“Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them.”(Mark 9:2 NKJV)
Mark notes in his gospel account that this incident took place “after six days”. Six days after what? After the Lord Jesus had announced that death was going to be defeated and the kingdom of God would be seen with power by some alive among him. Obviously, they had no insight as to what he was talking about until after his death, burial and resurrection. This,by the way, is what made Jesus such a great Teacher. He would often punctuate his teachings regarding the kingdom of God with living illustrations.
Perhaps, Mark is hinting at God’s order in Creation. In Genesis, man was created on the sixth day and God rests from His labor on the Seventh day; indicating the completion of His work. Man was invited into a place of rest from the Beginning. And yet, due to his disobedience, his rest was broken through his Fall from his high and noble position with God. His punishment would be ultimate death. And he will work and labor now with effort and sweat to obtain what the earth would have yielded freely (Read Genesis Chapters 1-3). But God does not leave him without hope and a promise. “The seed of the woman will crush the head of the serpent”(Genesis 3:15). This was the first promise of Messiah who would come to save and redeem mankind. Later, the writer to the Hebrew Christians, alluding to Fall after Creation and the Hope of Redemption, wrote, “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it”(Hebrews 4:1-2 NKJV). Perhaps, the hint that Mark is giving us is that when Jesus led Peter,James and John up on the mount it was to indicate that something lost in Creation would soon be restored…Rest with God. No religious performance could give it. Only faith in Jesus Christ is required. The apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God”(See Romans 5:1-2). The writer to the Hebrew Christians wrote, “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts”…There remains a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His”(Hebrews 4:7,9-10 NKJV). Human effort apart from faith in Jesus Christ and His grace to live the life already gained for us is “a dead work”. Religion apart from God creates “sweat work”, boredom, fear and anxiety. Why? Because we will always offer something to God less than His best. Our religious efforts(apart from God’s grace) is, at best, our own sinful, weak performance to impress a holy God versus trusting His atoning (Paid in full by His blood) work through His Son, Jesus Christ. When we come to accept the free gift of heaven’s best we can truly rest.
Mark understood that Jesus was leading three of His apostles up higher to see and perceive the best that was soon to come. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths”(Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV). The One who leads is the Way, The Truth and the Life.
(C) Copyright 2015, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared provided that is is not altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com
Recently, my wife and I went to see the movie version of the Marvel comic book character, The Antman (Somehow,when I was a child, I missed that comic book hero.). As the story goes, a special scientific discovery allowed a person to be reduced to the size of an ant and yet they retained their strength(or it became greater). While watching the movie, I could not help but reflect on the proverb “The ant are a people not strong, yet they prepare their food in summer.”(Proverbs 30:25 NKJV). What does the ant from this proverb teach us today?
(1) The power of community. For example, my wife wife and I recently made a trip to Kenya. While there, I kept noticing along the country side roads these huge mounds that must have been at least 2-3 feet in height. Asking what they were, I was told by our host that they were “Ant mounds”. These mounds housed thousands of ants! And because these ant colonies were not “stinging ants”, the children would often be seen sitting upon these mounds. God gave the ant colonies the instinctive nature to accomplish many incredible feats together which they could not have done apart. Likewise, the ant teaches us that special nature of the collective power of community(Common-Unity). The psalmist declared, in Psalm 133, that there is a “commanded blessing” from the LORD God where is there unity among God’s people.
(2) Preparedness. The ant gets ready for the change in season. Although their food supply may be abundant in the summer, it is scare in the fall or winter months. So the ant stores up for the eventual change that was coming. Recall the story in the Bible of Joseph. God used Joseph to interpret the Pharaoh’s dream: 7 years of a bountiful harvest would later be reversed by 7 years of famine! Pharaoh, being warned, promotes Joseph from “the prison to the palace”; believing that Joseph had the wisdom and skill to prepare his people for the coming crisis while there was time. Today,God’s people are being challenged not merely to prepare but BE prepared.
The ant has also been endowed with a wisdom from its Creator to know the season and times to gather and store it’s food supply. Likewise, God has a “food supply” for His people. The LORD has declared, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”(See Deuteronomy 8:4). God tested His people (under all manner of circumstances) in the wilderness, then He blessed them, bringing them out into the Land He had promised Abraham.
