Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Covenant This Part 2; covenant between God and men

Covenant This
Part 2; covenant between God and men

Ps 89:33-34   “33 Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. 34 My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.”

Now that we have an understanding of Covenant between mortal men, let us now look upon the great mystery of God Almighty reaching out to form covenants with men and nations.  From Noah, to Abraham to Moses and onward, God in His sovereign grace extended His hand down to us to form covenant relationships with us.  Not because of what we could do, but because of who He is.  I will overlook the first covenants made with Noah in Genesis Chapter 8 and 9 and Adam in Genesis chapter 3 at this moment and rather look briefly at the story of Abram. 

In the entire 15th chapter of Genesis we have Abram after his encounter with Melchizedek now standing before God as He promises Abram an heir, descendants as numerous as the stars of the sky, 400 years of bondage in a foreign land, and a home to call their own.  All this because he trusted in God who called him from his home to a strange land.  He trusted in Almighty fully and completely (see Hebrews 11:8-10).  And He was simply obedient to something and someone he didn’t understand, and here at this place God Himself called out to Abram to join Him in blood covenant.  God offered a promise, and Abram offered a vessel for the Seed (see genesis 3:15).  Like covenants between men Abram paid a price in blood as we see in

Genesis 15:9-10  So He said to him, "Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon." 10 Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two.”

After chasing away the vultures God stepped down to walk within the blood and ratified the covenant between Abram and all his descendants within him (see Hebrews 7:4-6) as its written in,

Genesis 15:17-18  “And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.  18 In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram….”

This covenant is the backbone of the entire Old Testament, the origins of Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, the Judges, David, the prophets and the Messiah.  Their lives are living monuments of the day God came down to Abram now renamed Abraham.  Yet this is only a stepping stone in the story of covenants with men and God.  As promised Abrahams descendants suffered in Egypt until they were lead out by Moses and the miracles God preformed there.  Eventually they arrived at Mt. Sinai and Almighty once again stepped down and consumed the mountain creating an everlasting monument and called the entire nation to join him in a covenant.  On that mountain God delivered the terms of the covenant, the blessings on those who love and follow Him and the curses on those who sinned and rebelled against him (see Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26).    Here we see God calling out to a nation to be consecrated to Him, because they were Abraham’s children

Deuteronomy 7:7-11    “7 The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: 8 But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; 10 And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face. 11 Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.”

God entered that day into a covenant with the nation.  He himself is perfect and cannot fail his covenant, yet he is joined to a nation who could fail, sin and rebel against Him and His covenant.  Hence the blessings, curses, commandments and Laws of the covenant were given by God.  And the entire sacrificial system that was ordained for a time was brought into effect.  Rebellion against God and His covenant demanded blood, either by the substitution from a clean animal, or the lives of the nation as we saw with the invasions of Philistia, Moab, Amon, Assyria, Babylon and Rome (see Isaiah 24:5-6) .  This is why a new and better covenant was established, on to that more later. 

Now when God made this covenant with the people of Israel, he also extended it to those foreigners who would willfully commit themselves to God, they where grafted into the covenant.  Yet they were usually not accepted by the “circumcision at birth” followers.  As we saw in the days of Jesus where the court of the Gentiles was turned into an “Iron Age Walmart” (see Isaiah 56:6-7).  No I bring this up because there is a story in the book of Joshua worth studying.  God commanded the Israelites never to make any covenant with the inhabitants of Canaan, this is because if a Canaanite tribe entered into covenant with Israel they actually entered into covenant with God also.  Now the Gibeonites were a rather devious and clever tribe.  When Joshua began to conquer Canaan the princes of Gibeon dressed in worn and torn clothing and convinced Israel that they were from a far far away country and they wanted to make peace with them.  Joshua not knowing that they actually came from just a few miles away agreed, and after 3 days they cut covenant.  They were brought in under the protection of Joshua and more importantly God.  And of course they were spared from the fate of the rest of Canaan.  Of couse when Joshua found out they were punished by being made slaves to work wood cutters and water drawers, but they were alive.  For the entire story please read all of Joshua chapter 9.  So we see that since they are in covenant, Israel cannot destroy them with the rest of Canaan as we see in verses
Josh 9:19-20  “19 But all the princes said unto all the congregation, We have sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them. 20 This we will do to them; we will even let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we sware unto them.”

Not long after this something amazing happens, Adonizedek king of Jerusalem (an Amorite king) hears about what the Gibeonite have done and assembles his army and four other kings and goes out to try and destroy the city of Gibeon. Now bound by their oath Joshua must defend their covenant partners.  But this is not the extraordinary thing, God himself intervenes and defends them.  One of the greatest miracles in the old testament, the stopping of the sun, was done because God was bound in covenant to a people who were originally excluded from the covenant and were marked for death.  By the bonds of covenant God stopped the earth’s rotation, overriding gravity and all natural laws as we see here in,

Joshua 10:10-14  “10 And the Lord discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Beth-horon, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah. 11 And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Beth-horon, that the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword. 12 Then spake Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. 13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. 14 And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the Lord fought for Israel.”

All of this under and imperfect covenant, made with carnal men.  We can see here and throughout the Old Testament the blessings of the covenant and the rewards of obedience.  Yet for most of Israel’s history they rebelled against the covenant of Moses, and most importantly God.  They worshipped Idols and foreign gods made by their own hands.  Or they rejected God in order to follow the Law. Knowingly challenging an unchanging God.  The LORD knew this would come to pass and warned them.  Moses commanded that when the nation crossed the Jordan they would stand upon opposing mountains Ebal and Gerizim to pronounce the blessings and curses.  This is a monument because to this day Gerizim the mountain of blessin,g is lush and covered with life and Mt. Ebal the mountain of curses, is dry and dead. (see Deuteronomy 11:26-29 and Joshua 8:30-35)  By these natural monuments and the monument of the Law they had no claims to ignorance. And by the words of Joshua spoken when the 12 tribes had rest from conquering Canaan partly, we read

Joshua 23:14-16    “14 And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.  15 Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the Lord your God promised you; so shall the Lord bring upon you all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you.  16 When ye have transgressed the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed yourselves to them; then shall the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you.”

