Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Fruit Of Death

There is a spiritual principle that permeates the natural and spiritual realm. It states that life comes out of death. Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." (John 12:24) The plant cannot come forth to bear its fruit until the seed first dies and is buried in the ground. Out of this death (so to speak) comes forth the new life of the plant, hence fruit.

The very resurrection power that brought Jesus up from the grave is the power that gives eternal life to you and me. But Jesus first had to lay down His own life, and then be raised to life in order to make resurrection life available to us. We must die to our old life in order for the life of Jesus to bring eternal life to us! Thank God, the work of the cross is finished, and we are alive in Jesus Christ!

The Apostle Paul said that we are, "...always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body." (2 Corinthians 4:10) This is the aspect of death producing life I want to discuss in this post. This is the application of death producing life that is the most lacking in the body of Christ today. Paul further said, "For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death works in us, but life in you." (2 Corinthians 4:11-12) What an amazing concept! We die, so others can live. We allow death to work in us, so the life of Jesus can work in others. This is a crucial principle that seems to be ignored in the body of Christ today.

So what does this death working in the believer look like? I think it is quite interesting. Here's how Paul describes it. "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed." We're not crushed, because the life of Jesus is exuding from us impacting others. Paul continues, "We are perplexed, but not despairing. We're not despairing, because the life of Jesus is flowing from us, infecting others. "We are persecuted, but not forsaken." We're not forsaken, because Jesus said, "I will never leave nor forsake you". Paul also said, "We are struck down, but not destroyed." We're not destroyed, because the life of Jesus is constantly imparted to change the lives of others. How can such a yielded vessel ever be destroyed when it is a conduit for the life of Jesus flowing to others? It can't!

According to Paul, we die for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus would be manifested in our mortal flesh. It's all about dying for His sake, so that His life is manifested in us, right here on planet earth!

We must live the crucified life in order to manifest the life of Jesus in our lives, and to others. The crucified life starts by surrendering one's entire life to Jesus. It continues with a daily commitment to serve Him at all costs. As we lay our lives before Him, His life is manifested in us, not simply for our benefit, but for the benefit of others. This is a crucial truth we followers of Jesus must understand. It is less about us, and even more about others. Why? Because Jesus didn't die just for you (or me). He also died for every human being that has ever lived, is living, or will live on this planet of ours.

Jesus died and rose so that eternal life would be manifested in His own body. Again, that same eternal life is manifested in our own body as we lay down our lives for Him, and for others. It is His life (not ours) that draws others to Him through us.

I will close with some key verses that substantiate this incredible spiritual principle.

(Galatians 2:20), "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."

(Philippians 2:3-4), "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others."

(1 Corinthians 15:31), "I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily."

(Romans 8:36), "Just as it is written, "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED."

(2 Corinthians 4:12), "So death works in us, but life in you."

Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Significance of Pentecost - 5

In this session I begin looking at the first 4 gifts of the Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12. Yes, yes, yes!! These manifestation are for today, and for those born again believers who are filled with, and yielded to the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Things Will Be Changing For Me

If there is anything I've learned from the challenges of 2020 thus far, it is that I need to be encouraging, not divisive! Our nation is divided over almost every single thing...right down the middle! "Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing." (1 Thessalonians 5:11) Isn't it interesting that Paul urges the folks in Thessalonica to do the right thing, even though he acknowledges that they ARE doing the right thing? That's how important encouraging and building up each other are. Encouragement and building up folks bring about Godly peace that protects the unity of the Spirit. 

I've heard the old saying for most of my life, "We can agree to disagree". What this really says is, "I understand not everyone will agree with my point, and my opinion, and that's Ok." It also says, "I understand I will not always agree with everyone's point, and their opinion, and that too is Ok." Through social media, (the platform upon which we've learned to express our opinions quite freely and emphatically - with or without adequate fact checking), we have elevated the disagreement factor to all-time highs. The factor is so high it is separating close friends, even family! 

We've had way too many harsh words launched from our mouths lately. Harsh words reap strife and stirs up anger. Gentle answers literally turn away wrath and reap peace. "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Proverbs 15:1) Imagine how many debates and hair splitting battles could have been avoided (and unity protected) if we'd just given a gentle answer. A gentle answer comes from a heart that understands people are more important than my  personal opinion. A harsh word is more concerned with personal opinion being imposed upon someone else. You know, "I'm right. You are wrong!" However, the greatest WRONG is not an opposing opinion, but the truth that division is being propagated, not eliminated. 

