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, September 11, 2021

9-11-2021 That none should perish




2 Peter 3:8-9

But beloved, don’t be ignorant of this one thing, one day with the Lord is like a thousand years and a thousand years is as if it were only one day.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise but is longsuffering towards us, for His desire is that no one should perish but that all would come to repentance.

Father always was, still is and always will be.  He is Alpha and Omega (Rev. 1:8), the first and the last. 

I watched an episode of Stargate SG-1 where the team (in a spacecraft) was fired upon by the ‘bad guys’, but due to friendly alien technology, they put themselves in a time bubble.  Outside the bubble, time progressed normally.  Inside the bubble slowed down immensely (for the team).  Or was it the other way around?  The team felt and operated as if they were in regular time but hours could pass in the bubble while only tenths of a second would pass outside.  Get the picture. 

God is infinite.  We can’t determine His beginning nor can we predict or see His end (what end?).  We are ‘finite’, our beginning and end are easily determined (birth and death).  God knows we operate in this finite zone, so He puts up with our foolishness for a long time (as we see it) before He lowers the boom.  That’s why some really nasty people seem to go on and on, like the ‘ever ready bunny’ while other ‘good people’ seem to have their lives cut short.  I guess loves them a little bit more and doesn’t want to even take a chance of them messin’ up!  God gives us foolish ones chance after chance, but eventually He will no longer put up with that foolishness.  Eventually, He will give those (who insist on it) over to their own conceits, a reprobate mind (Rom. 1:28).  He will not wrestle with us forever (Gen. 6:3, Rom 3:20-32), but eventually will let us do our ‘own thing’ allowing us to suffer the consequences.

God has given us free will to make our own choices.  Just as Eve and Adam had a choice to eat or not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 3:1-6).  And so it is today.  We can still choose between what is right and what is wrong.  We just have to get a handle on what is right.  We know that when we are obedient to God, good things come our way (Rom. 8:28).  We see that our enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus has come that we may have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10).  We see that God loves us so much, He has given us His only begotten Son that we should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16)!  We make the ‘right’ choices, God is with us and if God is with us, who can stand against us (Rom. 8:31)?

I have an example from my own life to demonstrate this.  Norm and I were processing out of country (Vietnam) in December 1967.  We had to go to Vung Tau (on the coast), to process out of country, but had to come back to our home base in Saigon (more inland) to catch the flight home the next day.  Around five or six PM, we had just missed the last flight back to Saigon.  We checked around to see if anything else might be headed back to Saigon and found a helicopter headed for the 90th Replacement camp, just a couple miles outside Saigon.  They dropped us off at a helipad in the middle of nowhere.  The other guys, who were on the helicopter with us,  had a deuce and a half (truck) waiting for them, but we were headed the opposite direction of where we needed to go, literally.  There was only one road – left or right.  They went left.  As far as the eye could see to either side of the road was an open field which ended into dense tree lines, which were about 100 yards from us and again on either side.  We were told that the 90th was about five miles down the road (maybe a little farther, maybe a little closer) and after waiting a while, to see if anyone might ‘happen by’, we started walking.  After walking about fifteen minutes or so, a jeep comes roaring up behind us.  “What in the *@#$*! Are you guys doing out here!”  The captain yelled, yet he gave us a ride the rest of the way to the 90th.  And yes, we did make our flight out in the morning.  God’s grace and protection?  Let’s put things in perspective.  Consider that if we were walking just a few miles outside Kabul (Afghanistan) trying to get back to the city to catch the last flight out of Afghanistan.  A safe walk?  Especially for a couple of American GIs? 

In those days, I had been a church-goer in my youth, but had not been to church regularly for some time.  In those woods to either side of the road, VC (Viet Cong) snipers could have easily been hiding, waiting to ‘take out’ some unfortunate GIs like Norm and myself.  Obviously there weren’t any, or at least there was no attempt to kill or capture us.  God is good!  As I’m writing this, Father is saying that they WERE there.  He kept them from doing anything.

I can give numerous accounts of how Father has shown His love for me, before and since giving my life to Jesus, but I relate this incident to give you an idea that God’s angels DO watch over us.  He is longsuffering and Father does not want us to perish!  What does our passage say?  He puts up with a lot of our stupidity in order to draw us in.  Yet, if we insist, Father will apply Romans 1:28 (above) and let us go.  When a pig insists on being a pig, quit casting pearls before him (Matt. 7:6).

Does anyone remember Jonah?  God called Jonah to minister to a people which Jonah didn’t like, so Jonah took off in the other direction.  He ran from God!  As God persisted, Jonah finally realized that it was useless to fight against God and went on to Nineveh, although he did so begrudgingly.  Even after Father brought salvation to the city, Jonah still had an attitude.  Read all four chapters of the book of Jonah to see what happened.

We (man) often feel that God is not watching or perhaps He can’t see us in the dark.  The little boy has been told “No cookies until after dinner.”  Yet, in the middle of the afternoon, having checked around to make sure no one is watching, sneaks into the kitchen and grabs a cookie.  God is Spirit (John 4:24).  We said earlier, time is irrelevant with Him so He sees and knows all things (Ecc. 12:13-14).  Nothing is hidden from Him (Heb. 4:12-13).

God is love (1 John 4:8)) and He loves us so much (again John 3:16) He does put up with an awful lot from us.

Over the years, too often I have identified with Paul when He relates how he fights from doing things he shouldn’t be doing yet he has problems doing those things he should be doing.  He realizes that it is human nature to want to do sin. We are born in sin (Psalm 51:5) and in a constant struggle (Rom. 7:1-25). 

