First and Last

Revelation 22:13

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

Mark 10:31  &  Luke 13:30

But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

Our culture admires those who come in first. We give them recognition, rewards, and hold them up as a standard of greatness. On the other side, those who finish last are not even mentioned nor rarely identified. We generally classify them as a loser of losers.

Yet Jesus destroyed the concept of first and last from a humanistic perspective and reserved the title for himself.

With two parables, Jesus superimposed the concept just because one is first or one comes last doesn’t give them priority in God’s eyes. In Matthew’s writing, the narrative of Labors in the Vineyard emphasizes he who owns can distribute how he wants too without any outside conditions. In this case God owns and he can adhere to your conditional promises or he can choose to be generous and give more than agreed too. Since it is HIS, HE doesn’t have to comply to someone else’s rules or expectations.

Again, Luke writes a similar statement in chapter thirteen that being chronologically first or last may be a human perspective of importance, but God works on a different value system. HE will shake up people’s semblance of fairness and determine people’s position of leadership as HE chooses for HIS Kingdom’s government.

Jesus’ own life blows apart the importance mankind places on being first or last. He preached a message of the Kingdom of God which will rule the world. His disciples believed it would happen in their life time. During the three plus years Jesus trained and prepared them for leadership, he also mentioned several times that his mission will eventually lead to his death. They didn’t truly understand that message until after his ascension into heaven. Until then, they continue to jockey for position of leadership within HIS kingdom where even onetime John’s mother asked Jesus to make both her sons sit next to HIM on his throne.

Our culture emphasizes winning over losing. Jesus’ value system places greater emphasis on first serving others. To win or to lose are temporary states of events. Serving others though is a lifetime process which leads to help others win. Losing is the school of discovering oneself and improving oneself for better service for others.

The real winner who has already taken the title is Jesus. He is the Alpha and the Omega. The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. He started the entire human process called LIFE and he will be there at the end when humanity is totally resurrected into a new age.

We are his students putting into practice values which create a world which allows all to flourish. In our lifetime, we will win and lose. There will be times we will be first in line and times we will be last in line. It doesn’t matter. What matters is God freely living HIS life in you where you reflect HIS glory for the sake of others.  Remember, Jesus has already taken the first and last position of the most important event you are involved with – your Life.   

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Leadership 360
Author of e-Books:

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

Encourage a Friend…Share Today’s Message!


Copyright 2013-2020 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

What Does the Bible Say About the Resurrection of the Dead?

RESURRECTION 2

I Peter 1:3-5
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for  you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

 *****

Matt. 22:29-32
Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.  At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 

 *****

John 11:24-26
Martha answered, “I know he (Lazarus) will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;  and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

 *****

I Cor 15:12-57
But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.  More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.  But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in his own turn: Christ, the first-fruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.  Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.  For he “has put everything under his feet.”  Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.  When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made  subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead?  If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?  And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour?  I die every day – I mean that, brothers – just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord.  If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained?  If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”  Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”  Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God – I say this to your shame.  But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?”  How foolish!  What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.  When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.  But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.  All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.  There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies in another.  The sum has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and the star differs from star in splendor.So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.  The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.   If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.  So it is written: “The first Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.  The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.  The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.  And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, not does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.  When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.””Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God!   He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 *****

Rev 20:4-6
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge.  And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God.  They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands.  They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.)  This is the first resurrection.  Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection.  The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

 *****

Acts 17:18-19
They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.

 *****

Phil 3:10-11
I (Paul) want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

 *****

Acts 4:1-2
They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.

 *****

Luke 20:35-36
But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels.  They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.

 *****

Luke 14:13-14
But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.  Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

*****

How does your theology explain life after death in comparison with the resurrection from the dead?

All scripture taken from the New International Version Bible unless noted.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Leadership 360
Author of e-Books:

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

Encourage a Friend…Share Today’s Message!


Copyright 2013-2020 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

Jesus’ Priorities for Daily Living

‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
‘Give us this day our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
‘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.’ Matt 6:9-13

priorities

We can view Jesus’ priority of values by viewing the prayer he taught his students. Today we classify this prayer as The Lord’s Prayer.  When you study this prayer, you notice the hierarchy of values Jesus places on each request. Each request identifies an important value for living and moves from the highest to the lowest of importance.

First, he identifies we are all together on this life voyage by recognizing God as Father of us all. Translation: life is a team sport and God is the owner and coach.

Secondly, he gives great respect and tribute to God for who He IS and what His name signifies. Translation: God is creator and humanity is his creation – acknowledge it and live it out.

The third point Jesus emphasizes is God’s Kingdom coming to earth. Translation: since his entire message during the three-year public ministry was to let the earth’s inhabitants know the reign of God’s Kingdom is being restored on earth, get on board. His government rules through the souls of his subjects executing his decrees from a servant’s heart.

Then the fourth point highlights the importance of maintaining the attitude of a servant following the desires and wishes of his master. Translation: the emphasis is for you to do whatever you do God’s way and place your desires and wishes behind His. You are a servant of the Lord for the sake of others.

