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Examining Biblical Scripture

The Real Identity of Jesus – Addendum

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the man Jesus in a post called, “The Real Identity of Jesus” ( https://laruspress.com/the-real-identity-of-jesus-is-jesus-man-or-god/ ).

Another’s teaching triggers my own thought

Recently, I was listening to the last teaching that Ravi Zacharias recorded before he died. He spoke about the temptation / testing of Jesus in the wilderness, after his forty days of fasting.

Have a look at Matthew Chapter 4 to consider…

As I was listening, a thought occurred to me: If Jesus were not a man, would Satan think he could tempt him? If Satan saw Jesus as GOD, then surely he would not try. Satan would not quote scripture to GOD — but he would to a man whom he was attempting to trick.

Jesus defeated Satan, quoting scripture, being of sound mind and purpose, linked to the Father in faith, truth, love and common will. Jesus was the son of GOD, only doing His will, but what does that mean?

History

Jesus came to earth as a baby, born of a virgin, fathered by the Holy Spirit of GOD. But he was flesh. He was a man. And in being a man, he defeated the sin of the first Adam, he defeated temptation of Satan, he died and rose again, defeating all of our sins.

I am not saying Jesus is not GOD. I am saying Jesus is a man.

Let us consider, pray and ask for GOD’s help to understand. As in John 16:13 it says, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”

Help us Father, to see you, to see Jesus – our beloved Yeshua, to see the Spirit, as you see, as you are, as you breathe and live and love us; allow us to see You.

In the precious name of Yeshua/Jesus,

Blessings and Amen.

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Examining Biblical Scripture

Church Needs to Change (Part 1)

Climate change… and Church change

Humanity’s days have been changed by a health-scare of Biblical proportions. If the earth wants great restoration toward a more life-giving climate and landscape, its population must learn from the 12-week hiatus experienced around the globe as air polluting activity has been suspended.  Manufacturing, industry, use of cars and haulage, airline activity: all these and more have largely been placed on hold, more or less for three months on rotation, beginning in China in January and transferring along the continental pathways until finally reaching South America, where it is rising to a peak as I write. Will this change our way of life permanently, and can we step back from the brink of a ruined earth as we back off from polluting lifestyles?

The church is a living organism which also needs new air…

Places of worship have also been closed and church services have been put on pause as society has been navigating the pandemic. Now churches can open (in England where I live). But if we in the body of Jesus/Yeshua want a full restoration of GOD’s reign in society, we need to be transformed, not only by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12) but also through the expression of our faith. For a vitally different Holy Spirit-inspired adaptation and transformation, we need change in our worship, our prayer and in our action.

But how and into what should the church be changed?

First comes recognition and surrender; then can come change. And with the Holy Spirit outpouring, anything is possible.

When the first century church met, they congregated in homes and shared their food (Acts 4). Today when we meet, by-and-large, we sit while listening to one person speak for a good length of time on some part of the Bible. We contemplate what’s said, perhaps praying before and/or afterward; we sing a bit and shake hands as we enter and leave. Some places have coffee and snacks following the service. We usually don’t know many of the other folks present, and nor do we take the time to build relationships with each and every person. Some places are more lively, others more serene; some people are deeply committed to the concept of church, while others remain more on the fringes. Many people live lives of quiet desperation though few of their counterparts in a congregation will know it.

I don’t think this is all GOD intends for His church. In fact, I’m certain it’s not!

I have a desire to worship the Father in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24), as Jesus teaches. I’ve had that desire for decades and I’m not the only one. But I do not believe it is going to happen unless we abandon everything we know about church and church service, and begin with a blank slate both individually and corporately.

This is our chance! Coronavirus, Covid-19 and the shutdown have given us much more time to spend with GOD. He has made room for change. And here’s what I’ve concluded:

In order for the church to minister effectively, for its people and for the outreach of the Gospel, it must change radically.

What is Church?

Today church is not what it was designed to be. Before I sound too negative, here’s why I say that:

The word church means two things. From the Greek translation of Biblical references in the New Testament, church is translated from two words:

Oikos = family

Ekklesia = sent out ones

There is no reference to a building, but to the human body (1 Corinthians 12) and to the body of believers aka church existing to serve.

So, once we recognise the word church doesn’t mean a physical structure of bricks and mortar, we can consider what it is meant to be: a family of sent out ones … sent out to serve those who are not in the family, so that they can discover GOD and the saving grace of His son for themselves, and to support  the poor (Galatians 2:10), widows and orphans within (and external to) the church group (James 1:27). Remember, We will be recognised by our love for one another and for the Father and for the Son,

“A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

When we look at the fact that church isn’t brick and mortar, then what will we do with the brick and mortar buildings? Whether owned or rented, we do generally speaking, attend a weekly service in a building.