We don’t always make the right choices.  I haven’t always made right choices, yet Father has been longsuffering with me just as He is with all people.

I gave my life to Christ in 1972 when my wife went to be counselled for marriage.  I knew, in my heart, my life had changed that day yet I still made too many wrong choices, even though My bride and I were now back in church.  I received the baptism of the Holy Ghost in 1978!  My wife and I both received the ‘baptism’ that night.  My wife at a meeting we attended and me, several hours later in the wee hours of the morning in our living room.  Yes, I know that Cornelius and his family received the baptism at the same time they received Jesus (Acts 10:34-46).  I also know that the twelve men Paul met on the road to Ephesus had been baptized only in water but (until that day) not the Holy Ghost (Acts 19:1-7).  That morning in 1978, I took another step closer to my Lord, but I still had a long way to go.  I still wrestled with some major issues.  It seemed that I knew what to do – just doing it seemed almost impossible.  The “old man” kept winning the battles.

My wife and family moved several times between 1972 and 1994 when we finally settled in the town where I now reside.  Each move meant looking for a new church.  We were married in a Baptist Church and over the years, Father took us through Presbyterian, Catholic and I don’t know how many Pentecostal churches, big and small.

Now, in a new town in 1994, we were still looking and still not finding one to call home.  My wife went to be with the Lord in 2005.  By the way, ‘yes’, I was still wrestling with some of the same issues as before and still hadn’t found victory nor the right church.  Father had given me victory in many of my issues, but a few just seemed to be hanging on, not letting go.  I just didn’t seem to be able to dump them.

In 2009/10, Father introduced me to the “prophetic” and a church where Father said “This is where I want you”.  And here I still am.  Father has taught me so much in the past, recent years.  Perhaps more that all the other years combined!  I’ve learned so much about my relationship with Father – or perhaps I should say His relationship with me, it’s been incredible.  I’ve come to know Father in ways I had never even dreamed of.  I enjoy close times with Him and even though, I usually do a lot of the talking, I do stop and listen.  It is then He shares so much with me – one on one.  He shares with me in the early hours of the morning as I ‘think’ I’m trying to sleep.  He interrupts my prayers to share.  These are the times He is teaching me. PTL!  And still, there is one area of my life I just can’t seem to shake.  Then (even now as I write this) He reminds me of what Paul shared with the Corinthians about keeping my relationship with God and with man in proper perspective (the thorn in the side - 2 Corinth. 12:6-10).

Through all of this, Father keeps showing me how longsuffering He has been with me.  I can’t thank Him enough for putting up with me for so long.

Father has taught me about what is sin.  There was a time in my life that I believed that If I didn’t “do it”, I was OK.  Then I realized that Father judges our heart.  I knew I was in trouble for @90% of my battles are in my mind (my heart) and if I’m guilty of every thought … dum de dum dum …!  Then Father showed me the book of James.  Blessed is he who endures temptation for when he is tried, he shall receive a crown of life which God has promised.  Don’t let anyone say we are tempted by God for neither can God be tempted with evil nor does He tempt anyone.  But we are drawn away by the lust (in our own heart) and enticed.  When we “decide” to act on that lust we put it into action and that is what brings death (separation from God) (Janes 1:12-15).  Once we ‘decide’ to do whatever it is, we have sinned.  The action just compounds the issue. 

Over our lives, many of us put a lot of garbage into our minds and our enemy can use that to tempt us later.  We have to be diligent to ‘put the brakes on’ as soon as those thoughts enter our little ‘pea-pickin’ brains by rebuking the devil and refocusing our thoughts on Godly things.  Amen?  This is why Paul told the Philippians to think on these things: those things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely of good report, if they have any virtue or are worthy of praise (Phil. 4:8).  We get our mind focused on the good and away from the bad! 

God IS longsuffering.  He is always willing to work with us as long as we are willing to yield over to Him. 

 He DOES NOT desire that any human perish.  His DESIRE is that we all repent those things which separate us from Him and receive Jesus into our heart.  As we allow the Holy Spirit to align us in Father’s will through Jesus Christ, Jesus is faithful to come back through the Holy Ghost to keep us faithful and obedient in God’s Word.

AMEN!?

Saturday, August 28, 2021

8-28-2021 Heal the Broken Hearted        

We should thank God for all the goodness and mercies He gives us because He is always there for us.  We just have to open our eyes and see and receive.

Psalms 147:1-20

Singing praises to God is pleasant and praising Him is comely

Father builds up His church and draws those who have strayed back into His fold

He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds

He calls each star by its name

Our Lord is great and powerful and His understanding knows no limits

He casts the wicked down and lifts up the meek

Sing thanksgiving and praise unto the Lord, using our musical instruments

He covers the heavens with clouds and prepares the rain to make the grass grow on the mountains

He feeds the animals and the young ravens who cry

Neither powerful horses nor the strength of a man’s legs impresses our God

He does take pleasure in those who honor and respect Him for who He is and hope in in His mercy

All people, praise the Lord

He is the strength of our protection and gives us children

He gives us peace and provides us food

He sends His commandments upon the earth and His Word travels swiftly

He gives snow like wool and breaks up the crusty ice and casts the bits out as crumbs (who can stand His cold)

His Word melts the ice and causes winds to blow and waters to flow

He shows His Word to His children and judgment to His church

He has not dealt with any other nation like this for they have not known His judgments. 

Praise the Lord!

Though this Psalm speaks of Israel, it uncovers the depth, breadth and height of God’s love and mercies towards us.  He gives us a “hint” of how to live for Him and shows us His rewards for doing so.  And take note, His Word is for His children, His judgements are for His church.  This Psalm doesn’t say so but rather implies that that leaves His wrath for the rest of the world – those who have rejected Him. 

