Restoration Kay Keith Peebles


The transformation was amazing. I loved refinishing antique furniture. My husband’s uncle taught us how to refinish furniture when we were newly married. He had made a business of furniture restoration and wanted to pass his knowledge on to us. We learned how to turn tired or damaged furniture into beautiful new treasures. I was able to find many wonderful pieces for pennies on the dollar at garage sales, and restore them into beautiful treasures for our home and for others.
One of my projects was a solid wood golden oak pedestal dining table from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. It was round, seating 4-6 people but had two extensions which enabled it to seat eight to ten people. It was shrouded in 5 layers of paint varying from grey, white and tan to bright green. I bought it for $10 at a neighbor’s garage sale. I knew what was beneath the ugly exterior and offered additional money for the table but she refused to charge more than $10. Many people may have overlooked that table unable to see its true beauty and lasting value. The golden oak, which is a hard wood, will last for centuries if cared for properly.
Restoration was a four stage process which began with a caustic paint stripper. The liquid stripper would cut through multiple layers of old paint or varnish. Thick gloves were needed to protect the hands while goggles protected the eyes from splatters. Accidental encounters with the skin would cause intense burning and require a trip to the sink to wash off the fiery goo. The paint stripper would seep into cracks and crevices of the carved detailed areas which made removing it easier and more effective. It was exciting to see the beautiful grains and the color of the pure wood reappear before my eyes.
The second stage was sanding. A good sanding ensured a smooth finished surface upon which the stain would be applied. Some pieces required a rough sanding at first, to level out chipped or scarred places causing them to almost disappear. Fine sandpaper was used to smooth and polish the top layer. The ugly nicks became beautiful. Stage three was staining. The purpose of restoration was to bring the broken or damaged furniture back to its original state. Staining made the wood grain pop with color and restored its beauty. The furniture piece came back to life! There was some oil in the stain which would penetrate below the surface reviving the dry neglected wood. The fourth and final step was hand rubbing tung oil over the entire piece for a smooth semi-gloss or satin finish. The hand rubbing would generate heat which caused the oil to penetrate into the wood grain. Several coats were applied for healing and protection of the wood. It would then harden to shield the furniture from damage and give it a deep sheen. Once restored, the furniture was worthy of being displayed in a prominent place. We used that table for many years and eventually sold it for much more that I had paid when I purchased it.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s commandment forbidding them to eat the fruit of the Tree of Life, they caused destruction in the earth, the plant and animal kingdoms, and everything living. Satan, who had deceived them, was given the right to have the dominion over the earth which God had given to Adam and Eve. The curses of sin and death were activated and have since had a terrible effect on every living thing. The nature and heart of mankind became sinful and as a result, every human being that has lived on earth became broken or damaged and in need of restoration. Jesus came to restore everything back to its original state as God created it. Restoration began with His ministry on earth and has continued as mankind repented of their sins and believed in the power of His death and resurrection. Believers have been set free from the laws of sin and death and God’s restoration is available to all who will seek Him. When the Lord returns at the end of the age, He will restore everything completely.

Physical and emotional abuse, sickness and disease, immorality, fear and depression are a few of the consequences the choices of sinful man have caused. God’s love found a way to restore all who would come to Him and allow Him to heal their wounds. Isaiah Chapter 61 explains the plan of God to send the Restorer Jesus to His people. “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and commissioned me to bring good news to the humble and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up [the wounds of] the brokenhearted, and to proclaim release [from confinement and condemnation] to the [physical and spiritual] captives and freedom to prisoners, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance and retribution of our God, to comfort all who mourn…(to give) the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a disheartened spirit…” Isaiah 61:1-3. (See entire Chapter). Emphasis mine.
How does the Lord heal and restore us and what is our responsibility in the process? Once we are born again into the Kingdom of God through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection, the restoration process begins. Those who earnestly seek the Lord’s presence and willingly submit to the Lord’s discipline and cleansing process will experience the Fire of God. This Holy heat is what the Apostles experienced on the day of Pentecost. “And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and which settled on each of them.” Acts 2:3. Jesus charged them to wait there and pray until the Holy Spirit came. Like the piece of furniture that was restored, we can do nothing but seek Him and surrender, allowing the Holy Spirit to come and transform our lives into the likeness of Christ.
The men and women in the Upper Room were totally changed, transformed by the fire of God. Fire burns off the useless, damaged surface debris while it cleanses and purifies from decay and bacteria. The Fire of God has the same effect on the heart and mind of man. It exposes and burns off our sin while giving us the desire and the empowerment to be holy. The Lord first appeared to Moses as a burning bush, and to the Israelites as a mountain of fire. (See Deuteronomy 4:9-13). “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined and will test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will hear and answer them. I will say, The Lord is my God.” Zechariah 13:9. “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He will purify the priests, the sons of Levi, and refine them like gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord offerings of righteousness.” Malachi 3:2-3. The fire of God is connected to His holiness. Fire at its hottest point burns a blue-white flame and purifies everything in its path. We must not be afraid of the fire of God. His fire comes to purify our hearts and make us more like Him. We need to run to His fire and ask Him to purify our hearts. What isn’t purified will be judged, but those who allow the Lord to cleanse and purify them will have pure hearts. It is the pure in heart that will see God. (See Matthew 5:8).
The Lord places us in the church, which is the body of Christ, where we can be sanded and smoothed by “rubbing against” our brothers and sisters in the Lord. “Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend [to show rage or worthy purpose].” Proverbs 27:17. We need each other. Our brother or sister in the Lord may be the very one the Lord uses to bring us our breakthrough! We need the correction of the body of Christ and we need the intercession of our fellow believers to make it through. We also need their encouragement when we become weary and tired of the journey. “Bear (endure, carry) one another’s burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete what is lacking [in your obedience to it].” Galatians 6:2. The Lord uses our fellow believers to “sand off” our rough edges making us smooth.
When we are in the transformation process, the Lord put’s His “mark” on us figuratively and literally. “Mark the blameless man and behold the upright, for there is a happy end for the man of peace.” Psalms 37:37. This “mark” means to observe or take notice of the man who is blameless. There is something observable about his actions and attitudes that indicate His love and obedience to the Lord. “And the Lord said to him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in the midst of it…but do not touch or go near anyone on whom is the mark. Begin at My sanctuary…” Ezekiel 9:4, 6. The Lord puts His mark or impression of Himself upon those who seek Him and uphold His righteousness. We not only become like Him, we become one with Him. (See John 17). The stain applied to the piece of furniture causes one to notice the beauty within. The mark of God on the righteous causes others to see the beauty of the presence of the Lord in those who love and obey Him.
The oil of the Holy Spirit restores and protects the believer from the attacks of the enemy. It penetrates below the surface sealing and bonding to the faithful of God. It makes them resilient to attack and strong enough to persevere through the challenges of life. It ensures victory. Everyone who is broken can come to the Restorer and be made whole again. Every ugly sin and the scars it leaves can be healed and made beautiful. The Lord has promised beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for the Spirit of heaviness and a double portion for all that was lost. There is no need to fear His restoration process because His goal is to make us new again. Restoration is an act of love and mercy. Restoration is vital to the body of Christ. We become made new in the likeness of His image. Wholeness comes through Restoration.

I AM, Part 2 by Larry W. Peebles

I AM, Part 2   by   Larry W Peebles   August 11, 2017   17.30

In Part 1 (July 28, 2017), I examined God’s answer when Moses asked God His name (“Who shall I say sent me?”).  “I AM” was the answer, which reveals a lot about God, the eternal and unchanging One– the all-powerful God of the universe who always was, is, and will be.  This question was asked before Moses led the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt on a journey which became known as the Exodus.  The final plague which convinced Pharaoh to release the Israelites from captivity was the death angel which took the lives of the Egyptian first born males.  For the Israelite households who had the blood of a lamb smeared above the door, death was spared.  This event where the Israelites were not only spared death, but passed through the door from bondage into freedom became known as Passover.  While on the Exodus, Israel was led by a pillar of fire by night (light) to show the way.  They were fed supernaturally for the 40 years of the Exodus with bread from Heaven called manna.  Part 1 concluded by studying the words of Jesus some 1400 years later when he came to the children of Israel and revealed His identity.  In the Book of John, He said I AM the bread of life, I AM the light of the world, and I AM the door.  He spoke volumes about who He was by demonstrating that He was a concealed yet active part of the stories and celebrations that had been passed down through the culture for generations concerning what God had done for Israel during the Exodus.  He did not say He was symbolic of the door, or that He provided the light or the bread.  He said He was (I AM—still is) the bread, the light, and the door.

Now in Part 2 of this series, we will look at the final four “I AM” statements of Jesus, all from the Book of John:

  1. John 10:11- “I AM the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” The blood on the Passover door was symbolic of His blood that would be shed on the cross.  Regarding a good shepherd, He goes on to say He is not a hired shepherd, but is the owner of the sheep, which results in a higher level of care (v.12).  He will not run away when the wolf attacks (v.13).  In v. 14 He said- “I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”  In v.16 He said- “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen (Judaism).  I must bring them also.” (Insert mine.)  This is an obvious reference to the expansion of the Christian faith to the Gentiles because He goes on to say “They too will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock, and one shepherd.” (v.16)  He is a good shepherd, willing to die for His sheep, but all of God’s people will have one shepherd in this glimpse of the future worldwide church.