(3) Communication. Although the ant has no apparent Commander, they are guided and communicate with one another to function as a mighty army. God has given His people the Holy Spirit as our guidance system as well. How we need the voice of the Holy Spirit to give each of us guidance,wisdom and direction for these days that are upon us. Our Lord Jesus has promised never to leave us alone. He promised, “I still have many things to say to you…when He, the Holy Spirit is come…He will guide you into all truth”(See John 16:1312-15). Let’s listen to the voice of His Holy Spirit and we will not be distracted from our God-given purpose.
(C) Copyright 2015, Walter Fletcher Jr. This article may be shared without cost provided that is it is not sold or altered in any way from it’s original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com
David records the posed question from his enemies, “If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?”(Psalm 11:2). He is not in agreement with the wicked. He knows that he has the help of God. Even though the foundations of the righteous may be shaking for the moment, they will not fall. God’s throne is unshakable.
Foundations are very important to the stability of any house. Without a foundation under a house…In times of trouble, persecution and distress you are left as a house of cards. Of course,there are many types of foundations in life. For example, there are “Social” foundations. The marriage of a man and a woman, whereby a family is produced from this sacred union was not an idea originating from human beings. It originated with God. “Let us make a man and a woman and let them be fruitful and multiply”(See Genesis 1:26-27). This was intended not to reflect what mankind thought of themselves but what God had in mind in the heavens. Their union was to bring into view what could not otherwise be seen or understood in the heavens. This highlights one of the reasons Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father, Who are in the heavens…Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”(Matthew 6:9-10).
The kingdom of God and the will of God must become first, in priority, if social foundations remain strong. The weaker a foundation, the more prone to it giving way under pressure. The Hebrew word for “foundation” is “Shathah”. It means, “A purpose, basis, or a political or moral support”. In other words, What is the purpose or basis for the decisions being made as to how they will affect other’s social and moral well-being?
Some foundations matter more than others. Our first foundation stone or basis for living must be spiritual. By this we mean our relationship to God which affects our relationship to others. To this end, Jesus spoke a parable in Luke Chapter 6, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”(Luke 6:46-49 NKJV).
When we embrace Jesus’ Lordship, we see this as both our wisdom and stability in life. One of the great ways to evaluate the foundation stones in our life is through the biblical teaching given by Jesus Himself(Read Luke Chapter 6:20-23,27-31,37-38). Here we find three aspects for Kingdom living: (1) Personally – We have come to know them as “Be-Attitudes”. They are the personal attitudes of the kingdom of heaven on earth. (2) Socially – My attitude toward Others. Finally, (3) Eternally – In light of these eternal realities, How shall I live and order my world around me…Now? These are the things that really matter in the final analysis.
(C) Copyright 2015, Walter Fletcher Jr. all rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared free of charge, provided that it is not sold or altered from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com
“In the LORD I put my trust; How can you say to my soul, ‘Flee as a bird to your mountain’?…If the foundations are destroyed what can the righteous do?”(Psalm 11:1,3 NKJV)
The decision of the Supreme Court to over-ride our Constitutional rights and the overwhelming wishes of the vast majority of the American public is a serious matter. It not only is an over-reach of their appointed authority but a direct slap in the face of God and His Word. I recall a Book that my friend and mentor, Leonard Ravenhill, wrote, SODOM HAD NO BIBLE. In other words, It is one thing to live in the dark,having no access to a Bible; not knowing what God’s Word may instruct (on any matter) as to how one should live. But it is quite another matter to know God’s requirements and choose not to do it. To sin in the dark; having no knowledge of God’s will is one thing. To sin in the light of God’s will brings a greater judgement upon the land.
What should God’s people do? The psalmist gives us really only two possibilities…Flight? or Fight. The enemy was trying through lies, fear and intimidation to get God’s people to turn and run! But this is not the answer. “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.”(Proverbs 28:1 NKJV) Taking a course of flight because of fright is not the answer. Boldness comes in the face of the adversary because we know Who is on our side.
