“When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick.”
(Matthew 8:16 KJV)
This verse emphatically states Jesus healed ALL individuals who were brought unto Him. This verse clearly tells me God can absolutely heal any physical, mental, spiritual sickness on this earth today if it be in His will to do so by prayer. We do serve the same God today who walked upon the ground in fleshly form, among many spiritually ill individuals, during His earthly ministry. A number of individuals Jesus came into contact with in His earthly ministry suffered from a putrid spiritual virus darkening the inside chambers of their hardened hearts and clearly affecting their outward demeanor and actions. This Bible verse does not say He healed some of these individuals who were ill but rather He healed all that were sick. This verse tells us His “holy prescription” for their mental ailment; was His word. Today we have the complete Bible, His Word, which contains all the spiritual “antibiotic” necessary to eradicate evil and dark spirits dwelling in the minds and hearts of many who are in great spiritual need.
Jesus healed many individuals, while He sojourned here on earths which were physically, spiritually and mentally ill. Crowds of people thronged to His side bringing Him family members and close friends in need of healing. People were so desperate to come in contact with Jesus a man of short stature named Zacchaeus even climbed a sycamore tree to fight the throng of the crowd catching a glimpse of Jesus and His ministry. We serve the same powerful and holy God today. He has not changed. He has not moved. He has not had a power failure or loss of ability to destroy any spiritual maladies and demons as He did in Biblical times.
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8 KJV)
What has changed; people have. Many do not seek Him. Many do not want to hear the message of His truth. Many choose to suppress the truth of His Word. He is the only lasting cure for their spiritually based mental ailments. Today families and close friends do not bring their loved ones unto the feet of Jesus Christ; laying their burdens at the foot of the cross. Many individuals battling mental illness choose to be shuffled off to psychologists, counselors, treatment centers, hospitals, psychologists and the like. They are treated with high potent prescriptions, counseled for their behavioral condition, and treated “culturally appropriate;” never discriminated against for their out of control mental disorder and underlying psychotic behaviors.
But I ask you to consider:
What about the man whom Jesus met in the Gadarenes?
"And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country. Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea." (Mark 5:1-13 KJV)
This evil spirit instantly knew and acknowledged who Jesus was. This spirit never considered denying or suppressing innate knowledge that Jesus was in authority over him, understanding the authority and power came from the highest authority, God, ruling the Heavens. Jesus spoke and the unclean spirits verbally recognized Jesus as the Son of the most high God. That is much more than many will dare to acknowledge today.
Jesus showed His power by verbally commanding the many spirits to come out from this man. The spirits begged Jesus to allow them to go into a herd of swine nearby, knowing He was their authority, and that He could send them straight to Hell. This knowledge caused fear to swell and rise to ultimate levels among these dark spirits. The unclean spirits entered into the herd of swine sending the herd instantly reeling over the side of a cliff and into the sea. The Bible tells us there were many unclean spirits; thousands, as in a legion of soldiers, were removed this man. This scripture proves an individual can become infected with numerous unclean spirits. Demon spirits can only take up residence in individuals who are unsaved and living amid spiritual darkness and death today as well.
This man from the Bible spoke of was from the Gadarenes and was actually living in and around the tombs; possibly having an attraction or affinity of some sort with the dead. It is possible he had some sort of occultist activity or nature that led him to live among the tombs but the Bible does not expand on the reason he was found living there. Today occult activity and demons often go hand in hand because it is the very essence and nature of darkness and evil. Take note that the spirit within him affected everything about this man’s behavior. Scripture tells us he was wild and uncontrollable; no man could bind him or tame his behavior. He was uncontrollable all the time. Day and night he was roaming about through both the valleys and peaks of life without self-control. The outer circumstances had no effect upon the behavior of this demon possessed man. He went about crying and cutting himself without regard for himself or others. Jesus healing him of this devil possession was his only hope for a normal existence. There are individuals today who are living in an out of control fashion just like this demon possessed man. “And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.” (Mark 5:14-15 KJV)
Those who witnessed this biblical scene play out; the owners of the swine and the crowd that had gathered, clearly understood the power Jesus had used in conveying the unclean spirits be removed from this man into the herd. What was powerful, even more than the spirits being removed, was the countenance and nature of this man after this eradication had taken place.
“And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” (Mark 5:18-19 KJV)
The man was so overwhelmed with what Jesus had done for him. He begged Jesus to allow him to accompany him on His earthly journey of spreading the gospel message. Jesus sent him instead back to where he had come, his former lifestyle, to witness to those who were familiar with his disOBedient and unhindered lifestyle before the legion of unclean spirits was removed. Jesus knew this would be a powerful testimony all on its own and many people would clearly understand the power and compassion Jesus conveyed when he spiritually healed this desperately lost man. The Bible records others who were spiritually healed from demons as well:
“And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.”
(Luke 8:2-3 KJV)
“And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.”
(Acts 16:16-18 KJV)
“And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.”
(Mark 9:17-20 KJV)
“And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.” (Mark 1:23-25 KJV) “Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.”
(Jude 1:8-9 KJV)
There are many instances in scripture of demon possession, depression, and mental illness among Bible believing Christians. There are several examples of spiritual deliverance from a variety of mental illnesses and demon possession in the Word of God through faith, fasting, and prayer. There are examples of depression in the Psalms and the book of JOB. Christians do get depressed and there are many scriptural examples of this. David lost the joy of his salvation and asked for God to restore it in Psalm 51. Clearly God’s power is necessary and powerful in the treatment and eradication of depression and many varieties of mental illnesses.
Often a stigma is attached to Christians who have depression or mental illness of some sort and many are often not forthcoming in admitting they suffer from mental illness. Churches and Christians vary in their approach and understanding of mental disorders. Even different church denominations will vary in their approach to combating mental illness. There are many approaches used today. It boils down to separating man’s attempts at throwing various secular resources towards the many mental illnesses versus the record the Bible contains about biblical precepts Jesus and His disciples employed when dealing with mental maladies.
Unfortunately there are many who suffer the effects of some form of mental illness without seeking any form of treatment, secular or biblical. It is okay for any individual to admit they have a mental issue or prOBlem of some sort that needs to be further dealt with. The first step in finding a solution is admitting there is a prOBlem. Secondly it is a prOBlem which needs to be dealt with in a fashion that line up with the precepts of the Bible because the Bible is the foundation everything about life is built upon. The spiritual condition of the heart is of utmost importance in any circumstance of life.
The first step should be to search the Bible for examples of mental disorders plaguing God’s people and solutions employed in those situations. One important facet of mental illnesses is trying to discover the root of the situation. The Bible tells us foremost:
"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."
(Proverbs 4:23 KJV)
It is important to keep this precept at the front of the line when considering biblical solutions for mental illness. The heart is the very center of our will and emotion. If the heart is not in a right relationship with God, then nothing in one’s life will stack up in decent order accordingly. A proper spiritual heart condition is the most important aspect to consider when evaluating a mentally challenging illness. A heart darkened by unbelief, or by unconfessed sin in a saved individual can greatly hamper or hinder mental processing and condition of the heart and mental facilities as well.
Never under-estimate the immense power love of Christ and the unequaled power of quoting Bible verses to a person who is hampered by mental illness by a pastor or a person who is widely versed and knowledgeable about scriptures and the power contained therein:
"May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us."
(Ephesians 3:18-20 KJV)
Christ has the power, if it be His will, to successfully weave a person into the power and control of His spirit whether it is from oppression or possession of an evil spirit(s) upon or within a person.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
(2 Timothy 1:7 KJV)
God has given us all the possibility of the power of a sound mind which has the full potential of operating clearly, concisely and within the realms of the standards set forth of godly discipline and order. A mind that operates outside of those precepts or boundaries is not a sound mind but rather one that is tossed to and fro by outward stimuli including one’s emotions and circumstances of the world, rather than being under sound spiritual control from God. Sin raging within the heart creates chaos and confusion. In the fifty-first Psalm David confesses his sin before a holy and knowing God. David’s contrite and has a heartfelt intention seeking to be made right with God. A heart that is full of sin and/or evil spirits can make one miserable, bitter and full of anger to himself and others around him. David prays for relief of attitudes and desires not befitting a child of God.
“Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”
(Psalms 51:12 KJV)
A great question for those who are in wretched and miserable disorder is about the spiritual condition of their heart including the degree or temperature of their faith in God. A cold heart does not know or understand about faith or the love of God. A lukewarm heart is neither heated up for the purposes of God or cold nor withdrawn and suppressing the truth. A heart that is in fire for the Lord is all about advancing the principles and godly lifestyle; becoming more Christ-like as they march onward towards eternity.
Often individuals suffer in this world. There are different or varying reactions or responses to suffering. Some people suffer loudly, always complaining, to anyone that will listen about the condition and quality of their life. The glass is never half full but always almost empty. Others take suffering on with a quiet and humble spirit. It is very interesting to note that the Holy Spirit sent from God, enters into a saved person’s life, is a spirit of peace and has a calming effect upon us as we choose to live in OBedience to Him and His will for our lives.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
(John 14:27 KJV)
This may not cancel all prOBlem situations, doubts and fears from your life but it will considerably alleviate fears and concerns grounded in viewing life through a worldly viewpoint. The Bible does tell us:
I will pray says the son (intercession)
I will send says the Father (bestowment)
I will comfort says the Holy Spirit (that is supernatural peace)
Trinity was designed by the Father, bought by the life-giving blood of His Son, and protected, or sealed, by the workings of Holy Spirit. It is a down-payment of Heaven for whosoever will grasp onto this triune relationship, a foundation firmly planted in love with God, while living in this world amongst much wickedness and darkness.
The real spiritual baptism is done by the Holy Spirit inside a person’s heart. He takes a heart of stone softened by His Word and fills it with His Spirit, creating a pliable heart ready for His will and way. The Baptism of the local church is a portrait of the Holy Spirit’s work inside us and our newness of life in the Spirit.
Let’s focus upon each separate and intrinsic member of the Trinity for a moment. As best we can comprehend, with our finite minds, while living here on earth:
What did our redemption cost God the Father?
God – He had to be willing to sacrifice His only begotten son. The death of His Son on Calvary cost god all that He had. This was an extreme cost for a father to undergo for the benefit of mankind. God the Father could see the hatred and disdain of man towards His son firsthand, God could feel the extreme suffering His Son felt as He hung upon that old rugged cross, and God was in extreme agony Himself as His son said:
"When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost." (John 19:30 KJV)
This was the moment the three triune God was separated from His Son and His Son was separated from His Father. The immense and excruciating pain and despondency felt at that moment was indeed almost unbearable. Praise the Lord the account does not end here because we serve a risen Savior who arose from sting of death and His grave on the third day, just as was prophesied.
What did the redemption cost Jesus His Son?
Jesus- who before His incarnation had never known pain, never stepped upon a briar, never was familiar with the shivers of cold, or the pangs of hunger, fatigue or deprivation of any kind; was willing to be made into flesh by the Father and come to earth. He had never been subject to life, as we know it, existing on earth. He had never felt the limitations or pain of a human body. He had never been without the Spirit residing inside of Him. He had never known or heard mocking or ridicule, only Heaven’s joyful hymns, worship and exaltation. In the realms of glory His “parentage” or lineage was never brought into question or challenged in any way. He had never been lonely or felt despair. He never felt abandoned and was never without the fellowship of the Trinity or the adoration of angels. His motives had never been questioned. His words had never been doubted. In fact, He was the very Word of God in the flesh.
What did the redemption cost the Holy Spirit:
The Holy Spirit was quenched. The sting of sin, the entire sin debt of all men, was placed upon Jesus as He hung upon the cross. This sin debt was staggering, a debt nOBody but the Son of God could repay. This debt was so looming and massive it quenched the Holy Spirit as the moment Jesus said “It is finished.”
The Holy Spirit was without breath, or life, at that very moment in time. The Spirit is the comforter, instructor holy guide; He quickens, and intercedes for us with the Father, even when we do not have our own words to articulate prayerful conversation with Him. The Holy Spirit was not in any communication with the Father, on Jesus’s behalf, at this very moment of death.
Praise the Lord Jesus won the victory over death. Jesus did arise from His grave three days later securing victory over death and breathing new life into the Holy Spirit which then ascended upon Jesus Christ at Pentecost. This completed the eternal path for whosoever believeth on the three triune God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2 KJV)
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." (John 1:14 KJV)
"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." (Revelation 22:13 KJV)
There is no spiritual good in the earth of which the three triune God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is not the author, creator and sustainer. He was there in the beginning of time and will be present at the ending of time. Those who expediently OBey His will, leading, and power receive the things of God; whatever it may He has in store for our lives.
When Christians choose to be disOBedient to the will of God and sow unspiritual fruits into our lives we can quench or limit ourselves from the Spirit of God working within us. Sin of any sort separates us from God, creating a ravine between us and Him, just as it came between God and His Sn Jesus hanging upon the cross. The three triune God is holy and sin never resides within Him. His power can keep us upon the path towards Christ-likeness as we journey towards eternity.
