Friday, October 16, 2015

Lost in the Almighty God.. a little about who I am

My journey with God began in 1999. I was at a very low point in my life; everything I valued and treasured had been taken away from me. My home, my children, my job, my freedom, all my earthly treasures, absolutely everything had been taken from me. I was debating if life was even worth living. As I was thinking about living or not living I suddenly realized that existence in any form, whether physically alive, or in the spirit, had meaning, no reason, no point, unless God was love, and that he truly loved us as I had been told, but had never seen. It did not matter whether I was physically alive, or my soul existed in eternity, neither one had any worth without God and his love. It was then that I bowed before Almighty God and told him that I was not sure that his love was real, but I had heard that he loved but I have never seen it so I was not sure it existed, but if it did I needed it, I needed God, I needed HIM. He would have to show me his love was real, because I had never seen it. I was willing to believe on a very basic level that God loved simply because his scriptures say so. However I would need him to show me his love. This was the beginning of my relationship with God, and the ending of my simply following a religion.
It was then that my life began to change. I began to experience Almighty God working and moving in my life. The more I listened to God and followed him the more he brought peace, joy, acceptance, love, etc., into my life. It created within me a desire to know Him more and to know His love more. To know what HIS truth is. I had grown up with religion, and it had never satisfied. I had been to many different churches, new many different beliefs, many of which contradicted each other, and I didn't know which ones, if any, were real truths. The love and acceptance I found in every church was conditional, If I was enough like THEM I was accepted.. if I did not “fit in” I was rejected.
I began to go directly to God and ask him what his truth was. I knew with all the different beliefs out there, there was no way I alone could pick which ones were true and which ones were false. Only by going to God and asking him could I ever know what was true according to him. I no longer cared what the truth was; I didn't care if it was the same as what I had grown up believing or if it was something different. All I cared about was to know what God's truth really was.
After about five years of seeking God's truth, God and asked me if I was willing to give up everything I knew in order to have his truth. This was no easy thing for me to do, I had always been fairly smart and I knew quite a bit by human standards. I wrestled over this for a couple weeks before finally deciding that I wanted God's truth more than I wanted what I knew. I finally told that it yes I would give up what I knew so I could have his truth. I began to take everything before God, everything I have been told and believed all my life went before God with only one question “is this Your truth or not”. I would not try to figure it out on my own, I would simply wait until God told me or showed me what his truth was and is. Now everything I know, I learned from God. If God did not tell me or show me then I do not know. But one thing is sure. When God says it is truth it is truth. God does not lie, God is not mistaken, man and religion can be wrong, but Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, it is always true and right. Even today, everything I hear or read is taken before God with the same question “is this YOUR truth”. I believe nothing unless God proves it. Around the same time, maybe a couple months later, it was the spring of 2008, I was listening to a teaching a pastor was giving. He told the story of a man in a Chinese prison for 20 years, who went through all sorts of torture and abuse. When he was finally released from his prison after 20 years, he was asked how he endured all that he went through. He said it was a twenty-year honeymoon with God. To this day I cannot tell you what the lesson was about, or what this story was supposed to illustrate. I was absolutely caught up in the “twenty-year honeymoon with God”. I heard this story about 10 o'clock in the morning, and it is all I could think about all day. When my husband came home from work I told him about it and for the rest of the evening it was still all I could think about. I had been through a fair amount of abuse throughout my life, I could not imagine going through torture and calling it a honeymoon with God. I knew that God loved me, but I also knew I did not know his love on this deep of a level and I wanted it more than anything. We went to bed that night around 11 or midnight and my husband began to fall asleep. I cannot stop thinking about twenty-year honeymoon.
I finally just went to God and told him how much I wanted to know and experience his love on that deep of a level. I had been through a lot of abuse in my life, and had never wanted to go through anything like it ever again. However I told God I would go through it all again, and even more than what I had been through, if I could just know he loved me the same way that man did that could get them through 20 years of torture. I didn't even get the words out of my mouth when I began to experience something I never experienced before, or have since. From the deepest most inner part of me, the very core of my being, I began to be filled with a love so perfect, so pure, which is beyond my ability to describe. A love that started at the center of my being, filled me up, and then flowed out to every living being, even to creation itself. Sheer bliss, perfect contentment, perfect peace, perfect joy, no pain, when I thought of those in my life who would hurt me the worst, there was nothing but his pure love for them, and a slight sadness not for me or for what I had been through, but for them that they were missing out on something so wonderful. A love so great that if I took all the good experiences I've ever had in my entire life and rolled them into one experience it would still pale and seem like nothing compared to the love I was experiencing. There was no more “me”, just pure perfect love flowing through me. It wasn't my love, I could never love that much. I had never heard of this kind of experience before. I knew it was God, for only God could love so perfectly and purely. It wasn't until 2011, that I finally found a name for the experience I had. The "annihilation of the self" (fana fi 'Allah') losing oneself in the love of God. The tiny taste or glimpse of what it will be like for all eternity for those who love God, those who seek to know HIM. It has changed my life. There is nothing I will not do; there is nothing I will not go through for Almighty God. I will never let go of God, I will never stop following God and choosing him. I yearn and long to experience this love again. I asked God constantly for more of this love. I don't know if I will ever experience it again on this earth, and if I do not it's okay, for I know I will experience it for all eternity. I no longer fear death, for me that's it's like going home after a hard days work. I look forward to it when my work is done here on earth. And the things of this world do not mean very much to me, if I have to choose between the things of this world or the love of God I will pick the love of God every time. Not that it is always easy, sometimes it's a very difficult struggle, but in the end God gets his way.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

