I hope you are enjoying your reading as much as I am. The Bible is so amazing. Even stories you have read many times, take on new meaning every time you read them.
Sarah and then Abraham have died, and we move to the next generation. Isaac, the son of promise is now the patriarch, the inheritor of the mission from God. His life is not quite as eventful as Abraham’s, but we see some similarities.
Once again we encounter a barren wife. Isaac’s wife could bear no children until Isaac prays and God answers. Then she becomes pregnant with twins – Esau and Jacob. God prophesies over Rebekah that there are two nations in her womb and that the older will serve the younger.
As we continue through the story of Esau and Jacob, be sure you have your spiritual eyes open. Throughout the rest of the Bible, Esau and Jacob will be referred to many times, and its clear that Esau, the first born, represents the “flesh” of man and that Jacob represents the “spirit.” The older will serve the younger. First the natural man, and then the born-again man.
Esau is impulsive and just lives day to day, with his appetites unbridled. You can see this in the fact that when he is hungry, he is willing to sell his birthright for a bowl of stew. Here he is, the grandson of Abraham, and in line to be God’s heir, but his inheritance from God is not worth any more than a bowl of stew. Obviously, he discredits himself from being the disciplined heir God needs to lead this family into His powerful plan.
Now Jacob, representing the spirit, not only honors the birthright, he has a great desire for it. The deceit he shows is not spiritual, but Esau has given his birthright away and Jacob takes him at his word.
Now once again we see the importance of words. When Isaac speaks his blessing over Jacob, it cannot be taken back. Those words of blessing are recorded for eternity.
If we could ever realize the significance of our words and of our blessings upon our children, we would be very careful about what we say, and we would have faith in the power of our words.
Words are incredibly powerful. They are able to change our lives and to change the lives of our children.
We leave these chapters with Jacob having to escape from the wrath of his brother. Rebekah has him sent to her old home country so that he can find a wife.
One more really significant thing happens as Jacob takes a rest on his journey. He falls asleep and dreams of a ladder into heaven with angels ascending and descending upon it. God speaks to him, confirming the covenant which He made with Abraham. Isaac’s descendants will be mighty and will come back to inherit this land.
Then Isaac says, “Surely the Lord is in this place…How awesome is this place. This is the house of God and the Gate of Heaven.” In John 1:51, you will see Jesus speak of the same thing. He says, “Most assuredly I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
Jacob calls the place Bethel, which means the “House of God.”
Jacob and Jesus are both referring to the church of God. (The House of God and the Gate into Heaven).
When God’s church is working properly, it is like a ladder into Heaven – an outpost of Heaven, where God’s will can be accomplished in the earth. The people there will agree that they want God’s will done – and not their own. They won’t be selling their birthright for a bowl of stew, but they will be honoring their birthright and fulfilling their mission.
It is my desire for our church to be like a Heavenly Embassy, where the laws of Heaven apply. The atmosphere will be like the atmosphere of Heaven. God’s plan can be accomplished from there, because we will represent God and not ourselves. Angels will be ascending and descending into the earth from that spot, doing God’s bidding.
We will truly be ambassadors for Christ.
I know that’s what you want also.
We see Jesus continuing His earthly ministry as He goes about “teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” (Verse 35). Notice it says “every sickness and every disease.” Jesus denies no one who comes to Him.
He is demonstrating God’s kingdom and God’s will: for all to be healed and all to be set free.
Years ago, when I came back to the Lord, after a foolish stray into that “other world,” I saw these scriptures with fresh eyes. I hope that you do the same.
People who don’t read the Bible, but think they know what it says, will talk about the limited nature of the Christian experience. But when you read the original and see for yourself, you find that it’s better than they have been talking about.
Again and again, we see Jesus answering people on the level of their faith. The faith that caused Abraham to be chosen of God is the faith that these people demonstrate when they come to Him for healing.
Jesus “sees” the faith of those who bring the paralytic, and we see the faith of the woman with the issue of blood.
