We are continuing in our examination of Christ’s teachings at the Sermon on the Mount. He first covered some principles about how to live a godly life, (see Jesus Contact 9 & 10). Jesus wraps it up by telling us to act out our new righteousness that He provides us with, by performing acts that reflect the transformation of our salvation – solely out of the love we have for God and from our desire to please Him.
This behavior stands in stark contrast to those who perform ‘pious acts’ in public to garner the favor of man in order to stroke the performer’s ego.
Jesus then applies this same principle to prayer as well:
“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men….But when you pray, go into your secret room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Mt. 6:5, 6. NKJV
Prayer is a sacred ‘love exchange’ between you and God; it’s how you make your God contact. But you demean it if you pray in public in an effort to demonstrate your piety. (Public prayer has its place, but it is generally rendered for the benefit of others.)
Jesus renders further clarification by giving us a ‘template’ (commonly referred to as the ‘Lord’s Prayer) so that we know how to effectively talk to God:
“In this manner, therefore pray:
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Mt. 6:9 – 13. NKJV
Jesus is not telling us that we need to pray this prayer verbatim. What He is doing is giving us the proper structure for an effective prayer.
Thus, Christ’s model suggests that our prayer begin with a preface – a declaration of just Whom (God) it is that we are praying to. Notice too that we meet God in prayer on the most intimate level – as our heavenly Father.
Following that, we offer up praises for His limitless love, grace, peace, abundance, life and mercy – along with offerings of reverence that recognizes Jehovah’s lordship over all things.
Next we ask God to bring His kingdom to earth (where at this point in our prayer we can also remind ourselves of our own role in forwarding that kingdom by asking that He helps us keep our hearts open to His will).
We petition Him for our ‘daily bread,’ i.e. our physical necessities. And note that we pray for ‘us’ – not just for ourselves but also for our brothers and sisters in Christ. (I believe that this would be the space where we would pray for anything else that is on our heart as well.)
Continuing, Jesus says that we pray for the forgiveness of our ‘debts’ (transgressions we and our brothers and sisters have committed against God), bringing our confession and repentance as well, to restore our love-connection with Him. We immediately follow by asking God to help us to be forgiving towards others who have perpetrated ‘sin debts’ against us – just as our Father forgives us.
The next petition in the ‘template’ (And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one) may seem confusing on the surface. Why? Because God does not tempt anyone into sin:
Let no one say when he is tempted “I am tempted by God;” for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away be his own desires and enticed. Then when desire is conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death. James 1:13 – 15. NKJV
Thus, this final petition is really about praying that when we are tempted, we would be strengthened in Him so as not to follow through in the commission of the related sin because we did not enlist His help. So, this would be a continual component of prayer because that’s how often the devil throws temptation your way.
Finally, we conclude our prayer with additional praise for our Creator and as we will learn later, we must seal that prayer with the name of Christ – through Whom God grants all things:
“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” Jn. 14:13, 14. NKJV
In other words, we complete our God contact when we make our Jesus contact.
At this point, Jesus finishes with the structure of prayer but He immediately introduces a caveat to the petition for forgiveness:
“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Mt. 6:14, 15. NASB
How about that? We have a direct line to our Creator at any time. And now we know how to dial the right number…
Goodnight and God bless.
June 23 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Applying Our Godliness – part two
Continuing with Jesus’ principles for godly living as He delivered them at the Sermon on the Mount:
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all…Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No;’ anything more than this comes from evil.” Mt. 5:33, 34 & 37. ESV
At this time, the Pharisees were teaching that the only way that one’s words were made true was if they were uttered in an oath. However, Jesus is saying that it is unnecessary to take any oath. Instead, He is teaching us to stand on our integrity, leaning only on our commitment to speak truth.
Next, Jesus takes on the Pharisees again, this time for their practice of justifying personal revenge:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” Mt. 5:38, 39. NKJV
‘An eye for an eye’ is taken from Dt. 19:21 – a Mosaic Law that teaches the punishment for a crime should be limited to the severity of the violation in order to prohibit excessive punishment.
Instead of revenge, Christ is instructing us not to retaliate when we are wronged but instead to try to compassionately defuse the situation with the perpetrator and try to reconcile with him or her (if that’s a safe thing to do). It’s a metaphor! Jesus is not telling us to stand still and let someone beat us to death.
Then Jesus confronts the human tendency to be self-centered and indifferent to the plights of others:
“Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” Mt. 5:42 ESV
Jesus asks us to extend our compassion to everyone in need, doing whatever is in our power to help him or her. Why? Because it is a way to apply our love, mercy and integrity:
“And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” Lk. 6:34-36. ESV
Our motivation needs to be love-based; and even though we shouldn’t focus on self-interest, look at how we are blessed for that love:
“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Lk. 6:38 NKJV
When we live a life of godly integrity by walking in the light that Christ has shed upon the word of God, we’ll be living in a way where we resist anger, honor matrimony, reach out to help our brothers and sisters and in so doing, revenge and indifference will become a practice of the past. In fact, when we step into the shoes of Christ, even the concept of ‘enemy’ can no longer exist. Indeed, Jesus winds up His examples of ‘evolved’ Mosaic Laws with that very thought:
“You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ ” Mt. 5:43 NKJV
(‘You shall love your neighbor,’ is a quote from Lev. 19:18. The ‘hate your enemy’ part was added by the Pharisees and thus non-scriptural.)