What does god say about Jesus.. rich or poor.

We often hear through preachers and others, about the deity of Jesus and how we are to follow him spiritually. The Bible tells us that Jesus was fully God, and fully human. When we are not aware or ignore the human side of Jesus, we miss half of the full picture of who Jesus was. As God had writers of the New Testament speak often of the man Christ Jesus, God must have had a purpose for this. If it was important enough for God to have it written in Scripture, then it must be important for me. So who was this man Christ Jesus?

Let's start with the genealogy of Jesus. We have his lineage through Joseph in Matthew, and his lineage through Mary in Luke. If you are like me, you often skip over the lineages because they seem rather boring. But there are some very important facts in these lineages. If we look at his lineage through Mary, we see that she is a descendent of King David. This means Mary was of royal blood. Mary had to be a descendent of David, because God had promised that Jesus would be born through the lineage of David, and because he had no earthly father, Mary had to be of Royal lineage.

If we look at the lineage of Joseph, we see that Joseph also was a descendent of King David. Joseph was also royalty. In fact if we take a closer look at the names of Joseph's lineage we see that not only was Joseph royalty, but he was of a line of kings of Israel. He was an heir to the earthly throne of King David. Jesus, although he was not Joseph's biological son, was Joseph's legal son. He was also Joseph's legal firstborn son. This means he was an heir to all that Joseph had, including the earthly right to the throne of David.  Jesus was not only royalty by being the Son of God; Jesus was royalty physically through both Mary and Joseph as well.

Remember here, the Jews were well aware of the promised Messiah, they knew he was coming through the line of David. They expected this Messiah to be a physical earthly ruler, to reestablish the kingdom of Israel. They expected the Messiah to overthrow whatever government happened to be ruling the Jews at the time. One of the first things taught to young child was their lineage back to Abraham, proving that they were heir to the promises of God. The fact that Mary and Joseph were both of Royal lineage and thus nobility would have not been a secret. Because the Jews were looking for this promised Messiah, from Royal lineage, anyone of noble birth would have been treated as nobility.

Let's take a closer look at what the Bible tells us about Mary and Joseph. We are told in Matthew one verse 19 that Joseph did not want to make a public example of Mary, so he decided to put her away quietly, or secretly. In choosing to put Mary away quietly Joseph was minding his reputation, Mary's reputation, and avoiding scandal. Why we Joseph do this? It is Because Mary and Joseph were nobility. People watched them paid attention to what they did. Human nature hasn't changed,  nobody cared or paid attention to  what "nobodies" did then anymore than we do today.

