WHAT DO WE REALLY BELIEVE?

 

If there is only one God and one begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, why are there so many Christian denominations?

 

If a child – your child asked you that question, what would you say?

 

If we all believe in God: Jehovah – I AM and in Jesus Christ- and if Jesus says in John 17:21-22

 

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

 

Why are there thousands of different Christian denominations all over the world?

It’s something to think about, wouldn’t you say?

More so, it’s something to pray about.

 

We know the scripture verses, I’m sure:

 

For many are called, but few are chosen  – Matthew 22:14

 

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:21-23

 

So many denominations. So many practices. So much doctrine.

 

Yet, we all “Believe”.

We say we believe in God.

We say we believe in Christ.

We say we follow Christ.

 

Yet, Matthew 7:21-23 and 22:14 say what they say and mean what they say!

 

Have we ever paused to examine our belief?

 

Perhaps I should say, to examine what it really is that we believe in?

 

There comes a time when doctrinal loyalty replaces faith in God and Christ alone.

 

There also comes a time when our belief in our religious beliefs replace our belief in God and our pursuit of God.

 

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

 

“For he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6b

 

We cannot deny what the bible says about the many falsehoods that will exist in these end times. By way of false leaders, prophets and doctrines.

The deceit will not always be as evident to us as we might think it will be.

 

That is why Christ urges us not to “lean on our own understanding” – Proverbs 3:5

 

That is why Christ promised us the Holy Spirit who will “guide us into all truth” – John 16:3

 

That is why Christ tells us to “seek to know the One True God and Jesus Christ whom He sent” John 17:3

 

It is a very tricky and slippery slope, brethren.

 

Satan is called the deceiver for a reason. He is quite good at what he does.

“The thief cometh but to steal, kill and destroy” John 10:10a

 

But Christ said “His sheep follow Him because they KNOW His voice.” John 10:4b

 

That is why we must make becoming one with Christ our only aim.

 

Not knowledge, not riches, not a “good life”, but the manifestation of the gift of the Atonement – as purchased by the blood of Christ – in our lives.

 

If our goal is Him, above ALL THINGS – Christ, then, He will “Keep us in the way and bring us to the place that has been prepared for us”.

 

Let us pause and examine ourselves.

 

Not by vainly saying, “I know”, but by humbly saying, “Only you know, Lord. Search me…and lead me in the way everlasting”. Psalm 139:23-24

 

“Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.”. John 16:31-32

It happened then.

It happens every single day in Christianity now.

It will continue to happen until the day when all things cease.

The only way we will be counted as those who believe in Him is not by royal proclamation or the beating of the chest, but by a total giving up of our lives to Him, and letting Him live in and through us. This is not done by human effort. Our effort is in the turning to Him. He, personally, does the transformation.

 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” 2 Corinthians 3:16-18

 

                                                                                           The handmaid at His feet.
   

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A TALE OF TWO THIEVES

A TALE OF TWO THIEVES.

Luke 23:

 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.

40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?

41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.

42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Every time this incident has come up in sermon or bible discussion, we’ve always been hung up on what Jesus was referring to when He said “Today”.

According to scripture, He descended into hell, the third day He rose and ultimately ascended into heaven. So, why did he say “Today” to the thief?

We Christians often seek to understand His word from a “breaking into secret knowledge” perspective. May the Lord continue to reveal to us the extreme pride in that. However, when we come to Him as we are meant to – Sinners in need of a Savior -, He “Opens their minds that they might understand the scripture”.

Who are the thieves being crucified next to Christ? They are us. Mankind. And the attitudes of each thief mirrors the true attitude of man where he answers Christ’s question of “Who do you say I am?”

The mocking thief did not believe in the Christ. He’d heard of the miracle worker. Probably even seen him do his work. So he said what he said with the malcontent of the Enemy that was speaking through him. Mocking and tempting Christ yet again to prove Himself outside of the will of the Father.

Do we see ourselves in this thief?

We should.

It is precisely what many of us do. Coming to Christ, not in repentance, but in entitlement. “If you are God, do this and that for me!” Demanding that He prove Himself to us for our benefit. Though we hang on our respective crosses for transgressions that we DID commit, we demand He save us without an ounce of acknowledgement of those transgressions or remorse for those transgressions.

Then here’s the other thief. Head bowed low on the cross. In reverence, saying “Do you not fear God”?

In acknowledgement and remorse “for we receive due reward for our deeds”.

