March 23, 2016.
If you have ever worked in the corporate world the acronym T.G.I.F - Thank God Its Friday - is one of those expression that brings smiles to many who can't wait to preempt the weekend, with libations at the local hangout with people trying to forget the weeks issues and kick off personal time away from the boss and work. Isn't it funny and ironic that these individuals use the name of God for something so carnal and obviously ungodly as part-taking in such activities could potentially lead to addictions, adultery, and poor judgment. All the while not realizing the real significance of TGIF.
Sure, we all wait for the week to pass so we can relax and do the real things we want to do on the weekend. But TGIF for Christians should be about God, Family, and Church (Community) as ordained by God starting in the Garden of Eden. God worked six days and then rested on the seventh. For many, rest starts 5:00 pm on Friday, while others 6:00 pm on Saturday. The whole idea is work before rest.
Christians all over the world, especially of catholic persuasion, will be remembering, as well as celebrating Jesus' last days on earth; referred to as the season of Easter. Easter, originally a pagan holiday like many, was adopted by the Roman Catholic Church as a means of assimilating pagans into the Christian Faith. The true effect of this is debatable. What is factual is the rapid growth and subsequent numbers of Catholics all over the world. Easter is a tradition for many, regardless of faith or lack of it.
The Easter celebration starts with 'Holy Thursday', commemorating the Last Supper, and then Good Friday (the Crucifixion), and finally Resurrection (Easter) Sunday. We can appreciate the need for traditions that keep in memory significant events as well as strengthening the Faith and Family bonds. Yet, at no time were the early Judaeo-Christians instructed to keep a tradition of the crucifixion or resurrection of Jesus Christ. The only event Jesus asked us to do was to remember the last supper in remembrance of Him - Lk. 22:19. Why is the last supper significant to Jesus and why should it be significant to us?
The Last Supper is when Jesus is preparing to be handed over to the Romans by Judas. It would be His last opportunity to impact the apostles and leave final instructions. The Bible only focuses on the significance of issues and rightly so but whereas the events are recorded in a few verses, we must remember this was also the celebration of Passover. This being Old Testament, is when the Jews celebrate their deliverance from Egypt's pharaoh, and the move towards the promise land. Both of these celebrations are signifying the same thing. We move from darkness, oppression and evil, towards light, freedom and righteousness. For the Jews this deliverance is by the hand of God; for the Christians, this deliverance is by the Sacrifice of Jesus. Hence, TGIF!
Tradition only tells us that we can celebrate annually because we just need to remember it for a day. Just think, if we only gave a hug, kiss or a word of affection, encouragement or help once a year. For the rest of the calendar year, all our efforts would be the pursuing of money, houses, cars etc. Sounds familiar. Look at your life and calculate the hours spent on material gain to those spent on relationships. Isn't this the world's (satan's) way. God's way is one of relationship. He did this in five days, creating the firmaments (earth and sky), creatures and food. The sixth day, He created humans, and on the seventh day, He rested. Now rested does not mean He took a day off and vegetated under the sun to get a tan. Here rest refers to God stepping back and seeing all things were good and satisfactory. He did this just for you and me so we would have no need or want, and could focus on having a relationship with Him. Jesus also did this.
Throughout Jesus' time during His ministry, He developed relationships with the apostles and others as well.
Consider these relationships.
1. Peter was one of the first persons Jesus recruited as a follower and being a fisherman is not coincidental as this type of work requires patience, determination, and expectation. Just like any church leader, these qualities would be required to shepherd a flock of believers. Jesus was not only hard but also gentle with Peter who was given the mantle of the early church - Matt. 16:18.
2. John also a fisherman assumed to be "the beloved one" is cast as the apostle whom Jesus confides in and leaves His mother with him. He is most know for being the author of Revelations. This alone demonstrates how much John has earned the trust of God.
3. Zacchaeus, a small man was treated by Jesus with no inhibitions despite being a tax collector and He singled him out of the many people who would have been in the trees trying to glimpse Him as He walked pass - Lk. 19. Jesus spent time in Zacchaeus home, which for any Jew would be a big honor and be envied by others.
