Wednesday, July 22, 2015

You are a masterpiece, not a mistake!

Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV): For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

In New Living Translation (NLT), this verse reads, 'For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago'. Wow! Just the other day, I heard these words from the Lord:
"Tell My people they are My workmanship! Tell My people I have a plan for them! Tell My people they have a part in me! Tell My people they are not a mistake, even if they think they are!"

There are some of you out there who are on the verge. You may be on the verge of giving up on life, on your faith, on God's promises that seem to be unfulfilled, on God's covenant with you, or even on the verge of ending your life! If you are one of those, these words above are for you. Hang on right there, because God says you are not a mistake, even if you think you are!

"I've had enough of those feel-good message stuff!"

No, friend. I'm not here to write a feel-good message that's too good to be true. Far from it! I've had my share of ups and downs in life too, and I understand how it's like when nothing seems to work in life! But take heart, because the Lord hasn't forgotten you, even if you are now down in the doldrums.

I want to point you back to the Word of God now, because His words are spirit and life (John 6:63). In Ephesians 2:10, the Word of God says 'you are God's workmanship', and if you don't like this version in NKJV, how about in NLT that says 'you are God's masterpiece'?

This word 'workmanship' (or 'masterpiece') is the word 'poiema' in Greek, which means 'a product or a fabric, like a beautiful cloth that is woven (put together)'. This word comes from the verb 'poieo', meaning 'to appoint, to ordain for God's work (like a priest being ordained for God's work)'. Indeed, you (the beloved of God) are a royal priesthood, i.e. king and priest (1 Peter 2:9) of today! In other words, you are God's appointment for such a time as this! Hallelujah!

Ephesians 2:19-22 says, 'Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit'.

See the words 'having been built', 'being fitted together', 'a holy temple', and 'a dwelling place of God' here? That's who you are in Christ! 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 confirms it, 'Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's'. Yes, someone has paid a very high price for you, and He's none other than Jesus Christ who paid it with His own life!

The word 'temple' here is 'naos' in Greek, which simply means 'a dwelling place', from the word 'naio' meaning 'to dwell'. And I'm going to show you how God is very particular and meticulous in creating you, just as He was very particular and meticulous in building His dwelling place those days!

Let's go all the way back to the book of Exodus for our Old Testament parallel. In Exodus 31:1-7, The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship. And I, indeed I have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you; the tabernacle of meeting, the ark of the Testimony and the mercy seat that is on it, and all the furniture of the tabernacle...'

For the record, both Bezalel and Aholiab were the best craftsmen those days, and were supernaturally gifted and called to build the interior and exterior of God's dwelling place. Today, as a believer in the New Covenant (and of course, as 'a dwelling place of God'), you too can expect to receive the best from the Lord!

Very interestingly, the name 'Bezalel' is 'Betsal-El' in Hebrew, meaning 'in the shadow of God (El)', whereas the name 'Aholiab' is 'Oholiy-Ab' in Hebrew, meaning 'in the tent of the Father (Ab)'. 'Shadow' speaks of 'the glory and the presence of God'; whereas
'Tent' speaks of 'the covering and the protection of your Abba Father in heaven'.

You know what this means? You are created in the glory and the presence of God, and under the covering and the protection of your Abba Father! Therefore, today, you are also meant to have the glory and the presence of God, and live under the covering and the protection of your Abba Father in your life now! The Word of God says, 'in Him, we live, we move, and we have our being'! (Acts 17:28)

And no wonder King David (who knew his God well) had this to say, "For You formed my inward parts; You covered (wove, put me together) me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully (reverently) and wonderfully made; Marvellous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well." (Psalm 139:13-14)

He then continued, "How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You." (Psalm 139:17-18)

Yes, God's thoughts for you are precious thoughts! He sees you precious like the gemstones on the breastplate of the high priest, so close to the high priest's bosom (and his heart). And you too are like the disciple whom Jesus loved, who rested on His bosom (John 13:23). Today, know that Jesus has become your High Priest, and Hebrews 4:15 says, 'For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses (infirmities), but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin'. In other words, He is a God who can identify with all your pains and disappointments, and in every season of your life.
Note: And most importantly, we can all learn to humble ourselves under His mighty hand, learn our lessons in every season, and then move on in life!

So, friend, there's every reason to hope. With men, it may be impossible, but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26) if you do not give up believing. In fact, you have every reason to believe that God is with you, because His name is also called Immanuel, the God (who is) with you. And if God is with you, who can be against you?

