Unity of the Spirit

There is one God over all. God is a spirit, not a man, who is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). There is one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is Lord, appointed by God for that very purpose. The spirit is what God gives us through Jesus Christ when we choose to believe. This is the church! It is what the New Testament is all about!

The only way to keep unity in the church is through the spirit which has its ultimate source in God:

Ephesians 4:3-4 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body (not 24,000, God recognizes one body), and one spirit (it is genitive so it is the unity that proceeds from the spirit {spirit of God in Christ in a person}) 

Unity doesn’t come from a particular denomination or non-denomination, unity comes from the spirit.There is so much disagreement in the world today. It is everywhere. In the religious culture, it is rampant. I run across blogs and podcasts and even though I may disagree on one point or another, I enjoy reading or listening to someone who discusses God’s word. I know that there is no one that gets it all right.

In the Word of God there it is true there is a lot of doctrine, but there also is so much in its pages about practice.  The book of Acts is an example (The book of ‘Praxis’). The first half of Romans is certainly doctrine, the second half is practice.  The first three chapters of Ephesians is about doctrine, chapters 4-6 is about practice. Practice is important without which life is nothing but lifelessness and error. God’s word is exciting and vibrant. The word in conjunction with the holy spirit’s in-working lights up the word and its energy motivates the practical walk.

God wants us all to know his heart. Listening to others often stimulates my interest spiritually in areas of the Word that I may have questions about. With God’s assistance I enjoy digging into the Bible and over and over my expectations are rewarded with great treasure.

The Word of God is more than just words on a page. It is not a dust-covered lifeless book.   The Word of God can lift the heavy veil of darkness off of a person’s heart. It is access to comfort, inspiration, excitement, joy, genuine peace and undeniable heart and life healing.

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Abimelech ~ My Father is King

In the last post, I wrote about Abimelech, one of Gideon’s sons by a concubine that lived in Shechem. Gideon turned down the draft to be king after his great victories. The name ‘Abimelech’ means my ‘father is king’ and ‘father of a king’. Somebody didn’t get the memo! (Judges 8:23)

In the last post, I wrote about Abimelech, one of Gideon’s sons by a concubine that lived in Shechem. Gideon turned down the draft to be king after his great victories. The name ‘Abimelech’ means my ‘father is king’ and ‘father of a king’. Somebody didn’t get the memo! (Judges 8:23)

3 And his mother’s brethren spake of him in the ears of all the men of Shechem all these words: and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech; for they said, He is our brother.
4 And they gave him threescore and ten pieces of silver out of the house of Baalberith, wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which followed him.
5 And he went unto his father’s house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone: notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself. Judges 9:3-5

Enter politics, follow the money! Abimelech was named king. 70 pieces of silver came from the house of Baalberith to support him. The house of Baalberith, the house the god of the covenant between the Hebrews and Canaanites, was something the true God warned against.

Three years into his reign, the Shechemites got tired of Abimelech and enlisted Gaal to go up against them. Zebul a ruler in Shechem helped Abimelech and Gaal was run out of town. Abimelech attacked the city and killed his opponent and even burned (remember the bramble bush?) down the tower that was their protection (Judges 9:49). As Abimelech went on and attacked the city of Thebez, he went after its tower and tried to burn it down, but a woman dropped a rock on his head from the tower. Oops!

The story of Gideon’s son, Abimelech, has a lot to say about self-appointed leaders or even man-appointed leadership. It is God who chooses to enlist men and women to do his work. He does not call them to titles, grandiose posing, and crowns. True leadership is easily recognizable. The end result of God’s work brings fruitful peace and not a miasma of ambition, dissatisfaction and unrest.

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Polygamy and Such ~ Abimelech

Gideon’s family was huge. From what was recorded in the book of Judges, it seems that he had 72 sons (Judges 8:30, 9:24). Obviously Gideon had more than one wife. He had many Abimelech was one of his sons from a maidservant concubine. He was very ambitious and when Gideon died, he was determined in his mind to become king.  Gideon had refused the kingship because he believed that it was God that was their ultimate authority. Abimelech killed all of Gideon’s sons except Jotham (Gideon’s youngest) who escaped, in order to claim the title of king.