In verses 15-17, Jesus speaks of a “new wineskin.” “No one puts new wine into an old wineskin.” He is talking about the new birth. There is a new covenant He is bringing – a true entrance into the Kingdom of God on the earth. Only those who will allow themselves to have a “New wineskin,” or “New birth,” will be able to partake of this Kingdom.
This is bigger than our human minds can understand. I pray that your and my spiritual eyes will be opened to see and understand what Jesus is talking about. There is a power in this new Kingdom!
Bird photo taken by Mickey Estes http:www.mickeyestes.com
So what is a nephron? A kidney cell. Strange, huh? What kind of spiritual lessons could we learn from the kidney cell? The answer: lots.
I have found – as I’m sure that you have- that God teaches us by what we already know. In other words, if we are farmers, he’ll teach us lessons using the soil, the seed, planting,etc. If we are fishermen, he’ll use that imagery to show us other important concepts. O.K., so why the nephron?
A few years ago, I was a pharmaceutical sales representative in the Atlanta area. Part of my training was a “crash course” in pharmacology presented by the Medical College of Philadelphia, and since one of our drugs was a diuretic, I had a “crash course” in the kidney and its function. I was absolutely amazed with this important organ.
Years later, after I had left the job, and my husband and I were preparing for ministry, I had a very unusual day with the Lord. He reminded me of the nephron, the kidney cell, and He began to speak to me all day relating the concepts with His church.
The kidney is made up of very specialized cells called nephrons. Each kidney has between 800,000 and 1.5 million of these cells, which are so small that they cannot be seen with the naked eye. If you go to Wikipedia, you can learn more about these, but I want to concentrate here on the spiritual concepts.
The kidney has many functions which are life and death matters for our bodies. Every ounce of blood in our bodies, goes through the kidney every day to be cleansed and regulated. Waste products are removed, and electrolytes are balanced so that our other organs can function properly.
I had always thought of the kidney as functioning as a whole. I had thought that the organ worked like a muscle, to perform all of its functions. But no. That’s not the case. All of the functions which are done by the kidney are done on the cellular level. What do I mean? I mean that each nephron, so small that we cannot see it, removes waste, regulates, sodium, potassium, and other ions, regulates blood pressure, etc. In fact, as blood passes through the nephron, certain places on the cell perform each of the tasks. Everything is very specialized.
So what are the lessons? As a body of Christ, we think of all of our work as occurring by the whole. We think sometimes that while we are in church we are accomplishing all that God wants. But this is not the case. The true work of the church is accomplished by each cell – each person – as they are performing their function in the world. They may be so small that no one even sees them, just as the nephron, but their work is important. In fact, the very life of the body depends on the work of all of these no-name, faceless members of His body.
So often, we gather and have wonderful meetings and feel so revved up and energized for the Lord. But if we are truly the Body of Christ, we need to go out and perform our function. That’s really the only way anything gets done. God is a one-on-one God. Whether we are going to change our churches or change our communities, everything is personal. Even when we talk about “taking mountains,” the culture only gets changed by individuals turning to the Lord and changing their mindsets.
But there’s more. Even though the work of the kidney – or the ministry- is done on a cellular level, by each one doing his part, if you cut some of the cells away from the kidney, they will die. Even though they do the work themselves, they depend on the blood flow from the kidney as a whole to survive. They don’t work or even survive alone.
So is the Body of Christ. Though the work of the ministry is done by each individual doing his part, that individual needs the corporate anointing, as the church comes together, to fulfill his call. The anointing, the teaching, the sharing,and the “iron sharpening iron” that goes on as the church meets as a whole, are absolutely essential for each member to thrive in his calling.
We need each other, but each one is important. I believe that in this time in history, we are going to see individuals rising to their place like never before. We will come together; then we will go out. We will be refreshed and energized by the anointing and by the words; then we will go out into the world, carrying the torch of awakening. We know our significance – and we see the significance of those around us. We are all important.
After all, together, we make up the Body of Christ, and we have an important work to do for Him.
Let’s do it!
In I Corinthians 12: 12-27, Paul explains a significant aspect of our Christian walk. He compares our natural body to the body of Christ.
