ABOUT BREAKFAST WITH DAD

This is Breakfast With Dad, a collection of devotions on books of the Bible that I send out to over 150 friends and family members. I hope you will take time to read the most recent blog and maybe one of two from past offerings. If you have an interest in studying the Bible or have been thinking about starting a daily devotion, this would be a good place to begin. I started writing these devotions when my youngest son moved away from home and was having a hard time in his life. I used to fix him a hot breakfast every morning before school, so I decided to send him spiritual food instead to encourage his heart. I hope these "breakfasts" encourage you.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Matthew 8:5-13 As You Believe!

Matthew 8:5-13  When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help.  “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”  Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”  The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.  But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me.  I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes.  I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”  When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.  I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.”  And his servant was healed at that moment.

This story of the Roman officer who had a beloved servant who was suffering terribly presents a beautiful account of love and redemption.  We see Jesus who brought the Good News primarily to the Jews, paying attention to the needs of a Gentile: “Shall I come and heal him?”  The centurion respects Jesus as someone in authority, so he calls him, “Lord.”  He is not a believer in the Jewish religion, for Jesus says, I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  The centurion believes Jesus can do mighty miracles, that He is a man of divinity sent from God or as a Roman steeped in mysticism, from one of the gods of heaven.  Knowing that the gods have great power and should be revered and respected for their supernatural powers, he says, Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.  But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.  The Roman officer has so much faith in Jesus that he asks him to just say the words of healing and his servant will be made whole, his paralysis will go.  Amazed at this man’s strong belief in his authority and power, Jesus exclaims that no one in the Jewish people that He ministers to daily has this kind of faith.  They heard Jesus’ ministry, saw his miracles, but really did not know how much power Jesus possessed.  Neither did they know the range of Jesus’ power.  If they were near Jesus, they knew they might receive a healing or see a miracle, but away from Jesus’ presence, they could not expect a healing from Jesus.  The blind, the leper, the lame had to yell out to Jesus as He passed.  If He proceeded down the road without acknowledging and healing them, their faith in his power would quickly dissipate.  As with all spiritual men, prophets of that day, nearness was very important, essential to the workings of God.  But in the Gospel of John, we read, Jesus did many other things as well.  If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.  (21:25)  Jesus did many wonderful acts, either while he was present with people or as with the centurion’s servant, touching lives from afar.  No wonder John could write what we would consider a hyperbolic remark describing the truth of Jesus’ three-year ministry.  This story is not told as a story of great faith for healing; the story of Jesus is told because faith in him as Lord is needed to enter into the kingdom of God.  What kind of faith?  Faith that believes that Jesus shed his blood for our sins, rose again, and is now Lord of all.  That kind of faith separates man from a finite existence into an existence with God forever, known as the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus castigates the Jewish people for receiving him as a healer and miracle worker only and not as the Son of God sent to save sinners.  The Son of God, with great consuming power can bring people into everlasting life with God, but if they fail to believe in his cleansing and redeeming power, they will experience eternal damnation: into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  

In this account, Jesus points out there is no difference when considering the occupancy of the eternal kingdom of God between those of the law, subjects of the kingdom, and of those outside of the law.  The Jewish people had been given great insight into God’s nature of holiness through the law and its regulations.  They were blessed.  God considered them his own people: people He supernaturally delivered from slavery to the evil one.  But Jesus says in today’s focus that God demands personal allegiance to him as “Lord” if they desire to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Faith in Jesus’ power and authority is needed to have eternal life with God.  Paul emphasizes this fact in his letter to the Romans.  There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.  He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.  (3:23-26)  This centurion, as well as people everywhere, must place their complete faith in Jesus as the deliverer from all that is wrong in this world and the finiteness of life.  To know Jesus and his power is to know salvation and eternal life.  He alone makes us holy and right with God.  When Jesus realized how much faith this man had in him, He tells the centurion that he has received what he came for, the healing of his servant: Go!  Let it be done just as you believed it would.  No other avenue was opened to the servant but supernatural intervention.  Jesus gave that to him by healing him from afar.  Faith was needed in that transaction from paralysis to wholeness.  Whose faith?  The centurion’s faith—beginning with his recognition that Jesus was LORD.  That term to him had to mean more than an endearment, a greeting, a show of respect; he had to believe that Jesus was truly LORD for anything supernatural to occur.  LORD was a statement of faith.  Do we as Christians really believe Jesus is LORD of all: all that is close to us and all that is far from us?  When we say daily prayers for others, do we really believe our words are heard, that God is directly involved in their lives because of our words of blessing?  Is our faith as the centurion’s faith or are our prayers merely ritualistic, something good but not powerful?  Are we like the Jewish people, subjects of the kingdom, but not believing that Jesus is Lord in all circumstances?  If we really believed the latter, we would not get tired of praying for others every day.  The centurion believed Jesus could heal his servant who was far away.  Do we believe that Jesus can meet the needs of those who are far away from God or do we mention their names in a perfunctory way, not believing they will ever come to Jesus?  Breakfast companions, do we really believe!

