23 February 2017

Reading His History


When looking closely at how the narrative of world history has been developed, one can see the hand of God.

Looking at world history from either a western point of view, eastern or other, we can see God's purpose having been fulfilled.

With what was to become known as the nation of Israel, we see God's handiwork in bridging eastern and western cultures.

The scattering of the northern kingdom, namely Israel, would centuries later allow for the promulgation of the message of Christ.

Through eviction of these people, God's good will was being planted...to be reaped centuries later.

This scattering brought information about the ancient drama between God and the choices He's made with certain people...and will make.

This saga began personally and privately with few individuals and now has been established for the public while still existing on a personal level.

The Greek empire brought together trading partners from various backgrounds, and Jewish efforts were disseminated into mainstream society...according to God's plan.

Greek trading routes made way for what would become the Roman roads of commerce...and today they are roadways and railways that you and I can use, connecting what is called the east with the west...and beyond.

It was upon the Roman built roads that the feet of those carrying the Good News would traverse.

Greek and Roman systems of law and rights would become the foundations of modern legal systems.

With all the good that was wrought from these human efforts, the bad also sealed their fate while granting us many historical lessons.

The things men take pride in and find human strength in would be the very things that destroyed them.

The same can be said about all other human efforts on earth when searching for the good among the bad.

Can we not relate?

During the same period of time, the Persian empire also brought unity, trading conformity and legal systems.

It also experienced its downfall due to human failures, while God's purpose was forwarded (consider the visit of the Magi to the infant Christ and that people's ancient prophecies of a Savior).

Mankind's common pattern is evident throughout mankind's history...even our individual lives.

In later times the Spanish empire brought the news of Christ to other places, which was good, and it fell because of the bad it committed.

It should be no surprise that the same year Islam was ejected from Spain, Christopher Columbus would arrive in the Americas.

Truly there are key turning points in our mutual history...and if we look closely, we can see that nothing is by chance or accident.

The Spanish empire may have disintegrated after fulfilling its good purpose due to the manner it treated the evicted Muslims, maybe also because it was forcing the Christian religion instead of serving its example in Christ.

We can see very clearly, even today, local, regional and international events playing out for the good of God's purpose while also punishing those who act upon their own will.

What will be your legacy?

We can identify with nations has a whole as we can with individual people across the face of earth.

What will your legacy be?

Will it be easy for others to see the good that has come through you, like how saints are kindly remembered, or will your name leave a negative tone in the accounting of our lives?

While considering your personal history, or that of the earthly things you may take pride in, ponder:

As the heavens are higher than the earth, 
   so are My ways higher than your ways 
     and My thoughts than your thoughts. 
As the rain and the snow 
   come down from heaven, 
     and do not return to it 
   without watering the earth 
and making it bud and flourish, 
   so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 
     so is My Word that goes out from My mouth 
It will not return to Me empty, 
   but will accomplish what I desire 
     and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. 
- Isaiah 55: 9-11

20 February 2017

To Worship The Known God

Psalm 19: 1-2

The word “worship” means:

noun/

the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.

verb/

to show reverence and adoration for (a deity); honor with religious rites.

What does it mean to “worship” God?

Some think it means performing and repeating a physical act, like kneeling and praying while acknowledging God in a certain prescribed manner.

This can be a true and correct starting point, but only speaks to the introduction of what “worship” really is.

Some perform rituals, either lighting a candle, repeating recited words (prayers), or visiting certain places while dressed a certain way, facing a particular direction, etc.

These answers can also be true and correct starts to what is so much more.

Worship goes deeper, further and beyond these surface answers.

In brief, to worship God is to fully surrender to His will...and knowing His will is important.

Some consider surrendering to God means to accept certain ideas while denying others, but this is religion.

Others think surrendering to God is harming others for what they believe or disbelieve, which is actually evil.

There is religious ritual believed to be the entirety of worship, but any specific “religion” that attempts to teach what worshipping, following and obeying God is without the deeper realities is not complete.

People the world over, since the beginning of time, have thought up various ways to worship God according to what their culture developed and according to personal tastes, called traditions.

Yet we acknowledge the “worship” of God has been clearly expressed.

Worship can be made complicated, but it is actually quite simple...so easy in fact, that a child can worship God.

A child can worship God because it is a child-like heart that best defines what God's way is all about.
He called a little child to Him, and placed the child among them. And He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in My Name welcomes Me. 
- Matthew 18: 2-5
Out of default ignorance, people tend to worship made things besides the Creator.

