The Structure of True Religion

I have heard many who confess to follow Christ say that they are not in a religion but a relationship. In fact, I have said this in the past myself. However, as I have grown wiser and more knowledgeable through my relationship with GOD, I have come to a better understanding of the relationship between the two. Many of the negative ideas I originally held regarding the Christian religion came from its misappropriation by those being intentionally deceitful and those ignorantly following the blind which were leading them. Our heavenly Father never intended for Christian religion to operate separate from a relationship with Him. The influence of Satan, the great deceiver, is very evident in the many counterfeits being circulated today. Another example is the US has been accepted by many as a democracy however it falls short of the tenants of a pure democracy because many of the people born in the US have not been allowed to vote, and the electoral college dilutes the power of the vote represented by actual people. Tax paying people with black and brown skin, born in the US, are referred to as citizens however they have been historically denied the basic citizen right of equal protection under the law. So, this demographic has not actually been recognized as full citizens. Again, it is much like the many people condemning socialism and communism though we have never had a country on earth to operate in the pure ideals of them as expounded on by Marx and Engels. The names were misappropriated by countries like Russia and China though these countries have never employed all the key components.

These are just a few other current day examples of how people have been deceived and excepted counterfeits. Until you foster a love for truth which drives you to seek GOD’s face and study His word, Satan will continue to exploit your natural love for comfort and pleasure. The truth is disruptive to the false. Truth tears down the false to make way for a true and eternal foundation and structure to be built.

Religion is defined by Merriam Webster as a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices; a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith. We can take from this definition, in relation to Christianity, that Christian religion would be a system of attitudes, beliefs, and practices held with ardor and faith. So, by definition, there is no separation between the practices required in a religion and the relationship by faith which empowers them. The problem again is that we have seen Christianity misrepresented, resulting in misunderstandings, confusion, and denunciation.  As I mentioned earlier, the Father never intended for any actions to take place outside of a relationship with Him. When you read Christ reproving the pharisees and Sadducees, you see Him addressing religion without relationship.

“But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” (Luke 11:42 KJV)

Christ is saying true religion is doing both. Look at this parable taught by Christ.

10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. 11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:10-14 KJV)

Again, both are required by Christ the King. This guest was clearly called a friend, however He failed to comply with the prescribed system or practice of preparation. We are also taught by the apostles James and Paul that it takes both to be complete. James says faith without works is dead, and a man isn’t justified by works alone or faith alone (see James chapter 2). Paul says without love, the essence of the relationship, he is nothing and none of his religious acts mean anything (See 1 Corinthians chapter 13).

At issue in the separation of faith and works is the practice of sacrifice on both sides. On the side of works oriented devotion, there is the sacrifice of effort and busyness being offered for justification and validation. On the side of faith only oriented devotion, there is the sacrificial love of GOD being used as justification without the reciprocal sacrificial love unto the laying down of personal will in obedience.

GOD is clear, He desires obedience over sacrifice. Christ did not give himself to become a common sacrifice for sins, like the old testament practice of yearly sacrificing bulls, rams, and doves. He gave Himself once to fulfill the requirements of the old testament law forever, which was ruled under the law of sin and death. He has now ushered in a new covenant which is ruled by the law of life and spirit. The resurrection life we inherit from Christ is the life of a dear and obedient son of GOD.

You man of faith, are you going before GOD reminding Him of the sins He has already remitted because you are not exercising true overcoming faith; the faith which David used to defeat Goliath, the faith Joshua used to take the promised land. Doesn’t your faith tell you that the very life of Christ is in you to do His works; to live righteously, to fill the hungry, to free the oppressed, to counsel the fatherless, to give shelter to the homeless, to please the Father. When did you go beyond yourself to demonstrate that you trusted Him? Just something to consider.