“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use and persecute you, that you may be good sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good…” Mt. 5:44, 45. ESV
When you walk that walk, you cannot have enemies in your heart. And that’s what it’s all about – seeking to become more like God, by following the example of His Son…
Goodnight and God bless.
June 18 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Applying Our Godliness
We are continuing with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, where after He declared that we would be blessed by living a godly life, He starts telling us how to do that very thing. He begins:
“You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Mt. 5:14 – 16. ESV
(Up to now, Jesus has only referred to Jehovah God as His Father in heaven. Note He is now telling us that God is our Father as well.)
Jesus is saying that we are to be living testimonies of God’s goodness, examples of the transformation made available for all who walk with God so that we would draw others into wanting to make that same choice. Moreover, Jesus lays out a divine imperative for not only living a godly life but to teach others to do the same – without distortion:
“Therefore, whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Mt. 5:19, 20. ESV
Christ is referring to both the Mosaic Law and the New Covenant. In addition, He is saying that we must adhere to the word of God in its purity instead of falling prey to man-inspired distortions of it, as the people were in His time were taught by the Pharisees.
Walking with Jesus is the only way to raise your righteousness to qualify for your free gift of salvation.
Next, Jesus tackles some of the Mosaic Laws and evolves them into His Father’s ultimate intent for their application:
“You have heard it said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ ” Mt. 5:21 NKJV
The ‘judgment’ referred to the sentence handed down to the guilty offender by the council of the Sanhedrin (high court in Jerusalem). Jesus now brings this law into its highest meaning / application:
“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council, and whoever says ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Mt. 5:22 ESV
So, even if you only entertain anger or disdain for another, you are in effect already murdering them – for which you will have to answer for to a heavenly court. I believe Jesus is referring to ‘chronic’ anger and disdain because we are human, subject to bursts of anger. God gets angry too, but His is short-lived and directed at unrighteousness. And He balances that out with abundant mercy. (Num. 14:18; Ps. 30:5.)
Thus, to be godly, we must emulate Him and let go of our anger (that which ought to be directed at the sin and not the sinner) as soon as possible. Then to complete the cycle we do our best to reconcile:
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Rom. 12:18 ESV
There is no peace in anger. We must rapidly dispense it because when you are angry with someone, you’re withholding your love – effectively cutting off the love that God wants to send to him or her through you. God will not accept that. In fact, unrepentant anger severs your love connection with Him as well. That brings urgency to your situation because it has eternal ramifications. Jesus clarifies:
“Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Mt. 5:23, 24. NKJV
God won’t even grant you an audience with Him until you have cleaned up your heart and done the best that you can do to make peace with whom you have a broken relationship.
Jesus then takes on another Mosaic Law:
“You heard it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; but I say to you that a man who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery in his heart.” Mt. 5:27, 28. NASB
“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.” Mt. 5:29 ESV
As shown in Jesus’ evolved admonition against murder, adultery too begins in the mind. Jesus is not literally telling you to pluck your eye out. He’s saying that you need to be far removed from that with which you may engage in sin – in this case whether you, the other person, or both are married and either of you are entertaining the possibility of straying. We must run fast and hard from anything that entices us to transgress the word of God.
And because adultery so often is a precursor to divorce, Jesus immediately touches upon the gravity of that situation:
“Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except for sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.” Mt. 5:31, 32. NKJV
Jesus was speaking to the conditions laid out by the Pharisees for divorce in His time. A man could divorce his wife for just about any reason (as is practiced now). Christ is declaring that divorce is only acceptable if the offending spouse will not relent from their adulterous behavior. However, if the spouse is repentant, it is the Christian duty of the offended spouse to forgive the offender and work together to restore that wounded marriage.
If a divorce is procured for any reason other than unrepentant adultery, the procurer forces the affected spouse to commit adultery if he or she remarries because the divorce was not recognized in God’s eyes.
The Pharisees would later try to justify their stance on divorce by referring to what Moses put forth in Dt. 24:1-4; but these scriptures were not meant to justify divorce but to address the ways the wife was to be ‘protected’ during this process.
God never sanctioned divorce. In fact, He hated it:
For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garments with violence. Mal. 2:16 NKJV
Indeed, if you’ve ever been exposed to couples going through a divorce, there is no peace between them.
Later, Jesus would set the record straight for all time:
“But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Mk. 10:6 – 9. NKJV
There was never supposed to be divorce. I believe that divorce is Satan’s greatest weapon. If he can destroy a family, he has the potential of being able to separate generations of people within that family from God within the wake of that destruction.
Blessed be our Lord Jesus. How much stronger can we walk with Him when we make contact and He brings us such clarity to the appropriateness of our steps?
More to come…
Goodnight and God bless.
June 09 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Blessed For Living A Godly Life
Jesus finally gathered up all 12 of His apostles. Immediately thereafter, He sat with them at the foot of a mountain, whereupon a crowd gathered to hear Jesus speak the first of His major series of teachings – the Sermon on the Mount.
He begins to teach how to live a godly life – one that leads to righteous living with an eternal extension. In doing so, Jesus is bringing the Old Testament to its final evolution as He reveals its synergism with the New Covenant. Ultimately, it is a call to follow Him.
