Grace and Joy, Family.
It’s 2017 and it's a New Year and with comes God’s new mercies and grace
upon our lives. With this New Year,
also, comes new opportunities and possibilities, new adventures and new trials,
and renewed determination and renewed commitment. This New Year, I have determined to not make
a resolution, but make a new effort to do what the Lord has committed me to
do. That new and renewed commitment is
to make disciples. To teach God’s word
to instruct and build his kingdom. His
kingdom not people land and buildings, but his church, his people, his saints. I will do this thru study and teaching of the
Word of God. I encourage you, those who
will journey with me on this endeavor, to study with me, share with me and seek
God with me on how to live and produce the fruit desired for His glory.
I will begin this study with Matthew 5. Let us begin:
Matthew 5:1 And seeing the multitude, He went up into a
mountain, and when he was set, his disciples came to him.
Before we unpack this verse, let me bring you up to speed
with what is happening in the text.
Jesus has begun his ministry. In
chapter 4, Christ was led and tempted in the wilderness. In the very beginning of his ministry, he was
challenged and tested for his ministry.
When we begin a work for the Lord, we must understand that we will be
brought to a wilderness experience and tested.
Just as the Israelites were led in the wilderness to be tested
(Deuteronomy 8:1-7) we, too, will go through this testing. After Christ was ministered to, he began to
preach his gospel. “Repent, for the
kingdom is at hand!” He had begun to
heal the sick and the diseased. He had
begun to heal the lame and make the cripple whole. He had begun to set the captive free. His ministry was blossoming. His popularity was becoming renown. He was amassing a following. It was at this time that Jesus began the
process of making disciples.
A disciple is one who accepts and assists in spreading the
doctrine of another. Here, according to
Webster, a disciple is 1) who accepts the doctrine or the teachings of
another. In the text preceding our
verse, Jesus begins to pick men who will first accept his doctrine. Accept his teachings and his relationship
with them. 2) who assists in spreading
the doctrine. Not only are these men who
accept his teachings, but he knows will spread this doctrine. A disciple of Christ is not just a pew warmer
or a fad Christian; but is an individual who first accepts the gospel and
teachings of Christ and will then take that doctrine and spread it to
others. I have met many of “Christians”
who say they believe and accept Christ, but feel that they don’t have to spread
this good news. They are not disciples.
Jesus has not only, now, amassed a huge following
(multitudes), but he has also recruited individuals in which he will pour into
who will in turn pout into others. He
has recruited Peter and Andrew, then James and John. This, now, brings us to our study text. I want to illustrate four things, in this
text, that are the makings of discipleship: Assessment, Elevation, Setting and
The Assessment: Matthew 5:1(a) And seeing the multitudes
This first verse of Matthew 5 is a time anomaly. When we just read the text, it seems that this
process Christ goes through happens in a manner of seconds, when in actuality,
this is hours of time going by while Christ is preparing to teach. This portion of the gospel is often referred
to as a sermon, yet, the more I look into this verse the more I am convinced
that this was an intimate, teaching moment as opposed to this being a sermon to
the multitudes. The verse starts off
with Jesus looking at the multitudes.
What is he looking at? What is he
seeing? What is the purpose of his
looking or rather seeing the multitudes?
Jesus is assessing his audience.
He is determining whether or not the masses can handle what he wants to
say. He is pondering if the multitude can
handle this teaching or if he should make this a classroom session. I have learned over time that not everyone
who sits in the pew can handle doctrine.
They love a good message. They
whoot and holler at a good sermon. They
get excited over the deliverance preaching.
They run at the “I’ve gotta feelin’, e’re things gonna be alright”
message. However, when it comes to that
“you have to change” message, one can hear a fly land on cotton from miles
away. When that you are better off not
in that relationship message is preached or taught, more were at the paint
drying seminar that at that service. The
people loved the “repent” message, but could they grasp the “Blessed”
messages. When discipling, we must
assess our audience. Is the doctrine we
want accepted and assisted in spreading readily receivable by the multitude, or
do we need a few good men and women to pour into.
Assessing is the first step in building anything, especially
in the making of discipleship. We must
assess the “raw materials” to see what is useful and where it can be useful in
building. This is indicative of
ourselves, as well. When becoming a
disciple of Christ, we must assess ourselves.
Do we contain the necessary properties of discipleship? When assessing material, we look for sturdy
material to build the framework. That
type of material to withstand and hold the other elements in place. We look for pliable material to be able to
bend and fit into the intricate places of the building. Material that can withstand heat and be used
where it is deemed necessary. We look
for moldable material that can be fashion for the building. Notice I did not say foundation because there
is only one foundation in which we build upon and that is Jesus Christ. If you are not saved, then you have no firm
foundation in which to build upon. The
foundation must be laid first. If you
are not saved, then that is the first place to start. We can begin that process now. If you are desiring to be a disciple and yet,
you do not know Christ as your Lord and Savior and you desire this, then let us
begin the laying of the Foundation.
I desire to be your disciple. Your
child. I desire to live this life
Minister Jones is talking about. I know
that I am a sinner and that without you, I am destined to a life in hell. Please, Lord, forgive me of my sins. Cleanse me of my unrighteousness and grant me
eternity with you in heaven. I believe
that you are the Son of the Living God.
Sent down from heaven, born of the virgin Mary and died for my sins on
that rugged cross on Calvary. I also
believe that God, the Father, raised you up from death on the third day and
that all power is given to you. Lord, I
thank you for this grace upon my life. I
thank you, Lord, for dying for me and saving me by your blood. Lord, I ask that you come into my heart and
change my life. I thank you for mercy
today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
If you have said that prayer, in faith and earnestness of
heart, let me be the first to say, Welcome to the family. You do not have to walk this alone. I also urge you to find a local body of bible
believing saints and join with them.
It’s a good thing and grow in the Joy of the Lord.
