In part 2 of this series, we followed along with what God was telling us about His Son through the Holy Spirit-inspired prophets of the Old Testament – leaving off with the beginnings of Isaiah’s revelations. In addition, we took a little side trip to delve into man’s explanation of who Jesus is and the nature of His relationship with His Father as described in the concept of the ‘Trinity.’
Let’s return to the prophet Isaiah and the treasure trove of Messianic prophecies related to him by God some 700 years before Christ walked this earth:
There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
His delight is in the fear of the LORD, and He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears; but with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins and faithfulness the belt of His waist. Is. 11:1 – 5. NKJV
In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples – of him shall all the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious. Is. 11:10 ESV
This next prophecy is told to Isaiah from the Messiah Himself:
“Listen, O coastlands, to Me, and take heed, you peoples from afar! The LORD has called Me from the womb; from the matrix of My mother He has made mention of My name. And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand He has hidden Me.” Is. 49:1, 2. NKJV
“And now the LORD says, who formed Me from the womb to be His servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel is gathered to Him (for I shall be glorified in the eyes of the LORD, and My God shall be My strength), indeed He says, ‘Is it too small a thing that You should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’ “ Is. 49:5, 6. NKJV
That’s a big mouthful of Messiah information. We are reminded again that Jesus’ earthly incarnation will descend from the line of ‘Jesse’ (King David’s father). He will be filled with the Holy Spirit and exercise that power to judge righteously over those who do their best to seek God and live by His precepts, as well as over those who remain unrepentantly rebellious (whose outcome is not something you want to share in.)
Christ is God’s light to all people – Jews and Gentiles alike, serving His Father by restoring the children of God to Him by cutting away that which had enslaved them (Satan), by using His ‘sword’, which is the word of God.
So, through Isaiah, we’ve seen who and what the Messiah is. Now Isaiah relates to us what Christ will experience when He first walks this earth. He begins with another first person account from the Son of God:
“I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting. For the LORD will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed. He is near who justifies Me…” Is. 50:6 – 8. NKJV
This is an exact description of how Jesus was treated just prior to His crucifixion; and it shows that regardless of how man treated Him, He was determined to win their salvation – having God at His back to make it so.
Miracles aside, God sent His Son in the form of a humble ordinary man, to reach out to humble ordinary people who were lost and blinded by the god of this world (Lucifer). However, the people needed to have faith in who Jesus said He was. Sadly, during Jesus’ visitation, most did not and they demonstrated that lack through their scorn:
Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. Is. 53:1, 2. NASB
He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, and as one whom men hide their faces he was despised and we esteemed him not. Is. 53:3 ESV
Yet, Jesus still laid His life down for everyone – both out of obedience to His Father and of the love that He had for God’s children. However, the doubters thought Jesus was stricken by God for making (what they thought were) blasphemous claims:
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried out sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken by God and afflicted. Is. 53:4 NASB
On the other hand, for those who believed, Christ’s sacrifice was THE game changer:
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed…and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter… Is. 53:5 – 7. NKJV
The Messiah took on all our self-made godless burdens and willingly yielded up His flesh to pay the price so that all would have the potential for redemption. And if you have been reading this, there is no doubt as to who that Messiah is…
The prophet Micah was a chronological contemporary to Isaiah. He too received a Messianic prophecy – one that even pinpointed the place of His birth:
“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings are from long ago, for the days of eternity…And He will arise and shepherd His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the LORD His God. And they will remain, because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth. This One will be our peace.” Mic. 5:2, 4 & 5. NASB
The Messiah would be born in the city of Bethlehem, in the region of Ephrathah, located in Judah. This Shepherd-King reflection of God (who had been around for a long, long time) came to bring peace to the entire world…
Approximately 600 years before the birth of Christ, God sends the prophet Jeremiah to warn His children of His coming judgment through the Babylonian conquest of Judah and at the same time, encourage those who still clung to their God:
“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “When I will raise up for David a righteous branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is the name by which He will be called, ‘The LORD our righteousness.’ “ Jer. 23:5, 6. NASB
[In that same time period, look also to the prophecy we considered in our last post. (Dan. 7:13, 14.)]
Five hundred year before Christ, we hear the last Messianic prophecies God sent through the prophet Zechariah – sent to encourage the exiled Israelites who had returned home after having suffered decades of Babylonian captivity:
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey…” Zec. 9:9 NKJV
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one who grieves for a firstborn.” Zec. 12:10 NKJV
IN THAT day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem [to cleanse them from] sin and uncleanness. Zec. 13:1 AMP
Indeed Jesus did ride on a donkey into Jerusalem to publicly proclaim Himself. Those who were sitting on the fence with regards to who Jesus was, realized that He was the real deal after they crucified Him and they grieved.
Yet we see that God promised that the blood of Christ spilled on that day would be available to usher all of us into His presence…
Wow! We’ve only covered the ‘coming attractions!’ Now, we can leap foreword in time to Jesus’ actual arrival.
Good night and God bless.
February 28 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
In part one of this series we looked at what God revealed to us about His Son through the mouths of the Holy Spirit-inspired prophets of the Old Testament – in particular: Moses, Samuel and King David.
Before we continue along with these Old Testament prophets, let’s consider one last revelation given to King David:
For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots. Ps. 22:16 – 18. NKJV
King David is referring to his enemies (dogs = evil men) but the ultimate fulfillment of this scripture [the piercing, being on display (crucifixion), the division of the garments and the casting of lots] cannot be applied to David but to Christ.
Now, we leap forward in time to 740 – 710 B.C. to the time of the prophet Isaiah. His first Messianic prophecy concerns both the birth and one of the names given for the Messiah:
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Is. 7:14 NKJV
The only virgin birth ever recorded in the Bible is that of Jesus. ‘Immanuel’ means ‘God is with us.’ (See Mt. 1:23) Isaiah continues with his prophecies with one that reveals the great changes the Messiah will bring:
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. Is. 9:2 NKJV
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice, from that time foreword, even forever. Is. 9:6, 7. NKJV
So, the Messiah (the Christ) will bring the light of God to people who have suffered at the hands of the god of this world (Satan) and will establish an eternal kingdom of peace and righteousness for all.
What I’d like you to look at are the descriptions of the Messiah’s name. I contend that these are not literal names of the Messiah but instead speak of His qualities – especially with regards to the descriptive(s) ‘Mighty God’ and ‘Everlasting Father.’ I present again the scripture we looked at in part one of this series:
[Now] He is the exact likeness of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible]; He is he Firstborn of all creation. Col. 1:15 AMP
‘Exact likeness’ is written as ‘image’ in other translations. (ESV, NKJV, NASB) ‘Likeness’ and ‘image’ of God are not the same as ‘being’ God to me. Your image in a mirror is not the same as you, even though it looks exactly like you.
