Wednesday, September 27, 2006

In Agreement

"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matthew 18:20 RSV

Christians know this quote from the Bible, and some may have experienced the power of two spirits in agreement during prayer. However, do you realize that the gathering of two or more people can lead to destruction, as well?

A scene:

Two Christian women agree to meet over coffee to discuss an upcoming project. Their instructions from the project leader is to organize the logistics of the upcoming event- that up until now has faltered in disorganization. Their intentions are pure, but the downward slope occurs when one woman starts to criticize the project leader for the mess. Then, the other woman starts to nod her head in agreement, and the ball is now rolling toward destruction.

Satan also wants us in agreement. Just as our agreement in the Holy Spirit can multiply God's Spirit in others, so too, Satan's spirit can be multiplied by agreement. Satan's spirit can multiply into fear, anger, judgment, pain and pride by spreading to more and more people like a tightly wound ball of yarn. Detangeling that ball can take days, weeks or months; or possibly eternity. The division this evil spirit spawns will be carried by all those who participated in the 'agreement' and will be perceived by those around us who know we are Christians.

If you need to vent, go to God; then wait. He will help you clarify and give you direction on what further action to take. He may tell you to forgive, or he may tell you to bring the criticism to the church leadership. Whatever he tells you, at least you will be in agreement with God and not with evil.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Studying the Word of God

God's Word is written in concentric circles with layers upon layers of meaning. This is why we study His Word, for each time we read a passage, more will be revealed.

"So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it." They said to him, "Where will you have us prepare it?" He said to them, "Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house which he enters, and tell the householder, 'The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I am to eat the Passover with my disciples?' And he will show you a large upper room furnished; there make ready." And they went, and found it as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover." Luke 22:8-12 RSV

The outer circle of this passage appears pretty direct. Jesus charges Peter and John to prepare the Passover feast and he gives clear instructions on where and how they are to prepare the feast. Now let us look at the message drawn in the inner circles.

Peter and John were entrusted with preparing the Passover feast for the other disciples. Again we see the idea of leadership by servitude. We also see that each of us is charged with preparing the Way for all people to the final feast - or evangelism.

Jesus foretells that the Holy Spirit (the man with water jar) will guide the disciples to the room (places in Jerusalem, Judea and around the world) where they will prepare the Passover feast (the Kingdom of God).

For just as the blood of the Passover Lamb painted on the lintel of each home caused the Angel of Death to pass over, the blood of Jesus on our hearts will keep us from the eternal death earned by sin.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Struggle Won by Submission

In the previous post, I outlined some of the differences between the three major religions of the world, but the main difference between these religions is Jesus, the Son of God. Judaism does acknowledge a 'coming Messiah' and Islam awaits a coming Inman, but it is only Christianity that acknowledges Jesus as the Son of God.

The term 'Son of God' appears at least forty times in the four Gospels of the Bible, however it is curious that Jesus never refers to himself as the Son of God. The first to proclaim this title was Satan; for he not only recognized the personage of Jesus, but wondered why that personage was walking the earth in a human body. Other references to the 'Son of God' were all made by men; his apostles and disciples. The term 'Son of God' acknowledges his Father.

Seventy-eight times Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man in the four gospels. I wondered why and found the answer in Genesis.

"Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God say, 'You shall not eat of any tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Genesis 3:1-5 RSV

The 'rift' between God and man started there in the Garden, and as the rift between God and Lucifer began as pride, so too, the rift between woman and God began as pride.

When Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man (which he was) instead of the Son of God (and he also was), he was acknowledging his relationship with his mother - not the Father. By doing this, Jesus came to reconcile woman's sin of pride by submitting himself to a woman. Think of it - God submitted himself to a woman by conception, birth and the nurturing/discipline of a mother. By showing God's final and most perfect creation - woman - that leadership is obtained through service to others, he reconciled all of mankind to God.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Judaism, Islam or Christianity?

There is a spiritual battle raging all around us. The physical manifestations of this battle can be read in every newspaper, heard on every radio and seen on every television around the world. When our leaders tell us we are "at war", they speak volumes, but the prize is not oil, land or an ideology. The prize is the soul of the Earth.

At the battle lines are three religions so closely related, and yet their differences create a chasm between God and man and hatred between men. The chasm and hatred were planned in the War Room of our greatest adversary. We cannot see this adversary, but believe that his soldiers are ever present, and although they escape our consciousness, they are close by influencing every person alive today. Their goal is simple, they want your soul.

There are three religions proclaiming that they can ransom your soul from this enemy. Let us examine each:

Judaism - This religion proclaims that the Torah and the Talmud was given by God to the Jews. It is an exclusive club, for only the Jews are the chosen people. The five books of Moses and the oral Torah are the way to God's promise of salvation. These books are studied and expanded by interpretation by the Rabbi and adherence to the law is required. Admission to this religion is largely based on heritage, and although converts are accepted, they are not sought out.

Islam - This religion also claims the right to the five books of Moses, but it is the Koran that is studied and followed. Muslims believe that they have the one true book of law from God and that salvation is obtained by strict adherence to this law. They believe that the book itself is sacred and must be treated as a sacred object. Admission to this religion is based on choice, but can also be imposed by force.

Christianity - This religion incorporates the five books of Moses and the books of the prophets into their doctrine. Added to this are the teachings of Jesus, believed to be the Son of God, or God made man. As the Jews believed that there must be an unblemished sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin, Christians believe that Jesus provided the last sacrifice required for salvation and entry into paradise. This religion is open to all people and is based on the grace of God. Converts are accepted on their choice to believe that Jesus died for their sins.

What we know: Satan was created by God. Satan rebelled against God and was cast down to Earth. God created man and placed him in the Garden to live in communion with Him. When man rebelled against God, he too was cast out into the Earth. When God cast out man, he promised to provide a way for repentance, salvation and admission back into paradise.

The Question: Do we choose to seek salvation by our own hand or by the hand of God? The choice is yours; the results everlasting.