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, April 10, 2021

 

4-10-2021 Angels Watching Over Us (Part 1)

                

Does Father actually have angels watching over us?  Do you believe in guardian angels? 

The bible tells us about two specific angels.  Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God and is sent to speak to us (Luke 1:19), and Michael.  In Revelation, Michael fought with the dragon (Rev. 12:7-9) and against the ‘prince of the kingdom of Persia’ (a demonic spirit in this world, Dan. 10:8-14).

Angels minister to the heirs of salvation (us) (Heb. 1:13-14).

They are given charge over us to keep us in all our ways (Psalm 91:11).

They are our fellow servants in Christ Jesus and should not be worshipped (Rev. 18:1, 19:9-10).

Father can send legions to protect us as with Elisha and his servant (2 Kings 6:15-18).  Jesus told His disciples that Father would send twelve legions of angels to save Him, all He had to do was ask (Matt. 26:52:53).

God told Moses that He would send an angel before them (Israel) to guide and keep them as they travel as they journeyed to the place Father had prepared for them (Exod. 23:20-22).

Angels sit in the presence of God and worship Him (Rev. 4:1-11). 

They are God’s Messengers, as with Mary with the birth of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38).

Angels of God are for our protection (Psalm 91:1-16).   What they do for Jesus, they also do for us (Luke 10:18-20).

They minister God’s judgment (Rev. 9:12-21).  Remember Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:1-26)?

And they are God’s warriors (2 Kings 6:15-17).

Obviously there are more angels than the two named.  Father has also set angels to help us with the three areas or (spheres) of spiritual warfare to provide help and protection for His children.  Each sphere is responsible for a realm and has three sections, or choirs, of responsibility.

What we ‘know’ about angels is derived primarily from studies by the church scholars such as Origen (184 AD – 254 AD), and Catholic tradition.  Origen suggested that there are three choirs, (sub-groups) of angels set to each of the three spheres (primary groups) set to do battle on our behalf in the natural, the spiritual and for our heart. 

But just what are some of the things these angels do?  (reread the opening lines)

For a basic understanding of their responsibilities, we will look at the three spheres starting with what we understand the best – us, the natural man.  Then we’ll move through the second sphere (our spirit) finishing with the first sphere – our heart, our relationship with our Father.

The third sphere of angels deals with the natural man.   Three choirs, in this sphere, are responsible for what goes on in this natural world around us and these choirs are: Principalities, Archangels and Angels.

Principalities

The Greek word for “principality” is arche (746).  Strong’s defines them as chief of order, time place or rank, the beginning, the corner, magistrate, power or rule. 

We find references in Ephesians 1:20-23 where Jesus is given power over all things and is the head of the church.  And we see we are complete in Christ who is the head of all principality and power (Col. 2:9-10).  Oooh! You mean Jesus is above all the angels?

In the New Testament, Principalities refer to one type of spiritual beings which rule over specific areas pertaining to this earthly realm.  Remember, demons are fallen angels, so it is logical that they, too, would have specific areas of responsibility and of course demons would be quite hostile to God and human beings.  This is exampled in Daniel Chapter ten where the angel had to contend with the “Prince of Persia” (a demonic influence) to bring Daniel the answer to his prayer.  Yet, Christ rules over everything, giving us salvation through His conquering sin and death, shedding His blood, the cross, and giving the church access to this knowledge (Rom. 8:38; 1 Cor. 15:24;  Eph. 1:20-22; 3:10; 6:12; Col. 1:12-18; 2:10, 15).  Understanding this should help when we read that we don’t wrestle against other people, but against the spiritual forces that motivate them (Eph. 6:12)

Principalities, if you will, influence the “air” or “atmosphere” around us, here on earth.

Archangels

Jesus will call us home with the voice of an archangel (1 Thess. 4:16 and Michael is referred to as an archangel (in scripture, Jude 9).

The Greek word used here is archaggellos (743) which Strong’s describes as a chief angel.  Note that this word is derived from aggellos (32) which is one who brings tidings or a message or – could be, hold on to your hat, a ‘pastor’ (think about it).  John writes to the angel of the church of Ephesus, of Smyrna, of Pergamos, of Thyatria, of Sardis, of Philadelphia and of Laodicea (Rev. 2:1 – Rev. 3:22).  Why would John write to an angel?  Implication is that angels in this passage represent the pastors of those churches.  Pastors watch over their ‘sheep’ (congregation) by bringing messages and tidings from God.

Now, Gabriel is generally also considered an archangel.  In fact, the book of Tobit (apocrypha from Catholic Church bibles), Eastern Orthodox and some of the “lost” books of the bible suggest that there may be as many as seven archangels. Raphael, Suriel, Zadkiel, Sarathiel, and Aniel along with Michael and Gabriel.  The “El” at the end of each name means “of God” while the rest of their name refers to their ministry.  As an example, Raphael brings God’s healing (Jehova Rapha – Raphael).  I’m not going any further here, but some sources you may read may use some different names for the archangels or cite more or fewer than seven.  Just letting you know. (but I’m hanging in there with Origen citing seven)

Michael and Gabriel are the most familiar Archangels. The Archangels have a unique role as God's messenger to the people at critical times in history.   

The angel Gabriel first appeared in the Old Testament, in the prophesies of Daniel, where he announced the prophecy of 70 weeks (Dan .9:21-27). He appeared to Zechariah to announce the birth of St. John the Baptist (Luke 1:11). It was also Gabriel which proclaimed the Annunciation to Mary that she would be the mother of our Lord and Savior (Luke 1:26).  However, let’s not forget Michael fighting the dragon (Rev.12:7-9)?