Christ assessed the multitude to determine if they, all,
could handle the curriculum. Are they
ALL willing to listen to what is being taught?
Or will they buck and fight it?
Are they too full of pride to be corrected or are they humble enough to
hear what is being taught, ponder its meaning and apply what is
applicable. I am a firm believer that
Preaching is for the multitudes, but teaching is for disciples.
Elevation: Matthew 5:1(b) he went up into a mountain
As I mentioned, Matthew 5:1 is an anomaly of time. It is not the few second happenings it seems,
but a span of time in which discipleship is being done. Jesus next move is actually a move. After having assessed the multitudes, Christ
shows us that discipleship I requires a move of elevation. Jesus begins to walk up into a mountain. This is no hill so his sound could travel,
but like Moses in the wilderness, Jesus begins ascending up into a
mountain. This is a form of
elevation. Like in the wilderness, God
didn’t give Moses the Law amongst the crowd.
Why? Let’s go to Exodus 20:18-21
God is giving Moses the Commandments, the teachings, the doctrine. Verse 18 says that when the people saw the
thunderings and lightening and heard the trumpets and saw the mountain smoking
they backed off. This signifies the awesomeness
and power of God’s Word. Everyone
couldn’t handle it. In verse 19, they
said to Moses, look, you speak and we will hear but when God speaks, we might
die. Now that has many implications, but
it is fitting as to why Christ went up into a mountain. Not everyone can handle the teachings of
God. Discipleship requires elevation in
order to handle the intricate teachings of the Lord. To get the doctrine, and then, be able to
bring it to the people. Discipleship is
more than merely being in the multitude.
It is more than making an appearance.
It is more than saying I go here or I go there. Discipleship is an elevation of one’s
relationship with God. It is a form of
being set apart from the set apart.
Discipleship requires commitment to learning. Christ begins his ascent into a mountain
while the people are watching. He is
issuing an unspoken challenge to the multitude.
If you want to hear more of what I have to say, come. This ascent is not an easy task. This ascent was not easily travelled. This was a hard climb as opposed to a gradual
climb. He was also teaching and
illustrating the path to the kingdom as well.
Later in his teachings, Matthew 7:13-14, Christ says, “Enter ye in the
strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction,
and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow
is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” This path into the mountain was the
illustration of that teaching. The multitude
could not, would not follow. To some it
was not easy enough, it required too much effort and they were unwilling. This climb took time to make; time that many
are not willing to give. “Look, I go to
church twice on Sundays, isn’t that enough?”
“I got Sunday school on Sunday morning, church all morning, then
Wednesday bible study, and you want another night?” “I have to be at work early and you want me
to get up earlier for devotions, or prayer line, or prayer meeting?” It took time to climb that mountain to get
where Jesus was going to teach. Are we
willing to take that time?
It requires effort to climb up a mountain. This was no just “lean into it” walk up a
mountain. It would require some step and
lift. It would require a few cut hands
and stubbed toes. It would require a few
slips and stumbles. You would need sure
footing. Or simply it would require
following the one ahead of you. (Now that’s a thought). Discipleship requires effort on all our
parts. It would require setting aside
study time, reading time, prayer time, meditation time, talking time, learning time,
teaching time. It would require an extra
day, an extra night. It would require
sacrifice. It would require sacrificing
a weekend, a night of watching your favorite show, a time of playing your
favorite game, a little bit of your morning snooze. It takes effort in the makings of
To climb this mountain will also take commitment. Not just commitment to climb, but commitment
to the purpose of the climb. Any one,
from the multitude, would have to be committed to Jesus. They would have to be committed to hearing
what he was going to say. They had to be
committed to accepting what he was going to say. They had to determine if the climb would be
of worth to them. They had to determine
if there would be any value in it. They
would have to press. The unspoken issue
in this commitment would also have to be the accepting of what elevation
brings. While those committed to the
climb endured the process of the climb, they were also being watched. Elevation puts you on the spotlight. Jesus wanted to see who was committed to him
despite what the multitude said or thought.
While the few took the challenge, the multitude, I’m sure, had a few
things to say about it. Discipleship
puts you on the front line of criticism.
Discipleship places the target of scrutiny on your back. Discipleship places the bounty of gossip on
your head. It sets you apart. Are you committed to the call of discipleship
despite the surmounting odds? Are you
willing to become the target of the gossip, the scrutinized of the naysayers
and the object of the expectancy to fail?
That is why Jesus went up into a mountain. Not only does he expose you to all that, but
once you reach the setting point, you are then shielded from those who would
not and could not make it.
The Setting Point:
Matthew 5:1(c) and when he was set,
At this point, Jesus has assessed and issued a
challenge. He has now come to a point
where he will begin to teach his disciples.
Those few who determined it is a worthy thing to hear the intricate teachings
of the Master. To elevate themselves and
become elevated for the Kingdom of God.
Jesus now has found a place in which he could instruct and sets himself
to teach. To set means to be placed
firmly or affixed firmly to a place or position. Jesus was now becoming firmly placed to where
he could begin instructing his disciples on the doctrine. In order for God to have any affect in us and
for us to become effective for the Kingdom, we have to have a set place in our
lives. A set place to be able to receive
instruction and a set place to give instruction is crucial in discipleship.
Let’s deal with having a set place. I love the movie AVATAR for some of the
quotes in that movie. They were profound
and easily preachable from. One of my
favorite quotes is, “It is hard to fill a cup that is already full.” Wow, so much depth and meaning in that one
statement; and yet true. From the being
disciple spectrum, when we are full of ourselves, our own notions and belief
systems, we make it hard to be poured into.
I, for one, was and can sometimes be, one of those people. True discipleship sometimes means emptying
ourselves of ourselves so we may have Christ poured in. This condition means that there is no “set
place” for God to teach and instruct us.
It also means there is no room for correction. We must beware of this condition. It is similar to that of a fool as described
in Proverbs. As Christians, we must have
a set place for Christ to teach us.