You who are busy in works, have you ever just sat with someone broken and not tried to fix them? Just sat with them and listened and only gave a solution if they asked for one, or do you feel pressed to say something or do something? Have you ever just sat and cried tears of joy because you knew in that moment, GOD’s love was perfect for you and you felt His arms around you? Have you ever sacrificed for someone and told nobody, but just praised GOD for allowing yourself to be used?

These are the manifestations of confidence in GOD’s love for you and belief in His promises. These examples are glimpses at the works of faith, the fruit of true religion.

Two Feet Away from Deeper Intimacy

Reaching-Hand

Christ engaged His disciples in a foot washing ceremony to teach them a few things about how they were to serve each other and to lay a foundation for them to better understand the purpose for His coming. When He prepared to wash the feet of Simon Peter, Peter reacted saying, “You will never wash my feet.” Peter’s reaction reflects a religious mind set based on a lack of understanding. In that moment, Peter was just like the Sadducees and Pharisees of that day who resisted the person and workings of the Savior. Today there are many followers of Christ, just like Peter, which still resist the washing of the Savior. This resistance is due to a lack of understanding and a religious mind set instead of the presence of a relationship with Christ based on trust and intimacy.

YESHUA’s desire to wash His disciple’s feet was a call to a more intimate relationship. Surrendering yourself to include the dirt of your past shows trust and creates intimacy. The resistance to entering the level of intimacy which the Creator is calling us to, creates a barrier between us and the many benefits of His mercy and grace. YESHUA responded to Peter saying, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with me.” So, Peter allowed the washing, but the understanding of what was happening came much later. YESHUA told Peter, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” We must let Him take away the shame of our dirty past. We must allow Him to take our dirty feet into His pure hands and wash them clean. We must allow the weightiness of His love to break our pride and free us from our independence. We can never clean our own feet because all we have in our possession are filthy rags. The work of Christ is to clean us up and furnish us with white raiment; to empower us to walk in the Spirit, down clean paths. An understanding of His grace assures us, that if we should stumble, He will cleanse us yet again.

YESHUA taught that those who understood the abundance of grace which they had been given through His forgiveness would love Him greatly. In loving Him greatly, they would also forgive one another’s sins, or in other words, wash one another’s feet. Today they call it, “Paying it forward”. The bible calls it “letting grace abound.” However, if we hold on to our own sins, through not understanding how He cleanses us, we will not be able to minister this love correctly to others.

Today the Church still struggles to understand the washing by the Savior. When YESHUA washed Peter’s feet, He was in effect erasing the traces of the earthy places Peter had been before. Symbolic of cleansing him from his past sins. YESHUA also wiped Peter’s feet with His own covering. This symbolizes the extension of His righteousness in place of the removed dirt. Today many saints are still living soiled in the past, because they fail to grasp the understanding of the Savior’s washing. Christians all around the world celebrate the resurrection of Christ and His redeeming blood, but still have not excepted resurrection power into their own lives. Our resurrection to new life becomes possible when we believe He can cleanse and heal our souls. We can be transformed when we believe He can change us from the sinful people we have been in the past into the righteous children of the Father.

It is written in 2nd Corinthians 5:17, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” This teaching is in direct conflict with the consensus I often hear among the confessing Christians of today. I have heard Christians saying of the Church that all have wicked hearts, all continue to be bound by sin, and that there are none righteous, as if Christ failed in His mission to set at liberty the captives, to heal the broken hearted, to give us beauty for ashes, to make us trees of righteousness, to turn us into the plantings of YAHWEH, that He might be glorified. These are things YESHUA said He was anointed to do as in Isaiah chapter 61. YESHUA read this prophecy while standing in a synagogue and then said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” (Luke 4:21 KJV) We cannot let the evil one convince us otherwise with his lies and accusations. We cannot fail to lay hold on these blessings through doubt and unbelief.

