Love – God’s Greatest Weakness?

For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you. 2 Corinthians 13:4

Weakness – dfn. lack of physical strength; lack of power, influence or strength of character; a weak point in a system or somebody’s character. (Source: Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary)

Can God be weak? Is it possible for the great God of glory to exhibit any weaknesses? Or can God “choose” to be weak to achieve a much greater purpose and cause? One thing is certain and one thing we all agree upon is that love is weak. Love does not operate from a position of power or strength. Love assumes the position of weakness, giving instead of taking and being the recipient of pain versus the one causing the pain, And the list goes on. That stated, how do we respond when the Bible says that “God is love” (I Jn 4:8,16). If God is love and love is weak then what does this say about God’s person, nature, being and character?

As we probe this a little further we will find out that God does and always has a plan. And His plans are perfect. And His plans have always centered around one goal and purpose – to show all of creation how magnificent, how wonderful and how glorious He really is (Ps 145:10-11, Is 6:3, Col 1:16, Rev 4:11). And we will discover that this whole subject of weakness has an astounding ending. Let’s dive into this a little.

 The Progressive Works of God

In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth in a miraculous display of creative power. We know that, but what we sometimes forget or do not think about is that these acts of creative power were not conclusive.  After each day of creation God said that “it was good” six times (Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21 & 25). The number ‘six’ is the number of man, the number of incompletion. This tells us something. It tells us that God had something else planned that would supersede His “good”. What is that? The answer is: God’s ‘best’. God said that His acts of creation were good. What God did not say was that He was “finished” with His work of creation. It would take 6,000 years before He would say that his work of creation on earth was “finished”.

God’s way of revealing His character and will through HIs sovereign acts and ways is progressive in nature (Is 28:10, 13). His plans unfold the way photographs were originally made. Photographs used to be formed after light-sensitive photographic paper was immersed a chemical bath called a “developing solution” after being exposed to a light source projected through a film negative. Images would slowly emerge over the paper’s surface while the solution swished over its surface until the entire scene photographed appeared. Such is the revelation of God, a step-by-step progression of events unfolding to culminate into the complete understanding and knowledge of all that God is.

Progressive Steps – A Man, A Family, A Nation & A World

God’s first step in revealing His character and nature started with a single man, Adam. Adam, the first created being made in God’s image was his first choice to begin exposing who He was through communication and fellowship. Adam failed in fulfilling all that God planed for him because of disobedience. So, as God always does, He moved on. God then chose a family to work with and continue to unfold his perfect plan and will. The man was Noah and he found grace in the sight of God (Gen 6:8). The Lord worked through Noah and his family to preserve a remnant of mankind from judgment (the flood) looming over earth’s inhabitants. After Noah and his offspring fulfilled their God-given role He moved on to something bigger – a nation.

The Lord chose the people of the nation of Israel (through the faith of Abraham) as the next step to reveal His will. The Lord started what would be a journey of almost 2,000 yeas to prepare a people who would glorify Him and be a witness of his power, mercy, goodness and grace to a darkened world. Again, the plan fell short of its intended expectations. Israel would eventually become divisive, indifferent to the ways of God and fall into relative oblivion amongst the nations of the earth.

After failing to achieve perfection yet again, God in his last and final attempt to fulfill His perfect plan decided to take matters into his own hands. This final plan would supersede all others in scope and power and go beyond the limitations of human futility, family frailty and national hostility. God’s final and perfect plan would encompass the entire world and involve all of Heaven, including Himself!

But God faced a dilemma. Because of the nature of this final plan Heaven could not be its launching pad or its  operations center. Why? Because this plan demanded a part of God that He had up to this point not revealed. This final plan demanded God’s total and complete commitment of His love and forgiveness only attainable through profound weakness. And He was up to the challenge.

