Your Priestly Calling

July 1, 2015

1 Peter 2:4-5
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Your Priestly Calling

In today’s culture we often relate priest or priesthood to Catholicism or some of the denominations that still use this title to distinguish their spiritual leaders, bishop or pastor. What Peter is revealing to us as true believers here is that each of us, in Christ, have a calling and an appointing from God to be His spiritual house of holy priests. Many of us may have never thought of ourselves in the light of being a priest, but in Christ, that is who you are.
The Word speaks about two priesthood orders that are established by God. The first one and one we are probably most familiar with is the Levitical priesthood instituted during Moses’ time. The second is the Melchizedek order spoken of first during Abraham’s time when Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, this priest-king of Salem who had no genealogy, no beginning or end. In light of this let’s look at the priestly calling upon Jesus in Hebrews 5. “Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people.
4No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. 5So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him,
“You are my Son; today I have become your Father.”
6And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”
7During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”
Now Jesus is declared by the Father to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. In reality Jesus was also the fulfillment of the Levitcal priesthood as well, which was the type and shadow or the figure of what was to come. The Levitial priesthood typified the spiritual role that we have as priests, but no longer after the Levitical order, but after the order of Melchizedek, an everlasting priesthood.
What does that look like for us as the spiritual priests of God under the high priest and king, Jesus? This could become quite extensive, but I believe God wants to really introduce many of us to the concept that we are His priests. For instance, Thayer’s Lexicon gives these qualifications for priests: Implies divine choice, implies representation, implies offering sacrifice, implies intercession.
We have seen that clearly, God has chosen us as His royal priesthood from our introductory scripture and Peter goes on to expound this in 1 Peter 2:9-10. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” Revelation 5:6 also declares, “He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.”
Now that we know who we are it is important that we realize that this constitutes that we are God’s representatives on the earth. We carry and represent His holiness. We host His holy presence in our mortal beings. This is that representation that is another aspect of the qualification of a priest.
A priest is an agent that reconciles God and man. In 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 Paul tells us, ” Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” A priest is an ambassador that brings two opposing parties together. We take man’s hand in our one hand and God’s hand in our other and we join the two together. That is our reconciling priestly ministry.
This office implies sacrifice. We no longer offer the blood of bulls and goats, because Jesus is now that fulfillment of sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. Even as Jesus gave himself, we commit as Romans 12 says, to ‘offer ourselves a living a living sacrifice, wholly acceptable to God which is our reasonable service’. We are as Isaiah in Isaiah 6:8, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
We are the priestly agents of His service.
Lastly I will touch on the final qualification that Thayer gave for a priest. It was intercession. As priests we stand in the gap for others just as the example our high priest and king sets for us in Hebrews 7:25, “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Because we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus and the prayers of a righteous man availeth much we enter into intercession for others as a part of that priestly office and anointing that we carry.
Only the priests were able to wear the garments of beauty and glory that were typified by their office. They minister before the Most High and carry that ministry out to the people. In Christ, as His priest, we make up that bridge that joins heaven and earth and we bring the kingdom of heaven into the earth. Never take for granted the great and holy calling that you have and carry upon your life. You are His royal priests.

Blessings,
#kent

Motives of Prayer

June 30, 2015

James 4:3
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

Motives of Prayer

It is said of Jesus in Hebrews 7:23-25, “Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” When Jesus intercedes for us what do you suppose His motive to be?
When we pray, what is the focus of our prayers? Of course when we pray and seek the Lord we all want to be favored and blessed and receive our petitions from the Lord, but to what end.? What are our motives in the things we pray and cry out to God for? If we think of God as a celestial Santa Claus to whom we come with all our needs and request to be met for our personal gain, we’ve missed the heart of God. Prayer is about seeking the heart and will of God.
If prayer is like a checkbook with an unlimited supply of resources and wealth, and it has been given to us, how will we write the checks? Will most of them have our name on them or are they written to benefit others we see in need? When God sees that our motives in prayer, intercession and petition aren’t centered around us, but others, do you think He might feel compelled to meet your needs as well? Selfish is never the heart of God and selfishness in us will always pervert the ways and means of God. God exemplifies Himself selfless in His giving. He doesn’t even give to us because we deserve it, He gives because that is His nature which flows out of love. He delights in His people that have this same heart to give and bless. His desire is to bless us so that we can in turn bless others. If we pray and seek with wrong motives then how can we truly pray in Jesus’ name. Jesus says in John 15 and a few other places, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” Jesus says He will give us what we ask in His name, but what is the prerequisite? “Go and bear fruit–fruit that will last.” The name of Jesus speaks to the character and nature of God. If we pray outside or contrary to His nature then should we be surprised if our prayers are not answered. Jesus wants to empower us through power in His name to establish and perpetuate His will and His kingdom in the earth. It is one of the next principles He teaches us in the Lord’s prayer right after He establishes the position and the holiness of the Father. Jesus said in John 8:28, “So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [the one I claim to be] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.” Prayer is our avenue to carry out the Father’s will, not our own. We want our prayers to never stem from selfish motive, but to be one with the Spirit of God that prays through us. It is when we have the heart of God, the intercession as priests of Jesus and the motivation to pray in the character and nature of His name that we will see our prayers be fruitful, because we seek the fruit that will last; His kingdom come and His will being done in earth as it is in heaven.