I profess that Jesus is the closest we are going to get to God but that He is separate and distinct from Him; and that Christ was created from God before the creation of the universe took place – thus at a point before time itself, which would be indeterminable for man to decipher.
I must point out that my contentions are contrary to the majority of mainstream Christian thinking, which holds to the ‘Trinitarian’ concept, which maintains that Jesus is God. The concept could be right. I don’t know. But it is an elephant in the room that brings division to some parts of the body of Christ. In fact some ‘Christians’ will excoriate you if don’t ascribe to the trinity. The primary purpose in my teachings is to bridge these divisional gaps where judgment creeps in. So let’s thresh it out a little…
The Trinity is a man-derived explanation formulated to try to shed light on a number of scriptures that the Trinitarians claim prove that God is a ‘triune’ God – existing as three persons: God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
This concept was first ratified in 325 A.D. at the First Council of Nicaea where approximately 300 bishops convened at the behest of the Roman emperor Constantine.
[I want to be perfectly clear that I believe that God can and does bring greater revelation to His children continually; and there is no doubt that there are mysteries in the Bible yet unsolved. (See Dt. 29:29) So again, perhaps the trinity concept is correct; it’s just that the Trinitarians themselves have such difficulty explaining it.]
I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God – separate and distinct from Him; yet I don’t think that belief diminishes who He is in any way. Just look at what God placed within and upon His Son: (By the way, this type of thinking was labeled Arianism, after Arius, a Christian priest in Alexandria, Egypt, who held these views at the time of the Council, which declared his thoughts to be heretical for going against their construction.)
For it was in Him (Jesus) that all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and unseen, whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities, all things were created and exist through Him [by His service, intervention] and in and for Him.
And He Himself existed before all things, and in Him consist (cohere, are held together). He is also the Head of [His] body, the church; seeing that He is the Beginning, the Firstborn from among the dead, so that He alone in everything and in every respect might occupy the chief place [stand first and be preeminent].
For it has pleased [the Father] that all the divine fullness (the sum total of the divine perfection, powers, and attributes) should dwell in Him permanently. And God purposed that through (by the service, the intervention of) Him [the Son] all things should be completely reconciled to Himself, whether on earth or in heaven, as through Him, [the Father] made peace by means of the blood of His cross. Col. 5:16 – 20. AMP
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… Heb. 1:3 ESV
Jesus was God’s creative agent for everything and He keeps it all in existence. He is the head of the church, the first to be resurrected to eternal life, is filled with every power of His Father, and all things can only come to the Father through the Son. You can’t get more preeminent than that.
But how would Jesus sit at the right side of Himself? (If He were God.)
The word ‘trinity’ is located nowhere within the Bible. It was a doctrine created by man to explain a scriptural concept that was not fully comprehendible, i.e. trying to define the infinite God to the finite mind of man. No one can fully understand everything that God says or does:
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts. Is. 55:9 NKJV
Yes, God, the Holy Spirit, and the pre-carnal Christ were 100% Spirit beings. After Jesus’ ascension to heaven, He became a Spirit (God) – Man, the nature of which is beyond our comprehension.
All three have equal divine attributes. They exist within a unique, harmonious working relationship: The Father commands (designs), which are committed (created) through the Son’s obedience. Christ reveals God. The Holy Spirit reveals Christ and He brings the spark of life to Christ’s creations.
In like manner, God planned salvation, Jesus accomplished it by His atoning work on the cross, and the Holy Spirit imparts it to God’s children. (It still looks like ‘separate and distinct but working as one’ to me.) Consider these words of God:
“Here, O Israel: the LORD our God is one!” Dt. 6:4 NKJV
“…for I am God and there is no other, I am God, and there is none like Me.” Is. 46:9 NKJV
A clear case for a singular God to me, but the Trinitarians maintain that the Hebrew word for ‘God’ in this case (Elohim) is a plural word and the the Hebrew word for ‘one’ (echad) is used in a collective sense. Food for thought.
Contemplate the words of the prophet Daniel when he was describing his God-given vision of His throne room in heaven:
“I was watching the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.” Dan. 7:1`3, 14. NKJV
No one disputes that the ‘Ancient’ is God and the ‘Son’ is Jesus. I’m just saying.
Trinitarians would have you consider the following scriptures:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Jn. 1:1 NKJV
There is no doubt that the ‘Word’ is Christ and that He was with God. Where I take exception is ‘the Word was God.’ I agree in the sense that Jesus had to be part of God at one time before He was created from God. (The Trinitarian view is that there was no creation of Jesus as a separate being, but that He has existed eternally with His Father.)
And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jn. 20:28 NKJV
This refers to when the apostle Thomas puts his hands on the body of the resurrected Christ. To me Thomas is not acknowledging that Jesus is God but is recognizing that Christ is His Savior and he can see the power of God emanating through the ascended King of kings.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us… (as we are) waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ who gave himself for us to redeem us… Titus 2:11 – 14. ESV
Jesus and the Holy Spirit are personifications of God’s grace. The Trinitarians hold that the ‘great God and Savior Jesus Christ’ is a description of one Person. Could it not be God and Savior?
Most Christians will say that the trinity is a clear revelation that defies man’s logic. It’s just that it is not so clear to me. Doesn’t make it wrong; you have to judge for yourself.
Here are some things that give me pause:
1. When Jesus was baptized, both God and the Holy Spirit were present together but separate and distinct. (Mt. 3:16, 17.)
2. Jesus says He cannot do anything without His Father’s power. (Jn. 5:19, 20.)
3. Jesus said, “…I am going to the Father, for My Father is greater than I.” Jn. 14:28 NKJV
4. Jesus last words upon His death: “Father, into your hands I commit My spirit.”
So, I have not embraced the trinity concept, although the majority of Christendom has. However, my gate opens slightly ajar after recently reading an article by Philip N. Odhner: The Teachings of Swedenborg Concerning The Lord Jesus Christ and The Divine Trinity. Emanuel Swedenborg was a Swedish theologian in the 1700s.
He stated that there cannot be two infinite beings because one would limit and finite the other. Further, he said that God is love, which was perfectly manifested in Christ’s salvation for all mankind because the essence of God is to love others outside of Himself.
He continued by relating that for there to be another God from God, that other would have to absolutely one with the Original. Swedenborg taught that God said many times in the Old Testament that He would come into the world (true) and in the New Testament he declared that this appearance referred to His coming through Jesus.