Earth – The Manifestation of God’s Greatest Weakness, The Perfection of God’s Magnificent Power

Heaven is a place of eternity and timelessness where demonstrations and exhibitions of God’s glory, might and power are in full display. Heaven is not a place for weakness. When God determined it was time to manifest and reveal the most glorious aspects of His character, nature and being He would have to do it at some other place and in some other form. And He did. It is the place we know as planet Earth. God designed earth for two  purposes; to heal the breach of sin in Heaven (Lucifer’s rebellion) and on earth (Adam’s fall/man’s sin) and to reveal to all of Creation the glory of of His character and manifestation of His greatness weakness – His love. To gather together IN ONE “all things in Christ” (Eph 1:10).

He began the process on earth as a child in the “likeness of sinful (weak) flesh”:

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Luke 1:30-33

God himself stepped beyond the curtain of Heaven’s glory and power to become weak, weak like you and me.
However, he did it unlike you and I. He became flesh and lived without committing sin. Jesus was truly the Lamb of God. Perfect. Sinless. Blameless. Guiltless.

First we need to ask a question: Was Jesus really weak?

He became sin who knew no sin (Is 53:12; II Cor 5:21)
He laid down his life so others might take their life up (Luk 22:19-20; Rom 8:32; I Jn 3:16)
He chose death so others might have live (Joh 10:15-18)
He became poor so others might be rich (II Cor 8:9)
He relinquished his God-given power so others might be empowered by it (Mark 5:37-39; Joh 7:37-39; Acts 1:8, 2:38)
He was a lamb before a merciless company of fearless beasts (Is 53:7; Mark 15:32)
He was speechless and defenseless while being falsely accused (Mark 15:3-5)
He loved and forgave the who betrayed him (Mark 14:18-21Luk 22:47-48)
He loved and forgave all who hated him and were ashamed of him (Luk 23:34)

Can we conclude that Jesus indeed chose weakness over power? Is that not how true love is supposed to work?

God’s plans are foolproof. If he fails to accomplish something one way, He will always have something behind the scene that will come through when needed.

Satan thinks he has it all figured out. He believes his dominion over the world is unchallengeable, his death threat forever intact and his plan of deception and destruction over mankind unequaled. Being the father of lies (Joh 8:44) he is the chief deceiver,  deceived and dead wrong.

There is one thing Satan never experienced in Heaven nor will he ever understand about God. And that is: God’s weakness and the profound love of God birthed in that weakness. Satan and his hordes of fallen angels are  completely dumfounded by continually being defeated by the power of God’s love. God’s love has the capacity (unlike any other agent known on earth) to attract the human soul beyond sin’s gravitational pull and cause it to fall in total surrender before its Creator. As one lady radio announcer phrased it: “God’s love is the most compelling force in the entire universe”. It most definitely is.

And here is how. God’s power is perfected in weakness:

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. 2 Corinthians 12:9

The word “strength” in this verse is the Greek word “δύναμις” [dunamis] which is translated into English as “force” or specifically, “miraculous power”. The word “dynamite” is derived from this same Greek word. What does this all mean?

This tells us that God, in the most infinitely weak form possible, came to this earth in the “likeness” of sinful flesh to perfect His power. God became infinitely weak through his death on a cross so that He might become …………. infinitely powerful! So powerful in fact that Jesus is now worthy to receive all of the fullness of God’s glory, might and honor – “even in him” (Eph 1:10). Now that is something to get excited about.

From “It Is Good” to “It Is Finished” – Jesus, Our Seventh Day Of Eternal Rest

As mentioned at the outset, God said after each act of creation the words “it is good” (6x). This tells us that God had one more act of creation to perform – an act to bring everything full circle and complete His final, perfect plan waiting to unfold from the beginning of time.

According to God’s Word one day with the Lord can be 1,000 years or 1,000 years as one day (2 Pet 3:8). Therefore it is not coincidental that Jesus Christ appeared on earth exactly 6 days (6,000 years) after God’s work of Creation. God in the Old Testament rested on the seventh day from His work of creation (Gen 2:1-3) and also reserved this day for mankind’s physical rest (Mar 2:27). In the New Testament, Jesus offers those who believe and trust in him a new life with a new beginning (2 Cor 5:17). Jesus can be seen as the seventh day from creation offering mankind the gift of eternal ‘spiritual’ rest (Mat 11:28-29; Heb 3:11, 4:9-11; Rev 14:13). The Lord completed or finished His final creative week of seven days when Jesus fulfilled the Father’s perfect will.