Raising 2 or 3 kids is a challenge. I can imagine 72+ (I’m sure there were some girls born too) children with several wives incurred tremendous pressure and problems.  Polygamous marriages started with Lamech, one of Cain’s sons. (Genesis 4:19). It became common. Even some great men like Abraham, Jacob, David and Solomon had multiple wives which became problematic for all of them.

I read somewhere that God looked past polygamy in the Old Testament so that the world would be populated.  The definition of marriage was set from the beginning! God heart for marriage is recorded in Genesis 2:24:

24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. Genesis 2:24 

It is pretty clear and simple.  God is love and there is no dark side to him at all. He wants the best for his people and he designed life in the richest and fullest way so that problems would be minimal. He also gave mankind free-will choice. Man can accept or reject God’s abundance. It is a choice.

When man goes his own way, it is not God’s fault; it is man’s problem. When things don’t work out well, no one can blame God.  He has provided. It is man that walks away from abundance when he thumbs his nose at the gifts and blessings of God.

God is not some old crank control-freak. If somehow that idea has creeped into your thinking it is important to get to know God the way he really is. You can’t love and trust someone that you don’t know. The Word of God is the best way to do that.  It is great to just read through the various records and ask God to show you what you need to know to build a relationship with the Father and his son. We can get robbed of the relationship privilege, if we constantly lean on others to keep us in the loop.

The book of Judges is full of human drama and the Hebrews were constantly going through up and down cycles between belief and unbelief. Human nature is in full view in it’s records. It is much like human nature today. It is a daily, hourly, minute by minute walk. God responded when they came back to him. He helped them get out of the situations they got into when they honestly humbled themselves and asked for help. God still does the same today!

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Resurrection Every Morning

The sun is rising and starting to spread its rays, through the trees, bouncing off the water and back up into the incredibly blue sky.  It is a majestic morning full of expectation. God created the dawn and it is a beautiful imagery of his faithfulness and love.

I am reminded this morning of the trek of Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to the grave where they put Jesus after his crucifixion. Unbeknownst to her at the time, it was the scene of the resurrection. What a magnificent dawn that was for her!

28 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. 2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. 5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6 He is not here: for he is risen,… Matthew 28:1-6a

Mary Magdalene and the women went to tell the others that he was gone from the grave and they all ran back to the grave to see for themselves. After they left, Mary stayed behind weeping that he was gone.  As she was leaving, she saw someone whom she assumed was a gardener until he said: “Mary”. It was Jesus!

Mary Magdalene was the first to see the risen Jesus. Jesus had delivered her from a whole lot of darkness when he first met her. Now he was presenting her with a new dawn. He told her to relay a message to the others;

….. go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. John 20:17b

That day was a dawning for each of us as well. As Isaiah said long ago about God: “he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.”(Isaiah 50:4) The resurrection of God’s son paved the way and opened the door for us to have an intimate relationship with God every morning and all day as well. The beauty of the rising sun reminds us of that every day.

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The Allegory of Judges 9:7-15

In Judges 9:7-15, there is a beautiful trees allegory. It is a story told by Jotham, Gideon’s son. Gideon had 70 children, 69 who were killed by Abimelech after Gideon died. Abimelech was a son of Gideon by a concubine in Shechem. Abimelech wanted to be king.  In the previous chapter we read that Gideon had declined to become a king insisting that God was their ruler. Jotham was the lone survivor of Abimelech’s malicious devilish ambition.

7 And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you. 

8 The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. 9 But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?

10 And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us.
11 But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees? 

12 Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us.
13 And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?

14 Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us.
15 And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon. Judges 9:7-15

Each plant is a comparison (by implication and representation) and illustrates God’s blessing on his people. The olive tree was a valued tree in that area. It had many uses such as oil for lamps, cooking, medical uses, food and cosmetic.  The wood was used in furniture.  It was a symbol of peace and plenty to the Hebrews.

The fig tree was the most fruitful tree. It’s fruit was sweet. It was a symbol of fruitfulness.  Jesus Christ used the fig tree in Mark 11:112,13,20,21 to teach.

The third reference is to the vine which produced grapes. It was also considered a valuable plant. Jesus Christ is the true vine in John 15:1. God is the farmer. The vine represents spiritual blessings.