Besides having that time set aside for prayer, daily devotions and
studying and meditation, it also requires having someone teach us. Paul had two great teachers, Gamaliel, who
taught him the Old Testament law and Ananias, who taught him the Doctrine of
the Gospel of Jesus. Someone with a
proven knowledge of God’s word and teaches the Word. I’m not saying perfect, I’m saying
knowledgeable. A rookie on the football
team can only help a rookie get better, but it takes a coach or a veteran to
teach skills and techniques to a rookie.
When Christ was set, it was also in a position of
authority. If Christ is not an authority
in your life, then it will be difficult to learn from what he teaches. The Word of God always instructs us to submit
to our elders and those over us in the Lord.
Why? So we may learn and gleam
knowledge. That puts us, the disciple,
in a position of receiving and learning.
“To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;
to receive instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; to give
subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. A wise man will hear, and will increase
learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsel: to
understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their
dark sayings. The fear of the Lord is
the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:1-7 (suggested reading Proverbs
4:1-9) In these passages, an admonition
to gain wisdom and instruction from a “father” is given for our benefit. For us to gain in discipleship, we must have a
set place for instruction to be given.
The second perspective of this is in the place of making
Disciples. We must have a set place to teach.
This, once again, is not in the physical, even though having a place to
effective teach is good, this is in the spiritual sense. 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to show thyself
approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing
the word of truth.” To have a set place
is to have a place in you where you are apt to teach, as Paul wrote to
Timothy. Not that we are Christ, but
Christ like in nature that we may teach the mysteries of God. Not even the mysteries, but the simple
doctrine of living a Godly life. Taking
what Christ taught and effectively being able to teach that to another.
Discipleship takes discipline and willingness.
You must be teachable, studious, correctable and above all faithful.
Our Commitment: Matthew 5:1(d) and his disciples came to
Now we have come to the culmination of what Christ desired
in discipleship. He assessed the
multitude, issued his challenge of elevation, set himself to teach and now this
is our part, we go to him. Disciples
make the journey to discipleship.
Disciples are committed to going where Christ is to learn; to receive
his instruction. Disciples must have a
willingness to follow Christ. Even when
it may require effort and scrutiny, a disciple must be willing to go against
the grain of life. Let me illustrate through
Christ ministry. To follow Christ may
place us in dire circumstances:
Matthew 8:19-20, “And a certain scribe came, and said unto
him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have
holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where
to lay his head.” To follow Christ, to
be a disciple and to disciple another may lead one to dire circumstances. But the commitment is worth the trouble.
Matthew 8:21-22 And another of the disciples said unto him,
Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
But Jesus said unto him, Follow me, and let the dead bury their
dead. Sometimes the commitment to
discipleship may put you at odds with family events, whether they are joyous or
sorrowful. Christ wants the pre-eminence in your life, whether
as disciple or teacher.
Want more…this may be too much but needs to be said
Matthew 10:32-38 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before
men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him
will I deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth:
I come not to send peace, but a sword.
For I am come to set man at variance against his father, and the
daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in
law. And a man’s foes shall be they of
his own household. He that loveth father
or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter
more than me is not worthy of me. And he
that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me is not worthy of me.
Discipleship requires commitment. It requires commitment despite the
opposition, the circumstance or the people.
Discipleship takes true following of Christ.
The makings of Discipleship are the Assessment, the
elevation, the setting and the commitment.
When these are in place, the Christ can open his mouth and teach.
Disappoint/Disappointment 1. To fail to meet the expectation or hope of
2. Defeated in expectation or hope
How does one move beyond disappointment while being a Christian?
To many, this seems like an easy answer. Jesus! God! Yes, you are correct, Our
God and Savior can move us beyond our disappointment. However, my question
really is how do we, the Christian, the human, move beyond disappointments? How
do we face disappointment and not condemn ourselves? How do we go beyond
disappointment without questioning God; or our scrutinizing our walk; or
questioning our faith? Especially when you feel the disappointment isn’t
warranted or that your time should have come by now. Also, how do we as
brothers and sisters minister to those who have and are facing disappointments?
Disappointments are an act of failing. You failed! You did not
meet expectations. You couldn’t cut the mustard. In the person’s mind, we were
not good enough. We lacked. Was there something more? And slowly it may move to
am I cut out for this? Why do I even bother? What hope is there? Till the
person is feels alone, out in space, worthless. Am I exaggerating?! To become
disappointed means first you must have cared. That means you invested into the
goal. It wasn’t some mediocre goal like getting to the grocery store this day
or that. It wasn’t some project that you can get to whenever. Disappointment
stems from a heavy investment into the goal. There was effort put into it. Not
just physical, but emotional and spiritual effort. Especially for the
Christian, we put scripture behind it, we prayed on it. We fasted on it. We
endured some things to get it. We hoped for it. It’s like running to jump over
the crevice to only have your fingers hit the opposite edge. You’re falling, spiraling
down in to an abyss of depression and sadness. You reach out to your friends
and family and they all seem to have the same answer; God can do anything. But
what if God’s anything is “No”. Can you hear them? The many screams of
disappointed people who could not figure out how to move beyond. Their wails,
as they fall, echo off the walls of shame and frustration as their plummet deep
within their own abyss. Oh Lord, help us!!!! Help me. I pray with my hands
lifted up, help me. Show me the way that I may show others.
