Departures & Arrivals

For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; Philemon 1:15

God can take things or places departed for a season and turn them into reasons for the arrival of greater things or places.

Like the coin, lost sheep and lost son as recorded in Jesus’ parables in Luke chapter 15, reunion and discovery of something lost adds special value to that thing. Its value is now magnified. The coin, sheep and son never looked the same again to their owners. They were now deeply treasured because the heart, reflecting on the past trauma of separation, now joyously celebrates in the emotion of reunion:

It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. Luke 15:32

Let’s take a further look into this.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; Ecclesiastes 3:1, 6

Arriving Gate 238 – Jerusalem Airlines

There is someone mentioned in the Word of God whose departure experience is worth calling to mind. He was the ‘big mouth’ of the bunch. Often rash, impulsive and borderline arrogant, he was fast to act and slow at thinking things through (Mat 16:22, Mk 8:32). He was the first to volunteer (Mat 14:28) and was always looking over his shoulder at the competition (Jn 21:20-21).

His name is Peter and he was in departure mode and had yet to arrive where the Lord destined him to be.

Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly. Mat 26:74-75

Peter needed to experience a diversion to arrive and take his place in the will God had for his life:

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38

While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. Act 10:44-45

Peter’s season of departure broke his will and caused him to arrive at his appointed destination as an influential leader of the early Apostolic church in the first century.

Departing Gate 123 – JetPerga

There is another individual mentioned in the Bible we also need to look at. This man’s life was yet another account of someone who experienced a season of departure, of falling short and failing in his calling. You can perceive this man as a spiritual lightweight or a wannabe missionary, but in the end he fumbled, stumbled, and departed while on the job.

Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John (surnamed Mark – Acts 12:25) departing from them returned to Jerusalem. Acts 13:13

His name is John Mark or Mark for short. Mark of all people. Why, he had a godly heritage (Acts 12:12), conversant with the inner circle of Jesus’ core group of disciples and had the golden opportunity to travel with God’s best. It was not enough. Could it have been Mark’s lack of perfected love (II Tim 1:7 – timidity) that caused the laser-focused Apostle Paul to not want him involved in any future missionary endeavors?:

And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. Acts 15:37-38

Mark experienced his own dilemma of departure. And what better arrival was Mark destined for? Right here;

The Gospel According to Mark.

Yes, you read that correctly. Mark. Mark penned a gospel account that would bear his name. After all his failures, his faults and his shortcomings, the Lord saw an unearthed gem buried somewhere is his spirit. What was it? It was a resolve to not quit and persevere after falling. Just the kind of people God is looking for today. Mark’s gospel account was written for the Roman world of his day, a world attracted to and highly influenced by one thing – power. Mark wrote extensively about the power of God and the miracles of Jesus.

There was another subject Mark wrote about that would have never occurred had he not experienced his season of departure. The areas he, Paul and Barnabas were evangelizing on Paul’s first missionary journey was a hotbed of demonic activity, spiritual oppression and taxing, rugged terrain. In fact, right after the encounter with Elymas the sorcerer (Acts 13:8), Mark looks for passage back to Jerusalem. Could that encounter have been the tipping point?

There is much speculation about why Mark does this. But, there could be evidence behind his actions by reading Mark’s gospel account. Mark mentions the dark spiritual underworld more that any other gospel writer. He mentions unclean spirits (4x), unclean spirit (6x), devils (12x), dumb spirit (1x), foul spirit (1x), anti-Christ (Ch. 13)  and includes an extensive account of the demoniac of the Gadarenes (Ch. 5). Whatever the cause,  Mark learned his spiritual warfare lesson well to go on, regroup and write about it for all the world to know.

Departing Gate 7 – Air Rome

The last departure we want to discuss is written in The Book of Philemon, an account of the saving grace of God for the runaway slave (Onesimus) of Philemon. Onesimus defrauded Philemon, departed his household and journeyed to Rome where he met the Apostle Paul. Paul works with him, and eventually, Onesimus becomes a born-again believer. The letter is Paul’s appeal for Onesimus’ restoration to his former position in Philemon’s household and the mending of the spiritual bond between the two men.