What was that final act or work of perfection God needed to perform?

Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. John 4:34  

God’s perfect will was to manifest Himself in weakness as the Son (flesh) of God on earth to offer salvation to a fallen world through his sinless blood and give the hope of eternal rest (life) to those under the power of sin and death by the god of this world. It was through this sacrificial act that God revealed to the world the most magnificent and profound nature of His person being – His deep, profound love.

The death of Jesus Christ as the sacrificial Lamb of God and Savior of the world was God’s seventh and final ‘work’ that fulfilled the Father’s will and ‘finished’ His creative plan on earth:

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. John 19:30 

In conclusion, God’s perfected power is expressed and manifested in the form of the God-man Jesus Christ. Jesus is the embodiment of that perfected power and rules “at God’s right hand” in the seat of Heaven having all authority and power over all of Creation (Rev 1:12-18). All because of weakness and all because of love. God’s love. For God is love.

Be Blessed & Be Free in Jesus’ Name. Amen

(Credit: Photo of baby & finger)

The Treasures of Darkness – The Savior

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. Matthew 27:45  

In the final installment in this ‘Treasures’ series, we will look at three specific treasures of darkness given to mankind by the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.

These treasures first appear in Genesis chapter one and weave and spin their threads throughout the entire Word of God all the way to the Book of Revelation. And all three are essential for our understanding and good to get a hold of. Let’s take a look at this.

Treasures of the Savior – Light, Life & Love

The treasures we are speaking of are Light, Life and Love and all first appear in Genesis chapter one. The first act of creation is the appearance of the first treasure, Light:

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

The phrase “Let there be” is the Hebrew word ‘hâyâh‘ which means “to exist, be or become, come to pass“. In other places during His work of Creation the Bible uses the phrase “And God created” which is the Hebrew word ‘bârâ‘ which means “to create, choose, or make appear”  (Strongs Concordance).

Note that God did not ‘create’ light, He let light exist. God did not create light because He IS Light (I Joh 1:5). God did more in Gen 1:3 than just release photons or electromagnetic radiation into the cosmos. Rather He released or purposed into existence the plan (Word/Logos – Joh 1:1) where He would ultimately express His true Being and Person. This is something we will look at shortly in detail and key to understand exactly what God is doing here.

The next several works of God are the creation of Life forms on the earth:

Genesis 1:11  And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. (Day 3)

Genesis 1:20  And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. (Day 5)

Genesis 1:21  And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. (Day 5)

Genesis 1:24  And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. (Day 6)

God saved His best work for last by handcrafting prized beings in His own image whom he could love and they would all together love each other:

Genesis 1:27  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Day 6) 

And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.  Genesis 2:22-24

Now let’s take a deeper look at this first treasure called light.

The Savior’s Treasure of True Light

Before launching into this it might be good to establish three preliminary understandings about God: 1) God is omnipresent (occupies all space), 2) God is omniscient (all knowing), and 3) God is omnipotent (all powerful). Therefore, God knew before speaking His first word of Creation that this Heaven and earth He was about to create would soon (against His will) become engrossed in darkness and sin. And He would judge it and replace it with a new Heaven and a new earth (II Pet 3:10, Rev 21:1). He knew that Adam and Eve would sin and the people occupying earth would as a whole turn their backs on HIm and resist HIs plan for their lives. Why being this up?

Whatever God creates is forever (Ecc 3:14). God never wastes what He creates. He will either use it for His glory or He will reject it in righteous judgment. The Lord grafted a plan within a plan in Genesis chapter one. On the surface, it appears this Creation which He knew in His foreknowledge would fail to live up to its expectations would ultimately be destroyed, hopelessly terminated and forgotten. However, within His creative work God provisioned an escape hatch, a way of redemption to save anyone who would faithfully stay true to Him and obey His Word regardless of the conditions of the world around them. And His sovereign provision of salvation (through the Gospel of Jesus Christ) brings us back to the first act of Creation – Light.

What light is being referred to in Genesis 1:3? The sun? The stars? The moon? No, they were all created in Genesis 1:14.

