Standing Upon Godly Shoulders – part 3

In parts one and two, we looked at the age-old battle on earth between those who follow God (grouped together as the ‘city of God’) and those who follow the adversary (grouped as the ‘city of the earthborn’), as described by St. Augustine of Hippo from his book The City of God.

We have been looking at valiant men throughout history who reflected Jehovah’s strength, resolve and faith, that we might be inspired to be likewise, and to inspire others after we gain our own citizenship in the city of God.

The renown citizens of the city of God that we’ve examined thus far have been Abel, Seth, Noah, Abraham and his son Isaac. Note than all of them are included in the ancestral lineage of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Continuing, Isaac and his wife Rebekah conceive of fraternal twins, Esau (born first), and Jacob. Before they were born, it appeared the two boys battled within the womb. Concerned, Rebekah inquired of God and He answered:

“Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.” Gn. 25:23 NKJV

Esau sold his birthright to Jacob over a bowl of stew, to satisfy a craving of the flesh. Afterwards, he began to hold enmity towards Jacob. When Esau was in his 40s, he married pagan wives to spite his parents.

Later, Rebekah colluded with Jacob to deceive his father Isaac into conferring his family blessing upon Jacob instead of Esau. Enraged, Esau plotted to kill his brother, but Rebekah found out and sent Jacob away to her brother’s house to escape, and to find a Hebrew wife. During Jacob’s journey, he camps for an evening, and God visits him in a dream:

And he dreamed: A stairway was set on the ground with its top reaching the sky, and God’s angels were going up and down on it. The LORD was standing there beside him, saying, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your offspring the land on which you are lying. Your offspring will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out toward the west, the east, the north, and the south. All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. Look, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.” Gn. 28:12 – 15. CSB

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” He was afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! This is none other than the house of God. This is the gate of heaven.” Gn. 28:16, 17. CSB

So, we see that God has chosen Jacob as the next link in His perpetual seed for the Messiah and has granted him citizenship in the city of God.

Esau, on the other hand, rebelled, landing him citizenship in the city of the earthborn. He would later establish the nation of Edom (modern-day southwestern Jordan), which often played the villain to Israel, until it was destroyed by King Nabonidus of Babylon.

Jacob would later marry two sisters and (along with each of their handmaidens), conceive 12 sons and a daughter. God would then change his name from Jacob (meaning ‘deceiver’) to Israel (Hebrew for ‘God prevails’), demonstrating his godly transformation.

Many years later, Israel and his entire Hebrew entourage (family, friends, servants) would come to Egypt and settle there with his son Joseph (another mighty man of faith who prevailed against insurmountable odds because of God’s intervention – a grand pair of godly shoulders to stand upon), to grow the Hebrew nation into thousands.

Just before his death, Israel blessed his sons. We’ll look at his son Judah’s blessing, as it is the most pertinent to our study:

“Judah, you are the one whom your brothers shall praise; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down to you…The scepter [of royalty’ shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh [the Messiah, the Peaceful One] comes, and to Him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” Gn. 49:8 & 10. AMP

Israel’s 12 sons would form 12 tribes, after each namesake; and Judah would be the leader. Furthermore, we see that Christ will be a descendant from the tribe of Judah as well.

Leaping ahead 400 years, we find the Hebrews in the middle of an Egyptian oppression. God sends a very reluctant prophet, Moses, (who was divinely spared from death as an infant, and as a man, while he was first in Egypt), back there to be His instrument of liberation to His children.

God works His miracles through Moses so that the Pharaoh lets the Hebrews leave Egypt. Moses leads the people across the ‘wilderness’ towards the promised land in the face of a very unappreciative, jealous, and sometimes blasphemous people – he, all the while, being molded into a strong, faithful, godly leader. God even entrusted Him (with the Holy Spirit) to write the first 5 books of the Old Testament – giving us the ability to see who and what God is.

When Moses brought the children of the children of God to the border of the promised land, God most lovingly buried him in the city of God.

God then commissioned Joshua to bring His children across the Jordan River into the promised land:

After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua…Moses’ assistant, saying: “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them – the children of Israel…No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.” Josh. 1:1 – 3 & 5. NKJV

Joshua kept God’s word, renews God’s covenant with the people, conquers the majority of Canaan, and settles the people in their new promised land of Israel. And in his last address before his death, he said:

“…be very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses…hold fast to the LORD your God…” Josh. 23:6 & 8. NKJV

Just like he did. He too was a citizen of the city of God…

After this, the Israelites, (in their human fashion), half-heartedly vacillated between faith and rebellion, until God gave them over to the fruits of their own disobedience:

The word of the LORD was rare and precious in those days; visions [that is, new revelations of divine truth] were not widespread. 1 Sam. 3:1 AMP

But God loves us so much, He never gives up – as we will see, when He lights the torch of love again through the prophet Samuel – Next time.

Goodnight and God bless.

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Standing Upon Godly Shoulders – part 2

In part one, we were looking at some of the notable players in the ages-old battle between good and evil.

Those players on the side of evil, (devil followers), were categorized as the inhabitants of the ‘city of the earth-born, the city of man, or the earthly Jerusalem.’ The first so-called inhabitant was the murderous Cain, brother of Abel.

The players that followed God were described as the citizens of ‘heavenly Jerusalem, or the city of God’ – which has its ultimate manifestation on a heavenly plane. The first inhabitant of this city was Abel, who possessed the godly shoulders that was our first foundation to stand upon, to find the strength for walking the path to that same city.