Don’t confuse old testament references to the children of Israel with the resurrected Church of Christ. We must enter our calling of being the holy and righteous people of GOD. The ones who show forth the righteousness of YAHWEH, by manifesting His good and perfect will through our obedience. YAHWEH sowed a Son that He might get a harvest of righteous children. We are the planting of GOD and should be bringing forth righteous fruit. Now, in this present life! We are the evidence of the Savior’s resurrected life. We are not just sinners that have been forgiven. We are the redeemed of the Lord who have been cleansed from our sins and endowed with power by His spirit to walk in newness of life. We are just two feet away from new life. Let Him take away your shame and give you a glorious new life. Remember what He told Simon Peter, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” (John 13:8 NKJV)

Understanding that less is more can save lives, including your own.

less is more 2

Today, many are being encouraged to practice social distancing and self-quarantining to limit the possible spread of an infectious virus. This means denying ourselves some of the things we enjoy for the health of everyone else. This is no different from the call of GOD to walk in holiness after the spirit in order to minister life to our neighbors. It comes down to do we have enough love in our hearts to suffer ourselves, so that others may live. Those who have received the love which is from Christ should already be modeling this in their daily lives. The onus is on the Children of GOD to lead the social change needed today to rid the world of the ills which plague society. Those GOD has called to lead change have been to complicit in the perpetuation of immoral social policies and social behavior.

2 Chronicles 7:14 reads,

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

“My people, which are called by my name” are those in covenant with GOD. Everything in time happens according to GOD’s promises, as it relates to the covenants He has established with man through the ages. When His people fail to fulfill their part of the covenant, the result is suffering. When you read the book of Revelations, you see it begins with letters written unto the churches. These prophetic letters speak to the state of the church and include praise for good behavior and pending judgments for bad behavior. The circumstances upon us in the world today are a wake up call for those who sleep and a call to repentance for the people of GOD.

Clergy, ministers, and spiritual leaders, Revelations 2:12-17 is for you. Many of you are taking the wages of Balaam. The United States and other kingdoms of this world are your king Balac. You hold the truth in unrighteousness that you may maintain the favor of your king Balac.  You refuse to teach the true gospel of Christ, which requires repentin from sin and walking in holiness. You teach the blood of Christ as a covering for sin when the blood of Christ is for the cleansing away and eradication of sin. The effect of the cross of Christ is a new life, not merely a pardoned life. The call to take up the cross and follow Christ is a call to suffer in the flesh that the righteousness of the spirit may be made manifest.

I have seen how this world treats the dying. In hopelessness, they drug them out of their minds to keep them comfortable as they waste away, in the name of being humane. Many church leaders, in hopelessness of seeing resurrection power today, comfort their congregations which are dying in sin with an intoxicating gospel. The aforementioned methodologies are oriented toward carnal life, instead of spiritual life. Christ gives us a living hope and tells us to bear down and push through, travailing in birth, unto the formation of the new man who is after the spirit.

Tribulation is a part of this current life because of the depth of what it reveals. You can see what a person loves by what they are willing to suffer to obtain. Christ endured the cross to obtain us, because His love for us is so IMMENSE.

Let’s look at Philippians 3:8-19(NKJV),

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.

The apostle Paul is giving a warning here to be aware of carnal ministers who really are the enemies of the cross of Christ. These ministers are destined for destruction and are leading others to a similar fate. It’s time to judge yourself that you be not judged of GOD. If you are still practicing sin in your life and you believe you are going to escape the judgment of GOD, you are deceived. Salvation has been extended to us at an IMMENSE cost. While it is true, we can never repay it, it doesn’t mean GOD will not hold us accountable for how we value the gift. Take a look at Hebrews 10:26-31,

