“ON EAGLES”WINGS MINISTRIES”
“See how I bare you on eagles’ wings and brought you unto myself.” Exodus 19:4
Royce Kennedy ◊ 909 Whistling Duck Drive ◊ Largo, MD 20774
“I glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” Part 2. September 2011.
Notice how carefully Paul went about fulfilling his ministry, by never allowing the effects and true meaning of the cross to be diluted or be forgotten by those he preached to. “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words. Lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. And I brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I am determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 1st Corinthians 1: 17, 18; 2: 1-2.
It is plain to see that our death upon the cross with Christ has been established in scripture as a stated fact, or declared truth, and is no longer something we hope to do, or a deed we hope will transpire somewhere along the way. Paul demonstrated his belief in the fact that he actually died when Christ died; so he had no resistance when letting go of the prestige and recognition that he toiled for all his life. He had no second thought in suffering the loss of all things and in counting them as dung. He did not whimper and brood over what he lost; yes, he counted them but filth.
Again we are compelled to reassert that Paul did not see these things as mere theory, or truths to be embraced and appropriated to himself in a distant future. The truth is that although he was not standing at the scene of the crucifixion, and had no interest in the man Jesus, after his encounter with this same Jesus on the Damascus road, his new consciousness caused him to conclude that indeed, he was crucified with Christ. With that new mindset, he arrived into a new world where the only reality that existed was Christ and him crucified. In the face of this truth, the old world of this man crumbled, and since he ended up as one with Christ in death and in life, he was able to say, “For me to live is Christ.” “Thank you Jesus!”
Paul reasoned upon a dynamic procedure that we seldom hear preachers build their sermons around. I personally, could not put it all together in a way that would explain and make simple, the reason why Paul could attest and confirm as truth, that he died with Christ upon the cross. It is not recorded in scripture that Saul of Tarsus was in Jerusalem and witnessed the crucifixion as we alluded to before. What truth did Paul learn from the law of ancestral lineage that enabled him to understand that he actually died with Christ? Follow me closely on this one, so that you will get a hold of this truth. Perhaps it will revolutionize your thought process and empower you with a new mindset. “As I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, paid tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father (actually his Great Grandfather) when Melchizedek met him.” Hebrews 7: 9, 10. Have you ever heard of a man paying tithes 400 years before he was born? Well, you just heard it! This is not fantasy, but an absolute tangible law.
Levi was a great grandson of Abraham, and lived hundreds of years after Abraham died.
But in Genesis 14, we are told that upon returning from a battle wherein Abraham rescued Lot, he met Melchizedek, King of Salem, who brought bread and wine to Abraham. In return, Abraham gave the king a tithe of all that he had. The writer of Hebrews said that on that day some 400 years before he was born, Levi paid tithes when Abraham did, because he was yet in the “loins of his father” (the ancestral lineage of Abraham) when the tithe was paid. So in truth, here is a man who paid tithes 400 years before he was born. This is fact and not merely a story of a man who lived a long time ago in a far off country. How can we apply this same abiding truth to ourselves right where we live today? Whose ancestral lineage are we to follow when tracing our own genealogy? How are we connected to Christ in terms of his death and the blessings that are reserved for us, at his glorious appearing?
Paul did not spell it out in A-B-C form for us, but when gleaning truth from one passage of scripture to another, we find a compelling story. Watch as we connect the dots and highlight our “roots” in Christ. “For we are his workmanship, created IN CHRIST JESUS unto good works, which God hath before (i.e. before the foundation of the world) ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2: 10. “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ before the world began.” 2nd Timothy 1: 9. So we are created IN CHRIST (much the same as Levi was in the loins of his father) before the foundation of the world, and in that same world of creation taking place in Christ, we were placed in the ancestral lineage of Christ, where we were given purpose and grace.
