As has been our custom, we are taking off the first two weeks of the new year for a much needed break. We have written fifty articles per year for the past three years, attempting to be faithful to what we believe God has called us to do. During this break, we will be seeking the Lord to see what direction He has for 2018. We are also working on updates to the website. We expect our first article for 2018 to appear on January 19.
Happy New Year, and thank you for visiting our website. We pray God’s richest blessings on you in the year ahead.
Prophesy Fulfilled by Larry W Peebles December 29, 2017 17.50
Bible scholars say there are over 350 prophesies in the Old Testament that were fulfilled by the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. These prophesies came through multiple prophets writing over thousands of years. These 350 prophesies are in different books of the Old Testament. Considering these facts, the mathematical odds that any one man could fulfill all of them are infinitely small. Writing in the book Science Speaks, Stoner and Newman estimate that the odds of one man fulfilling just eight of the 350 or so prophesies would be similar to the odds of finding one certain marked silver dollar out of a stack of unmarked silver dollars two feet deep covering the entire State of Texas. There is no way of verifying this calculation, but it does give a graphic visual of the difficulty.
There are studies available on the internet that summarize these 350 prophesies. All of the prophecies are important because they emphasize that God does speak through His prophets, as He said in His Word (Luke 1:70). Additionally, and against all reasonable odds, Jesus fulfilled them all. He did not leave one thing undone that God had told His children would happen concerning the Messiah. This is how we can know beyond all doubt that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah Savior who came to rescue those who would believe in Him.
As I write this article, we are in the season of celebrating Christmas, the birth of Jesus as a human infant. Make no mistake however; He is the Son of God, the Messiah planned and promised to mankind since the first man Adam fell into sin. For purposes of this article, I submit thirteen of these prophesies, a baker’s dozen for consideration, although some of the categories contain multiple prophesies under the same general topic:
Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), in the town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). This was fulfilled in the accounts of the birth in Matthew 1:18 and Luke 2:4-6.
Messiah would come from the line of Abraham (Genesis 12:3 and 22:18), Isaac (Genesis 17:19), Jacob (Numbers 24:17), the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10), and would be heir to King David’s throne (2 Samuel 7:12-13). Luke 3:23-38 records the lineage of Jesus back through all these men, through Noah and even back to Adam. Since Jesus created all things including Adam, He stands at the beginning and the end of His own human lineage, and is able to say “I AM the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:13).
Messiah would be called Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14). This is fulfilled in Matthew 1:23, which says “they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated ‘God with us.”’
A messenger would prepare the way for Messiah (Isaiah 40:3-5). This messenger was John the Baptist, as Luke documents in Luke 3:3-6.
Messiah would be rejected by His own people (Isaiah 53:3). John speaks of Jesus’ rejection in John 1:11 and 7:5.
Messiah would be declared the Son of God (Psalm 2:7). When Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove on Jesus, and “a voice came from Heaven, saying ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”’ (Matthew 3:16-17). This was the voice of the Father.
Messiah would bring the authority of the government of the kingdom of heaven to the earth in a new way (Isaiah 9:6-7). Jesus affirmed this in Mark 1:15 when He said “the kingdom of God is at hand.” All authority (of kings and governments) and principalities (demons) are subject to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (1 Timothy 6:15, and Revelation 19:16).
Messiah would come to heal the brokenhearted, to set the captives free, and to comfort those who mourn (Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus established this prophesy as His mission statement when He read this very scripture from Isaiah in the synagogue and said “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:18-19).
Messiah would be high priest after the order of Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20, and Psalm 110:4) and King forever (Zechariah 9:9). We read more about the Old Testament king and priest Melchizedek in Hebrews Chapters 4 and 5, but the best explanation is perhaps the entirety of Chapter 7. This is where we see the comparison of Melchizedek and Jesus, with Jesus firmly established as The High Priest. The people welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem as King in Mark 11:7-11, yet crucified Him as “King of the Jews” in Matthew 27:37.
Messiah would be betrayed (Psalm 41:9), falsely accused (Psalm 35:11), and the blood money (thirty pieces of silver) paid His betrayer would be used to buy a field (Zechariah 11:12-13). These three prophesies were fulfilled in Luke 22:47-48, Matthew 26:14-16, Matthew 27:9-10, and Mark 14:57-58.
The prophesies concerning Messiah’s crucifixion were numerous and detailed yet were fulfilled with the same detail: crucified with criminals (Isaiah 53:12/Matthew 27:38); given vinegar to drink (Psalm 69:21/Matthew 27:34); hands and feet pierced (Psalm 22:16/John 20:25-27); mocked and ridiculed (Psalm 22:7-8/Luke 23:35); soldiers gamble for His garments (Psalm 22:18/Matthew 27:35-36); bones would not be broken (Psalm 34:20/John 19:33-36); forsaken by God (Psalm 22:1/Matthew 27:46); pray for His enemies (Psalm 109:4/Luke 23:34), and soldiers pierce His side (Zechariah 12:10/John 19:34).
Messiah would resurrect from the dead (Psalm 49:15), ascend to heaven (Psalm 24:7-10), and would be seated at God’s right hand (Psalm 110:1).We see these prophesies fulfilled in these respective verses: resurrected from the dead-Matthew 28:2-7; ascended to heaven-Mark 16:19; and seated at God’s right hand-Mark 16:19, and Matthew 22:44. Additionally, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:6 that the resurrected Jesus appeared to not only the twelve disciples, but that “He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present [date of Paul’s writing], but some have fallen asleep” [died]. [Inserts mine.]
Messiah would be the (great and final) sacrifice for sin (Isaiah 53:5-12). Romans 5:6-11 speaks beautifully of this when it says -”while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” These verses then go on to explain how we as enemies of God were reconciled again to God through the death of his Son.
At the beginning of the New Year, I find it helpful to reflect and return to the basics—those truths that endure and are worthy places to anchor my hopes for the future. My hope and my strength rest in the living Savior and Messiah, Jesus, the Son of God. He extended love and grace to me before I ever came to Him. He saved me from myself. Left to go on my own path, I surely would have died. By His grace, He saved me from sin by offering His blood as atonement, washed away my shame, and made me a son of the Father, an heir to the kingdom. Once I was saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, His grace continues to call me to a life that honors Him. Old thoughts, habits and sinful ways are being broken off me. I am far from perfect, but I am moving in a direction to be more like Jesus.
When God speaks a word of direction or wisdom, we would do well to listen. When He speaks twice, we are without excuse. When He spoke 350 times through the prophets that Jesus is the Son of God, Savior of the world, He has issued a loving yet firm ultimatum. The world will one day be judged by what it has believed. I urge us all to believe and to begin to act accordingly. We should make this our resolution for 2018– to believe without reservation or hesitation.
The long awaited day had finally come. All of heaven was ecstatic! There was a flurry of excitement from the Throne Room of God to the outer regions of heaven. Before creation the Cherubim and Seraphim had heard the discussion between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as did the Archangels Michael and Gabriel. Before the Lord created Adam, He knew Adam would eventually fall into sin if he was given the free will to choose. The All-Knowing God, in His great wisdom, was already planning a way to redeem Adam’s descendants from their sinful nature.
The Son (pre-incarnate Jesus) asked His Father to allow Him to become flesh like man, to show Adam’s offspring the great love His Father had for the people. He told His Father He knew the people would love Him if they could see what His Father was truly like. They discussed the need for pure sinless blood to be shed for the redemption of mankind’s sin-filled souls. The Son volunteered to go and reveal to the people His Father’s character and His Kingdom. He also chose to lay down His sinless life for the whole world, in order to save those who would choose to believe in Him. Every heavenly being looked on in awe as the Godhead agreed that the Son of God would one day leave the glory and majesty of heaven to become the Son of man in order to save the people.
