Monday, August 2, 2010
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,
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
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
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
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
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 (www.voe.org) 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
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"
YAHWEH JIREH. . .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"
YAHWEH HOSEENU . . . 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!!
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Today is a very special day. May we join with fellow Christians from all nations today and stand in solidarity with Jerusalem and Her King, as we pray for peace and security. Her king is ageless. His name is Jesus. He is found in every book of the Bible. His first coming was forecast with 100% accuracy by the prophets of old. So too will be His second coming. The world is experiencing birth pains as we prepare for His coming. His earthly rule will be established from Jerusalem’s holiest hill.
God commands that we pray for Jerusalem. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “They shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.” Psalm 122:6-7 God told Abraham, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
God also said that in the days before the Lord’s return, that all nations would rise against Israel in the time before Christ returns, And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it. Zech. 12:3.
Please join with multitudes today in praying for Jerusalem and all of Israel scripturally:
That God’s wisdom, discernment, anointing and favor would rest upon Benjamin Netanyahu and all those in leadership in Israel. This is a Godly man, who is keenly attuned to God’s promises to Israel. Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4
That Jews and Arabs to grow deeper in love and unity with God and each other in Jerusalem, Israel, and the Middle East: Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall rise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles (nations) shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee. The multitudes of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall show forth the praises of the LORD. All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory. Isaiah 60:1-7
For God to strengthen the leaders of Jerusalem and Israel to stand in His everlasting covenant, that Jerusalem will remain the united capital of Israel forever. He even set a carved image of Asherah that he had made, in the house of which the LORD had said to David and to Solomon his son, “In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever. 2 Kings 21:7. The covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac, and confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel for an everlasting covenant, saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan as the allotment of your inheritance,” 1 Chronicles 16:16-18
That the way to be prepared for the coming of the King of Glory. A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken." Isaiah 40:3-5
For Shalom to Jerusalem and her becoming a praise in all the earth forever. Her King will reign as Prince of Peace over Jerusalem, Israel, and the Middle East. Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Rev. 19:11-16
For Watchmen in all nations and cities to take no rest and give God no rest day and night, standing in solidarity, worshipping and interceding on behalf of Jerusalem. I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. Isaiah 62:6-8 Amen.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
I love this painting of Jesus with the children. It is clear that the heart of the artist envisions a Christ that takes great pleasure in His communion with His children. It causes me to think of one of the things that makes my heart smile and delights my soul in our church. There are some small girls I know that love to pray; they take it seriously. Though they are all in approximately 1st – 2nd Grade, I am confident that the Lord is molding them even now into prayer warriors who will take on the mantle of the Lord’s anointed and stand in the gap through prayer.
Some times they stop me in the sanctuary before church and ask me to pray with them. What a delight it is for me! At other times, you can find them resting before the Lord at the altar in response to a worship service invitation. May I never forget to praise the Lord for His goodness and continue to ask for a childlike heart of trust and dependence, both for myself and for all within our family in Christ. May I never cease to pray that each of us would embrace that simple, believing, powerful heart for our Savior! I pray you celebrate the sweetness of simple faith!
I remember, after first meeting one of these children, seeing her sprawled on the altar after Pastor Gene’s message. After a few minutes, I went forward to pray with her. I said to her, “Honey, is there something I can pray with you about?” She responded with genuine sincerity and said, “You can pray for me if you want to, but I don’t need anything. I just came up here to talk with God.” I was instantly stopped and joy flooded my soul. What incredible pleasure that little girl brought to my heart . . . and; if to my heart . . . can you imagine the joy that floods the throne room of the Lord when these little ones just come to talk with Him!!
The word of God teaches us that we were created for God’s pleasure. Revelation 4:11 says, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” “And He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father – to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever.” Amen. Revelation 1:6.
God created us to be His kingdom. He desires that each of us embrace with joy our priestly duty to minister to the Lord. When we give Him the glory and honor, the praise and worship He is fully and completely worthy of . . . we minister to our God! I don’t know about you, but the thought of ministering to my God gives me unspeakable joy!! It is to say not “What can you do for me, Lord?” Rather, it is to say “What can I do for you, Lord?” This pleases God. It builds relationship with the Most High!
