Sunday, April 21, 2019

Who Is This Person, Jesus?


Who is Jesus?” That was the question I asked on Good Friday 30 years ago. I had come to doubt all that I had learned growing up in a Christian church. My first degree was in Philosophy, and my definition of a Philosopher was the same as Gandhi’s definition of Hindu: a seeker of Truth. I was a young naval officer who had just come off a miserable 6 week mini-deployment and in preparation for the six-month deployment brought along only “positive” things. I only brought music that I believed would be positive, and I only brought books that would be positive. I read several Hindu books in my search for truth, and I brought a Gideon’s Bible that had collected dust since being handed to me 4 years earlier. I had been praying that if God was real, for Him to reveal Himself to me. I was ready to throw away the concept of God or change it to whatever I discovered. After reading from the Hindu books, I reluctantly picked up the Gideon’s Bible. It only had the Proverbs, Psalms and New Testament. As a philosopher seeking truth, I had just put down a book on Hindu proverbs, and it seemed only right that I should start in the Book of Proverbs. 

So I was hit with the truth. As I started reading, I was confronted with words telling me that I was acting like a fool, and I understood in a very awkwardly heartfelt fashion that I could either embrace the Truth or run away from it. In either case, I knew in a very real way that it was the Truth. Truth with a capital T, absolute and unarguable. It wasn’t a relative truth or subjective thing. And I was a fool. I didn’t like what I read, but I couldn’t argue with it. So, I chose to embrace the truth that I had found. 

I continued to read through Proverbs, more and more convinced that God was real and speaking to me through this book. I was on a six-month deployment in the Mediterranean Sea reading Proverbs and the only One teaching me was God Himself. I don’t know of anyone who has met God first through Proverbs, but that is how He reached me. 

Completing Proverbs, I decided to continue into Psalms. I believed in God with greater conviction and wasn’t ready to start reading the New Testament yet. I knew from my upbringing that Proverbs was from the Old Testament, part of the Jewish Scriptures. As I continued to read from Psalms, I changed my prayer. I said: “God, I believe You are real, but who is Jesus?” 

I said this prayer on Good Friday, as I opened up to Chapter 22 in Psalms. And I saw it there. I understood from my upbringing that Psalms was an Old Testament book, pre-dating Jesus. Yet here I read the story of the Messiah’s crucifixion, a prophecy of that first Good Friday. I did not, and do not, believe in coincidences. If God exists as I believe He does, then He was speaking to me and saying: “Yes, Jesus is the Messiah, My Son. Listen to Him.” 

That day changed my life and led me one night to say to God: “I believe You are God. I have made myself to be my own ruler, but I realize now that my control over my life hasn’t been leading me to where I need to be. I make a pretty poor god over my own life, and I ask You to be not just my Savior, but my Lord. Lead me!” 

So Who is this Jesus? When I read that chapter in Psalms, I learned that God Himself planned for Jesus to go to that cross, and I subsequently believed in the rest of His story: He died for my sins (past, present and future). He proved He was God incarnate by rising from the grave on Easter. I now believed that both the Old and New Testaments were relevant to my life. How could I understand Jesus as the Pascal Lamb without knowledge of the Jewish Passover Celebration? 

Easter is a celebration of Life, a remembrance of both His resurrection and His promise that He did not come to change the Law of the Old Testament, but that He came to complete it. (See Matthew 5:17) He completed the Law by paying the price for our violations of the Law. His mercy and grace don’t negate the Law, but they emphasize how the Law is still good and true, exacting the price from God’s own Son for our violations of the Law. His grace declares His undeserved love for us, His proclamation of peace and good will toward man as announced by angels when Jesus was born. (Luke 2:14) 

Paul was awed by God’s amazing love and boundless grace, but he was quick to point out that God’s love and grace are not an license to continue in sinful lifestyles. (See Romans 6:1-2) Rather, it’s an invitation to grow in holiness as we imitate Christ (1 Peter 1:16, 2:21), Who came not just to save us but to show us how to live. We are not required to live our lives perfectly; we can’t live it perfectly! Rather, we are called to walk with Him daily in a relentless pursuit of Truth that is ridiculed by men and discouraged by demons. 

Who is Jesus? He is our Lord, our Mentor, and the very Model of a life in relationship with God the Father. He is alive, risen from that grave, working in the lives of men who are tenacious enough to follow Him in a world that prefers darkness over light. And He is the King that we represent daily as Ambassadors of Grace, changing us from glory to glory as become more like Him. (2 Cor 3:18) 

Jesus is my Lord, God, and Brother, and with His help I will serve Him and rule with Him through all eternity!

copyright ©2019 Mitchell Malloy http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/

Friday, April 19, 2019

Prayer for Revival on Good Friday

As I write this, I would really like to go to bed, but the Lord told me to get up and type this prayer and then to schedule it to be published on April 19th, 2019. This date has a special meaning to me: it is the 30 anniversary of when I asked Jesus to be Lord of my life. But it has special meaning to believers as Good Friday, the day that we remember Jesus’ death on the cross when He assumed all punishment for our sins, our many, various and repeated sins. 

