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EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 5)

After watching the Lord rise up before them enveloped by a cloud, the disciples removed from Mount Olivet and returned to Jerusalem per the Lord’s command. It was time to await the promise.

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INTRODUCTION   LESSON 1   LESSON 2   LESSON 3   LESSON 4

LESSON 5

ACTS 1:13-15

13 When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. 14 These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. 15 At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said…  

This Upper Room was most likely in the house belonging to Mary, the mother of John Mark, as mentioned in the twelfth chapter of Acts after Peter’s miraculous release from certain execution:

…he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. [Acts 12:12] [1]

It was a very large room which, of course, implies a large house. This denotes Mary, a probable widow, as a woman of means. Mark was a cousin of Barnabas, the apostle Paul’s traveling partner, which made Mary his aunt. One can deduce that the respective fathers of Barnabas and Mark were brothers who were wealthy enough to (1) Own a large high end property in Jerusalem with servants, and (2) Send Barnabas, a man of letters with probable training under a rabbi to school. Barnabas was also the most likely writer of the Book of Hebrews.

The Last Supper was held in this same Upper Room, which made the private home a regular place of meeting for the Early Church. In fact, the entire Early Church at that time could take up residence within it. All eleven apostles were there along with possible family members. The Lord’s brothers were there, maybe all four, as was, of course, His mother Mary. Many other women were there, which must have included Mary Magdalene. With all of these together, it came to about 120 people, on the one hand a large group for a house church, but on the other relatively quite small.

After preaching to perhaps hundreds of thousands over a three and a half year period, having a large band of following disciples, and appearing to as many as five hundred after His resurrection, the Lord Jesus only gathered 120 dedicated praying disciples in the Upper Room awaiting the Day of Pentecost.

This should enlighten us to His selection process.

© 2020 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.

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (4)

Blog Pic 12.24.19

     

       There was an unknown circumstance in Mary’s young life that spoke of great humility. We don’t know what this was exactly, and Luke does not elaborate. But there are directive clues. Read on:

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        The following is from Part 1: There is something else here that Luke’s narrative hints at which he does not delve into, possibly because he knew his audience was aware of whatever particulars were involved with Mary and the circumstances of her humble life.

         In the very beginning, after initially being told by the angel Gabriel that she was highly favored and the Lord was indeed with her, Mary became, depending on the translation, troubled/disturbed/perplexed. The Greek says greatly agitated. She wondered where this extraordinary greeting came from and what it could possibly be about. One senses she thought it must be meant for another, that the joyous messenger must have the wrong house.

         In answering a faithful reader’s comment on Part 3 today, who said of Mary, She must have indeed been a highly intelligent, spiritually sensitive young woman, I wrote the following:

         “Yes. A perfect choice. And she had to somehow come to a quick understanding of this fact though her humble nature would otherwise preclude it. She had to look beyond her humble circumstances and do her best to see herself as God saw her. He needed her. He wanted her to be the one. Here we have a good look into the counterintuitive nature of humanity. If Mary had previously thought herself as the best choice she would be disqualified, since that would reveal the presence of sinful pride. But if she thought herself unworthy and could never be persuaded to the contrary she would disqualify herself.”

         Why did she feel so unworthy? And why did she refer to herself not once but twice as a bondslave? I mentioned this in Part 1. The Hebrew word for a female slave is shiphchah. The Greek word used here is doulos, which speaks directly to a slave of the basest order and is used throughout the New Testament. One gets the idea that young Mary was somehow familiar with such status.

         It is also quite interesting that the New Testament never mentions any interaction with Mary’s parents or possible siblings. We know her father’s name was Eli (Heli), from her genealogy in Luke 3:23, but there is never any mention of her mother or her mother’s name. It appears they were no longer around. It is also evident that Mary was an only child. Imagine that. There is also a distinct possibility that Joseph, her betrothed, was her father’s adopted son, as alluded to in the genealogy. This was actually a Hebrew tradition going back centuries for men with no natural male heirs, so the idea isn’t so far-fetched. Any or all of these challenging life circumstances might be the cause of her feelings of unworthiness, but there is yet another, and it is here where we shall gain even greater understanding of the well known verse, “For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1Samuel 16:7).

        There is a Greek word that only occurs four times in the NT. It only applies to two specific people in the NT. Those two people are the Lord Jesus and His mother Mary. The word is tapeinosis. It is defined as “lowness, low estate, and humiliation.” Regarding the Lord it appears in Acts 8:33 in which the author references Isaiah 53:8. Here are both verses with the translated English word underlined:

     “IN HUMILIATION HIS JUDGMENT WAS TAKEN AWAY; WHO WILL RELATE HIS GENERATION? FOR HIS LIFE IS REMOVED FROM THE EARTH.” [Acts 8:33]

         By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? [Isaiah 53:8]

      Here is the verse that references Mary, again with the translated English words underlined:

          “For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.” [Luke 1:48]   

         The Hebrew word is otser. It is defined as “restraint, coercion.” It is translated primarily as “oppression.” It refers in a sense to prison or being a prisoner. This indicates a form of slavery. Mary did refer to herself as a bondslave. This speaks indirectly of possessing a particular humble state or condition and we now have a better understanding of what that was. Isaiah chapter 53 is an OT prophetic picture of the Lord Jesus. Here is the verse that ties both Son and mother together:

          He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. [Isaiah 53:2][1] 

           © 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[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.

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (Intro)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (1)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (2)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (3)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (5)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (3)

Blog Pic 12.22.19

 

       Prior to her visitation by the angel Gabriel, Mary was burdened by an undisclosed life circumstance. We gain further clues of this by her reaction to Elizabeth’s powerful prophetic message.

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         To set the scene for the next historical interlude which bears upon the foundational Gospel account after her journey to Judea to visit Elizabeth, we must acknowledge the fact that, according to Luke’s account, Mary had yet to speak to anyone about the great news.

