The Revelation of the Rainbow

The rainbow and its reason for being is in the Bible. Irrespective of how the imagery of the rainbow is used in the civil rights movement or as the logo for the LGBT community, it has one creative purpose which is clearly revealed in The Holy Bible.

The rainbow does not announce that God no longer judges sin or the sinner. The rainbow announces that God will not destroy humanity ever again by a flood of waters. The rainbow reminds us that God is serious about sin and will destroy it.

The rainbow also announces that God will keep His word perpetually. God looks upon the rainbow and He “remembers”. We can trust the character of God thats why we can trust the covenants of God. Every time you see a rainbow just know that the Word of God, in the Bible, is sure and will be faithful.

Genesis 9:12 –  And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. 14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: 15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. 17 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.”
God kept His word. The next divine cataclysmic judgment that happens to man is in Genesis 19.  … “Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven, …”.  It was not a flood of waters that destroyed all people. It was the rain of brimstone and fire upon twin sin cities. Ezekiel 16:48-50 tells us why God destroyed both cities.

 

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“BREXIT” : Is America Next?

“For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled” (Revelation 17:17). God can sovereignly redirect human history by the opinions and actions of people. God can put it in the hearts of people to agree, vote and decide against their own best interests. God can do this without contradiction because God has already spoken concerning all things. He has a plan that is for good and not evil. His words and His wants will ultimately and finally be fulfilled.

Has the kingdom gone to the beast?  “The beast”  is man unbridled. The beast is man fully exposed and unleashed. Man’s only system is to rebel against God’s wisdom (Revelation 13:8). The number of “the beast” is 666. Man was created by God on the six day. Six in biblical numerology is the number of flesh. “Flesh” is man’s dominant nature. It is other than the Spirit of God. It is in opposition to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:5-8). It is man controlling man. When man controls man all men are out of control.

“BREXIT” is that! It is the mark of man. Brexit is fallen men in power using and abusing the consternation, aggravations, suspicions, accusations, divisions and confusions of a misguided and often misinformed populace. They use fear, hate and to govern people and control their prosperity. Think of that! Brexit is the United Kingdom giving their kingdom “to the beast”.  Is America next?

June 23rd, 2016 changed the world. The United Kingdom (Britain) voted by referendum to exit the European Union. Over 50% of Brits voted to start the divorce from its partner nations in Europe. The reason for this division is based on man’s concepts of culture, capitalism and competition. It is the spirit of the age. Jesus says, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:7-8). 

The European Union (EU) is a politico-economic union of 28 member nations that are located primarily in Europe. This union was chartered 43 years ago in order to bring cooperation among member nations. This cooperation was also intended to keep Europe away from the supranationalism that created dictators in Germany like Hitler and the Nazis and in Italy like Mussolini and the Fascists. The idea was that a union of political and economic consequence would keep all nations connected to their greater vested interest. The EU gave the platform and potential for peace and prosperity in Europe after the Second World War.

The prophecy enthusiasts and end-time conspiracy theorists have intimated, even before the construction and cooperation of The European Union, that the EU was of the devil and and is a tool of “the great red dragon” of Revelation 12:3. The EU is not in this meaning of the metaphor or message in the Book of Revelation. The Mystery of Babylon is an anti-Christ world system controlled by those who have openly pledged their allegiance to the devil and  “makes war with the Lamb” (vss. 13-14).

There are some who teach that “Babylon The Great, The Mother of Harlots” of Revelation 17 is Modern Europe and The Catholic Church. That interpretation is not accurate. Babylon is all the world, not some of it. The entire world remains under confusion and deceived by the devil until Christ comes again to culminates His glorious kingship (Revelation 19:11-21).

All kingdoms and systems of men will be shaken and destroyed. Nimrod and Babel came and went. Egypt and Ramses II came and went. Timbuktu and Mussa came and went. Greece and Alexander came and went. Babylon and Darius came and went. Rome and Caesar came and went. The kingdom of God is the only kingdom that has no end. His dominion is everlasting!

“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear ” (Hebrews 12:28).

 

 

Pleading The Blood?

What would you think if a preacher told you, “Every time you get in trouble just shout, “Shazaam!”?  You might want to think, “Why would he or she tell me to say that? Is that in the Bible? Is that a spiritual law?  Is that God’s protocol? Is it guaranteed to work?”

