David – Idyllic King or Myth? {Part 1}

One of the most time-consuming tasks required to complete a written piece is researching the historical context and gathering details that confirm the story.  In order to compose this piece one needs to compare the opinions of secular historians and biographers to those who might describe themselves as “Rhema-inspired” writers working as they sense what the Spirit has told them about the subject at hand.  The secular sources tend to find the course of events confusing due to the fact that their spiritual insight is lacking. 

Historians and secular biographers question whether David actually lived primarily because there is no physical evidence that he lived.  I have four books in front of me referencing the ancient king of Israel. The books written by secularists question whether he lived. So then, even with the legendary ‘David/Goliath’ story ever-present as well as Psalm 23, the call for physical, anthropological evidence continues. 

As a believer, I concede that the evidence may be lacking, but as I read Psalms ascribed to David, I am convinced that he had visions of the dynasty of Christ, his life and his crucifixion.  You only need to read Psalm 22:12-21 to sense the peril of Christ as he was crucified. Or Psalm 16:8-11 to know the meditations of his heart.

These writings were provided by the Holy Spirit proving that the hand of God was fully functioning in the lives of David and others and illustrating lessons we can learn as the Apostle Paul references in I Corinthians 10:11-12.

Still, many of David’s actions and King Saul’s actions examined without context appear haphazard.  The historians and biographers cannot make sense of events like David’s dance before the Lord [II Samuel 6:14-22] or the divine directives to eradicate entire armies or cities.  The Bible documents our God’s dealings with men from the beginning. It is not meant to be historically accurate, nor can it be verified empirically.  Its purpose is to deliver God himself via wisdom, history, judgment, instruction as provided by His Spirit.   The Bible can be read literally, but many insights can be misinterpreted as they are meant to be believed, but not proven. 

Come back to Phatonfruit. net for Part 2 to verify your belief or hopefully to BECOME MORE CONVINCED!!

Thessaloniki

Paul addressed the church he began in Thessalonika with the epistle known as 1 Thessalonians.  This is the same city he was urged to travel to in Acts 16 that was crying out to him through the Holy Spirit.  According to Matthew Henry, this was the first epistle he wrote to any of the churches being written in 51 A.D.  The significance of this being Paul’s first letter of endorsement and encouragement to any of the churches he started and important to understanding his approach to establishing them.
Paul shares from his heart about how the church began and their progress but the enduring, most memorable chapter is the fourth.  My wife and I heard about an acquaintance who is a Christian and who was reacting very badly to the loss of a loved one.   Yes, the Bible says grieve with those who grieve, but in the fourth chapter we find words that describe a faith-filled reaction to the loss of a saint.  There may be instances in these current times of calamity where some may sleep in the Lord.  What will our reaction be?  We are reminded that this situation was not an emergency in Heaven.  The Father was not taken aback by the virus.  


13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

There is no clear reaction by anyone in a loss. When we lost our mother some years ago, my immediate reaction was that of sheer terror and shock.  She was an absolute sainted woman.  Once reality sets in, we have a chance to react knowing we will see our loved ones again!  No one can say what their first reaction to a catastrophic loss will be but in this we have been assured: 

15 For we say this to you by the Lord’s [own] word, that we who are still alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will in no way precede [into His presence] those [believers] who have fallen asleep [in death]. 16 For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel and with the [blast of the] trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain [on the earth] will simultaneously be caught up together with them [the resurrected ones] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord! 18 Therefore comfort and encourage one another with these words [concerning our reunion with believers who have died].
If we are not resting in His everlasting arms, are we flailing about on our own?  Are we like these described in James 1:6b Those who depend only on their own judgment are like those lost on the seas, carried away by any wave or picked up by any wind. 7 Those adrift on their own wisdom shouldn’t assume the Lord will rescue them or bring them anything.  [VOICE]

 God is still seated on the throne; we’re going to be alright!

