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The Duality of Christ’s Cup

The Duality of Christ’s Cup

The Duality of Christ’s Cup

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In the song Joy and Pain, Frankie Beverly & Maze testify that love, a singular emotion, is actually a condition of dual forces functioning as one.

The lyrics are as follows:

“Joy and pain are like sunshine and rain

Love can be bitter love can be sweet

Sometimes devotion, sometimes deceit

The ones you care for give you so much pain

THEY ARE BOTH ONE IN THE SAME”

Coincidentally and most likely unintentionally, the song also gives a glimpse into the dichotomy of the Christian faith.  But before Maze, there was the New Testament. In the account of Jesus’ last hours leading up to His death on the Cross, a rather inconspicuous item became a symbolic representation of the conflicting forces at work in the believers’ daily walk with Christ. Forces, emotions and circumstances that albeit are at opposing ends of the spiritual spectrum, work as a singular entity moving the believer towards a God given purpose and assignment.

At Passover, when Jesus gathered with His disciples one last time before His death, He used a cup both literally and symbolically to illustrate the benefits as well as the costs of a life surrendered to Him and yielded to His way. One cup with a dual purpose:

· one of restoration, renewed hope and cleansing (Matthew 26:27-28)

· and another of suffering and misery (Matthew 26:38-39, 41-42).

At the Last Supper with the Disciples, Christ presents “His” cup as one filled with the rewards of recommitment and the benefits of consecrating ourselves to Christ. Yet when the account moves to the Garden of Gethsemane, the time of glorious fellowship and comradery turns into a moment of fear and apprehension as the cup filled with all that comes with renewed purpose, cleansing and affirmation becomes one of pain, death and betrayal. The same cup which is the source of destinies fulfilled and new beginnings eventually drives our Lord and Savior to cry out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) and to even ask his Father in Matthew 26:39 “…if it is possible, take this cup away from me”

One cup exists as a single call over our lives. This call, this cup, is comprised of a distinct ‘duality” of forces operating at opposite ends of our faith as it moves us into deeper relationship with the Father.

Joy in the midst of Pain

Trust in the midst of Betrayal

Belief in midst of circumstances that justify Doubt

Strength in a time of Weakness

Peace in the midst of Mental Torment

Connection and Community in the midst of Abandonment and Loneliness

Sunshine and Rain, they are both one in the same.

Romans 8:28 tells us that all things work together for the good of them who love Him and are called according to His purpose. So as we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior this Easter season, in order to appreciate Christ’s cup of communion and all the benefits that come with it we must understand what it cost. 2 Timothy 2:11-12 reminds us that if we die with Him we also live with him and if we endure hardship as Christ endured we will reign with Him. Embracing the duality of Christ’s cup and recognizing that the benefits we individually and collectively gain greatly outweigh our share of the burden of its cost enables us to do as Christ commands in Matthew 26:27…..

Then He took a cup and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying “Drink from it, all of you”.

 

-Canida

First times with God – Part 1

First times with God – Part 1

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We all try to remember the first times and the beginnings of things that are important to us in life, from our first time realizing there is a higher being, a God, to the beginning of our spiritual journey.  When I think back to my first time and my beginnings I quicken with thankfulness and joy as my life has been a true living testimony of the greatness of God.

The first time I really, truly realized there was a God was when I watched my life unfold before my eyes, a broken marriage and my brother and I were just along for the ride. Without my knowing, God was there keeping me wrapped in His greatness, mercy, and love, as He knew I had no control over the environment around me.  As a child I witnessed some things I wish I could forget; however in all those times I felt a deep peace and protection within my being.

The first time I said, “God please, God please help us,” I knew He was the only one who could deliver a winning result in the midst of turmoil.

The first time I felt the Spirit of God rushing through me, I stepped firmly and boldly into my truth being the woman I am today.

As I reflect on these first times I become so happy and humbled that God kept me even though I was not fully emerged in His word. God loved me enough to place a protective hedge around my mind and my spirit, knowing He would use me again in the future.

As a body of believers we must remember that regardless of the first time we name Him or call on Him as the Savior and the God that He is; He has already kept you and loved you. God is the one who created you perfectly imperfect.  He birthed into you love and in return He expects love.

Psalms 56:4 “In God I will praise His word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” This scripture speaks volumes as it is a direct connection with the presence of God in my life.  I know that because I am His child I am indeed covered by His blood and loved beyond measure.

We must realize as long as we seek Him and believe in His word, love, and mercy our first time, or first memory doesn’t matter because He has been there all along.

Blessings unto the Lord

~Jade Lenore

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The Balm in Beethoven

The Balm in Beethoven

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God is using a dead composer’s classical music to deepen our relationship, heal emotional, psychological, and spiritual pain, and awaken creative potential He has given me.