The psalmist, in weighing his options, does not flee but takes a stand of faith, “In the LORD I put my trust”(Psalm 11:1). With God on our side, the righteous ones cannot be, ultimately, defeated. He gives us further reason to take our stand of faith. “The LORD is in His holy temple, The LORD’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men”(Psalm 11:4 NKJV). Four things we should remember: (1) God is in His temple. Our God is not dead. He is ALIVE. (2) God is on His throne. He does not leave His place of power and authority to fallen human beings. GOD RULES IN THE AFFAIRS OF MANKIND. (3) God Knows. He sees all that wicked people are attempting to do to throw off God’s rule (Read Psalm 2). (4) God will use what was meant for evil to turn it for our good. God will allow this moment to “test the righteous”. But out of the dark test there will be a greater dawning! He will cause the righteous ones to shine as lights in a crooked and perverse generation. The Lord Jesus has commanded,”Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”(Matthew 5:16) Shine the light, the truth and the love of God in the midst of this present darkness.
(c) Copyright 2015, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights are reserved. This article may be copied and shared free of charge, provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com
“These are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh’”.(Acts 2:15-17 NKJV)
The words of Peter, first spoken on the Day of Pentecost, were like a thunderclap or lightening bolt right in the midst of the mocking crowd. He who had come from heaven as a gracious, prophetic fulfillment of God’s promise to His people caught the crowd by surprise! It left many amused. Others mocked. Little did they realize, that the fire of God had come to melt their cold, religious, indifferent hearts. But, for those waiting, the fire of God rapidly fell UPON them, WITHIN them, and AROUND them. And, like a bonfire, it quickly spread.
DO YOU WANT HIS FIRE?
Be sure of what you are asking for. When the fire of God comes, it will first burn up the stubble of pride and religious hypocrisy. It will mean a fresh baptism of love, leading to forgiveness and reconciliation. The fire of God will also ignite a new passion for prayer. And people will begin to insist on a holy word from a Holy God, spoken through the holy lips of holy vessels. Remember, it is the refiner’s flame that reduces and melts what it touches in order that it maybe purified to be molded into something new and useful. It is no coincidence, that God closed the last book of the Hebrew prophets with these words, “““Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the LORD of hosts. “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire And like launderers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the LORD an offering in righteousness.”(Malachi 3:1-3 NKJV) God was not interested in the precious metals of silver and gold. He was concerned about the precious souls in His house who were not prepared to meet a holy God.
Be warned! Where there is Holy Spirit fire, there is bound to be the smoke of controversy. Every true move of God, throughout Church History, has had its detractors. Some will feel uncomfortable when God shows up in the demonstration of the Spirit’s power. And they will (often in ignorance) openly oppose what they do not understand. They forget the words of Paul, that teach us how to remain, spiritually open but not spiritually gullible. “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophesies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”(1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 NKJV) The gifts of the Holy Spirit may always be discerned by the fruit of the Holy Spirit manifest. Jesus taught, “A tree is known by its fruit”. (Matthew 7:20)
Pentecost reminds us of the gracious gift from our heavenly Father. Jesus taught, ““If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!””(Luke 11:13 NKJV)
On the Day of Pentecost, the fire of God fell upon waiting hearts to confirm that God was making no distinction between Jew and Gentile sinners. For both, He was “purifying their hearts by faith”(Acts 15:9 NKJV). The Holy Spirit’s fire fell to comfort the saints and convict the backslidden of their need to return to God. The promised Holy Spirit was a new thing that God was doing in the earth; it was no longer relegated to a few specially selected individuals. But was available to all who called on Jesus by faith. And so, it is true today, “Whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved”. (Acts 2:21 NKJV)
© Copyright 2015, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com
THE FIRE OF GOD(Pt. 2)
In the Book of Acts, Chapter 2, Luke writes, “When the day of Pentecost had fully come.”(Acts 2:1a). It was the official day of the Feast of Pentecost, in keeping with the Jewish calendar. This was to commemorate the children of Israel receiving the TORAH. Moses was given God’s word for Israel, officially inaugurating their new identity as His own special people. This day was not featureless, as if it was just any other day. They were never to forget the way God came to them on this day. It was a “Lights and Sounds Show”! God descends in a cloud of fire and smoke; a loud, repeated blast of a ram’s horn; and a mountain shaking before them like an earthquake. God had their attention because He had something to say and wanted to be heard.
