Isaiah the prophet spoke about the events subsequent to Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. He stated that as soon as the Word or the Gospel message goes out from Jerusalem, Zion's new daughter (the church) is born. Isaiah states: "Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet, no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children" (Isaiah 66:8). As was prophesied by Isaiah, no sooner had the apostle Peter, an Israelite, begun to speak than three thousand men and women were baptized in Jerusalem, and the first church, the Daughter of Zion, was born ((Acts 2:38.41). Of course, this first church consisted of all Jews who had traveled to Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost. They exercised their inheritance rights and accepted God's promise of eternal life.
When God created Adam and Eve, he placed their human spirit in the solar plexus region of the body, just above the stomach. He also placed his Holy Spirit in the solar plexus region of the body. The Holy Spirit was similar to the womb in that it kept the young and immature human spirit protected, guided, and nurtured. That symbiotic relationship was supposed to have continued until the human spirit was fully mature and capable of independent spiritual survival. Adam and Eve thwarted the process when they sinned and chose to be spiritually independent of God. It was somewhat like a six-week old fetus choosing to exit the womb of the mother. A six-week old fetus cannot survive outside of the mother's womb. Nor can the human spirit in its current condition survive independently of the protection of God's Holy Spirit. Solution? Get filled today with God's Holy Spirit.
Most of us instantly notice spots and stains. We don't like them, so we try to get rid of them or hide them. Some of them refuse to be hidden. I recently was dining at a restaurant and decided to have cheesecake for desert--NY Cheesecake with Graham Cracker Crust, Hazelnuts and Chocolate Glace. A few minutes into the experience, I noticed a chocolate spot on the white cloth napkin on my lap. I quickly refolded the napkin to hide the spot. A few minutes later another spot appeared. This one defied my first instinct which was to again refold the napkin. I decided to leave it as is. I knew there must be a reason that this white napkin needed an oval-shaped brown chocolate spot.
The spot represented the dilemma in which we find ourselves when, after we have been cleansed in the waters of baptism, we continue to sin or to engage in actions that violate spiritual law, as well as God's commands. The Lord sees the sin as a brown stain on a soul that is otherwise cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Hopefully, the stain is accidental only.
Many sins and violations of spiritual law occur along a continuum, any point at which one can stop or make an opposite or different decision. This is contrasted with the sins committed by accident, such as when someone forgets certain facts and says something that is untrue. While anyone can come to the Lord to be cleansed of any and every past sin, for sealed disciples of Jesus who have the Holy Spirit and have pledged to live righteously, the blood of Jesus covers only accidental sins. Ongoing sins committed through deliberate or pre-meditated action will have dire spiritual consequences (Hebrews 10:26-31).
A few weeks ago I was speaking with someone who berated God for not caring enough about his people to make a personal appearance to speak with them in person. For him, a personal appearance meant care and concern. He thus defended his right to work with Satan because Satan, according to him, had paid him personal visits.
At the time of this conversation, I was unable to think of a rebuttal. I too would like to sit at a conference table or coffee table or at brunch and converse with God in person, instead of through the ether. Since then, I have tried to think of how God might respond at a press conference to this person's complaint. Perhaps he will say that the earth had been submerged in a miry pit that was home to Satan. Thus, it took very little effort for Satan to make an appearance, particularly to those who chose to reside in the deepest sections of the pit. God, however, seeks to pull us out of the pit, not join us in it. When we become tired of being in the pit and seek a way out of it, he appears at the perimeter to help us out.
Clearly, however, he shows up differently today than he did in the Old Testament. The Old Testament reports several "in person" appearances including face-to-face meetings with Moses (Exodus 33:11). In the New Testament, however, although they saw Jesus in person, they only heard the voice of God the Father (Matthew 3:17). The sin and rebellion was so great that not even Jesus was able to command a personal appearance by God. Two thousand years later, we still can only hear his voice, and only if we choose to listen.
If you have been deceived into thinking that God does not care about who we are as individuals, perhaps it is because you have never read the Bible. Perhaps instead you have relied on rumors, hearsay and spiritual gossip. The Scriptures may not be able to substitute for a personal appearance by God. However, clearly they show us how to travel to the place where God resides.