A warning left unheard, should we be surprised, this covenant laid in the hands of sinful and unregenerated men.  It was a shadow and a picture of what was to come.  Yet God himself could never change nor invoke violate the covenant as the people could.  Hence the season of Levitical sacrifice, a constant 24/7 refreshing and whitewashing of the covenant individually and nationally.  Yet this could not truly wash away sin or renew the heart, as we see the cyclical state of the people right before the fall to Babylon in

Jeremiah 34:18 “And the men who have transgressed My covenant, who have not kept the terms of the covenant or solemn pledge which they had made before Me, I will make them [like] the [sacrificial] calf which they cut in two and then passed between its separated parts [solemnizing their pledge to Me] — I will make those men the calf! AMP

A tragedy, a sadly legal tragedy.  Yet God promised that one day a new and greater covenant would emerge.  One not dependant on the acts of men but on something everlasting and eternal.  The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel all spoke of this

Isa 59:20-21   “20 And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord.  21 As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever.”

Jer 31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant…

Ezekiel 37:26-27  “Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore.”

Yet there is a warning, before the old and imperfect could be done away with and replaced with something greater. God would have to dissolve the old, after generations of the tribes continually breaking their sole responsibility of loving Him with all their hearts, minds, strength and spirit, and their neighbor as their self.  And repeatedly choosing either lives of idolatry or dead religion.  It was foretold of an end, of the last days of the old covenant.

Zechariah 11:10-14 10 And I took my staff, Beauty, and cut it in two, that I might break the covenant which I had made with all the peoples. 11 So it was broken on that day. Thus the poor of the flock, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the Lord. 12 Then I said to them, "If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain." So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver.  13 And the Lord said to me, "Throw it to the potter" — that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord for the potter. 14 Then I cut in two my other staff, Bonds, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.

John 19:15 “But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priest answered, We have no king but Caesar.”

Now we look ahead to the New Covenant the Covenant between God and Christ, or also known as the covenant between Christ and the redeemed.

To be continued (please read Hebrews chapters 1 to 10)
Written by Cameron Conway

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Covenant This Part 1; covenant between man and man

Covenant This
Part 1; covenant between man and man

Malachai 3:6  "For I am the Lord, I do not change;

Of all the things I have read, learned and studied over these past 10 years, there are two truths that have revolutionized my life.  One of them is “The Perfect Circle” and the other is the revelation of Covenants.  I’ve already dealt with the first in minor detail in an earlier rant, and now I shall begin to mine the mountain that is Covenant.  This will be broken up into 3 parts, Part 1 is covenant between men, Part 2 is covenant with God and man. And finally the culmination with Part 3 covenant between the redeemed and Christ.

Now what is covenant? In literal Hebrew it means to cut, but that is only a sign of its true nature.  It is the oldest form of contracts and agreements in existence.  It was and is a common practice in every ancient and “uncivilized” culture.  It was an immovable force that would bind families, tribes and nations together for generations.  A source of great blessing for those bound to one and a source of curses and death for those who dared to break them.  Though covenants are world wide and all originate from Adam and Noah, I will be using the Hebrew form of covenants and ceremony during this entire endeavor.

How or why would someone enter into a covenant with someone else?  On a personal level covenants were enacted because family A had something family B did not and family B lacked something family A had.  Covenants were not entered when two parties had the same strengths rather they were brought together because of their differences.  So that the two would be complete only in unity.  And the same can be said for entire tribes and nations.  For the sake of illustration lets say we have a family of farmers and a family of soldiers.  The farmers keep losing their crops to bandits, and the soldiers have no means to grow their own food year round.  Each side has something to offer the other that they lack themselves. 

Now if these families were to enter into a covenant, it is a very serious issue, you see because covenants are for life, most often for multiple generations.  The only way out was death, and the punishment for breaking the covenant was death.  If these families enter covenant they become one family and are bound to the terms of the covenant.  If a famine arose the farmers would feed the soldiers first, if an unstoppable army approached the soldiers would lay their lives down to save the farmers.  Anything else would invoked the curses of the covenant and summon the avenger to kill the traitor.

The first step is negotiations, the patriarchs of both families meet and discuss the obligations of each family and blessings and the curses that would follow.  Once that is complete they would begin the covenant ceremony.  Both families and witnesses would gather in am open place where all could see (either an open field or a valley).  And before all would stand either the heads of each family or a representative who embodied all the family was.  They would take a heifer or another large animal and sacrifice it.  It was split along the spine so the sides fell off, then split it in two leaving a pool of blood.  The two patriarchs or representatives would walk within the blood and remains reciting the obligations, blessings and curses of that covenant, an image not soon forgotten. After that they would exchange their coats (symbols of authority) with one another.  Followed by the exchange of weapons from one to another (symbols of strength).  Next came the cutting of the covenant where each patriarch would make a deep obvious cut either in their hand or wrist and they would place their wounds together allowing their blood to mingle binding them as blood brothers, a true friend who sticks closer than a brother (prov 18:24).  This is also the origin for the phrase blood is thicker than water, for you were bonded more to your covenant brother than your own flesh and blood.  This is also the origin of modern hand shakes.  Once the blood was mingled, the families moved on to the covenant feast.  Where the patriarchs would eat and exchange bread symbolizing their bodies and wine symbolizing their blood (in all other cultures the blood of the patriarchs was mixed into the wine) they were now one family they would also exchange and merge their names together there was no longer two but one. They would also after everything else was completed erect a memorial, either the planting of a tree or the building of a stone pillar or altar, as a permanent reminder of their oaths.

Let us see this all unfold in an example from the Bible, the lives of David and Jonathan show all of this in practice. 