Division has always been the enemy of unity, even in the church. Jesus said, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls." (Luke 11:17) May Jesus open our eyes to the reality that division kills! It kills families. It kills relationships. It destroys churches. It separates intimate friends, and it destroys entire nations.

A
ccording to the Apostle Paul, we Christians are to walk in a manner worthy of the call on our lives. We are to walk in humility and gentleness. We are to walk with patience, tolerating each other in the love of God. Paul said we must be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit. How? Through the BOND of peace. (See Ephesians 4:1-3) The Holy Spirit brings the unity, and always will. But our responsibility as Christians is to make peace in potentially volatile situations. Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (Matthew 5:9) 


Here is something we must learn if we are to be peacemakers and protectors of the Spirit of unity. "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others." (Philippians 2:3-4) If we (by the Holy Spirit), are to regard one another as more important than ourselves, this includes other's opinions also. No, we don't have to agree on everything with everyone. But if we esteem them higher than ourselves, we should also be committed to protecting the unity Jesus has established between us. No opinion, no debate, no disagreement, and no argument is more important that.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Which Jesus Are You Serving?

Recently I heard someone on an online live broadcast say something like, "Wouldn't Jesus look silly going around with a surgical mask on!" That struck me so I posted this question on my Facebook page, "Would Jesus wear a mask?" Of course I meant a surgical mask when I posted the question. It seemed that everyone who responded knew the type of mask I was referring to. The response was pretty good. I must say, however, I was a bit astounded at some of the content!

Astounded? Why? Because of the range of the content...from an absolute "No" to "Jesus would wear a mask (even though He didn't need one) in order to encourage others to wear them. Actually I didn't think any of the responses were wrong or evil, but what astounded me was the difference of perspective folks have on Jesus. Perspective means a lot, because it determines which Jesus you serve. Your perspective of Jesus should be determined by the purity of God's Word, not the news, not by folks opinion, but again, by the Word of God.

If you commit to being a student/disciple of Jesus, then you commit to studying and learning God's Word. The more you learn, know, and apply God's Word in your life, the more you know and understand the fullness of who Jesus is. Yes, Jesus is Savior, thank God. But He is also Lord, Deliverer, Protector, Provider, and Healer! Actually He is much more than that!

I personally don't think Jesus would wear a surgical mask if they would've had them. I believe the encouragement from Jesus would go something like, "Trust me!" Or, "Follow me, and let me make you...." Or, "I so desire to heal you so let me touch you!" Listen to this: "When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed." (Mark 8:1-3) Notice Jesus didn't draw back (because the man was a leper) and shout from a safe distance, "I am willing, be healed". He was setting a precedent for those who would follow Him throughout the ages. Later He spoke about you and me just before He ascended back to the Father: "...they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." (Mark 16:18) Also see (John 14:12).

 I truly don't want to be even remotely offensive as I ask this, but is the Jesus you serve the one who would be more concerned with encouraging people to keep a safe distance from the leper by His own example?  Or is He the One who would be more concerned with demonstrating that you and I have power over not only sin, but physical sickness in His name? When Jesus healed the leper, He went against all practical protocol. He didn't keep a safe distance. I am quite sure some people understandably panicked. I'm sure some screamed "leper, leper!", and backed away to a supposedly safe distance. But not Jesus. He wasn't concerned about getting leprosy. Instead, He was driven to impart the gift of healing and restoration to a man who had suffered immensely for a long, long time; a man who was an outcast due to the disease he had. Remember, Jesus still heals today through yielded, trusting vessels.

Jesus established the precedent for you and me two thousand years ago. This post is in no way an attempt to down the medical profession and the incredible medical technology available to us today. But we must always remember that the medical experts are not Jesus. And in a time when politics has infiltrated even the medical world, Jesus is still (and will forever be) the Great Physician. The Jesus I serve is the One who defied all protocol and logic with the power that is much higher, and infinitely supplied from heaven! This is the Jesus who has conquered death, hell, and the grave, through whom we have been made more than conquerors!

Note: This post asks the question "Would Jesus Wear A Mask?". I am not asking you if you would wear a mask.