As individuals or as we (the church) judge ourselves, that means we discover, confess and repent as soon as we realize we have violated God’s law and will (ergo His love-1 Corinth. 11:31).  When we ‘judge’ ourselves – admit when we’ve done wrong and we ‘take care of business at the cross (confess, repent and renounce).  This precludes the ‘need’ for God’s judgement to come upon us to get us back on the right track.  God has already done so through our repentance.

When we ‘go astray’ and we falter, Father does what is necessary to get our attention.  The harshness of this ‘attention getting’ depends on how hard ‘our hearts’ have become, or perhaps how comfortable we have become in our wrongdoing – nonetheless, what does it take to open our eyes and get us back on that right track.

Four things we need to keep in mind:  

1.         Psalms 51:17

            The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart …

God does not eliminate our spirit, but rather reshapes our spirit to agree with His as we yield to our lives to Him.  We come before our heavenly Father with a broken spirit.  That is not prideful – or should I say “look at me!”  We come to know Who God is and what He is capable of doing therefore giving Him all respect.  He has loved us so much, He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16) so our love is ‘due’ Him.  That love and respect also includes fearing Him.  God protects us from evil through His grace and mercy.  Fearing God means not only respecting that He loves us but knowing that He can also pull His grace and mercy from us, dooming us to the hell we deserve by not repenting our sins.  But praise the Lord for His mercies.   Knowing who God is and who we are helps us truly to come before Him (and others) with that contrite (humble and totally open) heart.  And that keeps us mindful to repent when we do ‘mess up!  We know who we are in Christ Jesus!

2.         Matt. 5:3-14

Blessed are they that: are poor in spirit, mourn, are meek, hunger & thirst after righteousness, are merciful, are pure in heart, are peacemakers, are persecuted for righteousness sake, are reviled and persecuted for His sake (Jesus). 

Why be glad?: our reward is great in heaven, for: ours is the kingdom of heaven, we shall be comforted, we shall inherit the earth, we shall be filled, obtain mercy, shall see God and be called the children of God.

We are the salt of the earth, the light of this world, a city on a hill.

Let our light shine brightly for those around us that others may see the good works of our God.

The beatitudes should be a living part of our lives.  When we first give our heart to the Lord, will they be evident?  Probably not, but ALL aspects of love should be continually growing within us and manifesting to those around us, to some degree, as we grow.  Be-at-itudes’!  Attitudes where our heart should “be at” (not original), and, again, they should be evident in our lives so others might see God in us. 

3.         Matt. 11:29

When we take Jesus’ yoke and are meek and lowly of heart, we will find rest for our souls.

Father knows that we can’t do it alone so He gives us the Holy Ghost (inside) to help us.  When Jesus says “take My yoke”, He’s referring to the fact that He has given us the Holy Ghost who will lead us into all truth and give us strength (John 16:13) – to live this life (Acts 2:8)!  We don’t have to do it alone.  Just ask (Matt. 7:7)!  He is our strength (2 Corinth. 11:9-10)!  When we find ourselves in a place where we think “there’s no way I can go on”, through the Holy Ghost, Jesus picks us up and carries forward.  He WILL NEVER forsake us (Heb. 13:5).

4.         Luke 4:18-19

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, He has sent me to heal the broken-hearted, preach deliverance to the captives, recover sight for the blind, to set those who are bruised (that is crushed, or even shredded to pieces) at liberty and to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

To some degree, this should be the objective for every Christian, whether it be to one person or to a multitudes.  From the day we accept Jesus Christ into our hearts, our goal should be to walk closer, with Father, each day of our life.

When we go forth to do God’s work, in His will, we should always be in a prayerful attitude.  Our goal is to share what Jesus has given us with those around us that rather than death, they might have life eternal.  Amen?

We are “Earthen Vessels”.  We are human, not God.  Yet, though we are fallible, we do our best to seek and do God’s will.  Father does give us all a ministry, of some sort.  We can be confident in the fact that whatever our God-given ministry is, it will include at least a healing of the heart.  Our heart is healed through our salvation and then through whatever other ministry Father brings our way (receiving or delivering). 

When we share what Father has given us, we may, or maybe not, see the fruit of what we do.  Yet, we take comfort in knowing that we’ve done as Father requested. 

Father’s goal (and so should ours) is to heal and the heart is the first thing needing healing. Perhaps some of us can relate to the following words:

T I’ve come to heal the broken hearted

And take away their fears

I bring joy to the sad of heart

And wipe away their tears

I bring life to the dead

That their living might be full

I am filled with the Holy Ghost

I’m blessed (Jesus), this earthen vessel

 

God tells me what to do

His will is mine to do

I’ve just done what I’ve been bidden

Because God expects me to

I bring life to the dead

That their living might be full

I am filled with the Holy Ghost

I’m blessed (Jesus), this earthen vessel

 

I thank the Lord for using me

Though I always don’t know why

I know His will, though

He doesn’t want anyone to die

I bring life to the dead

That their living might be full

I am filled with the Holy Ghost

I’m blessed (Jesus), this earthen vessel

Amen

 

Saturday, August 14, 2021

 

8-14-2021 RELIGION VS FAITH

                            Religion                                                            Faith

On Saturday August 7th, I was at a baby shower.  A What!  Yep, that’s’ right, a baby shower.  My granddaughter will be bringing a new life into this world sometime in the latter part of September.  I know, baby showers are generally “ladies only” but my granddaughter wanted not just moms, grandmoms, great-grandmoms and aunts, etc., she also wanted dads, grandads, great-granddads and uncles (and so forth), to feel welcome as well.  Among the attendees were  one great-grandmom, two great-grandads and a great-great-aunt.  Yes it was nice and the little one (to be) got more stuff than a caravan could hold.  I don’t mean a ‘Dodge Caravan’.  I mean: line up the camels! (lol).

