The Importance of Baptism

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:38 (King James Version)

Baptism, a tradition in our common faith, that a number of us do without full knowledge of how important this act is. Quite often, we are baptized at a young age before we know the importance and the meaning of the act of baptism. Now, that is not necessarily a bad thing, plenty of people in the Bible as we will discuss we simply told be baptized and so they got baptized. Though as you mature in your faith, it becomes important to understand just how import this symbolic act is.

The act of Baptism was so important to God, that Christ Himself got baptized and is one of 8 events that is recorded in each of the gospels (the others being: call of the first disciples, Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, the agony at Gethsemane, Judas’ betrayal of Christ, Peter’s denial of Christ, Christ before Pilot, then the death, burial, and resurrection). You can read the story in John 1:29-34, Luke 3:21-22, Matthew 3:13-17, and Mark 1:1-11. Mark 1:1-8 reads as this:

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the            prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and   unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. (KJV)

And Matthew 3:13-17 gives us a better completion of the story:

13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all  righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the  Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven,   saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (KJV)

Christ felt it to be so important to be baptized that He led the way with His own example. Then God, the Father said He was well pleased with His Son for the act of righteousness and faithfulness. So, if God almighty humbles Himself to be baptized, that should speak to the level of levity that this act has.

So, what is the big deal??? Well, Paul writes on that subject in Romans 6:4-11:

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (KJV)

It is the marking of our new life as believer’s. Used to be the circumcision, but now our mark which also serves as an outward symbol and metaphor for the death, and resurrection of Christ. To show the world that we are no longer who we used to be. That from that day forward we are Christians, followers of Christ renewed by the Spirit of God. The act of being fully submerged is the dying to our former selves as Christ died on the cross to take away our sins, and then the reemergence from the water a parallel to the resurrection of Christ in that a promise was fulfilled and our sins are no more. When we are baptized it is our symbol of dedication and a public testimony that Christ has begun this work of Salvation in us that will be completed on Christ’s return (Phil 1:6).

It marks the beginning of the relationship that you have with God. Like getting a friend request on Facebook or other social media, God has sent the request to everyone. And when you repent and accept Jesus as Lord, and Savior, that is you accepting the friend request. But, what makes a friend special on Facebook? It is the one you tag in everything, and the one that you talk about how proud you are to know them! Think of baptism as your first tagging of God in your life! That is the first moment that you acknowledge and profess Him before all of man! That is what is so important about baptism. What is the point of accepting Christ if you are ashamed of Him? There is no point, baptism is merely the completion of your old life and marks the beginning of your new one.

We can see this in the life of Paul, formerly known as Saul. In Acts 9, we read of Saul’s redemptive encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, but his new life did not begin until he was baptized by Ananias (Acts 9:10-19). After his baptism Saul became one of the greatest apostles of Christ and went on to author the majority of the New Testament. Another great way to think about it is this: A brother in Christ once told me about this riddle. There are 7 birds on the wire, and all 7 decide to fly away. How many flew away? The answer might surprise you, but the answer is 0. None flew away, all 7 are still sitting on the wire. Just because you decide to do something, does not mean you have actually done it. This is the same with repentance and acceptance of Christ. If you never take the first step of Baptism, then have you truly dedicated your life to God?

In the Great Commission given to us in Mark 16:15-17 we are commanded to go all over the world and preach the gospel and “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16, KJV). We are actually commanded to believe and be baptized! The book of Acts contains another great example, in Acts 8:26-39 we have the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch. Now, eunuch was a man that was devoted to purity of not only himself but of generally a lady he protected or some position that he held. In other words, they were men of righteousness and were beyond reproach. In this story, we can tell he clearly believed the word of God, he just did not quite understand it. Phillip was directed to go and preach to this Eunuch that he might understand the word of God. The eunuch, having it been placed on his heart, was full of conviction and asked Phillip to baptize him then and there on the middle of the road, in the middle of nowhere. That is how important baptism should be to us as believers!