         She had left Nazareth in a hurry, almost immediately after she had consented to God’s plan. The Holy Spirit had indeed descended upon her and she was overshadowed with the power of the Most High. A miraculous conception had taken place in her womb! She had told no one, not even Joseph. Her elder relative Elizabeth would be her confidant. As the many repercussions played out in her thinking, Mary had remained amazed but laden with knowledge that no one else possessed.

GOD’S PERFECT TIMING

         In Part 1, we covered Luke 1:26-38. In Part 2, we covered Luke 1:39-45. There are several components of the narrative within these verses to be addressed. The first thing we must do, however, is address the timing of the events. The angel Gabriel had told Mary that Elizabeth was already with child and in her sixth month. The human gestation period is 280 days, which is almost exactly 9.5 lunar cycles. An exact 9.5 moons would be a half day longer. Here is the math: A lunar cycle is 29.53059 days. Multiplied by 9.5 the gestation period would be 280.54 days. Since we know the Bible grants much importance to the number 40, it is not a coincidence that 280 is 40 times 7 (another significant number). Regarding the number of days into her pregnancy for Elizabeth at the time, it was somewhere between five and six months because Luke’s account says she was in her sixth month. She had yet to complete her second trimester.

         I submit that it was exactly five and a half months and during a new moon.

       It should have taken Mary less than a week, probably about five days, to get to Elizabeth’s house in Judea from Nazareth since the journey was at least 70 miles as the crow flies but maybe 80 or more considering the roads and terrain. Luke does not tell us the town or Mary’s specific destination in Judea. This was also during the winter rains though most of the precipitation was in the north. We have no knowledge regarding who may have accompanied Mary on the trip. There is no mention of Joseph. Would she have gone alone? From the narrative it certainly appears that she was alone when greeting Elizabeth.

         Regarding the time of year, my research has long indicated that the Lord was born in the autumn. I believe it was likely on the 15th of the month of Tishrei on the Hebrew calendar, which was the first day of the weeklong Feast of Succoth (Tabernacles / Booths) and during a full moon. In 2019 this day fell on October 14th. We have a hint of this as the Lord’s birthday in John’s gospel. The word “dwelt” in the following verse is from a Greek word meaning “to fix one’s tabernacle or tent:”

         And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. [John 1:14]

         Tishrei was the seventh month of the ancient sacred calendar adopted originally by the Lord during the time of Moses. The spring is the natural beginning of the year and was also the time of the Exodus and the Resurrection of the Lord. It is thus quite clear that the spring feasts are first and then followed by the autumn feasts. Tishrei later became the first month of the civil calendar and begins with Rosh Hashanah, the “head” of the year which is considered the Jewish New Year. This can get confusing, of course, but for the purposes of this study I will number the months as beginning in the spring from the vernal equinox.

         Since the Lord was likely born on Tishrei 15 in the autumn, it would mean the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary nine and a half months before, during a new moon on the 1st of Tevet, the tenth month (if it was a twelve month year, which was most probable). Tevet occurs in Dec/Jan. From this we get a clear timeline of these two miraculous pregnancies of Elizabeth and Mary:

YEAR 1: John was conceived in the summer on the 15th of the fourth month during a full moon.

YEAR 1: The Lord Jesus was conceived in the winter on the 1st of the tenth month during a new moon.

YEAR 2: John was born in the spring on the 1st of the second month during a new moon.

YEAR 2: The Lord Jesus was born in the autumn on the 15th of the seventh month during a full moon.

         After Elizabeth’s greeting and anointed word, Mary responded once again, as she did to Gabriel, with amazement and great humility. It was no insignificant response but revealed a woman of strong intellect, spiritual grace, and much insightful knowledge of Scripture for one so young. Her words reverberate through the centuries illustrating the profound nature of the Lord’s great plan and her own unique circumstances. We don’t hear much from Mary ever again but the following passage is filled with spiritual portent and the faithfulness of God. He has come to His people:

        And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name. AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM. He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble. HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS; and sent away the rich empty-handed. He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.” [Luke 1:46-55][1]

         Luke tells us that Mary stayed in Judea with Elizabeth for about three months after her arrival. The two would have had many long talks. As I stated earlier, Elizabeth was Mary’s only confidant. She was the only one who would have understood her circumstances because she had the same circumstances. These two ladies would have discussed all the implications of what they were presented with and how best to deal with the outcome and responses of others, especially as how it affected Mary. She still had to tell Joseph. She had to tell her parents. How would they react? She knew how everybody else would react and it was a hard pill to swallow. The time with Elizabeth was cherished because she gained the support she would need, to build herself up, and prepare for the coming storm of controversy.

        And Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home. [Luke 1:56]

         One would think Mary would have stayed for John’s birth. We are tempted to add to the narrative and think she must have stayed, but Luke did not present it that way. With regard to why she left early, the calendar gives us a direct clue: It was now the early spring. The first month of Nisan had arrived. The spring feasts, to which Mary had remained faithful her entire life, were upon the nation. Passover week would be happening very soon, within about a week or so. Did Mary leave a few weeks before John’s birth to celebrate Passover in Jerusalem?

         © 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[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.

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (Intro)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (1)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (2)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (4)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (5)

 

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (2)

Blog Pic 12.18.19

     

      The conventional perception of the mother of our Lord is off. It is way off. She is commonly depicted in religious art, iconography, and statuary as Caucasian, and often northern European.

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         Knowledge of her Hebrew heritage among Christians is largely lost. Even her actual name is mostly unknown. The name Mary derives from the Judeo-Aramaic variant Maryam, from the Greek Mariam, which was derived from the original Hebrew Miryam, the name of the elder sister of Moses and Aaron (which is translated into English primarily as Miriam). New Testament readers know this was a popular name for Hebrew women at that time, as there are several with the name in the Gospel accounts.

