PRAYERS

Welcome to this site. My prayer is that you take a look at the site and as you do, let the Holy Spirit speak to your heart and reveal what God wants you to discover. (in Jesus' name)

God tells us that if we see a brother (or sister) in need we should do that which is within our means to help. Prayer is always within our means but we never know what doors Father may open through them. Should you desire prayer for anything (healing, direction, etc.) or if you want supportive prayer along with your own please feel free to e-mail that request to sharbu3@gmail.com and be assured that there are others who will be praying with or for you.


In this blog, I share what the Lord shares with me. I reference scripture a lot in support of what is being said. I realize that what is in each entry is NOT a complete 'word' on what is being said, but is rather enough information to stimulate our spirits to dig deeper (remember the Bereans Acts 17:10-11) thereby gaining a fuller understanding for ourselves.

At the end of each post are the options to share, forward or make a comment. Click 'comment' to respond. Let us know if you like, don't like or are helped by what you read. Comments can be made or read by anyone. All you have to do is select the "comment" at he end of the entry.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

1-28-2023    Ezekiel 37:1-14 - Revisited

          

In Jan. 2016 and again in Jan 2019 I spoke about today’s Application of Ezekiel’s dry bones.  Father says “Let’s do it again.  The condition of Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones is so relevant to today’s church, a revisit doesn't hurt.  (or will it?) 

1    The hand of the Lord was upon me and carried me out, in His Spirit, and set me down in the middle of a valley which was full of bones

2    He caused me to pass by them and all around (them) and there were many bones in this open valley and they were very dry.

Imagine being in a valley full of dead men’s bones?  Sun, bleached white bones.  Envision stepping over leg bones, arm bones, skulls, with only a small open spots to place your foot.  Bones extending from one end of the valley to the other, as far as the eye could see.

3    And He said to me “Son of man, can these bones live?”  And I answered “Oh, Lord God, You know.”

Ezekiel knows God can do anything.  Bones can’t live by their own power but God created by speaking things into existence from nothing.  So Ezekiel knows God can give life to anything He desires.

4    Again He said to me “prophecy unto these bones and say “O dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord.

5    Thus says the Lord God to these bones I will cause breath to enter you and you shall live.

6    I will lay sinews upon you and flesh upon you and I will cover you with skin and put breath in you and you shall live and you will know that I am the Lord.”

Father evaluates a situation, determines what He wants done, then speaks it into existence.  But here, He tells Ezekiel to do it.  God is giving man authority and the power to change the substance of that which is before him (Romans 4:17 - call things which aren’t as though they are).  Ezekiel was hoping for something he was not yet seeing (Heb. 11:1 - faith is substance of things hoped for but not seen).  God knows how to build a man (or church) and He was showing Ezekiel what needed to be done.

7    So I prophesied as I was commanded and as I prophesied there was a noise

      and there was a shaking and the bones came together, bone upon bone.

Ezekiel was no dummy. He did as God commanded.  He was demonstrating faith through works (James 2:18 - faith by my works) by showing his love for the Father by being obedient (Psalm 1:1-2- love is walking in His commandments).

8    Then I watched as sinews and flesh came upon the bones and they were covered with skin, but there was no breath in them.

Ezekiel saw the results of his prayer before his very own eyes.  The bones coming together, no longer strewn all over the place.  The foot bone connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone connected to the shin bone, the shin bone connected to the knee bone, etc’.  So as he asked, he believed and he saw (Matt.21:22 - ask believing and receive) as bodies took form before his very eyes.

Unfortunately, today’s church has become like Ezekiel’s dry bones.  but God was connecting those Bones with sinews, no longer strewn throughout the valley.  Covering them with muscle so they could do what God has called them to do.  Applying a beautiful covering of skin so they could be the image of their creator, a reflection of God’s love.  But there was no real life in them.

9    Then He said to me Prophecy to the wind, prophecy, son of man and tell the wind “Thus says the Lord God, come from the four winds, O breath, upon these slain that they might live.”

10  So I prophesied as He commanded me and breath came into them and they lived

      and stood up on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

Our Lord is the giver of life.  God gives to all life, breath and the things they need (Acts 17:25).  As He breathed into Adam’s (man’s) nostrils giving him life (Gen.2:7), He gives life to the dead.  Again He is giving man authority to bring life into that which is dead (spiritually AND naturally).  We can bring the life-saving gospel of life to the spiritually dead or even perform CPR to those who, otherwise, have no life in their bodies.  Yet, the Spirit of God must be revived within those hearts for them to truly live. 

11  Then He said to me “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel and behold they say “Our bones are dried and our hope is lost. We are cut off from our parts.

These bones are all of historical Israel and Israel is hopeless.  Israel has no real life because they are cut off from God.  No connection, no real fellowship.  This is also a reference (for today) as the body of Christ is divided between all the denominations and independent churches.  Divided and separating – even from God.  Understanding and acceptance of the scripture has too many variations.  As much as the Protestant Reformation did to wake the church up, it also created many denominations – dividing it.

12  Therefore prophecy and say to them ‘Thus says the Lord God behold, O my people, I will open up your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves and bring you into the land of Israel.

 By using His own hand God can bring Israel back from the dead.  He will cause them to rise and live giving them their own domain.  He brings Israel back from death into life.  In other words, Father will unite His church – not into one mega church, but each segment realizing that we ARE the body of Christ and we each have a task to perform.  All fellowships who truly walk under the banner of Jesus Christ must realize the each has a unique calling in the body.  Just each one of us, as individuals, have a unique gift to which Father has called us.  Though many of us may have the ‘same’ gift, Father has given each one of us a unique way of administering that gift.  Coming into our own land is recognizing that all who have received Jesus into our heart are all brothers and sisters in the body of Christ and the Holy Ghost should unify us in one mind (the mind of Christ), one heart (true love for our Savior) and one Spirit (as we are guided by the Holy Ghost).

Me, being in a ‘full gospel’ church, ran into a Baptist brother in a store one day.  We talked and he realized that even though we weren’t in agreement on some things, we were indeed brothers in Christ.  we were unified in our love for God.

13  And you will know that I am the Lord when I have opened your graves, O my people and brought you up out of your graves.                                                                   

14  And I will put My Spirit in you and you shall live.  I will place you in your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it, says the Lord.

For Israel, this is the promise of re-patriation in the ‘promised land of Israel.  For today church it realizing we are ALL under Jesus Christ – and acting like it.  No, not just acting like but living like it!

Father has shown me that for 7 seasons, 700 years, He has been rebuilding His church for this timetoday.

The church will recognize God as God because He has brought us back from the dead

We will understand that He is the One who has done this miraculous thing and breathed life back into that (us) which was dead.  

Yet, Father has given His children authority to bring life back into His church!  Expressing our love for Jesus by absorbing scripture (not just learning the words).  Then  prophecy helps us to see and return to Godly basics.  As we grow, we start applying God’s will into our own lives, giving us substance.  That is we can do that which He has called us to do – demonstrate His love and to be a true we witness by expressing His goodness in our own lives.  The Holy Ghost helps us to grow in God’s love through prophetic encouragement and teaching God’s ways to those whom we encounter.  We grow in His kingdom and others will follow our example because, through the Holy Ghost, we now have His authority (Matt. 10:1) and power (Acts 1:8), His love in our lives.

As Christians, we know God is the only and true living God (Jer. 10:10, Isa. 45:5-12).  Jesus is our doorway into eternity (John 14:6).  Because we love Jesus, we keep His commandments (John 14:15) and show our faith by living it (James 2:17-18).  Like what the first admiral of the navy, David Farragut, said “Damn the torpedoes (the enemy), full speed ahead!”, We don’t let Satan’s attempts divert us. We have (or are) developing our relationship with our heavenly Father, we have the courage to press forward.  Father gives us the knowledge and strength to pursue our eternal goals!  We can get it done through our Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 4:13).

Father designated Israel as His spokesman to the world, the responsibilities of the first covenant (10 Commandments) transferred over to today’s Christian church as the new covenant (banner) carriers.  Israel was saved by ‘keeping’ (doing) the Law where the New Covenant is sealed by our living in the law from our heart (Ezek. 36:26).  So, Father has spent seven seasons (700 yrs., 15th C – 21st C) rebuilding His church.    

