"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him." Colossians 3:17, KJV

Praise the Lord

Welcome to In His Name, a devotional site where the Word of God is posted and explored. This site embraces the love of Jesus Christ, encouraging Bible study.

Thursday, December 31, 2009


“The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed,” Matthew 16:1-4, KJV.

We must be mindful of the motives behind the Pharisees and Sadducees as they approached Jesus. Notice the word tempting; this is a tactic of the enemy as their motives were not pure. They sought to trap Him by disproving Jesus’ ability. It wasn’t because they hadn’t already seen or heard of the miracles he had performed. “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan,” Matthew 4:23-25, KJV. By this time, Jesus had already been traveling throughout the country so they were well aware of the previous miracles he had performed in addition to John the Baptist speaking on the Savior’s behalf.

It’s amazing how the appearance of the sky is so predictable of the weather, yet the signs of the times lack understanding. “But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart,” 2 Corinthians 3:14-15, KJV. Some people don’t receive because of the hardness of their hearts, and some may never receive as they are drawn away by their own lusts.

As Christians, we are to be Christ-like. We are to seek after Him and not after signs, for in His word He says, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.” Jesus does not say this to be mean; he says this out of honesty for we have all of the signs that we need. We have His word and His life’s story. So, we should not seek after additional signs as the sign have already been given to us. We are not to argue with non-believers, we are to share the Gospel. It is not our job to force them into receiving the Word, for God has given us free will to choose. Notice what Jesus did when He had finished speaking to the Pharisees and Sadducees, “And he left them, and departed.”

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Word

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour,” John 12: 25-26, KJV.

As I was drawn out of my sleep this morning, I felt this song in my spirit, Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior. It was again another touch from the Lord that prompted me to praise Him. We need Him at every moment of our lives. When I receive touches like this from God, it reminds me how much God loves me. It reminds me of how much He cares for me. It is a constant reminder of His existence and how much He helps us on our journey, supplying our every need.

Often when we get in the dark pits of life, it’s hard to see the light, but God sends a word to us in some shape or form. We must have ears to hear. When that song came upon me, I wasn’t familiar with all of the words, but I did know the chorus. And then I thought that maybe God wanted me to sing it to Him. So, I found the words a little later and sung it….making a joyful noise as I am not a singer, but remembering again that praise and worship are sung unto God.

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him,” Psalm 34:8, KJV. It also speaks volumes as to how much I love the Lord and my need for Him. Life here on Earth is short, but to receive eternal life in Christ gives much hope and satisfaction that it gets even better. And I’m not going to let anyone keep me from receiving my eternal crown of life.

Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak,” John 12: 44-50, KJV.

Many profess to believe that Christ is an authoritative figure, yet deny His deity. Others believe His deity, yet reject His word. It is clearly stated that Jesus came to save those that are lost, but if He is rejected the word will judge them; for Jesus has not spoken of Himself, but of the Father who sent Him, giving Him a commandment of what to say and what He should speak. So, when we spread the Word of Jesus, we are sharing the Word of God and it is not us, the messengers, who judge, but the very Word itself.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

His Will Be Done

It can be a tedious task, more like a burden to carry around things from the past. It’s even more tiresome when they are things in which we have no control over. Sometimes we can be our worst enemy by refusing or putting off those things which we know we should be doing. One thing about God that I find so powerful is that either we’ll do what He tells us to do now or we’ll have to do it later….but we will have to do it. “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it,” Isaiah 55:11, KJV.

Life is meant to be enjoyed, not endured. I understand that many are born with defects and some face extraordinary challenges, yet in everything we must praise the Lord. “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience,” James 1:2-3, KJV. We’ve all heard the catch phrase, “Everything happens for a reason,” and I do believe that is true. What many of us fail to ponder further is what that reasoning is. Many assume that it’s because God wants it to happen or that it’s all God’s doing when we go through trials. But can we take responsibility for our own actions?

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,” James 1:13-17, KJV.

God will not tempt us, although He may allow certain things to happen. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy,” 1 Peter 4:11-13, KJV.

Yes, there are instances in the Old Testament when God sent plagues onto people, but that was for those practicing in disobedience. So, when we go through we must ask ourselves, “Am I doing what the Lord told me to do?”

Additional Reference: Revelation 2:9-10

Monday, December 28, 2009

As for Me and My House

“Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;” Joshua 24:14-16, KJV.

The first part of the passage above states, “Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth….” I’ve come to understand that “fear” in the sense of reverence carries with it a great deal of humbleness, a sacrificial obedience. There may be times when we want to do things our way, but in honoring and respecting the Lord we choose to do things His way. I aim to please and show Him that I love Him so much I deny myself. Let me share something with you…

Last week one morning I was speaking to my husband as we both prepared to read God’s word. As we talked I kept hearing “Apologize.” I thought where is that coming from? I walked into the kitchen and retrieved a bottle of water and there again, I heard, “Apologize.” I made a face to myself and kept talking to my husband soon realizing that we weren’t seeing eye to eye on a matter, but there weren’t any raised voices, but still I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “Apologize.” I shrugged my shoulders thinking, for what? I waited a few moments for an explanation, but nothing. So reluctantly I said to my husband, “I apologize.” I thought he was going to ask, “For what,” just as I had, but he didn’t. Instead he replied, “Oh that’s okay. I’m all right.” I then thought to myself, I didn’t even do anything to you. I then recognized that I must have said something for him to respond in that matter.

God sees the things we don’t. God understands others feelings even when we turn the blind eye. Even in the little things, I was obedient when I thought I had done no wrong. I understood things one way, but God tells us in His word lean not to your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). He is the possessor of divine wisdom guiding us through things we’re unaware.

As stated above, serve him in sincerity and truth, we must be as honest with Him as we expect Him to be with us. Would we want God to be faithful to us? I know I do. So why not be faithful to Him? “…and put away the gods which your fathers served…” Many of have ancestors that may have been atheists or practiced witchcraft, but we must take note that just because “grandma or grandpa” believed in reading the stars and trusting in zodiac signs does not mean we have to do it as well. Every man will stand accountable for himself. “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death,” Revelation 21:8, KJV.

“…And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve…” God gives us the choice to choose. Let us remember that God says, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth,” Revelation 3:15-16, KJV. I cannot speak for another, but my husband and I live by this scripture, “…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” I pray that you will as well.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Ultimate Gift

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh,” Matthew 2:11, KJV.

