Glory, Glory, Glory, Glory, Glory!!! (Five lessons from a man of God #2)

Image result for moses with ten commandmentsMoses desire for God’s Presence and God’s will is the standard for anyone who would be a servant of Jesus Christ the Messiah. Yet His Presence alone (nor the blessing which come with it) is never enough, as the follower of God desires others to experience the fullness of God as well. Today we will examine three more lessons from Moses experience with the LORD in Exodus 33.

LESSON #3 For the Man Of God, God With Him Is Not Enough

(Exodus 33:17-18) So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.” And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.

In these two verses we see exactly what is described in the paragraph above. Moses, emboldened by God’s answering his pleas in the affirmative, wants more still. He wants more of God’s Glory, more of His grace, more of His love, and more of His power. He does not want more of God because he wants to have prestige among men, or riches or wealth. He wants more of God because Moses has tasted and seen that God is more than good, His words are more than sweet, His Presence more necessary to him than air. Moses has become a God fixated, God intoxicated man, and nothing more than God Himself with satisfy His soul. Like David after himself, Moses would say “My soul thirsts for you, my flesh cries out for You, as a man in a desert with no water” (Psalm 63).

I believe this at the heart of every true follower of Christ, whom can “know the love of Christ which passes understanding”, and can “be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). Yet even though we can know Him in this fashion, so long as we live in these bodies, more is never enough. Are we like the Moses man of God? Are we fixated on Jesus Christ and God intoxicated, or are we settling for less? If we are not like Jesus, what is it we may be substituting for the knowledge and fullness of His glorious Person in our lives?

LESSON #4 The Man of God Knows Separation From The World Is Essential

Moses’ life shows us a fourth lesson, which is essential if we will be able to enter God’s glorious Presence and remain. We, like Moses, must be separate and distinct from the world and even carnal Christians

(Exodus 33:16So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.”

In order to know Christ Jesus in all His glorious Presence and fullness we must sanctify ourselves (be separate unto the Lord). In one sense we understand that God sanctifies us by Himself…

(1 Thessalonians 5:23-24) Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

Although we hold this truth in great faith, the same letter reminds us of our part.

(1 Thessalonians 4:3-5) For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;

This passage indirectly relates to the fullness of the Holy Spirit, consider that the disciples waited 10 days straight to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit (the first filling with the Holy Spirit). Not only did they begin to live after Jesus life, they separated themselves or set themselves apart, for His purpose alone.

Once more the man of God know that to satisfy His soul’s longing, he must encounter the Person and power of Christ, yet that can only happen as we sanctify ourselves, in order to receive this fullness by faith. This entails we be obedient in the extreme, as followers of His Glory in Christ Jesus.

LESSON #5 One God Fixated Person Can Move The Heart Of God

Finally we must learn that one man (Moses), moved the heart of God on behalf of an entire nation; a nation that was not inclined to know God as Moses was. The Israelite’s were generally afraid of God’s glorious Presence, in fact they wanted Moses to talk to the LORD on their behalf (Exodus 20:19). Quite frankly, the Israelite’s did not want make the necessary adjustments in their carnality, which were necessary to be separate commensurate to encounter God’s glorious Presence. Even still Moses plea, answered by God, would leave Israel a very near taste of God. The hope is that they would taste and see and fall to love for God as Moses did.

In truth this has been at the heart of every great revival of the Church, throughout the ages. Are you so God intoxicated that you can be a flame to begin a reviving of the Church in this nation? God knows the church and the world need it. Moses chose God presence over the best that man could produce. Will we?

(Hebrews 11:24-26) By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward

Posted in Exodus 33, God's Power, God's Presence, God's Promises, God's Word. Holy Spirit, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Glory, Glory, Glory, Glory, Glory!!! (Five lessons from a man of God #1)

Image result for show me your glory moses(Exodus 33:1-4) Then the Lord said to Moses, “Depart and go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it.’ And I will send My Angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” And when the people heard this bad news, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments.

When Thinking of Moses we usually associate him with the image above and to our left; that of the bearer of the Law of God and more specifically the Ten Commandments. This is an accurate view of Moses as John’s gospel records “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).  Additionally, Moses was a man in hot pursuit God’s Person and Presence. The above passage begins an exchange between Moses and the LORD God, which revels his deepest desire to know the glory of God

Exodus 33 happens some time after Moses received the law of God (Exodus 31-32), Where Israel’s pursues the golden calf perversion, when Moses carries out the death sentence on those choosing further rebellion and where Moses disciplines those who were initially led astray. These events help us understand the dialogue between Moses and God in Exodus 33 (Israel being termed “stiff-necked”), which is a chapter revealing five lessons concerning the man of God and God’s Presence.

LESSON #1 For the Man Of God, He Must Have God With Him

In reading the Old Testament we can easily see Moses had been blessed more personal revelation of God, than most others. Exodus 33:11 records how intimate this revelation of the LORD God to this man of God was; “So the Lord spoke with Moses face to face, as a man speaks to His friend”. Moses had truly found grace in the sight of the Lord. Yet even with these many holy encounters, Moses wanted God to be present with Him all the time. Contrary to His desire God told Moses He would not go into Canaan with the Israelite’s. This meant God would no longer lead them by day, with the Pillar of Cloud, nor by night with the Pillar of Fire. These manifestations of God’s Presence are known as the Shekinah glory. Although The LORD declared He would not be Present with them, with good reason (being stiff-necked His holiness would consume them),  God would not leave them without help. He would send “My Angel” before His people to drive out the Canaanites. This was no small promise.