“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.”
(Ephesians 4:30-32 KJV)
Oh that we may never grieve, or quench the fire of, the Holy Spirit but rather OBey, praise and adore Him. He wants to express Himself in and through our attitudes and actions; reaping a harvest of spiritual fruits bringing Him glory and honor. We hinder His spirit by living in a sinful lifestyle and not separating ourselves apart from the world unto the Father’s will for our lives.
Sometimes we choose to lead our lives without including God in the blueprint going out on a dangerous and crooked path that “feels right” according to our feeling, emotions, and standards the world has set forth for us to stumble down upon the wider path leading to Hell.
Not including Him in every fine detail of our lives declares forcefully we can handle things on our own and in our own way. Equivocally this is stating we know better than God and are looking for a vacancy in the trinity, allowing us to rule and govern our own life just as we please, and leaving God out of the picture.
For Further Contemplation:
The three triune holy God has everything under His control since the beginning of time. Allow Him to steer you on the narrow path which leads to eternity with Him.
“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)
This verse contains an imperative, imploring or commanding statement calling for holy living. It calls for us to live a sanctified and set apart life acceptable according to god’s holy standards. God is beseeching, or begging, His spiritual children to live sacrificially unto Him, not unto man and the standards of the world.
For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. 1 Thessalonians 4:7
God has set commandments and principles forth for us in His Word. These are quite the opposite of man’s shallow and selfishness based and established upon the shifting sands of the world. Holiness is living separated unto Christ and apart from the world. Holiness and worldliness are contrasting, or heading in opposite directions. These paths are separate or dividing pathways. A person cannot have one foot walking towards God’s holiness and the other foot walking along the path of the world towards the things of man. Holiness affects our physical body. Holiness affects are thinking. Holiness is living in a state of ever increasing spirituality. Living in holiness means our spiritual essence or our soul and our physical bodies are made alive unto Christ and becoming spiritually deadened to the ways, thoughts, lifestyle, and mannerisms of this world. Holiness is living in subjection to Christ. This holiness in one’s life does not mean sinless living, for that is impossible on this side of heaven. Holy living while we are amid the sinful inclination of man here on earth is only possible when one lives spiritually through Jesus Christ, but for the grace of God go YOU and I and anyone who has Jesus Christ spiritually alive or quickened in their heart.
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
1 John 1:8 (KJV)
Does a person just wake up one morning and providentially receive the capability to live in holiness and subjection to Christ? No, quickening from the Holy Spirit does come upon a person when they place faith; even as small as mustard seed, in Jesus Christ. However holy living unto Christ is a process of a lifetime on earth.
There is positional sanctification and personal sanctification. Positional sanctification is that “swoosh moment” when the Holy Spirit quickens the dead spirit in the heart of a person to be spiritually alive. Personal sanctification is a daily walk with God as we live on earth. It is walking with God on a path towards eternity and forsaking the god of this earth. It is feeding our spiritual nature and forsaking our sinful nature. It is that spiritual boxing match that Paul faced in Romans chapter seven when he said:
“For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man” (Romans 7:19-22 KJV)
Living holy for Jesus Christ while on this earth is being spiritually positioned in God’s army. God’s army is the only army ever to have the victory in hand before the battles are over because we serve a Savior who’s risen and alive. This membership in God’s holy army “marks” each person as living in opposition to the god of this world. Holy living is marching forward in His army towards eternity.
His army is always protected with His armor and uses His Word as a sharp, cutting spiritual sword to combat heartily in hand to hand battles; giving God all the glory and honor for the victory. The Bible contains all the holy training and weaponry necessary to march towards eternity in His army.
Living holy and peaceful lives in this sin saturated world does cause those around to sit up and take notice. True holy living separates one from the way the world lives, and outwardly shines glory for Jesus Christ. Without God’s army persistently putting on their armor and marching forward through sin and trials and storms of life, living peaceable and contented lives full of joy so others can OBserve this steadfastness and hope as they wait for eternity. Without living holy and pursuing right relationships with others on earth man cannot please God and spend eternity in Heaven.
“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”
Living holy will cause individuals to actively pursue purging sin out of their life, making a vessel unto honor for the glory of Jesus Christ. Holy living will purge anything that is ungodly or acting as leaven from their lives.
If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. 2 Timothy 2:21
This is a cleaning and bleaching process that takes time. It is not as easy as a shake or two of a “magic whitening wand” that instantly causes one’s life to glitter and shine. Each individual who accepts Jesus Christ in faith will undertake this, sometimes grueling, but necessary scrubbing and bleaching process throughout life.
Sanctification entails picking up the cross and laying down all those sinful things hindering their walk with Him. A person cannot be prepared to march forward in an army headed to eternity in Heaven with the trappings of sin clinging like barnacles to their feet.
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us Hebrews 12:1 KJV)
Throughout the entire bible God has called for holiness. In the Old Testament He made way for holiness through keeping of laws and the offering of sacrifices. This was not sufficient because it did not allow for the forgiveness of sin.
“Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy”. (Leviticus 19:2)
In the New Testament God continues His call for holiness through His Son, Jesus Christ dying on the cross as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. God himself has never changed. He has always been holy for He changes not. He gives us the grace needed to fulfill His will for our life.
"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." (Hebrews 13:8 (KJV)
This grace He gives us enables us to live a life rich and full of His grace because Christ took away the penalty or wage for sins we have already committed, or will commit in the future. He has already preserved us blameless. He views us as without spot, or as white as snow, even as we sojourn here on earth and the sin nature ever before us as we march onward towards eternity in Heaven.
"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
He has sealed all His own until the day of His eminent return to the earth. He guarantees eternal salvation for those who have professed by mouth and placed their faith in Him. We are sealed and no sin, whether it be by omission or commission, will serve to remove this eternal seal from our life. Nothing that any other person does can remove this seal from our lives. We are secure in His promises of eternal life and eternal blessings and joy to come.
"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." (Ephesians 1:13 KJV)
In the Roman world a seal was of great importance and nOBody would seek to tamper with or destroy a seal. Doing so would be to meddle in the affairs of the Roman government and call upon themselves sure and quick remedial action and likely death. The seal of God carries the ultimate weight of destruction and the wages of death to those who choose not to seek holiness and will but choose to follow the god of this world suppressing the truth of God.
"And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (1 John 3:3 KJV)
Lastly, this verse says every man that has hope of eternity purifies himself just as God is pure and holy. What a tremendous promise for us today. Faith in Jesus Christ feeds and fulfills our hope in an eternal life with Jesus Christ which nothing or anyone can take away.
For Further Contemplation:
We are safe and secure this side of eternity by placing our faith in Him following His will for our lives purges sin out of our lives and makes us holy and Christ-like as we march onwards towards eternity. Entering into eternity with Him will complete our journey to holiness, Christlikeness and spiritual wholeness.
The name Melchezedek is made up of smaller words collectively meaning “my king is righteous” and is name that echoes an individual who has both kingly and priestly functions. In the Hebrew Bible He is the first individual to be given the title Kohen, or the Hebrew word for priest.
The Law of Moses stipulated only the male descendants of Aaron would be commissioned to serve as Jewish priests before the God of Israel and the Jewish nation. This commission is believed in Judaism to be a covenant of everlasting priesthood" ("Brith HaKehuna") or the Aaronic priesthood. A verse in Psalm 110 mentions a priest who reigns forever of the order of Melchizedek.
“A Psalm of David. The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” ( Psalms 110:1-4)
Some people would say that Melchezedek is a christophany or a spiritual appearance of Christ. Often they offer the example His moment of ascension into Heaven in the book of Acts. However, Jesus Christ has existed since the beginning of time, just like God, and scriptural evidence of this proving His deity can be found written in scripture. The first verse in the book of John leaves no question as to the Word being the Son Jesus Christ of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit since the beginning of time.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. “ (John 1:1)
Melchezedek is first mentioned in the book of Genesis. The King of Salem, also known as Melchezedek, has an encounter with Abram (later known as Abraham). Salem is an area that is widely thought to be where Jerusalem was located. Jesus was King of Jerusalem.
“And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto HOBah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's dale. And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.” (Genesis 14:14-18)
Not only was Melchezedek found to be living in Jerusalem but was also was the priest of the most- high God. Both of these strongly point toward him being Jesus Christ, the Son of the Trinity, and an application from the Old Testament, a picture or reference of the coming Jesus Christ in the New Testament.
The New Testament also refers to the King of Peace and Righteousness, who is also called the King of Salem. It is also important to note that Abraham gave a tenth part of all to the King of Salem. This was the practice of tithing in the early scriptures of the Old Testament.
“For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.” (Hebrews 7:1-3)
The person whom Abraham met in the preceding scripture served as the Priest of the Most High God. There cannot be two High Priests, Melchezedek and Aaron, both holding the same office. Jesus must have been the person who met Abraham, since the only interaction between God and man has been through Jesus.
This tithe mentioned in the preceeding verse was given by Abraham to Melchezedek before Moses got the law from God upon Mt. Sinai. Therefore tithing is above or previous to the written law from God’s hand. Tithing was done in the Old Testament and is also referenced more than once in the New Testament. In Matthew we are to have godly judgment, great faith, and mercy for others along with being good stewards and honoring God with the monies He has entrusted to us to steward unto His glory. All men have free choice and men can choose to tithe to God or not but we all must answer to God one day for the choices we make.
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” (Matthew 23:23)
The Trinity; God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit have been together in the world since the beginning of time. Jesus Christ is also called the Great High Priest in the Old Testament and referred to by the same in the New Testament. The following scriptures speak clearly of the existence of the Trinity:
"Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. John 8:58 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." ( Revelation 1:5-6)
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1)
The following verses speak of God being the first and the last, forever present, and the anointed One:
"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." (Revelation 1:8)
"Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." (this was prophecy fulfilled) (Psalms 45:6-7)
"But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." (Hebrews 1:8-9)
These above verses from the book of Hebrews clearly point to the Deity of God, His righteousness, and that God the Father anointed His Son as the Great High Priest over and above the earthly Priesthood of Aaron. Every priest taken from among earthly men is ordained to serve on behalf of men in things pertaining to God so that he may offer gifts and sacrifices for sin. God must call these men, as he did Aaron, men cannot take the task upon themselves (Hebrews 5:1, 4).
Christ did not glorify Himself to be made a high priest but God declared it in the New Testament when He said, "'You are My Son, today I have begotten You.' And elsewhere in Old Testament scripture God declares: 'You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek . . .'" (Hebrews 5:5-6).
Because Melchizedek (incarnate Jesus Christ) loved righteousness and hated iniquity (like God’s attributes), God made Him a Son and anointed Him with the oil of gladness above His brethren (Hebrews 1:9). This made Him above the leadership of the Aaronic priesthood.
Christ was also anointed by God in the New Testament in the book of Luke. This anointing and His High Priesthood was mentioned in greater detail in the book of Hebrews:
And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. Luke 3:22 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that OBey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec. Hebrews 5:9-10 Jesus Christ became God's High Priest because perfection and salvation were not attainable through the Levitical priesthood (Hebrews 7:11). And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest: (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:) Hebrews 7:20-21
Christ was made a Priest forever by an oath of the Most High God.
Jesus Christ is the one and only Melchizedek, the King of Peace and Righteousness.
"And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." Revelation 5:10
I believe without a doubt that Jesus is the Messiah spoken of as "a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek" (Ps. 110:4), and so Jesus plays the role of the king-priest once and for all. He does not continue to die for sin but died once for all sin.
Some day we, as well, will reign and serve with Him in His eternal kingdom forever.
For Further Contemplation:
Here are many other points about the priesthood and the order of Melchezedek.
Take the opportunity to dive into scripture and study these points more thoroughly for yourself.
v According to the writer of Hebrews (7:13-17) Jesus is considered a priest in the order of Melchizedek because, The one who blesses is always greater than the one being blessed. Thus, Melchizedek was greater than Abraham.
v If the priesthood of Aaron were effective (if burnt sacrifices were able to take away sin), God would not have called a new priest in a different order in Psalm 110. (Heb. 7:11)
v The basis of the Aaronic priesthood was ancestry; the basis of the priesthood of Melchizedek is everlasting life. That is, there is there is no break in the rein (lasts eternally) due to a priest's death. (Heb. 7:8,15-16,23-25)
v Christ, being sinless, does not need a sacrifice for his own sins. (Heb. 7:26-27)
v The priesthood of Melchizedek is more effective because it required a single sacrifice once and for all (Jesus), while the Levitical priesthood of Aaron made endless sacrifices. (Heb. 7:27)
v The Aaronic priests serve (or, rather, served) in an earthly copy and shadow of the heavenly Temple, which Jesus serves in. (Heb. 8:5)
v Melchizedek gave Abraham bread and wine, which some Christians consider symbols (some consider them literal symbols) of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the sacrifice to confirm a covenant. Jesus sacrificed once for all, (not over and over again as some OBserve out of traditions of men still today)
v Some Christians believe Jesus Christ the Son came to Earth at various times before the New Testament, including once as Melchizedek himself. These appearances are called Christophanies.
Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. John 7:24
This verse from the book of John clearly indicates there is such a thing as righteous judgment. Often we hear remarks made such as “judge not lest you be judged, or “take the own mote out of your eye first.” These remarks come from good well-meaning individuals who are loosely quoting scripture often out of biblical context, not always regarding proper circumstances and intent Jesus had for judging with righteous judgment.
Righteous judgment does not take into account appearance or assumed motives but relies solely upon the standard and truth of God’s Holy Scriptures. Paul ascertains in the letter to the Thessalonians that as Christians we are, using God’s measurement, to prove that which is true and upright. This proving magnifies those things or situations that are not holy in God’s sight. This clear distinction allows us to turn away from those people and things surrounding us which are judged unrighteous in God’s eyes, not our eyes, and turn toward that which is proven holy. This proving requires discernment and judgment and does not rely upon the opinion of man.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:21
This righteous judgment is laid upon all things. The starting point for any judging is within oneself first. No man is qualified or called by God to look upon the interests and dealings of another individual unless his own house is in biblical order first and in conjunction with the walls of self-control surrounding him solidly in place as well. Putting his dwelling in order first removes any mote in his own eye, perfecting and clearing his vision about himself. It is looking in the mirror and digesting our own reflection against the holiness of a righteous God, contrasting unrighteousness. Doing this self-reflection will cause warts, moles, freckles leprous lesions and any hidden sins on the inside, to burst clearly noticeable to others and likely to ourselves as well in God’s perfect timing.
Sometimes our overwhelming sin lurks about in our midst so slyly that we alone cannot discern it from our vantage point. Loving brothers or sisters need to step up and shine the light of His Word for us to see our situation more clearly without adding any contention or strife among brethren.
“But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” 1 Corinthians 2:15
If each person who professes Christ as the Lord of their life would take into account their own spiritual health and pulse, studying and praying steadfastly for holy maintenance and repairs needed in their own circumstances, there would be more spiritually sound, strong, Joyful, humble Christians walking in contrast to the darkness in our midst and less finger pointing towards others around us.
Unrighteous judgment of others God condemns. This kind of judgment is hastily pointing fingers in prideful criticism and reproach, and daunting spiritual attacks; serving no purpose other than to dishearten others and giving no glory to God.
Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 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? 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 7:1-5
This is not a command forbidding judgment of another but against wrongful judgment of others. Every believer has a duty, out of love, to consider the fruits of others who are in their spiritual family, especially those who are teaching others. The Bible tells us we can know others by their fruits or by their lack of fruit thereof. It is wrong, however, to come to pointed conclusions about another individual through man’s imperfect reasoning. The righteous judgment and spiritual approach God modeled throughput scripture is necessary in approaching a brother or sister who needs reproach according to the standards God has set forth. God’s righteous judgment is based upon His love and perfect holiness.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Luke 18:9-14
We cannot judge the heart or motives of another individual only by their outward actions and fruit, or lack thereof. Jesus looks straight through all the outer paraphernalia and adornment and cuts straight to the heart of the issue, a spiritual chink or fissure of the heart.
We who profess to be Christians must always remember the pit from which we came. How we dug and clawed at the sides of the pit, unable to lift ourselves out of the miry mess we were sprawling amongst. Remember Lazarus who was bound and stinking horrendously after being dead already four days? Jesus loosed him and let him go but the odor lingered until those friends around him
And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. John 11:44
Christians today must help remove the stinking clothes from our fellow brothers and sisters who are new born babes in Christ. Therefore, test, examine, discern and Judge between good and evil according to His scripture and the spiritual strength and discernment Christ has given us.
But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5:14
Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. John 8:15
Judge others not according to our quickly stirred up emotions, feelings, fleshly passions or in anger, coming to a hasty assumption without sufficient facts or information to form a solid conclusion. The hidden things of a man only Christ can see and ascertain.
He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. Proverbs 18:13
We must know the Word of God and have it buried within our heart to function Christ-like and spiritually in this world of darkness and evil deeds.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
And we must understand how to use scripture as Christ intended as we sojourn here on earth.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 2 Timothy 3:16
These were more nOBle than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Acts 17:11
Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. Romans 2:1-2
YOU are a walking advertisement for and against the Lord. We must be spirit controlled. Christ like. There is true spiritual minded wisdom that comes from Christ.
And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11
Passion for God’s Word must be tempered by and guided by Love. This is the responsibility of the children of God. We are called to be ye separate or not walk along with those who are living worldly to do so we must make a judgment that is set apart from those that live in the world and any who might compromise or weaken God’s Word.
There are different forms of judgment in the world today. Judgments against immorality, truth verses error, holy living verses unholy living, but only one true standard or measurement which is the Word of God.
For Further Contemplation:
What basis do you use in formulating your opinions and judgment of others? Is it founded upon the holiness of God and His Word?
Can you point to any verses indicating the Lord’s work was ever maintained or sustained through acquiring debt in scripture? A church loaded with debt is not necessarily provision from God or answers to prayers of a well-intentioned congregation bent on being benevolent.
A financial song and dance routine is trending in countless churches today. Many congregations are struggling in the financial arena. Offering plates are coming back from the aisles often lighter as some professing Christians are bringing in less tithes and offerings into the storehouse.
“Will a man rOB God? Yet ye have rOBbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we rOBbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have rOBbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:8-10)
There is much false teaching flourishing among Bible believing Christians concerning money in today’s church. Some teachers may proclaim tithing was under the old covenant in the Old Testament; therefore man is no longer bound to tithe in the New Testament church today. This is false doctrine as tithing was established in the Old Testament prior to Moses receiving the Law from God; therefore tithing is not bound together with the law of the Old Covenant.
“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.”
One looming factor affecting church finances is the doors of many churches revolve continually bringing people in and out of attendance. Tithes and offerings can fluctuate like the wind, ultimately making any kind of financial planning akin to taking a stab in the dark or blindly pulling figures out of midair when budgeting. These parameters are not necessarily forming a consistent and reliable blueprint for church leaders to plan for the future.
Sometimes leaders push congregations to rely heavily upon future expectations and offerings as the members are led to vote for their church to assume a debt for a church build or expansion plan. The project may seem financially sound today but those same members and/or church leaders may leave the church tomorrow and not be personally responsible for any lingering or prolonged debt. Future repayment is pushed onto a faithful remnant and those joining the church in the future. If every church member were held personally responsible for repayment; diving head first into a building project might be harder to initiate. Church membership might approach a building project by relying more upon the Lord’s leading by much prayer and contemplation, not following man’s ideas and taking a leap in the dark.
God instructs us both personally as individuals and collectively about financial affairs in His Word. We are to be a light shining brightly in the darkness, including in the realm of worldly financial affairs, willing to teach and mirror holy financial responsibility. Proper fiscal responsibility may not always include taking on more debt. Christians are to give, via freewill offering, to the Lord’s work through their tithes and offerings. Some give out of any portion leftover after everything else is paid, others by following the law grudgingly, and others give sacrificially and generously beyond ten percent.
“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:7-8)
If a church seeks funding from the worldly banking system to finance a building project for buildings needed to worship and teach the truth of God’s Word, is that contradicting the His nature and holiness who could, if it is in His will, provide any necessary money by divine providence?
Remember the manna the Lord provided for the Israelites as they roamed about in the desert, fulfilling their needs quite sufficiently and consistently for forty years. We are called to be a peculiar people separating ourselves from the values and the “standard operating procedures” the world upholds. This must also include being separated in the financial and business arena and include how churches conduct their financial affairs in this world. God would not lead a church into supporting a mission field or spiritual undertaking without providing the needed financial structure and support.
NOBody can ever out give God. The opposite of borrowing funds is giving money away.
God wants to bless His people and churches to overflowing.
“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. “ (Luke 6:38)
Maybe the prOBlem lies in the fact that many individuals and churches are not always OBedient to God’s commandments. Many are harboring sin personally, and in their church. This can place roadblocks in the path of the growth, for getting the gospel out, and spiritual growth of its members.
“The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7)
If we look into the Old Testament research the matter of debt, the bible teaches that the borrower becomes a slave to the lender. Looking at debt from this viewpoint, burdening the church with debt is totally contrary to the gospel. The gospel is all about freedom and breaking away from bondage and oppression and sin. Not all debt is considered bondage; however, excessive debt certainly would be akin to a yoke of bondage encircling and suppressing the functioning of the church and it membership.
In the New Testament the Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians:
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Galatians 5:1)
Anyone who preaches a “gospel” which includes an excessive debt burden, and proclaiming it to be God’s will to do His work through acquiring debt, does he preach a false and misleading gospel message? Debt is not freedom; it is bondage! Promoting bondage in the church is a matter which must be closely examined in the light of His Word and entered into carefully and after much careful prayer and study. Debt can be necessary at times, even in a church, but not always the most beneficial avenue or the path God would lead a congregation or an individual in Christ down in all given circumstances.
When a church goes into debt are they serving two masters? The danger of compromising the truth becomes very real. One cannot be loyal to Christ and at the same time not be loyal to the truth, because Jesus says, “I am the truth.” A church in debt can easily become a church of divided loyalties. The church and it’s leadership may have the best and honest intentions of staying absolutely loyal to the truth, but in times of financial trouble looming; in meeting financial OBligations they may opt to do all, or anything necessary to please the people, so they, in turn, will continue to attend the church services giving loyally and sacrificially their tithes and offerings.
God tells us to walk by faith; Money conditions us to walk by sight.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight:” (2 Corinthians 5:7)
God tells us to set our minds on the things above; Money, or lack thereof, tends to draw our attention to things of the earth; the possessions we have or those we might think we have need of.
“Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin”: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Matthew 6:26-29)
God tells us not to be anxious for anything; to keep our focus on Him. The truth is that the church cannot serve both God and Money and remain unified. Countless churches have been set back spiritually by an inability to sustain or pay off debt. This can create an oppressive and burdensome atmosphere where hope is pressed down and false doctrine can thrive and flourish. Essentially God may even be standing outside many churches that are sinking fast knee deep in debt and looking in forlornly at their lukewarm disorder. He has promptly been ushered to the curb and rejected so a weaker message of compromise and half-truths can be given from the pulpit to sustain their current membership numbers.
Jesus told us to spread the Gospel. He gave us all the great commission as our life long mission for serving the Lord and spreading forth the gospel. Fulfilling this great commission takes us out of our church house and onto the highways and byways of life to find those He leads us to who need to hear the message of the gospel of Christ. People do not come knocking on massive and fancily built church doors begging to hear the message of salvation.
Frankly, our service to Christ most often takes place outside the church house. Men tend to place their focus, attention, and service inside the church house. We must get ourselves busy in God’s back yard, in our immediate area, and across the oceans; the harvest of souls is ripe for our witnessing. Where God leads He also provides the means to accomplish His will.
From Genesis to revelation God is known as many names that all individually encompassed the nature of God. One of these names is “Jehova-Jireh” or God will provide. Not did provide, but will provide in the present tense. He will provide for His own children now and for future needs. He continually provides from Genesis in the past all the way up to Revelation in the future.
“And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.” (Genesis 22:13-14)
One of the most important things to take note of in these verses is that God did provide a ram as a substitute sacrifice for Abraham instead of the need to sacrifice his own son, as Abraham was OBedient to God. Abraham’s OBedience was necessary to fulfill the will of God. This was a picture of Jesus’s death on the cross for our sins. Jesus’s OBedience to the cross was necessary to fulfill God’s will. God looks for our OBedience to His will in our life as well.
Luke 14:28-30 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
Faith is a huge contributing factor in planning church finances but it is not the only dynamic in the decision making process. Your local bank’s accounting depends on actual dollars deposited and not on a faith basis of collecting funds. Therefore, faith plays a big role in trusting God for the necessary resources, but does not account for the entire financial well-being of a church. Financial faith then is not simply testing God to meet the perceived needs of the church, but faith requires OBedience to God along with discernment and planning carefully for the future according to sound scriptural doctrine, avoiding any appearance of wrong mismanagement, and accountability to others.
Any church project has two types of costs; cost of materials from start to finish of the project, and the all-important personal cost of OBedience to Christ in the center of the project at hand.
In conclusion: God wants to bless His church. God wants to bless His people. He wants to provide for His will to be done. God wants all churches to be abounding in His work. He is ready to bless those churches who give Him first place, who give sacrificially over and above what He asks. He does not need His ten percent back entrusted to you; but in OBedience to Him and His will he takes note of those who continue moving the circle of blessing, bringing back to His storehouse that which He gave, keeping this circle of blessing moving towards others in need.
Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
For Further Contemplation:
God wants to meet your personal needs. God wants to meet the needs of His church. God wants to abundantly supply all our needs to those who walk in OBedience to Him.
Are you searching the scriptures and meeting with Him in your prayer closet to hear His will for your life?