1 Samuel 18:1-4  “1 After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king’s son. There was an immediate bond of love between them, and they became the best of friends. 2 From that day on Saul kept David with him at the palace and wouldn’t let him return home. 3 And Jonathan made a special vow to be David’s friend, 4 and he sealed the pact by giving him his robe, tunic, sword, bow, and belt.”  (cut a second time in 1 Samuel 20:12-17)

Now what these two men did here would have consequences spanning both of their lives.  They not only entered into covenant with one another, but their families and children to come.  Because of this covenant Jonathan would protect David from his own father.  Because if he didn’t he would have invited his own legal death, and be branded a traitor.  As time passed Jonathan was killed in battle along with his father and David became King.  Then came a day where perhaps David looked at the scar of his arm and remembered his covenant and called out if there was anyone of Jonathans decendants left that he may pour out the blessings of their covenant with, and he found one in

2Samuel 9:1-13 And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan’s sake? 2 And there was of the house of Saul a servant whose name was Ziba. And when they had called him unto David, the king said unto him, Art thou Ziba? And he said, Thy servant is he. 3 And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet. 4 And the king said unto him, Where is he? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he is in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lodebar. 5  Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lo-debar. 6 Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant! 7 And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually. 8 And he bowed himself, and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am? 9  Then the king called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said unto him, I have given unto thy master’s son all that pertained to Saul and to all his house. 10  Thou therefore, and thy sons, and thy servants, shall till the land for him, and thou shalt bring in the fruits, that thy master’s son may have food to eat: but Mephibosheth thy master’s son shall eat bread alway at my table. Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. 11  Then said Ziba unto the king, According to all that my lord the king hath commanded his servant, so shall thy servant do. As for Mephibosheth, said the king, he shall eat at my table, as one of the king’s sons. 12 And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Micha. And all that dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants unto Mephibosheth. 13 So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king’s table; and was lame on both his feet.

Mephibosheth received all these great things not because of his own actions or because of what he did, but because of what was done by his father and David all those years ago.  He didn’t toil and earn these gifts he simply received the blessings of his fathers covenant with the king.  Not only that but when the Gideonites came seeking vengeance on a ancient covenant (Joshua chaper 9) broken by Saul, David delivered into their hands all of  Saul’s descendants except Mephibosheth as we read in 2Samuel 21:1-9.  He alone was spared from death because of his inherited covenant with the King.

This is merely one example of covenants between men, we could also look at Genesis 21:22-32 the covenant of peace between Abraham and Abimelech at Beersheba.  Or Genesis 26:26-31 the covenant between Issac and Abimelech over the wells.  Or Genesis 31:44-54 the covenant between Jacob and Laban after Jacob and his family returned to Canaan.

I am merely trying to paint a picture of the severity and the unchanging heart of covenant.  I could also take time to explain that marriage is a blood covenant.  Or that our society despite its claims of civilization are the most unfaithful in history when it comes to oaths and contracts.  And that if covenants where still practiced today 50% would end in death.  No I am building a foundation so that you will be able to grasp the language and the terrifying beauty of the next level of covenant, the covenant between God and men.  Followed by the joyous revelation of the new covenant between the redeemed and Christ.

To be continued
Written by Cameron Conway

Bonus:  Covenant Quick Reference Guide (old testament only)

Gen 15:9-21 covenant of the promise land
Gen 17 Abram changed to Abraham
Gen 21:22-32 covenant between Abraham and abimelech at Beersheba
Gen 26:26-31 covenant between issac and abimelech
Gen 31:44-54 covenant between Jacob and laban (after they escaped from haran)
Deut 4:22-32 Moses’ warnings of breaking covenant
Num 25:10-13 covenant of peace upon Phineas and the priesthood
Deut 7:7-16 God’s covenant with the nation
Deut 15:1-11 Promise of Prosperity
Deut chapter 28 the blessings and curses of the covenant
Deut Chapter 29&30 Covenant redelivered by Moses to Israel in Moab
Joshua 7:10-26 Aeon breaks covenant and the entire nation suffers (battle at Ai)
Joshua Chapter 9 israel makes a covenant with the Gibeonites
Joshua 10:1-8 Israel forced to defend the gibeonites
            Joshua 10:12-14 God stops the sun, so the gibeonites enemies may be destroyed
Joshua 11:19 Israel made peace with no other peoples
2Samuel 21:1-9 the price for breaking covenant generations later
1Kings 3:4 Solomon offers 1000 burnt offerings in Gibeon
Nehemiah 3:7 Melatiah the Gibeonite, helps to rebuild Jerusalem
Joshua 24:14-28 covenant made after Israel “conquered” the promised land
Judges 11:29-40 Jephthah’s Vow  (forced to offer daughter as a burnt offering)
1Samuel 18:1-4 first Covenant between David and Jonathan
1Samuel 20:12-17 second covenant between David and Jonathan
            1Samuel 20:30-42 Jonathan protects david from his father
2Samuel 9:1-13 David finds Mephibosheth and provides for him for life
2Samuel 19:24-30
2Samuel 21:7 david protects Mephibosheths from the justice of the gibeonites  
2Samuel 3:12-21 Abner calls for a covenant with david
2Samuel 7:8-17 God’s covenant with David
            2chronicles 21:7 God unwilling to destroy Judah
1Kings 11:1-13 Solomon breaks covenant with God (decendants left only tribe of Judah)
            1Kings 11:30-35 the tearing of  the garment and the kingdom
1Kings 14:15-16 Israel (northern tribes) to be destroyed because of Jeroboam (2 calves)
            2kings 17:6-23, 38-39 & 2kings 18:10-12 Isreal carried away by Assyria
1Kings 30:32-35 covenant with Ahab and Ben-Hadad
2Chronicles 23:1-8 Jehoiada makes covenant to protect young Joash
Ezra 10:1-8 covenant made by Ezra for Israel to put away their foreign wives
Neh 9:36 – 10:39 covenant made on the first feast of booths after the exile
Isaiah 28:14-19 God promises to break the covenant with death & hell (picture of Christ)
Isaiah 61:1-11 The spirit of the LORD is upon me
Jeremiah 9:1-26 the price for going against God    (see Jer 22:8-9)
Jeremiah 31:31-36 A New Covenant (place my law upon their hearts)
            Jeremiah 32:38-40 new hearts and an everlasting covenant
            Ezekiel 11:19-20 new heart
            Ezekiel 16:58-63 everlasting covenant
            Ezekiel 34:23-26 One Shepherd
            Ezekiel 37:26 everlasting covenant of peace
            Zecheriah 11:10-13 God will break his covenant & 30 pieces of silver
            Malachai 3:1 The messenger of the Covenant
Jeremiah 34:6-22 Zedekiah makes and breaks a covenant to set the slaves free

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Do You Qualify

Do You Qualify?