An implication may be that archangels deal with major events for man.

Angels

Staying with the Greek the words for angel are aggellos (32) and age (33).  To the definition mentioned earlier, age means to “go to”.  So we may say that angels go to whomsoever God sends them.  They are sent ones. (sound like anything else?)

These angels are closest to the material world and human beings. It is believed that they deliver man’s prayers to God and God's answers and other messages back to humans.  You say “Hold on a minute!  We have the Holy Ghost!”  And aren’t we, the children of God in which the Holy Ghost lives?  Yes, but what about those who have never received Jesus? 

Tradition also says that they can access any and all other Angels at any time. They are the most caring and social to assist us, who ask for help.  Consider the two angels who visited Abraham and then Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18:1-33, Gen. 19:1-22).  And the answer to Daniels prayer (Dan. 10:1-14).  Understand that, in Daniel, the “prince of Persia” was a spiritual entity (a demonic force) who opposed God.  Note also, in this passage, the angel with Daniel’s answer was not identified, but it was Gabriel who came and relieved this angel of his battle so he (the other angel) could deliver the prayer answer to Daniel.

An angel of the Lord reassured Joseph it was okay to take Mary as his wife (Matt. 1:20-21) and it was an angel of the Lord who freed Peter from prison (Acts 12:6-11).

So, this choir of angels might be called “God’s messengers” as they perform God’s will, interacting with us.

We have two more spheres to deal with and we’ll do that with the blog’s next entry in two weeks.

Amen

Saturday, March 27, 2021

3-27-2021 The Prodigal Son & Today’s Church

                                       I'm my own man now!                            Boy, did I blow it!

Jesus was sharing a series of parables with His disciples when He shared the one of the ‘Prodigal Son’.  Interesting, only Luke (the historian) records this parable.  Interesting, because it does deal with attitudes and repentance reflecting our ability to regain eternal fellowship with our heavenly Father.  Jesus had just shared the parables of the ‘Lost sheep’ and the ‘Lost coin’ when He shared the ‘Prodigal son’, all depicting the joy when something lost is found, when one who is without salvation comes into eternal life.  The prodigal, if you will, brings it home for us.

Luke 15:11-32

11        And He (Jesus) said a certain man had two sons

12        The younger said to his father “Give to me the inheritance which will be mine.”  So the father divided the inheritance between his two sons. 

13        Not many days later, the younger son gathered all that he had and traveled to another country and wasted his money on ‘living the good life’.  (Party city!)

14        After he had spent all his money, a mighty famine rose up in the land and he found himself in need (broke, with nothing, nada).

15        So he hired himself out to a citizen of that country who sent him into the fields to feed the pigs.

16        He would have fainted (gotten sick and/or died) had he not eaten the husks that the pigs ate for no one would give him anything to eat.

17        When he came to his senses, he asked himself “How many of my father’s hired servants have enough bread even to spare and here I am starving?

18        I will get up and go back to my father and say to him “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you,

19        I am no longer worthy to be called your son, so take me back (even) as one of your hired servants.”

20        He arose and came to his father.  While he was yet a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion so he ran and fell upon his (son’s) neck and kissed him.

21        Then, the son said to him “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight and I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.”

22        But his father said to his servants “Bring forth our best robe and put it on him and put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet.

23        And bring the fatted calf here and kill it and let us eat and be merry

24        For this, my son, was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found.” And they began to rejoice and be glad.

25        Now, the older son had been in the field and as he drew near the house, he heard the music and the dancing.

26        He called one of the servants and asked “What’s going on?”

27        And the servant replied “Your brother has returned and your father has killed the fatted calf because he has received him (home) safe and sound.”

28        The older brother was angry and would not go in, so his father came out and urged him to join them.

29        But the older son said to his father “All these years I have served you, neither have I ever gone against any of your commandments.  But you never gave me (not even) a kid to make merry with my friends.

30        Yet, as soon as your son returned, (he) who wasted all he had on harlots, you have killed the fatted calf for him!

31        And he (father) said to him “Son, you have always been with me and all that I have is yours

32`       But it is necessary that we rejoice and be glad, for your brother was dead but he is alive again, he was lost and is found.”

Okay.  Take note that dad didn’t refuse to let his younger son to take what he had coming and leave.  God gives us free choice, as well.  We can choose to receive Jesus or reject Him.  We even have the freedom to walk away, even after we have once received our Lord into our lives.  We can take all the good that Father has given us and walk back ‘into the world’, leaving God behind.  Of course this may not be such a good idea for Father tells us it is better to have never experienced His goodness than to have known it and turned away (2 Peter 2:21-22).

This young man thought he knew better and took all he had and ‘blew’ it another country.  We get the picture of wine, women, song ...  Scripture doesn’t spell it out but it definitely leaves us with impression that once his money ran out, so did all his friends for no one would give him anything to eat.  They were all gone, he could buy no more wine or women or friends and he, apparently, had no place to stay.

Oh, how many of us, when we were young, concluded we knew better than mom and dad?  (Oops! Was that my hand going up?)  We feel like we’re going to live forever so live it up now.  Why plan for the future?  Right? 

