Grace Through Faith

The Bible tells us that we are saved by grace THROUGH faith.

Grace (charis) is defined as the divine influence upon the heart. A benefit of favour.

Paul uses the Greek word charis to define God’s favor bestowed by his Son Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

Paul is preaching to ancient Greeks who were idol worshippers.

Characteristics in ancient Greece were often personalized as gods in Greek culture.

In ancient Greek mythology Charis is a representation of several Greek goddesses known as the Charities whose characters are charm, beauty, goodwill, human creativity and fertility.

Paul was pointing out to the Gentiles (non Jews) that the benevolence of God acquired for us salvation through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ.

Grace or unmerited favor extended by God according to the scriptures must be accompanied by Faith in order for salvation to occur.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8,9

Some people preach that God’s grace saves in and of itself. This is not true.
While God’s grace poured out by his divine love is extended to all it is not realized by any until grace is received by faith.

What is faith? In ancient Greek mythology Pistis or Faith was the personification or god of good faith, trust and reliability.

It is the same in our common law. Faith or “good faith,” is having an honest and sincere intention.

Many believe faith to simply mean belief. Again this is not true. To intellectually believe something to be true does not mean one receives that truth for themselves.

I may believe that red peppers have a very high amount of vitamin C and are good for me but I may not want to eat them because I don’t like them or because I am not in the mood for them or I’m indecisive about other aspects concerning them. Maybe I think I may get heart burn if I eat them.

Believing something to be true does not mean adhering to that something personally.

Pistis in the Greek is faith which sincerely believes and trusts in something which in turn leads to conversion or changing from one particular thing into another. 

Pistis according to the ancient Greeks was faith or belief which came about by the act of persuasion.

To be fully persuaded is induced by evidence or proof which is given.

And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. Romans 4:21

Blind belief is not Biblical faith. God has given much evidence for his existence and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Examples of this are;

Jesus rising from the dead seen by many witnesses.

Witness testimony of the disciples.

The power of the Holy Spirit confirming the word through signs following.

Jesus mentioned by Jewish and Roman historians in their historical texts.

The testimonial of Christians throughout history.

The history of the Bible.

Nature itself.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/14/what-is-the-historical-evidence-that-jesus-christ-lived-and-died

In the Old Testament we can see an example of faith in action.

Abraham heard God’s voice telling him to follow him.

Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. Genesis 12:1-4

Abraham heard God’s voice speaking to him. What Abraham did not know is where he was going. Abraham trusted God because he was a friend of God. You don’t become someone’s friend without a bona-fide relationship.

According to the Bible, faith comes by hearing God’s word or voice. (rhema)

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word (rhema) of God. Romans 10:17

Evidences of faith are built by having a relationship with God.

This relationship requires obedience to his voice.

Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness.

For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Romans 4:3-5

Believing or Faith (pistis) in God requires trust. This trust is developed by having a relationship.

Paul used the word pistis to describe trust in God for his grace.

How is grace through faith received? The Bible tells us it is by repentance or metatoia.

Metatoia in ancient Greek meant changing one’s mind about something or some one. Metatoia was depicted by the ancient Greeks as a sorrowful goddess filled with regret for having failed or missed the moment.

In early Christian literature (See Tertillian) metanoia is expressed as a change in one’s thinking that leads to a fundamental change in behavior or way of living. This change is a key ingredient for receiving salvation.

Jesus made it very clear in scripture that without repentance there is no salvation.

I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Luke 13:3

In conclusion, God’s grace extended through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ the Savior is received by faith which is trusting in God through obedience to the truth.

Since you have purified your souls by obedience to the truth so that you have a genuine love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from a pure heart. 1Peter 1:22

This faith is realized by repentance or a turning away from one’s own ways to walk in obedience to the voice of God through his eternal word. 

But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. 1 Peter 1 :22

When this is done, God through his grace by faith imputes or accredits to the recipient his righteousness.

That is the convert now is in perfect standing with God. 