God has been rebuilding His church through the centuries

Today’s church are largely these dry bones.

            Basics have been there (Father is God & Jesus is Savior)

            Needs a little more substance

               (knowing Word, holiness, Spiritual obedience, works from heart)

Protestant Reformation added sinew to those old bones

            All parts starting to connect (connect parts via understanding Word)

                 Though creating division through doctrinal interpretation.

            Realization of that God is personal

Holiness movements added a little muscle

            Back to basics (life to live, abstain from evil)

            Living according to God’s will

Pentecostal movement added covering (skin) of the Holy Ghost

            Pulling things together into one package

            So we could truly start functioning under God’s will

            We looked like what we were supposed to

            We acted (somewhat) how we were supposed to act

Holy Ghost completes visual package

 Apostolic/prophetic brings breath from the ‘four winds’ (life)

            Full power from our heavenly Father

            That is even a deeper understanding of authority

            Talking ‘with’ God and not ‘to’ and listening (shut your mouth)

            There is ‘true’ life

            Fuller life

            So we can magnify His Holy Name

Draw souls into His kingdom (though evangelism has always been a part of

     Christianity)

            Establish a true relationship with our Father

Through Protestant Reformation (1500’s), Holiness movements (17 & 1800’s), Pentecostalism (18 & 1900’s) and the Apostolic/Prophetic movements (1900’s & 2000’s) 

Father has been bringing His body from a bunch of ‘dead bones’ to a vibrant church which praises Him.  Glorifies Him.  Which acknowledges Him for who He is and what He has done.

Now, it is time to truly live for Him

He is building His true church for Himself

are WE a part of that churcH

Saturday, January 14, 2023

1-14-2023 What is love?

 

1 John 4:8b      GOD IS LOVE!

Since 9/24-2022, we’ve been talking about who God is, which, of course, is love.  The unity of the Godhead, Father, Son & Holy Ghost.  That fact that we desire eternal fellowship with the Father.  Through Jesus Christ, we seek ‘salvation’ and once we’ve given our hearts to Him, we learn what God expects from us.  And, of course, a seventh item of ‘how the church could and should grow.  It is ALL based in love.  God’s love.  If you will – ‘agape love’.  That unconditional love that seeks and does that which edifies others.

In the last entry (12/31/2022), ‘A New Year’, we closed saying that this love has to begin at home.  With us. 

This year, let’s make it personal.  Let each one of us say “with ME”.  So let’s bring it on home bringing our attitudes and relationship into alignment with the love of our Lord God.

The closer we walk with the Lord, the more His love will shine in and through our lives because we are seeking to do His will and to please Him.  This doesn’t mean we hide out in our closets and just feel good as we bask in His presence.  We can do that, but Father wants us to extend that love and good will towards those who are close to us, around us and then to those whom we encounter.  after all, Jesus did say that the Holy Ghost gives us power and the ability to be witnesses for Him and to take His Word to the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:7-8).  We do have to get up off our duffs and do something! 

Love.  I’m not talking about a ‘pasted on smile’, but having a genuine concern and compassion for other people. 

Do we fall all over people trying to please them?  Of course not.  We have to understand and be confident in our own relationship with the Lord, then learn where our talents and gifts are as we interact with others appropriately.  Yes, we can do all things through Jesus Christ (Phil. 4:13), but we need to also consider the two previous verses in that passage, “I don’t speak out of my need for I have learned to be content in whatever state I find myself (says Paul).  I know how to live with little and I know how to live when having more than enough.  I know hunger and how to be full.  I know how to live having plenty or to be in need” (Phil. 4:11-12).  Whatever state we find ourselves, we need to be content knowing that God is with us. 

God is my shepherd!  He satisfies my needs and gives me rest.  He refreshes me as He guides my steps down His pathways (of course, I have to listen to His direction).  Though trouble may be all around me, I will not be fearful for my God comforts me.  He gives me peace in my troubles.  He anoints my head with oil and blesses me.  He prepares my table before those who don’t like me.  I know His goodness and mercies are with me no matter what I do or wherever I go.  I will follow His direction, always, with all my heart, mind, soul and strength (Psalms 23, Mark 12:28-34).

I know who I am in Christ Jesus so I am not overbearing towards others, but neither am I a doormat.  I follow Jesus’ example of love.  Jesus is the true example of being assertive.  So, as with Jesus, I am tender with those who truly seek Jesus (Matt. 9:20-29) but carry a sharp, two-edged sword for those who truly are not (Matt. 23:23-28). 

Living in God’s love is the key to our success in this world.  Living in His love means being obedient to what He tells us and then treating others as Father treats us.

Yes, He reprimands us when we get off track and that reprimand brings us back into proper alignment in His will.  As our heart lines up with Father’s will, that’s when He will give us our heart’s desire (Psalm 37:4, Matt. 6:31-34).

Jesus tells us that love fulfills the law and the prophets (Matt. 22:36-40).  Starting with the Ten Commandments (Exod. 20:3-17), God describes His love towards us.  Then, through the actions of forty-two prophets mentioned in the bible (not all have their own book), how He guides and directs us, provides for us, saves us from peril and even reprimands us when we get off track.     

From Genesis through Revelation we get a pretty good picture of how God’s love works.  Yet, understand, that even our knowing the bible, Father has still not shown us all about His love. 

Remember, even before His birth, Jesus was also called Emmanuelle (God is with us – Matt. 1:23) and He is the Word (Jesus).  So, in the beginning, the Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1:1).  God, the Father, came into this world, Himself, in the person of Jesus, to redeem us from our sins and reconnect us back with Him – forever (John 3:16).  There is no greater love that one can demonstrate towards another than to give his life for him (15:13).  Yes, there have been martyrs for God over the ages and we are appointed to die once (Heb. 9:27), thank you Adam and Eve (Gen. 2:17).  Yet, we all don’t die for Jesus, literally (in the flesh).  Once we’ve accepted Him into our heart, we do crucify the old man and allow the new man (now in us) to live for Him (Rom. 6:6-9).  If you will, the old man dies in Christ and the new man lives in His love. 

So what is love?  Jesus tells us that when we do something to/for any of His brothers, we’ve done it unto Him (Matt. 25:40).  We receive Jesus into our heart allowing His love to abide in our heart and allowing Him to work in us and through us via our speech and our actions.  And all this is possible because the Holy Ghost has taken up residence within our heart.  Thus, we return our love to Jesus by doing for others.  Truly loving because the Creator has first loved us.

Amen

 

Saturday, December 31, 2022

12-31-2022 A Time for Change

After seven eye-straining entries, here’s something short and sweet.

December is designated by the number “12” which is God’s power or authority or governmental perfection.  Take note that there were 12 disciples who became apostles.

31 represents offspring

20 (as with 22)is perfect waiting period or redemption – we are in the 21st century but the numerical designation is ‘2000’.  “2” is union.  This implies that our waiting for ‘redemption’, true union, could happen anytime this century!

22 (following 20) is light or sonship

Should we take the millennia as a single digit, 2000 has no specific designation but is double 1000 which is Father’s completeness or divine glory.  Double your pleasure, double your fun (lol).

January is the first (1) month and is unity, new beginnings, oneness with God – January 1st is double ones (1st month, 1st day).  Not eleven, but double the oneness with God!

200 = insufficient. 

23 death

Yes, we are insufficient within ourselves and the result of that insufficiency is death (thank you Adam & Eve), but there is a ray of sunshine.  Salvation and growth through Jesus Christ.

So, as we transition into a new year our months imply that we are moving into a new beginning of learning how to walk with God as we carry the power and authority He has already graced us with.  The things we no longer need are dying off.  We are moving into a new light in our relationship with the Lord.  We are also moving from being ‘just’ children of God but, growing into operating in true sonship, a relationship with our heavenly Father. 

If you are a Star Wars fan, the ‘force’ is awakening within us and has been with us.  No, I don’t mean some mystical power enabling us to jump around like an acrobat, slashing our enemy with our light sabers.  But I do mean the Holy Ghost no longer being quenched by our fears and doubts so we can go out and do as Jesus asked.  Walk in His power as the early apostles and disciples and show the rest of the world His goodness and love. 

