Will The Church Please Stand Up!

As I go through Facebook statuses this morning, there is a message developing. It began with this thought: the church is suppose to change you, you are not suppose to change the church. Then, by the Spirit’s prompting, I saw just how wrong this statement is.

First, let’s rightly establish what a church is. Here in America, we’ve come to believe that the church is the meeting house that devout folks go each week. Well, if the church is a building, then that building certainly has no power to change a human life.
There are so many people who begin attending a place of worship and after several months have a list of what they want to change about the way it is operated. They want to change how services are conducted, what songs are led, what the pastor preaches on, etc. How is it possible for Acts 2:1-4 to be accomplished and for Acts 2:41 to occur if we who are in the building don’t come together in prayer with one goal of heart? There maybe some things that should change in our places of worship — but maybe the biggest change should be in US.

So, what is the church if it isn’t a building? According to my concordance the Church is “the called out ones,”, and the term is applied to the body (group) of Believers (1 Cor. 12:27,28), the Body of Christ (Eph. 1:22,23) — and it tells me that we are ONE body (1 Cor. 12:18-24).
So, if people who have been reconciled to God through faith in Jesus are really the ones who ARE the church, and if Christ is the Head of the church, His body, then it is only Christ who can transform us from who we once were into a people after God’s own heart.

When people who are not part of the body come into our services they see and hear things that are meant to edify the body. So, they don’t understand what they see and hear and they want to change things to make it more ‘user friendly’. Are we only edifying ourselves in our services or are we also speaking in a language that those outside the body can comprehend?
The way I read Acts 2 is the Body of Believers were gathered together in a house and they were all praying and believing for a common goal. Scriptures says that where 2 or 3 of you are gathered in My (Jesus) Name, there I am in the midst of you. So, while they were praying, the Spirit of God came and lighted on each one of them, and those in the house could see what was happening. This part was for their own edification. But, then something else happened. They began speaking in the languages of the people who lived in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. These folks were not well-schooled students, and they must have been fairly loud, because they began to draw a crowd. When the crowd heard the Good News message being spoken in their own languages, they were amazed. They didn’t know it, yet, but God had orchestrated this part for their salvation. And many that heard the Words of Life received the message with gladness and were added to the body of Christ that day.
I don’t believe those believers were shut up in a house, behind closed doors and drawn curtains. Nor do I believe the people outside actually walked into the house where the Believers were. I believe what began in that house, spilled out into street where thousands, who were gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast, heard the wondrous works of God. The kicker is that when Peter stood up among them and began to preach, it wasn’t a “feel good” message. No! In fact, the writer of Acts records that when the people who gathered heard Peter’s message they were cut to the quick and asked, “what must we do?” And Peter told them to “repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:37, 38
Romans 10:14-17 says, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!’ But they have not all obeyed the Gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘LORD, who has believed our report?’ So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

“There is a way which seems right to a person but in the end its ways are death.” Proverbs 14:12 “In other words, do not let yourselves be conformed to the standards of this world. Instead, keep letting yourselves be transformed by the renewing of your minds; so that you will know what God wants and will agree that what He wants is good, satisfying and able to succeed.” Romans 12:2

Do you ( I ) want change in our houses of worship? If so, then we must allow Christ, who is the Head of the body, change us. If we continue to try to change things to suit us or to draw others, we are going to continue to look and act more and more like the world we are sojourners in. However, if we allow Christ to transform us from the inside out, then as the Spirit of directs we can go outside the building with wondrous words of life for a lost and dying world. But let me leave you with this today: 1 Cor. 12: 31 – 13:1, “but earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.”

Can We PLEASE Begin To Look At It This Way?

Bad behavior, unlawful acts, criminal intent, and actions taken to obtain things that do not belong to you, or cause fear, intimidation, suffering, pain, loss, injury, or death SHOULD NOT be over-looked and/or mishandled because of race, ethnic origin, religion or creed. You can complicate this if you want, but that only adds to the problem. RESPECT YOURSELF. Carry yourself in a respectable manner, and show respect towards others.