A few years ago I made the bold decision to put a $40,000 downpayment on a condominium. It was a new construction because I wanted to be the first person to use everything in the unit. When the unit finally was completed and ready for use, I discovered that approximately three feet of the unit mysteriously had disappeared. It was three feet narrower. When a unit is built, neither the architect nor the builder can guarantee that the finished product will be exactly as the plans. But a three foot difference is very large. It is enough to construct a viewing arena around the circumference of the unit, which is what I believe the builders did. The unit also provided easy access that rendered a locked front door irrelevant. The ceiling of this luxury unit, and virtually every other unit in the building was made of removable gypsum tiles so that someone could travel from one unit to the next by traversing the empty space above the ceiling tiles. The electrical heating and air conditioning equipment for the units were placed precariously in the ceiling above the bathroom tub. So what does one do when faced with this dilemma? Of course, I refused to take occupancy. The builders kept 50% of my downpayment.
Building a physical residence may be impossible to do for ourselves. For better or for worse, we are forced to rely on a builder. Building a spiritual home is different. At Calvary, Jesus laid the foundation for our spiritual home, and he now expects us to participate in the building process. He wants us to determine who we want to be in his kingdom--earthlings with their faults and insecurities, or spiritual beings in search of perfection? What do we expect of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ when they enter God's kingdom? Do we expect them to be the same as they were on earth, or do we expect that they will have been transformed. And what do we want the kingdom to be. Should it be a transplanted facsimile of life on earth? Or should it be radically different? We can decide what we would like God's kingdom to be. If we participate in building it we cannot possibly be disappointed. We will have what we built.
True life as God intended is a synchrony. It does not consist in a series of nine billion parallel causal episodes--one for each human on the planet. Life as we know it, including our connection to God, would be impossible if that were true. Our cells, tissues, organs, bones, and the liquids and empty spaces in our body operate in perfect synchrony. The empty spaces operate irrespective of what the cells do or fail to do. Without the empty spaces which consist of air or ether, the body would be like a deflated balloon.
There is no causality in God's perfection. Causality is a fully subsumed facet of synchronicity. If we thought of the heart pumping blood as being caused by the blood flowing into the heart, we introduce a potential malfunction of blood not flowing into the heart. Similarly, when we begin to think of the blood flowing into the heart as being caused by the heart pumping blood, a potential malfunction of the heart not pumping blood also is introduced. The potential for eternal perfection is possible only when the heart pumping blood AND the blood flowing into the heart are viewed as occurring in perfect synchrony.
Eternal life and perfect synchrony is not possible with human creations because they are designed and constructed with the inherent "flaw" of interdependent causality. Thus, the parts are dependent on other parts in order for them to function. Human creations function only as long as their interconnected and interdependent parts function.
In contrast, human life is designed to exist eternally in perfect synchrony. We can tap into that perfection when we eliminate causality as a reason for being and doing. The Scriptures state for example in James 4:17 that anyone who "knows the good they ought to do" should do it otherwise they would be in violation of spiritual law, and thus the potential for spiritual perfection. The perfection that is inherent in spiritual law can and does manifest only when each person gives 100% of themselves to actions that are not dependent on what others do or say, but instead, on what is necessary to accomplish God's purposes, as directed by the Holy Spirit. Thus, the focus always remains on God. When instead, we begin to look at the actions of the persons around us, we begin to introduce causality and therefore imperfection into the experience of life. When disciples of Jesus each make a decision to do what God has called them to do, irrespective of circumstances and irrespective of what others do or say, we will have achieved perfect synchrony within the kingdom of God.
In the days of Ezekiel, the Israelites ignored God's instructions (Ezekiel 40-45) and used the wrong blueprint to construct the new temple in Jerusalem. They used a blueprint that they themselves had created. Instead of the grandeur that God intended, they built a temple that caused weeping among the older Israelites (Ezra 3:12). Today, we are subject to the same error. See Rebekah Isaac, The Sons Of Zion Versus The Sons Of Greece: The Antichrist Revealed, chapter 7, pages 54-56 (Ezekiel's Temple).
Upside down is here to stay, is here to stay, is here to stay! The idea that someone might consider celebrating the fact that upside down has become the new normal seems odd. However, when normal meant drunkenness, rage, immorality, greed, murder, financial despair, and every other form of evil decimating our society, upside down definitely is to be celebrated.
I will welcome upside down in my housing situation because for the past several months I have not had a formal place to live. I have been struggling to remain awake as I write this blog post in a 24-hour diner, one of many that I have visited in the past several months. In a few hours, I will go to the gym, and tomorrow I will be able to afford a decent hotel for one night. This is a step up from a few weeks ago when my Unemployment Insurance benefits were delayed for ten weeks. I didn't sleep for ten weeks because I couldn't afford a hotel for even one night. When the benefits eventually were released, I was relieved to learn that I still remembered how to lie down on a bed and go to sleep.
