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Ask Donnell: Must All Christians Uphold Jewish Traditions?

Ask Donnell: Must All Christians Uphold Jewish Traditions?

We received the following question;

"What can I say to my Christian friends who still follow The Sabbath with every phase of the moon, follow the law and perform all the Jewish feasts and traditions? They also call Jesus by His Hebrew name, "Yeshua". They suggest that I am the one who is not following God's Will for how we are to live and we all need to call him by his "real" name."

Thanks for this question. It's one that needs to be addressed because of its relevance to what's currently going on in The Body of Christ. Christians who have nothing to do with the Nations of Israel or Judah other than their Christian beliefs are using Jewish greetings. They are praying under Jewish "prayer tents" like they did in The Wilderness. They are blowing the shofar. Some even wear Jewish robes and Kipas on their heads. Some rock back and forth while they pray like the Jews do. They utter Jewish prayers. They celebrate bar and bat mitzvahs. Some call themselves Israelites. They have adopted Jewish names. They worship in synagogues. I can go on and on. They do everything they can to connect with Jewish traditions but one minor thing is missing; they are not Jewish.

In fact, this is not a new issue. It's been a hot topic since the foundation of The Church. That's actually good news because if it was a major issue back then, it is clearly addressed in The Bible somewhere. Apostle Paul's God-given assignment was to clear up many of these confusing and distracting issues in the early church. The most challenging issues to deal with in The Church today are ones that are relatively new because we won't find them verbatim in The Bible. Without a clear precedent in scripture we need supernatural wisdom and guidance from The Holy Spirit to present solutions that are completely objective and accurate.

Otherwise, the door remains open for tireless debate and that's not what we want. Nonetheless, this is an "open and shut" case so let's get to the bottom of it right now. First, observing The Sabbath is a non-issue that I addressed several years ago in the blog, "Ask Donnell: Does The Church Need To Keep The Sabbath?" Read it for a thorough understanding of how we should approach the law in general and The Sabbath in particular based on the words of Jesus. Let's move on now from that discussion.

Acts 1:8(KJV) - But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Once The Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples and everyone else in The Upper Room, The Church of Jesus Christ was launched. Instantly, they took the gospel to Jerusalem which was familiar territory. Hence, when The Church first started, it consisted mainly of Jewish people so it was easy. They all followed the same traditions and all came from the same culture so they were able to keep many of their traditions even though they chose to follow Christ. However, The Church began to grow and grow as the gospel went next to Judea, then to Samaria, then to the uttermost parts of the earth. Whether that's the exact historical sequence of the spread of the gospel or not, the point is that the gospel spread from the local Jewish community to everywhere. That's when things started to get confusing. Let's pick up the story from there.

Acts 21:18-25(NLT) - The next day Paul went with us to meet with James, and all the elders of the Jerusalem church were present. 19 After greeting them, Paul gave a detailed account of the things God had accomplished among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 After hearing this, they praised God. And then they said, "You know, dear brother, how many thousands of Jews have also believed, and they all follow the law of Moses very seriously. 21 But the Jewish believers here in Jerusalem have been told that you are teaching all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn their backs on the laws of Moses. They've heard that you teach them not to circumcise their children or follow other Jewish customs. 22 What should we do? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23 "Here's what we want you to do. We have four men here who have completed their vow. 24 Go with them to the Temple and join them in the purification ceremony, paying for them to have their heads ritually shaved. Then everyone will know that the rumors are all false and that you yourself observe the Jewish laws. 25 "As for the Gentile believers, they should do what we already told them in a letter: They should abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality."

While many of the disciples initially clung to their own Jewish people, The Apostle Paul accepted his call by God to minister to the Gentiles. As a result, his approach was quite different. To that end, he developed a reputation of being a bit of a radical in some aspects of the theology he presented especially when it related to Jewish traditions. When news of his teaching got back to the "First Church" in Jerusalem, James and the entire eldership of The Church confronted him when he returned there to report on his ministry.

They heard that he encouraged Jewish Christians to move on from their traditions and customs including circumcision. Paul didn't defend himself. They knew that if Paul was telling Jews to leave their traditions, the Jerusalem Church would be totally against him. So, to keep peace, the elders reserved the Jewish traditions for the Jews and asked Paul to participate in the purification ceremony as a sign that he agreed. However, they settled on only three requirements for the Gentiles; don't eat food offered to idols, don't consume blood or meat of strangled animals and stay away from sexual immorality.

If any of that was a lie, Apostle Paul would have defended himself and he did not because it was all true. For instance, he said in 1 Corinthians 7:18-19(NKJV); "Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters." Ouch! In other words, let the Jews keep their traditions and let the Gentiles not worry about them because obeying God is what matters and not following traditions.