Discrimination is Nothing New
Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. John 4:9 The Jews and Samaritans were living in opposition and hatred towards one other. This tension was a mix of religious, social, territorial opposition and disdain for one another. This disrespect and social shunning often escalated into what would be considered discrimination and hate crimes in our society today. Many individuals are living in contention and strife against other people in this world. The Bible gives us a concrete foundation based upon His truth along with principles of grace and mercy for His children to emulate and cultivate in relationships with other people. The Bible instructs us:
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.
Discrimination against us personally, or those we love, can lead to harboring bitterness in our heart. Anger and contention left to simmer, bubble and stew inside us permits this bitter root to continue to grow upwards and outwards, encircling and choking our entire being, capturing our actions, thoughts and our words and leaning towards evil doing. This root can entangle us into accommodating our reactions or choices towards the standards of the world and not flattering to Jesus Christ.
Discrimination, or standing in judgment of another individual or group, has been at work dividing people against one another by intimidation, silence, verbal jabs, physical injury, or even murder and death for many centuries. “Hot button issues” such as social stature, sex, jOBs, beliefs, age, disability, race, color, and sexual orientation are contentious and dividing issues. It is like pouring angry fuel on the fire and raising the heat amongst opposing people and groups.
Today many people might insist discrimination is a new-fangled threat to our society or a politically correct offense or an intolerable hate crime crushing or knocking down many “wounded” around us. How easy it is to be a “victim” in this lawyer driven victim rights society.
The label of discrimination can be a golden opportunity for most that are willing to take their turn stirring dirt in this golden cash endeavor. Many money hungry persons and entities are busy cooking up contention and strife for anyone who will buy into it. Likely, many will “cash in” with a skillful presentation by lawyers who debonairly prove a victims rights have been violated. Cases of individual rights and political correctness litter our society and have overrun our beleaguered and overwrought court systems.
News reports often detail high profile discrimination cases where the victim has been pushed to the breaking point, or has been brought to the brink of despair because another individual or group of people has severely mistreated them some way. Yes, there are proven situations where individual cases have included barbaric treatment, mistreatment, exploitation, abuse, or other harsh situation which leads to incite or provoke hurt, ill will, or erratic behavior.
However, not every case goes to these extremes. There is a fair share of “manufactured “cases thrown into this broken down government system of “victim’s rights circus” of lawyer driven settlements where money can provide a balm of calmness and ease the horrifically inflicted pain.
Discrimination cases have added much to pave the way of blaming other individual(s) for an overwhelming situation, for our actions, or for our mental strain, most never readily willingly to accept any personal responsibility for their situations. Rarely, if ever, are the circumstances in these cases one-sided and not collectively the fault of all persons involved in some form or manner.
Praise the Lord Jesus Christ did not pull out the “victim” pass out of His wallet, claiming mistreatment and abuse. He died hanging upon the cross two thousand years ago for your sins and mine. He is without sin and holy. He suffered many forms of mistreatment and abuse at the hands of Roman soldiers who were used in fulfilling scripture. The soldiers, along with the thronging crowd of curious onlookers, hurled verbal insults and OBserved as a few soldiers scourged stripes upon His physical body then forced Him to bear the weight of dragging His own cross towards the hill of Calvary.
Some of His own disciples deserted Him down as the time of the cross was impending. Judas, the traitor, sold Him out for a mere thirty pieces of silver and Peter who denied even knowing Jesus, not just once but three separate times. All the disciples seemed OBlivious to His coming death upon the cross. His disciples, the gathering crowds, the Roman government, Pilate, the Sanhedrin leaders nOBody involved seemed to fully understand the significance of His death upon the cross. Jesus Christ did not tout His own horn. He did not try to influence or gather together friends or supporters, nor plead His case before the men in the crowd or in front of the Sanhedrin Court, even though Pontius Pilate could not find or substantiate a case against Him. Jesus Christ chose to speak not a word to or against any of His accusers.
He did, however, speak to His Father while alone and secluded in prayer. He even shed drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, acclimating himself to be in full OBedience to His Father’s will. Jesus had asked the disciples to keep watch as He intensely prayed in the garden, twice. Both times His disciples fell asleep during their watch. This certainly seemed to indicate the disciples did not comprehend the circumstances about to unfold for Jesus. Like many people today, the disciples not “tuned in” to the late hour in relation to God’s time table.
“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9z)
Discrimination was just as OBvious and widespread in biblical times as it is today. Solomon wisely stated centuries ago “there is nothing new under the sun,” Jesus Christ would likely be treated the same; belittled, hassled and harassed by crowds of people, especially those who call themselves atheists today. Even those who call themselves Christians may not likely all treat Jesus as The King who had hung on the cross for all sins, mine, yours, and whosoever shall believe in faith.
There are many biblical examples of discrimination in biblical times. Jesus wrote in the sand while a woman was being unfairly judged by those men who had surrounded her after finding her caught in the very act of adultery. The men were ready, with stones in hand, to stone her. Jesus stooped down to write in the sand. The Bible is not clear exactly what He wrote, but it is thought by many that He wrote down the very sins of these men, causing them to turn and walk away. They understand and acknowledged their own sin nature in the holy face of Jesus as well.
Stephen was stoned by men to his death in persecution and ridicule for preaching the gospel of Christ. It is possible that Saul, later saved on the road to Damascus becoming Paul, was in this crowd of men who persecuted him and maybe even held Stephen’s coat as he endured this awful and unjust treatment at the hands of evil men.
Discrimination, disagreements, disdain, anger, and the like were originally ushered into the world when satan, the fallen angel, fell from Heaven. Adam, through Eve being beguiled by satan, opened the door to a sin nature by acquiring the forbidden knowledge of good and evil gained from eating barred fruit. God had clearly told them not to eat fruit from this tree.
Old Testament sacrifices were not sufficient to take away this sin nature. God sent Jesus Christ to come in the flesh to shed His blood on the cross. No other sacrifice but His shed blood was sufficient to take away, or impute righteousness to man for the overwhelming sin debt past, present, and future alike.
Jesus was able to serve His Father’s will upon the cross because He had hope and peace in the present, while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, hanging upon the cross, and in His future sitting at the right hand of His Father. All individuals can find this same hope and encouragement if they are willing to sacrifice themselves, being OBedient in any situation, living for Christ, not for self. Jesus Christ had this fervent hope and peace amid the flurry of insults and prejudiced treatment being assailed at Him from every side as He sought to be OBedient to death to bring about the will of His Father in Heaven.
"Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: John 18:31"
Pilate wanted to evade the responsibility of arresting, trying and sentencing Jesus, instead of honestly refusing to have anything to do with His condemnation, Pilate sought by evasion or “dodging the bullet” to simply move away from this impending case. Pilate could not rid himself of this man Jesus however; for each time Jesus came back, standing in front of him and awaiting for him to assess the verdict.
One of Pilate's questions was, “What shall I do with Jesus?” A question he was compelled to answer in the end. Jesus stands before every human soul, as He stood before Pilate, demanding reception of His message or rejection, and every one of us must personally answer this same question. The question may be postponed, but we cannot wash it from our hands. Every soul must sit in judgment by Christ, and give a personal decision for the course of their life here on earth and for eternity.
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
You and I, as well, can answer that question “what shall I do with Jesus?”
We can find that peace that passes our frail human understanding.
We can be busy about His “holy business” as we exist and live for Him in this world.
We should expect racially motivated insults and prejudiced comments heaved at us, stones hurled at us, just like Stephen felt assailing upon his tender skin, and to be christened “religious fanatics” by those who erroneously placed their faith in the god of this world and do not have the Holy Spirit residing in them to comprehend spiritual things.
Why, because you and I are made in the image of Jesus. When we live in holiness for Him we begin to look, think, and act as if we are more like Him everyday.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27)
To get to the core, or the nature of the discrimination prOBlem, one must first identify with the fact that all men have been created in the image of God. All individuals came from God through Adam and eve whose descendants were Cain, Abel, and Seth. They carried on god’s will producing or procreating in His image until the time of the flood. After the flood Noah and his wife continued procreating in God’s image and begot Ham (Babylon, Egypt, Africa, Syria bloodlines), Shem (Jews, and Arab bloodlines), and Japeth (Europe, Russia, Iran, Iraq bloodlines) and accordingly with Abraham and Sarah, all offspring were brought forward over the centuries unto the present time. There is only one race- the human race. Africans, Indians, Arabs, Chinese, Japanese, various tribes and so forth are not different races of people but different ethnicities within one human race, of which God alone is the head and authority. If it were possible to trace all family trees, person by person, backward through all history, they all would point exclusively to Adam and eve as the “original parents” of all mankind.
God first divided His one human race into two distinct groups, Jews, who were His chosen people and Gentiles who later He grafted into His fold. The population was later even further subdivided into many other ethnicities, each according to their language. This division of languages took place at the tower of Babel. God chose to confuse all languages, sending all people out and spreading these different language groups and ethnicities throughout the world to ring glory to Him and further His will.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
“For there is no respect of persons with God.” (Romans 2:11)
Scripturally speaking, all men are created in the image of god and equal in standing with God. Being created in His image is often cut or pulled apart from the actions of most men today. Christ likeness is missing from many lives.
All men being created in likeness to Christ should immediately take any fuel away from perceived race differences or any inequality arguments because all men stand upon equal footing with God both on this earth and in final judgment to come in eternity. God’s verdict will be impartial and without respect to who anyone is as an individual, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. God will judge all according to the truths of scripture rather than heritage, tradition, possessions, or upbringing. Each man is a reflection of Jesus Christ. Knowledge of God is innately written upon each heart while being formed in the womb. Each individual must choose, out of freewill, to acknowledge Him as their own personal Savior or not. One can verbally acknowledge or profess Jesus Christ without personally accepting Him as their Master and Lord. Words can be spoken but not affect the condition of the heart. Judas walked near God and around God but never chose to invite Him personally into his heart as His God and Lord.
Each man is created in the image of God and should be served and treated in the same manner, even if their outward appearance is remarkably different. The following passages from the book of James outlines how two men were treated differently, or discriminated against, rather than treated humbly through the loving lens of god in the setting of an early church service.
“For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?”
A distinction is clearly made in these verses between a church visitor who is visibly rich and decked out in rich apparel and jewelry; verses another who is clothed in rags and apparently needy. Each man receives different responses from those who are attending this same gathering. The one decked out in rich apparel was given a choice seat towards the front of the assembly; while the poor man who wore rags was left to stand in the rear of the room which was not prime seating in the early church. Segregating these two men, who were at different ends of the social and economic spectrum, which was akin to a silent judgment in accordance to their outward presentation and demeanor. As the Bible clearly states man tends to look upon the outward appearance of others but god looks intently upon at the heart.
“But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
God’s answer or the Bible’s “holy prescription” to counter discrimination and diversity issues flourishing today is to walk with Him in a softened heart relationship of the Holy Spirit, not the stony heart of the flesh. The Bible clearly tells us how important our heart condition before God is:
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
God’s children emanate forth fervent brotherly love. If we are walking in love; we are not walking in hate, dislike, or disdain of another. Hate and love are clearly two opposite sides of the coin and different paths to walk. Either people have biblical spiritual love, one for another; or have animosity, enmity, and hate one for another. God in Heaven is a God of love and relationships; hate coincides with the god of this world and divisive attributes are not a part of His holy character.
It is love of Christ and love for Christ that make an immense difference in cultivating loving relationships with others. The Bible contains many verses that speak about the importance of biblical spiritual love in our relationships.
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:14-16
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12
If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
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. Luke 10:27
Living a life of authentic Christianity is empowered by the inflowing of His spirit and rich and merciful grace the moment one places faith in God. Trying to live a Christian life in our own power, without the Holy Spirit, is not possible for any length of time. The Holy Spirit and Christ-like qualities free us, removing our burdens and chains, so we can extend His authentic love and live holy affecting others in our midst. Authentic Christianity, living in OBedience to Christ, can be a bright light shining amid many battles, including contention, racism, and discrimination plaguing our world.
Do you love Christ enough with your own heart to joyfully display His love to others around you? Jesus left us many illustrations to follow.
Here are a few notable ones:
The woman who met Jesus at the well in the mid-day sun in the book of John had been married several times and living a life filled with sin came face to face with Jesus. Jesus did not discriminate against her, or refuse to associate with her even though she had a sordid past. Instead He freed her from the bondage of sin and shame. She ran to witness to others about what Jesus had done in her life.
Paul is another shining example of one who was removed miraculously from serving the god of this world, to shining brilliantly for God in Heaven. Paul brought people, even those who were spectators to his personal discord and hatred towards others, together in Christ for eternity. This was accomplished through the power and love of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ bears no respect towards any person over another. We are all on equal footing and covered in the love of Christ.
"For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."
1 Corinthians 15:9-10
"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons."
Submitting humbly to God in any situation you find yourself in bears witness to the power of God working through you to those around you. Jesus Christ left all of humanity with His perfect example of His sacrifice of dying upon the cross for all sin; past, present, and future. Through His wounds you and I and all men have the opportunity to be healed from the entangling nature of sin if we accept his gift of salvation freely in our heart and serve others out of gratitude for His great mercy and grace bestowed upon us freely. With this great mercy we can embrace others even when they choose to treat us harshly, giving us an opportunity to show God’s love and mercy towards them.
