John 10:10 tells us that there is a thief – aka murderer, aka liar, aka enemy – whose only aim is to steal from us, kill us, and destroy everything he can. But Jesus came to give us life, abundant life! If we don’t use the weapons and armor God has made available to us, the enemy will get away with causing chaos and havoc in our lives. God is not our enemy, he is our Warrior! But he won’t put the armor on us, we have to do that. He won’t wield the sword for us, we have to do that. This article is about the day I began to discover those amazing, transforming truths.
Testimony, part two
Sozo – salvation, faith and healing
Getting the job as the very first secretary of the Nursing Department of Florence-Darlington Technical College was the easiest thing I ever did. My current job was ending and I needed a new one, and one of the other parents at my children’s daycare told me about this new position being created. I called, went by and filled out an application form and was set up with an interview with Billie Boette, R.N., the new department head.
The day of the appointment I found her surrounded by box after box of loose papers, files, print-outs, student records, instructional materials, office supplies, and other assorted odds and ends.
There was a large outer room, a glass-walled inner room, two desks, two chairs and an empty file cabinet, all nice and new, and all stacked with overflowing boxes. Adjoining this yet-to-become office space…
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In my spirit this week once again I see camp fires, bonfires, brush fires scattered across America. A few years ago I saw a few of them, small and widely separated. Each one would flare up, burn awhile, then sputter and die. In the last several years, I’ve seen more small blazes spring up. Now I see them enlarging, growing closer together and lasting longer. Eventually these individual pockets of God’s fire will coalesce into a conflagration, reviving our nation. Is this just wishful thinking? God forbid! But it will take determined, persistent, faith-filled prayer for God’s fires of revival to ignite here again. Willing intercessors… evangelists are not God’s only firebrands.
These services are different in many ways but there is one distinctive similarity. They are all ministering the “fire of God” to people. This is not just the baptism of the Holy Spirit, this is the “and with fire” that John the Baptist spoke of.
The Lord answered, quite matter of factly.
“I’m making kindling.”
I instantly visualized a fireplace with a fire being built. Kindling is needed to get a good fire started. Here in my area we used to use what is called fat lighterd – pine wood full of resin, gathered and saved especially to start fires.
This wood is split into small lengths because it only takes a small amount. It…
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And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:8-11)
An angel brought an unusual message to a group of shepherds in the night, somewhere near Bethlehem. They were watching a flock of sheep who were bedded down in a field, not in a stable or sheepcote. A little history lesson – sheep were allowed in cultivated fields twice a year, after the fields had been harvested and after the poor of the community had gleaned the fields. Other times they were elsewhere, either in the hilly uncultivated countryside or in the caves that doubled as stables, where feed and water troughs carved from large stones could be seen (otherwise known as mangers).
In any case, these sheep were in the fields with the shepherds watching them. One minute they were alone in the darkness, the next minute the night sky lit up with a blast of light. One minute there were only sheep and shepherds, the next minute an angel was standing beside them. I don’t know about you, but I would have been terrified too and probably think the world was coming to an end.
Then the angel spoke. The first thing he said, as usual, was “fear not.” Easier to say than to do! He delivered his message, a lot of other angels showed up to give a loud and glorious “amen” to the message, and then they all left.
There are several points that struck me about this passage from Luke chapter 2. One, God has a thing about shepherds. When he plans a turning point in the history of mankind, you might just find a shepherd in there somewhere. (Abel, Abraham, Moses, David, etc.)
Second, these shepherds knew what the Messiah coming meant. No long theological lesson was necessary. Shepherding might be the lowest position on the economic and social ladders of the day, but these were not ignorant men. Jews for many generations had been waiting for this message.
They weren’t foolish, either. If the angel said the baby Messiah was somewhere in a Bethlehem feed trough – a stable/cave – wrapped up as newborns always are in swaddling clothes, then he was. Let’s go see him for ourselves, how many chances do you get like this in a lifetime!
And so they did. Now, the angel didn’t tell them to go visit, but the hint was pretty broad. There may have been several babies born in the neighborhood that night but only one would be lying in a feed trough. That made him a cinch to locate.
The third point has to do with sheep. Bethlehem is where the sheep for the Temple were raised. Only sheep raised in Bethlehem could be used for sacrificial animals. The hillside sheep, the cultivated field sheep, the cave/stable sheep – these were Temple sheep. Sheep to be killed and offered as sacrifices for sin fed from that “manger,” the feed trough. What an appropriate place for the baby Messiah’s first cradle.
