Philippians 3 V 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.
Some people have misunderstood this verse and taught that we are to forget everything in the past. That is not what Paul was saying. The Scriptures teach us that memory can be a very powerful force for good in our lives (In context, Paul was speaking about forgetting all the things that he used to trust in prior to his salvation experience (Philippians 3:4-8).
Paul forgot his own attainments and focused only on what Christ had done for him. (Andrews LFT Commentary)
The word “forgetting” in the Greek is “EPILANTHANOMAI,” and it means “to forget...given over to oblivion” (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon). The Greek verb for “reaching forth unto” is “EPEKTEINOMAI,” and it means “‘to stretch out to’...‘to stretch’ (oneself) ‘forward to’” (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon), as a runner that is running in the Greek games for the prize.
Paul used a metaphor of a runner running in a race. The Greek verb Paul used for “I press” is “DIOKO,” and it was used figuratively of one running swiftly in a race to reach the goal. It also carries the idea of one who pursues, seeks eagerly after, or earnestly endeavors to acquire the prize (Hebrews 12:1-2). Since the “prize” of eternal life cannot be acquired by works of righteousness that we have done (Titus 3:5), Paul must have been thinking of the rewards that come from service to the Lord (Philippians 3:12).
Paul just said in Philippians 3:12 that he wasn’t already perfect. Here, he spoke of those who are perfect and put himself in that number. The answer to this apparent paradox lies in the meaning of the word “perfect.”In Philippians 3:12, Paul used the word “perfect” to say that he wasn’t flawless or without defect. In this verse, Paul was speaking of being spiritually mature, which he was. The New King James Version and the New International Version translate this verse by substituting the word “mature” for the King James Version’s “perfect.” The Amplified Bible says “spiritually mature and full-grown.”
The “mind” that Paul admonished us to have was the single-mindedness he described in Philippians 3:13 Paul had been stressing growth and winning, not just surviving. He wanted the Philippians to stretch themselves more for the glory of God. He didn’t want them to stop what they had been doing. He wanted them to do more. In this verse, Paul reminded them to keep walking in the light that they had.
In moving forward, value the teamwork and involvement of others. Remember in your focus and forging ahead, a lot of trust and self-worth must be in place when teamwork is working! A team is NOT just a group of people. A team is two or more individuals who are given or developed a common, mission, goal or task. We can achieve better results interdependently rather than independently.
When you have people that HINDER the innovative process – they are NOT team players
Paul challenges us to lose the self-focus. In Romans 8:5-9 reads like this in The Message: Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life.
Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed with self ignores God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored. (Message Version)
Pastor, Author, Teacher
My favorite bible story from Luke is one of God's becoming one of us. God ~ came to earth as a baby with the surrounding manifestations of singing angels, bright stars lighting up the sky in celebration, and shepherds watching their flocks by night…all to let us know that GOD has made peace with us through the fulfillment of His promise.
The angelic proclamation, "Peace on earth, Good will toward man," is not about brotherly love but much more. God isn't angry with us.
Why? Jesus' coming has made peace between God and man.
Our only work today is to rest & believe in what Jesus has already completed.
In Isaiah 54, the Gospel of Peace prophetic passage, written 700 years before Christ, expressed what Jesus would accomplish.
"For a mere moment, I have forsaken you, But with great mercies, I will gather you. With a little wrath, I hid My face from you for a moment; But with everlasting kindness, I will have mercy on you, "Says the Lord, your Redeemer. "For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; For as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, So have I sworn That I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you. For the mountains shall depart And the hills be removed, But My kindness shall not depart from you, Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed," Says the Lord, who has mercy on you.
Waters of Noah are Waters of REST
Your only work today is to rest & believe in what Jesus has already completed. There is a principle of Bible interpretation called the law of first mention. When you are studying a topic or a word, look at the first time it appears in the Bible. You will find a lot of spiritual truth and significance when you study the first occurrence of that word in the Bible.
For example, the word "blood" was first mentioned in the story of Cain and Abel. The first mention tells us that blood has a voice (Gen. 4:10).
Abel's blood cried out for vengeance, but when Jesus shed His blood on the cross, His blood cried out for mercy and redemption for the ones who don't deserve it, and that is why Jesus' blood speaks of better things than that of Abel (Heb. 12:24).
The first mention of the word "holiness" is also found in the book of Genesis. Studying this will help us understand an important truth about holiness.