      As a young Hebrew maiden of eastern Mediterranean stock, she was likely dark complected with dark hair and Semitic features. Semitic refers to one of the three sons of Noah—Shem—whose descendants predominantly populated the Middle East and still do today. We know from early OT accounts that the ancient Hebrews shared their DNA with many different ethnos of the greater region, including the Canaanite tribes. There were also the two great disruptions to the nation when the ten northern tribes of Israel were deported to the east in 722 BC followed by the Babylonian captivity of Judah 136 years later. The three remaining tribes of the latter—Judah, Levi, and Benjamin—were removed to Babylon for 70 years. They were allowed to return but many chose to stay. The lands of Israel and Judah had been repopulated somewhat by foreigners in the interim, especially the Samaritan region. The land was then ruled by a succession of Persians, Greeks, and Romans. It is therefore difficult if not impossible to arrive at a definitive Hebrew nationality by the first century AD.

         Even so, we do have two extant genealogies of our Lord Jesus from that time, both of which stem from the tribe of Judah and feature the persons of Abraham and David. The genealogy of Joseph the carpenter in Matthew’s gospel descends through King David’s son Solomon, the third and final king of a united Israel. After Solomon’s death the kingdom split into the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah. Luke’s gospel contains the genealogy of Mary, which also goes through David but by his son Nathan, Solomon’s brother. This family tree divergence took place over 900 years before the Lord’s birth. The last of the Hebrew kings of the Judaic line ceased with the Babylonian captivity in 586 BC. Zedekiah was the last king of Judah, but was somewhat illegitimate in that he was installed by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BC after the siege of Jerusalem. The king before Zedekiah was Jeconiah (AKA Coniah, Jehoiachin), who was carted off to Babylon a prisoner in chains. This is what the prophet Jeremiah said about him:

         “Is this man Coniah a despised, shattered jar? Or is he an undesirable vessel? Why have he and his descendants been hurled out and cast into a land that they had not known? O land, land, land, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the LORD, ‘Write this man down childless, a man who will not prosper in his days; for no man of his descendants will prosper sitting on the throne of David or ruling again in Judah.’” [Jeremiah 22:28-30]   

         The Hebrew monarchy was thus abolished. There were no more kings. No one could ever again qualify. Joseph the carpenter’s line included Jeconiah and he is listed in Matthew’s genealogy. Nevertheless, it was established that Joseph, the legal stepfather of the Lord, could trace his direct lineage to Solomon and David. Mary’s genealogy could also be traced directly to King David. This means the Lord Jesus had a legal right as king through Joseph and a biological right through His mother. Though the monarchial birthright was essentially revoked by Jeremiah’s prophecy, this did not apply to the Lord Jesus because he was not a blood descendant of Jeconiah. Thus, the only possible way the Davidic line of kings could be restored, even after a six century interval, would be through the following:

       “Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” [Isaiah 7:14]

GREETINGS FROM THE WOMB

         As described in Part 1, Mary was soon on the road south to Judea to visit her relative Elizabeth. The two women were anxious to share the great news of their pregnancies, both of which were only possible through direct miraculous means. Elizabeth was greatly humbled in her long life of barrenness but maintained her faith regardless. Mary was also burdened somewhat by an undisclosed life circumstance. Here we have the young and the old, both of whom must deal with the inevitable gossip of unbelievers, yet blessed abundantly as major players in the great plan of God for the salvation of Israel and humanity. But besides these two who knew each other well, there were others who met for the very first time:

        Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said,

         “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” [Luke 1:39-45][1]

         © 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[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.

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (Intro)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (1)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (3)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (4)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (5)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (1)

NAZARETH

 

       She was given the opportunity to be the mother of Messiah—the Son of the Most High. She accepted without question, filled with wonder, in humble awe of being chosen.

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         In reading between the lines in the initial Gospel references to the mother of our Lord, we happen upon facts otherwise escaping our notice, primarily, her humble origin. We already know her hometown was not the greatest of places, as none other than one of the twelve, Nathanael Bar Tholmai (Bartholomew) articulated,

         “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” [1]

         The rustic community is never mentioned in any of the Old Testament writings, meaning it had yet to exist then, suffered utmost insignificance, or was known by a different name, one of which might have been “white town” or a variation, named after the ready supply of limestone rocks in the area. Nestled among the lower hills of the Nazareth Range in the ancient tribal land of Zebulun, the city lay about halfway between the seas—the great Mediterranean on the west where sailing ships launched for far-off lands, and to the east, the indigenous, often mysterious Sea of Galilee, loved freshwater fishery of the locals.

         From the little we know, Mary was likely born is this little village by the cliffs in circa 18 BC. This was during the early years of Augustus, who became the first Roman emperor in 27 BC, and the local reign of the ruthless client-king Herod the Great who had gained power a decade earlier. How she or her family arrived in the area is lost to history. Though Nazareth was within the small area originally allotted to the Tribe of Zebulun (the tenth son of Jacob and sixth born to Leah), Mary was actually a distant descendent of King David of the ruling line of Judah. Her connection to the latter tribe is somewhat problematic for a Galilean from the north due to her clear connection to relatives in the territory of Judea south of Jerusalem. The unknown story of her family’s transplantation is an intriguing one.

         We know from the later annual pilgrimages made by the holy family to Jerusalem for the feasts that young Mary likely also made such trips as a child growing up, probably as part of small caravans. She was thus familiar with the territory and probably looked forward to such opportunities to see the great city and visit family. Journeying from the north in Galilee, one would traverse the disparaged Samaria, sandwiched between Galilee and Judea, and venture through the ancient tribal areas of Issachar, Manasseh, and Ephraim in the process, and lastly through the allotment of Benjamin on the approach to Yerushalayim which was located on the southern edge of his tribal land.

         The eastern border between the two famous territories of Benjamin and Judah actually runs north and south along the Kidron Valley. The Kidron divides the city of Jerusalem in Benjamin’s territory to the west from the Mount of Olives in Judah’s territory to the east. The southern border between the tribes is divided by the valley of Hinnom which was immediately due south of the ancient city. Beyond these two natural demarcation lines was the fatherland of Judah and the ancestral land of King David to which Mary and her family sojourned frequently. It was also the ancestral homeland of her new husband Joseph, the strong but tender carpenter, chosen also as she was, and suited well for the calling.

