A change always comes about when God selects one for his purpose. The bible teaches us that many are the called but few are the chosen (Mt22:14), and when one is chosen it is because of some great impact is going to happen. Every once in a while there comes someone whom God chooses to do something extraordinary. The preparation process at times may seem odd or a bit strange for this chosen for the extraordinary. Luke the writer of Hebrews shares this desire that God equips us with every good thing for the work of the ministry or purpose (Heb13:20-21). Paul the apostle states that God has ordained apostles, prophets, teachers, pastors, evangelist for the edifying and building of the saints for the extraordinary (eph4:11-12). There is a process that the chosen need to go through before what God has called to us to do becomes a reality.  One thing is for sure and that is that once God has chosen someone there is no turning back, he will complete it till the end (Ph1:6).  

Daniel 4:36-37

At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

Nebuchadnezzar was a young man whom took after his father and became the greatest king in Babylonian times the people ever seen. He began his military career and moved quickly to becoming the greatest captain the Medes army every seen. His military skills were superior to anyone and everyone in those times. After his fathers death he became king and took Babylon from it being almost in ruins to becoming the city of lights. The city became famous for arts, philosophers, educators and engineers. Nebuchadnezzar married a Medes princes and created for her the hanging gardens in the back yards of their castle, which are known today as one of the seven wonders of the world. He was seen by the people of Judah as a favorable light, because he set Jeremiah free along with the poor when he conquered Judah (Jer39:11-12). 

This king’s favor towards God’s people brought favor from God to him and made him a chosen one(Jer27:6-7). God’s plan with Nebuchadnezzar (Neb) began with the revelation of his chosen via a dream; the dream of a statue and his kingdom the head of gold. Then God deals with the images or idols in his life when he sends the three young men into the fiery furnace. And, after, God deals with Nebuchadnezzar’s priorities of belief when sends Daniel into the lions den. And, finally God deals with Neb to humble himself and recognize who the Lord is when he sends him to seven years of a mad life with the animals of the fields. In order for the extraordinary to happen one needs to be a chosen, and to be a chosen one needs to go through a process of change.   

Ambassadors of Christ

The Lord said to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.” (Nm20:7-8)

FAith

In a shadow

Believing that God can do and does on our behave is both a benefit for us and for others as well. People feed of our faith, for instance four friends were taking their friend who was paralyzed to see if Jesus would heal him in Mark 2:3-5, and He did just that because of their faith.  Jesus spoke that our faith has to be like the mustard seed that when it grows it grows to be a tree where birds take refuge in (Mt13:31-32). Faith is something that has to be articulated, with our tongue we tell mountains to move and they have to obey(Mk11:22-23). Jesus said that whatever we ask the Father in his name he would do it (Jhn16:23). 

Now, all the people that were with Moses were waiting to see what he would do to get them water, and so his action would whether they would believe God or not. And, all that Moses needed to do was to follow the instruction given by God to speak to the rock, but he did not. Moses instead of speaking to the rock, which would have cause a faith movement with the people struck the rock with his rode (Nm20:9-11). People believe when they hear the faith things we speak, and see God do according to what we ask. When people see us do the work, they do not need to believe in God. Hebrews 11:1 tells us “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” The word of faith is in our heart (Ro10:8), but we need to speak it otherwise it cannot come to a reality. Moses’ faithless act caused the people not to believe in God and he nor Aaron could not enter into the promise land(Nm20:12). There is a price to pay for those in the shadow of our faith see no faith.

 

 

1 Peter 1:1-3

Sanctified by the Spirit


 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

After the ascension of Jesus Christ and the beginning establishment of the church with the apostles in the forefront, God was not finished with the selection process of his kingdom members. The instructions to the apostles and to those who read the scriptures was to go and make disciples of all the nations (Mt28:19). God beforehand knew and knows whom he selected (Jer1:5). His selection process is based on your heart, and he searches it to see if you are one of the chosen ones (Mt22:14).  And, just like God rejected Esau and chose Jacob (Ro9:11-13) knowing there hearts, He chooses you. God is in search for the exile ones, those whom have been rejected by others; the ones who used to be belong but not anymore. He gives a real purpose to those who are purposeless. 

