Are You Kicking Against the Goads?
Shortly after Jesus ascended to His Father, the early Christian church fell under persecution by the non-Christian Jews. One such oppressor leading this charge was a man named Saul of Tarsus, (who would later become the apostle Paul):
…Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Acts 8:3 ESV
Indeed, Paul himself later described his motivations and actions:
“…according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived a Pharisee.” Acts 26:5 NKJV
“…I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.” Gal. 1:13 NKJV
Saul knew nothing of the gospel:
“For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it…” Gal. 1:12 NKJV
Well, Saul and his henchmen were riding towards Damascus to hunt down more Christians, when suddenly a blinding light from heaven shone all about him:
Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are you Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, who you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” Acts 9:4, 5. NKJV
Saul knew that he was in the presence of a Divine manifestation, but I’ll bet when he realized it was Jesus, his knees commenced to knocking!
(A ‘goad’ is a pointed stick used to drive oxen. ‘Kicking against the goads,’ is a Syriac (western Semitic) proverb describing an attempt to do something that will only bring pain. Here, Jesus was implying that Saul was going to experience pain if he continued to oppose the will of God.)
“But rise and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles – to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” Acts 26:16 – 18. ESV
Only Jesus would transform His greatest earthly enemy into His mightiest champion. Paul would even go on to write (by the Spirit) the majority of the New Testament.
Similarly, there is no one else whom Jesus would not enlist to serve Him if they make the free-will choice to do so. He makes it pretty clear that the choice is either black or white:
“He who is not with Me is against Me…” Mt. 12:30 NKJV
I would venture to say then, anyone who is not with Jesus is ‘kicking against the goads.’ Why would someone do that? Perhaps they have not head the gospel message. That’s why it is so paramount that we spread the good news to everyone we can, because it is a life or death matter. (Dt. 30:15 – 20.)
There are others who have heard the message but suppress their spiritual pain in order to indulge in their desire for worldly things – effectively turning their backs on God:
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 Jn. 2:15 – 17. ESV
“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory…all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on HIs right, ‘Come you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’…”Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels…” Mt. 25:31 – 34 & 41. NASB
The outcome is not a good one for the ‘goats.’ But a goat can be saved right up until the time of his or her death. That’s why we never give up on those who love their sins. It is our duty. (Ezek. 33:1 – 9.)
Finally, there are people who have committed some infraction(s) in their past that they believe disqualifies them from salvation. But that clearly runs contrary to the love, kindness and mercy that characterizes our Savior:
“…every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Mt. 12:31 ESV
So, if you approach your Father with confession and repentance, your pardon is assured, and you can get on with the business of living your godly life. We know that unrepentant sin brings death. (Rm. 6:23)
That ‘unpardonable sin’ Jesus talks about above consists of denying the Holy Spirit’s message of salvation through Christ, which will close the door on your redemption:
…you will die in (under the curse of) your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He [Whom I claim to be – if you do not adhere to, trust in, and rely on Me], you will die in your sins. Jn. 8:24 AMP
Thankfully, we have a loving eternal alternative:
“Repent, and turn from all your transgression, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die…? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord GOD. “Therefore turn and live!” Ezek. 18:29 – 32. NKJV
Besides, those goads are sharp! But they fall away when we make our Jesus contact…
Goodnight and God bless.
September 22 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Risen Jesus! You Want Proof?
When Jesus took His last breath, His Spirit left His flesh.
Simultaneously, the veil in Most Holy Place of the Temple split in two. (Mt. 27:51. Mind you, this veil was 60 feet high, 30 feet wide and 4 inches thick. The significance of the veil was that it separated man from God – whose Spirit resided in that Holy of Holies. Only the high priest was allowed to enter that place, once a year, on the Day of Atonement. The tearing of it signified the elimination of that barrier between man and God, replaced now by a continual direct connection through Christ.
Jesus was buried in a tomb that was sealed with a heavy stone. Three days after, an earthquake struck, removing the stone. Simultaneously, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus came to the tomb to find an angel sitting on the rock, surrounded by unconscious Roman guards. He greets them:
“Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen as He said.” Mt. 28:2 – 6. NKJV
The women run to tell the apostles, but along the way, they meet up face to face with Jesus. He exclaims, “Rejoice!” 28:9 NKJV
They fall at His feet and worship Him; but Jesus says,
“Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ” Jn. 20:17 NKJV
Jesus had not yet ascended bodily to heaven.