Because of Onesimus’ season of departure, the relationship between Philemon and Onesimus would never be the same after their reunion. The relationship would now be more valuable and profitable. Not only were they united in earthly terms, they could now be joined together with the heavenly. Because of Onesimus’ departure, he arrived at a much grander place. Their stormy departure for a season birthed a timeless bond for all eternity. As Paul writes:

For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; Philemon 1:15 KJV

Perhaps it was for this reason that he was separated from you for a while, so that you would have him back forever, (AMP)

For perhaps on this account he was parted for a brief time in order that you might be possessing him fully and forever, (Wuest)

Interestingly, the name Onesimus means ‘useful’ or ‘profitable’ in Greek and it took a detour for him to live true to his name.

In Conclusion

We have looked into the lives of three individuals whose spiritual trajectory was not always on target. In fact, they each completely missed the mark. We know that God is always true to His character. Among His many characteristics; his graciousness, longsuffering, patience, love, kindness, and mercy, He knows we are oftentimes frail, subject to error and resistant to being broken (Ps 103:14, Is 63:9 & Rev 21:4) and looks to use these to work His will through our lives. In each of the above cases, the Lord used a painful departure as their means to arrive at a better end.

And whatever God touches is never the same afterwards. Never. And since Jesus has firsthand experience in turning tables ‘upside down‘ (Mat 21:12, Mk 11:15 & Jn 2:15), he has no problem ‘turning around‘ 180 degrees the table the devil has placed in your life and bring what was ‘meant for evil’ for your good and for His glory.

What has departed in your life today? A lost loved one? Health? Finances? Shelter? Food? Peace? Faith? Hope? Love?

Be assured you are in the right place for God to come on the scene and cause the miracle you desperately need to arrive. It shall be done if you persistently believe and doubtlessly ask the right person:

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 15:7

Life’s hard departures are so designed to bring to light the arrival of God’s best.

Be Blessed In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

The Treasures of Darkness – Souls

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7

Soul – Dfn. the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being, regarded as immortal (living forever, never dying). (New Oxford American Dictionary) The immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life, the spiritual principle embodied in human beings, all rational and spiritual beings, or the universe. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

We will look into the reason and purpose why God uses this peculiar, weak, frail and error-prone creation, the Soul, to accomplish His grandest work of Creation.

Specifically, we will look at three aspects of God’s plan being fulfilled through the soul: Revelation, Perfection and RestorationThe Revelation of God’s Person, Perfection of God’s Power and the Restoration of God’s Perfect Dominion.

The Soul – Revelation of God’s Being & Person

God is a God of order and harmony. And He is the ultimate judge of rebellion and lawlessness. Thus, when His chosen archangel Lucifer rebelled (Is. 14:12-16 Ez. 28:15-18), judgment against him and his rogue yoke-fellows was swift and final. Their destination? Planet earth:

And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Luke 10:18

Earth, the majestic, greenish-blue watery gem suspended in space would become the battleground for the epic of all wars and the final confrontation between the power of light, truth and righteousness and the powers of darkness, deception, rebellion and unrighteousness. God shifted His focus to a stage unlike Heaven. This earthly stage would be defined by finite space and time. God would now move into this new dimension to deal with and resolve the most gregarious of assaults against the Most High and Perfect God. Perfect? Oh yes, perfect. You see, any Being possessing ALL POWER must be perfect. Otherwise, the most minuscule fault, error or imperfection in that Being would (and ultimately will) destroy both Himself and everything He created.

The glorious and majestic Eternal God of glory would embark on a mission like never before. The Eternal God would slip into the dimension of time, become finite and experience His own self in Creation. Like His prized creation man, God would also become a living soul in the God-man Jesus Christ. Why? Because in God’s eternal and perfect plan orchestrated by His manifold wisdom (Ps 104:24 & Eph 3:10), Heaven’s breach, and the subsequent introduction of death through sin’s power could only be resolved and healed by blood (Mat 26:28, Rom 3:25 & Heb 9:22). For the very thing that destroys life can only be defeated and neutralized by life itself – by blood (Lev 17:11,14 & Deu 12:23). The death sentence hovering over souls created in His image must be conquered by the life giving power within blood itself – and only the precious, sinless, infinitely powerful blood of Heaven and earth’s perfect Lamb of God (Jn 6:54) could accomplish the task and mend the breach. And the plans of a perfect God are always perfect!