According to Swedenborg, Luke 1:35 teaches that Jesus is the Son of God, and because God is infinite and cannot divide Himself without being finite, He must exist in Christ. Moreover, Christ ‘reordered’ His human mind and body, (i.e. was ‘glorified’) putting on the Divine Human (God-man). Swedenborg continues by saying that before the glorification was complete, the human elements that were not yet divine had Him speaking as if He and His Father were separate – all changed (unified) by the resurrection. And it is that Divine Human that God embodied at that moment that allows for man to approach Him in their fallen state.
He refutes the concept of three separate beings existing as one, but instead claims that the Father is the ‘Divine Soul’ within the ‘Divine Body’ (which is Christ) and that the Holy Spirit is ‘Divine Love and Wisdom’ proceeding out of the Divine Body to work the salvation of man – concluding that there is no trinity of ‘persons’ but of ‘essentials’ in Christ (the Divine Human) whose body has the Divine Soul and the Divine Operation (Holy Spirit).
Maybe Swedenborg’s treatment of the trinity is not altogether correct, (He does profess other theological beliefs I have difficulty swallowing and the church based upon his teachings call themselves the ‘true Christian religion – a claim also made by most other denominations) but it is a treatise that I can sink my teeth in. Who knows? I may become a ‘Trinitarian’ after all…
THIS IS THE MAIN POINT!
I don’t know who is right or wrong, (that includes myself). I’m just offering food for thought. If you continue to read God’s word with faith and with prayer for revelation and still exercise critical thinking when it comes to man’s take on it, I feel I’ve done my job.
What I do know is that God would not give anything to us that was incomprehensible that blocks our way to salvation. So, is Jesus God? The majority of His followers think so. They could be right.
However, I don’t think anyone will be turned away from the gates of eternity if they believe that Jesus is exactly the same as God in all respects, with a name that is exalted over all (except His Father’s), who created the universe and holds it all together, that came so we could see God up close and personal, who sees that our prayers are answered and is God’s Agent of salvation, whom we worship along with the Father. (See Heb. 1:6)
Goodnight and God bless.
February 20 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
That’s right. Your Jesus:
I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture. The thief comes only in order to kill and steal and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd risks and lays down His [own] life for the sheep. Jn. 10:9 – 11. AMP
What does that first line say? ‘Anyone who enters in through Me will be saved.’ Jesus was sent by His Father to save everyone. That includes you.
The Bible is the word of God. It is the account of God’s creation of the universe, how He placed man at the most prominent position of His creations, how they turned away from Him, and how, out of His great love and mercy, He extended His salvation to man to bring them back to Him.
God’s door to salvation is Jesus Christ. He is the centerpiece of the Bible. It all revolves around Jesus’ earthly visitation where He obediently completed His Father’s works in order to bring salvation to the children of God and how He will return to gather those same children from all ages and usher them into an eternity of love.
Jesus is found throughout the Bible: God tells us of His Son through the Old Testament prophets, through the mouth of Jesus Himself (speaking for God), through Christ’s apostles and through an additional disciple (Jude – a brother of Jesus).
Let’s begin with the Old Testament prophets:
Moses was the Holy Spirit-inspired author of the first five books of the Bible. He was entrusted with relaying God’s word about His creation of everything (as well as a vast store of additional knowledge). It is at the juncture of when God created man that we first meet His Son:
“Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our image, according to Our likeness;” Gn. 1:26 NKJV
This is God speaking. You could say that He is speaking in the royal ‘Us’ and ‘Our’ perspective, but a little detective work will prove otherwise. We have to leap across to the New Testament to collate and corroborate our evidence:
He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. Jn. 1:2, 3. ESV
The apostle John is speaking of Jesus. We see that God created the entire universe and everything in it through His Son. That places Jesus by the side of His Father eons before man shows up or prior to when He appears in human form upon the earth. (How long was Jesus with God before creation took place? We don’t know, but we will discuss that topic in the next post.)
Also, Jesus Himself affirms His presence with God during creation:
These are the words of the Amen, the trusty and faithful and true Witness, the Origin and Beginning and Author of God’s creation: Rv. 3:14 AMP
Thus, in Gn. 1:26 above, God is speaking with His Son and He is equating His image with that of Jesus’ image. Indeed, God Himself tells us that their images are exactly the same:
[Now] He is the exact likeness of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible]; He is the Firstborn of all creation. Col. 1:15 AMP
So we see that not only is Christ the exact image of His Father, but also that Jesus later lived out that image in the flesh as well, so that we could experience the true nature of God.
Jesus told us that God is a Spirit being. (Jn. 4:24) Thus, prior to Jesus’ manifestation on earth in a human body, He too must have been a Spirit in nature as well. We know this to be true because heaven does not accommodate our human form in its present state:
But I tell you this, brethren, flesh and blood cannot [become partakers of eternal salvation and] inherit or share in the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable (that which is decaying) inherit or share in the imperishable (the immortal). 1 Cor. 15:50 AMP
Continuing along with Moses’ narrative, it’s not long before he speaks of Jesus again – this time where he informs us of God’s conversation with Satan, immediately after the fall of Adam and Eve:
“…I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Gn. 3:15 NKJV
This scripture is referred to as the ‘Protoevangelium': the first Messianic prophecy in the Bible, wherein it describes the entire battle between the forces of good [Eve and her descendants – including Jesus (her Seed) and His followers] and evil (Satan and his co-conspirators) throughout the ages.
The prophecy suggests that the devil will ‘bruise’ Jesus’ heel (at His crucifixion) but that Jesus would overcome him by inflicting a mortal bruise, suggested by the more severe wound to the devil’s head. Jesus was resurrected from His wound; Satan will not be so lucky. (See Rm. 16:20)
We also have a parallel scripture in the book of Job that prophesies the coming of the ‘Messiah.’ I say ‘parallel’ because many biblical scholars attest that Moses was the author of that book, or at the very least, regardless of the author, it is as old as Moses’ writings:
“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.” Job 19:25 NASB
Near the end of Moses’ time on earth, God speaks to him again and begins to describe who this ‘Messiah’ is (1400 years before Jesus showed up):
“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.” Dt. 18:18 NKJV
God is telling Moses that the Messiah will be of Jewish descent (in His earthly manifestation) and that He will speak for God to His children.
