting ON the New You!

THE KARATE KID STORY –

The Karate Kid is a 1984 American martial arts feel good film.  It’s an underdog story.

Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) trains the young man Daniel (Ralph Macchio) in the art of Karate for protection against neighborhood bullies.

Mr. Miyagi begins Daniel’s training by telling him the requirement of commitment that accompanies Mr’ Miyagi’s curriculum.

After Daniel agrees, Miyagi assigns Daniel to complete various lengthy, menial chores that appear to have nothing to do with Karate.

“Wax On / Wax Off”

THE EPHESIANS 4:21-24 STORY – “Putting OFF / Putting ON”  and the COMMITMENT Begins…

[21] assuming that you have heard about him, and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus  [22] to PUT OFF your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,  [23] and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,  [24] and to PUT ON the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.  [ English Standard Version (ESV) Bible.]

2 Corinthians 5:17 says,  “Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away.  Behold, the fresh and new has come!”  [Amplified Bible]

I beg to differ with a lot of Christians living in the world today saying or thinking that they can keep on LIVING the old life and claim to be a child of God.

I’ll admit it is not easy...it’s the hardest thing we have ever done.

  • TO SHARE THE GOSPEL,
  • PREACH THE GOSPEL,
  • TEACH THE GOSPEL,
  • LIVE THE GOSPEL.

The Bible says if you are SAVED by the GRACE of God, you’re a NEW CREATURE.

There is a lot of people who are hanging on to the old lifestyle; trusting in the material things and not living by the spiritual things.

Galatians 6:15 says,  Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation”  (NIV Bible).

Romans 6:4 says We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

Thank God We Are SERVING A Risen Savior…

And the Bible tells us that we’re supposed to WALK in the newness of life.  I remember when my three children were learning to walk.  My wife and I would hold our hands out across the room, encouraging to take one step, to place one foot in front of the other.  As long as they could see our faces they would slowly move forward.  As soon as they looked down at their feet, they lost focus and would stumble and tear up.  When that occurred, I think mom and dad also teared up.  But the training, the exercise, the dedication to commitment went on.

IT ISN’T EASY –

“Yes, but we all sin–we slip, we fall down and skin our knees– and fall short of God’s glory, don’t we?”  We sure do.  We still have the old body–the outside, but thanks be to God, we have a new man on the inside!

We sure do.  We still have the old body–the outside, but thanks be to God, we have a new man on the inside!

IF we are SAVED…and we’re a NEW CREATURE, we ought to live like it, then!

I’d like to point out a few training steps in “Putting Off and Putting On” A NEW NATURE.  

I’m not a Mr. Miyagi by any means, but here we go.

THE REQUIREMENTS OF COMMITMENT:

NUMBER ONE:  We need to be FOCUSED.

There are people who will talk about everything BUT God.  In church, social gatherings, sharing on social media, etc.  They are worried about everything BUT God.  They are not worried–not concerned–about lost souls.  I don’t care if the church I’m attending has 5 or 500 members on Sunday morning or if we have carpet on the floors. We’ve got to get past all the ‘STUFF’ in the church and start focusing on putting God first and caring about lost souls.

We’ve lost our FOCUS.

It’s sad to say that there’s a lot of Christians in the world that never picks up the WORD of God, then tries to stand up and give praise to God.

You’ve got to READ God’s Word, PRAY and SEEK God’s face in all that you do.  That’s what a godly or any relationship is all about.  You can’t have a close relationship, an intimate relationship at a distance.

The Bible says that JESUS came to SEEK and to SAVE that which is lost.  That’s what our FOCUS should be.  Nothing else!

I’ve been asked over the years by some people, “Why do we even have the church?”

The answer should be, “So we can get more lost people in here so they can find salvation!”

Sure the pastors of our churches could stand on a platform and preach, and preach, and preach and you’ll get some strength from it.  But if there aren’t any lost people sitting there on Sunday mornings, what are you going to do with that “strength”?  What are you going to do with the wisdom of God when you get it… IF you get it?

If you are not consistently READING your Bible during the week, you can bet you’re NOT SHARING Christ either.

We’ve lost our FOCUS.

If you’re going around trying to find a place where you can fit JESUS into your life, you’re in bad shape.  You have to fit your life into what Christ wants you to do.  Don’t go around telling God you need to see if you can fit Him into your schedule.

Christ Jesus is my whole life!  Without Him, I’m nothing!!