The opposite of holiness is not sin. It is commonness. The Hebrew word for holy is "Kadosh," which means "set apart." Therefore, to be holy is to be uncommon, set apart from the world.
In Genesis 2:3 NKJV, "Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified ('Kadosh') it because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
The first mention of the word "holiness" or "Kadosh" is associated with rest.
God blessed the day He rested and called it holy. Rest is holy. Hebrews 4:9 ESV tells us that "there remains a Sabbath rest for people of God." This "Sabbath rest" does not refer to a specific day but refers to the rest that Jesus has bought His people through His finished work at the cross. This is a rest you are meant to experience every day of your life.
It is a rest where you know God supplies everything through grace.
It is a rest built on knowing how much you have been forgiven and are loved by Him because of what Jesus has done at the cross.
It is a rest that allows you to take on a task or go for an interview being conscious that God highly favors you and His supply of grace is flowing to you.
You can be supply-oriented when you know God has finished all His work through Jesus Christ (Heb. 4:3 ESV).
To be holy is to be set apart. We only set apart things that are valuable. When God tells His people to be holy, He tells us to rest and let Him do all the work, as we have learned from the law of first mention.
Our only labor today is to work to enter His rest (Heb. 4:10–11a), and as we rest, He will work in us every good thing, and we will produce the fruits of the Spirit.
Psalms 23:2: "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters."
God causes David to lie down in green pastures, but He leads him beside still waters.
Still waters in Hebrew is "me menuchot" which literally means waters of rest. We rest when we believe what He has done for us.
Pastor, Author, Teacher, Friend, Mother, Wife, Grandmother
Developing our hearts and lives to walk with God is the only solution for facing the future with any real hope of overcoming. What if we made all of our decisions with intentions to yield to the Spirit, no matter how He is guiding us? Reflecting on the life of Noah from the book of beginnings, there is quite a story to tell that applies to us too.
Noah’s name means rest. Scripture teaches, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen.6:8). Think of this, “Rest found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” In the story, the condition of humanity at that time was very bleak. But God!
This is the very first mention of grace in the Bible. That’s significant. The law of first reference says we must go to the first time something is mentioned in Scripture to get the clearest, most concise understanding. To understand the end, we must understand the beginning! Matthew 24:37 states, “but as the days of Noah were, So also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (New King James Version). Uh-oh here we go!
Here in this New Testament passage, we see that God directed Noah to obey even in an uncharted path. Hebrews 11:7 says, “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (NKJV, emphasis added).
Noah’s ark is a picture of Jesus, and He is full of grace and full of rest! Noah found safety in the ark.
Remember, it had been prophesied in the garden (Genesis 3) that the Seed of man would be the one to destroy the works of the devil. If the bloodline of all mankind had been corrupted, Jesus could not have been born. The corruption of the human bloodline directly attacked God‘s plan of salvation. This is key for us to understand that very prophecy and promise. It was a glimpse of the virgin birth to come. Then, there began the murderous campaign from the devil through Cain and Abel.
In Genesis 6: 1–4, it says, “Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. And the Lord said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.’ There were giants (Nephilim)on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them” (NKJV, emphasis added).
The reference to “giants” comes from the Hebrew word Nephiyl, which means “fall,” or what we understand to mean “fallen ones.” Strong’s Concordance says, “a feller, i.e. a bully or tyrant:—giant.” Genesis and other books—the writings of Josephus, the historical record, and scientific documents—record the fact that giants have lived on nearly every continent in the world at some point in history. We have somehow failed to link this factor with what the Bible explains about the origin in activities of giants. (This reference to sons of God is referring to fallen angels according to the Septuagint.) The devil was out to corrupt the women’s seed. In verse 4, the reference to “in those days” shows it was clearly speaking of before the flood. Additional eruptions after the flood were dealt with by Israel.
“‘The occult’ (which just means secret or hidden) initiates and brainwashes. It leads its followers into degrees of deception until they totally reject God’s revelation of Himself given to all the world through His eternal word” (excerpt from Apocalypse byDr. Jim Richards).
In a very significant passage in the New Testament, you can glean more. Second Peter 2:4–5 says, “For if God did not spare the angels (Nephilim) who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly” (NKJV, emphasis added).
The first and most obvious factor which led to the flood of Noah’s day was the corruption of man’s bloodline.
“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.’ But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord”(Genesis 6:5-8,NKJV,emphasis added).
