Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Faith Of the Operation of God

I’ve been intensely studying the scriptures now for around 35 years, and one thing that never ceases to amaze me is that you can study a subject in detail and think you’ve really got a handle on what it means, but then you go back to the same scriptures in a few years and the meaning isn’t quite the same. Maybe it has a totally different meaning than you thought it did the first time.   It may have had a life-changing impact on you, or maybe the deep meaning that was there before becomes deeper, and it can help you to plant your feet more firmly on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ, God the Father, and Their truth.

Several years ago now, I gave a message entitled “Faith in the Operation of God.” Personally, I can’t think of any concept that has ever benefited me more than the idea in that message has. I’ve looked at the notes many times over the years, and often mention the phrase in email exchanges regarding some calamity taking place in the world – or, sadly, in the churches – these days, and particularly among those entrusted with administrative functions at any level of society.

For Good

Let’s start by quoting a very familiar scripture, which tells us that literally everything happening in our lives can be used by God for a good purpose.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

The phrase “work together” is translated from the Greek sunergeo (G4903). Spiros Zodhiates writes that when this word is referring to things, it means “to work together for something, cooperate, contribute to an end or a goal.” It sounds much like the English word “synergy,” and means about the same thing too.

As it says here in Romans, every type of thing contributes to an end goal according to God’s purpose. I don’t know how many times I’ve been through something, or observed someone else in the church go through something, and just within my own easily exasperated mind groaned wondering what possible good could come of this? So, do we believe that “all things” really do contribute to the “good” end that God has in mind for us?

Most of us have been through, or have seen good friends go through, horrible trials. We have suffered or shared in the suffering of  losing a small child, a mate, or a dear friend. We know someone, or have ourselves suffered a debilitating illness or injury and endured years of agony. How do experiences such as those “work for good”? Can they be included in the “things of every kind and sort” that contribute to a real, tangible goal that the great God has in mind for us?

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. (Col 2:6-12)

Notice the emphasis in these verses on our relationship with the one sent, Jesus the Christ. Part of this relationship is avoiding being cheated or deceived, struggling against some very formidable distractions that would take us away from Jesus Christ.

God’s Faithfulness

The phrase “faith in the working of God” in Colossians 2:12 is translated “the faith of the operation of God” in the King James Version, and that’s the wording I chose for my title. The Greek word translated “working” or “operation” is energeia (G1753). It means something that is operative and active, referring to energy or the being at work. It is efficient, active power.

Faith Of the Operation of God | BaptismForLife.wordpress.comWe know from Hebrews 11:1 that faith is the substance or realization of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. We really can’t see God at work, but in time we do see some of the results of God’s inner working. But the first time I studied this, I focused on our faith in God’s “inner working,” and gave a message entitled “faith in the operation of God,” but that’s really not the way it reads. It is “the faith of the operation of God.”

The thing I didn’t focus on earlier was God’s faith in what He is doing in us, and His faithfulness to His commitment to working out a good outcome in our lives. In short, God has faith, and it is a rock solid faith in His plan and purpose. It is tried and tested, on those who have gone before us, and we can see it everywhere in His word.

Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. (Heb. 13:7)

The Greek word for them which have the rule over (G2233) actually means, “to lead, or go before.” Metaphorically, it means “to lead out before the mind.” We’re not just supposed to blindly follow someone because they occupy a position or office, but to attentively examine their mode of life, their conduct, and their behavior in life.

Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (Is. 55:6-11)

God sends His word down here like seed sown in a field and we read, we study, we pray, we meditate, and mull it over in our minds, but we are hard pressed to understand the real depth of its meaning. God invests His word in humanity, and He has faith in the fact that there will be a return on His investment.

“For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” (Is. 55:12)

He really wants this to be our outcome – an end result where all things work together for good – and to make sure that His word prospers and produces fruit in us, He will always be faithful to work effectively in us because of the faith OF the operation of God.

Moving Beyond Culture and Tradition

Moving Beyond Culture and Tradition | BaptismForLife.wordpress.comI’ve come to a point in my relationship with God that demands an extensive self-examination of just what I’m doing and just why I’m doing it. To put it another way, I’m asking myself, “How much of what I do in my relationship with God can I prove is what He wants done in His word?”

No matter how much we might desire to be a part of, and contribute to a “church fellowship,” or body of believers, we all have personal responsibilities assigned to us by God Himself as individuals. If our church culture and tradition is getting in the way of our responsibility to worship the Father and His Son properly, then it’s time to take a good, hard look at our traditions.