Without getting into a drawn out discussion, we must understand who “My Angel” refers to in out text. Most agree this name is a reference to theophany, or a visible manifestation of God in a bodily form. So this was no mere created angel, but God Himself. We see this Person of God make appearances through the O.T., as God walking in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8), as appearing to Hagar as the Angel of the LORD (Genesis 16:7), as appearing to Abraham (Genesis 18), appearing to Moses who sees His hinder parts (Exodus 33:22-23), as the Captain of the LORD’s host (Joshua 5:32), and as the Angel of the LORD (Judges 6:11, Judges 13:1-24). Yet one of the OT appearances not mentioned gives more insight into Who this Person is. The appearance we will discuss is that of Melchizedek the king of Salem (later Jerusalem), who is called the priest of the God Most High.

The reason this manifestation identifies “My Angel” from our passage in Exodus, is found in Hebrews 7:1-3

(Hebrews 7:1-3) For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,” without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.

This Melchizedek, is none other than the Word of God manifest in human form; Jesus Christ before His incarnation by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Mary. The scriptures make clear that Christ Jesus is this King and High Priest in the remaining portion of Hebrews 7 and through Hebrews 8, 9 and most of 10.

The point being made is that God literally told Moses He (God) would literally go before Israel Himself, in the Angel of the LORD; in order to wipe out Israel’s enemies. This would the Hebrews smooth sailing in possession the land. Yet in Moses mind, that was unacceptable…

(Exodus 33:12-13) Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.”

Moses is declaring, I do not want to go anywhere, or do anything unless You are with me, in a relationship where I can experience Your Person, in a manner that I can know You (be intertwined with you in relationship). To say it another way, I don’t want to minister, unless You are with me, empowering every word action and thought. Moses realized, God’s Presence was absolutely essential to knowing God personally, as much as it was necessary for His efforts to be anointed and effective.

Sadly, Moses disposition and the His desire arising from it, are sadly lacking in much of our ministry today.  We are content to talk of the Presence and anointing of God’s Spirit, without really experiencing Him. This has become our default position (in general in the American Church), because we set little time aside to develop a relationship based on “knowing” Christ. We allow time for knowing about Him and information on doing ministry, which comes through academic pursuit, but have no time to develop an awareness of His Divine Presence with and filling us.

Why do we have so little time? Like Moses we have demanding people and issues needing attention, but unlike Moses we seek to fix the problem and put out the fire, with on hand knowledge. Where Moses would run to God, for His guidance, protection, provision and instruction, while waiting in God’s Presence, we dip our hand into diminishing well of information; praying afterward that it will work. This is the difference between having a fountain of Living waters, as opposed to a rapidly used and evaporating cistern (Jeremiah 2:13). Oh for the day when men of God are stuck in the pursuit of knowing Christ and the power of His Presence, through the ministry of the Word and Prayer. Moses life shows us that men of God would rather die than minister or move without God’s presence.

LESSON #2 For the Man Of God, Those With Him Must Encounter God

(Exodus 33:14-16) And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us?

Wow! God really did favor Moses, but this favor was not enough for Moses, as we he responds with “If Your Presence does not go with us, do no bring us up from here”. This is a remarkable conclusion for Moses to arrive at, but it truly reveals the heart of the servant of God.

Those chosen by God, knowing they are the foolish, the weak, and the base of the world, desire for all those who are in their sphere of influence to know God as they do. This is the primary burden for evangelism from a biblical perspective. We have tweaked and poked and cajoled folks in evangelizing people with varying motives: To save the lost from hell, to bless them to know forgiveness, to restore the image of God, because we are commanded to.

All the above reasons are true good and true, but they are merely products of people being redeemed. Redemption, which was in the mind of God before the foundation of the world, is to restore the relationship He has to humanity, having been damaged by sin. This is so we would know His love and know His awesome glorious Presence with us. Like Moses, we should have a desire for others to know the God we have come to know as Mighty God, Counselor, Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father; Abba with us. For men of God it is not enough for them to know God in all His wonderful Glory, others must as well. Yeah, before we can effect others with this knowledge of God we must first dive deeper ourselves. Review, for yourself, Paul’s heart desire in Philippians 3:10. Is this your desire, as his child, through the blood of Jesus Christ?

This understanding reiterates the earlier point about knowing God and having His anointing. We cannot impact others, unless we minster in His power, as He is present with us. This transcends the Spirit of God being resident with us at Salvation. We need to be immersed in God’s greatness and filled with His fullness (Ephesians 3:14-20; 5:18). If not, we merely try to convince people of truths we are not fully experiencing ourselves. The man of God would rather wait on on the sideline, than attempt to minister the reveal God, seen in the Person of Jesus Christ, in their own strength. We need His sufficiency (II Corinthians 3:5-6). When is the last time you encountered Christ, in the fullness of His Presence, as you intimately commune with Him? Moses spoke with God face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. We are to converse and encounter God as our intimate and present Abba (Romans 8:14-17).

Next time we will explore three more Lessons from a man of God in “Glory, Glory, Glory, Glory, Glory (Five lessons from a man of God #2).

