After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived unexpectedly in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”
(Matthew 2:1-2 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
Israel was so unaware of the times and the intentions of Yahweh when Jesus was born that they didn’t know He had arrived until aliens from another nation came and told them. When He had matured and was about to begin His work in the nation of Israel, they again needed to be informed. This time, it was the last prophet that spoke to them in the line of “the prophets of Israel”: John, son of Zechariah.
When John the Baptist introduced Jesus, he said that He was the One Who would take away the people’s sin. When the magi introduced Him, it was as a King Who was worthy of worship.
Until we have received Him as both, we have not yet received Him for Who He is.
Our future includes the hope that when our flesh dies, we will be done with the earth and transition to life in heaven. Generally, that picture resembles in our minds the same thing as when we look at a future that includes retiring from work and taking a break to enjoy our final days.
If our work is dislocated from our main purpose in the earth, there is a weariness that longs for the end and for rest. Jesus told people once that if they are weary that way, He has a better plan for their labor: to take His instructions about what to do and His strength for getting it done.
In his book, “Secrets of the Most Holy Place, Vol 2” (©2004: Don Nori; Destiny Image Publishers), Don Nori suggested that there is a big difference between our destination and our destiny. Our destination is heaven. Our destiny, though, is what purposes we have in the earth that affect eternity.
Much of the Church is more focused on retirement than on doing an effective job of our assignments. Most of the songs we have written are pitiful whining like “Precious Lord,” longing for the end of the day rather than for the privilege of bringing the Harvest to the Lord of it.
We can do better!
When his son was in need of exorcism, a man brought him to the disciples of Jesus. They could not convince the demon to leave the boy. The man then took him to Jesus.
“How long has this been happening to him?” Jesus asked his father.
“From childhood,” he said. “And many times it has thrown him into fire or water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
Then Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ Everything is possible to the one who believes.”
Immediately the father of the boy cried out, “I do believe! Help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:21-24 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
Lord, please set us free from unbelief to fullness of faith, so that everything will become possible to us!
Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.
This is how we know that we remain in Him and He in us: He has given to us from His Spirit. And we have seen and we testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God—God remains in him and he in God. And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.
In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; for we are as He is in this world. There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because He first loved us.
(1 John 4:7-19 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
In chapter 12 of Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome, Paul gave much good advice on what it is like to live the life of a believer. In verse 12, he wrote, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (English Standard Version)
Joy, patience, faith. Let your joy be fastened to what you are hoping for; don’t let the absence of the hoped for developments be what you are focusing on. Be patient when circumstances are not just the absence of pleasantries, but the presence of difficulties. Focus on the presence of the Lord. Never stop praying for the solutions you need. Expect to be answered.
Trust His love above everything else.
Is your mind more like a landfill, or a garden?
Landfills are just dumping ground for whatever comes along. They are places where the things of yesterday may or may not break down. Things there rot and breed flies.
A garden converts the waste from the past that is mixed in it into fertilizer, and uses it to produce fruit in the future. It reduces the past to an investment in the future that is no longer recognizable as its former identity.
What are you allowing to enter your mind? What are you meditating on? The past, or the future?
How do you allow the past to influence your thoughts: as raw material for transformation, or as a layer of rubbish that takes up space and stinks?
Set your minds on things that are close to the throne of God. (Colossians 3:2)
Jesus is, by some mystery, present with us when we are where we should be. When His disciples asked Him for the sign of His coming and the end of the age, He gave them a long answer (Matthew 24&25). Included, in 25:31-46, is His prophetic description of His judgement of the nations. He will judge them with regard to whether they fed Him, clothed Him, and the rest. Part of that mystery is that no one knew when they were with Him, even when they did what they should have done: “When did that happen?”
Luke wrote in his record of Jesus that, after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to two disciples on their way to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-31). They did not know it was Him, though, until He opened their eyes to know it.
It seems that a good prayer to pray might be, “Lord, open our eyes so that we can know our times of being in your presence, and experience all there is to experience in those times.”
The “promises of God” include miracles, maturity both individually and of the whole church, revelation for leadership by the Spirit, freedom from the power of sin, and much more.
The giants of cancer, church splits and fights, confusion and misguidance, addictions, (and more) that are currently squatting in and trying to occupy the place of Yahweh’s promises to us are no match for our God and His ability to empower us and lead us. We must be diligent not to fail the way Israel did when they heard from the majority of their advisors, “…they are stronger than we are!” (Numbers 13:31).
They failed to become who Yahweh said they were because they feared walking in faith. Their enemies may have been greater than them, but they could not be greater than Yahweh, Who told them He would fight for them, and cause them to take the land. Walking in faith is scary, but surrendering to anyone but Yahweh is worse!
A stream passes through a forest. A couple are carrying a canoe through the forest with great difficulty until they find the stream. Then, they are liberated by the stream from the difficulties of the forest. If they become liberated from the banks of the stream, or the direction of the stream, they have lost their freedom from the forest.
A train without tracks limiting its path has no freedom to travel.
Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering, in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
(Romans 8:1-4 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
Enthusiasm literally means being filled by or possessed by a god. (EN= in; THUS=theos)
Enthusiastic new believers lead more people to commitment to Jesus than seasoned evangelists do. Enthusiastic salesmen sell more products than salesmen who know more about the product and the customers by better education in those areas. Puritans made the term enthusiastic an insult because they didn’t believe anyone could receive revelation, so they mocked the idea that someone was filled.
Enthusiasm is what Paul was describing in Philippians 2:12-13:
So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to will and to act for His good purpose.