The act of baptism should so important to us that when we confess our belief in Christ that we should straightway seek to act on that belief and be baptized! Even Christ did not begin His ministry until He was baptized! If nothing else is gained out of this, then remember that the Lord, your God, decided it was so important to Him that we should be baptized when we come to Him that He set the example and began His earthly ministry by being baptized. Now, yes Christ had performed miracles and even preached before then, but He did not set out to complete His Father’s work until after being baptized.

All of that to say this, baptism; is it important to your belief? Yes, we are all called to be baptized. If you are still having doubts about this whole Jesus is Lord talk, then I would encourage you to check out the other posts on this site and really read into the Bible for yourself and put to test the things you read in it! God is still in the miracle business, let the next one He works be in the transforming of your life! Repent of your sins, believe in your heart, and confess that Jesus is Lord and follow it up with baptism, and be saved! A future without worry of what comes after death is just a prayer away! If you have questions, please feel free to email us at twocministries@gmail.com . God Bless You, and have a Wonderfully Blessed Day!

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Wake Up Christians in America

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The Christian Post reported on a study that was released by Gordon-Conwell’s Center for the Study of Global Christianity; which said,that over 900,000 Christians were Martyred for their faith in the last 10 years. This plays out to an average of one Christian being martyred every 4-6 minutes. In America we would like to think that the martyrdom of the saints is a thing of ancient past.

We have books in our bookshelf that give descriptions of the early church and other time periods where Christians were martyred, sometimes by other christian sects. We pull the book down and haphazardly read an account and say, wow, I would have stood up just like that Christian. We then pat ourselves on the back, because we are such a good christian and then put the book back on the shelf, and sit into our lazy chair to watch some comedian on TV made fun of Christians or God. In truth, persecution of Christians world wide is higher than it has ever been.

In the 20th and 21st Centuries, more Christians were martyred than any other time in history. That means that more Christians have died, for their faith, in the last 118 years than in the preceding 19 Centuries. The numbers are growing, while we sit and grow fat.  We bury our heads in the sand and tell ourselves it does not concern us.  Yet this relentless murder of Christians is pandemic of the entire world, including in America, where violent and legal attacks are carried out on a routine basis against Christians.  NE News Now reported that across the globe there are more than 200 million Christians that are threatened because of their faith. This is a consensus revealed in 105 of the 190 nations in the world.

All of this goes on while,in American church, we have watered down gospel. A gospel that actually is not the gospel is preached instead.  We have become a nation of Christians who have ears that itch to have pleasing self-centered, even devilish doctrines entreated to us. World know preachers of mega churches go on interview after interview and openly proclaim that they do not teach the gospel, because there is no money in it. Instead, the church in America had been inundated with a “name it and claim it” gospel. Sin and consequences are not discussed in the pulpit. American churches have desecrated themselves before God and man, and no longer stand for the truth.  Instead of confronting sexual immortality, and infant murder, they welcome it into their churches and in some- even ordain that which should be expelled.

Self-help and the way to financial happiness have become the mantra of the mainstream American church. We are so absorbed and praying for that new house, or new car, or other ways of pleasing our own covetous desires that we have left God out or our churches, schools, business, legislation, families, and our own hearts. We no longer care to reach the lost, instead we try not to offend them and try to act like them, to show how accepting we are.  We have lost the love that gives us the need to be objective and warn the lost that they will die in their sin without accepting the truth of Jesus.  We have become the ones that the Lord said, “In that day, I will say, depart from me for I never knew you.”

You know how I know this? Take a look at John 15:18-27.
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 yours 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 cloak for their sin.He that hateth me hateth my Father also.If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

Here Jesus says that the world will hate you. We can expect this because it hates Jesus. A young Pakistani Christian invited some friends and family to his home after he was converted from Islam to Christianity. He showed them the Jesus movie. They told him that if he didn’t stop showing that movie he would be killed. He continued his mission, and invited another small group to his home and showed them the Jesus movie. Two nights later, a group of men stole into his home and cut him to pieces. Stabbing this young Christian to death because of his love for Jesus.

Jesus said that if you were of the world the would would love it’s own. But because you are of the Kingdom of Heaven, the world doesn’t know you. Because they do not know you, they hate you. You are reminder to them of sin that they are guilty of. You are a reminder that there is a just and righteous God who will judge sin, and who will destroy all who live in sin. They hate you because you have spoken to them and revealed sin. This is the same reason they hated Jesus.