Abel’s brother Seth was the next continuation of the heavenly citizenry; but by the time of the great flood many generations later, Noah was the only living representative of the city of God, who, along with his wife and his three sons and their wives, re-populated the earth after the flood wiped out the rest of sinful humankind.

A millennium would pass before we meet our next citizen of renown of the city of God…

Abraham was 75 years when God called him directly:

“Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation: I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Gn. 12:1: – 3. NKJV

What we see here, is that God promises Abraham that his seed shall inherit the land of Canaan; moreover, that the blessings of God would trickle down from him to spiritually nurture the rest of people of the world for all time. Consider too, that for God’s initial promise to be fulfilled, Abraham and his wife would have to bear children. Remember that they are in their 70s.

Yet Abraham has full-faith in God’s promises, which motivates his obedience; and he and his family leave all that they have ever known, and make a 1500-mile trek to Canaan, whereby God gives Abraham a second promise:

“To your descendants I will give this land.” Gn. 12:7 NKJV

After Abraham and his wife settled and thrived in Canaan, his nephew Lot and his family (who had accompanied Abraham on his journey) moved to the city of Sodom, (which turned out to be a dark, grievously sinful ‘city of the earth-born’). At that point, God gives Abraham yet a third compliment to His first two promises:

“Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward, eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the offspring of the earth, your offspring can be counted.” Gn. 13:14 – 16. ESV

Being that Canaan will become the future country of Israel, God is telling Abraham that the land will belong to the Israelites until the end of time.

Five years elapse. God visits Abraham again, and promises safety and great rewards. But this time, Abraham’s favor wavers a bit. He complains to God because he is still childless. God responds:

“…one from your own body shall become your heir…Look now toward heaven and count the stars if you are able to number them…so shall your descendants be.” Gn. 15:4, 5. NKJV

Abraham’s faith is renewed to such an extent, that God brings him into complete right-standing with Him:

And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. Gn. 15:6 NKJV

So, we have the ‘city of God’ increasing its citizenship once more.

Unfortunately, his wife Sarah’s faith is not as strong. She’s tired of waiting and has Abraham conceive with their Egyptian maid, Hagar, and Ishmael is born. Abraham is 86 years-old.

Thirteen more years pass. God visits Abraham, (who is 99 years-old), and tells him that his faith is being rewarded, as Sarah’s birth is imminent. In addition, He makes it crystal-clear to Abraham what the disposition of his children will be:

“…Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. As for Ishmael…I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly…and I will make him a great nation. But I will establish my covenant with Isaac…” Gn. 17:19 – 21. ESV

What we are seeing is that Ishmael will propagate the seed of the Arabic nations, increasing the population of the ‘city of the earth-born;’ but Isaac is God’s child of promise, Abraham’s heir apparent to the city of God.

Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old; yet God had one more thing in store for Abraham:

After these things, God tested Abraham… Gn. 22:1 ESV

God told Abraham to take his son, Isaac, and sacrifice him upon an altar as a burnt offering to Jehovah. (This was so that God could provide what the picture of ultimate faith looked like for future believers, not for Himself. He knew Abraham’s heart.

Abraham prepared an altar (on the same site that Jesus would be crucified), and placed Isaac upon it – all the while telling his son that God would provide a lamb to be sacrificed. (Gn. 22:8)

Abraham had faith in that at the very least, God would raise Isaac from the dead because of the previous promise that He made to him:

By faith Abraham, when he was tested [that is, as the testing of his faith was still in progress], offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises [of God] was ready to sacrifice his only son [of promise]; to whom it was said, “THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED.” For he considered it reasonable to believe] that God was able to raise Isaac even from among the dead. [Indeed, in the sense that he was prepared to sacrifice Isaac in obedience to God] Abraham did receive him back [from the dead] figuratively speaking. Heb. 11:17 – 19. AMP

When Abraham drew his knife back to slay his son on the altar, the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and stopped him from harming Isaac and provided for them a ram for a sacrifice instead. And because of the depth of Abraham’s faith, God provides him with His last promise:

“…I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” Gn. 22:17, 18. ESV

Abraham remarried and had additional children, but they did not possess the covenantal promise that Isaac did. He was the chosen son for the lineage for the city of God:

After the death of Abraham, God blessed Isaac his son. Gn. 25:11 ESV

Abraham was a mountain of faith for us to stand upon, propagated by his son in the city of God. Isaac and his wife Rebekah conceived fraternal twins, but that’s another story…

Goodnight and God bless.

Standing Upon Godly Shoulders

Ever since Adam and Eve were created, there began a battle between good and evil. Adam and Eve were created perfect, purely righteous, and immortal. Eve was deceived by the cunning wiles of the devil; but Adam committed the bigger sin, as he both knew better, yet went along, regardless of God’s warning.

 As we know, Adam’s seed was corrupted, and it spread throughout all the generations of humankind. Adam and Eve lost their immortality and would have also suffered an eternal demise, except that God provided an atonement for them through the first animal sacrifice.

 God was already at work to ensure the availability of salvation for all His children – past, present and future. Being that God doesn’t violate the free will, mankind, throughout the ages fell into two camps: those people who refused God’s ways and decided to go it alone (referred to as the city of men, city of the earth, earthly Jerusalem, by St. Augustine) and those who did their best to walk in God’s ways (city of God, heavenly Jerusalem).