What are our qualifications in our day for pastors, deacons, elders and leaders in general?  Are they freshly pressed suits and ties?  Are they pieces of paper with a signed by a man 99.9% of people wouldn’t recognize.  Is it the personal collection of books filled to the brim with other peoples personal opinions of Christ and the church?  Is it in masterful trickery of the tongue upon tickled ears? Have we ever asked ourselves the question, what qualifies us for ministry?  What plumb line, what Bar are we measured against that allows us the privilege of open ministry (both corporate and individual).  And on a more personal level what qualifies us to openly display the gospel to the unbeliever?

I wish to know what the scriptures say on this matter, of qualification.  Ever in my searching I have yet to find the verses commanding the attendance of an accredited university for 4 to 7 years.  Perhaps I should be reading from the book of 2Opionions instead?  Nor do I find the doctrine of, “the issuance of golden sealed papers to be rewarded for the regurgitation of cold information.”  No, in my ventures across the scripture I have found something, yes something somewhere which hints, no, declares the qualities of true leaders and servants.  Qualities of the heart, the trials of reality, and unwavering faith in Him.

The apostle (in the truest sense) Paul as he approached the twilight of his mortal journey penned to his spiritual sons Timothy and Titus what the true heart must be for all leaders.  And it is a message I fear is often overlooked, not only in heads but the entire body.  How foolish are we to refer to a mortal being as the head when Christ is the true head of the body.  Now we shall gaze upon ourselves in a mirror as we read the words of Paul, and see his qualifications firstly in

1 Timothy 3:1-7 “1 The saying is true and irrefutable: If any man [eagerly] seeks the office of bishop (superintendent, overseer), he desires an excellent task (work).  2 Now a bishop (superintendent, overseer) must give no grounds for accusation but must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, circumspect and temperate and self-controlled; [he must be] sensible and well behaved and dignified and lead an orderly (disciplined) life; [he must be] hospitable [showing love for and being a friend to the believers, especially strangers or foreigners, and be] a capable and qualified teacher,  3 Not given to wine, not combative but gentle and considerate, not quarrelsome but forbearing and peaceable, and not a lover of money [insatiable for wealth and ready to obtain it by questionable means].  4 He must rule his own household well, keeping his children under control, with true dignity, commanding their respect in every way and keeping them respectful.  5 For if a man does not know how to rule his own household, how is he to take care of the church of God?  6 He must not be a new convert, or he may [develop a beclouded and stupid state of mind] as the result of pride [be blinded by conceit, and] fall into the condemnation that the devil [once] did. 7 Furthermore, he must have a good reputation and be well thought of by those outside [the church], lest he become involved in slander and incur reproach and fall into the devil's trap. AMP”

Perhaps we should read this again.  This is not merely a bullet point thesis of a leader, this should be the calling card of all redeemed saint of Christ.  As I have said before and promise to say many more times, these are matters of the heart.  The fruits of the inner soul, not puffed up poster boards of self righteousness.  The eyes of God see far beyond our masks to our very core, and in His grace he sent Holy Spirit to recreate our core in His image and likeness.  No pen has ever commissioned a certificate with the commandments not to be greedy or to be absent from the glare of pride.  And most of all to be faithful to their one and only spouse.  We are called to be children of wisdom, no matter our age in the flesh or in the spirit.  We are called to be diligent within our own walls before we attempt authority within the translucent walls of the church.  We are forbidden to covet what is not our own and are commanded to teach humbly and honestly the mysteries of God. To be holy, and not for the rewards or to maintain a public show, but because it is the echo of the heart.

For also we see these words of Paul repeated and reaffirmed to Titus here in

Titus 1:7-9 “7 For a bishop (overseer) must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.”

This is the heart of all those who carry the banner of servant, helper, teacher, pastor, evangelist, prophet and apostle.  It is not merely the collection of knowledge, though we are not to be ignorant, stupid and ill-informed.  But our conduct and love will shine brighter than any thesis or quote ever will.  We are to be wise as serpents and as gentle as doves (Matthew 10:6).  For within us is wisdom and knowledge and understanding revealed by the Holy Spirit. Not merely memorized books and CD’s but the spirit of the living God within each of us waiting to be unleashed on the unbelieving of heart.   Yet these words of mine fail to compare with the words of Paul again in

Titus 2:7-8   “7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,   8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.”

Have we forgotten that we cannot have the gifts of the spirit spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12 until we have learned to walk in the fruit of the spirit.  Which is according to

Galatians 5:22-24   “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”

For we cannot have one without the other, one cannot be a helper without love, a teacher with out faithfulness, nor a pastor without longsuffering, or an evangelist without peace.  No prophet is without self control, and one cannot be an apostle without kindness.  Always remember that the fruit is the “horse” which pulls the cart of “gifts”.  I cannot refrain from repeating the notion that these truths are not exclusive but for all within the Body of Christ.  And those who reject will never qualify and will forever remain vessels of dishonor at the masters table.  Yet for those who wish to attain honor at the table must live the life of

2 Timothy 2:20-26  “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”

In a frail attempt to craft a conclusion, I as always ask that you examine your own hearts, each one to his/her own not judging others. And ask the Master if you are lacking in any area, and if there is any place He is lacking.  Also ask if there be any place where He may use you as a vessel of honor to enlarge the boundaries of His kingdom.  For it is not by gilded golden paper that you are called, but by His spirit.  For many are called yet few are chosen are the immortal words of our King. And the mystery is this, that those who are chosen are merely the ones who appear when called.

In closing may we never forget these words in
Titus 3:2-7    “2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. 3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

Written by Cameron Conway

Monday, 13 September 2010

Awaken Part 4

Awaken Pt4

For no longer will God Almighty turn a blind eye to our actions and the wicked intents of hearts buried in Romans 7.  No longer can we sweep our sins under the proverbial rug and cry upon the altar of ignorance.  No, for with Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary he made known to all people for all times that He is Lord and by Him alone is forgiveness of sins.  Just as the Law was set in place to make men aware of sin (Romans 7:7), so Christ was brought to deliver us from such sin and the penalty of death declared in the Law, which demands blood upon the smallest of infractions, as we read in

James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

.  And that He will no longer turn away his wrath from our sins, unless we truly repent. We see this spoken of in Acts 17:30-31

Acts 17:30-31 Such [former] ages of ignorance God, it is true, ignored and allowed to pass unnoticed; but now He charges all people everywhere to repent ( to change their minds for the better and heartily to amend their ways, with abhorrence of their past sins), 31 Because He has fixed a day when He will judge the world righteously (justly) by a Man Whom He has destined and appointed for that task, and He has made this credible and given conviction and assurance and evidence to everyone by raising Him from the dead.  Amp

No longer can we make any excuses to the toleration and proliferation of sin within the Body of Christ, no longer can the adulterer hang his coat of shame upon the story of David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11.  There are no excuses left above, upon, or beneath the earth that will excuse anyone from the wrath of sin, save, the blood of Christ.  And even we as Christians are no longer to bow down freely to sin in our age of grace. Have we forgotten the words of John?

