Sunday, August 17, 2014

Living a Full life

I Peter 3:10 “People who want to live a full life and enjoy good days
must keep their tongues from saying evil things,
and their lips from speaking deceitful things.
11 They must turn away from evil and do good.
They must seek peace and pursue it.
12 The Lord’s eyes are on those who do what he approves.
His ears hear their prayer.
The Lord confronts those who do evil.”

People search the ends of the world to try and find happiness. Everyone desires to live a long full life and enjoy each day with family and friends. Scripture tells us that life is like a vapor of smoke. It is here one moment and gone the next. Apostle Peter, through the guidance of Holy Spirit, gives us a roadmap on how to live a full life in Christ. Below is the breakdown.
1. Keep your tongue from saying evil: Psalms 34:13 says " Keep your tongue from saying evil things and your lips from speaking deceitful things." There is power in words. God spoke, using words, the universe into existence. The things we say , good or bad, has weight. A happy full life includes positive and constructive speech.  The bible is very clear about believers speaking only words which life up and build.  Proverbs 21:23 says " Whoever guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble."  I am not perfect with this truth yet. Sometimes my mouth can out run my legs. However, one thing I have tried to practice when I am upset or feeling offended is silence. I just don't talk. My wife hates this practice, but it ensures that I will not say words which I will regret later. We should all practice silence at times and not excuse our corrupt speech. Words are powerful especially words empowered by anger. Words are meant to be used to build foundations within relationships. They are meant to bring peace in the midst of a storm. They are meant to bring healing and comfort. They are also meant to be used to correct and direct. Live a full life by choosing the words you speak carefully. 
2. Turn away from Evil and do good: People who allow their lives to be consume with evil will die by that evil. People who are thieves, murderers, extortioners, and other evil consumptions typically die early in life. There is an old Latin saying." Vive gladio peri gladio.", which means " Live by the sword, die by the sword." This phrase actually is a biblical reference. Jesus spoke it to the disciples while He was being arrested in the Garden. Matthew 26: 52 " Then Jesus said to him, " Put your sword away! All who use a sword will be killed by a sword." Turning away from evil and doing good is a basic principle from Jesus' teachings. Regardless of how ruthless the world may be; we are called to do good. Doing good gives the wielder the power to live a full life. 
3. Seek Peace and run after it: In a world filled with arrogant and self-indulgent people, it is almost impossible to obtain peace. However, scripture is very clear. We are to seek peace and continue to pursue it regardless if the earthquake of evil is surrounding us. Hebrews 12:14 says," Try to live peacefully with everyone, and try to live holy lives, because if you don't you will not see the Lord."  There is a reason for the pursuit of peace. Peace from the believer stills the turbulent waters of life. Peace draws others from turmoil to the drinking hole of Christ. 
4.  Being mindful of the Lord's eyes: The Lord continually watches over us. His eyes never miss one second. One blink from the Lord captures a thousand years' worth of human existence. Many fight to seek approval from others but the only approval we need is from the Lord who is watching over us. He waits patiently to see our actions of righteousness. He waits to see if we will arise and do good on his behalf. The bible says in II Chronicles 16:9 " The Lord's eyes scan the whole world to find those whose hearts are committed to him and to strengthen them...." Living a long life means having God's approval. What does the Living God see in you each and every day? Is it something which would be pleasing or displeasing to His eyes? 
5. Being mindful of the Lord's ears: The Lord hears the prayers of the righteous and expels the prayers from the wicked. Living a full life comes from knowing our Lord through spiritual intimacy. Spiritual intimacy comes through prayer and speech to our Lord. His promise to us is that He will hear our prayers. Psalms 34: 15 says, " The Lord's eyes are on  righteous people. His ears hear their cry for help." There is nothing more refreshing than knowing there is someone who hears your cries. Most people in your life might never know about your personal struggles, but there is a Savior who desires to hear your prayers. 
6. Let the Lord confront your evil: Living a full life means allowing the Lord to confront the evil within. It means allowing the greatest housekeeper in the world to clean your house. The Lord confronts evil not to embarrass us but to save us. Evil or sin leads to death. It is the true cancer for mankind. The only cure comes from a caring and confronting Lord. Never be afraid to admit your sin or evil to the Lord. Confession can be transforming. Those who are humble will not have any problems when Holy Spirit confronts the sin within. Psalms 34:18 " The Lord is near to those whose hearts are humble. He saves those whose spirits are crushed." Allow the Lord to crush out those things in your life which are not part of His righteous living. 
Living a full life only comes through Christ. Believers should live long and productive lives. I know some believers have died early in life(Our understanding of life). Regardless of when we are commissioned to leave this world, we should live our lives with the fullness in Christ. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The coming fire

