Friday, April 25, 2014

Priests in the Service of God

As a follower, believer and disciple of Jesus Christ, I am made a priest in the service of God (1 Peter 2:9).

Interesting, huh?  What do you envision when you think of a  priest?  I know what I think of, and it's not good.  God has a vision of good when He enrolls us in  His school of theology, so let's put that vision out of minds and look with fresh eyes at what His Word tell us.

God's word gives us guidelines for being His priests, and these fruits should be evident in our lives:

1.     Thankfulness

2.      Having a broken spirit and a broken and contrite  heart

3.      Singing songs of joy and thanksgiving to Him

4.      Filled with faith and sharing it with others

5.      Sharing our financial gifts with those who are in service to Him

6.      Praising His name

7.      Doing good

8.      Sharing what we have with others for the glory of God

9.      Sacrificing of the body, the mind, and the will to Him and what He desires in all situations and at all                times.

This is quite a list, is it not?  If all who declared they were followers of Jesus were living priestly lives like we're supposed to be doing, wouldn't the world really look differently?

As I ran through the list, asking myself how well I was allowing God to work through me as his priest, I came up with a lot of poor performance on my part.  Thank God that my salvation is ALL about what Jesus has done for me, and not based on what I have done for Him.  However, that being said, I believe our Lord does expect us to adhere to His expectations along the way of the road we are traveling during our time on this planet.  We are to expected to work for the Lord with all due diligence.  Our works are the proof of our faith, and according to Brother James, faith without works is dead.

Go through the list, give yourself a "+" or a "-" depending on which you think you are and see if you come out on the plus side or the minus side.    If you came out with more "minus" signs than "plus" signs (like me), what then must we be doing to put ourselves and our faith into action as God's priest here on earth and in the age to come as we reign with Him?

It struck me, as I read 1 Peter 2 that "I" am a part of the chosen race, royal priesthood and holy nation that belongs to God because HE called me out of darkness into HIS marvelous light.  I no longer belong to myself.  I am bought and paid for by the precious blood of Christ.  I am to proclaim (no matter who doesn't want to hear it) the excellencies of Him to chose and called me.

Therefore, I need to realize that:

I am special to God; I was chosen long, long ago, before the foundations of time.

I am a priest in the service of God.

As God is holy, I am to be holy.

I am a part of a large body of people who are also chosen and called by God; His body, His church and
some day soon, His bride.

God owns me, for His purposes.  He owns my heart, mind, body and soul, and when anyone of those want to go against what God wants and do what it wants, I need to use the power of the holy spirit within me to be in control of my self and my flesh and exercise His will.

God, I am far from perfect, you know that.  But Lord, you know that my desire is to be wholly, completely yours.  I want to be obedient and to serve you as well as I  know how.  I rely on your Holy Spirit to teach me and lead me.  I ask that you would build my faith, and give me a true, fresh desire to serve give you my very best in everything I do.   You have brought me this far, Lord Jesus.  I trust you to complete what you have begun in me.  Have your way in my life and help me to be thankful to you for ALL things.  I ask this in accordance to your will and in your name.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Giver of All Good and Perfect Gifts

That's our Father!  Yes, He is the giver of ALL good and perfect gifts, and never a more perfect gift was given than Jesus Christ for our sins.

Think about this today:  the same power that caused Christ to rise from the dead (caused all the bodily systems to restart after completely quitting and there being no life in them) is at work in us!!  Think about what we can do through Him and His power!!

While you think on those things today, enjoy a listen  to this:

Yes, I know it's the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and no I don't believe as they believe.  I just think they make beautiful music.

Choose today to listen and hear his voice, to open your eyes and see His world, His love and His redemption for you, and open your heart to His call!

God bless you and may you know the love the Father, Son and Holy Spirit this Resurrection Sunday.

Friday, April 11, 2014

As We Approach Holy Week

I think it is a good thing to ponder these scriptures and to mediate of just what exactly Jesus did for us on that  Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday 2,000 years ago.    This is is a post I put up a couple of years ago, and it still speaks to my heart.  May God richly bless you with His presence during this Holy Week.

JOHN 19:1 So Pilate then took Jesus, and flogged him.