One thing that I do know is that we cannot take a “No” as an act
of not deserving. Many times, we believe that the reason something we desire
doesn’t come to pass because we feel we have not deserved it. Romans 8:1 says
there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are I Christ Jesus, who
walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. That means, we cannot bring up
the past and cannot allow our current short-coming to question our salvation or
question the love that God has for us. We should not look at God through the
eyes of human nature. Why I say this? As Christians, we have a tendency to hold
on to scriptures that we believe give us the add advantage. We are taught,
preached and constantly reminded of the goodness of God through these
scriptures, however; sometime, maybe, we misapply them. Delight thyself in the
Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart. For I know the thoughts I
have for you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you an
expected end, and many, many more. Then disappointment happens. The answer is
“No”. Then we begin to question it all. Was my delight not enough? Have I
displeased the Lord in any way? No, my beloved, you have not. Please, by any
means, do not think of our God as that kind of God. Please, do not allow that
thought to rest in your heart. It may not have been a “No” It just simply is. I
am constantly reminded that God is a gentleman. If he did not manipulate your
heart, then he won’t manipulate another. Yes, scripture says that God controls
the hearts of kings to turn however he may, but that girl you like is not a
king. That school you wanted to get in is not a king. That job you desperately
wanted is not a king. Plus, we have to remember, God wants his glory. So then
we must ask ourselves, how would God get his glory out of my life? Will he get
glory by always allowing what I want, or will he get glory through my
perseverance through adversity and disappointment?
To the saint, the brother or sister in Christ, who the
disappointed may go to, how do we minister? What do we say? What do we do? How
do we console and then encourage our disappointed brother or sister? We may
have many answers to this question. Many solutions and scriptures to boot. For
me, I hope you will not just simply tell me, Who do you serve? Or If God be for
you… Or God’s got it. Why do I say this? Let me tell you why. When one begins this
venture and comes to disappointment, that is exactly what they were thinking
and believing when they went in. I’m a child of God, I serve a mighty God, it’s
mine in Jesus’ name. Yes, we went into this full of faith and hope. Now you see
us, and we are deflated. We are heart-broken and confused. We are questioning
things. We are not riding high on the wave, we are soaked through and through.
We went in more than a conqueror and come out feeling like Tyson made a
comeback on our emotions, our confidence and our faith. I like the way Jesus
handled disappointed people.
In John 4, we see and hear the look of disappointment. The woman
at the well, if you read John 4, you see a woman, in the land of Samaria,
coming to the local well to draw water. There are a few things to note here.
She is coming at the noon hour. Jesus, being a Jew, is at the well. His
disciples are not with him, so they end up being alone. Not to get so deep into
it, the Jews never really go through Samaria, so the fact that Jesus said he must
go through Samaria and that he would meet this particular woman there is critical.
This woman has faced a life of disappointments, First, her neighbors consider
her a dog; meaning the Jewish nation. These same neighbors, through the story,
are actually family. She, herself, is ostracized and unhappy with her current
social situation. Finally, we get to the root of the matter; she has had five
unsuccessful marriages. She has been disappointed five times majorly. She has
suffered heartache, betrayal, deficiency, abuse, misuse and her esteem
plummeted. She has been disappointed greatly. When this is revealed, it’s not
done in a way that makes her feel worse, but in a way that says, I understand
but move on. Yes, Bro, she is cute, but she is not the end all be all. I know
you wanted that job, I’m sorry you did not get it. I’m sure God has something
better out there for you. Jesus didn’t dismiss her feelings on it and he didn’t
dismiss the disappointment, he felt her pain. He didn’t throw the life line of
scripture at her; but got in the deep water and helped her out. Like she said,
I don’t see any tools in your hand, this well is deep. Sometimes, to
effectively minister to a disappointed person, you have to get into the water
and pull them out.
The story of Peter walking on water illustrates the same thing,
Peter walked on that water. You have to understand that he walked always onto
that water. Think about it, if he started sinking as soon as he got off the
boat, he would have cried out to his fellow brothers on the boat. The fact that
he cried to Jesus and not them lets me know he was closer to where Jesus was
than to the boat. Situations around him got hectic and he realized his faith
was turning to fear. Yes, Peter was disappointed. His goal was to reach Jesus
and he fell short. When he got off that boat, he began investing in his goal.
His emotions, his esteem, his faith was all about reaching Christ. When he
failed, yes he was disappointed and he cried out. Jesus didn’t throw a life
line of scriptures. Jesus didn’t throw the life buoy of anecdotes of positive
thinking. Jesus went to Peter, reached into his situation and grabbed him by
the hand. He pulled him out and ministered. Let us be sensitive and reach in
and help pull one out of their disappointment.
My brothers and sisters in Christ let me sit with you and talk.
I’m writing this because I have had this experience. I have had to deal with
disappointment. It affected me. It haunted me. It made me overly critical of my
walk, my relationship with God; everything. I tried to talk and not to the
fault of the ears it fell on, but didn’t get the consolation I needed. What I
eventually had to learn and do was encourage myself. Yes, like David said, I
had to encourage myself in the Lord. Let me tell you, it is a humbling
experience when done from a disappointed point of view. There are a few things
you need to know and understand to help you through this.
God is still on the throne. He is still an awesome God. He still
loves you with a never ending love. When I fell into a depressed state, I had
to remind myself about God. I stood in church, disappointment heavy on me, when
the choir sung there is no God like our God, so I began to reflect on that. I
reflected on how God has affected my life. How he saved me. How he blessed me.
How he sustained me. How he preserved me. How he uses me. How he still blesses
me, how he still sustains me. How he loves me. I began to encourage myself in
the Lord. I began to think on His sovereignty. I began to think on how this
would give him glory. How this experienced adds to my testimony. How turning
this disappointment into a testimony of God’s grace. God may say no and like
children, we will pout and stomp away. But when I look at my Father, I still
love Him. I still want Him. I may not understand now, but I know that he may
have something better for me. And if not, He has done enough already.
Let me tell you why I like bible studies. Its not about the doctrine so much as it is about finding new things that l've never heard before. seeing connections that may or may not be profound but interesting none the less.Here are some interesting things i have found that I have not heard per say. I'm not saying that they have never been preached on, but anyone who is hungry for more of God will enjoy finding these hidden in plain sight treasures.
