Sunday, May 20, 2018

After God's Own Heart

In the first book of Samuel, we begin to learn about David. David succeeded Saul in ruling over Israel as the king o Israel:
22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. Acts 13:22
David was not perfect. He was human and made several mistakes in his life, some of which had major consequences. Nevertheless, God called him a man after his own heart. David is referred to throughout the Word of God and he is someone we can learn from.

David is first mentioned at the end of the book of Ruth specifically referring to his lineage. Naomi was Ruth's daughter-in-law and she eventually married Boaz. They begot Obed who begot Jesse who was David's father. David's lineage was important as it was part of the Christ line.

In I Samuel 16, the record of David starts with events that led up as his replacement for Saul as King of Israel. In chapter 16, David was young still, but the scene was set up for him to move towards God's intended place for him.

We all know the story of David and Goliath. The heart of David is shown vividly in the record.  Two key components of his thinking separated him from all those dealing with the problem of Goliath.
First, he believed in his authority to remedy the situation:
45 Then said David to the Philistine (Goliath), Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.1 Samuel 17:45
Second, he believed he had the power to accomplish what he had to do:
38 And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. 39 And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. 40 And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine. I Samuel 17:38-40
 Authority comes from the kingdom of God and power is what an individual has internally to carry that authority out. Jesus Christ amazed people when he performed great miracles:
36 And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out. Luke 4:36
As believers today, we have the same authority and power to carry out the works of God:
12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. John 14:12
Notice the repetition of the word 'verily' (or in other words truly, truly!).  God calls our attention to what he is about to say. Believing is the key to the heart.  We can have authority from God and we have the power to carry out whatever God sets before us.  Whatever 'Goliath' stands in our way, no matter what, God will support us to deal with it effectively without heavy amour and with simple confidence just as David did.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Head and Heart

God summarized the law by focusing on two simple truths : love God and love your neighbor. These two concepts pretty much cover everything else. The how of love is from God. It involves the heart, mind, soul and strength. The heart is composed of both the feeling and the thinking center of the will in connection with the activities of the soul(life) and strength. We are to love ourselves and our neighbor as ourselves.
28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? 29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. Mark 12:28-31 (Matthew 22:35-40, Luke 10:25-28, Deuteronomy 6:4-6
True love should always involve the love of God. We love others by being truthful, honest and encouraging. Love is spiritual and rises way above the human version of benevolent humanism. Love has power and it is involves the commitment and discipline of our feelings and thinking. It takes commitment to love, it is not just a whimsical affectation which is here one moment and gone the next minute when we don't feel like being loving.

God's love in any situation is the right answer. It cannot be dumbed down to human speculation. True acts of love always glorify God. True acts of love lift people out of the quicksand of the negative dramas of life.

By loving God, we are loving ourselves and then can do the same for others. This is a genuine type of self-love that overflows to others. Our actions toward others should come from a heart filled with the love of God not by man's definition and expectation of a good heart. We need to remember that we hurt people when we try to take God's place or glory in their lives. The greatest action toward those around us is to provide a springboard for them to get to know God and encourage them to trust his love to help them.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Maimonides

Sunday, May 6, 2018

One to Another Relationships

'Submission' occurs in all relationships whether it be with a spouse, friend, mere acquaintance or  family member.  A simple example might involve any type of conversation between two people. If you are involved in a conversation with someone else there should be submission on both sides. One person talks and then the other. Each person takes turns listening otherwise it is not a conversation. Another example could involve the simple task of walking through a door. Two people cannot walk through a door together (with most size doors). Someone has to go first and the other follow. There's a logical arrangement.

Another consideration in a relationship centers on opinion. We don't always agree but our motives involving opinions should not center on who's right and who's wrong. The conversations in such relationships can accelerate higher and higher until someone gets plowed down. No matter who is right or wrong, arguments can be a battle of egos, pride, self-righteousness
and the relationship becomes unbalanced and doomed. There is no service, there is no unity, there is no good outcome.

We should respect the rights of others to have a different opinion. Free-will choice is a right. At the same time, we are not expected to respect an opinion another holds that is contrary to the word of God. If there is an opportunity to help someone understand God's word better we can influence the outcome of a relationship challenge. God has asked us to serve one another. Our respect and love for God motivates us to do just that.  Having God's authority enables us to accomplish the will of God. It is based on godly love.
21Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear (respect, reverence and love) of God. Ephesians 5:21
This is not easy and may be oversimplified because human nature would have us look sideways instead of up first for answers. Accusation, competition, pride, indignation and other things start to take root which only send relationships south. The only way to look is up by looking at what the word says about a particular situation, praying and listening to God in patient trust on how to handle it and remembering that nothing is earth-shattering.  This is how we can respect others and love them the way God wants us to love them. When we react on what God asks us to do, we don't have to worry, the outcome will ultimately be the way it needs to be.
3 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1





Sunday, April 29, 2018

Dominion

The word 'dominion'  used in Genesis 1:26 and 28 is an interesting word. Words in our culture such as leadership, control, domination, and authority come to mind and relate  to what we perceive the word 'dominion' to mean.
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
God always wanted man to have dominion over this world. But, alas, man surrendered that dominion even after God had provided a beautiful, idyllic environment to enjoy. We got "dominion" back with Jesus Christ. As you look at 'dominion' in the word, it is quite a bit different from the world's view of 'dominion'. A study of this word tells a beautiful reality.