19:2 The soldiers twisted thorns into a crown, and put it on his head, and dressed him in a purple garment.

19:3 They kept saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and they kept slapping him.

19:4 Then Pilate went out again, and said to them, "Behold, I bring him out to you, that you may know that I find no basis for a charge against him."

19:5 Jesus therefore came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple garment. Pilate said to them, "Behold, the man!"

19:6 When therefore the chief priests and the officers saw him, they shouted, saying, "Crucify! Crucify!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves, and crucify him, for I find no basis for a charge against him."

19:7 The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God."

19:8 When therefore Pilate heard this saying, he was more afraid.

19:9 He entered into the Praetorium again, and said to Jesus, "Where are you from?" But Jesus gave him no answer.

19:10 Pilate therefore said to him, "Aren't you speaking to me? Don't you know that I have power to release you, and have power to crucify you?"

19:11 Jesus answered, "You would have no power at all against me, unless it were given to you from above. Therefore he who delivered me to you has greater sin."

19:12 At this, Pilate was seeking to release him, but the Jews cried out, saying, "If you release this man, you aren't Caesar's friend! Everyone who makes himself a king speaks against Caesar!"

19:13 When Pilate therefore heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called "The Pavement," but in Hebrew, "Gabbatha."

19:14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, at about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, "Behold, your King!"

19:15 They cried out, "Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar!"

19:16 So then he delivered him to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus and led him away.

19:17 He went out, bearing his cross, to the place called "The Place of a Skull," which is called in Hebrew, "Golgotha,"

19:18 where they crucified him, and with him two others, on either side one, and Jesus in the middle.

19:19 Pilate wrote a title also, and put it on the cross. There was written, "JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS."

19:20 Therefore many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek.

19:21 The chief priests of the Jews therefore said to Pilate, "Don't write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'he said, I am King of the Jews.'"

19:22 Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written."

19:23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also the coat. Now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.

19:24 Then they said to one another, "Let's not tear it, but cast lots for it to decide whose it will be," that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which says, "They parted my garments among them. For my cloak they cast lots." Therefore the soldiers did these things.

19:25 But there were standing by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

19:26 Therefore when Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing there, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold your son!"

19:27 Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" From that hour, the disciple took her to his own home.

19:28 After this, Jesus, seeing that all things were now finished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, "I am thirsty."

19:29 Now a vessel full of vinegar was set there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop, and held it at his mouth.

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

19:31 Therefore the Jews, because it was the Preparation Day, so that the bodies wouldn't remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a special one), asked of Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

19:32 Therefore the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who was crucified with him;

19:33 but when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was already dead, they didn't break his legs.

19:34 However one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.

19:35 He who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, that you may believe.

19:36 For these things happened, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, "A bone of him will not be broken."

19:37 Again another Scripture says, "They will look on him whom they pierced."

19:38 After these things, Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked of Pilate that he might take away Jesus' body. Pilate gave him permission. He came therefore and took away his body.

19:39 Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds.

19:40 So they took Jesus' body, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.

19:41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden. In the garden a new tomb in which no man had ever yet been laid.

19:42 Then because of the Jews' Preparation Day (for the tomb was near at hand) they laid Jesus there.

I am the thorn in your crown; I am the sweat from your brow; I am the nail in your wrist; I am Judas' kiss; I am the man who yelled out from the crowd for your blood to be spilled on this earth shaking ground....BUT YOU LOVE ME ANYWAY!!

For this reason you came:   But you love me anyway.

ISAIAH 53:1 Who has believed what he has heard from us? [1]
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected [2] by men;
a man of sorrows, [3] and acquainted with [4] grief; [5]
and as one from whom men hide their faces [6]
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief; [7]
when his soul makes [8] an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see [9] and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, [10]
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, [11]
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

He was CRUSHED for us. He BORE our sins. He DEFEATED death. He LIVES even now in heaven. He is STILL working on our behalf as our INTERCESSOR.

Praise Jesus Christ, He is risen. We serve a RISEN savior!! May His name be praised forever!

