Sunday, December 16, 2018

The Broken Little Lamp

Once there was a little lamp. This little lamp was not very ornate. It had a simple white lampshade. Its stand was very plain. It base was flat. However, it did have a very bright bulb that its Maker had given it.

The lamp stood alone inside a very dark room with no windows or other sources of light. People came from all around because of the light produced by the little lamp. The little lamp was happy that people were able to come to the light, but mostly it was happy because it was the lamp that was giving the light.

After a while, the Maker started putting other lamps in the room. Some of them were not as bright as the little lamp, but some were brighter. Some were plainly designed like the little lamp, but some were more ornate and colorful. Eventually, the whole room was full of light and the little lamp didn't feel very special any more.

So one day, the little lamp decided it wanted to be more colorful, so it stole the lampshade from one of the other lamps. "That was a gift from my Maker!" the other lamp contended. "I'll make good use of it," the little lamp replied. What it meant was "better" use of it, but it didn't want to sound prideful.

However, the colorful lampshade didn't do the little lamp any good because people still didn't notice a single lamp amidst a room full of lamps. So the little lamp decided to wobble around. Since none of the other lamps were doing that, it thought that surely this would get it attention.

And it did. For a while, any time someone new came in the room, they would be drawn immediately to the little wobbling lamp because they had never seen anything like that before. They brought their friends to see the wobbling lamp.

But after a while, people wanted to look at the other lamps in the room. The little wobbling lamp didn't like this and so it would wobble toward the people and bump into them. The people didn't like this and one of them finally took the lamp and tossed it across the room, cracking its base.

The little lamp was angry because it couldn't wobble anymore and now it also couldn't stand up straight and tall like it used to. In its anger, it cried out to the Maker to fix its base.

The Maker, though, knowing exactly what had happened smiled compassionately and said, "I've given you a bright bulb to shine in that dark room. That is the reason I made you. I didn't make you with a colorful lampshade because you don't need it. I didn't make you to wobble around because that's not useful. I made you to be a light in a room so that people can find the room, not you."

"But He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough--always available--regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me. - 2 CORINTHIANS 12:9 (AMP)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Billy's Story

There was once a boy named Billy. One day, Billy's father had to do some remodeling on the house and told Billy to go play outside. Before he left, though, Billy's father gave him some instructions.

"Go on out and play," Billy's father said. "You can play with any of the toys in our yard. You can feed the birds. You can watch the squirrels run along the power lines. I've even built you a clubhouse that you can play in. But there's one thing you must not do."

"What's that?" Billy asked.

"Don't leave our yard," his father said.

"Why not?" Billy inquired.

"It's not safe for you outside of our yard," his father explained. "Also, there's a mean boy named Jimmy who lives down the road. And if you go into his yard, you will be out of my reach if something happens to you."

"Okay, Dad," Billy nodded. "I'll stay in our yard."

"Good," his dad said, smiling. "And there's one more thing."

Billy's father looked at him intently and became very very serious.

"Jimmy doesn't like to stay in his yard. He likes to come in other people's yards. He'll act like he's your friend, but he's actually very mean and he will hurt you," he said.

"That's okay, Dad," Billy said. "If I see Jimmy coming, I'll run back in the house."

"No," his father said. "You can't come back in the house until I get the remodeling done."

"Then what do I do?" Billy asked.

"If you see Jimmy coming, just call to me and I'll come out and make him leave."

"Okay, Dad," Billy said and headed outside.

But as soon as Billy left the house, he got distracted by all the toys and fun things to do and forgot what his father said about leaving the yard.

Sure enough, it wasn't long before Jimmy came walking down the road. Billy saw him and called for his father. Immediately, Billy's father came out and ran Jimmy off. Billy went back to playing and soon forgot about the whole incident.

Later, Billy heard strange sounds coming from the other side of the fence. What was that? Was that...laughter?

Yes, laughter! Children's laughter! There were other children next door. Billy wanted to invite them over, but what about the fence?

"Hey!" Billy called. "Come around the fence and come play in my yard!"

"No!" they replied. "You come play in our yard!"

"Okay!" Billy said excitedly. Then he walked along until he found where the fence ended at the sidewalk. Without a second thought, Billy left his yard and went over to the neighbor's yard.

Just as he had expected, there were children playing and having fun. Billy joined in and was having a wonderful time.

But soon, Jimmy came down the road. Billy saw him coming and thought of what his father had said. But Billy wasn't in his own yard.

