Friday, 2 December 2016

Communion ~ Rabqa

Today is communion in our Church, so we will be
learn that Jesus was obedient to His Father, even unto death, death on a cross. 

At the famous dinner Jesus held for His disciples before He was crucified, we of course call it the last Supper. This Supper took place on a Jewish 
holiday called Passover, the day the Jews celebrated escaping judgements of God in Egypt during the days of Moses. Do you remember the plagues God brought about in Egypt because Pharaoh chose not to let His people go. 

God's judgement passed over the Israelites because they sprinkled the blood of a lamb over the doorway of each of their homes as Moses instructed them. 

The passover holiday actually originated as a prophetic act intended to prepare the world for the Lamb of God, whose blood was applied to the door posts of all our hearts. 

While the disciples were having dinner with Jesus, He explained that He was the Lamb of God who would die for the sins of the world. Jesus death would fulfil the harsh Old Covenant, which said that the person who sins must die.  Ezekiel 18:20. 

Jesus blood inaugurated a New Covenant. Like the Passover in the days of Moses, this New Covenant would cause God to relate to the world through the sacrificial blood that is the blood of the Lamb of God. No longer would God relate to the world as He had Pharaoh & Egypt. Instead, Jesus became the door of destiny covered by the blood of a sinless lamb which would cause the wrath of God to "pass over" the world. 

Let me explain it this way. 

How would God free His people whom He loves so much from their self imposed bondage to the law? How could He extend mercy to those who are guilty, without violating justice? 

Theses questions make it clear that God has challenge on His hands. He had to create justice for all of humankind so that He could extend mercy. Remember God sits on the mercy seat, but the foundation of His throne is righteousness & Justice Psalm 89:14 & Hebrews 9:5 Here is a story that demonstrates His predicament & His profound solution. 

Late on foggy night, a violent man lurked in the streets of a sleepy neighbourhood. He peered at a beautiful home surrounded by a wooded forest. The house was at the end of a long street which was in darkness because of a moonless sky & no street lights. Quietly he approached the front door, taking hold of the door he picked the lock quickly. 

 He was clothed in black & wore a ski mask, he crept through the front room where a wedding dress lay on the floor. Shinning his torch down the hall he noticed a trail of shed shoes & more clothing littering the floor towards the master bedroom. He listened to make sure the newly weds were sound asleep. 

Slowly the masked intruder made his way to the dressing table, where he spied the brides beautiful engagement ring. As he reached to take it, the young bride woke up. Seeing the silhouette of the masked man beside her, she sat up confused & startled began to scream. The robber covered her mouth to silence her, then pulled out a knife, she fought back as her husband still half asleep jumped out of bed. 

Desperate to safe his wife, the young groom grabbed the intruder by the head trying to dislodge the knife from his hand. Freeing herself, the bride kept screaming for help as her husband fought to subdue the attacker. Suddenly she went silent & limp falling onto the bed, blood pooling out under her. 

The robber wrestled his opponent to the floor, the husband was able to dislodge the knife as they fought on the floor. When the robber jumped up to flee, the desperate young man grabbed him from behind & pulled his ski mask off. Time seem to stand still as the men glared at one another. The attacker then sprinted towards a plate glass window, jumped through it shattering it. The husband turned back to his wife, but it was too late. Her lifeless body lay slumped across the bed. 

It was months latter when the young husband met his wife’s murderer in court. His heart yearned for justice, both for his bride & his own pain. But as the arraignment began, something about the process seemed to go terribly wrong. 

The judge turned to the defendant & said, "Henry Hamstead, your father & I were best friends & room mates in collage. He used to brag about you when you were a little boy. I loved your dad. You are free to go." 

Outraged the young husband jumped up & began shouting in protest, "Your Honour, are you serious? That man killed my bride! He took the love of my life. You can't just let him go free. ''

The judge replied that he was in charge & that he chose to be merciful to this man. 

The young man said "Yes your Honour, but aren't you also just?'' he demanded."Doesn’t justice matter to you? Or don't you have any integrity?" 

While the judge hesitated over his dilemma, apparently waging war in his mind between justice & mercy, there was a sudden commotion in the courtroom as an elderly woman forced her way to the stand. 

"Your Honour," said the woman through her tears ''Henry is my son & I choose to offer my life up for his. Take my life & let him go.''

The merciful judge turned to the magistrate & whispered in his ear. A few tense moments passed as the magistrate pulled out a thick book marked with an "H" off a large bookcase that covered an entire wall. All the books were identified with letters of the alphabet, which were in order on the shelves from "A to Z". The magistrate put on his glasses & searched through the book. Finally he looked up with grief on his face & proclaimed, "Mrs Hamstead, I have found your name in the Book of Fugitives. You can't die for your son because you are also wanted for crimes punishable by death.'' 

