Saturday, November 30, 2013

You Have It All!

"My son you are always with me and all that I have is yours."
Luke 15:31

This is another verse that was posted by the Men in the Word Facebook page. When seeing it occurred to me that this is one of the most powerful verses in the parable of the prodigal son and yet we always read right over it. 

Here's a quick refresher of the story: A rich man (who clearly represents God) has two sons. One of the sons is quiet and obedient at the beginning of the story but the second son goes to his father and demands his inheritance. This son then goes and squanders all the money finding himself to be poor and starving. Finally he decides to return to his father and beg for the opportunity to be his servant but of course his father instead throws a huge party for his son who had returned.

This is usually where preachers tend to stop with the story. It is a great story telling how God will except us back no matter how far away we ran, however Jesus made one last comment in the story. He goes to the second brother who is standing outside of his brother's party angry and claims that the father had never rewarded him for his faithfulness and the father responds with this statement. "...all that I have is yours."


Now remember the father is representative of our heavenly Father and this son is representative of those of us who have been faithful in serving God. God says "all that I have is yours"! How much does He have? He owns everything and Jesus tells us that it all belongs to us! How can we ever be worried about a seeming shortage of money if we know that fact? God says everything He has is ours! 

Just a quick thought for a Saturday morning.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Kingdom of Heaven... Suffers Violence!

"And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, 
and the violent take it by force." - Matthew 11:12 (NKJV)

This is a quote from Jesus as he is describing the ministry of John the Baptist to the multitude in which he turns his description into a teaching on the kingdom of heaven. This is one verse that I have often struggled with understanding. I've heard preachers claim that it is saying that one has to be 'violent' to enter the kingdom of heaven which seemed to put an extra requirement on salvation, but on the other hand, when read in this translation, it seems to be saying that someone was attacking and attempting to take over the kingdom of heaven. Finally I began studying it for myself and found that neither explanation is quite accurate. 

The term 'suffers violence' is translated from a single Greek word: biazo. According to strong's dictionary, this word means "I use force, force my way, come forward violently". (To be fair there is also a passive definition which means "to be forcibly treated, suffer violence" according to strong's) Helps Word studies further translates it as "to use power to forcibly seize, laying hold of something with positive aggressiveness." This word is only used one other time in the new testament in Luke 16:16:

"The law and prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone one is pressing [biazo] into it."

With these definitions we can start to see a picture of what Jesus was saying about the Kingdom of Heaven. John the Baptist came onto the scene preaching "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2). He called the multitudes to repentance and baptism in order to prepare them for the kingdom that Jesus was establishing. Jesus here is stating that this call to repentance was the beginning of a forceful advancement of the kingdom. It began with John, continued with Jesus, and is advancing forward to this day through each of us who have a true understanding of the Kingdom. 

Jesus then follows up this statement by saying "...the violent take it by force". The word for "the violent" is the word biastes which literally means "a violent man" or "one who is eagerly in pursuit". I believe that this is an admonition for us to 'eagerly pursue' the Kingdom. I believe we need to have the intensity shown in this verse in order to truly find the full manifestation of the Kingdom of Heaven. We need to fervently pray, diligently study, and continually seek out opportunities to minister to those around us and as we do this forcibly we will advance with the kingdom and see the kingdom come "on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10).

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Kingdom of Heaven is like... a Mustard Seed

"Another parable He put forth to them, saying: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in it's branches."
Matthew 13:31-32

Jesus gave us plenty of stories and parables to give us hints as to what the Kingdom of Heaven is. Here he relates it to a small seed, specifically a mustard seed, that grows into a large tree which gives place for the birds to nest and to live.

I believe that there are a couple lessons that we can learn from this particular parable. The first and most obvious one is that the Kingdom of Heaven is not one that will explode onto the scene. The Jews were expecting a warring revolutionary as the Christ. Someone who would come in with an army and defeat the Romans in a spectacular display of glory, but Jesus clearly had other plans. He didn't rally up a massive army to fight the Romans, or even a group of the smartest philosophers to affect people's thinking. Even in the end, Jesus didn't die a warrior's death with an army behind him fired up to continue the fight, He died a shameful death, nailed on a tree, in which even His twelve closest followers deserted Him at His greatest need. Even so the seed that He planted in His life quickly grew to be a revolution in philosophy, mindset, and religion that took the world by storm. 

This is the same way that the Kingdom of Heaven affects each of us as an individual. It takes root through the simplest prayer of repentance. Nothing spectacular happens in that moment, most people don't even feel different, but as the roots begin to spread in a person's heart it grows into something revolutionary, all of a sudden people begin to notice that the person is completely different than they were before the prayer was said. 