Monday, April 7, 2014

How to Conduct Yourself Under Persecution

Yes, my friend, you are highly favored of God.  He has an incredible inheritance that is awaiting you in heaven.  You may have to go through hell to take possession of it, but be assured that it will be worth it. The Bible tells us that "eye has not seen; nor ear heard; nor mind imagined the things that God has planned for the people who love Him" (paraphrase, mine 1 Cor. 2:9)!

I am currently studying the book of 1 Peter. This book was written by Peter to the scattered Christians throughout the Roman empire just prior to the intensification of persecution under Nero.

I cried when I first read through this book; although I have read it many times before.   It hit me this time that Peter was anticipating his own death, and this book was written to encourage the believers in how to stand firm in the true grace of God (which is salvation) under persecution.

I know you've all read accounts of the atrocities that occurred during this period of history...i.e., using people as human torches to light up their barbecues and cook-outs, boiling people in oil, tearing off their is not for the fainthearted!

And so, beloved Peter, tells them (us) these things to help them stand firm in their (our) salvation under persecution. You say, so why should we know  these things, we are not under persecution.  One only has to read the news or articles in any publication to see that things are setting up where almost anything can and will be held against Christians, and with the knowledge that men have now, who knows what levels of torture people will be put through.

I have read many things about experimentation on the brain, and as a person with a brain anomaly, I can think of nothing worse than mind control or some sort of brain torture.

That being said, here is Peter's advice:

1)   Put away all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander.  It doesn't matter what they do to you, just keep your eyes on Jesus; focus on how HE went through His torture and death and ask Him (in the words of  Kay Arthur) to stamp eternity on your eyelids.  Ask Him to help you see everything (through eyes that are eternal) what is eternal - not temporal!

2)  Like little babies, long for pure spiritual milk so that you may grow up into what God has intended for you when you take ownership of the inheritance that is being held for you in heaven.  You don't want to be like an immature person who is handed great wealth upon the death of a family member and just goes out and wastes it.   You want to know how to live within that inheritance; how to make use of it wisely.

3)  Remember, Jesus is a living stone and He was rejected by men, too, but He was and is precious and chosen by God.  You, too, are a living stone, being built into a home for Christ, in order that you may be a part of His priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus, and you are precious and have been chosen by God. Now how important is that in the plan of God?  Very.  You are important to God.  Stand firm.

4)  You, thank God, are a part of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and a people who belong to God.  When you recognize that, you cannot help but proclaim how excellent He is that called you out of darkness into His light is!!!  How can you not stand firm when you realize His GREAT purposes and intent for you in eternity?

5)  At one time, you were a no one, without mercy and heading for eternal death.  Now, thanks be to God, you have obtained mercy and are a child of the most high God!!!

6)  DO NOT, I repeat, do not, allow the passions and desires of your flesh take you back to where you were.  Be self-controlled, and stand firm.

7)  No matter what is going on around you, behave honorably so that when others speak against you as having no honor, people will say "no way!  that one wouldn't do that"!

8)  Remember, your good deeds (prepared for you to do by God before the foundation of the world - see Ephesians 2:10) will bring glory and honor to God on the day of His appearance!

9)  Give proper respect to the authorities!  Yes, this means all authorities, "good" authority and "bad" authority, for it is put in place by God himself.  The thing you don't do is:    don't break God's laws.

10) Live free, doing good to all.

11) Give honor to everyone.  Especially love those that love Christ.

12)  Endure graciously.   If you are punished for doing bad things and endure graciously, what credit does that give you?  But if you endure graciously when being punished for doing good things, this gives you great credit in God's eyes.

13) These are the things to which we, as believers in and followers of Christ, have been called.  He suffered; we suffer.  He committed no sin, no deceit, He did not revile or threaten, but He continually entrusted Himself to God who judges justly, and we are to do the same.

Lord, God, Father of All, it is my prayer today that whatever I say and do, it will bring you glory and honor.  I pray that this writing comes from you and not me.  I pray that the one that you want to reads it would come and be brought to enlightenment about you.  Open the eyes of their  heart, Lord, that they may know what is the hope to which you have called them, that they may know what the riches of your glorious inheritance, and the immeasurable greatness of your power is toward us who believe, and to know that the GREAT power that you used in raising Jesus Christ from the dead is at work in us who believe.  I pray this in Jesus' mighty, powerful name.  Amen