My sister (the great-great-aunt) and my youngest niece were also there.  I sat at a table where they were.  Can’t remember what brought it up, but my niece mentioned that too many people practiced a religion and not faith.  What could I say?  AMEN! 

Even last night, I was saying to the Lord, “Here it is Sunday night and Father, I have nothing to put on the blog this coming Saturday.”  I woke up this morning (Monday) “Lord, what are we gonna do this Saturday?  I still have nothing!”  Father replied “Hmmm.  Oh?  Really?” 

Every morning I go down to the computer, check e-mails then work a bit on whatever blog entry I  have.  I keep a listing of what entries I have done and ones I’ve started (ideas) and have yet to complete (from the past).  My eyes, almost immediately, fell on an incomplete entry dated 8/2020 and guess what the title was!  ‘Religion vs Faith’!  I wonder how that happened? (lol)  Indeed, I had started it but hadn’t got any farther than the definitions for religion and faith as described by Webster.  I could ‘feel’ Father asking me “Any ideas yet?” (lol)

So    

What is religion*        1) The service and worship of God, or the supernatural; commitment or devotion to a religious faith or observance, state of being religious, 2) personal set or an institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs and practices, 3) strict conformity, 4) cause, principle or system of belief held to with intense trust

Religious*                   1) Relating or devoted to the divine ultimate importance, 2) relating to religious beliefs or observances, 3) unwaveringly, faithful. Bound by vows acquired from secular concerns and devoted to a life of piety

What is faith*             1) allegiance to duty or a person, 2) belief and trust in loyalty to God, that is traditional doctrines of religion, 3) firm belief in something with a strong conviction, as a system of religious beliefs.

 

Okay, but how does the bible describe each?

Interestingly there are no words translated ‘religion’ or religious’ in the Old Testament (OT) and only four words in the New Testament (NT).

Religion                       There are only two Greek words, used twice each, in the NT.  G2356 is threshkeia (thrace-ki-ah) a ceremonial observance or worshipping.  G2454 ioudaismos (ee oo dah is mos) which is specifically refers to the Jewish faith.

Religious                     The two words, each used only once, in the NT are:.  G2357 threskos (thrace kos) which is demonstrating worship, projecting piety, religiousity and G4576 which is sebomai (seb om ahee) meaning revere, adore, be devout, worship.

Faith                            The two OT words are used for faith: H529, emuwn (ay-moon) and H530, emuwnah (ee-moo-naw).  Both words mean faith, truth and established, but H530 adds security, stability and verity.  Interesting that each Hebrew word is used only once in the bible.

                                    In the NT words are G1680 and G4102 and are used multiple times from Matthew to Revelation.  G1680 is elpis (el-pece) which is faith, hope or confidence and is derived from the base word “epo” which means expectation.  G4102 pistis (as it appears) persuasion obedience, conviction, assurance, faith or fidelity.    

Note that both religion and religious indicate the practice of doing rites or rituals.  Yet, sebomai leans more towards attitude.

The words for faith, in both testaments, imply being rooted in a belief system and expecting something from our efforts, not necessarily attached to our actions.  Arguably, faith is an action, but not in the context of doing some deed.  In faith, we do have to believe and trust God.

What is the practicality of each?

Here, man’s ‘wonderful wisdom’ kicks in to explain what all this means.

Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden with only one condition – don’t eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, unless you die (Gen. 2:16-17 & Gen. 3:2-3).  Consider that Adam and Eve had a ‘wide-open’ relationship with Father until that day.  In the garden, Father, literally, provided all their needs, then there was a separation (sin) and they were booted out of the garden.  Since then, man’s struggle has been trying to figure out how to survive (work for a living) and how to please God so ‘bad things’ don’t befall him.  That is, how to get ‘back’ into God’s ‘good graces’. 

We’re left with the impression that man was, pretty much, left to his own devices as to how to regain that relationship with God.  Archaeologists tell us that there were (apparently) forms of religion at least from a bit before the Sumerians (@4000-3500 BC).  Abraham came upon the scene @2000BC.  We know that God communicated with man as He told Abraham to leave Ur of the Chaldees, leaving his kinfolk (Gen. 11:31-Gen.12:21:1), who served other gods (Josh. 24:2).  Yet it was another @500 yrs. (or so) before God gave the ‘Law’ through Moses (Exod. 20:1-17).  The Law?  Written conditions in which man was to abide in order to please the Creator of all things.  Or, how we can get back into His good graces.

Before the Law, apparently through tradition (handed down through the generations) man had an idea of what to do to get back to God,  but still had the dickens of a time figuring out how to do it.  Then, between 1500 to 1100 yrs. later (depending on which time frame one accepts), Jesus is born. 

What did Jesus tell His disciples?  “Don’t think I’ve come to destroy the law, or the prophets.  I’ve come not to destroy, but to fulfill (Matt. 5:17)”.

Jesus fulfilled the law, not by abiding  (doing) by certain rituals, but by living them!  By applying those laws by observing them with all His heart.  Jesus didn’t do things just because He was ‘supposed to’ or ‘had to’, but because He ‘wanted to’!  It was His nature, His desire to help us to be all that we can be.  He gave His disciples an example at the ‘Last Super’ when He washed their feet.  He, who was a great teacher, one who should be honored and revered.  He who should have been treated as a King (He was/is, Rev. 17:14) the King of kings.  He was/is Emmanuelle (Matt. 1:23), that is GOD is WITH us!  Paul says later “Follow me as I follow Christ.” (1 Corinth. 11:1).  Shouldn’t that be our goal?