"Dad!" Billy yelled. His father heard him and ran outside.

"What is it, Billy? Where are you?"

"I'm-" Billy realized his father wouldn't be pleased with him. "I'm talking to the children next door. I'm inviting them to come to our house to play."

"Why did you leave the yard?" his father asked.

"Because I heard the children playing and realized they didn't have you to protect them from Jimmy."

"That was very thoughtful of you, Billy," his father said. "But you need to come back to our yard."

"Okay, Dad," Billy said. So he did.

But Jimmy kept coming. Billy wondered what would happen when Jimmy got in the other kids' yard. Maybe their dad will make Jimmy leave.

Finally, Jimmy entered the neighbor's yard. Billy waited nervously for the sounds of kids getting beat up.

But the sounds never came. In fact, it sounded like they were all having fun together. Billy became very curious and soon he found himself back over in the neighbor's yard.

Jimmy was nothing like he expected. Jimmy was joking and playing and everyone was having fun.

"Hey, I have an idea," Jimmy finally said. "Why don't we all go to MY house to play? I have lots of cool toys."

"I don't think I should," Billy said.

"Why not?" Jimmy asked.

"Because my dad wouldn't like it," Billy answered. "He said that if I went to your yard, that something bad would happen to me."

"Really?" Jimmy said. "What else did he say?"

"He said you were mean."

"And do I seem mean to you?" Jimmy prompted.

"Well, no," Billy said. "You seem very nice."

"Exactly," Jimmy said. "It sounds like your dad just doesn't want you to have fun."

But Billy didn't think that was true. Surely his father wanted him to have fun. That's why he sent him outside to play, right?

Billy must have heard him wrong.

"Okay," Billy said, smiling. "Let's go!"

So all the kids went to Jimmy's yard. It was surrounded by a fence, but Jimmy opened the gate and let everyone in. Once they were inside, he closed the gate.

Billy had never seen such amazing toys! Before long, all the kids were playing and having a wonderful time.

"Let's play a game," Jimmy said. "Let's play tag. I'll be it."

"How do you play tag?" Billy asked because he'd never played before.

"It's easy," Jimmy said. "I'm it, so I have to chase everyone."

"What happens if you catch us?" Billy asked.

"You'll find out," Jimmy said coyly and started chasing the kids.

It was fun! Everyone was running around and laughing because Jimmy couldn't catch them. But soon, Jimmy caught someone.

Billy laughed and watched, wondering what would happen. But the next part wasn't fun at all.

Jimmy laughed as he grabbed the other boy and swung his fist, hitting him right in the face!

The boy cried and ran away, but he had nowhere to go. So he just sat down.

"Come on," Jimmy said, laughing maniacally. "You're it now!"

"But I don't want to play anymore," the boy said.

"Fine," Jimmy said, turning his attention to Billy. "I'm it again!"

Billy started running, but he soon realized that he wasn't fast enough to outrun Jimmy. Finally, Jimmy caught him.

In that moment, Billy did the only thing he could think of.

"Dad, help!" he called.

From down the road, he heard his father answer. "Come home, Billy! I'll protect you."

But just then, Jimmy stopped.

"Don't leave," he said. "I'm just playing. We can play something else if you want."

Billy thought about that. He looked around at all the cool toys again. Wow, they were cool.

"Nevermind, Dad!" Billy said. "I'm fine!"

And with that, they all went back to playing.

But it wasn't long before Jimmy wanted to play tag again.

"I don't want to play tag," Billy said. "I just want to play with the toys."

"If you play tag one more time, I'll let you play with my toys," Jimmy said. So Billy agreed.

And soon, Jimmy caught him and beat him up.

Billy didn't understand why his father didn't stop Jimmy from beating him up. Surely he wanted Billy to have fun. He DID say, "Go outside and play," right? That's what he was doing!

And Billy knew his dad was smart - like, REALLY smart. So he knew Jimmy would beat him up.

"I don't understand why my dad is letting you beat me up," Billy said.

"There's only one logical conclusion," Jimmy said smugly. "Your dad must want you to learn something from getting beat up."

Billy agreed. "That makes sense. He's really smart and I don't know everything he does. So if he wants me to play outside and he knows playing outside means I get beat up, then he must have a reason for letting me get beat up."