I once studied under a pastor who had a small congregation called Celebration Church. It was so-called because the pastor knew that was what a Sunday* morning was meant to do: celebrate Jesus Saviour — Yeshua Messiah.

Taking that on board, when we meet as a large group can it simply be “in celebration” of Jesus’ resurrection power? Shall we celebrate the Creator and thank Him for His creation? Can we earnestly seek the power of the Holy Spirit and surrender as we pray to receive?

In 1 Corinthians 14:26-32 Paul pleads with the congregation in Corinth to have some order, urging them to express their gifts but one at a time.

“… If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn and let one interpret.” (vs 27)

Is this all there is?

How have we gone from being disorderly to virtually lifeless? Is this all there is? I don’t believe so. I think we barely scratch the surface. But if we let go and let GOD, He can lead us into celebration and allow the move of His Spirit.

Life in the Spirit

“Now the Lord is Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3:17) That would imply the converse is true: where there is no spirit, there is no liberty.

Some folks believe the gifts of GOD’s Spirit were only for the Apostles who knew Jesus personally. I don’t agree. But I do think that we have a long way to surrender before we can walk truly in the life, liberty and power of the Holy Spirit.

So, let us surrender

I don’t know what GOD’s church is going to look like. It will have something to do with a five-fold ministry (Ephesians 4:11), with elders and deacons thrown in. It won’t be a top down organisation and no one will be called “father” (Matthew 23:9).

But I don’t think it is intended that we know. Rather, as we yield ourselves to our GOD, prostrate and waiting, without chairs (except out of compassion for those with physical ailments in need of healing) and without sermons but rather walking in the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and with willing hearts to share, we will discover what church is meant to look like. And that, after two centuries of floundering, will be something to celebrate!

*Past posts I’ve written convey my attitude that Sabbath is Saturday and so is the day we ought to be congregating, but custom seems still to overrule.

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Examining Biblical Scripture Politics and Society today

Eve’s Calling: Perhaps the most important post I’ve ever written

Eve’s Calling

(I urge you to spend significant time on this one… better to have your Bible handy as you read this blog post!)

In the beginning

In Genesis 1 and 2, we read that as GOD created, He said, “it is good”. But when He saw that Adam was alone, it was “not good”. So he created Eve. Together they would subdue the earth (Genesis 1:26) Eve would be Adam’s helper, comparable to him…

“The LORD said, it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

…but then came the Fall and all that changed. Eve’s position has been misunderstood across all history, throughout the earth, ever since. Women have endured great misery, often times considered no more than chattel. Both men and women have suffered as a result, for when the role of women is misdirected, all lose.

When Jesus came to rescue us from our sin, included in that was a rescue from the denigration of women. Over and again, he ministered to women, surprising his disciples and enemies alike. John 4 is just one example where we read as he minsters to a woman at a well, and releases her to evangelise to her entire town.

In marriage

In our marriage, I have sought to be a help to my husband. Likewise, he has helped me. Our mutual support has not been as might be expected from a traditional interpretation of “helpmeet”, however. If a wife as helpmeet is meant to take instruction or guidance in order to do tasks my husband wants done, then I am not a good helpmeet. But if a helpmeet is to encourage her spouse to walk in his calling and to walk as Jesus would in faith, love, and peace, then I have walked according to my wifely purpose, aligned with my gifts and calling from GOD.

Godly Character:

I am a Watchman by calling, and I have been used by GOD to support my husband, pointing and confirming decisions which are worthy of GOD’s calling on him as a teacher of the Word, and to guard against those which are not. I have encouraged him to act or respond in love, rather than anger, frustration or fear. In other words, I have been used to help him to walk in the character of Christ. Lest I should misrepresent our relationship, he has done the same for me, and I owe much of my maturity and wisdom from being married to him. Iron does indeed sharpen iron (Proverbs 7:17) and God makes all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). Such has been the case in our marriage.

Networking:

Sometimes I have been a connection or link between my husband and those who have provided him teaching opportunities. GOD has connected me to people in ministry who would find his teaching a support to their ministry and who have endorsed him in his own.

In these two general ways, I have been a useful helpmeet to my husband, so that he may fulfil his calling. I have also had opportunities to explore my own calling as a Watchman, which my husband has endorsed. The combined overall result as we exercise our callings has been to offer support to the community of Believers, and work towards the building of GOD’s Kingdom.

