24 July 2014

We Are One

The world today seems to have as many religions ( ways of looking at, explaining and deciphering the world around us ) as it seems to have had peoples / tribes throughout time.  Yet even among the many ways of explaining life along with the notion of different peoples / tribes, evidence shows that all people the world over came from a single source... and the idea that one tribe or people is "different" from another is purely by perception and a shortsighted assumption of man! 

Currently, science has concluded that all peoples share the same ancestral origins in their DNA.  Here are one, two and three interesting sources to check out regarding some scientific evidence speaking to the reality that we are all part of the same family ( if you sometimes need some science to 'legitimize' your beliefs ). 

It is really interesting to see science finally catching up with what has been mentioned in scripture.  In the last part of the following passage, a human assumption is being corrected.  Science today is also correcting divisive assumptions which scripture has succinctly explained; that people, although seemingly different on the outside ( having superficial variations ), are actually one in the same and share the same origin:

"From one man He made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.  God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us.  ‘For in Him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring.’ Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the Divine Being is like gold or silver or stone - an image made by human design and skill."  

- Acts 17:26-29

The above passage of scripture makes reference to a Greek poet's explanation of humanity and from whence they descended, bringing to view a unity and common bond to the entirety of humanity.  This phenomenon is furthered and expanded in the following mystery:

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."

- Ephesians 4:2-5

Some religious groups who may identify themselves as Christians or some other ideology may be tempted to believe that their particular religious group is the one which God is "over" and "through" and "in," but the passage does specify "Father of all" and "over all" and "through all" and "in all."  Not to fall into semantics or to strain a gnat, but the point being made here is shedding light onto the bigger picture that God's message of hope, love, peace and reconciliation is for all of mankind, not just for the Jews ( as was previously believed, see Acts 10 ) nor destined for a select bloodline or for people practicing the 'right' kind of religion / religious practices, but for all of humanity, as is stated here:

"The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness.  Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

- 2 Peter 3:9

The long reaching arm of God's love put another way and followed with yet another mystery:

"I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Yeshua."

2 Timothy 2:1-5

Notice it also expresses "all people."  Read again the manner in which "all people" is being referenced and what is instructed as well as what is desired of God.  Seems like the Creator doesn't want division or for anyone to be left out of His promise.  Seems also that God desires unity and for people to realize that they and all other people are His creations:

"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."

- Philippians 2:1-4

Here's another mystery reaffirming the call to be one, to be united and to love:

"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one - I in them and you in me - so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."

- John 17:20-23

The calling is to be one with others and not divided, to pray for those who may not believe the same way as you and not to consider yourself 'greater' than anyone else, but to value others above yourself.  The calling is to humbly see that God loves everyone ( and asks you to love everyone just the same ), He loves all of mankind because all people are derived from Him and are His creations.  Quite sobering while also quite exciting to realize the extended family you actually have!

06 July 2014

Who is God?

Today, as in any other time, many are the notions of 'who' God is.  Religion ( and the term itself ) has tainted the view and belief in God and today religion exchanges what would otherwise be an insightful and ever growing process of maturity to realization for rules, rituals, routines and wrongdoings called right.

Why do people think of religion when they hear the word "God" ??  Could it be that man has manufactured so many 'methods' and manners in which to think about God that for many it is impossible to separate the two?  I say there is no God-made or God-sanctioned religion.  I say God shows us the Way.  The Way to love others who are unlovable.  The Way to forgive others who seem unforgivable.  The Way to be at peace with those who do not seek peace.  Now whether the people who disbelieve in a God desire to call me religious because I choose to seek God with all that I have, who am I to stop them from using any name or term in defining what they do not know?

Here are some terms defining "religion."

Religion by Merriam

Religion by Wiki

Religion by the BBC ( British Broadcasting Company )

Here's a scripture referencing the term "religion:"

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

- James 1:27

Many profess to not believe in a God when they look at all the mayhem around them and the discord among all the religions.  I can't blame them.  Who can be believed when so many do not agree with each other and claim their brand of religion is true while calling the others false?  Hardly any two people in any common circle ( religious, secular or otherwise ) would explain anything in exactly the same way, let alone something unknown for most.  The newest age philosophy is to call the Great Unknown the 'universe' and only think of good and positive things throughout the day.  I like the approach but life doesn't only contain happy and positive happenings... and pursuing such a method may lead to delusion, denial and cocooning oneself from the reality of this world... and much of the new age flavor is based on gaining material possessions as a means to reaching happiness or that in attaining these possessions, one has somehow gained 'peace' or 'happiness.'  Others still consider themselves 'awake' while calling everything else conspiracy and are further lost than when they began to take a look around themselves.