For one: we the bible says that the law cannot save us. we simply can not abide by the law unless we allow the spirit of God to do so in us. so true. i was thinking about Moses and we all know that Moses didn't make it into the promised land. He never crossed the Jordan in. He could see it, but didn't make it. the interesting thing is that the laws are often referred to as the Mosaic Laws. Laws constructed and written by Moses. its interesting to me, that this man did not make it in. Then God revealed that the law will only bring us so far. It is the grace of God that allows us to cross over into the promise. Moses represented the law. If he crossed into the promise, then the need for Christ would have been unnecessary. chew on that for a minute.
Another nugget I found is in Matthew Chapter 3. I have been preaching on the wilderness for the past couple of months that i have been preaching and so here I read that John the Baptist was in the wilderness, baptizing. In fact, he was baptizing in the very same river that was the boundary between where Israel was and where their promise is. I find it amazing that John would be there of all places, calling people back to where it began. Even Jesus was baptized in the Jordan before his ministry began. There is something to be said about that. These are just thoughts. things i found in the Word. Nuggets to chew on. Meditational things.
I believe that every word in the Holy scriptures are there for us to seek out the wisdom and the purpose for its printing. I've always wondered what was the purpose for listing the genealogies. They are recorded in Genesis, Matthew, Luke and John 1:1, 14, but what eternal value did they have? One of Pew 2 Pulpit Ministries goals is to have an on going bible study in which we read and study the Word. As I prepared for this to begin, I prayed to the Lord for guidance and He led me to begin in Matthew starting with the first chapter. It's not a strange thing to start with genealogies. It is a recording of our history. It is often said that one can not know where one is going until one first learn where one has been. The Lord has definitely given me a word and a direction for our first study. Here is a food for thought: Why does Matthew only go as far back as Abraham while Luke goes back to Adam?
Praise the Lord.
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Blessed are the Poor in Spirit
Matthew 5:3 blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
As we reconvene in our devotionals, we come to where Jesus begins his teachings with a litany of “Blesseds” . To get a concise meaning of what is being said, we are going to get the Greek definitions of key words in his teachings.
Blessed, Makarios in Greek, means happy, fortunate or well-off. Jesus begins by addressing and encouraging his disciples of the ultimate result of certain expressed behaviors. We all desire to be blessed. We desire to be happy, fortunate; to be well-off. In our own imaginings, we seek this condition in many forms. We think of being blessed when we have material gain, or monetary wealth, or with an indulgence of our fleshly desires; and even in power and authority. Christ says differently.
Understanding how we think, it makes sense that Jesus begins with addressing that very mind-set of being blessed. Poor, Ptochas in Greek, translates to be reduced to begging or beggarly, asking for alms. It also means destitute of wealth, influence, position or honor. Destitute of the Christian virtues and eternal riches, powerless to accomplish an end; lacking in anything.
Spirit in this text, Pneuma in Greek, translates in to the third person of the triune God, the Holy Spirit, the life-giving spirit of God, the efficient source of any power.
Kingdom, Basilia in Greek, means royal power, kingship, dominion, rule; not the physical place, but the authority or tight of; the power and authority given by Christ, himself.
Heaven, Ouranas in Greek, means the skies, clouds, the expanse above; but in truth, the seat of order of things eternal, the place of God.
Yeah, looking at these words and their meanings also had meaning “cocking” my head to the side and grunting the preverbal “huuuh?!” I prayed and meditate on the definitions and sought what the Lord wanted to show me. So, my fellow Disciples, let’s get our shovels, picks and hammers and dig for Godly wisdom as we study, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
What about our faith pleases God?-Part I
Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
The first part of this scripture intrigues me and makes me seek the answer to the question: what is it about our faith that pleases God? The verse says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him:” Him, being God. We know that faith is more than just belief. As Hebrew 11:1 puts it, “It is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Therefore, faith is a tangible thing. Jesus could not do many works in Jerusalem because they lacked this faith. Jesus was sometimes disappointed in his disciples because they possessed too little of it. Here in this verse in Hebrews, the writer says without it we cannot please God. With it, we can please God. Therefore, what is it about this substance; this evidence that we can possess that pleases God. I wondered. I prayed. I even asked God was I seeking or looking too deep into something that is easily explained. Am I trying to look too deep to become super spiritual? On the other hand, is there something to this question of what about our faith pleases God? In my search for this answer, God revealed to me three components to this pleasing faith. The components to a pleasing faith are obedience, sacrifice and belief. Without these three in action, our faith cannot please God.
When we look at how we can please God, one of the hardest and usually the first thing mentioned is our obedience to the Word, Spirit and man of God. Obedience is the most important aspect of our faith that pleases God. In verse five of Hebrews 11, it talked about someone who pleased God. Enoch pleased God so well, He never died. Enoch never tasted death. Jesus, the son of God, God himself, tasted death. Enoch didn’t. I looked real deep into the eleven verses in the bible that refer to Enoch. The first two don’t count because it was the wrong Enoch. I did find, however, something interesting about Enoch and how he pleased God. One thing I found was that Enoch pleased God before the first law was ever given to Moses. Before the Pentateuch author, Enoch pleased God. How? There were no guidelines, no laws, and no outlines that we could use as a basis for pleasing God. What did he do to please God? Yes, Enoch walked with God. Yes, there are hundreds of teachings, tapes, seminars and classes that discuss walking with God, yet, the one thing about those tools are that they contain a law we could not keep. Enoch had no law to reference. Abraham, the father of faith, father of Israel, talked with God, and even walked by faith. God said go and Abraham went. God gave no commandment to Enoch, as written in the Word. Noah was told to build an arc because of the great flood that was coming. Thank the Lord for his obedience, but Enoch lived before both of them and still no commandment from the Lord toward him was recorded. Yet, he was obedient; he sacrificed and believed in God. So; what about obedience pleases God? Well, that is a no brainer. If you’re a parent, you know how obedience pleases. The kind of obedience that God desires is deeper than the simple go where I told you and do what I say. Obedient faith goes into doing all that the Word of God says, or what God actually said. Let’s look at King Saul for instance. As we read, we will see how obedience to what God says is pleasing.