1 John 5:18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not

Can we not see the truth here?  Sin is the anchor the enemy employs to stall our ships in the harbor of the world.  The weight that binds us to the dust of the ground which tells us that we cannot rise up as the eagles in Isaiah  40:31.  It is the thief of thieves and the destroyer of the destroyed.  Yet we numb ourselves to the silent truths of sins consequences, we merely gaze upon its frills and momentary pleasures which will ultimately destroy ourselves, our families and the Church.   Never forget that our obedience to Sin is; the perfect will of satan brought upon the earth by the sons of light, how sad and terrible a paradox.  For this wicked plot was never hidden from the ever seeing eyes of God, for he warned his children of this in

1 John 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

You see there is an escape to the madness of it all.  Christ has come to destroy all the works of the devil.  No just some, all, all there was and all there ever will be.  For satan is defeated and fighting a loosing battle to reclaim what was never his, the authority of the first Adam.  And just with the first he attempts to do the same to the joint-heirs of the second Adam, Jesus Christ our Messiah.  Attempting to bind us to the darkness shone in Romans 7, yet something is hidden that was not in times past.  For today we are convinced that there lies an eternal gulf separating the heart of Romans 7 and 8, little known is the fact that the pen of Paul never made such division.  The great truth has emerged that though sin waits at the door and knocks we have within the echo of our hearts the cry of “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (romans 8:1) and 1 John 3:6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.  Wherever sin is present grace is all the more abundantly.  We have been made free, why in all good conscience would any turn back to the darkness from which we all came?  For though it was by our own deeds darkness overwhelmed and blinded us.  Unmerited grace has come, yet not by our own strength or merits. 

Gal 5:16-17   “16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”

We have power and ability within each of us to resist all sin small and great, and to recognize its alluring voice.  For dwelling each of us the Holy spirit moves and groans calling out to our hearts and minds directing us towards Father.  Ever present never insisting, by this alone can we truly walk out our faith free from the ties of the world.  Which seeks to bind and reassimilate us into the grays and darkness from which we came.  What shall we choose then, for it is by our choices that our light shines on those who are fallen and without life.  For where we sow our time and where we hang our plumb line will echo through the halls of moderndum and show who we truly follow.  Do we follow Christ or are we like those in John 8 who Christ declare where children not of Abraham but of their father the devil.  They claimed to follow God but their actions and hearts Jesus exposed otherwise.  It is not an easy path to follow, but it is the one true path, the only path among the ditches.  May we consider Paul’s words

Gal 6:8-9 “8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.  9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

What do we sow into?  Is it into sin and corruption, is it into lying, hatred and self preservation (and the fear of man)?  Is it into our own lusts and goals that all our gifts are invested into.  Or will we, even for a moment place our desires, goals, ambitions on the altar (see romans 12:1) and find what God wants us individually and corporately to do.  One thing is for sure, it is not to live in sin and defeat which only reaffirms the arguments of the lost.  He has given us the strength to overcome the world and all the enemy employs against us. 

James 4:7-8    “7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”

Knowing this we must reach out to Father God with all our hearts, this is the key for the believer defeating the power of sin and death.  It isn’t a matter of not thinking about and ignoring the wickedness that leers around the corner.  It’s taking all that we have and and turning it towards Christ so that our minds are so full of Him, that we have no time to think of the darkness of the past.  That we are so full of Him that even the smallest flicker of profane fire is snuffed out without effort or full notice.  For when we accept our adoption we are transformed from mere humans into the inherited children of Almighty.  No longer are we tied to the fallen state from which we came, no longer are we like our fallen neighbor for we are something far different, something above we could ever ask for or think.  No longer bound to the curse of fallen men and women. We are new life, true life intended from the beginning of creation.  Not flesh forged by, in, and for sin.  We are as it says in

2 Corinthians 2:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Sin has its penalty and it can not be tolerated in our hearts.  By the power of the Holy Spirit we must call on Him to illuminate any darkness and to remove it out of us.  Deliverance is readily available, forgiveness is abundant, so we must be quick to repent (which literally means to transform your mind) I am not speaking this to the unsaved alone this is something that must resonate with the Body of Christ

This is our covenant right and as with all things in our covenant it is not by our works, we cannot climb onto a cross and re-earn the price paid by Christ. But we look up with faith and accept what Jesus holds in His hands and receive it. And then go out and shine His glory in the world.  Remember Paul’s words of

Titus 3:5-6 “5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour”

Now we are bound to follow Him, to speak of Him and to demonstrate Him, not ourselves

To be continued
Written by Cameron Conway

Sunday, 5 September 2010

The Letter M

Modern masqueraded monsters maintain mirages, misleading many

Moreover meaningless monotony misleads musing minds.

Mocking machines manufacture meaningless methodical melancholy

Murmuring molten mischief melts meandering mystics

Moonlit midnight mocks mauled martyrs

Musical madness mixes morbid medicines

Mistaken merchants map many misty miles

Monotone mysteries mute movement

Mined mountains marry mapped miracles

Magnetized manifestos meet metal morality

Mortal motors misfire

Morning maintains mighty melodies

Mountains move memory, marvel mere mirrors

Mission manifests messiah’s mighty marathon

Mouths manifest magnificent mercy

Majestic merciful mouths mute minted mayhem

Magnificent mercy marches

Meeting murdered meager men

Ministry manifests Messiah

Messiah maintains ministry

Written by Cameron Conway

Monday, 30 August 2010

Awaken Part 3

Awaken Pt3

Who are we waiting for then?  What are we afraid of, do we not remember 1 John 5:4