In God’s perfect timing, Adam and Eve were created and planted in the garden to abide in the perpetual, glorious presence of the Lord all their days. They were made in the image of God and clothed with His glory. They were created in the perfection of holiness and were completely without sin. In that sinless state, they and their descendants would have lived forever in the presence of the Lord.
They were given dominion over every living thing in the garden. Each plant bearing food was available for them to eat except one, the fruit from Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The serpent (Satan), who had rebelled against the Lord and was cast down from heaven, beguiled the woman and the man. His cunning distortion of God’s commandment tempted them and as a result, they chose to eat the fruit from the one tree God had forbidden. His twisted words incited them to doubt the Word of the Lord as they entertained the lies of the serpent. He told them they would become equal to God if they ate from that tree. The lust of their eyes for the forbidden fruit and the pride in their hearts believing they could be equal to God motivated them to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Although the Lord had warned them death would enter their lives if they disobeyed, they rebelled against the Lord God which caused the breaking of fellowship with Him. What was once beautiful and glorious became ugly, dark and grim.
The hardness of their hearts caused by their sin kept them from accepting personal responsibility for their choice to reject God’s Word and authority. Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent for their own actions. Consequently, they were cast out of the garden of God’s glory and they lived under the curse of disobedience and dishonor their sin brought upon them. Lives that would have existed forever became temporal and mortal as sin began the cycle of disease, death and destruction. Although they did not die immediately, they began to feel the results of their rebellion against God. Cain and Abel were the first two children Adam and Eve produced after their sin. Death became a reality as their rebellion was inbred into their sons. Jealousy over their offerings to the Lord caused Cain to kill his brother Abel. Having the knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve discovered they could not live a holy life without the presence of the Lord. Experiencing the consequences of their sin first hand, the reality of sin and death became starkly personal. Death stared them in the face. Cain lived the rest of his life under the curse of death and murder. There would be no help for any of their descendants if God did not intervene on their behalf. The Lord established a “temporary” sacrificial system for them until His complete, eternal redemption could be enacted.
Millenniums passed while God chose one man after another to speak for Him in order to show the people how to live, but for the most part, they chose to continue in their rebellion of God’s will and His ways. Miracles were witnessed and devout examples of leadership rose to prominence through many of the prophets and kings, yet the people continued to worship their idols instead of the one, true God. Most of God’s messengers were not only rejected, they were killed by the people because they chose their idols of self-rule instead of that of their Creator.
Over three thousand years had passed from Adam to the prophet Isaiah when Heaven began to stir again. The time had come to initiate the plan the Father, Son and Holy Spirit had created to save mankind. The precision of God’s timing intersected with the chosen prophet to deliver His message. Isaiah was selected by God to speak His declaration of hope to the people on earth at that moment. The name Isaiah means Yahweh is Salvation!
All the heavenly beings bowed in reverence as the Lord God stood to speak a Word that would impact both heaven and earth. As He began to declare His eternal promise, an explosion of light empowered His Words. Met with a roar of thunder, the two collided as His decree broke through the heavenly realms. It pierced the veil of great darkness that covered the earth. The eternal seed of Truth was deposited in the earth to remain until its divine purpose would be fully revealed. Empowered by His glory and all the authority of heaven, a lightning rod of God’s Word penetrated the heart and the mind of the prophet Isaiah as he stood before the people. He began to speak the very Words of God…
“For unto us a Child shall be born, to us a Son shall be given and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. There shall be no end to the increase of His government and of peace. [He shall rule] on the throne of David and over his Kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from that time forward and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:7.
The Holy Spirit began to brood over the Words of God as the time for the incarnation of the Son of God and man would enter the earthly realm. The Almighty has always watched over His Word to perform it and it has never returned to Him void of its intent. The Lord also promised the people a sign would accompany His Son as He came to earth…
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Listen carefully, the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and she will call his name Immanuel (God with us).” Isaiah 7:14.
Yahweh is Salvation was declaring the incarnation of the Savior. The people heard with their ears but their sinful hearts clouded their understanding.
Eight hundred more years passed before the day finally came for the King of Glory to be born. The Majesty from on High entered the womb of a virgin named Mary so that He might show the people the true heart of God. Seeking shelter as His birth was imminent, Mary and Joseph found no place other than a stable on the edge of Bethlehem for this holy, Son of God to be born. Although He deserved to be born in a great palace filled with silver and gold, His infant form was placed in a stable manger, a mere feeding trough for animals.
The moment of His first cry, all of heaven stood at attention and began to rejoice! The angels sang, praising their King, who gave up the glories of heaven to save His people. A huge star converged over the humble stable and guided believing hearts even thousands of miles away. Shepherds who were tending their flocks nearby saw a great angel in the sky and heard their voice proclaiming the Good News, a Savior has been born who is Christ the Lord. The Long awaited Messiah (Christ) broke the veil between God and man entering the earthly realm as a tiny babe in a most humble borrowed manger.
Wise men from the Far East had seen the star and ventured the difficult and distant journey to see the wonder it proclaimed. They brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh which were symbolic of His deity, His death and resurrection, and His eternal reign as King above all Kings.
The King of Glory became the servant of all, the Lord of Life was the sacrifice for sin and death. The Prince of Peace reconciled God to man, and The Way, the Truth and the Life led His disciples to eternal life. The curse of sin and death was forever broken and all who would believe were given a way unto salvation!
At a time when those with eyes could not truly see and those with ears could not truly hear, the Lord made the ultimate sacrifice to reach His people through His abandoned, reckless love. Those who would believe saw a Savior in a manger, the God of heaven and earth in His miracles and the Lord of Life on the cross. He has given us a new way to live and the power to be transformed into His image.
May the glorious birth of Jesus so impact your life that you will never be the same. May the truth of His gospel so fill your heart that you live in heaven on earth as you prepare others for His return. May His death and resurrection produce resurrection life in your innermost being, and may His Truth sustain you until you see Him face to face in eternity! God bless you all, and Merry, Merry Christmas.
Passing the Test by Larry W Peebles December 15, 2017 17.48
A test is intended to demonstrate how well the student has learned the subject matter of a lesson or course. I remember tests all through school, especially high school. Certain scores were required to graduate from high school in order to complete the required public education. I remember taking the ACT test to qualify for college. Then there were many tests in order to achieve the grades necessary to graduate from college, including graduate school. These were followed by tests of professional competency to become a CPA, and a Real Estate Broker. My oldest grandsons are currently in high school, and are very conscious of their test scores. They are already preparing for their college entrance exams. All my grandchildren are in school, where doing homework and studying for tests are a daily practice. They expect to be tested on what they have learned. Passing scores on a test mean they can move on to the next level. Often these achievements are celebrated with grand ceremonies and congratulations from family and friends. I was reminded of this recently when a friend graduated from Bible College. While I could not attend his graduation, I was able to rejoice with him when I saw the pictures from the ceremony. I was so proud of his accomplishment, because I knew of the difficulties he had gone through to reach that level of success.
Outside the arena of formal education, there is much to be learned about life itself, and that testing process is life-long. Formal education results in acquired knowledge, and while much of the material is widely accepted facts, some of it is not necessarily the truth. It may contain a mix of opinion and contemporary thinking subject to later revision. Life lessons teach wisdom. Similar to formal education, life has a way of making us retake the test if we continue to fail what it is trying to teach us. This is sometimes referred to as “going around the mountain again”. If we did not pass the test life sent our way, we get to go around the mountain and do it again. I believe God’s hand is in that, as the test usually has something to do with wrong spiritual beliefs or flawed character traits that need to be overcome or strengthened.
