Project Knowledge Blog

This is where you will find our blog (short for web log) on the Project Knowledge Tuesday night Bible and Hebraic ‘Word’ studies delivered at New Beginnings Community Mosaic Church (NBC Mosaic) by Pastors Braninburg and Hinojosa. If you are in the Rockbridge County Area of Virginia, please join us 6:30 – 7:30 PM Tuesdays.

Finding Peace

This lesson is part of a series on how to find and maintain peace in your life.

Taught by  Rev. J. Hamilton Braninburg

There are a few Hebrew words for peace. There is shalom, which means ‘The Covenant of Peace’ and shalem [שָׁלֵם], which means ‘the condition (or state) of peace’ which indicates completeness, soundness, health, prosperity, quite, tranquility, contentment. This study will explore shalem so that you, too, may find peace.

The Hebrew letters create word pictures (the Hebrew language is highly symbolic of the relationship between God and man and embedded in every character).  For the word ‘shalem,’ the word picture is: God’s peace destroys the authority that establishes chaos in our lives and God’s peace destroys whatever is binding us to chaos.  Let’s clear up a misconception:  peace does not mean ‘happily ever after’ as the entertainment industry has tried to promote.  No, we will not see that until Jesus returns to establish his reign on the earth.  The good news, however, is that Jesus is our Sar Shalom. Let’s consider the word picture for ‘shalem’ by reading these passages:

HE 2:14 ..through death He (Jesus) might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

RO 6:6 ..Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed…

When Jesus brought us His peace, he destroyed everything that connected us to chaos. Let’s look at John 14:27

John 14:27New King James Version (NKJV)

27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

 

John 14:27The Message (MSG)

25-27 “I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.

 

Thus, Jesus re-established our connection to peace which we had lost when Adam and Eve sinned. Assuredly, there will always be an authority that wishes to establish chaos on the earth – kings, dictators, rulers, etc.

Romans 14:17King James Version (KJV)

17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Peace in the above passage means security, safety, prosperity, joy/intense happiness, etc.) and joy in the Holy Spirit. Connecting the Dots – we cannot separate the Holy Spirit from peace (possessing, obtaining, having). Peace is one of the fruit of the spirit by the power of the Holy Spirit. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace (security, safety, prosperity, joy/intense happiness, etc.)…

Research conducted by Dr. Andrew Newberg is now able to depict with brain imaging how speaking in tongues is specifically and distinctively ‘peace-enducing’ compared to regular prayer, meditation and even meditation by atheists.

Here’s an excerpt from an article in the NY Times published Nov. 7, 2006 A Neuroscientific Look at Speaking in Tongues which provides some of the conclusions on the research:

Contrary to what may be a common perception, studies suggest that people who speak in tongues rarely suffer from mental problems. A recent study of nearly 1,000 evangelical Christians in England found that those who engaged in the practice were more emotionally stable than those who did not. Researchers have identified at least two forms of the practice, one ecstatic and frenzied, the other subdued and nearly silent.

The new findings contrasted sharply with images taken of other spiritually inspired mental states like meditation, which is often a highly focused mental exercise, activating the frontal lobes.

In fact, his research clearly points out that meditation by someone who does not have any belief in God, though they ‘contemplate God’ it is not the same at all, neurologically speaking, as someone who meditates (i.e., a nun) which pales in comparison then to someone who prays by speaking in tongues (Pentecostal or Apostolic). They cannot obtain the kind of peace that only comes from the Holy Spirit. Truly, we have a ‘peace which passes all understanding’ (i.e., cannot be contemplated apart from faith in God)!

Eph. 6 starting at verse 17 [NKJV]

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Hebrews 4:12New King James Version (NKJV)

12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

When you speak in tongues, you are praying the utterings of the Holy Spirit directly – you are praying the Word of God. Our soul is our intellect, what we are thinking, how we respond – so when the Holy Spirit is speaking through us, we bypass the human intellect to take us into the realm of the Spirit, into a realm of truth. In this day and age, unfortunately, the so-called church, and even well-meaning churches have created so many obstacles that it has become nearly impossible for people to receive this kind of teaching.

A person can simply ask to receive the Spirit and receive by their faith – it is possible, it is real! When you are faced with a problem or crisis, speak in tongues to separate yourself from your soul (intellect) to enter into the realm of truth (God’s Word – you are healed, you are prosperous, you are an overcomer). The only thing that can stop you is you.  Have you ever heard ‘You are your own biggest hurdle?’  Or ‘As a man thinks, so shall he go’?

So, can anyone or everyone speak in tongues?  Let’s look at a commonly taught, yet detrimental teaching. Have you ever heard anyone say ‘God cannot indwell an unclean vessel?’ This is simply not true.  First of all, the saved no longer face condemnation and 2) let’s not forget that God saved us initially while we were yet sinners! So, yes, you can come before the Lord and ask to speak in tongues and receive.  You can also fall short of living the best life God has taught you to live and still speak in tongues. Christians must understand the work of the cross and that what God gives is not given by our merits, but by his grace and mercy!

Consider this from Ro. 8 beginning at the end of vs. 23

eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. 24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us[b] with groanings which cannot be uttered.

One expanded translation indicates that the Spirit gives us “endurance and the capacity to understand a thing, to have self-control, to do great and glorious things: we in ourselves do not know what we should pray for: but the Spirit Himself in us makes intercession for us with groanings that we cannot express.” This directly references a hope we cannot see – like the healing of your body we haven’t yet seen – so we, with patience, must wait for it (with the expectation that it will come).  There are times when we don’t know what we ought to pray or we are praying wrong (begging, with incorrect understanding), so by praying in tongues, we by pass all that (our human soul, our intellect). By allowing the Holy Spirit to speak through you, you will build yourself up in the Holy Spirit for your own edification.  Let’s continue:

Mary came where Jesus was, fell down at His feet, saying “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the Spirit and was troubled. And He said, “Where have you laid him?”

His weeping was not his response to the situation, and before he spoke to them, first he spoke in tongues and then asked ‘Where have you laid him.’  That statement probably required some self-control for what is clear when we examine this passage more closely is that he was troubled by their unbelief (evidenced by their weeping). Jesus had come for a purpose – to give them life, to save men from their sins and conquer death – but, not unlike today, people just didn’t get it.  The battle was oftentimes a struggle against the intellect of the people whom he had called.  Sound familiar?  Let’s continue:

‘See how He loved him!’ And some of them said, “Couldn’t this Man, Who healed the blind, also have kept this man from dying?”
Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb…
Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”

So, what does ‘groaning’ mean? Simply put, Jesus was troubled by their words – their unbelief – yet it did not prevent Him from acting on their behalf and he interceded anyway. Just like he does even today!  This is compassion and Jesus demonstrated compassion toward others as an example for us.  He interceded.  He took action to do something to help them out!  In faith, he called Lazarus out of the tomb and Lazarus came.  Jesus, come in the Name of God, spoke the word of faith and commanded Lazarus to come, so he did.  This is how the true church operates and will operate until we are no longer living in the church age!  Speak the word of truth, the Scriptures and allow the Holy Spirit to speak through you so that He may intercede on your behalf the things which He alone may know you need:  edification, healing, answers, direction and more!

So, for you – exercise peace in your own life – speak in tongues stirring up the gift which is inside you.  It will destroy the chaos in your life so you can, in turn, be the church and intercede for the sake of others as our Lord has shown us to do!  If you’ve never spoken in tongues and would to or would like more information, please contact us today.  Do not hesitate!

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Peacekeepers Part II


But seek ([z]aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness ([aa]His way of doing and being right), and then all these things [ab]taken together will be given you besides.From 2/28/16 – Rev. J. Braninburg teaching

As with all our studies, we focus on a single theme for our study – and unpack it fully look at the word more closely.  We do this because we affirm what the Scriptures say, Jesus = God = Word.  Therefore, to know the word is to know Him – and he is our only standard with all authority.

To understand, also, who we are in Christ – both our inheritance and our true identity – we will look at:  Matthew 6:33

From the Amplified Bible, Classic Edition – it reads:

33 But seek ([z]aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness ([aa]His way of doing and being right), and then all these things [ab]taken together will be given you besides.

The link above is to the whole chapter from this version, and our study will get into the context – so for any who are not familiar with these passages can take a moment and read them now.  It is important for the understanding of what is meant by the phrase:  ‘all these things.’ Reading the preceding verses, the advice is to give no thought to what we will eat or drink or wear, or storing up treasures (on this earth) – to be generous and forgiving – and to do so keeping your deeds between yourself and your father in heaven.  It is in this chapter that we read how we ought to pray- the Lord’s prayer too.  So, now that we’ve set the context of the conversation, let’s get back to the specific passage at hand from verse 33.