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

Will we stand up and become the plague of holiness that the world has been dreading for 2000 years.  The victory is ours; the battle was won at the cross.  By the blood of Jesus Christ we have victory over the world and the enemy and their systems.  Is it not time to take our spoils of His victory?  Or are we content with hiding within our own gates and stained glass walls?  As the enemy rapes our land with our full permission, and blessing.  “How can you dare make such a statement” you may ask?  It’s because we don’t pray!  We don’t Forgive! We don’t stand in unity! And we blame God for all of it.  If we, the entire church for a single day would take all the energy wasted on fighting ourselves and with God, and focused it for a single day at the enemy.  The world would shake as the upper room did at Pentecost.  That is why the enemy runs rampant in our lives, we open doors that we refuse to shut.  The only prayers we know today are prayers of greed and vengeance.  God bless me, bless me no matter the cost bless me, even if it destroys my life bless me.  Or we pray for vengeance against those who commit wrongs against us.  We have offenses against our brother yet we race to be the first at the altar to give our offerings.  Because you know the first one to the altar will get the most anointing!

It seems that in our efforts to become relevant to the “world” we have become the world.  In our efforts to become seeker friendly we have betrayed those already among us.  We edit our sermons to please all men, lest we offend or accuse one of sin.  We blindly through fear of “scaring” or “intimidating” the unbeliever strip away all things that will truly grip his heart.  No matter the excuses derived we cannot ignore 1 Corinthians 14:24-25

But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.

Yet also we ignore entire chapters in the Word of God because they don’t fit our particular doctrines.  Even many of our favorite scriptures are taken out of context from the verses which surround them, they are simply and wistfully forgotten.  Are we compromised?  Yes!  Yes we are, we adopt the worlds systems for the churches finances, government, education, even advertising.  Apparently God didn’t know what he was doing when HE birthed the church and raised it up out of nothing and created a powerhouse that swept the planet.  We have stage lights, PPV sermons, and power point.  We don’t need Holy Spirit it could disrupt my 3 point sermon with 2 examples backed up by 5 scriptures with a somber sounding conclusion with the band playing softly in a minor key.  We just know better than God now in our modern enlightened age.  We are like the Grand Inquisitor in Dostoevsky’s poem.  Somehow we believe the Christ has gotten in the way of our Christianity.  No longer is the Western Church of Jesus Christ known for its love but rather for its luxury and bigotry.  It hurts me to say these things, for I know many, many people who are shinning examples of true Christianity, true followers of Christ.  It just seems to me that they are out numbered, and kept out of places of influence.  People who are true, honest, loving, and astute in the Word of God.  People who have walked out the great commission, preaching to every creature with signs and fruits following.  People who have put aside the fear of men, people who follow John 15:18 “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.”  That is the attitude of an enemy of the world.  This is the attitude of Revelation 12:11

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

The blood of the Lamb, Jesus’ precious blood.  The word of their testimony, the proclamation of the Gospel and the entire Word of God.  And the sobering thought that they did not love their lives even in the face of death.  Have we forgotten Philippians 1:21
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  It isn’t very often in the west that we are asked to die for Christ.  In Africa, Asia, South America it is a different story where the seed of the church is not a tax deductible love offering.  No rather the seed of the church in these lands is the blood of the martyrs, our brothers and sisters.  Their blood does cry out and every place where righteous blood has been shed the Gospel has penetrated and taken hold.  Even in the most unlikely, dark and forgotten places.  There are muslim clerics who have experience dreams of Christ himself sharing His gospel with them.  There are other reports of entire villages sharing the same dream of Christ calling out to them.  Or we can look at China with130 million Christians, all of which walk upon land drenched in the blood of the saints.  And from the blood an army has risen. 

            What about us in the west?  What are we afraid of?  There is no dictator or Saturday morning super villain trying daily to destroy us.  No there is just a love for the world, however we are still called to be dead to the world and its lusts. As it says in Mark 4:19And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.” And again in Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world”.  Or the most blunt verse of them all “James 4:4 “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” 

Do we not see that we are called to be a light in the darkness, not the grey in the moonlight?  God in his mercy to protect us creates these boundary lines between us and the world and its drug called sin.  And we all know that sin leads to death, be it physical, emotional, spiritual or in our relationships.  Sin kills all it touches, it is the curse of Deuteronomy 28, and Genesis 3.  Yet we are fascinated and we refuse to die to it.  While brothers and sisters physically die, for the mere right to call on His name, we bow to the world and the sin it peddles.  In a smug superficial mask we declare that Christ has set me free from the curse of the law so I’ll be forgiven for all my sins irregardless of how often I transgress. Sin is still sin and it will do all it can to separate you from God, then you from His Body and finally separate you from yours.  Is this why we have become shell shocked? 

Has sin and its nature become a normal part of our lives?  Is the good fight no longer good?  Has death become life?  Has our television become our moral compass?  Has secular music become our code of ethics?  Has pop-culture become our doctrine, and our idols our priests?  We must return to Jesus our first and only true love.  We must cry out to our first teacher the one and only Holy Spirit.  Our guiding light bound in the Word of God.  We must take our entire being out of Romans chapter 7 and return to Romans chapter 8.

To be continued
Written by Cameron Conway

Monday, 23 August 2010

Awaken Part 2

Awaken Pt2

So how should we be acting now knowing this.  Like I said in the eyes of the world we are the enemy.  Maybe we should start acting like it.  This is an unusual statement I know but it’s one worth considering. Lets look at what Jesus said in John 15:19
”If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you

We are not part of the world anymore, we are the lights in the darkness.  Isn’t that the words of our King?  Now back to what I was getting at.  We the church should be the aggressors, not the world.  We should be on the offensive attacking the gates of the enemy.  Not hiding behind our own gates.  We should be the ones taking ground and pillaging the harvest.  Not the ones hiding in caves eating moss.  We are the children of the Most High God, Sons and joint heirs with the King of the Universe.  It’s time we stand up and take what is ours.  In movies the plot goes; the bad guys come to invade the good kingdom and the whole movie is the good guys resisting to the invaders to restore the peace they had before.  I think for far too long the church of Jesus Christ has taken the mentality of defending the castle from the invaders of the world and other false gods.  We believe that by “turtleing” the world will come to us with open arms begging for salvation.  We have become so obsessed with the status quo that we are afraid of loosing all we have, in order to get the lost or even to have our own hearts cleansed by the power of Holy Spirit.  We are locked in “a permanent quasi-comatose damage control obsession.”  Where what we have already is good enough.  We don’t have revival because we are content to live without it.  The sick stay sick because we are content with their suffering, as long as they don’t cough on us.  We are content with the world going to hell, because we don’t want the responsibility.  We laugh at the world on fire and we refuse to put out the profane fire.  We gloat at the torrents of sin destroying the world and scoffingly say, “God you do something about it, because I wont.  I could get some soot or ash on me and I don’t want to stain these new carpets.”  Our refusal to look outside our individual churches has crippled our ability to touch the world.  We pray a minute here and there for revival, but refuse to take any real action, and then we get frustrated when God doesn’t answer in 30 minutes or less.  We have more faith and patience for Pizza Hut than we do with the King of kings.

