Which Part Of The Body Are You?

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. I Corinthians 12:27, 28 NIV

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV

When we realize that the gifts–spiritual gifts and natural gifts are given to us to help build the Kingdom and act like it–we’ll see a difference in the world and how people relate to those of us who Believe. Until then, we have a problem.

The problem with those who don’t believe God is those of us who say we do–don’t act any differently from those who don’t. How confusing is that?

If we are the Body of Christ–we have responsibility to act the way He directs us to act. If not, the Body of Christ is looked upon with derision and most see us as hypocrites and from recent observations, I’d guess many of them would be right.

I recently accepted “Friend Requests” from a husband and wife who are leaders in a church. At least he calls himself a pastor, but now I’m wondering what he’s teaching his congregation. Between the two of them, they have posted some of the most vulgar pictures and phrases–shared from other sites, but still distasteful and left me shaking my head. I finally posted that it was shame for them to share such posts and that I would not tolerate that type of thing on my page.

In response–they did not respond–someone else told me that they had cautioned them about the nature of their posts and received no reply. I thought they had been hacked, but I was assured that was not the case. What they posted, came from them.

Now, I ask again, how can we convince the world of anything good about being a Believer when the church leaders are doing everything the world is doing? Is it because we do not know which part of the body we are? Do we understand that when we proclaim the name of Jesus–accepting Him as our Lord and Savior that we misrepresent who He is when we don’t know how to act as church leaders?

When the people–the congregation of a church–looks upon its leadership with disdain, how can we build the kingdom of God? Satan is surely sitting in the pulpit laughing his behind off with the antics he sees and this is how people are never victorious–Satan is leading them down a merry path of destruction.

I urge every Believer to take some time and seriously meditate upon the role in the church they have and glean understanding from God as to what part of the Body of Christ they are.

Are We Willing To Listen To God?

Are We Willing To Listen To God?

Restore us again, God our Savior, and put away your displeasure toward us. Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger through all generations? Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, LORD, and grant us your salvation. I will listen to what God the LORD says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— but let them not turn to folly. Psalm 85:4-8 NIV

How many times must we ask God to restore us, revive us, renew us, and when He does, we turn away from hearing Him and do what we want to do–time after time?

Every time people repented–turned away from living in opposition to God–they called upon God and He responded to their cries. And every time He granted them restoration, revival and renewal of their spirits, they soon forgot and turned away from Him again, refusing to listen to Him.

Most people recognize the syndrome recorded in the Old Testament and even in the letters penned by those God called to preach the Good News. More than 2000 years ago, He proved how much He loved us and is yet responding to our pleas, but are we listening to Him in order to stop back-peddling, falling into the same traps from which we were delivered?

From what I’ve observed in others and in myself, we’re falling short of acting in wisdom in all things. If we seek His wisdom before we do anything we would not have to keep requesting the same thing–restore us, revive us, renew us–over and over again. We complain about what’s going on in the world, but have we paid attention to what’s going on within each of us? If we’re not willing to pay attention to what we do, how can we expect the world to change? If we’re not listening to God–seeking solutions for all the problems we see–why should people listen to us–those who say we Believe?

Until Believers–no matter the denominational banner upheld–begin to seek God and hear Him when He speaks and obey, we’re going to remain in this quagmire of sin–stinking up the heavens without disobedience–and we’ll have no one to blame, but us.

It’s past time, Saints for us to listen to what God is saying to us and obey. He sees, He hears, He knows and He is yet speaking to our hearts, but are we willing to listen?

The Church That Nauseates God!

The Church That Nauseates God!

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.Revelation 3:14-16 NIV

Whenever I read this passage of scripture, I think about where the Church is today. Every year, it seems, we get further away from living the way God intended us to live. And every year, we come up with more and more excuses to turn away from the tried and true–loving God and loving one another–living in obedience to His Word.

The reason the world is in the shape it’s in is because we no longer know how to love–God or one another. If we loved God, we would not support, promote or encourage sin–living in opposition to His Word. If we loved one another, there would be no violence–no killing of children, people or suicide bombers. There would be no theft, no backbiting, no name-calling and hurling insults at others simply because we lack appropriate communication skills.

Yes, “what the world needs now–is love sweet love–it’s the only thing there’s just too little of.”

