Thursday, January 17, 2013

Are We Jacob?

I continue to seek the Lord about a number of things specific to the times we live in and the state of the church in America.  I love the way the Lord gives a common message to His people through a theme or a call that never is given to one solitary body, but rather collectively to shepherds across the nation with ears to hear.

 As these messages sound within the walls of my own church, I am humbled and grateful. Of late the call to the American church has been one of repentance and return to God. It is a call to return to the basics of the faith and one of clear discipleship – which of course is a call to equip and nurture the knowledge of the gospel and the Word in its entire context in others, and accountability to sincerity and obedience before a holy and omnipresent God.  That “basics” thing is so profoundly important. We simply cannot share what we do not have.

As I have studied the Book of Genesis this month, the Lord has been speaking to me loudly about Jacob.  It’s clear in the name. Names are utterly significant to God. Jacob’s name meant “supplanter” and in Jacob’s nature, you could clearly see the evil in his character.  True to its definition, as a supplanter, Jacob always had the greatest interest in himself, with a keen eye out for a blessing that would benefit him and that he likely thought he was “entitled” to.  Jacob was skilled in manipulation, deceit, and quick to engage in coercion to get what he wanted. Although it said that Jacob loved God and Esau loved killing, that love was not clearly evident in Jacob’s behavior.

They say that even thieves have honor between them, in this case the younger brother would go so far as to steal from his brother the blessing that Isaac had clearly intended for Esau.  To be fair, Esau wasn’t focused on his heritage when he traded his birthright for a bowl of soup either. The father loved Esau, yet a house divided against itself will fall because of the brokenness within it.  A son without honor for father or brother is not exempt from the natural consequences of sinful behavior.   I suppose the saddest aspect of the story is that this was a family deeply and firmly rooted in God’s faithfulness.  The family patriarch was Abraham, the father was Isaac.  Wouldn’t you assume that both sons were tutored in some serious knowledge of God?

It is a sad story, a story filled with manipulation and rebellion. I wept over Jacob’s greed and Esau’s foolishness, and I’m sure God did too.  I’m sure both sons did some weeping too in the secret places. While the blessing would come through Jacob, the Father loved Esau, and my Bible tells me that God isn’t finished with Esau’s descendents yet. There is a time coming when the seed of Esau will once again come into the Father’s house, but let me get back to my story . . .

Jacob sinned against his brother, with his own mother being the strategist and planner.   Yet Esau added sin on sin and became an active participant in what was to follow. His reaction was hatred and unforgiveness which lead him into rejection of his Father’s household, full blown rebellion, and making his camp in enemy territory where he would marry foreign wives and entertain foreign Gods. That’s a sure fire way to muddle up the family tree!

In the years that followed Isaac’s deception by his son, the natural consequences of Jacob’s sin would come back to visit him and his generations. We all indeed reap of the sin we’ve sown, and there are natural consequences as a result of it.  The same deception Jacob practiced would visit him when Laban  gave Leah to be married for Jacob’s servitude instead of Rachel as Jacob expected. He would labor 14 hard years before finally being allowed to take Rachel as his bride.  She was his beloved.

Rachel would bear Jacob no sons initially, though she would become the mother of Jacob’s beloved Joseph and Benjamin.  She would die in childbirth when Benjamin was born. The old family anger would come against Joseph, but God would redeem His people through the grace He prepared for Joseph.

I wonder if these key characters considered the ramifications of their early choices, knowing ultimately that their sin was against God. Jacob likely thought his blessing would come easily, but it didn’t. Blessing doesn’t come until a deep work is done.  Deep works require breaking and a humbling. We all sin. We recognize that Jesus paid the price for our sin, but are we willing to humble ourselves?

There must have been a powerful yearning to be right” again with God. Enough so that Jacob’s many failures would bring him to the place of wrestling with God for his blessing.  Jacob would come out of that battle forever changed.  The socket God tore in his hip would leave him with a lifetime limp to remind him of his brokenness before God. Enter grace . . . it was precisely that brokenness and finally submission to His God that would be Jacob’s catalyst for a new name and a new life. It is that same sweet grace that allows us to be partakers of the Father’s blessing!