So what are some other things that the Word says are pleasing to the Lord?
The Lord takes pleasure in those who seek Him in the morning and try hard to obey Him. My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD; In the morning I will direct it to You, And I will look up. For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, Nor shall evil dwell with You. Psalms 5:3-4
Because He desires that no man should perish, the Lord takes pleasure in those willing to step up in service to the kingdom. He takes pleasure when we acknowledge His wonders. Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, You ministers of His, who do His pleasure. Bless the LORD, all His works, In all places of His dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul! Psalms 103:21-22
The Lord takes pleasure in those who respect Him for who He is and those who look to Him as their hope. The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy. Psalms 147:11
The Lord takes pleasure in those with humble hearts and teachable spirits. For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation. Psalms 149:4
The Lord takes pleasure in those willing to be His hands, and His feet, His voice and His heart in real and practical ways. "Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? Isaiah 58:6-7.
The Lord takes pleasure in every Christ-follower that takes His commission seriously . . . in every soul that is saved through faith in Jesus. "Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord GOD, "and not that he should turn from his ways and live? Ezekiel 18:23
The Lord takes pleasure when He calls and we respond. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace. Galatians 1:15
The Lord takes pleasure when we surrender ourselves to be molded into the character of Jesus. Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
The Lord takes pleasure when we persevere and do not walk away from Him. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him." But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. Hebrews 10:38-39
The Lord takes pleasure in the sacrifice of praise. Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Hebrews 13:15-16
The Lord takes pleasure when we choose to believe Him. And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God. James 2:23
Just think . . . when we love God and love His precious Son with an authentic and sincere heart / when we surrender and allow Him to mold us into a vessel that He can use / when are willing to be used / when we believe Him and choose to stand on His Word in spite of any circumstance that would seek to create doubt . . . we are called “FRIENDS OF GOD”. We bring Him pleasure! I am convinced that there is no title quite so sweet.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring . . . Luke 21:24-25
Last week, Don and I were excited to travel to Minneapolis for the weekend. Perry Stone, one of the major teachers impacting my life on the Hebraic roots of my faith and of the prophetic Word of God was the guest speaker at a church conference. During one of Perry’s teachings, the Lord quickened my heart to one specific area. It was a teaching on the Vine and the branches in light of the times of the Gentiles being fulfilled. Is the time of the Gentiles about to come to an end?
Jesus said, Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. John 15:4-5. Jesus is the Vine. It is in Him we must abide if we are to remain. Not religion, not education but in relationship and dependence upon the work and person of Jesus period. If we are connected to anything else, we cannot endure . . . we will wither and die.
Over the past several years, I have increasingly grieved “indifference” and/or a “dumbing down” of the Word. This is not a worldwide malady by any means, but appears rather to be a “Western Church” occurrence. How can that be? While the rest of the world is exploding in a mighty move of God with countless numbers of people embracing Jesus even to the point of death and torture, America and all of Europe seems to be sleeping. Are we not the nation responsible for sending the gospel to all other nations? Are we not the only nation in the world considered a Christian nation? Do we not abide in the vine? Have we not experienced supernatural blessing throughout our history? I would venture to say yes, but like ancient Israel, we have turned to our idols and worshipped them in the high places. We have become enamored by the spirit of “I am, and there is no one besides me.” We have lost our way and forgotten Jesus.
America’s roots to the God of the Bible and her inseparable spiritual link to Israel began in the 15th century, when a young Italian explorer by the name of Christopher Columbus prepared for a great journey to find the Indies. As Columbus awaited the blessing of Ferdinand and Isabella, the Spanish Inquisition was in force, officially beginning on November 1, 1478. Unlike its predecessor, the Spanish Inquisition sought to punish Jews who had converted to Christianity but considered by others to be less than "sincere" in their conversions.
