A Memorial of Love

 

6. Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,
7. There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.
8. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?
9. For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.
10. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.
11. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.
12. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
13. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

Matthew 26:6-13

Memorial (definition) – something, especially a structure, established to remind people of a person or event, intended to commemorate (or honor) someone or something. Source: New Oxford American Dictionary

God burned an appreciation for memorials into the spiritual genetic code of His people, the nation of Israel. We see interspersed throughout the Old Testament instances where the LORD instructed His people to observe memorials for one reason – a call to remember  specific events where God wanted to be acknowledged and appreciated. In other instances the Hebrew people out of sheer inner conviction built memorials to demarcate places that wielded special significance in their lives.

Some Background On Memorials in the O.T. 

One of the earliest appearances of a memorial in the O.T. is when Jacob builds a memorial to commemorate his first personal encounter with Almighty God:

And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.
And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first. Genesis 28:18-19

The LORD himself commanded that His name be remembered and kept at the forefront of the people’s hearts and minds as recorded in Exodus 3:14-15:

14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations

Another important memorial commanded by the Lord was the day He delivered His people from Egyptian bondage:

And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.

And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. Exodus 12:1-2, 14

Why did the Lord choose this vehicle as a call to remembrance? Because it is within our human nature to forget. The ebbing and monotonous flowing of life events through time have a tendency to erase or blur the sharp definitions of thoughts and feelings that at one time were at the forefront of our minds. Particularly, things of a supernatural or extraordinary nature.

A New Memorial Paradigm

What Jesus spoke as recorded in Matthew chapter 26 concerning the memorializing of a woman’s sacrifice  was earth shattering and shocking. Why?

First, this woman’s act of worship and love was not to the casual observer outwardly demonstrative nor particularly miraculous – no parting of the Red Sea or Jordan River, no supernatural intervention by God to annihilate invading armies or the like transpired. What was spectacular about this unnamed woman’s sacrifice was her role in fulfilling O.T. prophecy that Jesus was to be anointed with precious ointment prior to his death. And that was not the end of the matter.

Secondly, Jesus told the disciples that a verbal memorial commemorate the action of a woman (of all people!). This thinking was unprecedented in Palestine 2,000 years ago. Women in this region of the world held no social status. Women also had no say in neither the political or religious power circles of their  day.

To elevate a woman to such an exalted plane was the “last straw” for Judas Iscariot. Her act of worship and adoration for Jesus was the catalyst, the lighting of the fuse that sent Jesus to the cross and the ushering in of the gospel:

13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,

15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. Matthew 26:13-15

Lastly, the selfless giving away of her alabaster box of spikenard meant she forfeited her future possibilities of becoming a bride as the perfume was reserved by a bride for her prospective groom on their wedding day. The woman chose to instead become part of the heavenly bride of Christ – the future culmination of the Gospel.

This woman’s act of sacrifice (as perceived by Jesus – the Lamb of God in her midst) established the future pattern of giving and worship for the church – not through the blood of animals, but through the sacrifice of a living human heart infused with love and humility. This is the way of the Gospel. These are the reasons why Jesus honored her sacrifice and asked that her actions never be forgotten.

Any Memorials In My Life?

There was a man named Cornelius recorded in The Book of Acts whose prayers and alms impressed Heaven:

And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. Acts 10:4

I wonder if we not only remember and honor the fallen warriors whose lives have brought us freedom, that we build our own memorials to remember those that have gone before us whose prayers, unselfish love, unending sacrifice and unquestionable faithfulness and integrity of character has granted us the spiritual liberty and protection we also embrace today.

Memorial Day 2018

The Love Warrior

And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. Revelation 5:5  

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. Matthew 11:12

All good things in life are based on the foundation of love. The love of Jesus Christ touches everything good. God’s love is life’s “secret sauce” for spiritual growth and fruitfulness, true happiness, joy, peace, fulfillment, and harmony with others (a short list). The reverse is also true. Evil, base things, the beggarly elements, works done in darkness and the like share a commonality – a lack of true love.