So, here we are in a place defined by space, time and life as living souls graced with the power of free choice and free will, things Heaven’s angels lack. As a minister recently articulated, angels are given the freedom, but not the right to choose (remember Lucifer and his fallen angels?). We have both. Why? Because love demands both free will and the freedom to choose. God has gifted the soul both the unique quality and capacity to love and be loved. This is why angels do not know what love is. We do. And God designed it to be that way.

God’s ultimate desire is to love and be loved, not only for what He does, but more importantly for who He is (Is 43:10-11, Neh 9:30-31 & Ps 78:38-39). His desire is to reveal and express the profound and glorious aspects of his Person and Being – Love, Mercy, Grace, Understanding, Wisdom, Judgment, Justice, Forgiveness, Compassion, Glory, Power and as Healer, Deliverer, Provider and Savior.

To accomplish this God created a medium where He and the creation He loves can fulfill His will or plan for their lives through his Word. The Word is the source code that runs His creative processes and formulates His will (Jn 1:1-5). It is the Spirit of God that energizes the Word and gives it life (Job 33:4, Eze 37:5, 8-10, Jn 6:63 & II Cor 3:6). That Word became “flesh and dwelt among us” in the man Jesus Christ (Jn 1:14). The soul was formed to believe and trust in the Word and live with it residing on the inside and empowered by the Spirit of God (Rom 8:11).

The Lord chose the vehicle of a living soul with its life-giving blood to bring “all things” to a perfect and final conclusion. God became a soul so that the soul might know God in the fulness of His revelation:

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Hebrews 1:3

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. Colossians 1:18

Now that we looked at the revelation of God’s person and character through Jesus Christ, we now move along to His perfected power.

The Soul – Perfection of God’s Power

Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. Psalm 69:20-21

Heaven’s breach of trust and unity accompanying Lucifer’s fall produced a temporary shadow over God’s perfect dominion. A foreign element entered the stage known as death and tainted creation. Death was never God’s intention, but the result of judgment against disobedience and sin. And sin seperates God from everything and everyone:

But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. Isaiah 59:2

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: Romans 5:12

And death’s defeat demanded something Heaven could not provide – weakness. Why weakness? Because according to God’s word, His perfected strength is only possible through brokenness and suffering:

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

The Greek word “strength” used in this verse is: δύναμις (dunamis) meaning ‘force’ or ‘miraculous power’. Death demanded a perfected strength that only perfected weakness could produce. And God perfected His power through the weakness of the perfect, sinless flesh in the God-man, Jesus Christ. No greater weakness was ever or ever will be demonstrated in heaven or on earth. Ever. God himself enrobed in the veil of human flesh freely sacrificed on the savage and unmerciful altar of earthly sin at the hands of sinful humanity.

As God became “a living soul” himself, he could now become perfectly weak so that He might become perfectly strong and conquer the power of death:

Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Rom 6:9-10

Jesus came in the “likeness” of sinful flesh (Rom 8:3) and unlike the first man Adam who failed, Jesus was the perfect second man (I Cor 15:45-47) who fulfilled all of God’s will and “finished” His work (Joh 4:34; Mat 26:39 & Joh 5:30).

God’s power now perfected through the sinless blood of the Lamb of God broke the power of sin and death to give the gift of eternal life to those who will trust him and obey His word:

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. John 6:68  

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23  

And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. 1 John 2:25  

The Soul – Restoration of God’s Perfect Dominion

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:12  

It is well understood that some restored things can be very expensive. Time and its tendency to reduce both the quality and quantity of objects, items and things leaves what remains rare and valuable. On a superficial level, consider the following restored ‘earthly treasures’:

Salvator Mundi (circa 1490–1500) painting by Leonardo da Vinci – Sale price: $450M
Les Femmes d’Alger (1955) painting by Pablo Picasso – Sale price: $179.4M
Claude Monet’s Meules (1891) Auctioned price: $110.7M
Paul Cézanne’s Bouilloire et fruits (1888) Auctioned price: $59.3M 
Restored 1935 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante – Sale price: $3.8M
Restored Ferrari 275 GTB – Sale price: $2.3M
Restored 1950 Ferrari 166MM Barchetta – Sale price: $1M

The Extraordinary Value of The Restored Soul

There is one last restored earthen object worth our consideration – earthen vessels. The earthen vessel known as the human soul, your soul:

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7

Every soul is made in the image God. When God created you, he put his fingerprint upon you and made you unlike any other creation before you or after you. As a Pastor is famously quoted as saying: “After God made you, He threw away the mold!”
That makes you exceptionally rare and valuable, much more valuable than a one hundred year-old restored painting.