1 Samuel 15:1-35 (1) Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD. (2) Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. (3) Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. (4) And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah. (5) And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley. (6) And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye showed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. (7) And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur that is over against Egypt. (8) And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
(9) But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but everything that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly. (10) Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying, (11) It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night. (12) And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal. (13) And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD. (14) And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? (15) And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.
(16) Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on. (17) And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel? (18) And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. (19) Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD? (20) And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. (21) But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal. (22) And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. (23) For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. (24) And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. (25) Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD. (26) And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel. (27) And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent. (28) And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbor of thine, that is better than thou. (29) And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man that he should repent. (30) Then he said, I have sinned: yet honor me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God. (31) So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshiped the LORD. (32) Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past. (33) And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal. Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul. (35) And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.
As we see, Saul had done what God said, but not completely. Like Saul, we have a tendency to do what God says, but we start to think that we can do it a little better. Saul felt that by keeping the best of the flocks and gold and spoils, and by not killing the king, he had done a good thing. He even proclaimed that he did what God said. The truth of the matter, Saul did what God said filtered through his own pleasing. Then, when the word was brought forth to show truth, Saul, like us, them puts the blame on someone else.
Ever tell your child or little brother or sister to do something. Gave specific instructions, and when they returned, they had not done it like you said. How did you feel? I know I’ve felt disappointed at times because there is a reason why we give those specific instructions. We, like God, see results a far off and give instructions not only for the now, but for the then also. God said utterly destroy the Amalekites. He even goes as far as to call them sinners. What has happened in Saul’s disobedience, the people took the things that were not clean (spiritually) and tried to offer them to God. Eventually, those things would lead the children of Israel to idolatry. So God tells Saul, I would rather you be obedient to what is in my word, than to sacrifice unto me. Sacrifice without obedience is not a worthy sacrifice and does not please God. If we would only grasp the benefits of complete obedience, then and only then, would we see how pleasing our faith is to God.
What about our faith pleases God?-Part 2
In my search for this answer, God revealed to me three components to this pleasing faith. The components to a pleasing faith are obedience, sacrifice and belief. Without these three in action, our faith cannot please God.
The second part of God pleasing faith is Sacrifices. I thank God that we do not have to bring bullocks, rams, lambs, doves and other forms of sacrifices of yesteryears. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ for being my one and only sacrifice for my sins. I praise God for his baptism in water and for his Holy Spirit that dwells in me with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Yet, do we not have to sacrifice to God? Yes, we do. He enjoys and is pleased in our sacrifices. What do we sacrifice? So glad you asked. I asked the same question. In Hebrews 13:15-16, God shows me what sacrifices are pleasing to Him.
Hebrews 13:15-16, “By Him (Jesus Christ) therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
I wanted to take some time and meditate on this second part of our God pleasing faith: Sacrifice. From every point of view that I have seen and heard of sacrifice; that is the part that seems to be hard to fulfill in one’s walk with the Lord. Obedience is hard, sometimes, but then to sacrifice makes it even harder. Alternatively, are we making it harder than it really is? In the obedience, we see that by being completely obedient to God’s Word and Spirit, we please God and receive benefits. Therefore, what about this sacrifice? My mind began to wonder. I thought of what sacrifice meant. My thoughts were not becoming any more pleasant. I decided to look up the word sacrifice. According to Webster’s Collegiate and to summarize what I read, a sacrifice is the surrendering of something of value, i.e. human life, animal life, or a thing of value to either a deity, or for the sake of something that possesses a higher purpose or value. One definition was to dispose of goods regardless of profit. What a sad and dismal representation of sacrifice. With that definition, no wonder why the world has such a sad viewpoint and understanding of the sacrifice Christ made for us. Then we turn that inward and find it hard to sacrifice to God. I wonder if Cain thought that when he sacrificed. I wonder if Cain was thinking, “I’m disposing of my goods for nothing. No profit.” Then we read Hebrews 13:15-16 and see the “sacrifice of praise” and when we are going through, do we feel that we are disposing the “goods” of our energy for no profit.
Let us take a real look into sacrifice and what it really means in the life of a Christian and how it pleases God. A great story and lesson in sacrifices can be found in the very beginning. Genesis chapter 4 gives a very accurate and thought provoking account of sacrifice. It also gives a very good definition of what type of sacrifice God is wanting and is pleased with.
Read Genesis 4:1-8
Cain and Abel show us the first example of sacrificing unto God. Now, before I get into this, I want to make clear that I am in no way saying that the scholars, teachers and others before me are wrong, but when the subject of this particular sacrifice comes up, it is always said that a blood sacrifice was needed because God killed an animal for Adam and Eve. I have read Genesis chapters 1-3 at least an hundred times and have not seen that verse of scripture saying that. We can assume that it happened, we can hypothesize that God gave Adam specific instruction on sacrifices and then later told Moses the complete picture. I want to give my hypothesis on this particular sacrifice since it is the first recorded version of a sacrifice in the Word of God. It says that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground as an offering unto God. Then it says Abel brought the firstlings of his flock and the fat there of as an offering unto God. Before this, it says that Cain was a farmer by trade and Abel was a keeper of sheep. Suffice it to say that both Cain and Abel brought the best of their profession to God. Now, and I will accept the touché, it does not say Cain brought the firsts of his fruits. However, this is not their first rodeo. I do not believe Cain brought a substandard sacrifice. Why? When you read further in the scripture, God never once mentions the type of sacrifice. He does, however mention the attitude. In the first four verses of this particular scripture, we see and are given the definition of sacrifice. It’s not that we are disposing of something of value for no profit, or that we are surrendering something of value to a deity or some god. Here we see that a sacrifice is offering up to God the best of who and what we are. Cain, as a farmer, offered up the best of his labor. Likewise, Abel, a keeper of sheep, offered up the best of his labor. God only wants us to offer to him the best of our labor. Hebrews says, let us offer up the sacrifice of praise…which is the fruit of our lips”. We cannot offer God one heck of a discount on a tune up or brake job. We cannot offer up to the Father of wisdom a free tuition or scholarship for learning. We cannot give the Great Deliverer a get out of jail free card. What we can offer up to God is our thanksgiving and praise for who He is and what He has done.