Then came the faith. Not in “save me from the punishment” but “remember me when you come into Your Kingdom”. Up until then, not even the disciples had acknowledged Christ with respect to His Heavenly Kingdom. But here was this thief on the cross! To believe Jesus had a Kingdom meant that the thief also knew that he could also save him. But he didn’t plead for his physical life. Instead, he asked for the Kingdom. He pled for his eternal life.

What faith. What humility.

We believers have moments like this. During prayer, in revival moments, when ‘all is well’. But most of us would clearly be lying to ourselves and to God if we said this was our disposition in trial, tribulation or even during well-deserved punishment.

What Jesus said to the thief had very little to do with that thief hanging on that cross. Instead, it was an illustration meant for US. The thieves of today. Who after living a sin and self-dominated life, finally end up nailed to our cross of condemnation, face to face with Jesus. Nailed to the cross of Salvation.

Which thief are we in that moment?

The sneering, carnal thief. Full of pride and arrogance. Making demands of Christ?

Or are we the thief who acknowledges our wretchedness and acknowledges His majesty?

What Jesus is saying in the statement is that when we finally come to Him. Acknowledging our sinfulness and seeking the ‘Kingdom of God’ that is in Christ Jesus, “Today – On that day; in that moment; in that instant – He will receive us unto Himself.

Right then and there, He will save us.

He, in that day, will start to take us on our journey Home – Paradise.

“For where I am, there will my servant be also”.

We are with Him. He is in us. He is in the Father. He is with The Father. The Father is in Him. The Father is with Him.

Jesus doesn’t want us to focus on the things that He can give us on this earth.

He wants us to focus on His Kingdom and for us to allow HIM to lead us there.

While He’s leading us there, He assures us that He will make provision for ALL of our needs on this earth.

But our focus; our gaze must be on The Kingdom.

“In that day…” The day that we enter into His death and arise into New Life in Him”, That day (Today) we will no longer be of the world.

But of the Heavenly Kingdom.

In the life of the Kingdom of Heaven that lives in us.

In the life of our Christ. Who Himself is Paradise.

 Now all glory to God, who is able to keep us from falling away and will bring us with great joy into His glorious presence without a single fault.

 All glory to Him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time!

Amen

In Christ,

THE STORY OF BAR (INSERT NAME HERE)

Mark 10:46-52 tells the story of Jesus healing a blind beggar known as Bartimaeus. It is a well known account of Jesus’ healing ministry. The problem with “well known stories of the bible” is that we have a tendency to flip through them very quickly. Primarily because ‘we already know what happens’.

I happened to be listening to Mark 10 yesterday, and when it came to the story of Blind Bartimaeus, something in the passage caught my attention that had not in the many times I’d read this scripture in the past.

As a side note, I’m not a fan of advocating one bible version over another. The lovers of the KJV sometimes instruct everyone to read KJV as they believe it’s the original English translation, and therefore, the most accurate. I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with that claim here. I, personally, study by comparing several translations side by side. (It helps me to do it that way), but the version of the bible that I was listening to, when I heard what I heard was the KJV. Then, when I compared it to other translations, it read differently. So, since the Spirit of God caught my attention with the KJV, I will refer you to the KJV for this discussion.

Mark 10:

46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.

47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.

48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me.

49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.

50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.

51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.

52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.

So, let’s walk thought it together, shall we?

46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.

1. Of all the accounts in the bible where Jesus healed a beggars (even this story as portrayed in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke), the account in Mark’s gospel is the only account where the beggar was referred to by name. The literal translation of the name Bartimaeus is said to be (Bar Timaeus) which translates to (son of Timaeus).

Therefore, the name here is really an identifier of who this person is.

He’s not just “A blind beggar”, of which I’m certain there were many in that region, in those days. He was a blind man who begged on the side of the highway and he was the son of Timaeus. The identification of Bartimaeus makes this account somewhat personal. Somewhat specific. “This is not a story of a blind beggar whom Jesus healed, this is a story of a SPECIFIC blind beggar whom Jesus healed. I believe the specification is made here because there is something different; something unique about Jesus’ healing of this particular man.

47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.

48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me.