The courtroom was stunned as the woman cried out for mercy for her only son, pleading for his life. 

"He was stealing to try to keep the bank from foreclosing on my house!'' she wailed. ''It was an accident he didn't mean to kill the girl.'' 

But the constable ushered her out of the courtroom in handcuffs. 

A moment later, a young man in his thirties stood up at the back of the room. 

"Your Honour," he shouted, his voice quivering, ''I choose to die for Henry!" 

Shocked exclamations filled the courtroom. 

"Your name?" the magistrate demanded. 

''My name is Jacob," the young man replied. 

His eyes met those of the magistrate & Judge, & they stared intently at each other. 

Suddenly the expression on the faces of the Judge & magistrate changed. They seemed to recognise something about the young man. The Magistrate turned to the book shelf & finding the book marked "J", he began to turn the pages nervously. The courtroom grew silent as the Magistrate looked up in amazement. 

"His name is not listed in the Book of Fugitives, Your Honour," the Magistrate said. "I don't understand it! We are all guilty somehow..." 

Seeming to fear what this could mean for the brave young man who had offered himself up as a sacrifice for the murderer hung his head & stared at the floor, not wanting to meet Jacob's eyes. 

"If he is not wanted for any crimes," the judge declared, "then no one can refuse to let this innocent man pay the price of this guilty man." 

The young groom jumped to his feet & protested again, "Your Honour, how can he take the killer's place when this man is guilty?" 

"I had the magistrate check" the judge explained, "& even you & your wife are listed in the Book of Fugitives, wanted for crimes punishable by death. You are no less guilty then Henry here. Yet something is different about this man, Jacob, whose sacrifice will preserve the cause of justice. He is the only one I have ever met who can take the place of a guilty man & justice will be served through the innocent so that mercy can be extended to the guilty." 

This imaginative story illustrates how Jesus' death on the cross changed the conditions of all humankind standing before the judge of heaven. Jesus was innocent; He never sinned & therefore deserved to live. But He chose to take our place. 

Each one of us are fugitives, guilty of sins punishable by death. But the judgement that provoked the wrath of God was poured out on Jesus when He died for the sins of the world. With the cause of justice having been fulfilled by His Son's blood, the Judge of heaven is free to extend mercy to all sinners without being crooked or corrupt. 

Paul said it was best when he wrote For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.2 Cor 5:21. 

In the book of Romans Paul wrote that He (Jesus) was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God. Rom 4:25 & in Rom 5:9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 

The point is that not that God can judge sin in the life of a sinner; He is God & can do whatever He wants. The point is simply that He is not obligated to punish sin to create justice on Cavalry’s cross. God has now the right to release everyone from sin without being an unjust judge. 

The blood of Jesus creates a new agreement between God & mankind, which reconciles the world to our Creator once & for all. Luke records the last Supper like this LK 22:19-20. 

He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 
After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you. 

Acknowledgements Kris Vallotton. 

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Choices[2] ` Rabqa

WE are continuing to learn about choices  

But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”Jos 24:15 

Regardless what other people may think, serving & following the Lord is really the only way to live a fulfilling & victorious life. 

In Jesus' day, many leaders believed in Jesus but would not confess their faith to others. They feared they would be expelled from the Synagogue if they went public with their belief in Him. (Jn 12:42 & 43). They were hindered from a relationship with Jesus all because they were addicted to approval. Although they wanted a relationship with the Lord, they loved the approval of others. That is so sad but it happens all the time. 

Joshua, on the other hand, was bold in in his belief in God, declaring that "As for me & my house we will serve the Lord". We need to be like Joshua & determine that you & your household will serve the Lord. Follow God not people! 

The leaders of Jesus' day knew that He was real. They believed in Him, but their love of people's approval would not permit them to have a true relationship with Him. I ask myself how did their lives turn out. What did they miss because they said YES to people & NO to God? I wonder how many of them were never mentioned in the Bible again. I wonder did they fade into oblivion & never fulfilled there destinies because they loved the approval of man more then the approval of God. How many of them spent their lives disrespecting themselves just because they were people pleaser’s & not God pleaser’s. 

We need to realise that not everyone is going to like us. If we live worrying about what others think, we will never take risks & stretch ourselves into new realms. We will simply give up our dreams. Satan is a dream thief, & he works through people who are selfish enough to steal our dreams in order to have theirs. 

Do not let anyone steal from you what Jesus died to give you that is the freedom to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit for you as an individual. As you follow Him I guarantee that He will lead you into a rewarding life. Like Joshua make a deliberate personal decision or choice to serve the Lord boldly & declare "As for me  & my house we will serve the Lord". 

