Friday, June 18, 2010

Introducing: SMOKE SIGNALS - The KING Returns: In the flesh?

Greetings All:

This is the very first of (hopefully) many, many more 'Smoke Signals'. Small, simple messages with big impact. Also be looking for 'Crimson Caplets' (those are easier to swallow) on The RED PILL Consortium!

The word 'maranatha' means, "the LORD comes" or "the LORD is coming" and this is the blessed Hope of the church (TITUS 2:13)! Yet there are some in the ranks of Christendom that state that the LORD's coming is only in a spiritual sense; they claim that He is not physically going to return to this world. Many who espouse such a belief also believe in amillennialism, that is, there is no actual Millennial age in which Christ Jesus will reign as King over Israel as her Messiah (most certainly contrary to 2 SAMUEL 7 and PSALM 89, as well as LUKE 1:31-33 and ROMANS 11:26).

Yet what does the Word say regarding the coming of the LORD? Let's look at some scriptures:

LUKE 24:36
And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

So we know that the LORD resurrected with a body that was tangible; He was not merely a spirit, but possessed both flesh and bone (note: no blood however, that was all shed for you and me). Yet one that enjoyed certain properties like appearing suddenly in closed rooms, while still able to eat food (LUKE 24:41-43).
From that point to the ascension there is no indication that the LORD 'shed' this body, and became only a spirit; therefore we can rightly assume He ascended into heaven in His glorified body -

ACTS 1:9-11
And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven (emphasis mine).
Note that the angels specify that the LORD is going to return in the same manner in which He ascended into heaven; in a glorified body (See also ZECH 12:10).

Paul speaks of the difference between a body that is corrupt and that which incorrupt, a body that is glorified and one that is in dishonor -

1 COR 15:42
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

Take care to observe that while the body is sown a natural one, it's raised a spiritual body: not merely a spirit, but a spiritual body! Paul states there are two kinds of bodies: natural ones and spiritual ones!

Some that support that Christ Jesus no longer possesses a body but is now returned to His pre-incarnate state of Spirit use the following verse to prove it:

1 COR 15:45
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

Adam was made a living soul, but was that all that he was? He also possessed a body of course. The LORD Jesus was a quickening spirit, but did He not also possess a body . . . and a soul as well? The distinction here is not that Christ is without a body, but the essence of who Adam was and who Christ is. Adam was living, but Jesus is a life-giving Spirit. Its a revelation of the two natures between Adam, and the LORD Jesus, as the context of this passage reveals.

Is there a verse that actually states that Christ Jesus, in heaven, right now, possesses a body? Yes, read the following:

PHIL 3:20-21
For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: . . . so we are looking for our Savior, from the place where we hold citizenship: "in heaven". He is going to return from that place for us, and what will He do for us once He appears to us? 
Verse 21 . . .
Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself
(emphasis mine).

Our vile bodies are going to be fashioned like his glorious spirit?
No, that's not what it says, does it? It specifically says that our bodies will be fashioned like unto HIS glorified body.

1 COR 15:50
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

Rest assured saints, when the LORD returns, in His physical, glorified body, His spiritual body, we shall inherit ones just like His and enter into the glories of heaven! For that is where our citizenship resides, not on this Earth below! (see PHIL 3:18-20)

May the LORD bless you as you keep looking for His soon Return!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Seeking Such To WORSHIP

What does it mean to worship?

You may be aware that this word is actually a contraction of 'worth-ship' but that's rather difficult to pronounce, so it was shortened to the form we use today. We focus on the 'worth-ship' of Jesus Christ, Who indeed is worthy of all praise and adoration! Amen?

UPDATE: 8-19-10 The TRUTH Under FIRE has posted a "Truth Transfusion" on worship. Here is a link for your consideration:

The LORD Jesus said in:

JOHN 4:23-24
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.

Would the LORD say that today the church is indeed worshipping Him in Truth? And in the Spirit? Would the Father have to seek diligently, even here, in the church, for such?
One would hope that such a search wouldn't take long, for should not all God's children be true worshippers and worship Him in spirit and in truth?