The women went to the apostles with the news but they did not believe them. Peter and John when to check out the tomb for themselves, and after only finding Jesus’ burial clothes, they began to hope.
Later that day, two disciples were traveling away from Jerusalem, lamenting over Christ’s death, when suddenly He appears by their side. He conceals His identity and asks them about the source of their lament. They recounted their understanding of the events of Jesus’ death and their subsequent doubts about whether or not He was the Messiah.
Jesus admonished them for their lack of faith in all the Scriptures, wherein it told of the path the Messiah must take. He went on to interpret for them all of those Scriptures as He traveled with them to their destination. He then broke bread with them. At that very instant, they recognized Him and He vanished before their eyes!
That evening, these same two disciples went to the apostles and related their experience. Simultaneously, our risen Savior appeared in the room, saying, “Peace be with you.” Jn. 20:19 NKJV
The apostles panicked, thinking they’d seen a ghost; but Jesus reassures them:
“Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” Lk. 24:38 NKJV
Seeing that they were still not convinced, He shows them the scars on His hands and feet from the nails that were driven through them. Furthermore, Jesus ate food in front of them as well – a feat no ghost could accomplish.
(Note: See that Jesus is allowing Himself to be handled. That means sometime between when He met the two women and when He was with the two disciples on the road, He must have ascended to His Father to pour out His blood sacrifice, received His glorification and returned to earth in His transcendent body.)
Finally convinced that Jesus was who He said He was, the apostles became elated. Jesus responded:
“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, even I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” Jn. 21 -23. ESV
Jesus is not saying that the disciples, or any other clergy or laity in the church, has the power to forgive sins. He is saying that once you deliver the gospel message to anyone, the recipient has the free-will choice to either receive Christ and receive forgiveness for their sins, or, decide to reject Him and have forgiveness withheld.
Jesus spent another 40 days on earth before returning to His Father. During that time, there were approximately 500 sightings of Christ. At the end of that time, He told the apostles to meet Him at Mount Olivet, where He gave them His final address:
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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 you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Mt. 28:18 – 20. NKJV
“He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Mk. 16:16 NKJV
“These are the words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” LK. 24:44 NKJV
At that point, Jesus opened their minds so that they could have a complete understanding of the scriptures. Then He gave them one last instruction – telling then to stay in Jerusalem until they received the ‘power’ of the Holy Spirit:’
“…for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now…you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me…to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:5 & 8. NKJV
So, there must be two phases of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit because Jesus had already breathed the Holy Spirit upon them. Now, they must wait for the ‘power’ of the Spirt to fill them.
When Jesus finished speaking, He was taken up to heaven before their eyes. While this was happening, two angels appeared to them and said:
“Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up to heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11 NKJV
Jesus took Himself to heaven for a temporary leave of absence. He promised He’s coming back and will be with you forever. Yet Jesus Christ is still with you now (in the Spirit) in every moment when you accept Him as your Savior. There is not one second where you are not completely loved. You just have to stay in contact…
Proof enough I think.
Goodnight and God bless.
September 16 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Preparing for Jesus’ Return – part 2
In part one of this two-part series, we looked at some of actions necessary to take in order to be ready for Christ’s return. We saw that we have to have our spiritual house in order (being right with God by accepting the salvation that He offers (through Jesus) now. Because, if you die or He comes back (whichever comes first) and you haven’t made that commitment, you don’t get a second chance. You have to accept Christ and do your best to walk in HIs footsteps. To help you accomplish that, Jesus said to be persistent in your prayers.
Also, He told us to be on the alert for imposters claiming to be Him, or, know where He is. In addition, He said that we must remain humble, having the simple unquestioning faith of a child, so as to be able to enter the kingdom – throwing any ‘self-righteousness’ aside…
Jesus and HIs apostles are still making the last journey to Galilee when He is approached by a wealthy young ruler who asks Him what kind of good deed is it that must he do, in order to earn eternal life. (Wrong question, because you cannot earn your way to heaven.) Christ responds by telling the ruler to keep the Ten Commandments.