As the Children of Israel left Egypt, crossing the wilderness to the Promised Land, the Spirit of God hovered over them from the first in the procession to the last individual trailing behind.  Of course with all flesh, some of them were old, some had problems walking, some had burdens such as little babies.  We are sure some struggled and straggled behind the procession.  People who were stronger probably were given the responsibility to help the weak, the infirm, the old.  In our day, especially in the pandemic, some of us are falling behind; some us are experiencing the wear and tear, the anxieties of life.  Some are looking to the left and right to see if there is a better way to live.  Some are weak in their spirits, doubting their futures and the way to the Promised Land.  They need the strong, the healthy in the Lord, to stand by them.  They need a helping hand from those who are strong in the faith, a call, an email, a card of encouragement.  They need to know that Jesus is in their midst, in their homes, by their beds at night.  Some on the journey need food, rest, health, a secure home; they all need Jesus in their lives, the visible presence of God, the holy church of God.  It is not just when Jesus is passing down the road that they need him; not just when they are in the fellowship of a church gathering when they need him.  They need him when He seems to have disappeared over the hill or He is too distant down the road for them to see him.  No matter what, they still need him especially in this time of the pandemic!  Can we as servants of the Most High, people who have Jesus in their lives, be as sensitive to the people around us as this centurion in the above focus?  We are people of authority, for we are in God’s kingdom.  As people of authority, do we pray for people who God has placed in our lives, beseeching God to help them, heal them, save them.  If we cannot be physically with them, are we reaching out on the internet to support them in their daily walk?  When Jesus heard the centurion’s request, He was amazed.  Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.  Can He say that of the Christian church today or of us individually?  Or is the church inactive, disputing about things that do not matter eternally.  If someone looked at our most recent posts on Facebook, how many would be uplifting and how many would be contentious?  Are our days spent without a time with the Lord, seeking his will in other people’s lives?   Do we believe Jesus is concerned about others, not just us?  Jesus said, Shall I come and heal him?  The centurion asked, Jesus responded!  He asked, believing Jesus was powerful enough to grant his request for his servant who was far away from the scene.  The question for us and the church of the living God in this twenty-first century, do we have the centurion’s faith or are we just religious.  Can people come to us and expect to find the active power of the Holy Spirit alive in us, ready to love them, to accept them and pray for them?  Bless you today!   

Monday, October 12, 2020

Matthew 8:1-4 He Is Willing!

Matthew 8:1-4  When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him.  A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”  Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.  Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone.  But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

Jesus came not to be a king, but as a servant to all, laying his life down for everyone.  Had He desired, Jesus could have promoted himself, seeking acclamation as worthy to be praised or honored.  His purpose was to serve God’s will as a living sacrifice for the redemption from sin for all people.  A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”  Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said.  Jesus was willing to heal this man, for Jesus was and is the atonement for all that is not perfect in this world.  He illustrates God’s love for people by this act of healing and by many other healing in his short three-year ministry.  Men and women lack God’s perfection, for all humans have been impacted by sin.  This imperfection is not acceptable by a holy God.  John the Baptist preached repentance from sin so that God might come close to people.   After John the Baptist was arrested by Herod, Jesus picked up John’s mantle, preaching the necessity of repentance and turning towards God.  Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News.  “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near!  Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!  (Mark1:14-15)  Even though John’s ministry was hard to receive by the people, he was very popular with them.  People from all over Judah went to the River Jordan to hear him preach and to watch him baptize people for the repentance of sin.  John had learned his purpose for life in the wilderness.  He was primitive in his lifestyle, dressing in a rustic manner, living off what the environment provided.  Alone in the wilderness where the concerns and duties of the world could not touch him, John learned about God.  God had set him apart from the world to hear his voice.  There, in the wilderness, he was commissioned to tell everyone to repent of their sins and turn to God.  Before Jesus could pick up the mantle of John, He too was led into the wilderness where He was tempted, then was ministered to by the angels.  In that lonely environment, fasting to know God, He heard the voice of God.  The angels from the heavenly realm took care of him, probably speaking of heavenly things.  The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, where he was tempted by Satan for forty days.  He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.  (Mark 1:12-13)  We know when Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan that the Holy Spirit fell upon him and came into him.  He was no longer the carpenter who did good things for others by helping them repair and build things, He now was set apart to build the kingdom of God.  In the wilderness, we can assume the Father gave him his commission to serve the people of the world.  His eyes and ears were opened to the will of God.  For the next three years, Jesus did only what the Father told him to do.  Often during this time, we see Jesus dialoguing with his Father, beseeching him for the people, asking God to take care of them, and of him and his disciples.  We see Jesus moving around Judea as God directs him.  We see him tarrying before going to the house of Mary and Martha after Lazarus’ death.  We see him dining with sinners, healing people in the cities and in the countryside.  We see him rebuking the elite of the Jewish society, calming the wind and seas.  Jesus, through his words and activities, illustrated that the Kingdom of God was near.

