The Battle for Jerusalem

Jerusalem, the most unique city on the earth. Everyone has an opinion on it. It divides, it unites, it infuriates; rejoicing and sorrow have filled its ancient streets. Is there any other like it?

During its long history, Jerusalem has been attacked 52 times, captured and recaptured 44 times, besieged 23 times, and destroyed twice. (wikipedia)

5 verses that help us understand this conflicting world epicenter:

On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates— Gen. 15:18

This covenant with Abraham is an everlasting, unconditional promise. In the promise, God took up both sides of the agreement while Abraham slept. No one, save God, is able to nullify this pact. In fact, even the descendants of Abraham can’t nullify it. It’s as sure as the sunrise. Read these intriguing developments for yourself in Genesis 15 (see also: Gen. 12:1-3, 7, 13:14-15, 17:8, 22:2)

“Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.” – Ps. 2:6

Who is speaking here? David, is eavesdropping into a heavenly conversation between the Father and the Son. Here the Father is asserting His insistence that Jerusalem (Zion) will be the capital of His Son’s Kingdom. The Father will establish His King, Jesus, on that mount in Israel.

“Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days,” says the Lord, “that they will say no more, ‘The ark of the covenant of the Lord.’ It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore. “At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem.” – Jeremiah 3:17

The throne of Christ will be seated in Jerusalem. This is the place on earth from which He will rule the nations. This is a future promise. Notice what the prophet is highlighting “at that time;” Israel will be multiplied and increased in the land and they will not call to mind the Ark of the Covenant. This indicates a future state of the Jewish people after they recognize Yeshua as Messiah, the Coming One. After that time of revival (see Rom. 11:26; Zech. 12) Jerusalem will be established as the seat of Messiah’s government.

“[Jerusalem]…is the city of the great King.” – Mt. 5:35

Christ, as the descendant of Abraham, is inextricably linked to this city. He, Himself, calls it the city of the great King. This title did not change or take on a spiritual fulfillment after His ascension to heaven It remains the city of the great King. That king will come and restore the kingdom of Israel, as the apostles anticipated (Acts 1:6), and make Jerusalem the capital of the whole world.

“I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” – Is. 62:6, 7

We are in the days that the Lord is raising up intercessors who will stand up on behalf of Jerusalem. They will pray in accordance with the desire of God for this city and its people. God does not hold His peace in His relentless purpose for this city (Is. 62:1); believers will not hold their peace for His purposes for this city. The city will be a praise in the earth. Very few people see it as a praise; more often, it is seen as troubling. When the Lord makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth it means that the other nations, especially the surrounding nations, will acknowledge the sovereign purpose of God for this city. They will rejoice in its light (the glory of God) and bow before its King- Christ. (see also Ps. 122:6; Rom. 10:1)

And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations [after the Day of the Lord, 14:1) which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

Jerusalem will exist after the Day the Lord ensuing judgment. The nations who are left will come and worship before Christ in His capital. These nations all stood against Israel and her King prior to the Day of the Lord. After that time, they (we) will celebrate the feast that honors the commitment of God to dwell among His people forever.

As believers, we must resist the temptation to accept any narrative devoid of the Word of God. We must seek to have the heart of Jesus for all players involved: Israel, Palestine, and the nations. If we neglect seeking divine understanding of the conflict, we will by default accept the secular narrative. This issue is a complex issue involving the lives and destinies of many peoples, all the more it is critical that we are in line with Jesus during these historic times.

Finding the Will of God

Of the 20 or so times that the phrase “the will of God” appears in the NT not one of them is in context to ones occupation, job, ministry assignment, geographic locale or spouse. Take a look at some of these:

For this is the will of God, your sanctification (holiness)…(1 Thess. 4:3)

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— (1 Pt. 2:15)

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom. 12:2)

Nearly all of them have to do with an inner change occurring. Maybe the Lord did this on purpose. Maybe His written Word, that reveals His will, wasn’t meant to be an answer key for every one of life’s decisions. That might essentially undermine the central nature for which we exist. Clearly, there are some directives that are given to us by the Spirit, however, as it pertains to our search for the will of God you won’t find an explicit answer of the oft asked questions above. The will of God for our lives isn’t a role or title it’s a person – Christ. God wants us to search and seek for Him. This is the ultimate will of God for our lives – that we would know Him, deeply (see Jn. 17:3). If we don’t know Him does it really ‘t matter if we’re an engineer, school teacher, pastor, mailman or sandwich artist?

Presupposing that  the Father is after relationship (as revealed even in His name), we can be assured that He won’t give a quick answer to every single question we have. Seeking a one-word answer takes the relational process out of the equation. Think of how frustrating it is to relate to a close friend who only offers one-word responses! The lack of clarity related to our questions means that we have to keep coming back to the Lord and talking with Him. That’s one thing we often forget: He loves and wants the process as much as anything. So much happens to the heart in the process.