But Jesus said that he has sent us a comforter, the Holy Spirit. Who indwells all who believe. The Spirit of God in Christ is who gives us the ability and courage to speak the truth. We, who believe, are not concerned with these worldly issues. Who cares who said what? Who cares about that new car, or new house? We are not of this world. We are just passing through while on mission. We are missionaries of Jesus, each one of us. We are here to do exactly what Jesus did, bear witness to the truth. We are here to tell the whole truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are here to expose the lie of the false teachers and false prophets who teach that God will give you a new boat if you just pray hard enough or give enough money to their false religion.  We are here to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.  People are dying for Christ.  However, allot more are dying without Christ.  “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).  Maybe we need to stand up, before there are none of us left to bring the message.

Ref:

https://www.christianpost.com/news/over-900000-christians-martyred-for-their-faith-in-last-10-years-report.html

https://onenewsnow.com/persecution/2015/09/20/every-5-minutes-a-christian-is-martyred

https://www.christianpost.com/voice/christians-massacred-call-to-grieve.html

https://www.christianpost.com/news/nigeria-christians-slaughtered-by-fulani-militants-at-baby-dedication-children-among-the-dead.html

By What Manner is this “Good” Friday?

It is Good Friday! A day that Christians around the world hold holy and dear, a day that we remember the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This is the day of our dear Savior’s death, but we call it ‘Good’ Friday… how could anyone call the day of someone’s death good unless they were talking of a merciless dictator like Hitler or Stalin? Christ is recognized by the world as being the first real equal rights activist, and one of the first nonviolence practitioners (Funny they forget He took a whip to people, John 2:15), as well as model for most philosophers and philanthropists to follow, so how can we call the death of this overall respected and trusted being to be a good day? This is a day where our Lord suffered through the worst punishment the human body could take, and is described here:

Many scholars believe that Pilate originally ordered Jesus scourged as his full punishment and that the death sentence by crucifixion came only in response to the taunt by the mob that the Procurator was not properly defending Caesar against this pretender who allegedly claimed to be the King of the Jews.  Preparations for the scourging were carried out when the Prisoner was stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. It is doubtful the Romans would have made any attempt to follow the Jewish law in this matter, but the Jews had an ancient law prohibiting more than forty lashes.  The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagrum (or flagellum) in his hand. This is a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each. The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back, and legs.

At first the thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles.  The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises which are broken open by subsequent blows. Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is near death, the beating is finally stopped.

The Roman soldiers see a great joke in this provincial Jew claiming to be king. They throw a robe across His shoulders and place a stick in His hand for a scepter. They still need a crown to make their travesty complete. Flexible branches covered with long thorns (commonly used in bundles for firewood) are plaited into the shape of a crown and this is pressed into His scalp. Again there is copious bleeding, the scalp being one of the most vascular areas of the body.

After mocking Him and striking Him across the face, the soldiers take the stick from His hand and strike Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp. Finally, they tire of their sadistic sport and the robe is torn from His back. Already having adhered to the clots of blood and serum in the wounds, its removal causes excruciating pain just as in the careless removal of a surgical bandage, and almost as though He were again being whipped the wounds once more begin to bleed. (Dr. C. Truman Davis, 2018)

But that was not the only thing Christ endured before finally dying! Christ carried the cross to Mount Calvary a staggering 650-yard journey with a 75 lbs. weight affixed to His back. Pushing his muscles beyond the point of failure, Christ is recorded to have stumbled 3 times before the Centurion loses his patience and orders a denizen to help Christ with the weight. How can any of this be considered good? How? Even further the death on the cross is regarded as one of the cruelest forms by which to die. Not only are there nails in your wrists and feet, but you are slowly suffocating. To which to breathe you must pull by the nails in your wrists and push yourself up by the nail in your feet, causing even more pain just to breathe and live a little longer. So, again, I ask how can any of this be good? Let me remind you of the prophecy from Isaiah found in Isaiah 53:

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:1-12, KJV)

This is where we begin to see why it is a Good Friday, as Christ was put through all of this to bear our iniquities. But let us read in Romans 5 to get the full picture.