When Jesus stepped upon the stage of this earthly drama he knew the odds were stacked against him. God understood it would take something very special, unique, radical, “out-of-the-box”,  disruptive, paradoxical and above human calculation to break through sin-hardened hearts, walls of prejudice, evil spirits and hopelessness. Jesus was up to the challenge. Jesus conquered the works of darkness and the sin of mankind with a full frontal assault with an amazing strategy; approach it with the weakness of a Lamb as The Love Warrior.

The Call For War

There was a serious problem in heaven. Imperfection surfaced within the perfect eternal realm we know as heaven (Ezekiel 28:15). God, being the perfect, eternal Being (Deu 32:4, II Sam 22:31, Ps 18:30), engaged the plan to restore order in heaven. The Word is not clear how long that took, but no doubt long enough for the rebellion to complete its course. The Lord works that way (Gen 15:16, Dan 8:23).

So, Lucifer, Heaven’s premiere worship leader, and one-third of his worship team were expelled from heaven and exiled to a realm encircling earth’s lower atmosphere:

In the sphere of which trespasses and sins at one time you ordered your behavior as dominated by the spirit of the age in this world system, as dominated by the leader of the authority of the lower atmosphere, the source also of the spirit that is now operating in the sons of the disobedience, Ephesians 2:2 (Wuest)

Church splits (and sometimes individual exodus’ for that matter) are always centered around worship. Always. How is that? Because people decide to worship the “god of self” instead of the God of Glory. Okay, let’s move on.

Now that heaven was rid of its rebellious blotch, the Lord encountered the dilemma of now dealing with the fallen archangel and his cohorts. And God, who is never confounded, confused, dismayed or dumbfounded had a plan for that too. In fact, His plan was ordained before the foundation of the world (John 17:24, I Peter 1:20, Rev 13:8). Enter front-center stage the One for whom all things were created (Is 40:21-28, John 1:3, Eph 3:9, Col 1:16, Rev 4:11) – the perfect God-man, Jesus Christ.

God rolled up His sleeves and went to war. Why? For love.

God who “is love” never knew what it was like to “be loved”, until now. God as the man Christ Jesus came to earth to fulfill and perfect what the law could not do – set the captives and prisoners of the earth free with the love of God (Is 43:10-13, Is 61:1, Lk 4:18, Ps 68:18, Eph 4:8).

Jesus Christ is The Love Warrior.

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:10

And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. John 17:26

And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. Luke 23:33–34

Jesus’ Love Warrior Boot Camp

Jesus has a knack for turning disciples into love warriors. One of Jesus’ prime examples was a man named John. John was a potential warrior, but his weapon of choice, his passion for revenge, needed some tweaking:

And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? Luke 9:54

Fire? From Heaven? To scorch the poor guys? Not Jesus’ MO, at least not yet. But, as usual when Jesus begins a work of grace, mercy and love on a subject they might as well surrender because love never fails (I Cor 13:8). And John did not let Jesus down.

John held one of Jesus’ three inner-circle gold cards. John had passion. John wanted to be close to the Master’s heart, so close as to hear what emanated from Jesus’ heart before it exited his mouth:

Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? John 21:20

You are going to hear some pretty amazing things when you are that close to God’s heart. What did John hear while living a life close to Jesus’ heart? It must have had a lot to do with love because John went on to write and reference more about love than any other writer in the Holy Bible:

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. I John 4:7-8

Jesus saw John was a good candidate for becoming a Love Warrior.

There was another subject that showed some promise for becoming a Love Warrior. His name was Peter. Like John, Peter had passion and also packed some maligned, artful grit:

Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. John 18:10

Peter was aiming for Malchus’ head, not his ear. Peter was a changed man after the Day of Pentecost and went on to join the esteemed ranks of one of Jesus’ Love Warriors:

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: I Peter 1:8

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: I Peter 1:22

Jesus saw Peter was a good candidate for becoming a Love Warrior.

