What Do You Call Jesus?

JESUS PORTRAIT -- Sunpath - PX
photo courtesy of Sunpath @ pixabay.com

And He is the Head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He might have pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.

— Colossians 1:18-19

Where does Jesus fit into your life? All of us who profess the Christian faith like to say that He is first, but is He really? In our day-in, day-out living does He have “pre-eminence in all things” as the text scripture indicates is the will of the Father?

The scriptures reveal Jesus as a man with many titles. That is not really surprising when you consider the scope of His ministry. How do you describe someone who is a Lamb and Lion, Cloud and Sun, Shepherd and Lamb, Water and Fire, King and Servant? He is, of course, all of the above, plus Savior, Healer, and Provider. But the most repeated title in the New Testament, and the best loved by the disciples was “Lord.”

Lord means master, owner, and possessor – one who has maximum authority. In view of this definition, we ask the question another way. “Is Jesus the Lord of your life?” The Bible tells us that we have been made the righteousness of God in Christ. And through this gracious work that we call “salvation through the Blood of Jesus,” He has placed in us a state of holiness. In other words, He has given to us the capacity to reach and maintain exalted heights of holiness. You see, righteousness comes only from Jehovah God, through Jesus Christ. Holiness, on the other hand, is a matter of personal conduct. We make the choice to live and walk in holiness by and through His strength in us.

The primary motivation for maintaining a state of holiness in our lives is actually having Jesus as the Lord of our lives. If He is not pre-eminent, there is no desire to be holy, no motivation to die to self, no desire at all to “take up the cross and follow Him. The question has been asked, “Can Spirit-filled Christians get together in one place, sing and praise with uplifted hands, and still have Christ walking among them as a stranger, virtually unrecognized?”

Sadly, the answer is yes. Consider the Israelites. They gathered every Sabbath to speak His name as the prophets had spoken it so many times in their writings. They sang praises to Jehovah God, who, through the prophets, gave the promises; they spoke the Messiah’s name with awe, great reverence, and anticipation. Then when He came and walked among them, He was unrecognized and rejected as a stranger.

A recent media statistic reported that church attendance in America is on the increase. We look around us and see magnificent structures filled with multitudes that ostensibly claim the Christian faith. We rejoice that they are in church, yet the question will not go away. “How many of these precious souls really know Jesus as Lord, total Owner and Master?”

And although church attendance is increasing, we see no real increase in active faith and trust in the Lord during troubled times. Could it be that our ability to believe and trust His promises to bless and meet our every need is closely related to our willingness to make Jesus Lord of our life?

So, is He Lord of your life? Does He, in all things, have pre-eminence? Is He the ultimate King in your temple? It makes all the difference in the world. For to truly have the fullness of the Spirit and overcoming faith is to have the fullness of Christ. We make the choice!

The Amazing Story of the Real St. Patrick

GUEST POST BY SANDRA PAVLOFF CONNER

 

ST. PATRICK BOOK AMAZON FRONT COVER BRIGHTER

I’ve shared this story several times in article format over the past 9 years, but never put it all together in a book that was available on a world-wide market. But now it’s available through Amazon in paperback and digital.

The little-known, but true story of one of the most amazing soul-winners in the history of the Kingdom of God. St. Patrick of Ireland’s life of ministry is replete with astounding miracles and spiritual experiences that match those reported in the chapters of God’s Word.

And Patrick is credited with bringing at least 70,000 people to a saving faith in Jesus Christ — without the use of any transportation except his feet and his horse, and without the help of electricity or modern technology on any level. The story related in this booklet is taken from Patrick’s own writings and sidesteps vague legends to give the reader powerful truth that will encourage and inspire the faith of everyone who wants to serve God.

Short and easy to read. Get a copy today and an extra for someone whose faith you want to inspire.

PAPERBACK:  $4.00

DIGITAL:  $0.99



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Guest Post: ‘Healing Through Praying in Tongues

 

CROSS & DOVE - GOSPELGIFS 2012 darkerMany people do not realize that the ability to pray in tongues is also a very valuable tool when seeking healing from the Lord. Of course, this gift comes with the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, because so many in the Body of Christ have been taught that the baptism in the Holy Spirit and tongues are not for today, those Christians do not have the opportunity to take advantage of this avenue to health.