Posted in Exodus 33, God's Power, God's Presence, God's Word, God's Word. Holy Spirit, Moses, Moses the man of God, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

THE WHY OF JESUS DEATH

Image result for jesus died on the crossGOOD FRIDAY is the day when Christians world over, officially remember the death of Jesus Christ. The Biblical and historical fact is that Jesus Christ lived and died on a Roman cross. His resurrection is equally indisputable both biblically and historically. Yet that is a discussion for another day.

Some skeptics have suggested that many political and religious martyrs have died for their particular causes, inferring that death of Jesus Christ is not more or less important than theirs. Though I understand their rationale, they are sorely mistaken as to the primary importance Jesus death has for all of humanity. In the next several paragraphs I would like to explain in THE WHY OF JESUS DEATH. May God help me.

THE ONLY GOD IS CREATOR, AND HE IS HOLY  The importance of the underlined phrase cannot be understated, in a world where education has been used to call into question the most basic fact of human life; There is one God and He created all things seen and unseen (Genesis 1:1-31). God has placed this knowledge in what can be seen in the created order, as well as it being inherent in our humanity (Genesis 1:26; Romans 1:18-21). As God, He is Holy, set apart and above His creation. God is perfect in every way, possessing all power, knowledge and presence. He is perfect Light and in Him is no darkness or sin, nor can there be. The core of His being He is love; all that He does and is, is for the sake of reaching out freely to bless those He loves. This love is directed most powerfully upon those created in His image (Isaiah 6:3; I Timothy 6:15-16; James 1:17; I John 4:8; Psalm 8:3-6). Jesus had to die because God is Holy.

HIS HOLINESS DEMANDS A PAYMENT FOR SIN I don’t believe that most men, in general, will have an issue with the above truth. Most world religions seek a way to stay right with their version of God, even though their ways are futile. In those religions, when a person has an understanding that they have violated a precept of their version of god, they seek a way to remove the stain of their violation. This is an indication that all men know God and know He is holy. Therefore, man is seeking a way to make up for their sin, to pay for their mistake in order to avoid future punishment. Here we see the Biblical truth “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ the Lord” (Romans 6:23). There is only one person who every lived, which can make the claim of never violating God’s standard to be in relation to Himself; you and I aren’t Him. His standard is perfect righteousness. To not walk in perfect righteousness is to sin and be separated from God (Romans 3:23).

This began with Adam and Eve. And let’s get over our incredulity concerning the Garden of Eden and all that we find unbelievable, ever word is true. When they sinned they were separated from God’s presence. Henceforth, the only way they could relate to God was to shed the blood of a lamb. This blood would cover their sin for a season, but not remove it. As a result of their sin, every person born after Adam has been infected with this genetic characteristic… Born spiritually dead, with a bent toward disobeying God. In that bent we can’t help but follow our own way and sin. The necessary payment for that rebellion is blood, for with out the shedding of the blood there is no remission of sin; meaning no receipt the debt has been paid (Romans 3:21-23). Jesus died to pay you humanities sin debt.

THE LAMB OF GOD NEEDED TO BE PERFECT WITHOUT SIN Even now most can track with me, yet what made Jesus special enough for this task? In the first place, Jesus was fully human with one distinct difference; He was not born with Adam’s genetic characteristic. The scripture records that sin and death came into the world and were passed along to all humanity through Adam (Romans 5:12).

What is the implication concerning Jesus Christ? Adam’s inheritance of sin, comes to us through our father’s not our mothers.

What does this have to do with Jesus? He had a flesh and blood mother, but not a flesh and blood father, as He was conceived in Mary’s womb, through a miracle by the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-37; 2:1-7).

This is vital to the redemption of man, for it was not God’s intention that lambs blood would ever remove sin (Hebrew 9:13-14; 10:4, 10, 12-14, 18). Yet in God’s holy nature and before the creation of the world, He ordained what those animal sacrifices were to point towards (I Peter 1:19-20; Revelation 13:8); Jesus the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world.

Jesus is the only person who could have shed blood sufficient for the sin of the world, being sinless in His human nature. And although He was tempted in all ways like us, He never fell into sin from those temptations (Leviticus 4:32; Hebrews 2:17-1, 15). Jesus died being the only person able to fulfill God’s holy standard of perfect righteousness, never sinning.

THE BLOODY CROSS IS AN IMAX PRESENTATION WE CAN’T MISS a few paragraphs ago, we discussed God’s love for humanity. Jesus came to pay the wage for our sin, because God loves men. We can all agree this makes biblical sense, but the cross was gruesome brutality. What Jesus suffered was beyond any man’s suffering, even though never sinning, He bore the weight of the sin of all humanity upon His body. Therefore, not only did He suffer physically, but also emotionally, spiritually and relationally (Psalm 22:1-18; Isaiah 50:6; 52:14; 53:1-10). Therefore, His suffering was a demonstration, an loud and clear display of God’s love 

Being that Jesus is the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, His manifestation of God’s love is an all time (past, present and future) and eternal declaration, seen by all. Whether it is loved or hated, it can’t be ignored.

Even from the fall of man, the IMAX film of the cross was being played, as the God proclaimed that Christ would bruise the head of Satan, as the enemy struck at His heal (Genesis 3:15). Before Jesus died it was what the O.T. saint was waiting for (Job 19:25-27). For those at the cross who followed Him and all who will come after it is completion, the cross declares redemption has come. To all of creation it projects loudly in an IMAX fashion God Loves mankind!!!

(Romans 5:8) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus died to prove God loves men and woman, whether they love Him in return or not.