What was the last thing Jesus said to use before he ascended?  Was it, hide in the mountains until I come?  Or was it, build churches until all men know me?  No, Jesus our Savior says it very clearly, so clearly that some people try and take it out of the Bible, here in Mark 16:15-20

15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” 19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

Just look at the first word He says, “GO” not plan, not plot, not try, not sympathize, He said ‘GO, into ALL the world” not just the inner city, not just where the Whites are, not just your tribe, not just your nation.  He said ALL the World.  And those apostles went to the nations and within 40 years the gospel of the kingdom proceeded from Ethiopia to Brittan and from Spain to India.  And now He commands us to PREACH the GOSPEL, not our opinions of dispensational tribulationism and the reflecting influences of flying pigs.  No, we are to preach the gospel, the simple saving gospel of Jesus Christ.  Which doesn’t get any simpler than Romans 10:8-11

“8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”

That’s it, what is so frightening about these 3 verses?  What is it in us and our lives that shutters and shakes at the possibility of speaking these verses to an unbeliever? Personally, it was these very words in the book of Romans, that pushed me over the edge into the Kingdom God 10 years ago.  Where are the preachers?  Where are the proclaimers of the Gospel?  Where are the evangelists?  Where are the prophets?  Where are the Sent Ones (literal translation for apostle)?  Are we so obsessed with our 21st century Apostles that we forget all the ones that have come before them, the teachers, the shepherds, the proclaimers, the watchmen.  Where are they? Where are we?  Jesus himself made His ways so simple that only a child could grasp it.  Why then do we keep silent, why do we hide in church buildings.  Why do we chase after the newest author at the book store and ignore the Author of our lives? 

We have all the tools, power and authority; why are we hiding?  Why are we waiting for something to happen?  I believe it’s time to stand up for our God and our faith for ourselves.  But what does that look like?  We all have our own microcosm of what it could look like or what it should look like based on our limited interpretation of something we can’t really grasp or even acknowledge with our intellect.  We preach the Kingdom of God, yet remain clueless to what it actually is.  Ask most people what the Kingdom of God is and they will speak in a foreign dialect I call Christianese.  They will say, “the kingdom of God is inside us.”, or “it is peace love an joy in the Holy Ghost”.  We answer as such because deep down we really don’t know.  We don’t know how to truly verbalize the Kingdom of God, so we tie together a couple of sentence fragments we heard at church.  Oblivious to any real physical demonstration of the Kingdom (literally the territory or people over whom a king rules), have we forgotten:

1 Corinthians 2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power

Luke 9:1-2 Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.

We have intertwined the “kingdom” with each of our individual churches.  Which is a presumptuous and wrong statement.  The church is the means to spread the Kingdom, which is His power to set the captives free, to heal the sick, and raise the physically and spiritually dead. His authority over the devil (or Lucy the Loser as I prefer to call him).  His authority over our greatest enemy, sin, and the death that follows it where ever it goes. His salvation to all mankind either Jew or Greek, free or slave, civilized or barbarian.  The Kingdom is the domain of the King here on earth today.  Have we forgotten the Lords Prayer where Jesus says “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is Heaven.  This is the revelation of the Kingdom, it is the physical manifestation of His power, sovereignty, will, and authority.  And it is here now!  Not tomorrow, not 7 years from now, the kingdom is here now, it is here now. Not in the sweet bye and bye, it is here NOW!  Jesus said 2000 years ago in Matthew 10:7 ”And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And again in Matthew 12:28But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.”  And also in Luke 10:9And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.  And most importantly here in Luke 17:20-21

20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

IT IS HERE! Right now, today and 2000 years ago, within each and every one of us.  We are the temples (the literal containers) of the Holy Spirit and we are the walking territory of the King of kings. Ever expanding, never receding, bowing only to our Savior.  Ambassadors of the Eternal One, warriors of Love and Peace fighting not with swords but hearts, lips and hands.  Willfully bound to follow the commandments of Jesus Christ.  I dare you to read  Matthew 10:7 “And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  And then look upon Luke 9:2 “And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.”  The same power and authority rests upon us, once we are washed from our sins and filled with the power and presence of the Trinity.  I challenge you to read the book of Acts and ask “why not me? Why not now?” Let us all write our lives in 29th chapter of Acts.  The nations and our nation are in our grasps.  Will we go out of our homes? Will we venture out of our churches and cell groups?  Will we pray as those who ushered in the Welsh and Hebridean Revivals?  Will we be the kindling fire for Revival, nay a Revolution.  Will we stand? Will we pray? And will we march upon our knees?

To be continued
Written by Cameron Conway

Monday, 16 August 2010

Awaken Part 1

Awaken Pt1

The following series is a revision and the long awaited completion to a rant I first wrote last year.  It has been expanded with new material and has been divided into several bite sized parts which will be released every week, until it is finally completed.  Saying this, be aware that this is not written in a chapter by chapter format rather it is a continuous manifesto without literary divisions.  It is meant to be read in its entirety in order to fully grasp the messages.  So I challenge you that as the weeks go on you will refer back to the previous installments and reacquaint yourselves with what has been spoken before so you may fully receive what is written.  I pray that these words will grip your hearts and haunt your souls with the questions we fear to ask ourselves, the answers buried in our spirits and the commissions Christ has placed upon us.  May the Holy Spirit seize your hearts and speak to you anew.