Jesus Christ was innocent, but was treated unjustly like an animal or common criminal. It was this unwarranted treatment that He could have chosen to speak out against, summon legions of angels, turn the tables against his enemies who were treating him in an undeserved fashion. But, it was not all about Him. It was about God, and secondly it for us, all of us, because with His stripes and bruises we were healed of our sin nature. He set all humanity free.
"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." Isaiah 53:3-7
Could you have readily put on the mortifying shame filled will of your Father as Jesus did? Could you have allowed yourself to be despised, hated and rejected, humiliated, and physically stricken and depleted to your sorrowful death? Or would you have thrown in the towel, waved the white flag, crawled off the cross, all the while loudly demanding respect for your royal position and expecting your individual rights are given full consideration. Would you then have paraded about in the huge crowd of onlookers pleading your innocence to the charges leveled against you and verbally assaulting those who mistreated you? Jesus did. He did nothing to stop from being subjected to the horror. Instead He willingly took His cup of sorrow and drank it quietly, and peacefully. He allowed the will of His Father to envelope Him into a torturous physical death, paying the debt of the sin nature for all men in full.
"Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."
Does this mean today a child of god stands idly by as well while another individual or a group of people are being treated unjustly, or turn away claiming ignorance of the persecution going on around them? Or allow another to unjustly persecute and attack uninhibitedly without recourse? No, times of trials, afflictions, and persecutions are prime times for the man or woman of God to lift up heartfelt prayers, quote scripture out loud, and comfort those who are being persecuted or offended in some way if possible. It is a crucial time for the children of God to stand up for Him when others are displaying characteristics, attitudes and evil for the benefit of the god of this world. Having Christ in one’s heart allows one to function without abandon and according to the nature and essence of Jesus Christ and not as the worldly persons react and respond to various discriminating behaviors.
"Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them." Psalms 119:165
Bullying has been branded a “new prOBlem” as well in many schools throughout the country. This issue, closely associated to discrimination and hate crimes, would all be immediately disarmed as well if love was practiced genuinely one to another as Christ loves us. Often young kids are intentionally cruel to other kids and pick apart others who appear to be different, dress different, and act different from the worldly standard of “normal.” God’s holy standard of relating one to another is not the standard these bullies use in attacking others around them.
The world drives people to glorify and lift themselves up and increase one’s self-esteem but Christ calls for humility, service, and a life of sacrifice. Living Christ-like leads to a life dotted with pearls of peace amid trials and tribulations. The peace of Christ is at the opposite end of the spectrum from strife, contention and prejudiced actions. Those who truly cherish and love god’s Word will not harbor ill will and anger, nor act in a biased and unequitable way towards others, but will show fruits of god’s spirit living inside of them, treating others with honor, respect and reverence just as if it were Jesus Christ Himself who is on the receiving end, instead of a man. Living in His image is living as if we and those we interact with are Him.
Children of God there are numerous opportunities unfolding all around us to how to others the holy character and unending love of Christ. It is time the children of God walk forward through the litter of scriptural and spiritual OBliviousness, living wholly for Christ, having their shield and sword up and other spiritual weapons in place and readied for these numerous spiritual battles among us as outlined in the book of Ephesians chapter six. Scripture is our lifeline; aiding and equipping us for these challenging mental and physical battles we come face to face with here on this earth as we wait for God’s timing to be carried away to spend all of eternity with Him.
For Further Consideration:
Are you leading the life of a victim or existing as a “black sheep” in this troubled society? Exposing the sins of others whose actions are hurting you while ignoring your own despicable heart condition? Or are you walking in victory and spiritual harmony with Jesus Christ?
“But there are some of you that believe not.For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” (John 6:64-66)
These particular verses in the book of John are among some of the saddest verses written. From all indications and appearance, the twelve disciples and others who followed His earthly ministry, had cultivated a deep relationship with Jesus Christ.
The twelve disciples shadowed Jesus devotedly as He taught throngs of people, prayed in seclusion, fed a multitude of people, witnessed many miracles, taught in a boat upon the sea, saw demon possessed people healed, and witnessed first-hand His power and authority. Other earnest followers trailed closely, on the outer edge around Jesus and His “inner circle” during His earthly ministry.
The Bible clearly teaches us that no man can come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father calls him. God calls each person; giving them the power to have faith in Jesus Christ. God calls all, or “whosever shall believeth in Him…” this often quoted verse- John 3:16 plainly states each man has an individual choice whether to accept the gift from God through freewill; or to refuse, reject, and suppress, and flat out disregard this holy invitation.
“And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.” (Matthew 10:1-4)
These disciples were “handpicked” by Jesus. He gathered around Him twelve ordinary men; not the “cream of the crop”, or “near perfect” or refined men who had excelled to the top of their given profession. Jesus chose twelve everyday men from diverse backgrounds including tax collectors, fishermen, and even a political zealot. All were willing to drop everything, pick up when He called unto them.
Judas eagerly joined in the worship and teachings of Jesus as did the other twelve disciples. Judas had much opportunity to hear His profound teachings and preaching first hand. Maybe Judas even preached to crowds but this is never specifically stated in the Bible. It does, however, state the disciples collectively were given mighty power to heal diseases and sickness and cast out evil spirits.
Judas was a tax collector when called by Jesus. Greed and the love of money must have existed overwhelmingly in His mind, leading Him to choose to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Matthew also came to Jesus as a tax collector. Both were familiar with money and had experience handling money while functioning in their respective positions. They came from similar backgrounds, but both men clearly headed different directions, when faced with the truth of Jesus Christ.
Peter was a fervent, sometimes overzealous, follower of Jesus Christ. He was eager and ever learning as he walked alongside Jesus, boldly professing Him as Lord. When the seas in Peter’s life began to toss and turn, rolling into huge waves he vacillated in faith; taking his eyes off the Lord and placing his focus amid the swirling storm battering about him. It was unforeseen to Peter that he would deny knowing Jesus. Jesus personally knew Peter’s heart and, yes, as the cock crowed Peter denied knowing Jesus three times.
Knowing all hearts; Jesus spoke about one of his disciples who would betray Him:
"And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I? And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me." (Matthew 26:21-23)
Each of these twelve disciples had clearly heard the Truth; each had ample opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. However, like many occupying church pews today, many d profess publically their faith in Jesus Christ, but God alone knows each man’s inner heart condition. Ultimately life will cast each of us a “sink or swim moment,” that moment of truth where what is inside an individual’s heart comes outward and OBvious to others.
Judas chose to accept thirty pieces of silver to betray the Lord in his moment of truth. The Bible never records a life-changing moment for Judas, a “Damascus Road Event” where he placed his faith in Jesus as Lord and called Him Master. Peter, on the other hand had clearly testified of his love for Christ:
“He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17)
Jesus calls whosoever will come unto Himself. Men choose, by freewill, to walk down one of these three distinct paths: to walk with Him in faith until eternity and witnessing about Him to others as well, walk upon their own path aligned with the god of this world in disregard for the things of God, or walk with Him for a while in faith but when times get rough and the waves of a storm kick up around them turn away from the things of God.
Jesus called His inner circle of twelve to Him. Ten of the disciples died in martyrdom for the cause of Christ. Judas hung himself in shame and despondence after betraying Jesus Christ and went to Hell, and John died a natural death, after withstanding much persecution, and witnessing often for Christ on his path towards eternity.
It was up to each man to personally respond to His free invitation to walk to eternity with Him. All people are given a choice today as well. Sadly, some choose to turn away from God, going in an opposite direction without ever having put their faith in spending eternity with Him.
Some, like Judas choose unbelief. Judas went to Hell for his choice of unbelief.
“Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation” (Mark 3:28-29)
For Further Contemplation:
Have you turned towards Christ in faith on your Road to Damascus?
If you cannot recall a moment you understood your sinful fallen nature and your need for Jesus to impute His holiness upon you then chose today to turn to Him in faith and be made spiritually alive in Christ for eternity and get off the path to eternal damnation in Hell today.
"The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD." (Ezekiel 37:1-14)
Many biblical scholars believe The Valley of dry Bones is an allegory or a prophetic vision of the future and not an actual reference to a place. It is at the very least an illustration concerning the Jewish people and the entire nation of Israel. The dry bones are a depiction their spiritual deprivation and their future restoration prophetically mentioned throughout scripture.
The Jewish people’s spiritual restoration is likened to a reconstruction of a physical human body. These Biblical passages describe, piece by piece, this restoration process, even down to the ligaments and sinews connecting bones together with flesh to cover them above this inner handiwork.
This allegory or Old Testament Parable is a picture of, foremost, the salvation and restoration of Jewish people prophesied yet to come in the end times. Secondly, this paints a picture in of New Testament times of the salvation process of human souls, whosoever shall believe, in Jesus Christ by faith.
The apostle Paul, the apostle God called to witness specifically to the Gentile people, was himself knocked down in fright and greatly humbled as he came face to face with his own “dry bones existence” traveling along the Damascus Road.
Paul’s weary and wicked existence, in extreme opposition to God, was straightway transformed and filled into a spiritual filled presence used to further His gospel. Paul’s extraordinary salvation paints a wonderful picture; going from a heap of spiritual dry bones lying upon the roadway, with a wounded spirit who had bruised and battered God’s own children, affectionately scooped up in the strong arms of a loving God and made of great use in the Holy plans of the lord for His glory.
Salvation is possible in a person who has come to the end of themselves and seeing their need for the authority of god, lying prostrate, broken in spirit and in a heap of dry bones, in front of God’s holy and illuminating presence. Often people are drawn, haggard, wasted from continuing to struggle and exist without any spiritual fuel energizing this meager existence. Literally they have wasted away to a broken existence like dry bones. Salvation is a lifesaving infusion of Calvary’s blood injected into those bones. It is the presence forever more of the Holy Spirit, who brings fullness of joy which lasts forever more; overflowing into every aspect of one’s life.
A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. Proverbs 17:22
Those who have received this life-giving infusion of new life through faith in Jesus Christ are different than those who have chosen to live and serve the god of this world. Any person living in this new life with Christ should have a merry heart and joy unspeakable, a melody instilled within their heart on a continuous loop, not a somber, dry, dreary existence, without hope, as many unsaved persons living for the world often outwardly display. Without this inoculation of the Holy Spirit through salvation there is no hope found living in a futile existence in this world. There is no hope for the future without the heart knowledge of a promise of eternal life waiting in heaven.
A Christian, who has settled the matter of eternity, should be the most joyful, peaceful, exuberant, lively persons on this earth. Going to church, working or sharing space alongside or living with a Christian should not be a downcast, dreary, hopeless existence like many desperate and futile homeless living under a bridge or along a street, or attending a funeral of a friend or relative who never believed in Jesus Christ. Joy should be present in any circumstance a Christian finds himself in.
Everlasting joy is what many Jewish people, returning to their homeland in Israel, will find upon their hearts, as the Lord returns making their salvation complete.
“And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall OBtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
Just as the Jewish people will be filled with everlasting joy as they return unto their land of promise one day; those of us who have salvation in the Lord today should have that unspeakable and wonderful joy living inside our heart. Any affliction or towering wave of trials we come across can be an avenue filled with joy and eternal perseverance when walking alongside God.
If you, Christian, find yourself continually dreary and down in the dumps, becoming dry in the bones; you must ask yourself if you harboring sin and disOBedience in your walk with Christ. The Christian life is meant to be filled with joy overflowing. Have you placed distance between yourself and God because of sin in your life?
If you are missing joy, a key ingredient of the Christian life the place to start is within your own heart.
For Further Consideration:
Read Psalm 51: 1-12 and consider how David poured His heart out to the Lord in repentance, confession, and sorrow over his sin. In verse twelve David then prays to have the joy of his salvation restored.
Is this the “holy remedy” for your present sad and sorrowful heart condition?
"Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit." (Psalms 51:12)
“Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that the LORD hath brought you out from the land of Egypt: And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the LORD; for that he heareth your murmurings against the LORD: and what are we, that ye murmur against us? And Moses said, This shall be, when the LORD shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD. (Exodus 16:4-8)
The Israelite’s were in the middle of the wilderness of the hot and harsh desert; marching out of Egypt and trudging towards the Promised Land. They soon began to realize their journey was not going to be easy or painless. In fact, it seemed to be downright horrible and relentless.
The Israelites began to feel miserable and to murmur and complain against Aaron and Moses because they felt lacked the necessary sustenance needed for their journey. They viewed their immediate circumstances, taking note of their lack of resources, removing their eyes off of God, who had already promised to divinely supply all their need.
God heard their complaining. God does not need a prosperous economy or bountiful fields full of harvest to provide for His children. He promised to provide an evening portion of quail; and manna every morning raining down with the dew from heaven for the Israelites.
