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' (discussion) 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, June 15, 2024

 6-15-2024 Prayer of  Faith

I Am’.  ‘Jaweh’.  ‘Jehovah’.  ‘Savior’. The ‘everlasting God’.  ‘The First and the Last’.  “Is, Was’ and ‘Always Shall Be’, Healer, Teacher.  If one doesn’t believe God is, then the rest of this entry will be meaningless to that person. 

Without God, everything else is just human perception.  Yes, man says ‘science’ helps us understand everything, but then what is science based on?  We study the heavens and the earth, the various life forms and of what things are made.  Man studies all these things then draws his own conclusion as to what it all means.  Okay, we also study about what other men have written about everything and agree with them and/or draw our own conclusions anyway.  We explain the composition of things but not how their components originated.  As with all ‘living’ creatures, I’m talking about before birth, before conception before the unity of the sperm and egg, before there was anything with which to create anything else.  How did it all truly start? 

We note our modern-day inventors and philosophers, but what inspired them?  Do we go back to the ancient civilizations over the millennia?  The Romans, the Greeks the Sumerians (@3500  - 4000 BC, oh I’m sorry I mean “BCE” [lol]).  The Sumerians are accredited with man’s first written language, but recently, I’ve read where, those who research these things, may have discovered a written language older than the Sumerians.

Man endeavors to show how all things have come into existence by using that which exists to explain how it came to exist.  I’m me because I’m me.  I am because mommy and daddy got together and, lo and behold, I eventually joined them.  My mom and dad came from their moms and dads and so on.  How far back do we go – ancestry research?  Do we think we can or do we even desire to live forever?  What will happen to us?  Do we just live this life and that’s it?  Will we be continually re-incarnated until we become perfect?  Is it really easier to believe that everything that is, came from a minute ‘singularity’ which is still expanding but will eventually implode?  Implode?  That’s means to collapse in upon itself, a theory developed by Russian physicist Alexander Friedmann in 1922.    But if all creation implodes, how can we be re-incarnated when nothing will exist anymore?  Nor will there be anything to exist in!

We must believe that God is and that He will do the things He says He will do – that is answer our prayers and grant us eternal existence with Him.  Nobody really wants to die, so if eventually everything stops, that is doesn’t exist, why do we look forward to something beyond this life?  We believe that God does exist!  So, as Christians, we do have something to look forward to.  So does the world, but they ain’t gonna like it!

Those for whom we pray must also believe that God is and will do what is being asked of Him.  Jesus does tells us that when we pray, we must believe that we receive the answers and bear no ill will towards any person (Mark 11:23-36).  A clean heart = answered prayers.

As Christians, we believe that God answers our prayers, so can we just ask God for anything we desire?  Father desires us to abide in His will, that Father, Son and we should become one (John 15:4, 17:11-21).  As we grow closer to Father, we discover that our will lines up more and more with His will.  Jesus tells us that He came not to do His own will but the will of our Father, that is that all who receive Jesus will be raised up on that last day into everlasting life (John 6:38-40).  Paul tells the Corinthians that they should follow him as he follows Jesus (1 Corinth. 11:1).  As Christians, should we do any less?  Every person who brings the word of God, should always be pointing towards following Jesus.

Our faith is expressed through our prayers for ourselves and those for whom we pray and, of course, actions are necessary in both situations (James 2:14,1-18).

So, what are some of things that can breakup that unity with Father, things that hinder or prevent our prayer life, our faith?  What are some of the things preventing us from living a full and productive life in Jesus Christ?

Father hides His face from our sin and will not hear us when there is unconfessed sin in our own life (Psalm 66:18, Prov. 28:9, Isa: 59:2-3). 

God will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory (Phil. 4:19).  So when we aren’t sure about or are not ‘bold’ in what we request (that means doubt), Father turns a deaf ear to our prayers.  Are we doubting Father’s ability to meet our needs (James 1:6-8) or do we feel that He won’t do it for ‘me’?  Jesus tells us to believe and we will receive the things we for which we ask (Mark 11:24).  Don’t we desire Father to hear our prayers? 

Also, should there be someone who has done something to us, whom we have not yet forgiven, we need to forgive that person to keep channels open with Father (Mark 11:25-26), whether that person asks forgiveness or not. 

Sometimes, we may ask for the wrong reasons, desiring to fulfill our own lusts, (give me million dollars, when our only intent is just to keep up with the ‘Jones’ (James 4:3).  Desiring things so we can ‘look better’ before others would contrast with our asking for things to better our lives.  Where are our needs compared with just wanting ‘stuff’ to impress others?

A clean vessel must eradicate doubt and fear – then we will see Father do His work in us and/or through us.  Fear and doubt work hand in hand.  Effectively they produce the same results.  When we doubt that something will come to pass, then we become fearful that we might fail.  So, when we doubt, it truly won’t come to pass because we are afraid that it might not.

We must put our full trust in Father then seek to eliminate all negativity from our thinking.

And then

Abiding in God’s love, we are the children of God (John 1:12-13, Gal.3:26).  We are the temple of His Holy Ghost (1 Corinth. 6:19-20).  As parents, how many of us don’t want what is best for our children so they can live a better life?  Father feels the same about us.

We want to see results in our prayers?  Resist sin and God’s righteousness will reign in us as we are obedient to Him (Rom. 5:21).  We need learn to hear God.  Even as Samuel ran to his mentor Eli, three times, asking what he wanted, thus, eventually, prompting Eli to realize what was going on and gave the boy instructions how to answer the next time heard the voice.  Sure enough, God called Samuel a fourth time and Samuel said “Lord, here am I”, yielding himself to the Lord.  Yes, Father speaks to us through the bible, other people or situations and even the world around us.  Are we listening?  Do we recognize our heavenly Father’s voice?

Jesus gives us the “Lord’s Prayer” (Matt. 6:9-13), but really, it isn’t the “Lord’s” prayer.  It is a prayer Father gives us to pray back to Him for our daily sustenance, to help us get through each day.  One of Jesus’ prayers is when He prayed in Gethsemane, wrestling for strength to complete His mission here on earth (Luke 22:41-44).

