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Promotion
  • Mar22

    Jesus told His disciples that he spoke in parables regarding the mystery of the kingdom of God in order to make it more challenging for the casual seeker (Matthew 13:11-13). He was looking for men and women who were truly motivated to obey God (2 Chronicles 16:9). Though Jesus shared these kingdom truths with cloaked language, he still sought to convey important insights about how we can experience God’s kingdom reality in our daily lives.

    Let’s begin by looking at the nature of any kingdom. Every kingdom has at least three central components: a kinga king’s subjects, and a territory, or realm, in which the king’s authority is extended.  Here is a working definition of the kingdom of God:

    The kingdom of God is the right, the power and the authority to carry out the will and the ways of our King, Jesus Christ!

    Living in the kingdom means we are allowing Christ to reign IN US, advance His kingdom principles and practices THROUGH US, and to establish His rule WITH US during His theocratic reign on earth at the end of the age.

    A famous passage about the kingdom of God being “in us” is found in John 3:1-8, in the story of Nicodemus:

    3 In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’ 4 ‘How can a man be born when he is old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!’ 5 Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.'”- John 3:3-8 NIV

    Let’s unpack this passage a bit more:

    3:5 In Jesus’ analogy, the fleshly or natural birth corresponds to being “born of water.” During pregnancy an unborn child floats in the amniotic fluid within her mother’s womb. During delivery, this water is expelled. The child is literally born “out of water.” The expression “of water” is used here as a figure of physical birth.

    3:6 In this verse, Jesus is declaring that there can be no evolution from flesh to spirit. Just as physical birth is necessary for life on earth, so spiritual birth is necessary for life in heaven. Out of necessity Nicodemus had to be born from above. His Pharisaical self-efforts would not bring him under God’s rule or into God’s kingdom.  He needed a new birth!

    3:7-8 The words “born again” are best translated, as “born again from above.” Because Jesus starts talking about the wind He is giving us an understanding of what it means to be born again from above and born again by the Spirit.

    The wind creates movement. It is powerful, unpredictable, and uncontrollable. So it is with the Spirit! When we are “born again from above,” we are swept up into the “wind” of God’s Spirit. He is all about moving us to action, obedience, power and courage! The momentous movements of God’s Spirit align perfectly with what we know about the kingdom of God. Far too often, however, the words “born again” conjure up nurturing, protective, or tender images. God’s love and care are wonderful aspects of our new lives in Christ, but I believe the tender ideas associated with being “born again” have led Christians (especially new ones) to feel incapable and overly dependent. In fact, the institutional church today tends to coddle and excessively protect new followers of Christ for fear that they may be incapable of adequately living their Christian lives. Older believers are apprehensive about newcomers sharing their faith, and have little confidence in their ability to grasp deeper truths of the faith. Where do you think this lack of trust in God’s Spirit comes from?

    Perhaps if we treated new Christians as though they were “born from above” by the “fire of God’s Spirit” as God’s word says they are, we might see kingdom results from their behaviors! What do you think?

    In my experience, those who are most zealous, eager to grow, and willing to step out in obedience are those brand new to the faith! Instead of babying them, we ought to expect more from new believers. We should challenge them to submit to their King as His obedient subjects and to start advancing His rule and reign in the strategic places God has situated them.

    When I was a young follower of Christ at Oregon State, my campus ministry challenged and expected me to evangelize the third floor of the McNary Dorm. Do you think this forced me to learn and experience the power of the Holy Spirit in me and through me? You bet it did!

    In the coming weeks I will continue to teach about the kingdom of God and specifically that it is not only IN US but it is meant to flow out of us as the kingdom is UPON US. This may seem like a slight distinction, but let me assure you the implications are huge for our lives! 

    To get you thinking in the right direction, take some time to meditate on Paul’s words in Romans and 1 Corinthians:

    17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” –

    Romans 14:17 NASB

    20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power.” - 1 Corinthians 4:20 NASB

    May the Lord powerfully lead you this week as you keep in step His Spirit!

    In Christ,

    Dale

    dale@daleebel.org

  • Dec16

    Garments for a King

    One of the most illuminating verses in the New Testament surrounds the seven-mile hike to Emmaus and the conversation that two of the disciples had with the Risen Christ.

