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).

For years parents from all walks have taught their children about Christmas and the Santa figure, and that he comes to bring them gifts once they fall asleep. So, children in hope that Santa come and bring their desired gifts will before midnight Christmas eve go to sleep. Parents teach their kids to wait and hope on something that has become a fair tale and so they buy the gifts and dress like the red guy and distribute the gifts. We grow up with hopes and dreams that have the potential of never coming out to being true. It is not until we come to know God that we learn that he unlike the guy in red really makes dreams come out to be true. God fulfills his promises to his servants (2Pt3:9) that wait for him. The psalmist thought to himself that God has not and will not forget about what he has promised to him (ps77:7-9).  Psalms 27:14 tells us to wait on the Lord, to be strong and take heart, because he had experienced God’s deliverance. So, live has things that we can wait for but have the possibility of never coming out, and it is up to us to decide to either continue to wait or not. But, live also have a God that if we decide to wait on him, he is sure to make them come out true. 

Matthew 25:1-5

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

Now, the kingdom of heaven Jesus compared it to ten virgins who like people today were waiting on something; the bridegroom, and their expectation of him coming was a sure thing; like our waiting on God and Christ’s return.  But, something altered their waiting, their lanterns oil was wasting and five them did not have reserves. When ones faith is coming down to what looks like its end, a system of back up or serves needs to be in place else, like the psalmist says that our hand will stretch out to other places. God is in the business of rescuing his people. His saving plan did not end at the cross, it only began there. The Psalmist says that God is the one who saves (ps68:20, 55:16) and that from him comes our escape. So, we need to make sure that we have extra support to our faith; and this is with people of faith. These five virgins who were not wise are a symbol of those who like to live on their daily bread and think not on tomorrow; tomorrow can only get worse. Tiredness comes to all and we all fall asleep at one time or another, but the scriptures tell us that those who wait on the Lord will renew their strengths (Is40:31) and soar like eagles.  Now, the message of this parable of the ten virgins deals with the coming of Christ and those who wait with reserves to make sure that they do not miss his redemption. And the purpose of the reserves is to make sure that we do not miss God’s saving power. 

Fasting is a form of humbleness in request for something to happen. Some people fast for a revenging cause such as when the religious people wanted to kill the Apostle Paul and they ate not until they succeeded; which did not happen (Acts23:12). The purpose of fasting as outlined by Isaiah is for the purpose of loosening the captives “Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?”(Is58:7). Fasting is also purposed for repentance, to show remorse and and a request for mercy. Most of us pray when hard times come or when we have needs, and others they pray all the time for any  and no reason. But, when we really want God to move and work on our behalf we need to fast. Now, God is not obligated to move or work on ones behalf because we pray or fast, he does so because he loves us; Fasting just nodges God. 

Joel 2:15-19 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.17 Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?18 Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, and pity his people.19 Yea, the Lord will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen:

God’s people fell into this stage of doing things that weren’t very pleasing unto God, so He sent them a plaque of locusts. The locust ate and destroyed the land, they were as this heavily armed army with one mission, and that was to destroy. Like those seasons in our lives where everything seems to be going all wrong; no matter which direction one turns it is bad, kind of like the locust which were unstoppable. The prophet Joel calls the people to blow the trumpet and fast to see if they would obtain mercy from God and seize the plaque. He calls everyone even those with the most important tasks to come out and fast. God was not going to stop the locust just because, this people needed a lesson. But, one thing that God hates is, to hear the forbidden question “Where is their God?”from our enemies. 

Every person alive needs to know that God has a people and that he can easily be found of them’ he has not forsaken them (ps37:28-29). And, his priest and ministers reminded him that no one should have the right to question God’s place on our lives. That is why God responded when the mentioned the forbidden question “Where is their God?” and he said that he would send the corn, the wine and the oil (Jl2:19). David was concerned with others questioning God’s place in his live when he was going through a very difficult time, but he found it deep inside to keep his faith in God (ps.42:10-11). 