Results

Jesus gives us authority over things of this earth and the authority over Satan’s power to do what he does (Luke 9:1).  In other words, we can tell the things of this earth AND the devil what to do but remembering  that whatsoever and whenever we do, it needs to be in the name of Jesus (Col. 3:17) and it shall be done (John 14:12-14).  This remains true as long as we abide in the Lord.

Much to their chagrin, seven brothers sought to cast out a devil, as Paul did in Jesus’ name.  They didn’t realize that Jesus is the power behind the words – the prayer -and the power Jesus has is also given us via the Holy Ghost (Acts 1:8, Acts 2:1-16).  The brothers didn’t have the power of Jesus so the man possessed by the devil kicked the brothers butts and chased them away (Acts 19:13-16)!

We must operate knowing that Father has given us this authority and power and knowing that Jesus is always with us (Matt. 28:20) and will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5).  Ergo we can go with the confidence that God is with us in whatever the task that lies before us.

We also know that Jesus did some long-distance healing, that is, not in His immediate presence: the centurion’s servant (Luke 7:1-10) and healing the Canaanite’s daughter (Matt. 15:22-28); as well as up close and personal healing: the man with the withered hand (Mark 3:1-5) or the blind man on the roadside (Luke 18:35-43).  However, when Jesus went home to Nazareth, He could only heal a few sick folk – because of their unbelief (no faith) (Matt. 13:54-58).  Jesus could heal those right there with Him or even those nowhere near His person.  The only ones He couldn’t heal were those who refused to accept who He is.  And because we believe, Jesus is our healer, Jehovah Rapha!

Remember, knowing all about what Father can and will do is not the same as abiding in His love and then doing it.  Here’s where I love Job, the man.  Yep the man whom was blessed by God then lost everything.  After his ordeal was finally over, ole Job said “I knew all about You (God), but now, I have seen you face to face (Job 42:5).  Father, very vividly, introduced Himself to Job and Job came to know who God truly is.  Knowing ‘about God’ and ‘knowing Godare not the same thing!  As we read accounts of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, King David and as we follow the ministry of our Lord Jesus, we discover that Father does want an up close and personal relationship with each of us.  

Faith without works is dead so when we believe Father for something there must be an action on our part AND on the part of the recipient.  We speak the Word over the believer.  Or maybe as Peter did at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, having spoken the healing then he reached down and took the man’s hand.  The man leaped up and walked around.  So, the person receiving the prayer must also take an action, testifying to what has been done (Acts 3:1-12).

Physical presence isn’t always necessary, as with the Centurion’s servant.  The Centurion was in Jesus’ presence, the servant was ‘miles’ away.  So we learn that where two or more are in agreement (Jesus and the Centurion (Matt. 18:19), God will do His work!

So, what have we discovered about praying in faith?

We have to believe that God is.  Father will answer our prayer when we have no outstanding sins in our life.  We can ask for ourselves as well as for others and then, we need to make sure we are asking according to God’s will and not seeking to satisfy our own, personal lust.  Our goal (not mentioned) is to edify the body of Christ (1 Corinth. 14:12, 26) in all that we say and do.  And that does include ourselves!

We discover that fear and doubt and unbelief are contrary to the operation of faith in prayer, but as we expect and anticipate Father to answer our prayers we shall receive, for ourselves as well as others.  As with the centurion, the testimony was when the Centurion returned and discovered that his servant had been healed the same hour Jesus had prayed or him. Peter saw the lame leap up and walk around. 

We see that action on our part and on the recipient’s part must be taken as a testimony as to what Father has just done.  Our testimony is verified as we see the results of prayer as it happens or, maybe even after the event.

Then, by the grace of God, as we are obedient in His will, we can do the same works Jesus did (John 14:11)?  For others, as well as ourselves.  Hallelujah!

Prayers of, with and through faith.

Amen?

Saturday, June 1, 2024

6-1-2024    Reflections

In the previous three blogs, we’ve talked about the importance of laying a strong foundation of faith in our lives.  We talked about the tools Father gives us to grow that faith and we talked about who Jesus is. 

The basis of our faith is God’s love for us and our love for our God.  Father has given us one commandment ‘to have no other gods before Him’ (Exod. 20:3).  That translates into loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30).  Commandments, two through ten, give us an overview of how to apply that love (Exod. 20:4-17).  As we operate in God’s love, we discover how Father interacts with us, in us and through us.  We overcome issues of this world and help others by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimonies as we yield ourselves totally to Jesus Christ (Rev.12:11)

Now, I’d like to share some experiences from my personal life as to how I’ve seen these things come to pass.  No, I’m not bragging nor am I citing every incident, but hopefully enough so that you get the idea God does work in us and through us.

Many of my formative years were spent in a Southern Baptist church – evangelical, very into what the bible says.  I strayed from the church after high school, not attending on a regular basis.  I did my ’tour of duty, in ‘Nam’, with the army and it was still about five years, after that, before I stepped back into a church.  From High School to the five years after military duty it was nearly decade before I started going to church again?  Why I strayed is not the issue here, but why did I start going back?

I met the woman I intended to marry.  She was a Virginian.  No, I don’t mean virgin, she was from Virginia.  She also had a Southern Baptist background.  I suggested that we go to the church I attended as a youth.  Now, in my absence from church, they had the audacity to bring in another pastor to replace the one who had retired.  I used to think that a pastor stayed with his church forever.  I’ve learned much over the years.  However, it did work to my advantage.  My new pastor had some funny ideas.  One was that a marriage, without Jesus, was doomed before it even got started.  So he would not perform the marriage ceremony until he knew that Jesus was in our lives.  As we counseled for marriage, he asked me (more than once) had I let Jesus into my heart.  I responded as to how long I had attended the church and a few other dodges.  After each dodge pastor replied “that’s not what I asked you.  Have you ever let Jesus into your heart?”  THEN, I had this overwhelming feeling of conviction come over me.  I admitted “No, I haven’t.”  “Would you like to let Him in now?”  I prayed, asking Jesus into my heart.  At that moment, I (literally) felt like a ten ton boulder had been lifted off of me.  I knew Jesus had honored my request.  The pastor also asked my bride to be if she had let Jesus into her heart.  She lied and said ’yes’.  He accepted her response and still performed our ceremony.  About three years later, my wife did give her heart to Jesus.