26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

One of the greatest blessings of GOD’s grace is His warning. To forsake His warning is to forsake His grace. If in reading this you are convicted, and feel a sense of dread, it is a sign that you are in broken fellowship with GOD. GOD wants more than anything to fill your life with joy and pleasure. In fact, He has filled this earth with many things that are good, but He wants us to have these things and not for these things to have us. We have to learn to hold His blessings in the right way or they can take our focus away from Him and we can become lost. Know that the pleasures and joys given by the things created will never match the abundance of joy and pleasure which comes from a relationship with the one who created them. Confess your sins and ask GOD to deliver you from all deception, that you might know Him in spirit and truth. Know that your heart will never be content with creation, for we were made to be filled with the Creator. Our Father GOD wants us to abide in His presence always. The psalmist King David reveals through prophecy what we experience in the presence of GOD. He tells us in Psalm 16:11 that in the presence of GOD is the fullness of joy and at His right hand are pleasures forever more. This is truly what your soul is longing for. To find this new life in the presence of GOD, which is spiritual, you must be willing to bring your carnal life into obedience to the commands of love. Just like changing your diet from a diet filled with unhealthy convenient foods, you will have to fight the cravings of the flesh for the old diet until you develop a healthy appetite and healthy habits for the things of the spirit.

Don’t let anyone tell you it is to hard or impossible to change. The work of Christ was not merely for your life in the hereafter. He gave us power through the seed of His word to transform our heart and mind to experience resurrection life TODAY.

1 Peter 4:17-19,

17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

 

A Message for American Church Folk

Church Fans

Recently, one of my brother’s in Christ posted a message on Facebook regarding the ongoing segregation witnessed in churches across America. He cited the 1960s quote by Dr. King, “the most segregated hour in this nation is Sunday at 11:00 am.” This whole topic of the church being segregated is due to social engineering, which many are still controlled by. The devil’s way of keeping control of the masses is through keeping them divided. He knows there is power in agreement and unity. His strategy is working. The question is, why is this social engineering controlling people who confess to love and serve Christ. It is because it is reinforced from the pulpits. Many church leaders are presenting an American version of the gospel, one that is politically correct and culturally compliant. Any minister that calls America a Christian nation has not seen nor heard Christ.

Many white Americans have the perspective of America being of Christian origin, a godly country. This view of America has a polarizing effect on all those who have been terrorized and dehumanized by her from the beginning. Many white people have not been able to grasp how looking over America’s destruction of people of color is the same as saying their lives do not matter. If a person were to tell you that someone they understood was guilty of killing many of your relatives in the past and is still killing and hurting them today is really a good person, how would you feel about that person. Every time someone says America just needs to get back to its founding values, that is what people of color face. I had a white brother tell me in a bible study that the “Black Lives Matter” movement should be “All Lives Matter” …he doesn’t get it. I had a white sister tell me that for her, America lost its innocents and Camelot fell, when Kennedy was assassinated…she was unconscious.

Let’s look at some of the issues with my people of color. You were once forbidden to read in America and now that you can, many of you still won’t. Many black people haven’t cultivated the habit of studying. I mention this one because it is the biggest problem in the Black community. Please stop talking about what your pastor said, PLEASE read for yourself what thus saith the spirit of GOD. We have some deep wounds in the Black community that constantly get poked, but we must stop turning to sex, drugs, food, and entertainment to medicate, but instead look to the Comforter, the Holy Spirit of GOD. Lastly, though the culture of white supremacy is formidable, greater is He that is within us than he that is in the world. We must get free from the spirit of the ni–er, and it has nothing to do with your address or bank account, whether you believe yourself to be wealthy or poor. Remember, Joseph was in prison and then a servant in Pharaoh’s house, but GOD used him to deliver Egypt and the children of Israel. If you haven’t read about it, you should go find it in the bible.

What has all this to do with church segregation? People need their minds renewed. You can’t truly see who you are until you can see the GOD in who’s image you were made. You can’t see who I am until you understand who you are. Once you recognize yourself as a child in the family of GOD, you will begin to recognize your kinfolk. It will then be much easier to see yourself in other Hue-mans. This will enable you to love others as you love yourself.

People are in church for too many different reasons. Ministers, if you are serving in church to make people’s lives better, you have missed it. Parishioner, if you are going to church to make your life better, you have missed it. Those that seek GOD must do so because He alone is LIFE.