That's just a sample of what he said concerning circumcision. He also addressed it in detail in Romans 2, 3 and 4, Galatians 2, 5 and 6, Ephesians 2, Philippians 3 and Colossians 2. By the time he was done there was no more confusion as to whether or not Gentile Christians needed to be physically circumcised. He put that to bed and dropped the mic. Now, on to the issue of Jewish feasts which is a major highlight of your question. Apostle Paul also addressed that directly so we don't need to beat around the bush with it. Let's hit it head on with the truth of the scriptures.

Colossians 2:16-17(NLT) - So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality.

Shadows.. that's what they are.. shadows of Jesus Christ. He is the light and every tradition is a shadow. There's nothing wrong with calling Jesus, "Yeshua" which is His Hebrew name. If translated to English it would be Joshua. We get Jesus from the Greek translation which is the main language of The New Testament. If you prefer to talk in Hebrew, go for it. If you prefer Greek, go for it. If you prefer English, go for it. Yeshua knows we're talking to Him and we know we're talking to Him when we say Jesus.

There's nothing wrong with celebrating the Jewish holidays, talking Hebrew instead of English, using a prayer shawl or blowing a Jewish shofar. There's nothing wrong with celebrating Hanukkah or lighting a jewish menorah in your house. What's wrong is when we think these things have any power in them when they do not. They don't save! They don't heal! They don't deliver!

They are traditions from the Jewish people that were precursors of Jesus. They prepared the way for Jesus for thousands of years. When Jesus came we didn't need them anymore. We're done with them the same way we're done with animal sacrifices. The shadow is no longer needed when the light has come. Apostle Paul had no problem helping people to realize that it was time to let that stuff go and grab on to Jesus. So, here's the bottom line.

Romans 14:5-11(NLT) - In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. 6 Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God. 7 For we don't live for ourselves or die for ourselves. 8 If we live, it's to honor the Lord. And if we die, it's to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 Christ died and rose again for this very purpose—to be Lord both of the living and of the dead. 10 So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

Christians who feel like it's important to keep the Jewish traditions are free to do so. Personally, I consider them important from the perspective of better understanding The Bible and how God related to the Jewish people. They all meant something and I would love to know more about God through those traditions. However, they are not a law unto themselves and they are not to be forced upon people. They are good to know about but that's about it.

Hence, Christians who believe these are wholly unnecessary and choose not to keep them are free to do so. They can't condemn us and we can't condemn them. Don't let your friends put any pressure on you to be like them and don't return the favor if they choose to do so. They have to answer to God just like you do. What matters is that we all choose to honor The Lord from the depth of our hearts.

We don't have to agree on how we do it but we have to agree to do it. Honor The Lord with your life the way He wants you to honor Him. Love Him with all of your heart, soul and strength while at the same time, love your neighbor like Christ loves you and you love yourself. On these two commandments hang all of the law and traditions. Start with those and you will satisfy God's requirements as outlined by Jesus. That's the end of the story.

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The Power of The Sacrifice of Jesus

Date - Sunday, June 14th, 2015

The Body Church
Courtyard Atlanta Midtown/ Georgia Tech
1132 Techwood Dr NW, Atlanta
GA 30318

1 Corinthians 12:12(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.

Sundays
10:00 AM - Worship With Prayer

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Spiritual Warfare In The Book of Daniel

Spiritual Warfare In The Book of Daniel

Today's blog is an excerpt from my book, "Faith Science". After teaching on The Book of Daniel at The School of The Bible on Tuesday night this revelation was one of the highlights.

In the third year of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia, Daniel (also known as Belteshazzar) had another vision. He understood that the vision concerned events certain to happen in the future—times of war and great hardship. When this vision came to me, I, Daniel, had been in mourning for three whole weeks. All that time I had eaten no rich food. No meat or wine crossed my lips, and I used no fragrant lotions until those three weeks had passed. On April 23, as I was standing on the bank of the great Tigris River, I looked up and saw a man dressed in linen clothing, with a belt of pure gold around his waist. His body looked like a precious gem. His face flashed like lightning, and his eyes flamed like torches. His arms and feet shone like polished bronze, and his voice roared like a vast multitude of people. Only I, Daniel, saw this vision. The men with me saw nothing, but they were suddenly terrified and ran away to hide. So I was left there all alone to see this amazing vision. My strength left me, my face grew deathly pale, and I felt very weak. Then I heard the man speak, and when I heard the sound of his voice, I fainted and lay there with my face to the ground. - Daniel 10:1–9 nlt

I am about to share with you one of the most poignant demonstrations of God’s love. Through prayer, he has given us a direct connection between the invisible and visible worlds. For three full weeks, Daniel went through an intense season of fasting and prayer. In a fascinating display of discipline, he put his natural desires under subjection and focused his life on deep spiritual intercession. Fortunately, the hierarchy of heaven noticed, and God sent an angel with a message that blows this teaching on the invisible world wide open. Like he did with Elisha’s servant, God opened Daniel’s spiritual eyes while he stood on the banks of the Tigris River. In the form of a vision he was given instant access to the invisible world.