Leaving Moses behind and leaping ahead 400 years, God brings a similar Messianic revelation to His prophet Samuel, to share with King David, which spoke of the continuation of David’s dynasty – first through Solomon and ending with the reign of Christ:
“… I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son.” 2 Sam. 7:13, 14. NKJV
King David himself also received a Holy Spirit-inspired revelation about the same:
“Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession.’ Ps. 2:6 – 8. NKJV (Confirmed again in Acts 13:33 & Heb. 1:5.)
May he [Solomon as a type of King David’s greater Son] be like rain that comes down upon the mown grass, like showers that water the earth. In His [Christ’s] days shall the [uncompromisingly] righteous flourish and peace abound until there is a moon no longer. He [Christ] shall have dominion also from sea to sea and from the River [Euphrates] to the ends of the earth. Ps. 72:6-8. AMP
So, as we’ve begun to scratch the surface of just who your Jesus is, what have we learned so far?
1. Jesus is the exact image of God – first in Spirit, along side His Father since the beginning of time (Time started with God’s creation, all of which was all performed through His Son) and second as He was manifested in the flesh so that man might experience God through his five senses.
2. Jesus speaks for His Father, using God’s own words.
3. He will lead the battle between good and evil throughout the ages – ultimately becoming the victor.
4. His carnal manifestation will descend from the line of King David.
5. Christ will rule the entire earth forever.
To continue our quest in learning more about our Lord Jesus Christ, we have to jump forward in time again, (300 years to approximately 740 B.C.) – to the time of the prophet Isaiah, whom God sent to Judah just before the Assyrian invasion, to try to bring His wayward children back to Him.
Isaiah’s God-given prophecies yield many chillingly accurate accounts regarding Jesus and the events that unfold around Him. Next time…
Good night and God bless.
February 14 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
In the first part of this two-part series, we looked at what faith was, why we need to have it, how it bonds the followers of Christ together and how we go about getting it.
Now, let’s examine the benefits of exercising that faith. Looking at Abraham’s faith, (the ‘father of faith’) we can see that it facilitated a very important benefit:
And he [Abram] believed in (trusted in, relied on, remained steadfast to) the Lord, and He counted it to him as righteousness (right standing with God). Gn. 15:6 AMP
So faith alone ushers us into the presence of God, whereupon we can receive His justification that bestows righteousness:
For we hold that a man is justified and made upright by faith independent and distinctly apart from good deeds (works of the Law). [The observance of the Law has nothing to do with justification.] Rm. 3:28 AMP
Faith also empowers us with Divine strength:
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. Ps. 125:1 NKJV
Faith brings us God’s eternal impregnable protection:
Oh, love the LORD, all you saints! For the LORD preserves the faithful… Ps. 31:23 NKJV
In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? Ps. 56:4 NASB
For You are my hope, O Lord GOD; You are my trust from my youth. By you I have been upheld from birth; Ps. 71:5, 6. NKJV
Faith wards off the devil himself:
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith… 1 Pt. 5:8, 9. NASB
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. Eph. 6:16 ESV
Even our happiness is based upon faith:
Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God… Ps. 146:5 NKJV
Our enlightenment as well:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. Jm. 1:5, 6. NKJV
We can call upon the healing power of God when we have faith:
And the prayer [that is] of faith will save him who is sick, and the Lord will restore him; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Jm. 5:15 AMP
In fact, our faith brings all of the promises of God:
A faithful man will abound with blessings… Pr. 28:20 NKJV
“Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” Lk. 1:45
How can we have this faith in God and sustain it? It’s because God Himself is faithful and does not lie:
…by two unchangeable things [His promise and His oath] in which it is impossible for God ever to prove false or deceive us, we who have fled [to Him] for refuge might have mighty indwelling strength and strong encouragement to grasp and hold fast the hope appointed for us and set before [us]. Heb. 6:18 AMP
Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations; Ps. 119:89, 90. NASB
How can we know that we are keeping this faith in the forefront of our lives? It happens when we are keeping our relationship with God in the right place and placing our faith in His faithful Son:
The [appointed period of] time is fulfilled (completed), and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent (have a change of mind which issues in regret for past sins and in change of conduct for the better) and believe (trust in, rely on, and adhere to) the good news (the Gospel). Mk. 1:15 AMP
Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. Heb. 10:19 – 23. NASB
For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 1 Pt. 1:20, 21. NASB
“This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” Jn. 6:29 NKJV
Those who do not have faith in Christ come to a very unfortunate end:
“…if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” Jn. 8:24 NKJV
Conversely, when we place our faith in the Father and Son, we are transformed:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” Jn. 5:24 NASB
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: Jn. 1:12 NKJV
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 Jn. 5:4, 5. ESV
…through this Man forgiveness and removal of sins is now proclaimed to you; and that through Him everyone who believes [who acknowledges Jesus as his Savior and devotes himself to Him] is absolved (cleared and freed) from every charge…and given right standing with God. Acts 13:38, 39. AMP
So let’s see: we are victorious over the world (and the devil in it) by becoming purified children of God who walk in eternal life; and that gives you power:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do…” Jn. 14:12 NKJV
God will also take your faith in His Son and bless your entire house with His salvation – even if the other members of your household are not yet believers:
Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ [give yourself up to Him, take yourself out of your own keeping and entrust yourself into His keeping] and you will be saved, [and this applies both to] you and your household as well. Acts 16:31 AMP
It’s clear to see then that having faith is imperative if we want to walk that eternal love-filled road that God provides for each and every one of us. So when we get it, we need to do God’s work by sharing it – doing our part in bringing His salvation message to as many people as we can:
“…to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” Acts 26:18 NKJV
And we need to share it with love…
…if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love (God’s love in me) I am nothing (a useless nobody). 1 Cor. 13:2 Acts AMP
Faith is the hope in the promise from the Creator of the universe, through His Son. The hope is a privilege, but given for free. From that hope, we draw on the limitless power of God, manifesting it through Christ. It moves mountains, heals the sick, removes iniquities, strengthens and protects, walls off the devil, showers us with abundance and happiness, and reserves our place in eternity.
We have faith in the Faithful, drawn from the word of God, sealed by the Holy Spirit – focused on the resurrection of Jesus. Through our faith, we transcend the world and enlarge His kingdom by our faith-based works.
It’s a simple decision, a lifetime of loving work, providing an ultimate reward.
Keep the faith…
Good night and God bless.
February 06 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
We touched upon our need for ‘faith’ in the October 10, 2014 post: What Does God Say About Your Trust In Him? However, faith is the bedrock of Christianity, so we’re going to dig a little deeper…
Let’s start by asking, ‘What is faith?’