2. I’m certain we’ve all heard this story preached in a sermon at least once in our Christian lives. We’ve heard that Bartimaeus, upon hearing that it was Jesus who was passing by, ‘cried out’ to get his attention. Upon being reprimanded to be quiet, he cried out all the louder still. We’ve been taught to consider the act when we are seeking something from God. ‘Cry out to Him” this has taught us. Then when your circumstances or your adversaries attempt to silence you or to discourage you, ‘cry out even louder’. It is an excellent and accurate lesson! When seeking the Lord for deliverance from our circumstances, we are indeed to boldly and loudly cry out to Him. The loudness does not indicate that we need to shout because Christ is hard of hearing, but that our voice of faith needs to be louder than the voice of our opposition and the voices that are looking to silence and discourage us. But there’s an additional point that I want to highlight in this passage.

The other amazing feature in this story is not simply that Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus, it is WHAT he cried out to Jesus.

The passage tells us “when He heard it was Jesus of Nazareth” he cried out; not just Jesus, not Rabboni, not master, not miracle worker, not prophet; though Jesus was all of those thing.

Bartimaeus did not simply cry out his name, or reference Him concerning what Jesus could do, Bartimaeus cried out WHO JESUS WAS!

“Jesus, thou Son of David”!

Bartimaeus addressed Jesus as the Messiah!

For one reason:

He BELIEVED that the Jesus of Nazareth, whom he had heard about, was indeed the one whom the scripture had foretold was The Son of David. The Messiah!

Even when he was charged to be silent, he cried out even louder “Thou Son of David, have mercy on me”!

Remember that this was a time when even the 12 disciples weren’t fully convinced if Jesus was the Christ or not. Enter this blind beggar. Positioned at the side of the road leading to Jericho. As he sat there, he was told of who was passing. It is what was that revelation stirred in him that makes all the difference in this story.

Bartimaeus wasn’t simply stirred by the fact that the man whom he’s heard had performed all of these miracles was now in front of him and now, he could get a miracle of his own. No! His spirit was stirred with the knowledge of “It’s Him! The one whom the scriptures foretold! It’s Him! He’s here!”

Bartimaeus’ faith was confident of not only what Christ could do, but of who He was. He believed on the Holy One of Isreal. He believed Jesus of Nazareth who was there in that moment was He.

Which brings us to a very pivotal moment. Not only in the life of Bartimaeus in that moment, but by application into the life of everyone today who not only believes what Jesus can do for them, but who believes on who Jesus of Nazareth is – The Son of David; The Lamb of God; He who takes away the sins of the world; Our Savior!

49 And Jesus stood still.

3. Jesus, in His Word tells us that He will never cast aside anyone who comes to Him. He also says that anyone who does anything in His name cannot speak evil of Him. The same Jesus also expressed exasperation at times when He addressed the requests of those who sought Him when he said, “How long must I be with you people…” But, when Blind Bartimaeus cried out to Him, He stopped. There was no exasperation. There was no question of “do you believe?” Jesus already knew not only Bartimaeus’ belief, but the type of belief that he had. So, when Jesus commanded that Bartimaeus be brought to Him, He went straight to the point by asking:

“What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?”

Before we talk about Bartimeus’ response, I need to point out a very significant thing that Bartimaeus did when He was called by Jesus.

50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.

4. I am a firm believer of everything in the bible having significance. There is no idle or irrelevant reference.

When I read this line again, yesterday, I asked, “Lord why are you referencing the garment?” Instantly, the answer came.

I said earlier that reading familiar passages routinely can cause us to gloss over some relevant symbolisms. On it’s own, the reference to “the garment” seems very insignificant. However, tie it in to the other significant parts of this story that we have pointed out so far, then the reference to “the garment” becomes huge!

Bartimaeus was a beggar for one reason:He was blind.

It was his blindness, his inability to ‘see’ that put him in the predicament that he was.

It is obvious from the scripture that Bartimaeus knew enough of the scripture to know of the coming of the Messiah.

It is also obvious from this scripture to know that Bartimaeus, before the day their paths crossed, had heard of Jesus of Nazareth.

So, on this day, when Jesus of Nazareth came his way, what Bartimaeus had already believed in his heart now burst forth from his mouth.

“Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.”

I wonder what Bartimaeus’ ponderings were before that day whe Jesus came his way.

I wonder if he prayed that He would come that way. I wonder if he ever said to himself, “If I could just meet him…”

This scripture, however, does tell me that Bartimaeus was well aware of his ‘blindness’ and the conditions that the blindness had subjected him to.

His blindness had made him a beggar. It had subjected him to sitting on the side of the road; with his beggar’s cloak and everything that identified him as a beggar.

Bartimaeus was a slave to his blindness. The cause of the blindness, we do not know. The effects of it are glaringly obvious. Bartimaeus was not content being a beggar, even though he was subject to it as a result of his blindness. I believe that the “cloak of the beggar” that he wore was directly related to a blindness that he desperately wanted taken away, but did not have the power to.