A more amplified version as we look at the full definition of ‘seek’ in the verse substituted into the passage (blue is from the AMPC above for comparison):

But seek

But seek [in order to find out] by thinking, meditating, reasoning, craving

first of all

– at/from the very first/beginning

His kingdom and His righteousness

– what your right authority and power as a part of God’s Kingdom are, along with what the righteous thinking, feelings and actions of God are for that situation.

and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.

And all these things will be joined, gathered and added to you.

So we read  ‘But seek first of all’  in other words, from the very beginning.  But the beginning of what?  The beginning of your situation (for which you are seeking answers or God’s help).  And how ought we seek?  It is by meditating on the Scriptures – which is your ‘manual’ and where you can discover your rights.

People have used this passage in a lot of different ways, but if we have a question about anything in our life: personal problems, finances, body, other people… if you seek it out in the word of God you’ll discover what your rights are, what your authority is and what your power is. We have a tendency to seek God in other areas, but forget we should seek him out first in all things.

Now, how do we do this?

Get your scriptures. Sit down. Reason it out. Meditate on it. And when God gives you the answer, you really have the answer! The more you do this, the more you’ll develop a craving for God’s answers, his ways, his righteousness (and in time, they will become your own – a new habit – manifest in the new creation)!

Therefore, if we want to eat right, do right… we look it up in the Scriptures… There we discover he gives us, for example, self-control! Self-control in our habits, such as in our eating, and our behavior, or in how we deal with people, even difficult people.

Back to the verse…and His righteousness

What do you think that is? Again, we look at the word. Find out what God says and what your rights are. Then think ‘What is God’s thinking on that?’ Does he want you sick? Broken-hearted? No! He died on the cross to change all that. As members of the kingdom of God, we inherit all he’s purchased.

All these rights come back to us one central theme – For God so loved the world (John 3:16)

Sometimes, we have to go to the Word before we open our mouths. We have to do that before we make a decision because God is right and all he does is right – for us right now.

..all these things will be joined, gathered and added to you.

Not knowing your rights, authority or power is like starving to death because you don’t bother to look in the freezer full of food on your porch or in your basement.  You didn’t know what you had!  But knowing these things will change your life. In short, if you don’t know what you have, it doesn’t do you any good.

What things?

Here is where we go to the beginning of the chapter (referenced above):  Therefore take no thought, saying, what will we eat? Or what will we drink? Or what about our clothes? Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

So everything mentioned in this chapter belongs to you already – they are yours: eat, drink, clothes…

Therefore, take no thought for tomorrow…

Take no thought = have no anxiety regarding that thing or situation

As Christians, we need to determine in our minds that either God is who he says he is and provides all he’s promised to provide or he’s not. What does your faith tell you? He is for you and he’s made a future (not past) for you to walk in. We do best to resist the temptation of expressing these kinds of cares (worries, anxieties).

Connecting the Dots

Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Taking no thought (of cares/worries/anxieties) is your key to peace. It is your ‘peacekeeper.’  Remember, Jesus said ‘My peace I leave with you.’

Prayer with thanksgiving is a ‘peacekeeper.’ It is to pray his Word, believing he will be faithful and giving thanks for what he’s going to do, in fact what he’s already done.

And as we continue – Take no thought… be CAREFUL for nothing – i.e., I won’t be full of cares – merimnao (gk)

The words thought and careful are the same word and they are stated in the imperative verb form – [TAKE no thought… BE careful…] also known as the command form – so a command is given. Therefore, we are to do as it instructs – have no care, have no thought of what is past – and consider all of your life, all your needs, actions and decisions through God’s word from the very beginning, the outset, of your circumstance or situation before you make wrong choices, or wrong decisions and find yourself with needless regret.

We are free from the law, yet in God’s word (New Testament) we still find commands. This is one of them. Did you know that 70% of all illnesses are stress related?  Stress comes from our cares as we have defined them here.  Can you see how much God cares, however, for you?  Caring for your health, the soundness of your mind, to give you such commands?

Separate yourself from negativity, negative people, negative statements – particularly those that are condemning.

And being not weak in faith, he ‘considered not.’ (Abraham)

Abraham would not consider (look at, talk about, try to understand, think on, or try to discover) his circumstances – and we learn in Scriptures that his faith was counted toward him as righteousness.  Instead he walked in a ‘peace that passes all understanding’ as he considered God’s promise of a child, which came to pass in his old age for he and his beloved wife Sarah, also aged and physically beyond child-bearing years. Abraham did not consider their physical circumstances.   He never said ‘but I prayed and it hasn’t happened…’ he, like we, went back to the first things – God’s promise. If we will do likewise, we too will find the ‘peace which passes all understanding.

This illustrations helps us understand that to consider not is a ‘peacekeeper.’

When we distinguish our situations from a spiritual perspective vs. the carnal, we will find peace because it requires us to keep our minds stayed on God’s word.

In the New Testament, we look at this example of Abraham to see …And being fully persuaded that, what He (God) had promised, He (God) was able also to perform.

Let’s review – here are the keys to peace – the things which will keep you in perfect peace

Peacekeepers:

  • Knowing the thinking, the feelings, the actions of your righteous God
  • Knowing your rights, power, and authority as part of the kingdom of God
  • Taking no thought – destroying all the negative things which come to mind (or mouth)
  • Be care-full for nothing – having no anxieties or worries
  • Consider not – not giving anxieties or worries a single thought, looking not on the current situation, how it looks, or even how thing are (and some would say ‘keeping it real’)  – neither is it delusional, but rather, keeping your thoughts stayed on the truth of God’s word, keeping close to Him in prayer and supplication (without begging) in faith, knowing, as Abraham knew, that ‘what He had promised, He was able also to perform.’

Friend, if you are stuck in a situation, consider first the things of God. It will bring you peace!

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Why Don’t We See Tongues of Fire Today?

Speaking in tongues

Fire from Heaven

Non-believers and even professing Christians will ask ‘Why don’t we see tongues of fire today?’ or they will simply say that the speaking in tongues is no longer needed as a sign – it is simply your faith that enables the rebirth experience so that you automatically receive the birth by water and spirit.

I can only guess that what they missed was that indeed the tongues of fire on the Day of Pentecost were a one-time event as a sign and necessary to usher in the church age.  Today, however, we are still birthing believers into the church – and it is we, the born-again believers, who are the physical temple of God – not merely the four walls or meeting space where his presence among two or more believers.

We will talk more about the church in a moment.  Meanwhile, let’s go back in time and look at the Old Testament types and shadows for a deeper understanding.

Lev 6:13  “The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.” This is mentioned three times in this chapter (verses 9, 12, and 13).

Who lit the fire in the tabernacle?

(New King James Version)

Leviticus 9
23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting, and came out and blessed the people. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people, 24 and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.

1 Kings 18:38-39

38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He isGod!”

God physically initiated fire in the tabernacle from Heaven.

Who kept the fire burning after that?  The priests.  They stirred up the fire and kept it burning – the first and second tabernacle.

In the New Testament, we are the temple and tabernacle of the Lord.  Once again, God initiates the fire from Heaven in us, the human temple, the first time.  Thus, on the Day of Pentecost, the first indwelling (outpouring) of the Holy Spirit, God sends down (tongues of) fire upon the believers waiting in the upper room.

Acts 2 Amplified Bible (AMP)

And when the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all assembled together in one place,

When suddenly there came a sound from heaven like the rushing of a violent tempest blast, and it filled the whole house in which they were sitting.

And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and which settled on each one of them.

And they were all filled (diffused throughout their souls) with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other (different, foreign) languages (tongues), as the Spirit [a]kept giving them clear and loud expression [in each tongue in appropriate words].

This was the first event of an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon mankind and it was ignited by God from Heaven above as in the cases of the Tabernacle when it was originally built and then restored by King Solomon.

Today, we are commanded as the temple of God, the church, to receive the Holy Spirit (rebirth by Spirit – see John 3:3-5) as we call upon the Lord, the promised gift (see Acts 2:37-39).

After the birth of the church age, God transfers that responsibility to us – like he did to the priests – to continually keep this gift, this fire, ignited in us through our faith and by the speaking in tongues.

We see this commanded:

1 Timothy 4:

14 Do not neglect the gift which is in you, [that special inward endowment] which was directly imparted to you [by the Holy Spirit] by prophetic utterance when the elders laid their hands upon you [at your ordination].

2 Timothy 1:6 Amplified Bible (AMP)

That is why I would remind you to stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning) the [gracious] gift of God, [the inner fire] that is in you by means of the laying on of my hands [[a]with those of the elders at your ordination] 

What does this do for us?

1 Corinthians 14 Amplified Bible (AMP)
v.4 He who speaks in a [strange] tongue edifies and improves himself…

It builds you up!  In this way we understand, too, that we are indeed not alone, but the Holy Spirit is with us, in us – the Counselor – giving us answers, guidance, comfort which builds us up and improves us!