 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her [His city], she will not be moved… Ps. 46:4, 5. AMP

 …in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it forever. Ps. 48:8 NKJV

 His foundation is in the holy mountains. The Lord loves the gates of Zion more that all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, of city of God! Ps. 87:1 – 3. NKJV

 …you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. Heb. 12:22 – 24. NKJV

 This division between good and evil began with Cain and Abel; and we are left with no uncertainty as to which camp they each belonged:

 …we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. 1 Jn. 3:11, 13. NKJV (Even though God told Cain how to do the right thing, he rebelled, and sin became his master.)

 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which it was testified of him that he was righteous (upright, in right standing with God), and God testified by accepting his gifts. And though he died, yet through [this act of] faith he still speaks. Heb. 11:4 AMP

And so, it is Abel’s godly shoulders upon which you have your first foundation. A man, who like Cain, was corrupted with Adam’s ‘original sin,’ yet he, by his faith in God, and in his obedience, had righteousness conveyed upon him. Cain, instead, decided to wallow in his sin, and like Eve, made room for the devil.

 Abel was the first biblically recorded citizen of the city of God, the place whereby we gain our eternal citizenship through the grace of God. Conversely, Cain was the first citizen of the city of the earth, whose sole requirement is unrepentant sin. Obviously, the two cities stand in stark contrast to each other.

 The evil always hate the good, because goodness in others reminds them of their baseness. Moreover, the evil of the city of earth reflects its citizens – filled with strife, jealousies, and pain.

 The city of God is a city of peace, because God is there:

 Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness – without it no one will see the Lord. Heb. 12:14 CSB

 The descendants of Cain terminated in the great flood and the city of the earth was no more. Conversely, Adam’s third son, Seth, was the next in line for the city of God and we can see that when he had a son, his fellow citizens began carrying the light:

 A son was born to Seth also, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the LORD. Gn. 4:26 CSB

 However, with time, all of the descendants living at the time of the flood must have switched their citizenry to carnality – save only the one remaining righteous Noah*, and his family. Thank the Lord that He gave us a second chance to keep sending citizens to the city of God. He is a loving and just God:

 The anger of God is not a disturbing emotion of His mind, but a judgment by which punishment is inflicted upon sin. His thought and reconsideration also are the unchangeable reason which changes things; for He does not, like man, repent of anything He has done, because in all matters His decision is as inflexible as His prescience is certain. – St. Augustine

 *Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. Gn. 6:9 NKJV

 For more than a thousand years after the flood, there is no scriptural account of anyone singled out for seeking God. We can’t assume that there weren’t, but apparently there was no one who stood out for their zeal.

 It is at this point where we meet a giant set of godly shoulders – those of Abraham’s….  Next time.

Goodnight and God bless.

Journey to Heaven – part 4

In the previous 3 parts of this 4-part series, we have considered some of the obstacles that can deter us from the completion of our heavenly trek: willful rebellion against God’s ways, eternal death for those same folks that practice unrepentant rebellion, and a focus on the flesh rather than the spirit, which is always rooted in pride. Jesus summed up the way to get past all of that, as well as the urgency in which it must be done:

“Repent [change your inner self – your old way of thinking, regret past sins, live your life in a way that proves repentance; seek God’s purpose for your life], for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Mt. 4:17 AMP

The ‘kingdom of heaven’ is biblically the same as the ‘kingdom of God.’ It is a spiritual kingdom, an inner kingdom that can only be entered through one’s change of heart, (through earnest repentance and choosing Christ as your Savior) – a spiritual state to be lived out on this earth. It is a kingdom of God’s children: a family dedicated to forwarding that kingdom by lovingly offering it to as many other potential recipients as possible.

Yet, it is also a kingdom that we aspire to spend eternity in, when we transition from our life on this present earth to our heavenly destiny. So, the kingdom lives in the present, and at the same time there awaits an eternal manifestation of the same for all of God’s children:

For the outward form of this world (its present social and material nature) is passing away. 1 Cor. 7:31 AMP

It’s going to be a good thing because Jesus has already made preparations for your transition:

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to My self, that where I am, there you may be also” Jn. 14:2, 3. NASB

And again, Christ presses upon us the urgency to be rightly positioned with God immediately; because if we don’t do this before we take our last breath or before Jesus returns (whichever comes first), we will have lost our ticket to eternity:

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only…Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Mt. 24:36 & 44. NKJV

And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 Jn. 2:17 ESV

…having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. Rm. 5:9 NASB

On the ‘Last Day’ of time, God will pour His wrath upon all the people who rejected Him and His Son – not due to an act of heartless vengeance, but as a result of a forced ‘sifting’ of His children away from the rebels, because as the God of Truth, He must mete out His word. The people have been lovingly warned by Him for thousands of years…

For those who chose to remain on their journey to heaven, there will be a vast holy city called ‘New Jerusalem’ for all the saints to dwell in with their Creators (God and Son) – located on a new idyllic paradise of a new earth suspended in a transformed cosmos. (Ps. 102:25 – 27; Is. 65:17 – 19; 2 Pt. 3:12, 13; Rv. 21:1 – 7 & 22 – 27.)

And it will be awesome:

“The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil…a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zeph. 3:15 & 17. ESV

Furthermore, we shall be transformed:

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. Is. 35:5, 6. NKJV

And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man…For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 1 Cor. 15:49 & 53. NKJV

And in that heaven, there shall be peace, joy and every need fulfilled and exceeded:

Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they train for war. Each of them will sit under his vine and under his fig tree, with no one to make them afraid, for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken. Mic. 4:3, 4. NASB

“They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Rv. 7:16, 17. ESV

So, what is the bottom line? If you accept Christ as your Savior and live out a godly life to the best of your ability, (confessing and repenting when you slip), God wipes away all strikes against you, you get a grace-filled journey to eternity, get fitted with a perfect immortal body in the likeness of Christ, live eternally in peace and joy with all the children of God throughout the ages, and get to bask in the glory of the Father and the Son.