Man needs the help of God to overcome the pressures and negatives that the world has to offer. However, throughout the historical accounts in the Old Testament, we can read about man establishing his own way. Even religious leaders had problems.  The same is true today what Jeremiah referred to in Jeremiah 5:31 (24th use of the the same word for dominion or rule):
The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means;
and my people love to have it so:and what will ye do in the end thereof?
Jeremiah 5:31 
Why do people 'love to have it so' ?   People have a tendency toward 'spiritual co-dependency' in two ways.  One is that they'd rather not think about it. Second, they are willing to let someone else think for them in this category. They give over control to someone else. Genesis 3 all over again!

The seventh use of the word for dominion is in Numbers 24:19a:
Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion,
19 
This is reference to the coming of Jesus Christ who is the source of the dominion we can have today :
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13
 Jesus Christ does not lord over us, he IS the Lord and he helps us. In the four gospels his authority is recognized throughout, but he really did not display authoritarian behavior. He presented the truth in a powerful way and gave people a choice.
5 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. I Peter 5:1-3
We are not to lord over one another either (see Leviticus, 25:43,46, 53, the 3rd, 4th and 5th uses of the word for dominion). We serve each other as we believe God for ourselves. As we mature in the application of the word in our own lives we really have something to share because we learn a thing or two about God because we've seen a thing or two spiritually.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Godly Jealousy

Recently I listened to a popular TV preacher who compared godly jealousy to human self-orientated jealously.  As I went to check scriptures about his statements about godly jealousy, his comments really healed my heart.
For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Exodus 34:14
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy:  2 Corinthians 11:2a
 I can honestly say I have experienced the godly jealousy in regards to my family and people I love. When someone or some false ideology starts hanging around, alarms go off in my head. Handling it the right way keeps the godly emotion in the 'godly' category. There is nothing wrong with sharing the truth in love.

Godly jealousy should be construed as love and not considered a product of a negative heart.  It is not the same as human jealousy that arises out of self-interest that produces negative emotions like envy (I haven't found any references to God being an envious God), ungodly anger (to see what is said about godly anger look in the Bible-Ephesians 4:26) and pride (there may be a godly pride-Galatians 6:4) to name a few.

Jealousy can be a positive feeling about what is the best benefit of living according God's wisdom. We, as believers, are going to feel that same godly jealousy in response to things that misdirect people.  It is not something to be ashamed of.  Our culture, our ceremonies, celebrations, holidays and entertainment are loaded with subtle and not so subtle pagan substitutions for truth. Lack of truth has its effects. Its substitute practices drag people away from the beautiful joyful reality of God's peace and his love.

We need to be mindful that the Bible says the evil in the world will wax worse and worse. Just turn on the news and negative emotion and clouds of deception are everywhere:
13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation (deliverance) through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. II Timothy 3:13-17
True godly love furnishes us with the tools to handle life. Chaos and drama swirls around constantly and tries to cut these tools out of our lives.  All scripture is given by inspiration of God for the purpose that those who love God can be furnished with the right tools! 💗

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

First Fruits of the Spirit



20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. 24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Romans 8:20-23

Romans 8 is a great chapter as it magnifies the great significance of the the resurrection of Jesus Christ in our lives. It starts out comparing the walk after the flesh to the walk after the spirit. The word 'flesh' represents our human qualities; the walk after the spirit reflects the holy spirit as it works in our lives. When Jesus said he had come that people might have life more than abundant (John 10:10). the spiritual walk is what is at the root of this abundant life.

Many people do not understand the effect of holy spirit in our lives and probably wouldn't have any concept of what is meant by  'first fruits' of the spirit.  'First fruits' refers to the  the earnest (partial down payment) of the of our full inheritance from God:
12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:12-14
One thing implied in the word 'first fruits' is that there is more coming  Depending on the context of how it is used it can refer to people (Romans 11:16, I Corinthians 15:20,23, I Corinthians 16:15, James 1:8, Romans 14:4), and first fruits of the spirit in Romans 8:23 as the new initial qualities that come with the spirit that are the earnest until the full manifestation of the redemption. This word is used 8 times in the New Testament (new beginning)

'First fruits of Achaia' indicate that there would be more of Achaia that would believe. Christ as the 'first fruit' of them that slept (I Corinthians 15:20) indicating that more resurrections would follow.