Several years ago, after realizing I had been playing spiritual games with people around me, I made this vow to God NOT to listen to man and just listen to Him.

Luke 14:27 says “Anyone who does not carry his cross and follows Me cannot be my disciple.”

There are more churches today than there has ever been…And there are more church goers than there has ever been.

BUT the Bible clearly says that the HARVEST is great but the LABORERS are few.

I see something wrong with that.  Hosea in the Old Testament, chapter five, says ‘a man should go with their herds and their flocks to SEEK the Lord but they shall not find Him for he has withdrawn Himself from them.’  [Paraphrased]

I saw a marquee in front of a church, a big church, awhile back that read…

MESSAGE For SUNDAY:

HOW TO GET ALONG WITH YOUR SPOUSE

I thought, if you get close to the LORD, you’ll know how to get along with your spouse.

You’ll know how to get along with everybody!

We’ve got to stay FOCUSED on JESUS–keeping our eyes on Him.

NUMBER TWO:  We need to be FAITHFUL.

John 8:31  “…If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples”  (AMP).

Christians will go work at a job and be there every day to get their paycheck–and God will tell them to do something and they can’t do it.

The LORD called me to SHARE the Gospel message through a weekly blog six years ago.  So I’m going to keep doing what God says to do.  I’m not going to back up or slow down so others can catch up.

WE NEED TO BE FAITHFUL.

Don’t ask what you want, but ask what He wants!

NUMBER THREE:  We need to be FRUITFUL in our new life.

Being FRUITFUL means you’re SAVED AND…you’re growing in the process!

It means that God’s ministry through you reaches other people and helps them the way God is helping you.

There are people who look back on their lives saying they haven’t done anything for the Lord.  It doesn’t work that way.  Our BLESSINGS come from our labor.  That’s why a lot of people aren’t acting blessed.  They aren’t doing anything!

Galatians 6:7

“Don’t be misled:  No one makes a fool of God.  What a person plants, he will harvest.  The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others–ignoring God!–harvests a crop of weeds.”  [MSG}

 

What are you planting; producing for the Lord Jesus Christ?

NUMBER FOUR:  Being Friendly!

We need to be friendly in our NEW LIFE.

Some of the meanest people can be “church folks”.  Whether you attend a Baptist, Assembly Of God, Independent/Bible church…YEP,  we are often called the “church folks” in the community.

It’s NOT niceness that will get you into heaven…BUT IF YOU ARE NICE, God will BLESS you for it.

According to Dictionary.com, the word NICE means  “pleasing; agreeable; amiably pleasant.”

We in the family of God are not supposed to have any kind of evil communication or put a stumbling block in front of our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus for them to trip over.  Like a child learning to take their first steps, our SPEECH is supposed to be established with GRACE and encouragement and not condemnation.

Romans 7:6  says this:  “But now that we.re no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, we’re free to live a new life in the freedom of God”  [MSG].

And in Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus’ words,  [24] “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  [25] For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it”  [NIV].

There seems to be a lot of folks more involved with themselves than they are with their Savior.

In a Discipleship Journal, Carole Mayhall tells of a woman who went to a diet center to lose weight.  The director took her to a full-length mirror and on it, he outlined a figure and told her, “This is what I want you to be like at the end of the program.  Days of intense dieting and exercise followed, and every week the woman would stand in front of the mirror, discouraged because her bulging outline didn’t fit the director’s ideal. But she kept at it, and finally one day she conformed to the longed for image  [Daily Bread, August 8, 1990].

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU LOOKED AT THE IMAGE IN THE MIRROR?______________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS –

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search – Settings: Advanced search.

Various Bible Translations:  Furnish by BibleGateway.com

 

 

 

 

TAKING THE OPPORTUNITY – “No Reserves, No Regrets, No Retreats”

Today’s Bible Study in Galatians 6:10:   LIFE HAS A PURPOSE…

NIV BIBLE:  Therefore, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

LIVING BIBLE:  That’s why whenever we can we should always be kind to everyone and especially to our Christian brothers.

MESSAGE BIBLE:  Every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith. 

Most OPPORTUNITIES come by way of A PROBLEM, A TRIAL, or A TEST.

Opportunity defined:  A favorable chance or opening offered by our circumstances, an occasion, a possibility.

AN OPPORTUNITY PRESENTED…(John 6:4-12) –

We’ve got a BIG PROBLEM here in this biblical account…5,000 HUNGRY PEOPLE!