    And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted [expounded NKJV] to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” – Luke 19:27 ESV

    On that trek Christ may have explained a passage like Psalm 45:6-8 which describes the future King of Israel, descended from David’s line, whose “throne would last forever and ever” (v.6). The king is addressed as, “God,” clearly indicating that the Messiah, the “anointed one” (v.7), is God Himself. This interpretation is confirmed by its quotation in Hebrews 1:8, 9. In this messianic psalm, the Father is addressing His eternal Son who is both God and man—the God-man. This is not the only time these two Persons of the Godhead speak with one other (see also Psalm 2:7, 8 and Psalm 110:1, 2).

    “All Your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia, [bark powdered cinnamon]. Out of the ivory palaces, by which they have made You glad;…” - Psalm 45:8

    Nothing in the Word of God is wasted. This Psalm is prophetic because it is describing the coming King leaving His abode in heaven and laying aside His perfumed, royal clothing to enter a world of sin. This psalm became reality when He exchanged His regal garments for baby clothes as His poor parents “wrapped Him in swaddling clothes” and laid Him “in a manger” (Luke 2:12).

    Later, as Jesus Christ walked the dusty roads of Judea, we know little of what He wore but we do know that on one notable occasion, He “laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded himself…and began to wash the disciples’ feet – John 13:4-5. A strange garment, and a stranger action, for the King of glory!

    Yet stranger still is the fact that later on men whom He had created “took His garments, and made four parts, for every soldier; and also His coat and they cast lots for it” (John 19:23, 24), leaving Him naked to die a painful death spiked to a tree. Finally, His little remnant of friends took “the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes” (John 19:40) for His burial.

    When He returns to planet earth in glory, remember, He will be wearing garments fitting the occasion, as He returns as a conquering King!

    and in the midst of the seven lamp stands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band” – Revelation 1:13 NKJV

    In the last reference in the Bible to the garments of Christ He is a Mighty Warrior of God. Note also from this verse He not only had an imprint on His robe He was tattooed as well!

    On his robe and on His thigh He has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords” – Revelation 19:16

    This is the eternal King and future reigning King of Christmas that we ought to Worship (bow to and rise up and obey)!

    Let’s obey together!

    Dale 

    dale@daleebel.org

  • Dec10

    One of the greatest truths foundational to Christmas is the glorious fact of the incarnation, which means that God became man and dwelt with us (John 1:14). Jesus Christ was also the God-man for we know that before the world was created He was with the Father as the eternal Word (John 1:1-2) and that He was active in the creation of the universe (John 1:3). The Bible also warns us that if anyone denies the human/divine nature of Christ, he or she “is not of God” but rather is of the “spirit of antichrist” (1 John 4:3).

    This problem is very real because “many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1)—that is, those “New Age” teachers, gurus, rabbis, and mullahs who deny that Jesus and God are eternally One and that the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again. When talking about Jesus, as many religions do, they deny the miraculous virgin conception and His bodily resurrection.

    The real message of Christmas is much more than the baby in a manger, gift-giving, celebrations, joy and good will. All these elements are their, but the ultimate foundation of Christmas is about the God-Man, who once came “in the likeness of sinful flesh” to die in our place, and thereby “condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3). This is the true reason to rejoice. “… I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord”— Luke 2:10a &11

    As we associate with people during this holiday (“Holy-Day”) season let’s interact with them about Jesus Christ because He has made Himself known to us. The Apostle John talked first hand of the incarnation when he wrote, We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life” — 1 John 1:1

    Perhaps the only way some will see the Lord Jesus Christ this Christmas will be through you. Never stop talking about Him!

    In Christ Incarnate,

    Dale

    dale@daleebel.org

  • Dec3

    “How long will you gad about, O you backsliding daughter? For the LORD has created a new thing in the earth–A woman shall encompass a man.”