To the believer, the representation of who God is was made known in Christ. 

He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ..

- Ephesians 1:9

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form..

- Colossians 2:9

The New Testament gospels tell of Mary being visited by an angel declaring she shall bear a child although she was a virgin:

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call Him Yeshua.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; His kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.  Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.  For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

- Luke 1:26-38

The Quran, centuries after Christ walked the earth, recounts the same event and points to Him as Messiah:

"Behold," the angels told Mary, "God has given you the glad news of the coming birth of a son whom He calls His Word, whose name will be Messiah, Yeshua, son of Mary, who will be a man of honor in this life and the life to come, and who will be one of the ones nearest to God." 

- Quran 3:45-47

This is the very event predicted centuries before in the Old Testament:

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel.  He will be eating curds and honey when He knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right.

- Isaiah 7:14-15

Immanuel means “God with us” in Hebrew.  

God, our Father and Creator, doesn't lack fashion or prestige when making announcements.  Yet, the manner in which He does reveal things or make things come about are often quite difficult to realize or comprehend at first glance.. and thus can only be revealed by He Himself:

When Yeshua came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

“But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 

Yeshua replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.”

- Matthew 16:13-17

Notice what was “not revealed by flesh and blood” in the passage above: the belief that Yeshua is the Messiah ( the promise of God with us fulfilled ).  That belief takes.... well, faith!   Faith is given to you by the Almighty:

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

- Ephesians 2:8-9

Regardless of your religious upbringing ( if any ): if you believe Yeshua is “God with us” the Messiah, consider yourself blessed and chosen by God!

Messiah by several definitions.

Prophetic definition:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. 

- Isaiah 9:6-7

Many things were clarified and brought into 'view' by Yeshua which were previously unclear prior to Him walking the earth:

No one has ever seen God, but the One and only Son, who is Himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made Him known.

- John 1:18

Christ fulfilled all the requirements of God’s law ( that which was impossible for any person to do... in other words; be perfect in thought and action and in full obedience to the law of God ):

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

Matthew 5:17

There’s an interesting point in the telling of the gospels where Christ is tested to judge according to the law when an adulterous woman is caught in the act.  According to her trespass she is to be stoned to death.  Instead of pronouncing judgment on her, he forgives her:

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Yeshua, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”  They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Yeshua bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.  When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Yeshua was left, with the woman still standing there. Yeshua straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Yeshua declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

- John 8:1-11

For those who witnessed Christ at work, many must have experienced the challenge of belief into this new way of grace, perhaps realizing the prophecies were not merely stories to scare people into being 'good' or simply fairy tales that made for interesting folklore:

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

- Luke 24:25

I’m sure for many it was a challenge to forgo what they have always known in order to pursue this new way of love and mercy, as opposed to 'eye for an eye' and revenge:

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Yeshua Christ.

John 1:17

Yet I'm sure there are some people throughout the world who say they have already been practicing love, forgiveness and mercy, so this message of Christ may possibly be nothing new to them… perhaps that may be so.... or perhaps so long as it is practiced among family members or members of the same tribe or ideology:

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.  But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.  Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."

- Luke 6:32-36

Today there is much conflict around the world:

"You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginning of birth pains."

-  Matthew 24:6

On the land of what some call Palestine ( what others term now the State of Israel ), the descendents of the first two sons of Abraham [ Genesis 25 ] are continuing a family quarrel and neither side recognizes the other as the family they are or the family God calls them to be:

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Yeshua.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

- Galatians 3:28-29

It seems to me that the descendents of these two brothers are more interested in settling a score from a game long finished or more interested in following in the steps of their ancestors rather than finding out how to live at peace and love each other as the family that they are.
In the sixth chapter of the gospel of Luke and the fifth chapter of the gospel of Matthew, the calling and the Way is clearly prescribed and therein is revealed the heart of God.  If one were to reflect and juxtapose these chapters with the religion that they believe in, the government that they support, the ideology they find themselves adhering to and the perception of who they think they are in their heart of hearts, they would see who they really are and what they are really a part of.  Consider who Yeshua is and consider the things you pledge allegiance to or subscribe to and find out for yourselves if they are in harmony or disharmony with what is said here:

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?  As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like.  They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.  But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

- Luke 6:46-49

Peace be with you.