We cannot forget another one of Jesus’ love warriors. This one was a women named Mary Magdalene. The Bible refers to Mary as the women “out of whom went seven devils”.  I guess if one were to be demon possessed, seven devils might be the perfect number of choice. It is also noteworthy that Mary is referenced exactly twelve times in twelve verses in the KJV of the Holy Bible. Seven and twelve. Interesting.

Whatever Mary did in her past was now forgotten and superseded with a present and future centered around the Lord. Mary was a member of Jesus’ entourage of women who followed and ministered to Jesus (Luke 8:2). Who was there at Calvary? Mary (Jn 19:25).  Who was one the first ones to visit the tomb after Jesus’ crucifixion? Mary (Jn 20:1). Who was the first person Jesus appeared to after he rose from the dead? Mary (Mk 16:9). Who informed the disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead? Mary (Lk 24:10).

Jesus saw Mary was a good candidate for becoming a Love Warrior.

Am I A Love Warrior For Jesus?

In conclusion, I need to ask myself: “Am I a love warrior for Jesus?” Are my thoughts and the meditations of my heart focused on the Kingdom of God, on the saving of souls, compassion towards the broken and weak, or does my life evolve around my needs, my wants and the pleasures of my flesh? Have I determined to seek “God’s own heart” like King David or the Apostle John?

Love Warriors always have a price to pay.

“Well, the Lord has not called me to be an apostle.” Maybe not. However, Jesus has called his church to an even higher calling – Kings and Priests unto God:

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

One thing is certain, Jesus came to this earth as a lamb, but he is not returning as one. Jesus will visit the second time as a lion, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. And he is coming as a warrior to judge the earth of its sin.

Until then, the Lord searches the earth looking for human hearts that will respond to his call to join him with his army of Love Warriors in The Name of Jesus. Be Blessed.

 

Unclaimed Riches

Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Revelation 3:11

It is estimated that unclaimed wealth in the United States is valued at over $58 billion dollars. This includes unclaimed federal and state income tax refunds, life and medical insurance refunds, dormant savings or checking accounts, payroll checks, valuables left in safe deposit boxes, and the list goes on. In 2016 alone $1B in gift cards went unused and perhaps never to be cashed.

In short, there is a wealth of earthly property and assets left lingering that will never be claimed by its rightful owner or just simply neglected. Could this also be the case with heaven’s storehouse of treasures? Just maybe.

The Godly Inheritance

There is a familiar parable recorded in the New Testament where Jesus relates the story about two sons and their father. It is commonly referred to the parable of the prodigal son. One of the sons requested that he and his brother’s share of their wealth be divided so he can take his lot and move away from home:

And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. Luke 15:11-12

As the story progresses the son wastes all of his money, falls on hard times, and upon coming to “his senses”, looks to go back home and be reunited with his father. There is one interesting facet of this parable that is worth looking into a little deeper.

In reality, the son had not just one, but two inheritances – one earthly and the other heavenly. His “portion of goods” was the inheritance he wasted. However, there was another inheritance he left intact, the more important and valuable one:

And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: Luke 15:21-22

The use of the word “best” when describing the robe given the son is an interesting choice. The word ‘best’ in the Greek is πρῶτος (prōtos) means former, foremost, chief, or beginning. In essence, the prodigal son retained his royal inheritance. He may have left home and trashed his earthly wealth, but his former, chief, foremost robe, his royal covering, was held dear and protected by his father.

When the prodigal son left home he left his “royal inheritance” behind, the one not for sale on the world’s open market. And it was waiting for him when he returned. The son left his most valuable possessions behind in storage – his formerly unclaimed riches. God does not allow those belonging to Him to slip by so easily. And God is not one to waste what belongs to Him.

Heaven’s Unclaimed Riches?

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 6:20-21

Jesus states in Matthew chapter six that his people serving him on earth are simultaneously storing up riches and treasures in heaven. Could it be that there are mansions in heaven containing piles of treasures that keep expanding and growing? Is it possible that those on the “other side” watch as these mounds of wealth grow, waiting expectantly for their owner to arrive and take ownership?