Just then a hand touched me and lifted me, still trembling, to my hands and knees. And the man said to me, “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.” When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling. Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twentyone days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come.” - Daniel 10:10–14 nlt

For twenty-one days Daniel prayed for something that God released from heaven the first day. While Daniel engaged in spiritual warfare on earth, for twenty-one days an invisible battle was waged in heaven. The angel holding his answer battled the fallen angel of the kingdom of Persia until Michael, the archangel of war, was dispatched to help him. Once Michael arrived, he took over the fight while the angel holding Daniel’s answer slipped away with the urgent delivery. Daniel could not have known exactly what was going on in the spirit realm during those three weeks, but he trusted God. He felt the necessity in his heart to keep praying because God must have been doing something. Carefully observe the name of the spirit that opposed the angel of God, because it will become very important as we move along.

While he was speaking to me, I looked down at the ground, unable to say a word. Then the one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing in front of me, “I am filled with anguish because of the vision I have seen, my lord, and I am very weak. How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.” Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning. “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, “Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me.” He replied, “Do you know why I have come? Soon I must return to fight against the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia, and after that the spirit prince of the kingdom of Greece will come. Meanwhile, I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one helps me against these spirit princes except Michael, your spirit prince. - Daniel 10:15–21 nlt (emphasis mine)

Daniel’s vision reveals so much wisdom that it can change how we approach the spirit realm altogether. The angel asserted that even while he spoke with Daniel, Michael the archangel was still fighting against the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. The heavenly war was far from over, and once he was done with delivering his message he had to return to the battlefield. Nonetheless, the hidden message in this portion of Scripture begins in verse twenty. Since there is no time in the spirit, the angel knew exactly what would happen after they were finished with the territorial spirit over Persia. An intense battle with the territorial spirit over Greece would follow. Why is that so significant? I’ll show you.

I have been standing beside Michael to support and strengthen him since the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede.) “Now then, I will reveal the truth to you. Three more Persian kings will reign, to be succeeded by a fourth, far richer than the others. He will use his wealth to stir up everyone to fight against the kingdom of Greece.” - Daniel 11:1–2 nlt

The spiritual battle that was taking place in heaven was a precursor to the physical battle that was coming. In the spirit realm, God’s angels were already in the middle of a heated fight with the fallen angel assigned to Persia. Soon after, the Grecian fallen angel was on his way to the battle. In the natural realm, after the reign of Cyrus, the current king of Persia, three more Persian kings were rising to power. Then a war with the kingdom of Greece was next on the schedule. What looked like random wars between opposing earthly kingdoms was really a reflection of the spiritual war. The real war was invisible and was being fought between God’s angels and the spirits behind these kingdoms.

That is so important for us to understand because in these few verses dwells the entirety of spiritual warfare and its effects in the natural realm. While Daniel prayed, angels were fighting for the people of Israel. They were being physically controlled by the Persian kingdom on earth but may not have been aware of the spiritual consequences. The territorial spirit in control of the Persian kingdom used that authority to resist Daniel’s prayers from being answered. Once he was defeated by the angels in heaven and the Greek spirit took over, it was only a matter of time before the Persian kingdom on earth lost its power over God’s people to the Greeks. So many conclusions can be drawn from that, but I’ll leave it right there. The mystery revealed here is the direct connection between the invisible and visible realms.

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Seeing God In Everything

See God

Romans 1:19-20(NLT) - They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

Last night I taught a class on The Book of Daniel at The School of The Bible, a one year Bible school out of my parent's church; Divine Destiny Worship Centre. One of the major themes of the book is The Sovereignty of God. This is highlighted in the following statement from King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:35(NKJV); "All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him,"What have You done?"

It's easy for people to underestimate the power of God because of God's grace, mercy and supernatural patience with us here on earth. Yet, we must be reminded that He is involved in everything and nothing takes place without His permission. The level of His involvement, however, varies according to His Will. Sometimes, it's obvious that He's actively involved but other times it's not so obvious. God may not always get the credit when things go well nor does He deserve the blame when they go wrong but He's involved somehow. Hence, we must be reminded that we can see God in everything. We just need to have the right perspective.

God is alive and active in our lives. We may not always acknowledge Him but He's busy doing what's best for us. When we recognize God's activity on a regular basis in our lives and respond accordingly we develop our God-consciousness. As it is developed, our spirits are sharpened and we become increasingly sensitive to the moving and prompting of The Holy Ghost. With this spiritual sensitivity comes the ability to know more about what's going on around us than we can decipher with just our five natural senses.

