Are we growing?

not just born again

Change, these days are a bit hard to accept especially since those changes are without option. Having control to a change is not always an option that we have. Some changes in our lives take more effort then other.   There is a saying that change comes from the heart, and when it speaks about the heart it refers to the spirit. There are people whose spirit is broken (pro25:28), and therefore cannot change; they are like a city without walls. 

John 3:3-5

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.a]

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.

Nicodemus could not understand the concept of being born again. His ideas for this concept were literal, and to him there was no other way. In order to see the kingdom of God, Jesus said one had to be born again. One does not have die to see the kingdom, but be reborn giving reference to a change of spirit. The word “see” in this text is in reference to being aware of the kingdom of God. 

But, what is the kingdom of God? It refers to Christ’s rule, and Nicodemus was looking at Christ as a great teacher and not God himself. Later, Jesus tells Nicodemus that in order to enter into God’s kingdom he  had to be born of water and spirit (Jhn3:5). And, by water and spirit Jesus was referring to having a humble heart and a willingness to a complete change.  

Now, in order to have a complete change the stage goes from having to be reborn to becoming like a child. And, this we see when the disciples asked Jesus who would be the greatest in the kingdom of God(Mt18:3). To “become” like a little child refers to change from being born again, to now a more mature being. Paul writes to the church in Colossians that they need to continue to grow and be rooted in Christ (Co2:6-7, 1Pt2:2-3). 

Jesus expected Nicodemus to know the spiritual context that he was referring to when he spoke to him about being reborn, and because of his immaturity he could not continue to speak concerning the spiritual things (Jhn3:12). Maturity in Chris is vital in these days and age.  We need to be mature in Christ proficient in the use of the word of God, and not babes (He5:12-13).

 

 

 

Ambassadors of Christ Church

Galatians 5:22-24

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

SUBHEADING

LIving without laws

The push to live without laws is on the up rise. We see more and more people reacting defiantly towards those who enforce the laws, such as the police. The bible calls it the spirit of lawlessness. Paul spoke of the day of the Lord and that it will not come until this spirit is manifested (2The2:4). The bible tells us that Jesus Christ is coming like a thief in the night, when no one expects him (1The5:2-3). We are expect to keep watch for the coming of Christ, else we will stay behind as in the parable of the 12 virgins (Mat25:10-13).  

Keeping watchful in times like these where we see so many signs is important for our redemption. Now, wanting to live with out laws where no one bothers you is tempting, and seems intriguing. And, we can live without laws according to Galatians. 

There those who want to live lawless are fighting a losing battle, because the law is here to stay. There is a law for everything that is against human nature. We were not created to be evil and engage in bad works. We were created to please God according to Revelation 4:11. Galatians outlines a list of sample deeds that have laws against them. But, there is a smaller list that does not have laws against them. I mean we have never received a ticket for loving someone. Paul tells us that love is the fulfillment of the law (Ro13:10). He tells us that God’s peace will rule in our hearts through Christ Jesus (Phil4:7).     

 There is no law against the fruit of the Spirit, we can exercise them without thinking that we are going to be penalized. When we practice these things we do not have to be as the proverbs describes the heathen looking behind his shoulder.(pro28:1). Paul tells us that we have been release from the law to the new way of the Spirit (Ro7:6).  

 

The Remnant

2 Kings 19:29-31

29 “This will be the sign for you, Hezekiah:

“This year you will eat what grows by itself,
    and the second year what springs from that.
But in the third year sow and reap,
    plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
30 Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah
    will take root below and bear fruit above.
31 For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant,
    and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors.

“The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

After all has been said and done what remains standing is important

The last man standing is what declares a victory. During a boxing match if the losing opponent continues to get up with his arms in fighting position the fight will continue. It is when the arms go down that a fight is stopped and a declaration of victory is made. During the time when the people of God were in a war with the Amalekites, if Moses’ arms dropped the people began to lose the fight so Moses needed to keep his arm raised all the time (Ex17:11). And, usually in a battle there is a small group of soldiers that will push to win the battle no matter the cost, kind of like the six marines who pressed to raise the flag at Iwo Jima. Isaiah said that like in the battle of Median where every soldiers boot and garments were rolled in blood and what was going to be left was as said in verse 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Is9:6). The remnant of the battle is glorious. The fact that Christ remain alone steadfast in winning the battle for us is astronomical (1Cor15:57).

