Thursday, June 28, 2018

God Allows Delays That We May Believe on Him

"And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him." (John 11:15)

Do we really believe that He holds everything together in our lives?

Or when things get really tough, are we going to fall back into panicking, fretting, and then trying to fix and micromanage our circumstances?

Will we run to Jesus our High Priest forever in our time of need? Or do we continue to trust in our own efforts?

It's essential for us to take God at His Word, not to take God at His Word when circumstances are lining up our way, too.

John 11 is a quintessential account to show us how God uses delays.

Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, was sick.

It was clear that He loved them, and Jesus loved them enough that he waited two more days before going to visit them again.

Why did Jesus wait?

"When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." (John 11:4)

Jesus did not come to help us in the midst of our up and coming troubles only.

He came that we would believe on Him, that we would see the never-ending glory of His Father!

A number of times throughout the 11th chapter in the Gospel of John, Jesus cites how He wants His followers to believe on Him:

"And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him." (John 11:15)

We need to believe that Jesus is not just the Lord of the storms. He is not just the Good Shepherd, the Bread of Life, and He is not just the Word made Flesh.

He is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25).

Are you facing a dead situation in your life? Does the current circumstances in your way seem to suggest that there is no hope for your situation?

You need to see Jesus as not just a provider and protector, but as The Resurrection and the Life!

God allows these delays that we may believe on Him for all things, to see Him as everything that we need:

"25Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? 27She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world." (John 11:25-27)

The word "believe" appears four times in the above passage. Faith means a lot to God, and He wants us to believe on His Son!

"Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." (John 6:29)

When Martha resists removing the stone on her brother Lazarus' grave, Jesus responds:

"40Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" (John 11:40)

Then in His prayer, Jesus says:

"42And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me."

The crowds, the public, the news agents of Jesus' day already knew that Jesus could heal people from their sicknesses and diseases.

But was He really God? Could he really overcome death? 

Yes, He is, and yes He did.

And many others believed on Him, too:

"Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him." (John 11:45)

God is not just interested in our temporary peace and prosperity.

He wants us to rest in Him in the face of any, of all setbacks, hardships, tragedies, difficulties.

He wants us to depend on Him for everything, for He is our life (Colossians 3:4)

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Grace Defines Our Faith in God for His Righteousness

"And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." (Genesis 15:6)

In this verse, we find the heart of the Gospel, the Good News that when we believe in Jesus Christ, we are taken from death to life, and we receive His righteousness, His justified standing before God apart from our Works, but because of Jesus' Finished Work at the Cross.

This is amazing. This is news that should make us happy every day!

"Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright." (Psalm 33:1)

and also

"For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." (Romans 14:17)

Now, isn't it remarkable that this powerful verse comes to only five words in the original Hebrew?

I just learned this yesterday, and I think it says a great deal about the connection of grace and faith.

After all, five represents grace.

Here's the entire verse in Hebrew:

והאמן -- He Believed
 ביהוה -- In the Lord
 ויחשבה -- Accounted
 לו -- to Him
צדקה -- Righteousness

Pretty incredible.

Five words.

What are we believing from God?

He makes us righteousness, and He grants it to us as a gift, not as something that we earn.

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" (Ephesians 2:8)

It's all about unearned, undeserved favor.

It's a gift, and we witness the message of the Gospel from the outside based on grace.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

To God, Our Faith In Him Is Well-Done

"And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." (Genesis 15:6)

This verse conveys the Gospel at its essence. Here, we have Abram believing that God is going to provide him and his lawful wife Sarah and heir, and through him all the nations of the world will be blessed.

We believe on God, specifically on His Son Jesus Christ, and we are granted His righteousness:

"Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 39And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." (Acts 13:38-39)

It's about receiving--and that we keep receiving--the Gift of Righteousness (Romans 5:17).

We actually are made the righteousness of God in Christ! (2 Corinthians 5:21).

In this verse, we find the first mention of "believe" and also "account" for God accounted, reckoned righteousness to Abram for believing on Him.

The verb "account" is chasab in Hebrew, which also means to "to skillfully devise."

The word appears a number of times in the other Books of Moses, particularly those relating to the elements of worship and sacrifice in the Tabernacle, then the Temple:

"Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them." (Exodus 26:1)


"And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it." (Exodus 28:15)

and also

"And with him was Aholiab, son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, an engraver, and a cunning workman, and an embroiderer in blue, and in purple, and in scarlet, and fine linen." (Exodus 38:23)

To God, our faith in Him is beautiful! To Him, it is skillful, reckoned as well-done, much like the finely-built garments and ornaments for the High Priest and the features of the Tabernacle and the Holy of Holies.