What is worship? In the passage quoted above, the word for worship is proskuneo, which means "to kiss, fawn over, crouch to, prostrate oneself in homage to, to do reverence, to adore"

I believe an integral part of worship is in the act of 'giving'; here are a couple of passages from the Psalms that illustrate this -

PSALMS 29:1-2
[[A Psalm of David.]] Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.


PSALMS 96:7-9
Give unto the LORD, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts. O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.

The LORD gave me a real profound definition of worship last year:
"Giving to God all that He is worthy of in light of all that He has given to us!" He has given to us His Son! And more besides!

How much can we give in light of the incredible gift of His Son, that could possibly be considered 'too much' or 'fanatical'? What is it we have to give? Our time spent in church, reading the Word, praying, our financial resources, our own personal lives and those of our families; and other things even more intimate: our love, our heart, our will, our dreams and pains.

In Genesis Ch. 22 we see how Abraham was called upon to bring the sacrifice of his only son, Isaac, and worship God; of course God didn't allow him to go through with it. Yet Abraham in his willingness to sacrifice his most precious possession, his only son, was a genuine worshipper of God, and because of this, God revealed to him the most glorious secret He had: that one day, He would provide Himself an offering for all humanity!

Giving to God our praise and worship regardless of our emotional state or our present circumstances, as despondent as these may be, worship is all the sweeter to the LORD then: its real, not just a 'shine-on' to God because we are happy and our lives are full of joy and good times.

Another crucial aspect of worship is centered upon the Person of God Himself - worshipping God not only for what He has given to us, but for Who He is! In worship we extol the character and virtues of our Almighty God!

He is holy, He is love; He is true, righteous, gracious, merciful, and having tender mercies towards those who seek Him in humility; He is wisdom and possesses all knowledge, all power, all glory.

God is the focus of our worship, and the sole object of supreme adoration. There is no one and nothing else that shares this honor in our lives: if there are any, they must be considered idols, and its imperative they be struck down and removed from our lives. When God said He would have no other gods before Him, He MEANT it! In the Holy of holies of our hearts, we who are the temple of the Holy Spirit, are there any idols erected there? In scripture, that would constitute an abomination that makes desolate!

Christ and Christ alone is worthy of the pre-eminence that He must be given in our hearts and in our lives. Something Chuck Missler is fond of saying, "Jesus doesn't want to be number one on a list of ten in our lives, He wants to be number one on a list of one!"

Now, let us consider the saint and righteous man, Job:

He was incredibly blessed by God, having a large family (ten children I believe) and an immense amount of wealth. Others who would possess a tenth of all that he had would find reason enough to praise and worship God for all the wondrous gifts He's bestowed. Unfortunately, Satan's accusation against Job would hold true for some people today who claim to be Christians, who claim to love God -

JOB 1:9-11
Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.

When good times and blessings abound, God has many fair weather friends, but when trials hit, some times severe trials, unanswered prayer, discouragement, loneliness, whatever may be the case . . . they grow cold and bitter against God, they abandon their devotion to Him, and they become hostile at even the mention of God.

When others face trials, they don't outwardly abandon God and their relationship with Him, but inwardly they lay accusation against Him in the midst of their pain and suffering, and it often takes a very long time for them to heal due to resentment and an unbroken heart, not yielded to the LORD.

This can't be said of Job; his relationship with God was solid, and he had a right perspective of Him, and of life in general. After Satan took away his family and then all his material possessions, Job rent his mantle, shaved his head (both customs of grieving) and said something that I count as one of the most remarkable scriptures in the Holy Bible:

JOB 1:20-22
Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

Job understood that any possessions we may have endure at their very best, for the duration of our terribly short lives- we come into this world owning nothing (naked) and we leave this world the same way. He also understood that the LORD is the giver of all good gifts, and He has every right to take any of these back at any time of His choosing. Corrie Ten Boom was a very wise saint who said, "Hold the blessings of God in an open hand; it'll hurt less when He takes them back!"

This man lost not one child, or two, or five, but all ten! I'm confident he would have exchanged a sum of wealth ten times what he had possessed just to have his children back!! Its one thing for a son to lose a father, but quite another for a father to lose a son... or ten!!

Yet Job didn't let his personal situation change his view of God; he understood that while his own circumstances had changed suddenly, tragically, this didn't affect the nature, character and attributes of God Almighty! Regardless of what pain, or suffering, or heartache or loss we may be experiencing, God is still GOD! He is ever and always worthy of being worshipped and glorified because of who He is. Job worshipped God, he was submitted to whatever circumstance, as hard as that might be, that the LORD would place him in.