John 6:4 –  “Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was approaching…”

Many teachers say 5,000 are men and doesn’t include women and children.  Now is this going to be a BIG PROBLEM, or is it… A BIG OPPORTUNITY???

VERSES 5-12 (NIV):

[5] When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip,  “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”  [6] He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.  

[7] Phillip answered him,  “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”  [8] Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up,  [9] “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” 

[10] Jesus said,  “Have the people sit down.”  There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them.  [11] Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted.  He did the same with the fish.

[12] When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples,  “Gather the pieces that are left over.  Let nothing be wasted.”

JESUS already knew what He was going to do.  I don’t think we can realize the scope of the problem here–the scope of the presented opportunity.

In my hometown, a Big Mac sandwich, Fries, and a medium soft drink on average runs about $7.01.

Google Image Search, Advance Search Setting

 

So $7.01 x 5,000 = $35,050.00.

The Disciple ANDREW had the answer as his human reasoning focused on the PROBLEM rather than the OPPORTUNITY.

I think most of us have had an ‘Andrew Moment’.

JESUS took the little boys OFFERING and said thanks…Nothing was lost, and they gathered up the leftovers.

Often people have the tendency to allow their PAST determine their FUTURE and what is denied can never be healed.

Let us not forget that not all OPPORTUNITIES are good…

And in the COURSE OF TIME, choices matter, behavior matters, and how you treat others matter.

Many times ANGER, BITTERNESS are the drivers of OPPORTUNITIES…

And in the COURSE OF TIME…

CAIN OFFERS THE FRUIT…

ABEL OFFERS THE FIRSTLING.

Cain gets ANGRY at his brother but why not at himself?  You show me what ticks you off and I’ll show you what makes you tick.

Genesis 4:3 – In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground.

One event can drive one to right or to wrong.  It might come down to ATTITUDE regarding the OPPORTUNITIES set before us which will set in concrete our words and actions.

Genesis 4:5 – So Cain was angry, and his face fell.

Check it out–SIN, COMMISSION OR OMISSION, SIN lies behind WARS & STRIFE.

Genesis 4:7 (AMP) – If you do well, will you not be accepted?  And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.

The New Testament Records the Sad History of Missed Opportunities –

There’s no record of CAIN ever repenting, rather, he throws out the EXCUSE-

Genesis 4:9 (NIV)

“Am I my brother’s keeper?”

HEBREWS 11:4 –

Perhaps we need to burn some bridges behind us…the BRIDGE could be an OPPORTUNITY!

HOW MANY PEOPLE, DO YOU THINK, LOOK BACK?

Luke 17:32 “Remember Lot’s wife?”

[33] Whoever tries to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it and quicken it  (AMP).

When we can take full advantage of an OPPORTUNITY, we find what lurks in the SHADOWS, an OPPORTUNITY to return.

ABRAHAM, SARAH AND OTHERS OPPORTUNITIES – 

Hebrews 11:8-16 (NIV)

[8] By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.  [9] By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.  [10] For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

[11] By faith Abraham, even though he was past age–and Sarah herself was barren–was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. [12] And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the sand on the seashore.

[13] All these people were still living by faith when they died.  They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.  And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.  [14] People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.  [15] If they had left, they would have had the opportunity to return.  [16] Instead, they were longing for a better country–a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

This Brings A Series of QUESTIONS to ask oneself:

WHO ARE YOU?

WHAT ARE YOU KNOWN FOR?

WHAT WORDS WOULD YOU HAVE OTHERS SPEAK ABOUT YOU?

We ALL have OPPORTUNITIES in the menial task we face every day.  OPPORTUNITIES to demonstrate who we are!

OPPORTUNITIES to demonstrate the FLESH or the SPIRIT man.

Romans 12:10 (AMP) –  Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], GIVING precedence and showing honor to one another.

Do I REACT or do I ACT by FAITH?

Ephesians 4:32 (NIV) – Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

ARE YOU:

  • FAITHFUL?  DEPENDABLE?
  • ARE YOU KIND?  TENDERHEARTED?  DO YOU CARE?
  • DO YOU ENCOURAGE OTHERS?  REFRESH THEM?
  • DO YOU MODEL FORGIVENESS?

LIFE Does Have A Purpose…

Does the OPPORTUNITY make me a VICTIM or a VICTOR?

How many of us take the OPPORTUNITY to drive down the road while looking in the REARVIEW MIRROR?

