Pondering Truth In Christ

Aug. 5, 2019

"One nation under God" has faded into an illusion. But perhaps it is something toward which we may aspire here in the USA. This nation has removed itself so far from God as revealed by the Lord Jesus Christ, that the gulf between the two is immeasurable. It's been a long time project of whittling away at everything we hold dear by forces that oppose the freedom for which Christ has set us free - that of freedom from sin, self, and Satan, the power to live a life of victory over these. The nation still may be "under God", but that may mean that it is going under His hand of judgment. 

How can we dare to ask God to "bless" a nation that murders its unborn by the millions, and then sends its best blood - young men and women with a future - to foreign wars to sacrifice them for warmongering globalists (bankers and others) whose goal is world dominion? Or that puts into "law" that which God has called abomination?

Pray for your leaders, yes, just like it says in the Bible. But don't ask God to bless the course they are now on, with the sheeple blindly following. Don't be fooled; both "Left" and "Right" are complicit for the most part in this. There are no saviors here! 

Changed hearts through Jesus Christ - that is the only thing that will make the difference. But until that happens, "At night my soul longs for You, Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently; For when the earth experiences Your judgments The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness." (Isaiah 26:9). Could it be time to "go back to school" on a grand scale? 

"If I close the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send a plague among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place." (2 Chronicles 7:13-15) 

"This place" in New Testament terms to which this passage points is the living temple of the Holy Spirit, also called the Body of Christ, since the time of temples and Old Testament rites was put to an end, once and for all, around 70A.D. No more to be resurrected. The "rules" have not changed, for by no works of the Law will anyone be saved. That's why the temple system was abolished, NEVER to be reinstated, since works righteousness denied and still denies the very Messiah sent for the salvation of the world. 

So, if you want "MAGA" - Make America Great Again, the only course is to repent so as to MAKE AMERICA GODLY AGAIN. Maybe even for the first time. As Jesus said, "For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." Matthew 23:12. A strong dose of humility might be in order. Humility means complete surrender to the salvation won for us by our Lord Jesus Christ.

And make no mistake about it, we cannot serve God and mammon. (See Matthew 6:24)

Seriously, our way has not been God's way. It's been the way of pride and self aggrandizement and the pursuit of temporal happiness. The time may be at hand when what we've dished out is coming back to us.

"Church", you're up to bat. Let's get our priorities right, and be the light and salt that Jesus called us to be, as we ask and keep on asking for His Wisdom, devote ourselves to prayer, and the life changing power of the Holy Spirit.

Aug. 1, 2019

See link before reading this article.

https://www.gotquestions.org/Lords-prayer.html?fbclid=IwAR1-5fjlOdtzUZ-cS9H_4hYFPBpPAGBju_I0tCoJj77780S8aNCtrBH0aeU

Articles like this one frankly drive me nuts. Certainly we can pray "spontaneously from the heart," but if anyone wants to pray the Lord's Prayer verbatim, then pray it with all your heart! I'm sick of this mindset that practically criminalizes praying the Lord's Prayer, or using memorized prayers, or a prayer book. For Pete's sake, have you never been so weary that you didn't know what to pray, yet feel the need, but the Lord's Prayer or the 23d Psalm came to mind, and it was prayed from the heart in a state of exhaustion?
 
And how do you know that praying it does not instill its "teaching" into you in profound ways, since it is God's Word, taught by the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity Himself to His disciples. It's not just a template or pattern! If the Lord gave it thus to His disciples, it should be good enough for us. Just because it may be said word for word does not mean it's done mechanically.
 
I have been in nursing homes and prayed the Lord's Prayer with residents who do not know their name or where they are, they are so far gone in dementia, and ordinarily could not speak. But as they hear the words, they perked up and recited it along with me! And there was a sense of God's presence so strong right then and there. Think that recited prayer was not heard? Think that wasn't a miracle? Think again!
 
IMO, these kinds of articles which supposedly "instruct" people in some ways make things more difficult and condemn childlike faith. It's almost bordering on a sort of legalism that says, "You have to pray our way, so you can only pray spontaneously."
 
Hogwash.
 
I suppose it's also a crime to chant the Psalms per this mindset. Or pray the Scripture. Something else to demonize?
 