As many trim Christmas trees, wrap gifts, and hang lights for the world to see, how many of us get down on our knees and thank God for His gift to us? There are some churches where I’ve seen services cancelled (on the previous Sunday) due to the Christmas holiday and it makes me wonder, what exactly are they celebrating? I thought that as a congregational unit this is what Christmas meant. It’s disturbing to expect so much from God and to wrap gifts to show our devotion to others, but then give nothing back to the One who has given us everything.

Christmas has become commercialized giving reverence to its paganistic roots, but we as Christians should hold fast to the celebration of the birth of the Messiah. Just as stated in the book of Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun, I see the “holiday” instead of “holy day” reverting back to the original partying that happened during the years following Christ’s ascension. What does Christmas mean to you? What are some traditions highly honored in your family that needs to be put to bed? Or are you wrapped up in the frenzy of buying gifts and baking goods instead of reflecting on the ultimate gift God has given?

I enjoy the Christmas season as it is the most wonderful time of the year for me, but as I went out to the stores this week to get items needed for myself, I watched in amazement at the rudeness of others. While some deliberately cut others off, many about ran people over trying to get to their chosen destinations. Some refused to allow you to cross the street while others waved you along in annoyance. And then I’ve noticed the advertisements about Christmas, slowly taking CHRIST out of it all together. I was heated to see some going as far as to put up a billboard that said Heathen’s Greetings.

We must fight for our faith, the good fight. It is not enough to sit back and watch in disgust, but let us be those examples for Christ. Souls are in dire need to be saved and we must be proactive in doing as much as we can while we still have breath in our bodies. Our very conversation should testify of our Lord and Savior not only during this time of the year, but all year long.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved,” John 3:16-17, KJV.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cast Your Cares

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you,” 1 Peter 5:7, KJV

Some versions of the Bible translate the word “cares” into the word “worry” or “anxiety.” I think that’s interesting as we sometimes tend to maximize our individual situations from a care or need (something we hold in high regard) into a worrisome crisis. Often we burden ourselves down with things we have no control over. I prefer to stick with the King James Version of scripture and from time to time expound on the meaning by using the Amplified definition, which plainly pulls the definition of the words used in the main text. In saying that, I believe that the word cares is looked at in the light of concern.

As I meditated on the second part of this scripture, “…for he careth for you,” it confirms my understanding of the word cares. Jesus is concerned about our well being. He is not stressed-out about it nor is He losing heart about the ability of working a thing out. For it is said in His word, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God,” Philippians 4:6, KJV. There goes that word care again within “careful.” So, God is telling us again to give all of our concerns to Him. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” Matthew 11:29-30, KJV.

Often times we do the exact opposite, causing more harm than good. By constant worrying, we usher ourselves into illness that were within our control to keep at bay. We can cause heart disease, hypertension, and even nervous conditions due to anxieties. And we wonder where the illnesses are arising from, can we first check with our lifestyles? Where is the mind? What are we thinking about or meditating on? Where is our focus? Is it on the things of this world, or is it on God? I’m well aware that there are dire occurrences that spiral us into this mode of thinking because of our human nature. We do tend to latch on to family members in times of chronic illnesses. We sometimes lose our appetites or the ability to focus on ordinary tasks, but Jesus said to keep our focus on Him.

Isn’t it interesting that God had Peter to deliver this very important message? Let us take a look at Matthew 14:26-33, KJV. “And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.”

Peter knew first hand what it was like to cast his cares upon the Lord. And in casting his cares, he was being taught how to trust the Lord. Ultimately, in that trust, he learned the importance of faith.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

GPS: God’s Plan of Salvation

“That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 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, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory,” Ephesians 1:12-14, KJV.

God’s plan of salvation has been mapped out even before Jesus walked this Earth in human form. The scriptures testify of His existence and notably God ordained it to be so. I often think about how wonderful the Lord has been to mankind; from the beginning of time, to the mass exodus from Egypt, to the forty years in the wilderness, all the way up to the Son walking the face of this Earth. It takes a very patient God to lay the foundation so that we’d be able to understand His faithfulness.

God could have just created more angels to praise and worship Him, but in creating humans He created special beings. I’m not saying that angels are not special because they are. “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” Hebrews 1:14, KJV. Rather what I am saying is that God selflessly gave of Himself. And for Him to give so freely and to love so tenderly, He justly expects the reverence of worship in return.

It is often questionable of how many freely bow down to “other gods” and selfishly reject God stating that He has no place in their lives. Many are as bold to say that they themselves are responsible for their earthly “success.” How can man can be so confident in themselves when we aren’t even able to move within our bodies without the aid and grace of God? Some argumentatively oppose, but I challenge them to consult with those who desire to walk on their own accord and unable to do so. What about the mother who cannot sew anymore due to arthritis? Or the young man whose legs are broken that ended his football career? These are all things that we should consider and not take for granted for we don’t know what condition we’ll be in on tomorrow.

I think on these things, taking into account God’s divine plan of salvation. He blesses us with the wisdom to understand our need for His covering. God makes available a map directing us on how to get saved. We’ve often heard of treasure maps leading to a pot of gold and many would grab, claw, and fight their way to get it if they actually thought it was legitimate. Isn’t this how we should be when it comes to Jesus? When we get to the point of understanding the gravity of salvation, I believe many would have a totally different outlook on life. Death isn’t just for the old and frail, but it hits the young and strong as well. I thank God everyday for my salvation for without Him, I don’t know where I would be.

Salvation is far from the wicked: for they seek not thy statutes,” Psalm 119:155, KJV.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Change

"And as he thus proceeded with his defense, Festus called out loudly, Paul, you are mad! Your great learning is driving you insane! But Paul replied, I am not mad, most noble Festus, but I am uttering the straight, sound truth,” Acts 26:24-25, AMP.

Focal Passage: Acts 26

Most of us have heard the Albert Einstein’s definition of the word insanity—doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results. Is that what many of us do today? If we ponder this for a moment, this can be applied to all areas of life. This is evident in the way we may handle our finances, exercise regimes, or even our relationships. What has changed that would dictate to us that our expectation of a said outcome should be different? Are any of us expecting a different response from God when our service to Him remains the same?