It is not the purpose of this book to teach a lesson on tongues, so we will limit the explanation to the following: There are two different categories of tongues spoken of in the Word of God. One is the gift described in 1 Corinthians 12, which includes both tongues for personal prayer and for giving messages from the Lord in public meetings.

When used for giving public messages, the tongues must be accompanied by interpretation, and scripture explains that tongues used in that category are not necessarily available to everyone all the time. The gift of tongues for messages, along with the gift of interpretation are operated, like all the other nine gifts of the Spirit, and they are manifested only as the Spirit wills. The entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 14 gives detailed explanations of how these gifts should be used in public meetings.

However, the second category – tongues for personal use – is given to all believers and, whether or not those believers make use of this gift is entirely up to each person. We must be careful to understand that even if we do not find ourselves used to give public messages in tongues, we have Jesus’ word of promise that we will have access to tongues for personal prayer equally with every other believer. Mark 16:15-17 tells us clearly,

Now, the word translated in English as “tongues” is actually the Greek word which means “languages not learned through natural means.” So, in other words, a totally supernatural gift from the Lord that bypasses our intellect.

The Lord explains, through the words of St. Paul, in Romans 8:2-27, that often “we do not know how to pray as we should.” And, of course, many people, when they are suffering physically, find it hard to pray as effectively as they need to pray. But God has a solution to this problem, and verse 26 tells us that His Holy Spirit helps us pray through utterances too deep for words. (The literal Greek here says “groanings or utterances too deep for articulate speech.”)

St. Paul, through the Holy Spirit, goes on to tell us in 1 Corinthians 14:5 that he wishes we would all pray much in tongues. And he makes clear in verse 14 of that chapter that when we pray in tongues, our minds are not involved – only our spirits. It is true that our minds must make the decision to allow our spirit to be in charge of our prayer, so that we release our tongue to speak the utterances the Holy Spirit gives us, but other than making that decision of the will, the mind has no part to play. As a result of that fact, our own mind, our own lack of understanding of medical conditions, and our own fears are shut out, and our spirit – helped by the Holy Spirit – takes over our prayers.

But possibly one of the most exciting truths in this passage of Scripture is what we learn in verses 2 and 4 of chapter 14. Verse 2 tells us that when we pray in tongues, we speak mysteries to God. He can also speak mysteries back to us because He’s in charge of the language. We must do the actual physical speaking, but He provides what’s being said in the sounds we make. But since we’re speaking mysteries, not only does our un-renewed mind stay out of the picture, but so does the enemy of our souls, because he can’t understand what we’re saying either.

But wait: It still gets better. Verse 4 tells us that the one who prays in tongues edifies himself. Now, most people consider that verse to mean that we build ourselves up spiritually. And, of course, we do, but that’s not the total benefit. The word translated “edify” means “to build or repair the house.” Now, let that sink in: your spirit is praying (with the language provided by the Holy Spirit), and that prayer is building/repairing your spirit’s house. And what is that house? That’s right – it’s your physical body. A number of Christians have learned that healing – especially for seriously troubling or obstinate maladies – can come successfully through praying in tongues. I know of situations where nothing else seemed to bring the desired manifestation, but praying at length in the language given by the Holy Spirit accomplished the work and brought forth the miracle.

As we’ve said each time we’ve discussed one of the means of healing that God prescribes in His Word, these means and these practices are not formulas. They do not work because we follow a list of ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s. They are each an avenue that God has provided to get His healing power into us, and they work successfully when we dig into the Word and prayer and let God lead us to the specific means that is right for each of our situations at that particular time.


* Excerpt from Healing Is For You! by Sandra Pavloff Conner


Graphic: © Jim Sutton @ gospelgifs.com

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Intercession: Our Nation’s Security

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”     — I Timothy 2:1-2

CAPITOL REFLECTED

As a nation that operates under the banner of a democracy, its citizens have a fundamental right to discuss, and even peaceably argue, the pros and cons of how the government is being directed. There are those who support and even love the president, while others are convinced his election was a monumental mistake. Members of the legislative branch — the U.S. Congress — likewise have their cheerleaders and booing sections.

In this entire flurry of disagreement and unsettling politics, just what is the responsibility of the born again Christian? What is he to do in the midst of all the political chaos? In our text Scripture, the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, answers that question with specific instructions: we are to make it a priority to Pray for our nation and all who are in authority!