My wife, whom I respect greatly for her wisdom, likes to say that God gives open book tests. The answers are in His Word, and He doesn’t mind if we look up the test questions before responding. One of the best examples of this is contained in the Book of Deuteronomy. Chapter 28 sets forth many wonderful blessings that are promised if we obey the voice of the Lord and His commandments. It also sets forth many dreadful curses that we become subject to if we disobey. In Chapter 29 God renewed His covenant with Israel on the condition that they obey him. God reminded them again in Chapter 30 the blessings for obedience and the curses for disobedience. Finally, in 30:19-20 He summarized by giving the people the answer- “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days, and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give to them.” We are to choose to obey, which produces rich blessings, long life, and peaceful security in the land where we are to dwell.
If we need wisdom but cannot find the answer in His Word, the Bible says we are to simply ask for it. James 1:5 says- “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” When Deuteronomy says we are to obey the voice of the Lord, it is implied we can hear the voice of the Lord. James assures if we ask for wisdom, He will either speak it to us or show it to us in His Word. One of my favorite verses on this matter is Isaiah 30:21- “Your ears shall hear a word (voice) behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left”. I literally had this happen to me when I heard the voice of the Lord come over my left shoulder. He was alerting me to look in a certain direction as danger was approaching from the left while I was driving a car. We can hear the voice of the Lord. One of the favorite things my wife and I try to do on a daily basis is morning worship and prayer time with the Lord, followed by a period of lying still before Him to hear His voice or feel His touch. It takes some discipline to force all other thoughts and plans out of the mind in order to be totally still before Him, but the results are well worth it. We are both looking for wisdom and the correct answer in time so we don’t have to make that repeat trip around the mountain.
Abraham passed a huge test of faith in Genesis Chapter 22. Abraham knew the Lord, and was called out of his homeland and away from his family to follow the Lord and go to a place the Lord would show him. He had received the promise of a blessing for his obedience. Though he and his wife Sarah were well past the ages of child bearing, the Lord had personally appeared to them, and promised not only a son, but also that nations and kings would come out of them. The Lord fulfilled that promise with a son they named Isaac. The child they had waited and longed for had come to them.
In Chapter 22, the Lord tested Abraham’s faith by asking him to sacrifice Isaac on Mt. Moriah. Abraham packed all the necessary provisions and set out for the three day journey to the mountain with his son. Upon arrival, Abraham laid the wood on the place the Lord had directed, and knife in hand, he called Isaac toward the altar. Isaac observed there was no lamb for the sacrifice. Abraham responded (v. 8) – “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” He then proceeded to bind Isaac and place him on the altar, and took the knife to slay his son. The Angel of the Lord (Jesus) called from Heaven and told Abraham not to lay a hand on the boy. (v. 10-12). Abraham knew the Lord, believed the Lord, and believed that for the promise to be fulfilled his only son would have to be spared. On that basis he proceeded as instructed until he was stopped. Abraham saw a ram tangled in the bushes, and that lamb the Lord provided became the sacrifice.
Abraham called the place The Lord Will Provide, or Jehovah Jireh. Listen to what the Lord did to celebrate and commemorate the passing of that test. Genesis 22:15-18- “Then the Angel of the Lord (Jesus) called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said ‘By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son-blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore, and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” Jesus, not Isaac, would be the innocent sacrifice that one day would save the people of all the nations. Abraham’s willingness to obey God and sacrifice Isaac resulted in that promise. His score on this test assured every nation would be blessed through Abraham. Jesus Himself promised it. As Abraham grew closer to the Lord and continually obeyed Him over a long period of time, His promise of blessing also grew. What started as a personal blessing grew to a nation that would be blessed, and then expanded to all nations that would be blessed. Each test he passed resulted in the blessing moving to the next level as well.
To avail ourselves of Abraham’s promise and blessing we need make the choice to obey God. 1 Samuel 15:22 says- “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” We must seek and obey the voice of the Lord in every situation, in order to make the correct choice and pass the test. Jesus is the (only and correct) Way, the (absolute) Truth, and the (blessed and abundant) Life, per John 14:6. Pass the test; choose life.
If we get it wrong, we can ask forgiveness and try again so long as our heart is to try to get it right or make the necessary change. God is a patient teacher. He is also a God of grace and many chances. For even the most difficult sin habits, He will help break the pattern and advance change when we cry out earnestly for His help. He wants us to score well, pass the test, and move on to the next level.
The atmosphere in the room changed! At one time, I was a member of a world-wide denominational church which had a large women’s organization. Most of the women in our 2,500 member congregation were members of the women’s group. The Lord had been teaching me the difference between simply discerning things and changing them. He told me I was not to be a thermometer which simply detected and reported the temperature (spiritual climate) of a person or place. He continued by explaining I was to be a thermostat that regulated or changed the temperature (spiritual climate) around me. I realized the Lord had given me authority to change things through prayer and declarations and that same authority is for all believers.
Our women’s group was having a banquet with our husbands so the fellowship hall was filled with people. My husband was unable to attend and I was sitting at a table of couples and one or two other women who did not have their husbands with them. The discussion during dinner was controlled by one of the other women there who began to complain about her absent husband. She listed his “deficiencies” and expounded upon the things about him that offended her. Her words created an unwelcoming and unhealthy environment, especially because there were several men at the table. They seemed to identify with her complaints. The countenance on their faces began to sink as their attention became silently fixed upon their plates instead of looking at others around the table. They were feeling the condemnation she was expressing about her husband, who was not there.
The Lord spoke to me, “Change the atmosphere”! I thought, “How can I do that, Lord”? “What can I say or do to change the atmosphere?” He said to me, “If you praise your husband, it will break that spirit of condemnation.” I was able to quickly enter into the conversation and began to list the areas where I had no expertise at all, but my husband was a superstar. I mentioned his incredible ability to pay our bills on time and balance the checkbook. I went on to say his gift might not be dressing the children for church like me, but he surely kept our automobiles running well and regularly cleaned inside and out. As I began to praise my husband, the faces of the men at the table lifted and their eyes brightened. Their body language was evidence they no longer felt condemnation. The negative darkness dissipated and everyone chimed in with their affirmation toward their husbands as smiles returned on all their faces.
Through that experience, the Lord gave me a great revelation and understanding of the power of our words. I could see the authority we have as believers, to change the atmosphere where we are, simply by speaking in the opposite spirit. The woman was obviously unhappy and bitter about her marriage and life. Her words were void of hope and joy, gratefulness and thankfulness. They were filled with judgement, condemnation and death. The enemy uses our negative words to work his destruction in our families, friendships, churches and world, because he knows our words have power. I have watched several marriages fall apart over the years. One of the telltale signs of the broken relationship was one or both partners would complain about the other publically. I pray my actions encouraged that woman to remember the good things about her husband and to stop criticizing him, especially in public.
We have all been on the receiving end of harsh, bitter, and toxic words someone spoke to us, and therefore know exactly how destructive they can be. Some of us may still be trying to gain victory over such condemning words. I do not doubt we all, at one time or another, have been guilty of speaking words of “death” over someone else without realizing the power and authority of our mouth! The Lord gave us this ability to speak life or death but many of us have not understood the true power of our words. When we do, we can change the atmosphere around us and turn negative, hopeless situations into ones of victory, peace and joy!