The Gospel of Grace

The Bible tells us that we are justified by grace (Charis) through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. (Titus 3:7)

To be justified means to be made innocent. To be made righteous.

However to continue living in sin according to scriptures will produce death. Now some say that this includes spiritual death while others say only physical death due to consequence for sin. Regardless of that age old question let us consider the point of the whole argument.

Death according to this verse in Romans is thanatos in the Greek.

Thanatos is a Grecian deity. According to ancient Greek beliefs this god puts people to sleep and carries them off to the underworld.

That doesn’t exactly sound like a position any Christian wants to find themselves in.

Paul tells us in Romans 6 that Christians are not to continue in sin counting on grace to abound or continue for them.

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? Romans 6:1

Romans goes on to tell us that those of us who have been baptized into Christ’s death have put off the old man and are raised like Jesus Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father.

When Jesus rose from the dead he took the power away from Thanatos (to take men to the underworld). So now that old devil Thanatos has no more ability to keep the Christian under his dominion.

Christians who are born of God have a new Lord who rules over their life. Jesus Christ the righteous.

Since this is true, scriptures tell us the old man is dead to sin. Thanatos has no more authority to rule over the blood bought redeemed.

Jesus took the keys or dominion away from Thanatos and his partner Hades. 

These two demons have no power to rule over the Christian.

Giving sin or hamartia place in our life gives Thanatos opportunity to rule over us.

Hamartia is the Greek word for sin. It means to come to a tragic end in ancient Greek literature.

When a character in an ancient Greek story came to a tragic end it was because they  committed a grievous mistake or error in judgment.

Hamartia by the ancient Greek definition is the inner quality or character of a person which causes the action to occur. In other words the sin or hamartia nature. This bad action determines the character of a person.

How a person reacts to life circumstance determines the character which in turn creates the outcome. The consequence for hamartia always results in a tragic end.

This word is used by Paul to show that bad behavior results in a negative consequence. Whether you are a Christian or not. Sin will always lead to a tragic end.

In Jesus Christ this nature or hamartia is done away with. Instead of coming to a tragic end the Christian whose sins are forgiven now result in a good end.

Christians (born of God) have the Holy Spirit living inside of them. To be alive unto God is to have the new man yielded to the Holy Spirit which exercises dominion over hamartia. Thus preventing Thanatos from having his way.

The key to this equation being realized is the phrase “know ye not.”

Don’t you know that you have been baptized into Christ’s death? He has tasted death for every man. Don’t you know that the whole of hamartia has been destroyed? Don’t you know that you are made free from the dominion of Thanatos so you don’t have to come to a tragic end?

The key is knowing. When you know you have been delivered from the power of darkness then you can yield to the Holy Spirit. You are bought with a price. Redeemed from Hades and Thanatos. Set free from their dominion to serve God in newness of life!

So don’t let hamartia reign in your mortal body. Rather yield or give over your members or body to God so he can control your life by his Holy Spirit.

The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. Titus 2:11-14

The Work of God 

The Book of James tells us that faith without works is dead being alone. How can we reconcile this doctrinal point with the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone?

In order to understand this conundrum we first need to understand the Biblical concept of works.

In the book of James the Greek word for works is ergon. This word means an occupation, an act, a deed, to labor.

In other words our ministry work in the kingdom of God.

James was addressing a problem he saw in the church. People claiming to know Jesus were giving preference to the rich while disregarding the needs of the poor.

James uses Abraham as an example to correct this.

James tells us how Abraham’s belief in God caused him to obey him by doing the deed that God asked him to do.

And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. Genesis 22:2

James tells us that Abraham’s works counted as righteousness. Not just his faith.

Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? James 2:21

Notice however that the work which Abraham was called to do was initiated not of himself but by God.

And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. Genesis 22:8

Also notice how that Abraham did not exactly sacrifice his son. It was God himself who provided the sacrifice. Therefore the work of Abraham in this case was really a work of God. God provided the sacrifice.

And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.” Genesis 22:13

This faith/works argument is one that divides joint from marrow. In other words they are different yet closely attached.

