There is a future that is worth great sacrifice to obtain it.
There is a way of living that sacrifices having a great future.
We make choices regarding which sacrifices we will suffer with almost every breath. Choose the future that matches what Jesus already sacrificed. He did that to make an awesome future possible for you.
What exactly should we even believe about the Kingdom of God, and to whom should we preach what? Many of the parables recorded in Matthew through Luke are introduced with a phrase identifying them as teachings about the Kingdom. Unbelievers who are taught only that Jesus is a Savior who paid for their sins will fit nicely into a system of religion dominated by a clergy caste. The clergy do the holy work in the holy building on the holy day and are the people with responsibility and authority.
When the story they are told is, instead, that Jesus is a King Who died to give them life so that they can be effective, purposeful citizens of His eternal Kingdom, they must ask Him what their purposes are when they become reborn. They have responsibility that must be discovered and taken up. “Laity” is a transliteration of a foreign word that means “the people.” If we preach responsibility belongs to every citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, suddenly laity (the lower life under the clergy caste) would have to be called lazity if it continued to exist.
Children who become believers immediately become servants. They want to help everybody do everything. Adults who become believers may take on a servant mentality for a short time and may not. It seems to depend on their pride or fear being more dominant than their love for the newly received Savior. Either being too afraid to ask what they should be doing with regard to their new identities or being too proud to be servants. Children are always being told what to do by everyone, so the barriers to taking on responsibility are not quite so large.
When we try to teach new adult believers that they must serve the church, their commitment level is usually only what it would be in any other social or service oriented club, such as Rotary or Optimists. Their work-related devotion seems to have little connection to Jesus, but much connection to church programs. No spiritual gift is required, no education is necessarily needed, unless the initiate senses “a call to the ministry.” In this case, extensive education is of course required as preparation and qualification for “clergy” status.
As Paul wrote to the congregations in Ephesus, we were not saved by works, lest anyone should boast, but we were saved for works, and they have been laid out before us to walk in them. All of us (Ephesians 2:8-10). This entire concept should be presented to unbelievers and repeated to new believers until they have entered into the Kingdom. By failing to teach them to enter in, we have been depriving them of being able to inherit.
In Genesis chapter 1, the Creator is quoted as authorizing humans to have dominion over or to rule over everything that moves on the earth. There is no indication in Scripture that if something that He created to be somewhere else, like Heaven, came into the earth and moved on it, it would be exempt from man’s authority over it since it was in his realm.
Please infer from this that even if the trespasser was more powerful than the humans it encountered, the humans could stand in their authorized rule and overpower it.
When a bear and a lion invaded the space where David had authority and responsibility, he stood in that authority and supernaturally overpowered the invaders. He did the same thing against Goliath.
Jacob prevailed against the Elohim that he found in the earth (Genesis 32:28). When Moses and Abraham rose humbly in presumption even against Yahweh and challenged His intentions of destroying people, God submitted to their intercession. He let them reign when they stood in the authority He had given them as men in the earth.
When humans rule over the creation under the rule of the Creator, His Kingdom is in the earth. They are functioning in His image, in His likeness, in His stead, in the earth. It is a fulfillment of His intentions from chapter 1 of Genesis.
There was James, the son of Alpheaus, who was an apostle.
There was also James, the son of Zebedee and the brother of John, who was an apostle.
There was also James the son of Joseph and Mary, who wrote the Scripture “James,” who was an apostle, and who was the leader of the church in Jerusalem when the decision was made about what of the law to subject believers to who had been gentiles. That is recorded in chapter 15 of Acts.
This James was not one of the original apostles. He is called an apostle by Paul (also not one of the original apostles) in Galatians 1:18&19. There were many others. There are many others today.
Pray for them.
When our Father does something in the earth, it is with the agreement of at least a prophet through whom He reveals it (Amos 3:3,7; Genesis 7, Genesis 18:16-25). Yahweh submitted to human agreement and influence when He intended to destroy Sodom in Genesis 18:32 & 19:18-22. He honored Abraham’s desire that the city not be destroyed except according to Abraham’s protocol. Lot was told that until he was safely out of Sodom, the destroying angel of God could do nothing in the city.
When Yahweh intended to destroy Nineveh, He sent Jonah, a prophet, to announce it. He had difficulty getting agreement out of the prophet. Finally, when the prophet went to the city and announced their doom, the people of the city agreed with God about their unrighteousness, let Him change their hearts, and thereby turned God’s destroying hand away from themselves.
It made the prophet angry when his declaration of the intentions of God were not fulfilled. He was still disagreeing with God, but the agreement of the people of Nineveh caused God to side with their submission and to extend mercy to them rather than destroy them. He found agreement in the earth and it made Him happy. He moved toward the agreement even though it meant moving away from His prophet.
Acts 16:16 is the beginning of a set of power encounters between Yahweh and a principality called “python” (Strong’s NT4436) that was given power by humans over the area of Delphi.
Paul & company launched a congregation in the home of newly converted Lydia. Paul cast a demon from python out of a girl who was being used as a slave to make money from spells and telling fortunes (Strong’s NT3132). This public display of power over a semi-local “deity” caused the local principality to move first in the slave’s owners, then a “multitude,” then the magistrates, who commanded their subordinates to beat Paul and Silas, and finally the local jailer, who chained and stocked them as an on-going torture.
