Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ye are the temple . . .

Hey there, Saints & Lights! I know many of us have shed some bitter tears over the state of the modern-day church as we hear or experience 'wickedness in high places', a lack of love, or a perverting of the Gospel message by some in pursuit of riches and fame. And while this is certainly a cause for prayer and much prayer, I'm beginning to learn that it is not a cause for despair. Insincerity in the church-house was going on in Paul's time (2 Corinthians 2:17), and I dare say it may be going on until the end of time. So it doesn't appear that it's something the Lord wants us to stress over. That's why He lets believers in on the real deal--He's not building a church-house, but a spiritual house upon the rock of our faith. "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 2:5) So He cautions us in 2 Corinthians 6:14a, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers . . . ."
Now, we've heard this verse spouted as it relates to marriage, and surely, it has valuable implications there. But, interestingly enough, this verse follows a lengthy appeal that Paul was making, calling for steadfastness among believers in the Corinthian church. He follows it up in verse 16b by saying, ". . . for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." Now, this is Good News! This says that each believer is the temple of the living God, not the church-house as we know it; not the collection of folk that gather on Sunday morning, or Wednesday evening, or whenever. Each believer, not the building or the group, is the temple. We don't have to wait for 'the church to get right' to rejoice. We, each of us who believe, can rejoice and be exceedingly glad, now; because I am, you are, the temple of the living God! The church-house, the church organization, may go up and down the scale, but our salvation, our joy, our rejoicing, our praise is from and to the Lord--alone!
Unfortunately, everybody at the church-house is not a temple (not a believer), and we are admonished not to be yoked together with them. Walk among them, yes; even Jesus did the same. But be yoked with unbelievers, no. Our Lord said, "For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." (Matthew 12:50)  And what is the will of the Father? For an answer, Jesus said, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." (John 6:29)  In other words, the will of God the Father is that we believe on God the Son. And those who do not are unbelievers, even if they do good things. (Matthew 7:23) But Jesus made it clear, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:35)
Jesus gives his disciples a heart of love that wants to reach out and bring everybody in. And that's great! But He doesn't want us to be burdened down by being 'yoked' to people who don't believe. So He let's us off the hook, by saying, "A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject." (Titus 3:10) And, again, Jesus told his disciples there does come a time when we must 'shake the dust off our feet'. (Matthew 10:14) Even when it is very difficult for us to do so for compassion sake, there comes a time when we must do so, for obedience sake, for peace sake.  We can walk among them, pray for them, have associations with them, but we cannot be 'yoked together' with them--those who don't believe what we believe. It is so obvious, yet sometimes so easily overlooked:  Life and death, light and darkness cannot agree--or come together as one.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Spirit is willing but . . .

Whew! I finished the Book of Mark this morning and what an adventure! In Chapter 14:35-38, when Jesus came upon his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, sleeping--after He'd agonized in prayer before the Father until ". . . His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44)--He made a very incredible statement to them. "Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The Spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak." (Mark 14:38). And like me, I'm sure you've oftentimes heard this preached as a rebuke to the disciples, who had the nerve to fall asleep at such a critical time. Didn't they love the Lord? Didn't they care?
Well, having read it today, a profound sense of peace overwhelmed me. For it was not so much that Jesus was rebuking his disciples (then and now) as it was He was relating to us. Keep in mind, He, too, just moments before, did not want to die the cruel, brutal death of the cross. In that garden, Jesus realized, like his disciples, He wanted to live and not die. That even though His Spirit desired to follow the will of the Father, His flesh, too, was weak.  And Jesus, seeing His sleeping disciples, had compassion upon them.  Capturing the depth of His love and understanding for us, Hebrews says it best, "For we have not an high priest [Jesus] which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15) And then the writer throws back the veil and says, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16). Our Saviour has been there, done that, and He understands!
Jesus understood His disciples did love Him and did care for Him, but they did not have the power of the Holy Spirit to help them express it. Poor Peter would find this out soon after he declared he'd follow Jesus, even to the end. He meant well, but he did not yet have the power to do it. (Mark 14:29-30)  Jesus, on the other hand, revealed to us the power of the Holy Spirit over the flesh when He spoke these words of submission to the Father; words that each of His Spirit-filled followers will embrace, as well, ". . . nevertheless, not what I will, but what thou wilt." (Mark 14:36b)  When the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, Peter and all of the disciples were empowered to believe and live out their faith, too. (Acts 2) That same Holy Spirit is at work in each of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord. Bless His Holy Name!! (Philippians 2:13)

Linda . . . this one's for you!!

by :jeanetta britt/Reunion/

So much hell
Pumped into children
These days
It’s a wonder
They don’t explode
From the airwaves.

Vile music, mean lyrics
Plugged into their brains
It’s no wonder
They’re 'bout to
Go insane.