Proverbs 3:5-6(NKJV) - Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

There is nothing too big, too small, too important, too insignificant, too complicated or too simple for God. He's interested in everything that concerns us. As a result, God expects us to acknowledge Him in all of our ways. In other words, there's nothing we should be doing that should not involve God. No decision must be made without God's input. No move made without first hearing God's Voice or sensing heavenly direction. This is important because God will only direct our paths when we acknowledge Him.

It is now a habit of mine to see God in everything. If something good happens He gets the credit. If something bad happens I put it in His hands. I see Him in saved time when He directs me away from traffic disruptions during rush hour. I see Him in my investment decisions when He shows me where to put my money. I see Him in a good parking spot at the grocery which saves me time and direct exposure to this blistering summer heat. God might be invisible but His role in our lives is not. It's time we acknowledge God's activity in everything we say and do because without Him we would be nothing.

Psalms 139:7-10(NKJV) - Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.

God is everywhere! Whether we notice Him or not, He is there. He knows what you're going through and He knows where you're going to. He knows what you need and where you need to be. He knows the choices you have to make and the path you have to take. Nothing catches Him by surprise. Before you encounter a problem, God has already created the solution. You can't leave Him out of your life because that's impossible. The only thing you can do is try to ignore Him and pretend He's not there but you know the truth; He's always there. God says in Hebrews 13:5 that He will never leave you nor forsake you. He's with you so acknowledge His presence today everywhere you go and in everything you do. Even if you don't involve Him, He's already involved. 🙂

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Cast Your Cares On The Lord

cares

1 Peter 5:6-7(NKJV) - Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Lately, God's Voice could not have been any clearer to me when He said; "Cast all your cares upon me." Since He doesn't waste words, the fact that He had to say something meant that He noticed that I was carrying around some cares that belonged to Him. I forgot what God said for a few days until yesterday I had a conversation with one of my friends who said the same thing to me but in a different way. Immediately, The Holy Spirit reminded me of what He had already said; "Cast all of your cares upon me."

If you're anything like me, these words from The Lord resonate with you also. I usually don't consider myself to be the worrisome type. I don't waste energy just worrying about things because worrying gets nothing done. However, I do believe in searching for solutions. As a result, when I'm faced with challenges I get to work looking for solutions. Even though it's good to look for solutions, the search itself can become a stressful experience. It can also become extremely frustrating when the deadline for a solution is looming and I'm nowhere closer to finding one than when I first started searching.

That's where The Lord has chosen to intervene. He cares for us so much that He doesn't want us to rely on ourselves to solve our own issues. The truth is that many times we can't do it on our own anyway. We need to rely on Him. Perhaps, that explains why 1 Peter 5:6 starts off by talking to us about humility before the next verse tells us to cast our cares upon God. Humble yourself and be exalted, then cast your cares on God because He cares for you.

It takes humility to trust God with your situation and not feel like you're the only person who can do anything about it. It takes humility to trust God to exalt you in due time and not assume you'll get there only by hard work and/or strategic relationships. It takes humility to give God your cares and not carry them yourself. It's easy to feel proud when you solve your own problems but when God does it for you, nothing is more humbling.

Matthew 11:28-30(NKJV) - Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

God's calling all of us hard workers out there whose necks are sore from putting our shoulders to the plough day in and day out. He's calling all of us who can flip an internal "beast mode" switch when we start getting tired and can turn it up another gear when our bodies start slowing down. He's calling those of us with the "never say die" attitudes. The ones who refuse to give up. He's asking us to come to Him so we can rest. God knows we need it. Rest is one of those four letter words that needs to return to our vocabulary.

Maybe this is not for you because you are resting right now. If so, forward it to one of your friends who needs to hear what God is saying here. It's time to rest. You can't carry the weight of the world on your shoulders because it's too heavy. You can't make anything happen. Only God can make things happen. In fact, God wants to give you His Will for your life and His power to carry it out as the easy yoke you pull and the light burden you carry. He'll take the heavy stuff.

Matthew 6:31-34(NKJV) - "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

God's offering an easy exchange. He's offering us to take responsibility for His Kingdom on the earth while He takes responsibility for all the things we need. He won't need to worry about His Kingdom in the earth at this time because we'll be doing His Will and we won't need to worry about the things we need. Fair exchange? Well, it's not fair but it works for us.

Cast all your cares upon Him. Give Him all. He can carry them. This is something you have to do on purpose. The word "cast" is used many times in The Bible in a very aggressive manner. For instance you will see phrases like "cast out", "cast the first stone" or "cast in the lake of fire". In those applications the word "cast" is quite intense and there's nothing gentle about it. In other words, Jesus wants you to treat your cares like you can't stand them anymore and throw them on His strong shoulders. Don't gently remove them. Get rid of them quickly. Give them to Him now. You've carried them too long. Cast your cares on The Lord!