“Wow, look at what Sharon is doing down there on earth? The Lord must really using her for the Kingdom of God. Her fabulous heap of riches here just keeps growing and growing! I can’t wait for her to arrive to claim these riches and see what the Lord has here waiting for her”.

And, what about the opposite situation?

“I wonder what has happened to Steve? Jesus was really using him when I last saw him. He was instrumental in me being saved. Steve witnessed to me about the love of Jesus, how that Jesus died for all of my sins and offered me the gift of being born again.

Man, his storehouse of treasures have remained stagnant for quite some time.  Something must be wrong. Steve must not be doing well spiritually. I sure hope he turns his life around and puts his focus back on the eternal things of God. It would be such a waste for these beautiful riches and treasures to go to someone else.”

These points are not mere conjecture. As the opening scripture states, Jesus alludes to the possibility of someone loosing their rightful, Godly inheritance. A crown is a kingly possession. A crown symbolizes authority, rulership, victory and blessing. Jesus has a crown for everyone who overcomes sin and fulfills the will he has chosen for their lives (Revelation 2:7,11,17, 26, 3:5, 12,21 & 21:7). But, what happens to someone who stumbles and falls in their walk with God like what happened to the faithful servant of the Apostle Paul, Demas?:

For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. II Timothy 4:10

What happens is addressed by Jesus in Revelation 3:11. Their crown is given to someone else. We read a similar pattern with Esau and King Saul:

And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.

And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright. Genesis 25:30-31, 33-34

And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.
And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou. I Samuel 15:26, 28

Saul’s kingly crown was given to David. And Esau forfeited his inheritance to his twin brother Jacob. The Lord will not waste any of His kingships and Godly inheritances, but He will change ownership if forced to.

An Unclaimed Masterpiece

image

The picture above is a painting called “Marche aux fleurs” or “Flower Market” by French Impressionist artist Edouard Leon Cortes. The painting was sold for $40,600 in 2008 at the famous New York City auction house, Sotheby’s. But, what makes this artwork so interesting is the story behind its discovery.

This painting was dropped off (along with an old coffee pot and other household items) at a Goodwill thrift store in Easton, MD in March 2008. The owner did not know what was in their hands. It was not until the watchful eye of an employee at the store was struck by something about the painting. This was not the typical “paint by number” artwork that typically graced the doors of the thrift store. This painting was different. And indeed it was. This was yet another case of ‘unclaimed riches’.

Jesus Holds The Future In His Hands

In conclusion, we see that we have in our hands life given to us by God. And with that life the potential to access storehouses of heavenly riches. The riches of God’s love, His grace, His mercy and the greatest gift of all – eternal life. It is said that satan, the enemy of our soul, is not interested in our past or our present. The enemy is interested in our future.

Why? For one the god of this world is crafty, keenly shrewd and highly intelligent (remember he once was the highest ranking archangel?) and knows a lot of things. But, there is one area where he is ignorant, weak and vulnerable. What are we talking about here? We are talking about the future. The enemy does not know the future God holds for your tomorrows. It is beyond his capacity to discern God’s sovereign will for your life (I Cor 2:7-8). And with that he orchestrates every scheme imaginable to thwart one from the path leading to a bright future in Godly, kingdom business .

Secondly, the enemy has no future. We do. And he wants the one thing he does not have direct control over on this earth – your future. We have in our fingertips an inheritance, a Godly kingship freely available to anyone who will believe on the lordship of Jesus Christ. Jesus has secured what Hebrews 5:9 calls an “eternal salvation”. Jesus’ work on the cross has wrought  a victory all of the world can partake of that includes untold riches. Don’t you want to claim yours?

Take a look in the mirror, you may be looking at a masterpiece waiting to be discovered on your hands. Turn it over to Jesus and see what His work of love, grace and mercy will do!