Jesus says that we should be doing all the works He did and greater (John 14:12), because He has returned to Father, His rightful place in heaven.  To boot (add in) He has given us the power to do this via the Holy Ghosts (Acts 1:8).  AND, this will come to pass because we love Him and this is evident in our lives because, as Jesus commanded, we love God, the Father with all our heart, mind soul and strength (Mark 12:30) and then love our neighbor as ourselves (Matt. 22:37-40).  Why?  God is love (1 John 4:7-8!  So love is (becomes) the basis for everything.  Living in love enables us full operation with the ‘tools’ Father has given us (in this world), so as we allow the Holy Ghost free reign in us, the ‘force’, the Holy Ghost, is our power to go forth and do that which Father has called us.

These next several years are a time of change and as we allow Father to operate in us and through us, because the power and authority of Jesus abides in us through the Holy Ghost, we will see some amazing things come to pass.

We are now in a Spiritual explosion.  It is picking up speed, now and until its full manifestation.  However this manifestation begins at home – with us (individually), then branches out into the church, the community and beyond.

All that is required is our love, faith and obedience to our Lord, Jesus Christ! 

Do we pray as Jesus did?  “Father, if it is possible for this cup to pass from me, nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will“! (Matt. 26:39)

 

Amen

Saturday, December 17, 2022

12-17-2022   Building Today’s Church

What are the Five Fold-Ministries

Edward Irving (1792 – 1834) was a Scottish clergyman, generally regarded as the main figure behind the foundation of the Catholic Apostolic Church.  In 1832 he ordained 12 apostles and defined the understandings we have for roles for apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.  Doctrines included manifestation of the Holy Ghost, ministries needed to carry out Christ’s work in the world in perfecting the saints, apostles sent by Christ in a bond of unity having His authority; prophets speaking by the HG were a light to the apostles, evangelists were to bring people to repentance and baptism then turn them over to the pastor.  (note teacher is not mentioned but bishops, priests and deacons are mentioned as being part of the pastorate and how can a pastor preach to people without teaching them something?)

Charles Peter Wagner (1930 – 2016) was an American missionary, writer, teacher and founder of several Christian organizations.  In his earlier years, Wagner was known as a key leader of the Church Growth Movement and later for his writings on spiritual warfare.  Wagner founded the New Apostolic Reformation movement In 1948 and he emphasized the specific need for the apostolic ministry including what is now considered the five fold ministry.

The “Five-fold Ministry are the offices of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor & teacher (Eph. 4:11), functioning in today’s church.

The need for these ministries is for perfecting saints for the work of ministry and edification of the body (Eph. 4:12).  This is needed until the body becomes fully developed and mature in Christ Jesus (Eph. 4:13-15).

Paul declares to the Corinthians (and us) that the Spirit gives us varying gifts to edify the body through different means.  None of us do the same things in the same way so that together, we can function in harmony and the body of Christ can grow.  No gift should be considered greater than any other.  We all need each other (1 Corinth. 12:1-31).  Paul tells the Romans that our gifts vary according to the grace God has given each one of us (Romans 12:5-10).  The ability to perform in the gift given to us does not require salvation in order to function.  How many non-Christians have awesome talents?  However, salvation does impact its effectiveness.  It is a gift God has given us – period.  Understand, that there are gifts beyond the five-fold which include ‘talents’, that is like singing, writing, having a desire for the arts or even science, (Rom. 11:29), or other means of expression.  But the five-fold gifts are designed to help the church. 

These gifts also include the ‘fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.  These are qualities of the heart (character) (Gal. 5:22-23).  And take heart, that even though man can pass laws against our actions, no law can be passed against the operation of our heart (these gifts).  Look back at Corinthians twelve and whatever gift(s) God has given us encourages us towards teamwork and consideration that we are indeed all equal.  Of course we can grow in our gift and we may experience more than one gift in our life (2 Tim. 1:11).  We can also be assured that any apostle, evangelist, pastor, teacher or prophet has a responsibility to us which is to grow us while keeping our best interests at heart.

King Saul prophesied with the prophets.  That is, when he walked with the prophets of his time, he prophesied as the prophets did (1 Sam. 10-9-13).  God can speak through anyone.  He even spoke through a donkey (Num. 22:23-33)!

Growing up, I heard that many gifts were no longer for today.  Why did we say the gifts existed?  For the perfecting of the saints so that we could mature in Christ Jesus.  Matter of fact, when we are with Jesus (our high Priest), which of these gifts will still be needed to help us navigate life in this world (1 Corinth. 13:8-10, Heb. 5:1-9).  Think about it.

Narrowing down to the Five-fold Ministry, anyone can operate in any one of these gifts.  But just because one can teach or counsel, share Jesus or encourage others doesn’t mean that person sits in the ‘office’ of that gift.  Being able to use the gift on occasion doesn’t mean we sit in the office of apostle, prophet, pastor, etc.  The office carries responsibility and is God-given.

We’ve already seen that gifts are given without repentance (Rom. 11:29).  Jesus “called (Matt. 4:18-20) Peter, John Andrew and the other disciples whom He called, He named the twelve apostles (Luke 6:13-16).  Even Paul was called by Jesus as he went on the road to Damascus (Acts 91-18).

To sit in the office, one needs to have a passion for the ministry and meet certain qualities and responsibilities (Rom. 12:6-20).  To name a few: directing (Acts 6:1-4), teaching (1 Tim. 2:7), encouraging (Col. 1:1-11), admonishing (Gal. 1:1-9) and mentoring, we are all the children of God (Prov. 22:6).  Though we may not sit in the ‘office’, we all have access to these gifts, to some degree.

As we minister in God’s work, we need to keep in mind that not all who claim to do God’s work, do God’s work (Rev. 2:1-2, John 4:1).  Beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing.  Look at the fruit in their lives (Matt. 7:15-20).  A quick check is that we know that no one can profess Jesus is come in the flesh unless the Spirit of our Lord is in him (1 John 4:2-3).

5 Fold Hierarchy

Remember this sequence of discovery

Whosoever shall call upon the name of he Lord shall be saved. 

How can they call on Him if they haven’t believed?

How can they believe if they haven’t heard?

How can they hear without a preacher?

How can they preach unless they are sent?

Beautiful are the feet of  those who preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things (Rom. 10:13-17

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God! (Romans 14:13-17)

A basic concept of the five-fold ministry

Evangelist                    Brings the gospel (Good News) to people encouraging them to receive

                                    Jesus unto salvation.  He turns over them to the Apostle.

Apostle                        Builds foundation for Christian living in Christ Jesus, a house is built

upon the “Rock” and not sand.  He turns them over to the Pastor.

Pastor              Nurtures (feeds/waters) the flock by encouraging praise and worship giving God His due glory and honor AND continuing to build upon Apostle’s base by helping flock to “apply” Word of God” into their own lives.

Prophet                       Brings a specific Word of God to encourage saints to persevere or

“continue on”.  He  may bring words of admonition to “get back on track”.

Teacher           Teaches the Word of God to increase knowledge/wisdom and understanding as he continues building upon Apostle’s foundation.

 So let’s take a closer look in a little more detail:

Teacher

The dictionary defines a teacher, in part, as to cause to know, guide in studies, impart knowledge, to instruct by precept, example and experience.

Three Hebrew words used for ‘teach’ while three are generally used for teacher:  biyn (H995) be cunning, think, understand, instruct, inform;  yarah (H3384) point, direct, instruct, inform, show; lamad (H3925) to prod or be skillful in instructing.

Didasko (G1321) is the Greek word most used for ‘teach’, or help learn and is the base word for teach or teacher.  Other Greek words for teacher are:  didaskalos (G1320) to be a doctor or master; kalodidaskalos (G2567) of right or good things; nomodidaskalos (G3547) rabbi, teacher of the law; and pseudodidaskalos (G5572) of false doctrine.

As the eunuch was reading from the book of Isaiah, Philip asked him if he knew what he was reading and the eunuch responded “How can I unless somebody guides me?”  Philip began teaching the eunuch who was then baptized (Acts 9:27-35, foc. v31).  But, of course, Jesus is our ultimate teacher (Matt. 13:53-54).

