Battle for the Vessel

 spiritual warfare

Man is a vessel created to show forth the glory of our Creator, by whose breath we live and move and have our being. Seems straightforward, right? So, why is there such evil permeated in man’s society? Surely this is not the outcome of God’s breath!

It isn’t. From the beginning of time, there has been a colossal battle waged between those who would see the manifestation of God’s glory in man, and those who would distort that manifestation. Our very first glimpse of this struggle is in the garden of Eden, where Eve is tantalized by the words, did God really say…? (Gen 3:1) Beware anything or anyone that prompts you to rationalize or question God’s word to you – that is an attempt to corrupt your destiny.

We were created to have perfect fellowship with our Father, but sin separates us from Him. Simply put, sin is a distortion or corruption of God’s perfect purpose.

Man’s nature can be corrupted by both internal and external forces. James 1:14-15 says “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions, and when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.” Most of us are familiar with the concept or principle of our internal desires causing us to fall into sin. This is why Jesus advised that we should deal ruthlessly with those things in our lives that entice us to sinful behavior (Matthew 5:29-30).

What most of us are not aware of is that there could be external factors influencing our behavior. These externals are agents of the devil, unclean spirits, principalities and powers, spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12). They sound like the stuff of legend, but are only too real. As believers, we would do well to educate ourselves on the insidious influence these unclean beings have on people and the world today.

Have you ever wondered why you did what you just did, or why you can’t seem to stop that thing you hate? When we encounter depravity and degradation in humanity that takes our breath away, we need to look beyond what is seen or can be comprehended by our senses. Conversely, the influence of these invisible beings may not be so obvious – that is why we must pursue knowledge, so that we may not be destroyed for lack of it (Hosea 4:6).

Be blessed,

R

Suggested resources: books and recorded teachings by Derek Prince.

 

Image Attribution:

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/306315212129553097

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Treasure in Earthen Vessels

 treasure in earthen vessels

There is a popular chorus in my home country, which contains the following lyrics:

All glory must be to the Lord

Only He is worthy of all praise

No man on earth should give glory to himself

All the glory must be (2x)

All glory must be to the Lord

We recall from last time that “Surrender is the ultimate act of worship, for it requires the understanding that God is our All, and without Him we are nothing.”

The point here is not to devalue humanity, but to recognize the true source of our value. God created man in His image (Gen 1:27), and in doing so, breathed into his nostrils the life that allowed man to become a living person (Gen 2:7).

Let’s absorb that truth for a moment. Without the breath of God, man is dust. Therefore, man’s personality, talents, achievements, his very essence can be defined as the treasure of God’s breath contained earthen (dust) vessels (2 Cor 4:7). Man is designed as a vessel to contain and project the treasure of God’s glory.

So, we give back to Him that which has belonged to Him from the very beginning – all glory must be to the Lord. Not because God is an egomaniac, but because this is the essence of man’s design; humanity cannot handle God’s glory without becoming corrupted, for that would be operating outside the blueprint of our design. Life is God’s gift to us, to know and walk with Him; we are not intended to experience life outside of God; any such experience is corruption.

Join me next time as we explore this concept further.

Be blessed!

R

Image Attribution:

https://yesterdaysprophecy.com/treasure-in-earthen-vessels/

A Study in Surrender

surrender

So, the Be Attitude of God’s Kingdom is Surrender. But what exactly does that mean? Is it the waving of a white flag? The raising of hands to signal defeat and despair? Or maybe the act of simply giving up because we know we can’t win and what’s the use in fighting?

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word Surrender has its roots in Old French and combines ‘Sur’ (which means over) and ‘Rendre’ (which means to give back). So, stripped down, Surrender can technically be defined as handing over back. This implies a return of some kind.

When the Pharisees and Herodians (who actually were bitter enemies, but united that one time in an act of common hatred) said to Jesus, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (Matthew 22:16-17). Jesus, fully understanding their trickery, said, “”Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money.” So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”” (Matthew 22:18-22).

If the coin belonged to Caesar because it had his image on it, then we who are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) belong to God. The problem of the Fall was that man took himself into his own hands when he decided to disregard God’s command. In surrendering, we give ourselves back to God, who has righteous claim to us.

Rather than a desperate last resort, Surrender is the ultimate act of worship, for it requires the understanding that God is our All, and without Him we are nothing. This is the definition of meekness or humility. By contrast, Pride insists on defining itself independently of God. It may sound benign, but pride is at the very root of sin itself, for it separates us from our Creator.   Is it any wonder then, that “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble”? (James 4:6).

Be blessed,

R

Image Attribution:

http://www.ltocz.com/surrender

The Be Attitude of God’s Kingdom

Beatitudes

Like most Christ followers (and pretty much anyone who goes to church with a fair amount of regularity), I knew about the Beatitudes. And even though I found them slightly confusing, I also knew that they represented a high bar or standard that I had to strive to attain as a good Christian.

Then, one day, the Bible teachers I listen to were talking about the Beatitudes at the same time. Intrigued, I decided to pay closer attention to what the Holy Spirit might be trying to teach me about these (what I considered) somewhat vague golden Christian standard principles found in Matthew 5:3-10.

Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Interpretation: Blessed are those who realize that without God, they are nothing; He is our All in All. This understanding is what prompts us to accept Christ as our Savior and enter His kingdom.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Interpretation: The only thing that causes sorrow in God’s Kingdom is sin or separation from our Father. We are blessed when we mourn our sin and turn to God, who is ever ready to comfort and welcome us back into His fold.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Interpretation: Blessed are those who humble themselves before God, for they shall receive the inheritance of God’s favored.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Interpretation: Blessed are those who hunger for God, who makes us righteous, for He will come and fill us with His Holy Spirit.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Interpretation: Blessed are those who extend the same mercy God has shown us, for it keeps us in the center of His mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Interpretation: Blessed are those who never fail to confess their sin, for they shall be cleaned from all unrighteousness and stand before God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall see God. Interpretation: Blessed are those who follow Jesus’ example to bring peace between God and His creation (no matter the cost), for they are truly God’s children.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Interpretation: Blessed are those who suffer for God’s sake, for they will be received into His kingdom.