Proverbs 18:21-22 instruct us, “A man’s stomach will be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; He will be satisfied with the consequences of his words. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.” In this passage, we see that we frame our world by our words as our Creator framed the world by His!
Jesus expounded upon this concept in Matthew 12:36-37. “But I tell you, on the day of judgement people will have to give an accounting for every careless or useless word they speak. For by your words [reflecting your spiritual condition] you will be justified and acquitted of the guilt of sin; and by your words [rejecting Me] you will be condemned and sentenced.” Verse 34b states, “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”
Let me stop here and assure you that this word is not meant to condemn, for I too, have been guilty of speaking the wrong words many times and still can. This word is for encouragement! We cannot change what we do not know or understand. We cannot expect different results if we continue on the same broken path. I am continuing to grow in this as I write!
James, the brother of Jesus wrote an entire chapter on this subject in James Chapter 3. “But no one can tame the human tongue; it is a restless evil [undisciplined, unstable], full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. These things, my brothers should not be this way [for we have a moral obligation to speak in a manner that reflects our fear of God and profound respect for His precepts].” James 3:8-10. There is no denying our words have the power of life and death.
I believe disappointment, fear, anger and offense are major motivators of our harsh words. Disappointments will come and so will offense but how we handle them will determine our future outcome. Fear and anger are emotions that fuel the temptation to lash out at others. When challenges come our way, we will either respond in faith or in unbelief. Our words will speak life or death, blessing or cursing. They will frame our outcome. Is it possible that we are currently living in the situation our words created? When a crisis occurs, what is our immediate response? If someone hurts us, what do we say and do about it? Are our words ones of life and faith or doom, gloom, and death? If death is our answer, we can change by repenting to the Lord and learning how to respond properly to negative situations and circumstances.
Our words come from our heart, our innermost being which is the seat of our belief system. Our soul is our mind, will and emotions. A believer’s mind, will and emotions are to be submitted or subject to the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit. When we walk by faith, words that are full of faith will pour out of our mouth in times of crisis. We become filled with faith by daily reading, studying, and meditating on the Word of God. It will not come solely by a once a week 30 minute sermon at church. Every day we are confronted by the world because we live in the world, however, we are not to be conformed to the ways of the world! We are to be transformed by the washing or cleansing work of the Word of God. The Lord instructed the Israelites to reflect on His Word every day, teach it to their children, and talk about it with others. They were to symbolically put it on their foreheads and wrists as a reminder they needed to hide the Word of God in their hearts by meditating on it continually.
David wrote in Psalm 119:11-16, “Your word I have treasured and stored in my heart, that I may not sin against You. Blessed and reverently praised are You, O LORD; teach me Your statutes. With my lips I have told of all the ordinances of Your mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts and [thoughtfully] regard Your ways [the path established by Your precepts]. I will delight in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.” Psalm 119:11-16. Those who hide the Word of God in their hearts will speak forth words of faith, hope and love in a time of crisis, which will bring forth life even amid destruction. Those who declare hopelessness, death and destruction curse their future and inadvertently blame God.
Psalm 1 speaks of the benefits of walking in the ways of God. It begins with a promise, “Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example], nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of scoffers (ridiculers). But his delight is in the law of the LORD. And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night.”
When we speak words of faith and truth, the power of God will back them up. When we hide the Word of God in our hearts, we fill our innermost being with life and our words will create life! When we trust in the Lord and all His promises, we will walk in prosperity, the favor of God, hope and victory. God created us to walk in dominion. He gave us the ability to speak words which produce either life or death. It is good to know that our words are powerful so that we can speak words of Life!
The Perfume Counter by Larry W Peebles December 1, 2017 17.46
Why is the perfume counter located near the entrance of the department store? The marketing concept is to change the atmosphere and to create a sense of arrival for the shopper immediately upon entering the store. Not only is the perfume counter an aromatic experience, it is also a visual experience thanks to the lighting, colors and images on display. It announces a fresh start for the cautious weary shopper. Indeed the message is that the whole store is something special that should not be missed. More subtly, the diffusing of the perfume smell activates the saliva gland in the shopper, and the salivating causes the shopper to relax and drop their guard. They become more open to suggestion and impulse buying, and less resistant to the price.
The idea of the perfume counter located near the entrance is credited to a retailer named Selfridge around 1910. He wanted to set the tone for the shopper immediately upon entering his store. He wanted the whole shopping experience in his store to be pleasant, and he had the idea to start with the pleasant smell of perfume. His idea was also a necessity. Frankly, he needed to cover the smell of the horse manure in the streets, and he wanted it stopped right at his front door. The new approach was a huge success, and is now the norm for a department store
Not every shopper would agree. Some perfume smells better than others, depending on personal preference. Some smells might even be offensive. With a variety of perfumes offered and sampled at the counter, the scents can clash. Some shoppers are outright allergic to the fragrances in the air. At various shopping seasons, the perfume brands become more aggressive in their marketing, and a virtual gauntlet of salespeople at the perfume counter will offer to spray, swipe, or otherwise mark the shopper with their scent. The very same perfume that was intended to start a pleasant, aromatic shopping experience may then have the opposite effect. Shoppers entering the store may immediately cut to the right or the left to avoid the perfume counter.
Paul says something similar happens when a believer presents the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to an unbeliever. In 2 Corinthians 2: 14-16, he writes- “Now thanks be to God, who always leads us to triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?”
For the believer, the way we live our lives, the example we set, and the things we say when presenting the Gospel is the very “fragrance of Christ”, according to Paul, “diffused…in every place.” To some, it is the fragrance of life. To others, it is the fragrance of death, like the horse manure in the streets outside Selfridge’s store. The believer carries this fragrance whether they intend to or not. Paul goes on to say in verse 17 that we must be consistent and honest in the message of Jesus, because “of sincerity…we speak in the sight of God.”
Assuming we are sincere, consistent and honest in expressing our faith and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus, how can the same fragrance have the widely different effect? We have some obligation to adapt the message to the audience, so long as we do not compromise the message. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:22- “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” He knew he should do everything and become anything in order to present Jesus to the lost and dying world. He also knew, that despite his efforts, not all would be saved. Some would be saved, but some would find the fragrance of Christ offensive, and would reject it. Today, the believer can only do the best job possible when presenting the message of Jesus, be willing to reasonably adapt to the audience without compromising the message, and then rely on the Holy Spirit to convince, convict, and change the heart. The outcome is then dependent on the individual(s) to whom the message is directed.
Another example of this comes from the Old Testament prophesies. David wrote in Psalm 118:22- “The stone [Jesus] which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone”, and Isaiah 8:14 says- “He [Jesus] will be as a sanctuary, but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” [Inserts mine.] How can the same stone be both rejected and yet a cornerstone? How can it be a sanctuary yet a stumbling stone of offense?
There is no lukewarm reaction to Jesus. There is no middle ground for a relationship. Knowing and following Him is an “all or none” proposition. He is not someone to tolerate and put on the back shelf until needed. When the crisis in our lives comes, as it surely will, Jesus is not just our sanctuary, or the person we run to for help. He must already be our cornerstone. He must already be the very cornerstone on which our lives are constructed. Jesus said in Matthew 12:30- “Whoever is not with me is against me.” There is no neutral zone.