Notice God’s emotion was not raging anger, but sadness. The ark, however, was a place of safety and refuge, and it foreshadowed Jesus Christ. We are now “in Him” as believers. Resting is believing. Noah’s very name means “rest,” and he pleased God! Rest pleases God. It’s a foreshadowing of our position in Christ’s finished work.
Again, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”
Noah pleased God. “This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. And Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (Genesis 6:9–12, NKJV, emphasis added).
The ark was prepared. It took faith and effort. Noah acted on what he believed. He was a preacher of righteousness, all while he worked on this major life project.
“And God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch’” (Genesis 6:13–14, NKJV, emphasis added).
Even the pitch used on the wood (symbolizing man) as a sealant represented the (more than) covering we have in Christ. The Hebrew word kapher (to make atonement) is used for “pitch.” This of course symbolizes the blood of Jesus which cleanses us from all sin.
The windows above had ventilation and light coming in from above and not the sides. They were designed by God for Noah to look up and look to Him and not to look out and around at the destruction coming upon the earth. So much symbolism in the story can parallel our own life situations. Noah’s ark was almost the size of the Titanic; 450 feet long is a ginormous vessel and habitation. Genesis 7:16, “The Lord shut him in,” speaks of how God prepares people before a crisis. Here they were eternally secure! God closed the door! You are safe from the waters of judgement! Not only did God close the door, but before, when it was time, He told Noah to “come” into the ark. He didn’t say “go” into the ark—He said “come” into the ark, indicating that God was in there and was with them the whole time. Although waves may smash against my ark (life’s circumstances), His pitch (Christ’s blood) still secures and covers me! God was merciful in this happening—He was preserving mankind.
Genesis 8:1–5 expresses Noah’s deliverance, “Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided. The fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were also stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained.And the waters receded continually from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters decreased.Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat.And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month. In the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen” (NKJV).
Ararat means “the curse is reversed.” The ark rested the seventh month and seventeenth day of the month on the mountains of Ararat. The seventeenth day represents the feast of first fruits—judgment has passed. God is desiring to get the point across that Jesus took our judgment for us.
“The religious concept of a curse is when God punishes us for ungodly deeds, but the biblical concept depicts as a curse as the result of pursuing that which is not harmonious with God. The curse is not a choice or action of God; it’s the consequence of which God warned, but we ignore. Planet earth under the authority of man, became cursed as a result of man becoming disharmonious [with] God” (Dr. Jim Richards).
Now through the covenant of peace, God will never be angry with us again! Look at this profound passage from the prophet Isaiah: “‘For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; For as I have sworn That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, So have I sworn That I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you. For the mountains shall depart And the hills be removed, But My kindness shall not depart from you, Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,’ Says the LORD, who has mercy on you” (Isaiah 54:9-10, NKJV).
In Genesis, God said, “‘Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.’ And God said: ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth’” (Genesis 9:11–13, NKJV).
And we have the rainbow as a sign. The good news of Jesus is the Gospel of peace.
Pastor, Author, Mother, Wife
I don't like sharing my story, but I do sometimes share it. I am not proud of my past destructive choices, but I want to stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading and promptings in my heart and life. And this is one of those times I know I am to share my story with you.
As you read, I pray that you don't stumble over the evil I committed but instead realize the importance of what we offer to others in empathy, hope, forgiveness, and restoration. And if you have chosen abortion, I hope you find release by seeing what Jesus Christ has done for all of humanity in one sacrifice as He was born to die in your place.
I know and am assured of my complete forgiveness because of the cross of Christ and because of Jesus' taking sin upon himself…actually becoming my sin.
I have regret, but I am standing confident in what was accomplished for me in His finished work of his death, burial, and resurrection.
When I was just 17, I had the life experience of being influenced by the rhetoric and propaganda telling me that abortion wasn't wrong but a grey issue. I remember sitting in a semi-circle group in my public school and being guided by the teacher as we discussed right vs. wrong on abortion. The discussion made me delude myself against my previous knowledge about right vs. wrong. I had a 'somewhat' Christian belief system but lived a rebellious, destructive life by smoking weed and drinking to numb my pain and confusion, violating some of my values.
My early childhood was filled with divorce, alcoholism with dad figures, and the premature death of a parent. That's no excuse but an insight into brokenness that needed mending. I became a Christian when I was twelve years old, but I was stuck. I didn't have a habit of renewing my mind and didn't know about a growing relationship with Jesus through His Word and the powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit in my life yet.