Rabbi Ken Spiro, in a crash course in history, says on aish.com, says, “In their blood-thirsty vengeance against the Muslims, the Spanish Christians included the Jews, whom they put in the category of infidels. In 14th century Barcelona, for example, the whole Jewish community was murdered by a rioting mob. First given shelter by some Christians, these Jews were pressured to convert. Those who did not were refused protection. Prime Minister (once professor) B. Netanyahu in his 1,400-page work, The Origins of the Inquisition, quoted an eyewitness account of the time: "Those of them who refused to accept baptism were immediately slain, and their corpses, stretched in the streets and the squares, offered a horrendous spectacle."
Rabbi Spiro further states:
“The year 1492 marked the fall of Granada, the last Muslim stronghold on the Iberian Peninsula, bringing to an end the Muslim domination of Spain which had lasted nearly 800 years. Spain returned to being a completely Christian country.
Shortly thereafter, Ferdinand and Isabella, decided to throw all the Jews out of Spain. This time, in the expulsion edict, the monarchs were not targeting Jewish converts to Christianity, rather they were targeting Jews who had never converted. Why? The main reason stated in the Edict of Expulsion, signed on March 31st 1492, was to keep Jews from re-Judaizing the converses. Another factor that certainly played a big role (besides anti-Semitism) was that Jewish money was now needed to rebuild the kingdom after the costly war against the Muslims. Rather than slowly squeezing the money out of the Jews through taxation, it was easier to expel them all at once and confiscate the wealth and property they would leave behind.
The day after the expulsion, August 3, 1492, Christopher Columbus left on his famed voyage of discovery. His diary begins:
"In the same month in which their Majesties issued the edit that all Jews should be driven out of the kingdom and its territories, in the same month, they gave me the order to undertake with sufficient men my expedition of discovery of the Indies."
Many people speculate that Columbus was of Jewish ancestry, and there is a good case for it. (For those interested, there are a lot of fascinating tidbits about Columbus collected in a book called Christopher Columbus's Jewish Connection by Jane Francis Amler.) Here are some examples:
• Although he was born in Genoa, Italy, his first language was Castilian Spanish. Many Jews had been forced to leave Castile about hundred years before his birth and some went to Genoa. (Incidentally, 14th century Castilian Spanish is the "Yiddish" of Spanish Jewry known as "Ladino.")
• When he wrote, Columbus made funny little marks on the page that resembled the markings that religious Jews put on top of the written page even to this day - an abbreviation of besiyata d'ishmaya, which means "with God's help" in Aramaic.
• He talked a great deal about Zion in his writings.
• In his crew, he had five known Jews, including his doctor, navigator, and translator.
• Columbus hired the translator, Louis de Torres, (who had converted to Christianity the day before he set sail) because he spoke twelve languages including Hebrew. And Columbus was sure he was not going to bump into Hebrew-speakers. He thought he was going to go to the Far East and he expected to find at least one of the ten lost tribes there and needed a Hebrew speaker.
Furthermore, there's no question that Columbus's voyage to America was spiritually linked to the expulsion. Just as one of the greatest Jewish communities of Medieval Europe is being destroyed, God was opening up the doors of what is going to eventually become the greatest Diaspora refuge for Jews in history -- America. This is another tremendous pattern we see in history: God making the cure before the disease.”
Instead of the Indies, Columbus would discover the Americas . . . Unknown to Columbus, but not to God, this land would become a sanctuary to unknown multitudes of Jews and would play a major role in stopping the atrocities and horrors of the Holocaust. But not without a move of God that intervened in the USA’s former decision to remain uninvolved. This would happen nearly 200 years after the founding of the colonies by British pilgrims willing to sacrifice life to face harsh realities and brutal beginnings to worship Jesus Christ as they desired. America would indeed become the world’s greatest catalyst in taking the message of salvation to every nation of the world. And God would bless her profoundly and abundantly, but like ancient Israel . . .
America would forget the roots of her blessing and rebel against the God who created her. In our worship of countless idols, we have entered into a season of captivity and oppression. Our love for God is growing lukewarm, indifferent. Like ancient Israel, The Western Church’s light is dimming and blindness fills her sanctuaries like a subtle mist. Unless revival visits our nation, our branches are in danger of removal. Revival has to begin in the hearts of God’s people. We desperately need a mighty move of Holy Spirit in our Churches and in our nation.