He begins with a series of short sentences called the ‘Beatitudes’ (Latin for ‘Blessed’), which actually summarize His entire sermon:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Mt. 5:3 NKJV
This one-liner brings a treasure trove of revelation. First, we see that we are blessed (covered with the favor of God) when we recognize that given to our own devices, we are living in spiritual poverty – cognizant of our need to grow in God and of the necessity of His help in order to live out a godly life.
It doesn’t mean the children of God are weak. He is saying that they understand they’ve been privileged to be able to tap into the strength of the Source of the universe, given the opportunity to squeeze out every drop of life the kingdom of God has to offer.
Secondly, it says that ‘theirs is the kingdom of heaven;’ i.e. they are able to dip into the kingdom now, receiving blessings of spiritual clarity so they can walk with God. Note that this teaching is diametrically opposed to the ways of the world, which considers ‘dependency’ a form of impotence.
The apostle Paul was one of Christ’s mightiest warriors and God’s spiritual channel for the authorship of most of the New Testament. Yet, he too admitted to having spiritual poverty:
…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who believe in him for eternal life. 1 Tim. 1:15, 16. ESV
We see then that Jesus uses our spiritual deficits in order to glorify His Father through Himself. How? Christ holds up God’s redeemed children as an example of the grace of God to those who have yet to commit to being related to Him.
In other words, having recognition of your spiritual immaturity whilst being willing to grow, is an asset. It means that God can work with you, covering you with His grace as He helps you to become more like His Son.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Mt. 5:4 NKJV
I don’t think it was by happenstance that Jesus uttered this sentence next. I believe He is speaking of those who are mourning over their present spiritual state and or the fruits of it. They know that they sever their relationship with God when they sin, and they feel an unction to repent, in order to restore their love-connection with Him.
The only way that can happen is through the forgiveness that only God’s grace can bring. Within that grace, our Father brings His blessings and comfort as well.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Mt. 5:5 NKJV
Jesus is channeling this spiritual truth from Ps. 37:11. Meek does not mean weak. ‘Meek’ is translated from the Greek word prasso, meaning ‘gentle and humble’ – traits of one when they remove their self from the center stage of their mind and put God at the nucleus of their heart. He or she stands in respectful awe of God, knowing that they have the power of the Creator of the universe on their sides.
This creates an attitude of servitude and a desire to remain humble by bringing their flesh under submission to their spirit and cast their worldly cares aside – trusting fully in the provisions of God. We see again they are blessed now and inherit the earth of eternity.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Mt. 5:6 ESV
Their satisfaction comes from having a loving relationship with God by being in ‘right standing’ with Him through Christ. This 4th beatitude crowns the first 3 because you cannot have a hunger and thirst for righteousness until you first recognize your spiritual vacuum, which humbles you. Having that awareness will bring you to mourn for something bigger and better for your life.
We hunger and thirst because we know in our hearts Who we are supposed to be connected with and innately aware that we need to usurp the commands of our heads. We were all created to commune with our Creator. It is the great circle of love that is our birthright.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Mt. 5:7 NKJV
If you live a godly life, it must show up in the way that you relate to others. The grace and mercy of God will only flow to you if you let it spill out of you onto other people. ‘Mercy’ is translated from the Greek word eleeo, which means to show compassion.
We know it’s hard to manage life without God and we are aware that suffering people often act it out in spontaneous, unintended and injurious ways. We’ve all been there. Our greatest act of love towards them is to help lead them to Christ who is the most willing to shoulder their burdens.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Mt. 5:8 NKJV
A pure heart is something that transcends any ritualistic external attempt at purification. It’s a heart that loves God with all its might, staying with Him and focusing on His will in any situation. It leads its owner back to the grace of God when he or she falls of His path.
When we listen to our pure heart, we will see His glory and feel His presence because we are walking in the footsteps of His Son.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” Mt. 5:9 NKJV
(Later on, just before His crucifixion, Jesus said this to His apostles:
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives you do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled nor let it be fearful.” Jn. 14:27 NASB)
Jesus gives us His inward peace that flows from His Father – both perpetual and filled with serenity. When we accept it, we transcend the chaos of our inner and outer worlds. When we share that peace, we are peacemakers – a reflection of God, rightly called his sons and daughters.
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Mt. 5:10 NASB
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Mt. 5:11, 12. NASB
As a child of God, you will be persecuted because you are a living rebuke against the ways of the world. You sear the conscience of its followers.
When you take a stand for righteousness, you’re taking one for God and His Son. God will reward His children for the animosity of the willful unbelievers. That’s not to say we should just live in the hope for a heavenly reward. When you live in the present, girded by His promises, you’ll more easily toss aside the trivialities the world mires itself in and enjoy each moment that God gives you now.
Thus, Jesus in His ‘opening remarks,’ has helped us recognize all the areas where we may have been spiritually bereft so that we may lay humbly at feet of God with a repentant heart, hungry for His gifts. Then, He can empty our vessels so that we can be filled with His attributes – strengthened by those bulwarks of mercy, peace and spiritual armor that enable us to take a stand for His righteousness.
Christ is building our character so that we can represent Him, and He does so every time we make that Jesus contact.
To be continued…
Goodnight and God bless.