Hebrews 6:7-8 GW

God blesses the earth. So rain often falls on it, and it produces useful crops for farmers.  However, if the earth produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

In the coming days, there will be a fire from the Lord which will burn throughout the earth. Those areas of unrighteousness which have refused to submit to the glory of God will indeed face the fire of God. The bible says judgement comes first to the house of God. Will the church be in right standing with our God? More importantly will I be found in right standing for the Lord?  The fire of the Lord will come whether we are ready or not. We will be judged by our actions through or through not by our faithfulness in the Lord. What will the Lord find in us? What will be the outcome? Paul, the Apostle, gives us an indication of the fire we shall endure.

1 Corinthians 3:10-15 GW

As a skilled and experienced builder, I used the gift  that God gave me to lay the foundation ⌊for that building⌋. However, someone else is building on it. Each person must be careful how he builds on it.  After all, no one can lay any other foundation than the one that is already laid, and that foundation is Jesus Christ.  People may build on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw.  The day will make what each one does clearly visible because fire will reveal it. That fire will determine what kind of work each person has done.  If what a person has built survives, he will receive a reward.  If his work is burned up, he will suffer ⌊the loss⌋. However, he will be saved, though it will be like going through a fire.

The fire is the judgement and through judgement our ranking in God will be determined.  If we have built our own ministry without the Lord then that will be burned up in the fire. Denominations, man-made orginzations,  will be placed through the fire and will be burnt to a crisp. The things they did, which were through Christ, will remain and become precious stones. Everthing else will be like wood, hey, and stuble and burn like a wig on fire.

The good thing about the fire of God is that it is eternal and on going. This means His fire is working today. If embraced can work through us in the here and now. His fire can develop and correct our humanistic ambitions.  It can teach us to resist the worldly trinkets and allow us to run deeper to Him. Oh that we may run deeper to Him in these last days!  May the fire of God burn inside of us and consume us like the burning bush. The judgement fire of Christ can't consume something that is already consumed by the holy fire of God. It can only add to it. The key is to live through the fire of God now. We must embrace his fire in the now and all will be in His will on the day of judgement. Embrace the fire of the Lord today!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Last Days Message

The world started the disposition of being in the last days on the day of Pentecost some 1,900 years ago. We have been under the umbrella of the last days for quit some time now, and we are patiently waiting for the final day of the last days.       ( Last Day of the Last Days.) The Apostle Peter declared this truth in the book of Acts. He referred to the prophecy from the book of Joel and declared this prophecy's starting point.

Acts 2:14 Then Peter stood up with the eleven apostles. In a loud voice he said to them, “Men of Judea and everyone living in Jerusalem! You must understand this, so pay attention to what I say. 15 These men are not drunk as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning. 16 Rather, this is what the prophet Joel spoke about:
17 ‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour my Spirit on everyone.
Your sons and daughters will speak what God has revealed.
Your young men will see visions.
Your old men will dream dreams.