Things in nature (plant, animals) and things made by man's hands (money, machines, ideas).

There was a time where the worship of God was to occur in a certain place, a building or the Temple in Jerusalem:
Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 
- John 12: 20
But there came a time when worship was elevated, broadened and brought near:
Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 
“Woman,” Yeshua replied, “believe Me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is Spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” 
- John 4: 20-23
We see there is a manner of worship that is described as “in the Spirit and in truth”; not bound to a certain location on earth, nor a certain repetitive manner as religions typically depict.

It speaks of “true worshippers”.

What is a true worshipper of God?
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. 
- Romans 12: 1-2
To worship God is to be transformed from the inside out.

To truly worship God is to not imitate the depravity and darkness in the world.

To be a true worshipper of God is to have your mind renewed...realizing what is of God (truth) from what is not (man's religions).

Knowing and living as a true worshipper, one's heart, mind and soul is forever changed and enlightened to God and His revelation.

The physical 'change' or outward evidence is secondary to the inner transformation, yet men think they know God or are known by God according to the many rules they follow, or the exterior efforts they do.

Have people ever worshipped God face-to-face?

Has God ever been manifested on earth where people acknowledged and worshipped Him in person?
After Yeshua was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the One who has been born King of the Jews? We saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.”... 
When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 
- Matthew 2: 1-2, 10
Yeshua was worshipped as an infant.
Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 
Yeshua said to him, “Away from Me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” 
- Matthew 4: 8-10
Yeshua was tempted by the devil, who desired to be worshipped in place of God...yet Yeshua declared that only the Lord God was to be worshipped and served.

Is Yeshua the Lord God that is only to be worshipped?
Yeshua heard that they had thrown him out, and when He found him, He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 
“Who is He, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in Him.”Yeshua said, “You have now seen Him; in fact, He is the One speaking with you.” 
Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped Him. 
- John 9: 35-38
The Son of Man was worshipped.

The disciples who followed Yeshua realized He wasn't an ordinary man, but something much more.
Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” 
- Matthew 14: 33
The Son of God was worshipped.
Suddenly Yeshua met them. “Greetings,” He said. They came to Him, clasped His feet and worshiped Him... 
When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. 
- Matthew 28: 9, 17
Yeshua was worshipped, yet some still doubt today.

We can still see the variety of things people believe in and worship...seemingly reaching for an unknown God while claiming to know God.

We acknowledge that God has been made known:
No one has ever seen God, but the One and only Son, who is Himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made Him known. 
- John 1: 18

15 February 2017

Recollections


A few random moments I recall from a recent trip...not in order of occurrence:

Older couple finds money on the beach walk; the man looks around after picking it up and I joke with them that it is mine.

Young lady sells me a dress for my wife; mentions experiencing several miracles of Yeshua after finding out what I do.

Customer in ABC store asks employee where to find a Starbucks; the employee cannot make out the request through the foreign accent, so I clarify the message.

Small child sitting on their parent's shoulders says; “I am taller than everyone”.

While eating at a food court I notice a man sit down to eat and finish a meal, and then order another meal from a different restaurant; while still eating the second meal, he orders a third meal at yet another restaurant...to go.

I curiously watch people prepare for the evening's luau on the grounds of my hotel; I realize it is the same luau (and location) I brought my mother to several years ago.

14 February 2017

You Gotta Have Faith


Those who deny that God exists usually point to a lack of evidence for God's presence in the world.

Yet the entire world, and everything in it, is clear evidence of God's handiwork.

The human mind can understand that human tools, what people build and do, even our very way of life, has a design to it.

A human design.

Yet design being found in nature is typically dismissed as 'chance'.

Mankind came up with math as a means to understand the world, but the design that geometry, calculus and algebra depict has always been there.

Man has of late come to put numbers and images to what has been previously designed.

Sometimes bitterness is behind the front of highly intellectualized arguments against God.

The logic to blame God for what religious people do is faulty...yet this is usually the issue that is not always discussed; why the denier is bitter.

Sadly, if some of those who doubt were to see something out of the ordinary, like a miracle, their mind would most likely begin to justify a logical explanation to rationalize away their experience.

Within the design there are patterns, and our characters are patterned around our previous experiences and attitudes.

If you are looking for a reason to be critical, you will always find many criticizing points.

But will something good be realized by the critic?

Nothing occurs outside of God's will.