Healing and phenomenal acts were part of Jesus’ ministry.  But the Good News that the Messiah had come was the central focus of Jesus life.  The Kingdom of God would come after He paid the complete price for sin.  The church of the living God would be built; the body of Christ would exist on Earth.  Something that never existed before would be part of this world’s existence.  The Kingdom of God would be present now with mankind.  As the Spirit fell on Jesus, occupying his soul, so would the Spirit fall on mankind on the day of Pentecost.  The Spirit would come and abide with men and women.  The Kingdom of God would be established on the earth.  Mankind would never be alone without the presence of God in their midst.  After the Spirit fell on men, they began to minister to each other as Christ had ministered to others, willing to serve others.  When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him.  A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”  Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I AN WILLING,” he said. “Be clean!”  The nascent church had everything in common, making sure that no one went without their needs met.  The church was willing to serve each other and the world.  All the believers were one in heart and mind.  No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.  With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.  For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.  (Acts; 4:32-35)  The Sermon on the Mount described what a true Kingdom of God is like.  He told the people that they must be perfect, that they must love, not judge, be kind even to their enemies, give without expecting anything back.  His sermon was not for the religious, elite and arrogant, those who control society and the thoughts of men.  His sermon was for the average person, those who desired to please God in their daily lives.  The new church, as led by the apostles, desired to function as Jesus would want them to live: looking out for others, caring for the needy, giving their lives totally to God and not partially.  Of course, living for God is a difficult assignment sometimes.  The church fails often in revealing the Kingdom of God has come to Earth.  Responding to the words, if you are willing, you can make me clean, is now the responsibility of the church.  Jesus said the Kingdom is near, but now we are in the Kingdom, for we are the body of Christ!  Are we willing?  Are we willing to offer up our goods, our lifestyle, our homes for the purposes of God in his Kingdom?  This is a challenge for us, but to strengthen us in our resolve to be Christlike, we must allow the voice of God to be in our lives daily. 

As we yield to God, in our secret hiding places—our prayer closets—alone with God, we will hear his words.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.  Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  (Matthew 6:6)  Often in today’s society, Christians are never alone with God.  There is always something that demands our attention, the needs and desires of this world are seemingly all-consuming.  If we rest for a while from the demands on our secular lives, we often fail to go to God but seek the clamor of our electronic devices for entertainment, gossip or news.  Because of worldly attractions, our attending to God’s voice is often weak or nonexistent.  To substitute for our lack of interaction with God, Christians sometimes read a verse or a chapter in the Bible, maybe pick up a Christian book to read or to purview what other people think about God in devotions or sermons.  But our ears have become unaccustomed to the sweet, tender voice of God inside us.  His words within us are more precious than silver and gold, more beautiful than the finest jewelry or intricate  fabric.  His words should be coveted, held close to our hearts, for his voice is beautiful, precious and lovely.  Have you heard his voice lately?  Every day we are bombarded by everything else, but his voice is lost in the cacophony.  We must move away from the world at times in our daily lives, placing ourselves in an environment where we can hear God.  Of course, we know God can interact with our thoughts no matter how busy we are.  But we are no better than John the Baptist, Jesus the Christ or Paul the apostle.  They learned to hear God’s voice in the wilderness, and they depended on God’s voice every day of their lives.  The quickest way to move away from God is to be cold, indifferent to his demands on our lives by shutting up our ears with the activities and interests in our worldly lives.  We must remember the Kingdom of God has come.  Spiritually, we sit in high places with Christ himself.  Not tomorrow, not when we die, but now we are present with God.  Be clean!”  Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.  The world desires to be clean of their leprosy.  They know that they have been affected by a sin virus that they cannot throw off by themselves.  As the body of Christ, we say, “Be clean!”  Yet our actions and words often deny the power to bring cleansing.  We fill our minds with the world’s thoughts and words while we battle people and ideas with bitterness and anger.  Jesus could say, “I will!”  He just got through talking to the people about what it means to be in the Kingdom.  For them the Kingdom was near, for Jesus was near.  We have the Holy Spirit within us; therefore, we are to express his words to the world.  They should know us as people with power and love in us.  Our activities should reveal servants of Christ to the world.  Jesus came to serve, revealing the Kingdom of God.  We who are now in the Kingdom are to serve.  Jesus did not heal to gain popularity.  He healed out of love for people.  We are not Christians to win anything for ourselves, but as Jesus said to the leper, See that you don’t tell anyone.  But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.  Jesus did not want himself to be acclaimed for cleansing the leper.  Everything He did was to glorify God.  Let that also be our goal.  LET GOD BE GLORIFIED THROUGH OUR LIVES as we say to God and to others, “I am willing.”  

 

Monday, October 5, 2020

Matthew 7:21-28 Build on Rock!

Matthew 7:21-28  “Not everyone who says to me, ’Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers!’  Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”  When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

The words, Not everyone who says to me, ’Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, are frightening to many Christians, for Jesus indicates that merely saying a few words of affiliation with him is not enough to assure eternity with God.  Christianity in the purest form is a belief in Jesus as Lord of our lives.  Jesus confirms this in his conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount.  Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  To understand Jesus’ rejection of many who perform great works in his name, we must look at the totality of his teaching on the mountain.  In this sermon, He says his followers are salt and light and should live in a righteous manner as they bring goodness and light to a world that lives in darkness.  For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.  (Matthew 5:20)  Of course Christ’s righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Pharisees, so believers hide in that truth, but it does not disqualify us from the responsibility of doing good in our lives.  Jesus tells us to beware of slandering or hating people, for such evildoers will face severe judgment.  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.  (5:22)  We are not to be lustful, entertaining sexual improprieties in our minds: But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  (5:28)  We must be honest and straightforward in our dealings.  Christians should not swear by God or anything else to support their statements, just say, “Yes, I will do it,” or “No, I will not do it.”  With our enemies, we should go the extra mile, treating them well, not wickedly.  We are to pray for them, love them rather than hate them, for they also were made in God’s image.  We are to give our alms in secret, pray in secret.  Our lives should be earnest, believing that God rewards our service to him, not man.  (6:1-8)  We are to display love for everyone by forgiving those who defame or abuse us: if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  (6:14)  As with the giving of alms and prayer, we should fast without a fanfare, doing unto the Lord and not for people’s adulation.  (6:16)  Our wealth, our resources should be used here on Earth to benefit others.  We should not store them up, believing we have another day to live.  God wants us to use our money for him.  For the Lord says, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  (6:21)  Rather than trust our treasury, we are to trust God for our necessities, believing we are truly children of God, and He will take care of us.  (6:19)  Knowing God is good, our lives, our eyes should be fixated on good things.  The eye is the lamp of the body.  If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.  (6:22)  By focusing on the good things in life, we will not so readily criticize and judge others.  Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged.  (7:1-2)  The way to God is narrow and few find it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.  (7:14)  There are two kingdoms: Darkness and Light.  This world exists in the Kingdom of Darkness.  Jesus’ teaching on the mountain expresses the Kingdom of Light.  God desires for us to enter that kingdom.  Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  (7:7)  All these verses provide a small sample of the light revealed in Jesus’ teaching.  He asks people to walk uprightly in the light as they deal honestly with each other.  When we walk in the light of God’s goodness, love, and holiness, we will be less critical and judgmental of others, going out of our way to serve people with all we possess.  Any other lifestyle, any other way is not God, but is part of the Kingdom where gloom and darkness abide.  Jesus wants us to know that God sees us, and He alone evaluates our lives correctly.    