God intended for the Israelites to gather this sustenance daily. Moses told them to gather just enough to cover their immediate needs, enough to provide for each man in their tent according to their eating. It was not necessary for them to gather and store these provisions towards future needs. His divine supply was promised to be new each morning, proving their faith in Him. The sixth day was an exception. God promised to provide twice as much on the fifth day, allowing them rest on the sixth day. They were bound under law from Moses to rest on this day, as God did rest after finishing His creation.
Some of the Israelites did not heed the words of Moses who told them not to leave the manna for the next morning. The manna which was kept left over for the next day now bred worms and stank. Harboring the manna angered Moses and each were told again to gather according to their immediate needs and the allowance made for the Sabbath day. The manna now left on the ground melted in the warmth of the sun each day. The Israelite’s were fed this sustenance daily until they reached the Promised Land. This was forty years.
Today is your barn and silo filled to overflowing? Do you have more abundance than you can use for your immediate needs? God intends for us to be responsible in our stewardship of His resources; not expecting us to grip tightly all that he provides and Storing away treasures for rainy days or the needs of tomorrow. God is already at work in our tomorrows. He intends for us to keep the circle of blessing flowing towards others in need, especially those who are in the spiritual family of God. When we pick up our cross living sold out to His will; God promises to supply our needs as we move in OBedience to His call. Especially those who have honored Him faithfully; being good stewards of His time, service, and pleased Him with financial tithing as well.
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
Is your manna gathering mold, worms, rusting away, or lying in wait of corruption or thieves to confiscate and enjoy on their own selfish pleasures?
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
The world tells us to save for retirement, save for a rainy day, save for an economic disaster, save for a personal emergency- save, save, save.
Provision, in the economic plan of God, is not necessarily financial in nature and it is not necessarily meant to be stored away for future needs. Financial and material possessions are subject to deterioration, mold, and rot upon this earth and heaven has no need of any financial or earthly treasures.
The foremost important need is spiritual in nature. Often we are more focused on meeting financial and material needs, and cast spiritual needs aside as we come to the deserts of life, reaching instead for temporary worldly goods that quickly melt away as the heat of trials are turned up a notch or two.
God always sees and clearly knows our needs, the motives in our heart, and blesses us accordingly, here on this earth and even more so splendidly in heaven to come.
To Contemplate Further:
Are you in the business of storing earthly treasures here on earth where they are destroyed by rot, rust, and mold? Or are you stacking up spiritual treasures and yearning towards that eternal home in Heaven?
What’s the Difference?
Oppression of a Soul
Invasion of a Soul
“Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.” ( John 13:26-27)
The vast spiritual arena surrounding us, including both light and dark forces, cannot be seen or completely understood in this present world. This spiritual realm is not to be taken lightly or joked about. These spiritual forces are real, exist in great number, and are powerful; but only as prevailing as the Lord allows. These evil forces are unable to be omini-present and omnipotent, as the Lord prevails. He exists everywhere always and both evil and light forces are ever subject to His authority and power.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7
God created us to be filled with the Holy Spirit’s power of illuminating spiritual light, love, and free of opposing spiritual forces and darkness. This illuminating light, once alive or quickened inside us, gives us spiritual breath in our soul and awakens us to be of a sound mind; free from satanic invasion or oppression and spiritual harassment, freeing us to be about the business of our Lord as we walk in OBedience to Him.
“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.”
Any soul awakened by the Holy Spirit is kept sealed by the Lord. An evil spirit cannot enter into a quickened soul and likewise the Holy Spirit cannot exit this same soul. All souls who have been saved are sealed until the day Jesus Christ redeems us; either by His return in the clouds or by natural death of the soul. This sealing of our souls is a “down payment” or earnest towards eternal life in Heaven and cannot be broken by anything we do or neglect to do here on earth. Salvation and sealing of our soul is a work of Jesus Christ and has nothing to do with a work of man; therefore man cannot ever lose our salvation. Man can grieve the Holy Spirit by being out of fellowship with Him. Eternal life means salvation is for eternity, not until we sin too much (how much sin would be too much sin causing us to lose our salvation anyways?)
“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” ( John 10:28)
Because salvation is a work of Christ and not of man; one person cannot cause another to fall out of a salvation relationship with God. Again, salvation is all about God working in us and not about any works of man to earn salvation.
Soul(s) that exist under the invasion of dark spiritual evil forces, satanic in nature, are completely taken over by this opposing evil spirit(s). These spirits are operating against or in direct opposition to the things of the Lord. This is a spiritual catastrophe to the soul, or death of the soul. The presence of God is not alive and dwelling inside. This is a first class ticket to the execution of evil works and a passport straight to the fires of Hell at physical natural death.
Invasion of a soul such as this by dark spiritual forces can only happen to a soul of an unsaved person. A saved person can be oppressed or held down, but not invaded inwardly, by dark spiritual forces. An oppressed soul is a saved soul which becomes weighted down and overly burdened with the many cares of this world. Satan loves to keep people looking back over their shoulder, instead of looking up to Christ, and weighted down by the chains of sin from their past.
“While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.” (John 17:12)
Judas had an evil spirit enter into him, a satanic invasion, as he shared bread with Jesus. Jesus discerned the very instant this evil force entered into the soul of Judas. Jesus already knew the works Judas was to complete. Jesus bid him to go about his work, orchestrating the events as they were to unfold, and fulfilling prophecy.
Judas died a selfish death, choosing to hang himself after correlating the arrest and events leading up to the trial and death of Jesus. For a mere thirty pieces of silver, Judas chose the works of evil forces and death, rather than coming to faith in Jesus Christ through accepting His free gift of salvation in faith. Please take note: Judas followed in close association of Jesus Christ as He went about His ministry here on the earth. Judas heard the truth preached often, witnessed many miracles, maybe even professed his faith to others, or preached to others, but in the end chose to die without eternal salvation and to a certain final destiny in Hell for eternity.
For Further Contemplation:
Have you allowed yourself to be oppressed by the cares of this world and the mud of your past sin and not spiritually available to be a walking billboard proclaiming the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ?
Or worse yet are you doomed and destined to the fires of Hell because you have never accepted the free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ?
Today is the day of salvation; get your soul right with Jesus Christ today.
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3)
Salvation it is so simple, yet multifaceted. It is more intricate than simply escaping a horrible death in Hell for all eternity. At the point of physical death a saved person’s spirit is immediately escorted by angels and carried unto God’s throne in heaven. The death of an unsaved person transports them immediately into to Hell for an eternity of horrible suffering and pain.
Salvation is not simply waving a magic wand and instantaneously living in a new life in Christ. The plan of salvation is intricate and detailed, encompassing deliverance from sin, peace with God, deliverance from the penalty of sin, and the presence of the Holy Spirit in one’s life. There is nothing magical about salvation. Salvation is a miraculous intervention by a holy Christ into man’s lost sinful natural condition of the heart.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Salvation is not brought about by any works. Man cannot earn a seat in Heaven. Salvation is a gift requiring no work or accomplishments on our part. Salvation is all about a holy God and what He did for us and nothing to do with any works of man. Salvation is not brought about by our good deeds or OBedience to laws. Baptism does not bring about salvation or the thief on the cross would have missed out on a heavenly home in paradise with Christ. He accepted salvation by faith while hanging at death’s door and was never baptized. This proves it is never too late to accept this gift of salvation.
Salvation is a work of the Holy Spirit who prods us to accept Him. Our heavenly rewards are built upon our life of faith and OBedience in this world. The sooner a person chooses to accept Christ in faith, the more time for him to accumulate treasures and eternal rewards in Heaven. All who are joined to Jesus Christ through faith will be rewarded according to their good works and OBedience instead of facing judgment and eternal punishment of Hell where works of hay straw and wood will be burnt up and consumed in the fire.
Salvation is an inward change in a person’s spiritual condition which works its way to the outer shell of each person. Man is spiritually alive the very moment he succumbs to the Holy Spirit’s call or holy invitation to live inside a newly softened and yielding heart. A heart set apart from those who choose to continue in tune with the god of this world. The Holy Spirit sends invitations out to all to gain access into all hearts of those who are willing to open the door of their heart.
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2)
The essence of Salvation includes one’s own attorney or advocate, Jesus Christ, who speaks directly with The “Top Righteous Judge” in the Heavenly Supreme Court system pleading our own sinful case and crying upon our behalf.
“And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6)
The utmost characteristic of salvation is its free availability for all. Jesus did not pick and choose to die for only a select few men. Jesus chose to die upon the cross for all. This paramount act of sacrificial love or gift of eternal life cost God the Father His only Son, who stamped out all sin debt and marked it “Paid in Full” for all sinners; past, present, and future. His work on the cross is finished, done, into the future.
“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)
The payment or satisfaction of all sin debt would be akin to Jesus not only making the down payment on your house, but going inside the bank and paying your entire mortgage in full, and paying the entire debt of your neighbors, family, friends, and strangers as well.
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32)
It is His great sacrificial love which acts or draws, as a magnet, beckoning all to consider His free gift and to accept it freely and simply. There are no individuals, groups, or certain sin, which disqualify any from receiving this free gift of eternal life. There is not an elect group or individuals who have been called and set apart to partake of salvation, exclusive of all other individuals. The gift is free for all who personally make a decision to partake of the spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ.
The only individuals who will not receive the gift of salvation and subsequently eternal life are those who do not accept with faith the blood of Jesus Christ shed for all sin. This is the unpardonable sin. My sins, your sins, and all sin have been covered and cancelled with His sacrificial payment of blood. Indeed, salvation is so simple and freely available to all who have faith. Many men stumble and fall over the simplicity of God’s plan of salvation complicating it with many unnecessary factors and the red tape of divisive strange doctrines.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
Many individuals not well grounded in the foundation and scriptural principles of God’s Word get tangled up in a spider’s web of various false belief systems, word definition deviations, and theological charades concerning salvation. Being utterly spiritually deficient and weak causes many to fail miserably. Many miss spending time alone with God in prayer and bible study, fail to compare and apply Truth in their life, and often miss the mark in rightly dividing God’s Word in relation to His plan for salvation..
God’s Word has always been intended to be clear-cut and defined, allowing each individual ample opportunity to appropriately interpret it and OBediently live the “sold out life.” If living this sacrificial life is impossible, God would not have already accomplished it through His Son, or asked all men to live accordingly as well.
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Appearing before His judgment seat at death or at His return, no excuses will suffice, conceal, or camouflage any spiritual ineptness in our understanding of His unpretentious plan of salvation for all. We are all on equal footing at the cross and have been given all we need to live for Him.
For Further Contemplation:
Have you accepted the free gift of salvation in your life? Or are you trying to earn your way in to Heaven’s Holy Sanctuary by attaining your salvation via performances and achievements in this life?
The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? (Daniel 4:30)
What overflowing pride came spewing forth from the mouth of King Nebuchadnezzar! He clamored, taking all credit for his great earthly kingdom. He boasted it was he who had engineered and built this empire. All accomplished in his own strength and power. The kingdom reverberated forth, uplifting his glory and honor. God succinctly interrupted the king’s ego: “While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. (Daniel4:31-32)
God spoke to King Nebuchadnezzar with resounding authority, squashing his alter ego and his control of this earthly kingdom came crashing down to an abrupt end. The earthly king was subject to the power and authority of the heavenly King, God, who rightly stripped his earthly ruling authority away.
Not only did King Nebuchadnezzar lose his reign but in short order he also lost his mind. He became as an animal or creature moving about upon the ground like an oxen without any human capabilities or reason. “The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws. And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: “ (Daniel 4:33-34)
The Bible is not crystal clear on how long he remained as an animal without any human mental facilities. It does state at the end of his days, in old age; he lifted his eyes up to look upon heaven. The moment he chose to look upon heaven and acknowledge who God is, and his own detrimental physical and mental state, spiritual understanding came upon him. Nebuchadnezzar chose to honor God.
King Nebuchadnezzar found salvation in God near the end of his earthly life. Just like the thief on the cross would do on Calvary, as death stood near, he opened up the door to his heart. For Further Contemplation:
What about the door to your own heart? Is it open for the King of Kings to permeate every crack and crevice or is it bound with chains and shuttered up tightly as you wallow around in mud? Many today are in utter misery physically, emotionally, and mentally. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23
Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
The world is fast paced and with savvy computerization of many tasks that were once loathsome and slow. There are numerous conveniences available to us today which have over time served to shorten our attention span and heightened our expectations of resolving situations in quick fashion. Most of us are not good at facing any circumstances where delays are common and highly inconvenient to our fast paced lifestyle.
There are delays at the airport due to circumstances of weather or safety which are out of our control. Delays are faced in physician’s waiting rooms or other health care facilities while others ahead of us are receiving the quality of care we expect when our turn comes. There are frequently delays in being served our food in busy restaurants. This dilemma often leaves many hungry and irritable towards the waitress who cannot hurry the order along in the slow-moving kitchen. Life is full of “waiting room” opportunities.
When we do not receive answers quickly enough to our prayers we often give up and quit praying. We even resort to indirectly accusing God of failing to act on our behalf in the situation at hand. Delays in answering prayer are not necessarily denials from the hand of God.