Philippians 3:13 (TLB)

[13] No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energy to bear on this one thing:  Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.

OFTEN, Christians just want to LIVE IN THE MOMENT…

We only want to think of the “right now!”

Sure, we face all kinds of TROUBLES and TRIALS every day, but by TAKING THIS MOMENT AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE CHRIST,…

We look ahead!

Never forget that JESUS IS A REWARDER— a return or recompense, restoration, award, prize, bounty, satisfying, worthwhile, fruitful.

HEBREWS 11:6 (AMP)

[6]  But without faith, it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him.  For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] BELIEVE God exists and that He is the REWARDER of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].

THERE ARE GREAT OPPORTUNITIES AHEAD!

Deuteronomy 30:15 (NIV) –

[15]  See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.

Deuteronomy 30:19 (AMP) –

[19]  I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you LIFE AND DEATH,  the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live.

WE have OPPORTUNITIES to PRAY, READ the Bible, WITNESS, to DREAM BIG…

A missionary served in Egypt.  He died after serving there and in the front of his Bible was penned:

NO RESERVES,

NO REGRETS,

NO RETREATS.

OPPORTUNITY IS YOUR CHOICE.  WHICH PATH WILL YOU CHOOSE?

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CREDITS –

Bible Translations Used:  New International Version (NIV) and the Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

– BIBLE HUB-

Photos:  Google Image Search – Advanced Settings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sizing Up the Real Estate Market – PART TWO

Sizing up the HOUSING MARKET

HAGGAI 2:6-9 (AMP) – THE GORY COMES!

[6] For thus says the LORD of hosts:  Yet once more, in a little while,  I will shake and make tremble the [starry] heavens, the earth, the sea, and the dry land;  [Heb. 12:26]

[7] And I will shake all nations and the desire and the precious things of all nations shall come in and I will fill this house with splendor, says the LORD of hosts.  [Isa. 60:5; Matt. 2:1-12]

[8] The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine, says the LORD of hosts.

[9] The latter glory of this house [with its successor, to which Jesus came] shall be greater than the former,  says the LORD of hosts; and in this place will I give peace and prosperity, says the LORD of hosts.

Our SERVICE will be better when we come with OUR PRIORITIES in order!

If the prioritized people will RISE UP…we ain’t seen nothing yet, folks!

PROVISION comes!

Right in the midst of famine FAVOR can fall.

PEACE comes!

In the midst of chaos, upheaval, and uncertainty.  We can be at REST!

While some argue over carpet color, music styles and whether to reach out or not, we can see God’s church packed from top to bottom and front to back  

IT IS HIS GLORY, not ours.

HAGGAI 2:18-22 – A SECURE FOUNDATION

[18] “From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought in the day when the foundation of the LORD’S temple was laid.  Give careful thought;  [19] Is there yet any seed left in the barn?  Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not borne fruit. 

” ‘From this day on I will bless you.’ “

[20] The word of the LORD came to Haggai a second time on the twenty-fourth day of the month;  [21] “Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah that I will shake the heavens and the earth.  [22] I will overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms.  I will overthrow chariots and their drivers; horses and their riders will fall, each by the sword of his brother.”

The day the foundation was secured their HARVEST changed!

BEFORE they had even planted a HARVEST was PROMISED!

BEFORE the first link in the chain was broken their BONDAGE was dealt with, on the DAY the FOUNDATION was built, VICTORY and DELIVERANCE were set in motion.

BEFORE the first punch was thrown or landed they found themselves in a fixed fight because of their RIGHT PRIORITIES!

I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of life I desire!

Let me throw open several questions:

  • Are you killing yourself trying to live BLESSED?
  • Are you seeking provision for you and your family?
  • Are you trying to secure your life?
  • Are you fitting battles that seem like you can’t win?
  • Are you working without God?

Matthew 16:26 (AMP):  “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life [his blessed life in the kingdom of God]?  Or what would a man give as an exchange for his [blessed] life [in the kingdom of God]?”

Location, location, location

HEAR THE HOUSING REPORT AND RESPOND!

Either you and I need to change our priorities or the HOUSE will be in ruins and our PROVISION will be wasted.  We need to REPENT–change course–do an about-face.

Paying so much attention to your own house you have no regard or thought to His HOUSE!

Our PRIORITIES are messed up and the result is finding ourselves barren; our lives are meaningless and unblessed!  I believe that we’ve either forgotten or don’t really believe the words in Matthew 6:33 anymore!