JESUS DEATH PROVES GOD LOVES HIS ENEMIES UNCONDITIONALLY When reading the above portion of scripture we clearly see, Jesus loves His enemies. All men are enemies of God from birth. It does not matter how good, or religious or God honoring, one thinks they are. We are all born estranged from God, not just disobedient, but enemies. Consider Isaiah 64:6-7, where God declares we are all like an unclean thing, and our “good” works like filthy rags (used menstrual rags is what the Hebrew conveys). Psalm 14:1-3 makes it even clearer, as it declares what God sees when He looks at humanity: all have turned aside, all have become corrupt together, and not one does any good that is sufficient to meet his standard. Jesus died to redeem His enemies making them more than friends.

Jesus death not only proves God’s love, but also displays His mercy, as God is not willing that any perish (in eternal fire), desiring all to come to Him in repentance (II Peter 3:9). This does not mean that the by virtue of His death  every one will be saved. The potential is present, but His desire to redeem His enemies and make them more than friends, must be received. The one in whom Jesus death will be effective, must believe the truth about his death and resurrection, seeing Christ has suffered for their sins. They must act on that faith in repentance, turning away from how they always lived, in order to follow Him. In those who do, we find forgiveness, power to live in Christ’s walk of righteousness, peace with God, and healing for body, soul and spirit (Isaiah 53:5). Yet we also find more than that…

(Romans 8:14-17) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

JESUS DIED BECAUSE HE KNEW HE WOULD NOT STAY DEAD When Jesus died, Satan and many people, were gleeful in their mockery. They believed they were shutting up their adversary, preserving their power, nation and religion. Jesus in turn asked the Father to forgave them (the people). He did not lash out and willing laid down His life, because He knew something they did not. He was not going to stay dead long (Matthew 12:38-45; Mark 14:58; John 2:19). Jesus died for He knew he would rise form the dead after three days. In fact He said “I will lay my life down… I will take it back again” (John 10:18). In this we see not only His perfect human nature but His divine nature as well. What mere man can could make such a claim?

JESUS DIED TO SHUT SATAN UP AND OFF In discussing the why of Jesus death, we have one more to consider.

(Colossians 2:14-15) having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

In heaven against every one of us, are a list of charges, and indictment if you will. This list of charges has requirements for payment, written by the hand of God. It was Satan, who would accuse us in our sin, per that record. On the cross that day, every one of those charges and their penalties, were written into the body of the Savior. When He was nailed to the tree, that indictment with it’s penalties was paid in full. Before God, in those who have received His grace by faith and repentance, there is no more record. Satan has nothing left to accuse us for. This removes Satan’s power over us forever. Jesus died to shut Satan up concerning his accusations against us and shut off the power he had over us.

On this Good Friday, let me ask you if you have you decided to follow Jesus? HE alone is worthy and without Him, every Friday or any other day for that matter, would be very bad indeed.

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“Sammie… What you See?”

IMG_20170411_181027Today my first born is 18 and her shirt is correct. I cannot tell a lie. She is a criminal!!! From the first time she spoke the most important name I would be given (this side of heaven), the name of Daddy, she stole my heart. Samantha is also a criminal in the sight of the world in which she lives; for loving Jesus with all her heart, and desiring to follow hard after Him, no matter the risk. Sammie’s favorite books to read, aside from God’s word, deal with those who are persecuted for Jesus sake. In her own life, while in in school and at work she has learned well the passage of scripture from II Timothy 3:12

“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution”

In answer to her parents sincere and at times desperate prayers, God has blessed her with a hunger and thirst for Him, that turns her on to the narrow road time and again. At times this desire has exposed her to the mocking world around her and she has had to endure some difficulty, yet the Lord has trained her by it. Her mother and I have been so blessed to see her grow up physically and spiritually. Yet on this special day, I am reminded that we were not the only ones who are seeing growth or failure. Let me explain.

Around the time Sammie would have been turning two, we moved her into her big girl bed.  I can still see the room as I placed her under the covers. The room’s overhead light was lighting the room enough, to make the pastel yellow walls with pastel pink and blue feather dusting highlights, glow like clouds at sunset. Her sheets matched her baby “Loonie Tunes” border. On the particular night I am remembering , I was once again beside myself with depression. Many know that coming into the faith, did not diminish the intensity of bouts of depression and anxiety I went through. Though they were less frequent (Christ has since healed me), praise Jesus, they seemed to come with a greater ferocity when they would come. This can surely be attributed to the enemy coming to steal and kill and destroy my joy and faith. Into this depressive state, from being rejected for my faith with co-workers and family, stepped a tiny life preserver named Samantha.

Following some very weak, lifeless and standard prayers from me, I looked into Samantha’s big blue eyes and asked a question of my two year old (yeah I know I sound pathetic)… “Sammie, when you see Daddy, what do you see?”

I don’t know if I was expecting her to say “I see a loser” or “Your a pathetic bum” or “I can’t believe your such a failure”, which would have been quite an accomplishment for a two year old, and akin to how I felt. Instead she gave a one word answer that made me weep and would serve as kick in the pants (over the years) more times than I care to admit. In response to my question “When you see Daddy, what do you see?” she said simply “JESUS”.

Hearing any of my children say JESUS name, has always been a wonderful blessing, but this one time in particular would imprint on my soul. In hours following her announcement I was hit with a few realities.