Psalm 23 paints a beautiful picture of the Lord as our shepherd.  The shepherd was a widely used metaphor for a king, so when King David wrote this Psalm, he was acknowledging the Lord as his King/Shepherd.  Without quoting the Psalm (although I encourage reading it), David says there is not a time the sheep are in want, because the  shepherd gives them rest in green pastures, and leads them to quiet, peaceful water where they are restored.  The sheep do not fear their enemies because the shepherd protects them.  They feel goodness and love from the shepherd, so they are nurtured into their full potential.  The sheep want nothing except to be in the presence of their shepherd.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

  1. John 11:25-26- “I AM the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Jesus makes it clear in this statement that he is the Lord over life and death itself.  He was present at Creation, and everything was created by Him and for Him (Col. 1:16).  He is the Lord and Giver of life.  Our physical bodies will wear out and die, but we are spiritual beings created in His image, so that our spirit-man lives eternally.  If our natural lives are lived in and with Jesus, we live eternally with him in Heaven.

Jesus made this statement to Martha, whose brother Lazarus lay dead for four days.  To show His complete power over life and death, Jesus then resurrected Lazarus from the dead, calling him out of the tomb after four days of decomposing.  If He can resurrect a decomposed body, He can resurrect anyone or anything from the dead.  I have personally seen Him resurrect dead marriages, and lives lost to drugs, alcohol and pornography.  I have even seen Him resurrect demon-possessed lives that appeared to be in Satan’s full grasp and control.  He can not only come in to rescue and resurrect the spiritually and physically dead to life, but when those lives commit to follow Him, they need never fear death again.

  1. John 14:6- “I AM the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Notice He did not say He would show us the way, tell us the truth, and give us life.  He said I AM the way, the truth, and the life.  There are many religions on the earth seeking “the way”, but there is no way to come to the true Father God, and receive eternal life in heaven except by coming through Jesus.  He is the only way to eternal life, and the only source of victory in this present life.  Regarding truth, philosophers through the ages have discussed and debated the concept of truth—what is truth?  Truth is not a concept—it is the person of Jesus.  We also know throughout history, groups of people have searched for the meaning of life.  Why do I exist, and what is the purpose of life?  Is there an after-life?   Jesus answered all of these deeply controversial questions in two short sentences.  He is the way through this life and into the life eternal.  He holds the power over life and death.  All truth is embodied in the person of Jesus, and those who abide in Him will know the truth.  The Bible says it is the knowledge of the truth (Jesus) that sets us free (John 8:32).  Jesus asked His own disciples to believe this powerful and sweeping statement “on the evidence of the miracles themselves” (John 14:11)—I AM (He is) the way, the truth, and the life.
  2. John 15:1- “I AM the true vine.” In this seventh and last I AM statement, Jesus refers to the vine, an Old Testament symbol of Israel. He is saying that out of all the history of Israel, and the writings of Moses, the kings, and the prophets, and out of all their encounters with God who chose Israel as His people, Jesus is the main point or objective.  Everything focuses on Jesus, and it is all by and for Him.  He is at the center of where God had led these people.  He then made a number of statements concerning the vine.  In verse 1 and 2, Jesus said His Father is the gardener, cutting off branches that bear no fruit, and pruning productive branches to bear even more fruit.  Verse 4 says “no branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”  Verse 5 says “I am the vine; you are the branches.”  If we remain in Jesus, we bear much fruit.  Apart from Him we can do nothing.  If we bear much fruit, we show ourselves to be His disciples (v.8).  Finally (v.7)-“If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you.  This is to my Father’s glory.”

This gives a clear picture of how unsuccessful we will be if we try to live and do anything apart from Jesus.  Our lives and devotion are to be so intertwined in and with Him that we are a branch of His vine.  We flourish and are fruitful because of Him, and without Him we are like a dead branch cut off the vine.  There is no life support tied to anything other than Jesus.  However, a life tied in to the vine of Jesus is unbelievably rich and productive, full of purpose and satisfaction because it is then Him living in and through us.

In summary, John 20:31 – “But these (words of the Book of John) are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”  (Insert mine.)  John’s purpose was to convince the unbeliever of who Jesus was, and so he captured all seven of the “I AM” statements of Jesus to cement the explanation.  God began the explanation of “I AM” to Moses, and Jesus finished the explanation in the Book of John.  He went on to say “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30), and “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9).

When Jesus walked in Galilee, He told the people quite a lot about Himself.  He then proved His incredible statements with signs and wonders.  Today people still ask “Who is Jesus?”  The “I AM” statements recorded in the Book of John the disciple still provide the answer—“I AM” the bread of life, the light of the world, the door, the good shepherd, the resurrection and the life, the way the truth and the life, and the true vine.

MY PASSPORT Kay K. Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

The warning was stern, “Don’t let anyone take your passport out of your presence!”  We were preparing for our first mission trip to Kenya and our pastor was counselling us on do’s and don’ts regarding travel to other countries.  He emphatically explained to us that we must never let any official take our passport and leave the room without us.  We came very close to that scenario happening to us in Lagos, Nigeria on a lay-over from Nairobi to Atlanta.  We had to run to keep up with the airport authority who had taken our passports and began to move to another location.  Since then, I have made a practice of carrying extra copies of my passport before embarking on an out of the country trip, in the event mine was ever lost or stolen.

My passport is a document that identifies who I am and where I abide.  The U.S. Government records all my personal identification information and guarantees my citizenship in the U.S.  My citizenship in the United States of America is assured to foreign governments by the seal our government has imprinted on my passport.  My picture is on my passport thus anyone examining my credentials can clearly see it belongs to me.  Each nation I attempt to enter will first confirm my identity and then stamp their seal on my passport when they accept my entrance.  I am also required to fill out a form that acknowledges the dates I arrive and my departure as well as where I will be temporarily residing while in their nation.  My passport subsequently becomes a record of my travels.  One can get a good idea where I have been and what I have been doing during my life by looking at the stamps on my passport. It guarantees my entrance back into the United States upon my return from travels.  It is a proven document that affirms the nation or “kingdom” in which I habitually dwell.

There have been instances when people have attempted to deceive a nation by using a counterfeit passport.  They may have gained entrance into a foreign country if they had access to a good forgery, but it would never work for someone trying to enter the gates of heaven.  All true believers have a “passport” record in heaven which is called the Book of Life.  The Lord keeps an on-going record of those who have put their faith in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus pledging their citizenship in the Kingdom of God.  The first mention of this book which records the generations of the faithful is in Genesis 5:1.  “This is the book (the written record, the history) of the generations of the offspring of Adam.  When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God.”

The Bible mentions the Book of Moses, the Book of the Law and the Book of Life to name a few.  It was important to the Lord to have a book (record) of the generations that have lived on the earth.  Exodus 32:31-33 explains, “So Moses returned to the Lord, and said, Oh, these people have sinned a great sin and have made themselves gods of gold!  Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—and if not, blot me, I pray You, out of Your book which You have written!  But the Lord said to Moses, Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him [not you] out of My book.”  AMPV.

Daniel saw the vision of the last days.  He wrote, “At that time Michael (Archangel) will arise–the great Prince, defender of your people.  That will be a time of great distress, unparalleled since nations first came into existence.  When that time comes, your own people will be spared—all those whose names are found written in the Book (of Life).”  Daniel 12:1.  NJB.  (Emphasis mine.)  This Book of Life (our passport to heaven) is mentioned several times in the New Testament.  Paul writes to the Philippian church, “And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers whose names are in the Book of Life.”  Philippians 4:3.  NKJV.

I personally believe the Book of Acts is still being written through our lives.  The Bible could not contain all the testimonies the original Apostles accomplished in their generation.  Since then, others have followed in their footsteps continuing to preach and teach the Gospel of the Kingdom.  It is of utmost importance for the present-day church to preach the same Gospel of the Kingdom that Christ taught.  The Biblical truths from Genesis to Revelation are imperative teachings in order for the church to be the authentic Church that represents the Lord and His Kingdom.  Otherwise, those believing in a false form of Christianity are simply a counterfeit and no counterfeits will gain entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.  (See also Revelation 20:12-15.)

The Apostle John was invited to heaven to see the end of the age, in order to warn the succeeding generations of the importance of persevering to the end.  He saw the Lord in His resurrected form and wrote down the Lord’s instructions for the church.  Revelation 3:2-6 expounds upon our need to hold tightly to the truth of the Gospel.  It urges us to persevere through the onslaught of deception, immorality and complacency which constantly attacks a believer’s faith in the Lord.