The next point highlights how Jesus places importance of not waiting until we are all in heaven, but focus on bringing the richness of heaven to earth today. Translation: your everyday mission is to colonize earth.

Only after focusing on God’s priorities, does Jesus place his personal physical desires and needs on the necessities of daily substance. Translation: we all need food, clothing, and shelter and since God created all the resources at our disposal, he can also lead us to them.

Then his emphasis is on relationships. Translation: we mend relationships by forgiving others. In our walk-through forgiveness, we learn humility and love for God, others and ourselves.

Next, he acknowledges the struggle of temptations which may turn into a sorry state of affairs IF not defeated. Translation: instead of blinding ourselves to the strength of sin’s influence, our request needs to keep asking for help to keep these battles far from us and minimal in quantity.

He also acknowledges the evil around us: Translation: this alone should prompt us to keep in close contact with Him who can help us in times of trouble.

And lastly, he closes where he began by acknowledging God is here forever and His kingdom is forever, and His rule is forever, and His fame is forever. Translation: he is the One who needs to remain the center of everything we think, do, and want to be. Life is His story being played out through humanity.

Final thought: Is it possible one reason Jesus taught this prayer with his disciples is to highlight the important priorities of God and how the needs of mankind work hand-in-hand with His ultimate plan for humanity?

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Leadership 360
Author of e-Books:

Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
Great Business Emulates a Good God
Be Radical…Follow Christ!
Simply The Messenger
Unequally Married

Encourage a Friend…Share Today’s Message!


Copyright 2013-2019 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

Theology 101

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” 2 Timothy 3:9

theology 1

Why is theology important?

Recently we had a lively discussion regarding the importance of theology. The majority of the group believed that the Bible was all that they needed. That theology was man’s attempt to lead people astray. They looked at the Bible through the eyes of one simple worldview. They admitted that all they knew was what they initially learned. They didn’t want to take the time to understand why their brothers and sisters in other denominations believed what they do. As far as they were concern, what they believed was right and others were wrong. They didn’t realize that everyone already has a theological belief. The question is “what is yours?”

First, theology is simply the study of God. It studies the Bible from a wholesome point of view. Instead of extracting pieces of the Word at a time, it looks to bring all the pieces together to form a coherently understanding of God’s hand in the matter.

There is a study of God for a multitude of different subjects. For example, the theology of salvation, the theology of grace, the theology of creation, the theology of the Kingdom of God, the theology of (add whatever subject you can think of and there probably is already a formal study on the matter).

The thought that what one believes may not be absolutely correct bothers some people. The idea that others may have more truth on a subject matter may also be humbling for a few.
The relevancy of any theological belief is simply the Christ-like fruit it bears. If love, joy, and peace is the mainstay of a person’s life, then maybe one may want to listen and learn. We all have a theological belief system in play. The question comes to how close is the study to reality and truth. Of course reality and truth is measured through one person: Jesus Christ. And yes there is a theology of Christ, called Christology.

The more we come to know and understand God, the more we are humbled and at awe of His divine work and physical masterpiece. The better we understand the beliefs of others, the easier it becomes to communicate and relate with them. Therefore, when one’s theology is grounded in Christ, His Word, and Spirit, the journey through life becomes more immeasurable with gratitude, love, and joy.

I may not agree with others theological position at times, but I do love and respect them. My heart fully understands that whoever may be closer to the truth, God in His time will reveal that to us too. The important thing is to continue grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. That is a simple theological position that every mature believer I meet quickly agrees too. And so do I.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Executive Chair, Consultant, Encourager
Marketplace Bible Institute
& Resource Center, Inc
Author of e-Books:
* Great Business Emulates a Good God
* Be Radical…Follow Christ!
* Simply The Messenger
* Unequally Married

Learn. Integrate. Grow.

 

Preach What?

jesus 1

“But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” Acts 8:12 ESV

 

The other day a pastor on TV emphasized that He preaches the Bible. Another preacher on the other station states that he preaches Jesus Christ. It raised the question. Which is the message of the Kingdom? The Bible or Jesus Christ?

Whenever one elevates the Bible or equates the written word with the personal Word, my historical journey is recalled and danger flags are now waved. It begs the question, how do you interpret the Bible? What is the basis of your preaching? Is the main thing the Bible or who the Bible points to?

When a person preaches Jesus Christ as Savior, Messiah, and Lord, the focus in on the main thing – Jesus. The Bible introduces the reader to Jesus. The Incarnate Jesus reveals God to us. As we read and study the life, work, and heart of Jesus, we learn more about God. As we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, we learn to follow in his steps. As we study the Bible through a Jesus-centered Triune God worldview, we have a more solid basis of interpreting scripture.

Our focus is to build a stronger relationship with the eternal God. The Bible is simply a means to this end.

Our partnership and participation is with Jesus; not the Bible. He is redeeming humanity; not the Bible. Our job is to abide and follow Him. To listen to His word as He communicates to us. The Bible serves as a means for God to communicate to us through His Spirit. As we read and study the inspired word, we are open to hear his voice. As we learn to hear his voice through scripture, we are more attuned to recognize Him during the activities of the day. It is His Spirit that inspires us, encourages us, and opens us up to serve those around us.