Blessings,
#kent

Deuteronomy 8:1-5
Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. 2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.

First the Test, then the Blessing

As a people of God we can often relate with the children of Israel out in the wilderness. Most all of us have experienced our share of trials and tribulation and some of us more than others. While we pray and trust God, sometimes we may be tempted to murmur, if not out loud, then in our minds. When we pray we expect God to just listen up and get that prayer answered. So why doesn’t it always work that way? Why do we sometimes have to wait and endure so long to see our answer?
One of the first things we have to remember here is who is the parent and who is the child. Who is training whom? There are many instances in our present day society that it is evident that the child is in charge and not the parents. When the child demands the parents obey promptly to keep that spoiled child happy and content. God wants to bless us, but He doesn’t want to spoil us. He is not the great celestial Santa Clause that some like to imagine and even believe that He is. God is the Father and He is not just any Father. He is the awesome creator God and Father. The first thing we must learn, to operate in alignment with His kingdom, is that we are not in charge, He is! That seems an obvious statement, but it is one that we often seem to forget in practical living.
James 4: 3 says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Our Father is not raising his children to walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit, so when we ask we are often tested to see what is truly in our hearts. It is not so much for God’s benefit as for ours, so that we can really see our true motives.
What leaps out to me as I read this passage in Deuteronomy 8 is “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna. What came first the test or the provision? It has to be obvious even to the unbeliever that well over a million people could not have survived out in a wilderness without a supernatural provision. It is apparent in this scripture that when they received the manna and the provision it wasn’t always in accordance with their timetable and expectations. As a result, many of them would begin to grumble, murmur and complain. While I am sure none of us reading this have ever been guilty of doing that, it is enlightening to know that in God’s economy, provision and blessing works on His time table and not ours. Why do we need faith if we never have to believe in hope for the expectation of its manifestation?
Romans 5:1-5 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” We love to rejoice in the goodness and blessing of God. We love to rejoice in the salvation we have in Christ and the forgiveness of our sins. We should, these are glorious, but then look what it says we should also rejoice in. Suffering! Why should we have to endure suffering? Didn’t Jesus do all of that? No, He was our example of suffering and what it works in us. Suffering is a training tool to teach us obedience along with the attributes of obedience which are patience, perseverance, character and hope in what does not disappoint us.
Hebrews 5:7-10 says of Jesus, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.” God is calling those that can here this to this same high priesthood in Christ Jesus, but to walk in the priestly calling we must be willing to walk where Jesus walked and suffer like He suffered. This identification with His life will bring the ultimate blessing, but first we must walk through the ultimate test. Do not despair if you are in this hard place of testing and suffering, use it to learn the perseverance, patience, character and hope that you need to press into His highest and inherit the blessing. “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. (Luke 6:40)”

Blessings,
#kent

People for a Purpose

September 2, 2014

Hebrews 12:18-28
18You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.” 21The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.” 22But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. 25See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
28Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29for our “God is a consuming fire.”

People for a Purpose

In these last days God has not related to us in a covenant of written laws and commandments which brought us to condemnation. He has not dealt with us in a way that we were afraid of His Almighty presence and power. We are a people of faith and promise. A covenant people that have entered a new and better covenant that is sealed with the blood of the Lamb and our mighty Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Through Christ He has called His people into a city of destiny and promise. There, in that glorious city we find thousand upon thousands of heavenly host who minister and worship in His presence. There we find the joyful assembly of all saints and angelic host who rejoice with everlasting joy. There we find our God, the judge of all men and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect. There righteousness was accounted unto them through faith in the righteous One who justifies us and sanctifies us by His blood. His atonement is our righteousness. Our faith embraces that righteousness, no longer embracing our weakness and failure, but His purity and holiness whereby He is perfecting us into Himself. His life and blood is not just forgiveness, it is the power of transformation and change. ‘Old things have passed away and behold all things are becoming new.’
We are the church of the Firstborn, the redeemed of the Lamb and the children of God’s purpose, destiny and calling. His trumpet should be resounding in our spirits as He is calling us and drawing us to Himself. For we are the first fruits of the harvest and the ones that He holds up as His standard for all of creation. We, like our Lord, are learning obedience through the things that we suffer. Hebrews 5:7-10 says, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.” Even in the strong tears, prayers and petitions Jesus still had to walk in the destiny of His purpose and in obedience to the will of the Father. Father doesn’t always deliver us out of the fire; He often delivers us through the fire that we might come forth in the purity of His nature. There He refines us as we submit ourselves in obedience to Him. Often it is hard for us in that place to see His purpose, but His purpose is to qualify you for His priesthood. For we are a kingdom of kings and priest. Revelations 5:10 says, “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” 1 Peter 2:9-10 tells us, “9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
We, His people are being conformed to the prototype and the pattern of Him who has gone before us. We, like Him, are being prepared unto priesthood and rulership. We must get such a revelation and vision of this so that all-else in this world and this life becomes secondary to our calling and purpose. We are speaking of our destiny for eternity. Remember what the Lord speaks to us here in Hebrews 12:25-20, “25See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
28Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29for our “God is a consuming fire.” Allow Him and submit to Him to consume everything that is not of Him out of your life. You a child of destiny and purpose, do not miss the great calling that is before you. Run into it with all of your heart.