“Rouse yourselves and keep awake, and strengthen and invigorate what remains and is on the point of dying; for I have not found a thing that you have done [any work of yours] meeting the requirement of My God or perfect in His sight.  So call to mind the lessons you received and heard; continually lay them to heart and obey them, and repent.  In case you will not rouse yourselves and keep awake and watch, I will come upon you like a thief, and you will not know or suspect at what hour I will come.  Yet you still have a few [persons’] names in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes, and they are worthy and deserving.  Thus shall he who conquers (is victorious) be clad in white garments, and I will not erase or blot out his name from the Book of Life; I will acknowledge him [as Mine] and I will confess his name openly before My Father and before His angels.  He who is able to hear, let him listen to and heed what the [Holy] Spirit says to the assemblies (churches).”  AMPV.  (See also Psalm 69:28, Revelation 21:25-27).

The Lord charged His church with a very sobering statement!  He declared that God has established a standard to which our “works” must conform and we have the obligation to “obey” the lessons He taught about the Kingdom.  If not, our name can be blotted out of the Book of Life.  He also said, however, that there are those who have kept the faith and are worthy and deserving.  He promised them He would openly confess them before His Father and His angels in heaven.  What about grace?  Aren’t we saved by grace?  Yes we are, but His grace is not a license to keep on sinning as the world sins.  If the deeds of the church are the same as the world and continue unchanged, then the church has believed a false gospel.  God’s grace is given to all who repent of their sins and confess Jesus as Savior and Lord.  Grace, however, is not only our covering of righteousness, it is also the empowerment by the Holy Spirit to obtain victory over our sins.  His grace enables us to consecrate our lives completely to the Lord.  He expects us to become holy as He is holy.  “[Live] as children of obedience [to God]; do not conform yourselves to the evil desires [that governed you] in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirements of the Gospel], But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living.  For it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy (Leviticus 11:44-45)…You must know (recognize) that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the useless (fruitless) way of living inherited by tradition from [your] forefathers, not with corruptible things [such as] silver and gold, but [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ.”  1 Peter 1:14-19.  Emphasis mine.  AMPV.

John 10:28 says no one can “snatch” us out of the Lord’s hand but it does not mean that we can’t choose to neglect the Gospel teaching and live the way we desire.  When one rejects Gospel truths, they reject the Lord Himself.  Esau surrendered his birthright to Jacob for a pot of stew.  (See Genesis 25:29-34, Hebrews 12:16.)  Verse 34 declares, “Thus Esau scorned his birthright as beneath his notice.”  Hebrews 12:17 declares, “For you understand that later on, when he wanted [to regain title to] his inheritance of the blessing, he was rejected (disqualified and set aside), for he could find no opportunity to repair by repentance [what he had done, no chance to recall the choice he had made], although he sought for it carefully with [bitter] tears.”  See Genesis 37:30-40.  AMPV.  We could never earn our salvation but we do have the ability to forfeit our inheritance in the Kingdom.

Our “work” is to surrender our will, our very lives to Him, allowing Him to work in us and through us whatever He desires.  “Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord.  Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace…”  Hebrews 12:14-17.  (See entire chapter).  AMPV.  When our works of surrender cause us to completely consecrate ourselves to the Lord, we will bear the fruit of righteousness and our name will be permanently etched in the Book of Life.  John 17:22-24 is part of Jesus’ prayer to His Father just before His death on the cross.  “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me…”.

I close with Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church.  “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.”  Ephesians 1:18-21.  NKJV.     Our salvation is not achieved by our works but His grace does not cover our negligence in regard to the Gospel.  The only place of safety is to live in Him, and He in us.  Our passion must be to know Him and to be known by Him.  Our “passport” to glory will be secured by our dwelling in Him.

I AM by Larry W Peebles

I AM    by   Larry W Peebles    July 28, 2017   17.28

“Tell them about license plates” was the answer I heard.  I asked God what He wanted me to speak about one evening at the County Juvenile Justice facility.  I had just left a busy day of work and was racing to meet my wife at the facility.  At the appointed time we could enter the facility through the maximum security door and meet with the young people detained for various charges and crimes.  Our ministry purpose was to tell them about hope and change for their lives and their future in the person of Jesus.

That can work well, I thought to myself.  If these young people don’t listen and turn their lives over to Jesus so He can help straighten them out, they will end up making license plates in a state prison.  “Tell them about my personalized license plate…the one I would have…if I drove a car…which I don’t.”  When I heard this, God really had my attention.  He wanted to go somewhere else with this message.  How would that personalized license plate read, I wondered.  “IM4U” was the answer.  Phonetically, it would read “I am for you”.  I could quickly imagine God pulling alongside on the highway in a car with a license plate that said “I am for you”, giving an encouraging smile, a nod and a wink, and pulling away.  This would make for a powerful message that evening.  God Himself, the Creator of the universe, is for us, and is not against us.  His plan for our lives is good, with a promise of a hope and a future, according to Jeremiah 29:11.

But there is a double meaning in that license plate.  When God told Moses he was going to lead the children of Israel out of 400 years of Egyptian slavery, Moses asked what he should tell the people when they asked who had sent him to do this.  In Exodus 3:14, God answered and said “This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”  God called Himself “I AM.”  This name characterized His eternal, ageless, all powerful yet unchanging and faithful qualities.  The One who always was, always is, and always will be—the God of all the universe– would be with them, and could be trusted to complete the work He started.  He would do no less for those in the Juvenile Justice program that night.  He would probably not lift them out of detention, but He would rescue them from their own senseless destruction if they asked.

Biblical names carried more meaning than perhaps they do today.  Although this was a short answer to a deep question–what is your name and what does it mean?—it was powerful, meaningful and timeless.

Some fourteen hundred years later, Jesus, the Son of God, began a relatively short yet powerful three year ministry on earth that would have an eternal impact on mankind.  The Apostle John, disciple of Jesus, wrote the Book of John to give a record of Jesus’ life, ministry and miracles including His death and resurrection.  According to John 20:31, the book was written “in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”   In the Book of John, Jesus picked up where the discussion with Moses ended on the name “I AM” and its meaning.  Seven times Jesus used that reference and elaborated on the meaning when He described Himself to the people.  We will cover the first three of these statements in this article, and will conclude with the final four in a subsequent article.

  1. John 6:35- Jesus said “I AM the bread of life.” He went on to say “he who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”  When the children of Israel left Egypt with Moses on the exodus to the Promised Land, they were fed daily for forty years with bread from heaven called manna.  (Exodus 16).  That bread kept them alive on their journey.  The story of that miraculous provision was written down and passed on from generation to generation.  Jesus shocked the Israelites of His day when He stood before the people and said He was the bread that would satisfy their spiritual hunger and give them eternal life.  The people would no longer need to tell the stories about the manna (bread) from heaven that gave them life.  Before He said this, Jesus had just fed five thousand with five loaves of barley bread and two fish.  The people saw this miracle and encountered the true bread from heaven, the Son of God, who would give them eternal life.  Before His death and marvelous resurrection, Jesus gave his disciples bread and wine as symbols of his broken body and spilled blood to eat and drink in remembrance of Him.  His death and resurrection forgave sin, defeated the devil, and restored man into the proper relationship with God.  There are some types of bread around the world that are hearty enough to sustain for long periods of time.  Believing in Jesus will sustain us now and into eternity.  He is truly the bread of life.
  2. John 8:12- Jesus said “I AM the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  When the children of Israel left Egypt with Moses on the exodus to the Promised Land, the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud by day, and “by night in a pillar of fire to give them light.”  (Exodus 13: 21, 22).  The account goes on to say “neither the cloud nor the fire left its place in front of the people to guide them.”  This account, along with Moses’ conversation with God, was also written and passed down through the generations.  Jesus’ use of the phrase “I AM” was both intentional and powerful, because He knew the people would catch the double meaning.  Jesus was that fire and light that led them during the exodus (Exodus 14:19), and more.  He is the light of the whole world.  He had come to show and light the way to eternal life.  Believers will have the light of life, and will never have to walk in darkness, fearing what they cannot see.  Most living things on earth grow by receiving energy from the light of the sun.  Without the light, life as we know it would cease.  Without Jesus, the light of the world, there is no eternal life.  He is also the eternal light of heaven, because we read in Revelation 21:23- “ The [Holy] city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb [Jesus] is its lamp.”  [Inserts mine.]
  3. John 10:9- “I AM the gate [door].” [Insert mine.]  Before the children of Israel left Egypt with Moses on the exodus to the Promised Land, God had them smear the blood of a lamb on their door posts for their protection.  They would be spared the death of the first born male, the final plague that would come upon the Egyptians.  (Exodus 12).  When they left their homes for the last time, having been spared death, they passed through that blood- stained door from slavery and bondage into liberty and freedom.  They celebrated that event for fourteen hundred years, calling it the Passover, and continue to celebrate it today.  But when Jesus came on the scene, He said “I AM the door.”  The Lamb of God and His cross would soon be blood-stained as He was crucified.  Through His death and resurrection He became the door for believers to pass from the bondage of sin into freedom and eternal life.

