Sunday, February 1, 2015

Laught in the Midst of Hardships: Isaac

When a terrible famine broke out in the land, Isaac almost went down to Egypt.

The LORD intervened:

"And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar. 2And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: 3Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; 4And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; 5Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." (Genesis 26: 1-5)

God promised to bless Isaac not because of Isaac, but because of his father Abraham.

There's a famine, but so what? You and I are descendants of Abraham, too, and we can rest in the covenant which God cut with Abraham, for we are all blessed through His seed, Jesus!:

"6Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. 7Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. 8And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. 9So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." (Galatians 3: 6-9)

and

"And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Galatians 3: 29)

You are blessed because of God, not because of the weather. You are blessed because of Jesus, not because of yourself:

Isaac in Gerar
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. " (Ephesians 1: 3-6)

Laugh!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Laugh in the Midst of Hardships: Abraham and Sarah

Many of my friends have told me that they are full of fear about the times we are facing in this country.

They assume that because the people whom they wanted to elect did not get elected, that they are doomed to suffer with the bad policies of the people in office.

What does the Bible say about believers like us?

Let's took a look at Isaac, the son of Promise whom God blessed on Abraham and Sarah, the Father and Mother of many, whose bodies were dead and did not believe they would ever have a child.

"And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken. 2For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. 3And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. " (Genesis 21:1-3)

The LORD comes through, as He promises to, regardless of whether we fret or fuss. The only thing that delayed Isaac coming, in a sense, was Abram and Sarai's efforts (notice before their names were changed) to have a kid through the servant girl Hagar.

Isaac's name means "laughter":

"6And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. 7And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age." (Genesis 21: 6-7)

Isaac is a child of promise, the stronger son who carried the wood up Mount Moriah (Genesis 22), who was not afraid to lie down on the altar, even though he was strong enough that he could have subdued his own father and prevented him from laying him on the wood.

Isaac not only came back down the mount, but served as a figure for Christ Jesus, the Beloved Son of God who was given for us.

"By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure." (Hebrews 11: 17-19)

Now, let us take another look at Isaac, and how God so richly blessed him:

"21And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD." (Genesis 25: 21-22)

Unlike Abraham, who went into a servant girl to try and force God's will, Isaac . . asked God. Just like that, and Rebekah not only conceived, but she had twins.

Laugh in the midst of hardships: the Lord is blessing you, in spite of the circumstances!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Matthew Declares, Mark Promotes Jesus' Royalty


The Gospel of Matthew outlines that Christ Jesus is descended not just from Abraham, but also from the lineage of the Kings of Judah, including David the Great King.

Yet in the Gospel of Mark do we find the record of where Jesus went after He ascended from Jerusalem:

"So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God." (Mark 16: 20)

I would have assumed that Matthew would have identified this wonderful ascension because his account was written to the Circumcision directly, although everyone of us in the Body of Christ directly and indirectly benefits.

Unlike Matthew's Gospel, Mark's Gospel portrays Jesus as a servant, one who "immediately" and "straightaway" ministers to the needs of the people who seek Him.

I believe that Mark's Gospel contains Jesus' ascension to the right hand of the Father because we most glorify Jesus as king when we allow Him to minister to our needs and wants.

Luke's Gospel declares this wonderful certainty for us:

"38Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. 39And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. 40But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 41And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." (Luke 10: 38-42)

While Martha troubled herself with all the things that she felt that she could and should do for God, Mary sat at Jesus' feet, receiving His Word, and everyone of us lives not by what we do or say or thing, but by every word which comes from the Lord (Luke 4: 4), and Jesus is the Word (John 1: 1)

Mary served Jesus by drawing from Him, yet too  many of us think that we must serve Him. In reality, without Jesus in our lives, we can do nothing at all(John 15: 4-5). As branches attached to the vine, we are called to rest and receive from Him, that we may in turn bear fruit to His glory.

Matthew rightly described Christ Jesus as King, but Mark's Gospels shows us that we do Him greatest reverence when we see Him as the Servant who meets every need and want of man.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

God Designed Women to Be Cherished

"25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:" (Ephesians 5: 25-29)

God designed women to be cherished, to have a recognition that they are important to their husbands, just as God designed men to be respected, that their word is the final word.