AN ANGELIC VISITATION

         Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. [Luke 1:26-27]

       Luke makes it clear in his definitive account that Mary was a virgin when the angel Gabriel revealed to her the plan of God which would soon go into effect upon her consent. She was betrothed to the carpenter, meaning the marriage was not yet fully contracted, and both were honorable and chaste. It is often not acknowledged that young Mary had a choice regarding the Lord’s plan for her life. We all have a choice, and for everyone there is a plan. Notwithstanding the discipline required to live and work for the Lord according to His will and not our own, any other plan created and chosen by a person is always inferior to His. Mary understood this. It is why she replied to Gabriel with no hesitation in her heart:

         And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”

         Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.”

         And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. [Luke 1:28-38] [2] 

         Mary’s use of the word “bondslave” is not without import. It is from the Greek doulos and is defined accordingly as a female slave without any ownership rights of her own. This word, also translated as bond-servant, is used throughout the New Testament denoting the pure servanthood and dedication to the Master by real believers. The Hebrew equivalent for a female servant is shiphchah and has an ancient etymology dating to the book of Genesis. Though we often fail to perceive, in these brief Scriptural renderings, the full connotation and significance of the choice she made, Mary knew exactly what she was doing by deciding in the affirmative. She understood the gravity of the situation, the ramifications thereof, and that is was a lifelong commitment.

         But there is more. Mary alluded to her current state of life before the angelic visitation as thoroughly humble and insignificant. We see this first in her initial reaction to Gabriel’s greeting when he referred to her as “favored one” and said the Lord was with her: But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. She was also afraid, probably for the same reasons you or I would be startled at the appearance of an angel. It was more than this, however. She was concerned about what it meant for her life and, in those first few seconds, that she was in no way worthy of such an astounding visitation and calling.

         Why did she feel this way? There is something else here that Luke’s narrative hints at which he does not delve into, possibly because he knew his audience was aware of whatever particulars were involved with Mary and the circumstances of her humble life.

         In Part 2, I will continue delving into such lesser-known particulars. We will look closer at Mary’s upbringing, family, and momentous visit to her elderly but expecting relative Elizabeth, also a chosen woman of the Lord who found much grace in His sight.

         © 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[1] John 1:46  

[2] 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.

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (Intro)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (2)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (3)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (4)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (5)

 

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (Intro)

       

         Hello friends. I hope all is going well for you during this special time of year. I started a new article with the above title early in the week and it has expanded beyond one posting. I am giving you all this head’s up that I will be posting Part 1 soon.

         Mary is one of history’s most intriguing figures and it is especially that way for Christians worldwide. Even so, there is little historical material regarding her life. Perhaps this is why there is so much traditional information which actually has no backing in Scripture. However, within the extant Scriptural material we have there are many captivating clues about her life that lead to greater knowledge. This is what we will be sharing with one another for the next few posts.

         Thanks for reading. In the meantime, blessings to you and Merry Christmas!

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         © 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (1)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (2)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (3)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (4)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (5)

JESUS DESTROYS COMMUNITY DIVISION: ALL REAL CHRISTIANS ARE EQUAL AND SHARE IDENTICAL ACCESS TO THE LORD

         The Lord Jesus taught us that only He must be in charge. Most Christian leaders reject that directive. This is part of the reason why an alternative form of Christianity was created long ago.

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         Only the Lord Jesus is worthy of praise. Unless anyone out there has done what He did no one else qualifies. Yet we continue to have the equivalent of bowing before religious leaders and kissing their rings as if they somehow managed to grab a hold of something higher than the rest of us and land upon a leadership summit denied to everyone else. In reality, of course, no such place exists within His Community and never has.

         But for any readers out there not yet familiar with this blog and the faithful readers who have supported it for many years, you might have a problem with this simple fact. I say this because in many Christian circles this idea of a higher spiritual class with an extremely small qualified membership continues to persist. Nothing has changed concerning this concept except the surface facade, in that many of these have assumed casual dress and contemporary speech as a way to falsely bridge the gap or appear more relatable. Notwithstanding the Biblical directive to the contrary, people are still drawn to leaders who seem to have it all together but the greater part of their standing is based on mere appearance, and as I have said many times before, appearance is everything.

         Substance matters little. Before we go further, I will insert a single passage of Scripture to prove my point, though I could list many others. From this one passage we can see very clearly the truth the Lord taught in the beginning that has since been rejected by you know who:

         For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. [Galatians 3:26-29]

        In this single Scriptural passage lies the pure truth of a radical new paradigm and community association model which thoroughly destroys the concept of any clergy-laity class divide or pyramidal leadership model based on a dominating upper class wresting all control at the very top. In this one passage, taught very clearly to the apostle Paul by the Lord Jesus, exists the following:

ONE:

         There is absolutely no distinction whatsoever between what Paul refers to as Jew and Greek, otherwise known as Jew and Gentile. And within either there is no distinction based on race or nationality. In the Lord’s Community both Jews and Gentiles have exactly equal standing. There are thus (1) Believing Jews and Gentiles and (2) Unbelieving Jews and Gentiles. Inclusion in the Community is based only on faith in the Lord Jesus. Among those who follow the Lord there is no difference in status. However, many Christian Zionists will disagree with Paul on this point, as they believe it is possible to be a Jew and still be saved without the Lord Jesus, or that a Jew somehow has higher standing in the Lord’s Community.

TWO:

         If you are a slave or a free man it makes absolutely no difference to your place in the Lord’s Community. You are both absolutely equal. There are no class differences based on socio-economic status. Though we no longer have the high level of forced slavery in the world today as it existed then, slavery still exists in many countries all across the planet and forms of indentured servitude run rampant. This is especially true in dominating oppressive states which strongly fight real Christianity. For those of us who live in relatively free countries, we owe it to our Christian brothers and sisters in such countries to help fight for their freedom.

THREE:

         There is absolutely no difference whatsoever between male and female in the Community of the Lord. Both are equal. While this point may no longer be as radical as it once was in the free world, it was certainly radical when Paul wrote it and continued to be throughout history and most of the world. On the Day of Pentecost there were obviously both men and women among the 120 who were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in languages they had never learned. Among the women there who engaged in the practice was Mary, the Lord’s mother. Christian women might want to acknowledge this. Catholic women might want to especially acknowledge this. We have much knowledge of the role played by women in the early Church. They were often those who made their houses available for spiritual meetings, which was a very dangerous practice in those times. (Remember, there were no official “church buildings” for three centuries and real Christianity was illegal.)