Since we are undeniably in the Last Days, then what is the mission for the believers? What is the message we should be preaching and teaching? What should believers do until the Lord's return? We have heard it several times that we should preach the gospel to all around the world. This part is true but what else is there? What did the Apostles speak about? What was their main focus? What are we doing today that is superficial and what has taken the back seat?

One of my favorite passages is found in Acts 2:42-47. It simply declares what the church was doing after Jesus Ascension.

 Acts 2: 42 The disciples were devoted to the teachings of the apostles, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.43 A feeling of fear came over everyone as many amazing things and miraculous signs happened through the apostles.44 All the believers kept meeting together, and they shared everything with each other. 45 From time to time, they sold their property and other possessions and distributed the money to anyone who needed it. 46 The believers had a single purpose and went to the temple every day. They were joyful and humble as they ate at each other’s homes and shared their food. 47 At the same time, they praised God and had the good will of all the people. Every day the Lord saved people, and they were added to the group.

What were the teachings that all the disciples of Christ were devoted too? Some of the apostles wrote letters to the churches of the time and these letters were used to have a documented account of Jesus' teachings and the teachings of Holy Spirit. The Apostles listened to Holy Spirit to ensure the message was straight from the Lord and not man-made jargon. They had a Last Days message which was consistent across the first century church. Below is a list.

The Last Days Message:

1. The Birth, Life, Death, Resurrection, and Return of Christ
2. The baptism of water and from Holy Spirit
3. The purpose of the church.
4. Helping each other and pouring into each other's lives.
5. Preached against sin and unrighteousness
6. Preached about eternal judgement
7. Preached about the resurrection of the church.
8. Eternity with God.

There are more you can add to this list and break down  into sub-categories. I tried to give an overview of the main doctrines. Regardless, the body of Christ should be about preaching and teaching these doctrines in these last Days. We should understand them in order to articulate the teachings to others.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Jesus' Return

What if I told you that Jesus was returning sometime this year? What if I gave you 2014 reasons why Jesus will return this year? The Truth of the matter is that I can't. Many people have tried to predict our Savior's imminent return but have overwhelmingly failed. Scripture is very clear that no man will know the hour or day of Christ's return. Read the scripture below spoken by Jesus himself.

Matthew 24:33-39  In the same way, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the door.  (34)  "I can guarantee this truth: This generation will not disappear until all these things take place.  (35)  The earth and the heavens will disappear, but my words will never disappear.  (36)  "No one knows when that day or hour will come. Even the angels in heaven and the Son don't know. Only the Father knows.  (37)  "When the Son of Man comes again, it will be exactly like the days of Noah.  (38)  In the days before the flood, people were eating, drinking, and getting married until the day that Noah went into the ship.  (39)  They were not aware of what was happening until the flood came and swept all of them away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man comes again.

The scripture says no one knows the day or hour. The Greek word for day is Hemera which means a whole 24 hours. The Greek word for hour is Hora which means hour or time. It can also mean a season like spring or summer. We can't know the Day or the season what about the possible month or festival which could point to Jesus' return?

Jesus died and rose again around 30 to 35 A.D. ( The exact dates are disputed.) If there is some truth to the Apostle Peter's comment about a day to the Lord is like a thousand years and the theory of the 7th day rest is true, then Christ could very well return sometime in the years of 2030 through 2035 A.D. The theory of the 7th day rest talks about God resting all on the 7th day in regards to stopping the sin in the world and Jesus returning to set up His kingdom. 

If this theory turns out to be true then we have less than 20 years before the complete return of Christ. If this is true, then what will you be doing? What are you plans and goals in Christ? We don't know the 24 hour or day of His return. We don't know the exact season of His return, but can we know the approximate year? It appears to be feasible, but no one can truly say it is fact. The only fact, we believers have, is that Christ is returning,the church will be resurrected, and Jesus will reign and rule this planet for a 1,000 years. 