Now, the work of the Spirit of God is to sanctify the chosen ones, and this he does through guidance in prayer, through the scriptures and fellowship with other believers. But, the question that to often is misunderstood is, what is sanctification or holiness? According to Vines dictionary it holy means to be separated to God.  It is similar to a magnet which sides either attract and creates a positive union, or it un-attracts creating a negative appeal. When we are sanctified by God’s Holy Spirit we are attracted to everything to belongs to his kingdom (ph2:13). He will repel sin from our lives by placing conviction in us (Jh16:8). The Spirit of God leads us to being obedient to Jesus Christ, and that is when we need to repent we must come to him for the forgiveness of sins. When we are the chosen we do not need to be washed with his blood, but we need to be sprinkled just to keep us separated for God. 

 

A Christmas Witness 

Mary & Elizabeth

Throughout the year many things have happened in our lives that points directly to God’s intervention. And, no matter what others say, deep within our hearts we know God had something to do with what happened. Our call to speak about what God has done is always on and it comes with blessings (Is52:7). The things that happen to us have the purpose for us to proclaim them from the roof tops (Mt10:27). There is a children’s song that says “Go tell it from the mountain, that Jesus Christ is Lord”, which charges us to do just that. We ought not to be shy or scare of giving credit to God for doing such wonderful things in our lives

Luke 1:23-25 23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

For the women of Israel it was a curse and a shame to be barren, and so was Elizabeth until her old age. But, God took this season of shame away from her and blessed her with a child like he did to Sarah, Abraham’s wife(Gen17:14-16). Elizabeth, when she became pregnant and gave birth she hid herself, though it was not customary for an Israelite to whom God did such a wonderful thing to to hide. 

It seemed to becoming a pattern with the people of Israel to not share what God had done as in the man whom Jesus healed near the pool of Bethesda. He was lame for about 38 years and on the Sabbath day Jesus healed him. But instead of giving glory to God and sharing he turned against Jesus (Jh5:14-15). 

Mary found out that Elizabeth was pregnant and that she was in seclusion and decide to come and visit her.  Mary’s fire of testifying drove her to Elizabeth and her seclusion. The scriptures says that when Mary came into Elizabeth’s house the baby inside Elizabeth leap out of joy and she blessed the seed inside Mary (Lk1:40-42). 

Elizabeth came out of seclusion and witnessed about the true meaning of Christmas. 

 

God is Lord of all. His seniority over everything created and not created exceeds anything or anyone that is moving up in status. Although there are hierarchy in creation even with man, but everything and everyone is under God. The scriptures tell that Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev19:16) and this title was written on his vesture on his thigh. The message that Jesus spoke gave him tribute to being the Lord of all, and Peter relates this to Cornelius and his family in Acts 10:36. Paul says that at the mention of Jesus’ name every knee will bow and every mouth confess that Jesus is Lord (ph2:9-11). Even of the most highly regarded celebrations we can hold, Jesus continues to be Lord, just as noted when the disciples were picking off corn grains during the Sabbath and were confronted by the religious (Mark 2:23 & 28).

Luke 13:11-13

11 And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.12 And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.13 And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

The Lordship of Jesus Christ is vast through our entire lives. The word Lord means KURIOS is the Greek word translated to “Lord” and that word meant master, possessor, supreme authority, king, or OWNER.” This women who was plagued with this spirit of infirmity for eighteen years came to worship, like every other day and did not expect to be heal; it probably was a Sunday like every other. Her demonic induced disease of bend over is today known as ” Ankylosing Spondylitis is a chronic progressive form of arthritis distinguished by inflammation and stiffness”. Jesus is Lord over any sickness and it was probably the first time Jesus met this lady, so he healed her there was no pre-planned arrangement. As we analyze this healing and the day it took place, we notice that Luke introduces Jesus by his earthly name “Jesus” when he heals this women. When he introduces the person in charge of the synagogues Luke uses the word ruler, and then immediately refers to Jesus as Lord (Lk13:14-15) placing Jesus as Lord over the day of Sabbath. Jesus is Lord of all (Col1:15-20)! Thomas recognized this after he put his hand on Jesus’ thigh and felt puncture holes in his hands after Jesus resurrected (Jh20:28).

Thanksgiving is a time to show our gratefulness towards God who has, though we are not worthy, provided us with all the necessary things to survive. Throughout the year He has blessed us with clothing, food, homes and jobs for which we need to show our appreciation. And while God calls us to take a leap of faith and leave everything behind; that is mother, father, sister brothers, wives (Lk14:26), he promises us that we do not have to worry because he will provide those things a hundredfold (Mk10:28-30). But, while we are reminded that God supplies all our needs and gives us reasons to be thankful, there are things that we are not so willing to release to him. Things that we hide throughout life that encompass a sense of selfishness for which we will not show any appreciation towards God, we will manifest only until we decide.