Galatians 5:19-23 (CompleteJewishBible)
And it is perfectly evident what the old nature does. It expresses itself in sexual immorality, impurity and indecency; involvement with the occult and with drugs; in feuding, fighting, becoming jealous and getting angry; in selfish ambition, factionalism, intrigue and envy; in drunkenness, orgies and things like these. I warn you now as I have warned you before: those who do such things will have no share in the Kingdom of God!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, self control. Nothing in the {Law} Torah stands against such things.

1 Peter 3:13 – 17 CJB
For who will hurt you if you become zealots for what is good? But even if you do suffer for being righteous, you are blessed! Moreover, don’t fear what they fear or be disturbed, but treat the Messiah as holy, as Lord in your hearts; while remaining always ready to give a reasoned answer to anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you — yet with humility and fear, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are spoken against, those who abuse the good behavior flowing from your union with the Messiah may be put to shame. For if God has in fact willed that you should suffer, IT IS BETTER THAT YOU SUFFER FOR DOING WHAT IS GOOD THAN FOR DOING WHAT IS EVIL.

What “New” Thing is This?

Isaiah 52 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

52 Awake! Awake, Tziyon! Clothe yourself with your strength! Dress in your splendid garments,
Yerushalayim, the holy city! For the uncircumcised and the unclean will enter you no more.
Shake off the dust! Arise! Be enthroned, Yerushalayim! Loosen the chains on your neck,
captive daughter of Tziyon!
For thus says Adonai: “You were sold for nothing, and you will be redeemed without money.”
For thus says Adonai Elohim: “Long ago my people went down to Egypt to live there as aliens,
and Ashur oppressed them for no reason.
So now, what should I do here,” asks Adonai, “since my people were carried off for nothing?
Their oppressors are howling,” says Adonai, “and my name is always being insulted, daily.
Therefore my people will know my name; therefore on that day they will know that I, the one speaking — here I am!”

—————————————————————————————————————————–

     Jerusalem – Zion – is being promised by God that anyone who doesn’t claim the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob will not enter the Holy City anymore. Because of the verses to follow, I believe “uncircumcised” and “unclean” mean those hardened in heart and those who are not washed in the Word or His Blood.
Because of a drought, the children of Israel went to Egypt (Ashur) as guests, but were later enslaved without much fight or resistance — “sold for nothing”. They were not just physical slaves, but they had abandoned the God they knew for the more “sophisticated”, metropolitan, forward thinking, progressive, “I can become a god” way of thinking. Even after the mighty deliverance and Exodus (redeemed without money), they were still in chains of bondage to the deception of false gods.
**********But the day is coming when you (My People) will know MY Name, “because on that day they will know that I, the One speaking–here I AM.” {I AM Yahweh and I AM Emmanuel, God with us}. …so then I said, “Here I am! I am coming!” In the scroll of a book it is written about me. — Ps. 40: 8(7)**********

———————————————————————————————————————————-

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, proclaiming shalom, bringing good news of good things, announcing salvation and saying to Tziyon, “Your God is King!”
Listen! Your watchmen are raising their voices, shouting for joy together. For they will see, before their own eyes, Adonai returning to Tziyon.

———————————————————————————————————————————

     Oh! The beauty of the feet that walked on the mountains of that Holy place, bringing the Good News from His Father that we can be reconciled to God! That we can have peace with God! That we have salvation from our one true Adversary! That our God is King! Oh Zion, look! Your watchmen are shouting for joy! Look at Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:21-38)! Look at the people welcoming the True King to His rightful place with joy and with zeal! (Mt. 21, Mk. 11, Lk. 19:28-40, Jn. 12:12-54.) If they do not cry out with joy, the rocks will do it for them! Do you see the strength and might of the Obne who says, “Here I AM? He, the LORD, has bared His holy arm (and His back and His heart) in the sight of ALL nations. There is no one who will be able to say, “I did not see, no one told me or showed me” the salvation of our God, the King. There is no excuse, for He made a public display of His love for us — of the lengths He will go to for us.

———————————————————————————————————————————

Break out into joy! Sing together, you ruins of Yerushalayim! For Adonai has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Yerushalayim!