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:6-11, KJV)

Christ died for us, while were enemies of Him! And we were justified by His blood. By His death, we were forgiven. Christ presented Himself as a perfect sacrifice for all of our sins! By this we have JOY in knowing that our sins are no more and we no longer have to fear the day of judgement or what comes after death for those who believe. This is why it is Good Friday! Because a good thing has been done, the remission of sins by the shedding of His blood. No one else could fill the sacrifice as God alone could.

If you are in a stage of doubt as to believing that Christ died for you, because you are a good person, we have to remember that everyone has sinned (Romans 3:23), and that where sin is God cannot be (1 John 1:5), and to be without God is death (Romans 2:1-11). Here is the good news, Jesus Christ, the Son of God came to this world to die for our sins because He loved us and all you have to do is believe that He is who He is (John 3:16-17, 1 John 1:9). To accept this free gift of salvation all you have to do is believe in your heart and confess it with your mouth (Romans 10:9-11)! I would encourage you not to wait, because tomorrow is never promised, and there is no better time than the present to begin your walk with God than now (2 Cor. 6:2). This means so much more than just a religion, it begins a relationship with God almighty (1 John 1:3-4). If you have any questions or are interested in finding a good church to be a part of, reach out to us via our contact link or through email at twocministries@gmail.com ! God Bless you, go in peace!

Maundy Thursday: The Prayer of Intercession

The Prayer of Intercession is probably my favorite chapter in the entire Bible. This prayer is an intimate conversation between Christ and the Father on our behalf that we may know His heart and how much He cares and loves for us. Beyond anything else, save His crucifixion, this prayer shows how much Christ truly felt our emotions, of love, longing, loss, heartache, and joy. Through this, we can see that He truly experienced the human condition. While He certainly holds true to His divinity, He also remains humble and makes requests for us, who He counts as a part of Him.

Following the Last Supper, and a whole lot of divine revelations to His disciples they begin to walk to the Garden of Gethsemane. Along this walk Christ begins to pray in the middle of the night. His prayer is said aloud for His disciples to hear and that they may be filled with the same spirit that He has in these final moments. As a soldier and his unit preparing for combat, He says this prayer to fill His team with confidence in the things to come. It is His last battle cry, His rally to arms. Though, it was not for combat, it was for love and the work of the ministry. Let’s read this powerful prayer. John 17 holds the entirety.

These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. (John 17:1-5, KJV)

This first part of this prayer is Christ acknowledging His Father’s will that He has fulfilled already and asking for the strength to bring it to completion that He (Christ) may glorify His Father even more. He even says that God has given eternal life, and that eternal life is found in the truth that God is God alone who sent Jesus (who is God, the Son ref. John 1:1-4, Rev. 1:8). It is simple, and plain, yet profound and a centerpiece to our faith. To call yourself Christian is to believe in the fact that Christ is both the Son of God and God, himself. Carrying on in verse 6:

I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. (John 17:6-8, KJV)

These verses are Christ acknowledging His Father’s will. He says that His disciples were chosen by the Father and that everything that He taught and said was His Father’s will. Christ says that everything that was given to Him, He turned and gave it to His disciples. Like a band of brothers, He kept no secret from those He loved most, all the words and lessons that God had, He gave them to His friends, disciples, and his most trusted followers that they might be fully equipped for the work of the ministry after He left. Now, He gets personal starting in verse 9.

I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. (John 17:9-12, KJV)

Here we see Christ begin praying specifically for His apostles. Because they are special to Him, He says those that are given to Him, as our most treasured friends are, so were these men to Him. God grants friendship, kinship to be the bonds by which we learn how to love one another and it was something that He felt Himself. Christ asks that God keeps His friends, as in keep them in His will that they may be one in the spirit of God and fellowship. Jesus knows the hard times that are going to ensue following this prayer and He wants them to be kept together despite what they would do (Judas’ betrayal and suicide, Peter’s denial, the general cowardice in the face of controversy). Christ wants them to hear this also, because He knows that it is important that they hear how He prays for them that they might know how to pray for one another. We get to go even deeper with what comes next in verse 13.