4. Jarius sought Jesus to save his daughter, who after being delayed raised the dead daughter to life. Jesus had to go some distance to Jarius's house and along the way, He would have been crowded by others seeking His miracles. Jesus did not allow this to distract him to Jarius desperation - Mk. 5:21.
5. The Prostitute who anointed Jesus' feet used an expensive ointment which could have been sold, giving her money. Here, Jesus defends her from the accuser and shows compassion relieving her guilt - Lk. 7:37.
6. Paul (Saul) is known for being a strong advocate of the Christian Faith who was tasked with spreading the Word to Asia. Although not seeing Jesus, receives his calling from our resurrected Christ and is attributed to the books we all use today in our Faith- Acts 22:7.
All these and many others had a personal relationship and kinship with Jesus. In every event, Jesus uses the time to not only build belief but also relationship by going the extra mile and giving a personal touch. He is not only after followers but more so, part-takers, co-joined for all aspects of Salvation. We all have the same opportunity for this type of relationship, not only with Jesus but also God.
When sacrifice is by giving your personal life, this is the greatest form of love - Jn. 15:13; and forms a deep, intimate relationship bond. A bond that not only transcends the spilling of blood but also the merging of mind and spirit. We don't sacrifice our life for strangers but for those that are dear and intimate to us. This is our relationship with Jesus and God.
Thank God It's Friday is a day that can be celebrated throughout the year for at least fifty-two times. It does not need to be linked to any other holiday or tradition because it's made for a personal relationship with God and Jesus, who gave all so that we can be saved and be sons and daughters of His kingdom. Interestingly, the number 5 and 2 represent Grace and Unity respectively, in bible numerology, both of which is required in any relationship. Jesus was crucified, sacrificed on a Friday because it was personal to Him and God, that satan had stolen from us and by this crucifixion everything would be returned. Some see Resurrection Sunday as the most significant day in the life of a Christian. This is because they say without Christ's Resurrection, Salvation could not be completed and Jesus would not have conquered death completely. Resurrection is indeed significant but more represents the renewal and refreshing of the mind, body, and spirit into a divine existence. The bible has many examples of the body being resurrected from the dead and also being transported into Heaven. After His sacrifice, Jesus would have needed to leave the earth and allow God's plan to continue. This would be the saints administering their authority as righteous heirs.
Ultimately, sacrifice is the offering that makes us righteous again and has deep meaning and covenant significance, especially when it costs us and God something. This is sacrificial love and we do this every time we deny ourselves and give praises to God; acknowledging all that He does for us and not take Him for granted. Keeping ourselves renewed to Jesus' sacrifice of Body, Blood and Words has a place but knowing and living His reasons has more effectiveness in our lives and is a continuous praise and thanksgiving for His life. We do this by not keeping Jesus on the cross nailed to it, but walk out our freedom from darkness, rendering satan at our feet and elevating us to sit with Jesus in Heavenly places.
Flush it Out! - The tree has been dead since Jesus left it. Don't keep watering it.
March 15, 2016.
For many of us, this word presents us challenges, not only on the physical but mostly on the spiritual level. It is easy enough to believe something that we see and feel with our senses but to accept the unseen can at times, to say the least, be daunting. To believe means to have Faith in God, Jesus, and the Word. It also means to believe there is satan. It's easy and spiritual to acknowledge the goodness of a loving God who sent His Son to die for usand has given us the Word to live by. But can we also acknowledge there is a devil called satan who wants to kill, steal and destroy anything and anyone that gives glory to God. To acknowledge the good without the evil is making Christ's crucifixion of no effect. For without it there would be no Salvation, Grace or relationship with God - Rom. 5:8.
For those who say they don't believe in "all that spiritualism" and "good against evil drama" have not realized that they already have demonstrated the belief in satanic activity - 1 Pet. 5:8. Everyone has believed in something even if they don't acknowledge it. If all religions profess a good and evil side, and this has continued for thousands of years, then why would an average person think they know more than hundreds of others who came before them asking the same question and came to the same conclusion. All religions reflect partial truths, believing that Faith and belief in a spiritual force affect our physical and spiritual lives; even modern religions. Some religions claim because they are older than Christianity, then they are the correct faith to live by. They are correct based on their belief !