But, we have a problem here. Our original condition is marred through the ravages of time and the ensuing effects of sin thus diminishing our value compared to the value of its ‘originally intended condition’. We need restoration. From the fall of Adam and Eve to our present age the human condition lies in a grave state. We need to be restored to pre-Fall, mint condition. And now that Jesus has come we can be! Praise God we can. We now have hope!

That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:12-13

Now, not only can the vessel be restored to “mint” condition, it is redeemed by the blood of Jesus and ownership transferred from satan’s dominion into the eternal kingdom of God:

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: I Peter 1:18-19

The restored soul’s value has gone from the price of earthly dust to a value determined only by eternity for a vessel possessing eternal life and destined for eternal glory:

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23 
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
1 Peter 5:10  
And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. 1 John 2:25  

Death’s Defeat & God’s Perfected Dominion Restored

He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
1 John 3:8

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 1 Corinthians 15:26

The devil knows God’s word. Satan is earth’s supreme Bible student. He knew the Savior would come on the scene sometime and somewhere in the spectrum of earthly time (Gen 3:15). But, he was taken totally by surprise. You see the devil cannot and will never know the mind of God. It is hidden from him. In simplistic earthly terms, satan perceives God’s mind as encrypted information and intelligence. There is scripture to back the claim:

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. Mat 2:7-8

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. I Cor 2:7-8

The same goes for the true believer. The enemy cannot decrypt or eavesdrop in on what God communicates to His people through His Spirit (the very next three verses!):

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. I Cor 2:9-11

But, someone might say: “The devil is not flesh (man), but a spiritual being!” True, but the defrocked and dethroned spiritual being has no authority. He lost his “Heaven connection”, covering of anointing, spiritual influence and Holy intimacy when cast out of heaven. What is the purpose of all this? It says that a true born-again believer (of Water & Spirit) now has more authority and power than the devil. Here are just a few verses among many:

And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. Luke 10:17  

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; Mark 16:17  

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 1 John 4:4  

Jesus has empowered his church, the bride of Christ, everything it needs to live victoriously over sin, the world and the powers of darkness as restored and perfected souls through faith, hope and love in Him.

Conclusion: Revelation, Perfection & Restoration – In Jesus Christ

We have walked along a path to establish the role the Soul has in God’s plan. In God’s infinite understanding (Ps 147:5), manifold wisdom (Psa 104:24 & Eph 3:10) and creative power (Gen 1:1; Isa 42:5, 45:12 & 18) the Lord is his foreknowledge formed Earth in the finite dimensions of time and space to include living souls, souls impressed with God’s own fingerprint.

He did this for one purpose – that “all things” both in Heaven and on earth be gathered together in Jesus Christ (Eph 1:10). All things were created by him (Jn 1:3 & Col 1:16-17). All things (the law, prophets and psalms) are fulfilled in him (Lk 24:44 & Jn 19:28). And all things were given to him and under his authority (Mat 11:27, 28:18; Lk 10:22; Jn 3:35 & Jn 13:3).

The soul is the Lord’s chosen medium to fulfill three purposes: the expression of His Person and Being by slipping into time from the realm of eternity through the channel of a living soul as the man Jesus Christ, the perfection of God’s power through the frail and vulnerable life of the Saviour and the restoration of Heaven’s breach and its sin stain over humanity through the defeat of satan and death by the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (I Cor 15:3-4) and the New Birth experience by being born again of water and the Spirit (Jn 3:3-8, Lk 24:46-49, Acts 1:4-5 & Acts Ch 2).

Revelation, Perfection & Restoration of “All Things” through Jesus! Amen

And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. 1 Corinthians 15:28

The Treasures of Darkness – Self

And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. (Isaiah 45:3)

Have you ever wondered about what good can be gleaned in the “dark” or  perplexing phases of life? Has the thought ever occurred to you that some of life’s most valuable and eternally enduring things can only be birthed in difficult circumstances? If not, let’s travel this road together because God’s Word has something to tell us about this.