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June 21, 2015 Posted by admin in Vision

Who or What's Blocking Your Vision Of The Lord?

Who or What's Blocking Your Vision Of The Lord?

Isaiah 6:1(NKJV) - In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.

According to 2 Chronicles 26, Uzziah became King of Judah at 16 years old. He was a good king during the days of the prophet Zechariah. As a result, The Lord prospered him and gave him victory over his enemies. Unfortunately, when he became very strong his pride got the best of him. He thought he could usurp the authority of the priests and opted to burn incense on the altar of God. While he was in the act, the priest Azariah and eighty other priests confronted him in the temple concerning his transgression. Instead of being repentant, he got angry and God struck him with leprosy. They ran him out of the building and he spent the rest of his life in isolation until he died. Interestingly, it wasn't until the year he died that Isaiah saw The Lord. Maybe it was circumstantial but what if it was not?

Isaiah 6:1-8(NKJV) - In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!" 4 And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 So I said: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts." 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged." 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."

Not only did Isaiah see The Lord but he also received and responded to his call into the ministry. If there was nothing important about King Uzziah's death taking place just before Prophet Isaiah's heavenly vision of God it would not have been mentioned. Obviously, there was a reason why King Uzziah had to be taken out of the way before Isaiah could have been released to do what God had called him to do. Perhaps, Prophet Isaiah was called by God to operate in a season that began only after King Uzziah's death. That's a fair assertion. Perhaps, King Uzziah's rebellion against God would get in Isaiah's way. Whatever the reason, God had no intentions of showing up to Isaiah with King Uzziah still alive.

Is there a King Uzziah in your life that has to go before God can be free to reveal Himself to you in a whole new way? Perhaps, God recently moved someone out of your way and you can't seem to understand why. What if that person was blocking your vision of The Lord? What if you had to keep looking around that person to see God for yourself because your experience with The Lord did not exist apart from that person? Who is your King Uzziah? Whose shadow falls on you when the light of God shines in your direction?

Is your Uzziah a spouse? Is your entire experience with God tied to that person? If that person ever fails, will you backslide? Is your Uzziah a parent? Are you still worshipping your parent's God? Is your Uzziah a pastor? Can you only see God through the eyes of your pastor and you are unable to see Him for yourself? Who needs to get out of your way so you can see God for yourself? What if your only understanding of God is what someone else has seen and relayed to you causing you to have a third party Christian experience?

On the other hand, perhaps Uzziah is not a person in your life. Perhaps Uzziah is your education. You're just too intelligent to let go of logic and believe God for the ridiculous. Perhaps Uzziah is your denomination. You can't receive certain things clearly depicted in the scriptures because people in your denomination just don't believe that stuff. Perhaps Uzziah is your own pride. You know that God is calling you to something deeper but you don't want to deal with it so you ignore the tug of God on your heart. Hence, you never get to see Him on the level He wants you to.

Matthew 5:8(KJV) - Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Hebrews 12:14-15(KJV) - Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:

Last, but certainly not least. Is sin blocking your vision of The Lord? The Lord says that the pure in heart and those who are holy shall see God. You can repent according to 1 John 1:9 and clear your spiritual vision. Jesus died so you can access God without any blockage so don't let any sin get between you two. Nonetheless, maybe it's not your sin that's blocking you, it's the sin of others you continue to associate with. Let's return to the story of Isaiah. I think we may have just stumbled upon the answer to why something or someone was blocking his vision of The Lord during the time of King Uzziah.

Isaiah 6:5-7(KJV) - Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.

From the top down, the people of Judah were unclean and it started with King Uzziah. As a result, when Isaiah was confronted with the holiness of God, his own uncleanness was highlighted. In response, God dispatched a seraphim with a live coal from the altar of God to cleanse him. He did all of this BEFORE calling Isaiah into the ministry.

Isaiah 6:8-10(NKJV) - Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." And He said, "Go, and tell this people: 'Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.' "Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed."

Once Isaiah was cleansed by God, he was called into the ministry. That's what happened the year that King Uzziah died. God purged Isaiah from the sins of the people he lived among while under King Uzziah's corrupt leadership. So what The Lord is showing us through these scriptures is that your personal holiness and your purity of heart could be corrupted just by your association. With that, comes a limitation of your ability to see God and to accept His calling on your life. In a situation like that, God is left with no choice but to either get those people out of your life or get you out of theirs. They are unwelcome because they are blocking your vision of Him.