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

When we get the ORDER right–the KINGDOM first–as His house flourishes our houses will spring to life once again!  REVIVAL has always been there if we know where to search!

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CREDITS

Photos:  Google Image Search

Bible Translations:  Nnew International Version (NIV) and Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

 

 

 

Sizing Up the REAL ESTATE Market – PART ONE

“LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION”  Why Location Matters in Real Estate.

Sizing up the HOUSING MARKET

It is the real estate agents’ mantra: Location, location, location.  You’ve certainly heard the phrase enough and may wonder what inspires agents to say the word three times. In a nutshell, the phrase means that “identical homes can increase or decrease in value due to the LOCATION of the property.  It is repeated three times for emphasis, and the number one RULE in real estate, though it is often the most overlooked.”  [See footnote [i] ].

GOD’S HOUSE is being built and we have a choice to make on whether we want that HOUSE to be established here or somewhere else.  What are the VALUES?

God isn’t obligated to live in what He hasn’t built.

And, we can GUARANTEE God will move in following His plans…We can GUARANTEE His presence in our house if we follow His blueprints.

HOUSE RULES –

This HOUSE must be established and built with the concept of AUTHORITY:

#1.  AUTHORITY is God’s Word.

#2.  AUTHORITY is our conscience.

#3.  AN AUTHORITY figure is delegated authority.

Until we understand AUTHORITY and respond correctly to AUTHORITY this HOUSE is vacant.

HOUSE MANNERS –

We’re not going to see God move into this HOUSE until we begin to operate completely with House Manners.

These MANNERS are the direct opposite of how we have been taught by our culture.

We must LEARN to regard one another in the house after the Spirit rather than after the flesh.  What if your future is wrapped up in someone you DON’T like?

We are to RESPECT one another.

That means we treat each other better than the world says we should.  We settle issues face to face–we don’t sweep them under the rug by avoiding one another.

THE BIBLE gives very clear instructions on how we deal with our brothers and sisters in Christ:  Heb. 10:25; 1 John 4:7; Prov. 17:17; Heb. 13:1; Phil. 1:3 to name just a few.

We RESTORE each other or handle each other with GRACE (‘favor’), knowing that the day will surely come when we too will need Grace extended.

MODEL HOUSE –

We must recognize that we NEED more room, that the present structure will NOT handle a habitation.

HABITATION requires a firm foundation.  There will be no expansion if the house is weak in the WORD, weak in WORSHIP, etc.

A MODEL HOME is furnished and REQUIRES…

  • A bedplace of rest.
  • A table – place of communion.
  • A lamp – illuminate of the WORD.

HIS HOUSE MUST COME FIRST!!

PARADE OF HOMES –

The parade of HOMES must stop.  We must find our assigned house.

There will be times we don’t like the smell of one particularHouse, but we must understand that we are the safest in our assigned house.

Others may laugh at our house, but if we are in our assigned house, we’re connected with FAVOR!

We must BUILD THIS HOUSE and bring attention to and keep our focus on His name!

The Housing Market “Crash”

Before 2009, most of us didn’t recognize there had already been a CRISIS in the Housing Market for the last two decades.  We had been asleep for most of it because for the most part…it didn’t affect us… personally.  I think we’re just now waking up to the fact that something went wrong,

To EXPLAIN, I need to take you to a ‘REAL ESTATE REPORT’ that I found in the Old Testament.  This REPORT demands that we must live our lives differently to get different RESULTS.

This REPORT demands a response!

TEXT:  Haggai 1:2-11 (NIV)

[2]  This is what the LORD Almighty says:  “These people say,  ‘The time has not yet come for the LORD’s house to be built.'”  [3] The the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai:  [4] “It is a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains in ruin?”  [5] Now this is what the LORD Almighty says:  “Give careful thought to your ways.  [6] You have planted much, but have harvested little.  You eat but never have your fill.  You put on clothes but are not warm,  You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”  [7] This is what the LORD Almighty says:  “Give careful thought to your ways.  [8] Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD.  [9] “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little.  What you brought home, I blew away.  Why?” declares the LORD Almighty.  “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.  [10] Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops.  [11] I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands.”

HAGGAI begins his message by quoting a popular expression of the people, “It’s not the time to build the Temple.”

Though surrounded by the hostile opposition of their neighbors and the lack of financial prosperity, they keep DOING what they’ve always done.