A Painting That Was Not Quite Right

First there is a story to tell. Years ago there was an oil painting hanging on a conference room wall of a lake cove and shoreline. The artist’s intent was to capture a driving wind that invaded the tranquility of a normally calm lake cove with vibrant blue, green and white brush strokes. The scene was colorful and detailed. But, there was just something missing. Something didn’t “register” or captivate the viewer. Instead of drawing one’s attention in towards the painting, the opposite effect occurred.  Upon looking at the picture you seemed to take a glance and then abruptly turn to look somewhere else in the room. What was it?  What was missing in the scene that the artist failed to capture?

Then one day after visiting this room many times the thought occurred: “I see it. This painting has no shadows”. The scene was shallow and uninteresting. Why? The painting lacked dimension and depth because the light source upon the lake was not clearly defined.  The artist failed to master one of the hardest skills essential in painting – the proper handling of light and darkness. The painting was simply devoid of the contrasts between light and dark, differentiation between the shadows, dark areas and bright reflections of light on the objects being painted.

The objective here is not to disparage the artist’s honest effort, but to make a point. Life without shadows and darkness is shallow and one might say …. “lifeless”.

I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see   …………….. Amazing Grace

I think you “get the picture”.

As the opening scripture states there is a reason and purpose for dark seasons and difficult places in life. For it is here where God will give you some of life’s real treasures and riches.

Treasures of Self, Souls & The Savior

In our investigation into these treasures of darkness, we will look into three areas: Treasures of Self, Treasures of Souls and Treasures of the Savior. For it is in these three areas of our life that the Lord specifically commanded our attention and fulfill His greatest commandment:

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 
And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.  Mark 12:30-31

Treasures of Self – Repentance, Redemption & Revelation

One cannot possibly “save” someone from sin unless they are first saved themselves. The first treasure from God has to start with ourselves – The Treasure of Self. What are  these treasures the Lord has for us? Whether we like to admit it or not, as indicated in the opening scripture, they originate in our own darkness, the darkness of our own personal sin.

Before we begin, can we be candid here for a moment? God is not easily impressed. In fact, God is not impressed at all about us. And how can he be? After all He does know everything does he not? So, how can a God who has all power, presence and understanding be taken off-guard by anything we might say, do or think? If this statement holds water, then what can we possibly give to Him? What do we possess that God might take and do something with? One thing. Our brokenness, brokenness from the effects of sin. God can take and use the darkness of our brokenness and give us something better:

He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. (Psalms 147:3)

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. (Psalms 34:18)

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Psalms 51:17)

And what is the treasure to be mined from our brokenness? It is called repentance. Repentance must always precede our receiving deeper treasures available to us from Jesus. Of course, people have talents, gifts, personalities and endearing traits which the Lord will use for his kingdom. But, the bedrock of salvation must be founded upon this first treasure – Repentance.

Treasures of Repentance

John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus Christ. John’s sermon notes were not complicated and did not change from Sunday thru Saturday. John had one message to preach. Repentance.

John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.(Mark 1:4)

In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 3:1-2)

The message of repentance did not stop with John. Jesus took John’s message and carried it onward:

From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.(Matthew 4:17)

I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.(Luke 13:3)

And the early church continued with its importance as a requirement in God’s  salvation plan for mankind:

Then Peter said unto them, Repent ….  (Acts 2:38)

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Repentance of sin is the first step in positioning ourselves for the great things of God – to receive deeper treasures He has for his church. And one never graduates from it because classes at the University of Self and Mt. Saint Flesh College are always in session. Furthermore, repentance cleanses our heart and mind in preparation to be a vessel where God can place his name. How does that happen? Through baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.

Treasures of Redemption

Now moving out of the darkness of our sin through repentance we can receive another treasure in our lives – the name of Jesus Christ. A bride takes on the name of her husband. The church being the bride of Christ can now receive the treasure of the name of Jesus:

Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. (Revelation 19:7)

The Lord always places His name and blesses the centers of worship of His choosing. In the Old Testament, the Lord chose the Tabernacle as a center for worship. He placed his name there and blessed it:

And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp. (Exodus 33:7)

And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people. (Leviticus 9:23)

The Lord also chose the Temple as a center for worship. He placed his name there and blessed it:

And the LORD said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.(1 Kings 9:3)

The Lord did the same for the city of Jerusalem. And he blessed it and put His name there (I Kings 11:36, II Chron 6:6). In the New Testament, the Lord no longer put his name over cities or buildings of worship, but over people – His spiritual body, His church:

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins ……  (Acts 2:38)

The name of the Lord is placed over one’s life when they are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. As one writer penned it, “Jesus did not say in Matthew 28:19 to baptism believers in his words (Father, Son and Holy Ghost), but in his name.”