So he found a man who would give him a place to sleep and food to eat (so to speak).  He tended the man’s pigs.  Now, I’ve never actually been to a pig farm but, driving up route 81 (towards Chambersburg, PA) I have passed one.  Even with car windows rolled up, one can get a ‘whiff’ of those wonderful ‘aromas’ filling the air!  (lol)  Now, I don’t mind eating corn on the cob, but the term ‘husks’ (according to Webster’s and Strong’s) is the outer covering of the corn kernel.  Wow!  Sounds really nutritious, doesn’t it?

So, NOW, the first smart thing this young man does is make a right decision.  He decides to go back to his father and tell him that he’s sorry for leaving and to tell him that he realizes, that even though he has hurt no man, he has left the ‘comforts’ and safety of his father’s home and rejected his dad, deeply hurting his father.

As the young man is coming home, his dad sees him off in the distance.  Picture this, this boy is probably disheveled, ragged and dirty, but dad runs out and hugs and kisses him.  Letting the boy know that he still loves him, no matter what he may have done or how he may look.

Even when we walk away from our heavenly Father, quit praying, quit church, quit reading the bible, God still loves us.  So when we truly repent, no matter how we look, He receives us back into His fold with open arms!  “Father, I have sinned against heaven and You, I’m sorry.  Result: huggy, huggy, kissy, kissy, ‘welcome home’ son.   Understand that when the boy left, his relationship with his father died – there was none.  Without his father’s guidance he became lost.  Understand his father’s comments when ‘his son was lost and is found, was dead and is now alive!’

The prodigal son is restored back into full sonship with the father.  The robe represents ‘ you have regained access to my storehouses’, the ring restored full authority and the sandals ‘walk in my ways’, you are not a servant,  but again my son.  Jesus tells us “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15) – and live.   

When we repent, Father receives us in the same way.  Yet, our obligation is not only to ‘know’ Jesus’ commandments, but then to walk in them (James 2:17-20) renewing our minds daily (Rom. 12:1-2) enabling us to be able walk in Jesus’ steps.  All heaven rejoices when one sinner repents (Luke 15:7).  Obedience is important to Father (Psalm 34:18-22, 51:15-17).  Keep in mind that should we walk away, we need to repent and come back.  As Christians, we can turn our back on the Lord.  Think, how much more would heaven and the angels rejoice when those who  have turned away repent and come back?

Consider the workers in the field of the householder.  The man went out several times throughout the day and hired workers.  They all agreed to work for so much and at the end of the day, those who had worked all day were paid the same as those who had only worked a few hours (Matt. 20:1-16).  Seems a little unfair, but when we consider that the wages we are talking about here are eternal life, how can one of us have more eternal life than another, even though some may have entered into it sooner?

I’m not going to discuss the pros and cons, the right or wrong of the older son, but as things come into perspective for us, I think we all can understand the situation.

In summary, let’s put the prodigal son into perspective.  When someone confesses Jesus as Savior, coming into the kingdom of God, we are accepted into His fold.  An infant is still a son though he really knows nothing and can’t do much.  We need to grow in the Spirit, God’s love.  Even as the child grows and learns to ‘take care of himself’ and make the right decisions, as young Christians, we need to learn God’s will and how to abide in His love.  A child walks under tutors and governors until the time his father has appointed (Gal. 4:1-6).  Father sets teacyhers and Spiritual guides into our lives to help us grow.  Set aside chronological age here, we’re talking Spiritual age.  Spiritual age is determined by how deeply we are abiding in the love of God!  Not just how much do we know.  Satan knows the bible, forward and backward, more so than any Christian but he still ‘chooses’ to separate himself from Father.  Don’t forget, Satan quoted scripture against Jesus in the wilderness, BUT Jesus came back with the ‘whole’ truth (Matt. 4:1-11).

The prodigal son wasted his inheritance which his father had given him, after he left.  Consider bank accounts, cars, homes, etc., all that stuff would be gone.  The son wasted it.  Those original items are his-to-ry.  But it doesn’t mean that those things can’t be replaced (in this world and/or the next) with different items, once we come back into the kingdom. 

Father gives every human a ‘gift’ which is without repentance, which means one doesn’t have to be ‘saved’ to have it.  Doubt me?  Look at the world of entertainment!  How many performers have awesome talents but they don’t know the Lord?  Yet, Father enhances those gifts as we use them for His glory.

As with the prodigal son, our recommitment to the Lord, restores those of us who have wandered, back into the Lord’s fold.  We, once again become full sons (and daughters) of our Father in heaven.  We may not have all that we had before, but we can start regaining, through our obedience to our Father, perhaps gain even more.  And we do this by discovering how to live in God’s love, becoming obedient to Him eternally.  Read the gospel of John!  Read the letters that the apostle Paul!  And once we’ve done that, go back, starting with Genesis and read the whole bible through Revelation to see the depth and breadth of God’s love toward us.

Jesus can restore us and when our heart is, once again right with the Lord, Father wraps His loving arms around us as He looks forward to the time when He can say to us “Welcome, My good and faithful servant (son) (Matt. 25:21).

Amen

 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

 

3-13-2021 Entry into Jerusalem & the Last Supper



What was going on with Jesus just before He entered Jerusalem?

Let’s set the stage for Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday.  Just what was He doing before that day?  Not going to go into detail here, but just going to mention some notable points. 

Of course, He was still ministering.  He was always ministering.  He shared the parable of the householder who went out searching for workers and where He told His disciples “He who was first shall be last and he who was last shall be first (Matt. 20:1-16, Mark 10:29-31).

He prophesied His death to the disciples (Mark 10:32-34).

As He explained the kingdom of God, He told His disciples that they had to receive it like a little child (Mark 10:13-16).  That is with absolute trust, not doubting (James 1:5-7).