The light called out in Genesis 1:3, the first spoken word (Logos) of God from the void of darkness, ushered in God’s grand plan to separate light from darkness with the future work of separating righteousness from sin and eternal life from eternal death. God set the earthly stage perfectly in Genesis when He would one day physically visit Himself as the man Jesus Christ, the expression of God’s ‘true light’ and truth (Joh 14:6 & I Joh 2:8).

When God uttered the words “Let there be light” He at that moment ushered into existence the inception of the spiritual dimension and future physical manifestation of Jesus Christ.

How do we know this? The Apostle John begins his Gospel as an almost exact mirror of Genesis 1:1:

In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word (Logos) was with God, and the Word (Logos) was God.

In Genesis 1:3 God ushered into the physical dimension (not created) HIs divine will, a will destined to bring together “all things in Christ” and establish in the realms of time and space the revelation of His true Being and essence:

And the Word (Logos) was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.John 1:1,14

The following scripture shows that God literally spoke light, the true light, the forthcoming light of Jesus who one day in the future would spring from this primitive darkness and void of chaos:

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

Even though the life of Jesus Christ would not be physically manifested until thousands of years later as an infant born in Bethlehem, God prophetically spoke the words in Genesis Chapter 1 with the same Spirit that would reside in Jesus thousands of years into the future. The scriptures emphatically state that all things (in Heaven and on earth) evolve around just one person. Everything is of him, through him and to him:

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. Col 1:16-17 (also Joh 1:3; Rom 11:36; I Cor 15:27-28; Eph 1:10).

The Savior’s Treasure of True Life

You cannot separate a person from their words. Your words individually define who you are. And you cannot separate one’s spirit from themselves. We all have one, unique, individual spirit that defines our life. It is our spirit that provides life.

God is also a Spirit (Joh 4:24). And Jesus had a spirit (Luk 23:46, Mar 15:37; Heb 9:14). The question arises: Where did Jesus get his Spirit? Was Jesus’ spirit different and separate from God’s eternal Spirit? We know Jesus was conceived of the Holy Ghost (Mat 1:20 & Luk 1:35).

The Bible describes God’s Spirit in several manifestations and/or terms; as a wind (Gen 1:2; Joh 3:8; Acts 2:2), life-giving breath (Eze 37:4-5; Joh 20:22), life-giving power (Joh 2:19; Mar 16:6; Rom 6:9, 8:11; Acts 4:10 & I Cor 15:52) as fire (Exo 3:2, 19:18; I Ki 18:38; Acts 2:3) and as a Spirit, Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost (Gen 1:2; Jdg 6:34; Job 26:13; Ps 51:11, 139:7  – Luk 11:13; Eph 1:13Luk 1:15, 67, 3:22 & Joh 14:26). In the later terms, the Greek word “pneuma’ is employed which is defined as breath, life or just Spirit. There is only one Spirit of God.

Going back to the question: where did Jesus get his spirit? His mother Mary being conceived of the Holy Spirit, Jesus must have the same Spirit as the Father. And Jesus many times spoke that he and his Father were one and if one looked upon him what they would see is the Father (Joh 10:30, 17:21-23 & 14:9). Jesus’ spirit and the Father’s spirit are one and the same.

What we are trying to get at here is that life (specifically human life) created in Genesis Chapter One is only a superficial life compared to the true life available in Jesus. As the first Adam was earthly, the last Adam (Jesus) is the Lord of glory (I Cor 15:45-47) who gives eternal life to those who believe on and surrender their life to him.

In essence, God’s Spirit is the life-giving force that keeps us alive in the natural on earth (our first birth) and supernaturally now and carried onward to Heaven (in the New Birth – Joh 3:5-8 & 4:13-14). It is this latter life that John writes about in his Gospel and in his book The First Letter of John (I John) which is the whole focus of the Gospel, being redeemed from the power of sin and receiving eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ definition of life was radical and would forever flip the tables of the world whose mantra of living is “Eat, drink and be merry”. Jesus’ definition of true life, true reward and true contentment is in the ‘giving‘ and not in the ‘getting‘ (Luk 17:33 & Acts 20:35), And this true life calls one out of the darkness and into His true light (II Cor 4:6 & I Pet 2:9).

