The Empowered Christian Faith

March 8, 2016.

Abba. 

Our Father who art in Heaven is how Jesus started as He taught us how to pray - Matt 6. One might have expected that praying or speaking to an almighty and omnificent being would cause one, to invoke words such as "most terrible and destructive, greatly to be feared and all powerful". What Jesus demonstrates to us is a personal relationship with a being that no one at that time and even now has little or no experience to speak of. And yet, Jesus in speaking to His apostles seems to be a bit sarcastic, as He tells them if you see me (Jesus), you see the Father; surprised at them that they did not know the Father. It's like having a nephew who is the splitting image and mannerism of his father, your brother. Just like the father, is the son! For some of us, we only think that Jesus is the Son of God and that is why He alone can refer to God as His Father. He is the only person who can have a personal relationship.

Who is Abba? When we all come face to face with Him before or after Jesus returns; will it be as a caring Father or as a judgemental God. Our expectation of His deposition may have more to do with our own perspective of Him.He is God and deserves our worship, praise, and reverence. But as we seek Him, much more of His person is revealed. We know Him by several names that describe His stature and abilities. Some of the known names with meanings include:

  1. Yahweh - Lord
  2. Elohim - Strength
  3. El Shaddai - Almighty 


The most common and limited name used by all is God. Yet, this does not describe the many facets of His sovereign rule, and as our Abba, who constantly shows Himself to be caring as a father is, rather than a ruler who is impatient with His servants or slaves. Our own limited imagination of Him characterizes Him as being in a white robe with a full body, white beard and hair with a deep voice; who has glaring blue eyes. A very creative mind at best limited by their interpretations, surroundings and biases. Yet, in His eyes, only the heart, mind, and spirit matters, not the physical or intellect. As Father; His will is for His children to know Him and reflect His traits, just like a normal father who wants to see his life, thinking and characteristics; has made a difference and will continue through his children. Our Father in Heaven wants to have a divine family that would have a relationship with Him and be a legacy - Gen. 1:27, "created in His image". The word image, used from an eastern perspective would suggest more than a physical copy, but more an inner reflection of core values, an exact duplication, like a mirror image with no alterations or blurring. Sadly, for most we see the "negative" aspects of His person; where He is to be feared because of His terrible side and we must be subservient so as to avoid His wrath.  


The bible reveals many aspects of God including several references either directly or indirectly of His intent towards us as a Father, who has deep concerns for His children and their life. The best example of how the Father is in Luke 15; where the father shows his heart at the return of his son, despite any disappointments or unworthiness on his part. The Father has chosen us and it does not matter our disposition, mistakes or flaws; His agape love for us will never change.  This shows how intimate He wants to be with us with each one of our lives. His will is not to have a one solution for all, but a specific, unique and special relationship with each of us with purpose, where He becomes our Abba, and we look to Him on an intimate level. To appreciate this and understand the biblical examples; we too must be intimate and accept His will; as a child to father relationship and perspective. This is who my Abba is.


He watches over me to see that no harm comes to me. Just like any parent, He observes all that I am doing; ready to step in when I am extending my reach too far; like a toddler trying to climb onto a high chair. He wants to secure me so I can attain my goals and feel good about myself. He is tenacious to save me from my enemies, without taking away His gift of free will. In protecting me, He often insists on certain things, knowing that sometimes my decisions are bad and no good will come from it. He always provides an alternate solution that keeps me under His wing and within His tower of strength. He even fights for me, when I am unable and is being bullied. Gen. 28:15, Is. 41:10, Ex. 14:14, Matt. 6:8. 

He gives me every opportunity to be my best self but is waiting and willing to correct me in my mistakes. He does this to show His care and love for me. He does this with patience and longsuffering, knowing that I eventually will make the right choices because of His guidance. He is like a gardener who understands the growth of a seed; requiring constant attention until the root begins to support the young plant; pruning anything that hinders strong growth and then eventually just needing encouragement to take its place in the world becoming strong and firm against all adversity. 2 Sam. 7:14, 1 Chron. 17:13, Heb. 12:6, Rev. 3:19. 