  1. How I feel may matter, but it must not direct my thoughts actions or dispositions
  2. Failure in living the Christian life, does not mean we are failures. So long as we confess our sin, He not only forgives and cleanses, but loves us. In fact, even before we confess, He loves us.
  3. Our identity is not directed by feelings, perfect Christian living, or the characterizations of those around us. Our identity is in the perfection of Christ, as we are children of God, through His blood. Our identity is in the One who abides with and lives within us.
  4. Who we are in Christ can be seen, in how we consistently live and grow to be more like Jesus.
  5. REMEMBER… Someone is ALWAYS watching you.

My foray of remembrance on Samantha’s 18th birthday, is not for the purpose of declaring my greatness as a follower of Jesus, for any greatness is few and far between. In fact any good thing coming from any of us is only attributable to Him (II Corinthians 3:5-6). The purpose is to challenge you to be aware that daily someone will observe your walk with Christ. What would your children, your parents, your co-workers, fellow students, neighbors, spouses and even your enemies declare if asked “When you see me, what do you see?”

Interestingly, Samantha’s declaration continues to pound and uplift me. Over the years, her one word answer in that two year old cutesy voice, has hit me over the head like a hammer, when I want to be carnal (unfaithful, selfish, proud, bitter, unduly angry or pick your poison). Her reply has also at times served as a healing balm and uplifting encouragement, when God brings it to my remembrance. Thinking on her response brings squarely into view the a dispositional truth often neglected by many followers of Jesus.

2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (NKJV) You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.

Letters are meant to be read. My desire is at the end of my life, my family, and those I have ministered too and had fellowship with will say, “Mike’s letter shouted JESUS!” My desire is that of my neighbors and friends and yes even my enemies (whether said in mockery or disgust) will declare my letter shouted Jesus. If that is the case, I trust Jesus words to me will be “Well done, My good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord”. Those words will be the sweetest ever spoken to me.

May those be what guide your life. May Christ so fill your heart, that those you meet see Jesus in you. And thank the Lord for Samantha. When I see you , my dear daughter, I see… JESUS!!!

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Do you follow the LEADER?

In Matthew08af9c1 19:16-22 we are introduced to a man of wealth, privilege, prestige and power. This “rich young ruler”, as the text defines him, has come to Jesus to ask Him a question… “What must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus proceeds to instruct him to keep the commandments. The “rich young ruler” questions further with “Which ones?” Jesus reply in simple form was “Don’t murder, or commit adultery, or steal, or lie, or dishonor you parents, or fail to love your neighbor as much as you love yourself”.  The young man declares he has performed all these commands since his youth. Interestingly, the young man was not satisfied with leaving it there but asks further “What do I still lack?”

Either he was looking for some further affirmation from Jesus, concerning his good life or he truly did not feel he had met all the requirements. Is it possible He saw in Jesus demeanor that there was something more the Master needed to say? Whatever the case, Jesus did respond….

Matthew 19:21-22 (NKJV) Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Why did the “rich young ruler” go away sad? Because Jesus told him to come and follow Him; this meant leave everything behind. He needed to leave behind his wealth, his privilege, his prestige and his power. Jesus was essentially saying, leave who your are behind, to be who I am redeeming you to be. No wonder he left sorrowful, for he had a lot to lose. Yet this is exactly what Jesus commands of anyone who would endeavor to follow Him

Luke 14:33 (NKJV) So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

Radically following Jesus is a tangible fruit in the born again soul, where it is expressing faith in the cross and resurrection of Jesus and demonstrating their faith through repentance (or walking away from their former life and walking toward God as they follow Christ). Not only is following a tangible fruit, but it is a requirement of being a disciple.

 Luke 9:23 (NKJV) Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

If we do not follow Christ, we are not His disciples. If we are not His disciples, no matter what belief we profess, we are lost. Although following may not look all that committed at first, and even ebb and flow in our emotional fire at times, it must be present and growing. There is no middle ground. Jesus redeems us to follow Him as our everlasting LEADER.

This does not imply we get to follow Him halfheartedly or as we see fit. Following Him is exactly what the early disciples displayed: to lose their lives for His sake and submit to His will for His glory. (which is arises from our love for Him). There is much for us to discuss about how we are to follow Jesus, but for today I offer a quote for you to consider.

I have been reading a book entitled “A SHEPHERD LOOKS AT THE GOOD SHEPHERD”, by Phillip Keller. This book is part of a series written by the author, the first in the series “A SHEPHERD LOOKS AT THE 23 PSALM” is a Christian classic. My hope is that you will prayerfully consider the extended quote below, allowing the Holy Spirit to answer the question… Do you follow the LEADER?

“The question in all of this is, ‘Do I really want to follow Him? Do I really want to do His will? Do I really want to be led?’

Some of us say we do without really meaning it. More than anything else it is a sentimental wish. It is a half-hearted hope. It is a pleasant idea we indulge in during our better moments. Yet, too often deep down in our wills we still determine to do our own thing and go our own wayward ways.

It is precisely at this point where we come to grief in our walk with God. It is presumption of the worst sort to claim His commitments to us, made so freely and in such generosity, while at the same time refusing to comply with His commands or wishes because of our own inherent selfish desires.

Whatever else happens there remains this one, basic fundamental fact that the person who wants to follow Christ will ever do so. All the rest will become strays.”