Luke 4:26-27  26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy[g] in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”

Jesus tells these religious leaders that a prophet is not with honor in his own town, when he is addressing how difficult it is for those who love money to enter into God’s kingdom. It does not matter one’s economic status any person can enter into God’s kingdom, as long as the love for money is not prioritized in that person’s life. God sent Naaman the leprod to Elisha be healed. Naaman was the captain of the Syrian army even though he was plagued with leprozy. He along with his army invaded Israel and took captive many people, and for himself took a young girl as a servant to his home. In order for Naaman to lead the army he needed to cover his entire body so that his leprosy would not be seen. This young girl understood that God uses his prophets in might ways to heal, and so she was not shy to recommending Elisha to heal her master (2Kgs5:3). Naaman requested permission from the king to go and see Elisha, and when he went to see him he told him to just wash in the Jordan 7 times and he would be healed(2kgs5:10-11). Naaman did as Elisha told him and was cleansed of his leprozy. He returned to Elisha and was so grateful that he did not have to wear his mask, because he was cleansed that he wanted to bless him with a gift(2Kgs5:15-16). But, Elisha did not want the gift that Naaman brought to him, because all that God wanted was Naaman’s heart. Naaman was released from his mask, and no longer that thing that plagued him under the mask; leprosy, was going to be present. So, thanksgiving is about really giving God thanks for the things that he has set us free from, and not just for the add on blessing he provides.

Expecting God’s rule on earth is what everyone should be doing. We work and live as Christ will come tomorrow even though we do not know the hour or day when he comes (Mt25:13). Even though we are witnessing plenty of signs that something is going to happen; we believe Christ is coming, we do not know when it will happen. It is not entrusted into us to pin point the hour (Mt24:36), it is only in the Father’s time when Christ is coming. But, we do know one thing and that is Christ is coming, and we should be living and working as he was coming today. The bible teaches us that Jesus Christ is coming back to take his church; we call this the rapture (Jh14:1-3). And, after the rapture the bible speaks that a great tribulation will occur. A period of seven years when the earth will experience changes like never before, and men will experience God’s wrath as depicted in the book of Revelations. A brief list of things that will happen on earth that we do not want our family and friends to experience are; one third of man, trees and living things will be wiped away, a giant meteor will fall from the sky, people will be killing people, Christian persecution will escalate to the highest level, diseases like never before will be rising.

Luke 19:15-20

15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. 17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. 18 And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. 19 And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. 20 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:

So, the people during this time of Jesus thought that God was just going to come and reign without holding man accountable for their actions. Jesus needed to clarify to this people that, because God has given us so many talents to use we are some day going to give account for them. And, this is called the “Judgement Seat of Christ”(2Cor5:10), where a reward will be given to man for his works. The servants in this parable were given talents according to their abilities (Mt25:15), and immediately there were supposed to get to work. The reward for our work is weighed in heavenly volume and not earthen. All three of the servants were given bags of money to negotiate and for their rewards they were to be placed as rulers of cities. One of the servants chose not engage in making gains with their talent, although he could have had others helped him. Rewards for serving the Lord are great. God has very big rewards for people who engage in serving and making gains on their talents (1Cor3:12-15).

How Americans experience and express their faith
Barna

Victory over our enemies is the reward God has for those who seek him. We have a continual battle each day that does not waiver and does not cease. If we are not warring against our mind, we are against family, or friends, and other humans. It seems that our wars never end. The bible teaches us that we have different types of battles, but that the victory is ours (1Cor15:57). Some of our battles happen away from home; at work, school or church, and our enemy is not carnal (Eph6:12). So, no matter the reasons for us engaging in war and battle our enemy is the same. He; the enemy, does not rest. The bible tells us that he lurks around us like a roaring lion seeking to whom he may devour (1Pt5:8). So, how do you know if you are in a battle? There are several signs that identify’s a spiritual battle is going on, and one of them is a sudden feel of lose or troubles. Also, attacks of physical danger, illness, increase temptation, feeling of overwhelm or fear, and deep confusion are signs of war.

