Blog Archives

THE EFFECTUAL WORKING OF MIRACLES

           I once had a pastor who didn’t care for doing any counseling. He stated this from the pulpit. He didn’t like sitting down with people from his church and going over the usual problems. He once stated that the devil “can only get you in so many ways,” meaning, of course, that the devil had a limited repertoire of mayhem-causing temptations. In this regard, we often hear preachers list the same relatively few things we, as Christians, must deal with, and they, as pastors, must attend to with counsel, and they say this because it’s pretty much all they ever hear. The short tabulation usually involves the following:

(1) Money problems

(2) Relationship problems

(3) Health problems

         I don’t fault that former pastor. I am pretty sure one of the reasons he cared little for counseling is because many people do not respond to it in a positive way. There are often solutions to the above three legitimate and often overwhelming difficulties put forth in Scripture that are rarely applied and this can frustrate a counselor, in that they give good advice designed to assist but the advice is not taken. It is not respected. Counselors know that much of the time people only want to talk. They need someone to talk to. That’s what they really want. They don’t necessarily want to do the work to eliminate the problem.

         The Lord is the greatest of counselors. Isaiah called Him a Wonderful Counselor. But even the Lord probably gets somewhat tired of hearing prayers when He knows we will not apply the solutions. So, in that light, I am going to dedicate the rest of this post to those of you who want to do whatever it takes to fix whatever the problem is.

A MIRACLE WAITING TO HAPPEN

         I stated at the end of my last post the very words of the Lord Jesus when He said that with God, all things are possible. This is obviously a true statement. The truth of the matter, however, is that there is a whole lot of stuff between the problem and His relatively straightforward solution. It should not be this way. I think we often make it far too complicated, which messes up the process.

         For example, in the case of Scriptural miracles, our eyes may glaze over as soon as someone brings them up, because we have heard them countless times and they do not appear applicable whatsoever to what we may be dealing with at the moment. But at that time the solution was clear-cut:

        There was Peter and John seeing a lame man who had been there for decades. Thousands and thousands had seen this man there over his lifetime. He always asked for money. Some would give him money. Most probably ignored him. He had a great problem and had it since birth and people were tired of seeing him. What could they do about it anyway?

          Well, in the case of Peter and John, they had just been gloriously filled with the Holy Spirit. They were charged up with the power and authority of the Lord. With their new status came a ton of spiritual boldness. So the next time they saw that man Peter had a completely different attitude. He suddenly had a solution to the lame man’s problem. He didn’t simply look at the man as usual and think, “Sorry. I feel bad for you but have no answer. Later.” Instead, this is the way it went down:

         Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms.

         But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!” And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.

         But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!”

         And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. [Acts 3:1-8]

HOW IT WAS DONE

First of all, Peter would be the first to say he was nobody special and that the Lord did the work. In fact, he did say that. But let us not forget that Peter experienced Pentecost. He was one of the 120 gloriously filled with the Spirit of the Lord. So that is the main condition here. But the infilling was not limited to the apostles or the 120. It was limited to no one. It is still not limited to anyone, provided one fulfills the conditions of Acts 2.

Second, Peter demanded the man look at him. He demanded the man’s full attention. 

Third, Peter used the powerful Name of Jesus, the Name above every name, and the Name with full authority over all things, including an otherwise impossible-to-cure medical condition. 

Fourth, Peter reached down, physically grabbed the man’s hand, and pulled the man up! Peter was fully confident in everything he did because he had plenty of faith and confidence in the Lord, His Name, and His spiritual power.

         But what about the lame man? He also had conditions to fulfill. He had to respond to counseling correctly. He had to obey Peter’s counseling or the miracle would never have happened.

First, when Peter demanded his full attention the lame man looked directly at him and shut everything else out.

Second, the lame man did not object to the use of the Lord’s Name.

Third, when Peter took hold of his hand and began pulling him up, the lame man never fought against him, but allowed Peter to do all he did with no opposition of any kind.

         From this we know that miracles are always the result of a collaborative effort.

         The Lord does His part, which He is always faithful to do, and the recipient does his or her part. This is why a person acting properly on faith and correctly obeying the Lord’s counseling completes the circuit.

ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE

         The Lord put the healing of the lame man miracle right there in the very beginning so anyone and everyone all through the centuries could look back at it and see that all things truly ARE possible with the Lord. It was also a great miracle at the time for the members of the early Church to look back on to build their faith and act on their faith. They saw that the Lord’s miracles could be worked through them and not only by the Lord exclusively, as in the gospels, or through a chosen few, such as the apostles. This is extremely important. As a result, greater numbers of people had their prayers answered and more life-changing miracles were performed by the Lord working through countless Spirit-filled believers the world over. This expanding dynamic continued as well by involving onlookers as witnesses, which further spread the news of the miracles and produced faith in the Lord, salvation, and more disciples.

         And all the people saw him walking and praising God; and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. [Acts 3:9-10] [1] 

          © 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Advertisements

SALVATION OF JEWS WITHOUT JESUS? NOT ACCORDING TO MOSES AND PETER

Blog Pic 524.        

         “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” [Acts 4:12]

.