Again, the Bible is the means, not the message. The message is Jesus Christ, His Spirit, and His Domain. Secondary, but including in that message is how we participate with Him through the sanctification phase.

Jesus is the reason we have the Bible. Therefore, if the preaching is not centered around Jesus Christ, be careful. If the message doesn’t explain how Jesus is the foundation of your growth, service, and faith, be on guard. If the emphasis is on what you need to do and not what Jesus has done, is doing, and will do, be suspect. Remember, Jesus came with good news; not more burdens, yokes, and hurdles for you to climb.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Executive Chair, Consultant, Encourager
Marketplace Bible Institute
& Resource Center, Inc
Author of e-Books:
* Great Business Emulates a Good God
* Be Radical…Follow Christ!
* Simply The Messenger
* Unequally Married

Why Read The Bible?

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-7 ESV

bible 2

When you want to learn about someone, what do you do? Don’t we search the Internet and see what we can find out. Don’t we ask people who may personally know the person? Maybe we may eventually schedule a visit and spend time with the person.

So why read the Bible? Here are some practical, everyday what-if questions that point to the Bible.

* What if you had the means to develop a more intimate relationship with the Living God finding out more about Him? His heart? His mind? His character?

* What if you could better understand the interrelationship between His work on earth and heaven?

* What if you could learn ways to unleash His authority to impact your world today?

* What if you could explore and truly integrate the impact of heavenly Virtue into your micro world?

* What if you could discover how to fully merge the spiritual treasurers of heaven into the physical realities of everyday life?

* What if you could stop making the same mistakes others have made? Isn’t it smarter to learn from the successes and failures of others?

* What if you had an avenue that allowed you to listen for the Holy Spirit to interpret God’s Will as it personally applies to you?

* What if you had a source that contains a storehouse of life-giving, energized knowledge, wisdom, and understanding for every season of life?

* What if you had your own personal guide written specifically for you to acquire practical knowledge of the best finance, marriage, family, and business practices proven over millenniums of time?

* What if you had a source that reveals how God interrelates with humanity and how you could better interrelate with Him?

* What if you could more easily identify the Truth and its implications within reality?

* What if you had a written script to help you better understand your purpose in life?

The Bible expresses the love, grace, and authority of Jesus Christ. If you want to serve the King of King, don’t you think if would help you to better understand what His plans, purpose, methods, and means are for you and for the sake of others? What if you spent a few more minutes each day discovering more about the Triune God? What difference do you think it would make in your world? It may not be a radical idea, but its implementation certainly is.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Executive Chair, Consultant, Encourager
Marketplace Bible Institute
& Resource Center, Inc
Author of e-Books:
* Great Business Emulates a Good God
* Be Radical…Follow Christ!
* Simply The Messenger
* Unequally Married

Learn. Integrate. Grow.

 

God’s Plan For You

reflection 3

“For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:10-14 ESV

Every time I hear a message about God encouraging the nation Israel through Jeremiah with the above words, I cringe. Most of the time I hold my breath because someone most likely will extract a portion of this scripture to illustrate a point without fully expounding its ramifications. I have been taught to read scripture in context first, understand its cultural and historical significance in its time, and then expound its application into today’s world. Most of the time lately this scripture is used from the pulpit as a short cut to motivate people to trust in God with their future plans.

When read in context, one quickly recognizes that the Lord made a specific promise to Israel. After being disciplined through seventy years of exile, He will restore their nation. A specific prophecy for a specific nation for a specific time in history. What this scripture truly reveals is that the Lord’s purpose will always be accomplished.

What does this mean for you and me?
* God has a plan He started at the foundation of the universe that includes you.
* It is God’s plan, not yours or mine.
* Our plans most likely are not God’s plan.
* The earlier we learn to accept God’s plan and join him in it, the quicker we will experience a deeper relationship with Him.
* As we develop a deeper relationship with Him, the greater His Spirit lives in us, influences us, and empowers us to live life the way He originally created life too be.
* The brokenness of sin slowly dissipates from our lives and is replaced with the riches of His eternal glory.
* We don’t have to wait for heaven; heaven arrives now in Christ as He lives in us.

We do not have to take scripture out of context to make a point. God has a plan that includes you and me. His desire is for all humanity to join him within the Triune God circle. Today, we are heirs, children, and servants of the King of Kings. He joyously and lovingly invites us to now participate in His work to redeem all creation into His original intent (Romans 8:20-21).

So why misuse scriptures to make a point? Isn’t the truth already radical enough?

Yours in Christ,

Dr. Mike

Executive Chair, Consultant, Encourager
Marketplace Bible Institute
& Resource Center, Inc
Author of e-Books:
* Great Business Emulates a Good God
* Be Radical…Follow Christ!
* Simply The Messenger
* Unequally Married

Learn. Integrate. Grow.