Memorial Day

1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
We, here at The Incomplete Message, would like to reserve this weekend to remember those who have given their lives for our freedom. We honor Jesus for his sacrifice every day; let us set aside one weekend for the men and women who, despite their imperfection, have made the same choice to suffer and give their lives so that we may live. Thank you, all of you, of every walk of life, for the sacrifice you have made.

Tools of Man

Found a wonderful example for one of our recent writings, inspired in part by our commentary that followed regarding a question on Ephesians 4:11-14 and the ‘five fold’ ministry.
The ease with which men amplify their own reputations and works through misuse of God and His works, though not as easy as Photoshop, can sometimes go hand in hand. See how a simple tool turns a popular and at the time ’mysterious’ cloud into such an example and stay tuned as we continue our posts on personal relationships with Christ without man made extras.
Seek The Truth – Ex William Marrion Branham Community

He said to them, “When you pray, say…”

Regardless of where we met Him, lining up towards the front as the Pope requests or sitting reverently in our seats. When communion is passed around and the piano plays, the congregation falls silent. The time of prayer and meditation was the quietest moment in church, when the children would duck their heads or fiddle with toys in their fingers, and each member in their own seat would settle into some form of submission, to open themselves to His word. We block ourselves off from the world for a five minute interval and even when the music stops, we hang onto that space where He was everything just a little longer. Moments of prayer like these are, for many of us, the purest communication we’ll have with Him all week. [1]
As with anything, we want biblical examples. We find godly men and women turning to ask Him for guidance, for help in times of desperation. Over the many times that Jesus prayed throughout His life, we only find a few are recorded as in Luke 11, with respect to the everyday talk-with-God attitude that He took with it. Prayer, during this period, happened on street corners, markets, any public place, loving to be seen by the people in their faith. God asked us to take it instead into our homes and our hearts, to pray to Him unseen, for He is unseen. [2] Jesus had been praying, not in some show stopping way, but so personally and quietly that they had to ask Him what He’d even been saying. He, of course, responded with something short and meaningful, always happy to teach the curious. [3] Prayer is meant to be a personal conversation between you and your Father.
Within the Lord’s prayer he has given us a marvelous example. He demonstrated giving honor and reverence the Father, recognizing His plan for us and desiring this first and foremost, acknowledging how sin separated us, and asking for His assistance with all of our needs. He asked us to use this as a guide to prayer, not to restrict us, but as a freedom from reciting verses or repeating things others have said, finding our own voice in Him. [4] David, God’s own heart[5, 6], prayed to Him many different ways throughout the Psalms, asking for mercy and to be washed clean. He speaks to Him in reverence and humility, in praise and in repentance, and asks for His mercy. [7] David, himself, recognized each of these principles and still made it his own, to communicate with his Father. When Peter and John called out to the Lord to ask for for boldness and the hands to heal and perform works in His name to bring the people together, He honored their request. The place was filled with the Holy Spirit, and they prayed with Jesus’ principles, applied to the sincerity of the moment and circumstances. [8] Jacob before he wrestles with God prays for the Lord’s help to bring his brother to Him peacefully. He speaks in reverence of the power God holds, asking Him to save his family and the lineage that has been promised to him. Jacob, after asking for help, takes his own actions of humility to his brother and sends him gifts to appease him, hoping to earn his mercy as he has asked the same of God. [9] Jonah, who failed miserably to follow God’s plan when it was asked of him, even praying at the bottom of the water, asked for mercy, recognizing his sin and the power that God had over him. [10] All of these great men that followed God’s word, that were put to use by Him have prayed in many different ways, always with regard to Jesus’ instruction, at times before those instructions were given. God has requested of us that we pray with regard to these instructions, not to restrain what we ask of Him, but to remember who He is and how we may speak with Him, at any time in our life. The hours of worship will not save us, but a single sincere prayer may, because that is what he has asked of His children. [11]
As always, Jesus followed this immediately with parables; ways to make a point hit home without making us defensive. He tells us that even a friend will help us if we beg, but that God never required us to beg, only to ask, and we will receive His answer. [12] Immediately following He tells us that even though we are evil, we know to do right by those seeking help. We answer requests that our children and loved ones have, so too God will always provide for us. Some interpretations consider God to be both the earthly friend and the Heavenly Father, the one who must be begged into action and the God who provides lovingly. However, He follows this with ask and you shall receive, clarifying, saying that everyone may ask and receive. Begging is for seeking things from corruptible men. We are all welcome to this reward system: ask and you shall receive. [12] He may answer in ways that differ from our plans, but He will always answer those that come with the right attitude and motivations. [13] If we have to beg for the things that we need, then effort alone can change God’s mind, showing His grasp of the entire situation is dependent on our input. God’s plan, His mercy, His love, none of this has ever been hinged on our input, else we were doomed before we started. [14]
Our prayers are not without purpose; if we pray to him and ask for his help, He will answer us. [15] We are His children, in every single aspect. Jesus reminded us of this to bring us back to the core of love and parenting. When my son comes to me with a question or a request, I never send him away or ignore him. A good father, as we see in God, must listen to his children at all times and provide for them without question. I may have as a child turned into a thespian and applied the waterworks to try and convince my own father that a want was really a need, but I never wondered if he would give me what I actually needed. Good parents in the Lord’s eyes will care for their children in every possible way, as He has done for us. I am His child, and without knowing the meaning of it all, I am entitled to so much. That’s the example Jesus focuses on with His discussion on prayer. In many instances churches are asking for more outward devotion, there can be pressure to spend hours a day and every waking moment with Him, to set aside the activities of daily living to submit ourselves to worship and prayer. “If you have time for ____ then you have time to give God more time.” God asked us to pray to Him with thanks, with love, with help, with questions, but never with duty. [16] He wants only our sincerity, with us every day and every moment, regardless of where we are in our walk with Him. [17] Talk to Him: in the middle of night when you can’t sleep, call for your Father, when driving to work, have that conversation with Him you’ve been trying to wait for your scheduled prayer hour. [18] Wherever we find ourselves, whenever we can, in all things we do, give thanks and let us pray.