After the children of Israel left Egypt, God parted (opened) the Red Sea so they could escape the pursuing Egyptian army (Exodus 14:21). He also parted the Jordon River forty years later so they could enter the Promised Land (Joshua 3:17).  Jesus made the opening/gate/door so they could escape the bondage and slavery, and live again as free people.  He made the door across the Jordan River into the land promised to their forefathers through Abraham, which would provide a new life, a new start, and abundant opportunities.  Like a shepherd opens a gate so that sheep can enter a green pasture, Jesus is the gateway to a new life on this earth that leads to life eternal.  When we enter that life through Him, we find forgiveness and reconciliation, peace and abundance.  There is no other way to find and enter such a life except through Him.  He is the door.  He will knock on the door of our hearts in search of His people, but only we can open the door to let Him in.

Jesus says “I AM” the bread of life, the light of the world, and the door.  We see such rich symbolism as Jesus is introduced by these names during God’s rescue of His people from Egyptian slavery.  These qualities contained in His name are still evident today as He continues to rescue those lost in a spiritual desert and bound by sin.  We would expect no less from the “I AM”.  These three statements reveal so much about Jesus-who He is, and the purpose for His coming.  In Part 2 of this article, we will examine His next four statements when He says “I AM” the true vine; the good shepherd; the resurrection and the life; and the way, the truth, and the life.

THIRTY FEET BELOW PART II Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

I was so nauseated I did not know whether to get on my next flight or go home.  It was my first mission trip.  A few months earlier my cousin from Texas had called and invited me to join their family and church group on a mission trip to Honduras.  My heart leapt inside me as I thought about going with them.  I was not sure my husband would approve of my going out of the country, and there was the cost of the trip.  I laid those issues before the Lord and the answer was yes!  (Please read Thirty Feet Below Part I in the archives if you have not already done so, to understand the reference to it in this writing.)

Packing the last articles in my bags, I felt an excitement inside me.  It seemed as if I was on the edge of destiny.  The apprehension of traveling overseas, to an unknown country, was swallowed up in the joy I felt about participating in the Lord’s Great commission, in Mark Chapter 16.  The first leg of my trip originated in Tampa with a change of planes in Miami.  I was to continue from Miami to Houston where I would meet with the team.  We would then fly on to San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

Soon after my flight to Miami took off, I began to feel very nauseated and sickly.  The flight attendant gave me a cloth napkin with some ice to cool my forehead.  I started to pray.  I knew it could not be fear or anxiety because I was thrilled to go.  I wondered if the symptoms were from a virus and I was concerned about the possibility of infecting the team.  The plane finally landed and I had to decide whether to go home or continue on.  I felt the Lord was compelling me to go so in faith, I stepped onto the plane to Houston, found my seat and continued icing my forehead.  The moment that plane took off, the nausea instantly left!  I realized it was the enemy (devil) trying to keep me from my destiny.  It was then I understood he could put false symptoms on people to prevent them from fulfilling God’s will in their lives.  I then felt a strong sense of God’s blessing and protection which stayed with me the entire trip.

The week in Honduras was filled with many memorable events, but the most impactful for me personally, was going to a Honduran prison.  The prison ministry excursion was voluntary.  Nine from our team of fifteen chose to go.  The group included five women and four men.  Our leader drove us an hour and forty-five minutes out of San Pedro Sula.  We travelled from the busy city to outlying highways, then onto dirt roads, passing farmlands with acres of pineapple plantations.  The air was pleasant as the sweet aroma of fresh pineapple enticed our sense of smell.  

We created a dust cloud behind our bus as we journeyed down a road that appeared to go nowhere.  The road finally ended at the base of a small mountain, next to a dated one-story cement block building in need of paint.  It was surrounded by a tall metal fence which was wrapped in razor wire at the top.  A large rusty wrought iron gate stood to deter visitors from going forward.  The scene was menacing and foreboding.  Several guards standing by the fence held long rifles as if they were prepared to use them. They stared at us with serious and intimidating facial expressions.  Their shirts were unbuttoned because of the oppressive heat adding to our discomfort, and planting a seed of doubt in our reason for coming.  The climate was thick, having a temperature in the mid 90’s and the humidity was extremely high due to its coastal location.  The mountain blocked any breeze from cooling the prison complex and the lack of shade trees emphasized the unrelenting heat.  My mind momentarily recalled an old western movie I had seen years before, which made me chuckle at the similarity of this scenario.  I quickly returned to a sobering thought which caused me to question my judgement in coming, but it only lasted for a brief moment.

The local missionary Paul, who sponsored our team, handed one of the officers at the gate a piece of paper which confirmed our invitation to enter the prison and do a worship service.  The head prison guard was summoned for final approval.  He quickly nodded and ordered the gate to be opened.  We entered the building which housed a few small offices and quickly passed through the entrance to the prison yard.  Grey unpainted cinder block cubicles were surrounded by a latrine which ran through the entire property, wafting a pungent odor that was as oppressive as the heat.  Sidewalks led us to the rooms that were no more than 8X10 feet in size.  Each room had a set of metal bunk beds with a thin mattress and a sink.  There were no doors or bars on the rooms.  The prisoners congregated all over the grounds as we walked through but we had an armed escort, and armed guards were stationed throughout the complex. 

Our escort led us to a large rectangular room that was walled on three sides, with a large opening on one of the long walls.  The walls inside the room were a dingy grey and there was the obvious absence of pictures or decorations.  It was filled with at least fifty men, young and old, making it difficult to navigate to the other side.  A handful were Americans; all were imprisoned for various reasons.  It was clear they were paying an exorbitant price for their crimes.  The heat was almost unbearable and their sunken eyes were filled with hopelessness.  It felt as if we had stepped into the bowels of hell.  We had to weave our way through the crowd and it was then I sensed fear and vulnerability.  The Lord quickly gave me a peace that we would be alright.  Our team of nine lined up at the back wall and all 50 prisoners were standing between us and the exit.  That day I personally experienced God’s peace surpassing all understanding. 

I had been asked to share something that morning.   I wondered what I, a middle aged American white woman, would share that could possibly relate to their situation.  The Lord quickly told me they needed hope and I had several testimonies of the Lord intervening in hopeless situations in my life.  My sharing was brief but as I looked into their eyes, I felt my testimony had made a connection with many of the men.  The Gospel transcends time and space, gender and culture.  Others shared and then our leader began to preach a powerful word from the Lord.  He gave several altar calls that morning, one for salvation, another for backsliders and a third to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The power of God came into that room and most of those hopeless, forgotten men had encountered their forgiving, gracious and loving Lord.  Many were speaking in their new heavenly language with hands raised and we were urged to wander through the crowd praying and laying hands on them as we left the room.  It was an honor to pray for those men, forgotten and seemingly lost, but remembered by our loving Lord.

God moved in that place of darkness and hopelessness.  He protected all of us in a dangerous setting so that we could bring hope and encouragement to them.  We were honored and respected by them for coming, and God honored our faith and obedience by touching those men.  It is a memory forever carved on my heart.

Since that incredible mission trip I have discovered that fear is the greatest enemy of our destiny.  Fear can manifest in many ways.  Insecurity, fear of the unknown, concerns for safety, and inadequacy are several fears that can squelch the call of God in our lives.  When the voice of fear is greater than our faith in God’s protection, we can be stopped in our tracks, unable to move forward.  I was afraid to talk about the Lord with people and had a fear of flying for many years.  I felt so insecure and inadequate that I did not believe the Lord would use me to touch others.  Over the years, He has delivered me from those fears and proven Himself to me.  The Lord specifically chooses us because we are inadequate so that He will be all sufficient!  He doesn’t use those who are secure in their own abilities; He picks those who depend upon Him.  It doesn’t matter when we are called to do something, or go somewhere that is unknown to us, because He has already gone before us to make the way.

It is not about us having our own faith or strength, it is totally about our having faith in Him and trusting in His power to flow through us.  We don’t have to speak eloquently, we only need to deliver the word He gives us.  When we realize we are simply a conduit through which His Spirit flows, then we remove ourselves from the consideration and merely let Him work through us to touch others.  Our works become simply hearing and obeying.

How do we get to the place of simply hearing and obeying?  We make knowing Him our priority, and pursuing Him our reality.  He reveals Himself through His Word:  both the Old and New Testaments.  He also reveals Himself through His Holy Spirit, who is our paraclete-the one who walks beside us teaching us about Him and His ways.  Learning to flow in the Holy Spirit is as easy as prayer.  The Bible says we can pray in the natural and pray by the Holy Spirit of God.  Ephesians 6:18 instructs us, “With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people.”

The Holy Spirit’s role in everything we do is critical.  The promises of God are centered on our motivations and actions being in agreement with the Lord’s will.  If we are not Spirit-led, then we are not led by God at all.  He sent us His Holy Spirit to teach us, guide us and to pray through us.  Everything we do for His Kingdom is based upon the Holy Spirit’s direction and guidance.  Our success is based solely upon how surrendered we become to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  The Lord speaks to all His children, but only those who hear His voice are able to walk in obedience.  His voice can be as subtle as a gentle breeze but those who are attentive to His quietness will hear His instruction and obey even without questioning.  When we live and move in Him, and when we have our being in Him, He becomes such a part of us there is no longer a separation.  We become infused or enmeshed in what He is doing and flow effortlessly with His leading.