I don’t know about you, but the biggest complaint I hear as to why many people are not in church today is because “Christians ain’t actin’ like Christians is supposed to act, no mo’!” 

Too many churches have become ‘closed door’ social clubs.  Do as we do or otherwise, don’t bother us with your presence. 

Jesus IS the Law!  Jesus IS God (the Father) come into this world in the flesh!  God is Love (1 John 4:8)! Therefore Jesus IS LOVE! 

Jesus tells us that if we love Him, keep His commandments (John 14:15) and just what are Jesus’ commandments?  “Love the Lord, our God, with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  This is the first commandment (Mark 12:30, Exod. 20:1-7).  Then to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31, Exod. 20:13-17).”  Why, because the Law and the prophets are all based on love (Matt. 22:40).

Jesus also cared about those who were thought to be less: the Samaritan woman (John 4:5-26), the Roman Centurion’s servant (Luke 7:1-10) and even the dead (Luke 7:12-16).  Jesus played no favorites until it came to those who refused Him (Luke 11:37-44).

John confirms for us in his letters that love is the essence of God.  So we know that we are abiding in God/Father as His love is evident in our lives.  

All of this brings us back to faith versus religion.

Religion is practicing certain rituals which we believe will provide us our ‘end goal’, eternal life.  But, religion can be practiced without faith (as we note in Luke).  Religion encourages responses from man which soothes our egos, but doesn’t necessarily guarantee salvation.  When we become ‘people pleasers,’ that becomes our reward (Matt. 6:1-17).

Yet faith is abiding in Christ, allowing His love to manifest in our lives.  Should we have doubts, we have the Holy Ghost, within us, to direct us, for it is He who will lead us into all truth (John 16:13) and teach us (John 14:26).  “But, the hour comes and is even now, when true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for Father seeks these to worship Him.  God is Spirit and they who worship Him must do so in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).

We have to be honest whenever we come before our Lord and to worship Him in Spirit is two-fold.  First we clear the air and focus on Him.  That is, have ‘nothing’ before Him.  We give our Lord our undivided attention (a prayer closet?).  Sin hinders our communication with Father so we make sure we have no unconfessed sin in our life (Isa. 1:1-15).  We lay all our burdens and worries at Jesus’ feet.  This could take a while where we have many things burdening our hearts and minds, but it clears the air so we can talk with Father with an open heart and hear more clearly when He talks with us.  Then we’re ready to praise and worship Him.  On a personal note, Father, also, has me sing songs to Him.  He has shown me several songs off of Youtube and, over the years, He has given me several at my own hand.  At times He asks for one or the other and other times He mixes them.  Either way (I speak for myself) the Spirit takes me to another level in my relationship with our Lord.

  As we pray, when we’ve done all we can do, we can ask Father to help us say what needs to be said.  This also goes for when we ‘clear the air’.  When we ask,  Father will always give us what we need to say.  Our heavenly language (tongues) is the best way to communicate with Father.  Praying in tongues is praying spirit to Spirit,  but we may also need to ask Father to help our understanding.  He will.

Speaking for myself, I don’t always know what to pray and more often ‘how’ to say it.  The Holy Ghost will ‘step in’ and help me out (with my heavenly language).  He always knows.  He is a part of God in us (John 14:16-20).

But, unless anyone hasn’t picked up on this yet, getting ready, then doing, is a matter of heart, or attitude.  And that is actually the difference between religion and faith.  Our attitude towards God.

Religion can be done without a personal commitment.  It can be (often is) just a matter of following the rules. 

Faith is committing our heart to Jesus Christ and ‘choosing’ to live in such a way that we find is pleasing to Him.  We ‘do things’ because Jesus has shown us they are the right things to do, so we ‘desire’ (want to) to do.  This attitude increases as we grow in the Lord.  And, of course, in order to have faith, we have to believe God (Father) truly exists and trust our Lord Jesus! 

Rewards of faith over religion?  We are fulfilled in our relationship with our Lord and we share that fulfillment with those around us because we desire to.  We come to know that Father is indeed with us, meeting our needs, guiding and protecting us while we are here in this world, then bringing us “home” in His timing (Matt. 28:29, Phil. 4:19, Psalm 91:1-4).

Amen     

 

Saturday, July 31, 2021

7-31-2021 New Beginnings

          New Creation                                   New Beginning

In scripture, “8” represents a ‘new birth’ or ‘new beginning’.  God told Abraham that all male children should be circumcised on the eighth day after birth.  This would signify that that child is now a part of God’s covenant with man (Gen. 17:10-14).  A new beginning?  A new covenant with God?  This is being published the day before August 1st.  “1” represents unity with God or ‘new beginning’.  The double ‘new beginning’ (‘8’ & ‘1’) would imply a double dose in our renewing relationship with our Father!

“New Beginnings”.  So what does that really mean?

God creates heaven and earth (Gen. 1:1-31)

There was a void.  There was darkness. (v1-2).  There was God.  In short, in the beginning all there was is God, Yaweh, Jehova, Lord God Almighty, Creator!  He created the heavens and the earth.  He  created light and separated the night from the day (v3-4).  There were waters which He separated with firmament.  In other words, He separated the waters with some sort of ‘matter’.  The Hebrew word for waters is mayim (4325 – mah-yim).  Take note of how Strong’s defines mayim: in a singular sense it means water, urine (waste-water) or semen (male seeds of life) with the inference that the water is flooding or springing forth.  The Hebrew word firmament is raqiya (7549 – raw-kee-ya), is an expanse in the sky.  raqiya is derived from the verb form raqa (7554 – raw-kah) which is to hammer or stretch out.  Think about one working with clay who takes the glob and then stretches and flattens it out as he prepares to make something.