In the book of Acts, the twenty-sixth chapter, Paul speaks of the ultimate change of his life. In this chapter, Paul is completely open about his past. He makes plain all that he had done against the spread of the Gospel and the persecution of those who chose to follow Christ. In chains Paul, once known as the tyrant Saul, stands before King Agrippa offering to him a testimony:

My behavior and manner of living from my youth up is known by all the Jews; [they are aware] that from [its] commencement my youth was spent among my own race in Jerusalem. They have had knowledge of me for a long time, if they are willing to testify to it, that in accordance with the strictest sect of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee. And now I stand here on trial [to be judged on the ground] of the hope of that promise made to our forefathers by God,(A) Which hope [of the Messiah and the resurrection] our twelve tribes confidently expect to realize as they fervently worship [without ceasing] night and day. And for that hope, O king, I am accused by Jews and considered a criminal! Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead? I myself indeed was [once] persuaded that it was my duty to do many things contrary to and in defiance of the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is what I did in Jerusalem; I [not only] locked up many of the [faithful] saints (holy ones) in prison by virtue of authority received from the chief priests, but when they were being condemned to death, I cast my vote against them. And frequently I punished them in all the synagogues to make them blaspheme; and in my bitter fury against them, I harassed (troubled, molested, persecuted) and pursued them even to foreign cities,” Acts 26: 4-11, AMP.

I’m sure that the king thought Paul had to be crazy considering the mindset he had as Saul. The mindset to kill, persecute and harass those who followed Christ. He was the poster child of hate, the exact opposite of Christ who is love. But something changed about him as it has with so many of us. Christ made Himself visible to Saul causing a transformation. Saul could not continue on the same path that he was on and serve God, hence becoming known as Paul—a new man.

Paul made the bottom line clear when he said, “Wherefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision,” Acts 26:19, AMP. Something had to change and it did change. “And as he thus proceeded with his defense, Festus called out loudly, Paul, you are mad! Your great learning is driving you insane! But Paul replied, I am not mad, most noble Festus, but I am uttering the straight, sound truth.” And in him speaking the straight, sound truth Paul was truly transformed. When he was changed, his actions changed, and when his actions changed he no longer traveled great distances to persecute, instead he traveled those distances to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

If we allow Him, God will change our atmosphere, our environment, and above all else our lives.

Additional Reference: Isaiah 55:6

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Double Mind

“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. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways,” James 1:5-8, KJV.

To honor the Lord in all our ways is to trust Him with all our hearts. When we doubt what God is capable of doing in our lives that brings in distrust. There are times when we may expect God to perform certain tasks in our lives, but if He does not do those things that we may ask for does not mean He’s not fully able to achieve. The mere fact that God is God tells us that He makes the decision for us, not us making and dictating to Him what should be done. That’s why it’s so important to pray, Lord let your will be done not my own.

Many are familiar with the passage of scripture where Jesus cries out to God the Father about His impending fate of crucifixion. It was so pressing that Jesus sweated drops of blood. He even asked for His cup, fate, to be taken away from Him, but Jesus knew that the will of the Father had to be done. Just because He was not delivered from the cross does not make God incapable of performing the task that was requested. It was not the will of the Father that the cup was to be taken away. And this is a very important lesson that many of us as Christians should take note of.

Often when faced with crisis many retreat to their own mode of thinking, which is to be carnal-minded, instead of the wisdom of the scriptures. Sure, we don’t understand why God chooses to do certain things, but does that make Him any less of Himself. The scripture states that if any lack wisdom, let him ask God who gives to all men liberally and ungrudgingly. But there is a condition, which is a consistent them throughout the Bible; the condition is that when we ask, we must do so in faith—unwavering. This does not mean that just because we may not have gotten what we asked for the last time that God is unwilling to provide. It means that whatever I ask for, I ask for in faith knowing that He can do it.

We are to be careful of saying that we trust God to deliver us, and then tell another that we just don’t know. It is not faith-based if your conversation about God changes depending on the company you keep. We ought to be of One-mind, One-spirit, and One-body. My conversation about the Lord does not change “…like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” For if I am like this, I should not expect anything from God as it is like expecting a liar to tell you the truth.

“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways,” James 1:8, KJV.

Additional References: James 4:8, James 3:12-17

Friday, December 18, 2009

Out of Order

“Let all things be done decently and in order,” 1 Corinthians 14:40, KJV.

We’ve all seen a sign that reads Out of Order posted on vending machines, treadmills, and bathroom stalls. Of course this is a clear sign that very thing isn’t working or is not working properly. We could try to use any of those items to no avail. Even if one part isn’t functioning, the entire thing is broken. Working together forms teamwork and from teamwork we get unity.

When the apostle Paul wrote the letter to the church at Corinth, he addresses the issues of sin problems. This was the church he helped found (Acts 18) before moving on to continue spreading the good news of the Gospel. I imagine that he cared for the church in Corinth and wanted to see it grow in the word of God as many there rejected God’s word all together. It is self evident as he pursued in the aid of their victory (in the faith), by sending word (in a letter) of how that success is made possible. And as he explains the conduct in which they should take on, he wraps it up in one verse, “Let all things be done decently and in order.”

How are we to know what’s decent and what is in order? Well, Jesus laid it all out for us in the Gospel, taking particular note of the Old Testament scriptures as well. And often we know the things that are orderly, but choose to either reject or ignore. One example is the male figure being the head of the house. Some women refuse to even entertain their husbands making final decisions in the home, yet they profess to respect their man. Where is the respect when he says, “No, we should wait on getting that,” and you go behind his back and get it anyway?

Another example is when children tell their parents what they should do versus listening to the parent’s instruction—out of order. It’s sad that in today’s world and I’m sure it has happened in the past, many parents are concerned with being their children’s friend instead of their role model. What do we think the future generation is going to look like?

There are many homes out of order, businesses that are out of order, and government offices that are out of order. The misuse of authority is taking this world in a downward spiral. The removal of prayer out the schools is self-evident. When we abandon the true and living God, we discard proper regulation. God is the only one who holds our lives together and the instructions He set forth for us to follow ensures our victory in the cause.

“But if anyone disregards or does not recognize [[a]that it is a command of the Lord], he is disregarded and not recognized [he is [b]one whom God knows not],” 1 Corinthians 14:38, AMP.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The End of All Things

“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer,” 1 Peter 4:7, KJV.

What a pressing word of scripture. It comes at a time where I’ve been feeling particularly uneasy about things. The dreams that I’ve had over the past week appears troublesome in its nature dealing with death, but encouraging as it draws to an end. I’ve found myself looking for outs in the corridors of what I considered a dark place in my dreams, but then find light at the closure and I give God all the praise for that.

The dreams explore many themes that are played out in the world today, many of which are discouraging. It is sad to turn on the television and hear about shootings and killings that grip our nation and world today. The depressing reality of how life is taken for granted and not cherished as the most precious thing God has given us, of course after His Son. Many times humans behave as if we’re indestructible, yet fail to recognize that we’re but a breath that God has placed inside of a body. “Cease to trust in [weak, frail, and dying] man, whose breath is in his nostrils [for so short a time]; in what sense can he be counted as having intrinsic worth?” Isaiah 2:22, AMP.