Here are some reasons people attempt to hear the will of God for their occupation:

  1. They do not know who they are in Christ. Their identity is formed by a secular ideology rather than the truth of God’s Word. This ideology can pressure people into defining their success by a title, position, or salary.
  2. They are afraid of missing God and being displeasing to Him. There are several issues with this. Undoubtedly it’s done in good intention; yet many things done in good intention end up wildly incorrect. Firstly, this puts an enormous amount of stock in their ability to discern the voice of the Lord in the first place. Why are they assuming that they’re suddenly able to hear the voice of God with clarity and distinction when they haven’t cultivated this type of relationship with Him prior to this moment? It also assumes that God is waiting to reveal His displeasure over our life. This is a broken and harmful view of God. It is simply not one that is in accordance with scripture. The fear of disappointing God can be a powerful deterrent of relationship. As children of God they must have their view of Him reconstructed, from one of fear to trust.
  3. They are bored and wanting God to motivate them. This may be more one of the more common reasons. People are passionless, or often passionate for the wrong things. The motivating dreams of success and productivity are fueled by the truer passions for pleasure and comfort. Rarely are we thinking in terms of success related to internal character, family, marriage, or relationships. Most think materialistically. Success therefore equates to materialistic gain. That becomes a driving motivation. Now we try to add God into the equation, “What do you want me to do?” We cross our arms and wait impatiently for a thunderous voice to command us what to do. Are we naive enough to think that the Lord is going to fancy our misguided delights disconnected from genuine relationship with Him?

Settle the fact that we’re not that great at hearing the Lord and He is really good at leading us in spite of that fact. What if we trained our children and the next generation to value what the scripture actually highlights pertaining to the will of God? A people who value renewing their mind according the Word; a people who do good putting to silence the foolish ways of the world; a people who prioritize being changed into Christ-likeness? Whether my kids are librarians, histories or soldiers I want them to have a deep life in Christ. This is my will for them.

Here’s another article I wrote for students trying to figure out the next step after high-school.

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Is America a Christian Nation?

Never has there been a Christian nation. Yes, you read that right. A common idea espoused by well-meaning American Christians, it’s time that this idea falls into the shadows of a bygone fantasy. A wake up call is needed. Merely building a nation’s governmental value system upon so-called Judaeo-Christian beliefs never forged a Christian nation as much as hanging the 10 commandments in a court room caused criminals to like Moses.

The Christian expression of faith isn’t built upon the idea of national conquest enacted by believers themselves. This idea is precisely one of the key factors that laid the stumbling stone of offense at the feet of the first century Jew. There was great, generational anticipation that Messiah would enact a military/political conquest, subdue Israel’s surrounding enemies and American-Flag2usher in the golden age that the prophets so beautifully (and accurately) foretold.

When Jesus, who claimed to be the Son of God, King of the Jews, and Savior didn’t do this exact thing, he was rejected en masse; even his closest friends and family doubted. Jesus put to rest the timing of this notion quite plainly before His ascension. He never denied it. There will be an earthly conquest in the Father’s timing, done the Father’s way.

If a militant/political campaign will happen, how and when and more importantly by whom, must be seriously considered.

The Christian faith declares the kingdom of heaven. Jesus and John both attested that kingdom of heaven was at hand, and the proper response was to “repent and be baptized for the remission of sins.” Salvation by grace through faith gains entrance into that kingdom. The King of that kingdom is Christ, and the capital of that kingdom is Jerusalem. To say it plainly, the fullness of that kingdom on earth is enacted by Christ, through Israel AFTER His enemies are made His footstool.

It is Christ Himself, not we, that wage the national/political war, bring the sword upon the earth until the kingdoms of this world are the kingdoms of our God. Conquest requires war and the weapons of warfare of the believer are not against kings and armies but are “mighty in God, for the pulling down of strongholds.” Worship, intercession and the power of the Holy Spirit are the primary means that God’s kingdom is advanced in the earth.

The faulty notion that America IS or WAS a Christian nation is, in my opinion, a misunderstanding of the role of believers before the coming of the King. To be a Christian nation, the adherents must be governed by Christ. The American governmental system has been a democratic republic for the last 300 years, a far cry (albeit possibly the very best of the bad options) from the Kingdom of the Christ . The first nation to be governed (in the fullest sense) by Christ will be Israel; all the nations will be submissive to Him as he rules with a rod of iron. Yet many Christians busy themselves worrying about making America the so-called “Christian nation it once was.” 

The hope of the believer is not in a Christian president who legislates Christian law. Our hope is Christ, His coming kingdom, and His commitment to make the wrong things right, judging the nations with righteousness and justice. More a full Senate or Congress America needs full prayer meetings, full altars, and more importantly hearts that filled with absolute love for Jesus.

The Church must set herself into the divine order of scripture as a witness to the nation’s, crying out day and night until the justice of the Lord is hastened and Jesus returns to the earth.

Living to Christ

It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. – Paul

I have been gripped with the truth that when I said yes to God I wasn’t saying yes to Christianity – I was saying yes to Christ. Christian culture in America is constantly searching for the formula. What is the formula to make my ministry work? What is the formula to make my marriage work? What is the formula for me to stop sinning? Millions of dollars are exchanged yearly in this country for the next formula to make us feel better. We’re spending money to change “emotions” but many times leaving our spirits untouched and unaffected. The truth is we’re not signed up for a method we’re signing up for a Man.