Monday, June 25, 2018

See Jesus, And He Will Get You Where You Need to Go

"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went." (Hebrews 11:8)

"Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went." (John 6:21)

The two verses have been featured prominently in mind today. The key word "whither" stands out in the English translations of these to verses, even though they are two different words in the original Greek.

Do you wonder if you are going the right way? Taking the right steps? Making the right choices? For the last two weeks, I wondered if I was going in the right direction, or I felt that there was no sense of direction for me to take, as in which way am I supposed to go? I saw nothing but problems, reckoning my situation based on what I was seeing, rather than focusing on what Jesus is doing.

Like Abram, later Abraham, we know that God has offered us many precious promises, and He is interested in fulfilling everyone of them in our lives. Abram demonstrates faith in that he took God at His Word and didn't try to figure out every aspect of God's good will and the opportunities He wanted to afford to His faithful servant and friend.

I compared the verse in Hebrews with the often-overlooked miracle which Jesus performed in John 6:21. The disciples wanted to get to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. They faced strong headwinds, however, and had only rowed about one tenth of the distance. Despite their best efforts, and they knew where they were headed, they just couldn't get to their destination.

Then they saw Jesus walking on the water towards them. He calmed their fears, declaring "Be not afraid. I am." Then welcomed Him into their ship, and they immediately, right away arrived at their destination.

Whether we know or do not know where we are going, whatever matters is that when we see Jesus, when we look upon Him, when we bring Him into more of our daily walk, we let Him shower His favor further into our lives, we will without a doubt arrive where we need to be going, even if we are not sure where exactly that will be!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

How Tithing Frees Us, No Longer to Fear Not Having Enough

I used to resist tithing.

I just never knew if I would have enough money, and I couldn't trust God to provide everything.
Learning how to understand God's leading was very difficult for me. Because of the rigorous indoctrination that I had to put up with from my mother and her cult-like attachment to Alcoholics Anonymous, I had gotten to a place where I was constantly looking to her and taking her word for everything.

It has gotten really crazy. There were times where I would tithe, and then she would correct me for doing that, or tell me that it was not OK to do so.

Constantly I was looking to her or to other people to tell me what to think, what to do, how to assess difficult situations in my life.

Tithing was not easy because of that bad sense of training. There was also a period in my life when I was faithfully tithing at my local church, but it didn't seem that my life was getting better.
I have also learned with the greater revelation of God's grace that He loves me because of His Son Jesus. It does not matter whether I tithed or not. However, I want that growing revelation of God's love and resources in my life.

Because I realize more of what he has been able to accomplish in my life, I want to see His favor and resources flowing. I had such a small revelation of God. I simply did not realize that He is constantly at work in my life.

God invites us to enter into His rest. No longer are we striving and writhing in our self-effort to make things happen, as though God is light-years away and uninterested in what we are doing.

I also remember at one point in my life, when I was drawing from unemployment less and less, then I was switching to giving more and sharing more. I found that I had plenty of money, and I even had enough to spend on others. At one job, I was an after-school tutor of sorts. I had my own classes and provided different types of lessons. When we had reached the end of the year, I purchased food for all the students.

It felt good to be able to give something. It just was nice to know that I had money--and that money did not have me!

Last week, I was struggling with a strange point of discussion. Would I be able to tithe?

The pastor was preaching on Malachi, the passage about robbing God and not holding back.
Of course, it's important to read every passage in the Old Testament in light of the Finished Work of Jesus Christ. We no longer have to worry about the curse our the devourer in our lives. Yet still we have the opportunity to "test" God, or at least allow Him to prove His generosity towards us.
When I tithed again this past Sunday, a sense of hope and relief swept over me.

I refused to be in bondage to a certain set of dollars in my wallet, pockets, or elsewhere. It's essential that we realize how money is the least of God's concerns, but rather that He wants us to prosper and be in health even as our souls prosper.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Are You Established in His Righteousness?

"In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee." (Isaiah 54:14)

I learned about righteousness from Joyce Meyer.

The righteousness that we receive from Christ Jesus guarantees a long series of promises to us.

Meyer encouraged me to look all of them up and claim them in my life. Within a few months, my life was transformed. I was not sure how I was going to make it through that summer period.

Then I found a teaching job near me and I got the job the next day.