Your father does not want the devil to beat you up. He doesn't want you sick. He doesn't want you broke. He doesn't want you sad and fearful. But it's your decision.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Revelation of Faith

The Lord woke me in the night with a perfect way to illustrate faith. Imagine you get a large package delivered to your door. The label on the box indicates that there is a bicycle inside. You open the box but find that there are only pieces in the box. Some are large and definitely look like bicycle parts. Others are smaller and seem like they could be anything. There are also nuts and bolts of various sizes.

Now, put together, these pieces SHOULD be a bicycle. But they are not currently a bicycle - at least, not to my eyes. But, in reality, they ARE the bicycle. When I put the pieces together, a bicycle isn't going to just materialize where the pieces used to be.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." - Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)

Think of those bicycle pieces as faith. And think of the end product as the things you hope for.

"Jesus said to them, 'Have faith in God.' For I say to you that whoever says to this mountain, 'Lift up and be thrown into the sea' and is not withdrawn from it in his heart (innermost being where he is honest with himself), but instead has faith that whatever he says shall be brought into being, that 'whatever' exists because that person says it does." - Mark 11:22-23

Now, you can't make those bicycle parts yourself. They have to be delivered to you. God delivers faith to you. You can't muster it up yourself. Therefore, it's not belief. So how do we get it delivered to us?

"Therefore, faith is from hearing. But more specifically, the hearing of the spoken word of God." - Romans 10:17

The Greek word I translated as "spoken word" in that verse is rhema. And that is the literal meaning of the word. But in a Biblical sense, the words logos (written word) and rhema (spoken word) have a deeper meaning, which I covered here, but here's a basic summary.

You read God's Word (logos) and, suddenly, a scripture jumps out at you. You have a new understanding of it. What happened? It "spoke" to you. That logos just became rhema!

Or, you're sitting in church and the preacher brings out a scripture that you'd read many times, but this time - aha! That's rhema.

Anyway you get it, it has to be rhema or it's not going to effective. (Note that I am NOT saying logos has no value. I'm just saying that in order for you to be able to use the Word in an effective way, it has to be rhema.)

So it's not about believing hard enough for a bicycle to manifest. It's about discovering the pieces necessary to make the bicycle.

Or, more literally, it's not about believing hard enough for your loved ones to be saved, or for healing, or for prosperity. It's about asking God what He wants you to do and studying His Word until you find it.

Or, as Jesus put it, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." - Matthew 6:33 (KJV)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Don't Give Up!

I posted a while back about suffering and how we often misuse the word when it comes to referencing the King James Version. Well, today, the Lord brought another scripture to mind. I had heard the reference, but never really knew where it was. He told me, "Check it out. It doesn't mean what you've been told it means."

So I did.

"If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:" - 2 Timothy 2:12 (KJV)

As you might have guessed, that word "suffer" is what we're going to focus on.

The Greek word used here is ὑπομένομεν (transliterated as "hypomeno").

"Hypo" is a prefix we use which means "under." (For example, a hypodermic needle is inserted under the skin.)

"Meno" is the Greek word used in John 15:7, when Jesus said, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." It means to remain.

So Paul didn't tell Timothy that he had to suffer. He said he had to "remain under." It's another way of saying "stick with it," or - more precisely - stick with HIM.

Here's the message Paul was saying:
"If we stick with Him, then we will be kings together with Him. If we disavow and reject Him, then He will disavow and reject us."

Now, don't misunderstand. As I said in that earlier message, we endure persecution from the devil. But nowhere does God ever ask us to submit to that persecution! (In fact, He tells us very plainly to "resist the devil.")

So be encouraged! Stick with Jesus because He's made you a co-regent with Him!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Are You Ready for Hundreds?

"And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life." - Mark 10:29-30 (KJV)

This scripture all by itself is pretty amazing, even in the King James Version. But I took it apart and went back to the Greek and I discovered something pretty awesome. So I thought I'd share it with you.

"Speaking again, Jesus taught them:
This truth I say to you all: No one is who has given up a residence or brothers or sisters or a father or a mother or a wife or children or farms  (i.e. sources of income) on account of me and the gospel but not will take hundreds of times more now in this time, residences and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms (i.e. sources of income) right in the middle of persecutions and in the coming eternity, eternal life."

There are a few things of note here. First, Jesus said that these things will be taken, not given. He's already done the work. It's finished. Now it's up to us to take it!

Second, He says we will take it NOW. He even uses two phrases to clarify His point. He says now and in this time. That's not just put in there by the translators. That's in the original Greek.