They are so SELFISHLY INDIFFERENT to the LORD that they keep devoting ALL their time, energy and attention to keeping up with the Jones and in so doing…they SURVIVE paycheck to paycheck, become CONTENT in famine, and bed down with drought in the land, never stopping once to consider why they’re in the condition they’re in.

And the Real Estate Market collapses!

HAGGAI painted a vivid picture of their ECONOMIC and SOCIAL distress with the results and repercussions of the FACT that they had left GOD out!

When we leave God out of our own lives, He may still BLESS us with the ‘STUFF’, but we won’t be able to fully enjoy it.

  • You’ll have a DEGREE, but still can’t find a job.
  • You’ll get a RAISE at work, but still, find yourself broke.
  • You’ll buy a HOUSE but can’t afford to eat.
  • You’ll get your CHILD, but that child will wear you out.

Over the years of my life, I’ve found TWO things that are directly proportional to my PRIORITY LIST on giving to the House of God:  HARVEST and LEVEL OF SATISFACTION–the ability to find a stress free life rather than a turmoil-filled life which I’ve found directly related to the place of priority of the things of God has placed in my life.

“Is it then the right time for you to live in luxurious homes when the Temple lies in ruin?”  (verse 4).

HAGGAI points to the REAL ESTATE bust and it devastated the people.

God quits working with and FOR the people and begins to work AGAINST the people.

Maybe you’re thinking it’s BAD LUCK or a downturn…so you’ve been calling on, PRAYING to God.

Well, PRAY all you want!  Cry all you want!  Claim promises all you want, but until you adjust and correct your PRIORITIES…God is working against you!!

But “if God is for us who can be against us?”  BUT if God is AGAINST us who can be for us?

I keep hearing the news that the housing market reports that the people are saying, “The time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD.”

We have bought into A LIE.

We have just accepted the idea that we can’t rebuild the HOUSE of the LORD in this generation.  Everyone is too busy, too lazy, too apathetic, it has to be convenient, it can’t be more than 50 minutes, don’t take nights, you can’t have revival in this generation, you can’t find committed people in this day and age, you can’t expect loyalty from this generation,,,AND, I DECLARE THE DEVIL IS A LIAR!

HAGGAI 1:12-14 –

GOD is calling to the Zerubbabel [s] and the Joshua [s] in our churches.

THE CALL IS NOW for God-fearing people to get up, wipe the sleep from your eyes, and shake off the APATHY.

Make Him more important than your job, your house, your vacation, your social status, your comfort, your clothes, and your love life.

ELEVATE HIM AGAIN!

THE CALL GOES OUT for us to find those who are TIRED of living in famine.  Find those who are TIRED of the RAT RACE and the lack of an encounter with the living GOD.  Let’s join forces as God’s people and BUILD HIS HOUSE!

WHY?

Because He is God.

But also because as we do so, He comes back within our midst and DECLARES HIS PROMISES!!

[CONTINUED IN PART TWO:  Sizing Up the Real Estate Market]

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES =

Footnote [i] :  Home Buying – What Location, Location, Location Mean In Real Estate? by Elizabeth Weintraub – Updated January 28, 2017.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search – Advanced Setting.

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

 

What Should A Church and A Charging Rhino Have In Common?

I love hearing kids telling stories of events that have happened in their day.  They seem so intent in their observations.  But I really enjoy the smiles on children’s faces when they have heard a “kid’s joke”, dying to tell it to you by asking the set-up question:

“How do mice kiss?”  ANSWER:  Mouse-to-mouse (mouth-to-mouth).

“How did the patient get to the hospital so fast?”  ANSWER:  Flu.

And then I heard this riddle the other day which gave me an idea for this BIBLE STUDY:

How do you keep a rhinoceros from charging?”  ANSWER:  Take away his credit card.  [See Footnote [i] ].

BLOG-STUDY VERSES 1-24

KEEP YOUR EYES ON A ‘CHARGING’ CHURCH –

Anytime that people, the CHURCH, undertake to BUILD…there will be challenges, there will be opposition…

There will be challenges…

There will be opposition…

There will be trials and troubles.

BUT we must give a “full court press” (a basketball term)–never giving up in the process.

  • The CHURCH (the people) must charge forward…
  • The CHURCH must be built.
  • The CHURCH must grow.

I’m not referring here to church BUILDINGS.  I’m pointing out something vital to the CHURCH–THE PEOPLE,

WE MUST CONTINUE TO BRING PEOPLE INTO THE “FAMILY OF GOD” BY THE WAY OF SALVATION!.