Any good study of scripture is similar to peeling the onion. The first layer, is always the visible layer. You see it, it makes sense, and you interpret it in its context. The second layer is an application layer. How does it apply to my life? The third layer is a prophetic layer. In that layer are hidden many mysteries and those intent on digging will find priceless treasure of revelation. Everything about Jesus: who He was/ why He was and when . . . everything Jesus did was in fulfillment of the Bible’s prophetic word and types and shadows of things to come.
Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the breasts? For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little.” Isaiah 28:9-10
How does all this relate to the fullness of the Gentiles? In Israel’s unbelief, she was blinded to the truth of the Messiah who came as a suffering servant. She didn’t recognize Jesus who the prophets because he didn’t meet her expectations. As the Messiah was rejected, her blessing was removed. Through God’s original plan, the door to the Gentiles was opened. Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past. Romans 16:25 This road to salvation of the Gentiles was not a surprise to God. It was in His plan from the beginning, as is the door of the blessing to the Gentiles to be closed and the door to the salvation of the Jews to be reopened. Israel’s light is about to shine!
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles—if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ. Ephesians 3:1-9
God’s ultimate plan is for Gentiles and Jewish believers to be equal, joint heirs through Christ, one new man, one new body comprised of natural and grafted branches that are intimately and securely abiding in the Vine and who are partakers of every covenant promise. Are there clues in the scriptures about the Lord’s teaching on the Vine and the Branches as to when this time of the Gentiles will be fulfilled? Yes.
Consider Isaiah 11 . . .
There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. His delight is in the fear of the LORD, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears; But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, And faithfulness the belt of His waist. “ The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea.
“ And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him, And His resting place shall be glorious.” It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left, From Assyria and Egypt, From Pathros and Cush, From Elam and Shinar, From Hamath and the islands of the sea.
He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
Mollerhaus.com says in a commentary on Zechariah, “There are two Hebrew words translated “branch” in Old Testament Messianic prophecies. It is obvious from reading them that they all refer to Messiah who shall be called the Branch. They confirm that the man Or “Branch’ would come from house of David, that He will be a judge, He will be a king, He will be a priest, He will be the Lord Our Righteousness, He will save Israel and Judah, He will build the Temple of God, in Him will the Gentiles trust. Attention given to the context of these Branch prophecies show that the Branch is the same person who will fulfill the David prophecies. They clearly refer to the Messiah and Jesus of Nazareth has astonishingly paralleled these predictions, especially the last;
Jesus name can be translated as the Branch. The two Hebrew words for Branch are obviously interchanged. One is "tsemach", (transliterated zemach) used in all the above verses for branch except Isaiah 11:1 where "natser,", (transliterated Nazer) is found. Jesus is called this latter word literally. The hometown of Jesus is Nazareth (Fem. plural of Nazer is Nazeroth). Many religious Jews will not mention Jesus' name. They certainly will not call him Christ (Messiah). He is most often referred to as The Nazarene. Some Jews call him the Notsri and Christians the Notsriym. [One of the first names for the church after our Lord’s ascension and the infilling of Holy Spirit] Consequently they are calling him by his name, "The Branch," and literally fulfilling prophecy. Thus he is so called by those who believe in him least. "He shall build the Temple of the LORD." The Branch refers to the Messiah. The Temple is the kingdom of the Messiah. It is clear that Gentiles have trusted in the LORD since the time of the Nazarene (Branch) through the building of the church done by Jesus the Nazarene.
Isaiah prophecies both the first and second coming of the Lord.” Romans 11 gives additional insight as Paul teaches . . .
I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, “LORD, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life”? But what does the divine response say to him? “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.
What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. Just as it is written: “ God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear, to this very day.” And David says: “ Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a recompense to them. Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see, and bow down their back always.”
I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!
For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? For if the first fruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
“The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy.