Fast forward, and we read of similar phenomenon, “When the day of Pentecost was fully come”(Acts 2). For thousands of Jewish pilgrims, it was as it were a “Light and sound Show”. “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”(Acts 2:1-4 NKJV)
Just as on the original Day of Pentecost, when through the many phenomenon, God got their attention,speaking to them as His people, so God spake His word through the Apostle Peter. His message was not only intended to arouse their senses; the words preached were directed to their heart and their conscience. “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words…. this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.’ “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it….This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear….Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:14, 16-24, 32-33, 36 NKJV)
This message preached, in the fiery baptism of the Holy Spirit could not help but produce results. Three thousand Jewish people immediately believed and behaved as if they believed. “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”Acts 2:41-42 NKJV)
The sign of the three thousand turning from the kingdom darkness to the kingdom of light was not the external fire produced but rather hearts ignited by the Holy Spirit’s fire. It was the fire of “the love of God shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit.”(Romans 5:5b). They were a new community of lovers; Lovers of God through Jesus their Messiah; lovers of His Word and lovers of His/their new family.
One of the great miracles at Pentecost was that through the fire of God we learn to love people we didn’t think we could like! Where there is the fire of God, it will melt cold hearts.
(c) Copyright 2015, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com
“But Nadab and Abihu died when they offered strange and unholy fire before the Lord.”(Numbers 26:61 AMP)
This verse follows the beginning of the generations of the Levites. The Levites were given a special designation and honor among the tribes of Israel to minister on behalf of the people in the presence of God.
Two of Aaron, the high priest’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, did not value their position and calling among the priesthood. Although being designated to minister the holy things of God, they offered “strange fire” before the Lord. The fire of God broke forth upon them and they died in the presence of God. What a tragedy. What should have been the beginning of one of the most awesome privileges ,for any human being, was spoiled by death.
The root word for Nadab is “to volunteer or offer free will offerings”. He clearly did not live up to his potential. Rather than minister out of a heart of gratitude and love for God, he along with his brother, decided to bring unauthorized fire into the presence of God. This resulted not as a blessing but rather as a curse.
Sad to say, many, today, do not take their gifts and calling seriously. There is a lack of the fear of God. It is no light matter to have the privilege to come into the presence of God and minister in His holy name.
This was a such a serious matter that, later, the Lord designates a special inheritance blessing for those who have faithfully served Him. Regarding this reward ,He declares through the prophet Ezekiel, “It shall be for the priests of the sons of Zadok, who are sanctified, who have kept My charge, who did not go astray when the children of Israel went astray, as the Levites went astray” (Ezekiel 48:11). The Hebrew root meaning for Zadok is “righteous”. It is a foreshadowing of a new priestly order which Jesus the Messiah inaugurated. “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,” without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually…Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron?…For He testifies: “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 7:1-3, 11, 17 NKJV)
God announced that He is doing something new in the earth. A new and faithful priesthood. John records, by revelation, that as believers in Jesus Christ, we are a part of the new priestly order in the earth. “From Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:5-6 NKJV) The new order of priesthood is the Melchizedek order; a King-Priest order in the earth.
BEWARE OF PRESUMPTION
As we approach the Feast of Pentecost, let us reflect upon Aaron’s two sons death. Both Nadab and Abihu died due to the sin of religious presumption. They made light of the God who had called them to serve Him. The apostle Peter admonishes that God commands his people, “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16 NKJV)
FROM DEATH TO LIFE
In Isaiah Chapter 6, we have a contrasting story to that of Nadab and Abihu. Isaiah experienced this in the year that King Uzziah died. The death of an earthly king, along with an empty throne of power, prepared him to lift his eyes higher to the heavenly throne and the thrice holy God. At first, Isaiah, was undone by his own spiritual condition. Then he became acutely aware that this was the same condition of his own people. Isaiah’s cries out to God, confessing his own sinfulness. Immediately, God sends an angelic being, a Seraph, with a red-hot coal from the altar, touching and cleansing his lips. From now on,they were no longer Isaiah’s lips to use as He pleased. They now would only be used for the Lord.
FROM PRIEST TO PROPHET
Isaiah was ready to fulfill his God-given destiny and purpose. Before,he had been a priest, ministering on behalf of the PEOPLE before the Lord. Now he would minister to the people in behalf of GOD, saying, “Thus says the Holy One of Israel”.
Like Isaiah, if you have encountered the thrice-holy God, you must get rid of any “strange” and “unauthorized” fire in your midst. When you do, you will know that you have been touched by the fire of God’s love. You will also know that you have been touched with the coal of the fellowship of a burning heart. From now on, things will only be said or done for the glory and honor of His Holy name.
(c) Copyright 2015, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com