[1] Psalm 145:18
[2] Matthew 6:5-6
[3] Luke 11:1-13
[4] Matthew 6:7
[5] 1 Samuel 13:14
[6] Acts. 13:22
[7] Psalm 51
[8] Acts 4:23-31
[9] Genesis 32:9-32
[10] Jonah 2:1-9
[11] Psalm 102:17
[12] Matthew 7:7
[13] James 4:3
[14] Romans 3:22-24
[15] II Chronicles 7:14
[16] I Timothy 2:8
[17] Psalm 100:2

Love God

Love God

Through trusting the Church to teach us the Word of God, we have attributed holiness and reverence to those in leadership positions, in place of God, Himself. His plans and His rules were interpreted for us from these sources, and they lead us in our faith. They pray with us and worship with us, and from this respect in their position, they recognize their own glory. Paul openly recognized his apostleship and the boasting that he had rights to because of this title. [1] We must, likewise, follow his example and put our desire to please Him first and envelop ourselves in His purpose to better show our love. He requires time and money of us as part of our sacrifice and dedication, especially of those who call themselves pastors and teachers.
God would rather have our loyalty and obedience than the sacrifice of worldly possessions or the additional doctrines adherence to doctrinal trends [2]. Our dedication to His word and our personal communication to Him through prayer connects us deeper to Him. Love for God is explained in the works of Christ [3]. He loves us knowing our worst secrets [4], before we ever had opportunity to succeed [5]. In each of these verses, He comes to us a loving Father, who loved us before we knew Him, before we gave our lives to Him.l Without loving him, taking his name upon us, doing the works associated with being a Christian, becomes chores instead of natural habits. This attitude will lead to bitterness and anger when we lose sight of His plan for us. We are trained to think we haven’t done enough works to merit his blessings. We often come to him with repentance, rather than praises and honoring of His works. As an example of this, my family, having lost a grandparent, was told that praying more and following the Church’s teachings would have saved her. Our love and reverence for the Father comes from the love and sacrifice he gave to us, when we deserved it the least. His love is infinite, accepting us exactly as we are, as he knew before we came to be. Nothing about God’s love is based on your loyalty or sacrifices for any man’s ministry, everything comes from Christ’s ministry living out through us.