After getting pregnant by my boyfriend in the late 70s, I turned right into the decision to have an abortion out of fear. What I didn't know when making that decision was the aftermath of emotional pain, depression, and self-loathing that comes into your thinking. I didn't think I would experience traumatic and instantaneous grief and sorrow. I was not given ANY information about alternative choices. I did not know how bitter and angry my heart would be after being influenced by this decision.
The nurses were very hardened toward the patients. I felt cold, diminished in my own self-worth. I remember feeling life go out of me. I remember a barracks-like room where girls were placed together for a brief time before being released. It was a horrific experience of women wailing and crying inconsolably. It was evident to me right then how deceptive this choice was. I was angry at myself.
I did feel tricked. I felt seduced by a mindset that diminished the value of life. Within a few years, I knew it was a very spiritually dark power behind the abortion industry. I greatly resented the manipulation of young minds (my young mind) to go in that direction. I remember that the Lord challenged me to call it what it was- murder! And that He could take the guilt, shame, and condemnation from me.
Think of this beautiful passage in the book of Isaiah 55, which is often misquoted in its understanding….. "8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. 9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts."
But note this- the verse before it makes the context of meaning clear:
"Let the [b]wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon."
I specifically remember being confronted by God (His Spirit) to allow Him to take my guilt, shame, and condemnation. He instructed me to no longer cling to the burden and the cloud of depression as my identity and payment for what I had done.
He wanted me to receive what HE had done for me. I made that choice too. I received forgiveness and cleansing. I sent away the depression and all that went with it. I was free. I was compelled to tell that to others. God abundantly pardoned me.
For many years after that, I went to the abortion clinics to try and get girls to talk with me before they made the mistake of ending their baby's life. I told them the truth in love. I appealed to them with God's wisdom and my experience.
Jesus offers us a way of escape. Adoption is a beautiful, life-giving option. God sends practical help to women who need it with support financially. There is freedom on the other side of abortion if you are willing to own your stuff. Allow the Lord to take away the clouds, and choose to forgive yourself. Let Him heal your heart and soul.
Wife, Mother, Teacher, Author, Pastor, Friend, Mentor.
Whole Lotta Shaking Going On
ARMI Article-Excerpt from the book, "FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE" by Denise Capra
“See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.’ Now this, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:25-29). I was always perplexed by this verse until I noted the word, “PROMISED”. That denotes something positive rather than negative for us. “See that you do not reject or disregard Him that speaks.” That is, the gospel. Don’t refuse good news being spoken to you. Don’t refuse the new covenant.
“You’ve come to Jesus, who presents us with a new covenant, a fresh charter from God. He is the Mediator of this covenant” (Hebrews 12:24 MSG).
Meditate on this. Revolutionize your thinking and transform your soul. This kingdom cannot be shaken. He tells us “let us have grace” because by it we’ll serve God acceptably with reverential awe. In essence, “You may have refused to hear Him then, but don’t refuse to hear Him now. You have come to Mount Zion, the refuge of His mercy.” What a contrast between the people’s terrified approach to God at Mount Sinai and their approach at Mount Zion. Before Jesus came, God seemed distant and threatening. Now God welcomes us through Christ into His very presence even where angels celebrate. You couldn’t keep the Law, and its self-focus. Now see JESUS Who fulfilled it. The Gospel is speaking! The Word made flesh—Jesus—is speaking. Grace is a person. This is how you’ll live out your destiny blueprint. Acknowledging Him and His empowering presence on the inside of you will cause your purpose to emerge.
Contrast Moses and Jesus. Moses spoke in the name of God. Jesus, the Son of God, spoke as from heaven. Hebrews 12:26-27 speaks of shaking (referring to commotions among the nations that prepare the way for the Messiah)
“For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts” (Haggai 2:6-7).
Haggai prophesied changes under the Messiah. There’d be great revolutions at His coming, as if the universe were shaken to its center. This applies to the first coming of Jesus. Not only the earth was to be shaken, but also heaven.
Author, teacher, pastor.
We have a perfected spirit man….we are born to be WILD in the Kingdom of God! His seed is in us and is giving birth to God's plans. God has created us for exploits.
Why isn't the body of Christ living in the victory God intended for us?
We need to be willing to be abundantly pardoned.
Isaiah 55:8-11 says, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. 8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. 9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. 10 "For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth, and bud, That it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
The context in the previous scripture is about God's pardoning. God's forgiveness is such that He abundantly pardons; that is why his ways are not our ways.
We want to be people who operate in God's ways, so we need to be people who abundantly pardon.