God often tests our faith and strengthens us in waiting times. He leads us along the narrow path and into the “waiting rooms of life” as necessary for our spiritual growth. If we desire answers and blessings from God, most often we have to persevere in pursuing after them, while listening closely for His response. God does not often choose to glibly hand out sought after answers or special blessings to those who seek them half-heartedly or with the wrong spiritual attitude.
Parents often use the same manner of tabling a child’s request until they know whether this child is truly sincere in his appeal and desire. This waiting period often helps to determine how important the request it is and how hard the child is willing to pursue it.
Yes, there are times when God answers our prayers immediately. He can even send the answer to our needs before we ask. Often we must learn the discipline of patience in the “waiting Rooms of life.” In all situations the Bible instructs us to continue on in prayer:
Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV
The Bible also tells us to keep the power surging in our prayer life by keeping plugged into the real power source:
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
God often sets the answers to our prayers directly before us. Sometimes the answer we receive from God is not the answer we want to hear. This happened with Paul and removal of his thorn in the flesh, and Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Paul and Jesus both chose to continue in their suffering, choosing to remain in the will of God, eternally focused on Him, and not upon their immediate suffering surrounding them.
Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
For Further Consideration:
Are you in God’s “waiting room” today? He does answer prayer to those who wait patiently for Him. Trust in God’s answers He always has your best interests at heart even when the answer seems insurmountable in your own eyes.
Even Atheist’s Live by Faith
“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” (Psalms 118:8 KJV)
a·the·ist [ey-thee-ist] is a noun.
a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.
1565–75; < Greek áthe ( os ) godless + -ist
*Definition taken from dictionary.com*
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders OBtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” ( Hebrews 11:1-3 KJV)
An atheist believes, or has faith, accepts as his truth, there is no God or higher authority in existence, than man in this world. What concrete truths can man offer in support of this godless belief system? Creation screams clearly and perfectly there is one God who is the Creator and sustains life. God has made man with an innate longing for a heart relationship with Him; serving and worshiping Him both in spirit and truth.
“Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” ( Romans 1:19-21)
Faith is a universal hope. All men, including any who consider themselves to be atheists, exist or live by faith in something or someone. The issue is not only if individuals place their trust in a belief of God and the blood of Jesus Christ, or errantly place their trust in people or OBjects; rather it is also if what we have bestowed our trust in is found to be unfailing. The Bible has been the proven and reliable Truth of God over and over again. Our faith is only as worthy as the OBject or entity in which it is placed.
The Bible speaks much about faith in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. This chapter has been coined the “Biblical Faith Hall of Fame.” Atheists would tell us our life existence has no real purpose. This chapter rehearses details of great men and women of abundant faith such as Noah, Abel, Enoch, Abraham, and Sara who placed great faith in God and how His great purposes shaped their lives for His purpose and glory. People often bounce from one humanistic idea to another, often undermining confidence in the laws of creation as well. Theories of evolution cannot be fit into an account of creation of a holy God.
Many continue to choose to wallow in self-deprecating lifestyle habits and choices which serve to camouflage or suppress, but never fill or relieve their innate desire. God has placed a desire or huge void in every man’s heart just waiting for our invitation for His presence in their lives, filling the spiritual chasm in their heart. Atheism is a belief system or structure containing disorder and chaos, and fleeting happiness depending upon immediate circumstances. This changing about with the wind causes many to run about in circles, attempting to defend personal beliefs and opinions not logical or truthful according to the Word of God. Atheists never stumble upon a concrete foundation to build their life upon in this godless mindset.
God is always and foremost God of order and truth. The following verse comes at the end of a chapter in 1st Corinthians speaking to us about order in worship and service within the church; however, this order carries through in spiritual growth and discernment to our lives outside of church as well.
“Let all things be done decently and in order.”
(1 Corinthians 14:40)
God is a God of order, decency, and perfection, not chaos and confusion. He freely provides clarity of Truth and spiritual discernment allowing all to rightly divide His Word. Faith placed in Him is building our spiritual house upon the solid Rock. The indwelling of His spirit fills up the ravine within our hearts perfectly and puts life in perfect order.
For Further Consideration:
What belief system do you base your life upon? Are you grounded upon the Word of God, or based upon man’s opinion and traditions? Put your trust in the proven Rock.
“Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.” Daniel 2:20-22
Constant criticism and offensive remarks about political leadership dot the landscape of our newspapers, cross the air of the twenty four hour television media circus, discussed heatedly in online formats and over many radio airwaves.
It is important to understand these political leaders have been placed in authority over us ultimately by God, and secondly by our own personal voting habits, or lack thereof. God has the authority to remove leaders and set up new leadership in political positions of power and authority over us according to His will. Daniel faced a wicked political climate in his day. Eventually Daniel and his three friends were forced to work in close contact with a pagan king, even interpreting the dreams of this king, Nebuchadnezzar, as written in the book of Daniel. God can use all political leaders, even those who are evil leaning, to establish His purposes and plans. The government rests upon His shoulders, the book of Isaiah states prophetically of the coming of Jesus Christ, who has power and authority over all. This authority reigns over our dirty political arena today as well.
Daniel and his friends first had determined in their hearts, before their captivity, to serve God as they worked under King Nebuchadnezzar who ruled apart from being OBedient to the statutes of a holy God in heaven. These young men remained steadfast in their determination to serve God, even refusing prime and extravagant meals as served to the king, for simpler fruits and vegetables which supplied all their nutritional needs.
God was working directly alongside Daniel and his friends as they operated under the king’s leadership. They often found themselves in situations of wickedness and danger, but were continually shielded by God’s protection. Eventually the king decreed all men would fall down and worship pagan golden idols at hearing various musical instruments. Daniel and his friends refused to worship anything other than God no matter the cost.
“Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king.” (Daniel 3:10-13)
The personal cost of refusing the king’s decree was for these young men to be thrown into a hot furnace. This furnace was made many times hotter than it normally would have been stoked in routine use. The best of the king’s men were summoned to place Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into these hot fiery flames of death. The oven was so hot that even the king’s men, who stood just at the door of this oven placing these men inside, were overcome with the extreme heat and immediately fell to the ground and died. The three young men inside were blanketed by the love and protection of God who spared them from any harm or danger while inside this fiery kiln. The King Nebuchadnezzar could see four men inside the kiln and not just the three young men who had been forced inside. The fourth man appeared to the king, looking in from outside the oven, to be God. The Bible states not any of the young men’s hair was singed, nor were they harmed in any way, as God fully protected them during this fiery ordeal. This serves as a picture of God’s love and protection of His own children in Christ for us today.
“Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort. Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.” (Daniel 3:28-30)
To Contemplate Further:
Do you see any “Daniel’s” operating in our political climate today? Or has the whole political process taken a nose dive into the mud of hypocrisy and tactics unbeknownst to those who have faith, trust, and follow the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? God is orchestrating the deeds of all political endeavors to fit His will and in His timing for His own spiritual family of believers. You are eternally safe and secure under the loving wing of Jesus Christ, as you face fiery trials and trouble on this earth, if you personally know Him as Lord and Savior of your life.
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, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
My mind has jumped ahead, focusing on the upcoming Christmas season. Many celebrate the birth of Jesus by giving Christmas gifts to others and paying tribute and honor to old St. Nick or Santa Claus.
Christmas is truly about the one gift not many will seek but inwardly, but naturally all desire to have. Most do not recognize the God man Jesus Christ is or even identify with Him for one day of the year; fewer people are willing to step out and live a crucified life and giving to Him for all of the 365 days of the year.
Christmas embodies a lowly beginning amongst animals in a stable, a miracle birth of Him, Jesus, in the flesh. This can only make sense after comprehending the ending, or death, of His earthly life on the cross, bleeding for the sin debt of the entire world. His gift for us is the blood of Calvary.
Religious holiday events, filling up calendars, are often nothing more than an opportunity to celebrate Christmas traditions of men, having nothing to do with the lowly, but significant, birth of our king and Savior Jesus Christ. There is no reason to go shopping amongst the throngs of people for the perfect present. The greatest gift has already been purchased for us and given freely to whosoever will receive it.
The Christmas traditions of men bring you Santa coming down chimneys, reading The Night Before Christmas, holly and mistletoe, presents, shopping, reindeer, a sleigh, jingle bells, colorful wrapping paper, Christmas trees, garland, tinsel, bright lights, ribbons and bows, stockings, eggnog, cut out cookies and holiday festivities but little or nothing at all about Jesus Christ the Savior.
God the Father gives you a virgin birth in the flesh, Jesus Christ: King of kings, Lord of lords, and Prince of peace, the Holy Spirit, Wonderful Counselor, Savior of the world who took away the sin debt of all. His death on the cross was to pay for all sin and His Resurrection unto eternal life, a living Christ!
Let’s celebrate a Biblical centered Christmas this year where Christ is the reason, the focus, and recipient of our gratitude for what He has done for all of us. Without His death on the cross we all would be straddled deep in sin and shame. He gives us a holy reason to celebrate being alive in Him.
To Contemplate Further: Are you spiritually focused on the holiness of Christmas or are you being entertained by holiday events and traditions of men and casting Christ aside as a token of “religion”?
"Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:" (Isaiah 55:6)
The devil has little to fear prowling around seeking individuals he can overwhelm, confound, and bury in doubt and fear. Many are living a rushed existence, struggling to provide for their family, living defeated lives, lacking hope, seeking love, consumed with anger, worrying about the state of our nation, and drowning in heaps of stress.
Prayerless churches, prayerless bible studies, prayerless homes, and prayerless schools. The devil is having a heyday in our prayerless and powerless nation. We have become unplugged, undone, and far removed from there only real source of power. Jesus Christ is the everlasting power source. Until a person intimately recognizes their circumstances are utterly helpless, prayer seems like an option on the shelf instead of an avenue offering a ray hope. One must perceive themselves through the eyes of a holy Lord not through the rose colored glasses the world wears. The application of the above verse in Isaiah is foremost to Israel and the Jewish people in the day and time of the Lord’s return. However, the verse can also be applied to our nation and her numerous woes today.
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
The Lord desires and yearns to bless His own children of the Jewish heritage, and by spiritual adoption, Gentiles as well. The Lord placed conditions upon His blessing as stated in the above verse. The conditions are humbleness, prayer, repentance and turning away from wickedness. Today He still promises to heal the land as these specific conditions are met.
For Further Contemplation:
We are a prayerless nation who needs to turn towards a powerful God among the wickedness surrounding us on every side. One day soon it will be too late to call upon the Lord.
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. ” (Hebrews 4:12-13)
Prominence is justly placed upon the sharpness of the truth of God’s Word. This piercing blade of truth slices deep into the heart and soul of man as he reads God’s Word with spiritually quickened eyes. Or He hears scripture verses quoted through spiritually awakened ears. The Lord spiritually awakens whosoever reaches out in faith to Him, seizing onto His truth. This truth penetrates deep into the cracks and crevices of man’s sinful heart once filled to the brim with spiritual ashes, dust and drought of one’s once dark past.
Both sides of the edge of the knife are sharpened truth, honed for maximum effect on each forward and backward slice. Nothing is hidden or concealed from the Lord. His blade is molded of unapologetic truth, filleting or exposing sin, and cutting straight to the heart of the issues at hand outwardly and hidden in the inner realms.
This dividing or cutting to expose has been compared to the necessity of a scalpel for a surgeon performing an operation on a physical body. God’s Word is critical, vital in maintaining a healthy and rOBust spiritual life. The truth of His Word can be likened to tossing a life-preserver towards a brittle hard heart, struggling to stay afloat in the bitter ocean of life. Man is continuously being assaulted and overwhelmed by the waves of doubt, depression, addictions, trials and struggles of many varieties. His Truth never changes falters, or becomes overwhelmed in any situation. His Word carries us through, surfing the waves of the world.
“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
For Further Contemplation:
His truth never fails in preserving and softening a heart of stone. God’s word cuts to the deepest level of human life.
A balloon pilot strives to keep the balloon afloat in the lower atmosphere, just above earth. Ascending or descending as necessary by means of hot air. This hot air causes the balloon to rise in the cooler air of the atmosphere, or allows the hot air to dissipate as the balloon descends towards the ground. The hot air is heated by large propane burners at the bottom of the balloon and this air can be vented out at the top of the balloon as necessary, for lowering the temperature inside the balloon.
The pilot relies upon simple science to pilot his balloon. The balloon’s flight is dependent upon the difference between weight of warmer air inside the balloon verses the cooler air in the atmosphere. Warm air rises above cooler air sending the balloon floating upwards. Cooler air inside the balloon, as the warmer air escapes out of the top of the balloon causing the balloon to gently float downward in the atmosphere. The pilot’s jOB is to keep the balloon aloft, ascending or descending as necessary along its flight path. Or gently bringing it down to the ground at the end of the journey.