I can assure you that shouting “Shazaam!” is not a trouble shooter. It is not in the Bible. It is not spiritual law. It is not God’s protocol. It is not guaranteed to work. Likewise, I can also assure you that saying, “I Plead the Blood” is not in the Bible. It is not a spiritual law. It is not God’s protocol. It is not guaranteed to work.

“If ye abide in me  and my words abide in you, you shall ask for what you will and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). Jesus teaches his disciples that if we want things “done” the key is to abide in Him. To “abide” in the True Vine is to share in His life. We make ourselves at home in Him.

There is another abiding. “My words abide in you”. We abide in Him to share His life. His words abide in us that we might speak His language. We can only get things done if we are sharing in His life and speaking His language. I am convinced that while there are many who are abiding in Him, all do not have His words abiding in them.  “He that has the Son has life; he that has not the Son of God has not life” (I John 5:11).  They are saved. They share in His life. They don’t however speak His language.

Jesus is crystal clear – You abiding in Him and His words abiding in you guarantee accomplishment and achievement ! If you want things done in the Spirit realm you must share His life and speak His language.

If you are speaking His language what you are speaking is of the Spirit and in the Scriptures. If the words Jesus speaks are “Spirit and life” (John 6:63) then the words we speak must also have His spirit and carry His life. You cannot claim that what you speak has Spirit and life in it if it is not corresponding or echoing the words of The Word. What gives what we say power is not what we say. What gives what we say power is that we are saying what Jesus has already said and what the Spirit is right now saying.

Let me help you with that. Jesus says, “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18). Binding is restricting. Loosing is releasing. We, believers, have the judicial, executive, legislative spiritual authority to bind and lose on behalf of the kingdom of God. How do we exercise this authority to bind or loose?  We must speak what Jesus has already spoken. Whatever he has said in the heavens is what we can say in the earth.We say what He says! This is the source of our authority and power.

When Peter and John meet the lame man at the gate called Beautiful (Acts 3) they are able to bind and loose in that situation because they said what Jesus said. “Rise up and walk!” Where did they get that from?  When Jesus heals  the man with palsy  in Luke 5:23 he uses the words, “Rise up and walk”. When we say what Jesus says we are bringing His spirit and life into our situation.

Why expect things to be done if the words we speak are not His words abiding in us? We should not use omnibus hollow nouns and verbs in our prayers, declarations, decrees and confessions of faith. We run the risk of “vain repetition” (Matthew 6:7). The words we speak are too important to speak things that came to us through religion and not revelation.

The term “plead the blood” means what?  The word “plead” is used in the Bible thirty-nine times. It is only used in the Old Testament. The top three greatest uses for the word “plead” that I studied are in context: 1) The pleading of God with His chosen people to return to Him (Ezekiel 20:26). 2) The pleading of one on behalf of a personal cause or a great concern (Micah 7:2). 3) The pleading of a witness against a defendant (Micah 6:2).

Nowhere in Holy Scripture is the word “plead” and “blood” found together or connected in the same verse. There is no need to “plead the blood”. The pattern and revelation we see in the Passover night makes the blood of the Lamb a living reality and spiritual dynamic in the life of the believer. “Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt (Exodus 12:13-14). 

The Blood is the abiding power of God’s salvation, protection and destruction. The Blood represented the supernatural strategy of God’s salvation. They could not save themselves. We are saved only by the Blood of The Crucified Lamb. The blood represented divine protection. They were being protected from the plagues of an unsaved society and anything that might destroy God’s purpose in their lives. This is the power of The Blood! The Blood also represented divine destruction. The power of the enemy was broken by the power of the Blood. The Blood “smites”. The Blood is a substance of and for spiritual warfare.

How was the blood made a “token” on the houses?  “And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning” (Exodus 12:22). The word “strike” means to “apply intimately”. The blood is personal and powerful. The Blood will also be applied and “sprinkled” at other times in the priesthood and in the Temple worship (See Hebrews 9). “Striking the blood” and “Sprinkling the Blood” is “Applying The Blood”.

“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant ” (Hebrews 13:20). The Resurrection of Jesus was through the Blood. The Blood that is applied to our lives is the Blood of the everlasting covenant. We don’t have to “plead” the Blood. It is our eternal possession.  “The life is in the blood… ” (Leviticus 17:11).