Another rant for another day.
Jul. 28, 2019

The following quotation is from the writings of T. Austin-Sparks, in regard to Jesus' original 12 disciples, seemed inspiring and worth unpacking: 

"The Lord Jesus was not dealing with an easy company, but a company which might often have provoked despair. But one thing was characteristic of Him in relation to a difficult handful, and that was His faith FOR (caps my emphasis) them. What faith the Lord Jesus had FOR those men! It was not that He had faith IN them, neither was it that He had faith for them because of what He saw in them; but He had INFINITE FAITH IN THE FATHER FOR THEM. His attitude was: Well, nothing is impossible with God.” (From T. Austin-Sparks: Filled Unto All the Fullness of God - Chapter 10) 

We may see ourselves according to the natural view, as less than lustrous - all our shady past, our shortcomings, our inabilities, even the sin we may struggle with. We see according to our impossibility, instead of from a God’s eye view of His possibility. 

HIS vision for us - that of being fully conformed to the likeness of Christ - is HIS view, HIS FAITH FOR US! He looks and sees the finished product, and His Spirit is always about the Father's business of bringing this about, through thick, thin, tragedy, trauma, triumph, becalmed, rough seas, ship wreck or riding the crest! 

And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:27-29. Berean Study Bible.)

This reminded me of a line from one of my old favorite songs which we used to sing in a prayer group where I served as a worship musician years ago: "The dream I have today, my Lord, is only a shadow of Your dreams for me."  (Only A Shadow, by Carey Landry)

Lord, please grant us new eyes to see Your dream, Your vision, Your faith for us. Nothing short of that. Let no earthly or temporal passion dim this view, but let us perceive the redeemed, restored, and resurrected version You created and recreated us to be - through Your passion, Your resurrection, and even now in Your intercession before our Father's throne!

"Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; but he who keeps the law [of God, which includes that of man]—blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he. A servant will not be corrected by words alone; for though he understands, he will not answer [the master who mistreats him].” (Proverbs 29:18,19 / Amplified Bible, Classic Edition / AMPC)

In other words, this "vision" / "dream" / "redemptive revelation" comes about by way of the FAITH OF CHRIST - seeing the redemptive plan He intends to fulfill in us. That is what faith is, a “seeing” of the substance of things hope for! (See Hebrews 11:1)

Who are You, Lord Jesus, and who am I to You? What could You possibly see in me? I need to see; I need to know! 

This does not come by way of words or even by understanding the right words (although that does not discount them!), but by the vision of the redemptive revelation of God. This is the perspective that entirely changes the picture!

Jesus invites us to ask and keep on asking, the seek and keep seeking, to knock and keep on knocking! (Refer to Luke 11:5-11 or its parallel Matthew 7:7-12.)

“Behold what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Beloved, we are now children of God, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when Christ appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:1,2. Berean Study Bible.)

Holy Spirit, please grant this view to all of us Your children who are in Christ Jesus. May we be filled with unrelenting persistence to ask, seek, and knock - until we see and rejoice in the daring dream You have for us in Him in Whom we live, move, and have our being. Amen.

Jul. 10, 2019

Luke 6:36 - “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

This little statement is nestled amidst Jesus’ teaching of a “radical” idea, that of loving our enemy. Radical at least when compared to the usual thought pattern of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. He also makes it clear that this needs to go beyond some internal sentiment in the direction of doing good, giving, and expecting nothing in return. It can be in terms of mercy, money, or anything else we may grudge to give, especially when we think someone does not deserve it. Not only does He make it clear that the reward is great in heaven for this, but such attitude and behavior reveals who are the sons of the Most High, Who Himself is kind and grateful to evil men.

By not judging or condemning others, neither are we judged or condemned. Verse 38 opens up the principle of this divine mercy and generosity, as it eventually impacts the giver. The “return on investment” in terms of the Kingdom “economy” is remarkable, as it yields much in all aspects of life: “… good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” 

The eye for an eye mentality is reactive. The Law of sowing and reaping is proactive and creative. The latter - in terms of grace and generosity is the Way of Jesus Christ Himself. It features strongly in all He teaches and does, and commands His disciples to go and to do likewise. 