What are some of the qualities a teacher needs?

The fruit of the Spirit should be evident in his life (Gal. 5:22-23).  If one cannot be tolerant towards other people, how can he teach them?  They would not be likely to listen to what he says.  A teacher must be led by the Spirit (Gal. 5:13-16, 18).  If the Holy Ghost isn’t leading us, how do we know we are teaching ‘right things’?  Therefore the Holy Ghost must be operating in us and through us and we must be of good report with those around us so others would trust us (Acts 6:3).  As a teacher of the Word of God, we have to know the scripture (Acts 18:25-26).  We may not know the bible from cover to cover, but we must know what we are talking about when we teach.  As a teacher, we (ourselves) should be continually growing by renewing our minds (Rom. 12:1-2).  We don’t want to be accused of being a hypocrite so we must live what we teach (John 13:13-15, Matt. 5:19).  We have to abide in the reality that the Holy Ghost will give us wisdom when we speak (1 Corinth. 2:13).  We must believe what we teach knowing that which is true (1 Tim. 2:7).  God does not respect a person’s position in life yet we should treat all respectfully (Rom. 2:111 Tim. 6:1-2).

As teachers, we need to have a passion for helping others to learn.  Anybody can teach words from a book, but a teacher has an inborn desire to help others learn.

As teachers, our duty is to edify, especially those of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12).   We need to assure that others understand what we are saying (1 Corinth. 1:19).  Not only as with Philip with the eunuch, but as Paul with the Athenians (Acts 17:22-33).  But, perhaps, most importantly, the Bereans received what Paul said, then researched for themselves.  We need to help others to learn how to learn for themselves (Acts 17:10-12)

As we mentioned, Jesus is our prime example of a teacher, teaching all who are eager (Mark 10:1).  Paul and Barnabas taught the people in Antioch for a year (Acts 11:25-26), so teaching is not necessarily done in one or two classes.  Or even as Apollos, who was instructed in the ways of the Lord, shared what he knew when he came to Ephesus.  Proving himself still teachable, as he encountered Aquila and Priscila (Acts18:24-26).

Being a teacher is not just standing before people speaking words one has learned but, having a passion so others may understand the truth of what he knows.

Pastor

The dictionary defines pastor as a spiritual overseer or a church clergyman

Raah (H7462) is the Hebrew word used as pastor and is the root word ‘to tend a flock’, associate with, keep company, feed but also expresses an an evil opposite, to evilly entreat, break, wander.

The Greek word is poimen (G4166) is also a shepherd.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-15).  He protects his sheep (us) and watches over us, knows us by name and even has given His life for us (the cross) (John 10:11-15).

What are some of the qualities of a pastor (good shepherd)?  He is filled with the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23), he is led by the same Spirit (Gal. 5:13-16, 18), is filled with the Holy Ghost and is of honest report (good reputation).  He knows the scripture (Acts 18:25-26) and continually renews his mind (Rom. 12:1-2).  As with the teacher, he leads by his example (Foot wash-John 13:13-15).   He knows and lives by the commandments (Matt. 5:19).  He’s not a novice (a new Christian) (1 Corinth. 3:1-4), he abstains from the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21) and he keeps his own house in order (1 Tim. 3:1-13, Matt. 20:26-28).

He needs to have a desire to nurture people, guide and direct their pathways so they can be the best they can be in their walk with the Lord.

He should desire to feed those over whom he has charge (Isa. 40:11).  He does not exercise ‘lordship’ over others but rather serves them (Spiritual strength)  (Luke 22:25-27, John 13:12-15).  He feeds his ‘flock’ (the church) through shepherding and teaching (Ezek. 34:22-23, John 21:15-17).  He reassures the people’s safety (1 Sam. 17:36) as David protected his sheep.  This passage speaks about speaking in tongues (Corinth.), but shouldn’t the pastor also edify, exhort and comfort his people (1 Corinth. 14:3).  God forbid that anyone should stray from the word, but when they do, shouldn’t the pastor exercise the right to chasten (Heb. 12:6) to bring them back into alignment with the Word?

Other things a pastor might be responsible to do are act as a CEO of the fellowship (Acts 6:1-7).  A pastor may have to delegate to others in order to focus on most important issues.  He is expected to keep order in the assembly (1 Corinth. 14:33, Exod. 18:17-24).  He may have to act as counsellor (Gal. 6:1-2).  Whether he handles the church finances or not, he is responsible for them (Matt. 25:14-29).  And just as with finances, the pastor may not actually do it himself, but he is also responsible for activities, functions and ceremonial procedures.

Of course, Jesus is our prime example for a pastor (John 10:11-15, Psalm 23:1-6 - sound familiar?)          

Evangelist

The dictionary defines an evangelist as one who preaches the “good news” or revives a personal commitment to Christ.  He can minister to the lost and the church!

The evangelist is unique to Christianity because he brings eternal life, the ‘good news’ that through His sacrifice, Jesus has opened an eternal relationship, for us, with the Father.

There is no Hebrew word used for evangelist.  So, the Greek word is euaggellistes (G2099) is a preacher of the gospel. 

Though ‘evangelist’ is not used in the Old Testament, Isaiah cites God as describing one.  “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, publishes peace, good tidings of good and publishes salvation …” (Isa. 52:5-7).  When coming into a new area, the apostles did the work of the evangelist (preaching Jesus) and Philip was identified as an evangelist (Acts 21:8).

So what are the qualities of an evangelist?  He must be filled with the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23), be led by the Spirit (Gal. 5:13-16,18), be full of grace and have a good reputation (Acts 6:3).  Obviously, he, too, must know scripture (Acts 18:25-26), continually renew (and refresh) his mind (Rom. 12:1-2) and walk the walk (John 13:13-15, Matt. 5:19). 

He can’t be shy in sharing the Word of God for he goes before people he has never met.  Stephen spoke (argued) Jesus before the Jews (Acts 6:8 – 7:60).  Of course, having preached Jesus, Stephen was stoned at the end of his speech, becoming the first martyr for Jesus.  Also in Jerusalem, Peter defended the actions of the disciples, who had just received the Holy Ghost, the power of Jesus in us (Acts 2:1-57).  And Philip was not shy as he shared the gospel with the eunuch (Acts 8:27-38).  Paul may have been humble, but I don’t think he was afraid to share Jesus as with those at Antioch (Acts 13:14-42).

If the evangelist is truly to be effective, signs and wonder should follow.  Jesus seemed amazed that there were those who still weren’t sure after seeing the signs and wonders’ which He performed (John14:9-14).  Jesus even told the apostles to do signs and wonders, as He sent them out, (Matt.10:5-8).  He tells all of us that we can the works He did and greater (John 14:12 because we have that power, in us, through the Holy Ghost (Acts 1:8). 

Beware, we can’t find apples in a peach orchard.  We have to know the people to whom we are sent.  No, I don’t mean personally know each one of them, but we have to know something about their culture and society so we can share the gospel in terms that they understand, as Paul did before the Athenians on Mars Hill (Acts 17:16-31).

The evangelist should have a strong desire to share the knowledge of Jesus with others and to help all to come into the Kingdom of God and live a life through Christ Jesus.

Obviously, the evangelist brings “good news” (Isa. 52:7)!  In order to do so, he must know it (John 3:16)!  That it brings salvation to all who believe, power (Acts 1:8), and eternal life through the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ  (John 11:25)!  He must protect the gospel, not only with his speech, but with his actions as well (Titus 2:1-15) and as verse fifteen says “speak, exhort and rebuke with all authority and (to put it bluntly) don’t let others conclude that you are a whacko!  He must take the good news to the lost (obviously) but also to those who have strayed from the church (Matt. 28:18-20).  The words of the evangelist should also edify, exhort and comfort those to whom he speaks (1 Corinth. 14:3) yet give direction and admonish, as required (Heb. 12:6).  And the evangelist should organize evangelical activities inside the church and out (1 Corinth. 14:33).  [give the pastor a break!]