It’s crazy, a few months after the office visit, baptism was held for all the new converts.  I’ve heard how people praise God at water baptism but all I got was wet – no feelings, no experience.  Later, Father told me my ‘experience’ came in the pastor’s office the day I asked Jesus into my heart.  I’m not ‘dissin’ water baptism.  It is an outward, public expression of having accepted Jesus and that my sins have been ‘washed away’ (PTL).  A public testimony.

Not long after we married, we moved around a lot, other communities in the county and, as time passed, even into different counties in our state, so after a couple of years, we found ourselves not able to get back that ‘our’ church and began our search for another church, more locally (for us), to attend.  We did run into that pastor a few years later, told him my wife finally gave her life to Jesus and asked him why he went ahead with our ceremony.  His response “I knew your wife lied that day, but I also knew that with Jesus in the marriage, it was just a matter of time.  I spent thirty-four years with my wife until the Lord took her home.

Jesus said that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deut. 31:6-8, Heb. 13:5).  Hmmmm.  Oh!  Father said it too!  The bible says that by two or more witness a thing is established (Deut. 17:6, 1 Corinth. 13:1).  Must be true!

I can’t count all the times Father has helped me to reflect on all the times He has been with me and not forsaken me.  My experiences have not been as harrowing as some other people’s, but they are mine.  The motorcycle accident that wasn’t (thank you Holy Ghost).  Driving down the BW Parkway between Baltimore and Washington DC, rounding a curve in the road, about thirty yards ahead, traffic was at a dead stop.  Speed limit- 65 MPH.  Do I just plow into the last car in line?  Nah!  I don’t think so.  Do I lay the bike down and slide under the last car in line?  Ooooh, the road burn and the sudden stop at the end, I don’t think so!  I had about 90 feet to decide.  Then I heard a voice in my head “Release the throttle, steer over onto the gravel shoulder and don’t hit the brakes until you’ve slowed enough to safely stop.”  I did and I avoided what could have been a very nasty accident.  PTL!  I remember two guys on the hillside (by the shoulder) looking at me as I whizzed past them (crazy fool!). 

In Vietnam, three of us, on rotating shifts, ran a Stratcom (microwave radio) substation in the Cholon district of Saigon.  Our main site was at Ton Son Nhut airbase, a couple of miles outside the city.  I was on duty when Our CO called and said that we were on ‘red alert’.  The Viet Cong were dumping mortar shells all around and in the airbase and the indication was that they were poised to come into the city.  I said “OK” and hung up.  I looked over at our on-site gun rack with its lone M-14 rifle and one clip (20 rounds of ammo) beside it.  I said to myself “Ooookaaay).  After about an hour, the guy on the next shift came in about three early (he got bored).  I told him that we were on red alert.  He look at our gun rack look back to me with a quizzical look on his face.  I responded “No sweat unless there are twenty one of them (Viet Cong)”.  We laughed.  As it turned out, the Viet Cong did come towards Saigon kicked the snot out of Saigon police station (about half way between Saigon and Ton Son Nhut then withdrew and left.  Two months later, my tour was up and I came home.  Two months after that, the Viet Cong did come into Saigon in an unsuccessful attempt to take the city.  I was safe at home.      

Also, in Cholon, the army housed me in a three story hotel, practically across the street from my duty station (It was such a long walk to work (lol).  I was on the rooftop one evening, looking out over the city, just to see what I could see.  Tran Hung Dao, the main street into Saigon proper, was at the hotel’s front door, housing on two sides and an ARVN compound on the final side.  The ARVN were South Vietnamese military troops.  As I peered over the side I heard a voice in my head “jump!”  I backed off the edge and went back, downstairs, to my room.  Never went back up on the roof.  The Holy Ghost talks to us through our heart (or mind) and He knows our heart (Prov. 19:21, Jer. 17:9-10, Luke 16:15).   I’ve learned that Satan can also introduce thoughts into our head, as exampled through my experience in Saigon and the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13). 

The Holy Ghost will lead us into all truth and understanding (John 16:13),

Here are several examples of Father’s influence in my life.  Father taught me about baptizing in Jesus’ name.  We were with a church, for a while, that taught the only way into heaven was to be baptized “in the “name of Jesus”.  “Father Son and Holy Ghost” was not a viable option.  Father showed me that the Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Ghost are all one and the same.  Father is the essence of His being; Jesus is the physical manifestation of His love and word; and the Holy Ghost brings it all into action.  When we come to understand this unity, we also come to understand the Godhead (Col. 2:9).  The words used in baptism, Father Son and Holy Ghost or Jesus’ Name are the same. Don’t know about you.  I serve only one God.

I had never heard of the 5-fold Ministry until I started attending the church with which I am now affiliated.  Early in my experience with this fellowship, the pastor mentioned the 5-Fold Ministry (Eph. 4:10-16).  In my heart I asked myself “What’s a 5-Fold ministry”.  Pastor gave a brief explanation, then Father gave me a deeper understanding of how those five  ministries should operate and the necessity of these ministries in the church today.

As well as the bible, Father has spoken to me through other Christians, birds and even a T shirt.  Once, during a ‘renewal’ service, we had some brothers and sisters come and minister with and to us.  After the ‘meeting’ we broke off into several groups, each headed by one of the prophets.  Each prophet had a 2-member team, I thought for prayer support and learning.  Pastor assigned me to one of the prophets and said “Use him” (meaning me).  We had several people waiting to receive a word from God.  A young man stepped up first.  Then, to my surprise, the prophet looked to me and said “Give him a word from the Lord”.  Upt to that time, I had never done this before.  I looked at the prophet, I looked at the young man, and in my heart “Lord, now what am I supposed to say?” Father brought to my attention the blue T-shirt, with the big red “S” on the chest which he was wearing.  Father then told me what to say to the Young man.  I don’t know about the young man, but I was totally surprised.  I believe that the young man was edified by the word – I know I was.

