Discernment: A Chosen One?

AH But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 1 Peter 3:14-17

Hollywood and professional sports clubs are known for developing and launching the careers of thousands of talents around the world. Here on the left is a picture of Audrey Hepburn, one of America’s most classic actresses of the early 20th century. By many accounts she would be classified as a chosen or favored actress in American culture as she starred in twenty eight classic films. In the same fashion, athletes like recent Olympic gold medalist, Gabby Douglas, could be classified as a chosen or favored one. The talented starlet was selected to train year round with world renown Liang Chow for the 2012 Olympics at the young age of fourteen. She sacrified the normalcy of the average teen life for rigorous training and time away from her family. Athletes like Gabby endure possible injuries of fractured limbs and concussions with the hope/purpose of winning the trophy (i.e. superbowl, world series, gold medal). In the same way, Believers must be ready to endure possible sufferings for the Faith with the hope/purpose of receiving the trophy of salvation of souls and eternal life. “Our brothers and sisters in China, Ethiopia, Cuba, and others around the world endure sufferings daily including death in order to inherit the Kingdom” – Pastor David J. Smith.

What does Scripture say about being Blessed, Chosen, and Favored?

Job’s children and servants were killed, and his possessions were destroyed (Job 1).
Abel was murdered by his brother Cain (Genesis 4).
Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery and imprisoned for greater than a decade (Genesis 37).
David a man after God’s own heart suffered the rape of his daughter Tamar by son Amnon and eventual deaths of two sons Amnon and Absalom (2 Samuel 13; 2 Samuel 18).
Abraham and Sarah could not bear their promised son until Abraham was in his 10th decade and Sarah was in her 9th decade of life (Genesis 21).
Andrew of the Twelve was stoned to death (Martyr).
Bartholomew of the Twelve was beaten then crucified (Martyr).
James son of Alphaeus of the Twelve was stoned to death (Martyr).
James son of Zebedee of the Twelve was beheaded (Martyr).
John of the Twelve was exiled and died of old age.
Judas (not Iscariot) was stoned to death (Martyr).
Matthew was speared to death (Martyr).
Peter was crucified upside down (Martyr).
Simon was crucified (Martyr).
Thomas was speared to death (Martyr).
Matthias was stoned to death (Martyr).
Jesus Christ the Son of God was murdered by man (Luke 23).

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. 1 Corinthians 1:27-29

The prosperity gospel of today seems to omit God’s truth about what it really means to be a Blessed one, a Chosen one, or a Favored one. It does not mean you own the biggest house, biggest boat, platinum jewelry, have a thousand friends, eat the best dinners, run the local government, or dance in the pulpit on dollars donated to the Kingdom of God. No, it actually means you must be ready to suffer up to and not excluding death. It means you may own the smallest house or live in a hut in the Amazon, you may not own a car at all but walk or bike to your destination, you may own no jewelry at all except your wedding band, you may not be popular and have a handful of friends, and you may have no influence with the local government and in fact you maybe on their watch list. Each of the Blessed ones, Chosen ones, or Favored ones in Scripture sacrificed dearly for the faith. Are you a Blessed, Chosen, or Favored One?

And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:23-24

References: World Challenge ; Prayer Foundation ; Excerpt from Pastor David J. Smith on Suffering for Doing What is Right
Photo Credit: Desk Top Betty

Note from The Author – Apologies to the readers of the original version of this post. This post was rewritten to share God’s Biblical truths but keep in line with the Spirit of Unity not Strife. Grace and Peace in the name of Yeshua. – Amen

Spiritual Warfare: Hospitality v. Favoritism

hospitality v favoritismDo not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

Hmmm the challenge to the Body of Christ*. Yes! Such a simple thing, be hospitable to everyone. We have no idea who God will send across our paths. Abba requires our impartiality and welcoming others. And sorry friends…SELECTIVE HOSPITALITY…is NOT HOSPITALITY. That would be FAVORITISM which Abba forbids. If Abba does not have favorites, why does the Body of Christ? Favoritism in the Body of Christ is counter to Christ, it is not of Christ, and Abba is challenging us to cancel the lie that we believe justifies accepting, excluding, etc others because of our personal philosophy, branding, culture, race etc. If you are participating in exclusion practices, rethink it. This includes purposely avoiding other Believers. This is not hospitality and not of God. Rethink this my friends. Abba is very clear about this. To grow the Body of Christ, you must be hospitable. Period. Selective hospitality is not hospitality. That is favoritism.

Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality” Acts 10:34

Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of any man, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too hard for you, and I will hear it. Deuteronomy 1:17

For there is no partiality with God. Romans 2:11

Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 1 Peter 4:9

The Body of Christ needs healing. Massive defection of Believers from the Church is not acceptable and not saying anything about it is especially not acceptable. Abba has commissioned (Great Commission) us to bring individuals to the Body of Christ not create exclusive social clubs. Remove the callous over our hearts and scales off the eyes.

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called? If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. James 2:1-8

Abba, have mercy on us and pierce our hearts. We repent of our favoritism in using race, age, gender, social status, and all other human forms of judgment to welcome or reject others. Forgive us Father. Bind up the hardened, calloused hearts and blind eyes within us and loose your supernatural vision to us of the hurting in the name and Blood of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Amen

Related Posts: He’s Not One of Us
Related Resources: Living on the Edge
Photo Credit: Amen-Amen

*Note: The posting is in reference to no particular congregation but the larger Body of Christ.

Spiritual Warfare: Mark 9:38 – He’s Not One of Us

man_walking_awayEvery few months I receive a client who has had a revision surgery due to some sort of failure in the previous course of treatment. Many of these clients explain they had no idea they were doing too much or too little. They simply had surgery and went home (left to their own devices). Anyone in rehab knows this scenario can go one of three directions.

1. Client goes home and does well with no need for follow up
2. Client goes home and does too little out of fear of reinjury, resulting in need for rehab at 6-12 months later due to excessive stiffness and limited performance in daily tasks or surgerical release of the severely adhered structures.
3. Client goes home and does too much not understanding the newly replaced joint(s) or sutured tendon is not healed, resulting in dislocation or rupture respectively of the structures and need for immediate repair of the post op failure.

In both scenarios two and three, the clients are usually sent to therapy after revision surgery. There is even closer communication and collaboration between the surgeon and rehab on this second course of treatment to ensure post op success. Most clients express regret for not having received the collaborative care on the initial course of treatment but express gratitude for having the collaborative guidance in getting them back to life this time around.

For even as the body is one and 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 all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13

In many ways the Church operates in the same fashion as the medical scenario above. When the various parts of the Church’s gifts (i.e. helps, administration, prophetic, mercy, teaching, exhortation, giving) communicate closely with one another, positive Kingdom advancing results occur such as more souls being converted and genuine growth in the universal Body. However, when these spiritual gifts works apart from one another, less than ideal results for the Kingdom occur.

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:4-8

Imagine a teaching ministry sharing the gospel with the poor but missing the basic needs of a hot meal and warm blanket that could be provided by a service ministry. Would not God’s work be more effective with the two gifts working together? This is the challenge for the modern Church. Entire denominations and in some cases specific gifts ministries within denominations work counter to one another than with one another.

Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and WE TOLD HIM TO STOP, BECAUSE HE WAS NOT ONE OF US.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward. Mark 9:38-41

Yesuah himself recognized the good works this unknown man was doing on His behalf. He corrected the Twelve who made the prideful judgment that this unknown man outside of the ministry of the Twelve had no place or authority to do Kingdom work. Yesuah told them to NOT stop this man from doing Kingdom work, as this man was doing good on behalf of the Kingdom of God and he was healing a man from his illness (possession). This story illustrates clearly that though we all are part of the Kingdom, we the Body can be a hindrance to the Kingdom by creating stumbling blocks for other Believers doing Kingdom work. We must not do this.

Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this– not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. Romans 14:13

The Body of Christ needs to be reminded like the Twelve that Kingdom of God is not ours to judge or determine who is worthy to serve or not. The Kingdom of God is Abba’s and he has given each Believer the charge in the Great Commission to do his works.

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw 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.” Mark 28:16-20

Abba we repent of our pride and hindrances to your Kingdom advancing. Examine our hearts Holy Spirit and show us where we have rejected other Believers from your Kingdom works. Cleanse us; purify us so that we can openly welcome your sons and daughters into the universal family of the Body of Christ. Amen

Related Posts: Discernment ; One World Faith ; Hospitality v. Favoritism
Related Resources: Living on the Edge
Photo Credits: Google ; The Truth Won