Jesus says that He came to preach the gospel (Luke 4:17-19). We know that even angels have been ‘guilty’ (lol) of evangelizing as Gabriel told Mary that she was to be the mother of our Lord (Luke 1:19).  John the Baptist definitely brought the good news (and admonishment) (Luke 3:16-18).  Not to forget Philip with the eunuch (Acts 8:35), Peter when he went to Cornelius (Acts 10:34-35) and Paul in Antioch (Acts 13:1-5).

We have some modern day evangelists worth mentioning.  Smith Wigglesworth (1859-1947) a Methodist/Pentecostal evangelist and faith healer, having his own healing, his wife’s and others attributed to his ministry.  Maria Woodworth-Etter (1844-1924) Assemblies of God evangelist with attested miracles attributed to her ministry.  Kathryn Khulman (1907-1976) evangelist and faith healer and Billy Graham (1918 – 2018) Presbyterian evangelist who preached World-wide, to all walks of life and being credited with bringing over 200 million souls to Jesus.

Prophet

The dictionary defines a prophet as one who utters divinely inspired revelations, is gifted with spiritual or moral insight, foretells future events, is a leading spokesperson for a cause or doctrine.  This seems a good point to mention that because God is not a respecter of persons (Rom. 2:11-15), service for Jesus doesn’t know race, gender, ethnicity or economic background.  All Father asks is genuine commitment from His servant (Matt. 22:37).

The Hebrew word Nebiy (H5029) is translated prophet.  Nabiy (H5030) and nataph (H5197) as an inspired man or to speak by inspiration.  Naba (H5012) is to speak or sing by inspiration, but I also carries the connotation to make oneself a prophet.

The Greek word prophetes (G4396), along with prophet, is make known beforehand, be inspired speaker, poet.  While pseudoprophetes (G5578) is to pretend to foretell or be a false prophet.

God touched Jeremiah’s mouth and said “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.”  God was giving Jeremiah what he needed to say to Israel.  Jesus told His disciples not to worry about what they were to say before men, for when he time came, the Holy Ghost would give them what they needed to say (Luke 12:12).

Notice we cite qualifications and qualities of what the prophet needs.  In case one hasn’t picked up on it yet, most of these qualities are consistent throughout the five-fold ministries.

He needs the fruit of the Spirit operating in His life (Gal. 5:22-23) and to be obedient to the leading of the Spirit (Gal. 5:13-16, 18).  He needs to be filled with the Holy Ghost and wisdom and be of good character (Acts 6:3).  Even though the Holy Ghost will give him what to say, he still has to put something in for the Holy Ghost to draw it out (Acts 18:25-26).  And he does this by continually renewing his mind, becoming more familiar with scripture (Rom. 12:1-2).  If he is not living what he says, who will listen to him (1 Tim. 4:12).  Again, the ministry of a true prophet will be accompanied with signs and wonders (Heb. 2:3-4).  He needs to operate in wisdom and knowledge (1 Corinth. 12:7-8).  Because he speaks through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, he needs assure that he never grieves the Holy Ghost (Eph. 4:29-30).  As with Paul, he must be chosen by God for the task before Him and know his calling (Acts 9:10-16, 2 Tim. 1:11).  Of course, it’s always helpful to be able to train others to as Eli did with Samuel (Prov. 22:6, 1 Sam. 2:11,18, 2 Tim:2:1-2, 1 Thess. 2:8).  [aka mentoring]

And what is the passion of the prophet?  Be tentative to God’s Word and know His voice and desire to encourage others to stay the right path and/or to reach their fullest potential.

The prophet must know his audience so he can meet them on their level and then carry them forward (Acts 17:16-31).  He is the mouth of God, with foreknowledge (1 Sam. 9:9, 15-20, Amos 3:7).  Didn’t God speak with Moses on the mount (Exod. 20:1-18)?  The prophet can also serve as a watchman.  God selected Ezekiel to be a watchman over Israel and warn the people (Ezek. 3:16-22, 33:1-7).  The prophet also comes to edify, encourage and comfort the people (1 Corinth. 14:3) as well as admonish them (Heb. 12:6).  The prophet should always be ready to lift others up in prayer (Col.1:8-11) and be ready to serve.  Jesus washed the apostles feet as a demonstration of service (John 13:4-17) and told His disciples that the greatest should first be a servant (Matt. 20:26-28).

Of course, Jesus is our prime example for the prophet.  He served, He ministered and He prophesied as with the woman at the well (John 4:7-29). God spoke with Moses (Exod. 3:13-15).  Jeremiah spoke for God against king Zedekiah (2 Chron. 36:11-12).  Isaiah was a prophet of the Lord (2Kings 19:2) as was Ezekiel (Ezek. 1:3, 2:7).  In the New Testament, Anna was declared a prophetess (Luke 2:36-38).  Jesus, Himself, declared that there was no greater prophet than John the Baptist (Luke 7:28).

Of course, today, many people prophesy and many of those claim to be a prophet.  The words of a true prophet will come to pass (Jer. 28:9, Ezek:33:33).  We don’t always know when.  Understand the prophecies in the Old Testament were usually of events yet to happen as is some of the prophecy in the book of Revelation.  History will bear the prophet out and if not, the Lord will clearly identify them in His timing.

Apostle

The dictionary defines apostle as       one sent on a mission, first sent to preach the gospel, one initiates a great moral reform, or belief system, highest ecclesiastical position in some churches,

As such, apostle is only found in the New Testament, so the Greek word apostolos (G652) says he is an ambassador, messenger, a commissioner of Christ (with power) or  one who is sent.  His opposite is pseudapostolos (G5570) is a pretend preacher or a false teacher.

Jesus shares the parable of a wise man who builds his house upon the rock for rock is a solid foundation and cannot easily be moved (as opposed to sand) (Matt. 7:24-27).  And Jesus is our rock (Acts 4:10-12, 1 Corinth. 3:10-11).

So what do we see in one who is called to be an apostle?  The fruit of the Spirit (Gal: 5:22-23), he is led by the Spirit (Gal. 5:13-16, 18, has a good reputation amongst man (Acts 6:3), knows the scriptures, (Acts 18:25-26), renews his mind (Rom. 12:1-2), lives what he teaches (John 13:13-15, Matt. 5:19), has a ministry that has signs and wonders following (John 14:9-14, Matt. 5:8, Acts 1:8, 1 John 5:13-15).  He can’t be timid in sharing the gospel (Act 6:8-7:60) [he is the front man] and he operates in wisdom and knowledge (1 Corinth. 12:7-8).  He also needs to be able to recognize God’s gift in others (1 Corinth. 29-16) for how else could he guide them into their calling?  And above all, he needs to know, beyond a shadow of doubt, that God has called him into this position (Mark 3:13-19, Acts 9:1-18).

He should have the desire to help others understand who God is, their relationship with Him and how to live in Him and for Him.  And, as we said, be able to recognize God’s gifts in others.

He must be prepared to go anywhere (even in the world) for God (Matt. 28:18-20).  The apostle is called to preach, heal and cast out devils (Matt.10:1-4, Mark 3:13-19, Luke 6:12-16).  He lays the foundation for the church (Rev. 21:9-14, 1 Corinth. 3 9-15, Col. 2:6-7).  Consider that laying the foundation for the church means first laying a foundation in an individual’s life.  Of course, signs and wonders should follow his ministry (Acts 2:43, Mark 16:15-18).   He should be bold in sharing what God has given him (Acts 13:46) and have the desire to serve others (John 13:4-17) and edify, exhort and comfort them (1 Corinth. 14:3). 

Paul wrote the letters to get churches back on the right track so the apostle would need to admonish where required (Heb. 12:6.  Once a church has been established, the apostle may be called to go elsewhere so he needs the authority (Acts 14:19-23) to confirm souls and ordain elders before he moves on (Acts 14:21-23.  Move on?  He needs to be prepared to travel.  In the book of Acts, Luke records travels with the apostle Paul so the apostle needs to be ready to continue the journey (Acts 13:1-4 thru Acts 28:31).  And the training he gives others means he mentors them.  He doesn’t just teach them the scripture, he helps them to live it (Prov. 22:6, Acts 17:17, 19;9, Heb. 3:13, 1Sam. 2:11)

Though there may many who call themselves an apostle, our best examples are Jesus (of course, Heb. 3:1), the disciples (Luke 10:1) and Paul (Acts 9:1-18 & rest of book of Acts).