So about six months ago, my life changed because of music. One night, as I was falling asleep, I started listening and watching Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 on YouTube. It was performed as part of BBC Proms, a classic musical festival held each year in London, England. The actual symphony Beethoven wrote is one of the most famous, noticeable, and lauded works in all of classical music. Most people have heard, and likely sang, some rendition of “Ode to Joy”, which comes in the fourth and last part of the piece.

This one-time event turned into a bedtime ritual. Night after night, I would start watching from the beginning—listening in utter delight as the powerful opening unfolded. The horns, then strings, oboe, flute, and eventually the fullness of the orchestra reaches a fever pitch within the first minutes of the roughly hour-long rendition.

I became so fascinated with Beethoven’s No. 9 that I started searching for the sheet music to various parts. I had no idea that a Wikipedia-style website exists that is solely devoted to classical music. I printed out the flute part-which I play on my recorder-and the clarinet sheet music.

Day after day, I started closing myself off in a room, connecting my computer to speakers, and playing along with the orchestra. At this point, I have printed and played Beethoven Symphony Nos. 1 thru 9. and have started expanding to other classical composers.

I mention all of this because I firmly believe God is using music to communicate and meet with me. I experience God’s presence in the sounding of notes played, and imagine them float in and out of each other like leaves dancing in trees. These notes create harmonies and discords that link together and render a complete picture.

Music is a form of love. It speaks to anger and sadness, joy and enthusiasm, in ways words cannot. When I don’t know what to say, I can always find a “hum” on the inside of my soul that comes forth readily. It speaks for me. It soothes me. It is my balm.

God has opened me up to a whole new world that existed before I did and that has been present within me all along. It was up to me to access the spiritual reservoir. Memory and experience allowed me to remember how much I loved playing my alto saxophone in band, which then caused a yearning to play some kind of instrument again. Interestingly, I am now quite good at the first instrument I ever played—a recorder—and an instrument I always wanted to play—the clarinet.

God can use anything to connect with you, if you desire to connect with Him. Music is one of the many ways I commune with God and find peace, comfort, and joy in our relationship. I encourage others to seek out not-so-traditional ways of honoring God and spending time with Him. You might luck up on a new hobby that could lead to greater purpose. Most all of, whatever way you connect with God, just make sure to practice it regularly, and keep building and strengthening the bond.

~Ty A. Allison

January 29, 2016

Ty Allison

To hear a sample of this classical piece click below:

Beethoven Symphony No 9

 

I Will Not Die Like This -Sermon Recap

I Will Not Die Like This -Sermon Recap

I Will Not Die Like This

-Recap Written By Damian Harrison 

Scriptural References: Luke 23: 32; 36-43

Pastor Tony taught from the ever popular story about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. However, this week’s lesson focused not on Jesus Christ, but the two thieves who had also been sentenced to death that same day.  In Luke 23:32-34, we learned that “Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. v33.) When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. v34.) Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.”

The two men were, by modern terms, were a menace to society. The men were thieves and no one likes a thief; even a thief hates a thief. In reading this, we might even consider them evil and look no further into the text. In verse 39, it states, ”One of the criminals who hung there, hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” However, “the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? v41.) We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” The tactics of the two men could not have been more different. One was content with his behavior and was seemingly content with killing an innocent man. Yet, the second thief recognized the error of his ways in the moment. He even said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom (verse 42).

Not only did he recognize the error of his ways (that he actually needed rescuing), but he also recognized who Jesus was and confessed that his “partner-in-crime,” was really the Savior, His Savior and only hope. That is the only reason a man in his position could ask who appeared to be just another criminal, to save him.

Real change can only occur when you can clearly see yourself AND your savior.

He asked Jesus to remember Him! He refused to die as an unapologetic, unrepentant criminal. In verse 43, Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Jesus, the only one who was falsely accused, who was sentenced to die with the guilty, didn’t fight it. He assumed the role of the guilty so that he could save the lost. We see that even in the final moments of crucifixion, He stopped dying long enough to save someone else. Look at the HEART of  Christ! This lets us know that sometimes the persecution and misjudgments that may befall us, are not ultimately about us. God will use moments that seem to punish the just only so the unjust can have an encounter with grace, so that darkness can experience a glimpse of the light.

In this short but powerful message, we learned that while two thieves died that day; only one was redeemed. Like the 2nd thief, we must  remember that while we can not always escape the penalty of our crime, we have all been extended the opportunity to die differently than how we have lived. We haven’t gone too far or done too much to be disqualified from the grace and mercy of God.