In Luke 4 we see Jesus’ mission on earth: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  (18-19)  Christians are the body of Christ, so we too have this mission.  We have been anointed to proclaim the Good News to the poor; we have been given the task of proclaiming freedom for the prisoners; we are to set the oppressed free; we are to open the eyes of the blind.  Jesus’ message is our message.  The Dark Kingdom needs to know by the words we speak and by the way we live and act that the Lord has come to this earth for the benefit of ALL PEOPLE.  Religious activity or zealousness to perform godly acts, no matter how powerful and amazing they are, will not confirm that a life is right with God.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, "I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers!  Speaking for God or driving out demons does not supplant the responsibility of living a daily life of servanthood and integrity that reflects God within us.  Of course, we want people to speak for God with the evidence of power.  We want demons to fear the prayers of the righteous, but spiritual activity, no matter how much fervor it has, is not a substitute for being righteous in your everyday walk.  God demands integrity in our lives, a sensitivity to other people’s needs through the power of the Holy Spirit.  God knows our hearts; He knows every nanosecond thought that zips through our minds.  He knows us: we cannot deceive him.  Therefore, our lives should be laid down honestly before him every moment.  It is not our work Lord, it is yours!  We will live your life, not ours!  Your mission on earth is ours!  For us Christians, servants of the Most High, we must dedicate our everyday lives to God.  Yes, we are righteous because Christ is righteous, and He is in us because we have placed our faith in him.  But this life must come out in the wash.  It must be clean, full of integrity, honesty, and dedication to God.  If not, if we are soiled with self-interest, selfish pursuits, loving the world and everything in it, we will not fulfill Christ’s mission.  We must proclaim the Good News by our lifestyle and our words.  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 2:5)  Jesus is telling us with some very harsh words that religious activity is not a substitute for a life emanating him to the world.  Sometimes we see people elevated in Christian circles who perform powerful deeds in the name of the Lord, but their lives are worldly, centered on grandioseness.  Doing powerful things for the Lord is wonderful and we should rejoice in such activity, but if their lives do not measure up to what they are ministering, then they are full of hypocrisy and deception.  Christians should pray for such people and love them, persuading them to a better lifestyle.  Speaking of false prophets, Jesus said, By their fruit you will recognize them.  (Matthew 7:16)  

Jesus IS the Rock of Ages—a shelter where we can hide.  In his teachings on the Mount, He tells us if we have healthy eyes, our whole body will be full of light.  All light comes from him.  He is the light that has come into a dark world.  No man can come to the Father unless they are hidden in him by faith in him.  God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him (Jesus), and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.  (Colossians 1:19-20)  All people can come to God and have an intimate relationship with him by putting their faith in Jesus’ work and not their own.  This is the salvation message: we are one with Jesus because we are IN HIM through faith and we are one with God because Jesus is in God and God is in him.  As Paul wrote to the church,  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  (Colossians 3:3)  Consequently, we have eternity in us; the resurrection of Jesus proves that to us.  As eternal beings, our lives should be lives of decency filled with God’s love.  We need to build our lives on everything that Jesus taught.  If we do, we will know that our lives are built on the eternal Rock.  Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  Nothing will shake or destroy lives that are built on him.  Our lives will emulate his work, producing good and not evil.  We will place his work and lifestyle everywhere in our lives; that is called servanthood, complete commitment to the Master.  The Son is the image of the invisible God.  (Colossians 1:15)  We who live for Jesus should be a reflection of him and therefore of the invisible God.  Jesus asks us to be light and salt to the world so that the world might see God in us.  But if we fail to heed Jesus’ teaching and go our own way, we will confuse the world because we call ourselves Christians but do not do what Jesus told us to do.  If we believe that knowing Jesus is just a vaccination to protect us from hell and not a lifestyle, we are people who have built our lives on sand.  Anything that comes along that is adverse to our own happiness or understanding of what life is about will cause us to crash. People have been made in God’s image.  We have been given the freedom to illuminate God in our lifestyles, to perform his will and not ours, which is always good.  Jesus explains that God is so good that He even loves his enemies.  We are to be perfect through his power in us.  Perfection comes from Jesus alone; therefore, we should  strive to imitate him in everything we do.  Every believer should pray, “Not my will, but yours O Lord!  Jesus says, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  (Matthew 11:28)  Rest in the Lord today and hear his voice.  

