Fulfilling His Joy

In America, most people would consider me to be a black man or an African-American man. Take notice that in both instances race or ethnicity comes first, then man. Most people even see themselves as either a black person or a white person and so on. This I believe is a true reflection of how most people think. Most people see race or national origin before they see another human. This is a natural response and really not a problem unless along with that first observation there come also preconceived ideas about that person’s likes and dislikes, aptitude and capabilities. At that point you enter into prejudices and biases that form divisive barriers. Even though people may be physically different, we must be able to connect with them first as being an equal fellow human. If we see it differently than this we are deceived and there is darkness in us.

Those are some thoughts about the general populace. Now let’s consider “The Church,” and I mean “The” Church because there is only one body of Christ. Is the Church anymore unified than the world? Amongst the majority of those confessing to be Christian, I would have to say NO. Most worldly people actually have a lot in common and merely think they are different, however the religious bodies are divided based on actual differences of thought, belief, and practices of living. Just like different races of people, we now have Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Protestant, Presbyterian, Seventh Day Adventist, AME, and it goes on. It’s not enough just to be identified as Christian. This is why I don’t subscribe to any denomination. Our God is not divided, so what is the problem with those that supposedly represent Him. There is a disconnect between the body and the head it would seem, because the head (meaning Christ, the only head of the true church) desires for the body to be unified, working together in harmony.

Christ made known His desire for believers to be united as one, just like the unity shared between Him and the Father. John 17:20-23:

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”

The division amongst the body of believers today is carnal and devilish and until the cross is truly applied to the agendas of men so that the will of God maybe manifest, it will remain divided. It is my hope that in the near future all of those professing to love Christ will be able to share His love for the truth and then allow that truth to unite them in thought and belief. Our objective must not merely be to be right; our objective should be to be right with God. In a lot of religious communities they have become right with each other but they are misaligned with God. Jesus spent a lot of time in the earth disputing with religious leaders regarding their focus on serving their own sense of righteousness instead of truly being right with God. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness….” is what the scripture says.

Do you seek to be dominated by God? Are you seeking to give God increasing power over you…your thoughts, behavior, and aspirations? That is what it means to seek the Kingdom of God and that is what it means to take up the cross of Christ….”not my will but yours be done.” The idea of allowing someone to dominate us or calling someone master meets immediate resistance in our minds due to the fact that the evils of man has diminished our ability to trust. On the other hand, if we are sick and need surgery, we will surrender to a surgeon and get put to sleep allowing total dominance over us. Is anyone more worthy of our trust than God? He wants to bring healing to us and we likewise have to surrender. Jesus proved himself worthy of our trust when He gave His life as a ransom for us. Few men have done that for another so I understand the apprehension, but Christ is truly worthy. Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matt 16:24-25)

You are not living until you dedicate your life to His purposes instead of your own. A body does not function properly until all its members are correctly processing messages from its head. The Catholic Church says its head is the Pope. I have met Protestants that said the head of their church was pastor such and such or bishop such and such. The bible teaches that the only head of the Church is Jesus Christ.

When believers form alliances with each other based on compatibility, we end up with all these factions of religion. On the other hand if believers focus on transformation through submitting to God’s will, then we have true unity with God and with one another. The commands of God do not vary person to person. We are all commanded to love God with all of our heart, mind, and strength. Likewise we are all commanded to love one another as we would like to be loved. The love spoken of here is not abstract or subjective love but love according to the word of God.