And yet the Church today is sick, giving little thought as to how far we are from Christ and His ways. We need to repent. And so I offer this prayer:
Lord, let there be a revival in America and a renewal in Your Church throughout the world. We have let You and the world down. We have not lived as we should. We have sought to entertain ourselves rather than to find joy in Your Presence. We have sought our own comforts over the needs of our brothers. We have acted spiteful toward others instead of loving our enemies. We have not represented You or Your Kingdom well. We have not led well and for that we are truly sorry.
We are no better than our ancestors and prone to the same weakness. We focus on self and even look to You as the Provider of all our wants and desires, mistaking Your love and grace as a sign that You are our personal genie in a bottle with unlimited wishes. We follow in the steps of Adam, believing that we can choose what is good for ourselves rather than turning to You as Lord, God and Father, Who knows what is best for us, even if it is hard. We whine about your correction instead of thanking you, understanding that correction is a sign of a Loving Father. 
So change our hearts, minds, and habits of thought to make us as You want us to be. Change our habits so that we find pleasure in You. Draw us into your Presence and change us; fill us with Your joy. Let Your joy truly be our strength, and fan this flame in our hearts to pray, so that we pray just to be close to You and so that we pray for Your good and perfect will to be done in our lives and in the world around us. Rekindle in us the fire of Your Love and inspire us to join You in the work You are doing. Open our eyes to see that work, but don't let the work overshadow why we work or for Whom we work. 
Bring into our lives seekers and give us the words and actions to represent You well. We have no hope apart from You, and the people in this world need to know that You are the One True Hope for all mankind and for all the elect. So open our hearts, minds and souls to Your good and perfect will. Change our request from "Help me, Lord!" to "Show me how to best serve You, Lord!" And help us to pray. To set aside time to pray. Lord teach us once again how to pray and lead us into intercession for a worldwide revival! 
It's Good Friday, a day to remember who we are and what Christ has done for us. May we all truly turn toward God in a new and more tenacious fashion!

And all God's people say: Amen!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Palm Sunday and the Branch of Jesse

I have a direct message for the Church but need to remind you of a few things first: 

The fickle hearts of God’s people - with palm branches they praised the arrival of Jesus to Jerusalem and days later they were crying: “Crucify Him!” Jesus knew His mission. He came to seek and save the lost, in particular the lost sheep of Israel. He came to extend the Father’s offer of peace and goodwill to men. He was the Messiah, the prophesied Savior and Branch of Jesse. But people prefer darkness to light and choose to do what is right in their own eyes. They preferred a righteousness of self, choosing what is right as if they were God Himself, the Author of all creation, the Authority of all that is right and wrong. 

So the Jewish people welcomed the person they believed to be the Messiah, the Chosen One of God, and days later repeated the words of Satan spoken through the religious leaders of their day. “Crucify Him!” “He saved others, let Him save Himself!” 

Now, two thousand years later, we look at these people and call out their foolishness. God’s judgement came down upon them and they were scattered throughout the earth. As Biblical scholars tell us, the promise was passed on to the Church. A new testament was written describing the new covenant that God extended to gentiles. The Law of the old covenant was replaced with the gospel of grace, a new contract with the Church. The truth of God’s grace was revealed to man, and the Father showed us the peace offering realized through Jesus. Justice, Peace and Grace are all exemplified in a humble and mighty Savior. Jesus showed strength in His sacrifice, endured in complete obedience to the Father despite the extreme suffering He endured for our sake. 

While Jesus came to the lost sheep of Israel, it was through Him that the gentiles found hope. Because of Israel’s unrepentance, branches were grafted onto the vine, and the nations received scraps that had been refused by the children of Abraham. 

But what if the recipients of this new covenant refuse the reign of God in their lives? What happens if the Church, like Israel, chooses to do what is right in their own eyes? 

Now if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among them and participated in the richness of the olive root, do not boast over the branches. But if you boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. Then you will say, “The branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted! They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but fear! For if God did not spare the natural branches, perhaps he will not spare you. Notice therefore the kindness and harshness of God – harshness toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And even they – if they do not continue in their unbelief – will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree?  
For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 
- Romans 11:17-25 

Who is foolish now if not the Church in America? Who is fickle if not the Bride of Christ that has decided hours of TV or smartphone screen time are preferable to even 15 minutes a day in the presence of Christ? Technology and entertainment aren’t bad, but seeking the pleasure of entertaining ourselves rather than spending time with the One Who extended this priceless gift is the sign of a selfish and fickle people. David Wilkerson pointed out rightly that we can have as much of Jesus as we want. What I wonder is: How much do we truly want Jesus? Men prefer darkness to light. We prefer our pleasure over God’s pleasure, even when His desire is for our benefit. At what point will God choose to remove the branches grafted onto the Vine and replace them with the natural branches? 