However, once Jesus called him, he cast aside the beggar’s cloak. Because he BELIEVED that Jesus, not only COULD cure his blindness, but WOULD cure his blindness.

Once Jesus, Son of David became a certainty in his life, Bartemeus rejected his beggars cloak. He cast it aside. Bescause rose up to go to Jesus with the ABSOLUTE FAITH that Jesus would open his eyes and his life would be changed forever.

Now, what happened next is really where the specifics of Mark’s account of this event truly make a difference. As I referenced in the beginning, it is also the main reason I chose to use the KJV over the other translations.

52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.

6. We’ve already talked about the faith of Bartimaeus. Not just his faith in what Jesus could do, but his faith who Jesus was. It was this faith that Jesus referred to in this verse. It was this faith that made him “whole.”

His belief in who Jesus was healed his blindness and gave him back his sight.

His belief in who Jesus was cast off his cloak of bondage and shame.

Even more important than these 2 signs of deliverance, the biggest was that:

Once Bartimaeus received his sight, he followed Jesus “in THE way.”

Other translations of the bible write this to say that he followed Jesus to where He was going (along the road). I believe it goes deeper than that, and each key point that we have touched on in this passage alludes to that.

Bartimaeus’ heart was sealed in Christ that day and he went in “The Way, The Truth and The Life.”

He became a true believer of Christ.

Many walked with Jesus for a time. Many followed Him. Many chanted “Hosanna” and greeted him as he entered Jerusalem. But as many that followed Him for the things that they saw Him do, as many turned away from Him for the things that He did not do.

“If you really are the Son of God…”

Bartimaeus, on the otherhand, believed that Jesus was the son of God. No further convincing was needed. For that faith, Jesus not only healed his affliction, but He made him a complete man in Him.

The title of “Bar (Insert Your Name Here) was chosen because of how personal I believe this story is.

We are all the child of someone. Also, Jesus knows who we are. We are specific to Him.

We are all afflicted with some hinderance or another that keeps us under a cloak of bondage.

What is your ‘blindness’? What is your hinderance? What is your brick wall? What is your rut?

Are you sick and tired of the garment or identifier that your “blindness” has subjected/confined you to?

Are you tired of wanting to obey God yet the cycle of disobedience somehow sucks you back in?

Are you tired of tripping over the same stumbling stone, over and over again?

Are you held down by a physical/emotional/mental/behavioral trait that you can’t seem to shake no matter how desperately you try. Yet, you know that this trait is keeping you from walking in the way of Christ?

Are you tired of being unhappy? Depressed? Angry?Confused? Envious of others? Discouraged? Despondent? Resentful? Vindictive? Unforgiving? Unfulfilled? Stagnant? Unfruitful? Anxious? Nervous? Uncertain? Afraid? Insecure? Lost? Out of place?

If you are at a place that you cannot seem to get beyond or keep coming back to after it seems as if you made progress and that, ‘place’ has caused you to a state of helplessness…

Then, my friend, put yourself in the place of Bartimaeus, (Insert your Name here) and behold! Jesus, Son of David is there with you!

Cry out to Him.

He will stop!

When your oppression tries to restrain and stifle you, cry out louder still!

He will stop!

But, don’t just believe that He can change your circumstances?

Believe that He can change your life!

Believe that He cal change your way! So that you walk in The Way. In His Way!

Christ did not come to simply touch our lives, He came to change our lives!

But we have to believe in Him.

It is only in our believing on His Name; truly knowing Him and allowing Him to walk us in His way, that our blindness can be healed, our garments of bondage cast off, and we can be made whole in Him.

So, my friends, “Be of good comfort. Rise. He calleth thee.”

Now to him who is able to keep us from stumbling and to present us blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy. To the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

In Christ.

The handmaid at His feet.