So what's the moral of this story? Don't hang around people who lower your level of spirituality and cause you to drop your desire to go deeper in God. Evaluate your relationships and decipher who in your life is helping you see God better. Those people you can keep. Then decipher who is blocking or skewing your clear vision of God. Those people can go. It's time for you to see The Lord high and lifted up. It's time for you to see His angels. It's time for you to see His throne. Maybe King Uzziah is not a person in your life. If so, evaluate everything else in your life and decipher what is helping you see God better and what is not. Keep what's helping you and eliminate what's blocking you. It's time for King Uzziah to get out of the way. God wants you to see Him on a whole other level. Don't you want to see Him too?

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Understanding The Purpose of The Sacrifice Of Jesus

Date - Sunday, June 7th, 2015

The Body Church
Courtyard Atlanta Midtown/ Georgia Tech
1132 Techwood Dr NW, Atlanta
GA 30318

1 Corinthians 12:12(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.

Sundays
10:00 AM - Worship With Prayer

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June 17, 2015 Posted by admin in Success

The Power of Consistency

The Power of Consistency

Proverbs 20:6(NKJV) - Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, But who can find a faithful man?

Look around. Can you find someone faithful? Many people talk a big talk but when you really need them to be consistent you can't find them. If you find any faithful folks in the Atlanta area tell them we need them at The Body Church. The more consistent people we have the more effective we will be. It's tough to be consistent. That's especially true when it comes to being productive with your time. Human nature is to be emotional and emotions fluctuate. So if we are led by our emotions we cannot be consistent at anything. We'll feel like doing one thing today and something else tomorrow which is the recipe for stagnation and ineffectiveness.

I'm human. Sometimes, I just want to be random... just do whatever I feel like doing... whenever I feel like doing it. Forget the schedule. Forget the responsibilities. Forget the future. Forget what I'm working on. Random people seem to be having so much fun. They live like free-range chickens that drift wherever and whenever the wind blows them. Yet, I know too much to do that. I understand the power of consistency. So, each day I do the same things at the same time with the same intensity regardless of how I feel. Hence, I continually move closer and closer to the fulfillment of my destiny. What about you?

Proverbs 22:29(AMP) - Do you see a man diligent and skillful in his business? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.

Are you diligent and skilful in your business? Many people want to stand before kings but few want to be diligent and skilful to get there. Few want to put in the work. Few want to earn their stripes. They want shortcuts. They want luck. They want someone to do them a favor. They want the hook-up. That's like a student wanting all A's without being willing to study or complete assignments. Or it's like someone who is out of shape wanting to look like a professional athlete without the willingness to eat right and work out. Let that not be said of any of us. We must refuse to be lazy and undisciplined yet expect the rewards that are reserved for the diligent and skilful.

Matthew 24:45-48(NLT) - "A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns.

Consistency is even more important in kingdom business. If we are to grow spiritually, we must be consistent in our communication with The Lord, diligent in our church attendance, disciplined in our time in The Word of God and faithful in our service. Throughout the scriptures, God makes it abundantly clear that He values faithfulness and intends to lavish the faithful with rewards. Can you be counted in that number? Have you been a faithful, sensible servant of God? Have you done what He left you on earth to do? I sincerely hope so. Otherwise, you can get started now.

1 Corinthians 11:31-32(NKJV) - For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

Let today be one of personal reflection. Let this be a time to judge yourself in the privacy of your own thoughts without anyone else being in your business. What is it that you are expecting out of your life? Have you been consistently doing what God requires you to do to achieve it? If yes, then remain faithful because your time of reckoning is approaching and your reward is sure. If not, why are you expecting what you are expecting to happen? It's not going to happen because it's not supposed to happen until you obey God's directions concerning it.

Proverbs 13:4(AMP) - The appetite of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the appetite of the diligent is abundantly supplied.

THE END! 🙂

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Ask Donnell: If we're the church must we still go to church?

church

Welcome to "Ask Donnell". If you have a difficult question and you need an answer from The Bible, feel free to submit it here. We received the following question from Martin;

"People make the excuse of not attending church or most importantly accepting the Lord Jesus in their lives because they say that I don’t need man to talk to me about God. What shall I say to them?"

Martin, this is a great question. I gave you the short answer a few days ago but today let's invest a little time to develop a more comprehensive response. As I stated then, let's focus on Christians who don't attend church. Church attendance is an issue that needs to be addressed because confusion abounds concerning it. What is the church anyway? Let's start by defining it. That's an important place to start because some people who are Christian yet don't go to church think nothing of it since they don't see why it's necessary. The Holy Ghost lives inside of them and they can access God for themselves so what's the use of joining a church? Do they really have to anyway?

Additionally, when we use the word "church" what do we really mean? We know that according to the scriptures, the church is not just a building even though we call our buildings "churches". It's not just a specific denomination even though we use "church" in some our names. It's not even just an organization, per se with our affiliated church boards and church by-laws. So what is it? Better yet, who is it? Let's see what The Bible has to say. A proper understanding of the definition will shed light on whether or not we need to go to "church"?