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:18)

For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. (Ephesians 5:23)

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12)

Through baptism, one’s life is now a place of worship where God places his name upon and blesses:

And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. (Acts 8:38-39)

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. (Acts 19:5-6)

Another Treasure of Self available for the believer is the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Having come through the cleansing waters of repentance (tears & remorse) and baptism (water immersion), the infilling of God’s spiritual waters is now available to you (John 7:37-39) to complete the cycle:

And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.
And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. (Luke 24:47-49)

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38)

The treasure of God’s Holy Spirit is the sealing of your soul over the power of sin and a down payment of the future promises awaiting you in Heaven:

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Treasures of Revelation

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

The God who spoke light into the darkness as recorded in the Book of Genesis is the same God who gives the knowledge of His glory through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

What revelation? The revelation of who Jesus is. The Book of Revelation was written by the Apostle John around 96 A.D. Notice the book is entitled “Revelation” and not “Revelations”. There is only one revelation, the revelation of the Mighty God in Christ (Rev. 1:1; 4:2, 10-11;5:1; 14:14; 20:11 & 21:5).

Why is revelation important? It is one thing to know someone’s name. It is another thing to know the person behind their name. Now having a heart purged of darkness (repentance), the washing of sin and the name of Jesus (baptism), the power of the Spirit (infilling of the Holy Ghost) and the revelation of Jesus in your life, you can pray, witness and live with authority and power:

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. John 8:12  

God has some profound treasures to give us only available from the depths of our brokenness and darkness. And there are more to come. Be Blessed!

Coming Up: Treasures of Souls & Treasures of the Savior

More Than A Feeling

If ye love me, keep my commandments. John 14:15

God’s word is a window into the very mind and heart of God. In fact, God magnifies His Word above His name (Ps 138:2). It is easy to allow the Word to take a backstage role in our lives. Why? It takes work and effort to search the scriptures and make them the centerpiece of our being. The Apostle John gives some insight into this thought:

And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. Revelation 10:9

On first inspection the word is sweet, enlightening and glorious. But upon digestion,  assimilation and prolonged residence in one’s life, it will be discomforting and contrary to the whims and the wild nature of the flesh. In short, the living Word of God does not always “feel good” in our lives.

Where are we going here? It is important to put feelings into their proper perspective.

Feelings are at best a catalyst for good, and at worst, ignorant and deceptive for the beginnings of error.

We live in a culture defined by the “touchy-feely”. Our society operates on-demand. Give it to me now. Not in 5 minutes, not in 5 seconds, put it in my hand or within my line of sight RIGHT NOW! Why? Because it feels good. And we like to “feel” good.

Unfortunately, this mindset has meandered and crept its way into our perceptions of love, specifically, God’s love. And this is our launching pad. God’s love has little to do with feelings. Let’s take a look into this.

God’s Love & God’s Word

According to the word of the Lord, God’s love IS ALWAYS in concert with obedience to God’s word. Sometimes love is convoluted with two feeling-based fruit of the Spirit; joy and peace. How does one know if they embrace joy or peace? You feel” it. How else can you define the presence of them? You feel and sense peace and you feel and sense joy.

But, God’s love, the Greek word ‘agape’, is not about feelings.

Agape love is more about actions and reactions to life than it’s about feelings in life. The Apostle Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth devoted exclusively to love (agape) pinpoints this assertion:

Longsuffering, kindness, envy-less, selflessness, modest (vs. 4), gracious, humble, even tempered, innocent thinking (vs. 5), non-judgmental & God-seeking (vs. 6), trustworthy, faith-driven, confident, determined (vs. 7). I Corinthians Chapter 13

Where do you find feelings in this list of love characteristics? These spiritual graces are not produced by feelings. They come through persistent obedience and leading by God’s truth (Word) and Spirit. Jesus has much to say on this:

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. John 14:21

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings … John 14:23-24

The New Testament scriptures (KJV) translates the Greek word agapē (ἀγάπη)- sacrificial love, a love feast, as either the English words love or charity, 144x. Of those 144 scriptures, 53 verses include the word “faith” along with the word agapē. Faith cannot be separated from God’s love.