AND:

John 14:26 Amplified Bible (AMP)

26 But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you.

So, in addition to building you up, improving you (making you a better you), he will, as comforter, teach you all things.  I don’t know about you, but when I have knowledge or insight on a situation, I am indeed more comforted – even if it is something troubling.  What do you suppose is the result of your behavior or demeanor as a result of this comfort?  Peace.  And people will not be able to understand the source of your peace!  ‘Peace that passes all understanding…’ Phil 4:7

For you, friend, this is power for your living and for your ministry!

Stir up this gift endowed in you – for EVERYONE who possesses the Holy Spirit can speak in tongues!

Who sends the Holy Spirit?  Is it not Jesus?  God the Holy Spirit?

And who is man’s only intercessor?  Is this not also Jesus?

Who sees and knows all things?  Has all authority?  Is this not also Jesus?

Then by the speaking in tongues, is this not Jesus speaking through you/to you for your building up and improvement with the insight as only He has on your behalf?  What could be better?

Folks, as always, I have enjoyed writing up this lesson – but I am studying this content right along with you.  If you have indepth questions, or questions of a technical nature, I invite you to contact one of our pastors by emailing pastor @ nbcmosaic.org.  Thank you!

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Overcoming Troubles

Overcoming Troubles

When trouble comes: Step 2 is FOCUS on the Lord

What to do when trouble comes is an important topic for everyone.  In some cases, it can be a deal-breaker of faith.  It involves the question: ‘Why do bad things happen (to good people?’ In this installment, we aren’t looking so much at the ‘WHY’ but at the ‘WHAT NOW‘ and ‘HOW DO I KEEP GOING.’  We get our lesson from John Chapters 14-16 where the Lord is giving His Disciples final instructions.  He is about to be taken from them, but he tells them not only that this will happen, but that it is good that it does. Last week we looked at trusting the Lord – ‘Do not let your heart be troubled.’  So, when you find yourself in a difficult situation, and you will one day or another, you receive bad news, something painful happens to you, we must not panic.  Do not become all wrapped up in your emotion or begin to devise a scheme of exit.  Following this path is counter to your faith.  It is difficult to believe that God is going to change your situation.  If you find yourself there, STOP!  Tell yourself you are NOT going there!

Overcoming Troubles, Step 1:  Do Not Panic

Review:  In other words, Step 1 is to encourage yourself and tell yourself “I will trust in the Lord!”  Our first in this series was ‘Overcoming Troubles:  Do Not Panic.’  We suggest you read that article if you’ve not done so already.  The enemy wants to take the Word of God from you, steal your joy, diminish your faith and bring in lies, fear and doubt!  To do this requires some effort on your part.  OK, a lot of effort!  But do not be deceived, it’s an act of your will and not something you’re going ‘to feel like doing.’  This is righteousness and because the children of God are the righteousness of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, you can do this by that same power in you.  Notice how many ‘you’ s are in that last statement.  Conclusion:  it’s a choice. When you need to remember the reality of your situation, here is a passage of Scripture to encourage you:

Psalm 112

1Praise the Lord!

    Those who honor the Lord,     who adore God’s commandments, are truly happy! Their descendants will be strong throughout the land.     The offspring of those who do right will be blessed;     wealth and riches will be in their houses.     Their righteousness stands forever. They shine in the dark for others who do right.     They are merciful, compassionate, and righteous. Those who lend generously are good people—     as are those who conduct their affairs with justice. Yes, these sorts of people will never be shaken;     the righteous will be remembered forever! They won’t be frightened at bad news.     Their hearts are steady, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are firm; they aren’t afraid.     In the end, they will witness their enemies’ defeat. They give freely to those in need.     Their righteousness stands forever.     Their strength increases gloriously. 10 The wicked see all this and fume;         they grind their teeth, but disappear to nothing.     What the wicked want to see happen comes to nothing!

Despite what a situation may bring or what it looks like, keeping our eyes on the Lord will give us a right perspective to face and come through our trouble. Do you notice that the righteous person’s heart  is secure!  He will have no fear!  These are God’s promises and we can live this way! How do I do this?

Step 2:  FOCUS on the Lord

There are people right now, it may be you, and they have received bad news and they have been victimized and they have endured trouble for years and don’t know if it will ever end. Here is the truth:

A.  The way you view things determines if your problems are little or BIG.

It’s not about the situation at hand.  It’s about our perspective! Some people are easily knocked out of church, fail in their faith because they have been hurt.  It is their perspective about the situation, not the situation itself, which got the better of that person.  Is this a judgement upon that person?  No.  This is to say, do not allow yourself to be so easily distracted. Going back to our context, Jesus tells them not to let their hearts be troubled and then he gets their mind on what’s truly important.

B.  Think Heavenly Thoughts

John 14:2-4

Common English Bible (CEB) My Father’s house has room to spare. If that weren’t the case, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? When I go to prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me so that where I am you will be too. You know the way to the place I’m going.”

What is he saying?  He’s saying think about eternity.  Get your mind on Heaven!  It’s a reality!  [pullquote align=”right” textalign=”right” width=”30%”]We get focused on our problems in the here and now, but this is NOT all there is to your life! [/pullquote] We don’t think about eternity and Heaven often enough.  Listen, Heaven is forever and ever… it is a place of complete peace, where there are healthy and right relationship, where there is only love and goodness. My life, the expanse of a person’s life in the context of eternity is very short. 

C.  Remember, It’s Just ‘a little’ Trouble

2 Corinthians 4:17

Common English Bible (CEB) 17 Our temporary minor problems are producing an eternal stockpile of glory for us that is beyond all comparison.

D.  The JOY Ahead

When we begin to cast our cares upon the Lord, focusing on the big picture the comparison of what Jesus has prepared for us, this life’s troubles will be very small.  Whatever grief, heartache or crisis – all of it will see so small.  He is preparing a place for us and he is coming back for us.  He has promised never to leave us or forsake us.  But once we get into fear and worry, we prevent the Lord from doing in our lives what he has prepared for us and how he wishes to bless us. While our bodies may get old, our spirit and our mind will go on!  And, in the end, we will get a brand new body!

Hebrews 12:1-3

Common English Bible (CEB)

Let’s also run the race

12 So then let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne.

Run the race with discipline

Think about the one who endured such opposition from sinners so that you won’t be discouraged and you won’t give up.

E.  Seeing with Your Heart

We go back to the verses from Hebrews 12:1-3 – Jesus set his mind on the joy to come.  What was that joy?  Can we understand, too, the joy we could inherit?  The joy he spoke of was of an unseen, eternal existence in Heaven.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:18

In John Chapter 14, Jesus tells them that they know where he is going and they know the way.  The Apostles, however, are confused.  They insist they do not know where he’s going much less how to get there and then Jesus drops a very clear statement of who is really is:  ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.’ Folks, this is not someone saying ‘I am one in three co-equal with the eternal Father’ he is saying and makes it even clearer later on when he says: ‘He who has seen Me has seen the Father…’  He is telling them and us plainly: I am God in the flesh!  And there is only one.  One Way, One Truth and One Life:  Jesus, Our Lord and Savior!

In Conclusion:

We Overcome Troubles by following two (2) Easy Steps:

  1. Trust in the Lord – Do not panic!
  2. Focus on the Lord
    1. Have a right perspective of the situation
    2. By thinking heavenly thoughts
    3. Remember, it’s just a little trouble – God is MUCH Bigger!
    4. Seeing with our heart – what we see with our natural eyes can overwhelm us
    5. The joy ahead – our time here is short and full of trouble, focus on the joy we’ll have when we live in eternity with Christ!

Are you willing to open your eyes to truth today?  We hope, for your sake and your salvation, that the Lord opens your eyes to this truth.  If he has, please contact us right away so that we may help you understand who you are meant to be in Christ.

If you are already a born-again believer in Christ having repented of your sins, having submitted to water baptism for the forgiveness of your sins in the name of Jesus Christ (the blood applied to the doorposts) and received the Holy Spirit, that life-giving ‘breath of life’ [Mt. 3:11] that humanity lost when Adam and Eve rebelled in the Garden of Eden; you belong to God!  You are his child who is signed and sealed [John 3:3-6, Acts 2:38].  You are the temple of the One True God, and for his sake, can not only endure, but come out victorious for he has already prepared all things for you ahead of time!
Pray, keep your mind on eternity and endure this life as a race and run it with discipline, remember Christ and that by his death, burial and resurrection we have been redeemed and are heirs for all which he purchased for us:  our healing, our prosperity and an eternity with him in Heaven! If you are struggling in a crisis, we would like to pray with you!  Would you contact us?  You do not need to be alone or without help.  Please reach out today!