Finally, after the kingdom grows from a seed to a tree, it begins to sustain other life. As one seed of the kingdom grows it allows for other life to be supported and spreads life to those around it. If we look in the parable that Jesus gives we see that the birds are able to nest in the tree. That means that through the tree new life (little baby birds) is created. It is the same in our life when we allow the Kingdom to grow and develop in our hearts. Suddenly we allow live to be established all around us through the Kingdom in us.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

What God Has Joined Together....

This morning the Men in the Word facebook page posted some thoughts that got me thinking and I wanted to expound upon them a little bit.

Jesus quotes this scripture from Genesis talking about marriage. He tells us that when we make the decision to become married God makes us no longer two, but one. By doing this He joined us together and man should not separate what God joined. In other words, divorce should not be an option.

However I think there is something else, more practical, that we can gain from this scripture. No marriage is perfect and that means that every marriage has moments of argument where the couple does not feel joined together no matter how much they believe it. This is where, I believe the husband has the responsibility to be the spiritual head of the household. This does not mean that the husband should 'lay down the law' and demand that the wife 'respect him' by agreeing with his side.

I believe that in this moment a husband truly taking responsibility as the head of the household needs to humble Himself and recognize that it is God that joined the marriage together in the first place. If God joined the marriage together at the beginning then God can also restore it regardless of the size of the argument. The husband has the responsibility of humbling himself and going before God to ask for wisdom. This responsibility is true regardless of who is 'right' in the argument.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Why the Kingdom?

Last week I posted some thoughts on The Kingdom of Heaven. My main point was to establish the fact that Jesus didn't come just to save us from our sins, instead He came to establish a kingdom that is different from this world and will never be destroyed. God is continuing to speak to me on this subject and has prompted me to start studying and seeking out the verses that pertain to it. As I do I will try and share some of it here on my blog in case it helps others.

The Importance of the Kingdom

 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. - Matthew 6:33

One thing that you'll notice right away in this study is that the term "Kingdom of Heaven" and "Kingdom of God" tend to be interchanged throughout Jesus' teaching. So not to spend too much time on that there is a discussion about it here

I felt a natural start to the study would be to talk about why we should study this subject. Why is it so important? Of course the first reason why we should study this subject is simply that Jesus told us to. Jesus told us in the above verse that we should seek the kingdom first, that means before everything else. The context of this verse is that Jesus tells us to not worry about our material needs. We shouldn't worry about our food or our clothing but instead we should worry about seeking after the Kingdom of God and allow God to add all those things to us. 

Another reason we should be seeking after the Kingdom is that it is what Jesus based His ministry on. In Mark chapter 1 we read:

14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” - (v.14-15)

This was the beginning of Jesus's ministry. He started His ministry by declaring the Kingdom of God. Then throughout his teachings we see him constantly saying "The kingdom of God is like..." As mentioned in my last post He came in order to establish a kingdom that would never be destroyed. His death was just the beginning which broke down the barrier and allowed us to be a part of the kingdom, but there is so much more that He was establishing and so much more for us to live in. I encourage you to study out for yourself as you wait for my next post. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Prophecy Blessing Over Your Child - Revisited

I always find it interesting to look at my top posts historically. Blogger tells me which posts have received the most views over the course of the time that I have been writing this blog. Most of the top ones are from my series based on the book by Loren Cunningham, The Book that Transforms Nations. This was apparently a popular series as four of my top five posts are from it. If you missed it you can see some of the links to the right under "Popular Posts" (Bring Change to Your Nation was the introduction to the series). 

But the one that actually surprised me the most was the one that took first place: Prophesy Blessing Over Your Children. With 265 all time page views this one beat out number two by almost 100 views. For me this is encouraging because it means that my readers desire to be spiritual leaders for their children. 

As I am only about a month away from being a father, and I have multiple friends and family either about to have a baby or recently had a baby, I felt it was a good time to revisit this post.

The post took a look at the following scripture from Luke:

76“ And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;
For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people
By the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited[e] us;
79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.”
80 So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.
Luke 1:76-80

This scripture is quoting Zacharias right after his son John (the baptist) was born. Those of us who know the story know that Zacharias initially doubted the angel when he was told that he would have a son and as a result ended up mute throughout the pregnancy. After John was born he miraculously got his speech back and immediately began prophesying amazing things over his baby. 

As I approach the birth of my baby girl this challenge has become even more real to me. Fathers, we need to be constantly seeking God and prophesying over our children. What are we saying about our child's future? What are we prophesying over them? It is time for the fathers to step up and be spiritual heads over our families. It is time for us to take the enemy's attacks head on and prophesy life and success and prosperity over our children and their future! I make it a point to pray over and prophesy over my daughter daily and will continue to after she is born.

What are you prophesying over your child?