The Apostle John ties Jesus’ true life and true light together in his Gospel and in The Book of I John. Concerning the treasures of light and life, he writes the following:

(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us) I John 1:2

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. John 1:4

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

The treasures of light and life in Jesus is the fulfilment of the light the Lord spoke in existence in the Book of Genesis. And it does not stop there. It continues on to the last book of the Bible:

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. Revelation 21:4

And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. Revelation 21:23

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. Revelation 22:5

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Revelation 22:17

The Savior’s Treasure of True Love

John writes two times in the Book of I John that God is Love (I Jn 4:8, 16). God’s purpose and desire in creating man and woman was for His glory. The Lord wanted a creation who would worship and praise him for who he is. Since the moment Adam and Eve fell into sin he forever desired to mend that relationship and forge a loving bond with his people. He attempted to do that with His called out people, the nation of Israel. As we know that turned out not much better then the experience in the Garden of Eden. So, then the Lord came himself (Mat 21:33-46), made an earthly, personal house call to tell them once again his love for them (Mat 23:37).

All problematic situations, discord and disharmony in life can be attributed to one thing – a lack of true love. Jesus knows this and came to fix it. The Apostle John writes  more about love than any other writer in the 66 books of the Bible. And he was known as the disciple that Jesus loved (Joh 20:2) and John knew his material. He ties together these treasures of light and life with one more ingredient – God’s love:

He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes. I Joh 2:9-11

We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 1 John 3:14

Of the three essentials needed for following Jesus (faith, hope & love) and any hope of obtaining eternal life, love is the greatest of them all (I Cor 13:13) because it never fails (I Cor 13:8). When life’s version of love fails you, there is a King in Heaven whose heart is more pure than earth’s finest gold.

A female Christian radio broadcaster commented that “God’s love is the most compelling force in the universe”. That is so true. God is love. And God wants is to be loved for who He is. Jesus said that he was “meek and lowly in heart”. The Lord will never force himself on anyone. He is looking for those who are looking for him. Life is the ultimate love test.

At the end of this life we will be judged on many levels. But, the one area the Lord will focus on in our lives is how we have loved. After giving his life on a cross and enduring humiliating shame, he will look at us and ask: “How much have you loved me, obeyed my commandments and loved your neighbor?”

In Conclusion

We have traveled along a road to understand three treasures of God – Light, Life and Love. These treasures cannot be purchased with money nor acquired with human intellect or through social connections. One is led into these only by the prompting of and obedience to God’s Spirit (Mat 11:27; Joh 6:44).

These treasures are eternal in nature and all work together to perfect you and to heal you. There is a saying that “God’s mercy keeps us until His grace teaches us”. It can also be said that His mercy “heals us”. It may be true that we have only scratched the surface of understanding the depths and riches of God’s mercy. Why? First, God’ mercy is not bound by time, it is forever (Eza 3:11; Ps 106:1, 107:1, 118:1). We do not have the capacity to comprehend the concept of ‘forever’.

And this is central to the next reason for us not totally understanding the depth of God’s mercy. No matter where you have been, no matter how you have lived and no matter what sin or sins you may have committed or have been committed against you, they are not able to exhaust, extinguish or surpass the mercy of God. You just have to believe, obey his Word, be led by His Spirit and become a member of His body – His church. We are just not sufficient within ourselves to do this on our own.

The eternal treasures of True Light (Truth), True Life (New Birth/Eternal life) and True Love (God’s enduring love & mercy) work together so that YOU may have a hope, an escape and a future destined for eternal significance through Jesus Christ. Jesus stepped into and then out of the darkness to bring you these things. In Jesus’ Name. Amen!

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.

One Thing God Will Never Tell You

(Disclaimer: this post is the outflow to a reader’s comment on the previous post. The comment was genuine and demanded a genuine response which evolved into a post all of its own. Hope you enjoy it).

Matthew 24:36  But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Mark 13:32  But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

These two perplexing scriptures reveal Jesus’ apparent lack of knowing “all things”. The logic being: If Jesus is God, how can he not know all things? Does not Jesus know all things? If he does not, he cannot be God. This is where it gets interesting.