God’s work at the cross through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the only work which produces salvation.

To believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is the work of God. Scriptures testify to this.

“Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” John 6:29

Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness according to Paul.

“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” Romans 4:3

The thief who received Jesus as his Savior at the cross never did a work except to believe on Jesus. Based on his belief he inherited eternal life.

 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43

Therefore we can see that faith in Jesus Christ alone saves.

However, if we are really saved then we will produce fruits of righteousness. If there is no fruit in someone’s life who claims to know God, then it is doubtful there is true salvation.

 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. Acts 16:31

James says. “I will show you my faith by my works.”

This tells us that faith if it has no works is dead being alone. In other words faith that does not produce works is not a faith that is genuine.

Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” James 2:18

Herein lies the answer. Works that are initiated by the Holy Spirit are righteous works BUT  works in and of themselves do not constitute salvation!

Salvation is by faith alone without the deeds of the law. Our faith in Jesus Christ is counted as righteousness before God.

And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. Romans 11:6

I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. Galatians 2:21

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1

Works confirm that our faith is genuine.

And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful. Titus 3:14

This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. Titus 3:18

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Our work in the kingdom of God (if initiated by God) will produce fruit that brings glory to God but our justification before God is by faith in Jesus Christ alone without the deeds of the law. Hebrews 13:21

The Light

The Light

The Bible says that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

What exactly does being the light mean? Is it literal or metaphorical or both? In order to answer this question we need to understand what exactly light is.

Light by definition is both a noun and a verb. As a natural phenomena light makes things visible. When our visual receptors are stimulated we are able to see. Light is a form of energy that exists in tiny packets called photons.  Specifically light is electromagnetic radiation of any wave length that travels in a vacuum with a speed that makes the radiation visible to the natural eye.

As a verb light brings illumination or revelation of truth. To make something that was otherwise hidden, visible.

God is light. Jesus is the light of the world. He brings God’s truth into the world.

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life . (John 8:12)

To walk in darkness is to be blinded. Scriptures tell us that the god of this world has blinded the eyes of men. Without God’s light humanity is blinded to the truth of the gospel. (2 Corinthians 4:4)

Satan can also manifest as a false light, interestingly enough. (2 Corinthians 11:14 )

What this means is that the accuser can manifest as a messenger of artifical light.

Artifical light is a mirage. An optical illusion. When a light wave is bent by heated air across the sky, it can cause a visual phenomena called a mirage.

This type of optical illusion is what the satans (fallen angels, accusers) use. They bend truth, spout it out like hot air and create a deception. An artificial light.

God’s light illuminates truth. Satan’s light creates illusions, deceptions and distortions.

God who is light operates both in the natural and spiritual realm. These two realms coexist together and operate in parallels.

Ps. 18:28 tells us that God turns our darkness into light. Through the illumination of his Holy Spirit, God reveals his truth.

God’s light keeps our lamp or spiritual eyes illuminated as we continue in his word. The entrance or doorway to God’s light is through his word.

You, LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. Ps. 18:28

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119: 105

The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119: 130

God’s word is light.

Light is made up of 3 types of phenomena. 

Reflection is when a ray of light strikes a smooth surface and bounces off.
That is how we can see our reflection in the water.

In the same way the light of God’s presence in our life reflects the image of Jesus Christ.

Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Mathew 5:16

Jesus is the image of God in human form. God created a physical body and was born as a human being. Jesus is God in the flesh. The exact representation of God.

We are created as expressions of God. In his image. 

Tselem (Hebrew)
A resemblance or image.

Those born of God reflect his presence. We are lights in the darkness and also reflections representing him in this world.

The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

You are the light of the world

The next light phenomena is called  scattering. This is when light bounces off a rough object and reflects in all directions. 

For example when light shines on you through the clouds, instead of directly hitting you, light scatters. Only some of the rays are extended to you because of the object that is blocking.

That is why many times God spoke to the children of Israel through a cloud. No human can handle a direct onslaught of God’s light. It would destroy us. Kind of like being burned to a crisp when in direct sunlight. You need a barrier in order to handle it.