I found that I was receiving an incredible salary and working at a great place. God was really blessing me.

Then a sense of emptiness started to roll over me. Also, I labored in these days with a misunderstanding of Scripture.

For example, here's a wonderful promise from Isaiah:

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." (Isaiah 26:3)

I used to interpret this verse to mean that I had to keep thinking about Him, that I had to aggressive make myself conscious of God in my life every day. If my mind or attention wavered in any way, I was going to lose God's presence in my life. 

In effect, I was aware of God taking care of me at every level and over everything. I walked around with this incredible peace. "God will take care of the 99% in my life, if I do my part, this 1%."

Yet that is not what God's New Covenant depends on.

It all falls on what Jesus has done for us as our Mediator!

"10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

"11And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

"12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." (Hebrews 8:10-12)

Notice that God provides all His blessings to us because He has provided a full payment for our sins, and our inquities, our failures, our sins God will remember no more.

See, I knew that there were these promises, and that these promises came to us because of what Christ Jesus had done for me:

"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)

Now here was the part that I didn't understand: God has put away our sins forever. I was still operating under a mixture, much like the Galatians. I thought that I had to be obedient in some fashion, whether it was focusing on God continuously. There was still this strange, condemning inkling that I had to do "my part".

In other words ... I was not established in righteousness. I didn't realize that righteousness is a gift that I get to keep on receiving, and that even when I fail, or when other people accuse of my wrong--whether justly or unjustly--that I am still righteous!

"For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:17)

Thank God for Pastor Joseph Prince, who taught me that "receive" is in the present, continuous tense. Young's Literal Translation emphasizes that we keep continuously receiving this gift of righteousness!

I didn't understand that, I didn't realize that I am established in His righteousness!

This flowing of God's justification into our lives comes forth in Amos' prophecy, too:

"But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream." (Amos 5:24)

That word "mighty" in the original Hebrew also means "never-ending" or "eternal". 

The righteousness we receive from Jesus because of His death and resurrection will never leave us!

But how many of us believe it? How many of us know that we have been made "the righteousness of God in Christ"?

I did not know it, and we perish because of this lack of knowledge in our lives:

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." (Hosea 4:6)

We need to understand that God's righteousness is going nowhere from us. Terror, ruin, tyranny will be far away from us nor will it every come near to us. This righteousness comes from our Daddy God (Isaiah 54:17)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Yes, I Am a Mighty Man of God ... in Christ!

Ten years ago, I faced unparalleled challenges in my life.

Every day, I woke up as though everything in this world was on my shoulders.

Yes, I was saved, but from that point on everything depended on my. My life depended on my efforts, and I had to figure out everything that needed to be done and that was going to take place in my life.

For a year, I was attending one church, and I found that many of the people in the church were fractious gossips. It was very difficult to enjoy any kind of peace or prosperity.

But there was one woman, she was very encouraging to me, but at times I thought that she was just being nice for no good reason.

"Hey Arthur, you mighty man of God!" she would say to me.

I sure didn't feel mighty at that stage of my life. I felt loss, uncared for, useless.

I was so lost, not sure what to trust, what to believe, where to go in my life.

But she keep saying to me every time that I met her: "Hey Arthur, you mighty man of God."

This statement comes from Judges chapter 6, when the Angel of the Lord, a pre-incarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ, finds Gideon, the judge whom He would call to free Israel from the oppressive Midianites:

"And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour." (Judges 6:12)

God calls those things that are, even if they do not appear to us (Romans 4:17).

I heard this message today. Then I thought of that lady from the local church, and then I started criticizing her when she had been telling me that I was a mighty man of God, a mighty man of valor.

Then I started looking over everything that has been happening in my life since then.

Indeed, I have confronted bad politicians, corrupt elected officials on city councils, rogue police officers, Antifa. There have been bad press agents, large crowds of angry mobs, and in the past month alone I have spoke to different groups in different parts of the state of California.

Indeed, I have done mighty things, but it's all because of Jesus!

"20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." (Galatians 2:20-21)

The more that I see Jesus, the less that I see myself, and thus the more mighty I have become. Indeed, when people speak out by faith, when they claim the promises which God has given us through His Son Jesus, they do come to pass.

We just need to spend more time looking at all the great things that Jesus has done. We need to not look only at our present trials and immediate needs. We need to see that Jesus, Him who has been from the beginning (1 John 2:12-14) is taking care of us in every way.

And indeed, He makes us mighty:

"Let the weak say, I am strong." (Joel 3:10)