There are a number of places in the Bible where Jesus, the cornerstone, is referred to as “The Rock.” When studying the story of David and Goliath, I felt I heard the Lord say David did not kill Goliath with a stone or rock (1 Samuel 17, esp. verse 40). He killed Goliath with “The Rock.” When David picked up the “five smooth stones”, he effectually picked up or appropriated the power of “The Rock” to kill Goliath. There is no way to know how long those stones lay there on the ground. They were available to anyone, but most people passed by without ever picking them up. They were largely ignored. Some may have even stumbled on the rocks and cursed them. David chose to pick them up and use them to take on a powerful opponent. He knew he could not defeat Goliath without Jesus, The Rock, whom the Bible calls The Commander of the Armies of The Lord.
Similarly, many will pass through life ignoring Jesus, not making the decision to follow Him. Some will encounter Jesus, but will stumble over Him and curse Him. Some will be offended and consider His fragrance offensive. The wise will choose Jesus, and will be counted among those who are for Him.
Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2 that Jesus is the precious living stone, rejected by men, but chosen by God. Verses 6-10 tell us- “Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a chief Cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.’ Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief Cornerstone.’, and ‘A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.’ They stumble, being disobedient to the word to which they also were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him (Jesus) who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”
We are called to present the light of Jesus to a dark and fallen world. We must not shrink back even knowing some will reject Him as an offensive odor, and will stumble over Him instead of making Him their cornerstone. We must proclaim His praises. There is no neutral ground. By presenting Jesus, we are presenting the choice described in Deuteronomy 30:19- “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.”
Faith will always be tested! Abraham had an encounter with the Lord God at the age of 75. His family had lived in Ur of the Chaldees and they were idol worshippers. The Lord God called Abraham (Abram) to come away from his family and serve Him. Abraham obeyed and the Lord promised him descendants that would be as numerous as the sands of the seashore or the stars in the sky. That was a big promise to a man 75 years of age and childless at the time! He and Sarah (Sarai), his wife, were long past the natural ability to bear children. The Bible says “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness”. Romans 4:3.
I believe the Lord quickened Abraham’s body to life the moment he believed Him, but Sarah was not quickened until it was time for the fulfillment of His promise. Years passed and Sarah had not conceived so she convinced Abraham that she knew how the Lord would fulfill the promise of a child. She gave her concubine Hagar to Abraham and Hagar conceived a son they named Ishmael. Abraham and Sarah believed the promise of the Lord, but they mistakenly thought God needed their help in bringing it to pass. Time can definitely be a test of faith. If that was Abraham’s test, he partially failed by thinking Hagar would be the surrogate for Sarah. All that Abraham and Sarah accomplished was to create chaos in their family and in all the generations to come, with their meddling in God’s plan. The Lord re-affirmed His promise to Abraham, and Isaac was born when Abraham was 99 years old and Sarah was 89.
Their story did not end there, however. Several more years passed until Isaac became a young man. The Lord called Abraham to go up to the mountain and offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Isaac was the son God had promised. He had waited 25 years for him to be born. In faithful obedience, Abraham loaded his donkey with sticks for the fire, together with all the supplies needed for the trip. He and Isaac headed up the mountain of the Lord. Isaac asked his father what they were going to sacrifice to God when he noticed that there was not a lamb with them. Abraham replied, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” Genesis 22:8.
Father and son reached the top of the mountain and Abraham began to prepare the altar for the sacrifice. Knowing his instructions and not seeing any other options, Abraham bound Isaac and laid him on the altar. Holding a knife, he raised his hand in obedience but the Lord stopped him from killing Isaac. The test had been successful and Abraham’s undeniable faith in God had been proven. The Lord’s response to Abraham was powerful, “For now I know that you fear God [with reverence and profound respect], since you have not withheld from Me your son, your only son [of promise].” Genesis 22:12. Having partially failed the first test of time, Abraham proved without any doubt that he trusted the Lord in regard to Isaac and the promise for his descendants through Isaac’s life. Through his act of obedience, Abraham discovered a powerful revelation about God’s character. God revealed Himself to Abraham that day as Jehovah-Jireh, The Lord My Provider. His faith in the Lord’s ability to fulfill His promise of descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky was sealed. God has since achieved His promise to Abraham. His descendants are those of the Jewish faith and because of Ishmael, so are all the Arabic Muslims. God’s promise was not only a physical one, it was also a spiritual one. All who believe in Jesus, Abraham’s descendant and God’s Son, are also spiritual “children” of Abraham. Faith will always be tested.
Jesus taught His disciples about the Kingdom of God. It was time to see just how much they had retained from observing Him heal the sick, drive out demons and raise the dead. No ordinary man could do such miracles. Israel’s leaders had rejected and killed the prophets God had sent to keep them pure in their faith. It had been close to 500 years since the last prophet had spoken the word of the Lord or done miracles in Israel. Israel’s leadership had become corrupted and as a result, many of the people were filled with unbelief.
Jesus invited 12 men to be His disciples and accompany Him so that He could mentor them about His Kingdom. He was training them in the work they would be doing when He had accomplished all that God had sent Him here to do. They had watched as He went from place to place doing miracles and drawing a following throughout Israel. They had seen Him deliver the demon possessed and put them back into their right mind. They had witnessed Jesus healing the blind and causing the deaf to hear. They had experienced the dead being raised to life! Every day they walked with Jesus saw miracles that amazed the multitudes.
The Lord was reaching many people and wherever they went, the crowds would gather. It was important to move from one area to another so that He would reach most of Israel. One day Jesus and the disciples took a boat and crossed the Sea of Galilee (lake) so that they could reach the people on the other side. The large lake was surrounded by hills which obstructed their view of incoming weather. It was common for violent storms to swiftly move through the hills undetected, endangering those on the lake who were unable to get to safety in time.
Exhausted from a long day of ministry, Jesus had laid down to rest and fell asleep in the boat. A violent storm producing strong gusty winds and crashing waves threatened to capsize their boat. The disciples were terrified thinking they would all die. In a panic, they woke Jesus from his sleep. He commanded the wind and the waves to cease and peace immediately returned. Jesus then turned to the 12 disciples and rebuked them for their lack of faith. They had been following Him for some time and had seen many miracles. Didn’t they hear Him say they were going to the other side? Had they forgotten so quickly that everything He spoke came to pass? The storm contradicted what Jesus said. It was a test of faith. Did they believe their circumstances more than His words? Yes, storms would arise, but Jesus was training them that through Him, they had the authority to calm the wind and the waves. When Jesus is in your boat, you will get to the other side! Faith will always be tested!
It wasn’t long after that experience Jesus sent His 12 disciples out to minister to the people. He later sent out 70 of His disciples two by two with the same instruction to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to the people. He gave them the authority to heal the sick and cast out demons. He was preparing them for His departure from earth because He was leaving them to continue the work that He did while He was here. He was allowing them to see that when He left, they would not be helpless, rather, they would be empowered to continue His work. All four Gospels affirm that the authority of Christ was given to His disciples. A disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ and the anointing that was/is upon Him is also upon His disciples (followers, ambassadors, representatives of His Kingdom). That means you and me!
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these.” John 14:12. Hebrews Chapter 11 teaches that faith comes by hearing the word of God. It also explains that true faith believes in what is unseen rather than what is already visible. Faith has nothing to do with our ability, but it has everything to do with what the Lord has said and His ability to keep His promise.
Unbelief trusts in what is seen in the natural realm and doubts or disregards what the Bible says is truth. When Jesus went to Nazareth and preached in the area where He lived as a child, He could do very few miracles. The Bible explains that the people had unbelief because they saw Him as the child they watched growing up before them. They could not get past the young boy they knew, to see who He really was. They saw Him as Joseph’s son, not as the Son of God! They saw Him as a mere man, not as their promised Messiah! Where there is unbelief, faith is negated and miracles cannot happen.
