Friday, February 27, 2009

Jesus, the Completer of Law, Prophets, and All

Jesus, the Completer of Law, Prophets, and All
By Robert Ricciardelli

Matthew 5:17-19 17Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. 19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

King Jesus came with the policy of completion and not destruction of the old policies and procedures…

And yet, how do we reckon with the fact that He did in a sense destroy the “shadow” of what He was coming to fulfill. The Pharisees looked at Him as a heretic to the Mosaic standards. Stephen was stoned as a rebel against the current system, and Paul was a huge menace to the old patterns of expression, even amongst Christian brothers.

If we look at the seasons of God and especially the old covenant, we can see His Spirit driving the contents of the letter towards His Promise for all humanity, His Son Jesus. When the Completer comes, (the consummation of the law and the prophets), the letter is now replaced by the Life in the new and final covenant between God and all mankind. And yet while the letter is replaced, the Spirit of the letter remains in a perpetual continuum, represented in the fullness of Christ.

So Jesus did not abolish, but transfigured the law into His life and furthering the conceptual into His indwelling Spirit for every believer. Jesus engages us forever by being our Law and Guide for everyday life in the heart of every Christian.

A great example of the New Covenant overwhelmingly completing the old, is this scipture.

Matthew 11:11 - Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Any believer in Christ Jesus is greater than John the Baptist and any of the Prophets of old, because of the Promise, and the fullness that the old covenant pointed to. Having the Holy Spirit of God indwelt with us through Jesus Christ absolutely fulfills and exceeds the shadow of the law and the prophets. This is both amazing, and should further our desire to die to anything else that comes against living in the realm of His glory. Oh beloved, that we may all die to self and live for Him in ways that will give Him all honor and all glory.

Matthew 5:20 - Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won't know the first thing about entering the kingdom.

Father has a standard of life beyond rules, regulations, and the Law.

Jesus is the law, the prophets, and the Eternal Word of God transfigured into the Spirit of life, and for all of life. Individual and Corporate Systems and Expressions, bow to the King and the Completer of our faith.

So much of the Body of Christ is still fragmented over the “letter” of what they believe. There are factions that resemble Judaism in expression, there are charismatic expressions, Baptist, and about 30,000 other expressions that just do it a little different, and often in their opinion, better, or more pleasing to God than the others.

When we make it about "our interpretation of the letter of the law", mostly we are missing the point, missing the Life, and certainly missing the unity Jesus prayed for in John 17 about being one as He and the Father are one.
Can you imagine if we realized that it was all about Him, and being supernatural citizens of a supernatural Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven?

Are we willing to give up our way for His way? Are we willing to be wrong to be right? Lord may your Kingdom come to overwhelm us. Override our ways and our religion that gets in the way of your glory being expressed through us individually, as well as your body of light to the world.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lacking Wisdom? Just Ask! by Robert Ricciardelli

James 1:5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

There was a young man once long ago, who grew up in a wealthy household. He had all the luxuries of wealth. He also grew up in the fear and knowledge of the Lord. He was not ensnared by many of the trappings of wealth as he was taught from a very young age, the virtues of God.

As the young man grew, he finally replaced his father David on the throne of the family kingdom. Because he was taught well, and knew the God of His father David, he began to talk to God often as a new king. The Lord loved his heart and his communication and wanted to bless him with any desire of his choosing.

This new king could have asked for endless wealth, or long life, but instead asked for wisdom. He asked the Lord for help in ruling the people with godly wisdom and understanding. As I look at myself and other leaders around the globe who are stewarding resources and our very lives for Father God, the great question is;

Are we asking the Father for the right and most proper thing a leader can lead with, His wisdom?

The reality is, how can we not ask of this if we truly want to be ambassadors and lead well for the glory of God? Leading without His wisdom, His understanding is absolutely fruitless.

We face many choices daily. When we choose with His leading, His wisdom and understanding, it goes well with us. When we are lacking in His wisdom and discernment, it often is disastrous. Disastrous because lives are being led in a wrongful focus or direction; Disastrous because Fathers provision and resources that are meant to build His Kingdom church, are being squandered in self-glorifying ways; Disastrous because those who do not know the Father are watching the foolish lead in ways that do not promote the King or His Kingdom justly.

Here are some directives we must WILLINGLY Pursue if we want His Wisdom activated in our lives…

• Value Wisdom beyond perceived needs and wants
• Allow His ways and wisdom to overwhelm our ways and mans wisdom
• Learn from our mistakes, stop it, just stop it, from making the same mistakes.
• Learn ways to impart wisdom to others
• Check your own heart first for wisdom before the hearts of others
• Build relationships with those who operate in wisdom
• Meditate on the word of guard regarding wisdom He has for you through His Spirit, and ask the Father to remove barriers to operating in His wisdom for your life.