But because we know not how to love–we have become complacent–apathetic–void of any feelings one way or the other. We are neither hot or cold, but lukewarm and God says, being lukewarm, makes Him sick enough to throw up. I can only imagine how nauseated He really is watching us flounder betwixt and between pacifying the world and man’s dictates and trying to muster enough energy to give Him halfhearted worship. Our obedience to His Word is not evident in most of what we see on the news and in our communities–and in the buildings where everything is supposed be done according to God’s Word–not man’s traditions.

Oh yes, we’re making God nauseous and if we’re honest with ourselves–most of what we do should make us sick enough to return to Him, but apparently, we have not arrived at that place–yet.

We will get there–to that place when we realize we’re tired of living in our own puke–trailing it wherever we go, stinking up every place we go, watching people cover their noses so they won’t inhale the stench. Hopefully, we’ll get there before Jesus returns but if we don’t, we’ll have no one but ourselves to blame since His directions are written in His Word and since we have Holy Spirit to guide us–we must listen and obey. When we don’t, we spread the stench of disobedience.

 

Is Our Living For The Lord Evident?

Is Our Living For The Lord Evident?

We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.  I Thessalonians 1:3-6 NIV

Some have “given” up stuff for Lent, some have repented for a moment of the lifestyles lived to honor a “holy week” and for some–a life-changing event has taken place.

We’ve paid attention to the last week that Jesus lived with various events and tributes and programs and praise for Jesus loving us enough to come down and make the ultimate sacrifice for us–so we may have eternal life with Him.

Now, that the celebration is over, how will our lives or rather how we live reflect our gratitude for what Jesus did?

Do we really love Him? Do we really understand what He did? If what He has done has touched our hearts and made us realize that our lives are nothing without Him, does the life we live before others provide evidence of who we say we are?

Most of us can talk a good game–we’ve learned how to be the best hypocrites in the world, but when it comes to evangelizing the world by how we live–not what we say–would we be found “guilty” of living a Christ-Centered life?

It is so much easier to “preach” to people than it is to “live” The Word that we forget–not only is God watching, but those around us are watching us, too. What do they see? Do they see us living what we say or do we just become more hot air in the society that is known for “talking loud and saying nothing?”

Are we seen helping those in need without looking for recognition and accolades?

Are we seen exercising wisdom in all decision making that affects others?

Are we known by the love we have for others–whether we approve of their lifestyles or not?

Are we known for praying for others at all times?

Are we known for showing kindness and self-control in any given situation?

Do others see evidence of self-discipline in our lives?

While we espouse having access to power through Holy Spirit–are we allowing Him to guide us in all we say and do?

What are people going to see us doing in the next forty days that’s going to be different from what they saw in the previous forty days? Will they see Holy Spirit powered dedication to living a life that is evidence of our love and gratitude for Jesus?

Well, will they?

While we ponder our actions and how we’ll become proficient at living the life we say we love in Jesus, let’s pray–and then allow Holy Spirit free reign in our hearts so at some point, in the very near future, all will see the message we live.

 

 

Do We Remember His Words?

Do We Remember His Words?

In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words. Luke 24:5-8

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30,31 NIV

This is the day that many will celebrate The Resurrection of Jesus Christ–but will the same people remember His Words?

In so many situations, Jesus reminded His disciples of God’s Word, told them who He was, warned them of things to come, performed miracles in their presence and yet they still did not fully believe or understand that the man–Jesus–was also God in the flesh.

After He arose and appeared before them, their physical eyes did not recognize Him and He again reminded them what was said through Moses and the prophets regarding His coming and all that He must suffer. It wasn’t until after He broke bread with them–using the same words as He had during their last meal–that their spiritual eyes were opened and He disappeared. They finally understood.

Those of us living today for the last two thousand years or more–have had access to the Written Word–of The Law and The Fulfilled Promise under Grace. We have the history of Jesus’ time on earth as He taught and healed, was betrayed, arrested, beaten, crucified, died, buried and rose again--but do we yet remember His Words?

Do we remember that He said, He had come to fulfill the law?

Do we remember that He said, We are to love God with all our hearts, soul, and mind, and to love one another was we love self?

Do we remember that He said, No man can come to the Father without coming through Him?

Do we remember that He said, “Go out into all the world and preach The Gospel?”

Do we remember the prayer HE prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, “I’m praying just for these with me, but for all who will believe on me through them?”

Do we remember that He came because of Love and hung on that cross when we He could have come down, but Love kept Him on course–to finish the task and it is He who said, “It is finished?”