Over the years, I have also discovered that Father also helps us with the ‘little’ things in life as well.  At FDA, I was part of a team that processed and assigned identifying information to the incoming drug applications for scientific review and eventual approval.  some documents were easier to process than others.  I was grumbling with myself one day, when I heard “Give Me the job”.  What?  Okay, it’s Yours!  First thing Father did was change my attitude.  Then from that time until I retired and because of my faithfulness to Him, Father gave me eight promotions.  He has helped me with many other decisions, small or great.  As example I would pick out a shirt to wear (on any occasion) and He would say “not this one but that one.”  Crazy?  Father does care about even the little things in our lives. 

I thank Father for all the experiences He has brought my way and the things He has taught me over the years.  He has given me a deeper understanding of His Word and how to apply it into my own life as well.  AND He has given me a deeper understanding into my relationship with Him!  P-T-L!!!

One of many songs Father has given me over the years was titled “Lawdy, Lawdy, Holy Spirit”, based on a song from a gentleman named Lloyd Price from 1950.  In the song Father gave me is a phrase ‘I get weak in the knees and shivers if you please, I know this can’t be me’.  It describes in (part) how I feel when I’m with the Lord.  The first song Father ever gave me about our relationship was a song He titled “Slipping Away” (into your presence my God).

I share these experiences so that those who read this may realize that God is not just some imaginary, unseen being living somewhere in the heavens.  He is real and does want a relationship with us.  To teach us.  To protect us.  To help us through difficult times.  To love us.  AND enable us to love Him in return.

Can we do any less?

Hallelujah!

Saturday, May 4, 2024

 

5-4-2024    Let’s talk Jesus

                        

Jesus!  Is He just a myth?  The Son of God? Father (Himself) come into this world?

Mythicists variously argue that the accounts of Jesus are completely or mostly of a mythical nature, questioning the mainstream paradigm of a historical Jesus in the beginning of the 1st century who was subsequently deified. Most mythicists note that Christianity developed within Hellenistic Judaism, which was influenced by Hellenism, and that early Christianity and the accounts of Jesus are to be understood in this context. Yet, where contemporary New Testament scholarship has introduced several criteria to evaluate the historicity of New Testament passages and sayings, most Christ myth proponents have relied on comparisons of Christian mythemes with contemporary religious traditions, emphasizing the mythological nature of the Bible accounts.

The most radical mythicists hold, in terms given by Price, the "Jesus atheism" viewpoint, that is, there never was a historical Jesus, only a mythological character, and the mytheme of his incarnation, death, and exaltation. They hold that this character developed out of a syncretistic fusion of Jewish, Hellenistic and Middle Eastern religious thought; was put forward by Paul; and historicised in the gospels, which are also syncretistic. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_myth_theory).  A lot of big word are used by those who think they are smart.  Syncretism is a combination of various beliefs or practices.  It also is the fusion of two or more ‘curved’ or changed forms (Webster’s).  

Mainstream scholarship asserts that there was a historical Jesus.  However scholars differ about the accuracy of the biblical accounts about Jesus, with only two events supported by nearly-universal scholarly consensus: Jesus' baptism, and his crucifixion.  The mainstream scholarly view is that the Pauline epistles and the gospels describe the "Christ of faith", presenting a religious narrative which replaced the historical Jesus who did live in 1st-century Roman Judea.  Martin Kähler made the famous distinction between the "Jesus of history" and the "Christ of faith", arguing that faith is more important than exact historical knowledge.  According to Ehrman, Jesus was a first-century Judean Jew, who was not like the Jesus preached and proclaimed today, and that the most widely held view by critical scholars is that Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet who was subsequently deified. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_myth_theory).

So, in the world, there is argument whether Jesus existed or not or even if He were a real person or not.

We are people of faith.  It is impossible to please God without faith for we must believe that He is and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6).  So, if we don’t believe Jesus truly existed, do we truly believe that God even exists?  Those who believe God doesn’t exist will never accept Him because He needs to be accepted by faith.  When a heart is truly hardened against God, one might be considered to be a reprobate – one who considers God is unworthy of his attention.  A reprobate would be one who casts away, condemns, despises, refuses, rejects, etc., as in the Hebrew word maac (H3988) or unapproved, rejected or cast away as described in the Greek word adokimos (G96).  In short, a true reprobate has no relationship with God, nor does he want one. God will oblige him (Rom. 1:21-26).

  

 

When we don’t believe God is, how can we accept the reality of Jesus?  Likewise, when we don’t seek God, how can we then seek Jesus, if neither really exist?

 Recently, we’ve talked about what are some important things that are relative for us to accept God and His love.  We also talked about tools Father provides us to help us grow in that love.

Okay.  So now, let’s talk about the personification of Father’s love – Jesus!

In the King James bible, John chapter one, verse one says “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God”.  The New World translation cites John 1:1 the same way except for those last several words – “… the word was a god”.  The gospel of John goes on to explain that the word was a light to man and that light was made flesh and was the only ‘begotten’ son of the Father (John 1:1-16).  Father foretold of Jesus (Psalm 2:6-9).  Take note that the word begotten (yalad, H3205) does relate just to child bearing but also has the connotation of ‘bearing the lineage’, to carry the banner.  Speaking of Jesus, “At any time, to which of My angels did I (Father) say ‘you are My Son, this day I have begotten You.  I will be a Father to him and He a Son to Me’.  When He brings the first begotten into the world, let all the angels worship Him (Heb. 1:5-6).  Jesus is the first of all Christianity. Those who serve Father not just in what they do but in what they think and know in their heart.

Worship Him?  Didn’t Father say “You shall have no other Gods before Me?  No graven images?  Do not bow down to nor serve them (Exod. 20:4-5)?  Father emphasizes this to Israel when He tells them ‘You shall worship no other gods before Me for the Lord is a jealous God’ (Exod 34:14.  Yet, Father says His angels shall bow down before Jesus.  Didn’t Mary (Martha’s sister) anoint Jesus’ feet and wipe them with the hairs of her head (John 12:1-3)?  Isn’t this worship?  What about the men on the boat when Jesus walked on the sea and invited Peter to join Hm.  The men on the boat did what?  They worshipped Jesus (Matt:14:25-33)!  Even the wise men came to Jesus and worshipped Him, when He was yet a child (Matt. 2:1-11).   Are we drawing a connection here?  Worship – God, worship - Jesus!

