The Early Years


With the goal to increase our knowledge of the glory of Jesus, you must go back to the beginning of:

HIS-story

To really grasp His glory, you must start at the beginning of God’s revelation to humanity.

Jesus is the Creator of the physical and spiritual order of all things.

To further understand Jesus, you must look at his creation of man.

The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. GENESIS 2:7

I cannot help but notice the intimacy involved in this act. The first thing the man saw upon becoming alive was the face of God.

Man was different from all other created things: the only one in all creation bearing the image of his Creator. He was given a purpose that reflected the authority and purpose of his Creator:

God blessed them (male and female) and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of he air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” GENESIS 1:28

I find something interesting in this prophecy of purpose. It includes the word “subdue.”

Subdue: to tread down; to bring into bondage.

In this world without peril, what was there to subdue? What was God saying?

There is a snake coming.

More on that later.

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground–trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. GENESIS 2:8-9

Think of what God did for the one he called, “Adam”: He built a place suited for Adam and his purpose. In the midst of the garden, stood 2 unique trees:

The Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. One tree bringing life and the other bringing death.

The presence of these trees reflected the purpose of Adam and the image of his creation:

A separator of good and evil – light and darkness – one who treads upon evil – one who has the dignity of choice and chooses the light over the darkness.

Adam was incredibly intelligent and creative. But, for things to be in perfect godly order, Adam needed a helper – a partner suitable for him.

Jesus caused a deep sleep to come over Adam. He performed the first surgery – taking part of Adam’s side; closing it up and making a woman from part of Adam.

Part of the same species with the same race before them. Yet, opposite in psychology, and physical makeup. Yet, together, they complimented one another: helping them discover things they could not alone.

Nothing was needed by the man and woman other than what they possessed.

What did they possess?

In God, they had purpose, provision, and love. In one another, they shared a common adventure and could be themselves and enjoy it.

They could not see the future but had no need to because – in the cool of the evening, God would come to them. They trusted His wisdom – His love, His provision, His purpose was enough to handle anything that was to come.

In His world, there was peace.

In the Beginning, Jesus!!


To fully understand the wonder of Jesus, you must go back to the beginning – to the time of creation when His revelation to humanity began. For the next few weeks, we’ll take that trip in expectation of having our eyes opened to His glory.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. GENESIS 1:1

God is the reason that everything exists. If you want to take that a little deeper, Jesus is the reason that everything exists:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it. JOHN 1:1-5

These passages are introducing us to Jesus. You will notice that the scripture tells us that through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us the same truth:

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. HEBREWS 1:1-2

Jesus is the Creator – the Origin of all things.

I said last week that “firsts” are important in the Bible. On the first day of creation, Jesus said, “Let there be light” and there was light. Since celestial lights were not created until day 4, we know that this must be the revelation of Jesus into His creation. On that first day, He also separated the light from darkness – declared the light good. In this first day, God revealed the purpose of history:

The purpose of history is to reveal God and to separate that which is of the Light from that which is of the darkness.

The Hebrew calendar still counts days as beginning in the evening and ending with light – evening and morning were the first day.

As the days of creation unfolded, you cannot help but be awed by the knowledge, wisdom, majesty of God. Jesus was not just creating, He was writing His story and establishing the order of the natural and the spiritual.

When observing His creation of the natural order, you cannot help but be awed by His knowledge and wisdom as a:

Chemist, Physicist, Geologist, Botanist, Zoologist, Surgeon, Psychologist, Sociologist, Meteorologist, Linguist, Oceanographer, Medical Doctor, Mathematician, Astronomer, Veterinarian,
Biochemist, etc.

To create what He did – how He did it required complete knowledge of all these sciences. Think on this in detail when you can.

Remember, we are talking about Jesus. Are you in awe of Him yet?

While attending to all of this detail, He was also setting the spiritual order of things. He created in 7 days, not one. He used each day – 1-7 – as a prophetic marker that He would carry forward throughout history.

Number 1: unity, singleness of purpose

Number 2: union, witness

Number 3: Godhead

Number 4: creation, form

Number 5: grace, goodness, abundance

Number 6: man

Number 7: divine perfection and completion

God would use this pattern and build upon it all throughout history. But, this was the foundation of godly order.