Before we begin I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes, it was spoken by Leonard Ravenhill and I pray you receive the message of it; “A prophet is the villain of today and the hero of tomorrow”  

Who are we?  Really who are we?  As the body of Christ, the visible expression of Jesus the Messiah on the Earth, who are we?   Are we who we’re supposed to be?  Are we living to the fullest degree that Christ called us to?  Or are we asleep?  For if we are, today at this very moment, the call to awaken from our slumber must be answered.  For it is Christ himself who cries out into our hearts.

“Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” Ephesians 5:14
First off, who are we now?  We are the Body of Christ of course, that’s what we’re told on Sunday mornings every week, that’s what we’re told by televangelists, and that’s what we’re told right in the Bible, see for yourself.

 “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.”. 1 Corinthians 12:12
“Now all of you together are Christ's body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.: 1 Corinthians 12:27
And the church is his body; it is filled by Christ, who fills everything everywhere with his presence.”. Ephesians 1:23

Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which belongs to Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never!               1 Corinthians 6:15
That should be convincing enough for now.  But what does that all mean?  Well the best place to answer that is the book of Acts.  The chronicles of the first generation of Christians, who are not the highest possibilities of Christian life but rather our stepping stones.

            We see them feeding the poor, taking care of the widows, praying together, working miracles and most importantly preaching the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ.  That he came, died and rose.  Conquering sin and death, casting down the Prince of the world and becoming not only our Savior, but the King of the World.  But I’m getting ahead of myself now.    The key point was that they left the upper room and preached the gospel.  When is the last time your church on a Sunday morning all got up and went outside and started preaching to who ever was around you?  Or is that too scary a thought?   What’s so frightening about the simple gospel of Jesus Christ?

“ For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” ! Corinthians 15:3-4

What’s so scary about telling people about that?  The Church, the Western Church (which will be the main focus of this rant) has done a good job with the social aspects of the early church, we run soup kitchens, thrift stores, and give when it’s comfortable to the needy.  Overall we do a decent job following Isaiah 58:1, the social gospel, where people are convinced to convert because they were showed kindness, they see genuine love and are attracted to it (John 13:35, 1 John 4:7) “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”   But the doing of good works isn’t everything, if it were, we would be saved by those works alone.  Our works are rather a sign that we are already Christians, just like faith without action is dead. 

What about everything else the early church did?  The scary stuff we don’t want to hear about or do in public, outside our little closets!  What about the part when they prayed?  When they prayed together and alone, when they spent time together in peoples houses, when they preached publicly.  Back in the days before the church had walls.  Not just physical walls mind you. What changed?  Why are we afraid to leave our church walls?  We tithe, give away the clothes we don’t want anymore, we throw a can of beans in to the bin on Thanksgiving.  We smile and nod at church, we know the lyrics of the top 20 songs on the CCM chart and think “that’s enough, I’m saved Jesus came died and rose and that’s it, so I’ll just hold on till Jesus comes back.”

I’m asking these questions because most people don’t.  What’s the divide between us today and Paul, Peter and John?  We go on and on about how the first martyr Stephen waited tables and took care of widows and use it to motivate others to do the same.  But he was a martyr, he died, he was stoned.  For what, feeding widows?  No he did something else, something that gets over looked when people talk about his voluntary works of service.

“8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. 9  Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.” Acts 6:8-10

            He Preached! He did miracles, and by the spirit was more wise than all those debating with him.  It wasn’t the widows that got him killed it was the gospel of Jesus with signs following.  An expected result of the Gospel just like Paul said would happen.

Rom 15:18-19  18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient —  19 in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. Romans 15:18-19.  NKJV

Doesn’t just that make you think?  Very few have ever died for doing good works but thousand upon thousands have died preaching the Gospel of Jesus.  I can’t remember the last time someone was taken to court for giving money to a soup kitchen.  But how many Christians have stood before the worlds judgment seats just for confessing that Jesus the Son of God came in the flesh died upon the Cross, rose from the dead, ascending to Heaven becoming King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Our savior and only bridge to God.  Are we afraid of the people?  Are we unwilling to take the risk? Or are we compromised by the world? 

Stephen, James the Lesser, Paul, Peter, Luke, Timothy, All the Apostles except for John, all died because of what they believed.  They believed it so much they couldn’t keep quiet, they couldn’t just hide in a cave like Elijah and be silent.  They knew it was true, many of them witnessed with their own eyes the works and words of Jesus  They couldn’t be kept silent about the gospel no matter how may times they where punished.  They were lights in the darkness, beacons drawing people to Jesus.  But the world saw them not as lights, not as heroes of the faith, they saw them as Enemies and as the villains of the accepted world and their way of live.  They were seen as terrorists of the status quo, and of the religious/social way of life.  The Apostles wouldn’t bend to the whips of the Pharisees and the Romans.  They didn’t compromise themselves with the ways, pleasures, lusts, and perks of the world.  They held fast to the words of Jesus spoken in Matthew 10:27 and Mark 4:19

“What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.” Matthew 10:27
“and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”  Mark 4:19

            They held fast to this till their deaths they set and example to the rest of the body of Christ, and were rewarded with eternal life.  Unfortunately even in their own lifetimes the new gentile and jewish believers didn’t have the same dedication.  There was just something about that old way of life that was just too tempting or perhaps comfortable.  Most of the Epistles written by Paul, Peter, John, James and Jude was an attempt to correct this very attitude in the church.  Jesus Himself also spoke of this in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelations.  He was correcting the attitudes and conduct while complimenting the 7 churches of Asia.  He called for holiness and an uncompromising faith in Him.  What was realized and demanded here 2000 years ago? Simply that it is a matter of perspective, like most issues in life.  They knew who they were, they knew what they were called to do, and what to do about it, and how to react to the world around them.  They knew their identity.  Do you know yours?   Who were they then? They were children of God, Ambassadors of Christ, they were the redeemed saints, servants and adopted brothers of Jesus Christ.  They were the temples of Holy Spirit, called to preached to all nations, peoples and tongues.  To trample on serpents, scorpions and all the power of the enemy.  To heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leapers.  They were called to love, serve and to know God. (you should be jumping around now, because you’re the same as them!!!!)  This is who they are in our eyes and in Gods’ eyes but in the world eyes they were and we are the Bad guys, the enemy, the Villain, the Evil ones all because we are the light that exposes their darkness and sin.

To be continued
Written by Cameron Conway