When the Cloud Lifts {part 1}

Exodus 13:20-22

21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: 22 He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.

We are fortunate to live in a time when there is a great deal of nature programming available that showcases the wonder and beauty of creation in all immense glory and meticulous detail.  One can imagine what it was like when there were fewer people and larger swaths of unspoiled wilderness.  One feature showed an enormous school of anchovies swimming in what is known as a bait bell, swirling as does a storm.  The swirl is huge and as predators look to attack, all they can see is the huge swirl of fish bodies.  The fish swim within the swirl where they are protected by reason of sheer number.  This is the similar behavior of herds of wildebeest.  As long as they are in the flow of the movement, they are following their destiny. Psalm 91 is rich with promises and provisions given to believers.  Verse 1 provides one of the main conditions under which the ensuing promises are met.  “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty”;  that is, as one remains in His presence – presumably close enough to be in His shadow, all of the conditions for the promises will be met. 

Clouds are symbolic of several things in scripture as Easton’s Bible Dictionary explains: https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/cloud they are so amazing and beautiful that we must continue this study soon.

Flexit super illam – He wept over it

Painting by Enrique Simonet Lombardo {{PD-1996}}

We were able to visit the world famous Prado Museum and yes, we waited for the free visit hours in a line for a while before we were let in. Now that everyone is carrying a camera at all times, all the visitors were compelled to comply with rule forbidding photography. I was excited but I wasn’t sure what to expect.

My wife and I wandered the rooms and halls knowing we couldn’t view everything, but relishing the incredible timeless paintings and sculpture. The Prado holds artwork from Spain’s own Goya as well as Rubens, Rafael and even Rembrandt.

The Painting

After walking through several rooms, I walked through one door way and my heart fell. Most of the gallery rooms are quite large and one of the main areas is literally several hundred feet long. I was entering one room when I saw the painting.

Previous visits to museums taught me that there is an optimal distance for viewing paintings. No painting [that I am aware of ] is meant to be viewed up close. One needs perspective to see the depth, shading and detail added by the artist.

This painting measures 18 feet by 10 feet high! Upon entering the room I was immediately entranced into the captured moment. I knew it was Christ and His disciples gazing over Jerusalem. I was then compelled to know what moment the artist had captured.

I assumed that the artist had chosen Matthew 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” [KJV] That was not it.

For me the sense of sorrow was pervasive as the color of the sky helped deliver the tone and accented how He expressed his sorrow. It was as if the turmoil Jerusalem would experience was revealed to him at that moment.

Luke 19:41

In my mind, this was the time for the Matthew 23:37 speech, but according to some scholars, his admonishment for Jerusalem only came after entering the city. The artist cites Luke 19:41 as the inspiration which took place during the approach to the city known as the “Palm Sunday parade”.

One commentator declares that Jesus must have repeated some ideas on different occasions. It seems that all of this speech could have been shared in one extended reveal of Jerusalem’s future fate.

All of this cannot be allowed to overshadow the fact that Jesus, architect, creator & ruler of creation was moved to tears by compassion on the fate of the city. He gifted Simonet wih a glimpse of his ongoing passion.

And they beheld His glory . . .

I am choosing to publish this post from several years ago in celebration of our Christ and the hope for love and peace in our world. For the Kingdom to come . . .

My wife calls me a grinch after the children’s story of the gremlin that tried to steal Christmas.  I’m not against Christmas.  I am against 1) the commercialization of Christmas and 2) the ongoing secular takeover of the Christmas holiday and subsequent separation of the “baby Jesus” from the beaten, scorned and betrayed Savior who arose triumphant from the grave.

Christmas does have it’s own joy and life as it embodies the hope of genuine reconciliation to God.  But this was kept secret until after His death and resurrection.  So much of the story was was kept hidden such that there may have been many thousand people who saw the young Jesus but had no idea that he was indeed the Christ [ the prophesied, anticipated and heralded Messiah].  The context of the story was that four hundred years had passed since a prophet had transmitted a word from God.  After such a long time, it would seem that God had forsaken us, that we were forlorn and lost.