His heart becomes our heart.  What is on His mind is on ours.  Those for whom He is concerned, become our concern.  We are no longer pulled by the world and its many distractions.  Instead, our focus becomes what He is directing us to do.  Our comfort is not the center of His will.  Our willingness to go beyond our place of comfort, to stretch beyond our safety and convenience is what He is calling us to do.  One of my favorite songs is Oceans by Hillsong United.  It cries out to the Lord to take the believer into the deep waters where their safety is only in Him.  It beckons the Lord to stretch one’s faith to walk on unknown paths and to trust in Him in unsafe waters.

 “You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown, where feet may fail, and there I find you in the mystery, in oceans deep, my faith will stand.  I will call upon Your name and keep my eyes above the waves.  When oceans rise my soul will rest in Your embrace for I am Yours and You are mine.  Spirit lead me where my faith is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever you may call me.  Take me deeper than my feet have ever wandered, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.”

Those who are willing to dive in the oceans of the Lord to go “Thirty Feet Below” to reach those whom the Lord desires to touch and heal, will find complete satisfaction and fulfillment.  We will never experience the thrill of truly entering into our Father’s joy without taking risks and reaching beyond what we know, to delve into the unknown with Him.  The Bible proclaims, “Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  If you want to know what the Lord is doing in the earth today, allow Him to take you thirty feet below!

 

Thoughts on Leadership, Part 5 Larry W Peebles

Thoughts on Leadership, Part 5   by   Larry W Peebles   July 14, 2017   17.26

We did not know what to think.  We were very interested in the home, but the seller did not bother to respond to our offer.  I felt insulted.  Our local housing market had begun to warm.  Sales activity was increasing, and prices had started to rise.  My wife and I had prayed about moving out of our existing home of 16 years into something a little larger.  This was a desire to move out of a declining neighborhood into one with a fresh appeal and less crime, although there would be a God-purpose in this move we would not understand until years later.  I had just gotten a promotion and a raise at work, so the timing seemed right.  One day as I was praying about how to begin the search, I felt the Lord said to start by looking in the local newspaper.  It was there we found what seemed to be the ideal home.  When we actually visited the home for the first time, it had everything we had put on our wish list, and a few things extra.  The price was on the high end of our range, but was manageable.

The listing realtor did not return our call, so we enlisted the services of our own realtor to represent us.  He made arrangements to show us the home.  There was no doubt on our part when we saw it.  This was the home we wanted.  The home was priced at the leading edge of a new wave of increase, which made me want to test the price against the resolve of the seller.  Our initial offer was so low the seller did not bother to respond with a counter offer.  As a career builder and real estate developer, I had negotiated countless contracts to purchase properties.  I considered myself a skilled businessman in the art of making the deal.  I had never made a written offer that was totally ignored.  I did not know my next move, except to go back to the prayer closet.

It was in prayer that I received the answer.  I learned that I had shown no respect for the seller with my low offer.  I came to clearly understand that I would need to offer something much closer to his asking price to elicit a response.  The Lord asked me if the other man had to lose in order for me to win the negotiation.  God asked if I believed that He had enough to make it possible for both sides to win.  Was it possible that the price could represent a win for the seller and the buyer?  Did the Creator of the universe have enough to go around so that both sides could walk away satisfied?

After I shared this with my wife, we took a more humble approach, and signed a higher, and much more respectable offer.  At that point the seller met us half-way, and a deal was made.  The Lord blessed us with the home of our dreams.  He also blessed us with a quick sale of our existing home for considerably more money than we had anticipated, so we were able to close and move in rather quickly.  Years later, when the national economy was hit with the Great Recession, a family member lost their job and home, and had to move in with us.  At that point we knew why God had directed us to the larger home.  What might have been considered excess space when we bought the home became very necessary space.  If I held any reservation about the price we paid for the home, it was washed away with gratitude for the space in the home God had given us.  There was room to come together for meals and family time, yet space to be apart for private time and thought, a necessity in a two-family arrangement that lasted for 14 months.

The word “respect” (noun) means “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.”  Synonyms are esteem, regard, admiration, reverence, deference, and honor.  The lesson I learned about respect would serve me well during the time of the housing market expansion.  As the leader of a local division of a national home building company, I had to strike while the iron was hot in order to rapidly take advantage of the growing market opportunity.  Success would come to the builder best able to meet the growing demand for homes.  Over the next three to four years I would need to buy more land and developed lots on which to build homes than I had ever bought in my career.

Land owners and developers were to be viewed as partners, not as adversaries.  It was not necessary to beat them on the issue of price in order to win.  A fair price meant both could win.  I would pray, and the Lord would lead me to another successful deal.  We were able to not only grow our business to meet the increasing demand, but we were able to double our share of the available market.

A fair deal is defined as one where both sides are in favor of the terms.  Neither side has an advantage over the other side which forces one party to accept the terms.  Each side has a certain respect for the other, a duty if you will, to be sure the agreement works for both.  If the deal is so one-sided one party simply cannot perform, neither side wins, and there will be no future dealings.

God is most interested in how we treat others, and that our dealings are fair and honest.  As leaders, we must convey that interest.  We are all His children, and He is clear on how we are to respect and relate to one another in our dealings.  Consider these Scriptures on fair dealings and respect for others:

  1. Matthew 22:37-39- “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it, Love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”  We are not only to respect others, we are to love them.
  2. Matthew 7:12- “So in everything, do unto others what you would have them do unto you, for this sums up [is the essence of] the Law and the Prophets.” [Insert mine.] The so-called Golden Rule says that if we want respect, we must treat others with respect.
  3. Galatians 6:7- “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” Planting respect yields a harvest of respect.
  4. Romans 12:10- “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”  Rather than compete with one another to gain an unfair advantage, compete in showing the most honor toward the other.
  5. Romans 13:7- “Give to everyone what you owe them: if you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”
  6. Deuteronomy 25:15- “You must have accurate and honest weights and measures, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Honest and fair dealings are a key to a long and prosperous life.
  7. Leviticus 19:15- “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.” Both the poor and the great deserve the respect that comes with just and fair treatment.
  8. Philippians 2:3- “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
  9. Titus 2:7- “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity.”
  10. Leviticus 19:32- “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.” Our Western society would do well to focus on regaining its respect for the elderly.
  11. Luke 14:10- “But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you.”  Out of respect for others, do not promote yourself.  Let God promote you.
  12. 1 Peter 5:5- “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”

There are many more such Scriptures, to be sure, but these provide a definite conclusion.  We are to treat and respect others above ourselves.  We are to deal fairly and honestly with others, out of respect for their situation, experience, and wisdom.  God will repay our integrity; we do not need to take unfair advantage of others.  God will reward and promote our honesty; He puts all leaders and authority into their position.  Whatever we gain does not have to come at the expense of another, as God can and will provide the increase.  These are true traits of a leader.

THIRTY FEET BELOW Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

They were eating, drinking and partying, totally oblivious to what was thirty feet below them.  We were in San Salvador helping a ministry that feeds the homeless.  It houses drug addicted teens, nursing them to wholeness, and rescues victims of sex trafficking.  The ignored and forgotten are healed by the love of God.  The hopeless are liberated and restored to life in Jesus’ name.

Thursday morning several of us painted two rooms at the ministry while others in our group installed a clean water filtration system in their kitchen.  Local volunteers made beautiful greeting cards with bright colored paper strips they coiled and formed into flowers, leaves, stems, hearts and many other decorative shapes.  After lunch three of us prepped vegetables to accompany the evening meal while others of our team received the fifty clients that would be served that evening.  Showers were available as well as free haircuts.  Games like dominoes, checkers, puzzles and cards were scattered among the tables for visitors to entertain themselves while waiting for the devotional and hot meal.  Our team played games with them, prayed for them or simply conversed with them.  The mission statement of Mission to El Salvador is to treat all with Respect, Honor and Dignity.

The clients were fed by 4:30 p.m. and we had cleaned up by 5 p.m. and headed to our quarters to have our own dinner.  We were again picked up at 8 p.m. to return back to the inner city ministry to pack meals for the homeless living on the streets.  Unaware of what was to come, our team piled into the bed of a truck which was lined with benches for seating.  There was a thick metal railing attached above the edge of the truck bed that gave us something to grip to steady the ride.  Cases of orange and grape beverages were placed beneath the benches behind our legs for easy access.  The center of the truck bed held a large white cooler.  It was filled with three hundred and fifty foil packages each containing three pieces of Canadian bacon or pepperoni pizza which had been donated by a local restaurant.  It would probably be the only meal those people would have that day unless they found a trash receptacle behind a restaurant in which they could scavenge.