He shared with the rich man what it took to inherit eternal life? (Mark 10:17-25).

Depending on the gospel, either James and John or their mom (for them) expressed the desire to be on left and right hand of Jesus in the kingdom (Matt.20:20-23, Mark 10:35-45).  Jesus had to get that set in order for it was not His to give but for whom it was prepared.

Mary anointed Jesus (for His burial) wiping His feet with her hair (John 12:1-8).

And, of course, He did not neglect healing folks (Matt. 20:30-34, Mark 10:47-52).

In short, He continued doing what He always did - ministered

Now, we’re going to talk about His entry into Jerusalem and the last supper for a bit.  This will be a compilation of the events from the four gospels.

Entry into Jerusalem (Matt. 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-14, Luke 19:29-41 & John 12:12-16)

At Bethpage and Bethany, just outside Jerusalem, Jesus sent two disciples to get a donkey, upon which no man has sat) and her colt for Him to ride into the city.  He told them that if any challenged them they would say the Lord needs them and they would be able to bring the donkey and her colt.  They set their clothes upon the donkey and then they set Jesus thereon also.  Then a great multitude spread their garments and palm branches in Jesus’ path to Jerusalem shouting “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”  And as He came into Jerusalem, people wondered who He was and the multitude said “Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth!”  Some of the Pharisees asked Jesus to quiet the people down and Jesus responded “I tell you that if I should ask them to hold their peace, these stones would then cry out.”

Now, take note that when Jehu was anointed king over Israel the people made a big commotion (2 Kings, 9:11-13).  The Psalm and the prophets tell how Israel should rejoice when the rejected stone is become the corner (Psalm 118:1-29), riding upon a donkey (Zech. 9:9).  And we need to remember that Jesus was ins the ‘natural’ lineage of King David (Matt. 1:1-17).

Father reminds me of the movie Cleopatra (1963) and all the big fuss which was made over her entry into Rome.  I can imagine the atmosphere for Jesus was much the same, just no dignitaries to greet Him.  Jerusalem may not have seen such a display since the Magi came looking for the infant Jesus.

The Last Supper         (Matt. 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-25, Luke 22:7-38 & John 13:1-17:26)

On the first day of the feast of the unleavened bread Jesus gathered with His disciples in the upper room.  Jesus had sent Peter and John (Luke 22:8) before to go and follow a man carrying a pitcher of water to meet the man who would provide the room.  That evening the twelve sat down with Jesus.

As they ate, Jesus announced that He would be betrayed by one of the twelve, who was eating with Him.  Of course, they all wondered who.  Jesus said “He who dips his hand with me in the dish.  I follow the path given Me, but for he who betrays me, it would be better that he had not been born.”  At that point Judas Iscariot asked if it were him and Jesus replied “As you say.”

Jesus then took the bread, blessed it and passed it among His disciples saying “Take, eat, this is My body which is given for you.  Do this remembering Me.”

You may say “Okay, we observe the body and blood of Jesus in the bread and wine and that’s cool.”  Remember, Jesus IS the Father “in the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God (in our midst) (John 1:1-3, 14Matt. 1:23).  He had to become and show us that living in His love could be done and in so doing, He would take our sins upon Himself that we would not be burdened by them – for eternity.  He gives us the Holy Ghost within our hearts to help us live for Him.  His own blood washes us clean from those sins so when the Father looks at us He sees the cleansing of Jesus as the Holy Ghost helps us to live for Him.  Those who ‘stand with the Lord shall be found in the ‘book” (Dan. 12:1-3).  Those who overcome shall be in the ‘book of life’.  We will experience the new heaven and the new earth, God will dwell with us and be our God.  There will be no more death, sorrow or pain and He will wipe away our tears.  We shall drink of the river of life freely and we shall be God’s sons (Rev. 21:1-7).

We remember Jesus with the bread and wine but it also represents our eternal existence with Him.  Hallelujah!

And He took the cup and giving thanks He said “Drink all of it.  This is My blood of the new testament which is shed for many for the remission of sins.  But I say to you that I will not drink the fruit of the vine again until I drink it new, with you, in My Father’s kingdom.”

Luke notes that Jesus also told the disciples that He desired to eat this Passover with them before suffering (the cross).  Luke also relays what Jesus says about who is great in the kingdom of God and that the twelve will judge the twelve tribes of Israel.  He also brings out where Jesus tells Peter that Satan desires to sift him but he is the strength of his brothers (so it won’t happen).  Jesus also prophesies that Peter will deny Him three times before the cock crows.  And Jesus gives His companions some traveling instructions.

Now, John only ‘mentions’ the supper, but starts his account when Jesus gets up and washes the disciples feet.  Jesus sets things in order, who we are, who He is and who the Father is (John 13:5-20).  Jesus knows that Satan has entered Judas so Jesus says to Judas “Do what you have to do, quickly (John 13:27).” Then, from that point through the next four chapters (that is through John 17:26) Jesus explains to His disciples, the depth and breadth of love.  What it means, what it takes and the benefits of living in love. 

Understand, that from the writing of the Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament) until the 9th century, the books of the bible were divided into paragraphs for reading purposes.  The chapters (as we know them) were developed in the 13th Century.  Verses came along when Robert Estienne developed the system we now use in 1551. 

Jesus caps these five chapters with “Neither do I pray for these alone but for all those who would believe on Me through their word.  I would that they all would be one, Father, as You are in Me and I in You.  I would that they would be one in Us that the world would believe that You have sent Me. 