Glass Ceiling:

I have, however, encountered some blockages and some setbacks, some (though not all) of which have been because I’m a woman. Some leaders believe women are not to lead men, siting scriptures in Ephesians 5 and 1 Corinthians 11. But there are other scriptures that contradict any interpretation that women are not to speak or to lead, for example in Acts 18 and Galatians 3. But most important, when we look at all of Jesus’ interaction with women while on earth, he respected them, raised them up, and gave them responsibilities where none was customary. So, for arguments’ sake, I’d say that any scripture that suggests women are not meant to lead is more than outweighed by scripture which endorses the capabilities and gifting of women, including women as leaders.

In the Garden of Eden

In Kenneth Hagin’s booklet, “The Origin and Operation of Demons” (Faith Library Publications, Rhema Bible Church, Kenneth Hagin Ministries Inc., Tulsa Oklahoma, 1978, p8) Hagin suggests that long before the creation of man, Satan was in the Garden of Eden. Indeed, it is true to say he fell to earth long before the earth’s creation, before time (Isaiah 14:7).

When Adam and Eve were in the garden, so too was Satan. Perhaps he was watching enviously as Adam and Eve worked harmoniously, together. Then, he tricked Eve, Adam disobeyed God, and the rest is history.

Why this matters

“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”” (Genesis 1:28)

It is profoundly important to understand that Eve’s original calling to subdue the earth has been limited, confined and distorted since the Fall; this has been Satan’s intention.

There was a consequence to the Fall, which GOD outlines in Genesis 3:14-20. Just as the relationship between all humanity and GOD was damaged as a consequence of sin, so too was the relationship between man and woman. But these relationships should have been restored through salvation.

Since salvation restores relationship with GOD though Jesus, then logically, the curse of man and woman is also overcome through that salvation. However instead, many times it is (mis)understood that women are to submit to husbands but not men to their wives. The conclusion is therefore, that women are subordinate to men. While this is too HOT and complex a topic to explore in depth in a blog post, I’d like to point out my thesis, which is that women are meant to “subdue the earth”, just as are men, and so they are equal partners, just as they are equally saved and restored to the Father through Jesus the Son. Eve’s calling was to subdue the earth, alongside Adam, before the Fall. So restored to GOD, we are meant to work together. Spouses are subordinate to one another in all things — for example in the marriage relationship:

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21) and “the husband should fulfil his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.” (1 Corinthians 7:3-4)

GOD’s intention for man and woman

Helper was never intended to mean subordinate. Both Adam and Eve were to work in harmony. While Satan provoked the fall of mankind, he has also contorted the consequence of events in the Garden in society since. The moment when Eve was tempted and deceived by Satan has been misapplied by those in authority to explain why a woman cannot be relied upon to speak, to lead or to minister to others in her own right even today. This is tragic and has fed right into the will of the enemy. Imagine what could be achieved for the Kingdom of GOD, for example, if women and men worked in harmony, and each had the opportunity to fulfil their Call? Even though the Fall triggered the problems between men and women, Salvation should restore the original relationship and design for women’s true purpose and authority equal to that of men.

What does salvation imply?

Jesus’ salvation brings us all to equality, and we no longer need to bear the burdens of sin. Instead we are offered the life that was originally planned: walking in the liberty and unity that relationship with the Father brings. But are we — both male and female — living in freedom, or under punishment and condemnation? That is not GOD’s will but something Satan has perpetuated.

Paul states in Galatians, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal 3:28-29)

GOD’s intention is that Jesus saves us and restores our relationship with GOD as it was planned from the beginning…. to pre-Fall status. We see in how Jesus related to and respected women, a model for Christian family and society, which unfortunately has not always been manifested as it should.

Are women equal in Jesus’ eyes?

If you look at the actions of Jesus, he surprised many in how he related to women. I’ve already mentioned John 4 and the woman at the well. Jesus overarched tradition by talking to her alone, and not only did he talk to her, but he was the catalyst for her evangelistic outreach to her whole community.

And what of the woman caught in adultery? (John 8) Jesus released her, entrusting her to “sin no more”.

We know of the woman who anointed Jesus and washed his feet with her hair (John 12). And Mary, who sat at Jesus’ feet, “studying” rather than working in the kitchen with Martha (Luke 10).