    

Monday, September 28, 2020

Matthew 7:15-20 Recognize Their Fruit!

Matthew 7:15-20  Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.   By their fruit you will recognize them.  Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

False prophets, cult leaders are almost impervious to criticism by their followers.  They can bear all kinds of bad fruit in their lives, yet people will follow them zealously.  They are thornbushes, prickly, ferocious wolves; they hurt and devour anyone who is not in their camp.  Jesus said judgment will be their end: Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  The early church was invaded by people skewing the words of the Good News for their own benefit.  Paul fought these people in his letters to the Corinthians.   But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.  For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.  (2 Corinthians 3-4)  People with intentions to dissemble the body of Christ will come as angels of light, but they seek their own cultural and financial benefit.  They speak words that sound like light but actually are full darkness.  Jesus said if your eye is full of darkness, how dark is that soul.  (See Matthew 6:23)  False prophets and cult leaders are full of darkness: their lives manifest darkness in their speech, lifestyles, and actions.  Paul was afraid for his Corinthian sheep, for they readily heard the words of people who desired to lead them astray from the Spirit of Jesus Christ: a different spirit from the Spirit you received.  What is the Spirit of Jesus Christ?  He tells his sheep to follow the Spirit of love, mercy, and grace.  He even says that there should be no difference in our love for our fellow brethren than for our enemies.  If we are true followers of Christ, we will manifest love toward our enemies, not withholding our love.  Often Christians say they love their enemies, but their words and actions toward people who oppose their ideas of life and truth reveal hatred, anger and bitterness.  Christian love is characterized by walking the extra mile with those who despise them, hate them, desire their elimination from the face of the earth.  If an enemy forces you to carry their baggage one mile, volunteer to carry the load an extra mile out of love for your adversary.  This kind of love confounds the enemy; but bitterness, hatred, anger, and violence, he understands well; for that volcano lies within him.  Jesus said if you desire to be my followers, Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.  (Matthew 5:22-25)  The question is, do we really want to be children of heaven or children of the earth?  If we want to be of the earth, playing on the earth’s field of violence and destruction, we will covet the world’s spirit of power and authority, but if we want to be children of God, we will allow the spirit of servanthood to master our thoughts and actions.  The choice is always ourswe are not automatons, manipulated by God above.  No, we have a choice of what spirit we will follow, either God’s Spirit of loving kindness or the world’s way of control and selfishness.

The Lord directs us to Watch out for false prophets.  By the authority of the Holy Spirit, we are able to detect false prophets.  We are not left without direction or help from God’s Spirit in this life concerning the enemy’s opposition to our souls.  In Paul’s third letter to the Corinthians, he says this: For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be.  I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.  (2 Corinthians 12:20)  How easily we can discern false prophets or people who follow wrong doctrines.  Rather than espousing peace and mercy to others, especially their enemies, they erupt with the spirit of disunity and harm toward others.  As you look at each one of these descriptions of falsity, are they part of your life?  Is your internet clean of comments reflecting these dark spirits of discord or is your internet full of animosity, slander, and the lies of the Angel of Death?  How quickly are you passing on information that elevates the characteristics of a false prophet?  When you dwell in this spirit of dissemblance, monitor your feelings, the state of your heart towards others.  Is there a volcano of anger and bitterness churning inside of you, rather than an overflowing fountain of love and concern for others?  Do others see Christ’s divine Spirit or the carnal human spirit in your words and actions?  The devil will make sure they detect even the hint of an adverse spirit in you if you claim to be a believer.  If you exhibit hypersensitivity when people disagree with you by attacking their ideas, Satan will make sure you live in his domain of anger and discord.  A clever deceiver, he will cloud your thinking processes for his own desires to ravage the flock of Christ.  When Christians forget their purpose to spread the Good News, we can fall into a pit of sin and totally lose touch with the Holy Spirit: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  (Galatians 5:22-23)  When you discern that your last comment on Facebook was not healthy but destructive, are you willing to go back and say, I am sorry, my emotions got away from me?  Or do you let your attack and disruption stand?  If so, you are not listening to the kindness of the Spirit; you are following a spirit of division and hurt, even violence.  The natural man since the fall has been on the playing field of self-absorption: his way or the highway.  Eve wanted her way, not God’s way.  Cults work this way; false prophets work this way.  Your allegiance to them must be wholehearted, complete, without a chink in your armor of allegiance to selfish ambition.  But, we who are IN CHRIST follow him, not the agenda of man, regardless of how good it looks.  The devil comes in as an angel of light; then he exudes his darkness.  His agenda seems to be ours, but his deception is great and leads to judgment by the only righteous one: Jesus Christ.