And I have given them the glory You gave Me that they may be one as we are one.  I in them and You in Me that they would be made perfect in one.  I would that the world would know that You have sent Me and that You have loved them just as You have loved Me. 

I desire, Father, that those whom You have given Me would be with Me where I am that they might behold the glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

Oh, righteous Father, the world has not known You but I have known You and these whom You have sent Me, know You.  I have declared Your name to them and I will continue to declare it so that the love with which You have loved Me would also be in them and that I would be in them. (John 17-20-26)”

And when they had sung a hymn, they went to the Mount of Olives.  

I didn’t go into detail with these five chapters from John for they equal just about one fourth of that gospel.  To talk about all contained in those chapters would take a book again. Read the accounts here from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but don’t just read about the entry and the partaking of the bread and the cup …, but take a special note of the five chapters in John.  Ask Father to help us understand what is being said.

Remember, as you read each account, Mathew and Mark relate their accounts of what they felt important of their encounter with Jesus.  Luke was an historian who tried to get the ‘facts’ together for people so they might understand (Luke 1:1-4). And John?  John tries to get us in touch with the heart of Jesus.  After it was he who laid his head on Jesus’ chest at the Last Supper (John 13:23).

May the Lord be with you.  Jesus asked as much!

Amen

Saturday, February 27, 2021

 

2-27-2021 Temptations of Christ (revisitied)

           

  

This day (2-22-21) Father brought the “Temptations of Christ” back to my mind.  I was feeling a little “down” and I needed this jolt to pick my spirits back up.  I also wondered if anyone else also needed a little ‘kick-in-the-keester’.  Originally published June 20, 2020, here it is again with some minor adjustments.                 

After His baptism by John, in the Jordan, Jesus had a ‘little’ encounter with the Devil

Matt. 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13

1          Returning from Jordan and being full of the Holy Ghost, Jesus was led, by the Spirit, into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

2          After fasting and having been tempted by the devil for forty days, Jesus became hungry.

3          And when the tempter came to Him, he said “If You are the Son of God, command these stones to be made bread.”

4          But, Jesus answered “It is written that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

5          Then, the devil took Him up to the holy city and set Him upon a pinnacle of the temple.

6          He said to Him “If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down for it is written that He will give His angels charge concerning You and that their hands should bear you up unless You should dash your foot against a stone.”

7          Then, Jesus said “It is written that “You shall not tempt the Lord, your God.” (Matt. 4: 5-7 corresponds with Luke 4:9-12).

8          Again, the devil took Him to an exceedingly high mountain and in a moment of time showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory and said “I will give You all this power with their glory.  It is given to me to give to whomsoever I will.”

9          And he said to Jesus “I will give you all these things if You will fall down and worship me.”

10        Then, Jesus responded “Get away, Satan, for it is written you shall worship the Lord your God and only Him shall you worship” (Matt. 4:8-10 correspond with Luke 4:5-7).

11        Then, when the devil had ended, he left Him and behold, angels came and ministered unto Him (Jesus).

Back on February 16, 2019, I talked briefly about how the angels in heaven are organized to fight Satan’s three-pronged attack against man.  I mentioned that there are three spheres of angels, each with three choirs (or ‘subsets’).  Each sphere has a realm of operation and each choir has responsibilities within its sphere.  Origen (AD184) is the primary source who ordered the spheres and choirs of angels and though others may have adjusted it from time to time, Origen’s version is what is generally accepted.

Okay, the stage is set.

Look at the three temptations Jesus faced in the wilderness.  Note that Luke says that Jesus was tempted for forty days.  Matthew only references these temptations cited here.  If you will, these last three temptations came as the ‘icing on the cake’.

These three temptations are important because they depict the three main areas in which Satan attacks us – the body, the soul and the spirit.  All three of these areas are involved in spiritual warfare.

The first temptation, the bread:

At this stage of the game, Satan knows Father will give Jesus anything He asks so he knows that Jesus can easily command the stones of the ground to become edible bread to satisfy His hunger.  This is the ‘natural’ man, or the body.  Meeting the physical needs of our body, sustenance (where are my twinkies! Lol). 

Jesus knows there is something more important than just taking in physical sustenance.  He knows that our spirit also needs to be fed.  We do that by reading the bible to gain understanding how Father operates in our lives and then through us.  The bible helps us to qualify God’s Word and how His love operates in and around us.  Yes, we live here on planet earth and because we are temporal (temporarily here)) we need food to survive but our spirits also need to be fed.  When we don’t eat food on a regularly basis, our bodies will eventually waste away and we die.  Likewise, if we don’t feed our spirits by reading the bible, prayer and true Christian fellowship, our spirits will also waste away – become dead to God.  Just as God takes care of the animals of the land, birds of the air, fish in the sea and plants in the ground, He will take care of us and our needs.  Yes?  As we walk with God, He will give us what we need and even our heart’s, desire as we line up with His will (Luke 12:22-31).  To do this, we have to have a relationship with Him.  We have to communicate with Him on a regular basis (1 Thess. 5:17), that is don’t wait until our troubles overwhelm us to seek His guidance.  After all, He is our friend.  Do we only go our friends only when we need their help or do we also, ‘just enjoy’ their company?

We need to trust more in Father rather than what we see in a situation.  So this first temptation addresses what we can hear, see, taste, etc., our physical needs, the body.