June 04 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Declaring Your Purpose
The time is approximately 28 A.D. Jesus and His disciples return to Jerusalem to celebrate a feast (Some scholars think it was Passover, others the Feast of Harvest). On the Sabbath, Jesus visits a pool called Bethesda, where many people would go to be cured of their infirmities. How so? God regularly sent an angel to Bethesda to ‘stir the waters;’ and the first person to enter the pool would be restored to health.
He came upon a man who was had been sick for 38 years. His sickness had weakened him so badly that he could never move fast enough to be the first in the pool and no one would carry him to it. Jesus healed him immediately. Well, that certainly did not bode well with the religious leaders of the day because Jesus broke the Rabbinical interpretation of the 4th of the Ten commandments, which declares that no work be done on the Sabbath day.
The Rabbis took it to the extreme, saying that no labor of any kind was to be done – including healing or saving lives. So they were frothing at the mouth over what Jesus had done. Indeed, at this point, some were even entertaining the idea of killing Him.
[On another occasion, our brave and bold Savior strutted right into a synagogue on the Sabbath and healed another man. He faced down the Pharisees, telling them that the Sabbath was made for man (as a time to reflect and bond with God), not to be terrorized by it; and He declared that He was Lord of the Sabbath. Thus, He was the final authority. (Mk. 2:27) Jesus further defied their twisted view and told them that doing good things on the Sabbath fell within the Mosaic Law. (Mt. 12:11, 12.)]
Getting back to our timeline, Jesus answers the wrath of the religious leaders over His poolside healing, by declaring who He is and what His purpose was:
My Father has worked [even] until now, [He has never ceased working; He is still working] and I, too must be at [divine] work. Jn. 5:17 AMP
This is the turning point in Christ’s ministry. He is now claiming His deity – saying that God is His unique Father and that He, Jesus, is doing His Father’s work.
Needless to say, His adversaries were lathered into a frenzy because He placed Himself on the same level as God. Jesus does not relent:
“Truly, truly I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” Jn. 5:19 ESV
Christ is proclaiming that He is a direct extension of God’s will and that His Father’s power courses through Him. Why does God do that?
“For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all the things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.” Jn. 5:20 NKJV
In other words, God will enable Jesus to work more miracles in order to try to open the stubborn hearts of the Jews, so that they might choose to enter into His kingdom.
Jesus then elaborates about the magnitude of the authority conferred upon Him by Jehovah God:
“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” Jn. 5:21 – 23. NASB
This is HUGE. Jesus is saying that He has both the power over the resurrection process in God’s ultimate end plan for all the people He has and will create and that Christ is in charge of the subsequent dispensation of those resurrected.
Note too that Jesus says that we are to honor Him just like we would God Himself. This is a big bone of contention with the Jewish and Islamic faiths, as well as some Christian sects. However, Jesus has just said (and He is the living word of God) that when we honor Him, it is a direct honor to God as well.
Jesus winds this up with a jab at His naysayers, trying to get them to see what will happen to them when they stand in opposition to His purpose:
“…the very works that I do – bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me…You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” Jn. 5:36 – 40. NKJV
“Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father, the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe in Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” Jn. 5:45 – 47. NASB
You can’t say that Jesus didn’t give them a chance. He stood right in front of His detractors and offered life. They refused. He told them that the Old Testament was filled with prophecy about Him – even from Moses himself. (Dt. 18:18)
What does all this have to do with you? When you make your Jesus contact, you become an official child of God. That is your declaration of who you are.
When you are a follower of Jesus, you also have a purpose to declare. What is that purpose?
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded of you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Mt. 28:19, 20. NKJV
And because you are a chosen declarer of that purpose, God equips you to carry it out:
“…do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.” Mt. 10:19, 20. NKJV
Furthermore, you must also declare your purpose, which is God’s purpose, by living it out in your actions:
“…what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD…” Dt. 10:12, 13. NKJV
“…to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked that you cover him, and not hide from your own flesh?” Is. 58:6, 7. NKJV
…to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? Mic. 6:8 NKJV
“…love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jn. 13:34, 35. NKJV
If you’re letting Christ shine through you in these ways, people will want to come to you to see what you’ve got and where it came from. Surely then, you are carrying out your purpose by offering them the eternal life of the Light…
Goodnight and God bless.
May 26 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Keeping the Message Pure
Jesus and His disciples are having dinner at His latest apostolic convert’s house (that would be Matthew). At this point in Jesus’ ministry, the Pharisees are following Him around to try to catch Him doing something for which they can accuse Him of blasphemy. True to form, they got upset because Jesus’ disciples weren’t fasting. Jesus replies:
“Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” Lk. 5:34, 35. ESV
Jesus is saying that when He (the bridegroom) was with His disciples, it was time for rejoicing, not mourning. He is also alluding (unbeknownst to the Pharisees) that He is also aware of His impending death and resurrection.
In addition, Jesus is insinuating that He is the ultimate authority with regards to the correct interpretation of God’s word. Indeed, He then plies them with His first recorded parable to offer greater illumination:
“No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece of the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.
And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old one is good.’ “ Lk. 5:36 – 39. ESV
In the example of the garment, Jesus is describing a process well-known at that time, whereby his hearers understood that using a new piece of cloth to patch an old piece of clothing would tear away unless it was first ‘preshrunk’ with pressure + heat + moisture.