But there were indeed “Good tidings of Great Joy” that the foretold Savior had come.  Isaiah declared “His name would be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.  Of his Kingdom there would [will] be no end.”  [Isaiah 9:6-7a]

But only a few people actually celebrated the first Christmas.  The marvelous virgin-birth of the God-man, King of Kings was only REVEALED to a few as told by Luke the physician.  First were the shepherds watching their flocks.  Next the devout Simeon, who prayed for a chance to see God’s fulfillment of the promise.  Because he sought to see the Messiah and vigorously followed the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Anna the prophetess was at the temple also.  She saw the child and began an anthem of praise, declaring to everyone how the child would bring Jerusalem out of bondage.

The Magi were the last.  I wrote about them last year {http://www.phatonfruit.net/2015/12/25/the-faith-of-the-magi/}.  They traveled far to worship the coming King.  They arrived bearing gifts and were overwhelmed as they saw him.  They like those mentioned above, saw him for who he is.  He was not hidden in plain sight, He was revealed for who He is . . . and they beheld His glory.

Why Christian Nationalism is Both Heretical and Non-Scriptural

The so-called Christian Nationalist movement has no actual foundation for existence short of embodying the metaphorical “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. This movement only seems to be embraced by a small number of followers, but that number could be increasing.

According to the Washington Post, Christian Nationalism is an ideology that says Christianity is the foundation of the United States and that government should protect that foundation.

Strangely enough, many of the participants in the movement are those identifiable as far right extremists whose attachment to the Kingdom seems tangential at most if not superficial.

A foundational truth that the promoters of this clique seem to miss is that we are not to be encumbered or tied down by politics or earthbound country. Those who consider themselves true citizens of the Kingdom, also considers themselves “strangers and pilgrims on earth” [Hebrews 11:13], but they are “not of this world” as Jesus said.  [John 17:14]
Since the days of the Apostle Paul, we have heard it reiterated, these are the last days before the triumphant return of our coming King. How can we become so enamored of a country that is temporary and soon to fade away? How could the
concept of a Christian Nationalist not be an oxymoron?

It was Paul who reminded us that we are to be ambassadors for the Kingdom. Dictionary.com defines an ambassador as: a diplomatic official of the highest rank, sent by one sovereign or state to another as its resident representative. The ambassador does not get involved in the affairs of the country in which s/he is stationed. How then, do we justify commitment and investment to the country where we’re stationed? And to what end?

The Time Jesus Preached and Nobody Got Saved

The fourth chapter of Luke describes a scene infamously used by preachers everywhere.  Jesus came to the temple in Nazareth as was His habit.  He came to speak and was handed the scroll containing Isaiah 61:1-2:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
   to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

He said that the scripture was being fulfilled at that very moment.  The text announces the mission of the Messiah and by reading it in their hearing, he implied that he was Messiah.  They were not inclined to believe that was true.  He knew they were looking for miraculous signs like he performed in Capernaum.  Then they attempted to become familiar with Him.

Jesus quoted an old proverb: “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’”

“Truly I tell you,” He continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.”

This truth remains inviolate and I reflect on it often.  I sometimes wonder if my fortune would have been different if I had departed from my home town. 

Jesus went on to share historic truth declaring that though there were many widows in Israel, Elijah was sent to a gentile woman.  And though there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha but only Naaman the Syrian was cleansed.   The implication was that this crowd in Nazareth would miss a blessing because they are out-of-sync with the move of God. 

This infuriated the crowd.  They forced him out of town and soon reached a cliff where they would have thrown him to his death, but he slipped through the crowd and left.  They led him out of town, if they didn’t carry him, but he eluded them all and walked away.  I frequently re-tell this story to young people as a way of illustrating the sheer power and restraint [read mercy] of our Lord.