A few pages later Keller drops the hammer…

“There are many willful, wayward, indifferent Christians who cannot really be classified as followers of Christ. There are relatively few diligent disciples who forsake all to follow the Master.”

Do you truly follow the Master?

Posted in "A Shepherd Looks At The 23rd Psalm", "A Shepherd Looks At The Good Shepherd", "Come and follow Me", followers of Christ, Jesus is the Good Shepherd, Phillip Keller, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cleansed #3

Related imageHaving a clean conscience before God is an irrevocable and guaranteed promise, through Jesus shed blood for us in the cross.  We know this cleanness is a past finished act, as well as an ongoing and present reality. In spite of this promise why do Christians spend so much of their time feeling unworthy of God, guilty of failure and at worst unforgiving? The simply answer is we don’t yet now how to fight the battle to maintain and grow what Christ has won for us. The nature of this battle and who and how we must fight are essential to understand if we will truly live free in Christ (if you have not yet read the first two installments of this series Clean#1 and Clean#2 you may want to do so first)

THE BATTLE

In Romans Chapter 2, Paul the apostles begins taking Jewish followers of Jesus Christ to task, due to their low view of Gentile believers; who had come to Christ from lawless paganism. The crux of Paul’s argument is why cite the O.T. law in regard to the Gentiles past behaviors, when you (The Jewish follower of Christ) are breaking the very law you’re applying to them.  Using Romans 2:13-15 Paul illustrates that by the Holy Spirit it appears the Gentile believers, with little or no knowledge of the law, are actually living the law. This he declares is evidence of the law being written on their hearts and no doubt a reference to the New Covenant prophecies (promises) made real in Christ’s death and resurrection (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26). The Jewish contingent should have rejoiced to see these fulfillment’s in their Gentile brethren. Romans 2:15 reveals how our conscience works as the Spirit of God reveals the law written on the heart of the regenerated soul.

(Romans 2:15) who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)

The Christian can either excel in grace or wallow in “dead works” (Hebrews 9:14) feeling, condemned for not measuring up. Remember walking dead works is to return to what we used to do to find peace, favor or justification from sin, in relations to God. Looking into the N.T, where Judaizes sought to add to the gospel with O.T. Law requirements, this can be easily seen, Yet for us we must dig a little further, to see how “dead works” can muddy our consciences.

Let us remember that one of many clear lines of admonition in the N.T. is the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:1-2).  The renewing of the mind is a “renovation”. This renovation is not one where we build upon the old foundation of our mental life. The reformation of the mind is a complete gutting of the patterns, precepts and processes of our thinking apart from Christ. Essentially it is out with the old and in with the new (II Corinthians 5:17). You’ll agree that although this is fairly easy to equate with thought, its outlay is some of the most laborious demolition and removal work. Of course this work is God’s first, through a supernatural work. In relation to this, God continues this work supernaturally, yet as it is combined with our labor intensive and consistent effort.

In the first place we understand that the reformation of mind begins when we are regenerated or awakened by the Holy Spirit being convicted of sin, judgement and righteousness (John 16:8-11). This of course takes the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God (I Peter 1:22-23; Ephesians 5:26; Titus 3:5). However this work does not find enduring foundation or growth commensurate to our redeemed lives, should we not fight for it, by faith.

Image result for battle for the mindMany books have been published concerning the battlefield of the mind and rightly so, for the scriptures warn us concerning this reality in many places. Consider Philippians 4:8. In this passage we are commanded concerning what we are to allow occupying our minds with the words “meditate” or “think on these things”. Interestingly, the two previous verses in Philippians 4, command us not to be anxious, which is a state of mind defecting the entirety of our person. We obey that command by seeking the presence of Christ in prayer. Few if any would deny this is part of the renewing of the mind. We also cannot deny that it is opposed by Satan, as he is a roaring predator looking to devour your life of faith.

It is for this reason I Peter 1:13 warns us to “gird up the loins of our mind”. Contrary to the popular interpretation the word “gird” which means to tie up the loose ends, in reference to the tunic worn in biblical times, does not refer to a race but a battle. Simply put we are to tie up the loose ends of our thinking, which are left over from when our “old man” ran the show. The reason being, that Satan only has to distract your thinking long enough, tripping your with the loose ends of your old thinking, to get you out of the will of God. He does this often by muddying our clean conscience with the old patterns and thoughts of the “dead works” which use to direct our actions and thinking, apart from Christ.

One of the ways Satan does this is by recycling patterns of guilty and labels which wrongly identify us. Far too many Christians seek to “get right with God” through “penance” instead of repentance, meaning they seek to atone for their sin through a behavioral change. Although behavior transformation does occur in the Christian, who has a clean conscience after they sin, it is not the behavior that cleanses the conscience, but the eternally powerful blood of Jesus Christ.

(1 John 1:7-9) But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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Not only does the blood of Jesus clear the account (past tense), with supernatural cleaning power, His blood transforms the behavior by the Holy Spirit (as we submit to His word). No doubt many will say Amen to this monumental truth, but when you fallen down the next time, how will you get up? Will it be with sobriety, and gratitude for God doing what He promised in Christ, or will it be with shame, condemnation and guilt? This is important to know, because the second response is what leads people away from grace and back into the bondage of condemnation and “dead works” entanglement.