 

THE WISE AND THE FOOLISH

If someone asked you today what you think is the most urgent message in Christianity?What would your answer be?
Considering the rise in atrocities that currently exist in the world: terrorism, mass shootings, voilence, lawlessness, perversiveness, etc. One can say it is a clear sign that the end times are indeed near. Therefore, the message should be to repent and receive Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior.
Another, in line with the first, would be to prepare for Rapture. Gird one’s loins, so to speak. For the coming of Christ is near.
Both of these messages are relevant, and urgent.
There’s another message that I find to be very urgent at this time.
STRIVE TO BECOME COMPLETELY FOOLISH!
Yes! It is of a great urgency, and a high priority, that we Christians should beg God to make us fools!
Christians/Believers need to come before the Throne of Grace, and ask the Lord to wipe away every shred of wisdom and intelligence that we have acquired about Him that is not from Him, and that is not focused SOLELY on Him! We are to earnestly ask Jesus to rid us, remove from us, totally empty us of any, and all knowledge, wisdom, learnedness, intelligence, savvy, pomp, and absolute certainty of any and everything that we have come to believe/trust/place our faith in. Erase it all. Then, replace it with HIM and ONLY HIM.
Not the knowledge of Christ. Christ Himself. His very nature. His very disposition.
This is a prayer that we should be screaming, whispering, groaning, weeping, pleading, begging, fasting, worshipping 24/7. It is that urgent!
If you question is “What is the difference between the knowldge of Christ, and Christ Himself, the answer can be found in John 5: 39-40
 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
The Jews, had read the scriptures. They had a knowledge of who their Messiah was, and how he was supposed to come. Based on their interpretation of the scriptures. Yet, here was the Messiah standing in their midst, and they RECOGNIZED him not. They ‘believed’ that they had a knowledge of Christ. However, they were full of their own vision. Their own understanding. Which had nothing to do with Christ Himself or what He represented.
Twenty people can read the same bible passage and have twenty different interpretations. Especially when it comes to the aspect of the Christian. How is that possible if there is only one Christ? Christ did not misrepresent Himself in the bible. That means it is we who are misrepresenting Him. Because we interpret the scripture according to our understanding. Therefore, if we are interested in being Christians, do we not want Christ to be the one revealing Himself to us? Not our belief of Him (which could be influenced), not our understanding of Him (which is subjective), not our knowledge of Him (which could be flawed). But, we want Him. His nature; His Disposition; His Spirit; dwelling in us, and guiding us.
In 1 Corinthians 3, the Apostle Paul is reprimanding the Corinthians over the disputes that he has heard were prevalent amonst the people. These disputes were over the teaching of Paul versus the teaching of Apollos. It was causing a huge divide amongst the Christians. This was happening because people were adding to their ‘belief’ elements and interpretations that had nothing to do with Christ, but based on their association with the preaching of one preacher versus the other. So, Paul, quite displeased said:
Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Paul was urging the people to stay away from the deviation that carnality causes. What is this carnality? “Our” way. “Our” wisdom, “Our” associations, “Our” preferences, “Our” rationalization, “Our” understanding, “Our” experiences, “Our” creeds, “Our” doctrines…
Everything that is “authoritatively us”, and nothing that is the Spirit of Christ.
The Apostle then goes farther to warn them of the dangers of this “building”, this “adding”. This placing as the “Essence of Redemption” things that are not! The externals, the disciplines, the personal “valuables” of our understanding and misinterpretation of scripture. He says:
Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.  If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
The foundation is Jesus Christ. The “Essence of Redemption” is Jesus Christ crucified.  The Atonement. The Propitiation. (Romans 10:8-10 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.)
 It is only the Spirit of Christ who can bring us into that Essence. We don’t learn it, we become it. We become one with Christ when His nature replaces our nature.
Paul said if we add anything to this and make that our belief, we should be warned that this belief will be tested! It is this testing that will reveal to the Believers whether we have stayed in line, or where we have erred. I specified “Believers” because verse 15 says “ If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” A true Believer will never be lost ( All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. John 6:37-39) But, we WILL be refined until we are brought into perfect alignment with Jesus Christ.
When the Bible tells us that God will make foolish the wisdom of the wise, we like to think He is talking to the pagans and unbelievers. Though this does apply to them in a general sense, this instance in 1 Corinthians 3 was not being addressed to the unbelievers. Paul was speaking to the Believers. The Christians! Who were now applying carnal wisdom and intelligence to matters of the Redemption.
This is what Satan does. He injects the right amount of deceit, in the right measure, at the right time, under the right circumstances amongst the right set of people, who by the time they are fully entrenched in vain disagreements over every irrelevant thing, will be fully convinced that they are debating matters of Christ. When in reality, they have drifted miles away. The whole time, never even realizing when they strayed from the path.
 He isn’t called the Deceiver for nothing, brethren.
“ Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”;  and again,“The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” 1 Cor. 3:18-23.