Choosing to side with God's Word is a continual challenge. It's not something you do just once. It is a process of choosing to believe & act upon the Word of God over & over in every circumstance. 
That is what every one has to do. Years ago I decided that I was going to follow Jesus. Since then I have had to choose Him again & again in situations every day. I have chosen Him as my Lord & Saviour, I have chosen Him as my healer, I have chosen Him as my financier, I have chosen Him as head of my household. & I still choose Him moment by moment. 

Sometime that choice gets tough, but God has promised it will never get too tough In 1 Corinthians 10:13 It says The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 

 The Lord is saying that He will not allow you to be subjected to a temptation that you are not able to overcome. With every temptation He will provide a way out. He Always makes sure you have a choice. 

The devil doesn’t come to tempt you while God is off somewhere else unaware of what is happening to you. The Spirit of God is constantly there with you, providing you with the way to overcome. To put it another way God matches even the toughest temptation with the weapons & power you need to conquer them. He always make it possible for you to choose life. 

Choose to walk in love, choose to walk by faith, choose to live by the Word. Jesus is the way the truth & the life. choose Him. 

We learn in Joshua 24:14-24 that the fear the Lord is reverence & respect towards the One who loves us & is also just. The word serve means to give allegiance exclusively to God. Joshua did not call the people to choose for themselves because he believed there were two options from God's perspective. Doing so offered him the opportunity to affirm his own loyalty to God & urge the people to do the same. 

The people's strong covenant response was undoubtedly sincere; however, for most it did not develop. Many soon did forsake the Lord. 

When Joshua said: "You cannot serve the Lord" It was his way of sternly warning them of the seriousness of their covenant promise. The Word forgive in verse19 means that the Incarnation was predestined from eternity, & Christ's atonement was retroactive (Heb 10:14) God is dealing with His people, however, it is conditional. If Israel gave her allegiance to God then rebelled against Him they would be punished.   

Verse 23 invites us to reject & turn away from this world & it's ways. Be assured that you will be free to fully yield your heart to God. 

Joshua continually exhorts God's people to live holy lives. God's holy people will live unto Him & apart from the world. Joshua demonstrates our failure to live in holiness can & will have dire consequences. 

This next piece of Scripture we looked at last time but I believe it is important & is worth repeating again. 

Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! Deut 30:19 
Thousands of thoughts fill our minds every day, & we must allow our minds to be renewed after the Spirit & not after the flesh. Our carnal (worldly fleshly) minds have so much practice operating freely that we can think wrong thoughts without much effort at all. On the other hand we have to purposely choose to think right thoughts. After all we have finally decided to be like minded with God, so therefore we will need to choose & continue to choose right thoughts. 

When we begin to feel that the battle of the mind is just too difficult & that we are not going to make it, we must cast off negative kind of thinking. We must choose to think that we are going to make it & decide not to to give up. When we are bombarded with thoughts & fears, we need to take a stand  & say: "I will never give up! God is on my side, He loves me & He is helping me! 
You & I have many choices to make throughout our lives. As we see in Deut 30:19 The Lord told His people that He had set before them life & death urging them to choose life. Proverbs 18:21 also tells us we can choose life or death. It says Death and life are in the power of the tongue, 
And those who love it will eat its fruit. 

I like the way the message puts it Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. 

Our thoughts become our words. Therefore it is vitally important that we choose life—giving thoughts. 

Understand that when you choose any action, you choose it's consequences as well. God cannot bless & prosper disobedience & unfaithfulness. 
Holiness means being separated from & distinct from the world. We need to discipline ourselves to build lives that are fully dedicated to God. 

People have said jokingly for years "God is going to get you for that. They have somehow believed that God slaps us down with pain & punishment every time we sin. But that is just not true. There are deadly wages for sin, but God is not the one doing them. 

You see the Bible tells us there's been a curse in effect for thousands of years. & the devil is the cause of it In Deuteronomy 29 it describes in detail the blessings that fall upon those who  followed God & the terrible suffering that would follow those who were separated from Him, He said that He had set before us life & death telling us to choose life so that our descendants might live. 

Another way to look at is that Curseville is out there. God warned us about it & urged us not to travel along that road. He has promised to give us freedom, & He will allow us to choose our own way. If we get on the road to Curseville & don't get of it then we are going to end up there. Now you may be thinking God sent us there. NO He didn't He urged us not to go. 

The vital thing to realise is this: At any point of the journey that is to say whether you are on the road to Curseville or living right in the middle of it  God will save you from it. He will take you out of it & deliver you. He will deliver you from disease, addictions, or anything else that has being holding you captive. 

Today if you find yourself on the wrong road & see destruction just ahead, repent & get on the right road. By committing your way to Jesus He will deliver you from whatever may be holding you captive. You can begin by praying, in fact let us pray it together, repeat after me. Lord Jesus I have chosen the wrong road & right now I ask you to forgive me. Today I choose life by choosing your way. Please deliver me from this bondage & fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Thank you Lord. 
Remember that no matter what you have done, God does not want to get you for it, He loves you & wants to forgive you for it. He does not want to slap you down, He wants to save you & lift you up. Trust Him & let Him put you on the road to life today. 

