This is the place for meditations on the journey. Comments and thoughts welcomed. Please be 'civil'!
- Written by Brian Harvey
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Living in Glory
There is an ongoing attempt in my daily experience to walk according to the will of God in my life. Probably the best description scripturally would be found in Romans 8 which is a mountain top description of the goal in the life of the Christian to walk daily directed by the Holy Spirit. As with most important Biblical texts we try to understand it in ways that make it complicated. We don’t do this purposefully, I am convinced; but we do it out of fear. We try to find some explanation that fits into our pre-conceived notions of the way we would like the passage to read. If we were to understand the passage in question we would then be responsible to obey the passage and live according to it. I am convinced that Romans 8 is written in language that will become clear only to those who are willing to obey. I am convinced of this because Jesus taught in parables to keep His teaching hidden from those who were not meant to understand. As I attempt to give an interpretation of what Romans 8 means to me, may you have the Spirit of wisdom and understanding that will make the passage available to you!
Simply put Romans 8 begins without condemnation and ends with the declaration of God’s love. It may seem absurdly strange, but when we walk in the Spirit as described by Paul we live and move in a spiritual realm with our sins forgiven; in fact, there is no condemnation keeping us from full access to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is at work in the world and, specifically, at work in believers. We are able to please God because we are in the realm of the Spirit. The summation of the fact that we are in the Spirit and not living according to the flesh is summed up in Romans 8: 17: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
The best interpretation I can find of what the “sufferings” of Christ are is found in Hebrews: “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5: 7 – 10 NIV)
We inherit this obedience won by Jesus for us. We grow and mature into daughters and sons of God by going through testing just as Jesus was tested in the wilderness by the devil. We suffer that testing specifically so we can walk in the Spirit as Jesus walked in the Spirit. We are proven obedient because we suffer the same suffering as Jesus suffered. Then we may share in His glory.
The remainder of Romans 8 describes what it means to live in that glory. The suffering we endure for Christ rips the curtain away and reveals us to all creation. We are not meant to receive what Christ earned for us without growing up into it. Jesus’ version of what Paul describes in Romans 8 is partly in the Sermon on the Mount. The theme of suffering and testing into maturity is addressed by Jesus in Matthew:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you, when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5: 10 – 12 NIV)
As we are revealed to all creation as mature sons and daughters of God there are several things happening:
- The creation itself is liberated from bondage and decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
- We, ourselves, groan inwardly in prayer looking for the redemption of our bodies in hope.
- In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
- God’s purpose is that we should be conformed to the image of His son and live in glory.
- We are more that conquerors and are destined to receive what we need for the demonstration of His glory on the earth.
- The culmination and completion of God’s glory on earth is His love fully demonstrated in us.
- Written by Brian Harvey
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The Kingdom of God among Us
“In the time of those kings; the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.
“The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.” (Daniel 2: 44 – 45 NIV)
Jesus trusted in the word of God, the Scriptures, like no other. He was fully aware of the Law and the Prophets. He taught in parables because He trusted that God would bring revelation of what He was teaching to those prepared by God to received His message; and, also, that God would keep hidden His message from those who were not prepared by God to received His message.
A great deal of the teaching of Jesus related to definitions of the kingdom of God. Many of the disciples in Jesus’ day did not understand His teaching and, indeed, many today do not understand His teaching. One of the main stumbling blocks to understanding the teaching of the kingdom is whether one has been anointed by the Spirit of wisdom and understanding. Reading the book of Acts we find an awesome transformation in the hearts and minds of the followers of Jesus. In the early part of Acts we find the disciples still asking about the kingdom: “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1: 6b NIV) His answer was to declare that they would become witnesses for him when they had received power when the Holy Spirit came upon them.
When they did receive the power of the Holy Spirit they became bolder and bolder witnesses for Jesus. They declared all that had happened without fear. They suddenly changed from disciples hiding in fear and trembling from the Jewish leaders to bold proclaimers of the truth to the very ones they had been hiding from.
This is the kingdom that has and will continue to destroy the kingdoms of the world. It is only by the Spirit of wisdom and understanding that we will be able to see and acknowledge that the kingdom of God is among us; that the kingdom of God is established without human help; and that the kingdom of God is expanding throughout the earth and will endure forever.
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- Written by Brian Harvey
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The Violent Raid the Kingdom
“Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 11: 11 – 15 NIV)
OK . . . let’s set the context. John was in prison. It was Herod Antipas who held John in prison because John had rightly noted that it was against the law for Herod to marry his brother Philip’s wife. You will remember Herod the Great as the one who tried to kill Jesus by killing all the boys in the vicinity of Bethlehem under the age of two. Herod’s kingdom had been divided among the sons who had survived his cruelty and Jesus was ministering in the territory of Herod Antipas at the time John’s disciples came to ask a question from John: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
“Jesus replied, `Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news in proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.’” (Matthew 11: 3 – 6 NIV)
Herod, also known as Herod I or Herod the Great (born 74 BC, died 4 BC in Jericho, according to other data, 1 BC, was a Jewish Roman client king of Israel.