And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. (John 17:13-19, KJV)

This is one of my favorite parts of His prayer, here this is where Christ prays for their protection, but not as we might pray for one another’s protection. See, I normally hear in prayers, and have prayed myself before, that God keep people from danger, or from death, but Christ does not. More rather Christ says that He prays aloud (these things I speak in the world) that they may have JOY despite the hate that this world shows them. He even goes as far as to say, do not take them from the world, instead keep satan away from them and sanctify them in Your Word that they might be filled with joy and strength. That is just beautiful! He knows this world will turn against them and so instead of trying to keep them out of it, He prays that they be filled with joy because they are doing what is right and when the world hates on them it is because they are doing what is right! The only protective thing He asks is that Satan be kept away from them. And that is who we truly fight against in this world, not people, but Satan and his many schemes and deceptions. Now, let us see what Christ prayed for us! Beginning in verse 20:

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:20-23, KJV)

All right, now we are getting into why the prayer of Intercession is so important for us! Here we see Christ change from just His present disciples, and begins to pray for all those who would believe by the accounts, testimonies, and witness bore by His apostles, and that is everyone else who ever became a Christian, i.e. YOU and ME! Christ prays for our salvation here, prays that all those who should believe in the testimony of other disciples that we would be made one with God! And this is to honor and glorify God, because the world will see when we begin to act as believers and our lives change, as they should, that there is no denying that we are followers of Christ. As we talked about yesterday, that the world should know we are Christians by our love! Because as He said that “the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them” (John 17:23, KJV), that is what we are to embody as a unified body of believers. It does not matter what you think of another believer, because you cannot claim to love God and hate your brother (1 John 4:7-21). This is so important as a believer, it is beyond an imperative, that it is so important that God, Jesus, made certain to make it not only His final command before dying, but also prayed for it that we may know just how important it is to Him.

In closing, Christ turns back to His praying for His disciples that are with Him beginning in verse 24:

Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:24-26, KJV).

In closing for His prayer, He returns His focus on His disciples. He prays that they would be able to truly bear witness to the glory of God that they may have a full understanding that God is who He says He is. And lastly, that they may have the same love that the Father has for the Son. Again, it is a beautiful picture of how real Jesus was. He had friends that He wanted to know just how awesome His Dad was, and He would stop at nothing to prove to not only them that God loved them and was all powerful, but He did not want to rest until the entire world has heard this! Shortly after this prayer Christ and His apostles arrive in the Garden Gethsemane where Christ begins to pray for strength to fulfill His Father’s will by going to the death of the cross. But all of that, and more we will cover tomorrow.

Maundy Thursday: The Command

Maundy Thursday, what does that even mean? I, like most of you, have grown up knowing about Maundy Thursday, but never what does that really mean. So, let us dig in. Grab your Bible and a good bit of spare time we are here to dig in deep to the Word to be enlightened about this special day in our faith.

We are going to be covering 3 things today and another tomorrow, all about and just covering what happened on Maundy Thursday and just how important and vital it is to know! Though, first off what is this word Maundy? The word itself just is not in our normal vernacular. The word comes from the Latin word ‘mandatum’ where we get mandatory from, and it means commandment! So, Commandment Thursday. Now that has a different ring to it, but what commandment has/was given to us this day that this day if forever remembered as Commandment (Maundy) Thursday? We will cover this shortly, today we are here to discuss the Last Supper, Christ’s revelation of omnipotence, and the Commandment of Christ.

The Last Supper as we know it, is a symbol of Christian unity in our time. But to Christ it was something different altogether, this last meal was His opportunity to impart His last few lessons before departing this Earth to accomplish His Father’s will (though not a permanent leave of absence). Often times, we place great importance on someone’s last words or moments before they pass, and with Christ we should make no exception. This last night and meal are filled with lessons and doctrine, so much so, that we are covering even more of this tomorrow! Alright, enough delay, have your Bible handy? Good, turn to John 13:1, Luke 22:13-20)

Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. (John 13:1)

And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the Passover. And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. (Luke 22:13-20)

And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. (John 13:2-17)