In Spirit and In Truth

The “One Sent,” Jesus, The Christ of God had an interesting exchange with a Gentile woman at Jacob’s well near the Samarian city of Sychar. It is interesting to note that just in speaking with her, Christ was parting with an established tradition of the Jews

A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. (John 4:7-9)

Though it was not traditional for Jesus, a Jewish man, to speak with a Gentile woman, the two had a very revealing exchange about a spiritual type of “water” that Christ was sent to this earth to give to all of humanity. This conversation culminated in Christ revealing Himself to her as the true Messiah, and telling her what His Father in heaven required of those who desired to worship Him.

 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.” (John 4:19-22)

In verse  20, she speaks of traditions of worship established by the two cultures regarding the “place” where one should worship. It was a very important subject for both groups at the time, but Christ told her that neither tradition would endure in the times that would come. Then, in verse 22, He speaks of a deeper issue that revealed which culture was actually worshiping the true God, His Father in heaven, and in this case it was the Jews who were doing it more correctly. Why? Because they knew who the true God was, and that He was the Creator of the entire universe as He had revealed Himself in scripture. The Samaritans worshiped Him as one of many local deities, in this case, they saw Him as the “God” of the land, this mountain, Jacob’s well.

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24)

Verse 23 is key. Jesus says the hour has now come for true worshipers to worship in spirit and truth because He, the Messiah, is here! The Greek word translated “true” is  alethinos (G228). It means real, genuine, not fictitious. True worshipers are always striving to refine their worship of God that it might be more pleasing to Him — not to themselves, nor to other men, organizations, cultures, or established traditions, and societal norms.

So the genuine “worshipers” — the word, proskunetes (G4353), means an adorer — are always refining their worship. Their adoration of the Father is becoming more and more pleasing to Him in spirit and in truth. Spirit is from pneuma (G4151), a Greek word most are fairly familiar with, and “truth” is a different form of alethinos. This word, alethia (G225), means, “The unveiled reality lying at the basis of, and agreeing with an appearance … truth, as evidenced in relation to facts” (Zodhiates).

Moving On

In Acts 10:1-35,  Peter was told that he had to “move on” from a tradition he had believed was rooted in truth when God “unveiled reality” in the truth that “God shows no partiality.” The idea that Jews, “God’s people,” shouldn’t have anything to do with Gentiles was shown to be a fable in facts presented to Peter in a vision direct from God, and in reality, through the obvious conversion of Cornelius.

Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?” … Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” (Acts 10:28-29, 34-35)

When the “Holy Spirit fell upon all those Gentiles “who heard the word,” Peter could not deny this proof of God’s calling and they were baptized (Acts 10:44-48). Even so, it was apparently hard for Peter to move on from Jewish tradition, as evidenced in Galatians 2:11-14 when he had to be sternly rebuked by Paul for separating himself from Gentile converts. But in order to worship in spirit and truth, Peter corrected himself and moved on.

Moving Beyond Culture and Tradition | BaptismForLife.wordpress.comSo it must be with all of us, if we consider ourselves to be “true worshipers.” We must be willing to examine our culture, our traditions, and our practices, just as Peter was forced to do, and discard what we cannot reconcile with the Word of God.

1 Thessalonians 5:21 admonishes us, “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” By implication, we should also let go of that which is not good. As Christians, we must constantly “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). Dare we think that we will never be required to change even some of our most closely held traditions, even if it may be painful at times, to become “true worshipers” worshiping “in spirit and truth”?

But we all, with unveiled face, 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. (2 Cor. 3:18)

We are being transformed to look and act exactly like Jesus Christ. Whatever we’ve been doing that does not conform to that glory is going to be left behind, and is worthy of being left behind. To worship the Father in spirit and truth, we must learn to move on.

By One Offering

By One Offering | BaptismForLife.wordpress.comAs we rapidly approach the end of another calendar year, we see some annual trends among radio and TV evangelists. I listen to several different ministries on the radio, who preach messages that I can learn a few things from, but this time of year, they all seem to have one thing in common … all put out an appeal for year-end special offerings that will fuel their own evangelical efforts for the coming year.