Your Holy of Holies

 Your Holy of Holies

The Holy of Holies was an ‘inner place’ of the Jewish temple where the priest was able to commune with God.  The Hebrew word for ‘commune or talk’ is written rbd (read right to left) or ‘devar.’  It is to talk with one another, to communicate promises, directives, knowledge, answers, warnings, etc.  We will look at man’s ability to commune with God through the lens of Scriptures.  Let us recall where it all began and the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis.

Today, we are the temple of God, but not because we are are god or even born possessing a god within us as some religions and philosophers profess, but because since the beginning of humanity, the Lord intended to dwell in the hearts and minds of His creation.  But since the disobedience (fall) of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, mankind was stripped of God’s life-giving ‘breath’ or Spirit within us.  We are, therefore, born spiritually dead making it very hard to communicate with him.  The good news, however, is that a person may be ‘born again’ through faith in obedience to the Scriptures.    It is by means of the Holy Spirit dwelling within the body of the believer that the Lord re-establishes his original position within us; Creator inhabiting the Creation.

Types and Shadows of the relationship between God and Man through Jesus

Again, God Communicated to the nation of Israel first through the Ark of the Covenant (and let’s picture this ark or box as one’s body – where within it the laws are written on our hearts – i.e., the stone tables of the 10 Commandments) – at the Mercy Seat, to the priest, in the room of the tabernacle called ‘the Holy of Holies.’  He communicated promises, directives, actions and warnings:

And I will meet with you there, and I will commune with you from above the mercy seat

We’re going to examine more closely the word for communication because communication is the key for connecting with one another, and it’s the key for connecting with the Lord.

Devar (Hebrew):  Communicate/Talk  – transliterated and written left-to-right as RBD which are the letters Dalet, Bet, Resh:

Commune *to talk with one another; to communicate promises, directives, knowledge, answers, warnings, etc.

The Hebrew word-picture indicates that communication, therefore, is *the door/path/way in for man (to God).  The Holy of Holies was a secret chamber within the tabernacle (meeting place) behind a veil.  Although this was a physical place, the tend of meeting, it symbolized the inner place of man, a quite place where man can come boldly and alone before God to commune.  [Archetypes, foreshadows and patterns are often provided in Scriptures as physical realities with deeper, spiritual truths and application which is why it is difficult for the natural man, the carnally-minded to understand much less discern the things of God.]  We can imagine, therefore, that within one’s self, from one’s mind and out of the outpouring of our thoughts, our intentions and our emotions we communicate with the Lord.  This is a privilege we have as Christians to come boldly before a Holy God without fear, yet with awe and reverence, and thanks to the intercession of Jesus Christ, Our Savior.

We are the Temple

1 Cor 3:16

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

temple or ναός [naos – Gk.]  Speaking of the temple of Jerusalem, but only of the sacred edifice (or sanctuary) itself, consisting of the Holy place, the Holy of Holies.

We mentioned in the opening paragraph of this post that we would examine our ability to commune with God through the lens of Adam and Eve and what happened in the Garden of Eden.   Adam was made a living soul by what?  By God breathing into him.   He spiritually died when he disobeyed.

Genesis 2 NKJV:

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

[This story is oftentimes a point of contention for the non-believer.  The truth is that despite the fall of mankind, Jesus has redeemed us and provided a way of rebirth, regeneration and reconciliation.  Start by believing and follow through with obedience.]

When Adam severed this relationship with God, we lost our communication with God.  Within the temple was the place where God began to re-establish his communication directly with his people.  This is the type and shadow of things to come.  The desire of people for thousands of years was for people to go into that Holy of Holies.  We have to understand that we, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, are now that Holy of Holies.  The Holy Spirit lives in you and he WILL talk to you, guide you, direct you – but if we are unaware that this is a reality of Scripture, we cannot take advantage of these benefits.  The Scriptures tell us not to forget all His benefits!  The Lord desires to communicate with you.  In fact, so much so that He died for you to re-establish this authority within you.  Say to yourself ‘I am the Holy of Holies’ [not holier than thou ;)].

By the power of the Holy Spirit, by connecting with God within you, your life will change thanks to his influence and (AND) your obedience.

Three are ONE (not co-equal)

Mankind is made of body, soul and spirit; but it is the Holy Spirit that gives life.  It is when we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit that the ‘Spirit who gives life’ comes to live within the believer, to live in the ‘inner place’ of their temple.  It is then, and only then, that the believer possesses the power ‘to prevail, to overcome, be the victor, have power, to have ability, have strength, be able to accomplish, endure and reach.  

So when your life begins to fall apart, ask yourself this:  when was the last time I visited the Holy of Holies?  Some people call this quiet time with God, but let’s go one step further and really commune and meditate on Him.  We can take our problems to Him and he is faithful to answer!

Say this again:  Habitation Trumps Visitation Anytime!

In other words, God in you is far better than God with you.  Many Christians experience God with them, but they are completely unaware that through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, he can be in you.

And let’s understand something else:  worship is not lead by emotion.  Emotions may be the result of worship, but they do not lead.  So, no one from this organization will ever advocate ‘feelings’ over the tangible presence or written Word of God. 

We must be worshipers in Spirit and Truth:

  1. In us ‘dwells’ the spirit of the living God!
    • Our surroundings, physical condition and/or emotions do not determine whether or not God is good or whether or not He is worthy of worship!
  2. We are a new creation – worship is a choice.  We must choose to build up ourselves as well as others

If we read 1 Corinthians 3:16 in the Orthodox Hebrew we read:

Do you not have da’as that you are a Heikhal Hashem and the Ruach Hakodesh of Hashem dwells in you?

Temple – Heikhal (Heb.) transliterated lkyh or lky
Hey – Behold, Look, Reveal, Breath
Yod – Work, Make, throw, Worship, Thanks
Kaph – Sole, Bend, Curve, Bowl, Tame, Subdue
Lamed – Staff, To/Toward, Authority, Yoke, Bind, Tie

Thus, the Scripture above creates a powerful word picture for ‘temple’ in the Hebrew to a deeper understanding: The Spirit Through workings/worship opens up authority

That authority is our (inherited) power through Christ so that in life we will: prevail, overcome,  be the victor, have power, have ability, have strength, be able to accomplish, endure and reach (the goal)

Said another way, we are the temple of the Name and there’s nothing we cannot do.  With this revelation, one can open up authority and power over everything which comes against us according to the Word of God.  Without this understanding, we cannot walk in that power and authority.  Many of us in this state are ‘living under circumstances’ and slaves to their emotions.  This is not becoming of the people of God!  Nor were we delivered and forgiven only to live that way.

Restoration and Regeneration

Since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, the place of habitation (of the breath of life or Holy Spirit) has returned to man.  Jesus was the bridge.

2 Cor 5:17

Therefore, is anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Neither our body nor intellect changed, just our Spirit.  No longer are we condemned of our sin, but we are convicted of our righteousness.  No longer living under the burden of guilt, but aware of that which pleases God and a longing to do it!  Born-again believers are the righteousness of Christ because we have put on Christ – and His Spirit lives in us.  There is nothing sinful about the Holy Spirit which we now possess, but this does the believer no good if we do not get a hold of this truth!

By the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit

John 6:63
63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

Reader, it is only the power of the Holy Spirit living in you which can give you power and authority.  It is the key to authentic communication with God, which he desires to have with you!  If you do not know this truth for yourself and wish to know more, please contact us today:  pastor at nbcmosaic.org.

#BeBlessed, #LoveGodLovePeople

Taught by Rev. J. Hamilton Braninburg August 7th, 2013 at NBC Mosaic Church in Lexington, Virginia

God’s Word Made Flesh

God’s Word Made Flesh: Hebrew Word Study

God’s Word made flesh.  What does that mean, anyway?  In the Apostle John’s account of the gospel, we learn much about Jesus himself.  For anyone who has never read the Bible, this is the book where you’ll want to start!  From the first line that reiterates Genesis 1:1 ‘In the beginning…’ (John 1:1), the Apostle teaches the nature and origin of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  He is the Word (of the Name).  He is God in bodily form.  We take our study from the Hebrew Word for ‘word’ in John 1:1 and 1:14 to discover what redemption has purchased for us by faith.

We are doing this study because there is a clear disconnect today between how we are living as Christians and our understanding of the authority which is given to us as the children of God.  In Hosea 4:6, the Lord says ‘My people perish from a lack of knowledge.’ In short, we don’t know the Word of God.  As a result, we live in situations and circumstances which we have the power to overcome by God’s Word and Holy Spirit.  We must regain our lawful place if we are to be the church!  Jesus died that we might have ‘life and have it more abundantly’ (John 10:10)  He came to save the lost and he sent us a Comforter and power.  Only through regular, if not daily, reading and meditation on the Word of God can we hope to regain our authority to live the abundant life.