CLERGY-LAITY DIVISIONS DISRESPECT THE LORD

         As an associative point in this discussion, the clergy class came into existence based primarily on economic opportunity and thus education level. This notion continues to persist in that only few Christians apparently have a high enough education level required to be a member of today’s clergy (regardless of denomination). Almost everyone else, regardless of their education level or spiritual standing, accept this class division as Gospel truth when it is clearly no such thing. Thus, the 99% for the most part sit passively and silently in the pews and are completely on their own as individuals, as opposed to the very small higher class which mans all the pulpits and collects all the donations. Why more Christians do not see this otherwise obvious violation of Scripture attests to its long-held traditional standing and inherent subterfuge. It exists to keep the majority of Christians uneducated, silent, out of the spiritual workforce, and to serve the clergy class rather than the Lord.

SERVANT LEADERS

          And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant.” [Luke 22:24-26] [1] 

        The Lord Jesus taught that all of His children are on equal footing. There are no distinctions and no class divisions. He created no clergy or laity. He created no church or denominational hierarchies. If anything at all, those members of His Community with more authority, which is based only on greater spiritual maturity, are subjected to greater servanthood. In other words, they pay a higher price in blood, sweat, and tears. Perhaps this is why so many Christians want nothing to do with ministry.

         Yet, EVERY SINGLE REAL CHRISTIAN IS CALLED TO SOME FORM OF MINISTRY. To reject one’s calling is a sin, and unrepentant sin causes a big relational problem with the Lord and one another, and will eventually cause one to lose one’s soul.

         The institutional clergy refutes the fact that all are called to serve because its members want to corner the market (and have). Once the majority of such people gain control they then manage to not even answer their own callings, if they ever did to begin with. Thus, the entire process results in removing pretty much everybody from real Christian service.

         And we wonder why Unreal Christianity is failing…

         © 2018 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.

Let Every Day Be Christmas 2017

       This really is a great time of year, of course. Regardless of whether one is a practicing Christian or not, people in general have a greater tendency to appropriate the spirit of Christmas during the holiday season. Most are nicer to one another and more accommodating. Many live out the Golden Rule by visiting friends and relatives, engaging in quality fellowship and family time, smiling a little brighter, giving gifts, helping others, and loving one another.

         In other words, we all generally do as the Lord Jesus taught us to do. Though it is not really His birthday, we celebrate it at this time and it makes all the difference.

         After the holidays, however, most people go back to their regular lives of disobedience and indifference toward God. There is a quick return to doing things our way, living our way, sinning our way, demanding our way, hating our way, and forgetting all about the wonder of Christmas.

      This means Christmas is merely a time to briefly touch upon the reality of human existence and the answers and gifts each of us has for each other. It is a faux construct revealing the truth of how most of us wish it could be but will never be. It is a time to celebrate the mere idea of the Christmas message. It is a time when people doing good things is culturally legal, where one’s good heart blends with everyone’s and brings no personal disdain as a do-gooder or clueless nice guy. People set aside their prejudices and hatred because the pressure’s off. We get a lift from giving. Joy is allowed a place in our hearts. Those who rarely smile grin a little.

      But it is all only temporary. The New Year will bring a return to the rat race and justifiable lying, cheating, and slander. Bad attitudes are only placed on hold during the Christmas season. People do not actually repent. People do not actually embrace the Lord and obey His teachings. As wonderful as it all is, Christmastime is an aberration.

         Why can’t we live out the spirit of Christmas all year long? Some of the reasons are as follows:

(1) It would no longer be a special once-a-year season.

(2) Too much work! (Decorating, shopping, entertaining, family—Yikes!)

(3) People cannot fake love for that long.

         The real reason?

       Most people refuse to make the giant leap toward real repentance and living a spiritually-disciplined lifestyle. Most people cannot conceive of possessing an inner joy all year long. Most people do not know the Lord Jesus and do not want to know Him. And this includes most “Christians.”

         It is far easier to obey one’s will than His will.

         It is far easier to be deceived than know the truth.

        I recently stated in the comments section of this blog that most churches would never allow the Lord Jesus to be in charge of their operations. This also holds true for most of us who say we are Christians. But for those fellowship groups who would agree to let the Lord be the boss, let 2018 be the year we accomplish this at a higher and faster rate, and to a greater degree. Let real Christians do the same. Let us truly love one another, help each other, and see about one another. And let it last all year long.

         My hope this Christmas is that it will continue being Christmas. Keep buying gifts and giving gifts. Keep entertaining and blessing others. Keep the wonder and the happiness and the love. Make your heavenly Father proud. Indeed, make Him cry tears of joy. Move His heart with your attention to His curriculum and course of personal conduct. Make Him pleased with your discipleship. Honor Him as your Lord and Savior who stopped at nothing to bring you abundant life. Love Him with all your heart and love one another as you love yourself.

      Be blessed this Christmas. Be very, very blessed. Remember the One who made it possible. Thanks to all of you who have read my articles, commented on them, and passed them on to others. I especially want to thank those of you who have subscribed and allowed me to send out my email updates. You have all been a great blessing!

        It is my belief that 2018 will be a pivotal year in many respects, but mostly as a year when an even greater number of real believers will be born into the kingdom, when many Christians will rededicate their lives, when many more solid groups, spiritual communities, and fellowships will be formed, and when the Lord’s people become even greater salt and light for such a time as this.

         It is impossible to lose when on the Lord’s side. Allow the wonder of Christmas to stay in your heart all year long. May we all be real and may we all keep loving.

         And may we all have a Merry Christmas.

         © 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

WHY THE CHRISTMAS STORY IS ALSO A PARABLE

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      “Okay, here’s what the Lord’s going to do. He must go stealth. The enemies are always waiting at the doors and ready to pounce. He will bypass them. He will go in under the radar. They will never recognize Him.”