We learn from Deuteronomy 30 that verses 1-10 is a passage that is predictive, seeing beyond a future captivity bought on by disobedience to a period of repentance & restoration the steps to restoration will include: remembering that they are captivity as a consequence of disobeying the covenant. 

From V 2 we find if they are wholeheartedly are committed to obey His voice. God would then bring them back from captivity. He has compassion on them & brings them back to the land. He circumcises their heart this is a reference to the messianic covenant when God would deal with man's spiritual problem through an internal transformation. 

We need to be confident that God will supply the dynamic for all He demands. Understand that our life in Christ is a life of faith. Depend upon His constant provision. 

Verses 11-14 returning from the ceremony in Moab, Moses reminds them that the commandment did not impose on the people conditions so they could not understand or fulfil. It was practical & realistic so there was no excuse for disobedience.   

This chapter closes with with the call to choose the way of life. 

2 Corn 12:7 even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. 

Allow Jesus' strength to be exhibited & exalted through your weakness. 

Humility looks to God for what it needs. Humility is not shocked to discover it's own weakness, having learnt to trust God's strength. Nor do the humble take faith for granted, they always drawing near to God & distrusting self. 

The devil has used the traditional teaching of Paul's thorn in the flesh to talk believers out of God's blessings for years, to try to convince us to settle for everything from sin to sickness & not only that but to do it of from our own free will. 
It is perhaps the most destructive & the most wildly excepted misinterpretation of Scripture that exists in the Body Of Christ today. Some countries have hardly any knowledge of the Word & yet they know about Paul's thorn in the flesh. & most of them sadly have have had the wrong teaching. 
Tradition says that God gave Paul the thorn in the flesh. What's more, tradition makes the thorn into some great mystery. Now Scripture does not say that at all! 

It says that the thorn in the flesh was a messenger of satan. Not God but satan! The thorn was quite literately just what Paul says it was—a messenger from satan. 

You see, everywhere Paul went, he preached the gospel & every time he preached, he destroyed a little more of satan's kingdom. So satan sent a messenger or an evil spirit to stop him. 
When Paul sought the Lord concerning this thorn  (2 Corn 12: 8-10) God didn't answer Paul in the negative, He said "My grace or my favour is enough for you. My strength is made perfect in your weakness. 

To put it another way, when Paul didn't have enough human strength to overcome, God's miracle working power was sufficient for him. It enabled him to be an overcomer in spite of his weakness. 

DO NOT allow the devil to talk you out of your victory. Throw tradition out of the window & dare to believe in the Word of God. Fight the good fight of faith just like the Apostle Paul, you will see the salvation of the Lord. 

We learn from 2 Corinthians 12:9 that Jesus' grace is sufficient for us; that His strength & power are made perfect in our weakness. 
We become frustrated when we try to achieve by works, a life that God not only brought into being, but was designed to receive by grace. Grace is the power of God to meet our needs & solve our problems. 

Weakness is not very popular. Most people do not advertise their limitations. However Paul's says he boasts in his weakness. You may ask why would he do such a thing, because he knows that God's strength is great in the midst of his infirmity. If there is an area in your life where you feel weak, do not rely on your own strength; ask God to be strong in your weakness. When you admit your frailty, God pours out His strength. Know that His grace is more then sufficient & thank God for His Power that is made perfect in your weakness. 
1 Corn 5:9 AMP I wrote you in my [previous] letter not to associate [closely and habitually] with unchaste (impure) people— 

The company you keep has such an influence on your spiritual life. Fellowship with godly people who will help you speed on to victory, while fellow shipping with those who are ungodly drag you down to defeat. 

That is why the Bible has some things to say about your friends. That is why it tells you to separate yourself from the world. Because evil companions will corrupt you. 

 Now, I am not talking about ministry, after all Jesus Himself ministered to sinners. You have to mix with them to preach to them & to pray for them. What I am talking about here is the people you choose to be your friends. 

If you want to walk in things of the Lord, don't choose friends who walk in things of the devil, people who talk & act ungodly, who don't give God any place in their lives, will pull you down. As you rub shoulders with them, you will expose yourself to temptation. You will get so familiar with sin it will start to appear less repulsive to you. Sooner or later you will fall into it. 

So choose friends wisely. Fellowship with those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus out of a pure heart. (2 Tim 2:22). Expose yourself to their love & peace. Let their faith rub off on you. 

We learn from 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 That the converts in Corinth had misunderstood Paul's instructions in an earlier letter concerning association with immoral people, concluding that he meant withdrawal from all contact with non-Christian sinners. He was actually referring to immoral people who claimed to be Christians. 

Acknowledgement Kenneth Copeland.