Let’s start with the Hebrew.

In the Hebrew, ‘the Word’ is written Dvar Hashem (literally, Word of the Name).  When written in Hebrew lettering:

 דבר השם

Let’s look at a side-by-side comparison of the text from the New King James Version and the Orthodox Jewish Bible of verses 1 and 14:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 1 Bereshis (in the Beginning) was the Dvar Hashem, and the Dvar Hashem was agav Hashem, and the Dvar Hashem was nothing less, by nature, than Elohim!
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. ~ NKJV
14 And the Dvar Hashem took on gufaniyut (corporeality) and made his sukkah, his Mishkan (Tabernacle) among us, and we gazed upon his Kavod, the Shechinah of the Ben Yachid from Elohim HaAv, full of Hashem’s Chesed v’Emes. ~ Orthodox Jewish Bible

 To make these verses and the significance of God’s word made manifest, verse 14 goes on to say that the ‘Devar Hashem’ or ‘Word of the Name’ became (took on) gufaniyut which we translate as ‘flesh.’  The Word is the same as God Himself and God Himself took on ‘bodily characteristics.’  God himself is our Messiah – he did not send someone else.  Jesus is the name of God and we learn in these opening passages of John that by Him all things were made and that he is the true light of this world.

Continuing, ‘…and made his sukkah (body), his Mishkan (Tabernacle [temporary tent]) among us…’

gufaniyut (He) – 1.  Corporeal: of a material nature, tangible. Of bodily characteristics 2.  Matter (corporeal or actual, physical substance or matter)

Where else do we see the Word and matter coming togther?  In Genesis where it says ‘In the beginning, God created…’

The world would have us forfeit our understanding of Scripture – it cannot bear to be in submission to God and hear the name of Jesus!  If we have faith in the Scriptures, when we read John 1:1-14, we learn that we cannot separate God from His Word.  They are one and the same!  God took on a bodily form, the corporeal, it is the Word incarnate which lives.  When you are saved the Biblical way, you take on the Word of God into yourself.  So, if one isn’t reading the Scriptures, one forfeits their authority.

Hebrews 11

New King James Version (NKJV)

By Faith We Understand

11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.

By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

God, who is Spirit (the invisible), formed the worlds calling into existence matter which formed all things (making them visible).  The world says we die.  The Scriptures teach us otherwise.  If we are not reading the Word of God, we remain ignorant and without power.  God gives life to that which is dead, that which does not exist.

Romans 4:17

17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”[a]) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;

All the Scriptures fit together and they open our eyes to seeing with the eyes of faith – that which our natural eyes, the natural mind and man cannot see.  By faith in the Word of God, we can attain that which we need:  healing, answers, etc.  When we speak the Word of God, we pull down those things from the spiritual realm into the physical realm.

It’s like this:  we do not see the seed as it develops in the ground, but we see the result of its development.  True or False?  Of course this is true!  Something which was invisible is now visible.

…HAVING BEEN BORN AGAIN, NOT OF CORRUPTIBLE SEED BUT INCORRUPTIBLE, THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD WHICH LIVES AND ABIDES FOREVER ~ 1 Peter 1:23

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who sowed good seed

Many believe the Scriptures for salvation, but we are stumped when it comes to speaking to our problems, our needs, chaos and other situations which steal, kill and destroy.  The Word has authority over all things and we must realize this.  But, the only way to do that is to read and know the Word of God.  The Bible says ‘Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God’ as well as ‘study to show yourselves approved.’

Matthew 13:24-30

New King James Version (NKJV)

The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares

24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

The ‘good seed’ above is a picture of the man who abides in the Word of God – he has put the Word into his heart and mind, and the Word which is equal to God who is manifest as Jesus is to have Jesus in us.  The tares are those who have not put the Word into their hearts, they do not have Jesus in them and they are without life.

Prayer is like the rain that falls on the seed so that it will germinate.  But without the Word, without that seed in good soil (your heart), it cannot grow.  There’s a saying ‘Without the Word, you haven’t got a prayer!”  This is a good and profitable saying which opens the door to the abundant life Jesus came to purchase for you!

Why did Jesus have to come in the flesh?

In Genesis 1, GOD gave man life, relationship and dominion (control, authority) over all the earth, but through sin, man forfeited it to satan.  It would now take a sinless man (a 2nd Adam) to regain all that was lost to reconcile humanity’s relationship to God.  A man with power, but without man’s blood (sin nature).  Like the first Adam, His blood needed to come from God.  [A child’s blood comes from its father which is why a virgin birth through a human woman, Mary, still produced a sinless man.]

 It is your choice

In the diagram above, we see a comparison of what happened at ‘the Fall’ when Adam and Eve rebelled against God.  They believed the lie of the serpent (satan, the devil) and desired to be equal with God.  When they did, their ‘covering’ left them and they were naked.  God, who is just in all things, punished them for their disobedience (they faced the consequences of their actions and choices) by casting them out of the garden and into the world where satan, too, had been cast and had dominion.

The authority of God’s Word makes things visible from the invisible.  Those who believe by faith that Jesus is who he said he is make the decision to follow Him in death, burial and resurrection (repentance, baptism of water and receiving the Holy Spirit baptism).  We die to self and make Jesus Lord of our life in every aspect instead of relying on our own ways, intelligence, accomplishments, willpower, inner self, etcetera and we turn to him in complete surrender.  It is to say ‘Jesus, you are God, and I am not!’

Yochanan 1:13 (John 1:13)

13 He gave this tokef (legal right) to the ones whose being born was not by the agency of natural descent, nor by the ratzon (will) of basar (fallen human nature), nor by the ratzon of a gever (male)—rather, to the ones born of G-d (Yn 3:3,7). ~ Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)

Authority was given to the ones (notice that this is plural – oneS) born of God, not to any natural born man.  Note here that the Scriptures distinguish flesh in our study verses:  John 1:13 uses ‘basar’ or ‘fallen human flesh’ while from John 1, Jesus taking on ‘flesh’ uses the word ‘guyaniyut’ or ‘corporeality’ which is the characteristics of a human body.  These two are indeed different.

So, what now do we say about all of this?  It should be clear that God’s Word, the Bible, is the authority over all creation.  This Word has power and those who have been born of God inherit this power by faith in Jesus Christ.  The faith that believes he was the sufficient propitiation (payment) for our sin, that he rose from the dead and yet lives as Lord of Lords and King of Kings and that you, being made into disciples (Mt 28:19, John 3:3-5, Acts 2:37-39), inherit this same authority to speak the promises of God into existence into your own life for health, prosperity and all the abundance which was purchased for you!

Knowing Christ Crucified

Knowing Christ Crucified

 

jesus-christ-and-him-crucifiedIt would seem like an obvious thing for a Christian to know that Christ Jesus was crucified.  His death and passion, as well as his resurrection and ascension are all recorded for us and countless lives have been changed thanks to it.  And yet we struggle.  It is yet another aspect of the Christian identity crisis.

Let’s unpack this phrase ‘To know’ as a preface to our study:

Knowing

Many, therefore, have a knowledge (instruction of fact) of this event but a lack of knowledge when it comes to its significance.  In the French language there are two words for ‘to know:’  connaître and savoir.  The former is a familiarity with someone and the latter is the knowledge of facts.  For example, ‘Do you know the grocer?’ would use the verb  connaître and ‘Do you know how to cook?’ would use the verb savoir.

The Apostle Paul struggled much with his authority and guidance over the Corinthian church and we look to a portion of one of his letters from the 2nd book of Corinthians to learn from his teachings for a better understanding of what it is to ‘know Christ crucified.’  In chapter 2, the Apostle establishes for the church the origin of his instructions and preaching as he pens ‘For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.’  This is the key and the cornerstone of our lives as Christians.  We must keep our entire being on Jesus and remain mindful that by his sacrifice we have obtained all things!

Crucified

Consider the crucifix, the cross where Jesus was crucified first of all.  We can use this term to give us a very strong reminder:  cruci-FIX or Fixed on the Cross.  Why should we do that?  On the cross, Jesus ‘fixed’ everything.  Look through your problems to the cross.  Anyone can read a storybook to be entertained, but within the Scriptures we find the authority we have inherited through Christ.  Remember Communion as well and do it as often as you can which is a reminder of the authority which Christ purchased for us and for our salvation, and for all other provisions.

Now let’s examine the following Scriptures where we are doing our word study:

Christ Crucified

2 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony[a] of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human[b] wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of powerthat your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Spiritual Wisdom

However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

But as it is written:

 

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”[c]

 

10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy[d] Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?”[e] But we have the mind of Christ.