Neither thief had the opportunity to make reparation or apologize to those they had robbed. They weren’t given some more time to right their wrongs. They likely both died with people still despising and judging them according to what they had done. Reputations forever destroyed, and all hope seemingly lost, the 2nd thief demonstrates what it really means to be redeemed, even if you’re the only one who knows it.

This salvation story proves that a “death bed” repentance, [sincerely expressed] has just as much power as any other…that the redemptive work was His, not ours…that a lifetime of righteousness STILL can’t save and isn’t enough to release us from the grip of sin and death. Our freedom, our salvation can only be found in the Son and whom the Son sets free is truly free indeed. (John 8:36)

 

Don’t Take The Bait – Sermon Recap

Don’t Take The Bait – Sermon Recap

Don’t Take The Bait

-Recap Written By Damian Harrison

Scriptural References: Genesis 2:25, 3:1-7

Sometimes in life, we are sold on the premise of the “bait and switch” technique, which is defined as “the action (generally illegal) of advertising goods that are an apparent bargain, with the intention of substituting inferior or more expensive goods.” This practice is most commonly used in the world of retail sales to lure customers in only to pressure them into buying something else. Not only is this common in retail, the enemy often uses this approach to lure us away from the will of God in our lives. This scheme certainly applies to the fall of man due to the actions of Adam and Eve.

Pastor Tony opened up by referencing the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2:25 in which “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” The verse highlights that Adam and Eve were not only naked but unashamed. Since they were new creations, they knew no different. They possessed no knowledge of “normalcy,” only what God had allowed them to experience – nakedness. For them, nakedness was normal. This is illustration also applies to us, when we are in the beginning of our relationship with God. We are fresh and innocent without preconceived notion.

However, the innocence of Adam and Eve was short-lived. In Genesis 3:1, Eve fell victim to a clever serpent that challenged the idea that they were not to eat from the tree of Knowledge and Wisdom. Although, thru Adam, Eve knew that God forbade them to eat from the tree, she fell victim to the trick of the serpent. Simply stated,” Eve took the bait!”

How was the serpent able to trick Eve into taking the bait? Pastor Tony broke the serpent’s approach into three parts in which he broke down the tactic of the enemy in deceiving Adam and Eve. The first trick that the serpent used against Eve was “the lie.” The serpent overstated what God said. He caused her to ponder and re-think what God said. Where God placed a period, the serpent placed a question in Eve’s mind. By doing so, he planted seeds of uncertainty and doubt within her head. This approach is the same that he takes today. His job is to get us to question the things that should be absolute in our lives. However, this can only occur if we do as Eve did and give an ear to the enemy.

The second trick that the enemy used against Eve was to create a perceived sense of lack. He strategically attacked Eve’s mind by using the matter that affected her heart against her. He used that to his advantage. Although Eve did try to refute and correct the tricks of the enemy by making known God’s specific instructions, it was too late. He’d already planted the seed within her brain due to her “open to listen.”

The third tactic used by the enemy is that he appealed to Eve’s pride and ego. Knowing that he had already planted a seed of doubt within her head, he used it to further advance his mission. He blatantly refuted God’s instructions by telling them that they will not die. Specifically, in Genesis 3: 4 , the serpent stated, “You will not

certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. In verse 5, he made them question God’s intentions as to why they should not eat from the tree. He told them,” You will be like God, knowing good and evil.” With this tactic, he also distracted Eve from the freedom that she already possessed. He appealed to her pride and desire to “know more.” Eve failed by not asking questions of the serpent and simply took his word as truth.

To Eve, the tree represented wisdom- something that she coveted and lusted for. It appealed to a part of her that represented God. The Bible states, “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. “ As a result of their of disobedience, Adam and Eve forfeited their relationship with the tree of life (God) to take on a relationship with wisdom.

In closing, know what gifts you possess. By being in tune with the Holy Spirit regarding God’s plan and purpose for your life, you can avoid the tricks of the enemy. A tree that is firmly planted cannot be moved. Had Adam and Eve been attuned to the tricks of the enemy and his desire to “bait and switch” them into disobedience, they would not have jeopardized their relationship with the Creator. In our own lives, we must always be aware and alert to avoid falling into the traps set forth by the enemy. If you fall victim to the tricks of the enemy, you will find yourself in a position similar to Adam and Eve – outside of the will of God for your

Higher Living New Member Orientation

Higher Living New Member Orientation

Join us this month for Higher Living New Member Orientation and Interest Meeting! Come discover a ministry that truly loves with the love of God and believes in equipping others to walk in their kingdom purpose. Meet other ministry leadership team, get acquainted with other new members and learn more about our mission. Read more »

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