“For even as the body is one yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.
For by one Spirit we were baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
For the body is not one member, but many.”
Then he goes on to remind us that the foot, hand, eye, and ear are all important to our functioning in much the same way that the many parts of Christ’s body are important. Each part is different, but each part is essential. All of the parts need each other to be healthy.
In Ephesians 4:16, he gives even more insight. He says that the whole body is “fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” That’s a mouthful, for sure, but an important one.
If we look at the whole scripture, we see 1) each part effectually working 2) fitly joined together and compacted 3) by that which every joint supplies, and 4) making increase of the body, building up itself in love.
The joint represents the joining of the parts. The major substance comes, not from the parts, but from the joints. In Christ’s body, the substance comes, not just from us as individuals, but from the relationships when the parts come together. If we will allow ourselves to be “fitly joined together” with others of different gifts, the substance, the anointing, will begin to flow to a greater extent than we have ever seen it.
We know that this is true with our natural bodies. We also recognize this in the local church, as we appreciate the many gifts necessary to run a church. Now it’s time to take it to the next level. God is calling for us to join with other believers, of many walks and many doctrines, not compromising, but finding the common ground in Jesus Christ.
We come together in our camp and worship God in our special way. Then we find the time to join with others who worship in a different way, so that we might be fitly joined together to appropriate God’s plan for our communities. As we pray together, we will shake the heavens.
We are the body of Christ. One body; not many. Remember, the stones that you use to build the bridges that unite, will come from the walls that divide. As we humble ourselves and allow God to fitly join us together, we will see a great awakening in our nation.
There is a common phrase which is often used to rally troops to a project. “United we stand; divided we fall.” This is true in natural war, and it’s true in spiritual war.
The Word is full of this truth.
In Matthew 12:25 Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.”
He also prayed in John 17:21 “That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me.”
John 17:22, “That they may be one, even as we are one.”
John17:23 “That they may be perfect in one.”
Ephesians 2:14 Paul wrote, “For He (Jesus) is our peace, who hath made both one, hath broken down the middle wall between us.”
In Ephesians 4:3 “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.”
Ephesians 4:13 “Til we all come into the unity of the faith.”
The resounding theme is united we stand and divided we fall.
Sometimes people feel that if they seek too much unity, they will have to compromise, but that’s not the case. A perfect example of the church in unity would be the 12 tribes of Israel. The tribes had different land, different leaders, different banners, and different customs. Some were more spiritual than others. But when it was time to go to war, no longer did they just go as their tribe. They went as children of Israel to defeat the common enemy. They went as one man.
Today we have many different tribes in the church. When we are wanting to be on the cutting edge of God’s plan, it’s easy to see ourselves as the “latest and greatest,” and not to appreciate the attributes of others. But God is calling for us to humble ourselves and seek for the common ground with others. Only then will we be able to destroy the enemy in our territories.
Unity doesn’t mean we deny any of our doctrines. It means that if someone believes that Jesus Christ is Lord and that He was crucified and rose again from the dead, then they are our brother and we will honor their contribution. They may be honoring God in a different way, but we still honor them and stand with them.
The Lord spoke to me and said, “The stones that you use to build the bridges which unite will come from the walls which divide.” So who will go first? Who is willing to remove the first stone from the wall that divides and cross denominational lines to develop relationships that unite?
The way you add fractions is to find a common denominator. That denominator is Jesus Christ. It’s His church and His body. I encourage spiritual leaders to form prayer groups with other leaders from different churches. We as leaders must set the example. If we will do this we will change our communities and usher in the great awakening we all have been talking about.
Recently, the Lord has been speaking to me concerning the body of Christ. There are so many divisions; so many walls. There are denominational walls, racial walls, gender walls, and cultural walls. It’s as if His body is divided into many pieces with no connections, and it grieves Him.
Why is this so? Why have we allowed satan to divide us? God has some answers for us. We are all believing for a great awakening, and there are some keys to our preparation for it. One of those keys is humility. (more…)