We are also told that Joseph was a Carpenter. During this time,in hebrew culture, one was not called a Carpenter,  or any other skilled trades class, until training was complete, and they were well established on their own. That Joseph was called a Carpenter meant he had an established prosperous business. This means that Joseph would have been at least of merchant class. Merchant class would be similar to today's business owner While not extremely wealthy, not dirt poor either.

One of the most  obvious we overlook is the wise men and the gifts they brought. they came from the East, now we don't know exactly where, but wherever it was it took some travel time. When they got to Jerusalem they stopped by the  palace first. why? Because they were looking for a very special King. The palace would be the place they expected this special very important King to be. They came to worship and honor this special King, they  knew he was very special, and very important  because a star announced  his birth. Not every  king had a star announcing their birth so they knew  this king  had to be exceptionally important.
The gifts they brought would have been worth traveling  far to bring and in an amount worthy to honor royalty, and even  more than normal to honor a exceptionally special King. They were not small gifts they could have carried on them, but  camels loaded with  all they could carry. Even from a purely worldly view, they would have wanted  to impress this very important king and would  certainly given in amounts that would be impressive, not insulting. The Gifts were gold, frankincense and myrrh. We all know how valuable  gold is. Frankincense and myrrh were two of the most valuable commodities there were in that time.They were often used instead of gold as currency or payment. That's how valuable they were.

Although we are never given the exact social status and wealth of Mary and Joseph, there are other clues such as Mary's ability to order the servants to do has Jesus said at the wedding of Cana, and the fact that Jesus robe was one piece, something only the wealthy could afford, that show are that they were not dirt poor as Satan would have us believe. Even the fact the Pharisees went to the Roman rulers and said Christ was making Himself King over Caesar.  Do you really think that they would have risked their position  and status  making  fools of themselves by that accusation if there wasn't proof  to back up the accusation?

We are told in Luke nine verse 58, and in Matthew eight verse 20, that Jesus said that foxes have holes and birds have nests but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. He would have been Joseph's legal heir, he was heir to the family home,  it would have been  his birthright. That he had no place to lay his head, meaning he had no home, he was in a sense homeless, he sacrificed his right to inherit all that belonged to Joseph. He gave up his earthly birthright. He gave up whatever measure of wealth there was from Joseph. He gave up his earthly right to the throne of David. Second Corinthians chapter 8 verse nine, tells us that though he was rich yet for our sakes he became poor. Like so many verses in the Bible, there is both a spiritual and physical meaning to this verse. Yes Jesus gave up the wealth of heaven for us, but he also sacrificed his earthly wealth for us.

 Jesus always led by example. If Jesus was poor, he would have never had to give up anything in order to follow the will of God his father. Most of us are fairly familiar with the story of the rich man who came to Jesus and asked him what must I do to be saved. When Jesus replied to him that he must give all his goods to the poor and follow Jesus, Jesus was not telling this man to do something Jesus had not done himself. He was telling this man to follow the example Jesus it already set, by giving up his earthly wealth and all position and status that went with it.  Jesus never told us to do something that he himself had not done. There would be no example for us today of Jesus sacrificing wealth or goods of this world in order to follow God.

This applies to our spiritual relationship with God, the physical example we are to follow here on Earth, and the way we are to treat others. If Satan can distort the example that Jesus gave us in any way, he will do so, because it keeps us from truly following Jesus, as we should. The disciples followed Jesus example when he called them to follow him because they also had to give up their jobs and their way of life in order to follow Jesus. The early church followed this example when they sold all their goods and land and gave it to the Lord through the church. And note that when it was given to the church it was not spent on the building, or increasing the leader of the church’s wealth, but to the poor and the needy. In fact they had no building, and the leaders led the people by example. They were the first to follow Jesus example of giving up what they had.

One of the biggest lies that Satan has deceived us with is that Mary and Joseph were poor nobodies. This may seem like an insignificant deception, yet it changes everything about who Jesus was as a human. It changes the examples that Jesus as a man gave us. And that people is a huge deception. If we do not have a correct view of who Jesus was as a man, we cannot possibly follow the examples that Jesus gave us to follow as a man. We also cannot understand how Jesus went through and was tried and tested in all ways that are common to man.