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Luke 22:32

As Thyself

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Matthew 22:39

The phrase “as thyself” occurs exactly seven times in the KJV New Testament Bible. Interesting. The context is the same in all seven instances; embedded in the commandment to love God and our neighbor.

The phrase’s positioning at the end of the commandment appears almost as a footnote or afterthought. It is as if Jesus assumed we would have no difficulty in loving ourselves. Love God? Most assuredly. Love our neighbor? Well, we try. Most of the time at least we take a stab at it. Love self? A given.

But, do we? Do we “love thyself” as the commandment demands? Jesus sets the stage once again for a master production. How can one genuinely love themselves when the child of God is called to: deny themselves (Mat. 16:24), esteem other better than themselves (Phil 2:3), die daily (I Cor 15:31), walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8), crucify their flesh (Gal 5:24), present their bodies a “living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1), and to be non-retalitory when faced with reproach and offense? (Mat 5:39) It is paradoxical.

There has to be something else going on here. This business of loving self must be something different from what we are accustomed to. We can only reason that we must love ourselves in a manner pleasing to God and in a way that transcends human understanding:

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9 

I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city. Hosea 11:9

We can only love ourselves to the extent and degree that the presence of Jesus Christ actively lives within us (Rom 8:11). It cannot work any other way. Why? Because flesh is at best weak (Mk 14:38), and at worst not good (Gal 5:19-21).

In You or Through You?

It has been said that Jesus is more interested in what he can do “in you” than what he can do “through you“. With that thought in mind, one of the hardest things the Lord faces in dealing with people is getting them on location, positioning them at the place where He wants to do a work.

Reflect a moment on Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Jonah, Ester, Naomi, and John Mark. All of these examples are people God wanted to use, but their GPS systems were not in synch with God’s. Abraham lingered in Haran. Jacob was stuck in a holding pattern outside of Egypt. Joseph spent years in and out of prison. And consider Moses. It took the Lord 40 years to get Moses out of Egypt and another 40 years for Egypt to get out of Moses.  Jonah took a cruise away from God’s call to Nineveh.

Ester balked in standing up for her heritage and the Jewish people. Naomi reluctantly heeded the call to return to Bethlehem. And lastly, John Mark got cold feet during a missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas. What was the problem with all of them? Their problem was internal in nature. God could not work “through them” because of the internal conflict “in them”. Each of them had an imperfect love, the love “as thyself”.

In Conclusion

When we live for God God’s way we enter a zone unbeknownst to ourselves where we can fulfill the commandment to “love thyself” and be on a trajectory to fulfill all three conditions of the greatest commandment of all. Sometimes the bigger mountains are the Mt. Everest’s lying within in contrast to the one located in the Himalayan’s.

We simply cannot love God and our neighbor if we are out of sorts with our own self and our own life.

The Lord desires to do a work “in” His people:

At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. John 14:20

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. John 15:4, 7

May our prayer be that we will yield to Jesus’ work upon our earthen vessels until we have the peace within that removes all internal conflict and be able to say the words: “I love you Lord with my all and I love my neighbor as I love myself”.

Be Blessed

Voices From The Grave

voice1And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother?  And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. Genesis 4:9-10

By most accounts the grave is silent. But, not always. Especially where it marks a place where injustice has occurred. The God of Creation has a “thing” about injustice. In fact, He abhors it.

Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face. Psalms 89:14

If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they. Ecclesiastes 5:8

And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.
Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. Isaiah 59:14-15

God is the judge, not the devil.

The enemy of our soul is on a search and destroy mission. And his “secret sauce”, if you will, is DECEPTION (capital letters warranted). It was deception that dethroned one-third of heaven’s angels and cast them out of heaven. It was deception that initiated Adam and Eve’s descent from the Garden of Eden to the Garbage of Weeden (I Timothy 2:14). It was deception that caused Judas to betray the Lord. And the list goes on, even today.

Jesus emphatically warned his followers to be on the lookout for works of deception in the last days. Are we there? Most certainly we are.