Faith begins at the moment we believe in Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Our transformation from unbelief to faith is a journey, as we believe the Word of God as the only truth. We begin to understand that the world system will contradict the Word of God and the work of the enemy is to challenge our faith, hoping we will give up. Our paradigm shift to faith is continually challenged by the enemy to keep us from becoming true Disciples of Christ. If we simply believe in our salvation, we have not fulfilled the full call to Discipleship in Christ. Jesus called His Disciples to go forth and preach the Good News of the Kingdom, heal the sick and cast out demons just as they saw Him do. We are called to be His witnesses (ambassadors) who attest to His existence and His Kingdom. We are to allow His Spirit to flow through us and around us so that the freedom (deliverance), restoration (healing) and blessings (salvation and provision) of His Kingdom will be experienced by others.
The ministry of Jesus has not changed. He is still touching people, healing and delivering them. What is amazing is the realization that He chooses to let us participate with Him. When we are filled with His Holy Spirit we are carriers of His Kingdom. When we are God led, what we speak will have the authority that His words have. When we are one with Him as He is with the Father, committed to do His will, we will do the works He did on earth and more!
Our faith will be tested and challenged. The enemy fears our believing in the true call to Discipleship and walking in the authority of heaven! Those who see and believe will do great exploits in His name through His power and instructed by His will. There is a long lineage of those who believed in Him who have gone before us. We must not only celebrate their faith and their obedience to the Lord, we must rise and take our place in His body of believers. As disciples, we must continue to make His name known and carry His Kingdom wherever He calls us. It is good to ask ourselves the question, ‘Where is your faith?’ True faith does not come from us; it comes from the Lord. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
I AM, Part 6 Larry W Peebles November 17, 2017 17.44
My wife and I have been married over 48 years, and have known each other for over 51 years. We fell in love immediately when we met, but after we married we soon realized we were more different than we were similar. The early years of our marriage were a struggle as we searched for our marital identity. Genesis 2:24 says that at marriage a man and wife “become one flesh”, and while that is certainly true, it can take time before they operate as one. After years of living together, learning each other’s ways, experiencing trial and error, having intense discussions, and really coming to know each other, we matured and grew into one. Now in our marriage there is solidarity, dependability, and a trust that is the most precious thing I know. We have grown to know each other’s preferences, habits, and even thoughts. More and more we move and act as one. The deep familiarity has fueled the growth of even more love. As our faith in Jesus has grown, we have experienced the power of a third person in our marriage. His presence has added strength to fend off the attacks that come against every marriage.
The disciple John and Jesus grew that close. John, Peter and James were the three disciples closest to Jesus, and they were the three disciples who not only witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration, they also saw Moses and Elijah with Him. (Matthew 17:1). They were the only ones invited into the house of the ruler of the synagogue when Jesus prayed for his daughter who had died and brought her back to life. (Mark 5:37). These were also the three disciples Jesus asked to go further into the Garden of Gethsemane for more intense prayer as Jesus’ betrayal approached. (Mark 14:33). They clearly were the inner circle of disciples who were closest to Jesus.
In the Gospel of John, however, it is John who is referred to six times as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” It was John who laid his head on Jesus’ breast at the Last Supper. (John 13:23). Following His resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples and spoke to them about what was to come. He said Peter would be bound and “taken where he did not want to go”, meaning imprisonment and death. Peter then asked Jesus “What about this man?”, referring to John. Jesus responded “If I will that he remains until I come, what is that to you?” (John 21:22). John explained in verse 23 that this did not necessarily mean he would not die, but church history teaches that he was the only disciple to die a natural death. Although he was lowered into a vat of hot oil at Ephesus, he did not die. He was exiled by the Romans for a while to the island of Patmos, but his faith was not silenced at the hands of man. Although ready to die for the Gospel he had received from Jesus, he in fact died peacefully of old age.
In writing the Book of John, he wanted the world to know Jesus as intimately as he did. John 20:31 says- “these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” He desperately wanted to reveal the identity, character, and deity of Jesus to the world. He used the “I AM” statements of Jesus to do that. All of the “I AM” statements we have studied in this series have come from the Gospel of John and Book of Revelation, books written by John:
I AM the bread of life. John 6:35. Part 1.
I AM the light of the world. John 8:12. Part 1.
I AM the gate/door. John 10:9. Part 1.
I AM the good shepherd. John 10:11. Part 2.
I AM the resurrection and the life. John 11:25-26. Part 2.
I AM the way and the truth and the life. John 14:6. Part 2.
I AM the true vine. John 15:1. Part 2.
I AM the Alpha (Beginning) and the Omega (End). Revelation 1:8 and 1:17-18, Revelation 21:6, and 22:13. Part 3.
I AM the Root and Offspring of David. Revelation 22:16. Part 4.
I AM the Bright Morning Star. Revelation 22:16. Part 4.
I AM before Abraham was. John 8:58. Part 5.
It is I AM; do not be afraid. John 6:20. Part 5.
One reason John carefully recorded these I AM statements of Jesus was so the world would come to know the great expanse of His character and nature. When we know Jesus and believe in Him as John did, we become one with Him. Ephesians 5: 30-32 speaks of the strength of this unity- “For we [believers] are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I [Paul] speak concerning Christ and the church.” [Inserts mine.] 1 Corinthians 6: 16-17 adds- “For the two [husband and wife], He says, shall become one flesh. But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” [Insert mine.] His desire was we become one with Christ, as Jesus prayed in John 17: 20-22- “I do not pray for these [disciples] alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You Father are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one as we are one.” [Insert mine.]
Again, when we know Jesus as John knew Him (intimately, as the I AM), we become one with Him. When we pray in His name (I AM), and we pray allowing His spirit to pray through us, we pray effective and powerful prayers. In John 16: 23-24, Jesus issued a new instruction to the disciples- “In that day you will not [need to] ask Me about anything. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whatever you ask the Father in [the merit of] My name [presenting all that I AM, and as the representative of I AM], He will give you. Until now you have not asked in My name; but now ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy may be full and complete.” Amplified version.
When we know Jesus as John knew Him, and we allow His spirit to pray through us, we also are one with and pray on behalf of the King. We are issuing decrees and commands in the name of the King. As a representative or ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20) of the King, we speak in prayer with the granted authority from the throne. Even devils know and recognize that authority, and must obey. Declarations must be followed, and commands obeyed. Failure to obey the commands of the King will result in certain death.
It is not enough to teach and follow the faith. There must be evidence of a power flowing out of that faith through a connection and oneness with the Spirit of Jesus. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2: 4-5- “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” When we know Jesus (the I AM), believe in Him, and pray through His spirit, the power of prayer will be there. Then lives and situations can be impacted, and the world will believe and be changed.
The Pharaohs of Egypt were considered to be Gods. They had sovereignty over all the people of Egypt. When a Pharaoh declared a law or a ruling whether right or wrong, it would be done. A person or a nation that has jurisdiction, rule, supremacy, dominion, power, ascendancy, control or influence over others has “sovereignty” over them.
Thutmose II was probably the Pharaoh in Egypt when Joseph was second in charge. It is not clear who was Pharaoh when God called Moses to set the Israelite slaves free. When Jacob moved his family to Egypt as protection from years of drought and suffering, they were just a few hundred in number. Over the years, the Israelites prospered and multiplied to the degree their population became a threat to Egypt. A succeeding Pharaoh, who did not know Joseph or how his godly wisdom protected Egypt from starvation, decided he needed to take strict measures to ensure they could not overthrow his kingdom or sovereignty. In order to control this substantial group of people who were in the country and not natural born Egyptians, Pharaoh chose to enslave the Israelites. Pharaoh used his sovereignty in Egypt to solve an imagined threat to his nation and his leadership. The oppression of slavery kept the Jewish people weak and wanton for 400 years although they continued to multiply. It was a diabolical way of controlling them but Pharaoh was about to learn he was not sovereign in all the earth, and he would soon have an encounter with the One who was.