So when we pray to secure the manifest benefits of the Blood of Jesus we should first praise God for The Blood that saves, protects and destroys. We should then ask for the benefits of The Blood to be manifested in the particular situation that needs salvation, protection or destruction. We can and we should with confidence lay claim to The Blood in prayer. Declare The Blood applied. Decree salvation, protection or destruction according to The Word. Close your prayer thanking God for Jesus and The Blood that still works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New LGBT Vision

Brian Williams of NBC News got it right. “Forty-nine souls were killed”. They were “souls”! We offer our most sincere condolence to all the families and friends of the souls killed in the Orlando, Florida Massacre at the Pulse Club.

June 12th, 2016 was marked by the worst mass shooting in American history. The carnage may be unprecedented, but the evil is predictable. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts,… murders…” (Mark 7:21). The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.

What brings even more attention to the terror unleashed on early Sunday morning is the fact that the club catered to the patronage of youthful lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals and transgenders. We have every reason to believe that the primal motive for these 49 murders was the hate of homosexuals by a zealot of “radical” Islam. While this terror is an aberration of any normalcy or sanity in any religion, there is a distinctive that can be, and I would argue must be, addressed in this critical moment.

Christians must have a response that is redemptive not destructive. At a time like this our doctrine concerning God, pain and evil in the world must be clear and Christ-centered. Our faith is in rooted in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We believe that there is no pain or evil in the world that can overturn the rule or will of God. We believe that after evil has done its worst God can still reveal His best.

So I have a simple response to the evil we have witnessed. I call upon every follower and disciple of Jesus to apply the LGBT Plan For Christians. Loving Gays and Binding Terror. I ask you to join me and thousands of Christians across this nation and commit to loving gays and binding terror. This is how we can be disruptive to the pathetic and the demonic.

How can we love gays?  We can start with being witnesses and not judges. It is the “goodness of God that leads to repentance” (Romans 2:4). We need to proclaim to the gay community that Jesus alone holds the key to their deepest needs. God loves gays and wants them to experience His good, acceptable and perfect will. Every soul that believes in the Gospel of Jesus Christ can be born again. That is the Christian conviction.

Gays and their families in America must be feeling something today that most of us are not feeling. Can we take that into consideration and pray for them? Let us pray that they have a personal experience with the goodness of God. Let us pray for the Holy Spirit to convince them of the Gospel. Let us pray they be delivered from everything that seeks to pervert their divine purpose and destroy their God-given destiny.

How can we bind the terror? We must engage corporate kingdom praying. Jesus says, “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven…Verily, I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is heaven” (Matthew 18:18-19). When we pray together with one focus and one faith we can resist, repel and restrict the intentions of the enemy and his evil. There are prayers we can pray for prevention and protection and not just for rescue and recovery.

The violence and terror that we have witnessed in America over the last eight years has called upon our President to offer national consolation or present a nationally televised eulogy 16 times. the government and politicians have no answer for this clear and present evil. Our only prescription is warfare prayer. We have to “bind the strong man”.  Jesus says, “No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house” (Mark 3:27). We can spoil the house of ISIL and every other devilish group if we first bind them. How can we bind them? How can we render them ineffective?  We must pray and pray together!

 

 

 

 

Christ-Centered Preaching

These lessons will be a daily reflection of the study schedule I normally keep in order to prepare to preach the main worship experiences each week at the New Hope Baptist Church of Oakland, California. Check back daily to see the days added as we progress the preparation process through six days. My greatest appreciation goes to my family who gives me space and time to prepare. My greatest respect goes to the members of New Hope who love the Word and expect it to be faithfully and rightly divided.

MONDAY – Since I am in a series I have the benefit of knowing the next text. Today I read Revelation 2:8-11 out loud.  I am using the King James Version as my first version. I hear the text as I read it. I read it as if I were in the pulpit reading it as my text. This helps me hold the text mentally and begin feeding on it spiritually. After reading the text out loud, I then read it silently. I want to make sure that I am clear on the context. I want to make sure I know what I am reading. I read it until I know what the verses are saying.

Having finished reading the immediate context of my preaching  I focus on the one or two verses that will supply the exegesis and exposition. It is very rare that I exposit or exegete from more than two verses. I have begun to memorize the “anchor text”. I am repeating it and muttering it as I move through Monday. Scattered thoughts may come. I write them down and make notes. No order or structure needed, yet.