The ruler says that he is already doing that and then asks Him what else it is that He must perform. Jesus replies:
If you would be perfect [that is, have that spiritual maturity which accompanies self-sacrificing character], go and sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; and come be My disciple [side with My party and follow Me]. Mt. 19:21 AMP
Jesus is not telling the young ruler to make himself poor. He is trying to get this him to see his disobedience to the first of the Ten Commandments by making wealth his god. Sadly, the young man could not let his ‘god’ go and departed from Jesus, because in spite of all of his riches, his soul was poverty-stricken. Christ then says to His apostles:
“Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Mt. 19:23, 24. NKJV
Wealthy people are not necessarily wicked. They can enter the kingdom if they don’t make a ‘god’ out of their possessions. Wealth is a blessing from God. Jesus is only saying that it can be a great struggle for one to step into the kingdom if they try to keep a death grip on their worldly concerns.
The apostles are besides themselves over Jesus’ declaration. The cultural thinking of their day was that riches were blessings that gave one an advantage for attaining salvation. Now they are wondering if anyone can be saved. Jesus perceives their distress and says:
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Mt. 19:26 ESV
What He’s saying is that when you bring God into your life, make Him your focus and implement His wisdom regarding the stewardship of your worldly blessings, your passage to heaven remains intact.
In a typical human fashion, the apostle Peter tells Jesus that all of the apostles have given up everything for Him; and he wants to know what’s in it for them. Jesus doesn’t answer Peter’s selfishness at first. Instead, He tells him that their reward will be the honor of being able to sit with Him at the heavenly governing council. Then Jesus expounds upon what everyone will receive if they put Him first in their lives:
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Mt. 19:29, 30. NKJV
Again, Christ is speaking metaphorically. You don’t have to literally leave your house or your family in order to be able to follow Him. Just don’t make ‘gods’ out of them by prioritizing them over Jesus.
Notice too, the admonition at the end of Jesus’ reply, which was for Peter’s sake – to teach him that one must serve for the sake of serving, from their love for God – not for the express purpose to get a reward. Later on in their journey, Jesus would emphasize this again by telling the apostles to follow His example:
Just as the Son of Man came not to be waited on but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many [the price paid to set them free.] Mt. 20:28 AMP
On Monday of the last week of Jesus’ incarnate life on this earth, He re-emphasizes the importance of one’s focus of servitude:
“He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” Jn. 12:25, 26. NKJV
On Tuesday of that same week, Jesus taught in the Temple for the last time. When He and the apostles were leaving, Jesus told them that near the end of time, the world will be filled with wars, famines and earthquakes, and that the followers of Christ will suffer persecution from an unbelieving world:
“…they will lay their hands upon you and persecute you delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought out before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not to be able to contradict or resist.” Lk. 21:12 – 15. NKJV
“…he who endures to the end shall be saved.” Mt. 24:13 NKJV
It’s all about staying in faith…
Wars, persecution and tribulation; but then, Christ will return!
“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Mt. 24:30 NKJV
The majority of the world will ‘mourn’ because they rejected Christ; and at that moment, they will know that He is the real deal, and that they have missed the boat. Yet His return will carry a far different meaning for His followers – because they prepared for His coming!
“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift your heads, because your redemption draws near…when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.” Lk. 21:28 & 31. NKJV
On Thursday of Jesus’ final week, He tells His apostles that everything has now been set in motion for His imminent death, which will bring forth the glory of God’s redemptive work for His children. Then, He lays down the last aspect of how to prepare for His return:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you 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
He follows this with a demonstration of ‘communion’ and how we are to practice it regularly to remind ourselves of God’s grace through Christ – exercising our faith in the forgiveness of our sins that He facilitated with the sacrifice of HIs body and blood, symbolized in the sacrament that we receive.