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      “But that’s going to make things very difficult for the people He chooses to work through.”

         “Yes, but they love Him. They know what they signed up for. They will answer His call.”

       “It would seem some would never answer that call. They may even think it was the enemy. Anything that would cause so much discomfort, rejection, and pain may be seen as coming from the wrong source.”

         “Yes, but that is only true for those who don’t really know Him. The ones who hear His voice, well, they will certainly act. They will obey. They will know it is not because He doesn’t love them or is purposefully causing them to sacrifice so greatly without a higher purpose somehow being involved.”

         “How does He manage to do this?”

     “He speaks to their hearts. He shows them things in their spirit. It is a form of communication that escapes detection from outside sources, and those who receive cannot even readily relay what it is they hear because they sense no one will understand.”

          “So they act.”

         “Yes. They act. He knew Mary would act. He knew she would obey. It was completely her decision, of course. But that’s what a calling is. It is not only the Lord telling people they have been chosen or called into a particular service, it is also that He already knows they will say yes. They say yes because they hear His voice and love Him, but also because they know deep within that the calling He gives them answers a very deep need and desire in their hearts. They want to serve, but they want it to be right. Many serve incorrectly, thinking they are serving Him, but never get the satisfaction they desire, or that deep feeling in their hearts. They feel like they are working very hard but not getting anywhere. This never happens with Him. Those who hear His voice and obey know something substantial happens when they do. They know they are entering an area in which their soul is satisfied, filled, and blessed. Mary knew this.”

        Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

         And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”

         Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. [Luke 1:26-38] [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.

SPIRITUAL PRACTICALITY OR PRACTICAL SPIRITUALITY? A QUESTION OF BALANCE

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        Many years ago several members of our church were returning from a service on the other side of town. There were maybe eight or ten of us, all young adults.

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         It was kind of funny because we were in one of those standard yellow school buses that had a former life transporting kids all over creation and we could probably fit our entire congregation within its cavernous confines. It was an old bus. Someone had probably bought it for a song after it was retired and then donated it. Most of us were brand new born again believers.

         Anyway, here we were, fresh from praising the Lord in a small black Pentecostal church that never failed to be a blessing. We visited many such churches back then and it was always a great experience. My first time in one of those churches allowed me to see two things immediately—those believers didn’t mess around. When it came to praising the Lord they gave it everything they had. The preacher, the singers, even the worshipers in the pews—no one held back. The second thing was that we all had the same intentions and love for the Lord. When you meet another real Christian for the first time, even if on the other side of a very large city or cultural divide, you instantly meet another brother or sister. Such divides do not matter. Having the Lord Jesus in common and loving Him with all your heart does that. We are all part of His family.

        We were almost back to our church that night. Then our fun time in our big yellow school bus that became a church bus suddenly stopped. The engine died. It wouldn’t start. Now, though I was in my early twenties, I had already been completely immersed in the practical side of life and had many an untold number of such experiences with cars. I was used to having a car break down and was also used to finding a way to get it back on the road. If that didn’t work you dragged it off to a garage somewhere to get it fixed.

         It’s funny how I look back at those times now. We couldn’t afford wreckers. That was far too much a luxury. If your car broke down, you and a friend got a towing chain and set off on an adventure. If you didn’t have a chain you used a rope. It was not at all as easy as it may sound. A LOT could go wrong when you’re out on the road or a highway linked together like that. But it was cheap. In fact it was free. And that was a good thing, of course, because any other alternative meant doing nothing since it involved too much money already dedicated to other things.

         I say all that to set the scene for what was about to happen. Again, I was very familiar with the right way to go about doing whatever must be done to get a dead bus back on the road. But that night was different. It was different because I was different. I had recently become a born again believer and was fired up. I had just been in a powerful church service where the place was rocking. The preacher wasn’t some laid back drone going through the motions like you see in some churches, but an anointed minister of the Gospel who took the Lord seriously and believed in the miraculous. (You know, like a baby being born in a manger who happens to be God.) 

         So when the engine died and my natural inclination to go help fix what was wrong was supposed to kick in it didn’t kick in. I had a completely different mindset. I thought it was wrong to immediately respond in a practical manner with no regard for a spiritual effort. I felt it was time to be serious about the Lord! Didn’t He tell us to seek Him? I told the others we needed to pray about it. We needed to pray right away and ask the Lord to fix whatever was wrong. Silence… Crickets… Nobody said anything. I think they all knew they had to honor the sentiment of what I was expressing. They knew I was right but they also knew they better get out there and find the problem. I was having none of it. We were going to pray and the Lord was going to fix the old bus!

         It never happened. What I said was acknowledged somewhat but then ignored. A couple of guys quietly went outside to raise the hood. I couldn’t believe it. I got really angry. I got off the bus and began walking away. In the growing distance I heard it start up. They got the old yellow church bus running again pretty quickly. Maybe the Lord actually did do something. But by that time I was walking home. I wasn’t waiting for a ride back with my friend. While I’m out there not too far away on the highway still as angry as I could be my friend drove by to pick me up. I said forget it. Then he got angry. He drove on and I was left to my thoughts on a long walk back to my apartment. What in the world was I thinking? It’s pretty funny as I reflect back on it. I think the Lord enjoyed it all and probably got a good laugh. He understood, and He knew this was all part of the discipleship learning curve. I also think He was proud of me for thinking of Him first and taking a stand though the application left much to be desired.

         My behavior obviously was not the greatest, but I was serious about my new found faith. We see that same kind of behavior among the Lord’s own chosen ones in the gospels. It’s hilarious when it seems Peter wanted to fight everybody, for example. Those guys were always letting their unbridled masculinity run free. The cool thing about it all was that the Lord supported it. He made them that way. Sure, we must learn to channel it all correctly and He did jump their case on occasion, but Christian men should never allow for even a second the slightest effort toward religious emasculation. And if you want to know the one giant problem with organized Christianity, that’s it.  