Colossians 1:24(NKJV) - I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,

Boom! The Church is the Body of Christ. I know, I know I came in a little strong there. Some might be thinking right now, so what? Why is that a big deal and what does that have to do with anything? So The Church is The Body of Christ. That doesn't mean I need to show up on Sunday for services anywhere. It also doesn't mean I need to associate with any other Christians in a formal setting. Why does The Church being The Body of Christ matter at all? Well, I'm glad you asked.

1 Corinthians 12:12-19(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, "I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand," that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, "I am not part of the body because I am not an eye," would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part!

One of the most important points we can glean from this passage is that one part alone does not make a body. In other words, by yourself, you are not The Body of Christ. You are one of the many parts of The Body of Christ. Hence, I am not The Church and you are not The Church. I am only a part of The Church and you are a part. Therefore, when you isolate yourself as a Christian you become a disjointed body part that provides little benefit to the body as a whole.

Pay close attention to the illustration used here. If we think of each Christian as a foot, ear or eye, it would make no sense for any of us to separate ourselves from the rest of The Body. The same way it would be silly for any of these parts to exist separate from a human body so it is with individual Christians. Therefore, in order for us to be The Church, we have to be together. Let's now address the issue of church attendance directly.

Why Join A Local Church Assembly?

1) It's A Biblical Requirement

Hebrews 10:24-25(NLT) - Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Some people miss regular gatherings of The Church and that's not good. When we're together, we have the opportunity to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. We also have the opportunity to encourage one another especially in these last days before the return of Jesus. When you isolate yourself you miss out on the support of your church family.

2) The Power Of Agreement

Matthew 18:19(KJV) - Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

When The Church meets together we can capitalize on the power of agreement. We can worship together with one voice. We can pray together and see more results. We can share each other's burdens. There's nothing like a family of Christians working together for the same goals. Problems arise when people skip church. If we don't see you, we don't know if you're going through anything and we can't help. Show up and talk to someone. We're a family.

3) The Presence of The Lord

Matthew 18:20(KJV) - For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

There's a special manifestation of the presence of The Lord that's reserved for the gathering of Christians. Regardless of what you do or who you are, you cannot experience it alone. This is very important because good things happen in the presence of The Lord. Psalms 16:11 says that in the presence of The Lord there is fulness of joy. Nehemiah 8:10 says the joy of The Lord is your strength.

4) Healing

James 5:14-15(KJV) - Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

When you're sick, if you can make it to church for prayer go for it. If not, you can reach out to your church family and let the elders pray for you. That's how it's set up in The Bible and that's how it's supposed to work. Yes, you can pray for yourself but God created The Body of Christ so that you can benefit from the faith of others, especially the elders. God specifically put these people in The Church to provide you with prayer support whenever you need it.

5) Forgiveness

James 5:15-16(KJV) - And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

When some Christians fall in sin the tendency is for them to stay away from church. They're ashamed and feel so condemned that they choose to separate themselves from their church family. Bad idea! That's the direct opposite to what the scripture says. If you've committed sin, God has provided people in The Body of Christ for you to share your struggle with so that you can receive forgiveness and restoration. When you're at fault, your church family is there to pray for you so that your heart can be healed.

6) Community

Acts 2:42-47(NLT) - All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord's Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord's Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

The local church is a community. That's the model of church that was established at the beginning and it continues to be the gold standard. We study God's Word taught by our leaders together. We fellowship together. We hang out together. We pray together. We help meet each other's needs. God never designed His people to experience life alone so that's why every Christian is supposed to be connected to a local church.

7) Equipping, Edification, Unity, Knowledge and Maturity

Ephesians 4:11-15(NKJV) - And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ —

This scripture presents several important reasons why every Christian needs to be a part of a local church. We need apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. They equip the saints for the work of ministry. They build the body of Christ. They ensure that we're unified in the faith. They help us know more and more about Jesus. They help us to mature so that we're no longer spiritual children who are easily led astray by false doctrine. They help us to become more like Jesus.

What does that mean for people who don't go to church? They miss out on the benefits of the five-fold ministry gifts. They are not equipped to do the work of the ministry. They are not built up as part of The Body of Christ. They are not unified in the faith and they do not have a full knowledge of Christ which is demonstrated by their lack of understanding of The Body of Christ. Last, but not least, isolated Christians are much more vulnerable to false doctrine. They don't have the checks and balances presented by the steady leadership of the five-fold ministry gifts. Therefore, it's much easier for them to stray from the truth.

In sum, even though we can access God as individuals, He wants us to find our place in His Body. Even if you don't have a home church right now, God has put the solitary in families according to Psalms 68:6. Find your church family.

