HEALTH 2 September 25 Yesterday we were talking about the mortal (that which is flesh) being swallowed up by Life. In other words, our flesh has been put to death - we are no longer preoccupied with and controlled by our physical wants, desires and needs. We are focused on Jesus who is Life; and it is the Father’s Life and will that are being lived through our daily activities. We are gradually being transformed into His image and we are experiencing at varying degrees the benefits of His Life and presence in our own physical being and personal business. We are walking in His Eternal Life daily with all the benefits available to us as we yield ourselves to the direction and counsel of the Holy Spirit who lives within us. We are enjoying the benefits of being taught by Him just as Adam and Eve were in the garden of Eden. And as we allow ourselves to be taught, we are experiencing the peace and joy that comes from His constant presence and interaction in our life circumstances.
In Psalm 63:1-11 David expresses how absolutely necessary this personal relationship with God is to both his physical and spiritual well being. He says, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul (spirit) thirsts for you; my flesh ( body) faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (There is no life without water; the body will become sick and die.) So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand (Jesus) up holds me. But those who seek to destroy my life shall go down into the depths of the earth; they shall be given over to the power of the sword; they shall be a portion for jackals. But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by him shall exult, for the mouths of liars will be stopped.”
David actually enumerates all the benefits of Salvation in this Psalm. He talks about Deliverance from his enemies; Defense against lying lips, Divine Health for his body and mind; and they are all found in the Presence or Life of the Eternal One. Think about it; and then, praise Him for His faithfulness to you. ...
HEALTH September 24 I was reminded this morning while reading the nineteenth chapter of Matthew that the people then, had one of the same concerns that we have today. Matthew 19:1-2 says, “Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.” Their main concern was not to hear what Jesus had to say; but rather, they came to be healed. They were concerned with the frailty of their bodies; they feared the prospects of death and longed to be restored to perfect health.
We know that is true about our society today. On road trips we have often noted that even in the smallest towns across the country, the hospitals and medical complexes are obviously the largest and newest buildings. And compared to other industry in the areas those medical facilities would, obviously, be the largest employers. Our society is not only concerned with the health of the human body for personal well being; but the health industry is the source of much of societies monetary provision. It is not, however, just the health industry that benefits from our fixation with the human body and man’s fear of death. In the past several decades we have seen the rise of spas and health clubs; we have seen the development of positions like personal trainer and fitness coach. Health foods and diet regimens have also flooded the market place; and yet, the need remains. The people flock to all of the sources; they fruitlessly pour out their limited resources because they want to be healed; they want to be restored.
A few verses later in Matthew 19:16-17 the “rich young ruler” came to Jesus asking, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” This was a young man but he was already thinking about life after physical death; or perhaps no death at all. The answer that Jesus gave him is very important to understand. Jesus said, “If you would enter into Life.” This is something that we over look, but what Jesus was telling him was that at that very moment he was dead. Yes, he was a walking dead man; and if he wanted to enter into Life, he would have to do it God’s way.
The young man’s understanding of Life and death were incorrect. “He considered himself to be alive, but he was spiritually dead and physically dying because of the fall of Adam. God had created Adam and Eve to live eternally with Him. The Father was and is the Life source. When man was separated from the Life source through sin He died spiritually and the physical body became subject to sickness and death. So, in reality, the body begins to die from the moment we are born and man begins the quest to regain what he has lost.
The rich young ruler is like so many who figure they have plenty of money to buy the best of everything, including health care, exercise clubs and servants to make the labor of life easy. They have done every thing in life in the most acceptable moral fashion and have made sure that their generosity toward others is publicly recognized. Now, all they need is to be able to over come death - beat the odds - guarantee eternity. So, it’s frustrating to realize that no matter what you do, self-effort has failed. You can’t work hard enough to achieve the ultimate goal of eternal life. You can’t pay enough to obtain it through perfect health. You can’t coerce or flatter your way into the position to receive it.
So, our focus on life after death is incorrect. Like the rich young ruler, we should be simply focusing on entering into Life. We should be focused on entering into relationship with Life. We know from John 1:1-4 that Jesus is the Life and the Light of men. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” It is His Life that is eternal; and as we enter into Him, as we enter into Life, we are renewed and changed. Romans 8:10-11 explains the process clearly, “But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is Life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give Life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
It is Life (His Life) that brings health to the body and the spirit. And we are gradually changed from one degree of glory to another as we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us into His image.. 2 Corinthians 5:1-4 clearly says, “For we know that if the tent (our body) that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands (glorified body), eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by Life.” ...
EXPERIENCE September 23 So, if grasping the reality of the Christian experience is realized by the obedience of faith and the power of the Holy Spirit in our life, of what value is the testimony of another individual’s experience? The personal testimony of another individual is extremely important in our life if only to alert us to the possibilities for our own and to direct us to Jesus as the source of change. Remember, Acts 10:34 tells us that God is not a respecter of persons; and in Romans 10:13-15 the importance of the personal testimony is made very clear, “For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Good News!”