Now, I have no desire to find fault with any of them. All seem to be striving to serve God and man in ways that seem to be in accord with the principals of scripture. And all of us are familiar with the many commands of God to give tithes and offerings to the Lord, and to be generous with the poor and widows and orphans. Each of us has a primary fiduciary responsibility over our tithes and offerings, to make sure as much as we are able that they really do fund godly works.

Our Blessings

We all are aware of the fact that it takes money to do virtually anything in this world … and churches of any size have financial obligations that must be met. What I would like to add to our fund of knowledge today is more of a global perspective on one of the commands about giving.

Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you. (Deut. 16:16-17)

Here we see that God also has seasons of the year where He wants His people to come before Him with special offerings. Today, let’s focus on the phrase at the end of vs. 17 which instructs everyone to “give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you.”

We live in a world today with a population of 7 1/4 billion people (next spring, we will surpass 8 billion), and I personally believe God has called-out-ones representing every strata of world population. One-half of all these people live on less than $2.50 (U.S. dollars) a day. 80% live on less than $10.00 a day. Statistics vary a little, but the median income for working Americans is close to 10 times that much money. The point is,  I and most of my readers are a very blessed people in the material and physical realms, and our greatest blessings aren’t even physical or material.

Spiritual Offerings

For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. (Heb. 10:14)

I would say the offering of Jesus Christ increases significantly the “blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you.” It was by far the most effective offering of all time, and it had nothing to do with money. Romans 12:1 admonishes us to follow this example and  “present your bodies a living sacrifice.” When we sacrifice our time and resources to serve others, as the people on the King’s right hand did in Matthew 25:34-40, Christ looks upon each of these acts as a personal offering to Him.

We are indeed approaching the end of yet another calendar year, and we are all called to be a self-evaluating and self-judging people. Materially, we all give what we are able to the churches, and charities of our choice, but there are many other types of offerings that mean just as much to God as financial ones.

What I’d like to leave you with today is just a personal question that I’m asking myself right now. This question is based on the statistics we’ve seen, on the example of Christ, on the word of God, and on blessing of the Lord my God which has given me. My question is, “What should my body of offerings and sacrifices look like for the coming year in material, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual sacrifices and offerings for the body of Christ?”

To Really Be Like Jesus

Spiritual restoration is the end-game of the plan of God

How many times have you stood helplessly by while a good friend or family member has made horrible mistakes, and hurt themselves and other people? How you longed to be able to relieve some of the agony and pain of the reaping of consequences that you know are going to follow their decisions.

How many news stories do we read each week about little minority atheist groups like “Freedom FROM Religion” suing to have the Ten Commandments removed from a public school or courtroom? Our government and society willingly comply, and never even question their own actions in doing so. Then the next school shooting takes place and they blame it on guns, instead of a godless-mindset, purposefully created by a Godless government school. It was this sort of attitude that Christ Himself expressed frustration with when He said,

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! (Luke 13:34)

The Example of Paul

Let’s look at how Jesus Christ handled one such individual He dealt with after His glorification. The risen Christ had no problem communicating His views on Saul’s behavior to Saul, and bringing about an incredible change in Saul’s life.

Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (Acts 9:1-9)

But Saul wasn’t the only one who needed a little advice from the spiritual realm here. The Lord also communicated the will of God to a man named Ananias. Given Paul’s track-record, Ananias was understandably reluctant to visit him. But God said, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:10-16).

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles — if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph. 3:1-8)

In verse 7, Paul refers to “ the effective working” of God inside him. The Greek word is energeia (G1753), and it refers to God’s inner working inside of someone, His efficiency in work, and His energy in the work He does within men and women He calls into His church. If you want to do a really inspiring word study, look up all the different forms of this word energeia, and how they are used in scripture, and that might give you a more complete picture of how He really does read and influence the inner man/woman with each of us today. And the word translated “power” is the same word we just looked at in a previous postdunamis. So the way that God worked in Paul to minister to brethren was “by the effective working” of the same kind of “power” that flowed from Christ to heal hundreds of hurting, damaged, sickly people.

Spiritual “Working”

Phil. 3:21 is a truly remarkable verse, because it tells us in one place how God and Christ are going to pull their plan for you and me off.

who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (Phil. 3:21)

You see, the same methods that He used to subdue all things to Himself, He is now using to subdue all that we have to overcome to be like Him! Again, the word translated “working” is energeia. When we are “like Him”, we too will have the ability to influence human beings from within using these awesome tools of energia, and dunamis.