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Pressure

Pressure

Turn on your television, browse the Internet or flip through the pages of some popular magazines and what will you see? You'll see images of success everywhere. You'll see popular, smiling, good looking people with perfect teeth, perfect hair, fit bodies, big houses, fancy cars, money to spare, happy families, amazing talents, thriving careers and everything else you DO NOT have. Compare yourself to any of them and what happens? You will feel the pressure of not measuring up. Man! If I was just a few inches taller. Man! If I was just a few sizes smaller. Man! If I just had a better job. Man! If I could just do something with these gray hairs that keep popping out. Man! If my knees would just stop hurting me. Man! If someone would just notice me. Goodness! My name is not AIR. I'm not transparent. Give me a chance!

2 Corinthians 10:12(NKJV) - For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

Comparison is so dangerous. When you compare yourself to other people it is not wise. Nothing good usually comes out of it. If you look down, you'll feel like you're higher than you really are. If you look up you'll feel like you're lower than you really are. If you look around you'll feel average. When we measure ourselves among ourselves, we measure with a sliding scale which is skewed in whatever direction the world wants it to be. The scale changes suddenly so even if we measure up today, tomorrow we might be big disappointments.

If any of this connects with you, keep reading. Welcome to today's blog. If you enable the audio capabilities of the device you are using to read this message right now you will hear the song, "Pressure" from Jonathan McReynolds playing in the background. Scroll down and you'll also see the video. All I can say is "Wow!" That song has been ministering to my soul for the last two days. The Lord has been using this brother to speak the powerful truth which has the power to bring freedom in every way. He's been assigned to remind me of what really matters.

John 21:19-22(NLT) - Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.” Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.”

Take a look at that fascinating exchange between Peter and Jesus. After Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him, Jesus told Peter how he would die as a martyr. Peter looked around and saw John. So He asked Jesus about John. Jesus' response was classic; "Why is that any of your business? You follow me!" Wow! Jesus made it clear that what He called Peter to do was between Peter and Him and what He called John to do was between John and Him. He didn't want Peter comparing himself to John. That's the Word of The Lord for us too. You be who God created you to be and do what He created you to do. Don't worry about what anyone else is doing or not doing.

Revelation 12:11(KJV) - And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

This topic is close to my heart because just like you, I have had to deal with this in my own life. Let me be real with you for a minute. The pressure is real. Ministry pressure, career pressure, social pressure, etc. abound and have done so for years. Yet, nothing and nobody puts more pressure on me than I do. Everyday I wake up, everything I do, everywhere I go, I constantly remind myself that I could be better and I could do so much better. I'm 35 years old and I wonder, "What have I done with my life?"

When I look around at the kinds of amazing things people have accomplished at my age around this earth I'm reminded that I'm nowhere close to the best. So what do I do? I work harder. I try harder. I think harder. And what happens? Nothing really. I just end up tired. Tired of trying and getting mixed results. Tired of giving it everything yet not getting everything in return. Tired of wondering when I'll finally get invited to join the others at the top. Tired of getting a pat on my back and the customary "Good job. You're the man." Then nothing but the sound of crickets when it's time for something substantial.

I thought the system was "merit-based". At least that's what I was told by those who seem to be enjoying the benefits. If you work hard, it will happen for you too, they said. 🙂 Umm.. really. So, where does that leave me? LOL! I stopped being angry about it a while ago. I can laugh about it now but there was a stage in my life when it was not funny at all. Thankfully, God was with me all along and one day, He decided to kick in the door and turn things around. Now I have a testimony and it's real. If God brought me through the pressure I was under during some of the toughest seasons of my life He can do the same for you.

Psalms 139:13-18(NLT) - You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can't even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

Lord, how can I thank you? I know the truth and it cannot be taken from me. I matter to you. I mattered to you while I was in my mother's womb. I mattered to you the day I was born. You made me exactly the way you wanted me to be. I'm not in a competition with random people all over the world. I am in a competition with my best self. Your expectation is that I be the man you created me to be and I do what you created me to do. You laid out all the days of my life in full detail before it started. You spoke the end of it before the beginning. You did it. It was you all along. I love you.

Romans 12:2(NLT) - Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Oh, you're still reading. I just had a little personal time with The Lord there. Now, back to the blog. Don't be a copy of anyone else but let your thoughts match God's thoughts concerning you. Renew your self-image by seeking out your true self through the scriptures. It's time to discover your purpose. Aren't you curious to find out what God had in mind when He laid out the days of your life? Find out now.

One of the greatest sources of pressure is the lack of knowing who you are and what you were born to do. It's easy to measure yourself against other people when you are unable to measure yourself by your best self. If you don't know who you are you won't know what's best for you. Changing yourself to match what you see around you is a fruitless exercise. Find out who you are and just be you. If you need help, we have resources available at Well Done Online.

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