Paying attention did bring me some additional clarity into these principles. But it was something one of the teachers said that opened a burst of light in my understanding. He said, these beatitudes are not about what you can or cannot do; they represent what God is doing in and through you.

Philippians 2:13 says it is God who works in us both to will and to do His good pleasure. Only God can bring a soul to repentance, and only God can stir us up to show mercy, work for peace and suffer for His Name.

So, those high and mighty golden standards? All I have to do is let go and let God have His way in me. Not the easiest thing, I agree. But I think easier to focus on than all those golden principles.

The Be Attitude of God’s Kingdom is Surrender.

Be blessed,

R

 

Image Attribution:

http://easter.org/wordpress/?page_id=5232

The Heart of the Matter

The-Old-Testament-vs.-the-New-Testament-590x295

I love the Old Testament. In it, the Red Sea parted (Exodus 14), walls came tumbling down (Joshua 5-6), the Sun and Moon stood still (Joshua 10) and a giant was slain (1 Samuel 17). Still in its pages, we see fire falling from heaven (1 Kings 18) and men saved from a burning furnace (Daniel 3). What’s not to love? It’s all so much larger than life!!

Yet, while the Old Testament contains thrilling accounts of divine intervention, the New Testament explodes with a new revelation. Jesus’ appearance on the scene turned life upside down as he challenged long held beliefs/traditions and demonstrated a new way of life. Even His miracles served to underscore His overall message and mission. While religious leaders focused on behavior and keeping up appearances, Jesus delved into the heart of the matter. For, as Samuel was told centuries before, “man looks at the outward appearance, but [God] looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7).

In Matthew 15:20, Jesus astonished his listeners by declaring the ceremonial washing of hands unnecessary. After all, the things that we put into our bodies tend to come out as waste. Instead, he urged the disciples to focus on the things which proceed from the heart – words, evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, slander – as these have the power to defile a man (Matthew 15:17-19).

By human nature, the heart abounds in deceit and desperate wickedness (Jeremiah 17:9). But through the Holy Spirit it overflows with, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). How do we get from one state of heart to the other? Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount.

Join me next for a walk through the Beatitudes.

Be blessed,

R

Image Attribution:

http://www.projectinspired.com/a-closer-look-at-the-old-testament-vs-the-new-testament/

When Jesus Came

When Jesus Came

Mary and Joseph were planning a wedding.

The shepherds were tending their sheep.

Herod was plotting his intrigues.

The Magi were seeking knowledge.

Augustus was assessing his empire.

Zechariah and Elizabeth were raising their son.

Everyday life was happening when the Divine intersected humanity. Aside from the announcement to the shepherds on a lonely hill, Jesus made a quiet entry into the world. For most, life continued as normal; for a few, life was never the same again.

Those few positioned themselves to participate in heaven’s plan of salvation for all mankind. Mary and Joseph became the Savior’s earthly parents. Why were they chosen? Only God can say. But consider how YOU would have reacted in either one of their shoes.

The wise men followed the Star and God’s instructions to come face to face with the Son of Man. How did they know that the Star was anything special? How did they manage to hear God speak? We don’t know. But Jeremiah 29:12-13 says “Then you will call upon Me and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Zechariah and Elizabeth conceived a child destined to issue the clarion call for Jesus. Considering Zechariah’s initial doubts, what made this family the right choice to herald the coming of the King? Even they didn’t understand. But despite the stigma of barrenness that they had to bear, Luke 1:6 says “Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations.”

If Jesus were to come today, would you play a part in His Master plan? God knows all things. But how would you answer the following?

  • Where do you stand in the grand scheme of life today?
  • How do you respond to God in your circumstances?
  • What does your heart seek?

 Be blessed,

R

Image Attribution:

http://thekingiscoming.com/when-jesus-came/

El Roi – The God Who Sees

She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” (Genesis 16:13).

Speaking with a friend about some of the recent challenges she’d faced, the rawness of her pain and frustration tore at me. I prayed for the grace to give her comfort and the words spoken by Hagar in the wilderness flooded into my mind. “God never wastes a shed tear,” I responded. “He is the God who sees.”

I could just imagine the servant’s emotions as she fled from her envious mistress. Hagar hadn’t helped the situation by flaunting her ability to conceive over Sarah, but the treatment she received in return was harsh and unyielding. Terrified, she fled into the desert pregnant, alone and very far from her known home in Egypt (Genesis 16:4-6). Most likely contemplating death there, she instead encountered a messenger from God who spoke words of encouragement, guidance and healing to her hurting soul.

We don’t know if Hagar had embraced the faith of her masters before that point. But the experience was so powerful, she declared a new name for the One who saw and met her in her pain (Genesis 16:13).

Many of us have had to struggle with gut wrenching pain or sadness. At such times, it may seem that God is far away and uncaring. But nothing could be further from the truth. It is in those experiences that God is closer than ever before. Without Him carrying us through, we never would make it out whole. Rather than close our hearts, we need to be still and open to what God is saying. For anyone currently in such a season, I pray that His words of healing and restoration will wash over you and bring you out stronger than ever before.

Be blessed,

R

DEEPER: Read Luke 7:38-50 for the experience of another woman who felt seen and touched by Jesus.

 

Image Attribution:

https://jarrodcooper.net/2014/06/18/the-god-who-sees-me/