Remember, last week, when we spoke of sanctified relationships? God also set in order sanctified rest and honor:

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. GENESIS 2:1-3

Jesus ceased His labor on day 7 and set the day apart as holy. He wasn’t tired, He established godly order.

A big lesson:

The key to blessing is to flow in godly order.

Jesus is the agent of all this magnificence. He is the Master of all science – natural, social, formal, and applied.

He is the center of all spiritual reality and wisdom.

He is the creator of your life and purpose.

After reflecting on His amazing love, this doxology was written as our response to His glory:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever! Amen. ROMANS 11:33-36

Defiling the Story


We don’t live our lives in some type of vacuum. Our story is a part of a great big story that is HIS-story. The history of humanity is the revelation of Jesus Christ, the Truth.

Remember the first day of creation? Light was released after the creation of the heavens and earth. Celestial lights were not created until day four, so the Light released on day one must have been the revelation of God Himself.

On that same day, God separated light from darkness. What happens first is always important. I see the first day as prophetic – revealing the purpose of history:

The revelation of God and the separation of light and darkness.

Our purpose as those who are created in the image of God is to reveal Jesus and to separate light from darkness.

Since we are part of such a great story and our part is not happening in a vacuum but is intricately tied to all the others, we want to embrace the grace of God for our lives to run the individual race set before each of us.

When hardship occurs, we are not to be angry at others who don’t experience what we go through nor do we hate our own journey. We endure hardship as discipline from the Lord – knowing He is being revealed in us.

Part of the revelation of grace is to live in peace with one another. This is an evidence of holiness.

When grace is absent among us, bitter roots begin to develop.

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. HEBREWS 12:14-15

When we are offended and don’t handle it biblically, something takes root in our heart.

A bitter root is something that takes on life and begins to grow downward into your soul.

Soon, it “springs up” as the scripture states affecting our lives in a negative way – fighting against the Fruit of the Spirit within us.

Trouble has started for us.

Our lives begin to display fruit of the bitterness rather than of the Spirit.

A grudge develops that gnaws at you. Every time you see or think of that person you feel something ugly. When you hear about that person being blessed, you feel angry.

It is your responsibility to get rid of this. Now.

We are all part of a great story that is HIStory not ours.

I find that when we are offended, instead of exalting Jesus, our story becomes about telling everyone that other chapters in the story are lies – thus defiling the story.

Bitterness will not remain inside -it will come out and when it does, it defiles.

It is one thing for unbelievers to cast doubt upon us – it is another for us to cast doubt upon each other.

Holy Spirit, take the Cross of Christ to our bitterness, then raise us to walk in forgiveness, love, and peace.

Faith Made Perfect


Have you ever noticed that sometimes it seems as if God can be arbitrary in the way He answers prayer?

Arbitrary: based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.

We believe for things yet they don’t come to pass. Why?

Was our faith not sufficient? Is God unjust?

Read Hebrews 11:32-40.

Hebrews 11 is called the “faith chapter”. It tells us what real faith is:

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

It tells us that without faith, we cannot please God. It also tells us the two components of real faith:

Anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

Some people can honestly say that based upon what we have just read, they have real faith. Yet, why is it that sometimes it seems as if “real faith” is not rewarded?

Do you remember the list of people in chapter 11 that had faith? Do you remember the powerful things that God did in response to their faith listed in verse 33 onward?

Conquered kingdoms, gained what was promised, shut lion’s mouths, quenched flames, escaped the sword, routed armies, the dead raised. Yes, that is what we expect out of faith.

But, notice that the list of faith filled actions is not over:

Refuse release and died, subject to jeers and flogging, imprisoned, stoned, sawed in two, put to death, lived in caves, were destitute, persecuted, mistreated.

Hey, wait a minute! I thought faith won every battle like we saw at the beginning of the chapter?

Notice what the scripture says:

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.

So, the scripture is saying that those listed as having died, been subject to ridicule, flogging, those in prison, stoned, sawed in two, those living in caves – they had faith just like those who routed, gained, raised, and conquered.

Why the different outcomes?

God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

All of us are a part of a great body of believers. Some of those believers are here on earth and some are already in heaven.

No act of faith happens arbitrarily – each is a part of a great story that includes billions of other acts of faith together pointing toward the validity of the truth of God.