For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! “ For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?” “ Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?” For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
We foolishly discount the fact that the New Testament Church was a Jewish Church. It’s roots were in Jesus. Saul, had he not been converted to Paul, would have become the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. Though Paul’s commission was to the Gentiles, he never failed to visit the synagogue and remained an observant Jew, as did Jesus. As the revelation of Christ was cut off from Israel through her unbelief, a new nation was birthed. This nation was first called “Notsriym” and “the followers of The Way”. Later in Antioch, the followers of Christ would be called Christians. And for the first few centuries, they understood “the way” in a way that we have missed in large measure. It is no accident that God is raising an army of teachers throughout the world today who are equipping the saints with knowledge and understanding about the foundations of the Church in her purest form. To truly understand the scriptures, we must study them in their Jewishness and take off our American glasses.
The people of the way understood that everything God had revealed through the books and the prophets was essential to God’s overall plan. They understood that Jesus would return in the same way He departed, and they watched for the signs of His return: Anxiously and yearningly. How it breaks my heart to see how often offense rises in the church of this day when we talk about Jesus returning. Congregations avoid mention of sin, of blood, and of judgment at all costs to avoid offending anyone.
In the 4th century, King Constantine made the Church a State Religion, and separated it from its Jewish roots. Throughout history, we find evidence in various places and eras where the “Church” stopped abiding in the Vine. Without relationship to the branch Jesus – it was cut off from and entered into blindness. Religion became predominant, and where religion smothers relationship, the Word of God is corrupted and used in ways that have surely made God weep. Without Jesus in us, we are capable of terrible atrocities.
In every generation, however, there has also been a remnant who embraced Jesus Christ in His fullness. Throughout the span of time itself, they have been watchmen who waited and worshiped and yielded to a work of Holy Spirit in themselves which consummated the character of Christ within their hearts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little.” That “remnant” is all that God ever needed to complete His work for each time of divine purpose.
Do we see the miracle of the living Word manifesting today? The greatest fulfillment of “second coming” prophecy happened on May 14, 1948 when Israel became a nation again in a day. The desert has bloomed. For the first time in history, there are more Jews living in Israel than outside of it. Isaiah 11:14 says, ”But they shall fly down upon the shoulder of the Philistines toward the west.” In this generation, millions of returning Jews have flown down upon the shoulder of the Philistines, which is today the area from Gaza to Tel Aviv. Ben Gurion Airport sits on the shoulder of the Philistines!
The Jews are provoked with jealousy today by Christians who are blowing shofars and wearing tallits (prayer shawls). But the most amazing thing that is happening is that a Church is being birthed within Israel of young Jewish men and women who have embraced Yeshua as Messiah. This is a terrible affront to the Jews. The Messianic Church is a persecuted Church. Can you see it?? Vision and revelation of Holy Spirit is returning to the nation of Israel . . . EVEN as the eyes of the lukewarm church is being dimmed and blindness is coming to those who are not securely abiding in the Vine.
The prophetic word says that during that time of great tribulation . . . there will be an apostate church. As Paul writes to Timothy, But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power.
I encourage you brothers and sisters to abide in Jesus. Our Lord is coming again, and fulfillment of the prophetic word indicates that the time is short. If you find yourself “stale” in your faith . . if church has become an event rather than a celebration of worship . . . if church has become a business or a performance art to you . . . if you are coming for social reasons or reasons of any kind of personal elevation. . . call upon the throne of grace in Jesus name. If wisdom or knowledge has resulted in a sense of pride, remember that “you do not support the root, but the root supports you”. Aside from Jesus, we are capable of no good works. Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of Light.
Need fruit in your life? Call upon the name of Jesus. Ask the Lord to restore your heart and fan the flames of passion in your love for Jesus. Pray that you are part and parcel of a fruit bearing Church. Ask God to give you His burden for the lost and the captive. Ask Him to give you new enthusiasm and revelation for His will for you and His purpose in you today. Don’t let apathy lead to dimness and loss of vision that results in a withered dead branch.
Pray for the Church in America today. Pray for our Church home and our leaders. Pray for the City-Wide, the Nation-Wide, the Persecuted Church. Pray for God’s Kingdom Vision!