Today God speaks to us through his Son. The word manifest in the flesh. Human to human. God became human in order to to save us from sin. Also to represent himself to the world. (Hebrews 1:1-3)

Those born of God have God’s Holy Spirit residing in them. They are his lamps bringing his reflection or image to a lost world.

The lost who are in darkness cannot handle a direct onslaught of God’s light. They need to see and hear the truth through a filter, your temple!

Paul became blind when he got blasted with God’s light but he did get revelation knowledge of who Jesus Christ is.

Paul sees the light

God’s people represent him in this dark world. Human vessels carrying God himself to a lost world.

Refraction is when a ray of light passes from one transparent medium into another. Like from air to water. This causes the light to change speed which bends the light toward or away from the object.

Examples of light refraction are rainbows and sunsets.

God’s light in a rainbow reminds the world of his promise of grace and mercy.

Rainbow God’s promises are yes and amen.

The sunset reminds us that the night is here. The day of grace will one day be over.

Sunset

Jesus said the light of the body is the eye. If your eye is evil your body will be filled with darkness. If your eye is single then the whole body is full of light. (Matthew 6:22)

If the vision is filled with dark things then it will corrupt the body. Eventually if not corrected the body will be completely taken over with darkness. That is become completely corrupt.

If however your eye is single, that is clear without darkness then your whole body will be filled with light.

Light is composed of electric and magnetic fields or electromagnetic radiation.

 The fields vibrate at right angles to the direction of movement of the wave, and at right angles to each other.

God’s light radiates or emits illumination. God’s light goes into all the world. Each wave of light is a reflection of his image. God spreads forth his illumination through the gospel of Jesus Christ into all the world. He does this through his vessels that are filled with the Holy Spirit’s light.

When the electromagnetic radiation travels in a vacuum, at a speed of 186,000 miles per second (300,000 kilometers per second) this is the speed of light.

God’s light is traveling throughout all the world bringing illumination of his truth. Like the speed of light God’s light is traveling swiftly to bring his gospel message around the globe. Today the message of God’s love and salvation have reached millions of people. In the darkest of places the light of God has penetrated and continues to penetrate.

God is light and in him is no darkness at all. When his light comes into a place the darkness must flee.

This is why Jesus commanded. “Go into all the world and preach my gospel.”(Mark 16:15)

Go ye

Wherever you go, you bring God’s light. Wherever God’s light is the darkness has to leave.

Darkness cannot put out the light. When the light comes in it illuminates what was hidden in the darkness. It makes everything known.

One day the light will completely overtake all darkness. When this happens the King of glory will come in. He will rule and reign forever. His light will light up everything. There will not be any need for the sun or moon anymore because God’s light is sufficient. His light will reflect his presence throughout all the earth. Even into eternity. 

Faith Obtained

Jesus said in his word that no one can come to him unless the Father draw him. To draw in this verse from John 6: 44 is the word helkuo which means to drag or haul to lead or compel.

The Holy Spirit must draw or compel a person to Jesus the Savior through convincing. He convinces them of their sin, their need for salvation and the judgement of sin on them in their fallen state. (John 16:8)

When this convincing by Grace or God’s mercy becomes compelling then faith must be obtained according to scriptures.     

“SIMON PETER, A SERVANT AND AN APOSTLE OF JESUS CHRIST, TO THEM THAT HAVE OBTAINED LIKE PRECIOUS FAITH WITH US THROUGH THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD AND OUR SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST.” 2 PETER 1:1

To obtain something is to get, acquire, or secure something.

The Greek word in this scripture is lagchanō which means to receive by divine allotment.

Faith is not earned by good deeds, intellectual prowess, or human ability. Faith is a divine attribute. Faith must be obtained or received.     

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” Eph 2:8

Scriptures tell us that Jesus obtained salvation for us.

 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. Hebrews 9:12

Obtain in this verse is the Greek word heurisko which means acquired, find, to get,   

To obtain is to get or acquire something.