With a complete reading of the Last Supper, we see some important things done. First, the creation of Communion, the act of partaking of the body and blood of Christ (symbolized through bread and wine) in remembrance of what Christ was about to do. It is important to note, that this was done with only those who were truly followers of Christ (with the exception of Judas who was already taken by satan’s scheme). To partake of this tradition, legacy, and remembrance, you have to believe and have nothing left between you and God (1 Cor 11:23-34). You are not to partake if you are not already at peace or one with God. You must have confessed your sins to Him and cleared your plate of all things, for this Communion is a pure symbol between Christ and you. To accept the gift of the new testament, you have to have confessed to the truth and accepted the gift of Salvation. Though that is not our focus, what He does after is.

In John 13:2-17, we see another lesson entirely. One of leading through servitude and a reminder that we still will sin and must remember to constantly ‘wipe our feet’ as it were. Christ lowers Himself (once again) to be the lowest of people and clean the apostles’ feet. This was traditionally done by the lowest in social standings of household or group. Yet, Christ not wanting to waste the opportunity to teach in His last moments cleans their feet and tells them that as long as we are in this world, we will become dirty, and we need to constantly turn to Him in confession and repentance. This way we might become clean again. Additionally, we see this wonderful lesson of servitude, that as a follower of Christ we ought to see ourselves as the least of us and serve others. There is no greater way to reach to others and show them just how God loves them than by being the literal hands and feet of God and serving them! Getting down on your knees and helping someone with their uncleanliness.

Through the events of this night Christ makes it undeniably clear to them that He is God and the Son of God. First Christ identifies His betrayer (John 13:18-20), then He tells of Peter’s denials to come (John 13:34-35), but the most important revelation comes after these. Those first two are just Him revealing that He is omniscient (all knowing) and that He sees into the future. Then He lays down the truth of how to get to heaven (though He has before Luke 9:23). In John 14:1-11.

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. (John 14:1-11)

Here, Christ lays it bare before His disciples. He told them, this is the way it is, nothing is hidden from you anymore. In Him have they seen the Father, and through Him they would join the Father in heaven and inherit the Earth. Amidst the confusion and panic of the prophesies that He is spewing out about His most trusted followers, He lets them know, that there is a great deliverance for them in faith. He even says that they should go on to do greater things than He has (referring to the work of the ministry). Jesus just lays out the whole picture for His disciples fully knowing that these were amongst His last words before the time of His death.

Next, the Commandment of Christ. After all of this, let us see what commandment Christ has given to us that this day should be known as Commandment Thursday. John 13:34-35 reads “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Now, keep in mind that Christ has already given them and all who heard the commandment that we should love our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and love our neighbor as ourselves, so why is this different? Here He says to love one another as He has loved them! And that is with His life! His entire Earthly life was to bring redemption to mankind despite our sins, despite our fallacies, and despite the rejection by His own people. He tells us that we should love in a way that the world would know us by our love! That is radical in our day and age. Most of the world will easily tell you that Christians are bigoted, close-minded, intolerant, and hateful people. The truth is that most of us who call ourselves by His name, do not show the same love that God did for us.

John 15:13 says this: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” The God of all creation (John 1:1-4) just said that there was no greater form of love than sacrificing yourselves for those you love! Now, He is not asking for martyrs, He is asking that we sacrifice our pride, and our livelihoods to serve Him and one another. He says we are His friends if we keep His commandments (John 15:14-15). Again, right before this saying He repeats the command that we are to love as He loved (John 15:9-10). After that, He goes on reaffirming His divinity by the rites of His Father. No other commandments are given until His ascendance into Heaven where we are left with the great commission. In other words, Christ’s dying wish is that we would love so dramatically that the world would not be able to deny His presence in our lives. There is an old hymn that says “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love” and I challenge you to make that so for your life. If we are truly followers of Christ then we ought to love like it. This does not mean compromising our values or bending over backwards for the world, but more rather as Christ did, teaching, and preaching the truth through servitude and humbleness.

Fasting: More than a Trend

Fasting, for most of us this word means little more than just not eating or some trendy diet to try. Yet, when we look into the purpose and ideology behind fasting, we get a much deeper image and a truer sense of what it is to truly fast. The practice in the Hebrew tongue is read as ta’anit (pronounced ta’anith) and it holds a deep root in their traditions in remembrance for God delivering them.

