Are You Watching

What does it mean to watch as the Lord commands in Matthew 24:42?
“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”
We are cautioned to watch so that the coming of the Lord does not take us as a thief in the night. It says in scripture that no man knows the day or the hour that the Lord will return but it is given to those who watch to know the season. If you know the season then you can be like the 5 wise virgins of Matthew chapter 25 that had their lamps trimmed and filled with oil and found their way into the marriage supper when they heard the cry. Now the night is symbolic of dark times when evil pervades, not the middle of the night, and the marriage supper is the catching away of Christ’s bride, the church, and the cry is when the Archangel will ascend from heaven with a trump.
The book of Matthew chapter 24 gives a good account of Christ teaching about His eventual return and the rapture of the church. Since Christ teaches this, it is clear that it is something that we should be mindful of however, He also teaches that we should take up our cross daily and follow Him which ensures that whenever He calls for us we will be ready. In fact, many have and will continue to be called home before He returns. So it is imperative that we “watch” every day so that we are ready if we are called together with the rest of the saints or if we are called individually.
In the book of Genesis our Lord tells us that He created the lights in heaven that separates day and night (the sun and the moon) for signs, seasons and times. So we are not to ignore the blood moons and eclipses and holy days because the Lord does use all of these to communicate to us. I do believe that we are living in the culmination of the church age however nothing takes precedence over the sign of waking up in the morning and realizing we have been blessed with the present of the current day. So while I am excited about the signs of heaven I am most occupied with the moment at hand and what the Holy Spirit is saying about right now. So here in is the secret of watching for the Lord.
To watch for the Lord means to stay alert, living consciously in the reality that the Lord is always WATCHING US. So we should always be about doing the things we are appointed to do that whenever we meet Him we can have our conscious clear knowing we were doing what we were supposed to be doing. Awake in comparison to unconscious. Unconscious, living as though God is not watching us always with an intent to hold us accountable to our actions. Asleep, in the dreamland of over indulgence: too much TV, movies, sports, video games, eating, sexual pleasures, wealth seeking. Walking as one drunken from the intoxicating effect of sensory overload in carnal pleasures to the extent that you are numb to the prodding and convicting of the spirit. As a drunk person unable to walk on a straight path stumbling often from the path of righteousness or just lights out unconscious.

I know there is a lot of pain and suffering in this world but we have to stop self-medicating with the spirit dulling drugs of this world. We have to seek the comfort given by God through the Holy Spirit that strengthens us to endure the pain in soberness of mind. When we suffer in the flesh righteously, it generates spiritual life.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 reads,
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
The Holy Spirit comforts us through giving us assurance in the knowledge of truth which gives us hope and inspiration to endure these temporal sufferings as we look forward to the rewards to come. Watching means we are focused on the eternal as we live through the temporal. To watch is to maintain a vigilance over our lives to ensure we are living our faith out in a real and tangible way evidenced through what we do each day. By the grace of God, if we live in this way we can be confident that whenever we meet the Lord it will be an anticipated and joyous occasion.

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Love me…Love me not

Have you ever picked petals from a flower and did the “love me-love me not” silly ritual. Though that is a silly game played as children it is a reflection of an actual question we carry in our hearts that requires serious attention. I am convinced that in many ways this question governs our life more than any other influence. Some may think that as long as you love yourself you are good but that is not true, at least not for humans. If you were an insect, born of a larvae from under a leaf somewhere the self-love argument might have some credence. As humans, we need love from others. We need tender love and care from the moment we are born and from then on.It is unfortunate that many of us have had beginnings not that much different from insects. Born with no one present to really care for our hearts properly. The difference is the insect just goes about its life span of 10 days or less without ever thinking about if it was ever loved, on the other hand humans have hearts that crave love daily for their entire life span of 25,000 plus days or more. If our human hearts have been deprived of love at any point, it has left a wound that needs healing. Becoming callous to the need to be loved only changes the appearance of things on the outside however there is no real peace or rest on the inside. The callous heart is consumed with seeking supplements to satisfy the deficiency created by the lack of real love. Some of the common supplements sought are sex, wealth, fame, status, and control. Each of those things or even a combination of them are insufficient because they are temporary and also empty if not accompanied by real love.

The love we need and the love we truly crave comes from the Heavenly Father and He truly loves us with an everlasting love. We just have to learn to recognize, receive, and appreciate the abundant love that flows from God as a mighty river of life. Sometimes it is just a matter of focus and perspective that keeps us from seeing the love that is around us. Those that have hated us and mistreated us did so because they were bankrupt of love themselves. Those who have loved us have done so out of the wealth of love deposited in their hearts from God. Instead of remembering the many that have mistreated us we need focus on those who have reached out to us to share their wealth of love. Sometimes we have missed it because our focus has been on the false supplements promoted in a world filled with people who have broken hearts.

If we could just stop for a moment and tell the little child in us that it is well and we did not deserve to have our hearts neglected by those who were responsible to love us. Sometimes we come from generations of the brokenhearted and the cycle is just sadly perpetuated, but it can end today. If we will release those indebted to us because they were poor in the first place and turn the focus of our heart toward God who is reaching out us constantly through all the things He has created for us to enjoy. There are often people who truly love us that we don’t appreciate and take for granted (I have at least two phone calls I need to return as I write this.) There are children we have been giving to love that have hearts asking the same questions as our own. These are in addition to the beauty that God has placed around us to remind us of His love like the sunrises and sunsets, the birds singing in the morning, the flowers and the lush trees that provide shade from the heat. You never have to question the Father’s love for you. Imagine yourself in a field of flowers, acres wide. Each petal on each flower is an affirmation that He loves you, He loves you, He loves you, He loves you, He loves you……

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.”

 

 

The Music Maker

High contrast music instruments silhouette in circle shape. Vector file available. Stock Vector - 11859954

When you think of an instrument maker and how he crafts different instruments you will realize there are vastly different processes employed to produce each instrument. Take brass instruments, first the brass has to be extracted from the ground and then fired to extreme heat to be formed. Now look at wood winds, they have to be taken out of trees and be carved out with sharp tools and treated. Then we have drums and xylophones and harps and pianos, all with their unique processes. Take each instrument with its unique construction process and consider the differences in sound that they produce. Now look at your life and take a look at the experiences you have gone though and how that has impacted your unique voice, your unique perspective. God desires to make all of us unique instruments to be played harmoniously together to express His heart song. It is an inspirational song of love, beauty, and peace.

There is a scripture which says, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love the God and are the called according to His purpose.” We are all called to be instruments of God and He has begun our varied construction processes however those that love Him are the ones concerned about His purposes.  When we are concerned about His purposes we surrender our instruments to be tuned how he sees fit, whether that means tightening our strings further or loosening them a bit, whether that means we are fine the way we are or we need a few more holes drilled in us, whether that means we are formed as a tuba or a trombone. We have to trust that He is in control of the process. In the end some of us will give our sound when the hands of God seems to pound on us, some of us will give our sound as He plucks on our strings, and some of us when the Holy Spirit moves though us as a rushing wind.

What I have written here is just a metaphor to say ALL that you have been through in your life is being used to bring you to the knowledge that God has a purpose for your life and if you will trust Him and try to tune into His direction, He will bring a harmony into your life that vibrates with love, beauty, and peace.