Faith is not required of humanitarians, but it is for Christians.

humanitarian

I attended a bible study yesterday where we dug into the book of Galatians chapter 1. One of the issues that the Apostle Paul addresses in the chapter is the act of perverting of the Gospel of Christ. As we discussed that subject in the bible study and how it is still a problem today, someone asked, “Why do churches pervert the gospel?” This is an important question because to really embrace the solution you have to understand the problem. The problem stems from people interpreting the person of Christ and His gospel through their humanistic view point. Though YESHUA did things we consider humanitarian, His reasons and objectives went far deeper than just meeting basic human needs. Unfortunately, people’s humanistic orientation stops them from seeing the full person of YESHUA. It also stops them from grasping a full understanding of His gospel. The gospel of Christ will always create a healthy sense of hopelessness to the humanitarian or carnal viewpoint, as in Matthew 19:25, when His disciples ask, “Who then can be saved?” False doctrines come from men trying to humanize the gospel so that it fines wider acceptance. This does not minister the grace of GOD, it frustrates it. The grace of GOD comes in at that point of hopelessness and says, “with me, all things are possible”, which teaches us that we have to stop relying on ourselves and have faith in GOD. When was the last time you heard a sermon end with the words “go, and sin no more”?  Probably not ever, but it was how YESHUA closed ministry in the book of John chapters 5 and 8.

The enemy of doing what is right, is doing what we think is good. Doing what is right is a matter of faith and obedience, doing what is good is a matter of our own reasoning. Humanism is the enemy of righteousness. Humanism is focused on human values and secular concerns, while righteousness is focused on godly values and heavenly concerns. There is nothing humane about what was revealed in the book of Revelations, but it details a future we all need to be preparing for. Spend some time meditating in the book of Revelations and pay attention to the letters to the Churches. Our witness of YESHUA must reflect Him as Christ the King as well as the Lamb of GOD.

The Church needs to get away from “Febreze” Christianity. Today, Christians want to spray the blood of Christ like “Febreze” over the mess of everyone’s lives so that the smell is not as awful as it really is. I think people forget it’s not the smell that kills, rather it is the rotten hearts and deeds. Salvation is the power to save lives through “Changing” lives. That is the message that has been lost. Everyone smells good in church but people are still getting divorced, still being abused, still addicted to pornography and living in sexual immorality, still in love with the world. What we tolerate tends to proliferate. There is no fear of the Lord. That is what is missing today. There is even a false doctrine for “The fear of the Lord”. The humanistic doctrine says, “It’s a reverential fear.”

The grace of GOD is nothing less than the precious and costly blood of His dear son. The Church needs to move away from the “Febreze” mentality. Here is what New Testament scripture says to debunk the false and humanistic doctrine of “reverential fear of GOD”. Hebrew 10:28-31:

He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

Those same hands are also gentle, kind, patient, merciful, healing, and life giving. Proverbs 19:23 says, “The fear of the Lord tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.” Yahweh promises that if we humble ourselves, His hands will lift us out of trouble.

Only God Is Good

Crown in the sky

The truth that only God is good does not disqualify the goodness we could have inside as some purport. The truth that God is good defines the source of all goodness. We don’t have to be bread in order to share bread with someone who is hungry, we just need to have bread. We don’t have to be water to share water with someone who thirst, we just need to have water. We don’t have to be God to share goodness with another soul, we just need to have God in us.

There are many situation we encounter in life that calls for the goodness of God, however what is often applied in those situations is a counterfeit of good. This counterfeit is what we have been oriented through our senses to believe is good. There is a humanitarian spirit in the world that has an intent to do good but instead of looking to God it draws from an imagination  based in human feeling. In application, humanitarian efforts feel good but afterwards we find the power of the spirit unto life was not imparted. You can give someone bread and water so that there stomach is full but there soul can still be famished in what it needs  because life is of the spirit. Our flesh does need bread and water to be nourished but our souls needs the goodness that comes from the spirit of God to be nourished.