So, in verse six he indicates that this is a message of ‘wisdom among those who are mature’ which is God’s wisdom.  Furthermore, these things have been preordained: “things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” These things which were hidden have been revealed to us and for our sakes.

10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

People cannot see the magnitude of what God has done.

     13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy[d] Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
Or spiritual realities from spirit-taught words.
14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

We, having received the power of the Holy Spirit, can stir up the gift of the Spirit inside of us which will take care of all our needs.  The natural man cannot know these things and will lie to you.  When we are re-born, we are reconnected to God.  Emotions belong to the natural man, habits and memories also belong to the natural man.

Five times he talks of wisdom as he explains that there is a clear difference between man’s wisdom and the wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit.  When we ‘know’ Christ crucified, we ‘look through the door of the situation or another’s situation and see how the cross applies to it.’  The root word for ‘know’ in that sentence comes from the Hebrew word for knowledge or wisdom.  In the Greek, the word is ‘eido’ and implies a ‘mental bridge’ between the mental and spiritual.  One uses this expression when we say ‘I see what you mean’ which may either mean we have an understanding (of knowledge) of what was said or we both see and understand what was said.

This kind of teaching, continues the Apostle, is for the mature.  These things must be spiritually discerned, which again comes only from maturity.  Children have little discernment whereas adults generally do (or should).  Much of the natural man’s knowledge comes about by experience in addition to or in combination with the learning of facts and information.  Yet the Spiritual part of us has a truth which can be in opposition with our human, natural experiences.  For example, a rash breaks out on your skin.  You think to get a cream or allergy pill to get rid of it.  This is logical and learned behavior by the natural man.  The man reborn of the Spirit, however, has the authority to claim the healing which Christ purchased at Calvary to get rid of the rash.  This kind of belief, as the Scriptures say, comes about only by much prayer – in other words, being fixed on the Cross where Jesus fixed everything.  But if we do not apply this kind of belief – we give up our authority and are once again like the foolish and silly men and women.  See below the verses from 2 Timothy.

Jesus came not only to pay our sin debt, but look here what he says he came to provide:

 John 10:10

10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Looking back to Corinthians 2, v 13 and 14 we see that the natural man, that is the man without the rebirth and regeneration by the Holy Spirit is not capable of receiving the wisdom which comes from the Holy Spirit.  Here are related verses:

Perilous Times and Perilous Men

3 But know this, that in the last days 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. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truthNow as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.

Note in verses 5 he is talking about people who pretend to be religious, but possess not the Holy Spirit and then in verse 7 he indicates that these same people are ‘never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.’  They do not ‘know Christ crucified.’  Notice, too, that these kinds of people are filled with all kinds of sin and self-serving devices.  Without the knowledge of Christ’s crucifixion and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit (our source of power), one cannot hope to be free from sin.  These ‘posers’ as young people might call them today, have information but no transformation!

So, from the perspective of knowing Christ crucified – the provision of all that he purchased for us at the cross, summarized in John 10:10 and described as an ‘abundant life,’ we can then know and be comforted that the Lord has made a way to provide for all of our needs.  When we partake of communion, we do this in ‘remembrance’ of Jesus sacrifice.  The remembrance is to understand our authority over sin – that we are free from sin.  We also know that ‘by his stripes, we have been healed’ and so our healing has also been purchased.

The point of all this teaching is that we as Christians cast out doubt and fear to truly know and believe the Scriptures.  Only then can things change in our lives.  If you don’t, you have a form of godliness but denying the power.  You are turning your back on the truth.  When we look through situations to the cross, we can share this with others as well.

Contentment

Have you ever been told to be ‘content with what you have?’  That this is true gratitude?  But let’s consider ‘what is contentment?’

דעת (transliterated: dat) Hebrew letters: Dalet Ayin Tav – to know

Here is our Word Picture from the paleo-hebrew:

Dalet = door
Ayin = Cover — as a shading of the eyes to remove the glare of the sun
Tav = mark/sign

Already we have learned that we are to know, casting aside fear and doubt, that it is by Jesus’ sacrifice and our rebirth that we inherit all things and that the Lord alone is our provider.  Again, this is a matter of spiritual discernment that the natural man cannot understand but by the power of the Holy Spirit we can know.

Now, from this frame of reference – knowing the authority we have and the provisions the Lord can and will provide, let’s look at these next passages to understand what the Bible is talking about when it instructs us to be ‘content.’  (Luke 3:14, 1 Timothy 6: and Hebrews 13:5)

In Luke, he tells the slave to be content with the master.  In another place, he’s telling the soldiers to be content with their wages.  So, what is contentment?

Let your conduct be without coveting; be content with what you have.  For he himself has said,”  I will never leave your or forsake you.”  So we boldly say:  “What can man do for me”

So, when he tells the soldier to be content with his wages, he’s address the ones who were covetous of the riches of others.  So, do not covet, but this does not mean you cannot or should not ask for more than what you currently have.

“The Lord is my helper, I will not fear.”

What do these have to do with one another?

What man can do for me (Gk:  poio which means to provide to me or for me).  Etymologically, it means ‘to provide for.’  The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.  In other words, He WANTS us to ask him for the things we need and even the desires of our heart (not to satisfy lusts or covetousness).

This is Paul talking ‘not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have…’

Content (Gk.  autarkes) – confident, strong, not in need of outside human assistance or provision, having possession of unfailing strength

So, Paul was saying that he was confident and not in need of any outside human assistance or provision – for the Lord had provided for all his needs.  Be strong and confident in what you have (in Christ).  Look through your situation to the cross!

As we move back a few Scriptures:

Be careful for nothing, but… ask prayer, supplication and thanksgiving…

Therefore, he’s telling us to ask the Lord for the things which we need.

But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

‘[Riches] in glory by Christ Jesus’ is to say that because of his glory which is specific and resides in and comes by and through Jesus, God will supply ALL your need.  We can be strong and confident in this.  Got bills to pay?  Pray and ask, take Communion, stir up the gift of the Holy Spirit in you – these things will remind you of Jesus’ authority and victory over this world and all that would come against you to ‘steak, kill and destroy.’  It is vital that we remember these things!  When we know Christ Crucified, we will look through the door of situations and (see the covering provided to you) fix our eyes on the cross (mark/sign).

Through the abundance which Jesus will supply to you, ‘God will generously provide all you need.  Then you will always have plenty left over to share with others.’ ‘You may prosper…just as your soul prospers’

Are we prospering or are we stuck in foolishness?  Are we putting the knowledge to use?

2 Corinthians 1:20-22

20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

1 Corinthians 1:18

Christ the Power and Wisdom of God

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

We are saved and are being saved.  Beyond just having our sins forgiven, each day you have needs – your ‘daily bread’ is there to supply that need.  You need protection, money, health… he saved you and comes right alongside you and gives you answers.  Daily you are being saved from the natural man if you will allow God to do it.

…spoken to the glory of God

You can tell people about how God has delivered you from various troubles.  It gives God glory when you have victory!  He gave you the victory, but you are the one who is victorious.  Others then can know God’s goodness, then, through what he’s done for you.

2 Corinthians 1:19-21

19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. 20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God,

Whatever God has done for you is your testimony that you can share, which will draw people closer to God as you give Him the glory.

Luke 6:38
38 Give, and it will be given to you:  good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom.  For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.

Some will say ‘I did that and nothing happened!’

Christ the Power and Wisdom of God

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

People who are religious or even religiously tolerant don’t mind you saying God, but do things in Jesus’ name and you will offend (Ps 118:22, Mt 21:42, Acts 4:11).  Why?  Because there is power in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12).  This is where the church has its power.  As churches fall away, so are more so-called believers likewise falling away from the name of Jesus Christ.  So if you want power in your life, it only comes through the cross.  Communion is our opportunity to recall the grace extended to us by our Lord and Savior who loved us.

I can think of no better way to close this lesson than with this:

John 15:12-14

12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.

From the lesson Delivered by Rev. J. Hamilton Braninburg, July 31, 2013

Let There be Light

Let there be light cartoon“Let there be light” are the first words of God recorded for all of humanity. Could it be that God needed light to create?  Or, perhaps, was He establishing His character for all of creation?  The One who longs to reveal Himself to His creation!   In this lesson, we will look at the metaphor of ‘light’ and how it gives us revelation.

What revelation?  I’m glad you asked!  Let’s begin!

 

 

 

Here are some of the examples of ‘light’ in the Bible:

  • In the light of the burning bush, God revealed his laws for creation
  • By the pillar of fire, the light revealed direction to the Israelites
  • The light of the star revealed Jesus’ coming to the earth.
  • And again, the very first words we record from our Lord are “Let there be light.

First Things

We go from the first recorded words of God to humanity to the first thing He says to Moses from the Mercy Seat.