    - Jeremiah 31:22 NKJV

    Long ago, the Preacher, in great wisdom concluded: ” … there is nothing new under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes 1:9b NIV.  This is also the opinion of the modern intellectual establishment who will be saying in the last day: “…All things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” – 2 Peter 3:4b

    In Jeremiah 31 God reminds us, however, that He has indeed created one new thing on the earth. Since only God can “create” (wherever this verb occurs in the Bible, God is the subject), a really new thing (not just a new combination of existing things) would have to be produced directly by the LORD Himself. Of course, God had completed His original work of creating all things long ago (Genesis 2:1-3), including the marvelous mechanism of human reproduction. Nevertheless, because of man’s sin He very soon had to begin a work of reconciliation, and this included an ancient promise that the Seed of the woman would come one day to accomplish this great work (Genesis 3:15). Since all normal reproduction requires the male seed, such a miracle would mean God would have to create a new thing when the appropriate time would come. At that time, as Isaiah prophesied many years later, “the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,” and that Son would be “almighty God,” who would establish His kingdom “with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever” (Isaiah 9:7).

    In our passage above, Jeremiah reminds God’s forgetful people of this same great promise. God would create, by His mighty power, a new thing; a perfect human body without inherited sin or physical blemish, and with no contribution from either male nor female in the womb of a specially called virgin.  Notice how Doctor Luke calls Jesus “that holy thing” in Luke 1:35 (KJV). It is striking that the embryonic Jesus in Mary’s womb is called “that holy thing”; not the babe or the the child or anything else. There is no human word to fit. Actually the word “thing’ is not in the original—just “the holy” or perhaps “the holy One.”

    Are you amazed at the word of God like I am?

    Mary was the first to hear the words, “Son of God” as applied to the Holy One who entered her womb!

    Now that is a reason to “fall down and worship Him” this Christmas! (Matthew 2:11)

    In Christ,

    Dale

    dale@daleebel.org

     

     

     

     

     

  • Dec1

    The Promised Seed of the Woman

    “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” – Matthew 1:1 KJV

    In 2 Timothy 3:16 Paul writes, “All Scripture is God breathed” Awhile back a young man in one of my groups commented about this verse.  He was struck by the word, “All.” This means that even the genealogies and the seemingly endless laws of Leviticus are God’s inspired revelation useful for “teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” NIV. For most Christians, genealogies feel irrelevant, don’t they? One of God’s glorious purposes in giving us these historical lists, however, is to root our faith in the accuracy of the Biblical text and the unshakable promises of God!

    As we will see, the verification of these genealogies can actually serve as practical inspiration for our lives as we find ourselves in this Christmas season. By the way, do you know what the word “holiday” means? It actually means “holy-day”! While the general public attempts to minimize the sacredness of Christmas by inserting the use of “holiday,” this replacement actually proves to be very spiritually accurate! I love talking with people I encounter throughout the day and clarifying that Christmas truly is a holiday (a Holy-Day)!

    Back to Matthew 1:1. These opening words of the New Testament, identify this “book of the generation (literally genesis) of Jesus Christ” as telling of the wonderful fulfillment of the promise to both Abraham and David of a very special son.

    To Abraham, God promised:

    16 Because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son—18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”” – Genesis 22:16&18 NKJV.  This prophecy was directed immediately through Abraham’s son Isaac, but focused finally on Jesus Christ, Abraham’s greater Son.

    16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ”

    – Galatians 3:16

    In a similar way, a unique promise was made to David concerning his own special Son:

    12 “I will set up your seed after you, 14 I will be His Father, and He shall be My Son 16 And your house and kingdom I will establish forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever” – 2 Samuel 7:12,14, 16. Once again, this promise applied recursively (that is, to someone or something that goes before) to Solomon, but ultimately to the greater Son of David, Jesus Christ:

     “3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead”  – Romans 1:3-4

    He was greater than Abraham, greater than David. He was the fulfillment of the very first prophecy of the coming “seed of the woman” (Genesis 3:15).  He is the virgin’s Son (Isaiah 7:14), the Son given (Isaiah 9:6), “the last Adamthe Lord of heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:45-47)!

    “The book of the generation of Adam” (Genesis 5:1) introduces the Old Testament, with its record of human failure laced with God’s promises. “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ” (Matthew 1:1) introduces the New Testament and the fulfillment of the promises, culminating in eternal redemption through the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, who is the very Son of God!

    As you approach Christmas, a most “Holy Day,” let’s use the historical roots of our faith as a springboard, not only to celebrate with our family and friends, but to tactfully proclaim the truth about Jesus Christ. Perhaps our voice could be heard with the shepherds:

    17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” – Luke 2:17-18 NKJV

    Merry Christmas!

    Dale

    dale@daleebel.org