The next text I will be preaching is Revelation 2:11. The series will be entitled, “Only For The Overcomers”. The overarching truth of the series is, “Jesus wants believers to be overcomers.”

TUESDAY – This is usually my administrative day. The duties of the senior/executive  pastor requires casting vision, managing the needs of  staff, negotiating the expectations of people, supporting the strength of the institution and providing administration for ministers, ministries and networks of ministry. It pulls me away from the preparation of preaching during office hours. Tonight I burn the midnight oil.

What I was able to accomplish on Tuesday is the exegetical work.  Today I have read the text in other versions and paraphrases to see if they give me any insight or inspiration. I then do the interlinear study of the text. I am looking to see if any of the etymology is obviously expository. If it is, I make the note and return to the word studies.

No word or punctuation is insignificant. I don’t assume I know the meaning of a word in a text, even if it is a word I have come in contact with before. I still look it up. I want to know what mood and tense is the word in. I want to know where else is this word used, especially its first mention. I am using Vines Expository Dictionary, Word Meanings by Earle, Wuest’s Word Studies, Robertson’s Word Pictures and Thayer’s Definitions. I rarely now do my reference work with the Hebrew and Greek lexicons. The internet’s access to sacred languages and their etymology makes my studies less time consuming. Www.Blue Letter Bible can get you started.

Now that I know  the context and what the text says, I ask this question, “What does this text teach or tell us about God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit?  This is where my proposition takes shape. The proposition is the main truth that you seek to convey. The proposition is your sermon in a sentence. I am not ready to preach until and unless I have my proposition. My exposition has nothing to hang on without a proposition.

The proposition is theological. The most important truth that can ever be excavated from a text is a truth about God that changes or transforms the perspective and psychology of  a person. This is what Jesus and the apostles called “the saving of the soul’. The proposition is declarative. It makes a clear and cogent claim that is born out of the text. Topical preaching will not fit in this format. Topical preaching is by definition centered around a topic with a scripture(s) to support it. Propositional expository preaching is steeped in the Scriptures and centered around a text. The text gives the preacher the topic to preach.

The proposition keeps the preacher honest. You can only claim what the text claims. Preaching with a proposition makes you commit to the truths of the text that support and strengthen the position of the proposition. What the text claims must be consistent with the claims of the whole Holy Canon.

The proposition must be positive. It must make a claim that is in contradiction to the negativity of humanity. People need to hear something good about God every time you preach! The proposition is always stated in terms that are insightful and hopeful. The proposition must be absolute. If it is true, it must be the truth. If it is about God it is a truth that can stand any scrutiny.

The proposition is so necessary. It reveals the antithesis in the text and begins to require a synthesis. The antithesis and the synthesis are in the text or context. Illustrations of realities that seem to contradict your proposition are always in the culture. If you are preaching with the proposition, “God’s love is unconditional”. An opposing truth could be, “People put conditions on their love”.  I will develop the opposing truth or what I call “the tension” only after I have the overarching truth. Proposition before tension is the order.

The foundation for the sermon has been poured . I have unearthed the proposition of the text. Now I can rest and get ready to start writing the manuscript in the morning. Most manuscripts take me eight to twelve hours to complete.

WEDNESDAY – This is the most important day of my studies. I am up at 3:00am to review my notes for the National Prayer Call. I am responsible for a 12 minute exhortation on  the teleconference five (5) times a week. After the NPC I type out my outline. This is the first stage in “The Model” for the manuscript.

“The Model” begins with the proposition. After I say what the text says what will I have said? After putting the proposition in the most simple single sentence possible I outline the thesis. My thesis in the outline form is no more than three sentences. The thesis will give contextual support to the proposition.

The thesis is the time when I can articulate and argue some of the more historical-doctrinal points that the text or context lends itself to. This is when I am quoting ancient rabbis and twentieth century theologians and philosophers. My favorite twentieth-century theologian is Dr. Karl Barth. He is arguably the most Christocentric theologian in modern history.

If the proposition is “God so loved the world” (John 3:16) my thesis sentences will support the existence of God, the extent of God and the emotive of God. The alliterations are not necessary, just easy.  I will have the message and mandate in the text to argue that God exist, “For God”. I can argue that the extent  of God’s love is revealed in the word ‘so”. I could argue that God is emotive. God can be moved by love to do the extraordinary, “He gave His only begotten”.