If something happened, or is found to be evident in the world (or beyond the earth), God has allowed it to be, happen or exist.

The question is finding out 'how' and 'why' in order to compliment the rest of what God has ordained.

Reasoning assists the human mind to understand.

Yet when something outside the normal bounds of our understanding happens, like a miracle, man's reasoning can be grown to help us understand.

This should be the aim instead of simply blaming God or questioning His wisdom when we see bad and ugly things in life.

What is something that John the Baptist postulated regarding what God can do if He so pleased?


And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. 
- Matthew 3: 9-10
I think this speaks many things.

One thing beyond the obvious is that we exist in a reality that nothing is impossible for God.

Nothing.

God and His work is not dependent on our rationale, understanding or logic.

We are, however, dependent on our faith, or lack of it, to view and realize what God has and continues to do...choosing to open some eyes, and keep others closed.

08 February 2017

Who Are The Refugees?

John 5: 24

Why do people who claim to love the God who was revealed to mankind through Yeshua Christ (the Messiah) have a hard time looking past political lines?

Hypocrisy, confusion and identity-crisis are three terms that come to mind.

Isn't a political line something derived from man's imagination?

Let's look at what was written in the Law of Moses regarding foreigners (some parts of the law being specifically for Israel and for a set time) and what it talks about:
When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I Am the Lord your God. 
- Leviticus 19: 33-34
Although Israel was commanded by God not to intermingle with other peoples / tribes / nations, it seems the Israelites had an open-door policy towards incoming peoples.

Doesn't it speak to the manner one is to treat those who are not related, or not of the same identifying demographic?

It is always a good reminder that the old testament's lawful requirements have been fulfilled in Christ.
When we look at the old way for instruction, not everything is applicable under the new covenant (the new Way), while some things do continue; the moral codes.

That passage in Leviticus 19 is exactly what Jesus was pointing to when His followers considered being 'leaders' over others.

Identity has a lot to do with human beings; how they seem themselves and how they view others.

God set Israel apart to establish Himself in the psyche of that people and to exemplify many things to those on the outside.

Israel's identity was realized through God.

However, as time pressed on, some Israelites eventually developed an identity of their own apart from God's commands.

Some began to make up rules for themselves and their religious practices drifted from obedience to God's commands to based on superficial things, like identity, their thoughts and the manner they saw things, not how God called things.

Yeshua restored God-centered identity, now being defined beyond a bloodline (which was the purpose of God to reveal His Messiah), now brought through new birth by the Spirit through and among all of mankind (Gentiles and Jews).

When people look at politics, they are tempted to identify with exterior identifiers, like a flag, or a narrative in history, a certain heritage, but not as children of God (which supersedes all identities, tribes, groups of people, etc., according to God).

There are no political lines in the kingdom of God, but only light shining among the darkness.

The confusion happens all the time when people desire to label themselves and others, instead of submitting to what God has called them to; being one family in Christ.

Is Yeshua an American, or even a 'Christian' as people look at Christians from outside the invisible kingdom within?

People assume a nation is "Christian" when that notion is on the surface of things.

But is there such a thing as a political manifestation of a Christian nation when “the kingdom of God is within you” ?

No man can tell who is or isn't a part of the kingdom...although people like to judge by appearances and say “you are not a U.S. citizen” or “you are not a Christian”.

People cannot see another person's heart, thus they cannot physically perceive the kingdom of God inside another human being...nor can they foretell who will and who will not receive the kingdom.

Political ideas are things made up by men, but the kingdom of God is something beyond what men can understand in human terms.

People who move / migrate to a new place for whatever reason, do so to avoid death, persecution, war or something else.

The disciples who fled the earliest persecutions were refugees by definition.

They carried with them the knowledge of the kingdom of God; a renewed identity that went beyond the political borders of Israel, and included all peoples on earth beyond the heritage of Jacob (who was later called Israel).

The “Christian” who denies people from moving to a new place are confused; they are beholden to a faulty and humanistic view of themselves and of others.

They are confused by the political game and the teachings of men (what befell Israel of old) and have yet to realize what God has established and continues to build.

One obvious good work from America, among the many and which is a continuation of the Greek and Roman empires, is that the idea of democracy, freedoms and such, is one of the American Empire's major exports to the world.

The culture that sparks new ideas, as the new covenant had sparked a new way of viewing all of humankind, continues to forward and build upon what God had long intended...yet men rebel against God's hand.