Make no mistake, even if you do not struggle with a guilty or condemning mind set, others you know may be tortured by it. These are sad and joyless believers feel they constantly fail the Lord, even though they are seeking to do His will for the sake of love. Sadly their praying, fasting and pursuit of scripture, is no longer for the delight of relational their union with Jesus, but to reach a level of proficiency where they will feel they have met a level of good to merit God’s grace (which would not be grace at all). Although redeemed they forget we are accepted by God based on Jesus perfect finished work alone.

What a battle we fight, with an enemy that wants to steal your joy, kill your trust of Abba and destroy your faith. It is for this reason Paul writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit…

(2 Corinthians 10:3-6) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

The enemy of our soul wants stronghold upon stronghold of “dead works” to remain firmly planted, yet hidden in your mental make-up. Our “old man” easily accommodates the enemy’s desire, for it keeps him relevant.  The only way to know these strongholds exist is to prayerfully seek the Lord… “Search me O God and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting life” (Psalm 139:23-34). If we seek Him sincerely He will answer, but don’t expect the revelation to come on firm days with sunny skies. Expect the answers to come when the day is dark and our life is shaken with trial. It is in those moments, we have a choice to submit to God in trust, acting upon His word by the Holy Spirit, or behaving as we did apart from Christ.

Once you encounter thoughts of despair, hopelessness, condemnation, guilt or a need to work to find affirmation, pull that stronghold down by obeying the truth of God’s word. Believe the truth of the grace of God toward you; keep a sensitive, soft and contrite heart before God. Keep your clean conscience, bought and paid for with the precious blood of Jesus.

Posted in Cleansed #1, Cleansed #2, cleansed conscience, conscience, Hebrews 9:13-14, no condemnation, Romans 8:1, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cleansed #2

keenan-istock-471112156As we discussed in the last post (if you have not read it click Clean #1), conscience is God’s divine imprint upon every human soul. With this conscience we have self identity, as well as an awareness of who God is and what He requires of us. Some would like to refer to this gift as man’s moral compass, as illustrated in the image to our left. This would be a limited view, for sure, but one that reflects well how the conscience works in our daily lives. The question, in lieu of our scripture is, how does one attain a clean conscience? Hebrews 9:14 declares the only way, from a Christian perspective… “how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Since this is the biblical case, why do so many live with out a clean conscience? Why does it appear that some are without a conscience? This post seeks to answer those questions.

THREE RESPONSES OF MAN IN DEALING WITH CONSCIENCE

The entirety of the human race, because of its conscience, knows that they are separated from God. You may scoff at that idea, but regard that all human societies have varying forms of religion where they seek to appease a deity through atonement. Even in radical Satanism, human sacrifice is a way to please their god, gaining more power for their selfish purposes. These are simply the facts. When reviewing Romans 1:18-23, it is not difficult to see that all men are endowed with conscience, that we see the one true God and know we are separated from Him. It is for this reason man seeks religious justification, through ritual or idol worship.

On the other hand there are those who have simply given up on the zero sum gain of pleasing a deity, and pursue whatever will make denying  their conscience easier. These people are choosing to be their own god, making up their irreligious practice as they go along, all the while mocking the one true God. These types often find themselves with no moral compass or care. They live quite content it would seem, indulging what is right in their own sight. Sadly they are reprobate, meaning that God has stopped speaking to them concerning their sin; for they refuse to listen to Him. Their consciences have been seared by their choice to ignore God’s revelation outwardly and inwardly by their conscience (Romans 1:18-21). This is a sad place to be.

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Yet this last category is not the most prevalent portion of the world’s population. The religious person, seeking to cleanse their conscience through moral religiosity, is the most prevalent. Whether Muslim, Hindu, Jew, Taoist, Buddhist, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Catholic, or Orthodox, so long as they trust in their religious practice, fall into this category. All humanity apart from Christ’s all sufficient sacrifice, are destined to rinse and repeat religious rituals and superstitions, in order to be clean enough to meet their own version of god. Like hamsters running feverishly on an exercise wheel, without going anywhere, humanity works repeatedly and religiously to scrub the guilt from their conscience. In spite of these efforts the guilt returns like a stain beneath the surface.

This vicious cycle continues for our ignoring the revelation of God, concerning His once for all time atonement in Christ’s sacrifice. They are seeking to be right with God “their” way, not His way. This is a problem as old as Cain’s fallen countenance over God rejecting his sacrifice and accepting his brother Abel’s. God requires a blood sacrifice for the atonement of sin and Cain knew it. Cain could have easily secured a lamb from his brother Abel, yet he wanted God to accept him on his own terms and in his own way (Genesis 4:1-8).

Sadly, the majority of the world has followed Cain’s “God accept me, my way” approach. When humanity chooses this path in dealing with conscience, it leads to the searing of the conscience as evidenced in the scriptures…

(1 Timothy 4:1-3) Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,

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One of the “doctrines of demons”, which relates directly to our subject, is that which denies the fully sufficient nature of Jesus death on the cross; for the sin of the world. The Jewish faith, although Biblical in many ways, falls into this category since the time of Jesus death and resurrection. More germane to our discussion, are the Judaizers of the apostolic period.  These error prone people declared Jesus as the Messiah and believe in His death and resurrection. In addition they required strict adherence to circumcision and the O.T. law, in order to be “saved”. This addition denied Jesus sacrifice as sufficient for the removal of the sin of all men. In denial of the truth of God’s Word. This heresy was a huge problem for the people to whom the Book of Hebrews was written. We still encounter this heresy today.