The other part in our God pleasing sacrifice is our attitude in the sacrifice. As we look closer to the scripture, it does say, “Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock.” So it would be safe to assume that Cain brought the best of his crops. So since we know that they brought the best, and since I can safely hypothesize that a blood sacrifice was not the only requirement here, why was Cain’s sacrifice unacceptable? Well, let’s go back to what the world’s authority on the meaning of words says about sacrifices. Disposing of goods for no profit, surrendering something of value to a deity or to something that possesses a higher value or purpose. Now, let us look at what God said to Cain, “Cain, Why is your countenance fallen. (in my momma’s term, what’s wrong with your face) If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” Both brothers brought the best of their offerings. God shows his approval for Abel’s offering and disapproval to Cain’s. Cain becomes angry. In fact, Cain was wroth. To be wroth or have wrath is to have an intense anger. I remember a time when I had did something for somebody, and they treated me as if I was a nobody and didn’t accept what I did for them. I was wroth. I mean I was so angry I know why Jesus taught on being angry with your brother is like killing him anyway. If I knew what “raca” meant then I would have said it. Cain was angry. More importantly, he was angry because his sacrifice did not please God. So what made this time any different from the other: attitude. Could, over the course of time, Cain have become worldly in his thinking? Felt that he was working too hard and after sacrificing, felt he wasn’t getting enough of the “good stuff”. Did he feel that he was disposing the goods of his labor for little return? Do we, in our giving, feel that we are getting little in our return? Do we not praise like we should, or give like we should, or study like we should, or pray like we should because we feel that we are sacrificing a lot for little return. Our attitude should not be about what we are getting back. We should think about what we already have. We have salvation through Jesus Christ and that provided by God. We do not have to go to hell. We do not have to suffer spiritual death. We do not have to live in an eternity of damnation. We have life, hope and freedom in Christ Jesus. I’m sure that Adam told his children of the Eden experience. I’m sure Cain and Abel knew of the mistake their parents made and how God had mercy upon them and the rest of mankind. However, like so many of us before we come to know God and some of us before we get to know God, Cain offered from a selfish point of view. Cain’s attitude was not pleasing to God. Thus, his attitude marred his sacrifice. That is why it is written that we should offer up the sacrifice of praise and the sacrifice of thanksgiving.
Psa 107:21 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! (22) And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.
Psa 116:17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.
Jer 17:26 And they shall come from the cities of Judah, and from the places about Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin, and from the plain, and from the mountains, and from the south, bringing burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and meat offerings, and incense, and bringing sacrifices of praise, unto the house of the LORD.
Jer 33:11 The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the LORD of hosts: for the LORD is good; for his mercy endureth forever: and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the LORD.
What about our faith pleases God?-Part 3
We now enter the third component of God pleasing Faith: belief. This probably should have been first because without this, you wouldn’t and couldn’t effectively, if at all, do the other components. That is why it is followed by, “for he who cometh to God must believe that he is…” Now, to be clear, faith and belief are not the same thing. Some people would say that it is, but its not. We know that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Belief is a confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible (accessible) to rigorous proof or evidence. In other words, to believe is to have confidence in the truth of, existence of, or value of something. Faith is tangible, belief if internal. Faith will cause action, belief will cause faith. Lack of faith will cause inaction; lack of belief will hinder the power of faith. Look in the gospels and notice how often Jesus was disappointed in the world’s lack of faith and non-belief in his ministry and who Jesus was. So much, that he even asked his disciples if they believed in whom he said he is. Mat 16:13-17
In this portion of scripture, Jesus has just finished another debate with the Pharisees and Sadducees and was warning his disciples about their teachings by way of a parable. Then before he explains the teaching, he rebukes them by saying, “Oh ye of little faith….”. Then when they are off by themselves, he asks them whom do men say that I am? What Jesus is asking is, who do men believe that I am? This is a vital question. Just a few chapters earlier, in chapter 13, we see what men believe in Jesus: Mat 13:54-58
The world tries to reason out Jesus. They try to find flaws in his perfectness. It wants to deny the very the truth so that they will no longer feel condemned in what they do. But, that is another lesson. (Smiling) So the world says that he is another prophet, just another man of God. Just another man; not willing to accept or believe in the deity of Christ. So after Jesus hears these answers, He then comes to the main question. “But, whom say ye that I am?” In other words, ok, forget what the world believes, who do you, my disciple, the one who walks with the Word, believe that I am? Who is this Jesus Christ? Has God asked you that? What was your answer?
Peter, the beloved Peter, the first church apostle and preacher, says, “Thou art the Christ, Son of the living God.” What an answer! Such boldness and confidence. Jesus looked at him and said blessed art thou. Jesus felt that God pleasing aspect of faith in Peter’s words. He felt the confidence in a truth that was revealed to Peter by God. Peter believed. Jesus felt his belief.
Now, I have been dealing with something that falls along the lines of belief. Belief in God and belief in His Word. There is more to belief than saying “it’s in the bible.” I’m not saying that we should question everything that is written. In fact, there is nothing to question. However, we should study, research, and seek God for the truth in his word. We should seek to rightly divide the Word of Truth. Seek God for the truth yourself. I used to believe that if I just confessed and believed that I was saved. I thought this for over ten years. I read, prayed, studied; did all the things Christians should do. Now, when I was asked if I was baptized in Jesus’ name and that true salvation comes with the baptism and in-filling of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues, I questioned it. Yes it is written. (Acts 2:38) However, like millions of other people, I did not know it was necessary. I was taught differently and now I was being told that if I would have died, I might not have made it. So I researched and studied for the truth. Now, if I’m asked, I can positively say, without a doubt, with boldness and confidence in that truth. The Lord led me to another scripture that confirms my thought. John 11:21-27, 39-40.