10 Adonai has bared his holy arm in the sight of every nation, and all the ends of the earth will see
the salvation of our God.
11 Leave! Leave! Get out of there! Don’t touch anything unclean! Get out from inside it, and be clean,
you who carry Adonai’s temple equipment.

12 You need not leave in haste,
you do not have to flee; for Adonai will go ahead of you,
and the God of Isra’el will also be behind you.

13 “See how my servant will succeed! He will be raised up, exalted, highly honored!
14 Just as many were appalled at him, because he was so disfigured that he didn’t even seem human
and simply no longer looked like a man,
15 so now he will startle many nations; because of him, kings will be speechless. For they will see what they had not been told, they will ponder things they had never heard.”

———————————————————————————————————————————-

See how God’s Servant will succeed? He will be raised up (from the dead and in the eyes of mankind), exalted in position (and in the hearts of mankind), and highly honored by God and by man for His great rescue of us and for His unwavering obedience to His Father’s plan. And in the same way that so many were appalled at how horribly disfigured He was, how utterly unhuman His appearance was, He will startle and shock into reality the nations of the earth. Because of Him, rulers will be flabbergasted! For with their own eyes they will see what they were never told, and they will mull over and consider things they’ve never heard before, or in such a way.

Me…A Leader?

So, I was painting in a back area away and ‘hidden’ from everyone. I tend to sing when I’m by myself and today was no exception. As I was singing, “my chains are gone, I’ve been set free; my God, my Savior has ransomed me; and like a flood His mercy reigns; unending love, amazing grace”, Father began to show me pictures of the stereo-typical biker. Bikers seem to love chains and the look of them, probably because it sends out a “mo’ bad, don’t mess with me” appearance. But Father showed me that most people don’t realize that they are carrying around the very chains that have them bound to a lifestyle, an addiction, to pain and past hurts, to rejection and abandonment. They wear the physical chains like badges of honor, but they scream their motto of “Live to ride, ride to live” not realizing that they are trying to escape the mental and emotional chains that keep them from that elusive freedom they so desperately ride for.
Jesus wants to break every chain! He wants to give true and lasting freedom.
But Jesus cannot heal you if you won’t admit you’re sick. He cannot forgive you if you won’t admit you’ve sinned. He cannot ransom you unless you admit that you are held captive by evil forces. He cannot rescue/set you free unless you allow Him to break the fetters that hold you. As much as He loves and desires you to be part of His family, He cannot make you love and desire Him back.

My Chains Are Gone

So, I was painting in a back area away and ‘hidden’ from everyone. I tend to sing when I’m by myself and today was no exception. As I was singing, “my chains are gone, I’ve been set free; my God, my Savior has ransomed me; and like a flood His mercy reigns; unending love, amazing grace”, Father began to show me pictures of the stereo-typical biker. Bikers seem to love chains and the look of them, probably because it sends out a “mo’ bad, don’t mess with me” appearance. But Father showed me that most people don’t realize that they are carrying around the very chains that have them bound to a lifestyle, an addiction, to pain and past hurts, to rejection and abandonment. They wear the physical chains like badges of honor, but they scream their motto of “Live to ride, ride to live” not realizing that they are trying to escape the mental and emotional chains that keep them from that elusive freedom they so desperately ride for.
Jesus wants to break every chain! He wants to give true and lasting freedom.
But Jesus cannot heal you if you won’t admit you’re sick. He cannot forgive you if you won’t admit you’ve sinned. He cannot ransom you unless you admit that you are held captive by evil forces. He cannot rescue/set you free unless you allow Him to break the fetters that hold you. As much as He loves and desires you to be part of His family, He cannot make you love and desire Him back.

The Paths of Righteousness

May 10, 2014 at 9:45am

I hope what I am about to say burrows its way deep into your heart….

There are many good philosophers and self-help gurus–well-educated men and women who have a wealth of messages to cause us to view the world and ourselves in a more esoteric way. The messages they teach cause us to look at our environment, communities, the person next door and ourselves in a way that draw utters of ‘amens’ from our mouths because the words are so soothing, so gentle…so right, right? They may even be filled with words we are accustomed to hearing from our childhood with church-attending parents or grandparents, but are not seeing much of in our places of worship today, such as love, peace, kindness, patience, mercy–good moral qualities, all.