The apostle(s) is the backbone of the church.  As a church builder, he needs to be able to function in each of the five-fold ministries, recognize God’s gifting in others and then help them to grow in that gift. 

Any Christian can operate in any of the five-fold gifts in a given situation or even related to a specific person, but only the God-called man (woman) can operate in the “office’.  The office is where the respective responsibilities are not limited to a specific situation, person or time but is available to the church as God calls – wherever, whenever, however. 

These offices are not just a positions in the church structure, but are a responsibility to guide and encourage the church in the direction it needs to be going.

Consider a natural sequence of ministering in the five-fold ministry

The evangelist goes preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The evangelist turns the new soul over to the apostle.

The apostle lays a solid foundation (in Christ Jesus) in that person’s life (as well as a fledgling church).

He then turns that soul over to the teacher who teaches the Word of God  – so the individual knows what the bible says and means.

Then pastor takes over and teaches how to apply the Word of God into our lives so we can walk closer with Jesus.

And the prophet?  He continually encourages all so we can stay the course and be uplifted.

Okay, so maybe some of you are asking the question “What’s the big deal with the five-fold ministry?”  Some churches are sold into it ‘hook, line and sinker’.  Some churches think this was only for the early church.  Some may only accept part of it, but not all.  All churches do have a pastor.  Yes, I understand that some churches do not have a ‘main’ pastor, but they do, a least,  have a rotating clergy.  All churches need Sunday school teachers and somebody in the church to reach out to the community to draw new souls into the fellowship.  When we look at it, all churches have somebody giving an encouraging word to others. 

My experience is that a pastor will come in and start up a ‘new’ church in an area, that is lay a foundation for this young fellowship and in so doing, he has to ‘solidify’ people around him to help.  The five-fold does function in churches today, just not the way it is supposed to.  Spread the responsibilities out so each phase can receive the necessary attention. 

I share with you what Father has shared with me.  So, my personal conviction is that the five-fold ministry should be an active part of every fellowship.  There should be one person sitting in each of the five offices to guide and direct that ministry’s operations.  Each ministry can be time consuming so the operation thereof should not be laid upon just one or two people (aka the pastor).  Of course, there can be more than one person serving in each ministry.  How can one grow unless (like the eunuch)  someone helps or mentors him to be ready?  And should the one serving in the ‘ministry’ departs, who steps in? 

Yes, there is a lot more that can be said, that is deeper in detail, correlating the bible verses with what has been said.  But, by the grace of God, this will help someone come to a better understanding of why God has set forth what we call “the five-fold ministry”.

Why are today’s churches struggling?  I don’t think it’s just because of the biblically predicted falling away (2 Thess. 2:1-11).   I think it goes into “why we have fallen away”!

Amen

 

Saturday, December 3, 2022

I’m saved!  Now What?

 

Quick refresher on what love is 

Let’s take a quick refresher of the different, basic types of love.

The dictionary defines love as affection based on admiration or benevolence, warm attachment or devotion, unselfish concern that accepts others seeking their good, attraction based on sexual desire (eros).  It can be to hold dear or express devotion to, have tenderness or devotion for another, like or desire, thrive in or take pleasure in doing. 

Here are some of the Greek and Hebrew words used for love, in the scriptures. Phileo (Gr 5368) or Reya (Heb 7453) is the type of love as having affection for or being a friend or having a personal attachment to. 

Agape (Gr 26) or dowd (Heb 1730) love is having affection or benevolence towards another.

Philoteknos (Gr 5388) is the type of love we have for our children, eg. “motherly love”.

Philandros (Gr 5362) or ahab (Heb 157) is the type of love a husband and wife share

Philadelphia (Gr 5360) is a brotherly love.

Why review what love is?  Because God is love (1 John 4:8)!  The many aspects of His love is expressed to us in the bible.  You want examples?  Read from Genesis through Revelation.  God so loved he world that He gave His only begotten Son that we might have eternal life through Him (John 3:16).  God always seeks what is best for us (Rom. 8:28).  All He wants is for us to love Him in return.  So how do we express our love for Him.  By living for Him and He even helps us with that by giving us he Holy Ghost to dwell within our hearts (Acts 1:8) so we can know His fullness in our lives (Eph. 3:13-19).

So just how can we love God? 

God give us a subtle suggestion in the Ten Commandments “I am the Lord God … You shall have no other Gods before me and you shall not make any graven images of anything in heaven or earth …” (Exod. 20:3-4).  To emphasize this, Jesus tells the Jews that the greatest commandment is to love God above all else and our neighbor as ourselves (Matt. 22:36-49).  So if we want to express our love for God, we keep His commandments (John 14:15). 

In order to do this we must believe that God is (Dan. 2:28, Heb. 11:6, 1 John 2:1-3) and that He will do all that He says that He will (Num. 23:19).  His word will not come back void (Isa. 55:11).  So, God tells us to live in faith as exampled in Hebrews chapter eleven.

In part, that means to accept Him as a little child (Matt. 18:1-6).  The nature of a little child is to accept whatever mom and dad tell him, knowing that it will come to pass.  Do not discount the little children for they can be an example as to how we can live in the Kingdom of God (Matt. 19:14). 

As we love our children, we correct them to keep them on the right path.  God does the same (Rev. 3:19) to keep us on the right path (Psalm 48:19).  He also will teach us and remind us of what we have learned (John 14:26). 

As we grow in Christ, we realize that God does want us to grow closer to Him.  He came down, looking for Adam and Eve.  Apparently He was accustomed to fellowshipping with them in the garden in Eden (Gen. 3:8).  He desires to fellowship with us (1 Corinth. 1:9, 1 John1:3).   

As well as sons and daughters (2 Corinth. 6:18), God also wants a friend.  Abraham was called the ‘friend of God’ (James 2:23).  Because they obeyed Him, Jesus called His disciples (and us) friends because He shared His heart with us (John 15:14-15).

He wants a relationship with us.  Look at how John felt about Jesus at the “Last Supper” (John 13:23, 14:23).  He laid his head upon Jesus’ chest.  He will come into our lives and dine with us, when we ask (Rev. 3:20). 

Jesus loves us so much, that when He died on the cross, the veil separating the holy place from the Holy of Holies was torn in two (Mark 15:37-38).  Remember, behind that curtain was where only the high priest entered in, once a year to go before God (Heb. 9:6-7).  So, now, through Jesus, we also have access to Father (Heb. 10:19-20).

We love God, through Jesus Christ because while we were yet sinners, He gave His life for us that because we accept Him through faith He will draw us even closer to Himself (Rom. 5:1-8).  Have we confessed our Lord Jesus and believed in our heart that Father raised Him from the dead?  If so, we have salvation and because we love Him, we have confirmation in our own heart that we will be with Him, eternally (1 John 5:13).  And we now that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Rom. 8:35-39). 

Living in God’s love

We see why we love God, so just how do we do that?

We continue striving to walk in the Spirit even though we’re in this world, we live in this body of flesh.  We endeavor to submit every thought into the obedience of Christ as we shed carnal things in our life.  God gives us the strength to cast down imaginations and thoughts that exalt themselves (2 Corinth. 10:3-5) and then we bring our bodies into subjection through our own spirit (1 Corinth. 9:7).

Through the Holy Ghost, God gives us power to live this life and to be a witness for Him in this world (Acts 1:7-8).  We begin by seeking the kingdom of God first, for He will give us what we need (Matt. 6:25-34, foc v 33 & Luke 6:20-38).  Then we keep His commandments which are to love God above all else and our neighbor as ourselves (1 Kings 6:11-13, Mark 12:30-31, John 14:15-18) and God will do what He has said.