I can’t separate my story from the body. My story is a part of the body of Christ and the body of the truth.

What is the truth?

As well as great miracles, the truth also includes:

Sometimes faith brings trouble on me.

The last enemy to be destroyed is physical death.

My life is a living sacrifice poured out on the altar.

This earth is not heaven.

I still await the arrival of the Blessed Hope.

Sometimes, these truths are revealed in God’s people as they live in faith.

In this world of instant gratification, we often forget the truth of the Word of God.

I don’t live for Jesus in a vacuum. I live connected to a large family of believers – some alive and others in heaven – all whose lives reflect God’s truth. Remember what the scripture tells us?

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

Don’t get discouraged by your part of this story! God is revealing His truth through you!

The Consecration of My “Firsts”


Most of us know the story of the Israelite’s deliverance from Egypt. The destroying angel goes throughout Egypt and puts to death every firstborn animal or child. The only people exempt from this destruction were those who had slaughtered the Passover sacrifice and put the blood upon the doorframe of their home.

The instructions from the Lord that we read in Exodus 13 are given to the Israelites after their deliverance from Egypt.

The Israelites were commanded to do two things:

  1. Consecrate
  2. Commemorate

They were to “consecrate” every firstborn male to the Lord.

Consecrate: sacrifice; belonging (ownership)

Commemorate: remember as affecting present feeling, thought, and action

Here is something very important for us to remember:

Passover and the consecration of the firstborn were intricately linked together.

It took the shedding of blood – that of the firstborn of Egypt to free the Israelites. Nothing else accomplished the purpose.

Notice what was said in Exodus 4:22:

Then say to Pharoah, “This is what the Lord says: Israel is My firstborn son, and I told you, “Let My son go, so he may worship Me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’”

Why the firstborn?

In this period, the firstborn son was the heir of the household. He was the heir to a double portion of the inheritance. He was the favored son – the son who would inherit the father’s authority and who would be responsible for caring for the household.

Also, the “first” was also symbolic. The consecration of the “first” whether it be a son or harvest or animal symbolized holiness and brought blessing upon everything.

The destruction of the firstborn of Egypt delivered the Israelites and set them apart as God’s own people. As God’s own people, they owed Him everything. To symbolize God’s position as “first” in worship and love, all their “firsts” were given over to Him.

They were delivered and redeemed = free from bondage to Egypt and purchased from slavery by blood.

The Lord delivered them by sacrifice – the firstborn of Egypt. Their relationship with a holy Lord was maintained by sacrifice – the consecration of their “firsts” to God.

Now, fast forward to us.

Deliverance from Egypt is one thing. Deliverance from the evil residing in the heart of man is another. Salvation has come to all humanity. It comes through the sacrifice of Jesus, the holy Only Begotten, and therefore firstborn Son of God.

If the price of deliverance from Egypt was the imperfect, firstborn of Egypt and that sacrifice consecrated all the firstborn of Israel as God’s……….What do you think the sacrifice of the Holy Firstborn Son of God consecrated in our lives?

Would it consecrate any less? It purchased our lives and made us His own possession. It made Him our first love – before any other loves. If that was manifest through the giving of the “firsts” in the OT, how is it manifest now?

When your son asks you, “What does this mean?”

“I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt. Verse 8

“With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, both man and animal. This is why I sacrifice to the Lord the first male offspring of every womb and redeem each of my firstborn sons.”

The Jewish Passover consecrated all their “firsts” to the Lord. Consequently, my Passover sacrifice – Jesus consecrated all the “firsts” of my life to the Lord.

Passover (my salvation) and the consecration of the firstborn (the belonging of every “first” in my life) are intricately linked.

When you understand this principle then many other principles like tithing make sense as well.

With Money Comes Spiritual Responsibility


Luke chapter sixteen, verses nineteen through thirty-one tell the story of the rich man and the beggar. Take time to read it for yourself.

I want to point out a few things about this parable:

  • The rich man had more than he needed.

Now, you don’t have to be “rich” for this to apply to you. In answer to the question “What it the greatest commandment?” Jesus responded:

“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27

When asked, “who is my neighbor?”, Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan. Now, we aren’t told that the Samaritan was rich. We are told that he used what he had to help someone in need. When Jesus asked, “Who was a neighbor to the one who fell among robbers?”:

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:37

  • A man in need was in his “orbit”.