The promise to Hezekiah that the victory was going to come came with a sign, that a remnant was going to rise after the third year. Such remnant was going to be rooted below and was to bare much fruit. Now, the reason why a remnant comes about is because they are deeply rooted in the cause, and no matter what storm comes their way they will stand. Now, in order to bare fruits (Jh15:8) one needs to be rooted. Take for instance John the baptist, in Matthew 11:7 Jesus describes him as a reed battered by the desert, but rooted and unmovable. We have gone through so much this year. Many have had no other choice but to entertain themselves; after netflix, hulu and Facebook has been over exhausted, church services. And, have become somewhat rooted in Christ, but the real test to see if you are rooted is when the country opens will you continue to seek Christ; or was it because you had nothing else to do. See, we need to be counted as that band of survival that was promised to Hezekiah that would be rooted. Jeremiah says that when you trust in the Lord you will be like a tree rooted who bares much fruit (Jer17:7-8).

 


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

 

Receiving bad news is not welcoming to anyone at any circumstances. Especially, getting news that is close to home, is devastating and no one wants to be a part of it. Let’s face it, no one was expecting the world wide out break of the covid19, and certainly no one was expecting the racial tension to get out of control. The fact is everyone is at home minding their own business and is not looking for a fight; at least for the most part. When the storm is coming it just appears with out warning signs and everyone has to react. Just like when the the apostle Paul was being delivered to the court in Italy and they set sail after his warning not to sail. That they noticed a soft wind perfect for sailing and when they set sail a hurricane swiped them with fierce winds (Act27:14-15). Luckily, God was with Paul and assured him that no one would be lost. The day seemed calm, but the unexpected happened; the hurricane hit. No one is expecting the storm to come. Peter tells us that we should not be surprised of the fiery trials that come our way (1Pt4:12-15) as something strange. He tells us to rejoice, because his glory is going to appear during those times. When those unexpected hard times come, they are the perfect moments for his glory to appear and so we need to engage in worshiping him. 

2 Chronicles 20:21-22

21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of hisc] holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

“Give thanks to the Lord,
    for his love endures forever.”

22 As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.

King Jehoshaphat and the people of Israel had one of those unexpected moments where a gigantic storm came their way. An army of immeasurable size was coming against them. They were warned that three kings with a host of men to many to count were headed the way to take over their lives. Such event spread fear to everyone including the king. That the only thing that the king could think of was to pray. The last couple of months America has changed the statistics of anti-prayer to a praying country. And, one thing is for sure that when we fear and trust the Lord then battles that come our way become his battles; as he said to the King (2Chr20:15). In the story of David and Goliath, David tells the giant that he was going to cut him to pieces so that every one will know that the battle belongs to the Lord (1Sam17:47).  He tells him that this battle does not require spears or sword as it is told to Zerubbabel(Zac4:6) that is is not by might or power, but by his spirit. And, the prophet tells king Jehoshaphat not to be afraid but to go out into battle. 

What is interesting in this account is that after the word of the Lord came a spirit of worship arose and the leaders of the tribes of the Kohathites and Korahites began to worship the Lord aloud. In fact, the day of the battle the king sends out men dressed in splendid to worship the Lord in front as they go into the battle field. And, what happens in verse 22 was that as they came in worship the armies that came against them began to kill each other to the point of annihilation, because the battle really belongs to the Lord.  

Have you ever felt that whatever could go wrong goes wrong, that you suddenly wake up from a night of tossing and turning and the phone rings and messages start pouring like rain of negative things with no end in sight; and it is only 8:00 a.m. Throughout your day all you have witnessed is not good things from friends, family and work, and all of a sudden you start to feel a bit dizzy and fatigue. In your quest for answers the last thing on your mind is, maybe I have done something wrong and God is not pleased. The fact is, that we displease God quit often. Paul tells us in the letter to the Romans that we have all sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Ro3:23). In fact, throughout the bible we find God’s side on wickedness and sin, it says that he hates such (ps11:5). God dispersed his people from out of his house because of their wicked ways of which he hates (Ho9:15). Luke tells us that if we deliberately continue to sin salvation will be taken away from us (Heb10:26). One thing rests for sure and that is that God does not quit on us, he does not stop seeking after us and drawing us to him; even if the things we are doing are not pleasing to him. The fight for your soul is on!

Lamentations 3:4-9

He has made my skin and my flesh grow old and has broken my bones. He has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship. He has made me dwell in darkness like those long dead.He has walled me in so I cannot escape; he has weighed me down with chains. Even when I call out or cry for help, he shuts out my prayer. He has barred my way with blocks of stone he has made my paths crooked.

Jeremiah was struggling, because like many of us he woke up one day and found that God was against him and his people. He felt that God was not please with him. He felt sick, bitter, sad, trapped, bound, and an answerless prayer life which are all signs that something is wrong with God and me. One might say that is a bad state to be in, but it is better to have God against us then to have him completely absent from us. David shared this feeling after he sinned by sending out a census out to survey God’s people; an action provoked by Satan. The bible tells us that God gave him 3 choices for handling this sin; either three years of famine, three months of fleeing from the enemy or three days of plague in the land (2Sam24:13-14). And, David chose to fall into the hand of God then of that of the enemy. It is better to have God against us, because he knows what is best for us then to have him absent from us. That is what Jeremiah understood as well, that it is better to have God with us even if he is not too happy with us, then to have him absent (Lam3:31-33). Because God’s mercy are for ever, he does not mean to afflict us.