If we understand this concept, we are also able to understand why God could say to Jeremiah the prophet; “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Jeremiah 1: 5. Can you grasp this mind boggling truth? Paul was right on target in saying that he was crucified with Christ! It is because he was in the loins of Christ, just as Levi was in the loins of his great grandfather Abraham when he paid tithe to Melchizedek. Based upon ancestral inheritance it was correctly viewed as Levi also paying tithes. Notice that this is not mere theological conjecture, or some sort of metaphor. This is a standing vibrant law that God has not changed throughout the ages. I am absolutely convinced that if we grasp this truth and the reality that it offers to us, we will never be the same again, and we will have moved beyond playing church.
When we express oneness with Christ and reaffirm that as Jesus IS, so are we in this world, it is not being pompous or being lifted up with pride. We are only expounding a truth that is chronicled in the narrative of scripture. It is when we fail to appropriate these truths that we fail to walk in the freedom and authority that is rightly ours by Divine authority and Divine proclamation. These truths were not written simply for our downtime, when we kick our shoes off and enjoy a little siesta. Believe what the Word says is yours, then lift it off the written page, and implant it deep in your spirit, so that it grows and envelop your entire world. So be it Lord! We will let it be! My Friend, I feel like preaching a sermon here, to a live group of people who have already gotten hold of these truths and can join me in saying, Amen! I do not intend to sit as a judge in this case, but I am wondering how many of God’s ministers have gotten hold of Paul’s concept of the cross. “God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!”
I am sure some are speaking on this subject, but I wonder in what context, and with what intensity? The apostle did not arrive at his conclusions by a series of mental exercises. He did not return to his old text books that he read, from his early days of schooling in Jerusalem. As we mentioned before, all that he got as tools in the ministry was by the revelation of Jesus Christ. I beg your indulgence for a moment; I am totally convinced that what is lacking not only within the clergy, but is rampant among the laity, is the scarceness of true and authentic revelations from Christ. Like I said earlier, we preach and teach about our subjects. Up in Samaria, a distance of about 35 miles north of Jerusalem, Philip did not enter the city preaching about Christ.
The bible said that he “he preached Christ unto them” and it is when we offer Christ, not stories about him that good things happen. This begs the question, “How do I preach Christ instead of preaching about him? We can quickly refer to the words of Peter at the gate called Beautiful: “Such as I have, give I unto thee.” He did not hold an impromptu prayer service entreating God to come quickly and heal the sick man. At such times, you don’t try to get it; you offer out of what you already have!” Surely, Peter could not give out of what he did not have. It was not time for fancy words, and asking if the man had faith enough to get well. As we alluded to before, when Jesus went into the house of Zacchaeus, he entered as an ordinary guest; but because he was the very embodiment of salvation, or salvation contained in a human body, and had become ONE with his message, he needed not to offer an impromptu sermon about salvation.
He simply said, “Today is salvation come to this house. “ How come, Lord?” Because I am here! Thank you Jesus! My Friend, this is not playing church wearing the status of celebrity! Making a grand entrance with the congregation standing to attention! This is what we call, “living in a state of BEING.” You are what he has made of you, and you simply wear it like a garment, and people are attracted to you; and as far as they are concerned, for no good reason. Even at the airport or at the super market, people notice something different about you that they cannot explain. Instead of speaking the Word, you have become ONE with the word and that means fewer reasons to speak it. You will have to excuse me, but this is college material being offered to advanced students! So chew lightly and allow time after mastication for digestion!
Have you ever noticed in scripture, that Jesus never had to go around explaining who he is, or defending who he is? Think of this for a moment! The unbelievers around him called him a glutton, a wine bibber, one born in fornication, and others sarcastically sneered, “Is not this the carpenter’s son, whose brothers and sisters we know? Who is he making himself to be? All of this conjecture and trite remarks was based upon the natural man, thinking and seeing naturally. A man speaking out of the realm of spirit said: “Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.” Mark 1: 23, 24. Think of it this way! Of all the people filing into the synagogue, including the priests who would be teaching the laws and the prophets; not one triggered the kind of response as Jesus did. Sometimes in my sermons when there is a cause to say this, I said, “Some of us come to church and the devil did not even notice, because we don’t bother him, and he does not bother us; we both exist in a “live and let live arrangement.” The bigger picture in what we are saying is that our state of being is not intended very much for the visible, physical realm; but it resonates throughout the far flung regions of the spirit realm. Why was the man with an unclean spirit in the synagogue oblivious to everyone other than Jesus?
Let us assume that Jesus came to the synagogue as his manner was on the Sabbath day, and there was nothing about his outward appearance that should set off alarm bells. He did not walk into the building looking for evil spirits. By the same token, they did not come into the building looking for Jesus. But since both worlds cannot co-exist, it did not take long for sparks to begin flying. How about this case involving Paul and Silas? “And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, (meaning Paul, Silas, and Luke who is recording this event) and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most High God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.” Acts 16: 16, 17.
After doing this for a number of days, Paul, now grieved in his spirit turned and cast out the spirit. Mark well this little nugget of truth! The spirit of divination in the damsel was testifying the truth, while the spirit itself was not of the truth. What triggered these reactions against Jesus and his true disciples was a clash of spirits, and that goes to the very heart of what we mean in the term “TO BE.” By BEING, you never need to make sudden adjustments or change directions in mid-stream. Jesus never had to keep tapping into the Father every day, or every time there was a case he had to deal with. Being ONE with the Father and being constantly in his bosom was an ongoing reality that needed no sudden adjustment. BEING for him was a way of life! Hallelujah!
We, as the branches need only to abide in the vine, and drink of the energy and life-giving stream as sap that flows through the bark. Another point to hold close to your heart is the fact that Jesus never let his body of flesh and blood obstruct the way of walking into who he really is. He stood in a body of flesh and blood and declared, “You are from beneath; I am from above.” As the living Word (the logos), and as salvation brought down to man, how many folks did Jesus call to follow him, and they refused? When he said “follow me” he kept on walking without looking back to see if the person is responding positively. When he told Matthew at the receipt of custom to follow him, he immediately arose and followed Jesus, leaving his tax collecting job, without balancing his books and turning in his paperwork and cash in an orderly fashion.
This, my Friend, is the high powered workings of God with the reality with which Christ was endowed. God was in Christ and no one can say “no” when he speaks and draws in the same process. I cannot help but chuckle when I hear preachers say loudly from the pulpit that God cannot save you against your will. Really! Are you kidding me? Are you saying that we can put up a defense that the Almighty cannot undo or counteract? They say he will only draw you if you are willing to come. Hold it right here!
Maybe I am a little mixed up, so please help me! Tell me this! If you are willing to come, why would there be any need to draw you? The word draw literally means to “drag” you as if by the scruff of the neck. Are we talking about the God of heaven? Come on! Stop trying to make excuses for him! Paul asked quite bluntly, “Who hath resisted his will”? Was Saul on the road to Damascus planning to surrender his life to Christ as soon as he encountered the first group of christians? You bet your sweet potato pie, that he was on a war path with letters of authority in his pocket to bind and bring back to Jerusalem the christians he encountered. Was he able to say, “Hold it Jesus!” Some more convenient day on thee I will call?
The apostle reached a place of knowing experientially what it meant to be a new creation man that God has designed. What is so amazing about the apostle Paul is that the truths that he received directly from Jesus Christ were taken in the same manner as they were given. He did not resort to finding new definition for certain words, and he did not reason away the crux of the message. His surrender of all his worldly goods and ambition were not for a specific period of time, after which he could return to the former days. When he said; “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me, or instead of me” he did not mean all of this amazing truth and experience were for a certain time frame. He did not mean until the path ahead got really rough and he could endure the tests no longer.
The apostle, standing like a Roman soldier, with his loins girt about with truth, along with the breastplate of righteousness, and his feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, and wearing the shield of faith, he painted the likeness of what a Roman soldier looked like. To apply the metaphor of a Roman soldier most effectively, Paul used the closest language that would best convey his thought. He wrote to Timothy saying: “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou unto faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” 2nd Timothy 2: 1-4.
When I arrived in Norfolk, Virginia, from London in November 1970, a young man began driving me around the city in search of a job. He asked me why I came to Norfolk, and I explained that I am in town to found (start) a church, but it seems as if I will have to do it part time and work part time. The young man said to me, “Part time efforts will produce part time results, so if you are going to establish a church, do it full time.” That is a little nugget of truth that I never forgot. As for Paul himself, we need not doubt his surrender and total commitment in the service of his Lord. “From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Galatians 6: 17. How penetrating and significant is Paul’s statement? J. B. Phillips Translation renders it this way: “Let no one interfere with me after this. I carry on my scarred body the marks of Jesus Christ.” The N. E. B. translation offers it this way: “In future let no one make trouble for me, for I bear the marks of Jesus branded on my body.”
Picture a young calf on a ranch in the foothills of Montana or in the long horn State of Texas, being thrown to the ground to be branded by a red hot branding iron under the knees of an expert cowboy. Having the marks of Christ on his body enabled Paul to become absorbent of public ridicule for Christ’s sake. The apostle further explained his mindset in his relationship with Christ. Listen to the description of himself. “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles; I therefore the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” Ephesians 3:1; 4:1. Ladies and gentlemen please indulge me for a while longer. Like the celebrity ministers we see every day basking in opulence, don’t you think Paul had access to the “good life” if he so desired? Like we said earlier, he could have been the next ruler in Israel; but with his current mindset and believing that he died and his only life was now in Christ, he developed the mindset of a prisoner of Jesus Christ. And you know something? He tried to instill that same mindset in us, but has failed in a big, big way. Listen to this truth that we simply read occasionally in passing. “What? (I am amazed!) know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit which are GOD’S.” 1st Corinthians 6: 19-20. My good Friend, the apostrophe “S” behind the word God, shows ownership. In simple terms, it conveys the ultimate truth that both our body and spirit belong to God. Paul could not make it any plainer when he said, “Ye are not your own!” What part of that statement don’t we understand? But let us quickly add another question that seems to be appropriate at this juncture! Are God’s children the world over, both among the laity and the clergy, living like prisoners of Christ?
Let us use a broad brush as we paint this candid picture. Paul told Timothy that he that goes to war does not entangle himself with the affairs of this life, so that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. If that is the case, look around Christendom at large and identity how many soldiers of Christ you can find. Take the ministry first! It seems that each of the well known, well established ministries are owned and operated by a person or a family with father passing it on to sons, or husband passing it on to wives. But Brother Kennedy, aren’t they doing a great work for Christ? Aren’t they taking the gospel to the far ends of the earth? Aren’t they healing the sick and doing massive humanitarian work on behalf of the poor? I considered that same thing, long and hard!
A friend who used to send me his writings when he was alive, out of Boise, Idaho, told the story of a dear lady who spent many years in service for Christ, settled in prayer one day. She began by thanking God for the many years of service and all that she accomplished for Christ. The Lord answered, “You did it all for yourself and not for me.” Alarmed by the Lord’s response, she argued; “But Lord I sanctified and consecrated myself for your service.” The Lord replied, “Consecrated, yes, but it was still for yourself.” I began using the phrase that consecrated flesh is one of the worse kinds of flesh to deal with because assuming consecration it thinks that all is fine and it needs nothing.
I am not pointing an accusing finger at any particular ministry. I give them all the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are all doing God’s will. But I came across a scripture that highlights Christ’s own verdict on the subject, and it caused me to reflect more deeply on the matter. Watch this carefully! “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7: 22, 23. We are still working on the premise that we are not our own; that we’ve been bought with a price and are in fact, prisoners of Christ.
What seems to be problem with those whom Jesus disowned and cast aside? They brought into focus all the prophecies they brought forth and the devils they cast out and the many wonderful works they did. Obviously, there should not have been any problem standing before the Lord, but something just did not jell. Something was off base and did not meet the Lord’s expectation. So what was the problem? Take a step back to our scripture! “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” verse 21.
So here is the question for every minister engaged in every ministry across the Christian landscape to ask on a personal basis. “Is what I am doing in the perfect will of God?”
As Jesus pointed out, in spite of our prophetic ministry, and the ministry of casting out of devils and performing miracles and working wonders, if it is not within the context of God’s will, you will be told to depart by the Lord himself. Can you imagine a minister who had gained world recognition because of all of the factors mentioned above, as he or she stands before Christ, the verdict is loud and distinct—depart from me, I never knew you! Did I not cast out devils? Yes, but you were not doing my Father’s will! Did I not do many wonderful works? Yes, but you were not doing my Father’s will!
Brother Kennedy, you sit at your computer every day writing books and these newsletters; why don’t you establish a church in the Washington DC area? You could draw members from the District, Northern Virginia, and the Maryland suburbs. Thanks, but no thanks, because that is not the will of God for me. Some ministers operate in the ministry in the spirit of competition. Some years ago I conducted some meetings in Southern California and stayed in the pastor’s home as I usually do. He took me in his car to look at the new building that he was getting ready to acquire. I asked him if he had outgrown the current building. He said no, but he felt that God wanted him to move into the new place. He told me what his current mortgage is, and what they will be paying when they take over the new place, and I shuddered somewhat. But this minister’s friends around town were all moving into large semi-circle edifices and it was time for him to “keep up with the Joneses.”
I have said time and again that if we were to remove the dollar sign from the ministry, very few would get the call to preach. It is a sad thing to say, but many ministers are on a tremendous ego trip, and the humility and obedience to God’s will that Jesus, his disciples and the apostle Paul set before us as examples have been for the most part ignored. When the ministry can flaunt itself in lavish lifestyles compacted about with exotic vacations, expensive hotels and restaurants, high priced cars and airplanes while members struggle to eat and drink and pay for their healthcare, something is radically wrong. Ministers often refer to the message in Malachi 3: 10; “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith.”
I have personally heard one minister after another say that meat in the house means the well being of the ministry, who needs to be well provided for so that the ministry of the word can go forth freely. But there are ministries across this country who have set aside funds in the local assembly to offer a helping hand to those in need. Many have outreach into neighborhoods involving the elderly, sick and shut-ins, and children in distress. To these faithful stewards over God’s people, meat in the storehouse does not mean setting it on the pastor’s table and no one else. They interpret meat in his storehouse to mean serving of that meat where ever, and whenever possible. We must slow down and look more closely at what it means to us on an individual basis, to be bought with a price, and to reckon that we are not our own, being prisoners of our Lord Jesus. “When we walk with the Lord, in the light of his word, what a glory he sheds on our way; when we do his good will, he abides with us still, and with those who will trust and obey. Trust and obey for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” Another look at how we fit into what Paul has outlined for our well being will only do us good, and enrich our lives spiritually and bring pleasure to the heart of Christ our Lord. He’ll see of the travail of his soul and will be satisfied.
When I think of religious practices even divine worship that are shallow and every prying eye; but as for me, I never left a meeting with a feeling of satisfaction, and on my way home thanked God that I got the job done. To the contrary, I always suggest to God that if I had more anointing by the Spirit; if there was a greater openness to the hand of God in our midst, so much more could have been done that needed to be done.
Let me finish with the words of a song I learned at bible school in Kingston, Jamaica in the mid 1950s. “The Lord said stand up Paul, and dry up your tears; you must preach my gospel for many long years; Go to Damascus the way that’s called Straight, You’ll find Ananias and there you must wait. I send you to the Gentiles, I send you to Rome, and there you must suffer till I call you home;
You’ll sleep in the desert, shipwrecked at sea, but go right on preaching this gospel for me. Many years have gone by, Lord, and I have been true; but now I must leave this great field here with you. I’ve suffered affliction, I’ve preached in your name, and I know there are others who’ll do just the same. Like a recording of sorts, let each one of us play the words this song over and over again, as our personal testimony and commitment to the call of Jesus Christ upon us as individual ministers of his gospel.
Royce O. Kennedy