He loves when I succeed and revels in my accomplishments, always being there as my biggest supporter. He does this by reminding me of who I am in Him. A son or daughter of His Kingdom. He knows my limitations but believes in me; and that I can do all things with Hope, Faith, and determination and that with Him I can overcome and conquer all. He is like a coach or mentor waiting to see that spark in my attitude to win and then He never stops adding fuel to my actions. Always ready to advise on a better and more successful way, so I can win on my own power, building all the time my character as a person. Matt. 5:16, Matt. 5:48, 1 Tess. 3:11, Phil. 1:3.


He teaches me life has more meaning and satisfaction than just the physical things. That I have a family of brothers and sisters on a global scale and that He loves all equally and I should help the weak, edify those who face challenges and work with the strong. He gives me others as examples to learn from on what matters to Him and what He hopes I will grow into. He teaches me to be fair, not hypocritical, fight for justice, to be bold and confident, to always have hope, be equitable and have no bias, be generous, have a sound mind, no fear and be ready to fill any role as a priest, servant, teacher or leader as required; and to have integrity, honor and nobility and be diligent in all things. Ps. 68:5, Matt. 6:1, Jm. 1:27, Pet. 1:17.

He is consistent in His person, never wavering on his plans for me because He knows best. He is big on trust and constantly show that I can trust Him. He never stops being a Father, knowing because of His experience and abilities can guide me through all my challenges and adversities, all the time being with me. He guides me back even when I don't know I have deviated. He is eager for me to finish my race with all flying colors and has prepared for me a celebration party to share in my triumph. He is planning every detail, just for me and for my joy. Rev. 3:21, Col. 1:12, Jm. 1:17, 1 Cor. 2:9. 

He made me not only in His image but has given me unique traits and abilities, because He specifically has called me for an assignment, He ordained and that I am charged with doing. He has a place just for me whether I am short, tall; weak, strong; a thinker, or a doer. He has given me wisdom, knowledge, understanding and gifts. He does not force me, but encourages me to take my responsibilities. He is supportive as long as I am willing; being more interested in my availability rather than my abilities. He does not give and then take away, but teaches just as a muscle or talent; without constant use, will die and fade away. 1 Chron. 28:6, Eph. 1:3, Eph. 1:17, 1 Tess. 3:11. 

He listens to me. Not only for all that I desire but the things that may trouble me. He directs and provides comfort from His Word and Spirit and sometimes gives me a sense of elation and peace. He does not condemn me or give me a tirade whenever I have given Him cause for concern but is always ready to help me and quick to place me back into His life and family. He is building a mansion for me with things for me to survey and call my own. Ps. 103:13, Mk. 14:16, Lk. 6:36, 2 Cor. 1:3. 

In Acts 13:22, David is called by God, "a man after my own heart". Another way to say this is, "David is a reflection of all that I Am". In David's younger life, he always sought God; his Abba from a personal relationship. He did this, by spending time in reflection and mediation on who his God is. He had the Old Testament which has a lot of God's wrath; yet he was able to see pass those things and see God has a caring and loving Father. David showed honor, respect, reverence, obedience and love to his God - his Abba; acknowledging His person, as someone to trust, have faith in; and have an unhindered relationship with by seeking forgiveness. Just like David; He is ready for a relationship with us. So much so, according to Gal. 4:6,"He has sent His Spirit into our hearts, so we can cry Abba, Father" to Him.

There is so much more about our God, but what is certain; He is our Father and we are His sons and daughter; heirs to His Kingdom. Whatever our personal experience with your biological father; our Father has more patience, tolerance, generosity, compassion, and love to give in so many ways. He is the ultimate Daddy. His personal plan for each one of us is from the foundations of the earth and His desires for us is beyond anything we can dream or think of. Like earthly fathers, He does have disappoints and can be very stern with us, because He knows our potential and abilities. He also knows our desires and want to fulfill them. He is not a weak father and does not compromise His standards and statues for anyone or anything, which makes Him consistent and trustworthy - Mal. 3:20. He is the creative force behind our life; our provider, protector, and mentor. He is our Abba!