How is faith obtained?

Faith is obtained by divine providence.  

By Grace or God’s divine mercy which draws by the Holy Spirit to Jesus Christ for salvation or whatever the need is, faith comes or is brough forth.

Faith comes. Faith is brought forth.

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10: 17

Faith is not a human attribute. It is divine or comes from God by hearing.   

Faith is obtained by hearing. Akoe To hear or incline the ear.

To what?

 The word (gospel message) being preached. (proclaimed)

It is through preaching the word is heard.

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 1 Corinthians 1:21

Faith is obtained by hearing God’s word preached. (proclaimed)  

Let me simplify this spiritual principle.  

The Father has sent the Holy Spirit to draw or compel by convincing of a need. (Whether salvation or deliverance or whatever)

Then when convinced of the need faith is obtained or acquired by grace or God’s mercy.

God’s mercy has inclined the ear to hear.

Faith is obtained or acquired in order to receive by hearing. (Having a hearing ear by the Holy Spirit’s work) through the preaching or proclaiming of God’s word. (Rhema living word of Christ)

Dear Father draw us by your Holy Spirit to recognize our need. Give us ears to hear your word being spoken to us by your Holy Spirit. Grant unto us by your grace the ability to receive what you are telling us and help us to apply it to our lives. In Jesus name. Amen.  

True Worshipers

Departing From The Faith

What does it mean to depart from the faith?
To ‘depart’ in the Greek is aphistēmi which means to revolt against, remove from, desert, depart or draw away from.

You can’t depart or leave something unless you once were in something. Now its debatable whether the one who departs was once really saved or not but they had some understanding. They were enlightened. Scriptures tell us that if one has been enlightened and tasted of heavenly things and falls away it is impossible for them to repent.

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. Hebrews 6:4,6

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. 1 Timothy 4:1

This “departing” is departing from the faith or pistis. That is the conviction of reliance upon Jesus Christ for salvation. Instead those who depart give heed to demonic doctrines which do not rely on Jesus Christ for salvation.

Some departing doctrines are obvious to most Christians but others are very subtle. That devil is a wily one.

The main theme to look for is if the teacher or preacher, prophet or apostle, pastor or evangelist moves away from trusting in Jesus Christ for salvation. Even a teeny weeny bit.

There is no specific day of the week, no ritual or rite, no performance, no other way, no other man made book, no self help principle, no personal preference, no successful endeavor, no  jot or tittle, no other name, no addition, no subtraction. NOTHING.

There is nothing that can give you salvation with eternal life but complete trust and reliance on Jesus Christ alone for salvation.

It is written.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:9,10

House of Grace

In Mark chapter 6 (after Jesus had fed the 5000) he told his disciples to get into the ship and go to to Bethsaidia, while he sent the people away.

When Jesus sent his disciples to Bethsaidia which in the Hebrew means house of grace he went into a mountain to pray.

In the evening (when the ship was in the middle of the sea) Jesus was watching his disciples from the shore. They were toiling to row the ship, because the wind was coming on really strong.

Around the fourth watch of the night Jesus came towards his disciples walking on the sea. He would have passed them by but the disciples saw him. They thought he was a ghost. They became troubled and cried out in fear.

Immediately Jesus reassures his disciples that it is him.

Then when Jesus gets into the ship with his disciples the wind calms down.

The disciples were amazed and wondered. They had forgotten about the last miracle Jesus did by multiplying the bread and fish.

It is interesting to note that on the 4th watch of the night Jesus looks out to the sea to find that his disciples are in trouble.

He had given them a word, “Go to Bethsaidia” but the enemy (who works in the darkness) tried to hinder their assignment.

Satan who is “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2) caused a storm to rise up. It was so fierce that all the toiling the disciples were doing were getting them no where.

In Israel culture (as well as Roman and Greek) the night was divided into 4 watches. Each watch had a specific name and time frame.

The evening watch, was from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The midnight watch, from 9 p.m. to midnight. Cockcrowing from 12 am to 3 a.m., and the morning watch or 4th watch, was from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m.