Knowing your family’s God purpose and call is vital for keeping unity and bond of it. God has a call to the family for service and ministry and it is up to the head of the house; the dad, to acknowledge it and build it up. God not only has a plan for adults but for the entire family. But, knowing the call is not sufficient for a home to be edified, there needs to an agreeing reaction and releasing to God of the family(Mt19:14). The bible teaches us that we need to prepare our children for God’s calling (Deut4:9) and that through witnessing and testimony’s. There are blessings to the dad who seeks out God’s calling for his home (Ps128:2-4) such as no other family will have. The children will be like shoots of olive producing oils of knowledge and talents. Going against the grain of society is what it takes for a family set on a course God’s call.

Luke 1:59-64

59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”

61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”

62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 

Now, Zachariah was a priest whose turn came up by the choice of lots to burn incense in the temple while the people prayed outside. He and his wife Elizabeth were descendants of Aaron the priest. They were up in age and his wife was not able to conceive. The priest whose function was to bring incense to the temple was to have tied to his feet a bell with a rope of which would sound as he walked into the temple. If the priest would die in the temple the bell would make a stomp sound and stop sounding signaling those who waited outside to pull him out. When Zachariah walked into the temple the Angel of the Lord appear and gave him the good news that he was going to be a dad, but he needed to name him John. Zachariah was challenged to go against the currant of tradition and family and in this time and age we too are challenged to go against the currant. Zachariah became mute because he chose not to believe the news, and so for nine months he could not speak. He had the choice when the child was born to either go with tradition or sign the name of descendants or the one associated with the kingdom. As dads we decide with whom are we going to associate our children and family’s as Joshua did (Josh24:15) to serving God.

One of the great challenges churches have is finding people that are willing to volunteer without limitations; devoted people to the work of the ministry. And, part of the reason for a lack of volunteers is that feeling of commitment; that once I join I am responsible and cannot quit especially when things begin to get difficult. The US census says that 1 out of 4 adults volunteer in churches, which is about 43% of the people. The goal of churches is to transition volunteers to servants of the Lord. And, once one has become a servant of the Lord the task that is handed to him comes with powers and enriching experiences one has never experienced before. Like the disciples of Jesus Christ, after the Lord resurrected, he told them to stay in Jerusalem until they were empowered with the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts2:1-4). But, the task that was going to be laid before them was not going to be easy, they were going to go through hunger, homelessness, and persecution. Paul was one of those who after receiving his call to servanthood (Acts9:3-6) tasted how good the Lord is, and set out to pursue his calling at all cost(2cor11:23-28). When we become more then volunteers the taste of the ministry will continually be in the palatal of our tongue.

Ezekiel 2:6-10

Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people; open your mouth and eat what I give you.”

Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, 10 which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe.

Ezekiel’s calling was like many others called with a specific purpose. He was specifically called to speak God’s word to a very rebellious group of people. He was given a scroll to eat of which was sweet as honey to the palatal of the tongue but became bitter to the belly. Such leads us to interpret that our calling when it moves from the volunteer mindset to that of servanthood will have a sour aftertaste. Ezekiel left the presence of God and sat with his people in a depressed mindset. This scroll he had eaten was filled with all kinds of lamentations, and woes, which depicted how God felt about how his people were behaving. Our calling has its highlight, but at the end of the day, it is for the difficult task of helping to save mankind and equipping other believers (Acts4:12-13). Within the ministry, in the belly of those who have eaten the scroll of God’s words, lies a distasteful feeling against sin(pro6:16-19). He hides his face and rejects to hear prayer when we persist to sin (Is59:2). Ezekiel’s calling turned him to a powerful and hard man, because of the people he was to minister too.

Once a person decides to serve God; that is get involved in a ministry or become actively involved on a frequent basis, two things happen in the spiritual realm one he/she become an active target of Satan and two God’s divine shield of protection towards the ministry is activated. Now, everyone is an open target of the enemy, because the scriptures say that he, Satan, came to kill, steal, and destroy (Jh10:10). Peter tells us that our enemy is prowling like a roaring lion seeking to see whom he may devour (1Pt5:8). At one of the churches in Revelations Jesus tells them that they are the synagogue of Satan (rev2:9). So, Satan’s work becomes more engaging when one individual becomes and active member of their church or ministry. He will strikes at the work place, the home, the church and every place that person encounters. Satan’s disguise is so discrete that churches have been deceived; the angel of light (2Cor11:14). God has primary interest with his servants, they are his delight (ps35:27). He has set apart his servants and pays special attention to them when they pray (ps4:3). God will protect his servant (ps34:22) and though Satan will attack the church it will not prevail against it (Mt16:18).