Dear reader, I have encountered many scrapes, fiery interactions and insults but, I’ve never been taken captive by a crowd for the purpose of being violently lynched.  If I had, I would be hard pressed to continue with my ministry under that kind of duress. 

This is not the worst, nor would it be the last time people would show extreme malice to our Savior. Yet, in spite of all of this, he continued steadfast to die for us.  He didn’t quit or return evil for evil. 

The last few years have been pivotal as we have seen extraordinary upheaval as a result of the COVID pandemic.  So many have experienced so much isolation creating so much desperation and chaos.  We must show the kind of resolve that Christ showed even as we plead with the Holy Spirit to assist us

Humility Lost?

No matter where you look, it seems that the civility, the finesse the restraint that used to characterize public interactions is gone missing.  Stuck with so much controversy and angst, I ran across Matthew 18:3

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

From <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matt+18%3A3-5&version=NIV>

As I look at people in 2022, I begin to wonder whether anyone is interested in humbling themselves.  We have arrived at a stage where the notion of people treating each other with grace and civility seems remote.  This is said in the backdrop of the pandemic when our bottled up and sequestered crazy birthed in us litters of new crazy, crying and squealing for soothing. 

One needs only to catch the news to see the seething anger and contempt across the world.  As foretold, nation against nation, brother against brother.  Nevertheless, we need not lose hope.

We, the kingdom citizens must again use the mantra that brought about the advent of the dispensation of grace: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”  Repent means change your  thinking and we have been lulled into a conformist mindset with the world.  And we, Kingdom Citizens are as angry and resentful as anyone else.

We call ourselves Christian, but do we hold contempt in our hearts for abortionists and/or rights advocates?  For the LGBTQ+ community?  For the gun toters and militia men?  Repent!  Change your mind!  Our constitution forbids avarice & contempt (see I Cor. 13)

The spirit that allows puffed-up haughtiness and arrogance is not humbled.  The word humble derived from the Latin “humus” meaning the ground i.e. clear footing on the ground to understand one’s stature.  Jesus insists that we must be brought down to a child’s lowliness that is not pretentious or conformist with the world.

The church must rid itself of pride.  If we don’t do it, the next shaking, whether it be COVID or World War will drive carnal Christians out of hiding.  Narcissistic, superior, prideful people need not apply.   Declarations of people that cannot or will not forgive others who have offended them; your pride, ruthlessness and avarice will be your downfall.

I am learning to deny my flesh its satisfaction, its revenge, its bloodlust.  That becomes the price of admission to the Kingdom (Jesus paid it all).  Until I rid myself of all of it, I cannot even see the Kingdom.  We are called to love mercy in awe of the Divine love that granted us mercy, so undeserved.  We are to show mercy wherever in our power to do so.  This cannot be done in pride,  God gives grace to the humble.

The Calculus of Romans Five

The Word of God is alive, mystic and illustrative. The Holy Spirit inspired it all and through Saint Paul gave us these verses:

Therefore, since we have been justified [that is, acquitted of sin, declared blameless before God] by faith, [let us grasp the fact that] we have peace with God [and the joy of reconciliation with Him] through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed). Through Him we also have access by faith into this [remarkable state of] grace in which we [firmly and safely and securely] stand. Let us rejoice in our [a]hope and the confident assurance of [experiencing and enjoying] the glory of [our great] God [the manifestation of His excellence and power]. And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]. Such hope [in God’s promises] never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.From <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%205&version=KJV,AMP>

We learn to rejoice in problems and trials and while we learn that it is a process  but it is not so enjoyable on its face.  We also know that these problems teach us how to wait [without complaint, to quiet our wants and selfish motives ⥤ focus on things outside ourselves]

This tedious patience ≳

this waiting on the Lord≳

This refusal to give up ⥤

This is the aim and goal of character building He employs for our benefit.  These tense periods are so difficult that He personally mediates how long they last. His good pleasure is to give us the Kingdom.