Now, back to waters. Consider the oceans and rivers (etc.).  Consider the atmosphere which surrounds the earth.  Think about ‘outer space”, the expanse beyond earth’s atmosphere.  All are a form of “waters” though we don’t swim in everything or breathe everything and, with the proper form of transportation, we can ‘fly’ through it all.  Though beyond the earth is darkness, It is all still there!  And Father brought it all into existence, a new beginning! 

Father created all the plant life, animals, fish and birds.  All new life?  They didn’t exist before God gave them their ‘new’ beginnings. 

Then He created ‘man’, both male and female (v 26-27).  He made man in His (God’s) image (and that’s another lesson!).  Now, God goes on to say how He created Adam and Eve from the dust of the earth (Gen. 3:19, Gen. 2:21-23).  The ‘new beginning’ for us humans!

God gives us free will so when Satan tempted Eve, she could have said “buzz off”.  But she didn’t.  She was enticed and then invited her husband to join her and he did (Gen 3:1-7).

Father had a relationship with Adam & Eve, He came to commune with them in the garden (Gen. 3:8), but, embarrassed, the couple hid themselves (Gen. 3:8-9). 

The stage is set.  After a new beginning (creation) mankind is off on another new beginning!  The rest of man’s existence on planet earth outside of the garden.

We don’t have record of anything or everything Father discussed with Adam & Eve while they were in the garden except what is record (for us) in Genesis chapters two and three.  Yet we do know that God shared His values with them.  Genesis chapters four and five show us that man had some sort of concept of right and wrong – good or evil, but (unfortunately, for the most part) we seemed to have a problem making the ‘right’ choices.

Later, it is evident as God made a covenant with Abraham for being His friend (James 2:23) and made a man after His own heart a king, that is David (Acts 13:22), we see that man does have a concept of what Father expects from us. 

God gives Israel the “Law” (Exodus 20:1-17)

Even after Father placed them in the promised land, over the centuries, Israel was in an out of bondage (Joshua through Malachi) as they strayed from Father’s will and, realizing they had messed up, were brought back into alignment with God’s will.  This was true even before God gave the “Law” to Moses and even since. 

Before the Law, all man had was tradition or “word of mouth” to tell them how Father wanted him to act.  That means it had to have been handed down through the generations from Adam & Eve.  But with the Law, those guidelines were put into writing, no longer entrusted to ‘just’ man’s memory.  And even though written down, it was still difficult for man to stay in proper alignment with God’s will.

Even after being freed from bondage in Egypt and entering the ‘promised land’, God’s people couldn’t keep it together as they became subjects of the Chaldeans, Babylonians, Syrians, Romans, etc.

It seemed that man just couldn’t understand putting God first, giving Him His due respect, spending time with Him, honoring those whom He put in authority over us, considering and doing what’s best for our neighbor.  Should mankind get the “Duh Award”!

God gives us grace (Eph. 2:5-10)

Spoken language has been around for a long time but the Sumerians are credited with using the first written language (@3500 BC).  Historians tell us that the written languages we are more familiar with are a lot newer: Phoenician and Paleo-Hebrew were developed between @1200 – 1100 BC, Aramic, Israel’s base language, @700’s BC and the more the familiar Arabic (upon which our current alphabet is based) @200’s BC.   Archaeologists tell us that by 3000 BC, cities were being built in the Indus Valley (northwest India), around the Mediterranean Sea and even  beyond.  Archaeologists also tell us that even prior to the Sumerian period, man was in the habit of burying the dead (a hint of some sort of religion).   They also tell that shortly preceding thatSumerian civilization there was evidences of organized religion.  Perspective:  the Sumerians introduced the written word @3500 BC, Abraham was born @2000 BC and Israel came out of Bondage between 1500 – 1300 BC, depending on which estimations one adheres.  Israel considered Abraham the founder of their faith and Christians, of course, translate that to Jesus as He fulfilled the Law through His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension at the BC/AD junction. 

Man has been aware of God for a very long time.  The problem seems to have been in admitting just Who He is.

So, finally, Father reveals His grace through Jesus Christ. 

For centuries, man lived in an ‘impersonal’ relationship with our Creator.  But I want you to understand that grace began with Adam and Eve.  Grace brings us into a closer relationship with Father.  Adam & Eve had that in the beginning, in the garden, but man, because of sin, has fallen farther and farther away from the original truth.

Father wanted an object for His affection so He created all that is, as well as man, and because He made us (man) in His image, we are the primary focus for His affection. 

So man has been given a ‘new beginning’ through grace.  Our relationship with Jesus Christ.

God is love (1John 4:7-11)

The apostle John tells us in his letter that we should love one another because love comes from God.  The fact that we love indicates that we are born of God and know God for he who doesn’t love doesn’t know God.  So, we understand that love is not our loving God but His loving us which He showed by sending His Son to stand in for our sins (the cross).  Therefore, if God loved us so much, shouldn’t we love Him and one another?  A child displays his love for his parents by being obedient to their word.

God showed His love for Adam and Eve by providing for them and giving them a beautiful place to live – until they messed things up.  realizing that he was now totally exposed, man tried to cover himself (with fig leaves), yet Father still loved them so much, He covered their “nakedness” by shedding the blood of animals and covering man’s ‘sin’ (nakedness) with coats of skin.  And He gave them the promise of redemption, the bruising the seed of man’s heel and bruising the head of the serpent’s seed (Gen. 3:14-15).  Despite the ‘mess-up, we also have the promise of redemption!