1 Chronicles 15:17 17 But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days.

God promises that we have the victory in Christ and that though we will have troubles in this life we are more then conqueror’s (Ro8:37, Jh16:33). Now, King Asa had just come victorious from battle and was feeling pretty good. But, the battle that he was coming to was going to be more difficult, so God sent him a prophet to encourage him. This battle that he was going to engage in was not like the one he had just finished winning with flesh and blood, it was a spiritual battle in taking down idols at home. His family and friends got involved with idolatry and lifted high places. The people of God knew how God felt about idols because of the 10 commandments; the 2nd commandment in Exodus 20:4, and yet they continued to set them up. King Asa made the decision to bring the idols down at home and went throughout Israel destroying them and he even took down his mother’s idol and removed her from her position as queen. Yet, a high place remained; to which King Asa neglected to bring down, and it is a reminder that high places may still exist in our lives that we may not be ready to bring down. The symbolic significance of high places are those things that the highest place in priority in us; our children, job, relationship, homes and ourselves.

Sleeping is a natural state of the mind that is altered by the conscience. After a long day of activities the body is in need of rest, and sleep is that whine down state. But, too much sleep can be hazardous to ones health the National Sleep Foundation states that more than 9 hours of sleep can lead to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a disorder that leads to too much sleep, Parkinson’s, anxiety, infections and gastrointestinal disorders. Quality sleep is good for a person, because the bible states that God gives rest to his beloveds (ps127:2). In fact, the bible teaches us that we can rest assured, because God sustains us (ps3:5-6). For some falling asleep is difficult and in order for them to alter their conscience they may need to trick their mind in order to fall asleep. For example, they might need to drink a sleepy time tea or play a soft music in order to fall asleep. Sleep is associated with idleness, because movement of the muscles and being active deters it. In the context of the family of God we cannot be idle or asleep (2tes3:7), and we learn this from our active people in church.

Revelations 3:1-3

“To the angel[a] of the church in Sardis write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits[b] of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

This letter that was sent to the angel of the church in Sardis was written to the pastor of the church. This church was known for its activities and programs and what seemed God seeking people. It was the first church in Asia and the biggest for the Sardian people. The church was dying without being conscience of it. During this inclination to death of this church, there were those that had maintained their livelihood. And, so the Lord Jesus admonishes them to wake up! and strengthen that which remains. Within the process before one dies the alter of ones conscience becomes evident. Luke mentions a young man who while he was in a room well lit with candles fell into a deep sleep and fell through a window after Paul was teaching for hours (Acts20:8-10). The young man died, but Paul brought him back to life. One of the evidence found in one who is falling into a sleep mode in a church is their unfinished deeds, and maybe this young man who fell through the window was board and had stopped working for Christ. Just having faith is not enough, that is unfinished deeds, there needs to be other steps that one must take in order to finish what he started. Paul tells the church that we need to finish what we have started in Christ (2Cor8:11). The Lord Jesus tells this church at Sardis that unless they wake up he would come to them like a thief; that is take what they had away from the. So, the little knowledge or experiences you have with God have to increase, else they will die.

The dead cannot praise him. Praising God is unique with every individual. No one can copy your worship style, it is a trait that is uniquely embedded into ones DNA. We were created to give him praise (Is43:7). We are his most precious creation. Genesis says that God was please after he created man and all creation (ge1:31). Each time God looks down from heaven and sees man; you, it uplifts him and turns him from his wrath. In fact, when God was about to obliterate man in the times of Noah, the bible records God looked and saw one man Noah which changed his mind from what he was about to do (ge6:7-8). Whether we open our mouths to worship God or in silence pray, he is magnified and is fanned with glory. But, if one was dead that is the end of fanning glory to the everlasting King.

Isaiah 38:19-20

For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise;
those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness.
19 The living, the living—they praise you, as I am doing today;
parents tell their children about your faithfulness. 20 The Lord will save me, and we will sing with stringed instruments all the days of our lives in the temple of the Lord.

Hezekiah was a young king, but was terminally ill and was sentenced to die. God had sent Isaiah to inform Hezekiah of his departure and that he was to put in order his house. And, the bible states that once Hezekiah heard the news from the prophet he turned to the wall where he was laying and bitterly wept. Hezekiah understood this concept that God is in need of worshipers as mentioned by Jesus when he spoke to the Samaritan women (Jh4:23), when he said that the Father is in need of worshipers to worship him in spirit and in truth. If Hezekiah died he felt that God was going to miss out on his worship. David shared this idea of the importance of praise from the living, he said ” What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth?”(ps30:9). Nothing should hold you of from praising God, and in fact Peter tells us that we need to show of his praise, because we are a holy nations (1Pt2:9). Your peculiar form of worship brings a smile to God’s face, don’t stop!