And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. Luke 21:8

Which brings us to the subject of this post – voices from the grave. What voices are you referring to sir? Deceiving voices from graves of the past – voices of past mistakes, voices of past shortcomings, voices of past stumbles, voices of past poor choices, or the voices of past moral failures.

And they all emanate within the very pit of hell itself from the insidious voice of the ‘Master Crafter’ of lies, insinuations and accusations. That is right, from hell.

You don’t hear much about that place in most modern places of worship today. Hell. More should be said and warned about it.

Hell is real. You don’t believe it? Too archaic of a term to describe life’s woes to the silicon hipsters of today’s fast and furious sweep, click and post crowd? Flip through a couple of cable news channels on any given day and see for yourself.

Or browse through the Internet and see if the filth does not attempt to seep and barge right into your collective mindset. Or ask David Richard Berkowitz or Jeffery Lionel Dahmer about hell. They might have a thing or two to say about it.

But, there is hope today. Jesus conquered death, hell, the grave, and yes, all of the lies from hell’s grave. The blood of Jesus Christ radically washes the heart and mind totally, unequivocally and unconditionally. The blood of Jesus silences voices from the past. They cannot speak. They have no power. Their cries are rendered mute and void through the crimson flood of Calvary – if we would only believe it and speak it.

Like Abel, the righteous blood of Jesus is crying from the ground even today. Cry the blood: “The blood has washed me. The blood has covered me. The blood has made me whole. The blood has saved me”.

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; II Corinthians 10:4-5

The war is already won. We only have to persevere and show up for the victory celebration:

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Revelation 20:10

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. Revelation 21:4-5

Be mad at hell and be mad for Jesus!

God Bless.

Happy July 4th 2016.

Four P’s of The Seed

Now the parable is this: The seed  
is the word of God.  Luke 8:11seed1
 
The parable of the sower is perhaps the hallmark of all parables Jesus ever communicated. In fact, as recorded in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus has this to say about this parable in particular:
 
And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?  Mark 4:13
 
In other words what Jesus is saying is  if you are to “get it right” concerning my word  and the way into the kingdom of God, this is the one you might want to get down and master. 
 
Why? Because it pertains to the most important aspect of one’s walk of faith – the word of God.
 
Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God“.
 
Let’s dive a little deeper into this.
 
Protection – (The Unprotected Heart)
 
A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.
 

Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.  Luke 8:5, 12

 The seed was devoured and snatched away. Why? Because the seed was left unprotected. Unprotected because it was not committed to heart and mind.
 
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Psalms 119:11
 
The word ‘hid’ in this verse is the Hebrew word ‘tsâphan‘. The word is translated into English to mean ‘to hoard, reserve or to protect‘.
 

Something is stolen because the thief was undetected and the goods were unprotected. The word of God must be PROTECTED in our hearts.

Penetration – (The Uncommitted Heart)

 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.
 

They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
Luke 8:6, 13

 The seed failed because it never developed a root system: “these have no root”. The heart in this case was indifferent and uncommitted to the nurturing and care of the word of God.
 
Commitment is a hard phase to conquer in this journey. It takes a toll. It will be discomforting. It will demand something from us. It takes much effort to till and nurture the soil (heart) to accommodate conditions for seed growth.
 
Jesus said the other calamity befalling this seed was that it “lacked moisture“.
 
Roots have an inherent quality to seek out water sources. The root system failed to developed because it never reached an adequate water source (God’s spirit).
 
Roots will burrow through underground terra-cotta pipes and concrete to reach a source of light or water.
 
As the song of old sings:
 
I shall not be, I shall not be moved.
Just like a tree that is planted by the waters,
I shall not be moved.
 
We must allow our spiritual root system to be constantly refreshed by fresh influxes of God’s cool springs of living water. How? Through prayer, fasting , study of the word of God and worship.
 

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

 Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. Psalms 1:3, 93:13
 
Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.
 
For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.  Jeremiah 17:7-8
 

Perfection – (The Undisciplined Heart)

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.