Some background research is in order.

First, the disciples clearly believed Jesus knew all things:

John 16:30  Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.

John 21:17  He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

And Jesus clearly knew the Father:

Luke 10:22  All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.

So, what is the problem here with these two verses?

Here is the answer. The two verses are divinely designed to fulfill God’s will. Here is why.

The two verses appear in Matthew chapter 24 and Mark chapter 13 where Jesus is speaking of his prophetic return. These two chapters are identical mirror images of each other in content.

They each cover the following topics in order:

Jesus Foretells Destruction of the Temple
Signs of the End of the Age
The Abomination of Desolation
The Coming of the Son of Man
The Lesson of the Fig Tree
No One Knows That Day and Hour

Jesus is speaking in these two chapters and clearly knows some things about the future and the endtime. All things! He clearly knows the state of the earth and the signs preceding his return.

But, what about the perplexing verses of Mat. 24:36 & Mar 13:32 that Jesus somehow does not “know” the exact day and hour of his own second coming? Why? Because it is the Father’s will to intentionally withhold this “classified” information and not reveal it.

And this is the key point: Remember, Jesus is bound to his disciples to reveal to them (and his church today) the revealed Word/Logos (John 1:1-2, 14):

Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. John 17:7-8

However, it is not God’s will to reveal the timing of His return because of what Jesus discusses at the end of both of these chapters. And that is differentiating between faithful and unfaithful servants.

God is intentionally withholding that information from all mankind because Jesus’ exact coming will be a total surprise. No living human being will ever know it. Why? To separate those who truly love him (wise and faithful servants) from those who are insincere and playing games.

Everybody will jump on the ‘Jesus’ Homecoming Celebration’ bandwagon if they knew the exact day and hour when he returns to earth. But, that is not going to be the case.

Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Matthew 24:44

But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;
The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, Matthew 24:48-50

The revelation of the exact time of Jesus’ second coming is a secret never to be revealed by the eternal Spirit of Almighty God to mankind. It is Jesus’ choice rather than a lack of knowledge.

Jesus knew all things, but he intentionally choose not to reveal or “know” some things while on earth in obedience to the perfect will (Word/Logos) of God.

As a corollary to the previous litmus test of false doctrine, here is another:

Anyone who predicts the exact time and/or day of Jesus’ second coming is not exercising sound doctrine.

Happy 4th of July!

Oneness Or Trinity?


(Disclaimer: this post may generate controversy. This post will “turn some people off”. This post will cause some followers to unhinge and never follow this blog again.

However, there is nothing in this life more important to God than the saving of the soul. And this blog was birthed by the probing and pricking of God’s Holy Spirit for this blogger to come out of the proverbial “closet”, let his light shine and not be ashamed of his Savior. And this was all confirmed from a church pulpit on one particular Sunday morning over seven years ago).

So, before you turn off and travel on I ask you to hear out what is written here because this post raises one question that has eternal significance. That can be a pretty rash and arrogant statement to make, but when you consider we will all spend eternity in one place or the other we must make sure we get things right. Don’t you agree?

Depending on which “camp” or side of the Oneness or Trinity discussion you find yourself your answer to this one question will be starkly different. And this question IS perhaps one of the most important questions will ever answer about your Christian faith, the God you serve and about the identity of Jesus Christ.

Before we get into that question, let’s get back to the subject of Oneness and Trinity. Here are some facts differentiating the two:

  • Trinity is not mentioned nor the word used in the Bible.
  • The word “Trinity” entered the stage of church history at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD with the doctrine officially enacted at the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD.
  • Judiasm is a belief based on monotheism (Israel is a nation of people who believe God is One; not three, two or many, one and only one)
  • The Apostles believed in the Oneness of God.
  • The early Apostolic Church was comprised of Oneness believers.

The treasured “shema” spoken by the Jewish believer is immersed in oneness theology:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: Deuteronomy 6:4

So What Is The One Question?

The one question referred to earlier is this:

Who died on the cross? Who really bled, agonized, and was shamed on Calvary’s cross?