Only another Christian can be sent to bring the message of Salvation! Their experience of having received Jesus as Lord and Savior uniquely qualifies them to be the bearer of the Good News. Someone who has not had a salvation experience does not understand the importance of the experience. They can be very knowledgeable of the Scripture and do a truck load of good works; but if they have not received Salvation by faith in Jesus - if they have not entered into personal relationship with the Living God, they do not understand that the experience is necessary to Christian life nor can they believe that the experience brings about change both spiritual and physical.
To put it in today’s vernacular, those changes that take place are the advertisement for the product. The blind, who were healed by Jesus, the lepers who were cleansed, the demoniacs who were delivered all were uniquely qualified to tell of the reality of the power of Jesus to deliver and to heal. The personal testimony of Lazarus concerning the resurrection of the dead was so powerful to draw people to believe that Jesus was the Christ that the religious community sought to silence him through assassination. And remember Peter? He had denied Jesus openly three times the night before His crucifixion; and as the cock crowed, the scripture tells us that Peter bitterly repented of what he had done. He experienced godly sorry for his mistake. And then, in John chapter 21, we see that Jesus unconditionally forgave Peter of that betrayal. Jesus extended to Peter, just as he does to us, His unconditional love (agape) and forgiveness. Now, having experienced deliverance by faith from the guilt of that ordeal and having experienced the intimate and personal relationship and love of the Savior, the next time we see Peter in Scripture he is speaking under the direction and power of the Holy Spirit to help others to rid themselves of the guilt that they carried for the death of Jesus, the Son of God and to be saved.
In the second chapter of Acts Peter is a man with a testimony and the passion of a personal experience. Empowered now, by the Holy Spirit he shows no fear in the face of danger; but he speaks Scripture which the Holy Spirit brings to mind and he speaks it with an eloquence uncharacteristic to his own nature. In Acts 2:37-40 he said, “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”
Peter knew exactly how to answer the question, “What shall we do?” Yes, he knew by the Spirit and his personal experience that God unconditionally forgives and restores and changes. No doubt he may have given his own personal testimony for the Scripture says, “with many other words he bore witness.” And all those who knew Peter before his encounter with Jesus and the Holy Spirit (before he received them into His life by faith), could certainly see that he was changed by the experience and empowered by the Spirit. We, like Peter, are the witnesses of the power of God for Salvation (deliverance, defense, healing and eternal life) in the world today. Through our daily walk of faith our lives are the advertisement for the value of that Salvation for victorious living. Under the direction of the Holy Spirit, the words of our mouth become the road map to personal relationship with Jesus for others. ...
EYES ON JESUS September 22 Some times our doubts stem from failure to keep our eyes on the example that Jesus set and sometimes our doubts stem from failure to respond with the obedience of faith to the directions of the Holy Spirit. We have talked about responding to the Holy Spirit’s directions with the obedience of faith many times in the past; so today we want to take a look at what happens when we take our eyes off of Jesus and the example that He set.
A good place to start is in the twenty-first chapter of John. Jesus has just finished talking personally to Peter. He has asked him to step out by faith and obediently feed the sheep. This example is exactly what it is like when the Holy Spirit asks us to do something or instructs us on how to do something. He expects a positive response from us just like the one that Peter gave to Jesus. Peter said he would feed the sheep; he repeatedly assured Jesus that he loved Him. Of course, we know that words are just words until we put action with them. James said, “Faith without works is dead.” Peter had to act by faith upon his words - upon the words of Jesus.
But Peter did something quite different. He did what we do over and over again. Instead of acting by faith on the Word of God that had been given to him and that he clearly understood, he looked at the life of John and asked in John 21:21-23, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”
You see, we get our eyes off of Jesus and start considering what we see in another person’s walk with God. We say to ourselves, “This is a wonderful Christian, why wouldn’t God honor His Word and manifest healing, deliverance, prosperity, etc., etc. in their life?” Once this question is asked, we many times begin to entertain thoughts like these: The promises of God must not be for today. The promises of God must have ended with the first century church. We often find ourselves asking, “Is it my imagination that the Lord is calling me to manifest these promises in my life?”
When we do this, our doubts are fed and we elevate another human being to the position that Jesus himself should fill in our life. Although we may have had a close relationship with another individual, we can never really know what kind of relationship they actually had with the Lord. Oh, we think we know from what they say; but Jesus told us many times in Scripture that a good indication of their relationship with the Lord was the evidence of the fruit of the Word in their life. It is entirely probable that the other individual’s relationship with Jesus is as wonderful as our own, but we do not actually know what the Lord has called them to or how they may or may not have responded to that call. We cannot know what is or was going on in their transformation process. That is between them and the Lord. So, we cannot make any judgment on the faithfulness of the Lord to keep His promises by considering another person’s life. We cannot make a judgment on the reality of the Lord’s promises or the Truth of His Word by considering another person’s life.