Paul and Silas responded to the on-going opportunity to display Yahweh’s power by praising His name loudly through the night. Yahweh responded to the on-going praise by shaking the prison until all of the prisoners were freed. The next group to experience freedom during the shift of power was the jailer and his family.
The magistrates, having discovered that they had been frenzied into an illegal public beating of two Romans who had not been tried for a crime, tried to quietly release them from the jail. Paul demanded that instead, they publicly escort them through the streets of the city to Lydia’s home. They submitted to the King and did so.
The letter to the saints in Christ Jesus in Philippi, with the overseers and servants (Philippians), was written later by Paul to the congregation that grew in this freshly plowed and planted soil. It is worth a fresh read with this history in mind.
I am working on a paper that I think will be titled “How to Use the Bible.” The chapter I just finished doing the research for is maybe going to be titled “The Value of Context.”
Through the years of being me, I have frequently been asked, “Where’s that in the Bible?” That’s a valid question if you really are interested in discovering something new. The people Paul encountered from Berea didn’t believe him, so they went to the Scriptures to seek the Truth. They didn’t just brush over their notes from seminary and brush him off as a heretic, which did happen to him frequently.
An accusation I have frequently encountered has been, “You’re taking that out of context.” I have used that one myself on days. While listing the subjects I felt I should deal with in this paper, I had a vague memory of some times in the Scriptures that I had looked at a Scripture being quoted in the New Testament and thinking that the place being quoted said something different.
So, I looked at all of the over 250 New Testament quotes of Old Testament Scripture, and looked at sometimes as much as 30 verses of context in the OT Scripture. It took a few months.
7 times, a New Testament writer said something like, “The Scriptures say…” and what they were calling “Scripture” was not the Old Testament. One of the quotes was from the book of Enoch. 8 times, the statement being made in the NT is taking the OT passage completely out of context.
Please pray me through creating Life-giving teaching on how to handle these facts related to the most important book ever.
There are times when, tired of fighting, or fearing, or suffering pain or insult or accusation, we just would like to see the end of the story.
When fighting a cancer, or an antagonist, or any other enemy, we seem sometimes to simply be losing the battle. Especially on the days when our advisers seem to be the grandchildren of Job’s friends, and suggest that we take what we deserve and die, it is hard to stay engaged in combat.
Sometimes we don’t have a clear idea of what the prize is that we are losing our lives over. The reasons to feel justified in quitting can make up a long list at times.
No enemy of Yahweh’s is worthy of our surrender, however. Even if they really are capable of taking us out for some reason, like the three Hebrew boys, we need to say, “Even if Yahweh doesn’t deliver us, we are not bowing to your stupid idol.”
Make a decision and be determined that you will never surrender to anyone but Yahweh. He is worthy of complete and constant surrender – forever. His enemies and ours deserve a fight to the death.
Be strong and very courageous, no matter whom or what you are facing. Yahweh Sabaoth, the Commander of the Armies of Heaven, is with you.
He is not planning to surrender, and no one is expecting Him to.
Your Life grows up from or is choked out by the Values that are at the Foundation level of what you allow in your space. The three Values that make up the Foundation of your life are IMPOSED, COSTLY, and FRUITFUL.
The FRUITFUL Values are those actions that are what you are ordained to be involved in by the Spirit of God. This is the place where you get to do ministry. If you want to have good health, exercise or eating good food fit here. Rest. Study & preparation for your calling. Spending time with people who love and build you up.
The IMPOSED Values are the demands placed on you by your responsibilities to people who are dependent on your for their provision and/or protection. Children or elderly parents. People you mentor or pray for. These are valuable to you because the relationship is valuable to you.
The Costly Values are bad habits like laziness and addictions. They are values because they demand resources that are valuable. If I am addicted to food or porn or drugs or Facebook, those addictions demand that I spend time and/or money and/or energy on them.
When I am following the leading of the Spirit in my schedule and budget and heart and mind, He leads me into a balance of the FRUITFUL and the IMPOSED – I serve the people who depend on me, but with limits on the resources they can consume. I sometimes say “no” to them. I deliberately clear space on the Foundation for the FRUITFUL Values. I am sure that their demands are given priority when distributing the resources. I pull up the weeds in the COSTLY space so that I can make room for FRUITFUL and IMPOSED Values.
Just creating cleared space at this Foundational level of my life is sufficient for growth in that area. Time spent with Jesus alone will bear Fruit. Time spent on the people I am responsible for will manifest Jesus to them and bless them. Unattended, uncontrolled, those demands will take more and more space. I have to be in the Spirit when I decide what to do with them. Stuff grows out of the Values without much effort. The effort is keeping the FRUITFUL space clear of the other Values.
The COSTLY demands must be continually fought and un-funded. I have to take the whole land for the Kingdom of God.
15 For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. 19 For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me. 21 So I discover this principle: when I want to do good, evil is with me. 22 For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God’s law. 23 But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin.
(from Holman Christian Standard Bible® © by Holman Bible Publishers.)
When we decide to change our behavior, but don’t quite change it, we usually fail in 3 ways: Forgetting that we changed our minds when the opportunity to change arises; Failing to act because we don’t see the opportunity until it has passed; Failing to maintain the mindset that the new action is best while we are deciding what to do when we encounter the opportunity.
We need to decide clearly WHY we have changed our minds and somehow remind ourselves what the reason is when we have the opportunity to get it right.
We sometimes can simply decide ahead of time when or where we will do the new thing – schedule it, and then our mood or energy level won’t talk us out of it. It becomes important.