This is where the cross comes in as well, as we pick it up to follow Him. For He asks of us uncompromising generosity in terms of mercy, and that is a tough pill for many to swallow, as well as requiring awareness of its application as we go forth into every day of life, often in the midst of people we do not perceive of as deserving of mercy. This is where the cross gets applied to us as we choose to pick it up and follow Him. Once “nailed,” there is no turning back.

One of the “mountains” which the devil himself has put in the way of walking thus by faith is that of the prosperity preachers, who abuse this creative principle in all the wrong ways and for all the wrong reasons. They see it as a means of themselves being the recipients of the giving of anyone who can be conned into their real intent to rob, at point of the misused sword of the Word! They do not care  whether, by directing the flow of money self-ward, they do damage to many who are already fiscally compromised (often elderly and poor), who because of their false enticements to give to them, plunge themselves into further ruin - so that Reverend SoandSo can travel the world in luxury in his private jet and enjoy life in his 50 room mansion in complete self absorption.

Unfortunately the whole world can see what charlatanry this is, and consequently many do not wish to even consider what Jesus Himself teaches about the Law (or Principle) of sowing and reaping. Yet it is very much the idea with everything He taught, lived, and exemplified. Consider the blessing of the loaves and fishes - how they multiplied as He gave them! And not only that, but He commanded the disciples to participate in this miracle: “YOU give them something to eat.” So because of false teachers (the enemy who comes to rob, kill, and destroy), many are robbed of considering how the Lord wishes to bless us - He Who assures us that He came to give us life and that abundantly!

This is not only fleshed out in terms of money, food, or goods. Jesus brings it all into the context of mercy. We are commanded to extend mercy because the Father has made us new creatures in Jesus Christ. And He gives us His Holy Spirit so that we can participate in this life as new creatures, His sons and daughters who are about our Father’s business. We are in practice extensions of Him Whose kindness extends also to the ungrateful and the evil. This is what makes His love different from that of the world. And He desires to extend it through us.

This is a tough pill to swallow in a generation which has been stirred to fever pitch with division and hatred, to a great extent by the media, along with the poison of religion mixed with politics. Sadly, it’s the impression of this writer that this includes many of the alternative media as well, which claim to be coming from a Christian perspective. Yet when we compare what they promote to the teaching of Jesus, we are forced to conclude that it is more along the lines of an eye for an eye mentality, and it’s all mixed up with politics. 

Instead could we pursue repentance, and move from an eye for an eye, to an “aye for an aye” - affirming in agreement with and in obedience to the One we claim as Lord and King?

To be merciful and generous in all times and in all situations is the mindset and behavior of the King of kings and His royal entourage - the kingdom of priests who reign in and with Him according to His will. 

Yes, this brings suffering. Where He is mocked, we are mocked. At the very least that suffering comes in terms of hatred, resentment, and misunderstanding from those who prefer to live under the Old Covenant mentality of eye for eye and tooth for tooth! They would rather say, “There’s no way in hell I’m going to be merciful toward anyone that I consider unworthy.”

In hell, you say? Surely we can begin to see, as faithful followers of Jesus’ Way, that being unmerciful is indeed already hell, even while here on Earth. The very worst future would be spending eternity with myriads who never learned kindness or mercy, but will forever seek rather to be self serving and vindictive. With all that friction, is it any wonder that hell is so hot? I’m convinced this is what hell “looks like.”

But instead let’s envision the Redeemed in Jesus Christ - all treating one another as He treats us - with infinite mercy, kindness, and forgiveness. It is because this miraculous mercy was and is extended on Earth, that in Heaven we shall find and embrace with gratitude those who were turned from sin and self serving because someone extended to them mercy with its life giving power. So they too began to live in it, receive its transformative benefit, and extend it (and material things as well) to others in need.

I’ve come to despise the meme that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Spiritually speaking it is not so. That is the talk of division. Think about it. In light of what Scripture teaches, there is really only one enemy common to us all, the Serpent of old who likes to keep deceiving us into ill will toward one another. This seems cunning at first, but it is as cold and calculating as hating a cancer patient, and then saying that his disease is your friend! That is insanity. Thus the truth is that the enemy of my enemy is also my enemy!