In Jesus name.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Don and I were able to travel to Minneapolis this weekend for a church conference with one of my favorite teachers on the signs of the times. After an incredible weekend with the Lord, I found myself sick yesterday. As a result, I was late getting Heart to Heart distributed. Each week, before I write, I pray and ask the Lord to direct my thoughts and use me as an empty vessel to bring encouragement for the week to someone. I just wasn’t getting anything, and then I read the following article. I cried . . . God spoke . . . Who was it for?
Brothers and sisters, we are so blind. We spend time debating Arminianism vs. Calvinism while the truth is likely somewhere in the middle. It doesn’t matter. It is a non-essential doctrine, and we cannot understand completely. In the West, the Body of Christ has divided itself into many different denominations – most of them based, generally, on one or more non-essential doctrines they are divided in. More and more the church blurs the lines of truth as God gives it in His Word. Many who say they love God are oblivious of the fact that until the denominations come together on the essential doctrines, i.e. the triune nature of God, the virgin birth, the atoning death, the bodily resurrection and ascension, the fact that Jesus is coming again to receive his bride . . . we will never become a city-wide, a nation-wide, a world-wide . . . yea a Bride/Church ready to receive her bridegroom. Our opinions don’t matter. It is only what God says that matters. God’s word hasn’t changed. This time in history does not require a revised gospel or a new way of presenting it. Like God Himself, His Word is eternal! Unshakable! Unstoppable! Undefeatable! And we are warned not to add or take away.
All over the world, God is pouring out His Spirit in awe and wonder. Each month in China, 1.3 million people are added to the kingdom. In India, the number is about 1 million. For the first time in history, Jewish eyes are being opened to Messiah Yeshua/Jesus, and daily new believers are added to the Church in Israel, while the eyes of the Western Church appear to be growing dim. Young Arab men and women are being visited by Jesus in dreams and visions. In the midst of radical Islam, a Church is being birthed. Like natural birth, spiritual birthing involves pain. While in America . . . the Church overall is sleeping. Why? What happened to our passion? How far would we be willing to go for Jesus? How bold would we be willing to stand? How deep is our love? All over the world, a persecuted Church is willing to die for their faith, yet in America, we refuse to even be inconvenienced. How many times do we say in a time of need, I’m sorry but . . .
Oh God, that you would forgive us and restore us to the passion that once called us to the cross! Make us a Church ready to receive the harvest . . . ready to receive the Lord Jesus Christ. Stir us, Lord. Ignite us, Lord. Bring Your Spirit in its fullness to shake us out of our complacency. Pursue us and do not let us rest until we remember Your faithfulness and stand in the gap for our lost, our cities, and those who endure persecution in Your name throughout the earth. As Francis Frangipane says, “Victory begins with the name of Jesus on our lips; but it will not be consummated until the nature of Jesus is in our heart.” Oh, Lord . . . give us unrelenting desire for the nature of Jesus to be completed in our hearts. Amen.
Stop, pause and consider this wonderful story . . .
TEHRAN, IRAN (ANS) -- Two Christian women who were arrested for their faith have been amazingly acquitted and freed from Tehran's notorious Evin prison and are now in a country outside Iran. Fourteen months after being arrested for their Christian faith and activities, Maryam Rostampour and Marzieh Amirizadeh have been acquitted of all charges by the Iranian judicial authorities. However, they were warned that any future Christian activity in Iran will be seriously dealt with. On Saturday May 22, 2010, they left Iran and arrived safely in another country.
Sam and Lin Yeghnazar, founders of Elam Ministries, met them at the airport. It was a tearful reunion. “It was very emotional when we first saw them,” said Lin Yeghnazar, “Now, we want to see them rest and recover.” Maryam and Marzieh are eager to thank Christians who have been praying for them. “We are most grateful to everyone who prayed for us,” Marzieh said, “I have no doubt that God heard the prayers of His people.” Maryam added, “I believe our arrest, imprisonment and subsequent release were in the timing and plan of God, and it was all for His glory. But the prayers of people encouraged and sustained us throughout this ordeal.” Elam Ministries says: "Both young women have shown exceptional courage, daring to tell an Islamic judge that they would never deny their faith in Christ."