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Heb. 11:1 NASB
For in [this] hope we were saved. But hope [the object of] which is seen is not hope. For who can one hope for what he already sees? Rm. 8:24 AMP
Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jn. 20:29 NKJV
Faith is the hope in things that are not tangible to us yet, i.e. not available for the validation of our five senses. We don’t need faith for the tangible. The primary faith that we need is the belief in the salvation available through Christ Jesus.
Most everything God reveals to us we must take on faith – even the creation of all things tangible that He made manifest around us:
By faith we understand that the worlds [during the successive ages] were framed (fashioned, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose) by the word of God, so that what we see was not made out of things which are visible. Heb. 11:3 AMP
Likewise, God takes the focus of your faith and manifests is from the spiritual realm into the material one.
Our part in petitioning God’s manifestations is to provide our faith. Our entire walk with Him is based on faith:
For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance. 2 Cor. 5:7 AMP
Indeed, many times Jesus would ascribe the faith of His recipients as the primary requirement to facilitate His ability to perform miracles for them:
Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” Lk. 18:42 NKJV (See also Lk. 7:50, Mt. 9:22, Mk. 2:5.)
He taught that with faith, you could accomplish anything because that is when God shows up:
“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Mt. 21:22 ESV
“All things are possible to him who believes.” Mk. 9:23 NASB (See also Mk. 5:36 & 11:22 – 24; Mt. 17:20.)
“Did I not say to you that if you believe you would see the glory of God?” Jn. 11:40 NKJV
Faith is also the bond that brings all God’s children together as one:
[There is] one body and one Spirit – just as there is one hope [that belongs] to the calling you received – [there is] one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of [us] all, pervading all and [living] in [us] all. Eph. 4:4 – 6. AMP
Well, all this faith stuff sounds pretty good but what do we have to do to get our hands on it?
…God has allotted to each a measure of faith. Rm. 12:3 NASB
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness… Gal. 5:22 ESV
…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith… Heb. 12:1, 2. ESV
So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself). Rm. 10:17 AMP
Therefore, God gives us a free gift of faith that He created through His Son, which is delivered to us by the Holy Spirit and it is nurtured and strengthened in us as we continually immerse ourselves in the hearing of the gospel.
Indeed, we must have faith even to understand it:
…if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world (Satan) has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Cor. 4:3, 4. ESV
Thus it is vital to align ourselves with the God rather than with a false god.
Yes, faith is a heavenly gift, but we must willingly receive it and cleave to it in order to perpetuate our relationship with God:
But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out]. Heb. 11:6 AMP
…your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Cor. 2:5 NKJV
There are many benefits that God sends our way when we exercise our faith.
Goodnight and God bless.
January 31 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Our Creator lives within all of His children in an intimate oneness. Yet while we live on this earthly plane, He tells us that we need human companionship as well: And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone…” Gn. 2:18 NKJV
In fact, God uses our friends as another avenue to bring us His love. No one is totally self-sufficient and self-nurturing. Adding friends to our lives is the key to having our lifetimes be loving spaces that transcend the exercise of mere survival.
Friendship enriches our happiness. If you look around, you will find that the unhappiest people are those who have no one to pick them up when they fall down. Indeed, the ultimate request for friendship could be stated as, ‘Won’t you stand by me?’
Companionship strengthens one’s potential for success and it brings nourishment to the soul that becomes a continual source for encouragement and exhortation:
Two are better than one, because they have a good [more satisfying] reward for their labor; for if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to life him up! Again, if two lie down together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone? And though a man might prevail against him who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecc. 4:9 – 12. AMP
As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. Pr. 27:17 NKJV
We see then that friendship is a ‘good thing.’ If we want friends in our lives, we must become an attractive space where those potential friends can be nourished as well:
A man who has friends must himself be friendly… Pr. 18:24 NKJV
True friends will speak the truth to you, pleasant or not, to bring you to a place of greater good and higher growth:
…the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel. Pr. 27:9 ESV
Faithful are the wounds of a friend… Pr. 27:6 NKJV
Once we gather our friends to us, God tells us how to keep them:
A friend loves at all times, and is born, as is a brother, for adversity. Pr. 17:17 AMP
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jn. 13:34, 35. NKJV
We need to love our friends regardless of their circumstances; after all, don’t we expect the same from them? We can also see that when we love our friends, that love is a reflection of the love of Christ. Moreover, we must love our friends or we cannot have a love relationship with God:
…whomever loves God must also love his brother. 1 Jn. 4:21 NKJV
In fact, God values the giving of our love to each other so much, that He even implores us to love them when their flesh shows up, i.e. in those times where it is hard to love them:
Then let us no more criticize and blame and pass judgment on one another, but rather decide and endeavor never to put a stumbling block or an obstacle or a hindrance in the way of a brother. Rm. 14:13 AMP
[My] brethren, do not speak evil about or accuse one another. He that maligns a brother or judges his brother is maligning and criticizing the Law and judging the Law…you are not a practicer of the Law but a censor and judge [of it].
Only one is the Lawgiver and Judge Who is able to save and destroy [the One Who has the absolute power of life and death]. [But you] who are you that [you presume to] pass judgment on your neighbor? James 4:11, 12. AMP
So, when we malign our friends, we are maligning God.
“Thus has the LORD of hosts said, ‘Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother…’ Zec. 7:9 NASB
Who doesn’t have slips and falls – bad moments? No one. That’s the time where we especially apply love and continuing forgiveness:
“Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, I repent, you must forgive him.” Lk. 17:3, 4. ESV
Reconciling with your friends is so important to God that Jesus told us we could not even have an audience with His Father until the discord was cleaned up:
So if when you are offering your gift at the altar you there remember that your brother has any [grievance] against you, leave your gift at the altar and go. First make peace with your brother, and then come back and present your gift. Mt. 5:23, 24. AMP
It behooves us then to overlook a little humanness in our friends:
He who covers and forgives and offense seeks love, but he who repeats or harps on a matter separates even close friends. Pr. 17:9 AMP
As we’ve seen, a friend is to love at all times – especially in times of need:
“For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friend; so that he does not forsake the fear (reverence for) of the Almighty.” Job 6:14 NASB
The highest level of friendship love is when we come together in like-mindedness to become unified in God’s word and in His service:
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own interests, but also for the interests of others. Phil. 2:1 – 4. NASB
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rm. 12:10, 11. ESV
Many of us have a tendency to think small, including what we think is a sufficient width for our friendship circle. God asks us to widen our horizons and embrace all people – becoming one in Him:
Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. 1 Pt. 2:17 NKJV
I believe that God has gifted us with the opportunity for friendship in order to learn how to give and receive love. We begin by loving ourselves, by becoming our own best friend, so that we can of ourselves send love to as many as we can touch in this lifetime – coming together in and through our Creator:
…you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God… Eph. 2:19 NKJV
Goodnight and God bless.