17 “You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two and a half cubits shall be its length and a cubit and a half its width. 18 And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 Make one cherub at one end, and the other cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim at the two ends of it of one piece with the mercy seat. 20 And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat. 21 You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. 22 And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.

The Lord gives Moses very specific instructions not only for the Ark, but also for the Tabernacle.  When the Tabernacle is complete, they dedicate it unto the Lord.

Number 7
89 Now when Moses went into the tabernacle of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice of One speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the Testimony, from between the two cherubim; thus He spoke to him.

Numbers 8
1 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 “Speak to Aaron, and say to him, ‘When you arrange the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light in front of the lampstand.’” 3 And Aaron did so; he arranged the lamps to face toward the front of the lampstand, as the Lord commanded Moses. 4 Now this workmanship of the lampstand was hammered gold; from its shaft to its flowers it was hammered work. According to the pattern which the Lord had shown Moses, so he made the lampstand.

The lampstand is a representation of the Lord Jesus.  Let’s look at some of the symbolism:

  1. Pure Gold

The candlestick and the Mercy Seat are the only things in the Tabernacle which are made of pure gold.  There are items made of wood, Acacia wood; items are overlaid with gold, a bronze Lavern, a bronze altar; but the lampstand and Mercy Seat are the only things of pure gold.  It represented Jesus, the only pure (sinless) man.

Exodus 25
31 And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.
32 And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:
33 Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch,with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.

2.  Of Beaten Work

Notice that the candlesticks were ‘of beaten work.’  Since the candlestick represents Jesus, we see once again from the outset, Jesus was destined to pay our sin debt – the sinless man, beaten for our transgressions.

3.  ‘…six branches that come out of the candlestick.’

What does the number six represent?  Man.  What about the number seven?  Perfection.  So, as man alone, we are imperfect, but when we add that additional candle (light) or lampstand, representing Jesus, we have completeness.  The ‘I Am’ enters our life to provide us with all sufficiency and abundance.  Another example of six and seven:  How long did it take to create the Earth?  Six days and he rested on the seventh, when everything was complete.

4.  The Candles and Oil

A.  ‘Over Against it…’

…And you shall make the seven lamps thereof and they shall light the lamp that they may give light over against it (the lampstand)… According to the pattern which the Lord had shown Moses, so he made the lampstand.

The phrase ‘over against it’ is expressed by the Hebrew word:

paniym – ‘the presence’ or ‘the face’

When lighting the menorah, one lights the candles on either side of the lampstand.  These then cast light over onto that lampstand.  As we’ve mentioned, the six candles represent mankind and with the center lampstand, their number is seven or perfection.  The center lampstand is Christ.  We, the six branches, light the way for humanity to Jesus.  It is through the people of God that the gospel goes out.  People are the vessels which contain the presence of God (olive oil or Holy Spirit) that others may see Him in us.  Each time we share our testimony or give a witness of his goodness, we light the way to Jesus.  It’s how we talk, what we do with our professions, and so on.    We literally light the presence of God for the world to see, know and desire:  paniym.

B.  Yahweh = God eternal

Tetragrammaton Menorah

The letters on top of the Menorah (left) are the ancient letters in Paleo-Hebrew for Yahweh. The letters from right-to-left are yod or yothe, he, waw, he, or YHWH (from our English left-to-right). These letters together are also called in scholarly terms, the Tetragrammaton…

[The Tetragrammaton] depicts [God’s] Light that shines through us as we follow [Jesus’] example walking in His ways.

Isaiah 42:6-7
6 “I, יהוה (Yahweh), have called You in righteousness, and I take hold of Your hand and guard You, and give You for a covenant to a people, for a light to the gentiles,
7 to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house.

Zec 4:1 And the messenger who was speaking to me came back and woke me up as a man is awakened from sleep.
2 And he said to me, “What do you see?” So I said, “I have looked, and see: a lampstand all of gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven spouts to the seven lamps.
3 “And two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left.”
4 Then I responded and spoke to the messenger who was speaking to me, saying, “What are these, my master?”
5 And the messenger who was speaking to me answered and said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” And I said, “No, my master.”
6 And he answered and said to me, “This is the word of יהוה (Yahweh) to Zerubbab’el, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ said יהוה (Yahweh) of hosts.

Mat 5:14 “You are the light of the world. It is impossible for a city to be hidden on a mountain.
15 “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it shines to all those in the house.
16 “Let your light so shine before men, so that they see your good works and praise your Father who is in the heavens.

~http://www.praisesforyahweh.org/Paleo-Hebrew.html

C.  Holy Spirit

Exodus 27:20

The Care of the Lampstand

20 “And you shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually. NKJV

What he was saying was use ‘pure olives’ nothing mixed – to cause it to burn ‘continually.’  Just above, we have the verses from Zechariah describing the vision where he saw a bowl between two olive trees which overflowed and it kept the menorah going.  This ‘pure’ olive oil is a representation of the Holy Spirit.  The verses continue:  ‘Not by power or by might, but by ‘my Spirit says the Lord of hosts.’  In other words, the source of the oil, the Holy Spirit was from the Lord, and not by our own power or might (effort).  Without the Holy Spirit, we are unable to be a light in this world, much less light the way to everlasting life, which is to live forevermore with Jesus in Heaven.  Remember, we are commanded first to work out our own salvation!

Jesus gave the following instructions to the Apostles before he ascended to Heaven:  ‘Wait in Jerusalem until you have received power from on high.’

He was telling them He was going to send back His Spirit to fill His people.  And when the day of Pentecost came and the Holy Spirit was poured out, tongues of fire appeared to set on each of them like a wick burning on top of a candle!

From the types and shadows of the Old Testament we receive a revelation of the character of God and a foretelling of his manifestation in Christ and in His people!

D.  How we light the lamp….

They shall light the lamp that they will give light over against it… Exodus 25:37

Light (Heb.) – to bring up, to cause to

In the temple, the wick is gently brought using a tool called ‘tongs.’   The wick is made to stand up straight so it may once again burn bright!

Putting together what we’ve learned in this lesson, we can further interpret this instruction to indicate that we shall instruct believers so that they will return to their upright position, ready to burn with the presence of God (once again). And it is done gently!

וְהֶֽעֱלָה֙ – ‘and they shall light‘ made of these red (root) Hebrew letters:

Ayin – see, experience, know
Lamed – (shaped like a shepherd’s staff) tongue
Hey – Spirit

The light of the menorah (lamp) =
*To experience the control of the tongue by the Spirit,
*To see the shepherd revealed = incarnation of God through Jesus Christ
*To know and experience the authority of the Holy Spirit

All this we learn and understand through the study of the symbolism of the menorah.  How we are to burn forth the presence of the Holy Spirit to give us the ability to reach a lost and dark world.  How, also, by the Holy Spirit we are filled with God’s presence when we speak in tongues.  How the light of this world is Jesus Christ who is the eternal Father and Lord.  And finally, how the Holy Spirit is poured out continually into the believers not by our might or effort, but by our Lord and Savior alone.

Conclusion

In the tabernacle, the most inner sanctuary was called the Holy of Holies.  It existed behind a veil and only the high priest could enter this room.  It is where the Ark of the Covenant was located – and most importantly, the Mercy Seat where God’s presence would come down to speak to the priest.  The average person was unable to come into God’s presence – we were separated.  The Bible says no one has seen God because he is Spirit.  But when he became incarnate as The Son, he then became visible.  The menorah has six branches on either side of the lampstand.  The light of the branches shone on the front of the lampstand and illuminated the Table of Shew Bread.   Both of these illustrations use the same word ‘paniyn’ or ‘the bread of the presence, the bread of the face of God.’  God’s people illuminate Jesus to all humanity -and they shine from the presence of God in them (represented by the branches of the lampstand).  Jesus is the true light and the bread of heaven. In the Old Testament, God’s people were separated from His presence by the Holy of Holies.  In the New Testament when Jesus died, the veil was torn and he granted us direct access to His presence.  After his death, burial and resurrection, the Holy Spirit was poured out starting in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost and has continued from that day forward.  For all who have been born again, that is, they have repented of their sins, been baptized in Jesus’ name (who is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and have been filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-39, John 3:3-5).  These possess the Holy Spirit who is our Comforter, power from on high, and a Mighty Counselor.  The Holy Spirit is He who regenerates us unto everlasting life.  He gives us the power to forgive, the power to heal and many other kinds of works – all that the Apostles did and more!

John 14:12-13
12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask[c] anything in My name, I will do it.

Read all of John 14.

I pray, dear reader, that this lesson has been a light of revelation to you and that by it you will reach out to possess all that God has purchased for you.  Be filled with the Holy Spirit that you may shine forth the presence of God to light the way of everlasting life in Jesus Christ – the true light – for all the world to see!  Please contact us today for any questions you may have, even to request a Bible study on this or any other subject.