But you can hear someone from the back row: “Why should I pray for this president? I didn’t vote for him; if I prayed anything, it would be to get him out, etc.” Why should we pray for our leaders? Verse two of our text answers, “So we may lead a quiet and peaceable life.”  Pretty good reason, don’t you think?

Living a quiet and peaceable life means that a nation as a whole is headed in the right direction, filled with a contented and prosperous people walking in the light and love of God. And living in that environment is a divine signal that God’s plan for the land is moving forward.

So what would that plan be? Verse four of 1 Timothy, chapter 2 says God would “have all men to be saved and come into the knowledge of the truth.” So here is the crowning reason God wants His people to pray — so the Gospel can be preached and the lost brought into the Kingdom of God.

Satan has pulled out all the stops, and as far as the United States is concerned, he has made some startling headway. I believe that the assignment has been handed to us, the Christians in the land, to determine if the enemy will continue to succeed. There is no question that if we obey the Biblical admonition to pray for our nation and those in authority, a holy standard will rise up against him.

There is a classic example in the Old Testament where God demonstrates His willingness to respond to intercessory prayer. In Genesis 18, the Lord announced that He was ready to destroy the city of Sodom because of its wickedness. Abraham had family interests there, and the Scriptures say he immediately humbled himself before the Lord and began to intercede. He could have easily “minded his own business”, but instead, he prayed and interceded — for others!

“Lord, if 50 righteous are found in the city, will you destroy them along with the wicked?” The Lord replied, “If I find 50 righteous within the city, I will spare the whole place on their account.”

“How about, Lord, if there are 45?”

“If I find 45, I will spare it.”

“Will you spare it for 40?’

“Yes I will!”

“I know I’m pressing you, Lord, but how about if there are 30 — will you spare it?”

“Yes I will,” answered the Lord. “Please don’t get angry with me, Lord, but what if there are only 20?”

“I will not destroy them if there are 20 righteous in the city.”

“One more time, Lord,” Abraham pleaded. “Will you spare the city for the sake of only 10 righteous?”

“Yes”, the Lord replied, “I will spare the entire city if only 10 righteous are found.”

And here Abraham stopped — and I wish he hadn’t. I believe if Abraham had pursued the matter all the way to just one righteous, he would have heard the Lord say, “Yes, I will spare the city for just one righteous person.” But Abraham stopped at 10, and herein lies a lesson for us.

Often when interceding, we stop too quickly — never reaching that point where we know in our spirits that we have asked for God’s best, in full confidence that He will keep His promises. Think about it. He promised to change things for just 10 people; and Jesus told us that under the new covenant “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them.”  (Matthew 18:19).

The great John Wesley once wrote, “I am convinced that God does nothing in the realm of man except in answer to believing prayer!” I believe that God is looking for those who will humble themselves and seek Him with all their hearts on behalf of our nation and its leaders. Any time you feel like criticizing — Stop — and Pray instead. God will move as His people obey His admonition: “Pray … that you may lead a quiet and peacable life.”

 

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Wait Three Days …

“Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.”     (Psalm 27:14)

FLOWERS UNDER UMBRELLAAs Ben left his office in lower Manhattan, he followed the usual pattern for Friday and stopped by the little flower stand on the corner to pick up a bouquet for his wife. The stand was unpretentious, and the lady who operated it a study in contrasts of human nature. Elderly, frail looking, shabbily dressed, and yet, a pleasant personality with a perennial smile.

Although Ben had stopped by the stand of the “flower lady” every Friday for months, he had never taken the time to talk to her beyond making his selection. But this time was different; something prompted him to comment.

“Every time I come by here you seem to be happy.”

“Sure, why not? Everything is good,” she replied.

“Well, you mean you don’t have any troubles?”

“Oh yes, just like that man walking over there, and you, and everybody, I have troubles. But when trouble comes, I just think about Jesus and Good Friday.”

“What do you mean?” Ben asked, somewhat puzzled.

“Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, the worst day in the world. But after three days came the greatest day in the world … Resurrection. Jesus rose from the dead and everything was OK. So, when I have trouble I tell Jesus about it, wait three days, and everything always turns out OK for me too.”

Interesting philosophy … “Tell Jesus then wait three days.”