Exodus 14:24 last watch of the night
Psalm 63:6 watches of the night
Judges 7:19 middle watch
Mark 13:35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning
Luke 12:38  And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.

The fourth watch is the last watch of the night. In scripture breakthrough events many times happen on the night watches.

Moses led the Israelites across the Red Sea. Exodus 14:25-46

Jacob wrestled with God. Genesis 32: 22-31
The angels appear to the shepherds in the field to announce the birth of the Savior.  Luke 2:8-14

Jesus is resurrected from the dead, Matthew 28:1

The bridegroom woos His bride in the night hours, Song of Solomon, Matthew 25:1-13

On this particular incident on the fourth watch of the night Jesus sees trouble occurring.

The prince of the power of the air is acting up. Trying to attack the Lord’s disciples.

Intercessors know that the fourth watch usually means warfare. It’s a time when the demonic powers are doing their oggie boogie through their human vessels. 

Notice that Jesus sees on the forth watch of prayer that his disciples are in trouble.

This is one reason the Lord exhorts us to watch and pray. The enemy is always looking for a place to attack. If we are in prayer the Holy Spirit will show us trouble coming our way or someone else’s way.

When trouble comes and we find we are toiling in our own strength, (getting no where, when the enemy attacks) Jesus is walking on the water right there in front of us!

Water or waters in scripture many times represent people. Jesus is always in front of people. Always available. Always willing to calm the storm. However, many times we are so freaked out over the battle that when the Lord comes walking towards us we don’t recognize him. All we see is what the enemy is doing.

Notice how Jesus was going to walk right on by his disciples. Seriously? That’s what the scriptures tell us! That’s what happens when we are afraid. As long as our eyes are on the battle instead of the Lord Jesus Christ we will miss him, even though he is right there in front of us.

The good news is that if we look to Jesus he will calm the storm in our life. He will get in the boat with us! Jesus will calm our fears! He will rescue us from the attack of the enemy!

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water they mistook him for a spirit. They cried out in fear.

Fear can do strange things to the mind. Sees and hears all kinds of crazy things.

Even then the Lord can’t help but be merciful. When fear gets a hold of us by the throat Jesus will turn in our direction if we call out to him.

Hearing his disciples cry out in fear Jesus walks on the water towards them. When the disciples see that it is Jesus they are not afraid anymore.

Our struggles in life (like the disciples who rowed in their own strength against the wind) can be demonically inspired some times.

Facing great difficulty can be scary when it looks like we are going to drown but remember the Lord is watching us in our struggle. He knows what’s going on.

Jesus is right there in the midst of our trouble. All we have to do is cry out. He will not pass us by! He will get right in the boat with us and comfort us!

Jesus will always lead us to safely because his grace is sufficient. His word to us is always, “Go to Bethsaidia, “the house of grace.”  

Our high priest ever lives to make intercession for us.

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

Remember Lot’s Wife?

Remember Lot’s wife?

This is the admonition Jesus gave to his disciples concerning his coming again.

Let’s recollect about Lot’s wife.

Before Lot and his family left Sodom the angels gave the Lord’s command.

Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.”

Lot’s wife however disobeyed the word of the Lord and turned into a pillar of salt.

Now why do you suppose she would do that? Obviously it was more than just curiosity.

To “look back” in this scripture is the Hebrew word nâbaţ which means to look intently at, to regard with pleasure and care, to consider, to have respect for.

This means that Lot’s wife had an affinity to the place she was leaving. A sentiment for her home. An emotional attachment to the people she was leaving behind.

Jesus goes on after giving this admonition to say in Luke chapter 17,

Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall preserve it.

“Losing our life” is the key point that the Lord is telling us here.

According to scriptures our lives are not our own. We were bought with a price.

“To lose” in this scripture means to die. Apollumi in the Greek. Which means to put to death or consider non operative.

Paul says that he dies daily. Death to self and the world is an every day thing.