Flush it Out! - The bible, a book about a Father and His children.
 

Spiritual Awakening

March 11, 2016.

Stand to Attention!
 

If you ever admire the military or watch war movies, you hear the words shouted constantly; “Attention!”; usually, when there is an inspection of the troops or when an officer of rank is passing by. This is done to main a level of discipline and respect for not only the military but more so for the uniform and what it stands for and represents. Every military arm has their standards when it comes to standing to attention and what soldiers train for and are willing to die for. 

In the army of God, it is no different. We may not be as rigid or mechanically oriented, but there are aspects of the physical military that are key parts of the body of Christ as the army of God. 


Why is it necessary to achieve such a well-oiled machine for the military, where men and women without question are required to obey their commander even to the point of death. In many cases, commanders make decisions of deception so as to fool the enemy; all the while pursuing a different objective. This results in many lives being sacrificed for the greater goal. These strategies of men do not account for souls lost and is a common practise in attempting to win on the battlefield.  For God, every soul matters. The reality of our spiritual warfare is physical casualties as well as spiritual ones. This is why Jesus alluded that; He came to create division among the people; knowing that two armies would develop for good and evil respectively. We all have experienced it within our families and associations. 


Our battle started with the first strategy of deception by satan in the garden and the subsequent failure of Adam and Eve to fight the good fight. Even though Jesus took back the spiritual ground (authority) over our enemy, we still have challenges today. Jesus, said, "These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." - Jn. 16:33.  

Jesus intent was not to sweep away the evil forces, but like every commander in an army, His goal is to equip His soldiers to fight, knowing that with discipline, conviction and effective weapons; victory will be assured. We can only win daily, not by defensive posturing, but only by a continuous offensive attack. We need to employ our own version of the “shock and awe” military strategy. The best way to defeat your enemy is to overwhelm him to the point he is always retreating and running for cover. As with all successes, only by the winning attitude of “practise makes perfect”; otherwise known as “drills”; will we see the desired results. This attitude is linked to understanding our enemy's abilities and strategies. The enemy, satan knows that once we have our “actions committed”; he must find a way to distract us from it. He, satan has not changed his strategy since the garden and knows he does not have to defeat us; but by deception and confusion; he can reduce or eliminate our efforts against him. This is why discipline is the key to winning and why we always need to be prepared for when he attacks. He, satan has no authority to take your life as is demonstrated in Job 1:10, "you have place a hedge (protection) about him." Therefore, we should have no fear of satan and seize the opportunities to put him down. All soldiers require effective training and equipment to threaten their enemy. For the army of Christ, the standard issue is as follows:


●The Helmet of Salvation; referring to our mind and thoughts which are the prime area of attack from the enemy. When we protect and control our thoughts, we automatically have won a battle against satan; for without our thoughts, he cannot get us to take action that is contrary to our Salvation. We must come to understand how our mind operates, which is by the interfacing of the world mainly through our eyes and ears. Matthew 6:22 states, "if our eye is clear, so is our body full of light." We must reduce our exposure to evil displays and overflow the mind with righteous thoughts and things.

●The sword of the Spirit; the Word is an essential part of our offensive weapon against satan as Jesus demonstrated when He was tempted in the wilderness - Matt. 4. Our enemy satan, cannot deny the written word as it is the oracles of God, which he has no choice but to obey them, and because Christ re-established our authority and has made us righteous in Him. The Word is not only to speak against the enemy but is vital to speak to ourselves and reinforce in our minds and spirits, who we are and the rights of being in the army of God. That's why it is acceptable to say, "I have the mind of Christ"; meaning all I do is from Christ's ways. No army speaks defeat to themselves but shouts with the conviction of victory over their enemy.