We had packed meals until the sunlight faded into darkness, which veiled a lonely subculture that was almost invisible.   We could not have found the people of the streets in the daytime.  They only come out in the dark of night because it obscures their existence.  Our leader gave a shout as the truck came to a stop.  The lights of the truck, which makes its rounds every Thursday night, summoned them to come out.  It also illuminated those otherwise hidden.  Men, women, children and even babies slept concealed in crevices between buildings, in delivery docking areas or underneath overhangs which protect the cement sidewalks from rain.  Some had blankets worn thin by long nights exposed to rough cement beds and evening storms.  Others had confiscated cardboard boxes to pad the unforgiving surfaces where they slept.  We drove by parks, stadiums, beautiful public buildings and churches to find them.  Every few blocks the truck would stop, the call came forth alerting them food had come, and clusters of people would step into the light and line up behind the truck so that we could hand them their only meal that day.

The ministry leader called many of them by name, asked them how they were doing and invited them to come to the ministry for help.  It was only six blocks away.  The streets of the city looked like nothing we had seen in the states.  Walls were trashed with gang graffiti, sidewalks filled with trash and temporary barricades lined the streets.  Worn paint exposed the depressed and hopeless culture while majestic public buildings stood like citadels contrasting the devastation of everyday life.  It looked like a war zone and it was.  Good and evil, haves and have nots, rich and poor were separated by only a few feet.

We rounded a corner and the sound of music grabbed my attention.  It was emanating from the roof of a three-story building.  I saw a large restaurant on the top floor, with open air tables.  It was decorated with strings of bright lights and the tables were filled with people eating, drinking and partying.  The music was up-beat and the atmosphere was filled with laughter.  They seemed totally oblivious to what existed thirty feet below them.  The truck stopped directly beneath them on the right side of the road and children were the first to line up behind the truck.  Boys 8, 10 and 12 years old stretched out their arms, smiled as they received their meal and thanked us for coming.  Women with young children, fathers, laborers and drunks came forward and then recessed back into their dark world.  Some had matted hair and stared with glazed eyes delirious from drug abuse.  Still others seemed even joyful that someone cared and acknowledged their need.  At one stop, three or four women in stiletto heels and thick make-up approached the truck for food.  Their living was made on the streets but they were not condemned or judged, they were told “God bless you”.  Two men hurried to pick up an old man unable to walk by himself.  They carried him to the back of the truck so that he could also eat that night.

Immediately, I was gripped by the contrast of those reveling above and these destitute, hungry and hopeless below.  It was an “in your face” moment exposing the clash of classes that exists.  They were partying and seemed unaware and unconcerned of what lay thirty feet below.  A scripture came to mind and haunted me the rest of the night.  Matthew 24:37-44 “As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  For just as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, [men] marrying and [women] being given in marriage, until the [very] day when Noah went into the ark, and they did not know or understand until the flood came and swept them all away—so will be the coming of the Son of Man…Watch therefore [give strict attention, be cautious and active], for you do not know in what kind of a day [whether a near or remote one] your Lord is coming…You also must be ready therefore, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him.”

Suddenly, much too quickly, hands reached into the cooler and came up empty.  They reached down again swiping the insides of the cooler hoping to find another meal or two but there was nothing left in the cooler.  Three hundred and fifty meals had been handed out but there were still people in line and more around the next corner.  A sadness gripped each of us as we realized the need was greater than the food we had at the time.  Stunned, tearful and silent we drove back to the ministry and then home to our quarters to contemplate what we had experienced.

It didn’t have to be San Salvador.  It could have been Calcutta or Nairobi, Buenos Aires or Cape Town, Tokyo or Jakarta or any major city in the U.S.  Injustice can be found in every nation and every city.  The most vulnerable are the least safe.  Whether it’s threatening young boys with death if they don’t join the gangs or abducting the young girls as sex slaves or drug kingpin wives, the innocent live in constant danger.  There is no amount of money that will solve the problem and no laws will prevent it from happening.  Governments are totally ineffective and simply meeting the needs of hunger and shelter are not the full answer.  It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that saves, heals and delivers.  It is a change of direction, a shift of mindset, an eternal hope in the intervention of God Almighty that transforms lives.

Jesus commissioned His disciples to go into all the world and preach the Gospel of the Kingdom.  The Kingdom of God is not poverty and lack, it is abundance.  The Kingdom of God is not sickness and disease, it is health and healing.  The Kingdom of God is not addiction and fear, it is deliverance and freedom.  The Kingdom of God is not immorality and perversion, it is wholeness and hope.  Jesus commanded His disciples to begin preaching the Gospel in Jerusalem, then Judea and the uttermost parts of the earth.  One might say, “But I can’t preach”.  We can all be witnesses to what the Lord has done in our lives.  We may not be able to go overseas but we can send someone who can.  We may not have the strength to serve those in need but we can pray!  What we cannot do is sit back and expect others to do for us what God has called us to do.  We cannot be those people eating, drinking and partying above the problem, oblivious to the needs in their own neighborhood.  We cannot say because we do not see what’s happening it is not our responsibility to get involved.  We cannot continue to let the innocent be victimized and destroyed by our inaction.  Everyone can do something.

James, the half-brother of Jesus made it very clear when he wrote, faith without works is dead.  James 2:17-20 declares, “So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead).  But someone will say [to you then], You [say you] have [good] works.  Now you show me your [alleged] faith apart from any [good] works [if you can], and I by [good works of obedience] will show your my faith…faith apart from [good] works is inactive and ineffective and worthless.”

We have a friend who is an Apostle that goes to the nations and raises up churches.  He planted his family in Costa Rica and preached there until the church was established and the people continued the work.  He then moved on to the Amazon region, Cuba and so on.  He once said to me, “Find a need and meet it.  That is the ministry of Christ.”  The world is in desperate need of the Gospel of the Kingdom.  People everywhere need hope, consolation, forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

My challenge in this word is to encourage all to discover their mission field.  We must pray for the Holy Spirit to show us where we can be effective in changing people’s lives eternally.  Simply giving donations of clothing or money to ministries does not involve risk or personal involvement.  The Lord is calling us to get personally involved in the lives of others.  There are opportunities right now in our “Jerusalem”.  There are needs on the streets of our city.  There are hopeless people crying out for help in neighborhoods around us all.  The question is, will we help those who are meeting those needs?  Will we pray regularly for those living in darkness that they might see the light?  Are we willing to love the unlovable, help the needy, and get involved by going down where the people are, thirty feet below?

Dying For a Drink, Part 2 by Larry W Peebles

Dying For a Drink, Part 2    by   Larry W. Peebles   June 30, 2017   17.24

The living water that Jesus describes in John 7:37-39 is real.  It is supernatural, but none-the-less real.  In Part 1 of this series, we looked at the scriptural evidence in Ezekiel 47 and Revelation 22, as we compared Ezekiel and John’s visions from God, both concerning this living water.  In Part 1 (June 2, 2017), we learned that this living water is a form and manifestation of the Holy Spirit—one of several we see in Scripture.  Other examples include a dove, wind, fire, supernatural strength in a man, and more.

When a believer gives his heart over to Jesus, and makes Jesus the Lord and Savior of his life, he is “born again”, and receives this living water of the Holy Spirit.  This water brings life and refreshing everywhere it flows.  Jesus said it would not only come to the believer, but it would flow like a stream out of the believer to a dry and thirsty world.  (John 7:37-39).  This water, unlike the water we drink from the faucet, is sufficient to quench our spiritual thirst forever.  Jesus never intended the believer would receive and keep the living water for himself.  He intended that the believer would share the living water with others, that they might come to know Jesus.  The Bible calls that “bearing fruit” (see Galatians 5: 22-23).  The believer is to bear fruit continually.  We are not to merely observe, share and report on the condition of man and this world, we are to change it–for the better.

In order to go further with this study of living water, I want to share two stories.  Both come from ministry trips to Kenya.  On my first trip in 2007, my wife and I traveled with a team to a number of churches in the Mt. Kenya region, about two hours north of Nairobi.  Each day we visited a different church, and ministered to the church pastor and leaders.  We did a morning meeting and an afternoon meeting, with a break for lunch.  God graced those meetings with His presence, and the meetings were powerful.

On one such day, we visited one of the leader’s homes for lunch between the morning and afternoon sessions.  We found the Kenyans to be a very friendly, gracious and welcoming people.  The hostess provided a very delicious home-cooked meal, offering no less than the best they had for their guests.  Following the meal, and after a warm thank you and good bye, I stepped outside to board the van for the short drive back to the church for the afternoon session.

The leader’s home was in a very small village, with only two intersecting dirt roads.  On one side of the intersection was a concrete tank, maybe 6 ft. or so square, 2-3 ft. deep.  A man in a home-made wooden cart pulled by a small donkey had stopped alongside the tank, and began to empty 4 or 5 big barrels of water into the tank.  I studied the scene for a moment, and realized the man was bringing water to the village.  The tank was the community water supply.  There was no water main to supply clean water to the houses.  There was no sewer main.  Most of the homes in this small village had out houses,  or some type of in-ground pit.