The practice of fasting originates with Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) as we can read in Leviticus 23:26-32

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Also, on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord.  And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an     atonement for you before the Lord your God. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath. (King James Version)

The word says we are to afflict our souls… the word afflict is defined as to cause pain or suffering. We are to atone or repay for our sin by afflicting our souls with how we live for the day, and if you did not follow you were cut out from the people. This affliction is done by not eating or drinking (to include water), not wearing shoes, no bathing, no wearing or perfumes or oils and additionally not working as on the sabbath. And this day was always followed by the observance of the sabbath day, so it would be 2 full days before anything was done. This was done as a direct commandment from God to honor Him and remember His will for His people, and as to make ourselves a living sacrifice for our own sins as this was done under the Law still.

The next earnest and voluntary example of fasting we find comes from David in 2 Samuel 12:15-21

And Nathan departed unto his house. And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick. David therefore besought God for the  child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth. And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them. And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead? But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead. Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat. Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child,    while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. (KJV)

Here David has multiple reasons as to why he fasts. At first it is to plead for his son’s life, but then he begins to mature spiritually and he begins to seek God’s will in it all. He mourns for his son, but becomes obsessed with atoning for his sin that caused this situation in the first place (2 Samuel 12:13). Upon receiving news of his son’s death, the first thing he does before eating is clean himself and go praise the Lord in open worship before eating. David’s fast was again an atonement for his sins and in seeking of the will of God as was the purpose of the day of atonement that was set out in Leviticus.

Now, the way Christ fasted was on the complete next level… in the book of Matthew we see Christ venture into the woods for 40 days (Matthew 4:1-4)

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (KJV)

Christ denied himself any contact with others and prayed to strengthen His spirit for the things to come (not just the devil’s temptations). This is the first thing Christ does as part of His ministry. He got baptized by John and then goes straight way to the wilderness to fast, to prepare His spirit to meet the will of God for the ministry that His Father had ordained for Him. Christ later talks about fasting, and reminds us for whom we should be fasting. Reading Matthew 6:16-18 we see we aren’t to fast for others to know that our pride might grow, but rather that we might humble ourselves to God.

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you,      They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. (Matthew 6:16-18,KJV)

So, what is the big deal with people coming out and saying I am doing the Daniel ‘fast’ and coming out trying to lose weight through intermittent fasting? Well, none, however it is not truly fasting as is described biblically. For one, the Daniel fast is based off of Daniel abstaining from delicacies to express his mournful state (Daniel 10:1-3) in addition to living out the Proverb 23:6, where it is said we should not eat even the bread of a miser (defined as someone who holds much wealth). When you do not eat because of a diet, you are not fasting, rather you are regimenting your diet or food intake to help lose weight, not abstaining from the world to seek God first. That is what a fast is all about. Giving God glory by truly denying oneself.

Let us look at what each example of fasting has in common, first and foremost, they were each done in response to, or in seeking God’s will. Yom Kippur was a commandment, while David and Jesus were preparing to accept the will of God. When you fast, you should seek God’s will first, no matter what it is that you are giving up, or abstaining from, your purpose should be to seek God’s perfect will and to put Him first with denial of yourself. When you fast you should truly live out as Christ said we are to do, deny ourselves, pick up our crosses, and follow Him (Luke 9:23-24).  The entire fast should be focused on reminding yourself of who God is, what He has done, is doing, and will do for you. God is an awesome, and powerful being, there is no one like Him, when you fast, your spiritual eyes should open up and take in just how awesome our God is! Your days of fasting should be filled with His praise and worship, also spent studying His word and perfect ways. A huge part of fasting is just pondering the endless aspects of God.

Secondly, it should be a true denial of yourself. When you fast, you aim to build dependency on God. Not eating or drinking is the baseline for a fast, not the be all or end all of a fast. With Yom Kippur, they did not even bathe or wear shoes! They were humbled to the point where they took no pride in their appearance, smell, and they even endured walking without protection for their feet. And its not like they had sidewalks or paved roads to walk on, they had the desert (they were still wondering the desert with Moses at this point), so often this meant great pain from the sand and rocks drying, cutting, and cracking their feet.