●The Breastplate of Righteousness. This is like modern body armour used to protect vital organs such as the heart. All Christians need to keep the heart protected from satan and his accusations that can lead to strife, envy and even death. By constantly keeping our Righteousness within God (being right), we are able to defend against satan, because our will is God’s and from the issues of the heart is what we truly believe in, reinforcing our words. This can be difficult as these accusations come from those we think would understand; testing our joy and patience. This is why we are commanded to love knowing perfect love casts out any form of fear, hurt and disappointments - 1 Cor. 13:4-8. Especially today, we need to guard our hearts.

●The Truth girthed around the loins. Without this we can never know right from wrong; good from evil and have the ability to discern all things. Every soldier has to be able to move on a moment notice, this only occurs when we are confident; having the Spirit of Truth abiding in us, so upon any confrontation with evil, whether by spiritual or physical manifestation, we can act accordingly and not second guess our actions. The loin is the area that gives us balance and facilitates movements and girthed is to surround ourselves as by a force field, ready for anything.

●The feet shod with the gospel of peace. There is a saying, “to know someone, is to walk in their sandals”. In other words, don’t be too quick to condemn a person without first appreciating their challenges. He, satan will try to aggravate us into doing something contrary to God’s will. Phil. 4:7 tells us "God's peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus". The enemy is the author of confusion, stress and fear. Also, when we are at peace; rolling all our cares onto God; it allows the Holy Spirit to move in us; guiding and directing us. In all dire situations, the people who are saved are usually those who heed the words, "keep calm and follow me".

●The shield of Faith cannot be left out as we battle against satan and his evil spirits, principalities and powers. This weapon is not only for defence but also for offensive actions. We do this as we live the written Word, being as our assurance and knowing God will not abandon us, but will in His love redeem us from any distresses or lack we are facing. The shield of Faith is used to badger satan; as we constantly remind him of God’s promises and His will for our lives, to the point he has no recourse but to flee because we have submitted us ourselves to God by Faith - Jm. 4:7.


These are our main weapons and are to be applied consistently and in concert with each other. Other weapons include prayer, unity, boldness, wisdom, knowledge and understanding and alignment with the authority of God and His decrees. These will arm us to be effective. We also must take on agape love to be conscientious soldiers and not become mechanical or cold in our fighting, knowing even though we are fighting a spiritual war; satan has blinded many for his bidding. In the Old Testament; the battles wasn’t that different from what we face now. Many of God’s generals, such as Joshua had no choice but to kill those who were ungodly and would pose a threat to the foundations of the Faith and to Christianity today. Because of that; God’s plans and strategies have evolved to some extent into how we fight today, even though we face similar opposition as Joshua did. The weapons were no different then, to what we use today. This shows how confident God is in demonstrating no matter how much things change; He has given us an expected victory. God’s strategy is sound and has longevity.

When we stand to attention in God's army; we demonstrate our abilities of discipline, knowledge and confidence, as well as we acknowledge Him as our supreme commander. We also must know that at any time, He can inspect us to see how dedicated we are to His cause and how well trained we are with the weapons of warfare. Just like all military establishment, there are surprised drills (tests) that allow us to demonstrate our competence. This enables some to be selected for greater missions and rewards. There are no lone wolves in the army of God, but like any special ops team, only certain individuals with their team support can accomplish the task at hand. God's army is not for pretty boys, who concern themselves more with looks than substance. This approach will not only subject these individuals to satan defeating them but will also cause collateral damage to other souls. No one can be lukewarm or try and hope to win without commitment. God also will not accept this - Rev. 3:16.


As Christian soldiers; some are ready and rearing to be deployed and some still in basic training. For God, all will be welcomed, because life was chosen over death. Some may have to give the ultimate sacrifice knowing, "whoever loses his life for my (Jesus) sake will find it" - Matt. 16:25. In God's army, soldiers are not discarded and forgotten, but having overcome; receive their just rewards; hearing the words, “good and faithful servant"; welcome and thanks for “Standing to Attention”.

 Flush it Out! - God loves a good parade.