He was described as a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis.
He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and other parts of the ancient world, including the rebuilding of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, sometimes referred to as Herod's Temple.
Some details of his biography can be gleaned from the works of the 1st century AD Roman-Jewish historian Josephus Flavius. According to Josephus, Herod the Great ruled for 37 years, 34 years of them after capturing Jerusalem.
His son Herod Antipas, who continued the Herodian dynasty, was ruler of Galilee (4 BC - 39 AD) during the time of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth. Herod became governor of Galilee in 47 BC. In 41 BC Herod was made tetrarch of Galilee.
Herod's Kingdom divided amongst his sons in 4 BC - Territory of Archelaus, ruled by Roman procurators after AD 6. - Territory of Herod Antipas (the one who killed John the Baptist.) - Territory of Philip
I copied the above map and information from the internet. Biblical stories about Herod Antipas include Jesus being taken before him at the time of his trial and Jesus would say nothing to him. Herod only wanted to see Jesus for a circus act of performing a miracle.
Shortly after the scene of the occasion when John’s disciples came to question Jesus; John was beheaded in prison. Jesus’ reaction is noteworthy. He immediately left the territory of Galilee, Herod’s territory, and went to the area of Caesarea Philippi. It was in this territory that Jesus first began to teach His disciples that He would die and rise again on the third day. Do you think that Jesus was unaware of these scriptures before this time? Do you think that Jesus was not hearing Father’s voice before this time? Why, then, did Jesus not teach about His coming death until after John was beheaded? Both John and Jesus preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near!” Both John and Jesus preached at the end of the 490 year (70 weeks of years) time frame that was spoken by Daniel in 9: 24. The Jews had been given that time to repent. Jesus appeared and began his ministry at the 483rd year; the beginning of the final “week.” One of the conditions noted by Daniel was to “anoint the Holy One.” In other words, to accept Jesus as the Anointed One. We will never know what would have happened if Jesus had been accepted by the Jews instead of being rejected. Is it possible that Jesus would not have needed to go to the cross?
The way I read the situation is that John and Jesus were both preaching repentance. Actually called the Jews to complete Daniel 9: 24. The refused and rejected both John and Jesus. Remember that John was the forerunner. John was the one sent to prepare the way for Jesus. When John was beheaded it was the preparation, the preparing of the way, for the death of Jesus. Now Jesus knew beyond any doubt what His role would be. It would be by His death that the world would fully have Father revealed.
If we are not seeing the kingdom of God actively among us – including all of the things witnessed by the disciples of John the Baptist – we are to violently assault heaven in prayer for ourselves to discover why we are falling short of being full representatives of Jesus on earth.Write comment (0 Comments)
- Written by Brian Harvey
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I Am With You
“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they say him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, `All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matthew 28: 16 – 20 NIV)
After these instructions Jesus was taken up to heaven as we know from the Gospel of Luke. Each of the gospel writers gives us a slightly different version of the events surrounding Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension. I have chosen this passage from Matthew especially for the words, “I am with you always.” How is it possible that Jesus could ascend to heaven and still fulfill the words, “I am with you always?”
We will turn to another gospel to see part of the answer to this question:
“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (John 16: 12 – 15 NIV)
In the process of saving the world God gave His one and only Son to live among us, teach us, be the example of God among us living the life of a human, and then giving His life so that all He taught could become a reality in our physical world. In the 3 ½ years that Jesus ministered among us it was impossible to completely transfer all that was necessary to establish the kingdom of God on earth. However, after He was glorified Jesus and the Father together sent the Holy Spirit to complete the work in us that Jesus began. Father gave to Jesus all that is necessary to save the world. Jesus then gave all that Father gave Him to us through the active and continual work of the Holy Spirit among us. When Jesus said the words, “I am with you always,” we must relate “I AM” to the incident of the burning bush in the revelation of God to Moses. The presence of the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of the “I AM” spoken from the burning bush and the fulfillment of the “I AM” spoken by Jesus.
There is much more to it. That is exactly why the Holy Spirit is among us. The Holy Spirit will guide us into all the truth and show us how to fulfill the command of Jesus to make disciples of all nations. As we establish a Bible School in Kissi, Kenya, Africa, we are, in part fulfilling Jesus among us and the establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth.
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- Written by Brian Harvey
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Confirmation of Conquest
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined [destiny predetermined or pre-arranged] to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified, those he justified, he also glorified.