What Jesus was trying to get the Pharisees to understand was that their ways (often twisted) of Judaism could not contain the New Covenant message because His gospel was not a patch for the old system.
Similarly, the people in Jesus’ time also understood that new fermenting wine must be put into new wineskins that could hold the pressure caused by the ‘out-gassing’ in that process.
What He’s telling the Pharisees is that they can’t mix His message with their old one. Moreover, He finishes His parable by pointing out that they want to stubbornly cling to their old ways and are unwilling to listen to His gospel.
That is not to say that the Mosaic Law does not have its place, but that’s a long discussion for another time. It’s just that the Pharisees had corrupted it with their own traditions and man-made interpretations. God is very clear about keeping His message pure:
“You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” Dt. 4:2 NKJV
Every word of God is pure…Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you… Pr. 30:5, 6. NKJV
So here we have God speaking through both Moses and King Solomon, commanding us to keep His word pure. Jesus Himself speaks of His reverence for the Law:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass away from the Law until all is accomplished.” Mt. 5:17, 18. ESV
Jesus came to bring the Law into its final evolution.
At the end of the Bible, we have the book of The Revelation of Jesus Christ – a sweeping landscape that encompasses the advent of the first and second coming of Christ and the victory of the gospel over evil. At that book’s end, we find a similar admonishment against distorting the gospel message as God speaks through the apostle John:
If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. Rv. 22:18, 19. NKJV
It doesn’t get any clearer than that. If we’re speaking of things spiritual, we must speak what God speaks and nothing else. After all, Jesus Himself is the Living Word of God; and what does He say?
My teaching is not My own, but His Who sent Me. If any man desires to do His will (God’s pleasure), he will know (have the needed illumination to recognize, and can tell for himself), whether the teaching is from God, or whether I am speaking from Myself and of My own accord and on My own authority. Jn. 7:16, 17. AMP
Jesus speaks for His Father; and as we seek Them out, They will illuminate our spirit to know that.
We have been entrusted with God’s salvation message and commanded to spread it to everyone we can. (Lk. 24:44 – 48.)
Those that ‘do their own thing’ instead will pay a heavy price:
If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth… 1 Tim. 6:3 – 5. ESV
We definitely do not want to listen to them nor be counted among them.
We are privileged with a Holy Spirit-empowered job to do. Let’s keep that message pure, which we can do when we keep our Jesus contact…
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded of you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Mt. 28:19, 20. NKJV
Goodnight and God bless.
May 21 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Author Finisher, Founder and Perfecter of your faith
No faith, no God. Oh, God is still there, but He doesn’t connect with the unfaithful. Faith is the bedrock of Christianity:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Heb. 11:1 NASB
When Jesus began preaching, He lamented over the lack of faith in the Jews regarding His message:
Unless you see signs and miracles happen, you [people] will never believe (trust, have faith) at all. Jn 4:8 AMP
Jesus was approached by a nobleman who urged Him to come to his home and heal his dying son. That’s what prompted His afore-mentioned utterance. Yet, He pours His compassion forth and says:
“Go your way; your son lives.” So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. Jn. 4:50 NKJV
The son was healed before the man got home! Why? It’s because the nobleman had placed his faith in Jesus’ words.
Shortly thereafter, Jesus returned to Nazareth and began to preach in a synagogue. He starts by laying out His entire purpose for coming to this world by quoting Is. 61, 62:
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Lk. 4:18, 19. NKJV
The ‘acceptable year of the Lord’ is alluding to the ‘year of the Jubilee,’ which was a specified year when all debtors and slaves were set free in Israel. Jesus is saying that He came to set them free from spiritual darkness and the consequences it brings.
All eyes are on Jesus when He delivers the clincher:
“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Lk. 4:21 NKJV
How did the people of Nazareth respond? They scoffed at Him because they were blinded by their familiarity with Him due to the fact that He grew up in that town. They had no faith. Guess what? Neither did they receive any miracles.
Even Satan and his demons have faith in Jesus. When Jesus was preaching in another synagogue in Capernaum, the devil entered into a man who stood up and said:
Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!” Mk. 1:23, 24. NKJV
The people in that town had faith and brought all of their sick and demon-possessed to Jesus for miracle cures, and He healed them all!
While still in Galilee, Jesus was approached by a leper who entreated Him:
“If you are willing, You can make me clean.” Mk. 1:40 NKJV
He brought his faith. He got his miracle. Indeed, many times that Jesus performed miracles, He stated that His ability to do so was facilitated by the recipient’s faith. (Lk. 7:50, 18:42; Mt. 9:22; Mk. 2:5.)
Let’s look at one more. Jesus went into the apostle Peter’s house to preach. Because the house was crammed to capacity, friends of a paralyzed man took the roof off the house and lowered their paralyzed friend to Jesus:
And when He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” Lk. 5:16 NKJV
There were scribes and Pharisees in the audience who went apoplectic with rage over Jesus’ claim to be able to forgive sins. Jesus read their minds and rebuked them, saying that in order to prove He had that power, He was going to heal the paralytic as well – which He did.
Christ has the power to overcome sin. Notice that He cleansed the man of his sins before He healed him. Consider too that it was the faith of the man’s friends that provided the atmosphere for Jesus’ healing power to manifest.