Love Others

When God asks us to love others and help them through tough times, we tend to only think in big moments. We plan mission trips, food drives, helping the impoverished, and such because, that’s what we just know Churches do. All of that helps, it all makes a world of difference in many lives. But how often do we see an opportunity to help someone and we let it pass by because it might make us uncomfortable, or is not exactly our problem to fix, or, really, just distrusting the recipient’s intentions? We are called to be cups overflowing with His love and help to fellow Christians and those who do not know his love. We are to work daily so that we may support ourselves and help others, thereby earning the respect of those outside our faith [6]. God is not asking us to put ourselves into a bind or to worry about where the gifts will go once they leave our hands, rather he is challenging us. He asks us to take some of what we’ve already been blessed with and do the most good with it that we can personally. He has promised to provide for us and bless us until we overflow, if only we will share his love and blessings with others. [7] At times, it can feel that we are helping those who would not help themselves, that they have brought the misfortune on themselves, or that maybe they are bad people. However, becoming a positive impact on those around us, in our day to day lives, can come in small quantities. Sometimes, buying someone’s lunch or listening to them or helping them through tough times can be the light in their day to bring us all closer together as part of God’s children. We have the power to change the lives of those around us simply through love and generosity. Individually we strive to be the Gospel of God’s love to everyone around us. “Warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone… always strive to do what is good for each other and everyone else.” [8]

Love You

We are precious to God, from the moment of our creation before we live out our first day on Earth [9]. Throughout the bible we see example after example of God loving us as individual people, caring about the smallest details and letting us know the image he has for us. He has crafted us day by day into His plan, counting hairs on our heads, making us like jewels in his hands, to show us how incredible His love for us is, singing our very praises [10], [11], [12], [13],[14]. All of these come together to show us one truth: God loves us, as He made us. Christ has perfected us according to His plan[15], watching us grow in our faith to know him more fully. Sin made us unworthy of the perfect sacrifice, but God sent perfection, his holy and perfect son to save us, to atone for our impurities because He loves us[16]. Love yourself, and from the healing and strength this will bring, the outward loves will manifest in ways you couldn’t have forced before. He has told us to love others as ourselves, so we must hold ourselves in value as we have been given a place of honor and glory in His heart. [17] He loves us enough that his son, who is an extension of Himself and created solely to suffer among us, was sacrificed so that no temptation nor sin would be able to keep us from Him. We are loved, every moment that we pray, he is listening.We will be forever forgiven, and so we must learn to love ourselves, through everything, because we are exactly as he wanted us, and loved, as His own children.

[1] I Corinthians 9:15-18
[2] I Samuel 15:22
[3] John 3:16
[4] Psalm 44:21
[5] Jeremiah 1:5
[6] 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12
[7] Malachi 3:8-12
[8] 1 Thessalonians 5:11-15
[9] Luke 12:32
[10] Psalm 136:16
[11] Hebrews 2:12
[12] Luke 12:7
[13] Isaiah 62:3
[14] Ephesians 3:17-18
[15] Philippians 1:6
[16] Romans 3:23-25
[17] Hebrews 2:7

Why This Is The Incomplete Message

There has been a hierarchy where the holy men were tasked with conveying the message of God to his people. We trusted ourselves to pastors and priests to fill in the blanks, to explain so that we could understand the word of God; I was taught to read between the lines, as though the bible was incomplete, that I needed the numerous translations, study guides, sermons, and extra books which claim theirs is the right interpretation. I wholeheartedly believed I needed someone to expand on it and interpret it to me, through years of Sunday school, years of sermons, many times changing church homes. I believed that my relationship with God needed a moderator, someone to show me how to love Him and how to be a good Christian. I was shown how by accepting the additions of specific others that God would suddenly be speaking to me. The word of God was always filtered through the speakers, through sermons and texts that were in some way to amplify God’s Word. I lost sight of where I started and the love that got me started, to lose God in my desire to be godly. I came to realize that the barriers, the “incompleteness” being applied to Christ’s teachings, were unnecessary. Every Bible carries the teachings of Christ, and our way to salvation. My question then became, how much of Jesus’ work had I been negating all along. I want to reach him again and remove the human filter that adds qualifiers to his love and mercy.