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8: 28 – 32 NIV)
I’m thinking about the conquest of Jesus over the world, sin, and the devil. I have made some underlining and emboldened emphasis in the above scripture. I will quote some other scriptures in a few moments; but I first want to write about the facts mentioned above. It is God at work in the world in Jesus Christ. God the Father sent His one and only Son into the world so that the world can be saved and not condemned. The reason God did that is to confirm the destiny He has for you. Your destiny for all eternity has been to become a daughter or son of God. The word “predestine” has within it the concept of destiny. One is pre to a destiny. The process of engaging that destiny involves engaging God’s love. We are not writing about an impersonal interaction with a spiritual force. We are writing about the desire of a person to interconnect with you and develop a relationship with you based on being a daughter or son. That destiny for you is because the purpose of God is to cause many sons and daughters to conform to the image of His Son, Jesus, so that Jesus will be more and more glorified. As more and more daughters and sons become more like Jesus the Father is constantly saying to the Son, “Our project of redeeming the human race is proving successful! What You have done is producing many sisters and brothers. Be glorified.”
When this “project” is complete at the decision and discretion of the Father; Jesus the Son, will turn to the Father and say, “Here is what You have done! You have provided salvation for the human race. Be glorified.”
Meanwhile, we walk and live in that glory. We are called, chosen, justified, sanctified, and glorified. This process is continuing and will continue until we fully measure up to the measure expressed in Jesus Christ.
“You are already clean [you have already been pruned] because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15: 3, 4 NIV  brackets are my own)
When the glorified Christ is revealed to John in Revelation we note the sword proceeding from His mouth. His word prunes and cleanses us. His word makes it possible for us to bear fruit. As we bear fruit His word continues to prune and cleanse us so that we will bear more fruit. This process is called sanctification, the purposeful and continuous process of setting aside more and more aspects of our personalities for use by God in bringing salvation to the world. This process is stated in another way by Paul in Romans:
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12: 1, 2 NIV)
Jesus expressed this worship to the woman He encountered in Samaria at Jacob’s well:
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4: 23, 24 NIV)
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- Written by Brian Harvey
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Immanuel – God with Us
“This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, `Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’
“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: `The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’—which means, `God with us.’ [This prophecy is from Isaiah 7: 14]
“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had not union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.” (Matthew 18 – 25 NIV)
I had a reminder this morning of the fact that God is with us. Usually, I arise each morning at 4:30 AM to write this blog; peruse news items; and listen to God by meditating and praying. I have been quite discouraged lately because of stress related to my view of what God has assigned me to do. I have forgotten my own teachings related to the reading of Scripture. I have allowed fear, doubt, and unbelief become central in my attitude. So, last night as I retired for sleep I turned off my alarm for my 4:30 AM wake-up. However, as I was about to sleep I thought of a friend and prayed for him. I hadn’t heard from him in some time and was concerned if he was OK. Well, in the midst of a deep sleep my phone rang at 5 AM and my friend was calling to assure me he was, indeed, OK. This may seem like a strange way for God to connect with me; but I can assure you that God is with us.
I know that the above scripture is designated to be part of the Christmas story when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. I selected it primarily because of the world “Immanuel” embedded in it. It is very important to remember that Jesus has come; Jesus has lived among us; Jesus died and was buried; Jesus rose from the dead; Jesus ascended to the Father; and both Jesus and Father have sent the Holy Spirit. God is, indeed, among us.
My struggle is to believe what I preach. We are living in a world that threatens to be reduced to chaos. Yet, the truth of the matter is that God is sovereign and the kingdom of God has been established through the work of Jesus Christ and that kingdom shall never end, as promised. Our role is to carry on the work of Jesus and complete the assignments that God gives us to do. There are good works that have been ordained for us to perform. We are promised that we shall do the very works that Jesus did when He was physically among us. The Holy Spirit has been given to empower us to carry on the work of Jesus.
The Church was established to bear witness to the work of Jesus. But we have an active relationship through the Holy Spirit with God the Father. We do not live in a world of chaos although Satan is constantly trying to make us think that we are. We live in a world that is under the control of God who is the Lord of Creation not the author of Chaos. We do not have to do great works to be in line with God’s plans and purposes. To heal and deliver from demonic authority are considered small be Jesus. He considered it far more important that our names are written in the Book of Life.
We do not seek our own glory. We seek the glory of God. As God is among us by the Holy Spirit we are actually living in the glory of God. As we go about our daily activities we will naturally do the works assigned to us by God. This is the promise. We need not live in fear, but we are assigned to walk in faith. We take on thankfulness, joyfulness, and the spirit of worship as we go through our daily routines and the glory of God will show that God truly is with us.
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