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Monday, September 21, 2020

As in the Days of Noah


Luke 17:26 - 27: And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man, they  were eating and drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood cam and destroyed them all. (see also Matthew 24:37)

What were the days of Noah like?

          During the days of Noah and today, Satan was busy turning humanity away from God and His truth through falsehoods, twisting scripture to fit their understanding, seduction, sin, and hypocrisy. Satan would even work through God’s own professed people to establish his kingdom on earth which is contrary to God’s Kingdom.  Satan perverts the truth to succeed. To pervert means to change the meaning of or be vague about in order to deceive or mislead. While Jesus tries to lift us up out of the degradation of sin, Satan works to bring us down into the belly of the earth – our earthly ways – because that is his end and he wants company.  By worshiping our own conceptions of truth, we lose the knowledge of the truth and God. Lacking the understanding and knowledge of the Truth will put us in danger of being manipulated by the devil.

            When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he quoted scripture but left out words that made its message vastly different from God’s true message. Jesus, however, could not be tricked because He is the Truth of God from beginning to end. Satan had perverted the Word of God with God’s people, but he could not pervert it with Jesus. To pervert means to change the meaning of or be vague about to deceive or mislead. Satan’s deception of truth blinded the minds and hardened the hearts of God’s people. They were oblivious to this and going about their everyday business.  Satan debased the image of God in humanity through His deceptive and evil ways. Only Noah heard the Word of God, believed it, and acted upon it.

The Bible says that Noah was righteous and preached repentance to the people. Because of God’s love for humanity, He will always give warning to His people of what He is about to do.  Repent and turn back to God and His holiness. For hundreds of years, Noah preached repentance, righteousness, and God’s judgment to come to the people on earth at the time, but the people would not listen. In the New Testament, Peter says in 1 Peter 2:5 that Noah was “a preacher of righteousness.” Unfortunately, the people ignored Noah, ridiculed him, and refused the mercy and grace that would have saved them. As grieved as God was over sinful humanity, He called His faithful follower Noah to build an Ark to save whoever would enter it. This is God’s love! He gives mankind every chance to turn to Him through His Son Jesus. He is long-suffering wanting that none should perish but have everlasting life in Jesus. Through Noah, God offered a way of escape from His judgment. God will go to extremes to save mankind because we were originally created in His image and likeness.

There are many prophetic words being spoken now about the storm of God’s judgment coming. God is long-suffering with humanity but at some point, as He did in the days of Noah, He will send judgment to cleanse the earth. He will begin with His Church. Why His church? Because the church is full of untruth and sin. They have been taught that God’s grace is easy and little is required of them. Jesus did it all. As He did in the days of Noah, God sent His Righteous One Jesus to save and cleanse those who love and serve Him of their marred character full of sin so He could use us to reflect Jesus to a world full of sin and bring glory to Jesus. The foundation of His Church must be founded upon Truth – Pure Truth. Jesus is Pure Truth! Christ’s Church has conflicting doctrine. The Baptists believe one thing and the Pentecostals another. The Catholics believe one thing and the Episcopalians another. And on and on. Satan has been successful in deceiving even the Body of Christ. Pure Truth is attainable, but it will require us to lay down our own conception of truth and allow Jesus the Word and the Holy Spirit to teach and train us. This will take an enormous amount of our time because we must feed on His Word and compare scripture with scripture. This will require sacrifice and study.

Jesus counted the cost of saving the world. It cost Him everything. While testing His disciples, Jesus said, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it.” Luke 14:27-28 There is a cost my Christian brothers and sisters. Grace is not “easy.”  Half-hearted Christianity is not going to build Christ’s Church. False and divided Truth is not going to build Christ’s Church. Hearts who reflect more of the world and its ways instead of Christ’s ways will not build God’s Church. His Church must be built on pure Truth and the ways of Christ. And the first ingredient to attain this is our love for Jesus and His pure Truth. Then we can begin building! It is pure Truth and humble hearts who love Jesus with all their hearts, souls and minds who will build His Body who reflect Him in their actions, words, and deeds. God through the Word of God Jesus is sending a wakeup call to His Body of believers. Those who hear the voice of God calling through His anointed ones and turn back to Him will be saved. Noah by faith began building the Ark of Safety according to God’s instructions. People mocked and laughed at him and ignored his warning, but He kept building according to God’s Word and he and his family were saved. I pray that there will be many Noahs who will keep building according the God’s instructions – Truth.

We will build Christ’s house on the Foundation of Jesus who is Grace and Truth or on sinking sand. The choice is ours.