Jesus showed respect to women and also released them into ministry. Mary Magdalene was first to see him and she was the one to report his resurrection to the men (John 20). The list of Jesus’ encounters with women demonstrates his respect, appreciation and value towards them.

Eve’s Calling

Today, women are meant to be released into ministry, not hindered, and not contained only to help men. Eve was such a woman. She was called to subdue the earth. Sadly, she failed to detect Satan’s manipulation and she shared the forbidden fruit with Adam. For that the couple fell from GOD’s grace. But Jesus brings us back, both male and female, into GOD’s grace and forgiveness, when we repent.

Hallelujah, Jesus saves and restores us to the Father and sets us free to fulfil who we are and who we were created to be.

I pray that all people will experience the liberty of Christ Messiah and the wholeness of the Calling for which they have been saved.

Amen.

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Examining Biblical Scripture

Exploring your gifting: hearing from GOD

Exploring Your Gifting: Words during the Corona-season

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15)

I often hear from God personally

Recently, I took part in an Aglow prayer meeting originating from Canada. Some of the words that were shared by those running it were words I’d already received from GOD and had been praying about. My response was like that from Psalm 133…. ‘How good it is when we dwell together in unity.’ When we hear the Father’s voice and then have confirmation from others, it is encouraging to know others are receiving similar messages that we have received when alone in our prayer closet.

One word that was confirmed:

We are called to prepare as the Bride (Matthew 25).

So, what shall we do with that?

Another thing I sense which is echoed by fellow believers:

There is a longing that the church body be changed by this virus… Many like me are saying we need more of the Holy Spirit — more intimacy with GOD; more intimacy as a family of brothers and sisters in Christ.

Shall we connect these messages together? If so, I sense something like — when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we are being prepared as His bride.

So, what do you hear GOD saying?

Do you know you hear can from GOD? Have you had words tested and discovered others confirm what you’ve heard? Do you realise He promises to hear us, and He speaks to us?

“And if we know that he hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” (1 John 5:15)

It’s so important that we share with others and are ‘in community’ with others, so that we can relate with one another what we are receiving from GOD. Isn’t it so encouraging when there is confirmation: as we test — and discover His voice, and grow in community with Him and with one another?

“…. many were gathered together praying.” (Acts 12:12b)

Too often we take declarations from others rather than seek our own

I’m encouraging you to ask GOD what He wants to reveal to you, and whether He wants you to share it with others.

  1. Start to pray expecting to hear from Him.
  2. Pray and then wait, “be still” and listen.
  3. Write down any picture, scripture or guidance you receive.
  4. Check the Bible to see that the Word confirms your message.
  5. Share with others. Ask what are they receiving in their prayer time?

All of us need to deepen our prayer life. With lockdowns around the globe, we have the time. Let’s make the most of it. Let’s hear GOD and move forward at our hearing.

Once He’s spoken to us

We are to trust Him, obey and take action as He convicts us.

Yes and Amen.

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Examining Biblical Scripture

The Real Identity of Jesus: Is Jesus Man or God?

What did Jesus do for us?

Jesus, God’s only begotten son, died on a cross, taking all our sin and shame, that we might believe in him and be saved.

That is the standard Evangelical stance on salvation by grace. There’s nothing wrong with it; it is absolutely true. But Jesus (the Greek translation of his Hebrew name, Yeshua) did more than die on a cross for us, not that that isn’t a monumental sacrifice already!

What Jesus did:

1. Jesus gave up his Godhead (Philippians 2:7-8)

2. Jesus came in human form (Matthew 1:8)

3. Jesus died on a cross, having never sinned (John 19:17; 2 Corinthians 5:21)

4. Jesus was resurrected but did not remain on earth. He returned to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit that all Believers might receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to lead, convict, empower and guide us (John 14:3; John 14:25-27).

When Jesus came as Messiah to his Jewish brethren, he came not only for them, but for Gentiles as well (Isaiah 49:6),

“Indeed, he [GOD] says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob,

    and to restore the preserved of Israel.

I will also give you as a light to the nations,

    that you may be my salvation to the end of the earth.”

Who Jesus is:

In the beginning was the Word of GOD (John 1:1) and it is that part of GOD that became flesh and was born of a virgin, Mary, being fathered not by sinful man, descended from Adam, but fathered by the Holy Spirit of GOD (Genesis  1:2). He was not Jesus when he was in heaven, but he was named Jesus — Emmanuel, God with us — at his birth.