All of this brings about experience→ Nothing compares to experience↡                      as a change agent

Experience informs pain, tolerance

     depth;

     renders time meaningless

Experience is the difference between fathers, young men and children [I John 2:13]

This is the victory; not strength, nor stamina

Experience provides the ability for patience to flourish; patience begins to wane without reinforcement.

Experience always re-assures that “God is in control”

Experience takes us to the future where hope abides

We dare not lose hope or faith, two invaluable footholds as we make the climb . . . 

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.   [2 Corinthians 4:8-10]

Anchor

Romans 4:4

We say the Bible is the inspired Word of God.  We use its 783,000 words to justify and bless court procedures, weddings, funerals and baptisms and blessing our babies.  I would remind you that “Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way.” [II Tim 3:16 MSG.] We have affirmed and lived as if this was true for large portions of our lives.

So when Romans 4:4 appeared in this week’s Sunday School lesson, it was like a floodlight beacon hitting me.  And yes, I do attend Sunday School as often as my schedule allows.   This word provides confirmation to those of us who literally believe that every single word from the Bible is true.

Many have opined for a long while that the economy of the United States benefitted significantly from coerced labor performed by slaves taken from the African Continent. Furthermore, a debt is owed to Africa-descended people for their many years of labor that established the economy of this country. 

Reparations

Many books have been written pro or con this issue, on the side against reparations, critics have argued that none of the benefactors from slavery are still alive, including the original victims. This argument on its face is absurd. How could the original victims expect or even hope for compensation? Could it have happened during Reconstruction from the “War for Slave Labor” known commonly as the Civil War? Nope! And because over time many other barriers were erected to deny and diminish Black economic progress, the debt has and more importantly, the frustration with the obstruction has become immense.

Kamathi Muirairi of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, History Department, said it better: “From 1619 to 1863, this nation stole 244 years of unpaid and dehumanizing labor from African-Americans. From 1863 to today, this nation has imposed 156 years of largely intentional repression on African-Americans trying to rebuild their communities and prosper. For that, the U.S. not only owes financial reparations, but also a renewed and sincere commitment to extending a fair chance in life to all people. Restitution requires it and the validity of this nation’s founding principle, as defined in the Declaration of Independence, depends on it. Without this reckoning, the American covenant is a farce.”

So when Romans 4:4 says: “If a man works, his pay is not a gift. It is something he has earned”, how can we deny payments to the descendants of slaves who worked to the point of death, danger and dismemberment on these shores working without pay?

This is not to say that citizens should be compelled to reach into their pockets.  This does mandate that the very rich government of the United States should find a way to fulfill this obligation in a way that will begin to level the playing field for the years of oppression already suffered.  Those who declare this is not a racist nation, but one built on Christian principles need to see to it.

I would also add this monumental article for you to contemplate: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631

More on this important topic to come!!

This Day {we pray} . . .

Father God;

We praise and thank you for your Almighty power and Omniscient grace that allowed us to see this day . . .

This day when rescuers search for survivors in a South Florida building collapse

This day when several states in the west are experiencing severe heat and desperately need your rain

This day when Derek Chauvin is sentenced – we do not celebrate his guilt or his punishment.  We wait in hope that those guilty of similar deeds are convicted by your Spirit and forbidden from doing similar deeds.

This day when political and cultural leaders are in conflict with no real relief in sight. 

Lord, let your Spirit move on our country to calm us, and let us see your arm working to work our your will. 

This day when there is war, famine and disaster across the world – we beg your mercy and grace in the Name of Jesus.   For you mercy endures forever!!

Phat on Fruit is an expression I interpret as feeding richly on the infallible Word of God known as the Holy Bible. (See Isaiah 55:2) Feeding is a metaphor for not only reading it but internalizing and meditating on His word which is alive and able to transform us into disciples, warriors and rulers of the Kingdom to come.