This year is coming to a past and many good things as well as bad things will past, but some things will linger and carry on to this new year. Once the year passes there is no turning back, it is a door that will not open again. There are doors in life that stay for a while open and there are some that only last for a while opened; once they close they cannot open. The amazing thing in God is that though doors close in our lives they do not affect his doing, because he is not limited to the things that stand before us. Jesus said that “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Mt19:26). Now, God shuts doors to fulfill his purpose in our lives as he did with Noah (ge7:16). He needed to separate his servant from the rest of the world who were on the verge of destruction. And, so, one might find him/herself fighting against a door closing of which might be a doing of God. And, just as he closes doors he opens them with a purpose and usually it is for prosperity. Just as the scriptures mentions in Malachi 3:10 where God says that if we test him will open the windows of heaven and cause prosperity to overflow in our lives. So, God is not affected with things that tend to hinder our path but transcends through all and any obstacle.   

John 20:19-22

19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

Now, the disciples found themselves in a room locked up after Jesus; their joy, peace, hope etc…, was killed. And, because of fear from the Jews they locked themselves up. We need to note that sometimes fear does that to us, it presses us to lock ourselves up either in a physical environment or a mental. In this room of which the disciples were in all, one could probably hear bickering or simply silence. Proverbs 18:19 says that when a brother is offended he is like the bars in a castle, and so were the disciples locked up physically and mentally. The scriptures make emphasis that the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled setting the stage for something far from ordinary. And, all of a sudden Jesus appeared and the first thing he says is peace, because behind those doors that’s what was needed. Maybe the idea that since the year is about to end any chance of redemption or change is far from fetch. John, in his vision of revelations found himself behind a locked door and God opened it for the purpose of showing him what was to come (Rev4:1). Once Jesus spread peace unto the disciples the scripture says that he opened their minds to understand the scriptures (Lk24:45).  Once God opens the door everything will be clear and we will understand somewhat his purpose.

The holidays are here and the momentum is increasing to the celebrations, people are out in the shopping malls or online looking for that perfect gift with the spirit of the holidays. But, the spirit of the holidays is not what is supposed to be, the origin of the celebration; though it has been paganized, is Christ’s birth. The spirit that should drive these holidays should be that of Christ; the Spirit of Christmas. With the spirit of the holidays anger, hatred, jealousy and a host of works of the flesh are active, but with the original Spirit of Christmas there is joy in the Holy Ghost. The spirit by which we should celebrate should be that of Christ. Jesus said that Spirit when he would come he would guide us to all truth and that he would show us all that things that are Christ’s (Jh16:13-14). So, when the Spirit of Christmas is active in our lives everything that is of Christ, that pertain to the kingdom of God; joy, peace, love, friendship, kindness, gentleness, goodness (Ga5:22) will become evident. The spirit of the holidays tend to things that lead to death. The total number of deaths in the US are staggering, for example, abortion yesterday was at 1067046. “U.S. researchers examined death certificates and discovered that people have the highest chance of death on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day”. The Spirit of Christmas tends to the things that are of life and peace (Ro8:5).

Romans 8:9-11
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

Now, Paul tells the church that we are not of the flesh, because the Spirit of God dwells in us, so we should not be lead by the spirit of the holidays. The Spirit of Christ leads us to the things that tend to life (Jh6:63). And, so when we think about the Christmas season and how it has changed we see people behaving more violent. Take for instance black Friday when news throughout the country inform us of fights in the malls, increase of theft and robberies all in the name of the holidays. When we say happy holidays and take Christ out; Merry Christmas, we release ourselves from accountability for our actions, and so we treat others without mercy. The Spirit of Christ knows all things and helps us with the things we do not know.  Paul tells us that he, the spirit, helps us with our infirmities; be it physical, emotional or spiritual he intercedes to God on our behalf (Ro8:27).

The Ark of the covenant represented God’s presence. It was a box made out of fine wood covered with gold with two Cherubim figures on top. In the Ark were several artifacts that were highly significant which represented God’s deliverance. Such items that were in the Ark were the Ten Commandments, which God gave to Moses, Aaron’s rod which budded, and a jar of manna. Anytime God’s people went to war or needed to converse with God they went to the Ark; at least the high priest did. In one occasion the people of Israel went to war against the enemy and lost heavily, so they went back to their tents and decided to take the Ark; they figured with the Ark they would surely win. But, to their surprise the people lost again and the enemy took the Ark away for the people. Now, their symbol of service and hope was gone, the Ark of the Covenant for good. Many years past by that the people were without the Ark they became accustom of dealing with their life issues on their own; God was no longer with them. Until the Ark came back. It was in place whose people did not know how to render honor to it. 