What's going on in my own tiny little life can't alter who God is; yet its when we are going through (severe) trials, and we offer up praise and worship, these are legitimately called "sacrifices". Its in our darkest nights, in the midst of our deepest pains and heart-rending grief that our worship of the LORD is most precious, for He understands that in the center of such sufferings, its most difficult, near impossible, to surrender our own will and offer Him such sacrifices. Yet, by His Spirit, we are able.

Suffering in trials, no matter how pointless they may appear to be to us, serve a Divine purpose in purifying our souls; such times are tools in the LORD's hands to carve His character in our lives. The LORD doesn't afflict needlessly; there is always a plan He intends to see fulfilled. Being yielded, broken of self-will, and reckoning ourselves to be dead to sin and self are essential. Worship at these times is also essential, as it will keep us focused on the LORD just as Peter was focused on the LORD Jesus as he walked on water to the Master (remember, he didn't falter until his attention left the LORD!).

Worship of God gets our attention off of ourselves, our problems, our suffering, our tumultuous emotions, and rivets our hearts and minds on the LORD God! Worship and praise the LORD saints, this is crucial to our spiritual life!

Its in such times as these that sacrifices of praise and worship are most important; for when we worship God, this opens up a venue to Him, a 'connection' as it were whereby we can experience Him and His heart in a way like no other. At these times we enter into the fellowship of His sufferings (PHIL. 3:10).

God inhabits the praises of His people (PSALMS 22:3).
As we give to God our praises and our worship, we transcend the mundane reality of this world and we enter into a holy place, a place of interaction with God Almighty. This can occur while we are alone, shut in with the LORD in a time of personal worship, it can also happen in corporate worship in a church assembly.

Its for this very reason I find it highly distressing when during this time as we are to devote our entire heart, mind, and strength to giving God our worship in church service, that I hear people chatting among themselves in the congregation, sometimes even giggling and making jokes.

I can't help but wonder: "Don't they understand that we are addressing the Holy God of all creation? Where is their fear of the LORD Who bought their salvation with His own blood? Where is plain respect for God??"

I likewise find it frustrating when I'm in the midst of worship, and someone leans over and whispers in my ear, or jabs me in the ribs as they enter the sanctuary and sit down next to me, asking me how I'm doing.

Every opportunity of worship has the potential to become an Isaiah chapter 6 experience; and I desire to seek God fervently at every such opportunity, either solitary or in an assembly. Each saint should be intent on directing their hearts to the LORD, seeking Him, His manifest presence, His glory, His own heart! As each and every follower of Jesus so directs their hearts, corporately, together as one body in unity, the LORD makes Himself known in glorious ways!

This is our God! This is our Lord and Savior and Creator! This is the Holy One of Israel, the very One that holds this Universe together, and Who commands legions of angels in the glories of heaven! The One that supervises our every heart beat and our every breath! This is the One Who took on Himself sinless humanity in all its dimensions and allowed Himself to be the Sacrificial Lamb of God!

Take a moment and read this Psalm:

PSALM 45:1-17 and this one as well -

PSALM 99:1-9

How the Word of God, especially the Psalms, inspires such worship!

Quite often when I'm praying, I seek the LORD for a passage of scripture, and many times I find myself lost in an awesome text of His Word; I begin to worship God for the truth that's revealed there. Then I begin to worship Him for the promises and revealed character, power and most of all the very HEART of God!

It's been said that one will become like the one they worship.

I saw this illustrated one time at a department store; I was in the entertainment department, looking at the wide screen TV's back when they first came out, and they had a Michael Jackson video on one of the screens. He was doing his usual dance routines, 'moon walking' and making all these double-jointed moves when I noticed off to the side, a young boy mimicking Jackson's moves. Not only was he imitating Jackson, he was doing it very well! Almost like a mirror image; it was then that I noticed the boy even more so . . . he was even dressed similarly, with one glove and a hat much like Jackson's.

It was obvious that he 'worshipped' Michael Jackson and it showed in his life and in his abilities!