In the book of Isaiah, we find many references to Father’s plan of redemption, then finally in the gospels we discover it is revealed to us the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus and in the book of Acts, Jesus’ ascension back into heaven.  Of course, today, we await the final stage of that redemption.  The Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout, the voice of the archangel, the trump of God.  Those who have died in Christ shall rise first, then those who are alive at that time shall be caught up into the air together with them, in the clouds, so we shall ever be with the Lord.  We should comfort each other with these words (1 Thess. 4:16-17).

Realization of God’s love – another ‘new beginning’.

What about our new beginnings?

So our ‘new beginnings’ can come in multiple stages.  Our initial ‘new beginning’ is when we confess the Lord Jesus with our mouth and believe in our heart that God (our Father) raised Him from the dead (Rom:10:9)!  The apostle Paul says that then we shall be saved.  Understand that until we are literally in the presence of our Lord, we abide in the “promise” of salvation.  Again, we have confidence because the apostle John tells us that when we have Jesus, we have life and life because we have believed in the Son of God.  God’s love living in us is our testimony (1 John 5:10-13) and is our confidence that we will be with our Lord forever!

Paul encountered disciples on the road near Ephesus and upon discovering they had only received John’s baptism (by water for remission of sin) they received the baptism of the Holy Ghost (Acts 19:1-6).  Remember, John said he baptized only with water but one was coming after him would baptize with the Holy Ghost and fire (Matt. 3:11).  And don’t forget the disciples received the baptism of the Holy Ghost in the upper room (Acts 2:1-1-18). The Holy Ghost may be received when we receive Christ into our heart as with Cornelius and his family (Acts 10:31-48).  So, the baptism of the Holy Ghost can be combined with the new beginning in our ‘salvation experience’ or in a separate experience creating another new beginning in our life.  A new ‘stage’, a new chapter, in our life.

Keep in mind, Jesus told the disciples to stay in Jerusalem for a while until they received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, at which time they would receive power and would be witnesses for Him (Acts 1:4-8), in Jerusalem and beyond! 

Receiving and permitting that power to flow in us and through us is another ‘new beginning’!

We need to be aware that every time Father introduces a new stage of growth into our life, that change constitutes another ‘new beginning’. 

We are not re-establishing our salvation but rather receiving more tools to help us to go a little deeper in our walk with the Lord.  A deeper level of authority and understanding so we can do what Father has called us to do.

It’s like buying a new suit or dress.  The clothing is new and we may look the better for it and we may gain more confidence because we look a little nicer than before, but it is added along with what Father has already given us.

New beginnings?  We have some major or new beginnings in our lives, but we also have a lot of smaller situations of lesser impact that also affect changes in our lives and each of those changes those are a new beginning.  It may only be a tweak, but we didn’t have it before.  So it is new.

If you will, each ‘new beginning’ is a renewal, or commitment, in our relationship with our heavenly Father.

Amen

 

Saturday, July 17, 2021

 

7-17-2021        Sanctuary

               God is my sanctuary                              Am I open to be His

1 Corinthians 3:16-23

            Don’t you know that you are the temple of God and the Spirit dwells in you?

As He died on the cross for our sins, Jesus tore the veil in the temple in two, top to bottom, totally exposing the Holy of Holies for our access (Matt. 27:50-51).  Now, Jesus didn’t jump off the cross, run into the temple and rip the veil.  As He was dying on the cross every droplet of blood was cleansing all who receive Him from our unrighteousness, our iniquities, our sin, giving us that access.

Almost everything in the “Law” is purged by blood and there is no forgiveness for sin without the shedding of blood (Heb. 9:22).  Consider Adam and Eve.  They violated God’s trust by eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 3:1-24) so God cast them out of the Garden of Eden.  However, Father made coats of skins to clothe them (Gen. 3:21).  Think about it.  For God to need to clothe them, Adam and Eve were naked in the Garden (Gen. 3:11).  God had to make clothes to cover them, to hide their nakedness.  So what did their nakedness represent?  Initially, their innocence in God for they didn’t realize they didn’t have any clothes on.  Because of their sin, they realized that they were exposed before the Lord!  So God shed the blood of some animals to obtain the skins to “cover” His children.  Their nakedness (GR 6172) represented their sin and the skins represented God’s covering of that sin, but the blood (of animals) had to be shed for that to happen.  Ring any bells?  Jesus shed His blood on the cross, once and for all, to cover our sins.  No longer was the blood of animal required, but a greater covering was provided!

The Holy of Holies is where God met with only the high priest, once a year, so the priest could pray for forgiveness for the people’s sin.  The veil maintained a separation between God and the rest of Israel (the world) so they had a ‘closed’ relationship with Father.  They could not commune directly with Him but had to go through the priest.  But Jesus tore that veil so we all could regain an ‘open’ relationship with Father through Jesus!  Before the ‘fall’, Adam and Eve had an ‘open relationship’ with Father.  That means each of us, personally, now at any time, are capable of communing with the Creator of all things.  Amen? 

We are a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9).  Before, only the chief priest could enter the Holy of holies (Heb. 9:6-8).  And even then, only after a cleansing (Lev. 16:1-34).  Jesus became the first of many brothers (Rom. 8:29-31) and we are His brothers.  Jesus is called the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim.5:13-15).   And we are royalty through Christ Jesus who is also our high priest (Heb. 4:14-16) and He has given us access to the Holy of Holies.

If any man defiles the temple of God, God shall destroy him for God’s temple is holy and you are God’s temple.