BUT, sometimes, the church DOES stop growing.  And that’s NO JOKE!

It happened in EZRA…and, in looking at what happened to the people of God in Ezra chapter 4, I pray that the people of God in our communities avoid the same pitfalls.

Ezra 4:1-6, 23-24

[1]  When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the Lord, the God of Israel,   [2] they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said,  “Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.”  [3] But Zerubbabel, Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered,  “You have no part with us in building a temple to our God.  We alone will build it for the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us.”

FIRST of all, there will be opposition to moving forward.  The church will not grow while her enemies look on, doing nothing.

We see here in the following verses that the ENEMIES of God heard about the goings on…so they put their heads together and they came up with a very cunning plan.  They came to the leaders of the Church, and offered to HELP them!  I’m pretty sure that the leaders would have been tempted by their offer.  Who wouldn’t want some help in any rebuilding effort?

They even gave a believable explanation why they were offering their services.  They said, “WE ARE JUST LIKE YOU…”  and we know, from reading God’s Word that they DID sacrifice to God.

BUT…that wasn’t the WHOLE truth.

We find the REST of the story in 2 Kings 17, where we read about the people who settled in the area; how they came to arrive there and some of the trouble they got into.

And in 2 Kings 17:33 (AMP) we find the rest of the story –

[33]  They feared the Lord, yet served their own gods, as did the nations from among whom they had been carried away.

So, when the Samaritans, “the enemies” came to Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the other leaders, their offer to HELP would have been tempting…who wouldn’t want some help.

AND their statement about worshipping God was also true.

But they also served other gods as well, and their MOTIVE in offering help, WASN’T so they could be helpful, but their offer to help was so they could get in on the inside–

  • SLOW IT DOWN.
  • DISRUPT THE WORK
  • TRY TO THROW A WRENCH INTO THE WORKS
  • CLOG IT UP!

I might point out here that this plan has been copied over and over again right up to today where individuals or groups are trying to infiltrate the Church–

  • To change it from within…
  • To dilute the message…
  • To try to stop the church from charging forward…
  • To soften the message…
  • To change our stance on issues.

We’ve already seen some church denominations embrace certain practices that are against Scripture.  One such example is homosexuality.

We’ve got to be more like Zerubbabel and Jeshua!

We must stand for what’s right and stand for the truth…NOT truth as WE see it, but the truth as God sees it.

So, how do we know God’s truth?

It is REVEALED in His Word!

Thankfully, God’s people in Ezra’s day DIDN’T allow compromise to affect the CHURCH.  And we see that Zerubbabel and the others said “NO”!

And the Church kept charging forward!

When those opposed to the Church were unsuccessful in getting the Church to compromise, they resorted to DISCOURAGEMENT and INTIMIDATION.

BUT THERE’S MORE…

They even hired antagonists (“counselors”) to work against them.

Psychological warfare has been used in battles for centuries and here, we see that those OPPOSED to the church began using psychological warfare against the church.

  • Perhaps they tried to slow down the shipments of building materials from Lebanon to the building site.
  • Perhaps they just continued chipping away at them to the arena of public opinion.

The USED whatever means they could when compromise didn’t work–using fear-mongering, intimidation, and discouragement.

The OPPONENTS to GOD’S WORK use the same methods today–

They try to create public distrust of Christians and Christianity:  “we certainly can’t have prayer in schools”…we’ve got that ‘separation of church and state’ thing.”

“We can’t post the TEN COMMANDMENTS in public areas because that’s a ‘Christian’ thing”…

“We can’t have a Nativity or sing Christmas carols in school…BECAUSE ‘God forbid’ someone actually starts to follow Christ.”

So the enemies of God’s people create fear and distrust OUTSIDE the Church, and it appears they have been quite successful at it.

But I’ve been concerned for some time that the enemies of God’s people are making inroads into the churches–creating fear and distrust WITHIN the Church.  Making us afraid to take a stand; making us fearful to stand up for the TRUTH and making us afraid to speak out in the name of Christ.

And the psychological warfare continues on.

Finally, we read that the enemies of God resort to POLITICS to stop the CHURCH from charging forward.  In EZRA 4:11-16, we can read a copy of a letter that the enemies of God wrote to the king.