Paul says, “Christ lives in me.” I want to know what it means to live to Christ.

Ask yourself this question: “How much of my faith is cultural and formulaic?” E.g. based on spiritual discipline or acceptable outward action. Be honest with yourself. If we remove every aspect of our faith except Christ living in us and our relationship to Him, what are we left with?

Christianity isn’t simply a list of “do’s and don’ts“. Like a marriage wedding, salvation isn’t a one time event. Every day we must awake to the newness of life and seek to love more deeply and humbly. Christianity is a Man – Christ!

The believer must seek to fuel their life by developing and growing that relationship with the Man Jesus. At the core of a relationship is a “knowing”. A knowing that experiences the emotions and thoughts of another. For instance, a husband seeking to grow in relationship with his wife doesn’t simply find out more facts about her; he tenderly asks her, “What are you feeling? What is on your mind?”

Let us seek this kind of relationship with Christ. Ask Him, ask Him often, “What is on Your heart?”

Slaves to Joy

Emotions are from God. God is deeply emotional, and deeply invested in His creation. He is not however unstable. His emotions are subject to His nature – one of love and goodness. He is moved by His emotions, much like we are.

Emotions are powerful. It’s not easy to “talk” yourself out of them. Your emotions are subject to your nature. Out of the heart the mouth speaks. Out of human nature emotions spring. These emotions are both positive and negative.

Our culture tells us to disconnect from our emotions. Don’t cry. Don’t giggle. Suck it up. Get the job done without whining and don’t get too happy when it is.

Our emotions need to get saved. They lie, they cheat, they interrupt. They need to be plumb-lined to truth. Though God rejoices over us our emotions will tell us He’s angry. Though God is a good Father our emotions will tell us that we’re orphans. Though God is near our emotions will tell us that He’s distant. Though God says that He’s made us clean our emotions will tell us we’re dirty.

It’s time to put the smack down.

Look at what David says in Psalm 4: “You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased.”

This means that David was glad even when the grain and wine were absent. His gladness wasn’t intrinsically knit to outward success. His emotions weren’t always based in the present circumstance. There was gladness in his heart before the increase of grain and before the increase of wine.

We don’t have to be slaves to our emotions. We are not slaves but sons. We are not orphans we are children. We are not condemned we are forgiven.

Today, let the gladness of a glad Father fill your heart!

Christ Revealed the Father – Jn. 15:9-11

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you, abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” Jn 15:9-11

I want to take a brief look at 3 points on what Christ revealed about the Father from this passage.

1.) Christ revealed the Father’s love by loving His disciples the way that the Father loved Him.

When the Word became flesh and dwelt among humanity He was commissioned by the Father to reveal all that He desired humanity to know about Himself. Jesus is the image of the invisible God. His character, thoughts, words and deeds show the exact nature of the Father. The Father has deep and profound love for the Son; they share a relationship that would have otherwise been unknown to mankind. Yet, Christ came and invited humanity into the Triune expression of love and affection. This “same” love that the Father has and expresses towards the Son is the “same” love with which Christ has loved us. God wanted us to know how He loved us by loving us through His Son. He also wanted us to know how much He loved His Son by expressing that love through His Son to us.

2.) To experience this love, Jesus tells us that we must keep His commandments.

Love for God is expressed through the guarding of the commands of the Lord. Keeping His word will cause us to “abide” in the love of God. The commandments of the Lord are unto love not duty. For example, the man that loves his wife earnestly upholds the covenant of marriage that he made with her. Upholding the covenant doesn’t diminish love in dullness (religion) but rather inflames love causing it to grow.

The love of God is freely given, it is a tower of refuge; there is no lock on the door and anyone can come in, but to REMAIN inside of that tower, to truly dwell in that tower, we must keep His commands. Anyone can make a covenant of marriage in declaration of love, but to remain in the covenant of marriage the man (or woman) works to not break that covenant.

Grace is given to keep His commands when we understand the Father’s love and affection through revelation. If we don’t understand the war that rages outside the dwelling of the Lord’s love, we will not understand the nature of abiding in God’s love and treat it cheaply. Cheap love leads to weak faith, which ultimately ends in no love. Weak faith puts us outside of the tower of Christ’s affection and makes us subject to the fiery darts of the evil one.

3.) The full expression of joy and enduring pleasure in this life comes from keeping God’s commandments.

God wants us to experience pleasure, yet He wants us to do it in a way that honors Him, ourselves and others. There is a God-intended way to experience pleasure – the greatest pleasure is the affection of His heart. It the the pleasure that God has within the God-head. Father, Son and Holy Spirit share inexpressible joy in and of themselves. We experience that pleasure by living in their love, and we remain in that love through keeping God’s commands. The most exhilarating experience that humanity can have on this side of eternity is an ongoing reception of the love of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

May you be blessed and enriched by the power of the Holy Spirit.