Third, the Greek word used for hundredfold in the KJV is actually PLURAL. There is a singular form which means "a hundred times." So, that means the plural form means "HUNDREDS of times." This just keeps getting bigger and better!!!

Fourth, the word "lands" actually refers to "farms." Even in Jesus' day, the people of Israel were dependent on agriculture. Their farms were their livelihood. So, when Jesus said that they've given up their farms, He meant they gave up their income source. For us, He'd say "jobs" because that's what most people in "first world" countries use for their provision. But Jesus says that if you give up your source that He will replace it with hundreds of times more than what you had!

And finally, I want you to see that when the KJV says "with persecutions," it's the same "with" as used in Philippians 2:12, which I talked about in this post. As I said there, "the concept is similar to being at the mall 'with' other shoppers. You are there. They are there. But you aren't really 'together' per se."

In other words, if you've given up things in service to the Lord, you can be sure that you have the right to take hundreds of times more than what you lost! And you can do that NOW! And that includes EVERYTHING - house, family and/or jobs! And you're going to have all that right in the middle of trouble and calamity and destruction and famine and economic disaster!

A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Does God want you to be rich?

"Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth." - 3 John 1:2 (KJV)

Why are so many Christians adamant about preaching that God does not want us to prosper financially? Is it because so many Christians are poor? And so, we think, because these believers are obviously in the will of God and are not prospering financially, that must mean it isn't God's will for us to prosper. Is that about right?

Well, I have news for you. The Bible is full of scriptures that say God does want us to be prosperous - in every way, including financially! In the same way, the Bible tells us that it's God's will that none should perish  (2 Peter 3:9).

Let's examine this scripture further to see what John is telling us.

The word John uses here is εὐοδοῦσθαι. It is used four times in the New Testament in three different verses (3 John 1:2 uses it twice).

"Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you." - Romans 1:10 (KJV)

While it could be argued that Paul is simply saying that he hopes his journey to them will be a safe one, what he's really saying is, "Every time I pray, I make positive confession that means will be provided so that now or sometime in the future, I will be prospered by God's will to go to you."

Again, that doesn't specifically say anything about money, but it's pretty close. However, the next verse clears it right up.

"Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come." - 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 (KJV)

Alright, it should be obvious to the most unlearned reader that these verses are about financial prosperity. He mentions the "collection for the saints" and says that he doesn't want to have to wait for them to collect the money when he gets there. (He also mentions in verse 6 that he expects them to send him on his journey - implying that they pay his way.)

Now, the form of the word used in 3 John 1:2 is called a present passive infinitive, which means:
1) it's happening now (am, is, are)
2) it's being done to someone or something (being)
3) it's a verb

So, a clearer translation of that verse would be:

"Beloved, I wish above all things that you are being prospered and are healing yourself*, even as thy soul is being prospered."

(*This is a discussion for another time, but suffice to say that the verb here is in the active sense, meaning the subject is doing the action.)

So why aren't some Christians prospering?

Christians aren't prospering for the same reasons that the lost aren't going to Heaven.

1. They don't know the truth.
2. They reject the truth.

According to a poll by TIME Magazine in 2006, 61% of Christians interviewed said they believe that God wants people to be prosperous. That means 39% don't.

"Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the Lord be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant." - Psalm 35:27 (KJV)

שָׁלוֹם (shalom)
This is the word David used for "peace." According to Strong's, it means safetyhealthprosperity and peace.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines prosperity as "the state of being successful usually by making a lot of money."

God wants you to be rich!

Ah, but there's a catch. See, the Bible doesn't say that God takes pleasure in everyone's prosperity. It says that He takes pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.

עֶבֶד ('ebed)
It really just means "servant;" as in, one who serves.

God takes pleasure in the prosperity of those who serve Him. But wait! That's the Old Testament. Let's look at what the New Testament says.

"And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." - Galatians 3:29-4:7 (KJV)

Until the appearance of Jesus Christ on the earth, anyone who followed God's laws and prophets were considered God's servants. And God even took pleasure in their prosperity.

But when Jesus came, died and rose again, He became the "firstborn of the dead" (Revelation 1:5) and the heir of the promise God gave Abraham (Genesis 13:14-18,17:7-8).

Now, this promise was passed from Abraham to Isaac (Genesis 26:3-4) and from Isaac to Jacob (Genesis 28:13-14) and from Jacob to his twelve sons (Exodus 6:7-8).

But as Paul points out in Galatians 3:16, this promise was not to seeds (as in, multiple), but to his seed (one). That seed is Jesus Christ. Therefore, Jesus is the heir.

"Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham." - Galatians 3:7 (KJV)

So who, then, are of faith?

"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." - Romans 10:17 (KJV)

"Hearing" implies (and quite correctly) that this "word" (ῥήμα - rhema) is preached. Note that this is not λόγος (logos). The difference is that ῥήμα means "spoken word." λόγος means "written word."

That makes sense, since Paul says that "hearing" comes it. You can't hear a written word; it has to be spoken!

Here's the process so far: We hear the Word of God (either by speaking it to ourselves or from someone else). The hearing of that Word produces faith.

Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is the substance (or "building material") of things hoped for. If we tag that on to what we've already learned, we see that the hearing of the preached Word of God produces the building materials for the things we hope for!

This means that faith is actually making the things you hope for!

So wouldn't that mean that if you are "of faith," you are also hoping for something? Otherwise, what is it that your faith is making?

Now, I want you to take a look at something else.

"But without faith, it  is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." - Hebrews 11:6 (KJV)

While this is certainly an acceptable translation of the original Greek, there is much more to this verse than many of us have been led to believe (no pun intended).

A more literal translation of this verse is:
"But without faith, impossibility pleases you. Have faith because it secures coming near the God that is and it secures your inquiry renumerator is manifesting."

Do you see how this strengthens the verse? The author is telling us that if you don't have faith (i.e. you don't have the building material of hope that is brought by hear the Word preached), then you'll be perfectly fine with impossibility. You'll reason out that you understand the laws of physics and you'll call yourself a "realist."

But then the author implores us to have faith (the building material of hope that is brought by hearing the Word of God preached). Why? Why shouldn't I be a "realist?" Why shouldn't I just accept that some things are impossible?

Because faith (the building material of hope that is brought by hearing the Word of God preached) secures (ensures, promises and delivers on that promise) that we come near the "God that is" (I love that!) and it also secures that our "inquiry renumerator is manifesting."

What does that mean?

A renumerator is defined as "one who pays (a person) a suitable equivalent in return for goods provided, services rendered, or losses incurred; recompense."

For what service are we being compensated? Having faith! Why would God do that?

Because He takes pleasure in our prosperity!!!

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Cedars of Lebanon

"The trees of the Lord are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted;" - Psalm 104:16 (KJV)

As I was driving to the store this morning, I was feeling distraught. You see, we've recently stepped out in faith and have quit our jobs, expecting the Lord to provide for us. Now, don't get me wrong; we aren't just being lazy. We believe the Lord has called us into full-time ministry and that He expects us to be ready to go minister at any moment. So, we spend our time praying and reading the Bible and ministering when and where we can.

But it hasn't been easy. Every second is a fight of faith and it's hard to believe for provision when our senses tell us things are bleak. But we press on.

And that's the battle I was fighting this morning as I drove. Then the Lord showed me the trees and asked me what I saw.

"Dead trees," I said. After all, it's winter. The dull brown wood is clearly visible this time of year. No leaves. No life.

"They may look dead," the Lord replied. "But they aren't. They're just waiting for the right time to spring forth."

"Yes," I concurred. "But they are only responding to the weather. They are reacting to the forces around them."

Suddenly, the Lord turned my head and I saw a coniferous tree. (I'm not sure exactly what kind.) While not bright green like the other trees would be come spring, it hadn't lost its leaves. In the midst of those leaveless, brown trees, it looked alive.

"Not that one," He said. "It's green year-round. Sure, it may not be the most beautiful trees. But it is the most honored."

I thought of how we use these trees at Christmas. We bring them in from the cold forest and place them in a position of honor in the house. We decorate them with their prettiest and brightest decorations. We string colorful lights on them and place gifts at their feet. We adorn their heads with the brightest, most significant decoration, whether it be a star or an angel or a beautiful bow.

"Be like that tree," the Lord said. "Don't worry about making yourself something beautiful. Just make sure you're in a position to bless others and they will give you a place of honor."

And so, while I'm still not sure how God is going to do it, I'm absolutely certain that He is going to do it.

Would you agree with us in prayer that we will continue to stand faithful, no matter the circumstances? We are fully expecting to have an exciting praise report soon!

Welcome!

Welcome to Repairing the Altar Ministries! We're glad you stopped by.

We have recently published "Repairing the Altar" available for the Kindle (or Kindle apps on iPhone and Android) and in PDF format.

God bless you!
Tim & Tawnya Arview