Every society that has ever been established from the beginning of time has had traces of humankind with deep convictions and good moral judgment and qualities. When those people are gone from the earth, I shutter to think what the world will be like. Eloquent speakers take the best of the best of all disciplines and doctrines, faiths and philosophies and string them together like pearls for a necklace, building a foundation of one feel-good message atop the other, and salted with the words we’ve been taught to strive for all our lives.

The problem is that not everyone is right. Regardless of what you’ve been told, truth is not based upon your particular and diverse set of circumstances. Not every message leads you to the right path. Sadder still is that not every person will achieve a gold medal — or silver or bronze, for that matter. However, the LORD Himself has strung His own pearls together on the Thread of Life. He is asking you to this day to choose whom you will serve. If you choose Him, you are instructed by wedding vows on how to relate to Him: “Forsaking all others, keeping only unto Him, as long as you shall live”.

Deuteronomy 30:15-20,  “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, 18 I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” KNJV

Joshua 24:14-15, “Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! 15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” NKJV

Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” NLT

Matthew 7:13-16a: “Go in through the narrow gate; for the gate that leads to destruction is wide and the road broad, and many travel it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

“Beware of the false prophets! They come to you wearing sheep’s clothing, but underneath they are hungry wolves! You will recognize them by their fruit….”

Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” NKJV

2 Corinthians 11:4 “For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.” ESV

Galatians 1:8 “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” NASB

Acts 17:11 “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, AND searched the Scriptures daily to FIND OUT whether these things were so.” NKJV

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in Him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed. CJB

John 10:11-30, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand, since he isn’t a shepherd and the sheep aren’t his own, sees the wolf coming, abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf drags them off and scatters them. 13 The hired worker behaves like this because that’s all he is, a hired worker; so it doesn’t matter to him what happens to the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; I know my own, and my own know me — 15 just as the Father knows me, and I know the Father — and I lay down my life on behalf of the sheep. 16 Also I have other sheep which are not from this pen; I need to bring them, and they will hear my voice; and there will be one flock, one shepherd.

17 “This is why the Father loves me: because I lay down my life — in order to take it up again! 18 No one takes it away from me; on the contrary, I lay it down of my own free will. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again. This is what my Father commanded me to do.”

19 Again there was a split among the Judeans because of what he said. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon!” and “He’s meshugga! Why do you listen to him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the deeds of a man who is demonized — how can a demon open blind people’s eyes?”

22 Then came Hanukkah in Yerushalayim. It was winter, 23 and Yeshua was walking around inside the Temple area, in Shlomo’s Colonnade. 24 So the Judeans surrounded him and said to him, “How much longer are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us publicly!” 25 Yeshua answered them, “I have already told you, and you don’t trust me. The works I do in my Father’s name testify on my behalf, 26 but the reason you don’t trust is that you are not included among my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice, I recognize them, they follow me, 28 and I give them eternal life. They will absolutely never be destroyed, and no one will snatch them from my hands. 29 My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all; and no one can snatch them from the Father’s hands. 30 I and the Father are one.” CJB

John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'” ESV

Matthew 25:31-46, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, accompanied by all the angels, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. 33 The ‘sheep’ he will place at his right hand and the ‘goats’ at his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you made me your guest, 36 I needed clothes and you provided them, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the people who have done what God wants will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and make you our guest, or needing clothes and provide them? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’ 40 The King will say to them, ‘Yes! I tell you that whenever you did these things for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did them for me!’

41 “Then he will also speak to those on his left, saying, ‘Get away from me, you who are cursed! Go off into the fire prepared for the Adversary and his angels! 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 a stranger and you did not welcome me, needing clothes and you did not give them to me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they too will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, thirsty, a stranger, needing clothes, sick or in prison, and not take care of you?’ 45 And he will answer them, ‘Yes! I tell you that whenever you refused to do it for the least important of these people, you refused to do it for me!’ 46 They will go off to eternal punishment, but those who have done what God wants will go to eternal life.” CJB

Palm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.” NKJV