I therefore declare 'the door to be opened for you' right now, no matter how impossible it may seem to be! I declare 'the light to appear, and the darkness to flee' in every situation (of your life) right now! Believing, you will receive. In Jesus' name. Amen!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

'Forgetting those things which are behind' - A call to walk in the holiness of God

Philippians 3:13-14 (NKJV): 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.

The word 'apprehended' here is 'katalambano' in Greek, which means 'to get hold of, to attain, to comprehend, to understand why'. Here, the apostle Paul wrote that there may be things we cannot understand why (or why certain things happened in our past), but one thing we can do now is 'forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead'. 

I released these words to the congregation last Sunday:
"Look not to the past, or how things used to be done or have been done in your past! In this changing of season, I will teach you a new way, and I will show you how. Look to Me! This is also a time to let go of your Sodom and Gomorrah, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead!"

The word ‘Sodom’ in Hebrew means 'to scorch, to burn (like volcanic activities)', which speaks of 'the sins that burn you', whereas the word ‘Gomorrah’ in Hebrew means 'a ruined heap', from the word ‘aw-mar’, i.e. 'to heap up (ruins), to pile up (misery), to keep on chastising oneself'. 

As you can see from the definition of the words 'Sodom' and 'Gomorrah' above, the context of our Bible-study today is not so much about 'leaving a place, a city, or a country', but instead 'leaving your sins. ruins, or misery behind'! 

In cross-reference, Hebrews 12:1-2 says, 'Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight (burden), and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has (now) sat down at the right hand of the throne of God'. 

Indeed, let go of your 'Sodom' and 'Gomorrah', and look to the beauty and holiness of Jesus instead! Just as 'you are what you eat', it is also true that 'you become what you behold'. Therefore, as you keep looking to Jesus (and His Word), that's when you can be changed (transformed and renewed) to be more and more like Him! In other words, the more you look at the beauty and holiness of Jesus, the more beautiful and holy your life will be

2 Corinthians 3:18 says, 'But we all, with unveiled face (i.e. putting away our facade, putting away our masks), beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord'. 

Let's go all the way back to the book of Genesis now, where the words 'Sodom' and 'Gomorrah' were first mentioned. Genesis 19:15-17 says, 'When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, "Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city." And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city (of Sodom). So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, "Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed."'

By the way, the name 'Lot' in Hebrew simply means 'covering'. This speaks of 'the Lord's mercy and covering over you in spite of your weaknesses as a human'. 

Notice these statements:
'Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain'.
The word 'plain' here is 'kikkar' in Hebrew, which means 'a circle'. 
This speaks of 'going round and round in the circle of sins'.

'Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed'.
The word 'mountains' here is 'harar' in Hebrew, which means 'exaltation'. 
This speaks of 'the Lord God who is highly exalted above all else'.

People of God, will you respond to His call to run away from the 'plain', and run to the 'mountains' today? The apostle Paul wrote, 'Flee youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart' (2 Timothy 2:22).

Well, it pays to live a life of holiness (i.e. to walk in the holiness of God), because everything becomes so much clearer in your life, and you will also be able to make clearer decisions in life. As a matter of fact, a person who is bound in a circle of sin, bondage, or addiction cannot make clear decisions in life!

The apostle Paul also wrote, 'If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus, that you put off concerning your former conduct, the old man, which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness' (Ephesians 4:21-24).

Genesis 19:24-26 then says, 'Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah (speaks of 'the judgement on sins'), from the Lord out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his (Lot's) wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt'.

Notice here the 'fire of judgement' fell on 'Sodom' and 'Gomorrah' (i.e. your 'sins', your 'ruined heap'), not you (who are His sons and daughters). Today, let this same 'fire' burn away the 'sins' that have been ensnaring (besetting) you, and the 'misery' that have been heaping up against you!

And of course, never look back!

Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt! Why 'pillar of salt'? The answer can be found from the word salt’ in Hebrew itself, which is 'melach', meaning 'something easily dissolved, like powder'. This is the nature of salt. Once you add water, it’s gone! You see it no more! True enough, Lot’s wife also ‘melach’, so much so the Bible never even bothered to mention her name, but calls her "Lot's wife", even though she actually has a name! That’s what happens when a person keeps lingering in the past and dwelling in the past (i.e. holding on to those 'sins' and 'ruined heaps' of the past), instead of looking forward to what God has in the present or future!

Therefore, people of God, never look back! And never allow the devil or anyone to bring you back to those past (or the ruined past) of yours! Instead, as the apostle Paul put it aptly, 'I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus' (Philippians 3:14). Behold, He makes all things new (Revelation 21:5) even for your life! 