As I begin to get the full picture of the example Jesus set for me, I began to understand what it truly takes to follow Him. It's not so easy then to deceive myself that I am following Jesus and serving God when I am truthfully serving myself. As I begin to understand how much, and in how many ways, Jesus sacrificed for me, I begin to see how I must sacrifice for Him. The more I learn the truth, the more I am set free to follow, because I see more areas that I must turn over and submit to Him. 

Who does God say Jesus is?

A recently watched An interview with Reza Aslan on YouTube.In the video they were discussing His interpretation and understanding of who Jesus was and is. While God does not agree with his conclusions, he does have one thing right, neither Christianity nor Islam have the correct view of who Jesus is. You ask 100 different people who they think Jesus is and you will probably get 100 different answers. Everyone has their own idea and opinion, either formed on their own  or based on what their religion says. What really matters in the end however is not who people think Jesus is, but what God says About who Jesus is.

So here they are so many different opinions about who Jesus is? One of the biggest reasons if not of the biggest reason there are so many different understandings of who Jesus is, is that people read Scripture and apply their own human understanding and logic to what God says rather than go to God and ask him what he means by what he said. God warns us against doing this time and time again."Do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways listen to God and he will direct your path" "without the breath (words. speaking) of God, it is impossible to understand the Scriptures". We think Scripture contradicts itself, because we applied our own understanding to what God is saying. However, when we go to God and ask for his understanding, there is no contradiction in Scripture. When we listen to God's understanding, the Bible and the Quran are in perfect harmony.

So let's look at a couple of the verses that are often misunderstood and cause division rather than union and harmony and see what God says. In the Bible Matthew 1616 "Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God". The big hindrance here is the word "Son". Before I go into what God says, there is one thing the reader has to understand. The English version of the Bible is a translation. The original manuscript would have been in in Aramaic. Which got translated to Greek which got translated to Latin which got translated to English. Any time you translate from one language to another some of the meaning is lost. It's not that it's incorrect, but often words do not translate Word for Word, ideasthat can be easily expressed in one language, take much more description in another language. Also over time words change meanings. So even if you have the exact right word, because the meaning of that word has changed it no longer conveys the right idea. These things are exactly what has happened here in with the word "son". The Greek word that is translated "son" means male child or semblance. Semblance is not a word we use very much. Someone means :having the appearance of". It's often used when something appears to be one way but in reality things are different than they appear. Peter is not saying that Jesus is a physical child of Gods, Peter is saying that Jesus is the semblance or appearance of God in male human flesh. If we restate the verse the way God says he means it would say "thou art the Messiah, the living male flesh of Almighty God"
. Jesus was very much real male  human flesh. But inside that human flesh, was not a human soul or spirit but Almighty God. God clothed himself in human flesh the same way we put on clothing. Jesus is in no way separate from God, he is God. God spoke and created human life in Mary, and it was God himself who live in dwelled and empowered that human flesh.This is why Jesus said "I and my Creator ( father) are the same one." "Destroy this temple (house of God) of God and in three days I will raise it up". It is also why the Pharisees Accused him of blasphemy. They understood that Jesus was claiming to be Almighty God. Not once did Jesus ever claim to be "the son of God". Jesus always claimed to be Almighty God. 

So what about the Verse in the Quran  "And for their saying, 'Verily we have slain the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, an Apostle of God.' Yet they slew him not, and they crucified him not, but they had only his likeness. And they who differed about him were in doubt concerning him: No sure knowledge had they about him, but followed only an opinion, and they did not really slay him, but God took him up to Himself.  And God is Mighty, Wise!"

Once again it's not what God is actually saying, but mans wrong interpretation.. The word that is translated likeness is also translated semblance. It does not mean someone who looks like Him, but is once again referring to the human male flesh that God dwelled in. They did not slay Almighty God who dwelt in the human flesh, they only slayed the human flesh, the semblance or likeness that Almighty God took on Himself.

When understood from God's point of view, both the Bible and the Quran are in perfect union and harmony. Both say that it was almighty God himself who dwelled in human flesh. That the human flesh God dwelled in was crucified. The seeming contradiction completely disappears when we listen to God and go to him and ask him what he means by what he is saying, when we stop leaning on our faulty human understanding and listen to God's meaning and understanding.