Friday, May 6, 2016

The Word Was With God, and Was God

The Word Was With God, and Was God

John 1:1-5, 14 Amplified Bible (AMP)
In the beginning [before all time] was the Word ([a]Christ), and the Word was with God, and [b]the Word was God Himself. He was [continually existing] in the beginning [co-eternally] with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him not even one thing was made that has come into being. In Him was life [and the power to bestow life], and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines on in the [c]darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it [and is unreceptive to it].

In the 1st chapter of John, Jesus was revealed as the “Word”, or in the Greek as “logos”. Logos actually denotes (I) "the expression of thought" — not the mere name of an object — (a) as embodying a conception or idea.

So, for clarity sake let’s insert " the expression of thought”, idea” in the place of the “Word” and “Him”, in the above scripture verses and see how it affects our understanding. 

In the beginning [before all time] was God’s “expression of thought, idea", and the “expression of thought, idea”, was with God, and [b]the “expression of thought, idea” was God Himself. [God’s] “expression of thought, idea”, was [continually existing] in the beginning [co-eternally] with God. All things were made and came into existence through [God’s] “expression of thought, idea”; and without [God’s] “expression of thought, idea” not even one thing was made that has come into being. In [God’s] “expression of thought, idea” was life [and the power to bestow life], and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines on in the [c]darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it [and is unreceptive to it].
 14 And [God’s] “expression of thought, idea” (Christ) became flesh, and lived among us; and we [actually] saw His glory, glory as belongs to the [One and] only begotten Son of the Father, [the Son who is truly unique, the only One of His kind, who is] full of grace and truth (absolutely free of deception).

So, one can derive from this understanding that Jesus was God’s “divine expression” of His thought (idea), and was always with God. And, everything in existence was made by and through this expression. In Genesis, when God spoke the words “light be”, everything happened through and by Jesus in that creative galactic moment. 

It is quite difficult for us, the created beings, to have any clear understanding of what took place, since we are finite and quite limited in knowledge, wisdom, and ability. If you think about it, we just moved from horse and buggy to automobiles about 130 years ago. Compared to 2000 years, the human life span of 74 years is miniscule. Even most the collective knowledge has been lost since the great flood. (approximately 4300 years ago). So let’s be careful enough to admit that we don’t know everything. 

Compared to God’s “expression of thought”, the one who created everything, we are hopeless and hapless outside of His grace, love, and mercy.  I’ll come back to this a little later, when we discuss the “light” of the world. 

John 8:12 : “When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, ‘I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but have the light of life.’”

This interesting study shows many qualities of light mirror qualities of Christ:

* Light enables us to see, and Christ enables us to discern spiritual things.

* Light is pleasant, promoting peace of mind, and so the work of Christ on the cross, reconciling us to God, gives us peace of mind.

* Light fills completely any void open to it, and so, if we empty our soul to Christ, He who "fills everything in every way" (Eph. 1:23) will fill it.

* Light, especially bright light, is glorious; Christ is "the radiance of God's glory" (Heb. 1:3).

* Light does not mix with darkness, but rather conquers it; Christ has conquered the darkness of this evil world.

* Light warms the body; Christ warms the soul.

* Light makes clear the path; Christ, through His life, also made clear the path we should follow.

* Light exposes; Christ, through His life, exposes the sin in our lives.

1 John 1:5
”This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.”

Darkness affects all our physical senses, and can certainly have a serious impact on our emotions as well. We are so accustomed to light that being subjected to pure darkness can be literally frightening. Imagine being taken to a place where there is absolutely no light, nothing but pitch blackness. Ever heard the term, groping in the dark? You would have no senses of direction, nothing for your eyes to see, and the only thing you know for sure is gravity.