        I certainly could have helped find the problem with that bus. You learn to do a lot regarding the fixing of cars when you’re young and you don’t have a lot of money. There are some of you reading this right now who have a practical need but no money to fix it. I understand. Sometimes, even though we are all so incredibly blessed as children of the Lord, we don’t have all that we need and must improvise or simply do without. But if we really believe in the Lord and what He can do, is there really a problem?

        Miracles are not practical. They also don’t happen automatically. They require faith. We must be serious. The Lord says this repeatedly in His Word and demonstrates it for us and proves it to be true. With Him, ALL things are possible. This is just fact. As a young man I was all gung ho for the Lord. I wanted us to pray about that old bus. I wanted to give the Lord the first opportunity to fix it. I knew He could. It would have been a great spiritual ending to a great spiritual night. But even though everybody there believed just as I did, no one agreed with what I felt we should do.

         Why is that? Why didn’t anyone else agree with me that we should at least pray first? I think we all know the answer. We must be practical when it is called for. There are times, though, when practical knowledge won’t work. Though we may be great at fixing things, there are times when it is beyond our ability and know-how to fix something. None of us are Superman. But the Lord is. And if the only way any particular follower of the Lord will actually engage in spiritual things is when all other practical possibilities are exhausted, I guess that’s okay. But wouldn’t it be best to be wise and seek Him first?

         This is the time of year when Christians the world over return to the beginning of the greatest story ever told—the one historical event that changes the spiritual direction and eternal destination of any person anywhere. The Lord Jesus can do anything. Anytime, anywhere, any place, under any conditions—there is nothing He cannot do. He has achieved mythological proportions for those few who actually see His life for what it is, yet most Christians can’t quite get there. This nonsense must stop. There is no such thing as practical-only Christianity. Real Christianity always requires the miraculous. The Lord will often put us in impossible situations just to prove it. Maybe you messed up or maybe someone else messed up or maybe no one messed up. Maybe it is simply the case that the Lord wants to bless you with a miracle. If you have a great need this Christmas and have no other way to make it happen, He can make it happen for you.

         It’s who He is. It’s what He does.

        And the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. [Matthew 2:9-11] [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.

Let Every Day Be Christmas 2015

         This really is a great time of year, of course. Regardless of whether one is a practicing Christian or not, people in general have a greater tendency to appropriate the spirit of Christmas during the holiday season. Most are nicer to one another and more accommodating. Many live out the Golden Rule by visiting friends and relatives, engaging in quality fellowship and family time, smiling a little brighter, giving gifts, helping others, and loving one another.

         In other words, we all generally do as the Lord Jesus taught us to do. Though it is not really His birthday, we celebrate it at this time and it makes all the difference.

         After the holidays, however, most people go back to their regular lives of disobedience and indifference toward God. There is a quick return to doing things our way, living our way, sinning our way, demanding our way, hating our way, and forgetting all about the wonder of Christmas.

         This means Christmas is merely a time to briefly touch upon the reality of human existence and the answers and gifts each of us has for each other. It is a faux construct revealing the truth of how most of us wish it could be but will never be. It is a time to celebrate the mere idea of the Christmas message. It is a time when people doing good things is culturally legal, where one’s good heart blends with everyone’s and brings no personal disdain as a do-gooder or clueless nice guy. People set aside their prejudices and hatred because the pressure’s off. We get a lift from giving. Joy is allowed a place in our hearts. Those who rarely smile grin a little.

         But it is all only temporary. The New Year will bring a return to the rat race and justifiable lying, cheating, and slander. Bad attitudes are only placed on hold during the Christmas season. People do not actually repent. People do not actually embrace the Lord and obey His teachings. As wonderful as it all is, Christmastime is an aberration.

         Why can’t we live out the spirit of Christmas all year long? Some of the reasons are as follows:

(1) It would no longer be a special once-a-year season.

(2) Too much work! (Decorating, shopping, entertaining, family—Yikes!)

(3) People cannot fake love for that long.

         The real reason?

         Most people refuse to make the giant leap toward real repentance and living a spiritually-disciplined lifestyle. Most people cannot conceive of possessing an inner joy all year long. Most people do not know the Lord Jesus and do not want to know Him. And this includes most “Christians.”

         It is far easier to obey one’s will than His will.

         It is far easier to be deceived than know the truth.

         I recently stated in the comments section of this blog that most churches would never allow the Lord Jesus to be in charge of their operations. This also holds true for most of us who say we are Christians. But for those fellowship groups who would agree to let the Lord be the boss, let 2016 be the year we accomplish this at a higher and faster rate, and to a greater degree. Let real Christians do the same. Let us truly love one another, help each other, and see about one another. And let it last all year long.

         My hope this Christmas is that it will continue being Christmas. Keep buying gifts and giving gifts. Keep entertaining and blessing others. Keep the wonder and the happiness and the love. Make your heavenly Father proud. Indeed, make Him cry tears of joy. Move His heart with your attention to His curriculum and course of personal conduct. Make Him pleased with your discipleship. Honor Him as your Lord and Savior who stopped at nothing to bring you abundant life. Love Him with all your heart and love one another as you love yourself.

         Be blessed this Christmas. Be very, very blessed. Remember the One who made it possible. Thanks to all of you who have read my articles, commented on them, and passed them on to others. I especially want to thank those of you who have subscribed and allowed me to send out my email updates. You have all been a great blessing!

         It is my belief that 2016 will be a pivotal year in many respects, but mostly as a year when an even greater number of real believers will be born into the kingdom, when many Christians will rededicate their lives, when many more solid groups, spiritually communities, and fellowships will be formed, and when the Lord’s people become even greater salt and light for such a time as this.

         It is impossible to lose when on the Lord’s side. Allow the wonder of Christmas to stay in your heart all year long. May we all be real and may we all keep loving.

         And may we all have a Merry Christmas.

         © 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.   

 

Is God Three People? THE FATHER OF JESUS IS THE HOLY SPIRIT (3)

         Dear Readers: Thank you for all your support this year. I believe the content in this current series is indispensible regarding the coming Great Awakening in America. We must all grow closer to the Lord Jesus. He must be exalted in this nation. His real identity must be known. Christian persecution will continue rising in America in 2016 and we must all be prepared. Please help make this current series reach as many believers as possible. Be blessed!