Can we know the month or months of His returning? There is another theory about the Jewish festivals. God gave the festivals or feasts to the Jews during the time of Moses. Each festival represents something that Christ fulfilled when He walked the Earth the first time. There were 7 Jewish Festivals or feasts laid out in the book of Leviticus chapters 23-25. Below I will  submit a list of what they were and how each represented Jesus' actions or future actions and how a few have not been fulfilled yet. 

7 Jewish Feasts and Jesus' Fulfillment of them.

1.  The Passover: This feast was celebrated because God saved Israel from Egypt's tyranny and spared them the deaths of their firstborns. The feast was marked with a slaughter of a Lamb. Jesus fulfilled this prophetic feast by being slaughtered for all of mankind on the cross.
2.  Feast of Unleavened Bread:   Leaven represented Sin. This feast was used to get the Jews to live holy lives and walk in holiness. They had to eat unleavened bread during this time to symbolize this holy walk. Jesus came and declared that He is the Bread of Life and that true holiness now comes through knowing Him and being known by Him.
3. Feast of First Fruits: The Israelites would come and give their first fruits from their gardens or livestock to the living God. It was a time of giving up all to the Lord and celebrating His promises. Jesus fulfilled this Feast by being the First Fruita of the resurrection. Because He lives again, now we all are promised to live again!
4. Pentecost: This feast was 50 days after the First Fruits festival.  It marked the summer harvest and was celebrated by the baking of two breads together. Jesus fulfilled this festival by giving us the Holy Spirit who in turn brought the church together. The church consist of Jew and Gentile and was launched into the world during this time. We are currently under the Pentecost orders given to us by Jesus and Holy Spirit. We must keep following those orders until His return. Simply those orders are to " Go " into all the world.

The next three feast have not been fulfilled yet through Christ. If we are to believe this theory then we are waiting for the last three to come to past. All three of these happen within the Months of September through October. Could Christ return in one of these months? No one knows the day or the season. What about the possible year and the month or months?

5. The Feast of Trumpets:This feast was used to remind the people of Israel that their redemption was through God. Jesus is our redemption and it is believed that during this festival the Church will be resurrected. Paul the apostle talks about the last trumpet sounding. Jesus talked about the sounding of the trumpets as well. The bible seems to declare that the world will hear these trumpet blasts, then a disappearance of many.
6. The Day of Atonement: During this feast, two goats were taken. One goat was sacrificed for the sins of Israel. The other goat was symbolically given the sins of the nation and expelled into the wilderness or desert.  Jesus will come and complete our atonement by reigning and ruling for 1,000 years. Satan, the father or creator of sin, will be banished into the abyss for a 1,000 years. He will then be released, conquered forever, and thrown into the Lake of Fire with every devil and human being who has denied the promises of God.
7. The Feast of Tabernacles: This was celebrated with people building booths or small tabernacles. They were reminded during this festival when God brought them out of Egypt and lived in the middle of their camp for 40 years in the Tabernacle that Moses was commissioned to set up. Jesus will fulfill this feast after the 1,000 year reign. All will be turned over to the Father, and the world will see the Kingdom of God. We will come and have fellowship with our Lord. His kingdom will be in the center of the planet. The bible talks about Super highways which will bring us there. All will be restored during this time.

I know some of this might seem way out in left field or from a Scifi movie, but it is the word of God. I can't say for certain that the Theories of Seven Days or the Festivals are truly fact, but I can say that I believe they are close to telling us when our Lord will return. The key is to be ready regardless. The Apostles preached on the return of Christ in their day. They actually believed Jesus would return in their life time. They would encourage the Body of Christ to be ready no matter what. The Signs were out there just like they are for us today. The Birth pangs have started; it is just a matter of time before we shall see Him. Our goal, our current purpose, is to be like the 5 virgins who were ready to meet their groom. ( Matthew 25) We must have our oil ready for the lamps because the midnight journey could be very soon. We must continue to follow the Pentecost commission and go into all the world. Will our Lord return finding us waiting or doing?