All God asks of us is to keep our eyes on the prize…

Goodnight and God bless.

Journey to Heaven – part 3

In examining our greatest divine promise, that is, a successful journey to heaven, we also looked at some of the barriers that must be overcome to complete that pilgrimage; e.g. a rebellious will that opposes God (see part. 1). Let’s look at another very similar barrier, which is ‘living by the flesh.’ And again, we’ll use some of St. Augustine’s scriptural insights from his book The City of God, to elucidate its meaning.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these…those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal. 5:19 – 21. ESV

For among the works of the flesh which he (Paul) said were manifest, and which he cited for condemnation, we find not only those which concern the pleasures of the flesh as fornication…drunkenness, but also those which, though they may be remote from fleshly pleasure, reveal the vices of the soul…idolatries, witchcraft…hatreds…envying…For it is quite possible for a man to abstain from fleshly pleasures for the sake of idolatry or some heretical error; and yet, even when he does so…he is living after the flesh – St. Augustine

What our venerable theologian is driving at, is that we do have a corruptible body due to the propagation of Adam’s original sin, but, that that is not the true nature of the body, which was created in perfection. So, the deduction is that sin in not caused by the flesh but is from the free-will of the soul – choosing to give into the desires of the flesh and of soul’s other God-Contrarian desires.

Furthermore, owing to the source of the corruption of the flesh, that corruption must consist as a punishment for (Adam’s) sin, but not the originator of our sin. Many sins, as pointed out, are not attributed to the flesh, yet all of them are instigated from the adversary, who, by the way, has no flesh. Thus, it is when man lives by his own dictates, rather than God’s, that he takes on the devil’s sinful nature.

…all sin is a lie. For no sin is committed save by that desire or will by which we desire that it be well with us, and shrink from it being ill with us…but makes us more miserable than we were…because the source of man’s happiness lies only in God, whom he abandons when he sins… St. Augustine

When one lives carnally, they cannot connect with God, or understand Him, because in their disobedience, they have abandoned HIs truth:

But the natural [unbelieving] man does not accept the things [the teachings and the revelations] of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness [absurd and illogical] to him; and he is incapable of understanding them, because they are spiritually discerned and appreciated, [and he is unqualified to judge spiritual matters]. 1 Cor. 2:11 – 14. AMP

So, ‘acting carnally’ can be applied to living by the desires of the flesh and / or of the soul. And the soul is directed by the will. It derives joy from fulfilling its desires and expresses fear and or sadness as a response to any experience it does not desire.

In dealing with carnal people, Christians are commanded to apply agape love:

…since no one is evil by nature, but whoever is evil is evil by vice, he who lives according to God out to cherish toward evil men a perfect hatred, so that he shall neither hate the man because of his vice, nor love the vice because of the man, but hate the vice and love the man. – St. Augustine

We’ve all been there. And God is well aware of what we suffer through, having suffered the same temptations in the visage of His Son:

…He became a man when it pleased Him, so, in the grace of His definite purpose, when it pleased Him He experienced those emotions in His human soul. – St. Augustine

For we do not have High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin. Heb. 4:15 AMP

Praise God for His salvation through Christ, because we all need it:

…he who thinks he lives without sin puts aside not sin, but pardon. – St. Augustine

The only pure goodness in this universe exists within the Godhead, where there is no evil to be found. Conversely, because the nature of ourselves is innately good (disregarding Adam’s corruption), evil cannot exist without that good nature with which it inhabits.

…evil is removed, not by removing any nature, or part of a nature, which had been introduced by the evil, but by healing and correcting that which had been vitiated and depraved. The will, therefore, is then truly free, when it is not the slave of vices and sins. Such was it given us by God; and this being lost by its own fault, can only be restored by Him who was first able to give it. – St. Augustine

If we consider Adam and Eve, we find that our ‘humanness’ directly mirrors their behavior with regards to our relationship with God. Just as we first consider our desire to sin in our will before we commit it, Adam and Eve could not have been different.

Just like them, most if not all of our sins begins with pride, with the desire to satisfy the lust of oneself.

A man’s pride and sense of self-importance will bring him down… Pr. 29:23 AMP

Adam and Eve could not have been provoked to try to ‘be like gods,’ had they not first taken in that suggestion and weighed it in their wills, before succumbing to their desire. And so, their sin proceeded their ingestion of the fruit.

We are no different:

By craving to be more, man becomes less; and by aspiring to be self-sufficing, he fell away from Him who truly suffices – St. Augustine

For Adam and Eve, the sin didn’t end there. Remember that God came to them after the committed the ‘act’ of sin:

Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” Gn. 3:9 NASB

As if God didn’t know. St. Augustine suggests that it was at that point that He was letting Adam know He was separated from them – spiritually. God then questioned them, and they multiplied their sin by trying to lay the blame on someone else: Eve on the serpent, and Adam on Eve and then on God Himself. I believe that God was giving them a chance to confess and repent, but their pride defeated them.

And thus, all our troubles began. Thankfully, our God is gracious and full of lovingkindness. He always has an outstretched arm, to pull the willing back onto that heavenward path.

Next time…

Goodnight and God bless.