If you are a believer in the Trinity you will say it was God’s Son, the second person of the Trinity, whom the Father “sent” to die for the sins of all mankind. Jesus Christ was one of three persons,  a proxy if you will, sent to save souls from the curse of sin.

A Oneness believer will answer the question differently. A Oneness believer will not say Jesus Christ is one person of three, a proxy, or God’s perfect, yet detached sacrifice for sin. A Oneness believer will say Jesus Christ is the manifestation of the One Holy God enrobed in flesh, the physical manifestation of the true, living God.

Oneness believers see God himself in human flesh at Calvary. The eternal Spirit of the living God, the same spirit infused in the body of Jesus (Rom. 8:11), the same Spirit that created the heavens, earth, seas, sun, moon, stars, animals, birds, vegetation, flowers, the atomic structures of oxygen, carbon, florine, gold and silver hung on Calvary’s cross.

It was Him. The Creator Himself. He felt the agony, pain, shame, rejection and humiliation.

The Litmus Test for False Doctrine

Many people are leery of beliefs contrasting their own. We naturally question the unfamiliar or ideas that clash with what we’ve grown to learn from our ancestry or family traditions. False doctrine pervades the landscape and even Jesus and the apostles warned of its prevalence in the last days (Luke 21:8, Mat 7:15, Acts 20:29, II Cor 11:14, II Tim 4:3, II John 1:10)

However, there is a test to identify false doctrine. It is a simple test, but highly accurate. It is this:

Within your belief system or religious persuasion can Jesus Christ be exalted to a position he is not worthy to occupy?

If you answer “yes” to that question it is a sign you are believing in or dwelling in unsound doctrine. It is that simple.

History and most people will affirm that Jesus Christ was ….

A good man.
A humble man.
A popular teacher.
An influential leader.
A charismatic figure to the masses.
A prophet.
Even … A worker of miracles.

But, there was one position Jesus was not worthy to occupy according to the established religious teachers of his day and as a whole to the religions in our day:

The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. John 10:33

Jesus was not worthy to occupy the highest and most exalted position of all, God and Creator of the heaven and the earth. According to the established religious hierarchy of his day he wasn’t qualified to be elevated and called the Almighty, the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace because only God can occupy these positions.

Well, was Jesus God? What qualifies him? The scriptures have this to say about Jesus Christ:

  • The Creator of All Things (John 1:1-3, 10, Col 1:16, Heb 1:2)
  • Existed in Eternity & before time (John 17:24, Col 1:17, I Peter 1:19-20)
  • Has all Power & Authority (Mat 28:18, Eph 1:10, 19-22, Heb 12:2, Acts 7:55-56)
  • Has the Power to Forgive Sins (Mat 9:6, Mark 2:7, Acts 26:18, Eph 1:7, Col 1:4)
  • Is the Image of the Invisible God (John 14:9, 17:21-22, Heb 1:3, Rev 1:12-18)
  • His Name Is Exalted Above All Others (Isa 9:6, Mat 1:21-23, Luk 1:35, Eph 5:20, Phl 2:9-10, Col 3:17, Rev 22:16)

What is your conclusion in light of these (and many other) scriptures? Is Jesus worthy to occupy the position of Almighty God?

The God I Want To Believe

Putting all controversy and debate aside let’s ask another honest question. The question is not what you believe, but which of the two would you want to believe?

Which God would you prefer to serve? One who sacrificed his only “son“, or one who sacrificed “Himself“? A God who instead of sending a proxy He came Himself as a person? Or instead of sending another He submitted himself?

Does this not make Calvary so much more poignant, and powerful? Oh, yes it does. The Creater allowed Himself to be placed into the hands of His Creation. There is no love greater than this that God Himself visited earth and laid down his own life.

Considering also this question : Would God ask of us a sacrifice that He himself would not first commit to himself? (John 6:51, 10:15-17, Rom 12:1)

God is love. God loves you. Oh, how He loves you!

Have you experienced the New Birth according to the scriptures?

John 3:1-15 & Acts 2:38

Be Blessed!

