If you have stumbled here by accident let me first insist that there really are no accidents in life. If however, you came on your own free will then please by all means open your hearts and your minds to the "New Wine" that God has prepared for you!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

More than Conquerors

What would it be like to have accurate information on the outcome of a battle before it even begins? As the battle commander you stand on a rocky outcropping overlooking the battlefield with binoculars in hand, stretching out your arm you survey the landscape. Your enemy resembles an immense swarm of locusts as they begin getting into position. Huge guns and tanks are being driven, and then pulled into place while foot soldiers sharpen swords and clean rifles. The floor of an enormous valley is being filled with row after row with soldiers who are more than ready for the first shell to be launched. You can feel your enemy’s presence as well as their tension; tension so thick you could almost cut it with a knife. 

Both sides have devised a battle plan which has been repeatedly rehearsed for a very long time. Every man has been given his orders, knows his specific job and is ready to submit to the officer in charge. Trenches have been dug and supplies stockpiled as the men take up their positions for what is surely to be a bloodbath. Troop morale is flying high as each side truly believes that they will be the ones to emerge as conquerors. 

The sun is being partially blocked out by passing clouds which cast long eerie shadows of darkness onto the battle field. Suddenly, as you stand weighing all possibilities an unfamiliar aid appears with new intelligence. As you open the communiqué, you are informed that you have already won the battle and that your enemy has already been defeated. Your orders go on to instruct you to engage the enemy and continue to fight to the death and not to let up during the heat of battle.

Does this story sound farfetched? Read what God inspired Paul to write in Romans 8:35,37 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written ‘For your sakes we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 What a blessing we have been given, victory over this great cosmic battle before it even commences. Not gambling on who’s going to emerge victorious, but rather we are told that followers of Christ are more than conquerors! To be more than a conqueror is to go into battle knowing that the battle has already been won! It’s important to note that we are not being withheld from the battle just because of the outcome. We are being told that we will be victorious no matter how dismal the day to day battle looks. Jesus encouraged us that in this world we will have trials and tribulation, but to be of good cheer because He has overcome the world!

From the cross, Jesus uttered these final words, “It is finished”. The work of redemption was absolutely completely finished on the cross forever. The blood of Jesus coupled with His willingness to lay down His life is the strongest binding force in the universe. The entire satanic rebellion was defeated with one final breath as The Lamb of God gave up His spirit. No greater love has any man that would lay down his life for a friend, however while we were yet sinners, enemies of the cross, Jesus died for us!

So now what? Well, we need to engage in the battle on a daily basis. Our chief weapon is the word of God, which is both living and active and sharp as a double edged sword. Out in front we hold our shield of faith which is able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one. Our helmet of salvation protects our head and mind as we remember that we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ! Our feet are firmly planted on the foundation of the gospel where Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone.

Always remember that we are engaged in a battle that has already been won. And even though the sky may look dark for the moment, let us keep producing the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might and continue the fight until we cross the veil that separates us from our eternal victory.      

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Foolish pride

Did you know that there are seven things that the Lord hates? “These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among the brethren.” Proverbs 6:16-19.

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who can’t stop talking about themselves? They commandeer the entire conversation filling it with stories about all of their great accomplishments. When every other word is “I”, “I did this” and “I did that”,” look at the kingdom that I built”. You know, you can’t get a word in edgewise and when you do, it’s totally ignored. Well, take heed because the Lord hates pride.

It was the seed of pride that sprouted in Satan’s own heart as he lusted and plotted to steal away some of God’s glory and be worshipped. Then, as the heavenly insurrection spread through his lies and deception, Satan was able to lure one third of the heavenly host into an open and ongoing godless rebellion in the heavenly realm.  

So it’s no wonder that our Lord hates these seven things listed in Proverbs 6. It’s so important to remember that God is the source of all our blessings.  Jesus was sent to the earth to pay our sin debt “And being found in appearance of a man , He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:8.  Jesus modeled selflessness at every turn in the roadway by loving others with all of His heart and putting them first.

God is both able and willing to humble a prideful man. We see many examples of this taking place throughout the bible. There is an awesome story about King Nebuchadnezzar being humbled that is recorded in the Old Testament book of Daniel.