         Both of these men had sterling Hebrew credentials. The first, Moshe, was chosen by God as a prophet, deliverer of his people, and  lawgiver. Without Moses there would be no Hebrew nation.

         The second man, Peter, was chosen by the Lord Jesus as the man to whom He gave the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Peter’s name in Hebrew is Kefa, and his given Jewish name before the Lord changed it was Shim’on Bar-Yochanan. Peter used the kingdom keys on the first Day of Pentecost showing the way to salvation and as the central leader and spokesman of the early Jerusalem Church.

       Regarding Hebrew credentials, no one has more sterling credentials than the Lord Jesus Himself: A member of the Tribe of Judah, He is a direct descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and David.

THE NAME ABOVE EVERY NAME

         The New Covenant writers made it very clear that there is no salvation without Messiah Jesus (YeHoshua HaMashiach), as His very name means “YHWH-Salvation.” The apostle Paul (Sha’ul), a “Hebrew of Hebrews” in his own words, cites absolutely no distinction between Jews and Gentiles in his teachings regarding those in need of salvation:

       For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” [Romans 10:11-13]

         The entire Community of the Lord for the first seven to ten years of its existence after Pentecost was composed entirely of Jews. There were no Gentiles until the inclusion of an Italian named Cornelius, whose salvation came through the ministry of Peter, the historical account of which is listed in Acts Chapter 10.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF JEWISH NATIONAL TITLES

         The first man called a Hebrew in Scripture was Abram (Genesis 14:13). In general terms, the descendants of the Patriarchs were known as Hebrews until the Conquest of Canaan under Joshua, after which they were known as Israelites. The nation was divided into two kingdoms after Solomon’s death, and the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel were dispersed into permanent exile in 721BC and were slowly assimilated by other nations.

         The only remaining tribes of the original Israelite nation were Judah, Benjamin, and Levi, and these constituted the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The people of this Kingdom went into exile in Babylon during the Babylonian Captivity at the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple in 586BC. They were allowed to return to the land of Judah a half century later. Since the Southern Kingdom was known as Judah and because the three tribes composing it had somewhat maintained their distinct Israelite identity, the relatively small remainder of the original Hebrews/Israelites became known as Jews from that time forward.

MOSES PROPHESIES OF THE COMING KING

         “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. This is according to all that you asked of the LORD your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’ The LORD said to me, ‘They have spoken well. I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.’” [Deuteronomy 18:15-19]   

         This prophecy and commandment delivered by Moses was referenced by Peter during the first days of the early Church when he spoke to a gathered crowd of Jews in Jerusalem right after the miraculous healing of the lame man:

         “Moses said, ‘THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you. And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’” [Acts 3:22-23]

          If someone polled Christians on whether or not they believed that the content of this Scriptural passage was true, many would say no. Of course, many would have never heard of it to begin with so it would appear foreign on two counts: On the first because a probable majority of Christians have never read the Book of Acts, and the second because they have been conditioned to believe that Jews can be saved without Jesus.

         But the Lord Jesus made it a point to anoint Peter to preach this word early on in the Church’s history and make a clear authoritative reference to Moses so all the Jews there would hear the truth.

THE BOLDNESS OF PETER AND THE SALVATION OF JEWS IN ACTION:

        “And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.’ For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.” [Acts 3:24-26]

         Many of those who had heard the message believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand. [Acts 4:4] [1]

         After the awesome display of the Lord’s miraculous healing of the lame man, the bold preaching of Peter, the massive salvation of thousands of Abraham’s descendants, and the powerful display of God’s love, the Jewish religious leaders showed up and threw Peter and John in jail.

         © 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

STAND With Jesus: Shine Your Light

         The number of unreal Christians in the world dwarfs the number of real Christians.

         There are only a few who, like the original apostles, leave everything to follow and obey the Lord.

.

         Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.” [Mark 10:28]

.

         These men truly did leave everything. They began an entirely new life based on the teachings of their new Rabbi, whom they were just getting to know. It is exactly the same as that which Abraham did, in that he left everything behind, literally, putting Haran in his rearview mirror forever.

         Most people who refer to themselves as Christians never do this. Never. There are honest people among us who don’t follow the Lord at all, but certainly keep their options open rather than claim to follow Him but do not.

         “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went.

         “The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go.

         “Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you.” [Matthew 21:28-31]

.

         There was once a city. It was inhabited and taken care of by people of honesty and integrity. No one knew exactly how it began or necessarily when, but the gleam began to lose its shine and some tarnish emerged. Somehow or another, someone and probably a few other someones began to compromise ever so slightly and got away with it. Nobody spoke out or stood against the breach of total honesty. Some appreciated the idea that the heat was off a little so they could relax and maybe engage in some very minor not so good behavior.

         The drift continued until one man finally stood against the detour into little white lies and less than the best conduct. No one came to his defense, though some certainly agreed that he was right. Not wanting to leave his home he settled into a lonely existence. Some turned against him for his stand. Some sympathized with him and the stand he made but were too fearful or possessed too little integrity to stand with him. He eventually became ineffective because he raised his voice no more.