Both Peter and John were powerhouses for the Lord in the first century church. Scripture records the power of the Holy Spirit flowing through both of their lives as they walked daily in the obedience of faith; but Jesus chastised Peter for taking his eyes off of the real example (Jesus). John was a human, just as we are. As such, he had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Both Peter and John were imperfect and their walks faltered at times. And like us, I have no doubt that at times, they were even double minded. If Peter wanted to be able to accomplish all that Jesus had called him to (if we want to accomplish what Jesus has called us to), he had to keep his eyes on Jesus. He had to daily walk by faith calling Divine health and provision from the Spirit realm into the physical just as Jesus did. John’s walk had nothing to do with the walk and road that Peter had before him. Peter’s walk had nothing to do with the walk and road that John had before him. Yes, each one of us is a living stone that is being shaped and molded to fit together into the New Jerusalem; but the methods of our shaping and the situations of our molding are different. How we respond to our particular molding and shaping (Obedience of faith? Stubborn endurance? Doubt and fear?) will determine how the promises of God are manifest in our life. The Truth of the Word and promises of God are experiential; and we can only come to know the reality of Its Truth by our own experience. ...
DOUBTS 2 September 21 The apostle Paul confirms in 2 Thessalonians that our witness to the world is our walk of faith as the Holy Spirit demonstrates the power of God operating through our life. 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 says, “ To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians was that their acts or works of faith would be honored and fulfilled by the “power” of God. Remember, the Holy Spirit is the power of God. Jesus told the disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they had received power - until the Holy Spirit had come upon them. In other words, Jesus has told us, “don’t move until you have been empowered to do what God has called you to do. Don’t do anything until you are equipped to live your life in and by the power of God.” The victorious life that we desire and that brings glory to God by calling attention to us as the children of God is not something that we can do of ourselves. We can’t be good enough. We can’t do enough kind deeds. The wisest of us are not even smart enough. It takes the Holy Spirit working within us revealing the Truth of the Word of God and bringing vital practical information and direction to the situations in our life.
God is not glorified as the loving, caring, powerful Father that He is by our unchanging fears and inabilities. His power is in fact, mocked when there is no change in our life. He does, however, receive glory as we obediently respond to the direction of the Holy Spirit to change our thinking and our behavior to that of the will and Word of God. Jesus is our example and He said, “Not my will, but your will be done.” The Father is glorified by our response of faith as we, like Jesus, call things that are not, as though they are. He is glorified when by faith and the power of the Holy Spirt, we call forth reality from the Spirit realm into the physical. He is glorified as our words, our conversations are aligned with His Word; He is glorified when even our bodies respond and demonstrate His Divine Health.
Doubts have no place in our relationship with God. Hebrews 11:6 clearly tells us, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” There are all manner of arguments that we might launch at this point, but in light of the total message of the entire Word of God we must respond as the father of the child in Mark 9:24, “I believe; help my unbelief!” This is a time to put aside all doubts and begin to understand our position and relationship in Christ. Notice that in the 2 Thessalonians passage Paul said, “that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him.” We are in Jesus; He is in us if we have received Him by faith. In John 17 Jesus said that He was in the Father and the Father was in Him. If that is true, then, we also are sheltered in the life of the Father because we are in Christ. To make the picture complete, the power and nature of God are in us by the presence of the Holy Spirit. If we can get hold of this picture, we can understand that there must be a change in our life, our thinking, our behavior, our conversation, our desires. There must be a change in how we deal with circumstances; there must be a change in our circumstances. We cannot remain the same with the life of the Eternal One within us. He has empowered us to call forth from the Spirit realm all that is necessary for us to live a victorious life in this world today; and in so doing, we bring Him glory and draw others to Him.
So, if there is not a change on every level of our life after we have experienced Salvation and the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, we have, in deed, “taken the name of the Lord our God in vain.” We have become a member of the family of the Living God and found that family affiliation to be of no use to us. Now ask yourself, “How is that possible?” Do you have doubts? ...
DOUBTS September 20 In Matthew 28:16-17 we are brought to the realization that even some of the elect of the disciples had doubts. “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.” Judas has been removed from the picture; and now, there are only eleven of the hand picked disciples left. Of the eleven, Matthew is telling us that some doubted what had taken place - what was taking place.
So, what kind of doubts could they have possibly had? Well, they could have doubted whether Jesus had actually died. They could have doubted that what they were seeing and hearing was actually real. In short, they had questions about what was happening to them and around them. And if all that they were experiencing was true, there was surely a certain level of anxiety for their own safety because Jesus would have been a fugitive from the Roman court as well as the Sanhedrin. On the other hand, if Jesus had risen from the dead and was actually the Son of God then, they were witnessing the power of God at work on their behalf and they would be completely protected and defended. “But some doubted.”
They were all present when Jesus explained what had happened to the fig tree in Matthew 21:21, “And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.” Jesus had told them to have faith and never doubt and it will happen! He said in, Matthew 21:22 , “whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith (If you believe.).”
The eleven had seen the principle at work again and again during the ministry of Jesus. They had seen it work even among the Gentiles who had sought His help. In Matthew 8:13 Jesus said to the Roman centurion, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.” They had witnessed the miracles that faith released; they had experienced personally those same miracles; and yet, “Some doubted.”
So, how do we move from doubt to faith, from unbelief to belief. What helped the disciples to make the transition? First, we need to note that the disciples spent an intense forty days with Jesus - one on one, face to face absorbing His Words and teaching. Yes, they had spent three years with Him, but those last forty days before the ascension of Jesus into heaven were different. The experience was more like the intense moments that we have in the Word of God when the logos of the Word becomes Rhema. When the words on the page come to life and become a reality to us.
Then, we need to realize that Jesus understood that on their own (on our own) it would be impossible to live life continuously, day after day, in a victorious and faith filled mental attitude without the help of both the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. For that reason in Acts 1:8 Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
It is our daily life that is our greatest witness before the world; and without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and daily reading the Word of God, it is impossible for us to live a life that is daily steeped in belief (faith) and free of anxiety and fear. Without the Holy Spirit’s counsel it is impossible to understand the Truth of the Word of God that it might be shared with others. Without the Holy Spirit it is impossible for us to release by faith the provision, deliverance, health and life from the Spirit’s realm that we might be effective and powerful witnesses in the world around us. The in filling or baptism in the Holy Spirit is what the disciples lacked before the day of Pentecost. The absence of the Holy Spirit in their life (even in the face of the presence of Jesus) accounted for their doubt. Selah ...
BELIEVE HAVING NOT SEEN September 19 The most difficult thing that we are called to do as Christians is to believe that He is. And yet, that is what we are called to do by God. Hebrews 11:6 tells us, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” To find favor with God even though we have not seen Him, we must believe that He exists and that He rewards us as we seek to know Him in personal relationship. God himself moves us forward in the relationship.
Over the centuries, nothing has changed in this regard. On Resurrection morning, Mary Magdalene had the problem of realizing that Jesus was not dead, that He was alive and standing before her. John 20:14-16 says, “Having said this, she (Mary Magdalen) turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).” Notice that she saw Him and heard Him speak. It was only when He called her name that she knew who He was.
Eight days later after being told that Jesus was alive and moving among them in a glorified body, Thomas was having similar problems determining the reality of the risen Savior. John 20:27-29 tells us, “Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Both Thomas and Mary saw Jesus and heard Him speak; Thomas actually touched Him. They both, however, relied on the five senses to come to their position of belief. We are told repeatedly in scripture that the Just shall live by faith. Those who have been declared not guilty by virtue of the blood of Jesus Christ - these individuals shall live by faith. They shall live by the belief that He is regardless of what their 5 senses tell them.
Putting the five senses on the shelf is an absolute must when operating in the spirit realm. God gave us those 5 senses to operate in the physical realm and they do a wonderful job of keeping us informed of what is happening in the world around us. But the things of the Spirit are not seen or handled; they are experienced and brought into reality only through faith. So, we are talking about two simultaneous realms, the Spiritual and the physical. Both are a reality; but the Spirit realm can only be accessed and manifest through faith.
We are talking about health and healing that we have not yet experienced. Provision that seems to be blocked by an unseen force. Deliverance that seems over long in coming. Jesus has provided those things for us with His resurrection from the dead; He has insured that those provisions are ours with Salvation through the precious blood that He shed. They are awaiting activation or manifestation by our unmoving faith. Even Mary and Thomas took a step of faith in their process of believing. Mary responded to His words with the reply “Rabboni.” Thomas extended his hand to touch and feel. Both were an act of faith. And we must remember that faith without works or acts is dead. Selah ...
DECEPTION 2 September 18 Through out all four of the Gospels, the Holy Spirit makes it clear that the secret intent of the hearts of the Priests, Pharisees and Sadducees was to put Jesus to death. He had exposed them; and their position and authority in life were at stake. Rather than acknowledge their sin and repent, they did as we so often do; they plotted secretly to cover that sin. In their effort to deceive, those actions only compounded their sin.
Matthew 26:58-59 says, “ Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death,” Matthew 27:62 says that even on the next day, after the crucifixion and burial of Jesus, “ the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate.” to arrange a guard to make sure that the body of Jesus stayed in the grave. And then, in Matthew 28:11-15 more of the plot is revealed, “ While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. (On Resurrection Morning) And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.”
Though they tried to cover their sin and the evil intentions of their hearts, the Priests and Pharisees were unable to conceal the Resurrection of our Lord. Not even their money could keep the power of God from being revealed in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
So, how does that pertain to our life today? Well, it is the contradiction in our own lives (those little hypocrisies to the will and Word of God) that often times cause us to attempt a cover up. Like the religious community of Jesus’ day, we try to protect our public appearance and position. We are deceived to believe that it is possible to hide the intent of our hearts from the world when all the while our actions (fruit) speak of who we really are and who we really serve. But no matter how hard we may try to maintain a public position and image, the truth of the Word of God always stands to judge our works and bring us to conviction. We can either respond with a repentant heart or seek to destroy through slander and wickedness (as the Priests and Pharisees did) those who hold forth a righteous standard. If you choose the latter position, you will (like the Priests and Pharisees) have failed to recognize that the Lord Jesus has, in deed, risen and the power of His Truth does stand today just as it is written. Just as He has proclaimed it. ...
DECEPTION September 17 Satan’s use of deception has been made clear by the Father God since the first chapter of Genesis. So, we should not be surprised to find Satan’s use of deception threaded throughout the last days and hours of the life and ministry of Jesus. The religious community was operating in what appeared to the world to be perfect and godly behavior. After all, the Priests, the scribes and Pharisees knew the law; they would not purposely, knowingly break it. Or is that really correct? In Luke 12:1 Jesus said to His disciples, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” In Matthew 16:12 the Holy Spirit says, “Then they understood that he (Jesus) did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” In other words, they said and did one thing in public, but in private they said and did something quite different. The intent of their heart was very visible when they thought they were operating in secret. So, while presenting themselves as agents of God, they were in reality operating as agents of Satan. You say that evaluation is a little harsh. Well, no. On three different occasions as recorded by Matthew, Jesus said, Matthew 7:16 “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” And again in Matthew 12:33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.” It is not the prim and proper public image that defines a person; but it is the fruit or out working of the private and hidden life that reveals the intent of his heart. Selah Continuing.......... ...
GO 2 September 16 John’s account of Resurrection morning is a little different from Matthew’s. John concentrates on one woman only. He tells us in John 20:1-2 “Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”
Wow! The response of Mary Magdalene according to John was quite different from the response that Matthew observed. Matthew observed a response of faith in the women; but John describes Mary Magdaline as anxious, frantic and filled with disbelief that He has risen. John quoted her as saying, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” In other words, she had gone to the tomb prepared to see a dead body; and when it was not there, she believed it to have been moved. If what John says is correct, the word of God as given by the angel was not received by Mary with faith. She did not confidently and joyfully trust that Jesus had, in deed, risen from the dead as He had fore told.
It is certainly two very different views of a response to the Resurrection account. This is not a contradiction to the Resurrection story, but it is a reflection of how we as human beings do personally respond to the news that Jesus Christ is alive! Many times we are double minded about the whole subject of Jesus Christ and his work on the cross. We want to believe; and yet, because we cannot see or tactically feel His presence we doubt. We do not know where He is or how to find Him That kind of double mindedness produces anxiety and unbelief. Matthew’s view of the women was one of faith and positive action which produced joy and awe at the might and power and love of God who gave Himself for us that we might live and prosper in this life, now.
Today, in the world in which we live, we need to prepare our heart to receive with joy the Good News! No doubting allowed. Jesus Christ is risen; He is alive and He is returning for us, His family and friends. ...
GO September 15 I love Matthew’s account of the reaction of the women who went to the tomb on Resurrection morning. Matthew 28:5-9 “But the angel said to the women (Mary Magdalene and the other Mary), “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.”
Matthew tells us that they received the message from the angel and responded with awe (fear) and joy. We would say that they were thrilled and excited emotionally. With words and actions, they responded by running to tell the “Good News!” They recognized that Jesus had done just what He had promised. He had risen from the dead. His words were trust worthy and true. That meant that all that He had told them was true. He was the Son God and He had called them friend.
And so we, Your friends and family, go and have gone to tell the “Good News!” Jesus is the Son of God who has conquered death and the grave. He is the Son of God who has redeemed the children of God from the power of Satan with His own blood. He has poured out the power and grace of God through the Holy Spirit that His family might be blessed and live victoriously in this life on the earth. We have participated in all those wonderful gifts; and now, we, His family, watch and wait for His return. Awake, Dear Ones! The fall feasts are once again upon us; and we watch once again, O Lord, with great anticipation to be caught away with you. Selah ...
GENTILES September14 In Isaiah 65:1 the Holy Spirit says of God the Father, “I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that was not called by my name.” Long before Jesus died for the sins of all mankind, the Father God was ready to be sought by both Jew and Gentile; He was ready to be found by anyone who would seek Him. He called across the ages “Here I am, here I am.” to any man or woman who like Abraham would respond to that call in faith.
Galatians 3:7-9 reminds us that “it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” Now, it is important for us to understand with clarity that while the Jewish feast of Passover speaks to us of Jesus Christ as the lamb who was slain for the sins of the world, the children and family of God which result from belief in Jesus Christ include both Jew and Gentile. We need to have it perfectly clear that the Sons of God are men and women of faith who personally and continually seek the face of God daily and live and move in life to do His will by faith just as Jesus did. Make no mistake there is no other entry into the family of God or the Kingdom of Heaven but belief in Jesus Christ as Redeemer and Lord. ...
ESTHER September 13 In thinking about the imploring crowds that surrounded Jesus on his entry into Jerusalem, I have been reminded of a similar, yet, very different event in biblical history. One took place in Jerusalem, the other in Babylon. One entreaty flowed from an anxious crowd, the other from a lone woman - a queen. Both were made to a king and both detailed an urgent plea for life and deliverance from a terrible foe. At first glance the teeming crowds of Palm Sunday and the gentle plea of queen Esther would hardly seem to have a common thread; and yet, both events were centered on a few seeking deliverance or liberty and life for many. Both were openly defying tradition and established order to seek the help of the king - face to face.
Although it is said that “the king was given by God to meet the needs of the people,” too often through out world history we have seen unrighteous kings upon the ruling thrones of the world. The people have suffered grave injustices at the hands of men who have ruled vindictively and selfishly. Some times their daily whims were influenced out of fear for the anger of the throngs of people who crowded about them, but more often their policies were formed as they were influenced by the men of power and wealth who whispered in their ears. It was a terrible thing to think that you must depend upon another human being to put forth your case before the king; for no man can know another’s heart and see the intent of his inner most being. Even the crowds that cheered Jesus as king on that Sunday were calling for his crucifixion on Thursday; so we have to ask ourselves if their cry for salvation was, indeed, genuine. Did they really want all men to be rescued. Well, perhaps their cry was genuinely heart felt for self, but not necessarily for the men and women who were also in the crowd. You say, that’s a strange way of thinking. Well, no. Few people have the purity of heart and mind that we see demonstrated in queen Esther as she approached the king of Babylon on behalf of the Jewish people.
Interestingly, God knows the fickled nature of the heart of men as they intercede or fail to intercede for the needs of others. He saw the need for personal relationship with each of His children individually and made provision for that intimate sharing the day that Jesus was crucified. Matthew 27:50-51 records, “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.” The veil of the temple was torn; God reached down and tore the veil of the temple from the top to the bottom signifying His desire for personal communion with each one of us. From that day forth every individual, who by faith would believe on Jesus Christ unto Salvation, would be able to enter into His presence boldly and without fear. They would be able to pour out their heart to Him and make their requests known to a merciful Father.
It is no longer necessary to have an earthy advocate of lofty title and position to plead our cause; Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father as our advocate. It is no longer necessary for us to have a priest call upon the Lord in our name; Jesus is our High Priest ministering before the Father, God. We do not need the pressure of a mob to gain an audience with Him. There is absolutely no other personality to stand between God and us individually. It is only the intent of our own heart that must be dealt with. The Father’s ear is open to us alone - one on one - face to face. He is interested in us, in our hopes and dreams, in our heartbreaks and disappointments. He wants to know us personally and He desires for us to know Him personally. I hope you are taking advantage of this great gift. He expects to hear from you constantly. ...
GRACE, MERCY AND PEACE September 12 Grace, mercy and peace - the gifts of God extended to all those who believe by faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. On the first day of Passover as Jesus made His triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem, He was greeted by thousands of people waving palm branches on this day. He was greeted by thousands of people who all wanted the grace, mercy and peace of God in their life; and the air was filled with their cries of “Hosanna” which in Hebrew means “save or rescue.” If you had thought that the term hosanna was one of adulation and praise, we must think again. At best it was the cry of a desperate people who were imploring a humble rabbi to be their Savior - to rescue them from the heavy boot of a Roman world and extend to them the grace, mercy and peace of God.
In response to their cries and to the cries of man kind past, present and future, Jesus willingly chose to fulfill this plea. Rescue was within days of being accomplished. He had been sent by the Father for the purpose of fulfilling deliverance for all who would believe that He was the only begotten Son of God. Through His merciful and selfless, life giving act on the cross of Calvary Jesus would extend the Grace, mercy and peace of God to a tumultuous and dying world. He would deliver them and us who have come with similar cries over the ages, from the grasp of Satan and translate us into the family and favor of God almighty.
So many times in my life, Palm Sunday has been presented as a day of laughter and rejoicing - of adulation and praise; but today I look on this day as one that held a much more serious note. Knowing what lay before Him, I see Jesus quietly committed and carefully walking in obedience to the direction of the Holy Spirit. Today we would say that He was a man on a mission. His ride into Jerusalem on the colt of an ass was just the first step in fulfilling that mission. Each step had been foretold by the prophets and each step would be fulfilled with precision under the direction of the Holy Spirit. There would be no loop hole for Satan to challenge; there would be no mistake brought to bear from aspirations of self-promotion. Though the temptation was there to take His place as King of an earthly and temporary kingdom, Jesus was solely purposed on establishing an Eternal kingdom and accomplishing the Father’s will. On that Palm Sunday so long ago, He was committed to the cross that loomed before Him and the shedding of His own blood that mankind might be saved or rescued eternally. Jesus was committed to the task of rescuing the family of God and establishing them firmly in the Father’s favor that they might experience His merciful forgiveness and live eternally in the peace of His presence. Thank you, Lord, for your great love and for hearing the cry of your people. Hosanna! ...
PEACE September 11 The love and mercy of God allows the opportunity to experience by faith the grace or unmerited favor of God. Yes, when we have come to the end of self-promotion, self-reliance and self-righteousness, we are able to see Jesus and experience His life. We are able to place Him at the center of our life and be clothed in His righteousness. When we are able to put all our self-efforts aside as insufficient, we are able to trust in and rely completely on the Lord to meet our needs and direct our path. In that position there is great peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace and His presence in our life means our physical needs are met, our anxious thoughts are relieved and replaced with His comforting Word. The very nature of the kingdom of God is peace. Rom 14:17 says, “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” It is not the material that satisfies and brings a sense of completion to our life, but it is Peace. Peace that comes from being relieved of the emotional burdens of life that weigh so heavily upon us. Jesus alone brings that Peace as we entwine our life with His. So, it is important to make sure that we are always walking in that peace - in His presence. If peace is absent we have failed to hear a direction from the Lord or we have wilfully chosen a path contrary to His will to satisfy a desire of the flesh. Lord, help us always to choose your will rather than our own and help us to hear your voice with clarity that we might obey fully and live in peace. ...
MERCY September 10 Well, we understand that as children of God we need the grace (favor) of God operating in our life daily. Without it, we are no different than the unsaved man. But if we stop and consider it for a moment, we discover that the Lord’s mercy is equally important. Titus 3:5 tells us that, “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,” In other words, when it was in His power to punish or harm us for our sin (the disobeying of God’s immutable laws), the Father God showed compassion and forgave us. He did not give us what we deserved, but rather He mercifully extended to us His love and Salvation.
We cannot please the Father by good works; we cannot earn a position or recognition in His family through righteous living. We cannot guarantee for ourselves a place in heaven through earthly position or recognition by any religious denomination. Stated simply, God felt compassion and mercy for us when we were still sinners. Jesus died for us when we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8) Before we were washed clean; before we recognized the terrible sin of our life, Jesus died for us - simply because He loved us and had mercy on us. We have now but to choose to receive the love and mercy of His Salvation. Selah ...
GRACE, MERCY AND PEACE September 9 Repeatedly, the apostle Paul prayed that the Lord’s grace, mercy and peace would be experienced by the recipients of his epistles. Today, we are recipients of those letters; so we must ask ourselves of all the promises and blessings available to us through the atoning work of Jesus on the cross, why would Paul desire for us above all else - grace, mercy and peace.
In the Christian sense of the word, Grace is the free and unmerited favor of God. In Ephesians 2:8 we learn that “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,.” First, we need to stop and consider just who God is. The value of this gift is definitely dependant on who He is. He is all powerful; no other can triumph over Him. He is infinite in wisdom and knowledge; no other is wiser. He is self-sufficient and self-existent; He has no beginning or end. He is eternal.
So, the Father freely gave as a gift to us His unending love and the eternal life of His all powerful and perfectly righteous son, Jesus Christ who is the light of the world. That is how it is possible for us to be saved from the bondage of sin, sickness and deprivation. The power of God is stronger than the power of Satan. And that power to deliver us from bondage is expressed in the life and blood of Jesus Christ. In other words, that is how we are delivered from the dominion of Satan in this life and released into the freedom of His eternal life. Because of nothing that we have done, we are saved from the kingdom of darkness and delivered into the kingdom of light and life through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. And while the Father God has made all of this available to us, it is not ours until we choose to receive it by faith - 1) to believe that God is who He says He is. 2) to believe that Jesus is His only Son. 3) to believe that Jesus shed His blood for our deliverance from the bondage of sin 4) to believe that the work of Satan was defeated at the cross 5) to believe that the blood of Jesus made available to us Divine Health, deliverance, defense, and the Eternal Life of the Son. So, the gift of Salvation is an expression of the Grace or favor of God.
It is all encompassing and affects every area of life. Contrary to popular belief, this does not refer to a one time Salvation experience that benefits us only after this life is over. By faith, we walk daily in that position of Salvation and experience moment by moment the favor of God in our daily lives as He goes before us and blesses the work of our hands and inspires the thoughts of our minds to bring forth words of life and hope to others.
We cannot live without the Grace (favor) of God. We should see its effect in every aspect of our daily life. For how can we say we are a child of the King and not see a very apparent effect from being in His household? ...
KING 3 September 8 We have been considering our obligation to the King (Jesus). We owe Him recognition as Creator, Owner and Lord of everything in our life, of everything in the world. We owe Him glory, honor, praise and thanksgiving for providing us with His infinite wisdom and ability (through the Holy Spirit) to live this life victoriously. 2 Peter 1:3-4 reminds us that it is, “His divine power (that) has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
The King (Jesus) has committed Himself to provide all that we need to live victoriously in this life and He has committed Himself to defend and protect us from our enemy and his plans to destroy us. In fact, Jesus has not only committed Himself to do these things for us, but He has already done these things for us on the cross of Calvary. As we are committed to do the will of the King, His provisions are made manifest for us to access. As we move by faith to do His bidding, we are surrounded in His protection and delivered from the difficulties and obstacles which may hinder our forward progress. He makes our way straight. Isaiah 40:4 tells us that as we walk in obedience to the direction of the King, “Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.”
Now, that’s not bad! In light of His infinite power exerted on our behalf, self effort looks pretty insignificant and feeble. Actually, the best use of our effort is simply to know Him, and to acknowledge the power of His resurrection through praise and thanksgiving. ...
KING 2 September 7 In case you had a bit of trouble yesterday acknowledging Jesus as king of your life and possessions, today we want to take a look at King Nebuchadnezzar who is tucked away neatly in the book of Daniel. In the fourth chapter, Nebuchadnezzar is strolling in the porticos of the palace; and as he is enjoying the beauty of all that he sees from the palace heights he says, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws.”
Don’t you know that was a shocker! Most men have a gradual descent into debauchery. What we see in this story is a very sovereign and powerful God who shares His glory with no man; but He freely and joyfully teaches His children to prosper and blesses all the work of their hands. Yes, we frequently experience material increase as a result of the Lord’s blessing, but the Lord is to receive the glory for His work in and through our life. In Isaiah 6:3 the heavenly host declare, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
We need to understand that Nebuchadnezzar who had witnessed Daniel’s deliverance from the lion’s den and Shadrack, Mechack and Abendigo’s deliverance from the firey furnace had already acknowledged God as a mighty power who intervened in the lives of His children. Nebuchadnezzar had seen the power of God at work; and yet, like many of us, he chose to deny the marvelous working of God in his own life and kingdom. He tried to usurp the glory and honor of God for himself. He was thinking along the lines of the “self made man.” You know, “my money, my effort, my glory and credit in the eyes of men.”
In Romans 1:19-21 the Holy Spirit tells us that, “What can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened..” Romans goes on to say that God, the king, gives them up to a reprobate mind because they did not acknowledge Him and give Him glory. In Greek the word “reprobate” means cast away, rejected and worthless. In other words, when we fail to acknowledge the Lord God as king, creator and owner, when we choose to usurp His glory for ourselves, we place ourselves outside His will and in danger of rejection.. In Luke 9:26 Jesus said, “ For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
It will be in the splendor and honor of the King of Kings that Jesus returns for His bride. The efforts, the wealth, the titles and the adulation of men will not be seen in that day. All that remains will be found in Him and sustained by Him in the power of His Life and Presence. ...
KING September 6 In Matthew 21:4-5 we are reminded that Jesus’ triumphant ride into the city of Jerusalem on the first day of Passover Week was in fulfillment of prophesy, “This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” In John 12:13 we are told that the people themselves also confirmed this prophesy through their actions and words of adoration. John said of them, “ So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” They proclaimed Him King among the people in the streets. All four of the Gospels report that Pontius Pilot declared Him to be King of the Jews at His trial and in Mark 15:26 the Holy Spirit writes of Him on that day of crucifixion, “And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” Jesus was legally declared, against all the protests of Jewish officials, to be King of the Jews.
In this country, the word king rolls off our tongues rather casually. We have never had a king here in the United States; so perhaps we do not have a clear understanding of the significance of that title or position. So, we want to spend today looking at what it means to be king.
1. The king is owner of all. All land, all animals and trees. flowers and grass belong to the king. All houses and industries belong to the king and all profits and goods produced in those homes or industries belong to the king. All people belong to the king and are committed to the service and direction of the king.
2. The king has all power and authority over everyone and everything in his kingdom. His word is absolute and absolutely obeyed.
3. The king commits to provide all physical needs of his subjects
4. The king commits to provide all necessary defense and protection to his subjects.
5. All respect, honor, glory, majesty, and allegiance is due the king by his subjects.
So, I guess at this point we have to stop to ask ourselves, Is Jesus king of our life? - In our life? Oh, yes, and are you looking with expectation for the return of that king, our king? By the way, did you see the blood red moon last night? We have recently seen the darkening of the sun, the falling of stars (meteor shower), and a blood red moon. Are you watching and ready? ...