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Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Personal God

“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."  Genesis 2:7

Since the beginning, God’s desire has been to have a personal relationship with man. Throughout the whole of human history this drama has been played out against the backdrop of the epochs. The only constant in this equation of the turning pages of history has been God’s faithfulness. Man’s ego-driven attempts to control and overtake other men is and has always led him to the error of the Pharisees. The act of simony is a testament to the egotistical striving of man to gain dominance. The idea that one can purchase spiritual power or prestige, is surely born of this world. The birth pains that Christianity has met since its inception have brought man closer to the place where he can truly know God and understand what He desires of him. Christianity, as a whole moves forward when its people become deeper. Ironically, at a time in Christian history when Christians have access to more literature than ever before, a new wave of superficiality has crested over the church.  As from the beginning of discipleship, this is a leadership issue. For a personal God to form a personal relationship with His people, personal formation needs to be propagated and nurtured in them by mature leadership. Eternity is imminent, time is ticking by steadily and the work that is to be done will not wait. John 4:35 speaks of this necessity, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest" (KJV).

God’s first intention regarding man has been and will always be the cultivation of a personal relationship. In order for man to have a personal relationship with God, he must first know Him. God is inextricably intertwined in Adam’s being as the Book of Genesis describes. God created the heavens and the earth, but only man did He create in His own image, Genesis 1:26, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (KJV). God then entrusted man with the exquisite earth that He had created. The word “likeness” in Genesis 1:26 is translated from the Hebrew word dmuwth, Strong’s Concordance # 1823 of the Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary, its form is derived from the word damah Strong’s # 1819, and it means: resemblance, model, shape or fashion (Zodhiates, 1991, 31). Man has been made in the fashion of God and given the responsibility to steward the earth.

The Archaeological Study Bible gives insight regarding the garden in which God placed man, “The name Eden might have had one of two origins: the Sumerian word eden which means “steppe” or “open field,” or the identical Semitic word, denoting “luxury” or “delight”(Kaiser, 2005, 6). The Archaeological Study Bible goes on to remark, “Eden is not only the name of the garden in which the first humans resided but also a metaphorical representation of the Garden of God (i.e., Yahweh’s dwelling place; Isa 51:3; Eze 28:12-15; 31:8-18)” (Kaiser, 2005, 6). Isaiah 51:3 declares, For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody”(KJV).  Christ said to the believing thief on the cross, “. . .Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise”(Luke 23:43). The paradise lost at the Fall is the paradise regained at salvation.
Patti

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Markarios

"Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him."
Matthew 5:1 NIV
James Tisset, "The Beatitudes Sermon"

In the fifth chapter of the book of Matthew the Beatitudes are found.  This collection of desirable Christian attributes and the ensuing blessing that they bring is an excellent guidepost for measuring our spiritual maturity.  The Greek word Markarios, Strong's Concordance # 3107 is translated as "blessed."  This word is derived from the root mak which means, "a long duration."  Markarios speaks of a happy, blessed, state of being in which one should be congratulated. 

Matthew 5:2 begins, "Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

3  Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the Kingdom of heaven."

 The spiritual poverty that Jesus speaks of is a recognition of one's spiritual lacking.  It is an understanding of our own sinful nature and our inability to reconcile our state without God's grace.  The word "kingdom" speaks of coming under the "kingship" of God's authority.  It is a recognition of His majesty and our depravity.  This is the place where salvation is possible and one should never allow oneself to let this recognition slip out of mind.  Therein lies the danger of becoming proud and judgemental.

4  "Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted."

When we truly see our sin from God's perspective, a spiritual sorrow will ensue.  This mourning is what Jesus speaks of in this verse.  When we truly repent and mourn our sinful acts, the comfort of the Holy Spirit and forgiveness will be ours.  Do we mourn our sin and repent before our Father?

5  "Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth."

True meekness is not weakness.  Christ's meekness on the cross was not a testament of His lack of power; but truly, it was a testament of His strength. Isaiah 53:7 prophesies of this event,“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth" (NIV).  Meekeness is strength under control, not a lack of it.  The earth is the inheritance of such.  Are we truly meek, do we bless and not revile?

6  "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled."
Spiritual hunger is a state of being in which we desire God's will and presence in our lives more than what the world has to offer.  In this hunger, we are driven to go against convention and pursue God with a passion.  Psalm 22:26 speaks of this state, "The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the LORD will praise him— may your hearts live forever!"  The promise is spiritual fulfillment.  Are we truly hungry for God and seeking Him with our whole hearts?

7  "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."

The Greek word eleemon Strong's # 1655 is translated as merciful.  Its meaning is kind, compassionate, charitable work.  It denotes feeling and action.  The Word tells us to forgive and we shall be forgiven.  In this same stream of thought, when we are merciful to others God will be merciful to us.  Are we truly merciful to the people we encounter?  Allow God to search your heart.  Repent of the sin He shows you, it is hard to accept, but it is far more of a burden to carry with you.

8  "Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God."

We are all born into a sinful state.  Are we honest and ethical people?  Ask God to purify your heart.  It is His heart to do so.  Having our spiritual eyes opened and our hearts pure before Him, we are promised that He will reveal Himself to us.

9  "Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God."

Within our own realm of influence, are we peacemakers or chaos makers?  Do we diffuse situations that may erupt or prompt them to do so?  Allowing peace to lead us will surely bring about peace following us.  To be called a son of God. . . let peace reign.

10  "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Persecution has always followed the true followers of Christ.  When we are persecuted for our beliefs, tempted and tried by the world, and assaulted mentally by the enemy, we are instructed to rejoice that we are found worthy to suffer for Him.  The kingdom is truly ours, and it is God's good pleasure to give it to us.

Lord, in Jesus' name I pray that as we read and compare our lives to the Beatitudes that You show us our sin so that we may repent of it and be closer to You.  Thank You for the grace to do so.  I pray that You touch us and heal us of our wounds and pain and bring us into tomorrow more healthy and Godly people.  Amen.

Patti

The Spirit Filled Life Bible  pages 1410-11.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

If There Be Any Virtue

Philippians 4:8
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

Pic from beautifulfreepictures.com
This admonition has become increasingly more difficult to follow in the current climate of media.  It seems that everywhere you turn there are negative images.  It can become quite disconcerting if you allow your mind to linger on them.  Most of the population would never be an eyewitness to a murder, yet we see hundreds of them per year on TV and in movies.  The trend of violent video games and vulgarity in movies meant for children is appalling.  Our psyches are being glutted with these unlovely images and the result is desensitization.  What we focus on and take in to our minds is the thing that we will ultimately become.  We must intentionally turn to the true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good, virtuous and praiseworthy things.  If we ate poisoned food continually, our bodies would be sick and die, we are doing the same to our minds.  

Lord, in Jesus' name I pray that You divert our attention to the pure things in life.  I pray that You remind us to be aware of what we are taking in and thinking about.  Please guide us into all truth.  I love You and praise You. Amen.

Patti

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