All three of these plants turned down the request to rule over the other trees because they were more useful functioning as they were meant to function. They delighted in serving in their own unique ways.

The fourth plant, the bramble was a dangerous plant due to thorns and its ability to burn. It wasn’t very useful but readily delighted in the opportunity to be over the other trees. It was low to the ground so the promise of being able to trust in its shadow was vain.

Leaders like Abimelech are dangerous and cruel. They always grow over boundaries they have no right to mess with. They are not ministering and not to be trusted.

Proverbs 25:19: Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.

Jesus Christ was a wonderful example of a ‘Lord’. He was and is a representative of God’s love. It is through his life people can utilize their usefulness to others to the fullest. He is the true vine and the one who is alive today and he building God’s church.

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God is an ‘equal opportunity’ giver. God loves everybody, it is backed up in his word:

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

God has made so much available to us and yet he has never, never forced anything upon us. It is important to understand this point. God established the Lordship of Jesus Christ as head of his church. ‘Church’ does not refer to a pile of bricks on the corner, but the spiritual DNA building blocks in each of our hearts. The body of Christ refers to all those people who have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ and believe he took on the totality of the forces of evil only to be raised victoriously from the dead. That is huge. In doing so we have been translated into the kingdom of God’s dear son (Colossians 1:13).

We have a concrete example of love in Jesus Christ. His leadership, the things he said, the things he did and everything associated with him show us so much about God. Combined with simply reading God’s word and the ‘nudgings’ of the gift of holy spirit in our innermost being, we are fully equipped to enjoy all the benefits of God.

If someone wants to thumb their nose at God and do their own thing, have at it. It is a choice. It is sad, but loving God is a choice.  God’s love never fails (I Corinthians 13).  However, some people define ‘love’ in such a way that it blows up on a moments notice because it is founded on the popular world view of things. The world is full of evil and pseudo philosophies and ideologies. The profound so-called wisdom of man is often tied into that evil.

God’s hands are tied when people walk away from him.  He still loves them but really can’t do much for them since they have turned away from him and are not listening. There are boundaries. God is not the author or promulgator of evil, he is good always and wants the best for every single person on this earth who ever was and ever will be.

Each of us can love in the same way. The world seems to be full of opines and worldly definitions of what it is to love these days. Love doesn’t turn on and off like a light switch. Love is always on the “on”position. There is no darkness when someone truly loves God. If people don’t want to be loved, that is their choice, the love is still there but they don’t get the benefits because they don’t want them.

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‘Projection’ and Mis-‘Judging’

This morning, I got to thinking about a wonderful verse in Ephesians:

1I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, Ephesians 1:18 (NIV)

It had popped into my head when I was pondering a phone conversation I recently had with someone when she called me back after I left a message to have her call me. When she called back, she immediately started talking to me about something I had no idea about. All I could figure out was that she was worried about what I was thinking in regards to something that she was handling. It was not what I was thinking about at all!  When I realized what was going on and a significant pause opened up, I stopped her and explained what  I wanted and assured her that my brain had not gone that way. In the end each of us was blessed. It is great for relationships to work things out like this when there is misinterpretation.

“Projection’ is an image in our mind that we ‘project’ on a situation when dealing with others based on our own thoughts within ourselves.  It happens a lot since we humans have busy minds. We can do it in both a positive and a negative sense based on the way we are feeling at the time. It is a form of mis-“judging”. It is very prevalent in our news cycles, and all over political and religious circles. You can find examples of projection everywhere. 

This is a great reason to listen carefully to what people are saying and help free them from misconceptions about what they might be thinking if you get the opportunity. Sometimes people are so busy thinking thoughts they don’t really have time to listen. What a great thing to pray for!

People often project their thoughts on God too! It is something to watch out for. It is possible to think God is mad at us, when he isn’t. It is possible to think God doesn’t even think about us or that we have no place in his heart. All you have to do is look at the beautiful spring gifts he has made to remind us of all the loving touches he put in this world to bless our lives.

The verse above in Ephesians came to mind and is very apropos to the spring cleaning that needs to go on in our minds periodically. (It’s the first day of spring! Yea!). It is actually a prayer and it is a good one.  In fact it is beautiful! It is an effective prayer to pray and believe. Let in the light, open the windows, breathe and clear the cobwebs of our minds out!

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