God is No Respecter of Persons.

As a child, I was taught to respect my elders, those in authority and those in the community.  Children were never allowed to use certain words, nor could we address adults by their first names.  In the community, we addressed everyone by either “Mr., Miss or Mrs.” and their first names – but only if we had a relationship with them.  Otherwise, it was “Mr., Miss and Mrs. and their last names.

From as early as I can recall, I have been involved in the church.  My first church was located a stone’s throw from what used to be the projects in West Dallas.  We were very close knit.  Quite a few of the members were like family to me, both naturally and spiritually.  However, as I look at the state of many local churches today, I’ve noticed a paradigm shift – that has crept in ever so subtly – resulting in a departure from Truth.

Our church attempted to follow Biblically-based doctrine, at all costs.  In an attempt to keep the saints accountable to each other, we held church meetings where issues — moral, financial or otherwise — were addressed, discussed and dealt with.  Church discipline was conducted according to scripture even to the point of ex-communication, if necessary.  We had a senior pastor, assistant pastor, youth pastor as well as youth teachers and evangelists.  No matter what the age of the adult, their area of ministry or service or title given them, we called everyone in Christ what they were, a brother or sister, even the pastor!  Therefore, it was common for let’s say a five year old to go to the pastor and greet him by saying, “hello Bro. XYZ.”  It was fitting, it wasn’t considered disrespectful, nor was it taken offensively.  We now see those operating in ministry being glorified as if they’re deity and take offense if they’re not addressed at all times as Bishop, Apostle, Prophet, Prophetess, First Lady or whatever title they or others have bestowed upon them.  Anyone who has come into the Body of Christ has become a son of God and joint-heirs with Christ; thus, no one is more esteemed over another, no one!

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  The Word became flesh and dwelt among men.  We read nowhere in scripture of Jesus promoting Himself or His will, but always the will of the Father.  We never read of Christ living an ostentatious lifestyle, never seeking fame or riches.  He was about doing His Father’s business.  His focus was on building THE KINGDOM of God.

The body of Christ should be seeking FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness and He will add to us those things that we need.  We have been forewarned that there would be those preaching another gospel and another Jesus.  Many have perverted the gospel and have fallen for the prosperity gospel.  Churches now give preferential treatment to those members who have significant means and social status.  They have assigned parking, assigned seating, and access to the pastor who, in many cases, eventually becomes their personal “spiritual advisor.”  People are being taught that those we see prospering must be godly or are receiving God’s favor and those who suffer are either wicked or not in the will of God.  Many have been duped into believing that churches need multi-million dollar sanctuaries to promote the gospel, and to accomplish that they tease you by making accommodations in these sanctuaries for bowling alleys, theaters, restaurants and the like (with how busy many of our lives are, I wonder how often you’re afforded the opportunity to utilize those amenities).  If we’re focused on building God’s kingdom, it’s simply a matter of each believer looking for ground (i.e., hearts) to plant the seed of the Word and allowing the Holy Spirit to do the work.  Pastors seeking to build their own kingdoms have convinced their parishioners that God wants you all wealthy (Hebrews 13:5) – thus aiding in shifting your focus from seeking those things above — and improperly teach III John 2.  The word “prosper” in this scripture is derived from a Hebrew word shalom, which we know means peace.  Nevertheless, for argument sake, if in fact it did mean wealth, what is the focus of that verse?  John is praying that above all things your natural man grows, succeeds or prospers to the same degree as, or in relation to, your soul prospering.  Thus, the focus is first on the soul of man.  Wasn’t that Christ’s focus?  Shouldn’t that be your pastor’s focus; our focus?  How is your soul prospering?

Over the course of the next few posts, I will be discussing the purpose of the church, the New Testament prophet and the gifts given the church.  Listed below are a few scriptural references to establish contextual foundation for the dialogue to come.

Jesus has given example and instruction:

  • (i) of the Principles of the Kingdom and what the life of those in the Light should look like (Matthew chpts. 5-7),
  • (ii) of where the focus of our hearts should be (Matthew 6:25-34),
  • (iii) that our concern should be as His was – for the soul of others.

The Apostle Paul:

  • (iv) describes how Christ, humbled himself, was not concerned about titles or reputation, but took on the form of a servant.  The life of the believer is to be conformed to the image of Christ.  Thus, our desire should be to imitate His humility (Philippians 2:1-8),
  • (v) in I Timothy 6:3-19 Paul gives warnings to pastors and explains what a good minister will be following after; and

James, the half-brother of Christ:

  • (vi) discusses in his epistle practical Christian living through our thoughts, motives and acts.  If we have respect of persons (James 2:1-9) we commit sin and are convicted as transgressors.

I pray that over the course of these next few readings the cry will be to ask the Holy Spirit to search us, test us and lead us into Truth everlasting.

If God is no respecter of persons, then why are ye?

For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. (Deuteronomy 10:17)

© 2012 Belinda Powell

The Subject at Issue . . .

In English, the subject is an essential part of a sentence, because it tells you who or what is performing an action or is in a certain state of being.  Subjects are nouns or pronouns and are usually followed by a verb (just a little English 101 reminder).

There is also the imperative or command form of the subject.  “Go away!”  This type of sentence has no spoken or written subject.  Thus, the implied subject is always “you,” which can be either singular or plural.  The subject “you” is simply understood.