The second temptation, Jump off!?: 

Satan knew that the angels were set in charge of protecting Jesus in everything He did.  But, Jesus easily recognized Satan’s challenge to Father’s intent (Psalm 91:11-12).  Are we flippant in receiving what Father has for us or do we take it seriously?

Paul was unaware of the poisonous snake in the sticks he had gathered on the isle of Miletus.  The snake bit Paul.  The people knew that this snake’s bite meant and it would quickly bring death.  Paul shook it off into the fire had no ill effect (Acts 28:3-5).  God’s protection! 

Israel challenged God about bringing them into the wilderness to die of thirst at Massah.  Father did provide but He was not pleased that Israel had doubted Him (Exod. 17:1-7).  God had already brought them out of Egypt and parted the Red Sea, yet they were not trusting Him for a simple drink of water.

Father tells us not to tempt Him (Deut. 6:16-18).  Jesus knows that we should always trust Father for what we need (Psalm 104:1-30) and so should we.

Paul didn’t see the snake saying to himself “Hmmm, I see the snake, but I’m going to grab this bunch of sticks anyway for God will protect me.”  He was unaware of the snake, and in His innocence, Father did protect Him. 

Knowing He would be killed when hitting the ground below, Jesus did not jump off the pinnacle either.  In short, don’t put ourselves in obvious jeopardy, then expect Father to bail us out.  But, when we unwittingly find ourselves in a situation, God will protect us.    

I bought my first motorcycle from a dealership in Hyattsville, Md.  It was a lightweight, dirt bike, a Triumph 250cc, with knobby tires which put out less than 30 Horsepower (hp).  I had never ridden a bike at that time and the salesman asked me if I wanted to take a quick test spin.  Being bold and brazen, I said “sure.”  At the time, I owned a 383, 4 barrel, Hi-performance Plymouth Roadrunner putting out @335 hp.  A no brainer, the bike had about a tenth the power of my car.  A snap, right?  I hopped on, fired it up and took off.  In the blink of an eye, I was off the lot and into the street, narrowly missing a car coming up the road, which narrowly missed a telephone pole on the other side of the street.  I had no clue how quick that little rascal was.  I let off the gas, turned around and came back into the lot.  My buddy (who came with me), the salesman and the staff were all ‘bustin’ a gut.  I didn’t even really know God back then, but, as with Paul, Father was watching over me (and the lady in the car). 

Jesus recognized the difference between being in a situation and trusting Father or tempting Him so He was obedient to Father.  He told Satan to ‘buzz off’ (get behind Me).  We may still get ourselves into stupid situations as we are learning to live in God’s will, but we don’t deliberately put ourselves there.

This second temptation addresses what I will call spiritual, the needs of our human spirit, the seat of our emotions and mental functions, our psyche aka our rationale (our soul?).

 The third temptation, the heart: 

This is also ‘spiritual’, but it is more of ‘where is our heart’?  ‘Why’ do we do things rather than ‘just’ what have we decided to do.  This is the area that connects us with our Father.  This is the area where the Holy Ghost will take up resident within us and become our ‘driving force’ why do we do what we do.  Which drummer do we listen to motivate us?  Father showed me this by having me read “Pigs in the Parlor” by Frank and Ida Mae Hammond.  ‘Pneuma’ is the Greek word translated ‘spirit’ or breath and which is mostly used in reference to the Holy Spirit (or Ghost) where ‘psyche’ is the Greek word translated ‘soul’.  I’ve always believed that a demonic spirit and the Holy Ghost cannot occupy the same space at the same time ergo a Christian cannot be ‘possessed’.  Pigs in the Parlor is written to Christians so the church could be clean.  Father had to show me that though pneuma and psyche are in the same body, they are not the ‘same place’.  As Christians, we yield ourselves over to Father.  We give our ‘self-will’ over to being obedient to Father.  That is, we bring our soul (psyche, our decision making) into agreement with the Holy Ghost (residing in pneuma) promoting God’s will within us.  We give our heart over to the heart of God, uniting our will with Father’s will.  Without Jesus, our human spirit (being easily influenced by Satan) motivates what we do.  When we get ‘saved’, the Holy Ghost motivates what we do (do we listen?).  Which empowers the pneuma and motivates our thinking in the psyche which will generate our actions in the body.   We still have free-will but we should be agreeing with the Holy Ghost?  Get the picture?  When the enemy attacks, he attacks how we think and when the Holy Ghost is not present in ‘pneuma’ what’s to stop our enemy?

Satan takes Jesus up on a high mountain and shows Him all the kingdoms of the earth and how glorious (how powerful and magnificent) they are.  Now, the ultimate challenge – where was the heart of Jesus?  Remember, Jesus is Emmanuel (God is with us Matt. 1:23) but He was also here, in this world in a physical body (born of Mary (Matt. 1:24-25).

Satan makes Jesus an offer which would be tempting to most anybody.  A typical situation – you do this for me, look at what I’ll do for you.  So what is the offer?  Satan says “I’ll give you all the kingdoms of the world AND their riches and glory.  Basically, “I’ll give you anything and everything you ask and want.”  WOW!  No more worry about ‘hitting the lottery!  Never having any needs or wants anymore.  The first ‘trillionaire’!  People at my beck and call!  Who could resist?