I will welcome upside down in my personal and family life, and that's all I will say on that issue. I will welcome upside down in a society that has come to believe that free speech and the right to practice one's religion is dangerous unless one is an atheist and/or agrees with a radical ecumenical agenda. I will welcome upside down in a society that believes that every homeless person is insane, because believing this enables the society to escape responsibility for banks that have illegally foreclosed on and stockpiled hundreds of thousands of now vacant homes. I will welcome upside down in my ability to work with congregations to help transform them, without having federal investigators breathing down their necks and threatening them if they order my books or even mention being sealed with the Holy Spirit as described in Ephesians 1:13 and 2 Corinthians 1:22.
When "normal" has become diseased, it demands the same radical interference that would be addressed to a gangrenous limb. Let's make upside down the new normal.
It generally is said that God is everywhere. Yet, when you most urgently need him, it seems that he does a disappearing act and is nowhere to be found. That has been the presumed experience of a large number of people. But is it God who does a disappearing act? I recently had someone extol the benefits of being aligned with Satan--jobs, promotions, etc. She stated that God does not generally offer these rewards. As someone who, for the past five months has been supporting this blogging activity and everything else with a meager Unemployment Insurance check, the comparison was painful. But I know better than to blame God. Instead, I thank him for the many times he has provided very adequate employment. I also know that when it seems that he is not present to our difficult situations, that perception is false.
That the results of prayer sometimes seem inadequate is in part a consequence of the fact that we are required to live in community with others, and God generally acts in the context of our community. For example, when God sought a massive response to hurricane Katrina, he did not send Angels from heaven. Instead, he sought responders in the community of people, as is also true when he responds to the individual prayers of his people. When Satan seeks to reward his cohorts, he also seeks responders from among the community of people. When God seeks responders for an emergency such as a natural disaster, the response is massive and overwhelming, irrespective of the victims' religion. When he seeks responders for individual emergency situations such as ill health, the response often is mixed. In contrast, Satan, being the author of the natural disasters, has little concern for the victims. Nor does he care about individual emergencies that he himself has authored. His only concern is in rewarding his cohorts for their part in the planning and execution of his evil agenda.
It is worth noting that the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) taught about our responses to individual "neighbors" not necessarily mass emergencies. In mass emergencies, there is an opportunity to see and be seen. In individual emergencies, there are few if any opportunities for public applause. It is our responses to these individual emergencies that God uses to judge the condition of our hearts. When we can consistently respond with equal mercy toward one as toward a large group, we will know that we finally have entered the realm of the blessed "merciful" (Matthew 5:7).
When you speak the truth in love, the
consequence is sometimes hate. Speaking the truth in love is a biblical requirement (Ephesians 4:11-16). Yet, throughout the Old and New Testaments, we see prophets and other truth speakers being ostracized, stoned, hated and killed. It takes courage to speak truth, particularly when your life and livelihood are at stake. It takes a decision to surrender all to God regardless of consequences. There is no special "courage gene" that some people have and others don't. Courage is merely a decision to trust God and to trust his promises.
A few years ago when I was in the process of deciding whether or not I wanted to commit to God or to continue life on my terms, I was required to count the costs. Luke 14:28 warns that we should not begin to build unless we determine that we will be able to complete the process. This is in stark contrast to the often emotion-filled call after a Sunday sermon to "pray Jesus into your heart." Counting the costs requires that you look squarely in the face of anything and everything that might seek to derail your faith. What will you say to parents and friends who question why you need such a level of commitment? What if friends desert or betray you? What would you do if your level of personal faith compromises your profession or your career? What happens if you lose your home or your cherished car as a result of your faith? I concluded that faith in God and in his coming kingdom was as the pearl of great price described in Matthew 13:44-46. Nothing in this physical world could ever be of greater value than the opportunity to be part of God's kingdom. The physical can perish or vanish, but God's kingdom is eternal, as is our part in it if we choose to be aligned with God.
More than at any other time in history, Christians and disciples of Jesus need to count the costs of their commitment to God and be prepared for severe testing. In this country and throughout the world, disciples of Jesus are losing homes and businesses to foreclosure and bankruptcy as a result of their faith. They are being tortured, stalked and harassed. They also are being called to deny God or Jesus at the risk of losing their life. Of course, being a disciple means that you should expect to boldly call on God for protection and for the spiritual weapons necessary for the battle (Ephesians 6:10-19). It does not require that you meekly surrender your life merely because you are a disciple.