 Through the prophet Daniel, God warned King Nebuchadnezzar that he was becoming filled with pride and headed for a great fall. In the king’s dream the king and his kingdom was likened to a great tree that spread out its branches over all the earth. The tree provided food, shade, protection and comfort to all beasts, birds and people of the kingdom.

But because of the king’s pride and arrogance the tree was going to be stripped of its leaves, branches and its trunk cut down to a stump then bound with a band of iron and bronze. Daniel interprets the dream for the king telling him that unless he humbled himself he would lose his kingdom and be forced to live outdoors and graze in the field like an ox.

Unfortunately, twelve months later as King Nebuchadnezzar was walking on the roof of his palace admiring his kingdom and achievements he spoke saying “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” Daniel 4:30.

But before the words had even left his mouth his entire kingdom was ripped away. The king was driven out with the beasts of the field and forced to graze upon grass. His hair and nails grew wildly and his mind was turned insane until seven years had passed by him. God did all of this to help the king refocus, repent and return to the One True and Living God of Heaven, that is until the king realized that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.

After his kingdom is restored to him, King Nebuchadnezzar gives a testimonial declaring “I thought it good to declare the signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked for me. How great are His signs, And how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And His dominion is from generation to generation.” Daniel 4:2-3.

Oh how we need to humble ourselves. Its only when we keep God on His throne continually remembering His greatness, His great mercy and His indescribable love for us, that  we have a chance to be humble.

So if you find yourself talking too much about your new promotion, legacy leaving or the kingdom you have been building then maybe it’s time to have an “I” exam. It’s most likely time to take your eyes off yourself and turn them to God. It’s all about Jesus. He was a servant of all right to the end. And even on the last night of His life He washed His disciples’ feet.

Remember don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought to because it’s the Most High that rules the kingdom of men!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Ready or not

For all followers of Jesus Christ, our most cherished gift that we receive is eternal life in the presence of our Creator, which is our blessed hope. This hope is built on the firm foundation that Jesus Christ laid when He died for our sin as the “Lamb of God” on a Roman torture device two thousand years ago.
The last night that Jesus spent here on earth He reassured His disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”  John 14:1-3.

The night before Jesus died He told us that He planned on returning for us. However, the exact day and hour of His glorious appearing was not to be known by any man. It’s interesting how many scenarios have been postulated since His departure on both the exact date and circumstances surrounding His return. So, while His return to the earth has been prophesied, acknowledged by almost all denominations, and is believed to be imminent, we will all still need  to wait patiently, keeping alert  for the signs and clues Jesus left us with.

In the book “The Acts of the Apostles”, Luke records for us Jesus’ departure from earth in His new resurrected body. “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadily towards heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.’” Acts 1:9-11.

This is a wonderful clue, especially when we illuminate Revelation 19:11 with its light. “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.” This scene depicts the Lord as He returns on a white horse with the armies that are in heaven:  the church, Old Testament believers and angels. This word picture of Jesus, the conquering King, returning on a white horse does not match the account given in the book of Acts where the angels told the apostles Jesus would return the same way He left.

The church (ekklesia) the “called out ones or assembly” were also affectionately known as “the bride of Christ”. Jesus alluded to this heavenly union many times during His ministry. When He told the parable about the ten virgins, when He poured wine to seal the New Covenant, when He paid the bride price, detailing a ritual bath or baptism, the idea that He was going away to prepare a place for us to dwell and the statement that He would return when the Father deemed it was time.

In the letter to the church in Thessalonica Paul writes “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. 

It is clear from scripture that this passage is a unique and separate incident from Christ’s Second Coming where He is riding on a white horse with all the armies of heaven riding behind Him. No, this event is the surprise return of the Bridegroom for His bride “the church” or “called out ones”. As in all ancient Hebrew weddings, the bride was to purify herself and be on the ready for the bridegroom’s surprise return. Then as He takes His bride back to the wedding chamber, the entire wedding party would follow for a great feast and celebration that would last many days.

“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” Because “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb” Revelation 19:7-9. Ready or not the lord is coming for His bride!