Prophecy & reality of Jesus’ birth  

A child is born, the government shall be upon his shoulder.  His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace … (Isaiah 9:6).  Genesis speaks of the dominion of Jesus when  Eve was tricked by the serpent, God would put enmity between his seed (the devil) and her seed (Gen. 3:15).  That is to say those who follow Satan and those who follow God would definitely be at odds.  Isaiah says that the Lord shall give a sign as a virgin shall bear a son and His name shall be called Emmanuel (Isa. 7:14-16).  Micah says a ruler shall come out of Bethlehem … (Mic. 5:2) referencing the ‘Chosen One’ (Jesus). 

Of course we have the angel telling Joseph that the child which Mary is carrying shall be called Jesus (Savior), as well as Emmanuel (God is with us) (Matt. 1:20-23).  Let’s pause here for a moment.  The Greek word for Jesus is Iesous (G2424) and is derived from the Hebrew word Yehowhua (H3091) which means ‘Jehovah saved’.  Wow!  Luke also gives us the prophecy and fulfillment of Jesus’ birth (Luke 1:26-38, 2:1-19).  And, of course, Jesus’ birth in the stable, there was no room at the inn (Matt. 1:25, 2:1-11, Luke 2:1-20).  

Prophecy and reality of Jesus’ death

Isaiah explains why Jesus had to travel the road to the cross (Isa. 53:1-12).  Psalm 22:11-18 and describes Jesus on the cross. Jesus did die on the cross (Matt. 27:48-50, Mark 15:33-37, Luke 23:32-46) and what happened at that moment (Matt. 27:51-53,)?  The veil to the Holy of Holies was torn in two and the dead were seen in Jerusalem.  Just what did that torn veil do?  It gave all believers direct access to the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord!

The resurrection

But, praise God, Jesus did not stay ‘dead’!  After the Sabbath, the tomb was found empty and Jesus visited with His disciples for forty days before ascending back unto the Father (Matt. 28:1-17, Mark 16:9-14, Luke 24:1-49, John chptrs. 20 & 21, Acts 1:3).  And, of course the ascension (Mark 16:19, Luke 24:50-51, Acts 1:9-11).  The disciples watched as Jesus was taken up by a cloud (nephele – G3507)

The unity of Father & Son

Moses asked God “whom shall I say sent me?  Father says I Am that I Am, tell them I AM has sent you (Exod. 3:13-14).  The Lord, our redeemer, says I AM, the Lord who has made all things, controls the elements of the world, confirms the word of His servant, etc. (Isa. 44:24-27).  Father also declares that He is the First and the Last (Isa. 44:6).

The Jews commented that Jesus not yet 50 years old.  ‘Are you older than Abraham’?  Jesus replies before ‘Abraham was I AM’ (John 8:53-58) and  and Jesus declared ‘I AM Alpha and Omega’ (Rev. 1:11), the First and the Last (Rev. 22:13). Both Father and Son declare to be ‘IAM’.  David declares the lord Jehovah to strength and salvation (Isa. 12:2, Psalm 18:1-2).  Paul declares Jesus our Savior (Rom.3:23-25, Phil. 3:20). 

The Godhead

Three NT verses describe the ‘Godhead’.  The Godhead is not an idol made of precious stone (Acts 17:29).  We can understand things God does because of His eternal power and Godhead (Rom. 1:20).  The fullness of the Godhead dwells in Jesus so we are complete in Him … (Col. 2:6-10).  So just what is the Godhead?  Like a bright flashing light (theion -G2303), godlike (therios -G2304), theiotese (G2305 – divinity) and/or godlike (theotes – G2320).  In other words, all powerful (bring your sunglasses)!

Jesus declares that He and the Father are one (John 10:30).  As Jesus prays for us, He declares that we be one with Him as He is with Father, abiding in Their love (John 17:1-26). 

Ministry

What can we say about the ministry of Jesus?  He turned water into wine (John 2:1), healed the leper (Mat. 8:1), healed various diseases (Matt. 4:23), the lame (Mark 2:1), the blind (Matt. 9:27), the deaf (Mark 7:31), He fed people (Mark 8:1), raised the dead (John 11:38), and cast out devils (Mark 5:1-13).  And that is just some of what He did .   

There is no greater love than a man lay down His life for his friends (John 15:13).  There is no is greater example of this than Jesus’ life death and resurrection.  Agree?

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father but by Me (John 14:6). Peter, speaking to the Jews reminds them that there is no other name, under heaven, given to man through other there is salvation except Jesus (Acts 4:12).

The promise

So father gives us the promise of salvation when He tells Eve that her seed shall crush the enemy’s head (Gen. 3:15).  We have the ‘human’ lineage of Jesus, from Jesus through Adam and who does Luke claim Adam to be the son of (Luke 3:23-38)?  Jesus IS the Son of man AND the son of God ().  This is how He draws the first covenant (the Law) into the second covenant (grace).  “I have come not to destroy the Law nor the prophets, but to fulfill them (Matt.5:17). 

As Christians, we accept what we know about Father and Son by faith.  As we said, without faith it is impossible to please God.

In the opening of this entry, we mentioned some ‘human’ arguments against Jesus being who He is.  Yet, we have to remember that God’s foolishness is wiser than any man’s (wisdom) and His weakness is greater than any strong man’ strength. Father has chosen the foolish things of this world to confuse ’smart’ men and the ‘weak’ things of this world to amaze those who consider themselves strong.  The things that this world hates, God likes.  Just as God said that Eve’s seed would be at odds against Satan’s seed.  The kingdom’s of this world will not be in agreement with the kingdom of God. Things that seem impossible, God brings into being (Jesus walked on water – Matt. 14:25-32).  Jesus said that when we truly believe, we can move mountains – spiritual or physical (Mark 11:22-26).  The key here is to believe Father, don’t ask for the wrong reason, don’t doubt that God will provide and believe that we shall receive that Father has for us (Mark 11:23, James 4:3).  