Jacob’s name would be changed to Israel – God prevails.  His son’s – those birthed through Leah, Rachel, and their maidservants would form the tribes of the nation that God would call His own.  Through Jacob’s lineage, the Messiah would be birthed from the tribe of Judah and the lineage of David.  Because of this same sweet grace, the brothers Jacob and Esau would embrace each other again and forgiveness would pave the path to a better way that would extend to the Gentile nations!

The story of Jacob and Esau -  the redemption by grace from a sin nature is a story of the glorious grace that is given by a Father who loves us enough to send His only Son as payment for our sin.  It is our story.  The call of God to repent and get right with Him, to come back to the basics is a cry critical to our times and to our church.  Will we hear it?

Cain asked, am I my brother’s keeper? You bet we are.  We are mandated by what God has done for us to love, to disciple, to encourage, to forgive, to make amends when and where we can. We were born to be agents of restoration.  We cannot confiscate, we cannot earn, nor are we entitled to God’s blessing.  It’s purely a “grace” thing.  To be great in the Kingdom of God means to be broken and submitted to His authority.  To love God means that love of our brother is not optional.   When we submit to God and realize that it is God who prevails . . . When we embrace our infirmities without offense as a reminder of who God is, we can be used by Him. If we operate in pride, impressed by our own knowledge, with expectation of titles and honors we deserve, we are useless to God.

I am reminded if the wisdom of that great saint who has gone before us, A.W. Tozer, as he wrote on brokenness. Consider these words:  God rescues us by breaking us, by shattering our strength and wiping out our resistance.”  Or pause and contemplate on this truth . . . “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.” In Tozer’s book, The Root of the Righteous, he makes the following profound statement: “The flaming desire to be rid of every unholy thing and to put on the likeness of Christ at any cost is not often found among us. We expect to enter the everlasting kingdom of our Father and to sit down around the table with sages, saints and martyrs; and through the grace of God, maybe we shall; yes maybe we shall. But for the most of us it could prove at first an embarrassing experience. Ours might be the silence of the untried soldier in the presence of the battle-hardened heroes who have fought the fight and won the victory and who have scars to prove that they were present when the battle was joined.

Do we really consider standing before the Lord on that day when our actions, our words, our obedience, our heart for God and others will be reviewed?  Just Jesus and me?  Just Jesus and you? Will we be found to have lived our lives largely in our old sinful nature – even as we served in the church – or will that precious grace that covered us, that same sweet mercy that was extended inhabit and motivate the things we did in Jesus name?

It appears to me that as we pledge to serve God, as we lead and as we disciple . . we must pledge to be great servants of God. We must put on Christ and His sufferings.  We must be in submission to God, Is He our authority?  Am I asking Him to lead?  Do I wait to hear His direction?  Any attempts that we make to control, to confiscate, to occupy what is rightly earned by us is total folly. They only hinder God’s work among us and darken the lamp of Christ in us that should be shining to those who don’t know Him. Do we truly understand that our lives have eternal impact?

Let us seek God as we’ve never sought Him before. Let us forgive whether or not our anger may appear to be justified. Let us choose to love even those who are hard to love. We must always remember that great grace that was extended to us.  And if we have never been broken . . . let us be prepared, because there is a work that God is doing in our midst. And what God has purposed, He will complete!  Let us get back to the basics of our faith.  Let us cling to Jesus in the context of His Word and not to an idol that we have created within our own imaginations. Let us be real. Help us Lord.  Amen!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Are you in God's Way . . .

If you become a necessity to someone else’s life, you are out of God’s will. As a servant, your primary responsibility is to be a "friend of the bridegroom"( John 3:29). When you see a person who is close to grasping the claims of Jesus Christ, you know that your influence has been used in the right direction. And when you begin to see that person in the middle of a difficult and painful struggle, don’t try to prevent it, but pray that his difficulty will grow even ten times stronger, until no power on earth or in hell could hold him away from Jesus Christ. Over and over again, we try to be amateur providences in someone’s life. We are indeed amateurs, coming in and actually preventing God’s will and saying, "This person should not have to experience this difficulty." Instead of being friends of the Bridegroom, our sympathy gets in the way. One day that person will say to us, "You are a thief; you stole my desire to follow Jesus, and because of you I lost sight of Him."

Beware of rejoicing with someone over the wrong thing, but always look to rejoice over the right thing. ". . . the friend of the bridegroom . . . rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:29-30 ). This was spoken with joy, not with sadness-at last they were to see the Bridegroom! And John said this was his joy. It represents a stepping aside, an absolute removal of the servant, never to be thought of again.