Did you know that if we love the world or the things of the world then God’s love does not reside in us?

A sure way to tell a true Christian from a false one is if they are accepted by the world and if they love the things of the world.

What are the things of the world? Anything that the world esteems highly!

What does the world esteem highly?

John (1John 2) tells us that the things of the world are whatever your flesh or carnal nature lust after. Whatever your eyes lust after and whatever outside of God makes you feel prideful or you boast about.

So let me put this in modern terms. Whatever the world is running after, craving, pursuing, seeking for, desiring, addicted to, loving, and is their heart’s desire.

If you love those things too then you are not one of the Lord’s disciples. Sure you may believe in Jesus Christ but even the devil believes in God.

Remember that Jesus gave this warning.

Another way to tell a true Christian from a false one is how much they brag about themselves. How worthy they are. How blessed they are. How many special qualities they have. How wonderful their position in life is. How awesome their works are. How great life is treating them. Basically whatever is all about them.

Paul said that he boasted only in the Lord. He put no confidence in his own abilities. He boasted in being weak so that God could demonstrate HIS power through him.

Galatians 6:14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Jesus told us as recorded by Luke(14) that if we desire to follow Jesus Christ and become one of his disciples then we must take up our cross. That is we must be willing to suffer like he did.

How did Jesus Christ suffer?

He was misunderstood, persecuted, judged, bullied, hated, ridiculed, beaten, and even put to death.

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12

Remember Lot’s wife? She turned into a pillar of salt for looking back to what God judged as evil. In the Hebrew pillar is netsîyb which means a post or garrison.

God made Lot’s wife into a sign post. For all with eyes to see. A reminder to “don’t look back.”

John 15:18-25

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep your’s also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also.

Being a Light

When we think of the word offend we think of it according to the English definition (To insult one’s standard or principles) 

The Bible has a different definition depending on the context of the verse but ultimately have the same connotations. To offend someone does not mean to insult someone’s principles but rather to cause someone to fall.

Offend in the Hebrew  language has several definitions. It can be translated as châbal which means to pervert, corrupt or spoil.

It can be translated as bâgad which means to deal deceitfully, be treacherous or unfaithful.

It can be mikshôl which is to be a stumbling block or cause to fall.

It can be âsham which means to perish, become desolate, be found guilty, to trespass.

In the Greek language the word offend can be translated as skandalizō , skandalon or ptaiō which all mean to entrap, to trip up, to entice to sin, to cause to stumble.

In effect, “to offend” according to scripture means: to cause someone to fall, be a stumbling block, to corrupt, cause to err, to pervert, to spoil,

Jesus tells us how seriously he takes this sin.

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Matthew 18:6

The epistles of the apostles reiterate this admonition.

But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 1 Corinthians 8:9

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. Roman’s 14:13

What the Bible is telling us is to try and live our life in such a way that our conscience is clean. Even if it means giving up something that would cause others to reject Jesus Christ.

In this way we can be a witness in the world.

Now we are not going to be able to please everyone and some people will find fault with us no matter how holy we live but we must not deliberately offend or be nonchalant in our witness.

Paul said he became all things to all people that he might win them to Christ. In other words wherever he went he respected (within reason) the culture he was in. He maintained his Christian witness while not offending anyone on purpose.

To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 1 Corinthians 9:22

The cross in and of itself is an offense to some people. They may behave very inappropriately towards Christians if they have an offense towards the gospel. If they do that they may cause themselves to stumble away from the truth. (1 Corinthians 1:22)

However, as Christians we must in all good conscience live in the light, follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and not be a stumbling block deliberately to another person.

That means not causing anyone to do anything that goes against their conscience or doing anything in front of someone that may cause them to fall even if we have liberty to do it.

Jesus gave us an example in scriptures. He paid his taxes so as not to offend, he took a lowly position in order to not be offensive to others, he fulfilled all righteousness even though he was Lord of all and he remained humble throughout his walk in this earth.