From a personal point.  We can’t survive on just what ‘man’ says.  Father has shown me how many times He has blessed me, even when I didn’t realize it at the time.  He keeps showing me the truth of the written Word (the bible).  He shows me the reality of His Word through my practical experiences in life, the bible (itself) and my personal time with the Lord.  They all line up together.  That is the three come into agreement.  One has to ‘live it’ to truly understand this.  I find myself quoting Job a lot lately.  Job says that he has heard all about the Lord (from other men) but now he has seen Him with own eye (Job 42:4).  That is, Job came to know who God really is.

There’s so much more we can say about Jesus, but this should get the clockworks ticking in our brains.  What do you think?

Amen

 

Saturday, April 20, 2024

 

4-20-2024 Building on the foundation

  

Don’t be conformed  to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you might  prove that which is good, acceptable and perfect – the will of God (Rom. 12:2)

 Last time we talked about having the proper foundation laid out for our lives.  In other words, what is critical to our faith in Jesus Christ?  As we proclaim our Christianity, we learned that God is love.  God is Spirit – how can flesh and bone live in nothingness?  We must worship God in Spirit and in truth – and in love.  Then, as our love grows in Christ Jesus we express that love towards those we encounter by doing what is best for them in our relationship and help them to be all that they can be in Christ Jesus.

Okay. So just how do we build our love?

We profess to be Christians – followers of Jesus Christ.  So our first step in expressing our love was to ask Jesus into our heart: Jesus, I’ve come to realize that I have violated some (if not all) of Father’s rules of life, that is how to love as You have loved me.  Violation of God’s law of love is sin.  I have confessed that I am a sinner and lay my sins before You.  Forgive me.  let Your Holy Ghost abide in my heart and guide me and help me to be obedient to Your leading.  Thank you Father for forgiving me my sins and give me the strength to abide in Your love.

Again, so just how do we abide in God’s love?

Our foundation has been laid so our first task is to learn what God’s love involves and how to apply what we learn into our own lives.

We have many teachers who put into our lives so we want to make sure all our teachers are tuned in, that is that they (themselves) are connected with Father.  So who, or what, are our teachers? 

Our first step is to look at the world around us. Father does speak to us through nature and the natural elements which He has put into this world.  How many of us are truly aware of the natural beauty that surrounds us?  Even so, we need to begin reading the bible.  There’s nothing more tangible than the written word!  The bible is God’s love letter to us.  It shows us the many aspects of God’s love – how He protects us, nurtures, us, gives us food and clothing, comforts us, walks with us, talks with us and even corrects us so we can stay on the right track.  (Hint, hint).  If one really wants to know God’s love – gotta know the bible. 

The bible does give us a written synopsis of God’s love.  When we accept Jesus into our hearts and lives, we know that Jesus loves us but it is very unlikely we understand the depth and breadth of that love.

So, as we read the bible, we will come across things that we don’t quite comprehend or understand.  So we have our pastors, brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, bible/Sunday School teachers and the like.  We have access to multi-media sources, books and publications.  When properly applied, all these help us to understand God’s love, but when we are young, in the Lord, we need to be careful.  We believe the bible to be “God inspired”, that is those who wrote the words into the book were inspired by God to write what they wrote and that includes all the translators, over the centuries.  And, yes, we have to know God’s love so we can weigh what we are taking in to understand and know whether or not it agrees with that love.  That’s why we did “Building a foundation” on 4/6/24.  But, we really don’t know the depth and breadth of God’s love until we learn about.  The more we learn about it, the deeper our love becomes and the deeper our love becomes, the more we want to learn.  It is a continuing cycle. 

Yes, there are many versions of the bible out there.  Some may be a paraphrase, that is a summary, of what the bible says.  Some are translated into language with which we are more familiar (modern day English).  And some may include explanation to help us understand the passage we are reading.  But we have to start reading somewhere.  We may pick up a bible and discover that it may not fulfill our spiritual hunger – something just seems to be lacking.  So ask Father which bible should “I” be reading.   One may start with one bible, then move onto another version to gain better fulfillment.  If you listen, Father will let you know.  The history of bibles is another whole discussion, but not today.

The bible is great – and necessary, but we have to communicate with Father ourselves – one on one, mano e mano, face to face.  I love it in Job where Job says “I knew all about you, but now I’ve seen You face to face” (Job 42:5). Job came to truly know who God is!  Our prayer life is our communication with Father.  Whether we realize it or not, it is our first connection with Him.  It is our initial and foremost indication that we are growing in God’s love.  It is through our heart (prayer) God confirms that we are functioning in His love and are on the right track.  As we said, He also confirms in our heart where and when the world around is consistent with His love.

In prayer, we give Him the praise for who He is as we recognize all that He does for us – praise and thanksgiving are important in our relationship.  We set our petitions before Him – what I need, like to have or even how do I resolve this particular situation.  Or (WHOA!) even just thanking Him for all that He has done for us.  We can even share our feelings or just our thoughts with Him - in prayer. 

As we expect results, our prayer should be spoken.  Father spoke words and created all things (Gen. 1:1-31).  We don’t necessarily have to ‘shout’ it out.  Samuel’s mom, Hannah, quietly spoke her prayer to God for a son.  She prayed in her heart, only her lips moved.  Eli saw her and thought she was drunk [crazy woman] (1 Sam. 1:9-13).  We need to pray (talk) with Father, BUT we also, then have to listen to see what Father has to say to us.  How can we follow His direction and learn if we don’t recognize His voice?  We recognize His voice because we are continuing to grow in His love.  Jesus says that His sheep know His voice and He knows us (John 10:25-29). PTL!

The prophet Samuel, as a young boy, had to learn to hear God’s voice.  Three times, as he lay upon his bed, he thought he heard his mentor Eli call him.  Three times Eli sent him back to bed – he had hadn’t called Him.  But, Eli finally got the message and told Samuel if he hears the voice again say “Speak Lord, for your servant hears” (1Sam. 3:1-10).  The fourth time God spoke to Samuel, the young boy did as he was told and began a wonderful relationship with Father. 