As we read these passages, we need to also keep in mind a few other things.  Blaspheme is saying it wasn’t God who did all those wonderful works in the bible.  God created all things by sending His Word (God said) out via the Holy Ghost (Gen. 1:1-3) so we don’t blaspheme the Holy Ghost (Mark 3:28-29).  If we ‘step out of line’, God will chasten those whom He loves (us)(Heb. 12:5-11).  Refuse things that we know have been offered to idols (for our brothers sake) things strangled, fornication and from blood (the life of things)(Acts 15:20).  Abstain even from the appearance of evil (1 Thess. 5:22) and fleshly lusts (1 Peter 2:11).  Remember how sin is conceived.  We are tempted, then drawn by the lust still in our own heart, which results in sin, which results in death (James 1:13-15).  And, eventually,  that is both physical and eternal.     

In living for Jesus, we need to consider the sower.  He sowed his seed.  Some fell by the wayside, some on stony ground, some among the thorns and some on good ground.  We need to be ‘on the good ground’ (Luke 81-15).  After all, we are becoming a new creature in Christ Jesus as He has reconciled us to Himself (2 Corinth. 5:17-19).  So we should be continually be renewing the spirit of our mind, our thinking, to line up with Jesus (Eph. 4:17-23, Rom. 12:2).  As our outward man perishes (ages), our inward man should be continually renewing (in Christ Jesus) because we are no longer focusing on temporary things, but eternal (2 Corinth. 4:15-18).  We don’t walk in the “letter of the Law” (10 Commandments – Exod. 20:1-17) but we do walk in the Spirit because we have set aside our old ways and are joint heirs, in God (the Father) with Jesus (Rom. 1:17-32, 8:1-17, Gal. 5:16-26).   

Jesus is the true vine and we are branches grafted into that vine so we can continue in His love (John 15:1-9).  We havd bdcome one with Him.  His love strengthens us so we can endure the troubles which come our way because we know the God-inspired holy scriptures and we move in faith and righteousness to complete the works God has given us (2 Tim. 3:10-17).  Because we fight against powers and principalities and wickedness in high places, we put on the armor of God to withstand the attacks of our enemy (Eph. 6:10-18). 

As we grow in Christ, we need to be aware of the phonies who creep into our lives.  They sneak in as ravening wolves which look like sheep, yet we can recognize them as we watch their lives.  Their true fruit will eventually show (Matt. 7:15-23).

John explained to the people that he baptized with water for repentance, but one comes after him who will baptize with fire and the Holy Ghost (Matt. 3:11).  We also need to bear in mind the twelve men Paul encountered on the road to Ephesus.  As they talked, Paul realized that these men had not received the baptism of the Holy Ghost yet.  Effectively, the men said “Er, what’s a Holy Ghost?” Paul then baptized them in the name of Jesus, laid his hands upon them and they received the Holy Ghost (Acts 19:1-7).  Also, keep in mind that as Peter preached to Cornelius and his household, Peter asked “How can we forbid water for these who have already received the baptism of the Holy Ghost as we?” (Acts 10:1-47, foc v44-47), before water baptism.  Compare with when the disciples received the Holy Ghost in the upper room (Acts 2:1-15).

So, being equipped with all that God has for us, think on these things, that which is true, honest, just, pure lovely, of good report, having virtue and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8-9). 

Read the passages referenced here to get the full impact of what we have been talking about.

Loving our neighbor as ourselves

Because we truly love one another, the world can see that we are disciples of Christ (John 13:35).

How do we treat those around us?  Abraham provided hospitality to three ‘men’ who visited him.  He treated them as guests and fed them (Gen. 18:1-8).  Lot did the same and added protection of his home (Gen.19:1-22).  Of course, these ‘men’ were angels and the men were on their way to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.

Humans have a tendency to be very judgmental concerning those of a different economic class.  Yet, we need to self-examine ourselves, before we judge others (Matt.7:1-5).  Jesus tells us that no matter how others may treat us, we treat them with dignity, respect and love.  God does give back to us according as to how we treat others – good or bad (Luke6:27-38).  Consider the good Samaritan.  He found a man on the wayside, beaten and robbed.  The Samaritan not only helped the man but took him and paid for lodging until the man recovered.  How many of us would have even stopped to help, much less paid his expenses until he recovered (Luke 10:29-37)?  We learn in the book of James that having faith is a good thing, but how do people know we have faith if we don’t do something with it (James 2:14-26, foc v18)?  Along with our good works, yes, we also pray for others so that God will meet their needs (2 Thess. 1:11).  Peter and John encountered the lame man at the pool of Shiloam.  Peter took the man’s man’s hand, helping him up (Acts 3:1-10).  Doing for others and praying for them are good, but when we really want to see something accomplished, we also need to add fasting and follow the lead of the Holy Ghost (Acts 13:1-4).

We know that God is love.  We know that Jesus is the physical (in this world) representation of that love.  And we’ve read where the prophets and the Law are based in love (Matt. 37-40).  Love fulfills the Law (Rom. 13:8), so we fulfill the Law as we live and operate in God’s love.  In case we have still missed the concept, we should love our neighbor as ourselves (Gal. 5:14).

As we grow in our love, we need to remember to fellowship with others who follow Jesus Christ.  We encourage each other to grow in Christ, especially as the signs of the end times approaches (Heb. 10:25).

Quick summary:  live in God’s love and be loving towards not only our brothers and sisters in the Lord, but to all whom we encounter.  Let God’s love abide in us and through us as we abide in the love of Jesus Christ!    

Prayer

The dictionary defines prayer as to entreat, implore or ask humbly or earnestly, confess or give thanksgiving, address God with adoration.

I found five Hebrew words meaning ‘pray’.  They all implied asking or making supplication.  Anna (annah) (H577), na (H4994) and  palal (H6419) are very basic which is to pray, entreat or beseech,  but challah (H2470) carries the idea of a deeply felt request.  Athar (H6279) goes a little deeper and brings in to burn incense, intercede or listen to.

I saw six Greek words for prayer.  Again, request, beseech and pray are common to all.  Yet  deomai G1189) adds in petition.  Eroao (G2065) desire (as in interrogate).  Ekuchomai (G2172) and Proseuchomai (G4336) specifically add in pray “to God”.  Parakaleo (G3870) give some direction by exhorting, invoking or desiring comfort.  Poseuche (G4335) brings in ‘with intent’ that is earnestly or worshipfully.

Jesus’ disciples thought enough of prayer to do it in one accord (agreement) (Acts 1:14).

So why do we need to pray?  It is communication with God, All Mighty, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  God came down to the garden of Eden to be with Adam and Eve.  To talk with them (Gen. 3:8-10).  Having given the apostle John instructions for writing seven letters, Jesus says that He stands at the door and knocks and He will come in and be with anyone who lets Him in  (Rev. 3:20).  The same John, tells us in his letter that we should have confidence that He (Jesus) hears us and will give us our request (1 John 5:14-15).  Jesus tells us to pray so that we don’t enter into temptation (Luke22:40) and that God’s will be done in our lives (Luke 22:42).

God’s power, in this world, are expressed through our lives and are accomplished through our prayers and actions(Matt.17:20-21, Acts 1:8, James 2:14-18).  We need to meditate on His Word, the book of Psalm is a good place to start to learn how to do this.  The church prayed, without ceasing for Peter and saw their prayers answered (Acts 12:5-11).  Paul tells the Thessalonians to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17).  So are we to stay on our knees 24/7365?  Of course not!  But we should always maintain an attitude of prayer every day.  That is ask God for direction when a choice is not obvious or thank Him for even the little things He does for us – daily.  We need to pray for our enemies.  As Jesus hung on the cross, what was one of the prayers He offered up?  “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they do” (Luke 23:34).  Understand, the people who sent Him to the cross were His enemies, yet He prayed for them.  We don’t seek vengeance because God is our avenger (Romans 12:18-21).

We pray so that we don’t enter into temptation (Matt. 26:41).  Our enemy is subtle and we need all the help we can get to stay out of his clutches.

Don’t refuse prayer to those who may be young in the Lord, for the kingdom of God is like a little child (Matt. 19:13-15).  Through faith and prayer, people might receive healing as the woman with the issue of blood or Jairius’ daughter (Mark 5:23-43).

Prayer makes me feel good so do I make a big ‘show’ about my prayer life?  NO!  Jesus says that when we pray, we should enter our prayer ‘closet (a quiet place with no distractions) and there God knows our heart, man to God (Matt. 6:5-6).  And there, we can focus on Him.