Jesus tells us that just as he laid down his life to be a benefit for others so should we lay down our lives for the benefit of others. It does not matter if it causes us discomfort, rejection, or ridicule.

What matters is that we do not offend in all conscience by putting a stumbling block before others.

A perfect example of this is Paul’s attitude in dealing with the Corinthians.

Wherefore, if meat causeth my brother to stumble, I will eat no flesh for evermore, that I cause not my brother to stumble.

1 Corinthians 8:13

Dear Father in Jesus name help us to not be a stumbling block to others in this world. Give us your wisdom in every situation. Let your light shine through us always. Amen

The Battle is the Lord’s

In 2 Chronicles 20 an army of Moabites, Ammonites, Meunites and Edomites came out to make war with Jehoshaphat King of Israel. These nations were enemies of YHWY’s people. They served other gods or the demonic realm.  

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12   

Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast and began to seek the Lord for his help. He cried to the Lord in his distress. “If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.” 2 Chronicles 20:9

Then the Lord’s Holy Spirit gave a word to those seekers.  The LORD says this to you: ‘Don’t be afraid or worry about this large army, because the battle is not your battle. It is God’s battle!”

God gave instructions to the Israelites. Do not be afraid, go battle against them. You are not alone in this battle. Stand firm. Be still and see the Lord bring you deliverance. Then they thanked the Lord and worshipped him.

Then Jehoshaphat got up in the morning and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.”

In other words, believe that the Lord is with you in the battle, don’t be afraid, believe his word, and you will have the victory!    

By faith, the Israelites began to sing praise to the Lord as they went out to war. Praise is an important factor in spiritual warfare. Important to note is that they praised God because of his great mercy. When they did this the Lord set ambushments (a surprise attack by people lying in wait in a concealed position) against the enemy and they were defeated.

In Joshua 6, we see another battle take place where the Lord gives his directive.   

Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in. Joshua 6:17,

The walls of Jericho were designed to be a defence or an evil stronghold. The Lord told Joshua that he had given the city into his hands. Jericho means a place of concealment. A stronghold where the enemy is hiding or sets up camp. In other words, the Lord will show us where the enemy is hiding. He will expose him and lead us by his Holy Spirit in bringing down the stronghold.  

Once the stronghold was revealed then the Lord said to Joshua that he would give him the victory. His directive was to march around Jericho seven times with the ark of the covenant and then shout the victory.

In military warfare an army marches because it builds confidence. In other words, it raises your level of faith. Marching is a training discipline for warfare. To march is to prepare, be ready, get positioned for battle.

On the seventh march the Israelites blew the trumpets. This was a signal of military strength. “We are coming in to take the land!”

Then Joshua told the army of Israelites to “shout for the Lord has given you the city!”

The military shout or battle cry is a direct confrontation to the enemy. We are coming to take you down!  Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Zechariah 4:6

After the victory shout the walls of the city fell down. The Lord broke through and the city was taken.

In 2 Samuel 5:18,19, when the Philistines came against David in the valley of Rephaim, David sought the Lord. “Shall I go up to the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the Lord said unto David, Go up: for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into thine hand.”

Again, we see that seeking the Lord is the first principle of spiritual warfare. Fasting usually accompanies it. Then David went to war after the Lord gave him instruction. The Lord gave him the victory! The Lord broke through for him!

To breakthrough is a military strategy. To move through or beyond an obstacle.

“A breakthrough occurs when an offensive force has broken or penetrated an opponent’s defensive line, and rapidly exploits the gap.” https://military.wikia.org/wiki/Breakthrough_(military)

Once there is a breakthrough then the gap can be widened to completely eradicate the enemy’s stronghold.  

 And David came to Baalperazim, and David smote them there, and said, The Lord hath broken forth upon mine enemies before me, as the breach of waters. Therefore, he called the name of that place Baalperazim. 2 Samuel 5:20

Our God is the God of the breakthrough! It is he who causes us to triumph through Jesus Christ the Lord!

Seek for the Lord’s strategy, have faith, trust, pray, declare the word of God, praise and stand and see the salvation of our God!

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