 

So, if your indignation rose when I said earlier that it was urgent for Christians to strive for foolishness, hopefully you will now climb back down, and lead your brethren to the foot of the cross.
That we may surrender our way for His Way. Our will for His Will.
That we may come, and ask, and receive, His Spirit, that He has promised to give to us.
 If only we would desire it.
 If only we would ask.
Now to Him who is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.
In Christ.
The handmaid at His feet

I WILL FOLLOW CHRIST

If the question “Why are you a Christian”? is asked, the answers will include, but will not be limited to:

Because Jesus Christ died for my sins.

Because He called me. “No one can come to the Father unless he is called”.

Because I’m grateful for all that He has done for me.

Because He saved me, and I want to go to be with Him in eternity.

Now, if asked “What identifies you as a Christian”?

What will you say?

What is your identifier?

Would it be:

That you believe (affirm and not deny) in Christ, meaning, that He is the Son of God?

That you don’t engage in certain activities?

That you speak a certain way?

That you attend church?

That you pray to God?

That you perform certain acts?

This is a reflective question, by the way. So, you really have to honestly ask yourself.

We have come to accept the definition of a Christian as “A follower of Christ”.

The word I’d like us to focus on here is the word “Follower”.

Matthew 16:24:

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

John 10:27:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

John 12:26:

If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

Now, let us examine this passage:

John 6:

And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?

71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

Here we have Followers exhibiting: acts of recognition, acknowledgement, listening to His word, following Him, and even being a disciple.

Yet, according to verse 66 – Many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.

What had Jesus said prior to their turning back?

He didn’t condemn them. He didn’t call them sinners. They has also recently witnessed the miracle of the loaves and fishes.

So, why did they turn back?

John 5:

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

This is what Jesus had just finished saying.

To which the bible tells us that the response was:

60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?

Now, we know that the Word of God says:

65 And he said, Therefore, said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

But in that same chapter, Jesus also said:

70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?

71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

Now back to our original focus: What makes you a “Follower” of Christ?

What identifies “You” as a Christian?

Attending church alone doesn’t do it – Judas Iscariot was in Christ’s entourage.

Outward disciplines alone don’t do it (Don’t do this, and don’t do that; do this, and do that) – Those can also be a byproduct of nature, and a strong will.

Believing in who Jesus is alone doesn’t do it – Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (James 2:19)

So, brethren, what is the measure? What is the bench mark? What separates us from devils, disciplined/upright/moral/well behaved/refined, do gooders, and those fascinated by the miracle working man of God?

Matthew 11:

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Isaiah 53:

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

We all want “to be like Christ”. Yet, none of us are ready to IDENTIFY WITH CHRIST.

With his humility. The true Humility. King of Kings, coming down to earth. To suffer. To be ridiculed. To be treated worse than a murderous robber. Spat upon. Jeered at. Flogged. Shamed.

Having the power to call down a legion of Angels to rescue Him.

Yet, He did not. He uttered not one word in protest, vindication, or self-defense.

He took it. He did it. In obedience.

Obedience to His father.

The requirement for our salvation was death and bloodshed, by virtue of our transgressions.

It was not the price for Christ’s salvation. It was the price for our salvation.

Jesus, died and shed His blood. For us. That was the requirement.

He obeyed.

His focus was strictly on what God asked Him to do.

John 4:

34Jesus said unto them, “My meat is to do the will of him who sent me, and to finish his work”.

The requirement for we who are “Followers of Christ” is no different.

We are called to Obey.

But, obey what?

What exactly are we being called to obey?

Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23 all say the same thing:

“If anyone will come after me, let him DENY HIMSELF, take up his cross, and follow me”.

It’s as simple as that brethren.

It can’t just be taking up the cross.

It can’t just be following Him.

We MUST deny ourselves.

The very personality of Christ is embodied in Holiness and Power, becoming sin and shame, that His Father in Heaven may be glorified.

It is all done, so that our Father in Heaven, may be glorified.

It is in the total denial of SELF, that we completely identify with CHRIST.

We are quick to recognize that everything in this world is temporary, and will pass away. Yet, we spend every waking moment, and every decibel of prayer, fighting for these very things.

Wealth, health, spouse, love, children, promotion, respect, advancement, affirmation, validation, admiration.

Our enemy is no longer Satan, but the people we don’t like. The ones who don’t like us. The ones who offended us; who hurt us; who scorn or shame us. Who don’t give us what we believe we deserve, or are entitled to. Who take what we believe belongs to us.