The choice is ours and that choice brings results – good or bad.  Jesus stood fast against the devil because His heart was always in the right place (with Father).  Yes, He is the son of man, but He is also the Son of God.  Emmanuel, Savior (our gateway into eternal heaven).  But consider, Satan thought he could tempt the human side of Jesus because He was in the flesh, like us.  But not ‘just’ like us but similar.  Yes, He was born a ‘man’.  His Father is was not human but the Creator of all things, Almighty God!  Jesus resisted because He was filled with the Holy Ghost which Father gives us.  We, too, can resist the enemy because the Holy Ghost abides in us!  All we have to do is listen and obey God, then tell the devil “NO DEAL”!

So Jesus responded that we should worship the Lord God and worship only Him.  That is, our heart should be devoted totally to Father and we should always walk in His ways.  Jesus gave the devil a command “Get away, Satan!”  Jesus knew what Satan was doing, trying to draw the Son’s attention, steal His loyalty away from the Father.  Besides, Jesus is God (John 1:1).  He created everything so everything was already His! The worlds were created through the Word of God (Gen. 1:1-31)!  Likewise, as soon as we realize Satan has taken the offensive against us, we need to do the same “Get behind me, Satan, for Jesus is my Lord and Savior.  He is my eternal salvation and I will serve only the Father through Him”.

Helping us to make the right moves (of course) is the Holy Spirit, God in us.  We don’t fight alone because we have the Holy Spirit and a multitude of brothers and sisters willing to stand with us against the wiles of our enemy.  Oh, and don’t forget, we also have angels fighting with us as well – spheres and choirs of angels.  One sphere with three choirs helps us as we fight what we see in the natural, the things of this earth, our body.  The second sphere deals with Satan’s armies in the heavenlies helping us with our psyche, our emotions, decisions and values.  The third sphere which surrounds the throne of God helps us with establishing and maintaining our heart in a solid relationship with Father.  So Father has angels helping in every aspect of our warfare as we remember we don’t fight against flesh and blood but against powers, principalities, rulers of darkness of this world and against spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:11-18). 

We get an inkling to this warfare in Daniel where the angel is delayed, by the Prince of Persia, in bringing the answer to Daniel’s prayer (Dan. 10:10-14).  God is with us!  He gives us the Holy Spirit within and angels without.  We are surrounded by God’s love!  How can we lose (Acts 5:39, Rom. 8:31)?  All we have to do is listen to the Lord and be obedient to His Word.  And remember, Father will never put more on us than we are able to handle (1 Corinth. 10:13).

Though we battle in the natural, our true fight is in the spiritual.  When our heart is aligned with our Father, our emotions and thinking processes line up with His will.  When our ‘cognitive’ processes are lined up in God’s will, the body will follow suit. 

Our body and our desires line up with where our heart is and our heart is in tune with God’s love.  Body soul and spirit line up in unity and all is focused in God’s will.  We are not serving two masters, therefore we are not divided.  Jesus tells us that a house divided cannot stand (Matt. 6:24).  So when the body, soul and spirit are lined up under the influence of the Holy Ghost (in the Father through Jesus) we become single.  Who can stand against us?

The body is more than just bread.  We need to know what our freedom and limitations in Christ really involves.  In Christ Jesus, all things are lawful but not everything is expedient (1 Corinth. 10:23).  We have to know the Word to understand our relationship with Father so we can make the right decisions. And when our hearts are knitted together with the living God, we know that we are motivated by our heavenly Father and there is nothing Satan can offer us.  We know all power and authority abide in Christ Jesus (Matt. 28:18).  We know who we are.  We know who our enemy is but more, we know we are sustained by our Lord and through Him, we know the Father!  And therein lies our victory!

Amen

Saturday, February 13, 2021

 2-13-2021 True Conversion

          With our relationship with the Lord

Can someone go through the motions of accepting Jesus and yet not truly be converted from their sin?  In other words, can someone go through the motions of confessing Jesus and be baptized in water and still have an evil heart?  Can they experience a true conversion?

In a city of Samaria, there was a sorcerer named Simon.  Now this Simon tricked the people into thinking that he was somebody great.   Some even thought he had the power of God.  Philip came preaching the gospel in this city and many believed.  This Simon also believed and was baptized.  Now, none had yet received the Holy Ghost so Peter and John came to this city.  When Simon saw the people receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by Peter & John, Simon tried to buy this power.  Peter reprimanded him for thinking that he could buy this gift with money and said “Repent for your heart is not yet right with God.  Pray God that He may forgive the thought of your heart.”  The passage ends with Simon asking Peter to pray for him.  Because he was in the gall of bitterness, Simon most likely did not repent as Peter advised (Acts 8:9-24).

Now let’s examine the situation with Ananias and his wife Sapphira.  The new disciples would sell of what they had and bring it to the apostle’s feet so they could distribute to those in need.  Ananias and his wife sold “a” possession and laid a part of its price at the apostle’s feet.  Peter immediately asked him why he let Satan fill his (Aninias’) heart and come and lie to the Holy Ghost.  Ananias had promised the full price of what they had sold but only brought a portion of that price.  Once Ananias had sold the property, it was in his power to promise to God whatever portion he desired, one fourth, half but he promised the whole amount.  We don’t know if Ananias wrestled with what he was giving, all we know is that he did not give God what he had promised.  To show how serious God is about our promises, God took Ananias’ life – he gave up the ghost (human spirit of life).  He died!

About three hours later, his wife, Sapphira came in and Peter asked her how much she and her husband had received from the sale.  Sapphira agreed with her husband.  Peter saw that she and her husband had ‘conspired’ to hold back a portion of what was promised.  The men, who had just returned from burying her husband, then saw Sapphira dead and took her out and buried her with her husband (Acts 5:1-10).