When I was in basic training, one part of our field training was to enter into a cabin what was completely dark. The only exit was a window that had a black tarp over it. We had to enter that filled with tear gas with our masks on. Then we were instructed to take the masks off, hold our breath, and try to find the exit, and jump or dive out the window. That was my first time in a completely dark room. Fortunately, as I was groping around, a teammate found the window, dove out and I saw a crack of light, so holding my breath, I rushed to that opening and dove through it as well. With watery eyes burning, I made it out of the darkness! Light never seemed so welcome as it did in that moment. 

Today, there are millions and millions of people who are “walking in darkness”. Their eyes are burning from the sting of sin, and they are holding their collective breaths, hoping for a glimmer of light to appear, so they can find a way out. Yet, they cannot see the truth because the fallen world has all sorts of glimmering, flashy lights that soon disappear. They offer false promises, false hope, which leads to destruction. Even the most “worldly wise” soon stumble, because they have become accustomed to living in spiritual ignorance. Seem harsh? Not as harsh as what is in store for them.

Revelation 21: 6-8 Expanded Bible (EXB)

The One on the throne said to me, “It is ·finished [done; accomplished]. I am the Alpha and the Omega [C the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet; 1:8], the Beginning and the End. I will give ·free water [L freely] from the spring of the water of life to anyone who is thirsty [Is. 55:1; John 7:37].Those who ·win the victory [conquer] will ·receive [inherit] ·this [L these things; C God’s promise], and I will be their God, and they will be my children [21:3; 2 Sam. 7:14]. But cowards, those ·who refuse to believe [without faith], who do ·evil [vile; detestable] things, who kill, who sin sexually, who do ·evil magic [sorcery], who worship idols, and who tell lies—all these will have ·a place [L their part] in the lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death [20:6].”

John 8:12 (NASB)
12 Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
The word “darkness” here in the Greek is “skotos” i.e. metaphorically, of ignorance respecting divine things and human duties, and the accompanying ungodliness and immorality, spiritually blind, together with their consequent misery.”

When light enters in, darkness flees. It opens the lens of vision, for the eyes to see, the mind to perceive and gain knowledge, but also for the human spirit to receive the understanding of the truth of God. 

The phrase “walk in darkness” literally means living their lives in “ignorance” of God, which leads to unbelief, ungodliness, immorality, and etc, commonly known as “sin”.
Jude 6 (New English Translation)
You also know that the angels who did not keep within their proper domain but abandoned their own place of residence, he has kept in eternal chains in utter darkness, locked up for the judgment of the great Day. 

These heavenly beings rebelled against God, and were cast out of heaven.
This word “darkness” is the same Greek word (“skotos”) that Jesus used in John 8:12. So the rebellious angels (Satan’s and his buddies) are actually kept in the chains of ignorance of God’s light. The only thing they understand and act on are those characteristics described in “utter darkness”. The only place they can find us is if we walk in (live in) that same “darkness”, and the only way out is to follow Jesus, the originator of all light.

Thanks be to God that He sent His only Son (“His divine expression”) to earth to lead all mankind away from darkness and into the Light of Life, eternal life.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Continue in the Faith

Continue in the Faith IV (Transforming the Mind)

Proverbs 23:7 - For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”

What does “thinks in his heart” mean? One explanation could be “that which has been stored collectively in one’s memory”; another (more accurately) is stored in the sub-conscious; Understanding the man’s make up is Spirit, Soul (mind, will, emotions) and body, one could say that “thinks in the heart encompasses spirit, soul, and body. He thinks it, so he believes it; he acts it, and becomes it.

Human action/reaction generally begins in the soul (mind, will, emotions), by thoughts, whether instigated by habits (automatic responses) related to our environment, current desires for gratification and/or pleasure, or spiritual inspiration. We humans are notorious for seeking and finding the easiest path to “gratification and pleasure”. That pleasure can be mental or physical. The physical world we live in seemingly provides all sorts of pleasures, but underneath the surface, the majority of them are not conducive to developing into the spiritual beings we were intended to be.