We overcome if we are born of God.
"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" [1 John 5-3-5]. "Everyone who has been fathered by God does not practice sin, because God's seed resides in him, and thus he is not able to sin, because he has been fathered by God" (1 John 3:9).
"He cannot sin because he is born of God." We have a perfected spirit man; His seed in us is giving birth to God's plans. We are born to be wild in the kingdom of God!
We need to release and forgive. Forgive yourself and others.
It's not about us getting anything from God.
If you need healing, the Bible says you HAVE healing. If you need a miracle, the Miracle-Worker lives inside of you. It's not about us getting anything from God but about releasing things that weigh us down or erroneous belief systems. A person gets used to living with weights, but we need to release some of the things hindering us from victory.
Guard a place of peace and rest. To obey God and do what He commissions us to do, we need to hear the still, small voice from within and pay attention to what's going on in our hearts.
It is in peace that we hear the voice of God in our hearts. When we guard and protect creativity within a place of peace and rest, we function best and become super-creative. Jesus called us to a place of peace and rest.
Jesus is, after all, the "Prince of Peace." Where the Lord is present, there will be Peace.
Peace and rest are where we function best.
"Mary Magdalene went, telling the news to the disciples: "I saw the Master!" And she told them everything He said to her. Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, "Peace to you." Then he showed them his hands and side. The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. Jesus repeated his greeting: 'Peace be with you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.' Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. 'Receive the Holy Spirit,' He said. "If you forgive someone's sins, they're gone for good. If you don't forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?" (John 20: 18-23)
We have a choice to either hold on to someone's sins or let them go, but not as if we're stepping in place of God. When you know someone has something against you, you can often sense it when you walk into a room. God says, "I'm sending you, receive the Holy Spirit, and you need the Holy Spirit so you can release things." We are empowered for this.
Many people look at these verses in John 20 as the birth of the church. We know on the day of Pentecost, the disciples were all empowered. But this is a remarkable saying…the Lord is giving the disciples a commission. Look at the order in which Christ spoke these things, and it shows that the heart of the Gospel is in the power of forgiveness.
We have been forgiven, and we can extend that to others or choose not to extend it. It is upside down how the kingdom of this world works.
Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Pastor, Author, Teacher, Friend
Hospitality isn’t something that just comes out of nowhere; it’s learned by watching and being trained by others. Remember: “Hospitality is to bless; not impress.”
“No matter what, make room in your heart to love every believer. And show hospitality to strangers, for they may be angels from God showing up as your guests.” Hebrews 13:1
Building a House Started in the Beginning
Going back to Genesis, the book of beginnings, where the origin roots for humanity started, the Bible literally begins with a pair of open arms.
In the Bible, the first letter of Genesis 1:1 is the Hebrew letter 'Beit.' It looks like a backward C: in the Hebrew language, single letters have meanings. 'Beit' by itself implies blessing, creation, and two arms open to welcome and to bless.
Into those arms, into that place of blessing, strangers are welcome and comforted and go forth. It literally means "house." Most people recognize the letters or sounds from the word Bethlehem which means house of bread. The letter alludes to the coming temple in Jerusalem, which was a representation on earth of the heavenly home.
Every house on earth is a miniature picture of that same place – and an outpost of our heavenly home, a sanctuary where we will be warm, safe, and cared for.
Hebrew reads from right to left. Using the 'beit' as the opening letter for the Scriptures, our Father is in one letter revealing his intentions for the whole story. In Hebrew culture, the meaning of house is more than just a building; it's a family lineage.
In other words, the whole Bible is telling us his intention is to open his arms and his home to build a large family. This theme is the golden thread through all of history.
Jesus Continued Building the House
God promised Abraham and Sarah that they would become the parents of generations of descendants who would bless the world.
When David was contemplating building an earthly house for God, The Prophet came and told him he would not build the temple but that his son Solomon would. Then the prophet told David that God will build a house for him and that his descendants would be on the throne over Israel forever. So in that context House meant a blessed and favored lineage of descendants.
When the young Messiah was 12, his family journeyed to Jerusalem to celebrate one of the feasts.
Isn't it interesting that God prescribed that the plan of salvation be observed in a series of seven annual feasts?
The Messiah stayed behind in the temple to debate with scribes and scholars. When his mother found him, she asked why he stayed behind. He responded: "did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?
Or did you not know that I must be about the business of building my Father's house?