Ooooh!  As God’s temple (the Holy Ghost living in our heart), through Jesus, we ae holy.  We need to take our relationship seriously and abide in God’s will.  Jesus says “If you love Me, keep My commandments (John 14:15).  Remember, the five foolish virgins were refused entry into the bridegroom’s house because they did not take their relationship seriously and were not prepared when he came (Matt. 25:1-13).

Don’t let any man deceive himself.  If any of you seem to be wise in this world let him become a fool, that he may become wise.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.  It’s written that He takes the wise in their own craftiness.

Again, the Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are vain.

Look at the world.  Man keeps making discoveries which he foolishly proclaims disproves God’s existence.  When, in fact, he explains just how wonderful God’s work actually is.  Man, in his own mind, thinks that he’s getting pretty smart, but all his knowledge draws him farther away from the Lord.  The beginning of wisdom is what?  Knowing and respecting the Creator of all things (Prov. 9:10).  If God does not exist, there is no responsibility to Father.  So all that man has done is to ‘justify’ his own rebellion to God.  These discoveries soothe man’s ego – “Look how smart I am!  I’ve got it all figured out!”   I’m only responsible to myself or at best, the community around me.  This was the problem Lucifer (Satan) had as he thought he ‘was all that’ and thought he could replace God (Isa. 14:12-19, Rev. 12:7-17)).

            So don’t let any man glory in the things of man.  All things are yours.  

Consider the temptations Satan laid upon Jesus (Matt. 4:8-10).  Satan tempted the body of Jesus with food, then His soul (thought and emotions) with how Father operates and finally His heart – whom did Jesus really love and whom does He obey?  Jesus is the ‘living’ Word of God (John 1:1-14).  God spoke all things into existence for there was nothing until He started creating (Gen. 1:1-31).  Count the “God saids”.  There are 10!  Ten represents divine order.  In short, Jesus is that divine order come into this world in the flesh – Emmanuel = God is with us (Matt. 1:20-23).  With the third temptation in Matthew four, Satan tried to convince Jesus that he could give Him all the kingdoms of the world!  But the world was created through Jesus!  They were already His!  And because we are adopted into the family of God (Rom. 8:15, 9:26, Gal.3:26) they are also ours!

Whether Paul, Apollos or Peter, of the world, life or death, things present or yet to come, all things are yours.

Speaking to the children of God.  No man, nothing of this world, nothing living nor dead, anything around us today nor promises of things to come can give us what we don’t already have through Christ Jesus.  Father provides all things that we need and He even provides our desires (Phil. 4:19, Psalm 37:4) as we line up (obedience) with His Word. 

            You are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.

Through our profession of faith (salvation) we belong to Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:12-18) and Jesus is the Father’s (John 14:11).  So through Christ Jesus, we are God’s so all things are already ours John 17:16-23)!

So (hopefully) having a little better handle on our relationship with Father -

So just what is the sanctuary?

According to Webster, a sanctuary (in short) is a place set aside for and by God.  A place of communion, of protection, of refuge, (it represents) the Holy of Holies.      

Two Hebrew words used are: miqdash (H4720) which is an asylum, a chapel, a hallowed place, a holy place; and qodesh (H6944) which adds holiness and saint to that definition. 

One Greek word means sanctuary, hagion (G39) meaning holiest of all places. 

All three words contain holy which means ‘holy one’ or ‘saint’ (H6918).

The Greek word hagios (G40) is translated consecrated or holy.  Consecrate means to sanctify or set apart.  Sanctify (Webster) means to set apart.

Do we get the drift that a sanctuary is where we can be set apart from everything else and be close to Father.  That’s why the veil was torn, so we could enter into His presence!             

We are the temple of God because we have allowed Jesus into our heart and therein the Holy Ghost resides.  The Holy Ghost connects us with Father through the blood of Christ.  We have direct access to Father because Jesus tore that veil in two. 

Our sanctuary is where and when we can be alone with Father, in a quiet place where there are no distractions.  And when we enter our sanctuary, as with the Holy of Holies, Father is there waiting for us.  To talk with us.  To love us. 

We gain strength when we pray with other Christians and/or they pray for or with us (Eccl. 4:11-12), we develop a closeness with them and the Father.  We live for Father through Jesus for He is always with us (Heb. 13:5).  If the eternal God is with us, who can stand against us (Rom. 8:31)?  As we love Jesus, we will also come to love our brothers, for if we don’t, something’s amiss (1 John 4:20-21).  Bluntly, we are liars!  Love our brothers as we love ourselves ((Matt. 22:37-40).  As we love ourselves, people will see that love (1 Tim. 4:12) as the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 4:22-23) manifests in our lives.

Coming into our sanctuary involves loving for God is love (1 John 4:8).

As I am writing this down, two songs are playing over and over in my head: Sanctuary (Randy Rothwell) and Holy Water (Tasha Cobbs Leonard). 

We know that Father, through Jesus, is our sanctuary.  A place where we can go, setting all else aside, and commune with Him.

To commune is to communicate which is to talk with, relay ideas, etc.  It is a two-way street.  When we commune, we talk AND we listen.   If you will, we are in the process of building a relationship.  Discovering the other person as well as sharing our deep thoughts with Father. That means getting up close and personal!  That’s why the veil was torn – so we can get up close and personal with our Creator!

We are the living temple of the living God and on this earth, we should be a place where He can come commune with us – without distraction.  It should be a place where we can open up our heart and our soul to Him without fear.  God may reprimand us, but He will also comfort and encourage us to press on in this life.

God is love and He encourages us to approach Him in love.

We enter His heart, God IS our sanctuary.  Does Father enter our heart?  Are we His sanctuary?

Amen