Some Things to Remember

• Surely you desire truth in the inner parts ; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. ----Psalm 51:6

• God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. ----1Kings 4:29

• Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding. For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold. Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. She offers you long life in her right hand, and riches and honor in her left. She will guide you down delightful paths; all her ways are satisfying. Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her; happy are those who hold her tightly.----Proverbs 3:13-18

• The reverent fear and worship of the Lord is the beginning of [Wisdom and skill], [the preceding and the first essential, the prerequisite and the alphabet]; a good understanding, wisdom, and meaning have all those who do [the will of their Lord]. Their praise of Him endures forever. ----Psalm 111:10

• Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. ----Psalm 90:12

• The life-giving Spirit of God will hover over him, the Spirit that brings wisdom and understanding, The Spirit that gives direction and builds strength, the Spirit that instills knowledge and Fear-of-God. Fear-of-God will be all his joy and delight. He won't judge by appearances, won't decide on the basis of hearsay. He'll judge the needy by what is right, render decisions on earth's poor with justice. His words will bring everyone to awed attention. A mere breath from his lips will topple the wicked. Each morning he'll pull on sturdy work clothes and boots, and build righteousness and faithfulness in the land. ----Isaiah 11:2-5

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Chills, Frills, and Daffodils by Robert Ricciardelli

Those of you who know me, know my love for the Body of Christ. I look for Christ in people of every system, organization, expression, and through the various ways and doings of God’s people. I do my best to keep my eyes on Father, Son, and, Holy Spirit, and obedient to His Word and ways. I continue to encourage the Kingdom and will of God being expressed through every part of our being.

The Body of Christ does not agree on everything, but if you are a Christ follower, then you must agree on the major points Jesus expressed through His Word and His life… Here are a few of the truths we all should be in agreement on as Christ followers…

Romans 14:17 For the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Mark 12:28-31 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"

"The most important one," Jesus answered, "is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.

Matthew 6:7-14 And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

9 “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.10 ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread. 12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] 14 “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

And finally Jesus famous prayer in John 17, and the key passage of all of us being one as He and the Father are one, so the world may know Him

John 17:21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

I am all over that stuff and by His grace and through His Spirit, I seek to live in those ways. It is much easier when we are led by Him, to love as He does, and have grace as He does, but also live in His truth, as we should…

Now we come to the point of the title of this weeks pondering… And this is not easy, and I pray you will hear my heart on this.

One concern I have today is for the seemingly abundant pursuit of experience over content. Many in their hunger for God are being seduced into trends that do not breed sound doctrine or a sound mind. Many subjective teachings from charismatic leaders especially, are becoming doctrinal to some, and it seems in some situations it has become a completely wrongful focus. Now that does not take away from the real supernatural and unexplainable ways of God, but it calls to question the hype, manipulation, and deception that comes in the guise of something more, something different, fun, frenzied, and with a “wow” factor kick.

It seems like the more “extreme” the experience the more audiences it is capturing. So we now have a segment of people getting addicted to these experiences, waiting for the next “extreme” opportunity. I have seen several people, families, and churches drawn into this and though it has brought forth some numbers, in most cases it has been counter productive in bringing forth fruit that remains.

Father has deposited everything we need in each one of us to live in His supernatural presence and engage with Him in miraculous ways as He leads us and gives us grace to do so. In everyday life, most of the time He operates in powerfully practical ways, as He is motivated to flow through our lives as relevant witnesses of Himself to the earth.

Jesus was practical, supernaturally practical… What is it you need? And then He would answer the need in miraculous ways… We are now going around as the needy. A part of the Body of Christ is hungry and thirsty for self-pleasing excitement, manifestations, “glory realm” experiences, and often missing the real opportunities of relevant service and love to those who need it the most.. I am all for experiences and supernatural transformation when God’s glory brings them, but it should not be our pursuit, and shame on those that lead others to chasing frenzied experiences rather than the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness.

One woman was so thrilled as she had traveled to 3 conferences in a row that had gems seemingly appear on the floors of the church, (the leader is known for having gems in their meetings). I asked her what it meant to her when she saw gemstones in meetings, and she said that it meant that God loved her. I do not pretend to think I have a lot of answers, but I am always good with the questions, so I asked her. “Can you feel God’s abiding love when you do not see gemstones?” Could it not be severely compromising to seek after a sign for proof of God’s love? Later it was found out that an assistant to this speaker had planted the fake gemstones in the church before the meeting began.

Matthew 16:4 Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign, but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah 6 “Watch out!” Jesus warned them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

Now keep in mind, I have experienced as well as many others the unexplainable miraculous power of God, but we were not seeking after the signs, but the signs follow believers as they follow after Him. I do not doubt that God can do whatever He wills, but they it will be real, and not staged. And because it happens, we hope people do not sensationalize and market that this is what happens when this person shows up at your conference. I had heard of another church that found dozens of these gems. This is a poor church in another country. I asked if they were able to sell the gems and feed the poor, and the answers was no, because they could not identify the stone. They said experts claimed it was from another planet, so they had no value on earth. I asked if it were possible for me to get a sample to do my own test and they declined.