If we remember His Words and remember that He spoke as The Father spoke to Him and through Him, why do we live as though we are still waiting for a Savior to appear?

We have a Savior and His name is Jesus Christ! There is no other name by which any can be saved other than His. If we lived our lives–with the evidence of our remembering His Words–there would not be so much violence and hatred and peace would rule all over the world.

Now–Do we remember His Words? If not, let’s get busy–studying The Word and living The Word so all will know–we remember!

In The Interim–Burial and Resurrection!

In The Interim–Burial and Resurrection!

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. Matthew 28:1-3 NIV

More imagination at work. We have a record of what to Jesus after He was crucified and buried–but nothing until the angel announced His resurrection (more on Sunday as we celebrate). What happened in the interim?

Looking at what we do know–that Judas’ eyes were opened after the betrayal and even his greed took a backseat to his guilt. After returning the money to the high priests–who refused to acknowledge what he had to say, picked up the money Judas had thrown on the floor and later purchased a burial field for the poor–Judas hung himself.

Now, in order for Jesus to rise–early one morning on the third day–with all power in His hands–something had to happen–that made even the devil regret the role he played in deceiving people. For when Jesus–the man died–the Spirit Jesus–unencumbered by flesh and bones–was free to wreak havoc on the devil’s territory and He did.

For any who were listening closely they would have heard the rumble underneath the surface and heard the screams of utter terror as Jesus cleaned house in the abode of the enemy. All who had once succumbed to the wiles of the enemy and who had no possible access to heaven, attempted to act as barriers–to protect the devil–but they discovered rather quickly, they were no match for the One who had created all things and without Him, nothing was ever created.

Jesus tossed them aside as though they were feathers and blew them into oblivion to await their final resting place in the lake of fire–prepared for the devil and all who followed him.

Now, with no further obstacles in His way, Satan–that beady-eyed mongrel–the master of deception and father of liars, the one whose only goal was to steal, kill and destroy, stood quaking–fearful of the only outcome possible–his defeat and though he knew he was defeated refused to give up the fight. Attempting to use his charisma–deceptive ploys–his poisonous smile, totally disingenuous, he began to explain what happened with Judas and the high priests and all who played a role in the arrest.

Jesus patiently waited for him to finish telling his tall tales and after hour upon hour of the lies, Jesus silenced Satan with one look and the devil knew all his lies had  been for nothing. Backed into a corner, whimpering like the sniveling snake he once portrayed, he fell upon his knees begging for another chance. Jesus reminded him of the chances he’d been given–before he attempted to overthrow heaven, in the garden, and all the people he had influenced-the kings who denied God and caused people to live in opposition to His law, and the people who fell for the lies. It didn’t take long because with every Word Jesus spoke, evidence piled up against Satan grew higher than a mountain. Knowing he was about to be blown into oblivion as well, he tried one more time to appeal to God’s nature of love.

After listening for a few moments, Jesus silenced Satan and told him, “When I leave here, I leave with all power and the keys to hell in my hands and I will give that power to whoever shall call upon my name. And when I return and I will return, all who hold those keys shall enter into heaven and stand as a testimony against you.”

“You’re giving me another chance?” Satan asked, surprised.

Jesus looked around at the pitiful abode the devil called his home and looked at him, pitying him.

“I’m not giving you another chance. I’ve giving mankind another chance to see you for who you really are and to choose between you and me.”

Emboldened by his lack of understanding, Satan stood up grinning. “And you think they’ll choose you over me when I can teach them all manner of evil to overcome being a goody-two-shoes like you?”

With a wave of His hand, all the chains and shackles that held those in bondage under Satan’s influence fell apart and they were free and all the holy ones revived. They stood waiting for direction from Jesus, while Satan choked on the fear rising in him.

“You may convince a few, but there are so many more who will choose me when they discover you never cared about them and used them to annoy me. But your day is coming–soon. And you know with the Father, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day, but I will return and then the final judgment will be made for all. Only those who refuse to repent and call upon me will share your fate for all eternity.”

And with those final words, Satan became mute, unable to speak, and could only watch as the earth opened and Jesus rose with those saints who had died before Him, and all the power Satan thought he had–was ripped from him so Jesus could give it to all who chose to follow Him.

Imagination is grand and though this is my own creative thought–I’m sure that something along these lines occurred and now–we all have a decision to make–to follow Christ or allow the devil’s influence to guide us.

