Fire Insurance or Life Insurance

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As we approach another religious observation of Easter, aka Resurrection Sunday, what is the take away from reflection on the Cross? I have spoken with many Christians on the topic; it seems the prevailing take-a-way is “Fire Insurance”. The carnal man, as we all are initially, is mostly concerned about avoiding hell fire. He wants that fire insurance. Knowing this, many churches have parked on the gospel of forgiveness to fill the pews. Most see the Cross of Christ as a means of avoiding damnation and relieving the burden of guilt. These are great blessings, but they are not the benefits most emphasized in scripture. A gospel centered primarily on the Cross as a means of forgiveness will always promote sin consciousness. This is so prevalent that most Christians see themselves as mere sinners. What is the result of this perspective? …more sin. Proverbs states, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” If you see yourself as a sinner, then you expect that you will sin. This mindset binds you to the habits of death that the Savior came to free you from. This fire insurance is a carnal interpretation of salvation from those who have failed to understand the true virtue of the Cross.

As far as fire goes Christ doesn’t save us from fire, He assures us of fire. He tells us that our life’s work will be tested by fire, we will be purified by fire, and the Holy Spirit is the Baptism by fire. In fact, He desires that we would be ablaze for Him and His Kingdom. Fire is common for believers.

When I was a teenager, I had a discussion with a man on the bus who tried to persuade me that Christianity was a religion taught to me by my oppressor. He also told me that the cross symbolized death. He went onto to say that he couldn’t understand why people would wear a symbol that represented death. While the Cross does remind us of the death of Yeshua, it also reminds us more importantly of the power of His resurrection. Yes, Christ died for all, but He was also resurrected and obtained new life for all. The teaching of the Cross in Holy Scripture emphasizes this new Life. Yeshua said, “I come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly.” The Cross of the Gospel of Christ is where the eternal life of Yeshua is made available to those willing to lay down their own interpretation of living. Existence outside of the life that Christ gives is filled with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, the pride of life, and fear. The life given to us through the Cross of Christ is the life of an obedient son of GOD. The obedience in this new life is rooted in Love and is lived out in Spirit and Truth. It is a life that is pleasing to GOD; a life that is centered in GOD.

When the teaching of the Cross is limited only to forgiveness, it leaves men attached to their carnal lives. It offers them compassion without a cure for their suffering. So much more has been provisioned through the Cross. It was nearly impossible to know GOD before the Life of Christ was made available through the Cross. The only life obtainable was the life inherited through Adam, which rebels against GOD and questions His Love in unbelief. This carnal life from Adam is alienated from GOD in that it has made a god of its own carnal reasoning.

We have to leverage the love manifested to us in the Cross of Christ unto a new hope and belief, and to faith in the promises of GOD’s love, which goes beyond forgiveness but also brings the promise of a new and powerful Life.

The powers of darkness don’t want you to know the fullness of the Love manifested through the Cross. It is a divine Love that breaks the shackles of sin and enables you to manifest the Light of GOD. All sin is rooted in selfishness and fear. The scripture teaches us that GOD’s perfect Love cast out fear. Fear is diminished in us as we grow in our understanding of the Love of GOD. The secure embrace of GOD’s love frees us from self-concern and empowers us to love others with divine love. Divine love being that beautiful and sacrificial love, that gives at the cost of self to benefit others.

The true sign that we understand and appreciate the Cross of Christ is that we have also taken up our own cross, by daily sacrificing carnal living, that the spiritual Life of Yeshua might be manifest in us. Just as the Spirit raised Yeshua from the dead, the Holy Spirit is present in the earth to empower new life in us. The Holy Spirit opens the life-giving teachings of Yeshua to us, and affirms the love of the Father in our hearts. He who the Son makes free is free indeed. He frees us through the workings of the Cross.

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Love Prevails Over Leviathan

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When he raises himself up, the mighty are afraid;
Because of his crashings they are beside themselves.
Though the sword reaches him, it cannot avail;
Nor does spear, dart, or javelin.
He regards iron as straw,
And bronze as rotten wood.
The arrow cannot make him flee;
Slingstones become like stubble to him.
Darts are regarded as straw;
He laughs at the threat of javelins.
His undersides are like sharp potsherds;
He spreads pointed marks in the mire.
He makes the deep boil like a pot;
He makes the sea like a pot of ointment.
He leaves a shining wake behind him;
One would think the deep had white hair.
On earth there is nothing like him,
Which is made without fear.

(Job 41:25-33)

As you read the description of this creature, you get the picture of a monster that is indestructible to man and indeed it is. The creature is Leviathan and there are more descriptions of him in Job 41, like his sharp teeth and impenetrable scales. Leviathan’s rule over man would be absolute without divine intervention. In the book of Job, Leviathan is called the king of all the children of pride. Leviathan rules like the pharaoh that contended with God to keep the Hebrews enslaved. Just as Yahweh sent Moses to deliver the Hebrew slaves from the tyranny of pharaoh, so has He sent Yeshua to deliver all of man from the tyranny of Leviathan. The Hebrew slaves, under the tyranny of pharaoh, were not free to worship God according to His will and had to be delivered. A person dominated by a spirit of pride and selfishness, under the rule Leviathan, also needs to be delivered in order to do God’s will.

Leviathan’s domination is evident in what is known as the first law of nature; Self-preservation. The focus on self is the signature of egotistical pride. Compare being ruled by the first law of carnal nature, to the two greatest laws in Yahweh’s kingdom, which also reflects His nature;

  1. Love the lord your God with all of your heart, mind and strength.

  2. Love your neighbor as yourself.

The only mention of self is in reference to how one cares for another. The nature of God’s kingdom is Love, versus the nature of those ruled by Leviathan, which is selfishness. You will be ruled by selfishness of pride until you are set free by Yeshua the Savior.

In order to be part of the body of Christ, you have to see and care for others as your self, you must have the ability to Love. You can never truly be unified with anyone else without Love. Marriage, families, and communities, fall apart without Love. This is why the Salvation of Christ begins with putting SELF on the cross; renouncing the law of self-preservation through entrusting the preserving of your life to Yeshua. Surrendering your life, by taking up the cross, makes way for divine Love to be birthed into your life. As Love delivers us from the oppressive phobias of selfishness, we are free to experience life as never before. He whom the son makes free, is free indeed!

Once you start to experience true freedom, you realize your were not free to even enjoy free things until you were freed your self. It’s true, only free people can really enjoy free things. People in bondage to selfishness through pride turn free things into more bondage. You see this manifested through hording, gluttony, and greed. Sometimes you can’t even give a selfish person a free gift, because they are to concerned about the hidden cost that the phobias of selfishness are projecting. This is why the free gift of Salvation through Christ is often left on the table, that is until we become broken and there is no more confidence in self. They that seek their life will lose it, and they that lose their life will find it. Through embracing the Cross of Christ you find true love, true freedom, and true Life.

(The image of Leviathan was found at BuddyJiang’s Portfolio: http://hokiboshi.net/portfolio/leviathan/)

Embracing Truth Leads to Freedom

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Part of the strategy of the enemy is to deceive people into believing that the things we can see are more real than the things we cannot see. Until the microscope was invented, we could not see bacteria or other molecules but we have always experienced their effects. Likewise, there are spiritual things that we cannot see that have an influence on us, however we cannot see them. It is time out for dismissing spiritual things because they are not completely evident to carnal senses. Spiritual things matter most and should be the most compelling influence in our lives. Things that please us carnally can often have a strong influence over us, even to the level of swaying good judgment. That is why those that desire to follow Christ have to take up the cross and mortify their flesh. Christ, the good shepherd, as he leads us on the path to life will inevitably take us through terrains that afflict the flesh. If we have not already made the decision to die to the flesh, we will turn back or go to the wayside when the narrow paths of life starts to restrict the flesh. It is only through taking up the cross that we become eligible to really hear the words of Truth and except spiritual principles. That is what is meant by 2 Corinthians 2:14,

 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

It is by design that certain things bring us pleasure. The Creator Yahweh made all things good and when they are enjoyed in adherence to His instruction they bring life. When we partake of creation in perversion, outside of His  commands, it tends toward death. 2nd Corinthians 4:16-18:

“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.”

Spiritual things that have eternal repercussions and should always take precedence over temporal things. Pleasures enjoyed outside of an eternal perspective is the substance of regret. Be wise, be temperate, and be patient, to enjoy lasting fulfillment.

We have to cultivate a love for Truth to the degree that we despise anything that would obscure our view of it. This will put us on the path to freedom from self-deception, as well as strengthen us against deception from the wicked one. The Holy Spirit given by God the Father is a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. A sound mind is a mind that operates from the perspective of Truth. Truth is the word of God. If you are free enough to hear the virtue in what I am saying then take it and run with it!

Where is the Church that Christ built?

Easter after Easter, Resurrection Sunday after Resurrection Sunday, Christians reflect on the death and resurrection of Christ yet they still don’t understand it. I say this because the resurrection life that Yeshua made available to us is not being lived NOW. Yeshua told the religious leaders if they tore down the temple or church, that he would rebuild it in three days. Where is the Church rebuilt by Christ? Where is the Church filled with the righteousness of Christ, the Love of Christ, the obedience of Christ, the faithfulness of Christ, the power of Christ, the glory of the Son? I am not talking about a building somewhere with a congregation. The church that Christ rebuilt is made of living stones instead of lifeless stones. Where are the individuals who fulfill the righteousness of the Law through living by the Spirit: glorifying Yahweh as the resurrected body of Christ?

Most people today that say they believe on the Son of God, (Jesus-Messiah-Yeshua) aren’t willing to suffer for righteousness sake.  The death of the cross has been limited to somethimg experienced only by Yeshua. Consequently, the resurrection life that comes after the cross has also been limited to a life lived only by Yeshua. Churches today don’t hold their members accountable to living like Yeshua. The understanding is that we all try to be like Yeshua while knowing it is impossible; it’s just the religious thing to do. How does this mindset compare to what Yeshua said when He declared that those that believed on Him would be able to do even greater works than what He performed. In fact, most confessing Christians have the misconception that we won’t be able to live like Yeshua until we get to Heaven. Church members are taught they will only be free from sin once they get to heaven; after shedding the flesh. Yeshua didn’t say, tear down this church and I will rebuild it again in the Kingdom of Heaven; He said He would rebuild it in three days!

On the third day after Yeshua was crucified, He was raised again. After His resurrection, He ascended to Heaven to make available the same resurrection power to any man that would be willing to be an extension of His body in the earth. To be an extension of His body, you have to submit your body to the rulership of His mind. This is what is meant by making Yeshua Lord and Savior. Yeshua is the head of the body or the mind of the church. The believer surrenders his body to serve the will of Christ. Resurrection life is the life of Christ flowing through a believer that has surrendered his body to be governed by the mind of Christ. Since no man knows the mind of Yahweh but the spirit of Yahweh, the Holy Spirit has been sent to indwell and fill all those that make room by getting off of the throne through taking up the cross.

Romans 6:5-7

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

The death of Christ was on this wise; no man took His life but He laid it down. To be buried in the likeness of His death is to lay your life down through taking up your own cross. It follows that as the Spirit quickened Christ and raised Him again, if we deny carnal living through mortifying the deeds of the flesh then the Spirit will quicken us with new life to live spiritually. So then, after we bury our old habits through the baptism of repentance, we then look for the baptism of fire; the power of the Holy Spirit unto newness of life. Just as Christ was grieved in Gethsemane, we will be grieved in denying the cravings of the flesh but they that wait upon the Lord will renew in strength and mount up with wings as eagles. This is to say, if we will put our bodies on the alter, sprinkled with the blood of the lamb, fire will come down from Heaven and consume the offering; we will be filled with the Spirit. He that has an ear let him hear the good news of the Gospel. Resurrection life for NOW!

Don’t let another observance of the resurrection of Christ pass by without embracing your own cross and realizing that resurrection life is available now. Resurrection life is real. I am intentionally not referencing a bunch of scriptures to support what I have written here because every man is going to have to subdue His flesh with all the carnal reasoning as Yeshua did in Gethsemane until they come to the same conclusion that He came too: “Not my will but yours be done.” I am a new creature in Christ. I am living a life that only Yahweh could show me. I am learning things from the Holy Spirit that no man has taught me. Taking up the cross is a very personal and intimate experience between an individual and the God head. The decision to take up the cross is made in an obscure place alone but the resurrection life that follows shines for all to see; bringing glory to Yeshua.

Let go and let God Almighty.

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.”