As early as the age of 12, we find Jesus in the temple asking questions and learning. Even at that time, he was acting out of the realization of who his father was. The desire to do the things he did grew from the revelation of who he was. Every area of Christian life and service, as well as the grace to make us able, will naturally spring from the revelation of who we are.
Note: Jesus's revelation of his identity was not complete by what his parents taught him. Scripture reveals he went to the word of God to continue to understand who he was. In Luke 4:16-21, Jesus made his public declaration of who he was by quoting Isaiah 61 in verse 16; we have a subtle hint, "… As was his custom…" Jesus was doing something customary for him.
First, HE was going to the synagogue. Secondly, HE was turning to a passage of scripture. (a)
It had been his custom to read the scrolls. He went to the word to affirm and establish his identity. The word became the place to get particulars about his identity. This is where he grew in his knowledge of God and his knowledge of himself. He did not read the word to try and become the son of God; He read the word to determine what it meant about him.
Even as a preteen, he understood his call directly related back to the very first letter in scripture - The work of opening the father's arms and welcoming others to come in.
Even in one of his parables, he described the kingdom like, "there once was a man who was giving a great feast which he invited people. He sent his servant to tell his guest, come, everything is ready, but they all made excuses. The servant went back and told his master. Then the master sent the servant to hurry to the town's alleys to bring back the poor, crippled, blind, and lame. Soon the servant said, "There is room for more," so the master said, "Go out to the country roads and lanes and make people Come in so that my house will be full." Luke 14: 15-24, Matthew 22:1-10
The early believers understood hospitality is central to the gospel message. Wherever they settled, they extended open arms by offering hospitality which back then included the care of the sick, as in the story of the good Samaritan.
As the gospel messengers went forward, offering this good news how people received them spoke volumes. If the people they went to did not accept them and welcome them with hospitality, it was seen as rejecting both the messenger and the message. That's how much the father values an open spirit of hospitality.
Put yourself in the place of a seeker, a refugee, an abused teenager, someone unemployed, or a widow who's been invited to visit a monastic community. Now imagine you found your way there. What would you likely experience?
Imagine this Picture Painted
You would find a porter station near the community entrance whose chief role is to welcome guests and introduce them to the rest of the community. The Abbot and everyone else would welcome you with "all courtesy of love."
The Abbot gently inquires about what had prompted your visit, and so begins the ministry of conversation. He would read scripture for you, offer a prayer for you and extend the kiss of peace.
The Abbot would wash your feet, dirty from your journey by foot. Maybe today, such a place would have their car serviced and detailed, and your clothing would be washed and mended.
He would show you to the guest house, managed by a caring brother who would give you bedding. You would be included at the Abbot's tables for meals.
If the Abbot was in a period of fasting, He would break the fast because his higher priority was to the ministry of his guests. You would learn that the monastic communities highest commitment is hospitality to strangers, seekers, pilgrims, and refugees.
The Benedictine rule number 53 explains that "all guests to present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me."
Soon you would be given a soul friend, a small group, and a place for periods of solitude.
You would learn some scripture you would worship with the community. One or more persons would share the ministry of conversation and pray with you daily.
After some days or weeks, you find yourself believing what these Christians believe. You would be processing the beliefs of your heart. And they would invite you to commit your life to Christ and His will for your life. (The Celtic Way of Evangelism)
So there you have it how Ireland, Scotland, and England were WON away from the darkness of paganism with the power of loving hospitality.
Hospitality is powerful. It demonstrates to people the invisible kingdom of the Father, a household in the largest, most loving, and enduring family.
(a) Excerpt from Leadership That Builds People by Dr. Jim Richards
(& delineated from the COOKBOOK Part of the Family by Pearl Cozzens, Dave Duell’s older sister)
This last Saturday, we had a meaningful time of new introductions among women acquaintances and a gathering of old friends too. We try to host a monthly breakfast meeting with worship, word & wisdom, and often a guest speaker.
This day we had our morning cuisine over coffee, and then I asked the two questions, "What do you do when you are feeling left out? What happens when you didn't get invited?" The questions sparked great conversation and great insights among the gals.
First, we all identified with having felt that way before. Then Marjorie shared about hearing a speaker address that very thing. She shared about NOT judging the 'WHYS' of someone else. "Why did they leave me out? Why did they not answer my email?"
Are we easily prone to pick up an offense when we don't even have any details or facts based on how we feel? That seems to point to more of our own instabilities. And even worse when we involve other people by planting our seeds of discontent and speculation about our assumptions.