 

What Can Be Accomplished in Three Hours!

Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. Matthew 27:45 NKJV

From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. Matthew 27:45 NIV

Whenever we think of darkness–we presume the event to be ominous. Storm clouds which darken the sky during daylight hours are ominous. Darkness looming over a person’s countenance is ominous and most–who are observant–become fearful of the person. But what happened during that three hour period of ominous darkness on that day?

Having an active imagination has its advantages some days and today, I’m going to take advantage of my imagination.

From noon to three–in the midst of the darkness and in the midst of all the insults hurled at Jesus from those who had witnessed the miracles He performed, those who hated that He spoke with more authority and authenticity than they had, and those who mocked Him out of ignorance–God was working in the mind of His Son–cheering Him on and reminding Him of what the world would be like once this task was finished.

While some stood fearful–mindful of the darkness and not able to see around them–God appears and holds His Son, embracing Him with all the Love He could to empower Him to stay the course. He whispered to Him to keep Him focused on all the sin that would no longer be laid at the feet of men who would choose to accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord. He showed Him all the illnesses that would be covered under the blood that He willingly shed so we would not have to suffer. He caressed Him with a soothing voice saying, “Not much longer now and it will be finished, just remember, all of mankind will be saved because of You.”

And about three o’clock, God returned to His throne, leaving His Son alone for those final moments, unable to bear seeing Him being so burdened with the sins and diseases of the world. When Jesus realized–in the midst of His agony–that the Spirit of God had left Him, He cried out–asking why He had been left alone.

Those hearing Him, thought He was calling up Elijah, but the moment had come, when victory would be ours. Jesus’ spirit returned to The Father and the earth opened in shame and regret–shaking the foundation of all those who were entrenched in the teachings of the those who dishonored God and the building were they dishonored worshipping Him there. The bodies of all the holy people who had died rose from the dead and walked among the people, amazed at what they saw–how far the people had fallen from worshipping the One True God. Those who witnessed all that happened in that moment–were finally convinced that Jesus was indeed the Son of God.

God the Father encouraged His Son within those three hours to stay the course and know victory and no one saw God minister to His Son because of the darkness. What can God for us in three hours–when no one is looking and cannot see how He speaks to us? Will they see–in the final moments–before the light is shone upon us what God was doing because of the determination we show to finish our course? Or will they see us defeated, discouraged, and done?

There are times in our lives that we should pray for darkness (a time no one can see what God is doing for us) and then when the light comes–we proudly proclaim all He has said and done for all to see–the victory He’s given and the determination to keep moving forward to accomplish all He has put in our hearts to do.

What can you accomplish in three hours that will cause others to see victory in your lives–on your own? If we’re honest with ourselves, we can do absolutely nothing without Him.

“Here I am Lord! Cloak me with darkness and embrace me love, empowering me with determination to keep going–accomplishing all You have given me to do in the light of day.”

Who’s Kissing You?

Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Matthew 26:45-49 NIV

Most Believers know the story and why anyone found betraying another is called a “Judas” because of their behavior. We still have people in our midst–sometimes in our inner circle–who will be betray us in a heartbeat. And those same people, at any given moment, will greet us with a “kiss” marking us as target.

Think about it! Most of the gangster movies in which someone from the inside is going to betray the mob or even the good guys always marks the target with a friendly greeting–with the mobsters once portrayed in movies–with a kiss (cultural preferences). Funny how most movies portrayed the mafia as only one ethnic group when there are so many other groups of “gangstas.”

But people who betray others are not always part of the mafia or any other gangsters–they masquerade as friends, sucking the life of people, encouraging people to do the opposite of what they should do and then leave them hanging when they can’t have their way. When the foolishness is exposed, they have marked a target and then are long gone. We don’t always know people the way we think we know them and when we allow them into our inner circle, we should be careful about what we let them know about us.

Let’s face it–for most of us–three and half years is not long enough to determine whether those we meet are real or not. But that’s us. Jesus knew all along who would betray Him and He didn’t try to stop Judas because the will of God needed to be fulfilled. And it was–right after prayer–the kiss of death, targeting Jesus.

So again I ask, who’s kissing you and are they really a friend or foe?