Some believe Jesus is God-man. Others believe he remained as God for, as a man, he could not have had the authority to offer salvation to mankind; he took the form of a man but was not a man. Still others believe he gave up his Godly person and became man once and for all. Our finite minds can’t get our heads round all concerning his divine nature, though as Believers we believe it. But personally, I fit into this latter category, believing that, as Jesus, he was and always will be, a man. If you believe I’m a heretic*, I can offer you two suggestions: either stop reading or allow me to show you scripture that says the Word of GOD (John 1:1) surrendered his Godhead (Philippians 2:7-8) and became a man. Never does it say he regained his Godhead after ascension but it does say that he returned to heaven and is seated at the right hand of GOD (1 Peter 3:22) and is the lamb (Revelation 5:13b). I believe he was — and is still a man. This is important in order to recognise fully the extent of his sacrifice and what he has given to us through that sacrifice.

Jesus did not give up his divinity. He was, is, and always will be divine. But he gave up his deity — a huge sacrifice, significant, even greater than dying on the cross. This is one point perhaps where our human minds can’t grasp the difference, but I’m convinced that somehow, there is a distinct difference between deity and divinity, and in that difference lies the sacrifice of the Godhead and the reality of what our inheritance and responsibility is In Christ. Jesus was and is God and yet, he gave up being God in order for our salvation.

Why is it important to recognise a man overcame sin and the devil?

Jesus asks us to believe and follow him. He has overcome sin and the devil. But just as Adam, a man, brought sin into the world, so must a man defeat sin. It is a legal matter. A man sinned and therefore another man must defeat sin. If Jesus was not a man, then GOD simply trumped the devil and that is not legally just.

How is this possible – and not heretical?

GOD is outside of time. So when Jesus said, “before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58) it was completely true — but he was referring to a different time frame to the current time when he was addressing the Jewish leaders.

What was the consequence for the Word of GOD, known on earth as Jesus?

As the lamb of God — Father GOD being the God who sits on the throne — Jesus gave up his Godhead for our sake. Though the pain of the cross is a tremendous sacrifice, relinquishing his Godly authority to do only as the Father tells him, is even more huge! (John 5:19)

What is the consequence for us?

If Jesus walked the earth as a man, albeit sinless and perfect, what does that mean is possible for us?

Authority:

This is important because if we allow ourselves to believe Jesus became a man, we can recognise the authority he has given to us, his fellow men**, to overcome the evil one. We have the same authority that Jesus had while he walked the earth, when we believe and trust in him.

Responsibility:

“I’m only human” doesn’t wash any more as an excuse for our behaviour, when we realise GOD, through Jesus, has given us all that Jesus had. Just as Jesus has encouraged us to “be perfect” so it must be possible. This is not a reason to berate ourselves when we fail, but rather to encourage ourselves to carry on. Philippians 3:12-14 gives some of my favourite words from scripture,

“Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect; but I press on, that I may take hold of that for which also I was taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I don’t regard myself as yet having taken hold, but one thing I do: forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

We press on, not because we are failures, but because Jesus (and Paul in the letter) encourages us to persevere, to look forward, to ‘keep on keeping on’.

Possibility:

Jesus said, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

Actually, we are without excuse: perfection is possible — albeit improbable as even Paul did not attain it (Philippians 3:12).

Only as Jesus is a man can he command us — with expectation — to be perfect.

Allow this to resonate:

If you can allow yourself to consider that Jesus was a man (divine – yes, son of GOD  – yes, but a man as he walked the earth), you might begin to fathom more of the sacrifice he made for you, and more of the power and authority GOD has given you for good. This does not mean we are gods, but it means we are sons of GOD by inheritance, with all access to the power and authority given to Jesus, and access to the goodness that he was and is.

I find that inspiring and hopeful and amazing (and not heretical). Oh what love he has for us, what amazing love!

Our witness:

Jews and Muslims find it particular difficult, even offensive, to hear that God came to earth and died. But when we accurately explain GOD cannot die and did not die, but gave His son who was a man, that does not present the same stumbling block that the confused message that GOD or a GOD-man came and died.

John, Chapters 14 – 17:

As a final point, I urge you to read John 14 – 17 in contemplation. In this teaching and prayer, Jesus is both loving us and encouraging us as he speaks to his disciples before his arrest.

We are to abide in him as he abides in the Father. We are to receive the Holy Spirit as our Helper, who will glorify Jesus. As to his own identity, Jesus says, “I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (John 14:20)  and “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28b). By including us you may choose to contemplate how this is possible, if both Father and Son are GOD.