To truly believe as a Christian that God, the Word, and Holy Spirit existed before man; does not need physical proof or written history. This is where Faith - the act of belief - is not depended on any man-made interpretation of surroundings, the world or the universe. When we think about it, what else would an early man have been doing other than sitting on a rock looking at the stars and trying to comprehend all that he sees. It would be natural for him to formulate some concept of a supreme being. This concept would eventually be accepted as truth and put into a form where many could understand and participate in it. This is religion. Religion depends on a set of rules that govern man and some sort of a god. God is not concerned whether we know all truths but to only believe and trust in Him - Ps. 9:10.
What makes Christianity different and believable is that it's the exception to the rule. There are rules no doubt, but more than that there are a relationship and a promise of life after the end of revelations. Most other faiths based on religion only gives dictatorship to a deity that holds us in contempt and places no value on us as a creation of said deity. That's like someone making a cake and then not enjoying it themselves. Throughout the bible there are clear stories showing God's want to enjoy His creation, starting in Genesis. - Gen. 3:8. Every religion will tell you why they are the correct path to a god and point to the flaw in others. As Christians, we are not required to "point the finger" as it were to prove we are correct. But only to state some of the most obvious things that a highly intelligent creation (man) ought to question. Consider these:
These and other statements have obvious answers to them. But for the person looking to dispel the notion that God exists, and reduce our very existences down to randomness; yet they seek to organize and put some form of logical and procedural method in everything. They without realizing it, have already contradicted their own theory on life and it's creativity. Everything natural or man-made has a starting point, which is in itself a limitless notion. The only conclusion is, something was created from nothing which became the starting point. Others profess man's evolution growth, both physically and mentally. Then why be limited with a set standard of physicality and not have multiple components to be more efficient and effective. We should be like "lego" adding as many parts as required. These theories add more thoughts than gives answers.
As Christians our core beliefs are one true God, the Word becoming Jesus, the working of the Holy Spirit, divine creation, man's fall into sin, and his resurrection (body and spirit) into the family of God with life everlasting, and eternity. Without these as the foundations of our Faith, we allow weaknesses in our belief system. This action is the one true thing that our God wants from us, for by Faith is He pleased - Heb. 11:6. This foundation supports everything else that is recorded in the bible, physical evidence and even unrecorded events that demonstrate an unknown force, we refer to as God's hand in our lives.
To believe in God does not require a special season, color or any other trappings that religion uses. True Faith and belief only require our intangible action of expectations. This cannot be measured scientifically but only by the "proof in the pudding" do we know God exists and cares for us. This is where personal relationship with Him begins and builds our Faith. Just for a moment as if you were that person on the rock looking up at the stars, your first thoughts may be the beauty and magnificence of it all. How does it exist and operate and why? That is the main question to ask in all things, "why". This age old question has led mankind into various paths which brings either true enlightenment or true darkness, including half truths. This starts the basis of any belief system.
Make no mistake, all believe in something, even if its unbelief that forms their basis for thoughts and actions like atheists. We cannot force our Christian belief unto others because it would be contrary to the God given right for freedom of will. Jesus could not even accomplish this by mere words or actions but only by being an example and using miracles. - Lk. 4:24, "no prophet welcomed in his own town"; Matt. 13:58, "their unbelief prevented miracles". The more we complicate our system of belief in God, the more we lose this belief and move into unbelief by the churning of logic - 1 Tim. 1:4, "useless discussions, Faith is only needed". Just like a whirlwind of water fed by unrestraint thought energy; a funnel develops that pushes downward (us) into an abyss of an ever tightening vortex, self feeding for the sake of thoughts. At some point we have to make the decision to believe.
Why do we have creation, man, good, and evil? The answers to these questions provide us every reason for a God who is our Creator, Father and protector, wanting a family to share all with; on an intelligent and heartfelt level, and having fulfillment in all things. This in a constant expanding universe that operates by Faith and belief within a system designed for relationships and societies. When we believe in the presence of God everything else finds its place in our lives, regardless of experiencing goodness or evil, joy or distress; knowing that by the action of belief (Faith) we are justified to be sons and daughters of a Father whose kingdom we will share in eternal life.
Flush it Out! - Put on blinders so no distractions compromises your belief and the finish line.
ChristnMe @ 2013