If you enjoyed this lesson, will you please let us know and share it with others?

This message was delivered by Rev. J. Hamilton Braninburg at NBC Mosaic on New Year’s Eve, December 31st, 2013.

Have a Sober Holiday

Have a Sober Holiday

This lesson looks at ‘sober’ in the Scriptures to understand the value of having a self-controlled mind.  The sober Christian exhibits peace and has a calm and collected demeanor beginning with their thought life.  And while sobriety during the holidays is a timely message, our study will go beyond the mere importance of being free from drug or alcohol intoxication, for that should be understood.  This message on sobriety is more meaty than that!

In the old testament, the high priest always wore the mitre (helmet) which reminded him of his call of holiness unto God.  The hat (or clothing) was not the reflection of holiness – it was the mind dedicated to God – the priests thoughts.  The priest had to tell what was the good and acceptable Word of God.  Put on the helmet of salvation – sozo – or deliverance.  We have to exchange our thoughts which are contrary to God’s perfect will and put in the truth of the Word.  Let’s look at the following passage for our study as we begin:

1 Thessalonians 5

New King James Version (NKJV)

The Day of the Lord

5 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.

The Christian who exercises a sober mind is one who also does not have to fear the coming judgement of the Lord for we have entered into salvation – we are children of the light – children of God, the true light!

What is sober?

Greek:  3525 /nḗphō (“be sober, unintoxicated”) refers to having presence of mind (clear judgment), enabling someone to be temperate (self-controlled). 3525 /nḗphō (“uninfluenced by intoxicants”) means to have “one’s wits (faculties) about them,” which is the opposite of being irrational.

We can easily see, therefore, that being sober implies a certain maturity.

There are only two spiritual paths in life.  (And let’s remember this is a lesson intended for the more mature Christian and so the themes are fairly strong, but sure to encourage and edify!)  Either we are going by the Word or we are connected to the devil.  If we have a negative attitude, we are allowing the reproductive area of our mind (the thoughts which lead to an action or attitude) to produce that which is counter to God.  Another way to say this is that we are in agreement with the devil.  Therefore, you will produce or manifest in your life something which is not what you want to produce.  You are defeating yourself and the abundant life God has already purchased and provided for you.  But when we get into contact with Jesus, beyond the veil (and what is behind the veil if we picture the tabernacle?  The Holy of Holies where dwelt the living God!)  – what you produce is going to be good.  There is no neutrality or gray area.  As one is diligent in learning and study, there will be an equal unveiling of Jesus in our lives.  Decide in your mind that you will make a stand to believe the Word of God fully and not waiver back and forth.  Just as in marriage, one doesn’t have more than one spouse – so likewise, be the bride of Christ alone and control your thought life by believing what is written in the Scriptures without any doubt.

When you have Christ, the gospel, the good news, you have completeness and this is where JOY comes in.  As you witness and share the word, you ‘reveal’ Christ to others and they too can experience joy in their lives.  Jesus told the good news and reached out to sinners.  This is our duty – sharing the good news with ‘great patience and careful instruction.’  2 Timothy 3:16 – 4:2

‘But let us, who are of the day, be ‘sober’….

Have you ever heard anyone comment on this verse, particularly when you were messing around having a good time as a rebuke?  This verse does not mean we cannot enjoy ourselves as Christians.

Sober here means to be calm in our mind and of a controlled spirit, not a sourpuss!

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind

Romans 12:1-3

New King James Version (NKJV)

Living Sacrifices to God

12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Serve God with Spiritual Gifts

3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

Self-mastery (“soberly” in NKJV) is self-government or self-control, the foundation of a strong godly life, growth, and producing fruit. If a person cannot govern himself, if he cannot master his passions, he will certainly not have a good relationship with his fellowman or God.  His life will likely be marked by major excesses.

The biblical writers use this word in various ways: to behave in an orderly manner, to be sober, serious, sane, sound-minded, discreet, self-disciplined, prudent, and moderate. In context of a person controlling himself, Paul writes, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3; see Titus 2:6; I Peter 4:7).

A person who has self-mastery is even-handed, and his passions are under control. He makes proper use of his drives and desires, and his manner of life is not one of extremes. A person reflecting this quality will be making steady progress in growing into the perfectly balanced character of Jesus Christ.

John W. Ritenbaugh

So, from this word ‘sober’ we see a connection to how one ‘think[s] of himself’ or one’s knowledge of one’s self.  Who am I?  The answer to this question defines one’s identity or image.  The image is that which we project, it can be called our character, our personal brand – it is who we are.  Our next point of study therefore is on our image.

Image

Christmas is a prime time (or vulnerable time) for identity theft, right?  We are making purchases online and in stores generally more than usual as a culture.  If we then relate this idea back to our humanity – our origins – we know from Scripture that Adam and Even lost their identity – the reflection of God in them which was marked by a removal of the covering God provided for them by his glory.  We read in Genesis that Adam and Eve ‘were naked’ and in an attempt to cover their nakedness, sewed together and made fig leaf coverings.  God then covers them himself with lamb’s skin (performing the first sacrificial covering of our sins).  All this to point to the last sacrifice for our sins, Jesus Christ, the lamb of God!  Jesus captured the identity thief (satan who deceived Eve – and Adam – by making them doubt the Word of God   – ‘Did he really say…’)  When Jesus came into the world, he was the last Adam, and returned (reconciled) to us our true identity in every way:  spiritually, physically, financially…

Advertised software called ‘Identity Lock’ can become our acronym:

L.O.C.K. for ‘Let Our Children Know.’ 

Another popular expression for being ‘armed’ against threat is ‘lock and load.’  So, in addition to our acronym LOCK we can add:

L.O.A.D. for ‘Let Our Adults Deliver.

So what does being ‘sober’ have to do with our image, much less a strategy to ‘lock and load?’  Well, our duty as Christians is to spread the gospel.  We call this ‘the Great Commission.’  We educate our children (or newcomers) by sending out witnesses (our adults or mature Christians) so that we ‘unveil’ Christ to all who would hear so that they might believe.  Now we have come full circle!  The sober mind – being holy or stayed on God which is the Word which is Christ Jesus – unveils the savior for all to see!  Coming unto salvation by the sacrifice afforded by us by the Grace of our Savior is the way to manifest Christ in us, which is to manifest or make evident (by actions) the truth of God’s love, the fullness or completeness of his promises and ultimately the presence of joy in our lives which attracts the unsaved to us to have what we have.  This mitre or ‘helmet of salvation’ is our mind ‘anti-virus’ against the hacking of the devil in the battlefield of the mind.

 דמות (He)  transliteration:  demut = image

The parent root דם (dam) is blood. One descended from the “blood” of another often resembles the one descended from. Derived from the parent root דם the child root דמה (damah) meaning “to resemble” The word דמות (demut) means a resemblance or to be like something else in action or appearance.
‘Ancient Hebrew Research Center Biblical Hebrew E-Magazine’ August 2006, Issue #030  ~Jeff A. Benner

Our image, then, is given us through the blood – the blood of Christ.  His sacrifice, our salvation, determines who we are – our image.  Apart from salvation, we cannot obtain the image of Christ manifest in our lives.  Apart from the sober mind there can be no spiritual maturity and our lives would resemble a ‘Great Omission’ not becoming of our spiritual heritage.

Kehillah in Ephesus 4:23-25

Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)

23 And to be renewed by the Ruach Hakodesh (Spirit) controlling your machshavot (thoughts)
24 And to enrobe yourself in the Adam HeChadash (the new Man, humanity) having been created according to the demut Hashem in tzidkat Eloheinu and in the kedushah of HaEmes.
25 Therefore, disrobed from Sheker (Falsehood, Lying], let us speak HaEmes [ZECHARYAH 8:16], each one with his re’a (neighbor), because we are evarim (members) one of another. [Ps 15:2; Lev 19:11]

Sar Shalom

Christmas is a season where many cards and wishes of ‘Peace on Earth’ go about and yet we do not see this as a reality with our natural eyes.  Many are therefore, naturally, discouraged and may even mock these words.  It is helpful then to remember, as we ought to have a reasonable explanation that is both gentle and correct, that Jesus is our Sar Shalom or ‘Prince of Peace’ who has conquered chaos in our lives.  It is only by having Christ  in us and belonging to Christ that we inherit ‘peace on earth.’  One might say this is a personal peace from a personal God!

Dear reader, we hope this lesson blesses you this Christmas season.  May you be an instrument which knows how to ‘LOCK’ and ‘LOAD’ according to the Word!  We pray that you develop a sober mind so that your very life ‘unveils’ Christ to others – beginning with the gospel unto salvation.

from the message delivered December 3, 2013 by Rev. J. Hamilton Braninburg