Scripture says in John 10, “I and the Father are one.” And yet in 1 Corinthians 15:28 it is written, “Now when all things are made subject to Him [GOD], then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that GOD may be all in all.” Does scripture contradict? No. As a man, Jesus was subject to the Father and yet, he had the inheritance from his father to be as the Father is.


This is a part of the mystery, the unfathomable by the finite human mind. And yet, I am convinced, that recognising Jesus as a man does not contradict but in fact magnifies his sacrifice and our responsibility and authority in and through his salvation.

My prayer:

Every blessing to you as you contemplate, study scripture, and grow in the grace of GOD and the power of His Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

* Nowhere in scripture does it say, “GOD the Father, GOD the Son, GOD the Holy Spirit”. It is a nice parallel structure that has been inserted into the doctrine of some churches. So I am not contradicting scripture when I say Jesus is a man.

** Men, man and mankind are all generic terms which include all humankind. This is not to exclude women nor to denigrate them to a lower status. It is simply linguistic custom, and I mean nothing further in using it.

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Examining Biblical Scripture

Expectancy

We must believe, as we wait for the Lord to bring His presence to us, that He will come.

He loves faith. He wants intimacy with us. We must believe He will come, and we must make room for him.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”(Hebrews 11:6)

Hallelujah. Today, I made room and He came. Oh, what wonderful peace His presence brings.

Those with faith, bless you. Those who know the presence, wonderful. To those with faith who have never experienced His presence, how amazing the faith you have: 

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

“The Spirit of the LORD GOD is upon me…” (Isaiah 61:1) He calls us now to follow Him, to love Him, to experience the divine presence of Him. Will we make room?

“Trust in the LORD with ALL your heart and lean not on your understanding…” (Proverbs 3:5) He will come, He will abide when we abide. Give Him time, give him room and give Him your faith. He will come.

Romans 8

Exodus —

“He who waits upon the LORD will renew his strength… He will mount up with wings like eagles, he will run and not grow weary, he will walk and not faint.”

Hallelujah. Believe, Trust, Wait. He longs to be with you. Do you long to be with Him?

We who love Jesus and follow him, follow in faith. But he came that we might have life and more abundantly. Then he left us, to allow his power to rest within us. If we have faith but not the presence of the Lord, then we have faith in Jesus without his power. We need him: we need his presence. Oh long, how we yearn for you. Hallelujah, you come.

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Examining Biblical Scripture

Why Jesus Prayed Three Times

Not my will but Thine be done: Why did Jesus pray three times?

Matthew 26:39-44 states,

“He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.

“Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

“Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.

So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.”

Why did Jesus pray three times? Didn’t GOD hear him the first time? Didn’t Jesus have faith enough to trust Yehovah? Was he trying to persuade his father? 

No. It was none of these things which prompted Jesus to repeat his prayer. I don’t believe so. Rather, he needed to work through the pain, and praying allowed him to do that until he was satisfied, at peace with the inevitable that was to come.

How many times do we need to pray? 

When we earnestly seek the Father’s will, He gives us the heart and He gives us the words. Prayer is asking, pleading, praising, praying; prayer is coming to that place of peace, that place where “Thy will be done on earth as in heaven” is completed within us. That can require repeating.

It is not for Yehovah that we repeat, but for ourselves. We can take comfort that, even in the darkest hour, Jesus came through. But he, the Son of GOD and the Son of Man, had to work through — beyond temptation and fear –GOD’s will. He knew it, acknowledged it, believed it, accepted it from the start. But he worked it through until Shalom.

Bless each of us as we work through the difficult times. Paul said we are to pray without ceasing.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

Who is Lukewarm?

Who is Lukewarm?

“So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” (Revelation 3:16)

No one ever thinks the harsh word of exhortation is for them… Surely, it is for some other person or some other church. But recently, my pastor spoke from the pulpit to our sincere and GOD-fearing church that we are luke warm.

And he is right. For if we do not fully surrender our lives, our prayers, our time, our hopes: to the fullness of GOD’s blessed Holy Spirit, then surely we are luke warm.

Where does the warmth come from?

Passion lies within us; the power and presence of Yehovah spring from the Holy Spirit. Jesus came to save sinners, but he left so that his Holy Spirit would come and indwell those same sinners who were repentant and faithful (John 14:25-27). Tongues of fire came upon those who were waiting for “something” to happen in the Upper Room after Jesus ascended to Heaven (see Acts 2:3).