The world has perverted into a feeling what God originally intended to originate from faith. Belief in God’s Word:

Romans 10:17  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

And faith is energized or made effective by love; through the Word of God:

Galatians 5:6  For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

Worketh: Greek ἐνεργέω (energeō) to be active, efficient: effectual, be mighty in. (Strongs)

“… but faith coming to effective expression through love”. (Wuest)

The analogy being: God-focused faith is the bullet, God’s love is the gunpowder.

The world’s formula for love is based on supply-demand marketing strategy. Love is projected as a fragile and fleeting consumable sustained with products and services.

This is not God’s design. Rather the truth is, God designed love to have its roots solely in Him, not as a consumable, but based on a condition. The condition being a heart in total and complete surrender in obedience to His word. What is the result? Knowing God for who He is. And who is He?

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

God is love.

More Love, Less Control

The broadcast on the evening radio last week could not have been more timely. With these thoughts about love lingering and swirling around during the home commute, the preacher said:

The more in love you are with someone, the less control you have over your life“.

The minister went on to say he was just fine living the life of a bachelor. But, when this particular lady entered his life (now his wife), things began to change. He began to loose control over his life. To the point of total loss that he might gain faithful love.

More love, less control:

Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Luke 22:42-44

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:12-13

The more love, the less control.

God is love. It’s more than a feeling.

Be Blessed!

One Thing We Must Know About God

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. Exodus 3:14  

Reflecting, meditating on this great God of creation one has to reach some very basic, foundational conclusions. One of those conclusions is this: God has free will. It is important to grasp this understanding because it lays the foundation of who God really is. Let’s take a look.

I AM THAT I AM

How do we know God possesses free will? First, because He said He did: “I AM THAT I AM”. He does not have to quantify or qualify himself. God is the uniquely sovereign One, the occupier of eternity (Is 57:15), the beginning of all things (John 1:1) and the center of all creation (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16-17). God simply IS.

Secondly, because we do. Humanity is created in God’s image. God created Adam and Eve, and every offspring thereafter for one purpose, for fellowship with Him. As one great man of God penned it: “We are earth forms that God uses to express Himself”. God created us for himself. Adam and Eve were given free will and freedom to make choices independently. Love is established on this premise  – free choice.

Because God possesses free will the power of choice is inherently part of His nature. Therefore, God embraces the prerogative to be any kind of God He desires to be. Think about that for a minute and ask yourself this question:

If I possessed infinite power, what would I do with it?

God could have chosen to be a god who reveled and relished in the utmost extreme dimensions of debauchery and lust while His subjects toiled in slavery and loveless servitude. But, He did not as some of earth’s mighty rulers and kings have done.

God could have strong-armed His inferior subjects into submission and mercilessly forced his power upon them. Not tolerating the slightest challenge or resistance to His authority. But, He did not as some of earth’s mighty rulers and kings have done.

God could have created a universe orchestrated with mindless robots who in mechanical and passionless expression bowed before Him in forced worship. But, He didn’t.

Instead this God, this great God of glory and mercy chose to be known as the God of selfless, sacrificial love.

And this great God knew before “the foundation of the world” the price He would eventually pay to manifest and display that love.

He did it anyway.

God chose to be love. A love that knows is no greater love:

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13  

Some Things Never Change

On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross
The emblem of suff’ring and shame
And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain  ~ The Old Rugged Cross

The cross. Someone once said that if I ever get lost just point me towards Calvary and I will find my way back home. Oxygen is good to breathe. It was good to breathe yesterday and by God’s grace it will be good to breathe oxygen again tomorrow. The cross is as powerful today as it was 2,000 years ago. It is good some things never change.

Calvary expresses the dimensions and depths of God’s love. And to think that God knew what it would take to be a God of love and to become that God anyway should take our breath away. That truly is true love.

May our prayer be: “Jesus, even if I had somewhere else to go, or someone else to love, I will still always come back to you”.