The next part of “The Model” is to construct the antithesis. The antithesis is exactly what it says it is – the argument against your proposition. Still using John 3:16 as an example, the antithesis could be held in the one word, “perish”.  The opposing reality to God loving and giving His Son is a world that is perishing. What does the Bible say about the world and what does it mean “to perish”?  This becomes your case for the urgency of your preaching. Why did you have to preach this message?

The message has to be preached because there is a tension that needs to be resolved. You stand to preach and resolve the antithesis not only in the text, but in the lives of those who hear you preach. There are people whom God loves who are still perishing. That’s tension!

I am now ready for the “Relevant Question”. This is when I simply sit back and ask, “In light of the tension, what has God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit done, provided, willed, enabled or determined to address this antithesis”? The text holds the answer.

At this point you must let the text structure how many points your sermon will have. The “points” of the sermon are supposed to be points of resolution. Once you start to deal with your points  you want your message to be geared toward resolution and synthesis. Sometimes I have one point. Three points are not inherently divine. I can only take what the text gives me.

The Resolution is where you make your point(s). From John 3:16 one the clearest points of resolution is that believing will save you from perishing. God has blessed us with somebody to believe. We can believe “in Him”. We can believe in Him and have eternal life. That is resolution!

The manuscript is well underway. I will not finish on Wednesday. I edit and delete excess in the process. Thursday (late night) I will be looking to land the exposition. Going to bed thinking about how to close the message. If it’s John 3:16 I’m leaning toward putting a heavy emphasis in my close on the importance of  believing in “Him”.

THURSDAY – The manuscript is usually completed by Thursday evening. The development of the manuscript is in a flow until its conclusion. I am still reading commentaries on the text. I’m not real big on commentaries. Commentators can be real good on ancient manners, customs, little known facts from the context. They can also be real wrong on doctrine and interpretation! Be on guard! Commentators have a tendency to filter their comments through a particular dogma. If it is an Old Testament text I will check Brueggeman. If it is a New Testament text I will check Barclay. I go through the manuscript finally to restructure paragraphs, rethink illustrations, delete sentences, reference quotes, and check references.

One of the primary reasons for the manuscript is precision. I encourage all young preachers to write full manuscripts so that you can find your voice and your style for the sermon. It is a scaffolding. You may not carry it to the pulpit but the discipline of writing will better your clarity. Writing the sermon will help to shape well-thought out theological conclusions and propositions. If it’s worth God saying, it’s worth you writing it down. Remember, the Bible is a manuscript. All great preachers preach from The Manuscript!

I am also paying close attention to how the introduction begins. The introduction can begin with the “tension”, the thesis or the proposition. Like a good movie you want to set up the plot, reveal the tension and then spend the bulk of the time reaching a resolution. I never advise that you announce al your points at the start of your sermon or the exposition of the text. No one watches the game or the movie the same when they already know how it ends. Bring your audience along with you. Let them look in the text anticipating what might come next.

How soon the text is introduced is vitally important. You want to get into the text and its treatment soon. Textual, expository and exegetical preaching does not need a lot of “fillers and preservatives”. The text has something to say. Don’t get in the way of the text! You want your audience interested in the text. You want the text to be the main attraction. As I and the other seminary students were told by Dr. Don B. McCoy, “When preaching don’t let your porch be longer than your house!”

The conclusion of the sermon is a call to action, not just a celebration. Now that you have preached, what do you want the people to do with this Word? The close of the sermon is to press for a commitment. Your close should drive a point (or the points) home. This is why I close many sermons with lists or what preachers call “runs”. Thisi gives me the cadence to drive home a point with repetition.

The conclusion is the final summation and the last pitch. How will you close the deal? The late Dr. Manuel Scott Sr. was heard saying, “Preaching is taking a text and cutting a path toward Calvary”. Never be intimidated to close with the Cross. The Resurrection is our Grand Resolution. There are no more powerful events than the Cross and Resurrection.

Now that the manuscript is completed. I spend the next 48 hours in consecration prayer and in the practice of my delivery. I am reading the manuscript over and over. I am reading it out loud and silently. I want to get it like it got me!

FRIDAY – Reading and repeating manuscript.