What if we each took personal responsibility for our response over the 'feelings' and dealt with them internally before we made lots of assumptions? What if we begin to live with some internal boundaries and integrity about how we respond to hurt feelings.
Could it be that our expectations for others are unfair? It's not too idealistic to believe that as Christ-followers, we can begin to live with predetermined guidelines for how to have healthy relationships.
What if our priority relationship was our friendship with Jesus.
Paul said in Romans 13:10, "Love does not harm a neighbor."
One woman proposed that we seek to understand others by being committed to just asking questions.
Then ask yourself, "What is my authentic expression?"
Do we nurse our wounds by going into "creating a story" mode? That means we may be imagining some fictitious scenarios that carry us further away from the truth of the matter.
What if a true friend challenged our story by asking, "Is it true?" What are you saying or doing by repeating your discontent, and how is that serving you?
I think it's important to recognize that there are different levels of friendship. Are we willing to allow a friendship to 'be,' or does it have to be according to our definition? The wisdom of Proverbs says, "A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
If we make an honest assessment of ourselves, we'd sometimes find that our expectations of others are rooted in our insecurities. Only a healthy self-worth rooted in our identity in Christ will help us be more self-aware in our relationships and expectations with others. We may need to get from Jesus what we are trying to receive from relationships.
I'm challenging you to release your judgments of others and enjoy the relationships God gives you and the great variety of gifts and talents, and qualities each friend brings to one another.
Pastor, teacher, author.
Fashion is constantly changing. So is music. But the intentions and purpose of God in music don't change. Our music becomes more filled with revelation and impacts our God whom we are singing to.
A psalm is a hymn of praise to God. The Book of Psalms was initially the hymn book for Israel. The Psalms are a classic example of Hebrew poetry. Unlike English poetry made of rhyme and rhythm, it consists of similar or contrasting ideas. I believe our praise and worship should reflect the finished work of Jesus in the Good News Gospel.
Paul speaks of preachers being sent out with the gospel of peace in the book of Romans. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world." This sound, this new wave - the gospel of Jesus Christ - will ignite faith and reveal grace!
A cross-reference to the above verse regarding sound is found in Psalm 19:1 "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world.
This passage speaks of an expression that grows and travels--sound waves. Creation itself clearly paints the picture of the fullness of God.
Can you visualize warm, moist air under the shining sun with water rolling in on the beach? Waves! They continue on and on.
In the two passages in Romans and Psalms, the words "sound" and "line" are used interchangeably. Another translation reads, "Yet their message (or measuring line) has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the entire world."
I believe that measuring line, message, or sound is an ever-reaching revelation growing in the earth! It is the Good News Gospel. The Good News is being preached and needs to be sung as well. It's a sound wave, whether by preaching or singing of praise and worship.
Mark Hankins, in his book, Spirit of Faith, writes:
"Some time ago, I saw an article in TIME magazine that caught my attention. The article, What's Hiding in the Quarks, tells us how the discovery of Quarks was made at the giant Tevatron accelerator at the Fermi Natl Accelerator Lab near Chicago. The evidence came from collisions between subatomic protons and antiprotons at very high speeds. Not only were quarks discovered, but the Tevatron is so powerful it can investigate the structure of the quarks themselves. What are quarks made of? What is hiding in the quarks? The article states: Physicists were understandably overjoyed in 1994 when they discovered the top quark. At last, after 17 years of searching, they found the sixth, and according to the theorists, the last of matters tiniest, most fundamental building blocks.
The most troublesome loose end in the so-called Standard Model of particle physics had been tied up. Or so they thought. According to a report in the current SCIENCE, the same people who discovered the TOP QUARK may have inadvertently made a much more revolutionary discovery. Contrary to what physicists have believed for 30 years. Quarks may not be the most basic unit of matter after all.
Did you know that there is something smaller than the atom and the proton? All matter is made of this secret substance. The answer helps us see the origin of all things. The answer could be what many scientists believe today. Quarks are made of sound waves. The tiniest building block of all things is sound waves. Over and over, it says in Genesis, "..and God said."
You can clearly see that God created everything with His voice. As we pioneer declaring the gospel of grace & faith in places we've never been before, our words and faith-filled expressions sung in praise and worship and spoken through preaching and teaching leave an eternal impact."
In 2 Chronicles 20:20, King Jehoshaphat said, "Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper." And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the LORD, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: "Praise the LORD, For His mercy endures forever." These singers were ahead of the battle! This was a huge step of faith! They were risking their lives by sending singers with instruments instead of soldiers with swords, and they believed to the degree they were willing to put their lives on the line. What a great demonstration of corporate faith!