January 23 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
‘Not me!’ you might say, and you may not, but I’d wager that many of us do even on an unconscious level. It happens when we try to separate ourselves from who we are and / or from our lives: we are in essence separating ourselves from God.
Human beings separate themselves from each other by creating nationalities, states, cities, religions, and preferences for gender, financial status, or social standing. Every one of these ‘classifications’ bring divisiveness and with it subsequent ill will and malicious deeds. Yet these degrees of separation are only illusory because at the foundation of reality, we are all one – the combined brotherhood / sisterhood of Man.
Close examination of these attempts at separation, reveal a common thread: an attempt at one-upmanship. For one to be motivated to practice this, that same one has to be coming from a place where he or she feels ‘less than’ someone else – a false fear that plays itself out with greed, pride, envy, jealousy and prejudice. We are certainly not following God’s plan when we indulge in such behavior:
For God shows no partiality [undue favor or unfairness; with Him one man s not different from another]. Rom. 2:11 AMP
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal. 3:28 NKJV
To believe otherwise is to believe in an illusion suggested by the great illusionist himself – the devil. Why? He knows that if he can convince you to separate yourself from your brother and or sister, you are in effect separating yourself from God; and Satan also knows that some of these ‘separated ones’ will come to a state of despair and attempt to detach themselves from life altogether.
But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 1 Jn. 2:11 NASB
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar…this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. 1 Jn. 4:20, 21. NKJV
God is reality. God is life. Sometimes our actions bring us to a place where our perceived reality is one of great pain; and instead of eliciting God’s help to get back on our path, we turn tail and run the other way – perhaps feeling that we are beyond salvation due to the severity of our ‘sin.’
What is the ‘other way?’ It is an illusion of separateness that we attempt to enter into in order to escape what we feel is our present state in life – by shutting our minds down. Yet time and time again, that same ‘life’ is still waiting for us when our minds come back up for air.
We try to shut our minds down with addictions or distractions – e.g. drugs (illicit or prescribed), alcohol, sex, busyness, food and other desires of the flesh. The Bible talks at length about alcohol because it was (and still is) the greatest distracter / addiction of that time. Let’s examine what God says and insert your own addiction in the subject line.
First, alcohol in and of itself is not evil. God created it for man’s enjoyment: You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man… Ps. 104:14, 15. ESV
Go your way, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart [if you are righteous, wise, and in the hands of God], for God has already accepted your works. Eccl. 9:7 AMP
As with anything however, there is a right way and wrong way to receive God’s blessings:
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Cor. 10:31 NKJV
What does not bring God glory? Abuse. (e.g. addiction) With abuse, blessings become curses:
For they shall eat and not have enough; they shall play the harlot and but not increase; because they have ceased obeying the LORD. Hos. 4:10 NKJV
Harlotry and wine and new wine take away the heart and the mind and the spiritual understanding. Hos. 4:11 AMP
Addictions not only have you living a cursed illusion, you also leave devastation in your wake:
Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise. Pr. 20:1 NASB
Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags. Pr. 23:20, 21. ESV
Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine…In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. Pr. 23:29, 30, 32, 33. ESV
God loves you so much. He wants the best for you. That’s why He abhors how addictions ravage your life – so much so that He illustrates their evil by grouping them along with some of the worst offenses and warns of a potential loss of salvation for the abuser (that is, one who is willfully unrepentant):
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal. 5:19 – 21. ESV
The real crux of the offense of addiction is that it separates you [as a chosen child of God (1 Pt. 2:9)] from your purpose in God:
…it not good for kings to drink wine, nor for princes intoxicating drink; lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the justice… Pr. 31:4, 5. NKJV
…they are swallowed up by wine, they are out of the way through intoxicating drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment. Is. 28:7 NKJV
For anyone who eats and drinks without discriminating and recognizing with due appreciation that [it is Christ’s] body, eats and drinks a sentence (a verdict of judgment) upon himself. 1 Cor. 11:29 AMP
Thus, any false separation that you create in your life robs you of your ability to discern God’s path for you, removes His word from you, blinds your spiritual vision, steals your freedom of choice, prevents you from doing your Father’s work, and lastly, creates a real separation between you and your Creator – which also lands you in the lap of the devil himself:
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. Is. 59:2 NKJV
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Pt. 5:8 NKJV
Be sober – be present with God instead of swirling down the drain of addictions and distractions. You must make your choice:
You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons… 1 Cor. 10:21 NKJV
The Lord’s cup is the path of light and salvation:
Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness…But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Rm. 13:13, 14. NKJV
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit. Eph. 5:18 AMP
So, whatever your addiction (should you have one) give it up to God and ask Him to liberate you from it by whatever path He presents to you. Your avenue of separation does not relieve suffering. Only a vibrant relationship with God will do that…
Goodnight and God bless.
January 17 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
In the first of this two-part series, we looked at the godly approach for having relationships with our parents, our spouse, and with our children. We also explored how to raise godly children. Now let’s look at God’s rules for putting this altogether to make the family work:
Wives, be subject to your husbands [subordinate and adapt yourselves to them], as is right and fitting and your proper duty in the Lord. Husbands love your wives [be affectionate and sympathetic with them] and do not be harsh or bitter or resentful toward them. Col. 3:18, 19. AMP
God is instructing the wives (through the apostle Paul) to honor the God-given leadership role that the husband is to possess within the family, based upon what Jesus had taught – especially honoring his place as the spiritual leader.
I’m starting with this particular scripture because I want to emphasize that ‘family’ does not work until the marriage itself works first! The first goal is to have a marital relationship that is filled with peace and love:
Better is a dish of vegetables where love is than a fattened ox served with hatred. Pr. 15:17 NASB
Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strife. Pr. 17:1 NKJV
You cannot have a house of love and peace without a husband and wife who are devoted to one another – the closest of friends and lovers:
My beloved is mine, and I am his…This is my beloved, and this is my friend… Song 2:16 & 5:16. NKJV
Drink waters out of your own cistern [of a pure marriage relationship], and fresh running waters out of your own well…[Confine yourself to your own wife] let your children be for you alone, and not the children of strangers with you. Let your fountain [of human life] be blessed [with the rewards of fidelity], and rejoice in the wife of your youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant doe [tender, gentle, attractive] – let her bosom satisfy you at all times, and be transported with delight in her love. Pr. 5:15 & 5:17 – 19. AMP
Indeed, God created the institution of marriage as the only sanctified place for this loving intimacy to take place:
But because of the temptation to impurity and to avoid immorality, let each [man] have his own wife and let each [woman] have her own husband. 1 Cor. 7:2 AMP
Because marriage is the most sacred of all man-woman relationships, it is by far and away Satan’s biggest target – one that he strives to destroy (and in so doing, destroys an entire family) by leading one or both spouses down the road of adultery. God is crystal clear on His feelings regarding adultery:
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Heb. 14:4 ESV
“You shall not commit adultery.” Ex. 20:14 NKJV (The 7th of the 10 Commandments.)