The Kenyans knew the water in the tank was not for drinking.  They would use it for bathing and washing clothes.  Boiled water would be used for cooking, and bottled water would generally be provided for guests to drink.  Still the man who delivered water to the community tank provided a major service, as it was not unusual to see people in the area walking for miles to bring a few containers of water back to their homes—perhaps enough for that day.  This man in the cart made a positive difference in his village.  He changed the circumstances of that village by delivering the precious life-giving water in large quantities.

It was some time after the trip, as I continued to study this living water and prepared to tell the story of the man in the cart, I felt the Lord issue a challenge.  I sensed from the Lord that we are to be like that man, and make a difference in our circumstances.  We are to bring water to our village.  Our village might be our marriage, our family, our workplace, circle of friends, school, or church.  We are to carry living water—the message of salvation, hope, healing and encouragement—to that village.  The river of living water, the Holy Spirit of God, is to flow to us and through us to a dry and thirsty world.

The second story comes from my last trip to Kenya in 2013.  (My wife and I are going again later in 2017.)  On that trip my wife and I were part of a team that conducted revival meetings in a large tent we had set up in a mid- sized town in the Mt. Kenya region.  The team met in the morning for teaching, inspiration, and assignments, then spread out over the town to greet people walking about, inquire if they knew Jesus, and extend an invitation to the tent revival meetings.  If possible, we would get their name and contact information for a local pastor to follow up.  People were receptive to the invitation.  They would stop on the street and listen, and ask questions about what was happening at the big tent.

I was asked to teach at the morning team meeting on Saturday, the last day of street evangelism.  We had scheduled meetings for Saturday afternoon and evening.  The revival meetings would end with an afternoon meeting on Sunday after morning church services.  I spoke to the team Saturday morning about living water, and told the story of the man hauling water to his village in the cart.  I encouraged the team to carry water to this village by first believing the living water flowed through them individually, and second by looking for opportunities to pray with and for people on the street.  I specifically encouraged the team to lay hands on the people as they prayed.  Scriptures compare us to trees planted by streams of water, whose leaves (hands) are for healing (all discussed in Part 1 of this series).  I simply asked them to apply in faith what Scriptures have already said.

My wife and I felt good about the street evangelism that morning, as we encountered and prayed for a man we found walking alone through a field.  He kneeled down on the ground and received Jesus as his Lord and Savior.  He had not eaten in days, so we were able to direct him to our tent, where there was food and tea.  But we felt even better when we returned to the tent.  A woman pastor from another team was looking for us with a marvelous report.

Her team had encountered a man they described as “out of his mind”.  He was babbling incoherently, unable to speak an intelligent word.  He was filthy with hair matted in dirt and grass from sleeping on the ground.  His eyes were rolling and looked glazed, and he was living like an animal.  He was a literal wild man on the verge of death.  The woman remembered the teaching from earlier in the morning, and laid hands on him and prayed for him along with the team.  She said he immediately snapped back into his right mind, and his eyes were stable and clear.  He was able to speak.  He came back to life.

He said he had not eaten in days.  The team took him to the church’s training center.  He bathed and shaved his head, which was easier than trying to clean his hair.  He was given a set of clean clothes and a meal.  The pastor was hardly able to contain herself with what she then told me.  The man had agreed to speak at the afternoon meeting under the tent to give a testimony of what had happened, and how God had immediately set him free from demonic control, cleared his mind, and returned his speech.

We all marveled that afternoon when he rose to speak.  He spoke clearly and confidently.  He knew he had received a miracle.  He knew he was as good as dead, but now could testify to life.  He confirmed Jesus as his Savior, and gave Him all the glory.  All of this was because of the great power and compassion of God, and a team of believers who acted in faith and prayed as though living water flowed through their hands into the dry and thirsty people in that town.

Jesus is issuing a challenge to His followers to believe that living water flows to and through them, as He has said.  He is calling His followers to act like thermostats instead of thermometers, where we by our actions and prayers are changing things instead of reporting the current conditions.  He is challenging us to carry living water to our villages.  The world is dying for a drink.

NO PLACE TO LIGHT PART II Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

Imagine a Massai warrior standing an arm’s length from the mouth of a lion!  On our first mission trip to Kenya, the regional Bishop took our team of five under his wing and introduced us to the precious Kenyan people and their amazing culture.  We were all engrossed in his story as we drove through the rice fields, sugar cane, coffee and tea plantations.  We had been ministering two services a day for almost a week at different churches throughout the region.  Heading back to our hotel, Bishop decided to take us the long way home so that we could see the prolific produce in the Mt. Kenya area.  Bishop was teaching us the culture of the Massai people although Mt. Kenya is predominantly populated by the Kikuyu and Swahili people.

The Massai tribes live in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania.  Their home is on the Serengeti where they herd their cattle and goats among the lions and other predators.  Some have called their tribe the “lion killers” because of their on-going necessity to protect their herds.  They live together with extended family for protection.  Their large compound is constructed with an open area in the center encircled by a tall thorny fence of thickly compressed acacia tree branches.  The cattle pen has one opening which is barricaded at night.  They often designate one warrior to sleep in the pen with the herd for protection.  

The perimeter of the compound is surrounded by Bomas, which are small straw huts built with thin tree branches overlaid with a strong mortar of clay and cow dung.  Their roof is made of thatch and cow dung making it waterproof and sturdy.  The mixture adheres to the materials providing a tough structure that also insulates against weather.   

During the daytime the cattle are driven by Massai on the Serengeti but at night they are steered into the center of the compound for protection.  The thorny fence is their only fortification from lions on the prowl for a meal.  A lion that breeches the wall will meet a formidable challenge from Massai warriors in the camp.  When a young Massai comes of age, his rite of manhood is proven by his ability to kill a lion.

The Massai clothing is very colorful.  The men wear a shuka, which is a red robe with striped, plaid or checkered patterns often with bright red and royal blue.  They believe the color red scares the lions.  The Bishop told us it is apparent that lions purposefully try to avoid the Massai because they must connect their shuka with those who are lion killers.  (My pictures are from a mission trip to Tanzania in 2010).  

The men drape their large beautiful robe around their body for covering but it has versatile functions.  The women wear long, one and two piece dresses that are colorful, and wrap a cape around their shoulders.  They have beautiful vibrant beaded necklaces and earrings for their jewelry.    Their shoes are sandals made of leather or more currently, old rubber tires.  A warrior will carry a spear and a large knife (sword) at all times.  Herding cattle can be dangerous both day and night but the Massai warrior is fearless and well equipped to oppose a lion.

Bishop continued his story about the Massai warrior.  When he is attacked by a lion, the Massai removes his robe and wraps it around one forearm.  His sword is in the opposite hand.  He moves into close range and when the lion charges and opens his mouth, the warrior thrusts the forearm into his mouth grabbing his tongue in a death grip rendering him helpless and unable to bite.  He then thrusts his sword into the lion killing him with one swift blow!  The Massai are courageous and they are able to guard their families and cattle by disabling the tongue of the lion!

The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:8, “Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.  Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined]…”  Peter is directing the church to be prepared to withstand any persecution or suffering required because of the Gospel.  He counsels believers to walk in humility submitting to those the Lord has placed in the church to encourage, guide and direct them in the ways of the Lord.  He also warns them of the devil who is constantly seeking for an opening to bring destruction in their lives.  He charges us to withstand the devil being firm in our faith in God.  Hosea 4:8 explains, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge [of my law, where I reveal My will].  Because you [the priestly nation] have rejected knowledge…”

James, the brother of Jesus encouraged the church, “So be subject to God, Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you.”  James 4:7.  Notice, the scriptures do not say God will remove the devil from us.  Instead, it says we are to withstand the devil’s attacks.  We are called to be lion killers!  James 4:6 explains, “But He gives us more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully).  That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it).”  Our strength comes from the Holy Spirit and our faith in God.  He gives us the strength to withstand temptations when they come whether to sin against the Lord or to doubt or fear his ability to save us from trouble.

Now, let’s examine the Massai warrior with spiritual eyes.  The Massai warrior trains to become a lion killer.  It does not happen accidentally nor does his strength come by simply being born a Massai.  It comes through study and practice.  A young Massai is trained by the elders who teach him the authority he has over the lion.  There is a process they use when they approach the lion or the lion approaches them.  James gave us a spiritual process for defeating the devil:  1) submit to God, 2) resist the devil and he will flee.

Isaiah 54:17 proclaims, “But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong (condemn).  This [peace, righteousness security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord [those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced]; this is the righteousness or the vindication which they obtain from Me [this is that which I impart to them as their justification says the Lord.”  (Emphasis mine).