Listen intently with your entire being until you hear the Bridegroom’s voice in the life of another person. And never give any thought to what devastation, difficulties, or sickness it will bring. Just rejoice with godly excitement that His voice has been heard. You may often have to watch Jesus Christ wreck a life before He saves it (Matthew 10:34).

Used with permission from RBC Ministries,
Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest Devotional

March 24, 2006, was an exceptionally painful day in my life. With circumstances entirely out of my control, I heard the Lord whisper in my ear and say, “Kay, stand back and stay out of my way.” Of course, I had nowhere else to go. Nonetheless, for me it was one of those moments of truth. I had a decision to make. Would I allow the circumstances of my life to consume me or would I trust God and stand on His Word.

I’m not sure that I have ever fully surrendered in my life without some kind of struggle. Generally, my journey to the place where I leave my burdens at the cross is much easier if it doesn’t include those I love most. We struggle so to manage the unmanageable. Why is that so hard? What is it that makes us want to protect our loved ones from the natural consequences of disobedience and sin . . . to keep them from experiencing the same kind of pain that brought most of us to that place of brokenness and ultimately the Cross wherein God began to change our lives? In spite of the fact that I fervently pray and ask the Lord to draw my loved ones close, I seem to always end up somewhere in the way trying to make pain go away.

But on this day, revelation knowledge from a great man of God . . . Oh Lord, that I would be called your friend! How I yearn for that mantle! Take me to that place where my desire to serve you rises above all else . . . where my loyalty to you takes precedence even over the members of my own household . . . dear ones that my heart loves so much!

How many times do we get in God’s way? How many times do our best intentions result in preventing those we love from coming face-to-face with Him who is able to exceedingly and abundantly above and beyond all that we can ask or imagine? How many times do my band-aids interfere with the deeper healing the Lord would do? How many times do I build obstacles for Him to walk around? Oh Lord, please don’t let us be hindrances to your power to save and obstacles to Your answers to prayers for those we hold dear!

Let us stop! Teach us to listen for your voice. More of you, Lord, less of us! Impart to us the truth of James Chapter 1: My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Remind us, Lord, that the refiner’s fire is necessary to purify and mold us into the fullness of the men and women you have created us to be. So too, the refiner’s fire is the hope for those we love to come to the altar of brokenness so that they can be made new and cleansed through the blood of Jesus.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Mystery and Power of Communion: Part IV

As Jesus and His disciples celebrated the Last Supper . . . as the early Church celebrated the Lord’s Supper . . . as we celebrate today: We participate, rejoicing that the fulfillment in Communion ~ that fourth cup, consummation ~ will be celebrated at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” (Revelation 19:6-9)

The Wedding Feast of the Lamb was on our Lord’s mind that awesome and preordained night of the Passover just before the Crucifixion. For I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:16) for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” (Luke 22:18) And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:29-30)

When we enter into Heaven (through death or through the return of our Lord), there will be no more pain for us . . . no sorrow . . . no sickness. At the appointed time, we shall all sit down with the Bridegroom and feast!! Until then, we will continue to drink from the Cup of Redemption and eat of the presence of the Lord.

As we partake, we are to do so with holiness and a pure heart and in orderly and reverent fashion. Communion is not to be an afterthought of our service – there is to be a celebration at the heart of it. One of my absolute favorite Bible teachers is Perry Stone. In his book, The Meal that Heals, Perry lays out Four Steps for Receiving the Lord’s Supper. They are (my paraphrase):

Look Inward! Deep into your heart and your spirit. Ensure that you have no hidden or un-confessed sin. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. (1 Cor. 11:28) Is there a bondage or “pet” sin you struggle with? If so, repent before you receive communion. If you want to hang on to that sin, don’t partake of the Lord’s supper. Keep your spirit pure before God.

Look Outward! At your family, friends, fellow believers, neighbors or acquaintances. If you hold something against any one of them, your offerings cannot be blessed until you make amends. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)

Look Upward! Remember Christ’s redemptive work on your behalf with holy gratitude. Dwell upon who He is, who you are in Him. Meditate on His goodness and mercies. Think about the time to come. Jesus is coming again at an hour when none of us know. Are you ready?