         After some time had passed another man stood up. He did the same as the first. He noticed that things were going south and longed for the days when things were honest and better. This man was treated the same as the first but worse. Instead of shrinking back, this man stood all the more. He refused to stop speaking against the lies and hypocrisy that had begun to take hold.

         He was told to leave. He refused. His family was shunned. His wife and kids were talked about behind their backs in the most evil of ways. Everything began to cave in on this man and he found no respite from the ongoing cold shoulder and personal attack.

         For the sake of his wife and children, he left.

         Three more people stood against this blatant injustice and one of them was killed. The other two quickly disappeared.

         Every time someone stood against the sin of the formerly honest and upright community they were forced to leave. Some just left anyway. Eventually, all the good people who stood up for what was right were gone, which left only the people who had compromised and accepted lives of sin in various degrees. The former high moral code was transformed into a far different code which raised freedom to sin to the top tier. But those living there certainly did not see it that way. They thought their new code was much better and fair.

         As the city grew worse, those who had to make a choice whether to grow worse with it or leave made their choices, and most stayed. Of those who stayed, the majority continued to stay even as the code grew worse. Many others, who would never have wanted to live in the city when it was good and honest, moved to the city and felt comfortable there.

         Evil was winning.

         Every now and then someone stood up against the sin and was either forced out or killed under mysterious circumstances. The remaining populace loved the freedom to sin with no consequence or hindering from those in control.

         What was once a righteous city became unrighteous, simply because all the righteous people left or were disposed of, and all those who refused to walk in righteousness 100% were compromised and grew less righteous by the day.

         Then the day came when the most evil people of the evil city were chosen as leaders. This made the city grow much more evil that much faster. There was then no control anymore on righting the ship. The city had reached the point of no return.

         The inhabitants, however, laughed it up and enjoyed all the fun they were having. The city was riddled with all manner of disease, most notably that of the soul, but was wrapped in the outer adornment of beauty, and looked to the naked eye as a great and wonderful place. A great living could be earned there. The place was popular and prosperous.

         Then the inevitable happened. The evil the inhabitants embraced was no longer enough to satisfy in the forms they had engaged in up to that point. They needed something more. They needed greater forms of evil to satisfy their lusts. Because there was no righteous check on behavior, many worse forms of sin were engaged in.

         In not too long a time, the outward result of all the sin became evident. The city had created a sinkhole of human depravity. The evil people there who had long since passed the point of reform turned on one another. The population declined. The city became a haunt of dark shadows and foul spirits. There were other evil cities that suffered the exact fate.

         Later, when someone did an accounting of all the inhabitants of the original city, from the time it was first formed as a righteous place of light until its final end, he found a stunning statistic. The people who had left the city over the years had brought forth generations of righteous people who lived blessed lives, and these people eventually outnumbered the residents who stayed.

         They began as small groups and lone stalwarts, were hated, and run off, but because of their stand for righteousness, God blessed them in new locations. They created many more cities with righteous foundations that remained. Most of this was done in faraway places. The evil people never noticed the small righteous cities in faraway places.

         But the righteous people began to notice one another. Though their cities were not only far away but far away from one another, they had no communication for many years, but that began to change. After a while, the people of these small cities discovered that there were many, many righteous people all over the faraway places! They began to engage in true fellowship with one another. Their love for one another progressed to love for everyone in these faraway righteous places.

         The curious thing about all of that, though, was even as they began coming together they did it in such a way that it was never really noticed by all the evil people in the evil cities. These righteous cities had grown in secret.

         It was then understood that the descendants of the original good guys who stood against evil had grown and spread far and wide because the original righteous seed continued being fruitful. Though those first great righteous ones who took their stand against evil were cast out, their uncompromising righteousness brought forth generations of righteous people. And though the righteous never outnumbered the evil people overall, they possessed much more power to stand against and overcome evil through their love and community.

         And all those who had compromised so long ago, even to very small degrees in the beginning, only produced generations of people who compromised further with eventually no hope for redemption.

         The moral of the story? Take your stand with the Lord Jesus. You will take some hits. You will be persecuted. Many will think you’re a complete idiot. They will think you joined a cult. They will try to do you physical harm. You will be innocent of charges but thrown in jail. Some of you will even give your lives.

         All of these things are mentioned in Scripture. The Lord taught these very truths. He said all these things would happen. He explained it all a long time ago. But He also said that those who take their stand with Him will be the eventual winners. He said, with regard to His people, that the last will be first.

         In time, as long as we continue to stand with him in integrity and righteousness, the community of the Lord will grow. Though it will grow off the radar at first, it will eventually be seen by all, and all will wonder at its great numbers and righteous influence, and how it even came to exist.

         The Light of His community will outshine the false light of this world, and shine ever brighter forever and ever.

.

         The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. [Isaiah 9:2]

         Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but the LORD will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. [Isaiah 60:1-3]

         “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” [Matthew 5:14-16]

         “What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.” [Matthew 10:27]

         “While so engaged as I was journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, at midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me.

         “And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’

         “And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you,

         ‘To open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light

         ‘And from the dominion of satan to God,

         ‘That they may receive forgiveness of sins

         ‘And an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’” [Acts 26:12-18] [1]

         © 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.