Kicked in the teeth
By family and friends
Who never
Really committed
To care for them.

Babies having babies
It’s a hard phenomenon
No wisdom to be gained
No help to rely on.

Very little interest
In going to church
Faith of Our Fathers
Has been

The sense of real family
That they deserve
They find in
Violent gangs
Never before heard of.

It’s no wonder
They can be
So aggressive
Who’s been there for them
To make the facts impressive.

About love, and grace
And true compassion
About history, and sacrifice
Heritage and blessing.

About discipline
And punishment
Mixed with love
Not meant to kill
But intended to build up.

We should be ashamed
For what we’ve
Put them through
In the name of letting them
Do what they want to.

Too busy to give them
Very much else
Pumping money
Into their fists
Rather than time
And ourselves.

Providing education
Focused on testing
Rather than teaching
And equipping
To face life’s lessons.

To make
Informed decisions
Possess a gainful skill
Adequate provision
On which they can live.

It’s not too late
To get the wonder back
Put hope
In our children’s eyes
If we decide to act.

It starts on our knees
Prayers sent up above
It’s a wise
To bring back

The children of today
Will be the future rage . . .
They’ll be taking care
Of us
In our old age! :-)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Why I Write . . .

When We Write (by :jeanetta britt/Lottie/
We're entrusted with the brushes
When we write
Brushes from God's color box
Red, yellow, black and white.
We can paint the world we see
Or the vision of what could be
As for me and my artistry
I must choose the latter.
Why do you write, or sing, or paint, or work, or live? It's so freeing, so energizing to be clear about our purpose. It gives focus for each new day and a satisfying sense of accomplishment at the end of it. And even if we miss the mark--which we often do--we know where we are going, and we can start fresh tomorrow on the way. Blessings! :jb
"These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God [Jesus]." I John 5:13

Saturday, September 22, 2012

All In . . .

Greetings all! Got up early this morning, feeling kinda half-and-half, but I pressed on . . . in the Name of the Lord :) After I fertilized my rose bushes and saw how they perked up, it reminded me that I could probably do with a little 'deep' feeding of my own. So, I picked up on my study of the Book of Mark (one of the Gospels I rarely read). And it dawned on me how so many things in nature are a physical manifestation of a deeper spiritual truth. Just like my poor roses responded to physical food, our poor souls are in desperate need of spiritual food, as well. (. . . hmm, maybe that's why Jesus taught us by parables; 'cause if we can't see it, us humans don't get it.) But I digress . . .
When I got to Mark 10:50, the tears stopped me in my tracks. I saw something I'd never seen before. This, as you know, is the story of blind Bartimaeus who sat beside the highway begging; that is until he heard that Jesus was passing by. Then, he stopped his begging and began to cry out for Jesus to have mercy on him. The people then were like the people now, and they tried to shut him up. But Bartimaeus cried out all the more, until Jesus heard him and called for him to come. And then verse 50 says, "And he (blind, begging, spitefully-treated Bartimaeus), casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus." Wow! Do you see it? In spite of his long-standing condition, Bartimaeus believed that Jesus could change his life, so much so, that he cast away his comfort zone, his 'paci', his yesterday's covering and came to Jesus just as he was . . . all in. It was Jesus or nothing! He forsook his old life in hope of the new life in Jesus.
This, of course, reminded me of Abraham when God commnded him to sacrifice his only, beloved son, the promised son of his old age, Isaac. If you read the account, you'll see he didn't hesitate; he took all the necessary implements--the wood, the fire, the knife; and he told his servants to stay behind. And, then, he made a curious statement--his confession of faith in the God that had commanded him to do such a thing. "And Abraham said unto his young men, 'Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship and come again unto you.'" (Genesis 22:5) Double-Wow!! Abraham so trusted God that he believed that he and his son would come back down off that mountain . . . together. He believed God for a miracle! He was . . . all in! And guess what, it was when Abraham raised the knife to sacrifice his son, that God did provide for him a ram in the bush!
A few pages over in Mark, Jesus made His disciples (us included) an awesome promise. Jesus said, "Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." Blind Bartimaeus believed. He was . . . all in. And he received his sight 'immediately' when Jesus said to him, "Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole."
Our faith will make us whole, too, when we put it in Jesus Christ . . . alone. And we'll see our prayers answered when we are . . . all in!

Pray to Pray (by :jeanetta britt/Third Ear/

Do you get off your knees
In Jesus' name
And strike out in faith
Your desires to claim?

Or do you pray to pray
Over and over again
Not mixing it with faith
Trusting the Master's plan?

The Gentile woman
Didn't quit her plea
Until crumbs from God's table
She believed to see.

Blind Bartimaeus
To Jesus called aloud
For his blessing from the Lord
He struggled through the crowd.