Blessings,
#kent

Not Our Way, but His

November 26, 2013

Not Our Way, but His

John 11:1-5
Now a certain [man] was sick, [named] Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was [that] Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard [that], he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.

We all have preconceived notions about how we think things should work out in our lives especially in regards to our prayer requests and petitions before the Lord. In this story is a great example of how Jesus doesn’t operate the way rational and conventional thinking would dictate that He should have. It wasn’t even consistent with how He normally operated. Here we see three siblings who were the closer friends of Jesus and whom it says He, “loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.” The sense and the meaning of the word “loved” here means that he had goodwill toward them, that they were preferred of Him and that He would wish well to them with regard to their welfare. Now if He felt that way about them why does it go on to say that when He heard about Lazarus’ sickness He continued on where He was at for two more days rather than immediately rushing back to take care of Lazarus. Now by human standards we may have judged these actions to be highly insensitive, uncaring and unloving. Certainly Mary and Martha may have struggled with such thoughts and feelings, especially after Lazarus ends up dying.
When you and I consider some of the things we have been praying for and the petitions we have made before the Lord; have we ever had the feeling that He was just ignoring us or that He didn’t really care? No matter how hard we prayed and petitioned the throne of God, no matter how much faith we tried to have to believe, it didn’t turn out the way we thought it should have. In fact sometimes we may feel that the more we pray or walk in the will of God the harder things get. Why? Doesn’t God love us? Doesn’t He care what we are going through?
Jesus loved Lazarus and His sisters, just like He loves you. He cared about them very much and perhaps it was as hard for Jesus to restrain Himself from immediately addressing their situation as it was for the sisters. The point that is being made here is that there are times when God is working a greater thing than what is evident to us on the surface. There are those times when we look back at a situation that we wanted God to immediately deal with and He didn’t and we begin to get a revelation why. Because God worked the way He did, so much more was worked through the situation than ever could have been, had it been immediately resolved. God is invested into us for the long haul. We see the immediate, the needs here and now, but He sees the answers and resolutions through the eyes of eternity and His higher purpose and good. Because our viewpoints are from two totally different realms and perspectives, is it any wonder that God doesn’t often operate the way we think He should? We can always rest in the promise we have in Romans 8:28,
“And we know that all things work together for good, to them that love God, even to them that are called according to His purpose.”
You see with Lazarus, his sickness was not about death, which to us seems to be the ultimate finality, it was about the “glory of God”. Christ needed to be revealed in an even greater aspect than a healer. It was time for certain ones, especially his more intimate friends, to get a revelation of Him as the “Resurrection and the Life”, not just in the last day at Christ’s coming, but here and now. By the time Jesus reached Lazarus he had been dead and in the tomb for four days. The natural mind tells us that is a pretty hopeless situation.
Some of us find ourselves in, or perhaps are going through some of those seemingly hopeless situations where by all natural appearances God didn’t come through. What we forget and find hard to grasp is that sometimes God allows us to come to the end of something in order to bring us into a new beginning. There may be those times when it is more than just a “God fix it”, it has to die to bring us into a greater dimension of life.
If you have a situation that looks hopeless then give it totally into the hands of the God of hope. When Martha came to Jesus, she said, “if You had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. And even now I know that whatsoever You ask of God, God will give You.” Maybe God hasn’t shown up because something or someone has to die. In the economy of God, it is death that often gives place to new and a greater dimension of life. Jesus then told Martha, “Your brother will rise again… I am the Resurrection and the Life: he that believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live; and whoever lives and believes on me, though he die, yet shall he live; and whoever lives and believes on me shall never die. Do you believe this?” We then know that Jesus did go to the tomb and called Lazarus forth and his life was raised up.
Some of you are sitting in the ashes of despair and despondency thinking God has given up on you. No, He loves you too much to allow you to continue as you are. There is the day of your breakthrough when He will speak the Word and call you forth in the newness of life in Him. There will be a resurrection day in your life if you hold steadfast and believe. This is a day to come forth in the newness and the power of His resurrection life.

Blessings,
kent

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