Therefore the only hope and healing for fallen Humankind - all of us here on Planet Earth! - is to begin to understand, to put into practice, and to teach - uncompromisingly, by the power of the Holy Spirit - ALL that Jesus taught, exemplified, and commanded. Not only by word, but as living sons and daughters of God who resemble our Elder Brother Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven.

Amen.

Jul. 5, 2019

2 Timothy 1:7-9. “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”

Paul admonishes Timothy 1) to not be ashamed of the testimony of Jesus Christ, nor 2) of Paul’s imprisonment. Rather he is encouraged to share in suffering for the gospel, and to do so by the power of God. Each epoch has its own challenges and opposition to the Faith.

It is a lesson for us too. Do those who are in Christ see themselves this way, especially in the midst of current difficulty and trial? This power to endure  supernaturally comes from the Lord Himself. When God gives it and puts His anointing on us, we must exercise and develop it, according to the holy calling He has given us.

We are “saved” to participate in His holy calling because of God’s purpose and grace - provided for us in Christ Jesus. And that was put in place, according to these verses, before the ages began! 

The priesthood of believers received the commission of Christ in eternity, before the commencing of the ages, according to the passage above, for the particular mission upon which we must embark in time. Right here. Right now.

The power (dunamis / δύναμις), and the authority (exousia / ἐξουσία - sometimes also called “power”) is that of Jesus Christ Himself to Whom all authority is given in heaven and on earth. We are in His power and under His authority, going forward in His name, set apart for a holy calling, in the time and place into which we are sent.

Fear and timidity do not exist within this provision, where we find union with the Christ, being one with His Spirit - for a time such as this. Faintheartedness may try to strike a blow, but it is not of God. This is the Spirit of sonship which we have received according to Romans 8:15, in Christ Jesus, and it is characteristically of power, love, and self control. 

This means that our Christian faith is far more than a set of denominational perspectives or beliefs or practices. It is a living, breathing, dynamic life united with Christ. In essence, an “extension” of Him, as His adopted brothers and sisters, one with the Father and the Holy Spirit. 

We really are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for the good works which God ordained before that we should walk in them, in Him! 

It is important to not any longer conceive of our walk in Him as if we are “down here” and He is “up there,” but dynamically and really one in Him, in the power of His resurrection, and seated with Him in heavenly places - spanning eternity and time. This is not to “lord it over” anyone, but to serve all, as He comes to the world through His people who are His Body, set apart for His purposes, ever reaching out to the lost and wounded.

All of this has been in place since the ages began! What an amazing thought! Nothing has the power to separate us from this. Nothing! (See Romans 8:28-19.) Nothing separates those who are in Christ Jesus from the rest of the Godhead. We are called to walk by faith according to this perspective, this vision, this revelation, and NOT according to what sight or senses may tell us. 

May all the called who strive to make their election sure “get” this. We are led by the Spirit of God, growing up in Him as sons, in Jesus Christ, under the authority of the Father. Let us continually behold the Lamb of God, and nothing else!

This must be our perspective and practice as the times go from the green to the dry, in other words from relative ease to difficult times of perplexity. Much that even now comes upon us, very much issuing from the technology sector, will be of an illusory nature, either appealing or frightening to the natural senses - by way of virtual or augmented reality. Thus it is important to know who we are in Jesus Christ, and what it means to - like Him - be about our Father’s business in such a time as this - making real the holy calling.

It is imperative to walk the Narrow Way each and every day, for deception unlike anything seen before will envelop the whole earth. Illusion will make its appeal to the senses. The evil is being unleashed to test the hearts of men and especially the Church; it will be hard to decipher illusion from reality. 

It is time to put away the childish things and become men. Religion of an external kind in forms and symbols will have no power (if it ever did); so it is of the utmost urgency to enter experientially into the reality that is for us in Christ. We must learn to be led by the Holy Spirit and walk in the Spirit, as we discern the Shepherd’s Voice, for there is no way around what is at hand, but only the way through, and He must lead us! We cannot lean on our own understanding, or traditions of men, false ideologies and philosophies, and the like, or anything else that we may have considered as reliable previously. For all that is not of God will be contaminated by this great illusion. 

Let us consider His call so often repeated in Scripture, “Whoever has ears, let him hear what the Spirit says,” and surrender fully to Him - in obedience and trust, relying only on Him!”