A wise man once said, “just because you believe something doesn’t mean it is true”. We can believe a lie as well as the truth! Yet we find ourselves believing things that are simply not true, or beneficial to us.

Man once believed that the earth was flat and that the sun revolved around the earth. Man once thought that singing in harmony was from the devil, and later that certain musical beats were straight from hell. However, God created everything (even music) and He called it good. It is how man chooses to use it that it is considered bad or evil.

Here’s something to think about:
“Your actions confirm or deny what you believe. They determine how your beliefs make a difference in your life or how they don’t really affect it at all. Many people say they believe something but lack the faith to live a life that expresses that belief… Will you live a life that never breaks out of the confines of comfortable living? Will you let fear hold you back from even trying?”  Davis, Aaron (2015-05-01). Quantum Christianity: Believe Again 

Some people talk about their lives and what they believe, yet their actions contradict what they say, revealing what they truly believe.

So the question to ask is, “What do you believe about God? Jesus? Does God exist?
“God exists whether or not men may choose to believe in Him. The reason why many people do not believe in God is not so much that it is intellectually impossible to believe in God, but because belief in God forces that thoughtful person to face the fact that he is accountable to such a God.” Robert A. Laidlaw, writer and philanthropist

The next question becomes, “How does the degree of your belief or faith influence what you are seeing or experiencing in the moment?” I have heard it said that “perception determines reception” or “reality is context dependent”.

What do you want to believe? If God doesn’t exist, then I can do anything and live any way I want to because that is life on this planet. All humans live and die, with no accountability to anything but the laws of the land. “There is no supreme being. We live and we die, and that’s the end of it”. (Some actually believe and speak these things)

Yes, you may have heard of God, you have visited a church, possibly belong to a religion, and consider yourself a Christian or even “spiritual”. You may have seen some church goers who don’t act the way your “perception” of what a Christian should be, and decided that he/she was a hypocrite and you could never be that way. (“after all, every man (person) seems right in his on eyes”)

Or maybe you deny the existence of God or a supreme being of any kind. And declare yourself as an atheist or agnostic. Better yet, you could lean towards Buddhism or Hinduism, or even Muslim, because they seem (outwardly) to pray and meditate openly…..seemingly so religious or spiritual, as if we can “see” spirit.

This state of mind is considered unbelief, and “unbelievers”.  Here’s what one writer said about unbelief:
“Unbelief will rob you of what God desires to do through you. If you allow unbelief to get in you, it will cause you to rationalize what God is capable of doing and what you are capable of doing in Christ. Rationalism is an enemy of faith and causes people to take on a mindset that says, “If I cannot prove it, if I do not understand it, then I cannot accept it.” The reason many people do not see the power of God operating in and through their life is because they are bound in a mindset of rationalism, and rationalism facilitates unbelief because intellectually we all have different capacities; therefore we all have certain limitations. There are going to be many times in your life where you will have to understand that God will desire to do things that go beyond your intellectual capacity and you’ve just got to be willing to step in faith and go with it.” Jay Haizlip, pastor of the Sanctuary Church in Southern California,

Proverbs 21:2 - “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs and tries the hearts.”Acts 14:22

“We can so easily become attached to our own ways of doing things that we forget about God’s ways. We can get so immersed in our agendas, our ideas, our vision, our desires that we forget to say, ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done.’ For some people, the greatest obstacle to getting unstuck and beginning to make progress in life is their unwillingness to change. A new thought, a new habit, a new perspective could revolutionize their present and jump-start their future, but so many times they find it difficult to change and do things a different way.” John Siebeling, Momentum: Five Keys from the Lord’s Prayer to Getting Unstuck and Moving Forward

We are in an era now where God has revealed a little bit more about Himself, and His relationship with us. The small amount of knowledge is another brick in the foundation on which we can build more confidence in His ability to lead us into and through the process of transforming our minds. The transformed mind becoming the “mind of Christ” is the reward to submitting to God the Father, allowing Him to show more of Himself to us, and filling us with His limitless power by the entrance of the Holy Spirit.