Not only does God prohibit the act itself, but also even the intention to commit adultery, as it carries an equal weight of offense:
“…everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Mt. 5:28 ESV
As well as defining His intolerance for adultery, God also clarifies what the act itself inflicts upon the perpetrator:
The body is not intended for sexual immorality, but [is intended] for the Lord, and the Lord [is intended] for the body [to save, sanctify, and raise it again]. And God both raised the Lord to life and will also raise us up by His power. Do you not see and know that your bodies are members (bodily parts) of Christ (the Messiah)? Am I therefore to take parts of Christ and make [them] parts of a prostitute? Never! Never! 1 Cor. 6:13 – 15. AMP
Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own., for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Cor. 6:16 – 20. ESV
You can substitute either gender here, as anyone who engages in adultery is prostituting him or herself. You can also see that this particular sin runs directly against God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit because the initiator is directly refuting their gift of life through salvation and directly tainting the Holy Trio. Serious stuff – rated just as despicable as murder. (Gal. 5:19 – 21.)
In addition to what adultery is and what it does, God shows us the consequences (sans true confession and repentance):
But whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks heart and understanding (moral principle and prudence); he who does it is destroying his own life. Wounds and disgrace he will get, and his reproach will not be wiped away. Pr. 6:32, 33. AMP
Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, do not stray into her paths. For many are the victims she has cast down, and numerous are all her slain. Her house is the way to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death. Pr. 7:25 – 27. NASB
As with all sin, the devil does his best to make it enticing (but its true nature is always hiding behind the facade):
For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, her steps lay hold of hell. Pr. 5:3 – 5. NKJV
Spiritually, Satan’s end game is to keep you steeped in unrepentant sin in order to rob you of your salvation, so that you join him at the end of time – eternally separated from God in death.
The devil is especially eager to strike the man and woman in matrimony because his odds of destroying an entire family are then in his favor. His earthly tool for helping him achieve that aim is ‘divorce.’ For that reason (except for when one finds themselves in a marriage where their spouse practices ongoing unrepentant adultery) God strictly prohibits divorce:
For the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I hate divorce and marital separation and him who covers his garment [his wife] with violence. Therefore keep a watch upon your spirit [that it may be controlled by My Spirit], that you deal not treacherously and faithlessly [with your marriage mate]. Mal. 2:16 AMP
A wife is not to depart from her husband…And a husband is not to divorce his wife. 1 Cor. 7:10, 11. NKJV
So, how do we resist Satan’s trap? One, by keeping our focus upon our spouse; two, by avoiding potentially adulterous environments; three, staying in God’s word to muster our strength; and four, by shunning the practice of withholding intimacy from our spouse as a tool of punishment:
Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Cor. 7:3 – 5. NKJV
Marriage works when it’s approached in God’s way:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her… Eph. 5:22 – 25. NKJV
In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself…let each one of you love his wife and himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Eph. 5:28 & 33. ESV
This submissiveness on the wife’s part is not a subordinate role, but again one that acknowledges her husband’s place as the spiritual leader of the household. The husband’s role is to love his wife with all that he has: moment-by-moment sacrificing himself for her greater good.
God blankets the entire family with salvation through a godly marriage. Even if a member of that family hasn’t come to Him, God provides a potential path for them to do so within that marriage / family:
For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 1 Cor. 7:14 ESV
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 1 Pt. 3:1, 2. ESV
Finally, a godly marriage gives the husband and wife a supernatural enhancement for connecting with God:
In the same way you married men should live considerately with [your wives], what an intelligent recognition [of the marriage relation], honoring the woman as [physically] the weaker, but [realizing that you] are joint heirs of the grace (God’s unmerited favor) of life, in order that your prayers may not hindered and cut off. [Otherwise you cannot pray effectively.] 1 Pt. 3:7 AMP
Together, husband and wife are able to receive all that God had intended for their lives and for the lives of their entire family. Marriage is truly sacred ground and when undertaken in a godly fashion, all your family relationships will blossom as well.
Goodnight and God bless.
January 08 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Let’s begin where we began – with Mom and Dad:
Regard (treat with honor, due obedience, and courtesy) your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. Ex. 20:12 AMP
This is the fifth of the Ten Commandments. Regardless of who your parents may be (or have been) God saw fit in His grand design to use them to create you. There was something in the genetic combination He used to make you the unique and special person that you are.
Even if you don’t know your birth parents, you can pray God’s blessing over whoever they were and be thankful that you are here in God’s plan. Moreover, you can still love and honor your adoptive parents (or whoever selflessly and lovingly stepped into that role).
In the worst case scenario, if your parents (or parental figures) let the world consume them, became purveyors of abuse and were unsafe to be around, pray for their forgiveness and healing (from a distance) and love them for who God intended them to be.
God puts a high priority on how you treat your parents. Jesus took the aforementioned commandment and brought it additional revelation: For God commanded, Honor your father and mother, and, He who curses or reviles or speaks evil of or abuses or treats improperly his father and mother, let him surely come to his end by death. Mt. 15:4 AMP
Jesus was speaking to the consequences of not honoring and caring for your parents – i.e. a shortened and finite life. Conversely, check this out:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live ling on the earth.” Eph. 6:1, 2. NKJV
It basically reiterates the fifth commandment – emphasizing the ‘promise’ (the single commandment that has one) of long life (including eternal life) for those who treat their parents in the way God intended.
Now how about your relationship with your spouse?