In the creation account in Genesis 1, when were the sheep created? On the 6th day, just just before Adam was created. Why do you suppose that was? Well, from what I’ve learned about sheep, they require a shepherd to survive. Sort of like human beings.
Who was the first shepherd? I asked that question when teaching Sunday School last week and some said Abel. After all, Genesis says he kept sheep. And he sacrificed one of his sheep to God.
But who did God give those sheep to in the first place, to look after? Who taught Abel how to be a shepherd? Adam and Eve were given that responsibility. From the very creation, God ordained shepherds.
Jesus, the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world, and Jesus, the Great Shepherd! There’s a lot about shepherds we can learn from the scriptures. Father God has a thing about shepherds…
He risked a great deal coming to the earth as a human, Jesus. One-third of the Godhead was at risk. Jesus, God the Son, was “tempted in all points like we are.” He was tempted to quit.
He could have avoided execution. He could have walked away. Even at the point of death he could have called angels to rescue him, or revive him.
Jesus knew who he was. He had always existed. He knew about heaven, about himself and his mission. He had the authority and the ability to go through with it, or not.
The greatest punishment wasn’t physical, emotional or mental. How long is a few hours compared to millions of years? Jesus had seen other men crucified; the Romans were known for it and they were good at it.
No, the split of the Godhead was his greatest test. That critical, essential division away from the…
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Plasma, stem cells, and faith.
“Faith,” he said. Faith? I had studied that subject at length several times, even written about it and taught about it.
And then he said, “Faith is a real substance.” (See Hebrews 11:1)
“By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” (Hebrews 11:3 NASB)
Well, duh. I knew that already. Everything that is real was and is created with God’s faith. It’s contained and used in his words. Words that have no faith in them don’t do anything. I began to meditate on that.
Faith itself is invisible, but you can see the results, i.e. the evidence of it. Sometimes the result is instant; sometimes it takes quite a while to see the results. But actual, real, faith is creative and the results will be real.
This faith – God faith – is not the same as human faith. It has to be transmitted to us, since we don’t come with it already installed like a computer program. Jesus offered it to the disciples.
- “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14-15 NIV)
- “And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.” (Mark 11:22)
I visualize it sort of like this… you need a pen, I have a pen. I reach out my hand with a pen in it, and say, here, take my pen. You reach out your hand and take it. I offer, you receive.
The disciples accepted Jesus’ offer by believing what he said, receiving what he said as truth. But they didn’t always use their new-found faith.
“Where is your faith?” he asked them, when the storm came up. (Luke 8:25) They had to learn how to use it. He spent a lot of time teaching them with “show and tell.”
Here’s the key: this faith (God faith) has to stay connected to the source (God), otherwise it doesn’t do anything. If it does stay connected and we put it use as directed, it will do things. And it will grow.
After I meditated on that for a while, the Lord spoke again. “What do you know about plasma?” he asked.
Well, I knew it’s interesting stuff but that’s about all. I didn’t remember very much about it, so I did a little internet research. Fascinating reading! I actually understood a little of it from basic physics back in high school.
The bottom line of my research was this: plasma is real. In itself it’s invisible, though – what you see is the result of it. Neon lights. Lasers. The sun.
It’s been interesting to read up on plasma. What kind of materials (gases, mostly) can become plasma? What does it take to get that material into the plasma state? What happens when plasma loses connection to its instigating power source? (Here’s a hint: it stops being plasma.)
Faith is not plasma, but just as plasma is a real thing although invisible in itself, faith is a real thing, although invisible in itself. It’s been an Interesting study, so far.
Here’s a little simplified article about plasma, What Is Plasma. It’s fascinating material. http://www.rfglobalsolutions.co.uk/what-is-plasma
A more recent day as I was still contemplating faith, the Lord asked me another question. “Stem cells… remember stem cells?” So I read up a bit on stem cells. Some of what I found is way too complicated for me, scientifically – then I found a more user-friendly site to browse through.
“Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth. In addition, in many tissues they serve as a sort of internal repair system, dividing essentially without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is still alive. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential either to remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell.” (From Stem Cell Basics, http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/basics/pages/basics1.aspx)
Stem cells are even more fascinating than plasma! Faith is like God’s supernatural spiritual stem cells. Amazing. Truly amazing, and wonderful, and humbling.