 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.  Luke 8:7, 14
 
Luke’s use of the word perfection (telesphoreō) is a compound of two Greek words –

telos and pherō̄.

Telos is translated to mean: ‘ the conclusion of an act or state, termination’.

Pherō̄ translated into English means: ‘to bear, carry or bring’.

Thus, the word perfection essentially means to bring or carry something to an act or state of conclusion – maturity.

Unripened fruit is of little value and certainly not desirable to eat. It is only when fruit is ripe that its true identity and distinctive nature (sweetness) is revealed.
 
Ripening is the final stage of fruit development. It is a lack of discipline at this stage that causes the seed to wither and die. Life, problems, sin, perplexities of the  mind and worldly cares all get in the way and snuff out any hope for the tender, vulnerable little seed to reach perfection.
 
O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
Psalms 34:8
 

The seed must be allowed to mature and ripen in our lives and to really “taste” the sweetness and goodness in living for God.

 
Discipline will bring the seed to full maturity, to a place of perfection where it becomes apparent that living for God is not a bitter taste of ‘drudgery‘, but a sweet one of ‘discovery‘.
 

Patience – (The Uncompromising Heart)

And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
 
But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. Luke 8:8,15
 
The word of God has much to say on the subject of patience. Here are some “good” ones:
 
In your patience possess ye your souls. Luke 21:19
 
But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:4
 
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. James 5:7
 
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God (word/seed) and the faith of Jesus. Revelation 14:12
 
It’s one thing to start a great work for God. It is entirely another thing to sustain it and see it come to fruition. Mature fruit produces satisfaction in the one partaking it.

And it yields a seed or seeds for future growth and further production.

The mature fruit is able to reproduced itself and sustains the perpetuation of more growth (more seeds, more fruit, more growth).

 

In conclusion, Jesus illustrates in this parable the possible dimensions a human heart can experience as it reacts to the word of God (seed).

Note that in each ground type illustrated (the way side, shallow, thorns and good) the seed progressively increases both in depth and maturity. Ultimately, it is the condition of the soil (heart) that governs the seed’s ability to bear fruit.

Four P’s of the Seed – Protection  (Unprotected Heart), Penetration (Uncommitted Heart), Perfection (Undisciplined Heart) and Patience (Uncompromising Heart).

 “Jesus, help us to keep our hearts tender to the presence of your spirit so that we will allow your word to come to the place of perfection and maturity in our lives. Amen.”

Let There Be Light – The Message of Christmas

And God said, Let there be light: and there was
light.
Genesis 1:3Star1

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, , there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. Matthew 2:1-2

God has all power. God is also love. Power and love operate from two entirely opposite positions.
 
Power operates from the position of strength. Love operates from the position of weakness. Love always gives.
 
How can these two natures of God be resolved?
 
Easy, but profound. The one is perfected by the other.
 
For God’s strength is perfected in weakness:
 
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. II Corinthians 12:9
 
Or to state it another way, God’s strength is perfected through His love:
 
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
 
The light God spoke into existence in Genesis chapter 1 radiated throughout the Old Testament and into the New Testament as recorded in the Gospel of John chapter 1:
 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.

He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
John 1:1, 4-9

Heaven is a power plant. Heaven is the command center of God’s eternal glory and majesty. Weakness does not and cannot reside in the eternal.
 
To display His love in weakness, God had to resort to another realm – the realm of the weak, the vulnerable and the broken. And His love began its journey within the womb of a virgin girl in the sleepy town of Bethlehem:
 

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. Luke 2:11-16

As the light was filtered and reflected within the hearts of men and women throughout time, it manifested itself in bodily form in the man Jesus Christ of Nazareth:
 
Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shinethI John 2:8
 
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
 
As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. John 8:12, 9:5
 

The light of Genesis did not stop in the Old Testament. It continued to shine from the gospels into Revelation and then on throughout eternity:

And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.

 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. Revelation 22:5, 16

Let there be Light – the message of hope, the message of love, the message of Christmas.

Merry Christmas 2015