The Lord enlisted Moses, a mere man, to demonstrate to Pharaoh His power and sovereignty over the earth. He instructed Moses, “Behold, I make you as God to Pharaoh [to declare My will and purpose to him]”. He continued, “You shall speak all that I command you…The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord when I stretch forth My hand upon Egypt and bring out the Israelites from among them.” The results were amazing, “And the Lord did according to the word of Moses”. (See Exodus 7).
Jesus’ ministry on earth was a clear demonstration of the sovereignty of God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). He had/has sovereignty over: demons, nations, the earth, life, death and eternity. He also judged Satan. “About judgment, because the ruler (evil genius, prince) of this world [Satan] is judged and condemned and sentence already is passed upon him.” John 16:11. The only reason so much evil is happening in the earth is because mankind still has free will choice. Our choices affect not only ourselves, but everyone else on earth. What we say or do gives authority to either Satan’s kingdom of darkness or God’s kingdom of light. When we are totally aligned with the Lord, we are able to pray sovereign prayers which bring heaven to earth!
The time for Jesus to die on the cross and be resurrected was approaching. He was leaving His disciples with instructions in order to prepare them for His departure. Jesus taught His disciples how to pray. He instructed them, “I tell you that My Father will grant you whatever you ask in My Name [as presenting all that I AM]. Up to this time you have not asked a [single] thing in My Name [as presenting all that I AM]; but now ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy (gladness, delight) may be full and complete.” John 16:23b-24.
Jesus continued by praying not only for His disciples, but for those of us who would believe in Him throughout the generations. (See John 17:19-26). He prayed that we would be one with each other and with the Father as He is one with the Father. “That they all may be one, [just] as You, Father, are in Me and I in you, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe and be convinced that You have sent Me. I have given to them the glory and honor which You have given Me, that they may be one [even] as We are one; I in them and You in Me, in order that they may become one and perfectly united, that the world may know and [definitely] recognize that You sent Me and that You have loved them [even] as You have loved Me…I have made Your Name known to them and revealed Your character and Your very Self, and I will continue to make [You] known, that the love which You have bestowed upon Me may be in them [felt in their hearts] and that I [Myself] may be in them.”
When we become one with Christ as He is one with the Father, our prayers will become sovereign prayers. When our will is surrendered to our Lord as His will was completely surrendered to God, including death on the cross, we will be one with Him. Jesus will reveal to us the character and will of the Father as we surrender our lives to Him. When we know the character and will of the Father, our prayers in His name will be upheld by His sovereign power.
There are two sources available for us to know the will and character of God. They are the written Word of God (logos, Bible) and the revealed Word of God by the Holy Spirit (rhema). The (rehma) Word will not contradict the (logos) Word or Character of the Lord. The Bible clearly and succinctly makes known the character of God and the character of Satan. We know from the Word of God that Satan is a liar, a thief, a destroyer, a murderer, one who oppresses, controls, deceives and enslaves people and one who is directly opposed to God. His goal is to possess and destroy people whom God loves. We know he is the source of pride and he rebelled against the rule of God. We know that the devil’s kingdom has set itself against everything that God’s kingdom represents. Their kingdoms are diametrically opposed to one another.
By the Word of God, we know that the Lord is: Creator, Life, Joy, Truth, Good (Kind), Gentle (Meek), Love, Patient, Faithful, Righteous, Holy, Just, Merciful, Resurrection, Light, Sovereign, All-Powerful, All-Knowing, and Everywhere (Omnipresent) to name a few. He is the Door to the Father, the Way in which to walk, and the Savior of all who believe in Him. He is Deliverer who sets the devil’s captives free and much, much more.
There are some truths we know about Jesus’ ministry from reading the four Gospels which empower us to pray “Sovereign Prayers”:
1) He came to seek and to save the lost and desires that none should perish. John 3:16-17, Luke 19:9-11. Knowing this truth, we can pray for the unsaved and expect God to change their hearts because His will is that they not perish! We can confidently pray and fast for their salvation and keep persisting in prayer until we see it come to pass.
2) It is God’s will to heal. Everyone that came to Jesus for healing was healed. He did not reject anyone who cried out for healing. A man with leprosy approached Jesus and asked “Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean”, and Jesus replied, “I am willing. Be cleansed.” Matthew 8:2. We can pray for the sick and fully expect that they will be healed. Mark 16:18, Matthew 10:5-6.
3) Everyone who was demon possessed was delivered and set free. Even though Jesus was sent to the Jews first, He willingly delivered the Canaanite woman’s daughter who was possessed by demons. We have been given the authority to cast out demons in His name. Mark 16:17, Matthew 10:5-6, Luke 10:1-24.
4) The Holy Spirit Who dwells in us prays through us. We can pray the will of God through the help of the Holy Spirit. Mark 16:17, Ephesians 6:18. Romans 8:27 says, “And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will.”
5) We can pray (declare) His written Word (Bible verses) over ourselves and others, which is His will, and God will answer our prayers. Isaiah 55:11, “So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
6) We can pray against premature death over others. It is clear in the Bible that the enemy has a plan to kill, steal from and destroy our lives. We also know that God created us with specific plans and purposes that are good and not evil. Jeremiah 29:11. Psalm 139:16 and Job 14:5 reveal that the Lord has already ordained the days of our lives on earth. We can come into agreement with God’s sovereignty over our lives and the length of our days which He ordained for us. We can also disagree with the plans of the enemy to shorten our days or change God’s ordained plans for us.
7) We can pray God’s will and sovereignty over the nations! We know that it is the Lord who raises up kings and pulls them down. The nations are to be Jesus’ inheritance. Psalm 2:8 “Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations as Your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth as Your possession.” People of all nations will fill heaven but it is our responsibility to pray for them to hear and know about Jesus. We can pray for godly leadership over nations. The Bible says that when the leader, ruler or king is righteous, the people are blessed. Proverbs 29:2 affirms, “When the [uncom-promisingly] righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked man rules, the people groan and sigh.
The Lord is calling us to become much bolder in our prayers. He also desires for us to become more focused on His will and purposes for ourselves and others. We have been given the authority to pray and proclaim that His will in heaven come to pass on earth. The enemy only has the authority we allow him to have in our lives. We can eliminate his authority by coming into agreement with the Lord’s sovereignty over our lives, our family, our church and our nation as we walk in righteousness and godliness.
When our heart (soul: mind, will and emotions) becomes one with His, He will show us His plans and purposes and we will join with him in intercession. He promised to answer all our prayers that are prayed according to His will and in His name. By acknowledging His sovereignty over our lives and our world, our prayers will move mountains, transform hearts, fill leaders and change nations. We will see more of heaven and less of “hell” on the earth when all our prayers are “Sovereign Prayers”!