As Peter states to the church of the living God, we do not have to fall under the corrupt practices and ideas of false prophets, for Jesus has made us free from the entanglements of this world.  He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.  For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord.  (1 Peter 4-8)  We must mature in our walk with Christ who has given us eternal life.  He has promoted us to be like him.  Therefore, we should add to our daily walk the goodness of the Lord, his tenderness towards others on their way to destruction.  Our lives should not be focused on the cares of this world, but on the cares of the Lord for the lost.  We have escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.  Let us not go back into that domain.  Yes, we may gain power and influence in the church or in the world by fighting with their instruments of destruction: foul words, ridicule, lust for power, control, persecution, and the like.  But even if we gain our vision of what the church or the world should look like, we must remember that God is not pleased with man’s conventions and aggressive nature.  Someday all that we know of will be destroyed.  The best of this world is not worthy of God’s domain of peace and love.  By following false prophets and cult leaders, people might gain a certain amount of control over the world’s waywardness, but the winning of eternal life is not in the hands of individuals: it is under the purview of God.  Jesus said we are to wash each other’s feet.  We are to be humble and meek, not corroding the church or the world with our personal purposes.  There is only one agenda: to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Imposing our worldly ideas of control over the world and its actions will not achieve the victory God has for us when we seek the will of the Father: to love, not dictate; to serve, not control; to save, not destroy.  The false prophets, the cult leaders of this world are easily identified, but they will come as angels of light, promising to fulfill your agenda for life, but God has reserved a place in hell for them.  These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm.  Blackest darkness is reserved for them.  For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error.  They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.  (2 Peter 2:17-19)  As our Master said, by their fruit you will recognize them.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  If the leader of falseness in the church or the world displays boastful words, appealing to the desires of the flesh, beware.  You are not followers of this world or any man, spiritual or not, you are the redeemed, looking for the glorification of your souls in heaven as children of the only true God.  The answer to life is not to win this world or anything in it for the flesh.  No man, leader, or prophet has the answers for our walk through this life on this tiny planet.  Only the Savior of mankind has the answers to eternity.  Follow the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega.  Only He has the answer to your life, dear friends around this breakfast table.  Amen! 

  


Monday, September 21, 2020

Matthew 7:13-14 Enter the Narrow Gate

Matthew 7:13-14  Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Jesus is the atonement for man’s sins: his waywardness from God’s likeness, his tendency to take advantage of others, his unwillingness to live peacefully with his neighbor, and sadly his propensity towards violence.  Man is created in God’s image, creative and powerful, but sometimes his nature can be polar opposite to the God of mercy and love.  During those times, rather than displaying goodness and grace, his actions and attitudes become negative and hurtful.  Especially when he is unrestrained by any authorities or laws, he acts out unimaginable atrocities against others.  No neighbor, friend, or relative can trust a person who is out to harm or to deceive.  We find the story of mankind’s uncontrollable nature in every history book, war, and violent story.  He will kill, rape, and hurt, sometimes for no other reason than he has the opportunity to do so.  In the last century we saw German soldiers go through a number of European countries with killing and destruction on their minds.  During this time, millions of Germans took advantage of noncombatants, torturing, killing, and raping them.  When the Germans were forced to retreat to their own country by the Soviet army, the same thing happened, but not by the Germans, by the Russian army.  This was a caldron of hate plus a time of great rejoicing for the victorious armies as they subjugated communities for their purposes.  Not only Hitler and Stalin exuded evil, but their followers’ actions expressed the evil within them.  God is love and God is full of mercy and grace, but the nature of man cannot be controlled by mercy and grace alone without salvation.  In the Old Testament, we see God disciplining his people within the confines of their old nature, using the law as a guideline and imposing harsh judgments on them and their enemies.  The sin nature must be eradicated for grace to operate in the human heart, and Jesus came to fulfill that mission.  Some people discount Jesus’ mission by saying that humans are innately good with no need for such a sacrifice as the death of the only begotten Son.  They besmirch the death of Jesus on the cross.  So we must be reminded of the nature of mankind, in all continents, in all times.  He is violent and will cause great harm if not controlled by authority and laws.  During World War II up to 70 million people were killed.  Women and children were not safe in that maelstrom if it came to their community.  All people, no matter how old or how young, regardless of gender, were exposed to violence, sometimes perpetrated by their own neighbors.  In Africa, in Rwandan and within surrounding countries, we saw the Tutsis slaughtered by the Hutus—millions of them hacked to death, burned, or hammered to death.  Sectarian, ethnic evil motivates people to harm or to kill others.  The Moslem Ottoman government set out to eliminate the Christian Armenians in the early part of the last century.  Over a million Armenians were killed, raped, tortured, sometimes neighbor against neighbor.  In Iraq, we have seen Shias killing Sunnis, Sunnis killing Shias, once again sometimes neighbors doing the evil deeds, even up to this day.  Some people have estimated that multiple millions were killed in China by the Communists with betrayal in every community, on every block.  Evil is alive and well in the world, even today in our civilized countries.  People will get away with what they can.  Laws and restraints have to be backed up by the police and authorities or wicked people will take advantage of even their own neighbors.  Man is not basically good or trustworthy, even in the best of communities.  No wonder Paul wrote, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  (Romans 3:23)  This negative evaluation of mankind makes people turn away, as a cat will jump off your lap if you stroke it the wrong way.  Men and women do not want to be made to feel uncomfortable about their basic nature.  But God sees us as we are, and He would not need a plan of redemption if we could talk ourselves and others out of our sinful nature.  Jesus shed his precious blood in vain if man could reform himself and become worthy of God’s presence.  No, only a new creation would bring goodness into the basic nature of man.  God’s plan is permanent and perfect00.  His Son cleansed souls, filling his newborn sons and daughters with his mercy, grace and love.  Jesus Christ is the narrow gate that allows whosoever will to escape servitude to the evil one and to enter eternity with God.