When I awoke from the latest dream that I’ve had, immediately a song rose up in me that said there’s nothing to lose in following Jesus, yet everything to gain. After such a heavy dream where destruction seemed to be consuming so much, the Holy Spirit saw fit to soothe me with a song of comfort. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you,” John 14:26, KJV.

The end of all things is at hand. It can be seen as bitter, but I choose to see it as sweet. Just as in my dream when I felt so grieved, the ending calmed it all. There was justification, appreciation, and joy. It was a feeling of peace beyond explanation. It confirms a trust I have in only one being whois God that can never be compared to another. Although the end is near, for those who are in Christ death is the best healing I know.

“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;” Romans 12:12, KJV.

Additional Scripture: Philippians 4:7

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Common Denominator

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?” Matthew 7:3-4, KJV.

Have we ever encountered persons who always point the finger at another saying, you’ve done this wrong or you need to do this or that? Those who view themselves as the standard rather than pointing people towards Christ? When I ponder this scripture, the message illuminates in my mind clearly what Jesus is saying. It prompts me to thinking about the many encounters I’ve had concerning people who’ve crossed my path in life with each person being different and me the constant factor.

As I consider this I think back on my days of school and the math classes I took. Some students enjoyed it, but I must admit as time went on it was not my favorite subject. I recall the days of numerators and denominators, fractions and reciprocals. Does any of this bring back fond memories to those of you who’ve been out of school for a while? Well it brings back memories for me…I probably wouldn’t call them fond though.

In mathematics we’ve learned that the common denominator is a quantity into which all the denominators of a set of fractions may be divided without a remainder. For example, the fractions 1/3 and 2/5 have a common denominator of 15; 15 in this case would be the commonly shared theme or trait. The top number in a fraction is known as the numerator. It can change several times in the midst of an equation and there is no noted common theme, it varies. This is what I think about when I consider people who are paired up—fractions. At times partners change, but if we’re to only speak on a particular person’s life there’s only one part of that fraction changing. This does not have to necessarily be romantic relationships only, but also consider business partnerships and family dynamics.

It is important to consider a person’s ways as we progress through life. There may be times when we encounter unfavorable conditions in either of the relationships mentioned above, but we must acknowledge the familiar characteristic. If there is always a relationship or a job that doesn’t work out, could it be that it’s because you keep showing up? This is not to include situations where a person stands up for God to oppose evil because I believe we should all be common denominators when it comes to that, but I’m discussing the fact that whenever something goes wrong the denominator never takes responsibility in any of those situations. “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye,” Matthew 7:5, KJV.

We must be able to do self-examinations at times. It is important that we as Christians don’t get so caught up in sharing the Gospel that we lose sight in following its principles. This will keep us mindful of when others try to give us advice and steer us in a direction God doesn’t want us going. How are they living? What kind of company do they keep? Are they qualified, not by a piece of paper, but by the Holy Spirit to say the things that they are saying? Have they been through anything, and most importantly have they learned any lessons along the way. I am very leery of people who claim that their lives are and have always been perfect. Jesus was the only one who lived a perfect, sinless life, and guess what, He went through some things too.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Blessing the Lord

“My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever,” Psalm 145:21, KJV.

I was blessed to have attended a praise and worship workshop a couple weekends ago that was hosted by a local church in the community. Before the actual “workshop” began, the Holy Spirit moved in the place. We ushered in the very presence of God by exhibiting the very thing we gathered to discuss in the meeting.

I consider it a privilege to give God praise openly. There are many who are persecuted just for acknowledging Jesus as Lord and Savior. Some are jailed while yet others are killed. Praising as a general definition is an expression of approval, commendation, or admiration. That is why you cannot have praises alone. Just as the facilitator of the workshop stated, “A drunken man knows how to praise God.” Many people who are not in right standing with God know how to praise Him. Simply saying thank you is not enough.

Worshipping God take one’s spiritual life to another level. Worship by definition means the reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol, or a sacred object. Notice the word reverent, feeling or showing profound respect. We are familiar with the word reverence which is used in the Bible as respectful fear of the Lord. It describes the very nature a true Christian has by his/her attitude to the One true and living God. As one takes their natural state of praising to a supernatural state of worshipping, the experience is not fully justified by words alone. It is shown by their lifestyles.

Often blessings are expected from the Lord because that’s what He does. He covers, protects, clothes, and shows favor. These are all blessings. But when God said in the beginning let us make man in our image, we are to be like Him. Recently I wrote an article entitled, In His Image. This can be applied directly to that as well. When God made us in His image, he gave us the capacity to bless as well. This not only applies to other people, but especially to Him. “Behold, bless ye the LORD, all ye servants of the LORD, which by night stand in the house of the LORD. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD,” Psalm 134:1-2, KJV.

Do we understand that as we attend church services or even a private meeting in our homes, what the praise and worship time is set aside for? Praise and worship songs are not being sung for our entertainment, although I understand it is enjoyable. Why do many of us sit around as if we’re watching paint dry on the wall? Do the words not touch the spirit, inspiring the lifting of hands? Does the Lord not mean that much? But it’s amazing to me how some can jump and root for their favorite sport’s team in a game. Many will stand out in the wet, cold rain for their favorite pastime, but will stay in from church because of the same weather and the services are held inside of a warm sanctuary. What are we saying to God?

I find it discouraging that a lot of stock is often placed in things as opposed to our Savior. Having a spirit of expectancy from the Lord is natural, yet we sometimes forget that we are a reflection of Him. Do we consider what we’re to give back to God?

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Process

“Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them,” Luke 15: 1-2, KJV.
Focal Passage: Luke 15:11-24

Many of us are familiar with the parable Jesus told about the prodigal son in Luke 15. For those who are unaware of this passage of scripture its where Jesus spoke of a man who had two sons and the younger one asked for his inheritance up front. When the father honored his request, he left home and squandered it away. After the money was gone, he found himself working for another and living like an animal.

Left with no where else to turn, the son considers returning home knowing that his father possessed all that he needed. Before he actually took those hard steps to return home, he considered his position. “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants,” Luke 15:18-19, KJV. This young man was willing to become like the hired servants his father employed as they ate well while he ate out the bin of hogs.

As he prepared himself to go back home, something happened to this young man in the process. He realized the error of his ways. This young man was able to identify his faults and was willing to humble himself in submission. There is a very important lesson to be learned here. Often when people find themselves in predicaments, they always have a way of making it somebody else’s fault. It is beyond them to consider the actions they themselves have contributed to their situations.

The young man in this parable did not blame anyone for his problems. He did not point the finger at another for his actions. He examined his situation and realized that he could do better even if he had to start at the bottom. Are we willing to humble ourselves by going back to basics?