Journey to Heaven – part 2

With a little help from the book City of God by St. Augustine, translated by Marcus Dods:

For, though Himself eternal, and without beginning, yet He caused time to have a beginning; and man, whom He had not previously made He made in time, not from a new and sudden resolution, but by His unchangeable and eternal design – St. Augustine

 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us before the foundation of the world… Eph. 1:3, 4. NKJV

 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come you blessed of My Father [you favored of God, appointed to eternal salvation], inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Mt. 25:34 AMP

 The reason we’re here is because God chose us, loves us, and we are a part of his eternal plan. We are also the epitome of His design for living beings – the closest to being like Him:

 God then made man in His own image. For He created for him a soul endowed with reason and intelligence, so that he might excel all the creatures of earth, air, and sea, which were not so gifted – St. Augustine.

 It is God’s desire to eternally commune with His children – those, as we saw last time, that align their will with His.

 We are born for a journey to heaven. And as soon as we become aware of our Creator and His salvation plan, we must receive this free gift by accepting His Son as our Savior – followed by doing our best to live as Jesus did.

God planned out who we would be and what kind of life He wanted us to have before we were conceived in the womb. That kind of life is our journey to heaven, the quality of which will be dependent upon our free-will choices. We are born, grow to our physical potential, and then begin a dying process.

However, that process is not one to be feared or to be a source of sadness. It is a progression towards our eternal home – filled with promises of love, joy and peace everlasting. Dying and death are two different things.

When the faithful children of God reach the end of their mortal clock on this earth, they pass through death:

…since you have been set free from sin and have become the [willing] slaves of God, you have your present benefit, resulting in sanctification [being made holy and set apart for God’s purpose, and the outcome [of this] is eternal life. Rm. 6:22 AMP

“Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” Jn. 8:51 NKJV

 We are blessed.  The death suffered by those who reject God is the polar opposite:

…the human soul is truly affirmed to be immortal…because in a sense, it does not cease to live…while the body is called mortal because it can be forsaken of all life, and cannot by itself live at all. The death, then, of the soul takes place when God forsakes it, as the death of the body when the soul forsakes it….And this death of the whole man is followed by…the second death…For in that penal and everlasting punishment…the soul is justly said to die, because it does not live in connection with God – St. Augustine

The children of God’s version of death is a glorious transition:

Thus, by the unutterable mercy of God, even the very punishment of wickedness has become the armor of virtue, and the penalty of the sinner becomes the reward of the righteous. For then death was incurred by sinning, now righteousness is fulfilled by dying.

Not that death, which was before an evil, has become something good, but only that God has granted to faith this grace, that death, which is the admitted opposite to life, should become the instrument by which life is reached – St. Augustine

…the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth. Eccl. 7:1 NASB

Precious in  the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Ps. 116:15 NKJV

Again, let’s look at the contrast:

…death is good to the good, and evil to the evil. For the disembodied spirits of the just are at rest; but those of the wicked suffer punishment till their bodies rise again – those of the just to life everlasting, and of the others to death eternal, which is called the second death…of all the evils the worst, since it consists not in the separation of soul and body, but in the uniting of both in death eternal…always in death; and thus never living, never dead, but endlessly dying – St. Augustine

Strong case for being on the side of God, yes? We all have to go through death because of Adam’s original sin, but thanks be to the saving grace of God that as His obedient children, we get to leave that death behind.

Before Adam’s transgression, we weren’t meant to die in any fashion. That was forced upon us by Adam’s disobedience:

…we are subject to the death of the body, not by the law of nature, by which God ordained no death for man, but by His righteous infliction on account of sin; for God, taking vengeance on sin, said to the man, in whom we all then were, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” St. Augustine

Again however, that condition is only transitory for those who accept God through Christ:

…the souls of the just and holy dead live in peaceful rest…and further, that the saints will in the resurrection inhabit those very bodies in which they have here toiled, but in such a sort that neither corruption of unwieldiness be suffered to attach to their flesh…Thus the souls of the departed saints are not affected by the death which dismisses them from their bodies, because their flesh rests in hope – St. Augustine

For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection… Rm. 6:5 NASB

It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is rated in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. 1 Cor. 15:42 – 44. NASB

We gain a ‘spiritual’ body because it is one that is finally in total subjection to our spirit. It will be totally self-sufficient and immortal. We will be able to dine on heavenly delicacies, but it won’t be necessary to eat if we don’t want to. No disease, no sorrow, no death – only joy…

Goodnight and God bless.

Journey to Heaven

Still investigating God’s wisdom revealed to St. Augustine in his book, City of God…

How can we help God help us make that journey? Sounds funny doesn’t it? Yet, as much as God wants to help us, He is bound by His own words. If we transgress them, He must allow us to face the consequences until we confess and repent.

Let’s start with the foundation of what we are. St. Augustine described it like this:

For nonentity is the contrary of that which is. And thus there is no being contrary to God, the supreme Being, and Author of all beings whatsoever.

God saw that everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good and He validated it completely. Gn. 1:31 AMP

What does that mean? It means Satan and the angels who followed him were created perfectly, and Adam and Eve were created perfectly. None of these beings had any innate evil within them. Yet they all did evil (sinful) things.

Augustine again: In Scripture they are called God’s enemies who oppose His rule, not by nature…but by their will…

You oppose God by yielding to your free will, in order to languish in the ways of the world that are contrary to God. You make yourself an enemy:

“The hand of God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him, but His power and His anger are against all who forsake Him.” Ezra 8:22 NASB

Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? James 4:4 NLT

We know that our God is not an angry God as a rule. He is love itself. We encounter His ire when we transgress against Him because He doesn’t want to be separated from us. He knows that when we are, we are killing ourselves.