Verse 17 of 2 Chronicles 7 says: "You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!' Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you."
God conveys the victory His people can watch unfold by following His simple directive to "position themselves" and not to fight in the battle. Their supernatural rescue happened that day as they thanked and praised. Mercy triumphs over judgment!
These sound waves of thanks and praise obtained the victory that day and are a revelation that God wants us to capture. I believe the wave we need to see is the difference and fulfillment of this Old Testament picture through the Good News Gospel. This is our New Testament place of rest in Christ. We do not need to fight in the battle that His Son has already won! It is finished!
Teacher, Author, Pastor, Mother, Grandmother, Wife
Read our question and answer session with Denise on her journey into the ministry.
How did you get started in the ministry?
Well, actually, it was a developmental thing.
One favorite minister shares, "The life of the ministry is the LIFE OF THE MINISTER." I believe that is very true.
Over the years of serving in a church through the motivational gifts (my motivation being- caring for people), many things landed in my lap. We hosted a home group for many years out of a large church. We did that because of being hospitable and liking people. Before I was a Christian, I liked to party. That transferred over.
I have always seen potential in people, and I think that I can relate well to others. Overcoming childhood hardships can often cause you to be sensitive to how other people feel. Couple that with God's grace and delivering power- and you know, "Hey- If He did it for me – He can do it for you."
I'd see a new person in the church, and I would feel compelled to link them with their area of interest. I'd want to make sure they had heard the message of God's grace.
Had they received the baptism in the Holy Spirit? It was an important thing. The more I grew in a revelation of How MUCH GOD loved me…the more I was compelled in ministry-minded ways.
It seemed like it took a sledgehammer to the head to finally get what God was trying to do in our lives, of answering a call to ministry by starting a local church as pastors. We just didn't see ourselves fitting the mold.
Now, of course, we understand that we didn't need to fit a mold!
God didn't want us to fit a mold.
We began a church in 1994…or began meeting weekly in a rented facility. I understand that WE ARE THE CHURCH.
That weekly meeting really evolved out of tape duplicating, distributing them, and witnessing to people. We had led teams on street witnessing outreaches as we told others about knowing Jesus and His gospel. We had hosted home groups for ten years. All of that gave us a good foundation for working with people.
The church beginning in 1994, was a culmination of some essential life appointments and God's Divine timing and speaking.
We were saturating ourselves in the Word and new understanding and revelation beyond our just religious tradition. We were very passionate and excited about sharing it too.
What obstacles did you overcome getting started?
I'd say even getting started was a significant obstacle. We always felt 'not qualified.' But through some good bible teaching- we knew we couldn't go by our feelings. God called us, and God qualified us.
Then feeling an invisible rejection from the religious community was another block in the road. We just went around it. We settled in our hearts that although it is good to have other ministry leaders recognize what God is doing, it will not always happen that way.
We didn't need anyone's permission to obey God's calling and directives to us. We really had to get new definitions written in our hearts. God was so faithful to give us supernatural confirmations and new relationships. It was amazing how things began to unfold with repetitious encounters with other Christians that God wanted us involved with.
Did you experience any limitations put upon your ministry by others because you are a woman?
Yes, there were some. Many of the limitations were self-imposed. I was blessed with a husband who has a strong personality who didn't try and hinder any gifts I exercised.
Even though we had been indoctrinated strongly against women preachers, etc. I honestly think we just never quite believed it anyway. It didn't seem consistent with the way Jesus treated people.
It was a contradictory mode of conduct.
How can women be good enough to go on the mission field but not preach behind an American church pulpit?
I remember wondering to myself, "Why? Why do I do the things I do?" I functioned very naturally in some areas. To deny those unctions would be very repressive. I was really questioning my own motivations. God spoke to me along the way and revealed that it was His calling for me. He confirmed it through His Word. When God speaks- it clears up all the scuttle-butt.
There are definitely encounters along the way with resistance to a 'woman' minister. Most often by other ministry leaders. I really look at it as though it is someone else's personal issue to sort out. I don't feel like I have to prove anything.
Just as we host guest ministers in our church- we know they will be received better by some rather than others. There can be preferences involved. The body of Christ will be ministered to on an individual basis by particular giftings. It doesn't matter who does the ministering; whoever receives and gets blessed is the important thing. That is the beauty of Christ's body.