And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry,” Luke 15: 20-24, KJV.

Isn’t this what God does for us? He doesn’t give us what we deserve; He supplies us with what we need. There may be some things that we don’t want to go through, but may be necessary. And in that process of “learning our lesson or lessons,” He lifts us up from where we are. God rejoices over submission to Him, the obedience of accepting salvation. Whatever it takes to get us saved, God maps it out for us, but we’re the ones with the controls deciding the way. He blesses us with the free will to choose. To choose Him is to choose life. No matter how bad we may have messed up, God gladly welcomes us with open arms. We must come to the realization that He doesn’t owe us anything, but that we owe Him everything.

Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth,” Luke 15:10, KJV.

Friday, December 11, 2009

In His Image

“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,” Genesis 1:26, KJV.

From the very beginning God was setting an example of how we should exist. It would be a harmonious world if we all operated in unity, working together. It’s very difficult to accomplish any given task that requires the efforts of others who are dedicated to sowing discard among brethrens (Proverbs 6:19). Nevertheless, we must press forward, growing as the wheat with the tares.

It is my belief, as stated in God’s word, that it is not His will that any man should perish. He doesn’t want His creation to be destroyed because it forces Him to lose a part of Himself. This is why the scripture makes it very plain that God is a jealous God. When God said, Let US make man, man was made in His very image. The word image means reflection. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul,” Genesis 2:7, KJV.

What a wonderful key verse that points out several key words. First is the fact that we are made of dust of the ground. Many can argue that it’s not true, but even that in itself has been proven to be so. Consider the funerals that are held day in and day out. If embalming fluid was not used, it wouldn’t be a pretty site. Even with the preservation, after a certain period of time, decay still sets in. “In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you shall return,” Genesis 3:19, AMP.

After taking material from the Earth that He created, God breathed life into an otherwise lifeless clump of clay. This confirms to us that we are nothing without Him. We can’t even breathe on our own aside from His assistance. And that breath that He placed inside of us enabled us to become a living soul. God placed a little bit of Himself inside of us. He was giving ever since the beginning of time, yet many curse His name, use His name as a curse word, and profess that they themselves are a god because of the capabilities afforded to them. What would happen if God withdrew His breath from us? How much could be accomplished then?

I look at this not only physically, but especially spiritually. “And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD,” Isaiah 11:2, KJV. It is all spiritual, but often we try to battle things in the natural. While it is true that things we do in the physical realm has an affect in the spirit realm, let us be mindful that God is a spirit. And those who worship Him must do so in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). This truth comes directly from Him, hence His Holy Spirit.

“…for the Father is seeking just such people as these as His worshipers,” John 4:23, AMP.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Good Neighbor

Which of these three do you think proved himself a neighbor to him who fell among the robbers? He answered, The one who showed pity and mercy to him. And Jesus said to him, Go and do likewise,” Luke 10:36-37, AMP.

Focal Passage: Luke 10:25-37

When I worked for DSS (Department of Social Services), I saw many occurrences in the daily lives of other. As we’re all aware, there lies abuse, maltreatment, neglect, as well as abandonment on varying levels. Oftentimes the outer world does not want to get involved with the dealings of private families, but what if it meant the difference between life and death?

Consider the parable Jesus spoke. “And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side,” Luke 10:30-32, KJV. How many of us turn the other way, ignoring those in need? We’ve got to show love, and not just say that we have it.

There could be a woman being abused next door, and we know she’s being abused because it’s happened so many times before, but how many speak up? How many pick up the phone and call the police? Or is it that we just “mind our own business?” What if that person was your daughter, your cousin, your sister, your mother, wouldn’t we like for someone to make it their business? And then we read about it in the paper the next day with regret, oh how I wish I had said something sooner. Now is the time. We’ve got to show love, and not just say that we have it.

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise,” Luke 10:33-37, KJV.

In this familiar passage of scripture Jesus teaches a very important lesson; one of selflessness, kindness, humbleness, mercy, and most of all love. The Good Neighbor, most commonly known as the Good Samaritan, teaches us of how we should act on a day to day basis. Not just when someone is looking, but at all times. If someone broke into your house and the person across the street saw it, wouldn’t you want them to be a good neighbor to you? To reiterate what Jesus said, let us go and do the same.

And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?” Luke 10:25-29, KJV.

We are all each other’s neighbors.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Good Steward

“Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen,” 1 Peter 4:9-11, KJV.

One definition of the word steward is someone who manages property or other affairs for someone else. It also happens to be the first definition in the dictionary I used which applies directly to the subject at hand. A good steward cares for what has been entrusted to him. What are some of the things God has entrusted to us?

God has entrusted to us the very thing we need to exist as a human in this world, a body. We didn’t give ourselves a body; we cannot manufacture a body like God has. Sure there are prosthetic limbs made to help those either born with deficiencies or who may have been in an accident, but I’m speaking of the care that we take of the very thing that was with us when we were born and the very thing that will be there as we die.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service,” Romans 12:1, KJV. This in itself is stewardship. We are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice—holy (set apart for God), acceptable (able to be used by God), which is what we’re expected to do. Our bodies allow us to go out into the world to proclaim the Gospel (Mark 16:15). It allows many of us to travel to various parts of the world ministering in different countries. It is a gift from God that shows us how much we can do here on Earth. It also shows how much the body itself needs care. We must be mindful of the things we place inside of it and the elements in which we subject it to. We must be a good steward.

God has entrusted us with other people. Many have children who you’re responsible for teaching and showing the way. Others have parents who rely on the service of their child for every morsel of food that’s placed in their mouths. Some care for siblings who don’t know how to care for themselves. Within this we may too be entrusted with certain relationships that aren’t flesh and blood associations. Consider the coworker who depends on you to share God with them. Or the gas store attendant who hasn’t heard a kind word all day. Think about the patron standing across the street that everyone ignores because there are places to go and other things to do. Do we understand what a simple “hello” or a gentle smile would do for somebody’s self esteem? We must be a good steward.

God has entrusted to us the very dollars we hold in our hands. Many will say and have already said, “This is my money, I worked for it.” Or, “Jesus didn’t sign my check; I put in my forty hours for this.” Yet again, “I can’t see giving that much money to a church.” My question is, “How much is too much?” Would we have the same attitude if God treated us that way? He has given us so much, yet we return so very little and wonder why we can’t make ends meet at the end of the month. But miraculously, we find some “free money” for lottery tickets or a play that’s coming to town. Can I say that God does not want nor need your money; He desires your trust in Him.

Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways,” Haggai 1:5-7, KJV.