I AM, Part 5 by Larry W. Peebles November 3, 2017 17.42
My daughter has become quite successful in the Human Resources profession by being able to efficiently fill open employment positions for her clients. She is able to quickly look at a resume, and determine if there is a potential fit for the open position. If there is potential, a telephone interview will then reveal if this candidate should be recommended to the client for the position. If the client accepts her recommendation and conducts a face-to-face interview, a high percentage of her recommendations are ultimately hired for the position. A big reason for her success is the quality of the initial questions she asks the candidate in the phone interview, along with her ability to listen to the answer and pursue with instinctive and appropriate follow up questions. Her process is intended to dig into the basic question of who the candidate really is—what are their strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, etc. relative to the requirements for the position.
In this I AM series, we have been looking at the statements Jesus made regarding Himself—who He was/is, and His qualifications. I can only imagine the look on the HR interviewer’s face if he or she asked Jesus who He was—to tell something about Himself. The I AM statements we have studied thus far (Parts 1-4) are listed below, and they are not the average interview-type responses:
I AM the bread of life. John 6:35.
I AM the light of the world. John 8:12.
I AM the gate/door. John 10:9.
I AM the good shepherd. John 10:11.
I AM the resurrection and the life. John 11:25-26.
I AM the way and the truth and the life. John 14:6.
I AM the true vine. John 15:1.
I AM the Alpha (Beginning) and the Omega (End). Revelation 1:8 and 1:17-18, Revelation 21:6, and 22:13).
I AM the Root and Offspring of David. Revelation 22:16.
I AM the Bright Morning Star. Revelation 22:16.
These are some very weighty answers, but Jesus in the flesh was also Deity, and He had a big job to do while here on earth. He came to save the human race from sin’s death and destruction. This job required some unusual and divine qualifications. He could not just be a “star,” He was the bright Morning Star. He would not be a mere “leader”, He was the Way. He was more than “honest,” He was the Truth. He was above a “self-starter,” He was the Beginning and the End. He was better than a good “manager”, He was the good shepherd. His qualifications would leave the interviewer speechless. In Part 5 of this series, we will study more of these I AM statements.
I AM before Abraham was-
This might sound a bit tricky, but we begin with the background to the statement. In John Chapter 8, verse 48, the Jews had a dialogue with Jesus to find out more about Him, and they accused Jesus of having a demon (being possessed by a demon). The conversation became more intense when in verse 51 Jesus said- “Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word he shall never see death.” In verse 52, the Jews pointed out that Abraham was dead, and the prophets were dead (both assumed to be greater than Jesus), and therefore they felt justified in saying that Jesus was demon-possessed because of His statement. In verse 53 we read- “Are you greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus responded that the Jews did not know Him or His Father (God). Because the Jews claimed Abraham was their father, Jesus then said in verse 56- “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad.”
This had to really confuse the Jews. How could Abraham, who was born and died before Jesus, have possibly seen the day of Jesus’ coming on the earth and have been glad for it? Verse 57 says- “Then the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”’ Jesus concludes that part of the interview with this statement in verse 58- “Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’” The Jews were so infuriated they were ready to stone Him, but He slipped away through the crowd.
There was no doubt Abraham was the father (ancestor) of these people. God promised it in Genesis 12: 1-3- “The Lord said to Abram (later Abraham), ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’” As we discussed in Part 4 (I AM the Root and Offspring of David), Jesus’ human heritage also traced back through David and Abraham, all the way back to Adam.
When did Abraham “see Jesus…and was glad”? Genesis Chapter 14 tells of Abraham’s encounter with Melchizedek, king (jeru) of Salem (peace), or of Jerusalem (king of peace). He is also referred to as the “priest of God Most High”. Abraham honored this king and priest with a tithe from the spoils of battle, the first tithe in Scripture, and Melchizedek blessed him. In addition to this strong symbolism, Jesus is King and High Priest forever according to Hebrews Chapters 6 and 7, and is from “the order of Melchizedek”. Hebrews 7:3 says Melchizedek “had neither beginning of days nor end of life, but (was) made like the Son of God.” It was Melchizedek’s assistance in battle against five other kings that saved Abraham’s life. Abraham was very glad and grateful to meet this “Jesus”.
Abraham also met Jesus in Genesis Chapter 18. The Lord came with three angels to prophesy a child for Abraham and Sarah (v. 10), and to warn Abraham of the coming destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (v. 20-23). In this encounter Abraham bowed to the ground to honor the Lord (v. 2), called Him “Lord” (v. 3), washed His feet (v. 4), served Him bread (v. 6), and shed blood to serve Him meat (v. 7). The symbolism here is also strong, and again Abraham was glad and grateful to meet the Lord Jesus. He received the good news that a child would be born, and that his nephew Lot would be spared from the coming destruction. Jesus was not referring to a figurative meeting with Abraham, He was referring to an actual meeting.
Jesus was not disputing that Abraham was the father of this nation. He was pointing out that if the Jews knew Abraham as father without knowing Father God, they could not know Jesus, whom the Father sent. Further, if all their attention, admiration and pride focused on Abraham as being the greatest they would also miss Jesus, who was greater than Abraham. Jesus declared He was the I AM of Exodus Chapter 3, the eternal and almighty one who revealed himself to Moses. He was not just present at creation, He was the Creator (Colossians 1:16-17- “by Him all things were created…all things were created by Him and for Him…He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.”) He created all things, including Adam, and therefore was before Abraham. Though Abraham was great, Jesus was greater. The man Jesus standing before the Jews in flesh came after Abraham, but they did not recognize Him as the eternal Son of God who had always been.
It is I AM; do not be afraid-
Following the feeding of the five thousand in John Chapter 6, Jesus went onto the mountain to be alone. After dark, His disciples got into a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee to get to Capernaum. A great wind came up across the sea. After rowing over three miles in the rough waves, they saw Jesus walking on the sea, coming toward the boat. They were afraid. In verse 20, Jesus said – “It is I (I AM); do not be afraid.” (Amplified version.) They took Him into the boat, and immediately they were at the land where they were going. They were through the storm.
I have seen the lion in Africa on several occasions. This animal is so calm and self-assured. It is fearless, powerful and composed. The locals say its paw can break the back of a cape buffalo, and its jaws can crush its prey. How much more powerful and fearless is the Lion of Judah. Jesus is saying the “I AM” is with us, we do not need to be afraid. He will get in the boat with us in the midst of a storm.
Consider Isaiah 43: 1-4- “But now, thus says the Lord, who created you O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I AM the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior….you were precious in my sight, you have been honored, and I love you.”’
The Bible is full of examples where God tells us not to be afraid. Joshua was told this a number of times when the Israelites were ready to move into the Promised Land and conquer the inhabitants. The women who came to Jesus’ tomb were told not to be afraid. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, He appeared to the disciples and said “Peace be with you.” There is no need to worry or be afraid. The Eternal One, the one who conquered death, is on our side. In the Old Testament, He is the “Commander of the Armies of the Lord” (Joshua 5:13-15). He is powerful and fearless, yet He is the Prince of Peace. He goes before us in every storm and battle. Before he was anointed king, David wrote in Psalm 27:1- “The Lord is my light (I AM the light of the world) and my salvation (I AM the resurrection and the life) -of whom shall I be afraid?” (Inserts mine).
Isaiah 41:10 says- “Fear not, for I am (I AM) with you: Be not dismayed, for I am (I AM) your God. I will strengthen you, yes I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Inserts mine.)
Both of these I AM statements give us great insight into the omnipotent, eternal, and faithful Son of God who has always been involved in the affairs of mankind. Taken together with the ten I AM statements from the preceding parts to this series, we see deep into the divine character of Jesus. He is the literal center of the universe as its Creator, Sustainer, and absolute Focus. Everything and everyone is by Him and for Him. Yet with all the vastness of His creation, including the billions of people on this earth, He still comes for the one, you and me.