I have a lot of questions. I don’t have all the answers and only the Father can show you His way for you. I am not sharing this out of experience, and I am also not sharing this for any other motive than to encourage the very best for the Body of Christ. If it is not His best or His intent, will we embrace change. Will we go after His best in character, integrity, love, mercy, and all the good God stuff? Can we begin to embrace the “BE ATTITUDES” of His word, and allow Him to bring the experiences of His glory that we need as we worship Him in every day life?

If you are pursuing Him and your experiences are a part of that flow, who am I to anyone really to question that? I am simply asking all of us to consider what we are engaging with. What are our motives? What is Father doing? What does He desire for us through our relationships, communities, and experiences? Is there more that He desires from us in our pursuit of Him?

Lord, help us pursue you alone, and not chase after signs or wonders? May we allow You to bring your signs and wonders as You see fit to follow our obedience to You. Lead us towards your agape love and pursue those who need your love. Help us to not get caught up in feel good phenomena’s in order to serve You and others more. Help us to think less of self as we are busy about your business in doing more good to others. When your presence overwhelms us, many awesome and wondrous things begin to happen. We desire to pursue You, Your presence, Your will, Your love, and expect the supernatural to occur in everyday life. We know that as we allow You to lead us into Christ-likeness, the gates of hell will not prevail against us and Your beloved church.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Beauty & the Beast by Robert Ricciardelli

We have often heard the truth, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. As I looked at the world around us, creation, people, it is amazing how beautiful it all is. God calls it good. And when we look at His most prized creation, people, He has many wonderful things to say. He knew us before He formed us, He formed us in His image, we are fearfully and wonderfully made, the apple of His eye, and all kinds of wonderful things.

So we know that God places value on each one of us. Dirty, clean, saved, unsaved, Christian, Muslim, Jew, or Atheist, God sees value. That value will never diminish from his eyes or His hope for each one. The value may never reach the promise God had planned, which is culminated in the Lordship of Christ, but yet the value seed remains in every human being. Whether we see the beauty and value or not, there is no doubt in how Father God sees it.

Ultimate Beauty – God perspectives

When I consider ultimate beauty it must accompany parts that are not visible at a glance. These parts however will reveal themselves over time in people. Wholeness is godly integration of body, soul, and spirit. In becoming a “whole” person, a person of ultimate beauty, there are foundational features that exhibit His nature while revealing God’s hope for all humanity.

Love - This is foundational because God is love. Everything He has done or will ever do is motivated by His Agape love. Love has many adjectives attached to it, as we see in 1Corinthians 13 and all through the Word of God. And it is a word that encompasses motivation and deed, “doing good to others”, “Preferring others before ourselves”. It is a word that demands acts and expressions of His nature. Loving as He loves is a beautiful thing.

Justice - God is a God of Justice; you cannot separate godly justice from love as they are fully integrated. Many times when justice comes, many may cry out, “but where is the love?” and the answer is, God’s justice encompasses love. Walking justly before God and man is a beautiful way to walk.

Worship – What is it that motivates the person? What is the “apple of man’s eye”? We know that there is only One worthy to be praised and worshipped. Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! When we live our lives, every aspect of it, as worship to our Father, His presence is pleased and manifests powerfully through us.
A person who lives as worship to God is a beholder of beauty.

Wholeness would seem to be an integration of all these in a persons life that would reveal ultimate beauty and not the “skin deep” variety that the world’s eyes promote and worship. It is the ultimate beauty that the world needs, and Father through His Spirit has allowed us access. If we remain in Him and obedient to walking in His Beauty. we must walk in Love, Justice, and Worship. As we do, we will become the soul catching ambassadors of promise that Father desires us to be.

The Beast

Oh but what about the beast? Oh yes He is lurking in the shadows waiting to strike and bring his ugliness out. We know there are principalities at work all around us and yet there is still ourselves that often choose to exhibit the beast. It is called flesh and it is ugly, and comes directly against the beautiful nature of God.

It comes out in all kinds of ways, jealousy, murder, envy, selfishness, greed, lust, and exchanging lies for truth. The sadness comes when His people of light to the world are living in this manner. You can see it across the board from pulpit to pew, from prince to pauper, and many times in Jesus name. We have all fallen short, so none of us have been exempt. But there is a remedy; there is a better way.

Taming the beast

1. Repent - The greatest way to begin to tame the beast and live a life of ultimate beauty for God is to acknowledge our sin, and repent and turn from it. He says He is faithful to forgive, but are we faithful to turn, and stay turned from self seeking lifestyles?

Humility - When we walk humbly before our God, and realize that He is our only sustenance of life, the beast begins to lose some steam.

Intimacy – Father wants our hearts and not anything more. The more will come when the heart is in loving relationship with Him. He wants time with us. Are you giving Him time? Are you talking with Him, listening to Him, and giving Him something to work with?

4. Obedience – He desires this above any sacrifice. He loves “Father pleasers”, so be a “Father pleaser” rather than one who pleases self or any man.

“Ultimate Beauties” the beast cannot come out if we live in His ultimate pleasure and beauty. Love much, Love truth and justice, while walking in it, and live your life, your “whole” life, as worship to your Father.