Faithfulness in service is what God makes plain in His word. If we’re faithful over a few things, He’ll make us a ruler over many. But we must show ourselves worthy of such an honor. If we can’t take care of the little that’s given, how can we expect God to bless us with the great abundance many of us believe Him for?

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” Luke 16:10-11, KJV.

Additional Reference: Matthew 25:21

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Controversy over the Sabbath

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it,” Exodus 20:8-11, KJV.

This is one commandment that I’ve heard some say many Christians break. Well, let me begin with the fact that we have all broken many of the Ten Commandments at one time or another. These commandments show us how imperfect we are and the need for our savior, Jesus Christ. But the argument remains by some that this is a habitual sin in which we show no regard. “Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death,” Exodus 31:15, KJV.

I’ve even seen YouTube videos that proclaim we are out of order in acknowledging the Sabbath on Sunday. I’ve even viewed a sermon by a well-known pastor on television that asks the question of why many Christians disregard this commandment as if it were never written. The point was an interesting one as many claims are based upon Daniel 7:25, KJV, “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.” We must remember that this was in the Old Testament and when Jesus walked on Earth in the New Testament He did point out that He came to fulfill the law, not to do away with it. So, in Him everything was completed. He was even accused of violating the Sabbath as a day of rest (Matthew 12:1-12). But again, He came to complete, not delete.

I recently asked someone from the website “Repent and Trust” what the controversy was over the Sabbath being observed on Sunday and not Saturday (being that by our calendar this is the seventh day of the week, the day of rest). I saw no need to re-invent the wheel as his post was very detailed and expressed exactly what needed to be said. Please read below.

Question: (Renee McCoy)
What is the controversy in serving God on Sunday versus on Saturday as it relates to the Sabbath?

Answer: (Toby Brillon, http://www.repentandtrust.org/)
There are many ideas and opinions about the Sabbath today. Orthodox Jews are still very diligent to observe the Sabbath and shut down from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, while more moderate Jews give little observance at all. However, since this is a Christian web site the question posed needs to be considered in the light of the New Testament and Jesus Christ.

The Seventh Day Adventists teach that you must keep the Sabbath in order to be saved (this includes going to church on Saturday and not Sunday). Some Christians that belong to "mainline" denominations that attend church on Sundays feel guilty if they must work on Sunday and many others are simply confused on the subject.The answer to this "dilemma" is found in Scripture and perhaps after studying this topic out for yourself you can come to a conclusion that will settle the issue once and for all in your mind and bring you much comfort as well!

The Scripture states, "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it" (Exodus 20:8-11).

As New Testament believers we revere the Ten Commandments because they are a schoolmaster which bring us to Christ (Gal. 3:24) and we honor them out of obedience to Christ Himself. Once you are saved keeping the Commandments is not really that big of an issue - Christians do not want to kill, steal, lie, or commit adultery because all of our sin was paid for by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Why would we want to live in those sins knowing that Christ HAD to die for those sins? And once we have been regenerated and have the Holy Spirit within us we are enabled to live holy lives that are acceptable and pleasing to God out of our love (agape, which is sacrificial love) and gratitude to God (1 John 5:2-5).

So, all that to say that as Christians we obey the Commandments, but I want to draw your attention to something peculiar about the fourth Commandment (Sabbath Command) in the New Testament. Namely, it is not there in the same context as all of the other Commandments. You will notice in the New Testament that Jesus restates all of the Commandments except the Command to KEEP the Sabbath. The question is WHY?

Why does Jesus not teach on the Fourth Commandment that dictates dedication to Sabbath observance?
It is good to remember that Jesus was accused of being a "Sabbath-Breaker" Himself in Matthew 12:1-8. Jesus corrected His accusers by pointing out their legalism and then correcting their understanding by stating that He was Lord of the Sabbath. If Jesus had truly wanted us to keep the Sabbath in the same manner of the Jews under Mosaic Law we would have seen a completely different response from our Lord at that time.

I would like to point out another observance from Scripture in regards to the Sabbath - the Sabbath was for the Jews. In Exodus 31:13-17 we read, "Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed". Perhaps Jews today could make the argument to keep the Sabbath from this Scripture but if you are a Gentile then it is clear that the Sabbath was made as a sign and covenant between God and the Jews, not everyone else.

We might also take note from Scripture that we see the Sabbath rest mentioned in Gen. 2:2-3 after God is finished with creation, yet 2500 years goes by before that Command was given to Moses in the Ten Commandments. It is good to realize that 2500 years of human history transpired without Sabbath observance. Why? ...because the Sabbath was a covenant between God and His people Israel.

More specifically, the New Testament teaches the following on the Sabbath:
Colossians 2:13-17 - And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

Hebrews 4 speaks on the Sabbath rest of Christ - that is ceasing from your dead works to obtain salvation and resting in the finished work of Christ on the cross. This is the true SABBATH REST!

Hebrews 4:9-10 - There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

My response is a resounding YES! (but not in a legalistic Saturday sort of way). A Christian keeps the Sabbath by resting in the finished work of Christ on the cross. A Christian has repented of his sin and put his faith in the resurrected Christ and HIS FINISHED WORK! A Christian lives in the Sabbath. We cannot earn anything from God. We can merely rest in His finished work on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). In doing this we are keeping the Command to keep the Sabbath holy.

                                                              * * *

And I would like to add that Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Man was made for God. In knowing this, our worship should be a lifestyle that's evident everyday of our lives, not just on Saturday or Sunday.

Additional Reading: Romans 7; Romans 8:29-33

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holy Communion

What is Holy Communion? Well, I begin with the basic definition of the word holy—sacred, set apart for God, devotion. Communion is a spiritual union or close relationship. So you see we cannot have one without the other. Holy Communion is an intimate connection between a man/woman and the One true and living God, just as we describe holy matrimony as marriage between one man and one woman.

How important is it to commune with the Lord? It is a daily occurrence on many of our parts. Oftentimes, at least I’ve found this true for myself, that it is natural. It is a lifestyle, not just a part of my life. On most mornings as I jump out of bed, my body automatically knows to slide down to my knees. At times when I open my eyes, I form my lips to whisper the words, thank you Lord, as I know without Him that wouldn't be possible. Then there are days when I get up to rush into the bathroom, promising God that I’ll be on my knees soon. Then I find myself doing other things like brushing my teeth, fixing my hair, or talking to my husband. My spirit is soon put in check, there’s something missing here….my quiet time with God. I quickly retreat to my “secret place” and apologize knowing that forgiveness waits there.