And in Ezra 4:17-22 we READ the king’s response:

[17] The KING sent this reply:  To Rehum the commanding officer, Shimshai the secretary and the rest of their associates living in Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates:

Greetings.

[18] The letter you sent us has been read and translated in my presence.  [19] I issued an order and a search was made, and it was found that this city has a long history of revolt against kings and has been a place of rebellion and sedition.  [20] Jerusalem has had powerful kings ruling over the whole of Trans-Euphrates, and taxes, tribute, and duty were paid to them.  [21] Now issue an order to these men to STOP WORK, so that this city will not be rebuilt until I so order.  [22] Be careful not to neglect this matter.  Why let this threat grow, to the detriment of the royal interests?

THE RHINOS ARE STOPPED!

We see that while COMPROMISE was an ineffective tool against the church…and see that DISCOURAGEMENT & INTIMIDATION slowed things down, we now see that through the POLITICAL process, the church was stopped in its tracks.

As soon as God’s enemies, Rehum and Shimshai and their associates had their ammunition loaded against them, they went to God’s people and forced them to STOP building the church.  And we find those fateful words in verse 24.  “That put a stop to the work on The Temple of God in Jerusalem”  (MSG).

I found it interesting to see who these ENEMIES of God’s people were.

Verse one calls them the “adversaries of Judah and Benjamin”, it doesn’t say, “the Chaldeans”, or “the Persians”.  Matthew Henry’s commentary calls them “the rebels of the 10 tribes and the foreigners that had joined themselves to them”  [See Footnote [ii] ].

I dare to mention that the enemies of God’s people are the same today.  They’ll take Christianity, mix it and match it with all sorts of other thoughts and philosophies so that people today are then quick to say they BELIEVE in God– “But there are many ways to God…Budda, Mohammed, the worship of nature…”

But we stand on God’s Word, and God’s Word, in the words of Jesus Himself, says “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me”  (John 14:6).

THERE IS NO OTHER WAY!

The Church has always faced opposition,

There are people who don’t WANT the church to charge forward, and SOME of these people may even be people who USED to follow Christ Jesus.

But NOW, they’ve gotten sucked into worldly thinking–the church becomes just another sociological experiment, or the church becomes a pawn in political maneuvering.

But I SAY the Church is simply God’s people, going God’s way, and if we as the CHURCH start letting the opposition get a foothold, we’ll see the church come to a complete standstill, just like it did at the end of EZRA 4.

Is this a way then, to stop those who wish to STOP a ‘charging rhino’, the church?

There is, and I had to search closely for it all the way back to VERSE ONE where Scripture tells us, “the exiles were building a Temple for the Lord”.

It seems innocent enough at first glance but when we read it from the KJV (King James Version), it adds one more description:

“the children of the captivity built the temple unto the LORD”

It doesn’t say, “The children of GOD were building the Temple”…it says, “The children of the CAPTIVITY”.

I don’t believe that I’m reading too much into Scripture when I say this points to their thinking.  They viewed themselves as “children of the captivity”, even though King Cyrus had issued the DECREE to allow the construction to begin.

These people of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin still felt the oppression of 70 years of captivity upon their shoulders.  They still felt that these foreign rulers had AUTHORITY over them, and while for the most part, they did have CIVIL authority over them.  GOD WAS STILL GOD, just as He is today!

GOD WAS STILL GOD, just as He is today!

And they had, not only a DESIRE to worship God together, but they had an OBLIGATION to worship God.  No civil or government authority can take that away UNLESS we let them.

In EZRA’S day, they allowed the ENEMIES of God bring the Church to a standstill.

WHY?  Because they were thinking like children of the captivity.

What does that mean for us today?

That meaning seems quite obvious to me.  The KEY goes back to our thinking.

Do we think of ourselves as children of the captivity?  People under the rule of governments and nations?

Or, do we think of ourselves as God’s children?

Scripture says,  “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21), and what’s is God’s is our WORSHIP.

AS GOD’S PEOPLE…

We are OBLIGATED to see the Good News of Jesus Christ continues to spread like a ‘charging Rhino’; we will NOT allow the enemies of God cause us to compromise–TO BE STOPPED!

So, how’s YOUR thinking?

Are you a child of the KING, or a child of captivity?

The ANSWER to that question will determine the direction of the Church!

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES –

Footnote [i] :  Oddball Riddles – Kid’s Jokes

Footnote [ii] :  Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Vol. 2.  EZRA 4.

Photos:  Google Image Search, Advance Setting.

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