Has the full number of Gentiles come into the Kingdom? (see verse 25 in the passage above) 

When we see the nation of Israel reborn in fulfillment of prophecy with a growing openness to receive the Gospel, is that partial hardening of Israel being removed? Has this happened at a time when lawlessness increases, the love of many has grown cold and many of the bridesmaids have failed to keep oiled in the Spirit? And don’t I see scoffers from within the Church ridiculing the return of Christ our King? These are all signs of Christ's imminent return! If these thoughts scare you, consider how God may want you to respond. A good place to start is in prayer, and a good place to seek answers is in the Word of God, His Scriptures

  • John 12:13 
  • Mark 15, Luke 23, John 19 
  • Luke 19:10 
  • Matt 15:24 
  • Luke 2:14 
  • Isaiah 11:1 
  • John 3:19 
  • Deut 12:8, Judg 17:6, Prov 12:15 
  • Gen 3:5 
  • Matt 27, Mark 15, Luke 23 
  • Eph 3:6 
  • Rom 11:7 
  • Matt 15:27 
  • Eze 36-38, Isa 66:8-9, Jer 16:14-15 
  • Matt 24:12 
  • Matt 25 
  • 2 Peter 3 
copyright ©2019 Mitchell Malloy http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/

Monday, April 1, 2019

Why is He Called the Beast?

Mankind is so foolish. We seem to think that evil presents itself as a horrible, ugly, repulsive thing that we would run away from. I wish that were the case. I wish I was repulsed by evil. But if I’m honest there is something attractive about some things that I know are wrong. The promise of pleasure or luxury or security lures many people astray. We are all flawed with the desire to feed all our wants. It is the nature of our flesh.

When we give into our base nature, we feed the flesh. But the paradox of man is that we can rise up above our selfish wants and sacrifice ourselves for something greater. We can show such nobility and hope in the darkest times. Our base nature is like that of beasts but we reflect the divine nature of God as His image bearers when we rise above our flesh. We are conflicted, vacillating between good and evil, spirit and flesh, godly desire and carnal desire. 

The Beast feeds the fleshly desires. The beast is what we all need to rise above. It is the image of the beast in our nature that will be drawn to the Beast in Revelation. Yes, I said we would be drawn toward the Beast, the Antichrist. Scripture tells us that Satan can appear as an angel of light and his men as ministers of righteousness. How much more will the Antichrist appeal to us? He will be charismatic, physically as well a intellectually. He will know how to cater to people’s emotions and draw them in. He will demonstrate a lot of initial success in what appear to be good and impossible things. He’ll broker a middle east treaty and likely demonstrate the leadership to pull our world out of dire crises. He will appeal to every concept of hero and usher the earth into an apparent prosperity that most people can’t imagine. Every fiber of our flesh will be drawn to the gifts presented by the Beast. 

And all we’ll have to do is forget what God has told us. Forget the scriptures that warn against this great delusion. Forget the prophecies and forget the power of God. Focus instead on the power of the Beast, the comforts and conveniences that will be made available to everyone who submits to the authority of the Beast. No person in the history of the world has ever held the power that the Beast will have, aided by technologies that haven’t even been invented yet. There will be such opulence available to those that submit to the authority of the Beast, and people will be called fools for not partaking of the finest mankind has ever produced. 

The world will label these fools who refuse to submit to the new and best-ever opportunities the Beast has made possible. The world grow to hate these fools for Christ, who suffer for no good reason when they could just embrace the new ways and stop holding out for some out-dated myths, the myths of religion that have brought on so many wars. 

The giants will have never appeared to be bigger and the temptations will have never been stronger. 

And our only hope is God. Our only hope is the Creator of All, Who predicted that this time would come. 

So it is imperative that we get back into the Word of God, reminding ourselves that no matter how big the giants, our God is greater. Remembering that if God could provide for the nation of Israel in the desert for forty years, He will provide for all our needs. Preparing ourselves for the truth that many things we think we “need” are nothing more than wants that appeal to our flesh. Preparing ourselves against the temptation to please ourselves and to take our salvation into our own hands. Trusting that God is the same today, tomorrow and yesterday. Accepting the label that we are fools for Christ as we hold on to the words of people like Jim Elliott: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” 

I respect my brothers who believe the Rapture comes before the Antichrist rises to power, but I don’t see that in the Scriptures. The pre-trib belief places assumptions on verses that supposedly assure that the Church will be spared from the Tribulation. I would love to be wrong and spared this time of trial, but I recognize the Tribulation is only temporary. The Beast will appeal to our flesh just as he is consumed with feeding his own insatiable appetite. He will embody Satan, literally be possessed by the most powerful of the demons. And he will seek to rend the creation of God apart in subtle and ingenious ways. 

But God our Father has a plan, and our God will not be surprised or thwarted by some angel kicked out of heaven long ago. Satan couldn’t win then and he certainly won’t prevail against our God in the end. Choose the winning side and prepare yourselves now. 

copyright ©2019 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)