As far as the the first fruits of the spirit and its benefits, we don't exactly have the whole enchilada now as we are not living in the evil-free world of eternity. We have the expectation of eternal life which is what hope is more accurately. Now what we have  is power in the nine manifestations of holy spirit (I Corinthians 12:7-11), righteousness, sonship, justification, fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-24) and we are set apart from this world in not allowing it to effect our lives. We still live in this world and that's why 'groaning' occurs. Things are not perfect now but we look to the expectation that someday it will be:
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. I Corinthians 13:9-10
In the meantime, we have the first fruits of the spirit that enable us with power, love and a sound mind! (II Timothy 1:7).

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Palm Sunday Truth

What we call Palm 'Sunday' today actually refers to a combination of things that occurred on three days in the Bible: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (9th, 10th and 11th of the month Nisan). These days involved 2 successive entries of Jesus into Jerusalem: The Entry of Judgement an The Entry of Blessing.

1st entry Friday the 9th of Nisan - Entry of Judgement
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on an asses colt  (symbol of a judge) that was provided by the temple.
Verses covering this entry  Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:29-44, John 12:12-19
The people were excited about the miracle of Lazarus being raised from the dead, so the gathered to see Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem. They put palm leaves down on the road to represent joy and triumph.
Returns to Bethany.

2nd entry Saturday, 10th day of Nisan Entry of Blessing
Jesus was given one ass and one colt to use - In the Old Testament this was a sign of blessing
Prophecy of Zechariah 9:9
Jesus cursed the first fig tree. It was too early for the time of figs, but Jesus foretold  that it would never bear fruit.
Jesus went to the temple and cleaned out the money changers, taught the word and healed the blind and lame. Returns to Bethany
This was the traditional day of selecting the Passover lamb for the Passover.
Verses covering this entry: Matthew 21:1-17, Mark 11: 12-19, Luke 19: 45-46

Sunday
Walking back into Jerusalem, from Bethany, they saw the previously passed fig tree dried up.
When they arrived in the city, they found another fig tree and as Jesus spoke about it, it immediately dried up. He taught believing for the second time.
Verses covered: Matthew 21:18-26:5, Mark 11:20-14:2, Luke 20:1- 22:2

There are many breath-taking details to think about in the records of the last week of Jesus Christ's life. Traditional teaching has clouded over that which is actually recorded in the Word of God. The brilliance of the treasures in these Gospel records is like the fresh air of spring when you dig in!!!




Thursday, March 22, 2018

Faith Cometh By Hearing

Romans 10:17 is a very significant verse that we dare not limit or narrowly bind its implications.
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
When I used to read this verse, an image of pews and podium popped up into my mind.  Teaching may be a part of this process of hearing, but the idea here is much bigger than that. Teachers do not all teach the same thing and that can be troublesome to the extent that people get discouraged trying to get to know God. I know from experience.

The key is in understanding the word 'hearing'. The fact that it is used twice in an almost melodious way is beautiful. The word 'hearing' is translated from the Greek word 'akoe'. In Hebrew it has the sense of hearing to hear. It implies attentive hearing to the word of God.
5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. James 1:5
Asking for help from God brings great rewards. Instead of praying for specific needs, try praying to understand the truth about God and his son. Prayer involves listening.  It is two-way. You cannot trust anyone unless you first listen attentively.  Your brain must receive information and process it.  Faith is not mindless. True understanding can only come when we are actively engaged in learning what God is all about. Everything else will fall into place.

A good understanding about the gift of holy spirit is also important. The holy spirit is key in teaching us God's Word. Christ and the holy spirit are tied together. That is also how Christ is tied to us. He is the way to God.  God who is spirit (John 4:24) is over all.  God's spirit is with Christ and that spirit has been made available to us.  We are one with God as Christ is one with God.
9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:9-10
Several of the earlier Greek texts translate the 'word of God' in this verse as the 'word of Christ'. The context of this chapter in Romans and the book of Romans in general,  explains what God has done through his son Jesus Christ:
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me John 17:21
18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Ephesians 2:18
We need to understand who Jesus Christ is if he is to be our Lord. The subject of the Bible is Jesus Christ.  He is foreshadowed in the Old Testament and his record as he walked this earth is in the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  His resurrection and what he is doing now and in the future is recorded in the rest of the Bible. This is the 'word of Christ'. How can you make Jesus Christ Lord if you don't get what he is all about.

When this all works together it is powerful but it takes trust on our part to benefit.  The more we learn about God and Jesus Christ accurately will build trust and we will see the results of that trust. Faith is not blind.