Paul instructed the Ephesian church to daily put on their armor in order to be prepared for battle.  “Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].”  Ephesians 6:13.  The entire passage continues to list the armor we have been given by the Lord:  belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  Our belt of truth protects our innermost being.  It is the knowledge of the truth that sets us free.  God’s truth is the Rock of our foundation upon which we stand.  The breastplate of righteousness covers our heart.  Out of our heart flow the issues of life.  We are righteous because of our repentance of sin and trust in the redeeming work of the cross of Jesus Christ.  Our righteousness gives us the ability to stand in the authority of Christ daily.  When we trust in the Lord completely, we will be shod with peace and walk in peace wherever we go.  His peace guards our heart and ensures we are in His will.  Faith is a gift from the Lord.  The shield of faith is developed by hearing the Word of God.  It could come from a message preached, Bible study/reading or the inner voice of the Holy Spirit.  The helmet of salvation represents the Mind of Christ Jesus.  It is the mind of the Spirit and not of the flesh.  The sword of the spirit is the Word of God.  Our authority comes by using the Word of God in faith.  When we submit to the Lord’s will, speak His Word to the problem (storms, trouble) standing in faith, he must flee.  We must KNOW that God will back up His Word!

The Massai warrior places his robe (of righteousness representing the authority of Christ) upon his arm so that he might grab the tongue of the lion without suffering injury.  He then thrusts the sword (Word of God) into his heart to disable and destroy his ability to kill.  The tongue of the lion represents the accusations, lies and fears the enemy uses to cause us to doubt God.  The result is our being surrounded by confusion, fear and defeat.  He is the “accuser” of the brethren.  Once our past has been confessed and buried in the waters of baptism, we are clothed in the Righteousness of Christ Jesus.  The enemy no longer has the right to accuse us unless we allow him by not closing his mouth.  The devil is always trying to speak lies, fearful scenarios of disaster and accusations to draw our attention from the Lord which in turn gives him more power.

We must grab hold of the devil’s tongue with a death grip to silence all the attacks.  We do that by “throwing the Book at him”!  The Bible is the Word of God and it is filled with truth.  There are scriptures for every need we could possibly have in life and they are powerful at pulling down strongholds the enemy has erected in our lives.  There are 365 scriptures in the Bible regarding fear where the Lord encourages us to fear not.  We could read a different one every day of the year.  There are also scriptures regarding healing, finances, relationships, marriage and so on.  When the devil tries to take us down in circumstances, thoughts or by others all we need to do is get in our prayer closet and speak the word of God to each one.  We also need to remind him and ourselves who we are in Christ.

When Jesus was raised from the dead and preparing to ascend into heaven, he left his disciples with one powerful declaration.  “All authority (all power and rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.  Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20.

Paul taught that we are now seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus.  “And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One).”  The scepter of authority has been given to us.  The devil has no jurisdiction over us unless we grant it to him.  Wherever we find ourselves under his rule (or torment) we have been given the responsibility with the authority from heaven, to shut the mouth of the lion by thrusting the Word of God into his heart.

The Word of God is a lethal weapon against the enemy and when used in faith, our victory is sure.  Knowing God’s Word and using it properly enables us to defeat every giant we face.  God’s Word is the rock David used and faith in God is the sling that hurls the rock into the head of the enemy.  Our strength comes when we walk humbly before our God submitting to His will and His Word.  We are then able to stand and resist the devil and he MUST flee!  It is then we will give him “No Place to Light”!

Thoughts on Leadership, Part 4 by Larry W Peebles

Thoughts on Leadership, Part 4   by   Larry W. Peebles   June 16, 2017   17.22

At five ft. five inches, my Dad was considered short in stature.  But as a boy, I watched him deal with authority as a customer and a consumer.  He did not let his size diminish his authority.  He knew the authority he had with the company when a mistake had been made in his account.  In those days, the conversations to straighten out an account with a problem were done face-to-face.  There were no automated phone answering machines, no internet, and no email.  Even a big retailer like Sears would have a department in the local store to handle account questions.

Dad would walk in and ask to speak to whoever was “in charge” or “the boss”.  He went straight to the top authority in the company to explain the mistake and receive his assurance as a customer that all would be corrected.  He saw no point in taking time to explain the mistake to someone who did not have the authority to correct it.

When I think of leadership and the role of the leader, I believe this question of authority must be addressed.  At the most fundamental level, the leader must realize that ultimately all authority is given or granted; it is not taken.  Authority is also not to be confused with power.  To help distinguish the two, let me give this example.  When a police officer or a state trooper raises their hand to stop traffic, do they stop the traffic by power, or by authority?  The officer or trooper does not have the physical power to stop a bus or an 18-wheel truck.  Those vehicles will, however, come to a stop when the officer’s hand is raised to halt traffic because the driver of those vehicles recognizes the officer’s authority to stop traffic.

The city or state has by law granted the officer the authority to stop that traffic, and stands prepared to enforce that authority.  That city or state has been granted the authority to pass those laws by the people’s consent to be governed.  So who is the real leader in that traffic control situation?  Is it the driver who applies the brake, the officer who raises the hand to signal halt, or the court who stands ready to issue a fine for failure to stop?  It might be the people of the state, who hired the officer to enforce the control of traffic, and granted the court the ultimate authority to back up the officer with penalties provided by law.

I spent the biggest part of my career in homebuilding in charge of the local division of corporate homebuilding companies that operated across the nation.   I was considered the leader of that division, which might consist of hundreds of employees.  My title was Division President, or General Manager.  Many would consider that a powerful position.  However, my authority to operate in that position was granted by the corporation in the form of a written document called a corporate resolution.  This resolution, adopted by the Board of Directors of the corporation, spelled out what I was authorized to do, and what I was not authorized to do in my position.  If I took authorized action, the company stood behind it.

I reported to high level officers of the corporation, who reported to the Board, who reported to the shareholders.  I had no power per se, except for personal energy, drive and certain abilities.  My authority in that position was granted by the corporation, who ultimately answered to the shareholders.  All authority is granted by some ultimate source, and authority is not to be confused with power in the leader’s mind.

During His time of ministry on this earth, Jesus’ authority was questioned by the chief priests and elders of the church- “By what authority are you doing these things [teaching and doing miracles], and who gave you this authority?” (Matthew 21:23).  [Insert mine.]  But following His crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection, Jesus said in Matthew 28:18- “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples,….baptize,….and teach.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

His death and resurrection annihilated any and all other claims to authority.  No king or kingdom, no devil or mystic power could ever again claim authority.  Jesus had ALL authority in the earth and in the heavens.  Ephesians 1: 20-21 says the incomparable power and mighty strength of God was exerted in Christ “when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age, but in the age to come.”

The devil had tried to destroy His creation.  Jesus’ mission of turning the tables and restoring mankind to his original position with God was complete.  In the process, He utterly destroyed the works of the devil.  After He made that point clear, Jesus issued a heavenly resolution.  He in turn authorized us to “go” spread the good news of the Gospel, and make disciples.  We were also authorized to baptize into new life in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teach His commands (which are not restrictions, but rather keys to long life).  We are not to be fearful and shrink back.  We are to let nothing stand in our way- -Jesus said He would always be with us to enforce the authority given to us as believers and His followers.

Simply said, our authority is His delegated power.  Consider these Scriptures that speak of the authority (delegated power) given believers:

  1. Jesus said in John 14: 12-14- “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing [miracles]. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  And I will do whatever you ask in my name [delegated authority], so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”  [Inserts mine.]
  2. Mark 16:17- “And these signs will follow those who believe. In my name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues, they will take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will by no means hurt them.  They will lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.”
  3. John 15:7- “If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever you will, and it will be given you.”
  4. John 16:23- “In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”
  5. Matthew 17:20- “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’, and it will move and nothing shall be impossible for you.”
  6. Romans 5:17- “We shall reign in life through Jesus Christ.”

These scriptures make the case clear.  When Jesus conquered death and the devil, He put all things under His feet.  Then He gave the authority to His followers, and delegated power to enforce the consequences.  If this is not enough to convince, consider that in other Scriptures, He used these terms to describe His followers, all of which reveal the authority given: “heir of God”- Galatians 4:7; “ambassadors for Christ”- 2 Corinthians 5:20; and “more than conquerors”- Romans 8:37.

Finally, He would not be the Good Shepard if He left us short of anything we needed to succeed in this life or the life after.  2 Peter 1:3 says- “His divine power [delegated to His followers] has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”

Prince George, the son of William and Catherine, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, is royalty but does not know it.  He is a future king, but now acts like a small boy.  That is no criticism, but rather an indication of his maturity level as a soon-to-be four year old.  He will grow to know who he is and the authority he possesses.  Similarly, we have been given full authority by the King of Kings, but often do not act like it.  Our maturity level of faith in Jesus needs to grow so that we know and understand our authority.  Otherwise, what He has given us goes unappropriated, wasted and useless.  We are already standing in the highway, dodging everything that is coming our way, and asking God to redirect the traffic away from us.  He could do that, but we would not grow from the experience.  He has already given us the authority to stop what is coming at us.

All believers have the authority (delegated power) to oppose everything that oppresses them spiritually-fear, sickness, poverty, loneliness, anger, etc.  James 4:7 says- “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  It is not a matter of feeling powerful or authoritative.  We have been given more authority than we think we have.  My Dad did not feel or appear “big”, but he knew his authority.  A true leader must rise up in authority, and exercise it, remembering it is not about the leader’s power, but it is about the authority they have been given.  For the believer, there is no greater authority than that given by the Lord Jesus Christ.