Many may answer the question, what is holy communion, by stating that it is a time set aside for the church (congregation) to recognize the last supper Jesus had with His disciples. But it goes deeper than that alone because that is only symbolic. “And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for man,” Mark 14:24, KJV. It is a reminder of what He accomplished on the cross. The power is in the blood of Jesus, not the wine of man.

When taking part in the communion service, one must be in right standing with God. You must have accepted Him as Lord and Savior. There must be a relationship, a devotion that is sincere. If there is not, the scripture states, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep,” 1 Corinthians 11:26-30, KJV. Ever wondered why some fall ill for no apparent reason? This is definitely something we must consider.

"I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread,” 1 Corinthians 10:15-17, KJV.

Friday, December 4, 2009

At the House of God

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator,” 1 Peter 4:17-19, KJV.

In serving the Lord, I take my actions very seriously. I do admit that I hadn’t always. But I’ve learned that when you ask God for wisdom, knowledge, understanding, insight, and application, with it comes conviction. It is that gnawing feeling that when you think a bad thought or say the wrong thing, a spirit of discernment corrects and obedience should soon follow.

I do not take it lightly that I am a Christian. My faith is all I really have to hold onto. I cannot place my stock in my husband or my parents, but in God alone. We must not love the gift more than the giver. God is a “rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).” Our trust must be in Him alone. Now, this is not to say that you cannot or should not trust people. It is to drive home that no matter what others may say or do; God has it all under control.

Understanding who God is helps me in knowing who I am and my reason for being. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them,” Ephesians 2:10, KJV. And as we walk in our God-ordained purpose, our life is that much more fulfilled. What a joy to know that salvation is mine! It is an honor to obey the Gospel, not by my own power, but in God’s. I am not perfect, but Jesus is. And I am thankful that God sees me through His Son.

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God…” At the house of God could be taken literally, but I believe it means spiritually. Jesus is not coming back for a church building, He is coming back for a church, those obeying His word. Those who love good and hate evil, and those who say no to the world for the gain of eternal life. In this passage I’m reminded of the judgement seat of Christ. “Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences,” 2 Corinthians 5:9-11.

It’s not enough to just say that I’m a Christian and sit on the sidelines as a lazy one at that, but I must be active in bringing more to Christ. Somebody cared enough to teach us the way, we must continue the work. And as Christians, we should be in the mindset of encouraging one another, helping, and teaching as we have been taught. It’s not fair to get the understanding and not share it with the one you call a brother or sister in Christ. Sure, they may not receive it, but be diligent in planting that seed. “So neither he who plants is anything nor he who waters, but [only] God Who makes it grow and become greater. He who plants and he who waters are equal (one in aim, of the same importance and esteem), yet each shall receive his own reward (wages), according to his own labor. For we are fellow workmen (joint promoters, laborers together) with and for God; you are God's [a]garden and vineyard and field under cultivation, [you are] God's building,” 1 Corinthians 3:7-9, AMP.

“…and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” The righteous scarcely make it in. This tells me that there is no room for games. We must come to God with a sincere heart, again, willing to let Him have His way. Just let Him have His way.

“Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”

Additional Reference: Romans 14:9-13

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The True Vine

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned,” John 15:5-6, KJV.

Vines are particularly important to the life of perennial plants. They are known for spreading out, scaling walls, and going just about everywhere. Then I thought about a tomato plant and how dependant that vegetable is upon that vine. If the tomato is pulled away from the vine, there will be no more growth when it is on its own. This is exactly what Jesus was describing to us about Himself.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me,” John 15: 1-4, KJV.

Who is our source? The source is where all of our help comes from. The sun that shines outside, the moon that glows at night, the soil where seeds are planted, and the very bodies that we carry around each day are all from One source. Our very existence depends on this source who is God.

Who are we away from the source? There are many who wander aimlessly through life, unable to identify their true purpose. I’ve heard many testimonies about being confused as to one’s calling in life. It is so sad because the answer is indeed in the Word of God. When a person is separated from God, they are going to feel empty, longing for something more. They will feel as if there’s something missing. When Jesus ministered to us about the vine, He put it on a level where we could relate and understand the gravity of detachment away from Him.

There was a very specific point that Jesus made in this passage during the first few verses. He revealed that He is the true vine, the pulse that pumps life through the entire body. I consider the importance of a heart to a human body; one cannot live without it. Jesus goes on to point out that God, the Father, is the husbandman, the farmer. What does a farmer do? He prunes his plants. He oversees what is growing on the plant and also what is withering. Those that are dry and lifeless He pulls away from the vine making room for new fruit. Those who are emerging, He helps them along by trimming off the rough edges. Isn’t that what happens as we go through trials?

The purging process I imagine to be a carefully detailed job. I don’t see it as one that is taken lightly. I believe that when the farmer planted that vine, he wanted all of the fruit to grow into full maturity, but some withered along the way. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” 2 Peter 3:9, KJV.

This is why it is vital to be connected to God, to stay in His word, to stay in prayer, to remain dependant upon Him and not ourselves. If we aren't, death is inevitable.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Welcome Mat

“I ASSURE you, most solemnly I tell you, he who does not enter by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way (elsewhere, from some other quarter) is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep,” John 10:1-2, AMP.

When I first bought a house in Charlotte, I went out and bought a “welcome mat” and laid it at my front door. It was a symbol that showed those who approached the home that I was a warm and inviting person. It was a prelude to the kind of person I am. It represented the neighborly greeting that I had for those who chose to walk onto my front porch. But this welcome was limited to those who only had good intentions towards me.

Now, I would doubt seriously that anyone would put out a welcome mat to invite thieves, murderers, liars, backbiters, or manipulators. I sure wouldn’t. I would not want someone to come in and harm me or my family. I would try to place as many safeguards up as I possibly could, within reason of course. But this is where we differ from God. He has no conditions on the type of character we must have in order to come to Him. We can come as we are.

The welcome mat that Jesus lays before us is one that I’m sure is clean when we approach it, but all sorts of stains get left there once we “wipe our feet.” I imagine it to be clean, pure, and pristine in its very nature because that’s who He is. But once we step on it, I visualize all sorts of stains that tell of where we’ve been or of what we may have been doing.

Consider when it’s raining outside and you live down a dirt road. After you’ve darted across the yard to get to the front door, there is mud on the bottom of your shoes. Or if it’s a sunny day and you accidentally step into dog poop on the ground. What about walking along a paved sidewalk, your shoes get caught in gum that was thrown down by another? Now, that’s a mess. Would we enter the house without wiping our feet?

We take the time to either wipe our shoes clean or take them off all together. We wouldn’t dare think about trekking any of those elements into our “home.” I take this view and apply it similarly to crossing the threshold into God’s kingdom. We treat our homes with such respect and are very selective in whom we allow in, but for some reason think that God is not like that.