Yes, Jesus alone is the gate!  Any philosophy, ideology, religion, authority, and political persuasion that does not accept that truth of Jesus only as the gate to eternal life is a robber, a thief, a deceiver of all who listen to their lies.  These attitudes, these positions of belief are contrary to God’s good news of redemption and freedom.  Laws and regulations will not open the gate to God’s domain; only Jesus, who is the gate or The Way, can do that.  Sheep know their master’s voice; they will not follow any other voice or device.  No staff from a false shepherd can make them move, for their allegiance is to Jesus alone.  Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.  All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them.  I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  They will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  (John 10:7-10)  All others will not find real answers for their souls.  They will not find life nor the fulness of life.  The pastures they find themselves in will not satisfy their famished souls; no eternal answers for life will be there.  Since the beginning of time, people have tried to feed their souls in different pastures.  Some have existed on land with religious gurus or on property with a plethora of laws and regulations to satisfy their hunger for eternal life.  Some have fed on epicurean ideas: eat, drink and be merry.  Others exist on sparse landscapes, feeding themselves with the ideas of the stoics, forbidding themselves of thoughts of happiness, joy or the experiences of the luxuries of life.  They love their barren pastures, the deprivation of their existence, for they hope eternal life will crop out of that lifestyle.  However, any ideas or actions other than dependency on Christ are hopelessly lost.  For those roads are broad and many follow them, but Gods plan that leads to life is narrow, and only a few find it.  God is in the business of making children for his eternal household.  No sin, no waywardness, no chink in the armor will be in the household of God, for He is eternal: the beginning and the end.  I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”  (Revelation 1:8)  This perpetual existence cannot have any imperfections in it; that is cancerous to God’s forever existence.  There must be a perfect way to the eternal God, and that is the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  He paid completely for any flaws in us.  He not only paid the price, He eradicated our debt through his blood, shed for all.  As far as the East is from the West is our cleansing of sin; we have been cleansed completely.  But this freedom only comes through Jesus and the cross.  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.  From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”  (John 14:6-7)  Jesus goes on in this passage and says He is in the Father and the Father is IN HIM.  We who are alive IN CHRIST are alive IN THE FATHER, FOR WE ARE IN CHRIST, SO WE ARE ALL ONE.  Who can imagine such a plan?  The angels could not, for they were made for obedience, but we humans have experienced waywardness, but through faith IN CHRIST and his powers, we have become free to be as God is, holy and righteous in our souls.  

What a wonderful plan of redemption!  All of this plan was in God’s heart before the world was made.  We who have experienced something other than God, sheep locked up in slavery as the children of Israel in Egypt, have been freed by the blood of Jesus, and have been baptized by the waters of the Red Sea.  We have been freed to enter by the narrow gate.  The Egyptians thought they would have the Jews as their possessions forever.  The devil thinks he has people locked up forever, but the plan of God was for the Israelites to experience slavery for a while and then to escape bondage.  We too have experienced slavery for a while, but God planned to deliver us to his household, to be one with him.  The Israelites experienced the wilderness, with the Spirit’s guidance day and night.  We too experience the wilderness, but this time because of the cleansing blood of the Son of God the Holy Spirit has come to dwell in a holy place.  The Israelites did not have this opportunity of complete deliverance.  The Spirit was with them but not in them, for the blood of bulls and goats could never make the soul holy; only God can do that.  They had to follow laws and regulations to please God, but we who are IN CHRIST are always pleasing to God because He cannot be displeased with himself.  We have been made holy through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  As we read in the word, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  (Hebrews 10:10)  The Way has come to us in bodily form: Jesus Christ.   Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.  Dear friends around this breakfast table, hear the Good News; rejoice that Christ has come to you, making you completely whole and satisfying to a righteous God.  Your eternity is assured by the works of Jesus Christ in his death on the cross and his resurrection from the grave.  Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?  (1 Corinthians 15:55)  Trust in him fully, be free in the Lord in your life.  Many pastures of goodness are open to you through and in the grace and mercy of God.  

  

 

Monday, September 14, 2020

Matthew 7:7-12 Ask, Seek, and Knock!

Matthew 7:7-12  “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.


Often the above verses are used as a “get out of jail” or a “help me, Lord” card.  Sadly, these verses are used as a reason to disbelieve the word of the Lord.  For one reason or another people feel God did not come through when they desired him to do so.  They asked but did not receive, or they might have known a needy person or a lovely young child who asked for something good and found no answer.  When we use these verses inappropriately to meet the problems and desires of life, we become mystical, looking to receive the right card from the hand of the sorcerer.  Christians have a relationship with God and a voice within them that says, I am the God who fights for you as you endure this wilderness journey.  He is in us, not apart from us.  We should ask believing, but trusting God as the final authority and director of our lives as we are faithful to him.  Paul wrote, I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  (Philippians 4:11) Not easily said when you have been beaten with rods or stoned or thrown in prison—no peace or earthly solutions in those situations.  Sometimes life becomes difficult, shrouded with troubles and struggles, but many days bring successes and smiles.  Jesus performed many miracles during his ministry, separating him from all other humans who ever walked this earth.  But Jesus did not spare his disciples or the church from hardships and trials, or unimaginable cruelties: devoured by animals, roasted over fires, impelled to walls, buried in pits, and the like.  The church of the living God has always experienced great persecution and always will struggle mightily because those who live in darkness despise the Good News.  They hated Jesus and they hate us too when we talk about the cross and the resurrection, the need for repentance and faith in the works of Jesus.  In today’s verses from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus presents the Jewish people as well as us with a positive assumption: Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!   Jesus knows they are evil because they are not like God.  He told the rich young man not to call him good because only God is good.  Human nature is not basically good: a contamination exists deep within human souls as Paul reveals his human nature when he says, I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  (Romans 7:15)  But Jesus tells the Jewish people that their natural reaction to their children is to do good to them.  How much more does the Good Father of all creation want to please his children.  Then why not use God’s goodness for our own benefit; to satisfy our needs and wants?  But Jesus’ sermon is focused on the eternal.  God will give everything to his children for their good if they will only ask.  He will remove the plank in their eyes.  He will allow them to live purposeful lives if they ask for his direction, his leading in their lives.  The end of these verses sums up what people will be like if they ask and seek appropriately:  So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.  Believers will express God, to be as he is, if their desires are to please him.  Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  This verse fits well between the verses of removing the plank in your own eyes and the way to God is narrow, revealing the need of God’s involvement in every part of our lives.  It is not a verse for escapism or easy solutions, but a verse for direction and dependency on our Father in heaven who knows what we need.   