         “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM…” [John 8:28 NAB]


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         Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”

         The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” [Luke 1:35]

         As noted in the last post, the Lord Jesus continually excoriated the Pharisees and other religious leaders for their rebellious insistence on fake religious tradition. By the time He began His ministry, the entire religious structure of the Hebrew people was based on a false adaptation of the truth.

         Making it worse, those who comprised the fake leadership insisted that they were strictly following the Law of Moses and meticulously obeying God’s commandments.

         The Lord Jesus said they were not.

THE PRESENT

         As we travel back to the present while considering the false and rebellious religious structure of that time among the Jewish people, we see the exact structure in America. Next to no one wants to admit this, however, but most Christians know it is true.

         What we need is the Lord Jesus to return to our times and expose this false religious structure and the Christian Pharisees running it the same way He did back then. In essence, this is certainly possible, but not in the way most people think.

THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM

         He transferred the keys of the kingdom of heaven long ago, first giving them to Peter as the leader of His immediate group after He left.

         “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” [Matthew 16:18-19]

         Regarding the first use of the keys and the fulfillment of the above, it is found right here:

         Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

         “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” [Acts 2:38-39]

         Peter, of course, transferred ownership of the keys to every other real believer who obeyed what He commanded at Pentecost. That’s where it began. From that point, with a starting kingdom community of a mere 120 people, each filled with the Spirit of the Lord and each holding the keys of the kingdom, the Gospel began flashing across the land.

NAZARETH

         To think that it all started in the humble non-descript little town of Nazareth gives us a great clue regarding the insight and plans of God. Rather than choosing the way most people would choose, including most religious people, the Lord did the opposite.

         He chose a humble maiden, pure in heart, willing to obey God completely, certainly not pretty in appearance, from a modest and possibly poor family, in a place with a bad reputation in the far north, away from the great religious centers, and especially far away from Jerusalem.

         YHWH chose young Mary to be His mother.

         Now, think about that. It appears as though He would destroy His reputation from the very beginning. He took the most humble approach possible.

         Returning to the present again, we see that most Christian religious leaders would never do such a thing. They’re obviously not doing it now. They refuse to act as the Lord acted. They are far too concerned with reputation, with what people think, and with operating in such a way that increases the odds of gaining funding.

         In essence, most are completely fake just like the religious leaders of the Lord’s time that He continually rebuked.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

         I will answer that by asking why it was important for God to do what He did in the first century. He obviously rocked that sorry religious boat then, which means He must rock the even sorrier religious boat existing among most Christians in America at present. He must do this because that which is being presented is fake. It is wrong. It is not Biblical. It stomps on the face of the New Covenant. And people have not only grown to accept it, but like it, and therefore are caught fast in its overpowering deception.

         People are not free and fake Christians have no power to set people free.

         They do not possess the keys of the kingdom.

RELIGIOUS TRADITION RUN AMUCK

         Regarding how strange religious tradition can be, consider the following: We are all taught that “God the Father” is the father of “God the Son.” This is what almost every Christian believes. But it is not true.

         It is true from the perspective of the traditional “Trinity Doctrine.” But it is not true according to the Word of God, which clearly states that the Holy Spirit is the Father of the Son:

         Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.

         And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying,

         “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

         “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” [Matthew 1:18-21] [1]

            © 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued.]


[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.

Mary Did You Know?

         Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. [Matthew 1:18] [1]

 .

         From the very beginning, the Lord demanded that His followers believe in and be a part of miraculous works. His very birth was a miracle!

         But His mother Mary had to carry with her for the next thirty years the powerful and painful fact that pretty much everybody but Joseph believed she was an impure woman trying to present herself as pure.

         It did not matter how much she protested all the disgusting innuendo that followed her constantly. No one other than her husband believed her, and possibly a few others. But these few, if they actually existed, had very little impact on lessening the pain that unbelief caused her. And the only reason Joseph believed was because an angel kept appearing to him giving him spiritual facts he could otherwise not see.

         Imagine your entire town, your relatives, your “friends,” the people you attended synagogue with, and effectively the entire nation of Israel not believing a single word you say in defense of yourself. You know God asked you to do a very difficult thing and you showed zero hesitation in accepting the assignment and the great challenge it represented. You learned quickly that when God said a nation was blind He meant exactly that: ISRAEL WAS BLIND.

         Mary knew in her heart based on her own very hurtful experience that the same thing would happen to her Son—He would be rejected as she was rejected. Most of His own countrymen would never believe Him. His own family would reject Him! None of His brothers and sisters were at the foot of the cross. Only one of His twelve disciples was there, and one wonders if John was at the cross in part because he was given the mantle of taking care of Mary.

         But long before then, while the Lord was growing up, Mary still had to find a way to live with unbelief all around her and everyone whispering and shaming her everywhere she went. It was obvious to all in their spiritually blind and willingly sinful state that the Lord Jesus was certainly illegitimate, and because he did not favor Joseph someone else must be the real father. And everyone probably had their suspects.

         But Mary, the wonderful, pure, and blessed mother of our Lord, soldiered on. She was presented with an extremely difficult lifelong task and was determined to fulfill it. She honored God. She gave her word. She considered herself greatly blessed. And most of all, God needed her!

         In this wonderful time when we celebrate the birth of our Savior, our Immanuel—GOD WITH US—let us remember the great accomplishment of Mary—Miryam. Let us remember how she remained faithful to God for the duration no matter the pain and rejection she suffered. She did an excellent job as a wife and mother. Is it possible, though, that anyone ever cried more tears? She was holy and obedient and showed great resolve regardless of all the ubiquitous malicious gossip and unbelief.

         And when at last her loving Son did that first miracle at the Cana wedding she could finally feel some relief. She could proudly say in clearing her name, “I told you so! Now will you believe me?”

         Some did. Most did not. Even miraculous works did not change their dark sinful minds.

         But Mary knew. She always knew.

         © 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.