Women, wives need to know that their husbands will make their needs important, even at their own expense.

We see this loved demonstrated for all of us in what Jesus did at the Cross:

"5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2: 5-8)

and also

"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Corinthians 5: 21)

Women who know that they are cherished will find themselves transformed by the love of God through their husbands, too:

"he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. " (Ephesians 5: 27)

The above verse announces to men the double blessing of cherishing their wives: they love themselves, their own bodies in doing so.

We see a type of this mystery in David the King with his people:

"Then came all the tribes of Israel to David unto Hebron, and spake, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh." (2 Samuel 5: 1)

Jesus is our heavenly David, and we are also His body:

"For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." (Ephesians 5: 30)

In respect to marriage, women want to know that they are as vital to their husbands as is any part of their body to themselves. God designed women to feel cherished in this manner, just as we are all made accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1: 6)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

God Designed Men for Respect

"22Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing." (Ephesians 5: 22-24)

Psychologists in the past and today, pastors then and now, discuss one of the deepest needs of men: respect.

Respect had to do with honor, that a man makes the final decisions in the home.

Submission for a wife is not about slavery, but honoring the husband:

"Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband." (Ephesians 5: 33)

Reverence is a crucial, yet misunderstood revelation today. The original word is "phobeo" or "fear", yet this fear is about respect and honor, not terror or pain.

We all fear the Lord, because of the great things that He has done for us:

"And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it." (Jeremiah 33: 9)

and

"Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days." (Hosea 3: 5)

Fear is all about reverence, in response to the good which God has done for us:

"12Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Philippians 2: 12-13)

Today, wives in the Body of Christ honor their husbands, because their First Husband Jesus gave them all things. In the same way, God has created man with the important desire of respect, and even the most secular of teachers and researchers understand this Biblical truth today.



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

We Are Complete in Christ

"And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:" (Colossians 2: 10)

Many of us look at ourselves, our lack of funds, our bodies, or our circumstances, and conclude: "I am not good enough."

In Christ, however, we find that we are, and have more than enough:

"9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10)

and

We have to remember that we do not make ourselves, but rather we have a wonderful maker:

"3Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." (Psalm 100: 3)

and also

"I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." (Psalm 139: 14)

The focus in our lives is on Jesus, and finding that in Him, we are blessed and made perfect:

"3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." (Ephesians 1: 3)

and

"For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." (Hebrews 10: 14)

How do we grow in grace? As we know more of Jesus:

"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen." (2 Peter 3: 18)

Peter repeated this truth at the beginning of the Second Epistle:

"1Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: 2Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord," (2 Peter 2: 1-2)

We are complete in Christ, not in ourselves, and therefore, Paul invites us to see Him:

"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3: 18)

Instead of fixing ourselves, we are called to see all that we have in Christ:

"That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus." (Philemon 6)


Enjoy your complete status in Christ, and gain a revelation of all that He has given you.

Monday, January 26, 2015

He Repays (Even Though We Owed So Much)

"I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides." (Philemon 19)

Paul's letter to Philemon is a parable of Christ Jesus and His work of Redemption for each one of us.

Paul presents a servant Onesimus, who had run away from his master Philemon.

After meeting the runaway, and sharing the Gospel with  him, Onesimus is born again.

And he returns to his master, but as more than a servant:

"For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; 16Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?" (Philemon 15-16)

Just like Onesimus, we were servants of sin, but because of Jesus, we are now Sons of the Living:

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:" (John 1: 12)

When Jesus rose again:

"Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." (John 20: 17)

Paul affirms our new status of sonship in Christ:

"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." (Romans 8:15)

Now, not only can we see ourselves in Onesimus, but we can also receive revelation from Philemon. His servant had stolen from, had deprived him of services.

The grace of God, granted to us in Christ, superabounds as sin increases (Romans 5:20)

Whatever we feel that we have lost, we can believe that Jesus will more than repay:

Isaiah prophesied:

"I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners." (Isaiah 57: 18)

We have this promise:

"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." (Romans 12: 19)

and then

"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4: 19)

While under law, we are forced to pay our debts, under grace, we recognize that Jesus paid for all our sins (as His blood cleanses us -- 1 John 1: 7), and we can know and believe that whatever we have lost, He is repaying us.