And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, but your eyes shall see your teachers. Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left. (Is. 30:20-21)

We’ve heard this read for years as a millennial duty of “kings and priests”. Revelation 1:6 and 5:10 say we will be kings and priests when we are “like Him”. Just as His effectual working in power changed the life of a carnal man named Saul in Acts 9, we may also be sent to human beings to change their lives from within.

Pure Like Him

What is Christ really like today as our King of kings, and our High Priest? He described His whole attitude very well in two brief sentences recorded in the gospels: “I am among you as the One who serves” (Luke 22:27) and “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. (Mic. 7:18-19)

This is a message of hope to the nation of Israel. Often when we think about them, we think of their many failures and their final rejection by God as His nation … but was that rejection really final? If you want a real shot in the arm of encouragement – especially if you feel like you have been failing God and falling short in some way — just look at what Micah knew God would do for Israel based solely on God’s virtue and character. It appears that God, and those who are made “like Him” by God, will be able to do almost anything.

Let’s go back to 1 John 3:1-2, where we began this series of posts, and look at one additional verse.

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)

I hope I’ve given you at least a little food for thought as to what it might actually be like, to “be like Him” (even though I’m not sure that anyone can paint a really complete picture of what that really will be like). But what I really want to focus on as a final thought is in verse 3. “and everyone who has this hope in Him, purifies himself, just as He is pure”.   We all have “this hope” in Him, and I think we can all agree, whatever we have to do, change, or give up in life to become clean and pure is well worth it to become … LIKE HIM!

What Does It Mean To Be Like Christ?

In last week’s post, we talked about the fact that we will become like Jesus Christ, as it says in 1 John 3:1-2 and several other scriptures. But what does that really tell us about our futures? What does it mean to “be like Him”? What will you look like when you are like Him?

and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters (Rev. 1:13-15)

We also know from Christ’s post-resurrection appearance in Luke 24:28-36 that when you are “like Him,” you can still manifest yourself in human form, so that people think you are just one of the guys (or girls). And you can disappear, or reappear, at will.

Sent to Heal

Revelation 19 pictures us riding back to earth on white horses behind the King Of Kings, and witness Him putting an end to the dominion of Satan in this world. Once that is done, the restoration of all things will commence. It appears that there will still be physical human beings left on earth, even after all the great tribulation outlined in previous chapters of Revelation. Imagine what it will be like for them, as they emerge from the dens and rocks of the earth, where they’ve taken shelter – refugees of an all-but dead civilization. Imagine the things that they have seen – cataclysmic earthquakes, unimaginable natural disasters that have made the very earth rock to and fro in space, and man’s inhumanity to fellow man, culminating in a war to literally end all wars, and finally, the events of the Day of the Lord, and the final trumpet plagues, and God’s own wrath. And then … it’s over, and God sends His own family to begin cleaning up the mess. To bring order and peace, to restore and rebuild their shattered lives.

Now-I-saw-heaven-openedIt’s interesting that one of the main titles Christ used in reference to Himself was “the One sent.” If you’re going to be “like Him” you could be sent out into His worldwide Kingdom to restore all things according to His will. When you are “like Him,” it’s reasonable to assume that you will have the powers that He had – powers that will be urgently needed in the opening days of the reign of your King of kings. The survivors of the holocaust that has ravaged the earth will be a group of damaged, frightened, injured, sickly, and crippled people. You will be sent out among them as a healing member of God’s family

Let’s go to Luke 6. I probably reference this scripture too much, but to me it’s one of the most inspiring things about Christ’s ministry as the Emmanuel (“God with us”). First, let’s notice that in verse 12 “that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” I would imagine even when we are “like Him,” we will remain in almost constant contact with our Father. But let’s read on.

And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all. (Luke 6:17-19)

We’ve talked about the Greek word translated “power” in several blog posts. It’s dunamis (G1411), and the word refers to “achieving power.” So this force, this miracle-working power goes forth from Christ. It just flowed out of Him.

We’ve always used Isaiah 35 as a truly Millennial scripture, and from these verses it sounds like there are going to be mass healings again.

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. (Is. 35:3-6)

Now, I may be reading more into this than I should, but can we imagine being sent by Father God to a group of refugees when we are “like Him”? walking among them, and having His dunamis, that miracle working power which was in Jesus Christ, flow out of us and heal them all?