God’s filling an individual with the Holy Spirit, or spiritual air, could be compared to a balloon pilot filling his balloon with hot air. This “holy hot air” a Christian receives from the Holy Spirit can send us, in His power, aloft over difficult situations we face, and descending down on our knees as necessary, keeping our spiritual atmosphere buoyant, sailing along the narrow path towards our future in eternity. The atmosphere surrounding us would be continually warmed by His infilling spirit, grace and truth, keeping us “in flight” for Him.
“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24)
If a balloon pilot chose to fill the inside of the balloon entirely with cold air he would never achieve any lift off the ground. If a Christian attempts to live the Christian life by filling himself with powerless religiosity, wishful thinking, rituals, and a works religion, or even a sincere, but human, attempt at working out his Christian life he will never proclaim a true profession of faith, nor rise to a faithful and true dependence in Christ. The Christian life can only be lived by the true indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Any substitutes or “cold air” in our spiritual flight plan will not suffice in thrusting one along the journey towards eternity while living in this world, but instead keep one’s flight stagnant and grounded in the world.
The simple fact is true faith in Jesus Christ always produces spiritual fruit. Faith in Christ always produces the lift in the Christian life. If a person’s “spiritual balloon” never separates from the ground, rising above the chaos of the world, then their faith is misplaced and their profession is in vain. Many profess to know Christ, and they do, but only in their mind, not with saving faith in their heart. True faith in Jesus Christ produces a change in the heart.
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
A Christian who is living this “sold out life” in his heart is not merely living a social gospel or a numbered profession in a mega church but is living daily, hourly, and by minute, sacrificing this temporary life for the glory and honor of Jesus Christ, soaring upward and onward, as a hot air balloon in flight, while sojourning here in this earthly life.
“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. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” ( Romans 12:1-2)
For Further Contemplation: Are you soaring for Jesus Christ while living in this world or does your flight need the strength and perseverance of holy wings?
A Rainbow, with an emerald glow about it, surrounds the throne in heaven. This rainbow forms a complete circle. The apostle John saw the whole circle of God’s great comfort and assurance firsthand. The throne was hedged roundabout with the brilliance of His divine promise. John was overcome by the sight of this royal throne and the magnificence of His presence. This illuminating rainbow surrounding the throne had a brilliant emerald hue. Straightway John fell to the floor in awe and humility in the presence of almighty God.
“As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.” (Ezekiel 1:28) “And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.” (Revelation 4:3)
A half a rainbow, not a complete circle, can be found occasionally after a rain shower arching in the sky above our world. This rainbow is a sign, or covenant, from God promising never to flood the earth again as in the days of Noah.
“And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.”
The Science of rainbows is clearly phenomenal. The sun shines through rain drops creating an awesome looking rainbow as refracting or bending of light rays with different colors traveling and bending at different speeds, and then these light rays mix with rain, creating a rainbow in the atmosphere. The colors bend or refract at different speeds and therefore God has even given each color a particular place in the curvature of a rainbow. Our God is a God of finite details.
A rainbow is a sign of God’s longsuffering and covenant with His own children. He promised to never sending a flood as devastating as the one He sent in judgment of the wickedness abounding as in the days of Noah. The rainbow serves as a reminder of this covenant. It also vibrantly displays His willingness to be longsuffering so that many men can accept His free gift of salvation.
The rainbow also serves as a colorful warning to those who choose to live in wickedness. God has promised those who choose to continue living in wickedness will sin unto death, a death leading them to Hell.
“Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not OBey the truth, but OBey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God.” (Romans 2:6-11)
Some today choose to wickedly parade a rainbow flag as a logo or symbol for unnatural relations between men or between women, polluting the holiness of the scriptural meaning of God’s rainbow. The rainbow is always a symbol of God’s holy promise, never to be used as a sign of a wicked lifestyle of rebellion against God’s holy and perfect relationship order of man. Man could not replentish the earth if employing unnatural realtions in place of God’s holy marriage union between a man and woman.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:27-28)
God’s rainbow is always a symbol of His promise to His own. God is a holy God of intimate mercy, grace and truth. When the Christian witnesses a rainbow in the sky it is a reminder of God’s covenant promise. To those who live in sin and wickedness a rainbow is a sign of God’s imminent judgment of their sin and depravity.
“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” (Revelation 2:17)
God promises hidden manna, a white stone, and a new name to those that are overcomers of this world and the devil, sharing in eternal victory with God with Jesus Christ at His right hand. To “cash in” on these promises one must crack open his Bible and start gleaning the many truths and promises contained in scripture. This holy treasure hunting cannot be done by shallow reading, barely scratching the surface, in depth and persistent study is necessary and commanded by God.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”. (2 Timothy 2:15)
Pondering and musing over His Word, in correlation with a saving relationship with Him, is essential in finding this hidden cache of manna. God has buried His manna, golden treasures or nuggets of truth, for those who are willing to dig deeply to discover them. These treasures unlock a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ for those willing to grab the shovel and dig.
In biblical times manna was the divine food of the Israelites, specially provided by God for their preservation as they trudged towards the Promised Land. Hidden manna was later placed in a pot and preserved in the Ark of the Covenant along with the Ten Commandments. This ark disappeared from man’s possession and the ends of the earth, but later is mentioned in Revelation as being present in Heaven. In heaven, I persist in believing, all who are present with Him there will be given the deeper spiritual truth of this precious and divinely hidden manna whose understanding is reserved for His eternal Kingdom.
“And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.” (Revelation 11:19)
The white stone in biblical times was equated to having been declared NOT GUILTY. For example, in the Jewish Sanhedrin kangaroo court system a white stone was given by jurors when declaring NOT GUILTY to the one who was on trial. In contrast the black stone was given by these ancient jurors to declare one GUILTY as charged. Hence the term blackballed, you might hear one claim today when confirmed unanimously guilty. Because Jesus’s died on the cross at Calvary, we have been given, at no cost to us, the white ball, or declared NOT GUILTY, in God’s perfect court system.
A white stone is given to each of His sheep, as a gift of eternal life, for whosoever will believe and place his faith in Christ. This white stone contains a new name for each soul who has found the gift of salvation in Christ. Like Saul became known as Paul on the road to Damascus, each saved individual becomes known in The Good Shepherd’s flock as a new person in Christ. This new name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, for those who have faith, and this new name will be called forth one day to spend an eternity with Him.
For those individuals who have been “blackballed” or given the black stone by men on earth will reap eternal rewards in heaven according to God’s fair and just scale of eternal judgment. Even in the times when it seems wicked prevails on Earth and that one has been with prejudice accused, God’s justice will one day reward those who suffered unjustly for His glory while sojourning on Earth. The opposite side of this equation is that those who persist in wicked deeds will one day reap their rewards accordingly.
“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” (Revelation 3:5)
“Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.”
( Psalms 69:28)
The contrasting consequence of not being written in the Lamb’s Book of Life is to be given the black ball, or condemned to a life in Hell. Either a person is headed for eternal life with Christ or heading towards the deep hot pit of Hell.
“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
"And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them."
For Further Contemplation:
Have you been given the white stone of eternal promises and your name placed in the Book of Life? Or are you heading down the path towards Hell?
Have you been unjustly or unfairly accused by man, God will adjust the balances of judgment in eternity to those that overcome the world.
Today many have no conception of Hell, Sheol in the Hebrew, or Hades , Tartarus, and Gehenna in the Greek language. It is a literal place where men are in the process of dying but never succumbing to death, subjected to incessant agony and physical torment. Churches need to unapologetically preach the clear truth about Hell. Christians need to be able to witness about Heaven to others, and plainly delineating about the horror of an authentic place called Hell. All men must come to terms with an actual place called Hell and the hope of eternity with Christ.
The book of Revelation tells us “He has the keys to Hell and death.” Life and death are in the power of His nail torn hands because His sacrificial death for our sins on the cross took away the power of death, giving us the gift of salvation and eternal life. The following verse proves His deity over time; past, present and future, He is not bound or limited by time as man is. This verse plainly declares there is a literal heaven and likewise, or opposite, a literal hell.
I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. (Revelation 1:18)
Hell has been described as being a place that:
· Man will have a memory that will NEVER fail.
· It is a place that EVERY request will be denied.
· It is a place of HATRED.
· It is a place located DOWNWARD, NOT UPWARDS towards eternity
· A place of Outer DARKNESS
· A PRISON in chains
· It is a place of UNQUENCHABLE THIRST, a thirst for spiritual things of Christ that can never be
· It is a place of ever LONGING.
· It is a place of FIRE that is NEVER extinguished.
· A place where the worm DIETH NOT, sinners never die.
· A place of EVERLASTING DESTRUCTION.
· A place of NO REST day and night.
· A place of TORMENT day and night for eternity.
Speaking about hell is not a popular subject in our society. Many deny its existence; others cannot fathom how a loving God could cast people into such a place. Though it may be unpopular and dated to speak of hell, the reality of its existence must be addressed and expounded upon. Just as one cannot deny the existence of God, or that He is the Creator of the world, it is also plainly stated in scripture about the existence of Hell.
“And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (Matthew 25:46)
“And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.” (Isaiah 66:24)
“Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.” (Matthew 18:8)
“In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that OBey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9)
“And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” (Revelation 14:11)
“And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3:23)
“And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:50)
“And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5:29)
“But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.” (Luke 12:5)
“Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” (Jude 1:7)
“Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4)
To Contemplate Further:
The scriptural confirmation for a place called Hell is overwhelming. Likewise, the many promises of a place called Heaven are bountiful, truthful, and freely available for whosoever has faith to believe in Him.
Choose peace and eternal life, not the wide road to Hell with its torment and heat hounding and taunting one physically forever.
“Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. ” (Zechariah 3:3-4)
The world places a great emphasis on outward appearance, often neglecting their inner spiritual heart condition. People often choose to either adorn themselves with the latest and greatest fashions or choose to dress down themselves in grunge attire. Both are taking outer appearance to the extreme in worldly fashion and neither are necessarily honoring to God.
Joshua was clothed in filthy garments before the angel. Does this mean he took on the grungy look common to many in a younger mindset geared to the world’s popular opinion and fashion trends? No, Joshua’s filthy garments were an inner indication of a spiritual blight, not first and foremost an issue with His outer attire. Joshua’s heart was filled with sin. Sin is an evil ogre in the sight of the Lord and His angels. All sin must be properly addressed and dealt with according to the truth of God’s Word. NOBody can come into the presence of the Lord with a sinful condition in their heart, as He is holy and perfect and knows no sin. Salvation adorns the sinner in a new white rOBe, a Christ like garment.
The Lord promised Joshua a change of raiment. That promise of OBtaining new raiment or a new covering, or propitiation, is available today for any man, woman, or child who asks in faith. Whosoever calls upon Him in faith can have that new covering. Saving faith in the atoning work of Christ changes our inner heart condition from wicked and sinful to adorning us in freedom from sin and liberty in Christ.
“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21)
This new raiment is a spiritual covering for desperately wickedness and sin in man’s heart and not a new outer shell or covering for the physical body. However, once this raiment begins to seep through this softened heart it also affects a person’s outer persona and actions as the fruits of the spirit are manifested in the Christian’s life.
Yes, the Lord is intimately concerned about our inner heart condition, more so than our outward presentation. However, both the inner heart condition and the outer shell of the Christian life are important. One involves our honest presentation before the Lord, and the other is how the Christian is viewed by others, as he navigates through the world. The inner state of a man’s heart can be vastly different than how he chooses to present himself to those around him but the Lord always knows the true condition of our heart. What does your heart condition look like to the Lord?
To Contemplate Further:
The Lord always intimately knows the spiritual condition of your heart. Does your heart personify an aroma of Jesus Christ in, on and about yourself to Him and to others around you? Or do you need a new garment?
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
“Thus saith the LORD, Go and get a potter's earthen bottle, and take of the ancients of the people, and of the ancients of the priests; And go forth unto the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the east gate, and proclaim there the words that I shall tell thee, And say, Hear ye the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle. Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents; They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind: Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter.” (Jeremiah 19:1-6)
Many people today are rushing head long along through life today giving no consideration to the direction they are headed. Are you traveling towards Heaven or languishing downhill towards the fervent heat of a wicked place of unrest called Hell. The Valley of Hinnom was a place of Hell located here on this earth.
“And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.” ( 2 Kings 23:10)
The Valley of Hinnom, a deep ravine located just South of Jerusalem, has a sordid past. This ravine has a gruesome and descriptive traditional history, last used as a dumping place for all the trash and the bodies of worthless men to be burned. Fires were continually burning in the many heaps of combustible trash and even bodies recklessly cast into the valley are on fire there. Biblical accounts verify The Valley of Hinnom was first used as a place of idol worship where young children, mere infants, were made to pass through the fire and burned alive in worship of pagan Gods.
This ravine was intended to be a picture of God casting all wickedness into the eternal fires of Hell. This served as a vivid picture in ancient Biblical times of depraved abomination and the Hell to come. There is not any example of this type of worship and wickedness in America today. Many people would be aghast at such an atrocity. However, those same people may be headed straight to an eternal resting place worse than this ancient valley of fire, but give no further thought to the horror awaiting them. There will be no rest or peace for any who finds themselves a resident of the eternal fires of Hell to come.