The Presence of GOD

The Holy Spirit dwells within those who follow Jesus. But the Holy Spirit is not a passive “it”. He is a person, albeit without form, who is available to us to teach, comfort, convict, empower His children. He comes via His spirit to fill ours. As we surrender to the Father, He enables the Holy Spirit to fill us with His presence. It isn’t a one-off at Salvation. It isn’t once and only. But we need to keep going back to the Father for infilling, just as we need water to drink, food to eat, rest for revitalisation.

More of Him; less of me!

As I ask, yield, surrender, wait up on the LORD, He renews my strength (Isaiah 40:31) and fills me with His glorious, peaceful, and powerful presence. 

But only if I allow will there be room for Him. So I rest in Him, I be still in Him, I trust in Him; I make time and space for Him.

Am I luke warm?

I don’t want to be luke warm. I would prefer to love Jesus and behave as though I do. So, I am choosing to move forward and I am choosing to take my call to speak to you dear reader:

May I encourage you to go beyond luke warm to hot for GOD’s Word, for His son and for His truth. The Holy Spirit will come as we submit fully to Him. Then, when we reach out to all those people who are within our sphere of influence, they will see a transformation; they will know that we take our faith very seriously, not only in word but also in deed. 

We are called to fulfil our purpose in Christ Jesus — Messiah Yeshua. Hallelujah! But we cannot do it without Him, and so, as we rely on Him, so He will come.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (John 14:26)

“Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.” (Matthew 12:32)

“I indeed baptised you with water, but He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:8)

“… but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation” (Mark 3:29)

“But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 13:11)

“John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptise you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Luke 3:16)

Amen.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

Let’s Get the Dates Right

Christianity, Christmas and Easter

Many of us who follow Jesus closely have turned away from calling ourselves Christians because we recognise that is a turn-off to a lot of people. The label was given by unbelievers in the first place (Acts 11:26) and brings to mind the Crusade slaughters of Muslims and Jews during the Medieval Ages. 

If you follow your calendar and history closely, you’ve also begun to say, “Happy Resurrection Day” rather than refer to Easter, because you know that the possibly well-meaning but definitely anti-Semitic founding fathers took a pre-existing pagan festival and, drawing it away from the Jewish Passover  (hence Jesus recognised as the Passover Lamb), they transformed it into the day to mark Jesus’ death and resurrection. It was intended to celebrate Jesus’ powerful testimony and ultimate sacrifice, much the way Constantin turned a pagan festival into a day to mark Jesus’ birth (aka Christmas) to get the pagans to turn to the Christian faith. But it wasn’t GOD’s calendar and the root was pagan. 

Wow, that’s a mouthful of thought to turn culture and tradition onto its head.

So, let’s begin to get this right.

We don’t know the day of Jesus’ birth, except that it was most likely in the autumn, September or October, in line with the Feast of Tabernacles on the Jewish calendar. An analysis of Roman history would also assist in discovering when the taxes were issued for Judea in those years surrounding Jesus’ birth.

Jesus was Jewish. He, his family and his culture, celebrated all the festivals and practices of Judaism, based on GOD’s (aka Yehovah’s) Laws given to Moses in the desert. The Jewish calendar would be relevant to them as Jesus was growing up. It is relevant to GOD even now. Jesus categorically stated he did not come to replace but to fulfil the Law of Judaism (Matthew 5:17).

As for the day Jesus (aka Yeshua) was crucified, we know it was on the Passover (Matthew ) and then he rose 3 days (including that Passover night) later. Therefore, the day he was resurrected has nothing to do with Sunday. Ah, if that’s the case then the Lord’s day is not Sunday? Then why do we call Sunday the Lord’s Day? …. but we’ll come to that momentarily.

So, how do we follow the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus if it isn’t hinged to the Friday to Sunday timespan? We follow the Jewish calendar, if you think they are accurate.

Are the Jews accurate?

Yes. For passover, they count based on the setting of the sun and when the new moon comes into its place.

So, to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus accurately, based on a given date, we need to link it to Passover. Why? Because that’s Biblical.

What is Biblical?

The whole of the Evangelical faith in Jesus is based on the Bible, the Old and New Testaments (aka Covenants) believed to be given to Mankind through designated and anointed people who wrote the history, laws, poetry, prophetic words and anointing as given to them by Yehovah. For example, Moses, who wrote the first five books (collectively known as the Pentateuch), was not present “In the Beginning” and so the Father, Yehovah, dictated it to him. 