I have, in many cases, looked to God’s Word to find His plan for me. Paul dealt with an identical situation in the churches of Galatia. In the churches he founded, many denominational teachings had become blended into their faith: adding church order, holiness, and other such traditions[1]. Similarly, in Judea, these families had been raised under Mosaic law, and kept their traditions out of fear of the wrath of their old God; the teachings of Christ were just an additional step in obtaining salvation to them. They carried that thinking into the newer churches; the rules surrounding circumcision, restricted foods, washing hands, and many other trivial details spelled out a radical lifestyle change for gentile converts, which ultimately deterred many. The Gentile churches even contributed to this themselves, bringing these Jews in and honoring them as members of the first church with special seniority. Paul raged against these ‘celebrities’ and disagreed with the laws and regulations put on Christ’s teachings, seeking to separate the two so that he might show the people Christ’s way of salvation[2]. Human nature, knowing it was undeserving of God’s grace, questioned the salvation offered to them by Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross. Jesus had forever paid the cost of salvation demanded by the Law, however all these additional rules demanded further payment.

Paul was criticizing the Jewish Christians for forcing their rules on others, distorting the teachings and occupying people with a fear of not being obedient enough to be saved. This line of thinking elevated man’s efforts and law above the perfect work completed in the Cross of Calvary. The specificity of God’s commands were in some ways over the top[3]. This was not intended to inspire despair, but to show the people that the laws of man could not dictate salvation. God’s love is unconditional and supersedes all laws[4]. Jesus stated he came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it; how an illegitimate carpenter could fulfill any prophecy was beyond the leaders of his day[5]. The simplicity of the answer baffled many, and had caused the Hebrews to demand a mediator[6]. A sacrifice was needed to atone, staring at the one that would pay the price they had been trying to pay for centuries was more than many could handle[7]. The law was not abolished by the Messiah; it was completely finished. They were unknowingly negated Jesus’ sacrifice by requiring laws to qualify for salvation[8].

Organized religion has always been a man made construct for a single purpose: measurement of devotion to a deity as compared to other humans. Jesus spoke out against the church leaders of his day for this outward show of ceremony and regulation[9][10]. God has always sought a personal relationship with his children, his standards were impossibly high to show us the distance between a God and a Man, he then showed us the way to his presence by grace alone[11]. However, we continue to make it a competition between ourselves for his supposed favor, in the same vein as thinking working late or having the latest tech will impress those around us. As if we’re going to earn grace, as if God was holding it back on a condition. He bestows it freely to those who seek him, to those who humble themselves to believe in his simplistic love[12].

Finally the greatest commandment on which hinge all the law and prophets is this; Love God [13], Love others [14], Love yourself [15]. The Gospel of Jesus Christ in order, in perspective, puts your life in order. We no longer care about the opinions of man when God is first priority. Don’t let anyone tell you God’s word is incomplete again, Christ completed it. He can complete you too by faith[16].

[1] Galatians 3:1-5 KJV
[2] Galatians 1:6-7 KJV
[3] Deut 25:11-12 / Num 5:11-31 / Lev 22:24
[4] Isaiah 55:8-9 / Romans 8:35-39
[5] John 8:37-41
[6] Lev 20:18-20
[7] John 10:25-39
[8] Galatians 5:4
[9] Matthew 23:27
[10] Matthew 6:5
[11] Ephesians 2:8-9
[12] James 4:6 / Proverbs 3:34 / I Peter 5:5
[13] Matthew 22:37 / Mark 12:30 / Luke 10:27
[14] John 13:34 / Matthew 5:44 / John 15:12-17
[15] Luke 10:27
[16] Romans 3:21-23