Jesus amazes his listeners because He speaks as a man with authority, not as the priests who advise them from their learned perspective of the law.  Jesus seems to have the power to support all that He says.  Of course, they were listening to a man full of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus proves this power, this authority to fulfill what He is saying, as soon as He leaves the mountain.  When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him.  A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”  Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.  “I am willing,” he said.  “Be clean!”  Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.  (Matthew 8:1-3)  This act, after his teaching on the mountainside, confirms his divine nature, for He could not have cured this man if God was not in his life through the indwelling Holy Spirit.  He was willing to cleanse this man of leprosy.  God is willing to cleanse the hearts of men.  If we ask, we will receive.  If we seek, we will find, for He is a Good Father.  We are being prepared in this wilderness to live eternally with the Father.  Not by our works but by the works of God through the works of the Lord Jesus on Earth.  We are in every sense of the word, God’s own, and God fights for us.  He fights for our spiritual survival, for we have an eternal destiny to be in the Father’s house forever.  God does not stand aloof from us as a great clock master, winding us up and then observing how the clock runs.  No, God is in the creative business all of the time.  He is actively involved with us, for He has sent his Holy Spirit to be resident in us.  Consequently, every day He is communing with us, fulfilling our requests to live for him.  What then about miracles?  What about solutions in our lives?  He is the great miracle worker, the mountain mover!  First of all, He does miracles in our lives, for He watches over us; He is the great designer of righteousness through our faith in him and his words.  Within us He has placed a new creation.  Our eternal souls are perfect, for we have died to ourselves, and we are HIDDEN WITH CHRIST IN GOD.  (Colossians 3:3)  Our perfection rests in the Great Designer’s work.  But this does not mean the outer part, the peripheral part of our lives, does not do wrong or disappoint the goodness of God.  But that holy vibrating entity of Goodness, our eternal souls, is within us, protected by the miracle working God in our wilderness lives.  Our souls are new creations but our flesh until its demise will alway be with us to hinder the walk of righteousness.  Struggling for existence, desiring significance in the world, hoping for riches and security will always cause the flesh problems, sometimes cutting corners of righteousness to achieve the wants and desires of the flesh.  Man can become very violent and deceiving to achieve what he desires out of life.  Sin can crop out so easily in fleshly endeavors.  But our spirits are in God’s domain: the Lord Jesus.  Consequently, we ask and seek the answers to our spiritual lives rather than our fleshly lives.  God is a good father, He will come to our aid in developing us into maturity.  We should ask for God’s protection, seek his love, carry out his mission in our lives.  This teaching of asking, seeking, and knocking culminates with Jesus saying, in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.

There is nothing wrong in asking and seeking God for help, solutions, directions, healing, miracles.  He is involved with all of those things as we walk through the wilderness.  But sometimes we do not ask for the perfect will of God: we do not say, Your will be done, not mine.  The Bible says, When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.  (James 4:3)  The Children of Israel felt God’s miraculous presence with them as they walked through the wilderness.  God performed many miracles for them, yet they also faced the judgment and discipline of God at times.  God is also with us Christians, but his presence is internal, in the place of holiness, purchased by the blood of Jesus.  We walk with the voice of God in us.  As with Jacob our names have been changed to God Fights; He fights for us, for our survival in this life.  We are destined to be with him for eternity.  Our walk of faith often needs strengthening, even daily.  We commune with God through prayer, just as the apostles prayed often and intensely.  Before Paul and Barnabas were separated from the believers in Athens, the brethren prayed and fasted for several days.  God directed them to send Paul and Barnabas off to their first missionary journey.  We must be just as sincere with God in everything we do.  We ask, seek, and knock in faith.  Faith demands action.  Inert belief is not faith.  Faith is stepping out.  Ask, seek, knock and move is God’s plan for his children in this wilderness.  He will move mountains when we do what He has asked us to do.  He will make the barren fig tree fruitful in all seasons if we follow his directions.  He will make us fruitful, for God is a good Father.  The Holy Spirit leads us as surely as He led the Children of Israel with a cloud by day and a fire by night.  We are God’s children, born out of Egypt, the land of slavery.  Our journey is often difficult and sometimes hard to endure, but the Bible says, endure to the end, for our salvation will be completely realized when this flesh is put away for good.  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.  This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  (1 Peter 1:1-5)  Brethren, seek and ask for everything that is good and healthy for the soul.  Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.