Faith is at the center of everything:
“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Mt. 21:22 ESV
“All things are possible to him who believes.” Mk. 9:23 NASB
Faith bonds all of God’s children as one. (Eph. 4;4 – 6.) Having faith is the only way to please God. (Heb. 11:6) We are justified and sanctified by it. (Rm. 3:28) It brings us divine strength (Ps. 125:1) and protection. (Ps. 31:23, 56:4, 71:5, 6.) Faith even wards off the devil himself. (1 Pt. 5:8, 9; Eph. 6:16.) Our happiness is based upon faith, our revelation, (Jm. 1:5, 6.) healing, (Jm. 5:15) as well as all the rest of God’s blessings.(Pr. 28:20; Lk. 1:45.)
So, where do we get this faith?
…God has allotted to each a measure of faith. Rm. 12:3 NASB
But the fruit of the Spirit is…faithfulness. Gal. 5:22 ESV
It comes from God Himself! He’s helping you do the believing. In fact, we can’t even understand the gospel message until that faith is activated. (2 Cor. 4:3, 4.) We must have the gift of God’s grace to be able to know Christ and have Him reside within us.
We continue to strengthen that faith by continually immersing ourselves in the hearing of our newfound understanding:
So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips of Christ] (the Messiah Himself). Rm. 10;17 AMP
By faith you touch God, not by works. By faith you accept that Jesus has done everything – making us totally acceptable to God. In that faith, we act on the word of God, to live by it at all times. And what lies at the crux of that work? Your faith:
“This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” Jn. 6:29 NKJV
Your salvation in a nutshell…
So what’s left?
…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith… Heb. 12:1, 2. ESV
Looking to Jesus, making that contact…
Goodnight and God bless.
May 13 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Pursuing Your Salvation
Jesus was passing through Samaria with His apostles on their way to Galilee when they came upon a well. He sent His retinue to a nearby town to purchase food. After they left, a Samaritan woman approached the well and Jesus asked her to draw Him some water to drink.
The woman was taken aback because this Jewish man was speaking to her, a Samaritan, of whom the Jews normally held in great disdain because of their mixed-race (Jew and Assyrian) heritage. But Jesus doesn’t have a prejudicial bone in His body. He answers:
“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” Jn. 4:10 NKJV
What is Jesus doing here? He’s pursuing her salvation! This is the merciful love of God, pouring out His grace – a free gift that perfects and prepares us for eternal life. We were created for this heavenly ‘love call’ to come in union with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The woman asks Jesus to tell her the whereabouts of this ‘living water.’ He ignores her question and instead begins to reveal the nature of it:
“Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” Jn. 4:13, 14. NKJV
Now, the woman’s curiosity is piqued, and she asks Jesus for some of His living water. However, He keeps her off balance until she can absorb the entirety of the message He has come to share. Instead of responding to her request, He tells her that He knows that she has been married and divorced five times and is presently shacking up with another guy.
Christ does not condemn her. He is bringing the depth of her sin to the light for her examination so that she could perceive her need for salvation. Then Jesus leaves the subject of her sin alone.
Our merciful God confronts us with love even in our darkest state. He provides a Light (Jesus) to help us see that we are living in a misery of our own making, caused by our sins that punish us. Hopefully, when He compassionately brings us to that place, we can dispense with our will to continue in our old ways – in that sensual selfishness that blocks the charitable hand of God.
Because Jesus is able to reveal the Samaritan’s past, she thinks Him a prophet; and the woman asks what she believes to be a relevant question about which temple she should worship at – either the one in Samaria or the other located in Jerusalem. He replies in a way that plunges her into greater contemplation:
“Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.” Jn. 4:21, 22. NKJV
Jesus is saying that worshiping God will no longer be limited to designated physical settings. He’s also telling her that the Samaritan type of worship is a bastardized conglomeration of Mosaic Law and Assyrian paganism. And He’s letting her know that He is a Jew and that the Messiah comes from the Jews. Jesus continues:
“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is a spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” Jn. 4:23, 24. ESV
The time for worship is now. God is a Spirit occupying all space and time (as well as transcending them). Thus, He can be worshiped anywhere at anytime. Jesus is opening the woman’s ears to hear that God is available to all sincere worshipers regardless of race or ethnicity.
How do we worship in the spirit? We begin in baptism when we allow our spirit to subjugate our flesh.
Jesus has worked His wonder. The woman’s spiritual eyes begin to open and she expresses her heartfelt yearning:
I know that the Messiah is coming, He who is called the Christ (the Anointed One); and when He arrives, He will tell us everything we need to know and make it clear to us. Jn. 4:25 AMP
In response, Jesus throws the doors of her salvation wide open. Turning to her in His infinite compassion, He says:
“I who speak to you am He.” Jn. 4:26 NKJV
The Messianic age begins.
God created every one of us perfectly. However, we all carry an Adam-stained soul, which given to its own desires will perpetuate a life of transgression. We cannot solve this problem by ourselves. We need God to wash that stain away and let our perfection shine by living out the loving grace of that God within.
We can only do that if we satisfy that innate thirst we have for Him that He placed in our hearts at birth. And that will only happen when we make our Jesus contact – allowing Him to pursue our salvation…
Goodnight and God bless.