It is sad to think that within the inner circle of Believers that we have those among us who will target us–mark us for the enemy’s attack. Why would they do that? The enemy’s influence is ignited by jealousy, bitterness, envy, covetous, and disobedience to God. There are people out there who hate those who obey God and will do everything in their power to create a situation where they can see Believers fail–sin as they sin.

Every smiling face is not a friendly face and we must know the signs–the little indicators that signal who is really facing us. Do we see the darkness in the eyes of those whose smiles are not genuine? Are we able to detect the depth of hate when looking into soul-less eyes–especially when the smile only reaches the corners of their mouths?

And once again I ask, who’s kissing you?

 

Little Is Much With God!

When they were but few in number, few indeed, and strangers in it, they wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another. He allowed no one to oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings: “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.” Psalm 105:12-15 NIV

Sometimes, when we’re trying to figure out how to accomplish what God has put on our hearts, we tend to stall our efforts, waiting to find the right number of people to help get it done. We think–we need more, but when we have a few–dedicated, committed people, we can accomplish much.

For further proof of this we need but to look at Gideon and how God reduced his army so they would not take credit for the victory because of their might, but they would be able to see the victory that God arranged with the few.

Think about all the accomplishments made in organizations by a few. The Navy Seals are a few elite trained force. The Secret Service are fewer in number than most police districts and are more effective. Committed public servants–few in number–can accomplish great deeds. We should not allow “numbers” to interfere with our progress in any situation.

Though we have little money, when we exercise wisdom given by God, we accomplish much. Though we have small congregations, when the leadership is committed to hearing God, much is accomplished. And if we’re honest about who’s running this country, we need look no further than the 1% who hold and control the wealth–and this is not saying that God is with them.

The point being made is while we stew in our meanderings trying to figure some things out, we simply need to trust God and avail ourselves of the help from the few who are committed to accomplishing. For whatever God has put in our hearts to do, He has already arranged its success–we just need to hear and obey and not worry about how many are involved.

Sometimes, when we get too many people involved in a project, we invite conflict because the more people involved, the greater the likelihood of personality conflicts. That old adage about too many cooks in the kitchen make a poor meal is true. If everyone involved thinks they have a better way of doing something, chances are--nothing will get done effectively.

The key to accomplishing much with little is to allow each person’s gift to rise to the surface and work what they know to do. Not everyone has the same gifts and that’s for a purpose–that we all learn to use our gifts–collectively–to accomplish, not to control or override.

I’ve learned that I’d rather work with a small core group of people who are like-minded, goal-oriented, and mission-driven and can get the job done without drama–than to be involved with a group of people where everyone is vying for attention and recognition.

God has reserved a remnant–just a few–to do His Will and all He desires will be accomplished to His glory! And we have no need to fear what others might attempt to do because God has our back!

How To Solve The Problems!

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. Matthew 18:19,20 NIV

Is there anyone in agreement about what we want God to do, really?

We talk a good game about how to solve problems–if this group of people would just do this and this group would just do that, we’d solve the problems. What problems are we solving when we can’t even agree as to how to solve them?

Can we solve world hungry, bigotry, unrest, poverty by talking about it? Can we push uneducated people into getting an education without their agreement? Can families create peace and harmony without agreement (and compromise)? If agreement is needed for in-home stability and peace, why don’t we understand that agreement is also needed to have peace in the land?

So, let’s agree with one another (without adding any “buts”) and if we have to, grab a third to see God work in solving problems:

Let’s agree to stop committing acts of sin–all of them–and just obey God.

Let’s agree to repent–turning away from all people and situations that would tempt us to sin.

Let’s agree to seek God’s wisdom in all we say and do.

Let’s agree to love everyone–unconditionally–and stop paying attention to differences and spend more time in embracing the one thing we all have in common–we’re human beings–in need of love and a Savior.

Let’s agree to not carry gossip and stop it in its tracks when confronted with it.

Let’s agree to deliberately look for the good in all we meet instead of complaining about others.

Let’s agree to help others overcome poverty and illiteracy by any means we have accessible to us.

Let’s agree to be the examples of the Living Word so all may know who we serve and how much He loves us.

Let’s agree to be people of integrity and provide things honest in the sight of all men.

Let’s agree not to harbor any ill-will against anyone.

Let’s agree to disagree with others when compromise is not possible, agreeably–without anger or animosity reigning in the midst.

And finally, let’s agree to allow God to reign in our hearts, our homes, and communities as we pray for the nations so there will be peace in the land.

Problems solved! Our God reigns!