Supplying Needs

Another thing the refugees of the tribulation will no doubt be is on the brink of starvation. With all the cataclysmic events that have taken place on earth, can we imagine how little good food and clean water there will be?

Filling this need is not going to be a problem for those who are “like Him,” however. We will have the compassion of Christ as well as the power, and when we see the need we’ll be able to fill it. Dunamis will flow forth, and food will be supplied, however it might be most needed.

Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” Then His disciples said to Him, “Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven, and a few little fish.”

So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left. Now those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. (Matt. 15:32-38)

Other examples of God supplying food abound, including manna from heaven and the quail God sent into the camp of the Israelites. The point is, when beings “Like Christ” need to supply emergency food to starving people, the menu will be full of entrees.

Fulfilling Prophecy

Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:6-9)

But-we-all-with-unveiledThis is the process that we’re going through now. It is a process of radical change, forsaking a way of life that we have been addicted to and enslaved by for years, all done under the guidance of a very loving, merciful, forgiving God. The process of becoming “like Him” completely alters our thought patterns from a human level to a divine level. Progressing into the same image as Christ “from glory to glory” as it says in 2 Corinthians 3:18.

For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (Is. 55:10-11)

These verses are really a prophecy, as we’ve talked about before. The word “void” is the Hebrew reyqam (H7387), which means empty, or without fruit. The Word of God will produce fruit in lives on earth. It will fill them to the full, and make their cups run over with blessings.

In one sermon I heard recently, the speaker was reading Deuteronomy 28:2: “And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God.” The word-picture painted here is that God’s blessings will literally run you down and overflow, or overwhelm you. Now that’s something to meditate on … being flooded with blessings, your cup running over with them all the time, and your heart so full of thanksgiving to God, you can think of nothing else as you grow from glory to glory.

Someone will fulfill this prophecy in the lives of the people who are living on earth after Christ’s return, and it can be you, no matter how low on the food chain you might think you are. God is no respecter of persons or of humanly established pecking orders. The only pecking order that counts is this: God, Jesus Christ, and you – your God and the one Mediator between you and Him. And just look what that combination will accomplish when you become like Him!

For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off. (Is. 55:12-13)

We have a large poplar tree on the other side of our pond, and when a breeze is blowing, the leaves slap together, and it does sound like clapping hands. In the spring time, there are beautiful flowers blooming filling the air with the fragrances of lilacs and honeysuckles and hyacinths, underscored by the sound of a babbling brook and the feel of the warm sun shining upon your face. But what is described here in Isaiah is different. This is happening because you are there, and dunamis is going out from you – affecting the soil, the air, the water, the flora, the fauna.

I’ve always loved landscaping, but it’s really hard work for us humans. In Genesis 1 it says “the Spirit of God moved over the face of the waters,” then the Lord spoke, and everything came into being. The Word, the Being who came to be known as Jesus Christ, was heavily involved in this process.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (John 1:1-3)

If the plan of God is for us to be “like Him,” is it too much of a stretch to think that He might just share with us the thrill of restoring a burned, charred, polluted planet with flora and fauna?

The poor and needy seek water, but there is none, their tongues fail for thirst. I, the Lord, will hear them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open rivers in desolate heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will plant in the wilderness the cedar and the acacia tree, the myrtle and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the cypress tree and the pine and the box tree together, that they may see and know, and consider and understand together, that the hand of the Lord has done this, and the Holy One of Israel has created it. (Isa. 41:17-20)

Notice why this is done. It all points back to the Great God beings, who set the whole plan in motion in the first place. The whole point of all that Christ did during His human ministry … all the miraculous healings … the feedings of thousands of people with a few loaves and fishes, was to get the attention of people so they would listen to the message of the One sent.

And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations. Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the foreigner shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But you shall be named the priests of the Lord, they shall call you the servants of our God. You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory you shall boast.
Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be theirs.

“For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery for burnt offering; I will direct their work in truth, and will make with them an everlasting covenant. Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people. All who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the posterity whom the Lord has blessed.” (Is. 61:4-9)

I don’t know about you all, but I feel like I spend a good deal of my time in mourning – sighing and crying over the abominations that we see in the world and the society around us. Seeing all the things going on in this world that are purely evil that we are unable at this time to do anything about. But look at what this says about those who have been effected by the very ministry of Jesus Christ Himself, who have had their lives transformed by His vision. They are to become like Him — to carry on with His ministry to the honor and glory of Him and His Father in heaven.