St. Augustine illustrates this self-destruction thusly:

…the vice which makes those who are called His enemies resist Him, is an evil not to God, but to themselves. And to them it is an evil, solely because it corrupts their good nature…hurt them by depriving them of integrity, beauty, welfare, virtue…

…when the will abandons what is above itself, and turns to what is lower, it becomes evil – not because that is evil to which it turns, but the turning itself is wicked.

…the defection of the will is evil, because it is contrary to the order of nature…and that makes light of the voice of conscience…nothing else that defection from God…

So, we must work on our faith in God. Why? Because if we believed that God’s ways were the better ways, we would not violate them in the first place. We have to cleave to God, place our faith in that our hearts would be far more satisfied by His treasures, than by the temporal and destructive pleasures of our senses and the hungers of our ego.

Worse, these indulgences ultimately cause suffering; and if they continue without repentance, death will ensue – of a permanent variety.

When you are chasing after the world, you are in essence going after other ‘gods.’ You’re transgressing God’s first Commandment:

“You shall have no other gods before Me.” Ex. 20:3 NKJV

Instead, cling to the guarantees of our Savior, and abandon independence for a godly dependence upon Jesus, so that you may be bearers of His grace. It is within that grace that your healing will begin, and your Christ-produced heavenly wholeness will be reborn.

Be thankful for God’s grace and He will shore you up to resist temptation, so as to keep your slips off of His path to a minimum:

…in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thess. 5:18 AMP

For God has not called us to impurity, but to holiness [to be dedicated, and set apart by behavior that pleases Him, whether in public or private]. So whoever rejects and disregards this is not [merely] rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you [to dwell in you and empower you to overcome temptation]. 1 Thess. 4:7, 8. AMP

Then, your heavenly journey will resume…

Goodnight and God bless.

Relating to God

Recently, we have been examining the Holy Spirit-inspired scriptural interpretations of St. Augustine from his book The City of God, translated by Marcus Dods, (see previous posts: ‘Defenders of the Faith,’ and ‘In Further Defense of the Faith’) – a work for strengthening the faith of the Christians in Rome during the demise of that empire.

Let’s continue on by perusing his analysis of our intimate relationship with our Creator – beginning with this declaration:

…for we are all His temple, each of us severally (separately) and all of us together, because He condescends to inherit each individually and the whole harmonious body, being no greater in all than in each, since He is neither expanded or divided. Our heart when it rises to Him is His altar; the priest who intercedes for us is His only begotten…

Do you not know and understand that you [the church] are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells [permanently] in you [collectively and individually]? 1 Cor. 3:16 AMP

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within you, whom you have [received as a gift] from God, and that you are not your own [property]? 1 Cor. 6:19 AMP

Christ Jesus is the One who died [to pay our penalty], and more than that, who was raised [from the dead], and who is at the right hand of God interceding [with the Father] for us. Rm. 8:34 AMP

We are walking, talking temples of God – recipients of the Father’s grace, maintained through the intercession of His Son. For that, we are grateful, and we should act in ways that keep that gratitude in remembrance. Augustine puts it this way:

…to Him we devote and surrender ourselves and His gifts in us; to Him, by solemn feasts and on appointed days, we consecrate the memory of His benefits, lest through the lapse of time ungrateful oblivion should steal upon us; to Him we offer on the altar of our heart the sacrifice of humility and praise, kindled by the fire of burning love.

It is that we may see Him, so far as He can be seen; it is that we may cleave to Him, that we are cleansed from all stain of sins and evil passions, and are consecrated in His name. For He is the fountain of our happiness, He is the end of all our desires.

God does not need our devotion, worship or capitulation. He asks of us all these things for our benefit – to position ourselves for love. Augustine says:

For no man would say he did a benefit to a fountain by drinking, or to the light by seeing.

He does require sacrifice – that of a contrite heart, again, to place oneself in humility before Him, in order to receive His grace:

My [only] sacrifice [acceptable] to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart [broken with sorrow for sin, thoroughly penitent], such, O God, You will not despise. Ps. 51:17 AMP

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you except to be just, and to love [and diligently practice] kindness (compassion), and to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness]? Mic. 6:8 AMP

All of our sacrifices, regardless of their nature, must always have an increased union with God as the focus of those activities. In essence, our ultimate sacrifice is to die to the world, as we draw closer to Jehovah God in relationship:

Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh [and died for us], arm yourselves [like warriors] with the same purpose [being willing to suffer for doing what is right and pleasing God], because whoever has suffered in the flesh [being like-minded with Christ] is done with [intentional] sin [having stopped pleasing the world], so that he can no longer spend the rest of his natural life living for human appetites and desires, but [lives] for the will and purpose of God. 1 Pt. 4:1, 2. AMP

Thus, in our relationship with the Godhead, we are bolstered in our attempts to overcome the world, and the god of it, the process whereby, is succinctly expressed by Augustine:

…men of God cast out the hostile power of the air which opposes godliness; it is by exorcising it, not by propitiating it; and they overcome all the temptations of the adversary by praying, not to him, but to their own God against him. For the devil cannot conquer or subdue any but those who are in league with sin…he is conquered in the name of Him who assumed humanity…Christ Jesus…

Indeed, it is our faith that cements our relationship with God – faith that is filtered into us by Jesus Himself:

…God’s Son, assuming humanity without destroying His divinity, established and founded this faith, that there might be a way for man to man’s God through a God-man.