The world, and everything in it, that we acknowledge to be fleeting, is the world, that every moment that shapes or makes us, is based on. We validate God not on simply being God, but by what God gives us through these temporal things!

When we have, we’re happy. When we don’t have, we’re sad.

Matthew 10:

37He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Luke 9:

58And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

62And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

If the only way that Salvation could be wrought for us was for Jesus Christ to deny Himself; and the formula for being saved, or receiving eternal life is to die to self, and live in Christ, then, the only way that we can live in Christ is to deny our own self, as He denied Himself.

John 20:

21 Then said Jesus to them again, “Peace be unto you. As my Father hath sent me, even so I send you” 22And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said unto them “Receive ye the Holy Ghost”.

John 15:

20 The servant is no greater than his Lord.

Brethren, let us let go of everything that we believe that we are entitled to. By whatever virtue, fact or grace that causes us to have them.

Let us not be driven by the cares of this world( Mark 4:19). The blessings; the hardships; the joys; the sorrows; the things we have; the things we desire; the things we wish to be rid of.

Let us stop making them our idols.

The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Yet, He remains God!

Fact: We do not have the power to make, unmake, do, undo, have, not have, ANYTHING in this world, unless the Lord allows it. No matter how strong our faith; No matter how fervent our prayer.

Fact: He is still God. He Remains Creator, and Ruler of all!

Jesus asks us to learn from Him. We can only learn from Him by identifying with Him. We can only identify with Him if we surrender to Him.

By surrendering our self for His Self; our will, for His will.

Now unto Him who is able, to keep us
from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory, with exceeding joy. To the only wise God, our Savior, be glory, majesty, dominion, and power, both now, and forever. Amen.

In Christ.

The handmaid at His feet.

IN CHRIST WE CONQUER OURSELVES

IN CHRIST WE CONQUER OURSELVES

This past Saturday, I found myself in a place that I have never been before. I had a verbal disagreement with a friend that got so heated, that I vowed to never have anything to do with the person again. I felt I had been hurt so much by this friend, who in turn felt just as strongly, that they too had been greatly hurt by my actions. Yet, though both of us were eager for the other person to appease us and address our hurts, neither of us was willing to apologize. So, we went our separate ways: angry; hurt; indignant.

Then the Lord spoke directly into the depth of my soul through the sermon the next day in church.

My entire life, I have gauged my limits (emotional, mental, and physical) on what I believed “I” could bear; “I” could understand; “I” could tolerate, “I” could change; On what “I” was deserving of or not deserving of; the things “I” could give. It was always based on “me, me, me” or “I, I, I”. Yet, every single day, I walked around proudly calling myself a Christian; saying I “walked in Christ”, praying for God to direct my steps. Claiming that I no longer live for myself, but live for Christ.

But the Lord revealed to me through His Word on Sunday, if I truly live in Him; if I’m truly emulating Him, then how can everything I do or don’t do still be centered around me? How can I continue to base “my capacity” on “me”.

If “I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength”, then, how can I place the words “I can’t” before anything that I declare???

If as a Christian, I ask God to forgive me my trespasses “AS” (meaning simultaneously) I forgive those who trespass against me, how can I find it difficult to say “I’m sorry” or refuse to speak to someone??!

If I am being as selfless as Christ was, who died for my sins, how can I not endure suffering on account of my fellow man? Even suffering at the hand of my fellow man?

I don’t know why anyone else suffers with these issues, I am here today to tell you why I have always suffered with these issues:

I have always given to people as much as I believe I receive from them. Or, I have reciprocated what I believe that they have given to me. Bottom line, I’ve always had a threshold based on what I believed was my “limit” where people are concerned. Therefore, if I believed I was being treated unfairly, in response, I would either pull back my affections, or become defensive. But God told me that He has instructed me to stop measuring my threshold based on what other people do or don’t do; say or don’t say; give or don’t give. He told me to look to Him for the reciprocation that I required from people. The Lord instructed me to give as is required of me in every situation I find myself. He instructed me to be give of myself in friendship; give of myself to my spouse; give of myself in service; give of myself to “my neighbor” no matter how they treat me; and most importantly, to do all of this giving to my fellow man with no expectation of reciprocation from anyone except Him!

We often apply this bible verse:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

very literally. We apply the slapping to confrontation, the tunic and cloak to the taking of material items, the miles to effort and service and the borrowing to finances. inasmuch as they can be applied literally, they truly apply to everything a person can regard as unfair and unjust treatment of themselves. Think about it, they are all situations where one would naturally be compelled to consider and protect themselves, and/or expect the other party to consider them and change their behavior.