Look Onward! Live your life expecting to fulfill God’s plan and purpose for your life. EXPECT to receive the power and the healing that are yours in Communion! EXPECT to receive the benefits and inheritance that are yours as a child of the King! EXPECT to declare the Word of God over you and your family and see the promises of God fulfilled! The price for all these benefits has been paid through the shed blood of our Lord! EXPECT to live out all of your days. With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.” (Psalm 91:16) Remember that Salvation is a complete work of making a person whole in spirit, soul and body.

In closing, there is no place in scripture that gives a specific age at which one should begin to partake of communion, just as there is no specific age at which one can be saved. Both Communion and Baptism are Holy Sacraments of the believer. Parents should judge whether or not their child really understands the message of salvation, the message of Baptism, the message of Communion . . . and decide accordingly whether they should participate.

Don’t take any Sacrament of the Lord lightly . . . consider the price that was paid through the Cup and through the Bread that represent the Blood and the Body of our Lord. Consider all that has brought you to the point of partaking in the holy remembrance of the Lord. Examine yourself with prayer and honesty; and ask yourself if you do, indeed, desire to come before God in obedience and righteousness. If you are then led, celebrate with joy and receive all that the Lord has prepared for you at His table!!

It is my prayer that you have been blessed by something in this study. Everything the Lord has taught me about his Word has come through the quickening of the Holy Spirit or through the teachings of great men and women of God who desired to share the Good News!! I have always been very grateful for the teachings of Perry Stone, who has been such a powerful vessel in helping me understand the Hebraic roots of my faith. I am especially grateful for his teaching on Holy Communion. Of course, more than anything, I bow in gratitude to our Lord who completed all things for me on the cross, to my Father who desired from the beginning that I would fellowship with Him eternally, and to the Holy Spirit who breathes life into His Word and into my spirit!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Mystery and Power of Communion: Part III

Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven." John 6:32. Six days a week, God caused bread from heaven to fall on the ground during the night to give strength and sustenance to the Hebrew people in their journey to the Promised Land. Before manna was eaten, it had to be gathered and ground on millstones or beat in mortar to bake into flat cakes.

Like many churches, HCBC uses a Jewish bread called Matzo for the Lord’s Supper. It is the bread used during Passover celebrations today. Matzo is square when it is whole and white in color. The long rows baked into the Matzo represent the long stripes from the cat-of-nine-tails that scourged our Lord. The holes in the Matzo represent the piercing of our Lord’s hand, feet, and side. It is made without leaven (sin) and the brown spots from baking represent the bruises on the body of Christ.

As we partake of the Lord’s Supper or Communion, the bread represents the physical body of Christ. We need to well remember the wounds and agony of Jesus as He endured the torture of the cross: nails thrust piercing His hands and His feet; the brutal spear ripping His flesh as it impaled His side. The wicked cat-of-nine-tails had 9 long leather straps embedded with incredibly cruel balls of metal designed to brutally rip and tear the skin. It’s desired result was agonizing pain for the recipient receiving the lash of the beast. At 40 stripes, death would come. They stopped short to prolong His agony. Yet every stripe our Lord endured, every drop of blood He shed, every bruise upon His body had plan and purpose from the very beginning of time.

Most Protestant (Protestant meaning those churches that protested and moved away from the Mother or Catholic Church) and Spirit Filled denominations like the Assemblies, Holiness, and Pentecostal churches today recognize two basic Sacraments in the Church: Baptism and Communion. Catholic and Orthodox churches have additional Sacraments. Webster defines the word sacrament as: Etymology: Middle English sacrement, sacrament, from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French, from Late Latin sacramentum, from Latin, oath of allegiance, obligation, from sacrare to consecrate 1 a : a Christian rite (as baptism or the Eucharist) that is believed to have been ordained by Christ and that is held to be a means of divine grace or to be a sign or symbol of a spiritual reality b : a religious rite or observance comparable to a Christian sacrament 2 capitalized a : COMMUNION 2a b : BLESSED SACRAMENT

As our Catholic brothers and sisters partake of Communion or the Lord’s Supper, they believe in a doctrine called Transubstantiation, which is to say that they believe that as the bread and wine are consecrated (prayed over/dedicated to the Lord), the cup and the bread become the actual, real and substantial presence of Christ.