2 Samuel 6

And when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.

Now, the Ark of the Covenant; that wooden box, represents Christ who was born in a wooden manager and died in on a wooden cross. The bible calls Christ the hope of glory (Col1:27), that which the people of God had lost. The people of Israel’s focus was on the fixture, on what represented God instead on God himself. Like with the people at Athens in the times of the Apostles when Paul passed by and saw that they had and idol titled “THE UNKNOWN GOD”(Acts17:22-24), as the children of Israel and the Ark. And, when David and the people found the Ark again after many years they had not changed the way they looked at God. Instead of they putting the burden of the Ark on the shoulders of the Levites and priest they put it on animals of which angered God and cause him to kill UZZAH when the Ark was about to fall; priest could not touch any holy thing. They trusted on the symbol of God and not in the God of the symbol. God’s burden is light its not all that hard to carry Jesus said come to me all that are heavy laden and burdened and I will give you rest and take my yoke (Mt.11:28-29). When UZZAH died David became afraid of the Ark and placed it in the land of Obed-edom and God blessed his home powerfully(ps127:1).

 

In life there are doors that we desire to enter in that are shut whether it be, jobs, positions, possessions, relationships that are shut and no matter what we do we cannot obtain it; they are not meant for us. But, there are those doors or gates that are meant for us to enter there in, that God by his grace opens for us and no one can enter. Now, we can never enter fully through the door that God sets before us, we could only enter to the vestibule because He always reserves a place for himself. At the vestibule we can find the blessings God sets for us and there we can see through the window but with limitations, because Paul said that we see vaguely (1Cor. 13:12) as if through a glass. One of the things about entering through the vestibule is that one can enter and leave at anytime, where as when one completely enters through the main door there is no turning back.

Ezekiel 44:1-3

44 Then he brought me back the way of the gate of the outward sanctuary which looketh toward the east; and it was shut.

Then said the Lord unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut.

It is for the prince; the prince, he shall sit in it to eat bread before the Lord; he shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate, and shall go out by the way of the same.

The bible tells us about a gate that is opened to everyone in which leads to destruction and being astray. As well, there is a gate that leads to life of which is hardly noticeable (Mat. 7:13) but available to all. Before we can enter in through the vestibule, to be before the gate God enters in, what so ever there is damaged or dead He will clean it or revive it for us. Before Jesus entered into a city as he drew closer to the gate of the city the people were carrying a dead child in a coffin and he revived him (Lk7:12). Things happen at the vestibule of the gate in preparation for us. Take for example what happened at the vestibule of the gate in the porch at Bethesda a pool where many people with diverse sicknesses went to wait for an angel who entered the pool inside the gate to stir the waters (Jh5:4-9). At the entrance or vestibule of the gate many things happens because the Lord passes through there to enter the ultimate door of life; it is the eternal path of man. So, the doors of which the Lord opens for us in life are set for signs by which we need to continue to enter there in; whether they are jobs, relationships, or possessions, they lead to that window by which we could only see vaguely.

From the time before Christ was born to his birth in the manger many prophecies predicted his coming. His coming’s announcement was like no other, because types of Christ came as the time drew near. In Genesis immediately after the fall of Adam and Eve God predicted that the savior would be born (ge. 3:15). As time past on, since fulfills his promises, he promised a savior like himself (Deut. 18:15) and Moses came to lead his people out of bondage. A virgin needed to bare a child (Is. 7:14). But, salvation needed to have a price tagged to it, so many children died when Moses was born as in Christ’s time (Ex. 1:22 & Mt. 2:16). Pain was once again going to man because of the Savior(Jer31:15). God was not happy to send his son down to earth to suffer and die, like every parent, it angered him (Is.13:6-9), but he had to do it. The manger had to be the center stage to conclude the prophetic movement for the redemption of man kind. Two major events surrounded the manger, the magi were warned and directed to the manger, and the angelic presence which appeared to the shepherds. Though the birth of Christ was one of the most painful events to affect man and God, it was also the most rejoiced, because till date we celebrate his birth. As a parent there is no greater pain then that of spear to hit the heart like that of the death of a child, and Mary felt just that (Lk2:34-35).