…let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity]… Heb. 12:1, 2. AMP

It is a wondrous thing, a blessing,  this relationship that God makes available to and for us. We alone were made in His image. Augustine states:

…nearer to Him in nature than any other of HIs works, and is destined to be yet restored, that it may bear a still closer resemblance.

Above all, what is at the heart of all this relating to God, is His unending, immeasurable love – whereby He brings us into His bosom for all eternity…

Goodnight and God bless.

Today Is Savior Day

Have you heard about the Savior of all humankind – those who lived in the past, the present and in the future? God has been telling us about His coming since the time of the Garden of Eden, at which point, we learn that He will be victorious over the devil himself – for our sakes. (Gn. 3:15)

Approximately 3500 years ago, God sends two messages, whereby we learn that this Savior will come to this earth, born of a Jewish mother, and He shall speak for God. (Job 19:25; Dt. 18:18.)

 It was revealed to King David about 3000 years ago that the Savior would be his descendant, and that God would establish His (God directly refers to Him as ‘Son’) kingdom over the entire earth forever. (2 Sam. 7:13, 14; Ps. 2:6.) David also received a vision of His future crucifixion. (Ps. 22:16 – 18.)

 In the time of the prophet Isaiah (740 – 710 B.C.), God spoke to him, which brought the nature of this ‘Savior’ into greater clarity:

 “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Is. 7:14 NKJV

 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. Is. 9:2 NKJV

 For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice, from that time forward, even forever. Is. 9:6, 7. NKJV

 Now we’re getting someplace. This Son of God comes to the earth through a virgin birth (so that He is not stained by Adam’s original sin); and He is given to humankind to shine the light of God upon them and free the people from the plague of death. His name is ‘Immanuel,’ which means ‘God is with us’ – alluding to an extremely cohesive relationship to God (see His descriptive ‘Mighty God’ and ‘Everlasting Father’) – again with the eternal kingdom, now seen filled with peace and justice.

Wait! There’s more. God gave Isaiah a passel full of Holy Spirit-inspired insight:

The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. His delight is in the fear of the LORD, and He shall not judge by the sight  of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears; but with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins and faithfulness the belt of His waist. Is. 11:2 – 5. NKJV

 “…You should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.”  Is. 49:6 NKJV

 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed…and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter… Is. 53:5 – 7. NKJV

God rests His Spirit and power within His Son, who rules His Father’s kingdom with equal authority – lifting up the righteous, but laying the wrath of God’s conviction upon the unrepentant wicked. We also see that the Son of God brings His Father’s salvation to the entire earth.

Part of this process includes the crucifixion of our Savior, who took on the sins of the world through Hid death and resurrection so that its inhabitants may live…

 Jumping forward 700 years, we find the virgin Mary visited by the angel Gabriel:

 Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Lk. 1:30 – 33. NKJV

 “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God.” Lk. 1:35 ESV

Jesus, the Son of God; but you knew that, didn’t you? Another angel confirmed this to Mary’s fiancé:  

“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Mt. 1:20, 21. ESV

When Mary gives birth, angels appear to shepherds nearby and proclaim:

 “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Lk. 2:29 – 32. ESV

Immediately after Jesus’ birth, the devil began to move against Him. (Rv. 12:3 – 5.) King Herod sent soldiers to kill every male child in Bethlehem, hoping to slay Jesus in the process. However, God directly intervened by sending an angel to Joseph, telling him to get his family out of Israel until the danger passed.

And so, Jesus survived; and as He grew, every single prophecy concerning Him was fulfilled. As a result, Jesus is on the throne of His kingdom, and salvation is now available to everyone who wants it. The world has changed, and it will never be the same – thank God. And, He’s coming back…

Merry Christmas! Today is Savior Day.

 

 

Goodnight and God bless. 

What Are Your New Year’s Spiritual Resolutions – part 3

In the first 2 parts of this 3-part series, we examined how we could implement ‘spiritual resolutions,’ i.e. steps that we can take to start each day in a deeper relationship with God; and Christ and in so doing, being more effective at our part in advancing the kingdom of God. We covered the first 5 steps in detail:

 1. Positioning ourselves for both receiving and sharing God’s blessings.

 2. Minimizing sin in our lives and helping others do the same.

 3. Giving of ourselves by sharing our innate gifts from God.

 4. Showing God our attitude of gratitude.

 5. Starting our day free from the judgment of ourselves and others.

 Let’s finish our preparation with the final 3 steps:

 Every aspect of our lives is lived out in the context of relationships – with God, Jesus, ourselves and everyone around us.

 Our first parents (Adam and Eve), began in relationship with God and in a marital relationship with each other. Now let’s look how God would have us relate on a godly level to other people – leading us to our sixth spiritual resolution: Nurturing relationships, beginning with how we should relate to our parents:

 “Honor (respect, obey, care for) your father and mother, so that you days may be prolonged in the land the LORD your God gives you.” Ex. 20:12 AMP

 This is so important to God that He made it one of the Ten Commandments. Whoever they are, you can be thankful that God used them to bring you aboard His plan. Even if they themselves weren’t the best of parents, you can be a better child, doing your best to love and care for them as best as you can, and thank God for who He meant them to be.