These are ideas that have been a part of God's plan to bring the entire world under the head of Christ.

Notice how this effort continues forward despite incidences of wickedness, or injury...and good is being derived from bad in all its wondrous paradox.

This is why people on the other side of the world love their blue jeans, and desire to not only dress like the west, but imitate the expressions of peace, freedom, respect and love that is hidden beyond the veil of their ideological and religious leanings.

What God continues to do and establish is typically lost among the religious, who are confused by their adherence to political propaganda, racist ideologies and confusing messages in culture and their hearts.

Please do not be deceived into thinking the land you currently reside on is “yours” or that it is the “promised land”, when it is very clear God has promised His faithful not an earthly abode, but a heavenly destination.

Realize the peaceful reality that has been prescribed and destined for you:
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us. 
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. 
- 1 Peter 2: 11-17
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Yeshua Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body. 
- Philippians 3: 20-21
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God... 
Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. 
- Hebrews 11: 9-10, 16
Notice how God grew a people from a single man (Abraham), and then brought that identity of sonship onto the rest of world...a reality that no single place on earth can contain.

Be not confused in fighting over dirt which was called by one name yesterday, and may be called by another name tomorrow.

Be not of the wicked in preventing those who may be seeking the Lord you worship, by being an example of the hostility they are fleeing from.

Your home, your kingdom, is not of this world.

Let the wicked fight over the things of this world.

06 February 2017

Spirit Mysteries


Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” 
- Luke 1: 11-17
Quite amazing that John was gifted the Holy Spirit prior to being born into the world, even from the womb.

It seems that God can do as He pleases and isn't limited by mankind's understanding of how or what He can do.

In what manner did John receive the Spirit, and how is that depicted?

Let us first look at what happened prior to that occurrence:
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call Him Yeshua. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; His kingdom will never end.” 
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” 
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. 
- Luke 1: 26-38
Here we read that “the Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you”.

God caused Mary to “conceive and give birth to a son” in a way that was outside the normal / natural- order of things.

Again, God can do as He pleases, even causing things to happen that are outside the typical order of nature and outside man's logical understanding of the world around him.

God's will is not limited to man's logic, but some people's minds attempt to limit God's will.

Neither is God limited to man's so-called laws of nature or laws of physics as men have described and defined such things for themselves.

I think people's minds are limited by such earthly and logically limited descriptions.

How difficult it is sometimes for the minds of men to accept new information and new observations.

God moves and acts according to His laws of physics, according to His laws of nature, and we have only a glimpse of these realities when considering His works.

Now let us look at how John came to be with the Holy Spirit in the womb:
At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” 
- Luke 1: 39-45
Consider the manner in which John received the Holy Spirit, and 'how' (according to our limited understanding) it may have happened.

When considering what God can do, how is it that some consider God to be limited, or that certain things can NOT happen with God?

Some argue that it is preposterous for God to become a man; to be found walking the earth in the form He created for us to live in for a time, the image that mirrors His form and likeness.

Yet this is what has been proclaimed throughout the centuries from the prophets whom God's Holy Spirit spoke through:

God will walk among His creation, as He did in the Garden of Eden.

God will teach them directly, not speaking through a prophet but presently through His form.

God will redeem His children as no other manner can consecrate us.

03 February 2017

Waking Up To His Grace

James 1: 12

I am a man, born in this world, yet I am not of this world...for the spirit that lives in me is from Above.

I had no initial choice in the matter of being called heavenward, for God chose me.

Now being cognizant (aware) of what God has always provided me, I make choices towards His will; those choices being called obedience.

Life has actual meaning after realizing the purpose of His creation in me.

The 'work' I do is not to save myself, but to do exactly what He purposed for me to do from eternity.

I can now look back at the manner in which, throughout my entire life, He has held my hand, heart and mind in and through all things.

I am becoming more aware of my role in this experience we call life.

His salvation of my soul is not dependent on my understanding of the intricacies (specific details) of His salvation.

His salvation can be both simply and confusingly explained.

His salvation is beyond the absolute understanding of any man, yet we have been given a glimpse and a bit of understanding.

If my salvation was dependent on my understanding, then grace wouldn't be what grace has always been.

Grace defined by human terms following God's revelation is:

“the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings”

In perfect and mysterious terms, grace is:

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Yeshua Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Yeshua Christ! 
Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. 
The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Yeshua Christ our Lord. 
- Romans 5: 15-21