A friend and neighbor of mine, years ago, said “I don’t get it.  I don’t hear God like you say do but every time I have a problem and I go to Him with that problem, I don’t hear anything.  Then I get this crazy urge to get my bible out.  I do and find myself discovering a passage and guess what?  There’s the answer I needed!  Of course, we also have our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus as well as various counsellors who also can help us.  And yes, we do have to be careful as to inputs into our lives.  What or who must be connected with Father through Jesus.

We said, the last time, God’s love is agape love, that is all giving, all caring, all edifying and all personal – as we share our lives with Him. 

Applying that love is the easiest or the hardest part to do.  How quickly do we yield to Him or how hard do we resist what He says?  As we grow in Christ Jesus, so grows our understanding of the depth and breadth of the love Father has for us.  We don’t get the full package the day we say “Save me Jesus.”  The depth and breadth of Father’s love is so vast, it takes a lifetime to grasp the whole of His love for us. 

If we are quick learners, we can get a big chunk of love early in our walk.  However, if one is slow like myself, it may be the day of rapture or until Father calls us home (natural death) before we fully comprehend God’s great love.  Even if then, but when we are with Him in eternity, we will surely know.  In the meantime, I’ll take all the love He gives me. 

Applying?  Just how bold are we to take a chance and apply what Father shows us?  It’s great that we believe and trust God in His love.  Jesus challenged the Jews that if they didn’t believe Him, at least believe the works which He did (John 10:38).  God created all that exists through His works (Gen 1:1-31), Jesus did many good works and miracles during His ministry.  So we may conclude that faith without works is dead (meaningless).  We show our trust in Father, our faith, by doing the works He gives us to do in this world (James 2:14-20). And Jesus reminds us that as we believe in Him, we can do the same works He did.  Just ask (John 14:1-14).  Our works will be tried by fire.  When good, we receive a reward, when bad, loss is suffered yet the man himself will be saved (1 Corinth. 3:11-15).

Saul (the apostle Paul) was a Christian’s biggest nightmare in his early days (Acts 9:1-2).  Paul was a Pharisee.  Pharisees were members of the sect that believed in resurrection and in following legal traditions that were ascribed, not necessarily by the Bible, but through “the traditions of the fathers.” Like the scribes, they were also well-known legal experts (Britannica.com) in the bible.  Paul declared himself a Pharisee among Pharisees (Acts 23:6).  In other words, Paul was a Pharisee ‘to the bone’, lock, stock and barrel, completely.  But look what happened to him through the love of Jesus.  Not only did Paul ‘get saved’ but immediately, he went out and preached Jesus (Acts 9:17-20).  A 180 degree turn around. Paul already had the knowledge from the scriptures.  Jesus converted his heart!  Now, He understood them.  If you will, the love of God took over Paul’s heart and life.  Paul was a quick learner, he also had a strong foundation in the Torah (the Law), prophets and Psalm and he put his faith to work immediately.  But, how many are like me?  It may take us a little longer to get the ball rolling, but in the end, as with Paul, let our results glorify Father!

I’ve shared with you that we need to receive God’s love, abide in that love and grow in that love.  Of course, we start with Jesus, add prayer, reading and learning the bible, seeking additional help through nature around us, the people Father puts into our lives and then by doing what Father has shown us.  We show our love, trust and obedience to Father by doing ‘works’ to further His kingdom.  And through those works is how we express our love to those around us.

I’ve shared some tools to help identify resources available to help us grow in Father’s love.

My prayer is that we all take advantage of what Father has set before us.

Amen


Saturday, April 6, 2024

4-6-2024    Building a Foundation

For the past several years now, I have been following and (occasionally) posting responses to posts by Henryp Jonson.  I’m still confused if the ‘p’ is actually part of his first name or his middle initial (oh well).  Henryp is a pastor in the Philippines.  I started following him as he was posting photos of the building of his church.  And I do mean – literally – building his church.  He laid the physical foundation for the building, brought in the timbers for the framework, walls, etc.  He and his congregation built the church from the ground up.  Since then, also on Facebook, he has shown the activities and growth of his fellowship.  He’s even brought in special speakers to help his fellowship grow.  Now I didn’t come in as Henryp was building his ‘flock’, but it was indeed, the church members who built the church.

I mention Henryp because before any church can succeed, it has to have a foundation in, of and for the people.  The actual church consists of the body of people who are in attendance but, it is also nice to have a place where we can come and gather together, living in and sharing what Father has done for us – in person.  There’s just something special about being, in unity, with other Christians.     

But first, let’s consider erecting a building.  Any builder knows that before a house can be constructed, it needs a solid foundation.  Before construction can even start, the ground must be settled, solid as a rock, so the building won’t sink into the ground and collapse (Matt. 7:24-27).  He assures that his building surface is level and can support the building he intends to erect.  As example, growing up, my mom decided to covert our front porch into an extension of our living room.  It looked great, inside and out.  But after several years, the ground upon which the extension was situated, began to settle.  It was livable but a crack emerged where the new edition connected to the original.  By the grace of God, it wasn’t a separation of the two sections, yet it was noticeable what had happened.  The house I’m living in now has no such problems, but the house is not level.  Shortly after I moved in, I noticed that if I placed a round 0bject on the floor at one end of my living room, all by itself, the object would start rolling towards the other side of the room until it hit something to stop it.  The foundation may have been sure but it certainly was not level.  When something is placed on the floor, that something should stay put.

Once the cornerstone is laid and the foundation is ‘squared away’, the building can be erected safely and effectively.  That is the house will be square and level, side to side, top to bottom and the floor will be level to gravity.

Now let’s look at how to build a spiritual foundation.  There are many bodies (churches) within the body of Christ so there are many different places where the body gathers.  According to the National Congregational Study Survey, there are an estimated 380,000 churches in the U.S.  There are more than 45,000 Christian denominations globally and more than 200 denominations in the U.S., according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity. Most of the denominations came to be after the Protestant Reformation in 1517.  Again, there are over 200 denominations in the U.S.,  which includes, Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, other ‘main stream’ (traditional) churches, Pentecostal, Full Gospel, Apostolic plus assorted variations and ‘Independent’ fellowships. 