If we want to be accurate and follow our Faith seriously, we need to strip out culture and tradition of fifteen hundred years and go back to what Jesus practiced and taught. If we want to reach people with the Truth of GOD then we need to be truthful and accurate ourselves. If we expect to reach Muslims and Jews, we need to return to the teaching Yehovah gave to us through the promises of Father Abraham, who is the founding Father of Jesus’ followers (including Gentiles, by adoption) as well as the Jews (both faithful and secular) and the Arabs. Abraham is father of both Muslims and Jews — they are cousins!

This is accurate and gives Believers’ testimony credibility. To be credible is to be powerful, anointed by the Holy Spirit.

So, let’s be accurate rather than sentimental

Sentiment practices Christmas and Easter as indoctrinated by the Church long after Jesus’ ministry, and long after the original Apostles and the Early Church members had died.

Accuracy respects GOD’s calendar and carries a weight and power that is incontestable.

Let’s look to the Father and follow His plan 

Finally, as to the LORD’s day, it is man-made. 

“On the seventh day, God rested from all his works.” (Genesis 2:2)

From the beginning of time, God created His Sabbath. The Jews called it Saturday. The Church turned it into Sunday to extract itself from the Christ-killing Jews. But the Jews started Christianity in the first place. If it hadn’t been for the disciples whom Jesus chose and for the early church He founded, there would be no Christianity. So calling the Jews Christ-killers is absurd. And extracting ourselves from the calendar of feasts and celebrations that GOD ordained is also stupid. 

Let’s use the Sabbath that GOD created at the beginning of the world, and keep it holy, celebrating as He encourages, not as keeping of the Law, if you argue or resent that, but as an offering to the Father whom we love and as a blessing He intended for us. 

Let’s completely rid ourselves of the inaccuracies of the man-made Church some fifteen hundred years ago, rather than pick and choose what we like and don’t like.

Let us represent the Truth of the Full Gospel message, to gentiles, to muslims and to Jews.

to the glory of Yehovah, for the sake of the Gospel message, and for mankind.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

When comes the 1000 Years?

Satan Bound

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:1-2)

A close reading/re-reading of Revelation 20 gives me the notion of the following:

The 1000 year binding has already been, I believe, from  approximately 500 to 1500 AD. Since then, the devil has been free to deceive the nations.

After the Romans made Christianity the state religion, there was much that went wrong within the Church of Jesus Christ. But the nation states — of the West at least — were all kingdoms ruled by God-fearing kings.

The Reformation, which made available the Word of GOD to non-clergy, gave a freedom not experienced previously and a Truth hitherto hidden from the time of Christendom. The truth could be studied, digested, practised, no longer necessarily under the interpretation or influence of scholars in power. It was a time of revelation, enlightenment, study and truth.

Satan Loosed

But as the Word of GOD became available to the common man, so too did Satan become free to confuse and confound. 

Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea.” (Revelation 20:7)

Although there has always been war, it is since 1500 that war has become more sophisticated: nation state against nation state, conflict arising across vast distances and with increased levels of violence and destruction. War culminated in World War I (the Great War to end all wars — such a major deception) and World War II (the epitome of anti-Semitism with the most sophisticated attempt to exterminate the Jews). To this day, Satan continues to confuse, divert, oppress and destroy humanity, not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well.

End of the Church Age

And so, I believe we are now at the end of the Church Age. Faith has dwindled.  Man is waiting, whether he knows it or not, for the final war: the fire that destroys.

“And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Revelation 20:9b-10)

Once Satan is cast out forevermore, a new heaven and a new earth will be instated. I consider they are not necessarily new physical places, but our heaven and earth refreshed, free of evil, and with one king in the character of Jesus. He rules and reigns, and Satan, the beast and false prophet are no more.

Judgment

“And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.” (Revelation 20:12)

There will be a judgment toward those who have never accepted Jesus. It will, I believe, include those who attest to know him but whom he does not recognise (Matthew 7:23). There are wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24); there are ones who have heard the Word but who’s “soil” fell on shallow or rocky ground (Mark 4:3-8). 

Reigning with Jesus

And yet, “Hallelujah,” there will be those who have already been ruling and reigning with him for a thousand years. These are they who are the first resurrection, who were once martyred for Jesus’ name and who have been raised from the dead: “Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:4b)

And there are also those who’s names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, who have known Jesus but who either died naturally, not as martyrs. This is the Second Resurrection.

And what of those who are alive at the Second Coming of Jesus/Yeshua, the Messiah? I believe those written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will join the host. There will be no more grief or evil in the new Age as, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

And all who live will attest to the name of the Prince of Peace. Hallelujah and Amen.