Monday, August 3, 2020

Great Catch of Fish -- John 21:1-14


          

The Great Catch of Fish in the Dragnet in the Gospel of John – John 21:1-14

        Some of Jesus’ disciples were fishing in the sea of Galilee at night. In the natural way, the greatest catch of fish is usually caught at night. Jesus’disciples were fishing the “natural” way, but Jesus is the opposite of the natural way because He operates in the spiritual. Jesus will use this earthly fishing expedition to teach supernatural truth and tie the parable of the dragnet with the great catch of fish by His disciples.. This is the only miracle Jesus performed after His death and resurrection. The message of this miracle is that it is by the resurrection power of Jesus that many people symbolized by the fish will be brought to Him.
          At the break of day (in the light), Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. John 21:4 It is in the light that we see Jesus, but Jesus was far enough off that His disciples did not recognize Him. Jesus spoke to them. “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “no.” v5 Their boat was empty because Jesus and His Word were not with them. Jesus calls them “children” because even though they were grown men in the natural, they were still children in their spiritual walk with Him and their spiritual growth. 
           Jesus then gives them a command. “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” V6 The right side is the place of power, authority and strength because it is the place of Jesus who sits at the right hand of God. They were on the wrong side of the boat. Without Jesus, they can catch nothing. So, they cast the dragnet on the right-hand side of the boat in obedience to Jesus’ Word. They caught so many fish that they couldn’t drag the filled net to shore. (see John 21:6b) When they heard and obeyed Jesus’ Word, they brought in a great catch. When His disciples tried to fish on their own power, they caught nothing. When they obeyed Jesus’ Word, they caught a great catch of fish. Fish symbolize people in the Word.
         The first to recognize Jesus was “the disciple whom Jesus loved” – John. John had a deep love for Jesus and drew near to His heart. John shared his revelation knowledge with Peter that the man on the shore was Jesus. Peter had stripped almost naked to do the work of fishing.  Jesus wants His followers to be naked (honest) before Him about our condition and sins. We must be cleansed and taught through the water of the Word and Holy Spirit. This will draw us closer to Jesus.
        Immediately upon learning that it was Jesus, Peter put on his outer garment (clothed himself) and threw himself into the sea (water) for cleansing before he came into the presence of Jesus. The other disciples were in a little boat not far from land dragging the catch of fish through the water to Jesus but courageous Peter through himself into the water and swam to Jesus.
          The other disciples not far from land were in the shallower water. But John and Peter were in the deep waters. Jesus wants us to go into the deep waters of His Word to truly know Him and the ways of His Kingdom. 1 Corinthians 2:10 says, “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” The Spirit reveals the deep truths of scripture to the humble, teachable and contrite heart. Believers need spiritual eyes and ears to go deep into the heart of the Father to understand the Word and the mysteries of His Kingdom.
         When these disciples got out of the boat and onto the land, “they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “bring some of the fish which you have now caught.” John 21:9-10 The fish that were caught through faith and obedience to Jesus’ Word must now go through the refining fire of God. God said through Zechariah in Zechariah 3:10, “I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined. And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My Name. I will say ‘This is My people.’ And each one will say, ‘The Lord is My God.’” And, to the compromised church at Laodicea who sought after worldly possessions and didn’t know their wretchedness, Jesus said in Revelation 3:18-19, “I advise that you buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.”  Jesus tells this lukewarm church that they should allow Him and His Word to refine them so their sins will go away and they will have spiritual eyes to see the Truth. This church was satisfied with a little knowledge of Jesus and didn’t see that they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. Because Jesus loves them, He is telling this church what they must do.
            Peter threw himself into the water. He was so anxious to get to Jesus that he swam to shore while the others came by a little boat. Peter was courageous and willing to take risks for Christ as he did when he walked on water to Jesus, while John had a deep, spiritual knowledge of Jesus because of his love and nearness to Jesus. John and Peter were leaders even though different. The others who came to Jesus in the little boat are ordinary believers who plug along, are faithful and serving but come to Him at their own pace.
            Peter drew a net of 153 fish by himself to Jesus on the shore, and the net did not tear – no division. Not one fish was lost.  153 is the Hebrew number for “sons of man.”  Breaking down this number and its spiritual meaning is as follows:
            #1 is the Source of all -- God
            #5 is the number of grace -- Jesus
           #3 is the number of the Godhead – the fullness of God – and the fullness of Truth (Old, New and Revelation – what was, and is and is to come”)
            Add these numbers together and they add up to 9, the number of the Holy Spirit.
            Peter, the leader,  will make other leaders. These 153 leaders will be full of grace and truth and led by the Holy Spirit of God.

“Come and Eat.”