Esther 6:13-14 His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him—you will surely come to ruin!” 14 While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman away to the banquet Esther had prepared.

Now, Satan had instill in Haman’s heart to destroy God’s people the Jews and had the king decree to reward anyone who would kill a Jew, so one final blow would utterly destroy God’s people and that was to kill their representative and intercessor Mordecai. It seemed like the perfect plan, after all the king was his all time buddy whom crowned him with all kinds of favors. But, God who knows the thoughts and secrets of men and just as Haman was about to get his way he changed the entire panorama. Haman’s friends this idea that no one can come up against God’s servant and prosper. Isiah says “no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord” (Is54:17).

For someone to become strong he/she must recognize that he has a weakness. To become totally strong one has to target and increase every set weakness in them and unfortunately no one has gotten to that stage in their lives. We are all weak in some area of our lives or another whether it is food, drink, work, the mind etc…, there is always a part of us that needs some empowerment. We go to the gym and take vitamins to feel strong, but what do we take when our conscience becomes weak? The weakness of the conscience is not neglected with the idea of every man for himself. But, the scriptures teach us that we can wound someone’s conscience and cause him/her to sin as well (1Cor8:12), when we part take on things that are controversial to others. In fact, Paul tells us that we sin against Christ when we engage in things that are negative or uncommon to someone’s conscience. I think that being considerate to how others see and feel about things is part of helping them to being strong; and this what the gospel is all about(Is35:3-4).

Romans 14:20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. 21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

God is at work. The scriptures says that he that began the good work in you will perfect it until the end(Ph1:6). But, it can take longer to finish the work God is doing in us if we walk around disregarding others and being judgmental. In order for someone to stumble he/she needs to be made weak, whether it is a physical thing, emotional or spiritual. The same way we can weaken someone we can strength him/her with the things we say and do. Satan had asked Jesus if could cut Peter down, but he prayed for him and so Satan could not take Peter down. But, Jesus told Peter something very important once he was able to lift himself up; Peter’s weakness was Satan’s point of attack, and that is that he should strengthen the brothers (Lk22:31-32). Peter’s denial of Jesus weaken the brothers. His area of weakness was intimidation, Peter was easily intimidated by others with opposing views. Instead of making others weak through the things we say and do we need to teach them to be strong (Col2:7). So, being strong is something we learn, although some are born being strong in certain areas, but weak in other. God uses our weakness for his glory (1Cor1:27). It causes us to draw closer to God, our weakness because no one else can strengthen us for our strength comes from the Lord (ps18:32).

According to a finding on forgiveness 90% of the world and in America says that they need more forgiveness in their relationships, 83% say in their neighborhoods. In Recent news parents were took their son to court to have a judge evict him, because he was not helping but was being a nuisance. Jesus said that there will come a time when sons will be against their fathers, daughters against their mothers, because of the gospel (Mt10:35). There is this war in the homes where the children have risen against their parents. In recent days youth rallies against gun violence have erupted all over, and they are say that parents are not doing enough to protect them.  Parents are not modeling enough forgiveness to their children. Now, according to the findings 60% of Americans say that forgiveness has to begin with an apology and some changes before it can take place.  But, something greater happens whey one can forgive without being put in the position of forgiveness; especially because he/she is ones son or daughter.

Luke 15:20-24

20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Now, Jesus spoke this parable on the prodigal son with relations to a relationship that was lost, and then found. But, he first began with a thing of good value like the sheep that became lost and then he went to a coin which was of high value of which was lost and also found. In all three instances of the lost sheep, coin and the son a great amount of joy was noticed, but only in the son was forgiveness displayed.  There is a great amount of importance given in the bible about forgiveness up to the point that if it is not practiced it can hinder our chances to entering into heaven (Mt6:15).  This son recognized that he needed forgiveness; the need for forgiveness is a sickness in the spirit, and so the father forgave him without listening to his apology. The power to forgive has been given to us, but with it our children will remain sick in their soul. Jesus said to the spectators who were waiting to see if he would heal this guy that was lured to him by his friends, which is easier to say your sins are forgiven or to say arise and take up your bed; suggesting that it is harder to heal the soul then the body(Mk2:9-11). See we can have a child wounded in the spirit doing crazy things in earth, because he/she needs forgiveness. And, one may ask well how many times should I forgive, well Jesus told Peter seventy times seven inferring countless of times, or not keeping a count(Mt18:22).