Which brings me to the final part of fasting, it should not be easy. When you fast, it should be a great burden on you. A large part of fasting is enduring by reliance on God. You cannot rely on when it is something that is within your normal capabilities. For example, as a soldier I am used to traveling and being alone, so isolating myself is not a good way to increase reliance on God, however giving up video games, social media, exercise and other things that would strain myself and increase my dependence on him. Remember, all of those are done in addition to the not eating or drinking, not just the other activities being abstained from.

In short, your fast is about God, not you. You should fast in order to prepare yourself for the will of God, not to seek the favor of God. Fasting is done in direct submission to God and His will for you. A fast is not some light hearted diet or trend, it is a lifestyle of worship to God. It is worshiping through sacrificing your self and honoring God with the true recognition He deserves and that is with everything you are.

Fascination with Isaiah

Isaiah

The Book of Isaiah has always fascinated me.  There is so much to discover in these pages.  Isaiah among other things discusses the future tribulation and the millennial kingdom; the salvation of the Servant-Messiah and God’s plan for peace.  There has been allot of debate over who authored the Isaiah scrolls and when they were made.  The debate is very important because it either validates or lays to naught the prophetic aspects of the book of Isaiah.  The prophetic nature of Isaiah is extremely important to Judaism and Christianity alike.

For Christianity the importance of Isaiah can be revealed in the number of times it is references.  The prophet Isaiah is referred to approximately eighty-five times in the New Testament.   While some of these are repeated references there are still at least sixty-one passages in Isaiah that are used as a single reference. 

Jesus launched his ministry by reading from the school of Isaiah.  This shows the necessity of the accuracy of the book of Isaiah.  Jesus could not have said that he is fulfilling this scripture if it was not already accepted as scripture by the Jews of his time. Here is the portrayal recorded by Luke.  

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.  (Luke 10:416-21).

The New Testament the Book of Acts chapter 8 refers to a Eunuch that was converted to Christianity by the use of the scriptures recorded in Isaiah and how they related to prophecy fulfilled by Jesus Christ.  The Lord sent Phillip to meet with this man to teach him from Isaiah all the things concerning Jesus. The man believe and was subsequently baptized. 

How great a find was discovered in 1947 among the Dead Sea Scrolls.  In this archeological find was located an intact and in “perfect” condition, 2nd Century BC scroll of the text of Isaiah.  It has been compared to the oldest know text, about 980 AD and is astonishingly accurate.  In fact, scholars have concluded that it is an exact copy. This lays waist to claims that the prophecies of Isaiah concerning the Servant-Messiah, the Millennial Kingdom, and God’s Plan of Peace were added later in time by editors of the text.   You see if you believe in divine inspiration then you must also believe in divine preservation.  If God cared enough to inspire the writers of the Bible then surely he would preserve that message also.

If he preserved it then we can trust what is written.  We can trust the prophecies.  We can trust the fulfillment of the prophecy.  We can look forward to the restoration of Israel.  We know that Jerusalem will be the capital of the world because we know the prophecy of our Lord establishing his kingdom here on earth in Jerusalem for 1000 years.  Through the seed of Abraham the whole world, every nation, all of creation will be blessed.  We know this because the scripture has been preserved by God himself. 

We also know this.  That Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 53.  When it says, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5).   That means that Jesus did actually take our burdens of sin and he carried our sorrows and despairs to the cross.  It also means that we witnessed the chastisement of God that he took for us.  He was beaten, and mocked, and died for his love of mankind.  Jesus took our punishment like a loving older brother takes the blame for his siblings.  He died for us.  We know this because scripture prophesied this.  We know this because the New Testament recorded it for us.  We can trust it because God himself preserved the witness in the accuracy of the text.  This is the truth that sets you free.  Jesus was sacrificed to pay the debt of sin for you and for me.  We are indebted to Jesus for our very lives. By accepting this truth he promises to give us a life that we cannot comprehend.  He said a more abundant life!  More life than we know of.  That is amazing love.