He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. Acts 19:2  

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

Secrets

“A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.” Proverbs 11:13

We live in a world highly sensitized to personal confidentiality and the risks involved in its loss. Information data breaches, identity theft and information system compromise are news headlines we hear about almost daily and even experience ourselves.

The evidence is out that keeping anything “secret” is becoming more and more difficult as our personal lives are being increasingly intertwined with globalized information networks that we all inter-operate with.

However, there are some secrets that must be held in confidence, and if not, result in devastating consequences. National security, intellectual property and personal medical information (to name a few) all fall into the “secret” category. A breach in any of these areas could potentially result in massive loss of life, wealth or dignity.

Thinking on a more spiritual plane, I wonder if God Himself also has some secrets He wishes to keep confidential. Are there some “God secrets” He wishes to share, but cannot because of the presiding spiritual climate?

Could it be that the Lord does not reveal some things to His people because either they will not appreciate them or they cannot be trusted with the information (a Heavenly data breach)?

The Secret Place

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalms 91:1

There is a place in God where secrets are shared, intimate thoughts exchanged and deep revelations of truth and knowledge is transmitted; it is called “the secret place” and getting there will cost something. There will be resistances of flesh, the world and the powers of darkness that will try hinder one from arriving. But, it is worth the trip.

It is not a place for cowards, lairs, backbiters or the insincere; it is a place for the thankful, those with wholeness of heart, a hunger for truth, right intentions and pure motives. The secret place is where God shares His most private thoughts.

The biblical record tells us that many have visited the secret place and they were never the same afterwards; Moses (Exo 34:29), Jacob (Gen 32:24, 30-31), Hannah (I Sam 1:10-12), Ester (Est 4:16), Jonah (Jon 2:1-10), Cornelius (Act 10:1-4), Saul of Tarsus (Act 22:6-11), the Apostle John (Rev 1:10-17), and of course Jesus (Luk 22:41-45).

There are some things that cannot be disclosed to just anyone, things only discussed behind closed doors and in intimate places. Can we be trusted with the secrets of God? Can the Lord speak “things in the dark” to us and trust that they will be protected by heart and mind?

Touching the Holy

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;” I John 1:1

As the disciples physically touched and “handled” Jesus (the Word of life), we today are touched and do touch God’s Holy spirit, the Holy Ghost. When the Holy Ghost fills the human soul with that infusion of new life (Acts 2:38), we are at that point literally “handling” the Word of life; Jesus Christ himself (Rom 8:11).

How do we act when our hands touch the Holy? Am I handling Jesus the way I should? Do I really appreciate the “secret” that God has revealed to me, the secret that was hidden in the O.T. (Gen 49:10, Psa 110:1), the secret the prophets could not yet perceive (Isa 28:11-12, Joel 2:28-29) and the angels themselves could only wonder about (I Peter 1:12) ?

The Good Part

We read in the N.T. a very personal narrative and discourse between Jesus and two of his favorite companions outside of his circle of disciples, Mary and Martha. There is hardly anything like it in the gospels. Here we see Jesus in conversation who delves down to the bare metal to unravel and defuse conflicting emotions between two sisters:

“Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.” Luke 10:38-40

As Mary clearly understood, some things can only be found close to Jesus, by sitting right at his feet. This is the place where his secrets are heard, felt and understood.

“But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42

The “Good part” is a “God part“, it is a place where secrets are whispered, secrets that make the mind spin and the heart burn. It is a place where life takes on new meaning, one’s God-walk is energized and faith is rekindled. This is what the “good part” did for Mary, it will do the same for you and me.

As with Mary, we all need to strive to find the secret place in God, to desire the “good part”.

Could it be that the Lord wishes to give more people “the good part”, but because of a lack of interest his wishes often go unnoticed?

And can Mary be faulted for her desire for deeper truth, and to the chagrin of her sister Martha, neglect fleeting earthly concerns in the process? Apparently, Jesus did not think so. Am I spending more time on earthy pursuits, on mindless time drains and less time “at the feet” of Jesus?

The Lord has some secrets to tell us. Are we listening?

“Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.” Luke 24:45

Happy Thanksgiving!