Not all denominations and/or congregations believe exactly the same so foundation becomes very important.  No, we’re not going to discuss the differences between the 200 denominations, much less the 380,000 congregations (churches) in the U.S.  But consider, on an average, there are 7600 churches in each state of various denominations or non-affiliated churches.  As of June 2023 and according to http://statista.com/statics/, 31% of Americans claim to never attend a church while only 20% claim weekly attendance. That leaves about half our nation somewhere in between.  How many churches exist in your town or city?  According to https://www.churchfinder.com/, there are 97 churches in my hometown which has a population of 43,700+.  That means, on average in my town, 91 people attend a church service on a weekly basis.  Yes, some churches are larger and some smaller so this doesn’t mean every church in my town has ninety members.  Getting the picture?

The body of Christ should be in unity.   

So, with so many ‘fellowships’ in the nation or even locally, basic foundation becomes very important.  And that’s what we’re going to talk about – what foundation really is important to us? 

As Christians, we believe that God is (period), end of discussion.  If this isn’t true, then what do we believe in?  The Big Bang?  Evolution?  What do we expect after this life is over.  Anything? 

In the beginning God!  God created the heaven and the earth (Gen. 1:1). 

There was nothing before Him (Isa. 43:10-11) and He has created all things (Gen. 1:1).

God is Spirit so we worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24).  That is our spirit must connect with His and it does through the Holy Ghost (1 Corinth. 2:13-16). 

And God is love and we know this as His Spirit (the Holy Ghost) abides in us (1 John 4:6-13).  Now, love in 1 John is the Greek word agapao (G25), to love in a social or moral sense.  Which would include agape (G260) which is benevolent affection,  to hold dear, or charity.  God explains to Jeremiah that His love is everlasting (Jer. 31:3).  Here, the Hebrew word used is ahba (H160) which is love between friends, within the family, loyalty to and could include romantic.  Nonetheless, God is love!

We also know that God sent His only begotten Son into this world to redeem us back unto Himself because we departed from Him through disobedience (John 3:16, Gen. 3:1-24).

There is no greater love than a man lay down his life for his friend (John 15:13).  Agape is used in this passage.  ‘Lay’, in laying one’s life down, is the Greek word tithemi (G5087) which is effectively taking the place of.  Through Jesus, God took our place on the cross (1 Peter 2:21-25).  And yes, literally over the centuries, many Christians have (literally) died for their faith, but there is another connotation here.  Jesus tells us we must deny (die to) ourselves (Luke 9:23-26).  That is to reject the ways of the world and abide (live in/for) the love of Jesus. 

So, what do we mean by abiding in His love?

Throughout the whole bible, Father explains His love towards us AND how we can return our love to Him.  Practically speaking we show our love towards Father by seeking His will (Matt. 6:33), then applying His will into our lives (James 2:14-26).  We believe.  Praise the Lord!  But Father also wants us to show what we believe by ‘loving’ others.  Doing something good for someone else.

We’ll mention the ten commandments here: love the Lord above else, no statues, don’t use God’s name flippantly (loosely), honor the Sabbath, give mom and dad their due respect and, of course, don’t kill, steal, commit adultery, lie or desire that which belongs to our neighbor (Exod. 20:3-17).  Go back and read all of James 2 and draw a deeper connection.  Jesus summed up love in a single statement which has two parts: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and then love your neighbor as yourself  (Mark 12:28-31, Matt. 22:36-40).  Surpsrise!  Even the Jews knew this (Luke 10:25-27).

Jesus gives us many examples on how to love our neighbor.  The man who had been beaten and robbed and another man (a Samaritan) took the wounded man to an inn, paid for the room and told the innkeeper that, upon his return, he would cover any additional costs (Luke 10:30-37).  Peter and John, at the beautiful Gate at the temple, had no money to give the lame man, so they offered him what they had – “stand up and walk”, and the man did (Acts 3:1-8).  Paul tells Timothy to flee evil things but follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, patience, meekness, don’t ever give up but cling to our eternal promise.  Be willing to share your faith and be accountable to God (1 Tim. 6:11-14).  Some doable suggestions.  We all don’t have to literally ‘die for Jesus’, but in turning away from worldly things and living for Jesus is death to the ‘old man’ and life to the new man in Christ Jesus (Col. 3:1-4, 2 Corinth. 5:14-21).  Keep in mind that we don't do 'works' to get saved.  We do them because we are saved.  Let the new man live in us through the Holy Ghost,

Helping other people helps them to become all that they can be.  Paul tells us that everything we do should be done to edify the body (Eph. 4:15-16 ).  He also tells us to excel in edifying the church (1 Corinth. 14:12, 14:26, read all verses 1-40).

We can go on and on with examples, but I pray that we are getting the picture. 

The Holy Ghost will comfort us because He dwells within us (John 14:16-17). He will lead us into all truth (John 16:13-14) and understanding (1 Corinth. 2:5-16).  He is our teacher (John 14:26). He is our strength to live this life (Eph. 3:16).  He gives us authority (G1849 exousia)  over sickness, disease and over the power (G1411 dynamis) of devils (Matt. 10:1, Luke 9:1).  He will l protect us (Rom. 8:26-28).  To receive the full benefit of the Holy Ghost working in us and through us, we have to give Him free reign in our lives, that is don’t quench the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19).And Father gives us that direct connection with Him through the Holy Ghost.  He edifies me and yet has His a place in the church (1 Corinth. 14:1-19).

 Our foundation is built on more than just the belief that Jesus has saved us.  We do have an obligation on our part.  And we do have help to accomplish our tasks - the Holy Ghost - and our brothers in Christ.

So what is our foundation built upon? It should be to love our heavenly Father with every ounce of energy we have and then showing that love that through our actions.  We should help others in need.  We should endeavor to help others to be all that they can be.   And knowing the Holy Ghost is in us and will guide us, teach us and protect us and be our strength to accomplish all that Father has laid before us.

We can go into greater detail, but I pray this is enough to get the ball rolling, if it isn’t already on the move in our lives.  

Once the foundation is laid, we have the hope and promise that Jesus will be with us always (Matt. 28:20).  He will help us to become all we can be.

So again, I ask “Upon what is our foundation built?

Amen