Lutherans and some other mainline denominations believe in a doctrine called Consubstantiation, which means that they believe that the wine and the bread coexist or are in union with each other: that the substance of the body and the blood of Christ are present (along side) as believers partake of the bread and the cup.

Most evangelical or full gospel churches believe the bread and wine are “representative” of the body and blood of our Lord. We partake in “remembrance” with faith, and in doing so we have communion with the real physical body and blood of Christ Jesus.

The Greek root of the word communion is “koinonia”, which means intimate partnership or intercourse. Yet, the Bible clearly teaches of the power and provision and healing that comes through receiving the Lord’s Supper. I am reminded of what Paul says in 1 Cor. 13:12, For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. There is a mystery in Communion that is activated through our faith.

Matthew tells us, And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Matthew 26:26-28 Luke says, And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Luke 22:19

The prophet Isaiah through the word of our God: He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:3-6

While we may not understand it entirely, we are assured that the presence of the Lord is indeed with us as we partake in this holy sacrament. We receive and celebrate our “sozo” (salvation) through Jesus . . . who saves, delivers, protects and heals in a complete work of making us whole in spirit, soul and body.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Our Holy Mystery: The Celebration of Communion Part 2

If you ask most Christians what ‘being saved’ means, they would tell you that it means to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ: believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, that He was resurrected on the third day, and that He ascended bodily into heaven and sits at the right hand of our Father God. Perry Stone in his book “The Meal that Heals” points out that the Greek word for saved is “sozo” and it is used 52 times in the English translation of the New Testament. Sozo means “to save, deliver, protect and heal”. Salvation is a complete work of making a person whole in spirit, soul and body.

In our study last week, we looked at Passover. To protect the Hebrews from the angel of death, God instructed each family to take an unblemished young lamb and sacrifice it, placing the blood of the lamb on the left, right, and top posts of the door (forming a cross). Each family was to eat all of the lamb before midnight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. (Exodus 12:7-8) The miracle they would experience through obedience to God was two-fold: They were healed and protected from both sickness and death.

As religious Jews have participated in Passover Seders through the ages, they told the story of God’s miraculous deliverance from Egypt. The Passover bread is baked without leaven – a remembrance that the Hebrew people did not have time to put leaven in their bread before departing. Participants in the Seder drink from four cups of wine, each numbered and specific. The first cup is the Cup of Sanctification; the 2nd cup – the Cup of Affliction; the 3rd cup – the Cup of Redemption; and the final 4th cup – the Cup of Consummation.

As Jesus celebrated the Seder with the 12, He was announcing a new covenant that would be sealed with His very own blood. Jesus, the Passover Lamb, was about to make a way for complete healing and redemption to all who would believe in Him. Jesus did not drink the 4th cup that night.

After the resurrection, Jesus again met with His disciples and broke bread with them. Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. (Luke 24:30) Though Jesus would not drink of the 4th Cup (Consummation) until He sat with them again at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, the breaking of bread between believers was a continuous tradition in the early church. Believers broke bread daily together and celebrated the resurrection of our Lord. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart. (Acts 2:46).

As long as believers walked in love and were centered on the teachings of Christ, the early Church grew in blessing and grace of the Lord. But like all of us ~ foolishly forgetting the goodness and teachings of Jesus ~ some opened the door to sin and engaged in strife and dissention. Because of this, some members of the early Church received the Lord’s Supper unworthily. It stopped the healing flow of God. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. (I Cor. 11:30)

It is in this context that Paul instructs believers to examine/test themselves. Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. (I Cor. 11:27-29) We are to repent and confess all sin prior to participating in the Lord’s Supper.

Jesus knew that His suffering and death would bring salvation and healing to those who believed. His atonement (at-one-ment) for our sin made way for wholeness and complete healing of body, soul, and spirit. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Thessalonians 5:23) The Prophet Isaiah foretold of the total atonement through Jesus, the Messiah:
 Our body: Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)
 Our soul: He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. (Isaiah 53:3,7) and
 Our Spirit: Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. (Isaiah 53:10) It was the Father’s will that we be made whole in this life and that we be prepared to fellowship with Him eternally. Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies. (Psalm 103:3-4)

Rejoice! The day you received Christ as Lord, His “sozo” began its complete work in you in making you whole in spirit, soul and body, here and for eternity!!