May You Be Blessed.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:2  

Shame

Definition – noun: a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety, a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute. (Merriam-Webster)

Hearing the word itself evokes thoughts and feelings that make us want to turn our head in another direction.

It might be said that there is nothing that grieves the heart of God more than seeing a soul of His suffering under the burden of shame. Shame has to get God’s attention. It is not the will of God that people suffer under the weight of shame.

How do I know that? The Word gives us clear-cut proof this is indeed the case.

A Man Named Cain

The man is Cain, the famous brother of Abel. Most people having any familiarity with the Bible know about the interchange between Cain and Abel.

In short, Abel had a heartbeat for the things of God. Able wanted to please the Lord and do things God’s way. Cain also wanted to please the Lord. However, Cain wanted to do things “his” way. God’s sacrificial requirement was fulfilled by blood, the slaying of an animal.

Abel’s sacrifice was accepted. Cain’s was not. Cain became jealous of his brother and killed him.

Have you ever wondered why the Lord allowed Cain to live after he killed his innocent brother Abel? I have. Why didn’t God just strike him dead and annihilate him for his selfish, despicable deed?

It could be answered by the following two verses:

And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.
Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. Genesis 4:13-14

God knew Cain’s heart. Cain regretted his act, and in, essence repented of his sin. Cain really did want to please God. He really did. He did not want to be separated from the ‘face’ of God, God’s presence. And God heard Cain’s acknowledgement of shame.

There was another man who committed an act just as grievous as Cain’s. His name was David. He also did not want to be separated from God’s presence after his own entanglement with shame and sin:

Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Psalm 51:11

Psalm 51. The song of David’s repentance, “When Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba” (and after having her husband’s death pre-arranged).

Another man acquainted with shame.

Cain’s words did something to the heart of God. David’s words in Psalm 51 did something to the heart of God. The Lord hears cries of shame. And it does something inside of His heart.

Why? Because God had a plan to address the sin issue, the shame issue.

The Romans designed crucifixion as a method of death in the most shameful, disgraceful way possible. It was a fulfillment of God’s plan way before the thought entered their mind:

His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; for he that is hanged is accursed of God; that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance. Deuteronomy 21:23

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: Galatians 3:13

Jesus knows what shame is. Jesus Christ died in shame the worst way possible by the way of the cross:

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

And Jesus is intimately aware of any shame present in our lives.

The Pain of Shame

Let me detract here. This blogger has remarked previously that this blog is intended to be angled from the third-person perspective. The intention of the blog is to not be “about me”.

But, let’s digress here. I will humble myself for the benefit of whoever might come across this blog post and be helped and be healed. The subject of this post is heart-felt. I know personally what shame is all about.

In fact, I have suffered under the weight of shame most of my life, specifically for the past 45 years. That is a long time to live in pain.

You might ask: Forty-five years of what? Time, space and the venue constrict unfolding all the details. But, basically forty-five years of sinful acts and habits or feeling guilt about those past habits, forty-five years of destructive thought patterns (the Bible defines them as ‘strongholds’), forty-five years of living with a conscience defiled by shame.

But, let me tell you God has healed me. It was a process that started five years ago.

Who healed me? The power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ (the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost) healed me. How? Through the prayers of His people. I could not do it by myself. If I could it would have happened sooner.

It is a process. A process where His body, the body of Christ, plays the pivotal role. The natural body can heal itself of things physically related, but not the things that go down deep, at the soul and spiritual level. You cannot heal yourself of spiritual wounds which includes shame. You need the church. I need the church.

No matter how ‘super spiritual’ I may think I am or how ‘super spiritual’ you may think you are, we can’t take this journey alone, this journey of being healed of shame. We desperately need each other.

And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
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. James 5:15-16

Be Healed

Let me give you some sound advice. Don’t allow shame to foul the precious life God has given you. It is not God’s will. It is a waste. God loves you. He really does.

We must understand that God sees the pain of our shame. God is interested in our shame. And God is the healer of shame!

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. Isaiah 53:5

God is not a healer. God is the healer. God is still in the miracle-working business.

He will heal our shame if we ask him. Do you really believe that? Then why don’t you get on your knees and tell him about it and see what happens? Start the process now. Pray for the Lord to lead you to a spirit-filled body of believers who will pray for your healing.

Be healed. Live for Jesus. And be Blessed.