I have found in my own life when I have faced the depravity of man, there are times when my mind conjures a solution that would feel good to all but in the end would only serve as a sedative and not address the underlying need for the spirit of life that comes from God through His goodness. There are times when people need to feel the pain of a bad decision so that they will learn to change their thinking however when they are simply bailed out by the humanitarian spirit the learning is aborted. Often times the goodness of God does not appeal to the senses therefore it is not attractive and that is where faith is needed. We have to trust in the goodness of God even when we can’t sense the good. We have to learn to walk in the spirit by abasing the carnal and worldly instincts.

The mandates of Love for human behavior exceeds the rudimentary acts of being humane.  Loving involves complying with universal spiritual laws which is a lot different from just doing what you feel or just fulfilling basic human needs. It has somehow been forgotten that we are sojourners here in these bodies of flesh and that we are spiritual in origin. God is the source of all life, so if we are going to have life in order to minister life to others then God has to be our source. As good can be the enemy of the best, so is the good imagined by man often opposed to the goodness of God. The good ordained of God through His Word is best.

In Book of Matthew Chapter 19, there is an account of a man running up to Jesus calling him “Good Master” and inquiring what good he could do to inherit eternal life. Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good, for there is none good but one, that is God.”  Jesus instructed the man to keep the commandments to inherit eternal life. The man stated that he had kept the commandments from his youth and wanted to know if there was more he should do. Jesus replied, if you will be perfect (spiritually mature) go and sell all that you have and give the money to the poor and then come follow me. The scriptures tell us the man went away grieved because he had many possessions.  The man failed to see the “good” in what the “Good master” had advised. It is evident that the man had some preconceived notions about “good” that got checked.  We need to humble ourselves in order to source our solutions from the spirit of God which is one with His word. You can always check your “good” by how it lines up with Holy scripture inspired by the spirit of God.  

Here is 2 Timothy 3:16-18,

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

God is love, so everything He does is an expression of love but God’s love is not always received or acknowledged by man. Man is often like a rebellious child despising the standards, guidance, and correction handed down by their parents. If we truly want to be good and virtuous to benefit those we have affection and concern for then we have to lay our intent in the hands of God and except His love and guidance.

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.

Love Supreme

What do you think of when you think of your first love? Do you think of your first serious crush or perhaps the first person you gave yourself to. Now think…does that love still inspire you, fulfill you, strengthen you, protect you, give you peace, give you joy, give you life. Jesus says, if you drink of the water He offers you will thirst no more, as a matter of fact He says His love will be as living waters springing up inside of you. This is the message He gave to a woman who met Him while she was trying to draw water from a well. She had several husbands and obviously was still searching, still thirsting, for true love. We all have a thirst for love, a deep desire to be truly known yet still accepted, appreciated, and valued. If you have never been totally open and honest in a relationship then you have never been truly open to receive love in its fullness. The fact that Jesus gave His life for you while knowing all that you are capable of, the good as well the bad, is a testimony of His enduring love. Truth is, until you have experienced the love of Jesus you are yet to have your first love. I pray that you will open your heart to Jesus, that you might receive peace that surpasses understanding, joy unspeakable, and love that gives life abundantly. A Love supreme!

The Crossing

River

Time races like a raging river, moving from east to west, from sunrise to sunset, dragging everything in its grasp along its course,

However in this mighty river there are monuments as great stones that stand immovable,

Stones that stand as memorials in time of momentous events that were life changing,

When we learn from those life changing events, we are able to build structures on these monuments that transcend time,

Through wise counsel we can connect these structures across this mighty river from its southern side to its northern banks,

This structure can serve as a transport that carries us and generations after us to our higher purposes for living,

So that we are not just lost drifts in the river, drug to our sunsets without fulfilling the purposes for our day in life,

Let us learn from the past and be open to wise counsel, endeavoring always to move toward our higher purposes for living,

Then time will no longer dominate us but instead serve as a reminder to stay on our own God given course.