May the light of God enlighten your eyes of understanding, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in your life, His saints, who are the redeemed of the Lord (Ephesians 1:17-18). In Jesus' name. Amen.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

5 keys to your protection from deception in this end-time

2 Timothy 3:13-15 (NKJV): But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise...

The epistle (letter) of 2 Timothy is widely believed to be the last epistle written by the apostle Paul before he was martyred in the year AD67. The above was some of his last words to his spiritual son, Timothy.

The word 'deceiving' or 'being deceived' here is 'planao' in Greek, which means 'causing (a person) to go astray from the truth (or from safety)'. Indeed, this is a picture of the end-time we are living in now. And the apostle Paul wrote that evil men and impostors (i.e. persons pretending to be somebody else, usually in order to deceive others) will grow worse and worse.

In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, the apostle Paul described the last days in detail. He wrote, 'But know this, that in the last days (i.e. in the end-time) perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power...'
Note: The words 'perilous times' here can also mean 'difficult times, dangerous times, furious times, or fierce times'.

But praise God! Know that no matter what happens on this earth in these last days, we need not fear, because an antidote has already been given to us the believers! Back to 2 Timothy 3:13-15, the apostle Paul urged his spiritual son, Timothy to 'continue in the things which he had learned and been assured of'. So, what are 'the things' that the apostle Paul talked about here? The Holy Scriptures! The Word of God! And he wrote 'these' are 'able to make you wise'! By the way, the word 'wise' here is 'sophizo' in Greek, from the word 'sophos' which means 'to be clear', i.e. knowing 'what is right, and what is wrong', or 'what to do, and what not to do'.
Note: 'Antidote' is defined as 'substance that acts against the effects of a poison (or a disease)'.

Interestingly, right after these verses in 2 Timothy 3:13-15, the apostle Paul wrote, 'All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work' (2 Timothy 3:16-17). See what the Holy Scriptures can do for you here? The Bible says 'that you may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work'! As a matter of fact, there's really nothing else on earth that makes you 'complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work', except by the Word of God!

As I was seeking the Lord (as we cross over the half-way mark of this year 2015), I heard these words:
"My people shall not be deceived! This is a key time to watch and pray, to hear and see in the spirit!"

People of God, may the light of God shine in your heart in a very special way as you enter the second half of this year 2015. This light shall in turn enlighten your spiritual ears and spiritual eyes, so that you will be able to hear and see in the spirit clearly. This is also a season for many dreams and visions for many of you in the Body of Christ. He who loves you will also direct you and guide you. I declare that you will never run out of revelation from the Lord in this second half of the year 2015. In Jesus' name. Amen.

By faith, believe also that the Lord can protect you from any form of deception, whether from the evil one, or from men who may have impure motives (even false teachers, false prophets, or false businessmen with offers that seem too good to be true).

To shepherds who are overseers of the sheep entrusted to you, this is an important time to meditate on 1 Timothy 3:1-7 again. As shepherds for the Lord, we should never take advantage of (or make use of) the sheep for our own selfish gains.

Here are the 5 keys to your protection from deception in this end-time:

1. The Word of God
Every word of man, every teaching of man, and every prophecy released through man is to be 'screened' with the Word of God, simply because His Word is truth, and this truth shall set you free (John 8:31-32).

2. Humility
The Word of God says, ' clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God...' (1 Peter 5:5-6). The word 'grace' here can also mean 'supply', even supply of His wisdom (in living in this end-time).

3. The fear of the Lord
The Word of God says, 'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom...' (Proverbs 9:10). The word 'fear' here is 'yirah' in Hebrew, which means 'reverence', and the word 'wisdom' here is 'chokmah' (pronounced 'khok-maw') in Hebrew, which means 'being wise (in mind, word, and act)'.

4. Keep looking to Jesus
The Word of God says, 'Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle' (Psalm 24:7-8). 'Gates' here speaks of 'your mind', whereas 'doors' here speaks of 'your heart'. Notice Psalm 24 comes right after Psalm 23 (that He is your Shepherd)? Indeed, the sheep hears the Shepherd's voice, and the Shepherd knows the sheep (John 10:14, John 10:27). Therefore, set your mind and your heart on Him (your Good Shepherd), and as a result, no one will be able to snatch you out of His protective hand (John 10:28-29).

5. Trust in His mercy
The Word of God says, 'For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need' (Hebrews 4:15-16). Trust that even at times when you may be 'a little careless' or 'off-guard' (we all have such times, don't we?), He is still sovereign in His mercy towards you. Be rest assured that your Abba Father in heaven who loves you (His beloved children) is also faithful, and He will deliver you from every evil work and preserve you for His heavenly kingdom (2 Timothy 4:17-18). Amen.