That certain, weary woman
With the issue of blood
Jesus' hem she touched
And healing faith did flood.

Jesus told the lame man,
'Your bed, take up and walk,'
But he'd still be crippled
If he thought it was just talk.

Jesus said, 'Ask,
And it shall be given
In His name,
Seek and ye shall find.

Knock, and the door
Shall be open unto you.'
When you pray
Do you think He is lying?

Prayer takes faith
Without action, it's dead
Praying is believing
What the Lord haith said!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

In Jesus' Name . . .

Greetings, Believers! I'm convinced that . . . you, me, we . . . have got to accept the fact that everybody doesn't love Jesus . . . and still love them anyhow . . . in Jesus' Name. As much as we may find it unthinkable that anybody wouldn't love Jesus for all the love He's shown to us--His willingness to go to the cross and shed His blood to pay the price for the sins of the whole world; His keeping His word (...and who does that these days?) and being raised from the grave with all power in His hands, just to save our souls; And even now, being seated at the right hand of God the Father making intercession for us to keep us saved by His cleansing blood. [Matthew 28:18; Acts 4:12; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 10:12-14; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 5:13] Even with all the love He's given each of us, some people will not believe, and will not love Jesus. It's a hard truth for me, because I am so thankful to have been forgiven of all my sins, which are many! And as Jesus has shown me so much compassionate love, I'm constrained by His love to pray right along with Him that all will be saved and none lost on that day. [John 17; 2 Peter 3:9] For no matter how this contradiction may make us feel, we are charged to keep our Master's will in the matter . . . and love them anyhow. . . in His Name! [John 13:34] After all, we can't call it. We don't know the times, or who will and who won't. Who knows? Our prayers and our love, in His Name, may reach a lost sinner's heart and light the way home to the saving grace of Jesus. When I'm learning, I write. :)  How do you express your convictions??
Some Will & Some Won't (by :jeanetta britt/Poems from the Fast/
As we go about our days
Following our Saviour's lead
Our love is oft rejected
As we seek to meet the need.

When Jesus walked the earth
He extended His hand to all
Yet the Pharisees and Sadducees
Resisted every call.

The cries of, 'Crucify Him!'
Swelled from the selfsame host
Who'd sung, 'Hosanna! Praise Him!'
Just a few days before.

Yet, eleven of the twelve
Remained faithful still
Despite their fear and failure
Their hope it could not kill.

Today, it is no different
When the Lord sends out the call
Some gladly enter in
And others erect a wall.

When sinners believe you not
Be dejected, don't
For our Master's life has taught us
Some will . . . and some won't.

Monday, September 10, 2012

'Living Right'

Since I've been back to my native Alabama, after a 30-year stint in Dallas (which I enjoyed, by the way), I've been hearing the phrase, 'live right' bantered around a lot. What I hear in churches and in loose conversation goes something like this: 'If you live right, you can make it to God's heaven.' Hmmm, the Holy Spirit says in me, Hmmm. And He made me want to look deeper into what is being said, what is meant, and what is The Truth, according to God's Word. Well, this is what the Bible has to say about the subject of 'living right to get to God's heaven.'
It starts with John 3:16, 'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but shall have everlating life.' That's a good start if you ask me. Then it moves on to Romans 4:3: '. . . Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness'. Then there's the kicker in Romans 10:9: 'If thou shalt confess with thou mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in thine heart God has raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.' That sealed it for me, but the Spirit moved me on to Revelation 7:14 (a book I usually try to stay out of, but this picture of God's heaven was just too good to miss):  '. . . These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.' Only the blood of Jesus has taken away, paid the price for, all of the sins of the whole world--forever--past, present and future. And we are called upon to 'believe' God for ourselves in the matter, as Abraham did, if we are to be saved, be righteous, and be fit for God's heaven.
So contrary to common lingo, 'living right' has less to do with us 'doing' the right thing as it does with us 'belieiving' the right thing.  The Bible says when (and only when) we accept Jesus Christ, by faith, as our Lord and Saviour are we 'in Christ' and thus, fit, ready, able to go to God's heaven. For God the Son is the only Righteous One accepted by God the Father (Matthew 3:17). And when we accept Jesus Christ, by faith, the Old Testament prophesy is fullfilled in us for He becomes--The Lord Our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6)!
And then a wonderful thing happens, as we see in Romans 5:5: '. . . the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.' When we experience and accept the love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord, the Holy Spirit is given to us, and then Jesus is able to love others through us. And, lo, and behold, through the Spirit of Christ, we become able to 'live right', e.g. love one another as Christ loves us (John 13:34-35). And Jesus helps us in the process of growth all along the way. This is the miracle of faith righteousness! This is 'living right', indeed! 
Much love, :jeanetta