But there is a dilemma here; we are part of a “want-it-now” society that will not wait any length of time for anything. Even the most elementary student of the Word cannot help but notice that our God is just the opposite. He is organized, deliberate, extremely patient, on time, and always successful. Have you ever wondered about the death and resurrection of Jesus, and why the climax of that earthshaking event had to wait until the third day? He died on Good Friday; why didn’t God the Father bring Him out of the tomb the next morning … or even late Friday night?

We must remember that when Jesus died on the cross, only His physical body experienced the phenomena of death. His Spirit lived on and continued to function in the Father’s business. His Father had much for Him to do during the period described as “three days and three nights.”

He told the repentant thief, “Today, you shall be with me in Paradise.” Here is solid indication that upon His Spirit’s separation from His body, at the instant of death – on that day (today), He traveled to Abraham’s Bosom … Paradise, where all the faithful saints of old were peacefully awaiting that moment of fulfillment. They had believed the prophets and anxiously anticipated the coming of the Anointed One, but fell asleep in death before the appointed time. Can you imagine the excitement among those joyful souls, as they saw with their own eyes the vindication of their faithfulness? Then, the Risen One completely emptied Paradise and escorted all of the jubilant saints to heaven. Just think, they will be seated with us at the great wedding feast.

Now, on to the next job.

In 1 Peter 3:18, we are told that His body (flesh) was put to death, but He was alive in the Spirit and (in the Spirit) went to proclaim His victory to the spirits kept in prison. Those who rejected the message of God’s spokesmen, and (v.20) who thumbed their noses at Noah, as the Creator waited patiently for them to repent. All of the deceased unbelievers, now in Hades – the place of torment — saw the Messiah as He presented Himself as a proclamation of His eternal victory and proof that God’s Word was and is true!

And now, one final detail before Sunday morning. Our Lord faced Satan, himself, toe to toe. Undoubtedly the devil thought he had Him, and probably summoned every demon he had to join him in trying to keep the King of Kings in hell. Now, Satan is not stupid, but he does stupid things, and this act ranks as his dumbest move since his rebellion.

In a flash of divine power, Jesus stripped the evil one of every vestige of authority, and as an act of totally disarming him and his hordes forever, snatched the keys of death and the grave from his grip. Satan and his cast fell back in cringing fear, and could not stop the Messiah as he blasted out of the confines of hell and in a flash, returned to His body in the tomb.

And not a moment too soon, for dawn was about to streak across the Jerusalem sky. The Resurrection power of the Holy Spirit was dispatched by God the Father, and Christ the Anointed One, came forth out of the tomb in His glorified body … the First Fruit of many to follow!

It was the third day!

Hallelujah!

Wait three days …

There is a message here that has eluded us far too long: “Wait three days” or “wait until the third day” are simply metaphors for “waiting upon the Lord.” If Almighty God, Creator of all, had reason to wait three days before He brought His Son forth from the tomb, why can’t we trust Him to answer our prayers regardless of the time span? His Word assures us that He is faithful — that our prayers in faith that line up with His will (His Word) are heard and will be answered.

Sometimes the answer comes immediately. At other times, for reasons only He may know, the answer does not manifest until “the third day.”

Listen to the “flower lady.” In faith, tell Jesus about your situation; then wait three days! He has promised everything will be OK!

 

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Be Not Afraid!

“For God has not given us the spirit of  fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”                                                                                                      2 Tim. 1:7.

http://gospelgifs.com/

Perhaps you have heard the humorous description of the lady who could never come to grips with her fears. She confessed that she always felt her worst at the times she felt best, because she knew and dreaded how awful she was going to feel when she felt bad again. Have you ever known that kind of person?

I had a friend many years ago who could never enjoy a beautiful spring day because of the stormy weather he “knew” was just around the corner and would surely strike any day. To the greeting, “Isn’t this a beautiful day, Chuck?” He would invariably respond, “Yeah, but when we get it we’re really going to get it.” Wherever this dear soul was, the aspirin bottle was always within reach, and I don’t recall that he ever had a truly happy day. And he was a professing Christian. Unusual? Not at all. Many Christians today are dominated or noticeably influenced by fears.