Man and woman were both created in the likeness of God. They fell in the Garden, but afterwards we were each given the opportunity to be reconciled back to Him, through Christ – the gift that transcends all differences (including gender):
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Gn. 1:27 NKJV
There is [now no distinction] neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal. 3:28 AMP
God did create the male first, but He soon saw the necessity of creating the female:
And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Gn. 2:18 NKJV (‘comparable’ meaning ‘equal’)
The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. Gn. 2:22 NASB
Thus, man and woman were created for each other, to be interdependent, to be one:
…in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. 1 Cor. 11:11, 12. ESV
And the vehicle for this man-woman union was God’s first ordained institution - marriage:
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Mk. 10:7 – 9. ESV
Obviously, marriage is supposed to be a lifelong undertaking; and being that it is a God-ordained institution, it can only bring blessings upon those who participate:
One of the blessings that fall upon the husband is his wife: A virtuous and worthy wife [earnest and strong in character] is a crowning joy to her husband… Pr. 12:4 AMP
He who finds a [true] wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. Pr. 18:22 AMP
An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. Pr. 31:10 – 12. ESV
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying: “Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.” Pr. 31:25 – 29. NASB
Quite a blessing, yes? And did you see the mention of children? You see marriage isn’t only for the husband and wife, God has another purpose as well:
And did not God make [you and your wife] one [flesh]? Did not One make you and preserve your spirit alive? And why [did God make you two] one? Because He sought godly offspring [from your union].
Therefore take heed to yourselves, and let no one deal treacherously and be faithless to the wife of his youth. Mal. 2:15 AMP
God is giving us two messages here. First, He wants the marriage to produce new generations of God’s children. Second, He commands that we keep that marriage solvent. (More about that later.)
The children become a blessing to the family as well: Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the innermost parts of your house; your children shall be like olive plants round about your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord. Ps. 128:3, 4. AMP
Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man who quiver is full of them; Ps. 127:3 – 5. NASB
In addition, with any blessing from God, there comes a responsibility of good stewardship:
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Pr. 22:6 NKJV
He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; Ps. 78:5 – 7. ESV
Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord. Eph. 6:4 AMP
It is our Christian mandate to teach our children about God, who He is, what He’s done, what He is still doing and how He wants them to behave – all the while instilling in them His eternal heavenly hope so that they will see the vital necessity of passing it on to their own children.
You notice that God singles out the fathers in the second scripture – not to diminish the role of the mothers in the children’s upbringing but to point out that the fathers are generally more stern in their discipline. God tells the fathers to rear their children with the kindness and mercy that He has shown them.
Husband + wife + children = family. God in His infinite wisdom, as He does with all other aspects of how we should live our lives, leaves guidelines for how to make ‘family’ work.
Good night and God bless.
January 03 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
In the first two parts of this three-part series, we looked at who the devil is, the nature of who he is and what he does and at his destructive tactics towards man throughout history. We saw Satan battle Jesus here on earth and we have been privy to the devil’s future outcome – right up to his demise at the end of time during his final clash with Christ.
Now we are going to look at what God says about dealing with the devil in our present time: …give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some have already turned aside after Satan. 1 Tim. 5:14, 15. NKJV
In this scripture, the apostle Paul is instructing his disciple Timothy on how to keep the integrity of the parishioners in church – specifically the unmarried women and widows. Yet, what God asks of one group of people, He asks of us all.
In the flesh, we all fall off of our God-path from time to time. It’s essential to confess our misstep immediately to God, sincerely repentant and with faith that He forgives. Otherwise, when you sit on a sin, you open yourself up to the devil’s assault – whereupon he will fill your head with thoughts that embellish your sin, fill you with guilt and shame, and degrade you.
It is then that you are prone to degrade yourself and lose faith in the ability to receive the love of your Creator. Subsequently, you are in a vulnerable place where Satan can take you by the nose and lead you into darkness.
Be sober minded; be watchful. Your Adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after a while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Pet. 5:8 – 10. ESV
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:7, 8. NKJV
The devil’s not playing around and he’s not letting any follower of Christ escape his attacks. However, as you can see, the number one (and only one) strategy for whipping his butt is to hold on to your faith in God and His deliverance. Satan cannot stand up to resistance firmed up in faith. This is where your continual study and practice of God’s word comes into play. See too that God restores you and heals you of any damage the devil was able to coerce upon you.
Remember as well that the devil does not work alone. He also has his human followers and his demons (fallen angels) to help forward his cause. It is wise to keep oneself separate from them:
We know [absolutely] that anyone born of God does not [deliberately and knowingly] practice committing sin, but the One Who was begotten of God carefully watches over and protects him [Christ’s divine presence within him preserves him against all evil], and the wicked one does not lay hold (get a grip) on him or touch [him].
We know [positively] that we are of God, and the whole world [around us] is under the power of the evil one. 1 Jn. 5:18, 19. AMP
How do we know if we are in the presence of Satan’s ‘helpers?’
…and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 Jn. 4:3, 4. NKJV
We are right on target then when we perceive that a person is a satanic helper if he or she denies God’s salvation through Christ. We can also see that as a follower of Christ, we have a very distinct and mighty advantage over them. Yet we don’t want to let that go to our heads because we must remain empathic for the lost, because many of us were in that same boat at one time:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind. and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ… Eph. 2:1 – 5. ESV
Praise God for our salvation! Indeed, those of us who have been blessed enough to see and embrace the light, have a mandate (the same one Christ gave to the apostle Paul) to bring that same opportunity to those who have fallen. (If they refuse our entreat, then we separate ourselves from them.)
‘I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ Acts 26:17, 18. NKJV
Don’t be fooled. As long as we walk this earth, we will be engaged in spiritual warfare. Yet rejoice because God has already given us the weapons for victory:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Eph. 6:10 – 13. NASB
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with perseverance and supplication for all the saints… Eph. 6:14 – 19. NKJV
As Jesus did with His first earthly encounter with the devil, we also stand in battle armored with our faith in the word of God and with our best efforts to live out that word.
The stakes are big. Those who choose to follow Satan will lose the opportunity to graduate to eternity in front of the judgment seat of Christ at the end of time:
Then He will also say to those at His left hand, Begone from Me you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! Mt. 25:41 AMP
But when we instead exercise our faith, it is God who goes to battle for us – through the resurrection of His Son:
Since, therefore, [these His] children share in flesh and blood [in the physical nature of human beings], He (Jesus) [Himself] in a similar manner partook of the same [nature], that by going through] death He might bring to naught and make of no effect him who had the power of death – that is, the devil – and also that He might deliver and completely set free all those who through the [haunting] fear of death were held in bondage throughout the whole course of their lives. Heb. 2:14, 15. AMP
Indeed, we are protected now:
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. Col. 1:13, 14. NKJV
Delivered! That’s past tense baby! It’s already done for you when you get into a relationship with God through Christ.
So I ask you, ‘Is the devil real?’ You bet. Is he mean, nasty and bad? No doubt. Is he all-powerful? Only in his mind and in the minds of those who follow him. Satan only has the power that you grant him. He is really only a paper tiger.
When you stick with God, the devil has no chance: And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. Rom. 16:20 NASB
Goodnight and God bless.
December 27 2014 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »