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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Man Misunderstood Part 1

Well, I'm back. I was away for awhile, and did not take my laptop with me since now the airlines are charging for checked bags, I decided to take only the essentials. I saw the grand canyon again, this time with my brother Daniel, and we had a good time of brotherly bonding, catching up and just fellowship. We also enjoyed three services I spoke at, and to all the brothers on the west coast, God bless you.
The following teaching was supposed to be a short article in defense of Nicodemus and his heart. I started penning it while I was away, and it ended up being allot longer, and more in depth than I had previously imagined. It goes through Christ's entire conversation with Nicodemus, as well as the paramount need to be born again. More on that later. I only had time to transcribe a couple pages, and as often as I get a chance to type out what I wrote in my notebooks, I will post on this topic. For now, we begin the journey into this moment in time, where a man wise enough to know he didn't know it all approaches Jesus Christ, not from a position of pride, haughtiness, or authority as a Pharisee, but one of meekness, humility, and a willingness to learn.
John 3:1-2, “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
I believe my willingness to readily come to the defense of those falsely accused stems from early childhood. I still remember with great clarity, being a child brought up in a Communist country, yet belonging to a Christian family, that on a constant basis I and two fellow students whose parents were also Christians would be singled out by the teacher and principle, for what they had coined reeducation. We would be taken to special rooms, and berated, verbally assaulted, told there was no God, and that our parents were criminals of the worst kind because they stood against progress, and everything that was good in our nation.
Because I knew my parents, and grandparents, knew their character and love for God, even as a young child my anger would be stirred when I would hear false accusations made against them.
Throughout my life, having heard more than my fair share of sermons, each time the name of Nicodemus was mentioned, it was always attached to negative connotations, calling him a fearful man, and a coward for coming to Jesus at night, rather than in the day. Men with the spiritual depth of rain puddles are quick to discount Nicodemus, drawing conclusions and making assumptions absent of having all the facts at hand.
First, the Word tells us that Nicodemus was a man. Why would this matter? Why would this be important in unveiling the truth about Nicodemus? I don’t usually go into the Greek or Hebrew translations. I believe the word is simply written, and easily understood but for the sake of this teaching I will delve into the root of this word ‘man’. Since the gospel according to John was penned in the Greek language, the word used to describe Nicodemus was ‘anthropos’ the literal translation of this word is ‘because he looks upward’ or ‘he who looks upward’.
This is important, because not all men are truly men. Not all men look upward, both spiritually and physically, and throughout the gospel some men have been referred to as wolves, serpents, foxes, pigs, dogs, and the list goes on.
Matthew 7:6, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus! When Jesus spoke of dogs and swine, He was not referring to real dogs, or real swine but to the spiritual conditions of men, to their character. At one point in the gospel Jesus even called King Herod a fox, rebuking him. Nicodemus was a man, he was a soul who was searching for truth, who was willing to abandon his preconceived notions and receive the truth.
Only in the light of the Word of God, and with the help of the Holy Spirit can we know if a man is truly a man. Sometimes men’s titles, positions, affluence, or reputation overshadows, at least in the minds of some, whether or not they are truly men. The Pharisees were the most religious segment of the population, and although all were religious very few were truly men. Jesus Christ, who knew the hearts of all men warned His disciples and admonished them to ‘beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.’
Nicodemus was a man among Pharisees. There was no hypocrisy in him, he did not worship God only when others were watching him, but rather he was a truly devout man, seeking truth, looking up to God with sincerity. Thus the reason why God compelled him to come to Jesus, that he might hear the truth. Nicodemus conquered himself, his own pride and ego, and came to Jesus.
Second, what we know of Nicodemus is that he was a ruler of the Jews. We don’t know how old Nicodemus was, but to become leader of a people, it is safe to assume that one has entered the twilight of his life. I can tell you from experience that it is difficult to hold a conversation with someone that thinks they already know all there is to know. They hold to their position, no matter how much evidence you produce to the contrary, and Nicodemus’s going to Christ, even if it was at night, denotes the fact that he was a man willing to listen, and to learn.
The most important thing a man can ever do throughout his existence here on earth is to come to Jesus with sincerity of heart, and be willing to obey. When we come to Jesus, with our cares and our burdens, with our trials and our frustrations, we never leave empty handed. There is always something there for us; there is always a comfort and a balm.
Even though Nicodemus was a leader of the Jews, and a teacher of Israel, as Christ refers to him further along in this passage, he was not ashamed to come to Jesus personally, even though he came at night. It matters not when we come to Jesus, what time of the day or night it might be, as long as we come to Him, as long as we desire to know the truth, to receive the life, and pursue the way.
What stuck out for me in Nicodemus’s first few words, was the fact that he was not alone in his knowledge of the fact that Jesus was a teacher come from God, and that God was with Him. ‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’ Nicodemus referred not only to himself, but also to the other Pharisees in the Sanhedrin with which he associated, as possessing the knowledge that Jesus was more than a mere man. This man who was a ruler among his kind, a Pharisee among Pharisees acknowledges, perhaps inadvertently so, that the other members of the Sanhedrin were aware of Christ’s power, and the fact that God was with Him, yet for some unexplained reason they would not speak this publicly.
When one is aware of the truth, yet is unwilling to submit to it, they become their own worst enemy, warring against themselves. There are few things more destructive then the active denial of a truth, simply because of self-interest, or selfish motivations. Such a man not only ends up destroying himself, but others around him as well.
No man poses a greater danger for his fellow man than the one who knowing the truth chooses to walk the path of deception, who having seen light chooses the way of darkness, who having known life, succumbs to the allure of death and destruction. Such a man only serves to lead others to destruction, willingly and knowingly committing the most grievous sin of keeping those who wander in the darkness from the light of God’s truth and word. This is why the day of judgment will be so tragic for so many who call themselves leaders, and shepherds of men, because they will not only be called to account for their actions, for themselves personally, but also for those who they should have led to green pastures, to the truth, to the light, and to the life that is found only in Christ Jesus.
The Pharisees knew Jesus was special, they knew He was of God, and that God was with Him, because even the biggest doubters could not deny the presence of the divine in Christ, yet they chose to stifle the truth, to reject what their eyes saw, and what their ears heard, because to acknowledge these things would mean confronting their own preconceived notions, and dispelling many long held beliefs. Among the many, there was one, who desired to know truth even at the cost of reassessing his entire belief structure, and that man came to know Christ in greater measure than most can hope to know Him.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Speaking in California

Just a short note to let those who are able to attend that I will be speaking in California in the 15th of February.
Sunday morning 10:00 am we will be at
New Wine Ministry,
24725 Adams Ave Murrieta Ca.
and Sunday evening at 6:00pm we will be at
The Full Gospel Church of Bellflower
9611 Alondra Blvd.
Bellflower CA. 90706

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Becoming Prey

Prey: A person who is the aim of an attack (especially the victim of ridicule) by some hostile person or influence.
Isaiah 59:15, “So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.”
Throughout every generation the truth has survived. It has been consistently within reach of those who desired to know it, receive it, appropriate it, and live it. This however does not mean that truth has not had its detractors and enemies, or that truth has not been stifled, dismissed, rejected, attacked and butchered to fit neatly into the box that is man’s preconceived notion of what the truth ought to be.
Although truth was, is, and always will be, the word tells us that truth can even fail. Truth fails not because it is powerless, impotent, or irrelevant but because the hearts of men grow so hardened against it, the conscience of a generation becomes so seared, and the predisposition to do evil is so all consuming, that truth is repelled and rebuffed at every turn.
The hour is upon us when the words spoken by Isaiah against the people of God, (Israel) will be made manifest in our present generation. The hour is upon us when he who departs from evil makes himself prey!
So how did we get here? How is it that a once Christian nation has come to have its hands defiled with blood, its fingers with iniquity, its lips with lies, and its tongue with perversity? Why is it that no one calls for justice anymore, no one pleads for truth, our feet run to evil, and our thoughts are thoughts of iniquity?
Because the watchmen stopped watching, the shepherds stopped feeding the sheep, the intercessors stopped praying, and the truth, the absolute, undefiled, regenerative truth of God’s word stopped being preached from most American pulpits.
The representatives of Christ in this present generation have made for themselves crooked paths, they have abandoned their Savior, marginalized and minimized the cross, and now look for light finding only darkness. Because we have strayed from truth, because we have allowed ourselves to be seduced by the siren song of an all inclusive plurality when it comes to the One true God, we grope for the wall like the blind, and stumble at noonday as at twilight. We are as dead men in desolate places, unable to offer life because we have no life ourselves, unable to offer light because we ourselves grope as if we had no eyes, unable to offer truth because the truth has been sacrificed on the altars of tolerance, humanism and relativism.
Because we have laid down the standard, because we have abandoned our posts, the power and the glory of the Almighty no longer resides in us, and so we growl like bears, and moan sadly like doves, we bark like dogs, laugh like fools, and mimic epileptic seizures, all the while mocking God by our actions, and bringing shame to His house.
We can no longer be bothered to preach the unabashed, undefiled Word of God, we can no longer be bothered to admonish people to depart from evil, because those who would support the truth financially are too few in number to meet our budgetary needs, and besides, preaching truth will only cause the world to think us backward, stuck in antiquity, clinging to teaching that can only with much difficulty be applied in our progressive age.
Let’s face it, it’s just more expedient to do away with the truth, so the world can more clearly see us for what we are, cutting edge, and ultra modern brave souls who have bridged the gap between the world and the church. We may have bridged the gap, but it is not the world who gave up ground, it is not the world who acquiesced, it is not the world that has become more like the Church, it is the Church that has become more like the world.
Having betrayed their conscience, having abandoned the truth, having denied the Christ by their deeds and action as the one sure way, the one sure truth, and the one sure life, these selfsame souls now look for justice but there is none to be found, they look for salvation but it is far from them. Their transgressions and iniquities are multiplied before God, and testify against them.
Because they do not hear a fresh word from God, many have taken it upon themselves to conceive and utter from the heart words of falsehood crying out to all who would hear that the seasons of peace and prosperity have not ceased, they are just in intermission, that God will bless us in spite of our sin and disobedience, that the signs of the times which are all around us are mere chance, flukes, serendipitous events that the fear mongers are exploiting to stir the Church from its slumber.
Jeremiah 5:12-13, “They have lied about the Lord, and said, ‘it is not He. Neither will evil come upon us, nor shall we see sword or famine. And the prophets become wind, for the word is not in them. Thus shall it be done to them.’”
Those who still contend for the faith, those who still insist on standing on the truth of God’s Word are being bullied into silence, because to the enemies of truth silence is just as good as consent or compliance. The most tragic thing of all however, is that it isn’t the world who is doing the bullying, it is men and women who call themselves children of God, who have by default become the leaders and ambassadors of Christendom in our present generation. In their blind zeal to be embraced by the world and find acceptance therein, they have become the predators of God’s own house, striking down those who would depart from evil, silencing anyone who would dare ask the questions what about Jesus, and what about the truth?
It took so little to make so many useful lackeys, an invitation to a breakfast, a mention during a speech, an inaugural prayer, but what they do not realize is that when they have outlived their usefulness, when they are no longer needed, when the truth has been utterly stifled and silenced, they too will fall out of favor, they too will be dispensed with swiftly and permanently.
We must purpose in our hearts now, as never before that come what may, we will stand for truth, by truth, and in truth. The season of our testing is upon us. May God give us the strength to persevere.
Jeremiah 4:7-8, “The lion has come up from the thicket, and the destroyer of nations is on his way. He has gone forth from his place to make your land desolate. Your cities will be laid waste, without inhabitant. For this, clothe yourself with sackcloth, lament and wail. For the fierce anger of the Lord has not turned back from us.”

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Odds and Ends

Is it just me or is it cold everywhere? I've been trying to get used to the idea of frostbite, but I guess growing up in California ruined me for life.
The new teaching on Revelation, in fact the second part of the message to Sardis, should be up on the hand of help website sometime next week. Just Philadelphia to go, and then we get to Laodicea, can't wait since I have allot to say on the matter.
I was reading an article on some website the other day, wherein the head of a 'Christian' television channel was bemoaning and lamenting the fact that since the economic downturn in this country his net worth has gone down considerably. Within the article they also gave the man's yearly salary which was a bit shy of two million dollars. Now, I am telling this story with a point in mind.
Hand of help's entire yearly income, was a little less than half of what this one man paid himself, yet we are able to keep an orphanage with close to one hundred children going, feeding them three times a day, providing tutors and nurses, doctors and cooks, and by association are able to put food on the table for sixty or so of the families who have members working as orphanage staff. Besides the orphanage, we are also able to do outreach and benevolence toward the neighboring villages, buying food, firewood, providing clothes, home repairs and whatever else their need might be. All this, on half of what one man made.
The point I'm trying to make, and believe me when I say this is apropos to nothing, is that even though we do not see the physical multiplication of the loaves and fishes as they did in Christ's day, we still experience God's supernatural provision. I am often at a loss as to how we made it another month, and the only explanation that is valid and applicable is that God made a way when there was no earthly way.
I write this for those who are struggling, because I know many of you are, in the hopes that this short testimony will be an encouragement for you. God provides, and supernaturally so. Have faith, be strong, pursue Him, and He will make a way. Now I'm not referring to abundance, excess or opulence, I am referring to having our basic needs met, for that was His promise to us. That He would provide for our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
God has already set apart those who are His, that no plague might touch them. It matters not where you are, for it was not the land of Goshen that was special in the eyes of God, it was the fact that His people resided there that caused Him to spare it. What is of paramount importance today, is that we know we are His, that we are walking in the light of truth, and rooted in the Word of God.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.