According to a media update from Elam, when Sam Yeghnazar told them their example had encouraged countless people around the world, they were quick to respond, “We are frail human beings with many weaknesses. The honor and glory go to God who has kept and used us, although we don’t know why He has chosen us. All the glory goes to Him.” Maryam and Marzieh were arrested in March 2009 because of their Christian faith and were repeatedly placed under great pressure to recant and deny Jesus Christ.
They faced repeated interrogations, weeks in solitary confinement, and unhealthy prison conditions. Both became seriously sick during their imprisonment and did not receive the treatment they needed which greatly increased their suffering. Senior judges and officials also intimidated them. Despite this, they remained faithful to Jesus Christ and did not deny Him. After their conditional release from prison in November 2009, they have had a very trying six months waiting for their case to be heard in an Islamic court where they could have been sentenced to prison again. “We have seen the Lord do miracles over and over again. He kept us and gave us favor in prison, and sustained us during a very difficult period of waiting for our final trial,” said Marzieh.
Maryam and Marzieh have lived through many experiences during the last fourteen months. The days ahead are not certain. However, they are determined to serve the Lord and the Iranian church. “We hope to eventually share some of what the Lord allowed us to go through to highlight the need and the opportunity for the church in Iran, but right now we will take time to pray and seek the Lord for His will,” said Maryam. Please continue to pray for Maryam and Marzieh to fully recover and continue in fruitful ministry.
Used with permission by ASSIST News Service (ANS) - PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609-0609 USA
Visit our web site at: www.assistnews.net -- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
And how would I . . . How would you . . . stand????????????
Monday, May 17, 2010
To Give or Not to Give. . .
If we gaze at the affects on our economy today through the lens of the world we live in, times are uncertain at best. Most people are concerned about rising costs and lowered incomes. Many churches and missions are reporting decreased contributions, even as need increases. It is a time for good discernment and wise decision making for families . . . such times also give rise to wonderful opportunities to examine the Word of God in the context of our circumstances and take a fearless inventory of in whom and where our security resides. My marching orders are quite simple . . . They are . . . Back to the book!!
The Bible is filled with principals, perspectives and examples of giving. The truth is that we have nothing apart from God. He owns it all! Psalms 24:1 tells us that The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. By God’s design, we are His stewards and His managers. 1 Corinthians 4:2 cautions us, Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”
By example, our God is a faithful, giving God who expects the same from His children. His ultimate gift came in the Son, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16. Yet, He also made ample provision for our practical needs. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19.
Riches, like life itself are fleeting. In the end, only those seeds that we have sown into the kingdom of God will accompany us as we stand face to face with our Lord. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 1 Timothy 6:9-10. Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 1 Timothy 6:6-7. Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19. Even the poorest in the United States today are uncomprehensively rich by third world standards.
In every area of the word, we are called to trust God. It is only in the area of giving where God says, “Test Me”. Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “ If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. Malachi 3:8-10. We cannot know on earth the number of tragedies diverted, or the fullness of the blessings imparted to us because of faithfulness.
On a side note: those tithes were “first fruits”. The Lord asks that we give our best in terms of time and talents, as well as a portion of earnings. It is not enough to give our money, God wants the best we have to offer in every area of our lives. Every gift you have has been given to you for one reason: that you might grow in righteousness and bless others. Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. 2 Corinthians 9:10-11. Those worthy of hire in paid service to the Lord and those who have been ordained to support the Church through outside vocations are called to go beyond “job descriptions” in giving to the Lord. Each of us will offer account of the way we have used the gifts the Lord has given. If money is a commodity you don’t have, what is the gift you do have to bring before the Lord? What can you do for Jesus?