Next week: Our Holy Mystery: The Celebration of the Lord’s Supper Part III.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Mystery and Power of Communion: Part 1

If there are two mysteries that the Church doesn’t fully understand, I think they must be prayer and communion. Both hold the very keys to the mighty power of God being released into our lives individually and into the life of the Church. A number of years ago, the Lord began to pursue me at time of seeking Him and His understanding in both of these critical areas of life as a Christian. It was about this time the Lord directed me to the work of a Southern Church of God evangelist by the name of Perry Stone. Largely through research done by Perry Stone, but others as well – in confirmation of the Holy Scriptures themselves, a whole new understanding of communion began to emerge. I heartily recommend Bishop Perry Stone’s book, The Meal that Heals ( to those who wait upon the Lord for healing of any kind . . . Physical, Emotional, or Spiritual.

Communion is more than a simple remembrance – there is life in the Lord's cup! The result of my own search to understand of this blessed sacrament will be written over a four-week period. My prayer is always that anything you read will have solid Biblical backing, which is why I feel that scripture reference is essential. This is a repeat series that is worth repeating. I pray it blesses you.

The Lord would have us clearly understand why and how we should partake of the Communion of the Saints, even as He desires that we understand His purpose from the beginning for the Sacrament and in the power and life contained therein. In We begin by examining the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 26: And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”

While it has often been said that the Old Testament was a covenant under law, and the new Testament a covenant under grace; such a statement is at best misinterpreted and one that can be considered only partially correct. Yes, it is true that the death of Jesus on the cross fulfilled the law. It is true that through the cross, Jesus accomplished victory over death. It is true that, by the shedding of His precious blood, He became our atonement – our eternal ‘sacrificial lamb’. The Scriptures neither release us from the teachings of the Old Testament, nor from the law; however, Christ honored the law and celebrated the Holy convocations. Consider . . .

Psalm 19:7-9 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

Psalm 119:1-4 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart! They also do no iniquity; they walk in His ways. You have commanded us to keep Your precepts diligently.

Matthew 5:17-20 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

God designed a way of redemption for man from the very beginning of creation, knowing our sinful nature full well and loving us beyond our comprehension in spite of it. From the very beginning of time itself, the shedding of innocent blood was required for redemption of sin. Our first glimpse of this truth appears in the garden, where for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21) God cursed the serpent for allowing Satan to speak and beguile Eve into eating of the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil”. He cursed the ground and declared that mankind would toil from that day forward.

But God did not curse Adam and Eve . . . for them, God covered their sin by the first innocent blood shed for the redemption of sin. The animals used to supply the skins for the tunics God made were the first sacrificial offerings to restore man to right standing with God. Life was in the blood . . . Abel’s sacrifice to God was pleasing to Him. Abel was the first shepherd of men: his sacrifice to God a spotless lamb. Cain assumed his sacrifice would please God: the tiller of the soil brought before God the fruits of the ground. Cain’s anger and jealousy over God’s rejection of his sacrifice resulted in the first murder in scripture; and the Bible teaches us that Abel’s blood cried out to God from the ground!! It is clear in these scriptures that Adam taught his sons of God’s plan for redemption of sin as God himself had no doubt taught Adam. Life was in the blood . . .

In spite of God’s favor and promise to Abraham, Abraham sinned before God. Yet, Abraham went before God willing to sacrifice Isaac, His beloved son of promise. God in His mercy supplied Abraham instead with the ram.

The Feast of Passover ordained by God and presented by Moses to God’s people celebrated the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. The final breaking of Pharaoh’s willful refusal to let God’s people go came after the first born sons of Egypt were destroyed. Innocent lambs were sacrificed to mark the door posts of God’s people and redeem the first born sons of Israel from the curse of death. God preordained that flight from Egypt.

Bread played a crucial role in sustaining God’s people. In the Bible, leaven is used to represent sin. The Feast of Unleavened Bread marked the annual week of cleansing to celebrate the separation of God’s people from Egypt. God desires that we too separate ourselves from sin. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Cor 5:8)

For almost 2,000 years a lamb had been slain on Passover as Jesus prepared to celebrate this Feast of Moses with his disciples. Jesus would become the ultimate lamb slain that Passover day: God’s eternal sacrifice for man through His design and purpose. The significance of the bread and of the cup had been established since the beginning of time itself.

Monday, June 14, 2010

His Character is Reflected in His Name

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and is safe. Proverbs 18:10

I really appreciated Pastor Gene’s message yesterday. Names are extremely significant to God in that they reflect the character and attributes of a person. So important are they to Him, that God saw fit to change man’s name on numerous occasions. Abram became Abraham. Jacob became Israel. Simon became Peter. Saul became Paul.

It shouldn’t surprise us then, that God would describe His own attributes and character within the content of His word. Each name of God reveals a unique characteristic of His nature, a revelation of His majesty. He also gives us understanding into the awesome and unfathomable depth of His power and His holiness.

I remember doing a study on the names of God and discovering more than 700 scripture reference to the names of God, the descriptions of who both Father and Son are, and what they said about themselves. It was an incredible study that left me in absolute security of not only who God was but who I was in and through Jesus. I encourage each of you to begin to study the names of God and worship Him by calling upon His awesome and powerful names.

My goal today to provide a list of some of the predominant names of God and the references to them. "ELOHIM" is the first name for God found in the Bible, and it's used over 2,300 times throughout the Old Testament. Elohim comes from the Hebrew root meaning "strength" or "power". El is the simple form of Elohim, and is often combined with other words for descriptive emphasis.

"YHVH" (Yahweh) is the Hebrew word that translates as "LORD". It is sometimes written "Jehova" in the Bible. Found more often in the Old Testament than any other name for God (approximately 7,000 times), the title is also referred to as meaning the "The Four Letters". YHVH comes from the Hebrew verb "to be" and is the special name that God revealed to Moses at the burning bush. "And God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM; and He said, you shall say to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you... this is My eternal name, and this is how I am to be recalled for all generations'" (Exodus 3:14-15). Therefore, YHVH declares God's absolute being - the source of everything.

The LORD who revealed Himself as YHVH in the Old Testament is revealed as Yeshua / Jesus in the New Testament. Jesus shares the same attributes as YHVH and clearly claims to be YHVH. In John 8:56-59, Jesus presents himself as the "I AM."

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”
Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

And what are those primary names of God? Let’s take a look at them:

ELOHIM. . . Genesis 1:1, Psalm 19:1 . . meaning "God", a reference to God's power and might.

YAHWEH - JEHOVAH. . . Genesis 2:4 . . .a reference to God's divine salvation.

ADONAI......Malachi 1:6 . . . meaning "Lord", a reference to the Lordship of God.

YAHWEH MACCADDESHEM . . .Exodus 31:13 meaning "The Lord thy sanctifier"

YAHWEH RO’EH . . .Psalm 23:1 . . .meaning "The Lord my shepherd"

YAHWEH SHAMMAH. . . Ezekiel 48:35 . . .meaning "The Lord who is present"

YAHWEH ROPHE. . . Exodus 15:26 . . . meaning "The Lord our healer"

YAHWEH TSIDKENU. . . Jeremiah 23:6 . . . meaning "The Lord our righteousness"

. . .Genesis 22:13-14 . . .meaning "The Lord our provider"

YAHWEH NISSI. . .Exodus 17:15 . . .meaning "The Lord our banner"

YAHWEH SHALOM. . .Judges 6:24 . . . meaning "The Lord our peace"

YAHWEH SABBAOTH. . .Isaiah 6:1-3 . . . meaning "The Lord of Hosts"

YAHWEH GMOLAH. . .Jeremiah 51:6 . . .meaning "The God of Recompense"

. . . Psalms 95:6 . . . meaning “The Lord our Maker”

YAHWEH ELOHEENU . . . Deuternonomy 6:4 . . . meaning, “The Lord our God”

EL-ELYON . . .Genesis 14:17-20,Isaiah 14:13-14 . . . meaning "The most high God

EL-ROI. . .Genesis 16:13 . . . meaning "The strong one who sees"

EL-SHADDAI. . .Genesis 17:1, Psalm 91:1 . . .meaning "The God who is sufficient for the needs of His people"

EL-OLAM. . .Isaiah 40:28-31 . . .meaning "The everlasting God"

The phrase “Selah” means stop, pause and consider. May you stop, pause and consider the glorious attributes of the Lord Your God! I pray we continue to hunger and thirst for more of Him! May we strive to know Him in His fullness through Jesus our Lord!!