May 05 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
The Bible tells us that Satan bore enmity towards Christ even at the time of Adam and Eve. (Gn. 3:15; Rv. 12:4, 5.) Much later, he even tried to kill the baby Jesus through King Herod. (Mt. 2:13 & 16.)
But we see that the devil’s first direct encounter with the incarnate Christ happened just after Jesus’ baptism:
Then, Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days, He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. Luke 4:1 NKJV
So, the moment Jesus set Himself upon His God-quest, the devil attacked Him with temptations, attempting to sway Christ from fulfilling His Divine mandate.
Similar attacks come against God’s children when they are making an effort to do the same. Indeed, they are continually in Satan’s line of fire. Jesus says:
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” Jn. 10:10 NKJV
The devil is not your friend:
Be sober minded; be watchful. Your adversary prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Pet. 5:8 ESV
Let’s look at how Satan attacked Jesus in this first encounter, as well as the way He thwarted it:
Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Mt. 4:3 NKJV
Jesus was famished from His 40-day fast. The devil is making an effort to leverage this, trying to tempt Him into satisfying the ‘lust of the flesh’ – to rely upon His own resources instead of keeping faith in His Father to pull Him through.
Check out Jesus’ first line of defense:
“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ “ Mt. 4:3 NKJV
Christ sets this example for all of us. He defends Himself by using the word of God (in this case, quoting Dt. 8:3). When we use and walk by God’s word, He covers us with His armor by giving us access (through our faith) to His truth, righteousness, unshakeable peace and salvation so that we can successfully resist the adversary. (Eph. 6:11-18.) When we align ourselves with God spiritually, He will see that our physical needs are met as well.
Satan launched a second attack against Jesus by taking Him to the top of the temple and asking Him to prove that He is the Son of God by jumping to the ground – depending upon angels to come and keep Him from harm.
The devil quotes scripture to back him up! (Ps. 91:11, 12.) But, he’s using it out of context to suit his own purpose. That’s why it’s so important for you to stay in the word of God so as to know its right application – freeing you from the Satan’s efforts to twist those same words.
In this attempt, Satan is trying to tempt Christ into giving into the ‘pride of life,’ to cast His humility aside and exalt Himself. Jesus fires back again with the word of His Father:
“On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’ “ Mt. 4:7 NASB
In other words, we are to take God’s words as truth (by faith), believing that they will be fulfilled, instead of arrogantly demanding that fulfillment.
Having failed on his second attempt, Satan finally takes Jesus to the top of a high mountain and shows Him all the kingdoms of man throughout time, offering to give them to Him if He will worship him.
(Notice that the devil says that those kingdoms are his to give – suggesting that he is working behind the scenes of all governments. Hmmm. Still, this is only a half-truth, because ultimate authority always belongs to God.)
In this final attempt, Satan is trying to get Jesus to choose riches and power over the will of God, to satisfy the ‘lust of the eyes.’ Thus, we see that a craving for these things amounts to devil worship.
Jesus is not swayed. He rides this altercation to victory with God’s word – quoting Dt. 10:20:
Begone, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you serve. Mt. 4:10 AMP
The word of God is our life. The devil will attempt to steal it away at every opportunity. Look and see how effective he’s been at doing that around the world. That’s why we need to marinate ourselves in His word daily, so that we own our salvation – rising above the ways of the world with its lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
Thankfully, we’ve got Jesus on our side:
The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 1 Jn. 3:8 NASB
The devil wasn’t done with Christ however. He invaded the mind of Judas Iscariot so that Jesus would be betrayed and crucified. (Jn. 13:2) Yet, he didn’t foresee Jesus’ resurrection. Another BIG victory for us:
In the world you will have tribulation and trials and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage, be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] Jn. 16:33 AMP
Eventually, near the end of time, Jesus will vanquish all of Satan’s followers with the word of God again (…the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him…Rv. 20:21.) and ultimately tosses the devil himself into the abyss for all time. (Rv. 20:10).
Until then, we know that with regards to his attempts to sabotage our lives, he is beatable. He looks to exploit the weakest chink in our armor. However, the devil cannot make us do anything. He only has the power that we give him. We have the free will to choose God or Satan. There is no in between.
When you wear the word of God, clinging to your Jesus contact, you are invincible to the devil’s machinations:
Yet the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen [you] and set you on a firm foundation and guard you from the evil [one]. 2 Thess. 3:3 AMP
Goodnight and God Bless.
April 29 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
The third example the Bible gives us for emulating Christ so as to facilitate our contact with Him, is when Jesus presents Himself to John the Baptist for His own baptism.
When John sees Jesus approach, he is stirred in his spirit, which reveals to him that this Man approaching him is the Messiah. John exclaims:
“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ “ Jn. 1:29, 30 NASB
John is referring to Christ’s prior existence as a pure Spirit being, because in the flesh, John was Jesus’ cousin and six months older than Him.
John protests at Jesus’ request, claiming that He should be baptizing John. Jesus replies:
“Let it be so for now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Mt. 3:15 ESV
Jesus did not need to be baptized for the same reasons we do. He was pure righteousness (sinless). He was showing us by example, the path that was vital for the procurement of our salvation.
For Jesus, His baptism marked the beginning of His earthly ministry through His Holy Spirit empowerment.