Our giving is but one reflection of the content of our heart. Do we trust the Lord to meet our needs or do we depend on the dynamics of the world? But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have abundance for every good work. As it is written: “ He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” The Bible says we cannot serve two masters. No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Matthew 6:24
Finally, we give because we are obedient and desire to build and enhance the Kingdom of God. In our local church, to the missionaries on domestic and foreign fields, to the widow and the orphan, to the poor and those in need yes . . .but we give because . . . Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ Matthew 25:34-40
Fear (lack of faith) is sin. To live the Christian life, we must determine (consciously choose to) believe by faith. Do we really believe what we say we believe? In what ways do we put wheels to our faith? What are the determinations we make that give revelation to the state of our hearts? Give!! Your time . . . Your talents . . . Your treasure!!!! Give and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38.
Monday, May 10, 2010
My morning devotional today was on ‘entitlements’. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. Os Hillman addressed the ‘the world owes us’ attitude prevalent in today’s society – in a way that really made me stop, pause, and consider. People in our country ‘expect’ the best. Those things may come in the form of expensive homes and cars, educational opportunities abundant to all, jobs that pay well, spouses that adore us, kids that appreciate us, and health that will not fail. We expect fulfillment of our desires and instant gratification of our whims. Increasingly, we expect others (i.e., employers, family members, church, government) to be responsible parties in meeting all our needs.
Even the church can be a pleasure-focused, me-based institution. Many expect delightful music, great preaching and strict adherence to ‘the one-hour rule’. Those who don’t know the Lord and have never given of themselves to the church or to cultivating a relationship with Jesus sadly ‘expect’ to be embraced by ‘God’ and ushered into heaven’s gates. Even our prayers can be so ‘me’ focused that we miss the bigger picture the Lord has for us. How many of us really spend time asking our Father what we can do for Him instead of what He can do for us?
How unlike Jesus . . . "And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!" - Philippians 2:8
While Christ clearly encouraged the significance of maintaining a balance between work and rest, mission and refreshing; He also promised that if we would follow Him and put Him first, He would meet every need and grant us our heart’s desire . . . Nonetheless; His expectations, His desires and His mind were always centered, grounded, and focused upon His Father. He gave no Biblical principal for retirement, but rather gave us a life-long commission. He practiced what He preached. The Word says, He came . . .
1. To reveal the Father (Matt. 11:27) "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."
2. To serve and to be a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28) "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
3. To save the world (John 3:17; Luke 19:10) "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."
4. To preach the good news of the kingdom of God (Luke 4:43) "But he said, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent."5. To bring division (Luke 12:51) "Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division."
6. To do the will of the Father (John 6:38) "For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me."
7. To give the Father's words (John 17:8) "For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me."
8. To testify to the truth (John 18:37) "You are a king, then!" said Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."
9. To die and destroy Satan's power (Heb. 2:14) "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil."
10. To destroy the devil's works (1 John 3:8) "He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work."
11. To fulfill the Law and the Prophets (Matt. 5:17) "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."
12. To give life (John 10:10,28) "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full . . . I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand."
13. To taste death for everyone (Heb. 2:9) "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone."
14. To become a high priest (Heb. 2:17) "For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people."
15. To atone for sin (Heb. 2:17) "For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people."
16. To proclaim freedom for believers (Luke 4:18) "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.”
17. To bring judgment (John 9:39) "Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
18. To take away sin (1 John 3:5) "But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin."
19. To preach (Mark 1:38) "Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”
20. To call sinners (Mark 2:17) "On hearing this, Jesus said to them, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
21. To know who is true (1 John 5:20) "We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true – even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life."
How does my life emulate the character of Jesus? He said that if I tried to save my life, I would lose it; but if I lost my life for His sake and the gospels, I would save it. He taught that to experience the fullness of life, I had to learn to give it away. He taught that if I would receive the child, the outcast, the unlovely in His name, I would receive Him. An entitlement mentality was simply foreign to Jesus. Let my prayer be . . .
Father, free us from the spirit of Babylon that says there is no one besides me. Give us your heart. Infuse us with your character. Fill us with your Spirit. Give us spiritual eyes to see and spiritual ears that hear. Give us greater vision of the purpose and plan you have for us. Help us surrender. Help us humble ourselves and be obedient so that our selfishness and our entitlement attitudes can be put to death and we can offer ourselves selflessly to the work that you have uniquely gifted us to do. In Jesus name, we pray. Amen.