Jesus gives us an example of how we can pray.  Things we need to include:

Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13)

v09      to acknowledge. God for who He is, His greatness, His love

v10      to acknowledge that you understand the extent of God’s authority (over all that is)

v11      For our physical needs (health, direction, financial)

v12      that He forgives our sins (we need to bring those unconfessed sins)

v12      for others (immediate or extended family, friends, neighbors, etc.)

v13      we should ask for direction/protection (specific requests for specific answers)

v13      now, let’s close by Glorifying God for who He is

Let’s look at our attitude as we are in prayer.

We should ask God that our words and meditations be acceptable (Psalms 19:14).

As I pray, I need to believe that God will deliver (Matt.21:21-22).

Little children accept, without a doubt, what mom and dad say.  We come to God as a little child (Luke 18:15-17).

We bring our prayer before God with thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6).

If the gentile, Cornelius always prayed to God, should we do any less (Acts 10:1-2)?

Because the fervent prayer of a righteous man brings results (James 5:15-16).

Remember that Husbands and wives should be in agreement when they fast and should pray together as often as possible  (1Corint. 7:2-5).

We should pray earnestly before God, in the Spirit (Matt. 6:6, Eph. 6:18).  For the Spirit intercedes for us and knows how to bring our supplications before the Lord (Rom. 8:26)(1 Corinth 14:14-19).

Suggestion - we do need that alone time – just God and me.  We need to pray with our spouse for true prayer strengthens the marriage – no secrets.  Families need to pray together so children have a mentoring effect on prayer in their lives – they won’t forget.  And lest I forget, we should pray for and in the church - a praying church begins with the family whether we have a position of responsibility or not.

Daniel prayed three times a day (Dan. 6:10).  This habit is what got him tossed into the lion’s den.  The high priest of the Jews went into the Holy of Holies once a year to offer sacrifice (prayer) for the people’s sin (Heb. 9;1-7).  Today, Christians usually attend church once a week on the Sabbath.  “Good” Christians may go at least once more during the week (or more, depending on denominational practices).  Paul tells the Hebrews (us) not to forsake getting together (Heb. 10:25).  I strongly recommend, for the individual, daily time with the Lord and then gathering with other Christians once a week (anyway).  I would also suggest once a week for family time with the Lord and as often as needed with your spouse.  The bottom line is that you need to ask God what will work best for you and your family – remember, being in agreement.

So, do I have to go to the church to pray to God?  Only if you plan on living there.  Obviously, individual and family time should be in the home.  Remember, God created the heavens and the EARTH.  God is everywhere!  Individual and family prayer should not be neglected just because we are on vacation.  Look at the significance when Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:5-25, note v29).  Samarians worshipped in the mountain and Jew worshipped in Jerusalem.  I’m not saying to forsake fellowshipping.  Prayer is talking with God - just as you would with your parents, children or friends. We can pray anywhere, anytime, formal or informal, indoors our outside, even walking down the sidewalk.  As long as our heart is right with the Lord, God honors honest and fervent prayers.

Tithes and Offerings

The dictionary says a tithe is giving or paying a tenth part.  There are basically two Hebrew words meaning tithe.  the first has three forms: maaser, maasar & maasarah (H4643) which is translated as tenth.  Asar (H6237) is translated as giving a true tenth.

The Greek words are similar but carry a slightly different context:  apodekatoo (G586) tithe (as a debtor), dekate (G1181) is a tenth (as a percentage) and dekatoo (G1183) is to give or receive a tenth

God gave Moses a command for us to tithe for it is holy unto Him (Lev. 27:30-34).  Jacob asks God to be with him and vows to give a tenth of all God gives him (this is even before God gave Moses the commandments) (Gen. 28:20-22).  For delivering his nephew, Lot, safely, Abraham gives a tenth of all that he had to Melchizedek, the ‘high priest of God’ (Gen. 14:18-20, Heb. 7:1-3).  God tells Israel that our tithe should be from our increase, what we’ve gained since the last time we tithed (Deut. 14:22). 

So why do we tithe?  As God told Moses, a part of the tithe goes to support the Levites (the church) because they had no part in Israel’s inheritance (Num. 35:1-8).  They were also told to take care of the widows and orphans (Deut. 24:19, James 1:27).

So, where does the tithe go?  God tells us to tithe (a 10th) because it belongs to Him and to take care of those who need it.  Amen? 

Will a man rob God?  Yes, in tithes and offerings (Mal. 3:8-12).!

What is an offering?

The dictionary defines offering as an act of one giving, something given, or a course of study (aka class in college).  It also include something sacrificed ceremoniously offered to God.  An offering is not the tithe, but it is something beyond our tithe.

The Hebrew gives us a number of words translated as ‘offering’: asham (H817) sin offering,  minchah (H4503) gift, present, bloodless sacrifice (freely given), alah (H5927) lift up, raise, recover, restore, aleh (H5930) (go u- with) burnt offering,  asah (H6213) accomplish, bestow, bring forth, qurban (qorban) (H7133)    bring to the altar, present, ruwmah (H8641) heave offering (spec. shoulder of sacrifice).  The gist is something freely given, possibly as a ‘thank You’ (to God) for something He has done for us.

Two Greek words for offering are  prospero (G4374) present, bring to and  prosphera (G4376) bloodless sacrifice.  Again, to bring something but, as prosphera suggests, we don’t have to sacrifice an animal to do this.

Among our offerings are what the bible calls our ‘first fruit.  First fruits are the first and the best of whatever we have to bring.  Cain slew Abel because of this concept (Gen. 4:1-8, Heb. 11:4, 1 John 3:12).  The implication is that Cain did not give his best as his brother Abel had.  

God tells us to bring our first fruit (Exod. 23:19) because, in part, this is how we honor Him (Prov. 3:9).

Israel brought tithes and offerings to the Lord (2Chron. 31:12).  Whose example do we follow, Cain or Abel?

Why tithes and offerings

As e already mentioned that tithes and offerings support the work of the church (Num. 18:21, Ezek. 44:30).  God requires it (Heb. 7:15).  God will bless us more than we give (Prov. 3:9-10, Mal. 3:9-12, 2 Corinth. 9:6-8).  We need to remember that as we give, we give not for our own benefit but for the glory of God.  Also remember that no matter what we do, we do as if we are doing it for God (Col. 3Z:23).  As Jesus said “as you have done to the least of my brothers, you have done unto Me (Matt. 25:40).

In a nut shell, a ltithe can be money, talents/skills, time …  think of all the good God has brought into our lives.  He gives liberally to us.  Can we do any less for Him?

Summary

I’m saved!  I have my ticket to heaven so now what do I have to do?

Learn to show our love for God by putting Him first in everything in our lives.  This means learning how to live in His love, which is to respect, appreciate and abide in His rules, which includes loving others as ourselves.  Giving others the same respect and attention we desire.  We learn to communicate with our Lord.  Not just asking for our needs, but listening to what He has to say (you may be amazed!).  And we show our love for Him by supporting His work in this world.  His body (all believers) need our support and we need theirs to operate in unity and communion with our Savior.

This is the sixth element in coming to the understanding that creation didn’t “just happen’, but a loving, intelligent being formed it millennia ago.  He created something He could love and hoped his creation would love Him in return.  That’s why He gave us free will, to choose whether to love Him or not.  He has formed all that is and He has set into motion both natural and spiritual laws as to how things should operate.  He will help us to live for Him through blessings and instruction and when we choose to do things His way, He will bless us (in so many different ways) that we can’t even begin to imagine.

There are four more components to this work, but these six are of utmost importance.  God loves us and our need to learn to operate within the parameters of that love. 

Yes, this has been another long one and there is so much more that can be said about this and each of the other areas.  We can (and will) spend a lifetime learning all that God has for us but, by His grace, my prayer is that what we have presented here has whetted your appetites to draw closer into a living relationship with an eternal, loving God.

This is the foundation for  LIVING IN Christ Jesus!  God almighty, came into this world over 2000 years ago, to help us come back into His fold (kingdom).

Let’s live for Him!

Amen