In this passage of scripture, Jesus again asks another “belief” question in regards to who he is and of his power. Martha, sister of Lazarus who is dead, hears that Jesus is coming and goes out to meet him. She says to Jesus that he is a little late and that Lazarus has past. Jesus tells her that Lazarus would live again. Now, note the biblical answer Martha gives in response to Jesus, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Praise God that we shall all live again if we pass from this world. However, Jesus was referring to here and now. He meant that Lazarus would live again on this earth not many moments from now. Jesus, perceiving that she lacks the God pleasing belief that leads to great faith, gives a glimpse of who he is. “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” Here is the Word. Jesus is telling Martha that I have the power to resurrect Lazarus. He also is giving her the word of salvation saying that even if she or he were not dead, they should not die (spiritually speaking). Then the important question, “Believest thou this?” Do we believe the word? When God says we shall cast out devils in his name, do we believe it? When God says he will never leave us nor forsake us, do we believe it? When God says all things are possible, do we believe it? Believest thou this? Notice, again, Martha’s biblical answer. “I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.” Good answer, but not what God was looking for. He just doesn’t want the bible verse memorization answer. Jesus is looking for that I know it because I know you and have sought you for the truth answer.
Go to verses 39-40 in this same chapter. Jesus has talked with Mary, seen the mourners, groaned in the spirit twice, wept, and arrived at the tomb of Lazarus. He tells them to roll away the stone and then it happened. Martha, bible scholar and verse memory expert, the one who knew the biblical answers, says wait, is that a good idea? I mean, my brother has been dead four days, I know it must reek in there. What happened to that thou art the Christ who should come into the world? Jesus looks at Martha and says, “blessed art thou Martha…”, oops, sorry. He says, “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” Wow, what a rebuke! It’s not enough just to be able to quote and memorize the word. Belief is a confidence; a without a doubt belief. I would not say that because it is written, it is enough. If it were, then many people are not as lost as we think. “easy beliefism”
With what God has shown me, I could write the first part of Hebrew 11:6 as “But without belief, obedience and sacrifice, it is impossible to please him: for he who comes to God must believe that he is, and is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
The Who, What, When, Where and How of God.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is; and is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
When I first started the study of this particular verse, I always paused at the second portion of this verse and said “what.” As to say, for he that cometh to God must believe that he is what? To ask the question what is God? Or to say what is God to me? Then as I began to study the first portion, the question began to develop into Who is God? Then it progressed into When is God, Where is God and How is God? In my seeking to answer the first question, God revealed to me that he is more than a “what”, but a when, where, who, and how. God wants to reveal to us his many facets and demeanors. He wants us to know him in more than one capacity. At least, in so much that we can understand him. His word says that his ways are not our ways, and that he is above our own understanding. I mean, this is a God who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. (Ephesians 3:20) Now, I can have a pretty grand imagination, or what I think about. God exceeds that. So, hopefully, I can portray who, what, when, where and how God is according to what he may reveal to me. And I’m sure that there is a lot more than what I may write.
Now, being the literal person that I am, I began to study more on the second portion of this verse and something stuck out to me like a monolith. The word says, “for he that cometh to God must believe that he is.” I took careful notice of the word cometh. God was telling me to look up that word and tell me what it means. I really looked at it and said, “He who goes to God.” Then He said, “No, it says he who cometh.” A light as bright as the sun shown on me and gave me a hunger to know what God was showing me. So I looked up the words “to go” and “to come”. To “Go” is to move or proceed to or from something; or to become. It is an action in which the individual or object does based on its own will or volition. To “Come” is to arrive or appear as a result. An action that is done in response to a preceding action, this is not done by own our volition, but in response to someone else’s. So when I look at this verse and see “for he that cometh to God must believe that he is:” I see that it’s a response to a prompting. Pastor has said it over and over again, we did not decide to go to God, God decided to come and get us. Looking at that portion of the verse makes me see it as for he that responds to the calling of God.
When I first believed in God and his salvation for me, I have always heard it said that I must decide to come to God. I accept Him. In the book of Genesis 3, we all know it so well, it talks of the fall of man from God. The most interesting thing in that whole scripture is found in verses 8-10.
Genesis 3:8-10, “And when they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day; and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
Man has sinned. We have made the mistake. We have disobeyed. We have broken the trust and fellowship with God. And yet, it is God who is seeking and calling after us. From the very beginning, God has been seeking us for fellowship with him. We, in no time, have made the initiative. Paul expressed it best in Romans 3:10-11 when he said, “As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” We do not go to him because we feel its time. We do not say within ourselves, “O.K. I’ve sinned long enough; I’ll go to God for salvation.” Now, yes, some of us have prayed to God; but what did we pray for? What did we seek after? We sought for an escape from our situation; help from our trouble, money for the rent, to live because we over did it with the drugs or alcohol; but we never just sought God. Jesus even made it clear that we did not even choose him in light of our salvation. “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain…” (John 15:16) We answered a calling and grace on our lives. Now here is the good part, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the father, but by me.” (John 14:6) No one answers the calling of God unless it is done through Jesus Christ. Go figure! He is the Lamb, Jehovah-salvation, and the Son of God who died for us. However, check this out, Jesus also said, “no man can come to me, except the father draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”(John 6:44) So we can not go to God on our own volition, in fact, we have to go through Christ to get to Him; yet, we can not go to Christ on our own volition except God draw us to go to him. Either way, we respond to God’s initiative in our lives. Either way, it is God who sought after us. Thank God that we answered yes. So, I look at this verse and I read it as, “for he who responds to the calling of God must believe that he is;”