To some degree, every person reading these words has been to that barren wasteland called “fear.” And that is exactly what it is: a wasteland. Fear never builds, it never enhances, and it never blooms into anything beautiful. And when fear makes an appearance, it goes about systematically turning everything good into a wasteland. All over the land, day and night, we are fed a super dose of things to be fearful about: fear for our country, fear for our schools, fear for our children, fear of disease, fear of losing a job, fear of not getting a job — fear everywhere and about everything imaginable.

But for the Christian, there is an answer for fear in every phase of our lives. The Bible tells us explicitly that fear does not come from God. The Word calls fear a spirit, and considering its destructive force, it is easy to recognize it as an evil spirit. And since Jesus passed on his authority over evil spirits to the disciples and the believers after them (that’s us!), that translates into our ability to cast fear out and keep it out by exercising that authority. The text Scripture supports this truth by telling us we have been given the spirit of power and love and a mind that is anything but shy. And all of these attributes are part of Jesus! Hallelujah!

One night in the midst of a vicious storm on the Sea of Galilee, the disciples were on the edge of death and screamed out in terror. At His altar of prayer on the mountain, Jesus saw their plight through the all Seeing Eye of God and came to the rescue. God had already made provision for the safety of the disciples, just as He has, through Jesus, made provision for our total salvation; which includes healing, deliverance, provision, and safety. We must set our minds on Him as our total source. We must believe and act on His words that tell us, “Speak to this mountain (of fear) … and as you believe, you will receive.”

Go to work on the fears you are carrying with you. Hear those same words Jesus spoke on the sea as they ring from His throne of intercession, “Be of good cheer. It is I … be not afraid!”

And may the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. In the Name of Jesus our Messiah, Amen!

Plumbing the Depths of Christmas

Exif JPEGDo we really know the depth of the meaning of Christmas? For many, it’s the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child, but that birth was just the beginning of a massive plan prepared by God the Father before the foundation of the world. (1 Peter 1;19-20). Yes, God had a plan from the beginning to deliver man from sin and all of sin’s cousins. Then down through the centuries, from the day of Adam and Eve, God continually spoke to His prophets, telling them that a Messiah was coming, and to advise all of God’s people to look for Him.

And, finally, Galatians 4:4 says, “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.” So Christmas is really just the beginning of the culmination of the master plan of God begun before He even created us.

Actually, 337 times in the Old Testament, He foretold of the coming of Jesus, the Messiah, and here is just a short sample of what He told His covenant people to look for:

1 – He who is to come will be a prophet like Moses. Deuteronomy 18: 15,18

2 – He will be the Son of God. Psalm 2:7

3 – He will be of the tribe of Judah (A Jew) Genesis 49:10

4 – He will be born of a virgin. Isaiah 7:14

5 – He will be born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2

6 – He will be rejected, despised and forsaken. Isaiah 53:3

7 – He would be silent. Isaiah 53:7

8 – He would be betrayed. Psalm 41:9

9 – He would be tried and condemned. Isaiah 53:8

10 – He would be crucified with his hands and feet pierced. Psalm 22:16,18

11 – He will be our sacrifice. Isaiah 53:5-6

12 – He will be raised from the dead. Psalm 16:10

Why did He speak all of these words and over two hundred more to His people? Because He cared for them. He did not create man to be lost and separated from Him. Here is a glaring example of the goodness and love of God.

He wanted to redeem fallen man. And for Jesus to be the Word made flesh, that Word had to be spoken by the prophets into this world. As God spoke through these prophets, He was giving people hope so that they would have something wonderful to look forward to. What was to come was no more animal sacrifices, no more living in doubt and fear.

The Messiah Jesus would be the once and for all sacrifice for the whole world.

Christmas is more important than all of the outside glimmer we are used to. Christmas is the culmination of all that God said about the Savior to come. We celebrate with glimmer and lights – nothing wrong with that. But we also celebrate Christmas because we recognize that Jesus actually “came down” for us.

He “came down” so that one day we might “go up”.

He “came down” to a lowly stable so we can one day have a mansion.

Simple shepherds welcomed Him to earth, so that one day angels will welcome us into His presence.

He “came down” to put the devil completely out of business.

God has not changed. He wants us to reap and enjoy the benefit of Christmas, and to rejoice in our Savior who came to deliver us from sin, sickness, and everything the devil tries to throw at us.

Because of Christmas, we are overcomers.  KAVOD! GLORY!

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