Maybe if we truly understood this next quote, we could live the life God has purposed us to live on the earth, to live in His Kingdom while here, demonstrating the works he designed us to work. Some would call it supernatural, in the God’s Kingdom it’s normal.

You are called to enter into and engage in every earthly sphere of this world with a supernatural ability to manifest what God’s kingdom looks like. You are uniquely qualified to solve problems nobody else can solve! When you do so, you “show forth the excellence of Him” and build a platform of profound credibility from which you can teach others His ways”…. Lance Wallnau

What are some steps to begin “transforming the mind”?

2 Peter 1: 2 - 11

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith ,virtue, to virtue (add) knowledge, to knowledge (add) self-control, to self-control (add) perseverance, to perseverance (add) godliness, to godliness (add) brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness (add) love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble (fall); 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
God has already given to the believer, “the “measure of faith… all believers have the same measure. However, Peter elaborates on other attributes that we are to add to our measure of faith. 

These are attributes we have the ability to develop and keep.
·       to your faith add virtue [virtue; moral excellence];
·       to virtue add knowledge [knowledge of God, Jesus, Wisdom)
·       to knowledge add self-control
·       to self-control add patience [or perseverance]
·       to patience add service for God [devotion; piety; godliness];
·       to service for God add kindness for your brothers and sisters in Christ [affection for fellow believers; L brotherly love/affection.
·       to kindness for your brothers and sisters in Christ add love [C Greek: AgapÄ“].

Notice in verse 10, “for if you do these things you will never stumble or(fall)”.  These are pretty strong words coming from the Bible. Yet Peter, by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, writes it for all to see. Many of us have been reprimanded for using the word “never” when describing human relations or our own character assessments. But in this passage Peter uses it to relay to the reader (s) that if we practice and keep these eight God-given criteria, we will NEVER fall or stumble!!!

(While meditating on the scripture references above, I asked to give me understanding regarding what they mean to us today. He answered and I think I listened close enough to remember what he said. The question’s ultimate motive was to explain how do I and others “get” these attributes. The answer was: “you already have them; just act like a person of virtue, knowledge, self control, patience, kindness, and love. You are born again and the Holy Spirit lives in you. You have the mind of Christ. All of their gifts are yours. Believe that they are in you and take action.”)

I do believe that I, and many who read this article, could do ourselves a great service by gaining “knowledge” and “understanding” regarding the development of these characteristics in each of our lives. Maybe we could reduce the number of times we stumble and fall. When I stumble or fall, it hurts not only myself, but it could cause suppose others to stumble as well. What about you?

So we continue in faith, transforming our minds, receiving the mind of Christ!

Father God, thank you for this day and for every breath we are allowed to consume, for it is only by your presence we live and have our being. By your grace we live, by your love we know of you, by your spirit we are empowered by you, and through your Son Jesus we are saved….invited into Your Kingdom and received as unblemished children through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. No human language or tongue has the ability to adequately express how great you are, nor can they verbalize the gratitude mankind could utter that would be worthy enough for your acceptance. 

As the creator of all things, you deserve more than any human words can express, yet we feel the desire in our hearts to sing your praises, and offer a simple, heartfelt “Thank You”. Let it be that our entire being, every cell, every atom, every breath, every heartbeat lives in “Thank You”, so that we are in constant contact with you. You are all knowledge and all wisdom; all mercy and all love; all grace and power. As we receive all from you, let us share it all through a continuous life of faith, love, and virtue towards others. Your word says that “we have not because we ask not”. And, “I will never leave you or forsake you”. So Father we can enter into the rest that faith in you so generously provides, knowing that when we pray, or just ask you, we already have it by faith. 

Father, we “Thank You” and look to you for all things pertaining to life and liberty as we participate in bringing your Kingdom into this earthly realm …. In Jesus name. Amen.