Is God serious about evil not coexisting with His children?  King Saul was told (by God) to go and destroy the Amalakites, man, woman, child and animal, everything.  However, Saul saved the best of the flocks and herds, claiming he did so for the Lord.  God told Saul (through Samuel) that He was a ‘tad’ upset for Saul not obeying His word.  Take note, here is where Samuel tells Saul that obedience is better than sacrifice and rebellion equates with witchcraft!  And, in this passage God rejects Saul for Saul rejected the Word of God which equates to rejecting God, Himself.  We see the connection between rejection and disobedience which equals rebellion!  And rebellion equates with witchcraft!  Get the picture? (1 Sam. 15:1-35)

I’m so thankful that God is so longsuffering towards us because He desires that no one perish (2 Peter 3:9).

We’ve just seen how Ananias and his wife Sapphira, Simon the sorcerer and King Saul all professed to know God.  Yet their hearts were not yet completely right.  The man and his wife lied to the Holy Ghost, the sorcerer thought he could buy the ability to give the ‘gift’ of the Holy Ghost and King Saul, though he reigned in Israel (as God’s anointed) for a time, still wanted to do his ‘own’ thing.

Could these people be in heaven today?  As you grow in the Lord, you make the call. 

Could these types of people be ‘in’ the church today?  You may say “If they are, they just haven’t grown yet!”  That could hold ‘some’ water but our passages imply that their hearts may not be quite right.  They may have professed salvation and even been ‘dunked’, but their hearts may not yet truly converted.

Again, I speak for myself, I know that Father has put up with a lot from me.  Though I have been pretty stupid over my years, when I’ve confessed and truly repented, Father has been faithful and true to forgive me.  He also had to teach me to forgive myself – let go and let God.  Once we’ve confessed and repented, God forgets (Isa. 38:17, Micah 7:18-19) and so should we.  I am so glad and thankful that He is so longsuffering.   I could have (maybe even should have) been taken out a long time ago.  In spite of myself, thank you Lord for loving me and bearing with me over the years!  

The referenced passages tell us that obedience is better than sacrifice, so just how do we demonstrate a true conversion in our heart? 

The bible tells that when the perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away with (1 Corinth. 13:10).

Paul gives some insight to the Hebrews about what it means to be perfect.  Through the things we go through we learn obedience.  Our primary exercise in obedience is being obedient to our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Word of God and this is a “growing” process (Heb. 5:1-14).  This doesn’t happen overnight.  Some are able to grasp God’s truths quicker than others (meet pokey, here) and the more of God’s truth we learn, the more we can apply into lives, the closer we walk with the Lord.  The closer we walk with the Lord is evidence of our obedience.  Being perfect is maturing in Christ Jesus.  Maturing in Christ is how much of His Word do we know, but how much Word we apply into our lives?

Paul explains his life-long wrestling match.  He recognized that both to do good and evil are present in our bodies – at the same time.  If you will, our spirit and our soul.  Our spirit is what truly motivates us and our soul is the seat of our knowledge and emotions.  Apparently Paul had a dickens of a time keeping right before the Lord (Rom. 7:1-24).  However he understood that his afflictions are what kept him humble before our Lord, in his obedience with our Lord.

We see this wrestling match within ourselves when we are tempted.  We have that desire to do those things we know we shouldn’t do, so then we exercise our free will to do or not to do.  When we persevere, choose the right path, we discover that we become stronger against those temptations which spills over into resisting others (temptations) which may come our way.  The more we yield over to the Holy Ghost, our desires become more compliant with the will of God which allows God to bring more blessings our way. (James 1:1-4).  Reflecting our maturity in Christ.     

Please understand that no trial we go through, no matter how bad we feel it may be, it will be nothing when compared to the goodness Father has in store for us in eternity. 

We desire to be in the presence of God and our trials strengthen that hope.  Yes, we have free-will but, we also have Jesus interceding for us so the indwelling of the Holy Spirit can help us fulfill God’s will in our lives.  Our bodies ae crying out to be with our Lord in heaven (Rom. 8:18-28).

So, we should not desire to be like the world around us (Rev.20:11-15).  But we need to make the effort to transform our minds to that which is good and acceptable and in the will of God (Romans 12:2).  Reading and knowing the scriptures help us to reach that goal.

God is a God who knows our heart (1 Sam. 16:7).  Those who know God, hear God and we know that He loves us for God is love.   (John 4:6-8).

Jesus tells us that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15).  This is a decision we make.                       

His commandments explain how love operates in us, through us and around us.  In short, we yield our heart and soul, the natural man and the inner man (spirit, soul and body), to the will of almighty God.  Then with every ounce of energy, we decide to serve Father with the things we do, speak and even think.  Then we interact with those whom we encounter, allowing God’s love to operate in us and through us (Luke 10:25-27).There is no sin in Jesus (Heb. 9:14, 1 John 3:5), so He stands the gap for us.                  

True conversion?  We asked can a person experience “conversion” and not have a changed heart?  A better question may be did a person go through the motions and their heart not really be changed.

If we don’t truly love, how can we say we know God (again) for God is love.  So we live for our heavenly Father, in the power of Jesus Christ Who lives within us through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit (in our heart).  As we grow closer to God, the love of God grows within us and to some degree, those around us see that love!  The obedience to the Word of God and His Will reflect our relationship with the Lord.  God’s love is perfected in us as we demonstrate our love one for another and those around us and the Holy Ghost helps us to know that we are on the right track (1 John 4:12-13).

True conversion?  Living in God’s love!

Amen