When the body of Christ unites in the spirit of truth, the Church will be glorious and powerful. Denominations will lose their significance as we all come in unity of faith and belief as written in Ephesians 4:11-13: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;” The bible tell us that Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before him. Now through the abundant gratefulness we all have for the deliverance brought to us by the cross of Jesus, we now need to fulfill His joy by taking up our own crosses in laying down our individual preferences for the corporate interest of the body of Christ. When the bride (the Church) comes forth in her glory, the groom (Jesus) will rejoice and be filled with gladness. Colossians 1:9-18;

“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood,the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”

 

 

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Reflecting On His Cross

This Sunday, as people have done for over a thousand years, many people will reflect on the death and resurrection of the Messiah. What is the message that this reflection will yield? It is astonishing to me the degree of darkness that still pervades around the cross of Jesus as evidenced by the denial of what Calvary truly stands for. Jesus Christ, Yehowshua, The Messiah, The Savior, went about before His crucifixion preaching and teaching on the principle that if we are all to have life then we must each individually give our lives.

John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this but that a man lay down His own life for a friend.”

Luke 9:23-24, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever will save his life will lose it: and whoever will lose his life for my sake will save it.”

John 13:34, “A new commandment I give you, that you should love one another; as I have loved you, that you also should love one another.”

As a truly leader, Jesus served by example and laid His life down for us all at Calvary. Jesus laid down His life as a man not according to His will alone but at the will of the Father. Remember He prayed in His humanity:

Mark 14:36, “Father, everything is possible for you. Take away this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what you will.”

 Ultimately it was the understanding that Christ had of the Father’s love that enabled Him to surrender to the death of the cross.

Today many people live unto themselves dominated by selfish pride. This pride, that rules over so many, came to power through a coronation by fear.  Fear, with a mind-set of if I don’t live for self then I may not get what I need or what I want. The selfish and non-trusting orientation of fear keeps the masses divided. Everyone in their own castles unwilling to lower the drawbridge that gives access to their heart. Access is denied not only to fellowmen but at an even greater detriment this access is also denied to God. The pride that has come to power in the hearts of many will not acknowledge any other authority, not even the authority of the Creator. The tyranny of pride empowered by fear will not submit to the authority of God so the commands of God are dismissed. The commands of God have been replaced with a liberalism that allows for all men to stay in their locked castles to live as they individually see fit without concern for those beyond their own walls. The masses have been deceived into believing that this selfish isolation is real freedom.

As you can see, this life style is the extreme opposite of what the Savior taught and exemplified. It is by design. There is an evil present in this world that hates God. God is love, truth, and life. This evil promotes hate, deceit, and death through the propagation of fear. Fear triggers the flight response that sends everyone to their isolated castles guarded by pride. When we are divided, we are weak and our civilization falls. Divided we fall. God has given us His commands to unite us. When we all as one people submit to the commands of God we become united and strong and then life thrives. We cannot be united by everyone doing their own thing and living unto themselves. God does not merely want us to exist as in “COEXIST”. God wants us to thrive in abundant life as a family. That’s why Jesus taught that we should pray “OUR Father”.

The only way to break the power of pride is to eradicate fear and the only way to eradicate fear is through the power of LOVE. As love destroys fear, faith grows in the place of fear. Faith with its accompaniments of hope and trust will dethrone pride and enthrone Love. When love takes the throne the gates of the castles are open and life thrives through true intimate exchange.

It is imperative that as we reflect on the cross of Jesus and that we embrace the dynamic message of His love toward us. Once we truly understand and accept His love, it will make us free from fear through the faith, hope, and trust which works by love. The tyranny of pride can then be overthrown and we will find the power to lay down our lives as the Savior did to the will of the Father. As we cease to live everyman for himself and every man to himself then the prayer that Jesus requested of the Father comes to fruition.

John 17:11, “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me,that they may be one as We are.

A bond formed from many being baptized into the singular life of Jesus Christ through the death of individual living.

Mark 8:34, “When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

The temporal unity formed through faddish political interest, carnal appetites, socioeconomic status, culture and even race are all vulnerable to the divisive attacks of the powers of darkness. Only the unity forged by the power of God’s spirit will stand. As we reflect on His cross may we learn what it means to take up our own. If we share in the likeness of His death we will also partake of the glorious quickening of resurrection power unto new life.

Romans 6:5, “ For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,”