As disciples of Christ, we endeavor to follow Him, our LORD and Leader; we desire to acquire His Holy Attributes in our lives.

WORSHIP CHRIST JESUS in Spirit and Truth: exalt and glorify His Name, and all that He has done, is doing, and has promised to do for us, His children. In this spiritual interaction, the LORD does such a work in our hearts and deepens our relationship with Him!

King David was a worshipper of God, and look at his relationship with the LORD. Sure, David fell into some grievous sins, but he 'fessed up and admitted freely of his trespasses (unlike his predecessor, King Saul who only seemed capable of blaming others for his own sins).

Yet let us witness the sort of relationship David had with the LORD! It was such a relationship that he was called by God, "a man after My own heart". Why was this?

ACTS 13:22
And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.

Here was a man that fulfilled all of God's will, and it was because he feared the LORD, he had a godly reverence for the LORD God of Israel. He yearned after the LORD, to have fellowship with Him and inspiring interaction with his Maker! Listen to his one, single most highest desire:

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

His chief desire was to dwell with God, to behold His beauty, to learn of the ways of the LORD! David, being a musician wrote a great deal of the Psalms and set them to music, so we know he had the heart of one who worshipped God in Spirit and in Truth, and this had a profound impact, not only on he himself, but on those around him and all the saints who've partaken of the Psalms!

Worshippers of God are like that; their love and zeal for the LORD is contagious! Its like a raging but righteous fire of all-consuming love and passion for God, and the things of God that spreads to other hearts as such worshippers exalt the LORD our God!

A saintly lady I know in Syracuse, NY was commissioned by her pastor to set all of the Psalms to music for their worship services. I can remember as a young believer, she would have us turn to certain passages of scripture and she taught us songs, using those scriptures as lyrics!

How I wish the worship industry (even that word 'industry' clashes with the whole purpose of genuine worship) would get a clue on this! I don't know about you, but I've noticed so much of the worship songs of today are becoming trite, redundant and repetitive; even downright mantra-like with the same words being repeated over and over again. I can only sing such songs so long before I have to stop myself, as I'm beginning to repeat words mechanically, not being able to focus on worshipping God. The repetitive words just become meaningless.

Not so with the hymns of years gone by; they were veritable Bible studies set to music; those hymns compared to much of today's musical lyrics is like comparing Shakespeare to a First Grade reader with Dick, Jane and Spot!

How I long for worship teams to employ their talents, led by the Spirit of God to create new melodies that would use scripture as their lyrics: its a great way to memorize scripture, and a powerful way to worship, using God's own Word! You can't get better lyrics than that!

I also find that there is a danger in today's Christian world involving worship. "Danger?" you might ask; how could worship possibly be dangerous??

As stated already, worship is centered around God and Who He is, and what He's done for us, and yet there seems to be an increasing trend of worship being about 'worship'.

Churches cater to and request 'big name' worship teams that have recorded tons of popular music to come and 'perform' for their fellowship; these groups have grown to celebrity status, and it makes me wonder sometimes - "Is God as impressed by all that as much as we are?"

Why the need to solicite these famous worship bands? Is their ministry any more annointed than a simple group with a guitar and some voices that cry out to God from an urgent need, hunger, thirst, and passion for Him?

Please believe me, I'm not in the habit of being critical, especially of worship leaders. Yet if our attention is drawn away from the LORD, the singular object of our undying devotion and worship and onto such famous worship teams and internationally known bands, how then can God be manifested in our midst? How can we receive from Him His grace, and peace, and power? If we are focusing on these famous bands more than God in Whose Name we claim to gather, is that not idolatry?

There is much about the church today that needs to get back to basics and worship is certainly one of these!

The altar that was consecrated to God in the Old Testment was to be made of dirt, and if there wasn't enough dirt to make a sufficient mound, then a rock could be used, but an unadorned rock, not crafted or chisled by human industry and artistry. The altar was simply a carrier used to hold the sacrifice up before the LORD.

Our worship teams, our musical instruments, our sound systems are to be nothing but carriers for the sacrifice of praise lifted up by God's children. Just as the Holy Spirit, Who points and leads us to the LORD Jesus remains quietly in the background, seeking no attention for Himself, so likewise those who lead the worship of the saints directed to the LORD Jesus should clothe themselves with an invisibility so as to not 'get noticed'.