A beggar, Lazarus was at his gate. Who in need is in your “orbit”?

  • The rich man apparently did nothing for Lazarus.

This is a major point in this story because in eternity, the rich man wanted help from Lazarus but didn’t receive it.

  • As far as we know, the rich man went to hell for no other reason than he didn’t help Lazarus.

Okay, there were “idols” that were root causes of his entry into hell:

Selfishness. Lack of compassion. Failure to understand the responsibility of his station.

Did this man attend synagogue? Did he go to temple and sacrifice? Did he study Torah? Probably. Why?

He was held responsible for the teachings he knew.

Upon entering eternity, what was the rich man’s cry?

Send Lazarus to my father’s house – to my brothers so that they can learn this teaching and obey it!

The answer from heaven? These teachings are clear in the Word.

The rich man cried, “They will repent if someone who rises from the dead teaches them!”

Answer? If they don’t listen know they will not listen even if someone rises from the dead.

Truth? Someone who has risen from the dead brings this teaching to you. His name is Jesus. Do you follow it? Or, are you riddled with selfishness, a lack of compassion, and fail to understand the responsibilities of your station?

People who are rich in this world’s goods can be a great blessing. Why do those who are often feel the need to lavish themselves? So that we can all see that they are a “favored” one?

Remember the parable of the Rich Fool found in Luke 12:16-21?

Do you remember the story of the Rich Ruler found in Luke 18:24-27?

Do you remember the repentance of Zacchaeus found in Luke 19:8-10?

Allow me to close with his words:

“Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

We all understand the “cheating” part of his repentance, but what about the giving half of his possessions to the poor?

According to Jesus, Zacchaeus experienced true deliverance from selfishness and a lack of compassion. Zacchaeus had a revelation of the responsibilities of his station. He also learned one great biblical truth:

With money comes spiritual responsibility.

The Seductive Nature of Religion


Worship is a world-wide phenomenon. It exists in all cultures. Religion is a modern Western concept. In many Eastern cultures, there is not even a word that equates to “religion”.

In the Eastern mind, there is worship and the belief in spiritual good and spiritual evil. The word “religion” originated in Western culture to describe a social construct – like education or entertainment.

To define worship as a social construct with a new name “religion” required it to be described with a lack of faith in the supernatural. For worship to be reduced to a social construct required it to be divorced from the divine – to become an “optional influencer” open to judgment by the society in which it exists.

While religion is not worship, it is still very seductive.

Why?

Religion includes some powerful ingredients.

  1. It is man’s way of reaching eternal life.
  2. It is man’s way of changing self.
  3. It is man’s way of inclusion into the “common good”.

Now, number 3 is falling out of favor in the US, but the other two still sing their seductive song.

You will notice that each statement includes the phrase “man’s way”. If it is “man’s way” of doing something, then:

Religion is a basic principle of the world.

Let’s look at what the Bible says about the seductive yet weak nature of religion:


Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, with their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. COLOSSIANS 2:20-23 NKJV

Did you know that Christianity can be practiced as a religion?

The core of Christianity is the belief in the inability of man and the power of Christ as the essence of worship.

Colossians tells us that religion is seductive because it contains the following ideas:

The appearance of wisdom.

The appearance of worship.

The appearance of humility.

The appearance of lordship.

Christianity was never meant to become a system of rules to better behavior. It is a death to that which destroys and a resurrection into a supernatural life.

Religion is included in that which we must die to.

A system or a social construct cannot exorcise the evil from the human heart and replace it with the Spirit of the Living God.

Don’t allow this world to reduce Christ to a construct. He is not a system or a construct but the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Not Your Usual Response


The statue of David in Jerusalem

David is one of my favorite biblical characters. He is such a great study in leadership.

Here’s another story I find fascinating.

1 Samuel 23 tells the story of David saving the city of Keilah. Remember, David was in exile at this point in time – driven out of favor by a jealous King Saul. While in exile, David hears that the Philistines are fighting against the Israelite city of Keilah and are looting the threshing floors of grain.

We’ll come back to the story after a few comments.