Roman Catholic teaching falls into this category. I realize this may be offensive to some of my readers, but truth is truth. To proclaim anything contrary to the word of God concerning Jesus Christ, is to diminish Him and lead people astray. Consider that the very center of the Catholic mass, which is the called “the Eucharist”, is taught to be a literal re-sacrifice of Christ daily. This is taught because they believe Christ’s death was insufficient to pay for the sin of all men. This of course is a gross and blasphemous error, as it is a complete contradiction to what Christ Himself taught (John 3:16, John 11:25Romans 6:11; Hebrews 7:27, Hebrews 9:24-28, Hebrews 10:10, 12, 14; I Peter 3:18). It also opens up a works mentality that must be followed to gain grace sufficient for heaven. This of course flies in the face of the Word of God, which declares, we are saved by grace though faith in Jesus finished work, ALONE. His sacrifice was THE only work that was necessary for our redemption (Ephesians 2:8-10).

In view of the above scripture, why is this error so prevalent among religious humanity? Because it is easy to seek good feelings in things that “appear” to be morally right and makes us “better people”, in our won sight. This life of “dead works” is an demonically intoxicating and hypnotic state, one that leads to a conscience not only seared but defiled before God (Titus 1:15).

The third response to “conscience” is that of the redeemed of the Lord. As stated in the lead passage to this article, the blood of Jesus makes possible a clean conscience for all who come to Him in repentance and faith. Only the blood of Christ can clean a defiled conscience, stained with the remembrance and guilt of sin . The question is can a true believer have a clean conscience and dirty it again? Simply put, it’s a possibility.

Hebrews was written to Jewish people who had followed Jesus the Christ. They were being persecuted by fellow Jews, who were threatening their livelihood, families and lives if they did not return to the O.T. sacrifice. At the time of the writing of the book of Hebrews, the Temple had not yet been destroyed. Therefore, the writer inspired by the Holy Spirit, teaches the supremacy of Christ’s sacrifice compared to O.T. animal sacrifice, in dealing with sin. Jesus is the fulfillment of what they used practice (the O.T. sin offering), as they sacrificed an animal, whose blood would cover their sin for a year. Yet more than that. the sacrificed animal was to point to the coming of the Lamb of God, who would take away the sin of the world. By returning to the sacrifice of an animal to deal with sin or to other dictates of the law, as a means of finding salvation, they would have been falling into apostasy. If it was possible for them to fall in this manner, is it possible for usYES!!!

We can escape falling into this error, by understanding what it means to have Jesus blood cleanse our conscience. Before we begin to examine this here are several other passages dealing with this vital issue (I Timothy 1:5I Timothy 1:19I Timothy 3:9; I Peter 3:16).

PAST FINISHED ACT

Rejoice that by the blood of Jesus Christ we can have a clean conscience. But what does it mean to have a clean conscience? Simply put, it means that we no longer have a present weight of guilt and condemnation concerning our sin.

In Romans 8:1-4 we can see this vital truth clearly, where there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:14-17 (especially verse 15) reveals that because of this forgiveness, we are adopted as God’s children, and no longer are in bondage to fear. What is this bondage to fear we are released from? It is nothing less than the fear of death, which arises from the uncertainty of whether we are righteous enough to be accepted by God or rejected and judged accordingly with eternal punishment. Those of us who have a “clean conscience”, through Jesus shed blood, must hold to this truth by faith. This must be done even when they don’t “feel” it, because it is a past finished act from the moment Jesus declares “It is finished”. In spite of the cleansing being a past finished act, we can struggle with it in our ever day reality.

PRESENT PROGRESSIVE ACTION (OUR PART)

Consider with me the prevalence leprosy in the biblical era. In Luke 17:11-19, we read of account where Jesus heals ten lepers. After Jesus healed them, nine walked away with no display of gratitude. The remaining man threw himself at Jesus feet thanking Him. Let’s avoid discussion on how ungrateful nine of the men showed themselves to be, and understand they obeyed His instruction to go to the priest and report their healing. Jesus command was in the O.T. Law for the purpose of keeping the general populace out of danger from those considered “unclean”. The person who had contracted leprosy had to leave civilization to live quarantined in a leper colony. Should they encountered anyone who did not have the disease, they were to shout “Unclean, Unclean”. In essences their sickness became their identity.

Imagine the nine lepers returning to the priest and all being pronounced “clean”. They would return to their families rejoicing, doing their best to return to a normal life. Yet lying in bed next to their wives, could the thought of “Am I really unclean?”, have crossed their minds? A few days later, one of the men is about to venture out to the market. He leaves early, for all the attention he has received is wearing on him. As he comes through a wooded area, located outside of his village, he is startled to encounter a man one the road. Without thinking and in a panic he shouts “Unclean, Unclean”. The other man, in fear runs away like a lightning bolt. But the healed man is no longer unclean. Why did he behave as if he was not clean?

I believe the above illustration helps us understand why we have difficulties with maintaining a clean conscience in our everyday lives. Although there are times we are not weighed down with guilt or feelings of condemnation, invariably to a lesser or greater degree, either we ourselves or someone dear to us may deal with this issue. In failure, it is easy to default to thinking which denies our forgiven and new creation state of being. Therefore, we must dig a little further in order to understand how we can maintain the clear conscience Jesus blood guarantees.

Posted in cleansed conscience, conscience, Hebrews 9:13-14, holiness, Jesus Christ, knowledge of God | Leave a comment