The more we truly worship God, the more that pride, arrogance, self-will, and all of human wickedness is seen in the Holy Light that eminates from this sacred place where we are to resort. The more humble we become, the less likely we are to push our way forward to get attention; we seek to draw people to the LORD and have them catch 'the vision' of what Isaiah saw.

What Paul saw. What Peter saw. What Job saw.

Lastly, getting back to Job: once that severe trial of his had come to nearly closing, the LORD spoke up and declared:

JOB 38:2-3
Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.

Pretty hard words, don't you think? Why did God speak in such a manner to Job?

The man, after his multitude of woes, and turmoil and confusion needed a 'reality check' to the admission that God is in control, nothing gets passed His notice, and there are reasons, plans, and purposes He has that we know nothing about.

The LORD then goes on asking a series of questions that start out like this: "Where were YOU (Job) when . . . " and He goes on like this for the next three chapters.

The revelations found here in these chapters have been scientifically verified as we understand them today (but no one did in Job's day) and are truly astounding and could (and may well) be examined in another article.

After this length of questioning by the LORD, Job came to some substantial realizations, and was humbled greatly by the overwhelming knowledge, wisdom and power of God.

Hear his words -

JOB 42:6
Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

and his response to the previous three chapters:

JOB 42:1-3
Then Job answered the LORD, and said, I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.

and in 
vs. 5:

I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.

Why did God even bother with Job, and conduct this interview? Why was Job singled out while his three 'friends' were excluded?
I can't help but wonder if it was because Job was a devout worshipper of God, and that as a person who faithfully sought God out, one who sought for truth, that the LORD was faithful to reveal truth to him.

Yet so often we hear sermons on the Book of Job and have it explained to us that this book deals with the 'why' of our suffering, but if you read through the final chapters where God speaks, you don't find an answer, but that is an answer in itself!

God doesn't specifically answer the question of why we suffer in life because its not our business to know the 'why' of what God does in our lives. Is He LORD? Is He LORD over all of our life? Are we dedicated, sanctified, consecrated, blood-bought by the LORD Jesus Christ?

Then we belong to Him, totally and utterly, and whatever He does with our lives, and why He does them, resides and remains within the jurisdiction of His providence and sovereign will, and He is not to be questioned . . . only trusted as the LORD of Love and Grace and Truth.

This all goes back to worship, and in prayer (certainly a vital form of worship!) we bring to God all of what involves our daily lives, the blessings we enjoy as well as those we seek (for others as well as ourselves), burdens and bewilderments, confessions and inquiries.

Its in times of prayer that much of what mystifies us regarding the hardships and trials of life can become clearer; as it has been said, The view from the bended knee reveals more than the highest summits this world can afford!

Job discovered this in the end, when his understanding of God increased, and he grew in humility and wisdom (as any trial will succeed in doing in our lives if we endure it by submitting to the LORD): remember vs. 5 of chapter 42 -

I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.

He had heard of God (indirect knowledge), with his ear, but greater perception and understanding was granted to Job when after he was brought through his horrendous trials, his eye could 'see' Him (direct knowledge)!

Show me a saint that is intent on the worship of God, and I will show you a saint that's entirely surrendered to the will of God and that doesn't flinch or falter when facing trials, even life threatening trials that promise nothing but suffering and heartache!

We will spend the entirety of our earthly lives studying and learning from God's Word; yet in that day when we step out of time and into eternity, we will then know even as we are known (of God [1 COR 13:12])!

When it comes to the ministry of worship, this is something that we will be engaged in throughout eternity, along side all the saints, and even the angels that surround His throne! Let us be a people known for our worship of the living God, the Almighty One that inhabits our praises, the LORD Jesus Christ!

PSALMS 22:27
All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.

PSALMS 95:6-7
O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. 
For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, 

PSALMS 99:5-6,9
Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy. Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among them that call upon his name; they called upon the LORD, and he answered them. Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy. 

PSALMS 138:2
I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

May the LORD Jesus bless us all, as we endeavor to become worshippers who are not content with superficial worship, but deep, abiding, intimate worship, daily and not just Sunday. For our God is beautiful, holy, righteous, full of grace and truth, and everlasting love for His children! AMEN!