 What about the parents’ relationship toward their children? First, let’s put it in proper perspective:

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Ps. 127:3 NASB

 Being mindful of that, we do our best to nurture them and bring them into the kingdom fold:

 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with lovingkindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Eph. 6:4 AMP

 The highest form of human-to-human relationship is marital. What does God say about that? He says that they are equal, yet interdependent:

 …there is neither male nor female; of you [who believe] are all one in Christ Jesus… Gal. 3:28 AMP

 …in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman… 1 Cor. 11:11 ESV

 And this relationship is supposed to stand the test of time:

 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Mk. 10:7 – 9. ESV

 Finally, their love and respect for each other should be limitless:

Wives, be subject to your husbands [out of respect for their position as protector, and their accountability to God], as is proper and fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives [with an affectionate, sympathetic, selfless love that always seeks the best for them]… Col. 3:18, 19. AMP

 All other relationships should be sought after in the context of friendship. Jesus told us to love our enemies. (Mt. 5:43 – 48.) If we are doing that, we would have no enemies, only friends.

 Friends are important. No one is totally self-sufficient, self-nurturing. God wants us to have friends so that He has an additional avenue with which to love us through. Friends encourage, exhort and love one another, and hold each other accountable for their godliness – without judgment. (Eccl. 4:9 – 12; Pr. 17:7; 27:9 & 17; James 4:11, 12.)

 If we want friends in our lives however, we must become one who attracts friendship:

 A man who has friends must himself be friendly… Pr. 18:24 NKJV

 All in all then, in this sixth spiritual resolution, we would want to consider at the beginning of each day, how we can nurture our parent-to-child, child-to-parent, spousal and friend relationships to grow that garden of love God has given us to tend, and to be ministered by, in return. How can we love them more so that they get it, to cheer them on and help facilitate the attainment of their goals, and enrich their experience on this earth? Be assured that God will highly enrich your life for doing so…

 Our seventh spiritual resolution is to get to know Christ better – who He is, by what the prophets said about Him, what He said about Himself and in examining His actions, relayed to us through the apostles.

 Out of that, we can own that Jesus existed with Jehovah God, part of God, at least as far back as to the creation of the universe – of which, was created by God through His Son. And we know that if we listen to, and watch Christ, we are looking at the essence of God in the form of man, who came to the earth so that we could touch and love them both in the flesh:

 He is the exact living image [the essential manifestation] of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible], He is the firstborn [the preeminent one, the sovereign, and originator] of all creation. Col. 1:15 AMP

 The Spirit of Christ rode the Holy Spirit to the virgin womb of Mary, to become the only God-man, who was then untainted by the original sin of Adam. And as He grew to His full human stature, He brought forth miracles and spoke His Father’s gospel message of salvation to save humankind from themselves – freeing them from their sins by His sacrifice upon the cross. Simultaneously, Jesus is keeping your world in place until God transforms it for your eternity:

 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down on at the right hand of the Majesty on high… Heb. 1:3 ESV

 Jesus came for the redemption of the entire world, not just for the Jews:

 “And now the LORD says, who formed Me from the womb to be His servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel is gathered to Him (for I shall be glorified in the eyes of the LORD, and My God shall be My strength), indeed He says, ‘Is it too small a thing that You should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’ “ Is. 49;5, 6. NKJV

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” Jn. 3:16 NKJV

Most importantly, Christ is the only way to be reconciled with God for all of eternity;

 “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Jn. 14:7 NLT

 The gospel sets us free:

 “Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” Jn. 8:51 NKJV

 How? Because He’s coming back for us!

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. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thess. 4:16, 17. NKJV

 We know that at the end of time, Christ will be victorious over Satan and evil will be abolished for all time.

 Armed with all of this knowledge in faith, which we resolve to remind ourselves of by dipping in the word on a daily basis, staying in prayer, and scheduling time with other believers, we can live a life of joy, peace and strength, in love as an ambassador of Christ…

Our eighth and final spiritual resolution is to make it a point to contact one person a day with the gospel message, which the first seven resolutions prepare us to do. All of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, receive the same marching orders:

 “All authority [all power of absolute rule] in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, [help the people learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually – regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.” Mt. 28:18 – 20. AMP

 If we are to love God and love one another, (Jn. 13:34; 15:12 & 17.), which is the foundation of our spiritual walk, then aren’t we duty-bound to share the opportunity for salvation with others – to keep our potential brothers and sisters in Christ from eternally perishing? Indeed, we are to tell it with boldness:

 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, to make known to the children of men your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. Ps. 145:11 – 13. ESV

 “What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.” Mt. 10:27 NASB

 This is not an option; it is our commission:

 …He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us… 2 Cor. 5:19 – 20. NASB

 “…I have made you a watchman…Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. Bur if you warn the wicked one to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.” Ezek. 33:7 – 9. ESV

 Not to worry if you’re willing to do so, because God equips you for it:

 ‘…do not worry about how or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given you that [very] hour; for it is not you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.’ Mt. 10:19, 20. AMP

Your mission is a blessed and holy one, a matter of life or death to the hearer – a message we have the God-given privilege to bring, that opens the way for the heavenly journey of their spirit.

Make it an evolving conversation, like you’re trying to learn more about a new friend. Ask them what’s going on in their lives. Offer wisdom and compassion. Ask them about their purpose in life, where they think we come from, and where do we go when we die. This allows you to meet them where they’re at, in their perceived world. It generates understanding:

 Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ…When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. 1 Cor. 9:19 – 21, NLT

Then, tell them the Good News and what that has meant in your life, and offer to lead them to Christ. What they do with that is up to them…

 Well, if you’ve read the this and the previous 2 posts, I am confident in the Lord that if you make these 8 steps a part of the start of every day, (and I suspect you could do them in 15 minutes or less), your walk with God will be superlative. Furthermore, I think your New Year’s ‘spiritual resolutions’ will nurture you the rest of your life…

 

 Goodnight and God bless