The welcome mat is set out, but we must be willing to wipe our feet before we go inside. As we visit another's home, do we bombard inside with mud and dirt on us without any regard? The mat is placed there for a reason and we are expected to use it. Just as the Bible is placed in our lives…we are expected to use it. This does not mean that you’re perfect or spotless; it means that you are in agreement to allow God’s welcome mat to clean you up.

Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” He is the door. He cleanses us, having already taken upon Him our sins. God makes His presence known in the lives of those who welcome Him. Not only does He welcome us, He sends out personal invitations. All we have to do is receive.

"He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight," Psalm 101:7, KJV.

Additional Reference: Matthew 10:40

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

One Mediator

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” 1 Timothy 2:5, KJV.

As I read this scripture, I ponder on the meaning of the word mediator. This adjective has several synonyms that prompt me to view Jesus from different perspectives. Consider the following synonyms for mediator: referee, arbitrator, negotiator, and moderator. I believe that Jesus acts in all these capacities and them some.

What does a referee do? Well, aside from the formal definition, I consider ball games that I watch. In football, the referee is right there on the field with the players. He’s not in the stands with the spectators nor is he in the sky box where the owner may sit. He is down where the action is taking place. At times the referee feels what the players feel with the blows taken. Because they are on the playing field, they experience some of the same things. This is where I think on how Jesus feels when His children are acting in disobedience, on the field but going against the rules. Also, when one of His children is hurt to the core and in need, He knows. Recall when Jesus spoke of feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and shut in, and clothing the naked. He said, “…Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of these, ye did it not to me. (Matthew 25:45)” He is personally involved. He is certainly my referee.

Then I meditate on the position of an arbitrator. An arbitrator is usually found in a court house or in some legal capacity acting as the go-between. This position requires that the facts be reviewed with the goal of a settlement among the opposing parties. When I consider this as it relates to Jesus, I imagine the love Jesus had for us when He came to Earth. When in arbitration, settlements aren’t always reached; so, is the same with salvation. As an arbitrator, Jesus offers the sacrifice made for the free gift of salvation. In court proceedings parties either choose to agree with whatever is placed on the table, or decide to take the other option by going to trial. Those who reject Christ are the ones whom you find saying, “Well, I don’t want to get saved now. I’ll just take my chances.” What a risk to take?

I believe Jesus also acted as a negotiator on our behalf. I offer this view because atonement for sins from the Old Testament was done away with. Atonement was done away with because there was a better sacrifice coming, one that would take care of past, present, and future sins. I believe this because in the beginning God said, “Let us make man in our image (Genesis 1:26).” The word us lets us know that there was more than one member of the Godhead. So, when the decision to make man came about, it was a joint effort. And I believe that when sin atonement moved away from sacrificing animals, a negotiation was made. A negotiation consists of a give and take. God gives life through Jesus and in order to receive we are to trade in our sinful nature for deliverance. Jesus offers Himself as Lord and Savior and we are to take up the cross and follow Him.

Lastly, I believe Jesus acts as a moderator—a representative. In His acting as a representative, Jesus is our lawyer. In front of God the Father, He defends our case. As His children, God sees us through Jesus. When Jesus sat in on arbitration, encouraging a settlement, that’s when the decision was made. As salvation was accepted, the case was already won! Jesus then presents our case before the Father and confirms us. He speaks on our behalf as we boldly spoke on His behalf. We decided to live acknowledging Him before men. He stands in the gap, bridging us with God the Father.

He is the mediator, the man, Christ Jesus.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Greatest Testimony

“Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me,” John 5:39, KJV.

“You search and investigate and pore over the Scriptures diligently, because you suppose and trust that you have eternal life through them. And these [very Scriptures] testify about Me!” John 5:39, AMP.

The importance of studying the scriptures is noted here in this very scripture. In this context, Jesus was speaking to those who question His true identity. Today, there are many who challenge Jesus’ identity although the Old Testament is available for research. The problem that exists is that no matter how much evidence you provide, they still won’t believe. And they wonder why certain things occur in their lives.

Not only is Jesus real, He’s alive. When He accomplished the mission here on Earth, he sat down on the right hand side of God (Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 10:12). In His absence from Earth, the Holy Spirit was sent to comfort. The Holy Spirit is our guide here and intercedes on our behalf (Romans 8:26-27) even so Christ Himself (Romans 8:34) as He is seated next to God.

What will it take for some people to believe and receive? Proof they say, yet reject the very Word that’s placed in front of them. It’s similar to when some are told of the danger ahead of them, but decide to proceed anyway. Many are warned about relationships that they should not be in, but they enter them anyway. Some are told of the chance they may be taking by traveling a certain road, yet go regardless. The examples can span a thousand miles, but some may never learn. Is this an example of a reprobate mind?

There is still hope because we can equip ourselves with the Word, which is the sword. We are to gain wisdom, and with our getting—understanding. As growing Christians, we must study and show ourselves approved. If we’re not studying, what are we proving except the fact that we own a Bible? What does that say? It could be collecting dust or serving a nice show piece when our “brothers and sisters in Christ” visit the house. Jesus instructs us to search the scriptures because that’s where we’ll find Him.

Let us take a look at the book of Isaiah 7:14, KJV, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” When I read this passage I thought of the name Immanuel. I know that Jesus is the son of God, but I was trying to figure out why Isaiah said His name would be Immanuel and He was named Jesus. Well, it didn’t take long to understand that Immanuel means “God is with us.” Isn’t Jesus with us? Furthermore, in Isaiah 9:6, KJV, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace,” proves that He has many names. And how many names have we made for Him today? He is Healer, Comforter, Provider, and many more.

In chapter eleven of the book of Isaiah, there we will find more prophecy about His coming. Isaiah 11:1 speaks, “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.” Of course Jesse is the father of King David which means Jesus belonged to this lineage. Many scriptures testify of Jesus before He ever arrived in human form. “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God,” Isaiah 40:3. Confirmed in the New Testament, “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,” Matthew 3:1-3, KJV.

There are many scriptures that testify of His existence. I believe that God may have chosen to establish the world this way, speaking of Christ so that we’ll have the “evidence” needed to satisfy our human nature. He knows us because He made us. Just as if we were meeting someone in person for the first time and a description is given so that we could identify them, God did so for us. As we might say, “She’ll be wearing a pair of green pants, a blue sweater, a tan leather coat, and holding a red book in her left hand.” How could you mix that person up with another? It is so unique. So is Jesus Christ as he was described so many years before He arrived.

Search the scriptures…there you will find Him.