Jesus put the fish and the bread on the fire and told the fishermen to come and eat. The fish became food and provision for Jesus and the others. Jesus and the Holy Spirit will prepare those we bring to Him by His grace and the fullness of His truth. We are to share the truth and knowledge that Jesus has given us with others so they too will become a source of spiritual food for others.

Monday, June 22, 2020

7 Parables of Matthew 13 -- Part 3





Last week we spoke of the seed sown in rocky places. The rocks choked the seed. This week, we will talk about the "good ground."  To see the previous teachings, go to my website: sandrakingministries.com

 Seed Sown in Good Ground 
         Seed sown in good ground are those who, as Jesus explained, “hear the Word and understand it; he bears fruit and yields in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty. This person is susceptible to God’s truth and obeys it. This hearer believes the Word, does the Word and grows spiritually. Mark 4:8 says, the seed that fell in good ground “grew up and increased and “yielded a crop.” In other words, the spiritually mature reproduced and were fruitful. The Seed of God in those who do it (hence do the will of God) will be fruitful for God’s Kingdom and will reproduce others who do the same. At creation, God said all things were to reproduce according to its own kind. The same is true spiritually. Those who reproduce spiritually like kind have put down deep roots and shared their wisdom, knowledge and understanding of God’s Word. 
Jesus was teaching a multitude of people, but only a few heard Him and were good soil. Luke said in 8:15“But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, in an honest and good heart, having heard the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” Jesus in the other gospels talked about hardened hearts, shallow hearts and crowded hearts. Now He speaks of honest and good hearts. 
  The Word of God will never cease bearing fruit through the faithful! The seed sown in good soil (good and honest hearts) represents the faithful remnant who will be fruitful. Jesus wants to multiply through these. God prunes every branch that bears fruit so it will bear more fruit. The more fruit a person bears for God’s Kingdom, the more God is glorified. In Jesus we have the Seed, the Body, the Spirit, the Word, the fruit and the increase.  
Jesus finishes this parable with “he who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Matthew 13:9 Jesus wanted the hearers to wake up, listen and understand. We are to take heed of His Word, understand it and put it into practice in our own lives. Our earthly lives are full of distractions and temptations. We must allow Jesus and the Holy Spirit to prepare our hearts to receive and understand the Word of God and do it. Jesus said, If you continue in My Word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31  
True Christianity was never meant to be comfortable and easy. Was it comfortable and easy for Jesus? Jesus was criticized and His faith was continually tested yet He remained true and faithful even to His terrible death on the cross. He did it for us. Jesus wants our whole attention and heart as He gave His full attention and heart to His Heavenly FatherHe wants to change our minds and sinful hearts into His heart and mind. This will not be easy for us. Our sinful nature is stubborn and unfruitful for God’s Kingdom. Jesus wants us to let His Word and Ways to have a deep root in us. For it to do so, He must remove the weeds (sin)transform us glory by glory into His image and likeness and instill deep faith and trust in Him and His ways by removing the cares and preoccupation of worldly things. This can be painful. We will no doubt fight against this change. But Jesus wants to turn over every piece of dirt in us and fertilize us with His grace and the water of His Anointed Word/truth so we can bear spiritual fruit from within us outward to others. In so doing, He will plant in others through us what He has planted in us. This is how His Kingdom increases.  
The process of bearing good spiritual fruit is slow and gradual. We are His soil. We must keep our ears and heart with all diligence in order to come to any or a full measure of fruitfulness in the Word of the Kingdom. In these, the seed is multiplied, and they are fruitful for God’s Kingdom. These will produce other seed according to their kind. In Genesis 1:11 God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.”  In the “natural,” the “seed” is in the fruit and reproduces like kind. The same is true in the spiritual. When the Seed of the Word is planted into our hearts and takes root, we will bear spiritual fruit according to our kind. When people live the way of Jesus, they will bear the message of Jesus in their words, deeds and actions and bear the fruit of truth, faith and faithfulness. Fruitfulness is contingent upon how the seed of the Word is received and the degree of our commitment to Jesus. The condition of our heart will determine the type of fruit we produce. This is true of those who lie, cheat, demean, steal, destroy etc. They too will reap what they sowed. Do not follow such as these! 
Jesus is no longer present in His physical body. He must work through His spiritual body of humans. The fruit of our lives – whether good or evil – will determine whether Jesus is glorified in us or brought down by us. We are to be the work of His hands so our Sower will reap an abundant harvest at the time of the end because of our faithfulness to Him and His Word. And when we see Him face-to-face, He will say, “Well done My good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21, 23 

Freely we are given; freely we are to give. (Matthew 10:8)