Recently, I was speaking with someone and a window of opportunity presented itself whereby I could segue into the gospel.  However, while not surprised, whenever I’d say something that the individual didn’t want to accept as truth or relevant to his life, I would get the response that that particular directive was for that day and time or that it just no longer applied.  He could accept some portion of scripture as relevant and true, but not all.  While we live in a constantly changing world, God does not change.  He’s the same yesterday, today and forever.  He’s eternal.  His Word is true from the beginning and every one of His righteous judgments endures forever.  Look at what Psalms 90:2 says, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.”

I agree that the Word in some references and epistles are to a particular group of people.  However, here is what’s important to remember, “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (II Timothy 3:16-17).”

So, for those who adopt the position that God understands the times we’re living in and gives breaks, or that his commands were for those in that day, I trust you now stand corrected.

Place your cursor over the links of the following scriptures:

If in your reading you find that the subject is not so clear, try inserting the word “you” before the first word.  And yes, it really does mean You.  You are the subject at issue!

© 2012 Belinda Powell

Imitation of Life.

There was a time when, based upon what we saw, we could distinguish between “the haves” versus the “have-nots;” what was real versus a knock-off.  Many companies fight hard to protect and defend the reputation of their brands — Rolex, Gucci, Prada, Fendi, Vuitton, Louboutin.  Now, absent careful scrutiny, it’s easy to blur the lines of what’s authentic and something produced to copy the original . . . a counterfeit.  Just about everything is being imitated from cars to pharmaceutical drugs, handbags, perfumes, jewels and the like.  Even grocery stores, clothing and electronic retailers will produce their own store brands to compete with designers and brand names.  Imitation has become a regular way of life.  Having a form of the good life; you know the saying — fake it until you make it.
If there’s any one thing Christ speaks so strongly against, it is hypocrisy.  Recall the fig tree?  From afar off Christ saw the green leaves, an indication that something should have been there for Him to satisfy his hunger.  However, upon closer inspection, He saw that tree bore no fruit and brought judgment upon it.  And so it is today.  We perfect the outward appearance, have learned the testimony lingo and have become motivational speakers using scripture.  What did Christ say to the disciples about the teachers of the law and the Pharisees?  He said they seek far and wide to make one convert and, when they make that one, they then set out to make him twice as much a child of hell as they are.  He said they teach and don’t do and those things they do, is only because they want to be seen of men.  They bundle the word to make heavy burdens to weigh others down and take pleasure in watching them struggle under the load never lifting a finger to help them.  They make clean the outside of the cup, but inside they’re full of greed and extortion.  Outwardly, they appear righteous, but inwardly they’re full of hypocrisy and wickedness.  These people, He said, draw near Him with their mouths, honor Him with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him.  So you see, it’s a matter of the heart and what’s in it will eventually come out.
Without faith it’s impossible to please God.  Without love you don’t know God.  If HE hasn’t changed you, then has HE saved you?   Christ said his yoke is easy and His burden is light.  Are you a true disciple or just an Imitation of the Life?

The Law of The Vital Few.

Many of us have had conversations about slackers or co-workers who we feel get away with things while others take on their load.  We often wonder how they’re getting away with it or, question whether or not management even knows.  Rest assured, they know.  Entrepreneurs and managers analyze different aspects relevant to their business:  staff, complaints, profits, sales.  In management, this is known as the Pareto Principle or, the law of the vital few.  In everyday language, it’s known as the 80/20 Rule.  You recall the scene in “Why Did I Get Married?”  In the end, Jill Scott tells her ex-husband that he gave her up, thinking he was getting the real deal, only to realize he gave up an 80 in exchange for a 20.  Well, here’s the actual theory behind the rule.  An Italian economist began to take note of the wealth in his country.  He discovered 80% of the land was held by 20% of the population.  He developed the principle after studying his garden and realized 20% of the pea pods produced 80% of the peas.  Thus, good managers have learned to identify the 20% that matters.  They learn that 80% of their sales are made by 20% of their team; that 80% of complaints come from 20% of their customers and that 80% of profits come from 20%.  They’ve identified their vital few.

The Word gives a similar distribution of a Vital Few, sort of a 75/25 principle.  Do you not know your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?  God said He doesn’t live in temples made with man’s hand.  Thus, the local church is a garden so to speak, where lively stones come together for corporate worship; yet all in the garden God didn’t plant.  Recall the parable of the sower?  Christ said if you don’t know this one, then you won’t know any of them.  Many have taught and continue to teach that the seed sown is money and that the fruit brought forth 30, 60 and a 100 fold is a financial blessing you receive.  Not so.  Christ is talking about the Word–the truth of the Word–and souls.  The first ground hears the truth, it makes it to their minds, but before it can become a matter of the heart Satan immediately snatches it. The next ground is stony; they receive the Word, temporarily. They hear it and as long as things are great, they are made happy by the Word, but when times of affliction or persecution come, they take offense with the Word as they have no root.  The next ground, the Word is sown among thorns (false doctrine, man-made tradition lacking truth of scripture, worldly views, etc.). They hear the Word, but the cares and lust of this life and deceitfulness of riches become more important that it chokes the Word.  And these are they where the results happen. Here the Word is sown on good ground; they hear it, receive it and bring forth much fruit.  One-fourth of the seed takes permanent root and the result is wheat, children of the kingdom!  What god is planted in the soil of your heart?  God knows those in His garden, His Vital Few.

© 2011 Belinda Powell