Whether you have been a Christian or disciple of Jesus for one month, one decade, or ten decades, if you have never counted the costs of following Jesus and of having the indwelling Holy Spirit, it is never too late to do so. If you are not a Christian or a disciple of Jesus, you also can count the costs of following Jesus if you so choose. You can begin by making a thorough list of everything that might threaten to derail your faith, including fear. Decide what you lose by surrendering to the derailment, and what you gain by holding fast to your faith. How will you respond when challenged? How does God want you to respond when challenged? If you plan in advance what you will say and do, and if you allow the Holy Spirit to lead the battle and the defense, you will never fall (Zechariah 4:6; 2 Peter 1:3-11). Be bold and courageous, openly acknowledge the Lord your God and his Words of truth (Mark 8:38), and speak the truth in love.
Satan is only as powerful in your life as you believe he is. God also is only as powerful in your life as you believe he is. Will you have faith in Satan, or in God?
What is your destiny? Destiny is defined as the future destined for a person or thing. I don't believe in the popular notion of predestination which suggests that the circumstances of your life--good and evil--are etched in stoned and you are compelled to come into this world and live out an inevitable course of events. However, the Bible confirms that God sends us into the world with a predetermined plan and purpose. Every product created by man has a predetermined purpose, and similarly, every human created by God has a predetermined purpose. Jeremiah 29:11 in the Bible confirms that God has created a specific plan for each of our lives. It is a plan to prosper us, to give us hope and a future. This plan of God does not contain any design for harm whatsoever. God's plan for us is a best case scenario in which we live our very best, joy-filled lives, the life we don't expect is possible. However, God's planned life usually is not the one we live. Instead of surrendering to God's wisdom and living into his plan, we either live aimlessly, or we independently try to create a new plan, oblivious to the fact that only God knows the path to true joy.
So, how do you discover and live into your destiny? You discover your destiny by being honest about who you are and what you want from life. The most important fact is that your true destiny is destined to bring you inner joy and a sense of purpose regardless of the surrounding circumstances. It will be as a fire burning inside of you that cannot be quenched. Living your destiny may not be pain free, but you are guaranteed that any pain experienced was not ordained by God. It is the nature and consequence of life in a sinful world. Nor will living aimlessly or in accordance with your plan be pain free. The difference is that irrespective of whether or not you experience pain with God's plan, you always will emerge victorious. It is equivalent to the pain of childbirth that brings you to a place of increased joy. In contrast, the pain experienced from living aimlessly or following your plan often will point you in a negative direction. Thus, given that all three options--God's plan, your plan, or living aimlessly--are likely to involve pain, it may be practical to choose the option that offers the greatest reward from the pain and brings you to a place of increased joy.
Identifying your true destiny, that is, the specific purpose for which God created you, is not necessarily a simple endeavor, but it is critical that you embark on the quest. For example, if an airplane was created to fly passengers, it should do so. It would not have fulfilled its purpose if it was created and merely placed motionless on an airport runway. In general, the things we create are designed to enhance our life on earth. Similarly, God creates for the specific purpose of enhancing his kingdom and our part in it. Some items, like door handles, are mass produced but have the specific and critical purpose of facilitating the opening of doors. God also creates people for the specific and critical purpose of opening the door to his kingdom for as many as seek to enter. Other items, such as stoves, are designed to increase the temperature of the food products we consume so as to make them edible. God also creates people whose role is to increase the spiritual temperature, purify his Word and make it nourishing and fit for consumption.
Still other items are unique and singular, commissioned for a specific purpose. Among these are the New Year's Eve ball which in 1907, descended for the first time from the top of the building at One Times Square in New York City. The ball descends on a flag pole 141 feet for 60 seconds on New Year's Eve beginning at 11:59 a.m. After the new year has been announced at midnight, it is returned to its place at the top of the building. Only the one ball designed for that specific purpose can fulfill that role. God also creates people for a unique and singular purpose that no one else can fulfill. For example, the apostle Peter had the role of being an apostle of Jesus, but also the unique and singular role of opening the door to God's kingdom and ushering in the Church Age (Matthew 16:13-19; Acts 2:1-41).
The purpose for which God created you may consume your entire life, or it may be a one time event that nonetheless marks the trajectory of your entire life. Moses had the purpose of freeing God's people from their enslavement in Egypt, Simon of Cyrene is known for having carried Jesus' cross (Mark 15:21), the apostle Paul had a purpose to evangelize the Gentile world, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, had a purpose to birth the Messiah and prepare him to complete his mission. One man, as with many others, is not named and may or may not have been a disciple of Jesus. He was purposed to provide an upper room in which Jesus could prepare for the Passover (Luke 22:7-22). He completed his mission and will receive his reward. Find your purpose, fulfill your destiny, and receive your reward.