That is and has been my greatest cry of injustice to my spouse, my friends and to anyone who has anything to do with me. I am deeply offended when I don’t feel “considered”. It makes me feel cheated, slighted, neglected, and abused. But this weekend, the Lord instructed me to completely do away with my expectation of consideration. “Desire to do my will” He said to me.  “Do my will. ‘I’ will consider you”!

The realization; the assurance; the source of the promise; and the administration of it by the Holy Spirit, broke me down. Everything I had always used to “sustain” myself, came crumbling down like a deck of cards.

I was broken. Completely.

It was in that state of brokenness; in that very moment, on that very spot, that I surrendered myself to Christ. I surrendered myself in the nakedness of my imperfections; in the nakedness of my weakness and inability to change though I have tried time after time to do so. In my tears, I said “Lord, I surrender myself as I am. Please, help me do it as YOU require, not as I require”.

It was also in that very moment; on that very spot, that He too, began to rebuild me.

When it comes to total transformation in Christ, and being “born again”, Matthew 19:25-26 tells us:

“When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Total surrender to Christ is simply an acknowledgement that living in the flesh, in our own strength, of our own way, we are as good as conquered.

But after surrendering and asking Christ to take control, Christ renews our mind so that by His Spirit, we have the mind of Christ. Christ lives in our hearts. We live in Him; in His strength; according to His way. Then, on only then, do we become conquerors.

It is only the Spirit of Christ that can conquer Satan and every force of darkness.

All this “I, I, I” and “me, me, me” has nothing to do with Christ. It is of Satan.

1 Peter 5:8 says:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

Ephesians 6:12 says:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Genesis 4:7 says:

 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

It is in our “I” and “me” state that we create avenues for sin to creep in, guided by Satan who waits patiently for the slightest opportunity. So, brethren, if any of our  thoughts, actions, or utterances are not in line with the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self control, then quite simply, they are not of Christ.

If we feel that are being depleted in a relationship where the other person can’t seem to make us as happy as we’d like to be, the Spirit of Christ tells us to do everything in your power to make that person happy, and look to the Lord for your happiness.

If you find yourself constantly on the receiving end of gossip, rumors, false accusations, jealousy and envy from other people, don’t look to defend yourself to those people, look to God who always protects those who place their trust completely in Him. Then pray for those people, so that they too, may be delivered.

If you are struggling with any shortcoming: low self esteem, depression, anger, self righteousness, indignation, pride, unforgiveness, stirring dissensions, jealousy, envy, covetousness, contention, a judgmental attitude, a critical attitude, a loose tongue, insensitivity, alcoholism, addiction, a lover of strife, selfish, and a host of others, pray to the Lord to reveal your vice to you. This way, you can surrender that vice to God, and then He can begin your transformation.

Brethren, we can’t become conquerors in Christ until we have been conquered in our flesh.

Since my personal testimony is a part of this piece, I just want to share with you that there is nothing more liberating than shifting every single expectation from man onto Christ. The peace is unimaginable. The peace is the immediate reward. The lesson is that I am fully responsible for desiring to obey and taking active steps to obey Christ in dealing with my fellow man. The ultimate reward: It is Christ’s promise to me that as long as I do that, He will personally take care of me, and give me ALL that I need.

It’s a one step at a time process. But the comfort is that in every one of those steps, once we truly surrender, Christ goes before us; Christ goes with us, and He’s always with us no matter what trials come our way. There’s no better feeling than the knowledge of the creator of the entire universe, walks with us personally through every step of our journey.

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (Romans 8:37)

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

Share your thoughts that you might encourage your brethren.

In Christ,

The handmaid at His feet.

THE CONTINUOUS DEBT OF LOVE (Part 3 of 3)

Celestial Church of Christ: Life & The Word of God

3

This three week journey has taken us from an exploration of the cross, Christ’s sacrifice, and what it really represents; to the knowledge of what our debt to Him – our continuous debt- really is. We learned that this debt can only be repaid with Love. Love God. Love our neighbors. Because it is in loving our neighbors that we prove our love for God.

Now, the journey has now brought us to this point. The point of “how”? How exactly do we do this.

I will not be sharing with you today anything that you have not heard preached before. My prayer is that I share it with you in a way that hopefully you have never considered it before.

I’m in my sixth year of writing the Handmaid’s Blog. The sixth year began in September of 2014. The following month, I came to a decision. That I was…

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