Let’s set up a hypothetical that is oh so real. Most of the time when someone has been “done wrong” by a leader or a group, they develop a desire for vengeance. If problems come to the place were the leader is in charge, the thought that “God is judging that place” is the usual response by those hurt. Because they believe “God is judging that place” then standing back and actually pulling for the leader’s downfall is common.

That is why David’s response is an unusual one.

Instead of standing back and saying, “God is judging Saul for how he treated me. The Philistines will destroy the land because of what Saul has done” – David asked God if he should go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah which would actually help Saul!

And, even more interesting is God’s response – “Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah.”

Wow!!!!

How contrary to our normal thought process is that!

David’s men didn’t want to go to save Keilah. After David saved Keilah, the people of that town turned their back on David. Yet, David had compassion on Keilah instead of a heart of judgment.

Is that convicting or what?

Lord, give us the heart of David when it comes to those who have hurt us. Help us to not be happy at the downfall of God’s people but to be willing to “save the Keilahs” in our life! We trust you to do this in us!

Insanity in the Kingdom of God


What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

What is the definition of insanity in the kingdom of God? Attacking other believers and undermining what God is doing through them.

Saul was king of Israel – appointed as such by God. As time went along, a strange “sickness” began to infect his actions and attitudes. What “sickness” is that? The “sickness” of jealousy and control.

If you are going to be a part of God’s kingdom, you are going to have to get used to seeing other brothers and sisters be successful. God uses all of us to fulfill His will and each of our parts is important.

When some see others with influence or success, they become jealous – wanting the influence and success they behold. Saul was one of those people. When others in the kingdom of God were successful, they automatically became his enemies. David was sent by God to be a blessing to Saul but instead, Saul considered David his enemy and sought to undermine and destroy him. David’s success “galled” Saul.

Another source of insanity in the kingdom is a refusal to “stay in your lane”. Each of us has a part to play in God’s kingdom. When someone else in the kingdom is not operating like we think they should – I’m not talking about them sinning – just that they are not doing things the way we think they should, we can get “out of our lane” and begin to undermine them with words or actions. Such behavior actually manifest great immaturity and a lack of trust in God’s ability to run His kingdom.

Back to Saul.

Once his self-interest overcame his desire to flow with God’s purposes and plan, he became a “murderer” of God’s priests. You see the story in 1 Samuel 22.

What type of leader in the kingdom of God would put out a “hit” on the priests of God?

Sadly, it is not that rare.

Here’s a question for you:

Can you “ride” in the kingdom of God with a successful “David” at your side or does that make you insecure?

Are you going to trust God and be happy with your role in the kingdom or are you going to get so controlling that you throw spears at your own family like Saul did to Jonathan, his son?

Are you called to serve God or to run His kingdom for Him?

Avoid insanity! Live in true humility. Don’t understate your role in the kingdom but don’t overestimate it either. Trust God and put your spear away! Let kingdom Shalom rule! You’ll be a lot happier and will end up with God’s blessing on your life!

The Cutting Edge


I am going to take some time away from my blog to do some things God has put before me. I will be back in July. Until then, I have a word for you. It is based out of 1 Samuel 21:1-9.

When David ran from Saul, he stopped to see Ahimelech the priest. It was there that he was provisioned with the Bread of the Presence. In effect, Ahimelech said, “We don’t have ordinary bread here.” God is looking for people who aren’t satisfied with “ordinary” religion. Be provisioned with the Bread of the Presence of God!

Needing a weapon with which to fight, David was told, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah is here; it is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you want it, take it; there is no sword here but that one.”

A sword is equated with the Word of God. Just like there is no “ordinary” bread in the house of God there are no “ordinary” weapons either.

Some have left words from God behind. Maybe you didn’t forget them but just left them in God’s presence waiting for the right time to retrieve them. Some have had their faith offended by what has occurred or not occurred and just walked away. It is time to “go back” to the place you left the cutting edge behind. This will require humility and a similar realization that struck David when he picked up the sword of Goliath: “There is none like it”. God has a will for you. There is not an alternative plan. Go back and retrieve your sword of victory!

Are you willing to settle or do you want the will of God? God is looking for people who are willing to ignore the “ordinary” and get back into the Presence. He is also looking for those who have enough humility and resolve to get back to where they left the cutting edge and pick it back upon again.

Act upon this and I’ll see you in July!!!