Later, (after Jesus confronts the devil, gathers His first five apostles, turns water into wine at Cana and drives the money-changers out of the temple), we become privy to a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus (a Jewish theologian and member of the Sanhedrin), whereby Christ explains the significance of baptism for man:
I assure you, most solemnly tell you, that unless a person is born again (anew, from above), he cannot ever see (know, be acquainted with, and experience) the kingdom of God. Jn. 3:3 AMP
So, you cannot get into the kingdom of God in any other way – not by high standing in government or society, by riches, race, place of birth, good deeds or religious training.
Entrance into the kingdom is only granted to those who allow God to birth them anew by changing what’s in their hearts. One’s continued presence in God’s kingdom is assured when those same people do their best to live by those changes.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Jn. 3:5 NKJV
[Note: Some biblical scholars believe that Jesus is addressing the physical act of water baptism as well as the Spiritual one. Others think that the ‘water’ He is referring to, is that water God promised for cleansing the heart – prophesied by Ezekiel. (Ezek. 36:25 – 27.)]
Seeing as how we are talking about baptism, let’s explore the first interpretation. Water baptism is required by God as a public confession of our faith in His Son and what He accomplished on the cross. In fact, the resurrected Christ’s final words were these:
“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” Mk. 16:15, 16. ESV
Earlier in His ministry, Jesus revealed His Father’s imperative regarding this act:
“Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man will also confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.” Lk. 12:8, 9. NKJV
Water baptism is also a way that we can help bring others into the kingdom of God by this external example of our faith. Without faith, the act of baptism would be worthless, the water just water. It is through making the connection of the water to the word of God by faith that fulfills our requirement.
However, water baptism by itself is not the way to salvation. It’s a declaration of one’s faith in salvation through the Spirit – a metaphorical demonstration of your being re-birthed as a newly cleansed child of God through the forgiveness of your sins.
You are making a faith confirmation that you’re old ‘worldly self’ has been buried (symbolized by the water immersion) and that your ‘spiritual self’ has been resurrected cleansed from sin (metaphorically by rising out of the water). We must die to the life we’ve lived and the meanings we brought to it so that we can live a new life whose meaning is revealed by the word of God.
Water baptism begins with your repentance of the actions of your flesh and ends with your declaration of faith in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
True salvation (becoming righteous in the eyes of God through the blood of Christ) is fulfilled when you ask God for your Spiritual new birth. (Jn. 3:6 – 8.) Once baptized in the Spirit, you become a child of God – eternally related to Him in the most intimate way.
The spirit and the flesh are separate from one another. Our spirit animates the flesh. When we are born again, the Holy Spirit changes us inwardly, taking us from sinfulness to holiness so that we can enter into the presence of God. You are ‘born again’ when the Spirit brings the word of God to life in you. That rebirth is continually preserved through your obedience to that word. (1 Pet. 1:22, 23.)
It is vital that you be born again because prior to that act, you are spiritually dead, morally corrupt and living on borrowed time. There is nothing that you can personally do to change that other than to petition God, in faith, to access His free gift:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Pet. 1:3 – 5. ESV
Thus, declaring Christ as our Savior is part of our water baptism public profession and our confession of faith to God as we ask for our Holy Spirit re-birthing. Jesus is why salvation is possible.
Our part is not to satisfy ourselves with an intellectual baptism. There is no strength or permanency in that. The flesh and its cravings are strong. We must yield our will to the Lord, allowing Him to mold us into His original intentions for us (Jer. 29:11), strengthening us to walk a godly walk even in the face of temptation. (1 Cor. 10:13)
When you truly own your baptism, sins (past, present and future) will become a reason to celebrate the love of God and His mercy as He pulls you out of them, giving you the opportunity to glorify Him.
We pay tribute to God for filling us with His life through the Holy Spirit, and to Christ for living that life through us (Gal. 2:20). We cannot walk our godly walk under our own power. Only through Jesus is that a possibility.
Because God loves you so much He made a way for you to meet the demands that His righteousness and holiness make upon you and to satisfy the punishment that He said would be meted out (death) when you violated that. He gave over His sinless Son to die a vicarious death for you so that His blood could make you free.
When we accept this gift, we are delivered from our obsession over the guilt we associate with our transgressions, which is a sin in and of itself because God never intended for us to mercilessly punish ourselves.
We understand that we are sinners, but it’s not about what we do but what Christ has done and continues to do for us. It’s our faith in God’s grace and mercy that makes them manifest – uniting our spirit with His. Our divine pardon is not based upon our feelings but on our trust in God.
Even so, we don’t want to focus on our transformation for assurance (setting up our transformed self as our savior) but must always return to Jesus in every moment for His mercy – clinging to His promise of forgiveness, a covenant that remains unshaken because God never breaks a promise.
Your baptism is a celebration of life, a tribute to your Jesus contact, and acknowledgment of God doing the work through Christ on the cross. We are initiated into the Church of Christ. We are free from the manipulated intentions of the devil and set upon the beginning of the path of our eternal spiritual fulfillment.
As we saw last time, to be about our Father’s business was to bring His salvation message (the very same message that we acknowledge in our baptism) to as many people as possible. But you cannot do that until you invite Christ to live in you and you look to find Him in everyone else…
Goodnight and God bless.
April 20 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »