Archive for the ‘Biblical insight’ Category

If you were to ask the average person walking down the street, “What do you think a church is?” Most would allude to a building possibly with stained glass windows or steeple on it where religious people gather on Sunday. Others may even say, “It’s the body of believers in Jesus Christ.” There is a sense both of these answers are correct but what specifically does the term “Church” mean in the Bible? The word “Church” in the New Testament comes from the Greek word “Ekklesia” which is defined as “The Called out ones.”

Way back in Deuteronomy 4:20 we read, “The Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, from Egypt, to be a people for His own possession, as today.” So the idea of being “called out ones” didn’t originate with the New Testament rather it is a continuation. You see since the fall of man God has been seeking for those that would simply hear his voice and obey him.

In Genesis 12:1 we see where God called Abraham out and said, “Now the Lord said to Abram, Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you…” The letter to the Hebrews reminds us of this in 11:8 “And by faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.”

Even when Jesus walked with his disciples his plan seemed to be for them to go out. He told them in Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.” He sent them out with the instructions “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…” He even told them He was going away but it was best for them. He said, “I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” So it seems God’s plan all along is for his people to be a people on the move.

While the world, and some Christians, may think the “Church” is a building Christians go to on a Sunday morning God sees the Church as a body of His people called out for His purposes. In the letter to the Ephesians Paul wrote God gave the church “Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service…” What exactly is the goal of this equipping then? I believe it is to prepare the “Church, or body of Christ” to go. You see once we come to maturity in Christ as individuals and as a body we will no longer need a man between us and God. Once we have been taught, or equipped, we will find our place in the body and move into our role of one of the “Called Out Ones.” It is true not all are meant to be “Goers” some are stayers in order to prepare the goers but that will be made clear as our understanding is broadened.

In Acts 13:2-3 we read where the church was gathered and “While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul (Paul) for the work to which I have called them. Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” Did you catch that? The Holy Spirit called out Barnabas and Saul (Paul) for His particular work for them. Do you think the rest of the saints there were jealous or felt left out because they didn’t get to go? Of course I can’t answer that because it wasn’t specifically addressed in the scriptures but it seems likely there may have been some who felt passed up but what if God simply didn’t think they were ready yet. What if they still had a bit of maturing to do? Either way when it comes right down to it all that call themselves Christians have been called out of the world.

1 Peter 2:9 & 10 tells us “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a Holy Nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” So you see whether we stay in a traditional church setting or we are called to go out our job is to declare the excellencies of Him who has called us.

Louie

Most would admit before coming to Christ they were “in” the dark. What many probably haven’t thought of, or simply don’t want to think of, is they actually “were” darkness. While reading through Ephesians during our weekly Bible study we came across 5:8 which reads “For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light.” If we take this for exactly what it says we see we “were darkness” but now we “are Light.” This is something more than just coming out of darkness into the Light. This is telling us we were in union with the darkness and now we are in union with the Light.

Colossians 1:13 says, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” We have been rescued! We were prisoners held captive with no hope of release until God himself came and set us free. How did he set us free you might ask? He rescued us by way of the cross joining us to Jesus Christ, co-crucifying us, burying us and raising us back again in union with Christ who is the Light of the world. In Him there is no darkness or shadow of turning. “In Him was the life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:4-5). My Bible has a note that says the word “comprehend” means the darkness did not overpower it. In other words the Gates of Hell cannot prevail against it! That’s grounds for shouting right there!

Sadly there are many who refuse to come to the light; but Jesus told us the reason is, “Men loved darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (John 3:19-20). He also said, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12). The offer of a life in the Light is still on the table for all who will simply come to Jesus Christ.

Looking back on my own B.C. days I would have to agree I was darkness. I always wore black clothes, dark sunglasses, had the blinds pulled on my windows and my car windows were tinted too. I would have just as soon slept during the day and been awake all night. When the Bible talks about us being in or of the darkness it isn’t just some word picture or metaphor.

Let me take a minute to share something with you about the Apostle Paul’s writing’s. If you read carefully you will notice a pattern in how he writes. In Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians etc. He starts by telling us who we are in Christ. He tells us we are a new creature, Holy, blameless, beyond reproach and complete in Him. He then moves on to tell us some very practical things about how we, this new creature, is expected to behave. You see it wouldn’t make any sense to tell us to love each other, forgive each other, stop lying to each other and stealing if we were still the old creature. We first have to become aware and convinced we have truly been transferred from darkness to light, we have been crucified, dead, buried and raised back to walk in newness of life in Christ or else telling us to behave in a Godly manner is pointless. On the other hand since we have been transferred out of darkness and brought into the Light, Paul is telling us to start living like it. All of these things we read like in Ephesians 4 and 5 is describing for us how the new man behaves. In other words how Christ in us behaves for we know the only reason we are holy, blameless, complete, etc. is because we are joined to him.

Louie

 

 

The letter to the Philippians has a theme throughout it’s four chapters which is Paul’s admonishment to be of One Mind. In the very first chapter he tells them to “conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the ‘faith of the gospel.’

You see according to the scriptures all who have been born again are of the same Spirit and have been given the mind of Christ but we aren’t always operating from His mind. My friend Sylvia Pearce says, “Even though we Christians all have the heart of God we may still be operating with the mind of Satan.”

Well, how do we begin to operate from the mind of Christ then? Thankfully Paul doesn’t leave us to wonder but describes the mind of Christ in Philippians 2 saying, “Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Of course this is the very mind of Christ. Jesus Christ’s whole life was a life lived for another. He only did what His Father sent Him here to do and it was all for us. Even though by Him, through Him and for Him all things were created, He still gave up His own rights in order to set us free from our bondage of self-centered living. It truly takes the mind of Christ to do this in our lives. “The Servant” living in “the servant” is the only way.

In chapter two we also read about a couple of men that had the same mind and attitude as Paul so he trusted them to be his representative. He sent Timothy to Philippi in order to check on them. He said, “For I have no one else of kindred spirit (like minded) who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.” So we see that the mind of Christ is defined by putting others first therefore the mind of Satan would be the opposite which is thinking of ourselves first. Doesn’t this sound like some of our Mothers? I grew up with two older sisters; and when you have siblings you have to learn how to see things from others perspective and how to share. This, I think, is some pretty good evidence we are all born with the Satanic mind. Hence the reason Paul admonishes us to “Let” this mind be in you. We have to let the mind of Christ operate in us or we will never come to the unity of the faith.

In Philippians three Paul tells a brief testimony of how he finally came to see his accomplishments and heritage as worthless compared to knowing Christ and gives them, and us, a warning about those that are earthly minded and self-seeking. He said, “For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.” For those living only for earthly things there is no end to the cravings. If our appetites and earthly desires are the only thing driving us we will never be content. There truly is only one thing that brings human beings fulfillment and that is Christ himself.

As Paul finishes up his letter to the Philippians in chapter four he urges a couple women there to live in harmony or be of one mind in the Lord. Thankfully once again Paul doesn’t leave us wondering how to do this he gives us some very practical advice. He tells us to rejoice, be anxious for nothing but rather pray and be thankful as we let God know what we need. He then spells out for us what to let into our minds. He tells us to think only on things that are “True, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent and worthy of praise.” These are the secrets of the Apostle Paul’s thought life. By these things he has “learned to be content in whatever circumstances He’s in.”

While there are many, many troubles in this life there is one thing that is for sure. While we may have little or no ability to control the things that happen we do have the gift of the Mind of Christ and with that a choice in how to respond when these things find their way into our world.

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”

Louie

 

Spirit, soul and body seem to always make their way into my thinking. I have come to see how important it is to make the distinction between soul and spirit so now I see it throughout the whole of the Bible. Today though I’ve been thinking about the body, and not just any body but what our heavenly body will be like.

In 1 Corinthians 15 the Apostle Paul spends a great deal of time discussing the subject of our resurrected bodies and what that might be like. While Paul admits he doesn’t really know exactly what our new bodies will be like permit me if you will to ponder these things for a moment.

When God created the first man Adam he used dust. We read where it says, “the Lord god formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” In other words our bodies are created not just for our environment but actually from our environment Earth. Remember this because it will play an important part in the point I’m hoping to make; but first let’s look at a few other instances in the scriptures to build the case for our new bodies.

There is an instance in the gospels when Jesus took his inner circle of disciples Peter, James and John to the top of a mountain. While there “He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.” To me this is a glimpse of what our new bodies will be like. If this is true then we are really, at our core, light beings living in a veiled body at present. The word transfigured used hear is the same word used in Romans 12:2 when we are told to have our minds “transformed”. It comes from the same word as metamorphosis meaning to change or transform. It is the same as when a caterpillar is changed or transformed into a butterfly. The one body is completely different from the other.

Paul even said in 1 Corinthians 15 “That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be…” What if the transfiguration of Jesus is a glimpse for us of what our heavenly bodies will be? Let’s look at another glimpse God gives us in the design of the Priestly clothing.

In Exodus 28 we read where God instructed Moses to design the clothing to be worn by the priest as he did his duties in the Holy of Holies. He was to wear an ephod of gold with shoulder pieces with onyx stones for each shoulder representing six sons of Israel on each. He also had a breast-piece with four rows of stones equaling twelve altogether to represent each tribe of Israel. So they are to be covered in jewels when they go into the Holy of Holies. To me this is a picture of what we will look like one day as we enter the true Holy of Holies in our new bodies. Do you see what I see?

While there are probably many other places we can point to in the scripture let me just finish with one more found in the book of Revelation. Remember the first man Adam was formed from the dust of the ground right? He was designed from his environment to live in that environment so it is only reasonable our new bodies will have to coincide with our new environment, right? If we look in Revelation 21 we discover the New Jerusalem to be made out of costly stone, as crystal-clear jasper. It has gates of pearl, jasper walls and the city is pure gold, like clear glass. Wow! It has twelve foundation stones of all types of precious jewels, and the streets were pure gold like glass.

In conclusion let me say if the first Adam was created from the dust of this earth in order to be compatible to his environment it only makes sense we too will be re-created to live in our new environment. If our new home is made up of precious stones, and gold as clear as glass, it only stands to reason that we will be transfigured in our bodies one day and it will be conformed with the body of his glory! “The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven.”

On the day we are born-again our dead human spirit is resurrected and joined to the Holy Spirit. From that day forward we are learning what it means to live with the mind of Christ calling the shots or to be transformed in our minds; and one day we will be given a brand new body that corresponds to our new home where we will live for all eternity in the city which needs no sun because the Lamb is it’s light. He will shine and shine for all eternity in and through his chosen vessels fully transformed with their pure, clear, jeweled bodies with nothing to hinder his full expression to anyone gazing upon his Glory forever and forever.

Louie

While watching the news and seeing the things that go on around us everyday may sometimes be discouraging I say, “Don’t lose hope yet.” The Apostle Paul told us of a mystery that had been hidden in God before but is now revealed. Christ in you, the hope of glory is our answer. While the world may run after politics, money, religion and power we know Christ is the only lasting solution to our problems.

The Bible is divided primarily into two covenants, what we might call the Old and New. The old one of course didn’t work and it couldn’t because it depended on us and we simply couldn’t hold up our end of the deal. Therefore God declared even to Jeremiah He would make a brand new covenant, one that included putting His law in the hearts of the worshiper. He said, “I will be their God, and they shall be my people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” Wow! Did you hear that? There is coming a day when everyone will know the Lord.

For those of us who have already received Christ we have been given a glimpse of the glory of this coming time and if you’re like me you are anxiously awaiting for this to be fulfilled in our neighbors and brothers too. Jesus did tell us just before His arrest and crucifixion, He would send the Comforter; and He would remind them/us what He had told them, lead them/us into the whole truth and be their teacher. The Apostle John reiterated this in his first epistle saying, “As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.”

You see God’s plan all along has been to live in each of us and have one on one time with all of us all the time. While the Apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors and teachers have their roles they aren’t meant to be forever. In Ephesians Paul tells us why God gave us these offices and it’s so the rest of the saints might grow up into their specific roles in the body. God’s intention is for each member of the body or “Church” to do their part in ministry until everyone that will enter has entered. At some point, just like the Arc with Noah, the door will be shut. Until then The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”

Louie

Mankind was created in God’s image so we would be compatible with him. In other words just as God is Spirit we are too. Like God we have a personality, we feel and desire, think, have a will and speak and act. Could it be the invisible God wanted to make himself visible? What if humanity’s purpose all along has been to be the means by which the invisible God manifest himself in the material world? What if the fall didn’t change his goals at all and we’re still on track to fulfill them?

According to 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 we are made up of spirit, soul and body. As far as the spirit is concerned Jesus told us we must be born-again which means born from above. You see when Adam fell man died, just as God had warned, so we are all born dead in sin hence the need to be born-again by the Spirit of God. Once that happens we are joined again to God and regain our God-consciousness. Jesus did tell the woman at the well “God is Spirit and those that worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.” The Apostle Paul told us “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.” So we see this is what God has been after all along. He wants us to be in union with him, “The Father of spirits.”

Our soul-level is basically what you might call our personality primarily made up of our emotions and intellect. I guess you could say our soul is how we are self-conscious. The soul was meant to be the means by which God’s Spirit, joined to our human spirit, could express his self. In the fall mankind’s spirit was deadened so we became outwardly focused. We began to be led around by how we felt and thought rather than by the Spirit of God. So our personality, originally meant to be an expression of God, became the expression of another. The Bible tells us we, not only have to be born again we have to have our minds, ie. souls, transformed. We’ve spent way too much time thinking and behaving as the world if we really have become a new creature in Christ why not operate in his mind?

Someone might ask, well how do we obtain this renewed mind? Well first of all of course we have to have the Spirit of God living in us but then we have to let him reteach us. The Apostle Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 2 “The natural man cannot know the things of the Spirit but the Spiritual man appraises or judges all things because they have the mind of Christ.” Ultimately the renewing of our minds is also the work of God. He is the one that changes us “from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” You see it is the Lord who does the transforming as we behold him. So our job is to behold him and let him have his way. As we fix our eyes on him we will find ourselves being transformed.

The last but not least part of us is our body which is world-conscious. We live in a material world therefore we need to have a material body in order to be in contact with it. I have come to see our situation as being one where we are born-again, resurrected spirits living in a fallen body. This, I believe, is the cause of many of our troubles even as believers. We are reading the Bible and it’s telling us we’re whole, blameless, perfect, righteous, justified, sanctified and on and on. When we look at ourselves, meaning our thoughts and feelings or our bodies it seems to be untrue sometimes doesn’t it? Well what if our spirit has been perfected, our soul/minds are being transformed and we are still waiting for the new bodies? Maybe we’re already complete and we are simply awaiting the manifestation of the new body. What if our new body is already present within awaiting for the time when it will be seen sort of like how a single seed really has a whole forest within waiting to push through the soil. Maybe we’re in transition between two worlds and our spirit is complete, our souls are being renewed and our new body is yet to come. I’m not sure about all these details, but “I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

In the letter to the Ephesians it tells us we are seated in heavenly places in Christ, we should walk “on the earth” mind you, in a manner worthy of our calling and stand against the enemy. Isn’t this telling us we are really Spirit people seated in eternity, which means no time, and yet living out our calling on the earth in time?

According to Philippians 3:21 the Lord “will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to himself.” In other words one day our bodies will be glorified bodies just as Christ has even now and it will come about by his power. The way John says it is “Beloved, we are now children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see him just as he is.”

One day we will be transformed completely. Even though now it may seem unfinished if you go back and read 1 Thessalonians 5:24 you will see “Faithful is he who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” God always finishes what he starts. We can trust He will complete us spirit, soul and body.

Louie

While there are elements of the Bible that seem complicated at first glance; overall God has made things quite simple. For instance let’s look at how God sees people. Everyone is in one camp or the other, either in Adam or in Christ there is no other category.

In Romans we discover through the first man Adam sin entered the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned. Did you catch that? What this is telling us is we were all present in Adam when he sinned so we all really did participate when he sinned. While some may say, “That’s not fair!” I say, “Don’t jump to conclusions quite yet; let’s keep reading.”

If we keep on reading we discover, just as the one man Adam sinned causing all of us to fall, there was another man, Jesus, who obeyed and if we are joined to him we too will be counted as righteous just as he is righteous. I don’t hear anyone screaming about how unfair that is now do I? You see “God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.” When it comes right down to it we are either in Adam or in Christ; that’s pretty simple isn’t it?

So the question is how do I get out of Adam and into Christ? Now that is a great question let’s look at Romans six for a minute. There we read the way to be joined to Christ is through being brought into union with him through the cross and his death, burial and resurrection. Just as we were in Adam in the beginning and joined to him and his sin, now through the cross of Calvary, God has placed us into Jesus Christ and all that has happened to him has happened to us. By faith we declare that we have been crucified with Christ, buried and raised to walk in newness of life. That’s what Paul means when he said, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death?” You see baptism means “to be overwhelmed”. In other words we have been placed or fully enveloped by him. It is a union like when a man and wife become one flesh except “He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit.”

God’s ultimate plan is for all of us to be in Christ. It’s not his will that any should perish in fact in 1 Corinthians 15 it tells us this very thing. We read where there is an order for the resurrection of the saints. First of course was Christ then there will be those that are his at his coming. Eventually even the last enemy death will be defeated and all things will be put in subjection to Christ who will in turn subject all things to God, so God may be all in all.

Jesus Christ’s once and for all atoning death on the cross enables God to move into believers by His Spirit so we might participate in His plan to reconcile all things in Christ. What an amazing plan! God reconciles sinners to the savior and not only that he also takes the barriers that used to divide Jew and Gentile and tears it down so we can all be one. The letter to the Ephesians tells us God’s objective is to reveal his wisdom through the church to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places. I’m not sure all of what that might entail but God does seem to enjoy choosing the foolish and weak things in order to confound the wise and strong. Maybe he does things this way so throughout eternity no one will have any room to brag about anything but how Magnificent, Wise and Glorious God truly is to have such a plan.

Louie

 

The Apostle Paul was a Father to the churches he had founded. Throughout his epistles you can sense an underlying Fatherly concern for them that goes beyond how one might feel about a fellow church member. He told the Corinthians “I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For it you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.” In the Galatian letter Paul said, “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ be formed in you.”

As a Father to these many believers Paul talked to them straight; he never pulled any punches but it always came from a place of concern for their well-being and wanting what was best for them. This of course is yet another proof God’s Spirit had in fact taken up residence within him because prior to that Paul was a mean spirited and violent man. He thought of himself as above others and didn’t hesitate to do whatever it took to demonstrate it.

As the guys in the small group Bible study and I made our way through Philippians 2 we read where Paul said, “Even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.” Paul so longed for his readers to see and experience what they had received in Christ he was willing to have his very life poured out for them if that’s what it took. I shared with the guys how this is the heart of God because his mind is “others first”.

We can see this demonstrated in the life of Moses when God seems to have become fed up with Israel’s shenanigans at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Moses went before God on behalf of Israel saying, “Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves. But now, if you will, forgive their sin–and if not, please blot me out form your book which you have written!” Wow! This is what it means to be one with God. “God so loves the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him would not perish but have everlasting life.” Moses loved Israel so much he was willing to take what they deserved upon himself.

In the ninth chapter of Romans we read where Paul had the exact same heart for his people. He said, “I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh…” This is God’s heart for the world. He loves us and wants us to be saved so much he was willing to give everything in order to do it.

When Jesus walked the earth he said things like “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no part of me” and “I am the living bread that came down from Heaven”. Jesus whole earthly life was to be a ransom for many. In fact everything in all of creation is designed to give itself for others. Think for a minute with me. A tree is meant to give its wood to be a table, bed, chair or house. A plant is to give its fruit or vegetable in order to provide food for the eater. What about a cow, goat or chicken? They give milk or eggs, and even their very life, in order to provide sustenance for others. One main difference between these things and us humans is we were created in God’s image and have to choose to give ourselves for others whereas these others don’t have a choice. So Jesus, God in the flesh, lived a life for others purely by choice and because he knew it was only in losing one’s life that we find it.

As we discussed these things at the jail one of the men stopped me and said, “You just answered a question I had.” He then proceeded to tell me about a conversation he recently had with his bunk-mate. He said, “I was just talking with him about how I would die for my children and he said, “that’s not right man.” As we read and talked about how God’s heart is always for the other person first he truly saw how his attitude and willingness to die for his children was really God’s Spirit in him. Bang! And that ladies and Gentlemen is why I love teaching the Bible in the jail. If these men can truly receive revelation from God and begin to understand their role as husbands and Fathers the impact on their families and neighborhoods is immeasurable. It isn’t difficult to find tutors or instructors but God is looking for Fathers; men who learn to regard others as more important than themselves.

Louie

One of the few things God really demands of us is for us to repent. Although in a sense repentance is even a gift of God we still have to have our minds changed. We have to get God’s point of view on his world. From the World’s point of view the Kingdom of God is upside down. What if the world’s point of view is the one that’s really upside down?

Jesus said some really radical things while he walked the earth. In what is possibly his most famous sermon, what’s come to be known as “The Sermon on the Mount”, he said things like ” Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are those who hunger and thirst, blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, and blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.” The average person hearing this would be thinking “what in the world is this man talking about?” What planet is he from where it’s a blessing to be so needy, mistreated and empty?

One of the root problems since the fall of man is pride. Just like Lucifer before him man has come to think of himself more highly than he ought therefore he is blinded to his true condition. So Jesus is saying those that come to see themselves as desperate are in the perfect position to be blessed. It is only after we see ourselves as we really are that we cry out for God to fill our emptiness. Jesus did say, “The well don’t need a doctor” so as long as we think we’re okay we’ll continue to walk around under a false sense of security. Even a glance through the gospels shows us how Jesus performed miracle after miracle for sick, blind, broken and sinful people that acknowledged their need but refused to when the “religious leaders” demanded him. In fact he told them they were really only cleaned up on the outside but inside they were rotten. They really were in a desperate situation but blinded by pride they refused to acknowledge the truth.

If you look in Isaiah 14 and read the description of the mind of Lucifer and why he fell and compare that to the mind of Christ as described in Philippians 2 you will see another seeming opposite. Whereas Lucifer thinks too highly of himself and believes he can be “Like” God; Jesus, even though he is God, didn’t consider that something to be grasped or held tightly to rather he came as a servant and was obedient even to the point of death on the cross. You see the God revealed to us through Christ is a God that thinks more highly of others instead of himself so much so he even died for them (Us).

You see God understands the predicament we are in so rather than flood the earth again to put an end to everything he decided to come to us in the form of a man and give his own life as a ransom for many. While the preaching of the cross is foolishness to the world, to them that believe it is the power of God. I love the fact that God chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise and the weak to shame the strong. He does this so no one has any room to brag about themselves.

Have you ever thought how it might be in Heaven? I know one thing that won’t be there and that’s any room for bragging on anyone except Jesus Christ. No one is going to walk up to you and say, “What did you do to get in here? I did___” No there is only one way anyone will enjoy Heaven and that’s because Jesus Christ, the God man, lived a sinless life and died a sinners death. He became sin so we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Louie

Our friend Nicholas Pudjak's artwork.

Our friend Nicholas Pudjak’s fabulous artwork.

Jesus told Nicodemus “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Being born again means God has given you a new heart and put his Spirit within you. When it comes right down to it our troubles revolve around heart issues. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

If you’ve run in “Christian circles”, or have very many Christian friends, you may have heard the saying, “It’s a God thing.” A God thing means it’s one of those moments or events only explainable by crediting God for it. You know it’s those people, or happenings, in life that seems like “a coincidence.” Of course if you believe in a Sovereign God you know it isn’t a coincidence, rather it’s God breaking into your life for a purpose.

When Jesus walked this earth he taught many kingdom principles by way of parables. He would use simple illustrations to define God’s way of seeing things. More times than not his teaching would blow right past his hearers, but it wasn’t because they couldn’t understand the words coming out of his mouth rather they had a dull or hard heart. Jesus confirmed what the prophet Isaiah had said hundreds of years before. He said, “You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; for the heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes, otherwise they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them.”

Recently someone told me they heard a preacher say, “God isn’t interested, or involved, that intimately in our everyday lives.” I was shocked at first hearing this because I thought to myself “How long would I want to listen to this man teach me about a God that isn’t concerned about my everyday life?”

On the other hand C.S. Lewis said, “There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter claimed by Satan.” I don’t know about you but that sounds as if God is very intimately involved in our lives. We are in a battle between the forces of Good and Evil and Light and Darkness and without a new heart we will continue with dull eyes and ears. But thank God we don’t have to.

Several times throughout the Gospels Jesus’ disciples would pull him to the side and say something like “I don’t get that what exactly does that mean?” Jesus would then go on to spell it out for them so they could understand. He told them “Blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.”

What is the solution then? Well let’s look back at the original prophecy found in Isaiah 6. God told Isaiah to prophecy to a people who wouldn’t perceive what he was saying; so Isaiah asked “For how long?” God’s response was “Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, houses are without people and the land is utterly desolate…” In other words until calamity overtakes them to the point where they cry out to me. It is then, and only then, that we despair over our lives enough to be open to receive the promised new heart and Spirit. Once that happens our eyes and ears will be open to the kingdom we have been longing for for so long. We will start to see God in our everyday lives and want everyone to experience it and will become the witness God has wanted all along.

God will not withhold any good thing from his children. In fact Jesus said, “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Louie