Jesus then touches upon how to express our love:
“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him and We will come to him and make our home with him.” Jn. 14:23 NKJV
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Jn. 15:11 – 13. NKJV
The love of God is the love that keeps on giving. We are commanded to prepare for the second coming of our Savior, but God doesn’t leave us to just our own efforts. He sends us the Holy Spirit to build upon them:
“When He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will tell you of things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” Jn. 16:7 – 14. NKJV
And with that, Jesus faced His persecutors and stepped up to the cross to make good the Promise – the one guaranteed for those who prepare for His contact…
Goodnight and God bless.
September 08 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Preparing For Jesus’ Return
Jesus is surrounded by a large crowd, and He takes that opportunity to tell them a parable that alludes to His ‘second coming.’
“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at the table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third and finds them awake, blessed are those servants!
But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You must also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Lk. 12:35 – 40. ESV
Christ is saying that it is vital we get our spiritual house in order, to the best of our ability (in right-standing with God) before He returns (or before our earth suit wears out – whichever comes first), or it will be too late! Salvation will no longer be available. Jesus speaks again to this urgency:
“And why do you judge even on your own initiative what is right? For while you are going with your opponent to appear before the magistrate, on your way there, make an effort to settle with him, so that he may not drag you before the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you in prison. I say to you, you will not get out of there until you have paid the very last cent!” Lk. 12:57 – 59. NASB
Jesus is trying to get the people to see that their salvation is standing right there in front of them (He being their spiritual ‘opponent’ at that point – due to their heretofore rejection of Him). He’s also letting them know that they must grab hold of that salvation before they have to stand in front of the judgment seat. Jesus sums it all up with a call to action:
“…unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Lk. 13:5 NKJV
Christ travels to the region of Perea, where He expounds upon the same critical lesson to another crowd:
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. when once the Master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, “Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you where you are from. Depart form Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out.” Lk. 13:24 – 28. NKJV
You can say you are a follower of Jesus, but you have to do the following…
Addressing yet another crowd, Jesus speaks to some raucous Pharisees within – teaching everyone that salvation was His way or no way:
Until John came, (John the Baptist) there was the Law and the Prophets; since then the good news (the Gospel) of the kingdom is being preached, and everyone strives violently to go in [would force his own way rather than God’s way into it.] Yet it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away that for one dot of the Law to fail and become void. Lk. 16:16, 17. AMP
And just in case anyone is thinking that they can be elevated from hell to heaven, Jesus tell the crowd (to point to the Pharisee’s love of money) a parable about a rich man who ignores a beggar who lived outside of his gate. Upon both of their deaths, the rich man finds himself in hell, but he sees the beggar with Abraham in heaven. The rich man pleads to Abraham to send him water. Abraham replies:
‘…between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’ Lk. 16:26 NKJV
Jesus is letting us know that when our time has expired, our thoughts and actions will have determined out final destination – one which is written in stone for eternity…
In the beginning of 30 A.D., Jesus and the apostles are beginning their final journey to Jerusalem. Passing through Samaria and Galilee, He encounters (you guessed it) a group of Pharisees, who ask Him to tell them exactly when the kingdom of God will come. He responds by telling them that they are looking at the kingdom right now – in the person of Himself and in the hearts of all those who follow Him.
Then Jesus turns to His apostles and says:
“The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them! For as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in His day.” Lk. 17:22 -24. ESV
Jesus is preparing His disciples for the times when they will long for their Savior’s return, warning them that they will be vulnerable to the false claims of others who profess to be the Messiah, or, contend to know HIs whereabouts.
He is urging them to ignore those events because His return will be global in its impact. Jesus continues painting the picture of His second coming:
“But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will also be in the days of the Son of Man. They ate, they drink, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the Ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all…Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” Lk. 17:25 – 27 & 30. NKJV
Jesus is inferring that His disciples need to continually warn non-believers about the compelling urgency of accepting Him as their Savior and getting their life right with God, because the devastation that follows His return for those who don’t, will be as severe and final as the flood of Noah’s time. He is telling them that just like then, many people will stay mired in the affairs of this world until it’s too late. A great separation is coming:
“On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife.” Lk. 17:31, 32. ESV
“I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left.” Lk. 17:34 NASB
You have to be ready when Christ returns, by having both feet firmly planted in the kingdom of God. Jesus will accept no ‘fence sitters’ (e.g. Lot’s wife). You are either with Christ or you become one of those who are ‘left behind.’ And being left behind, does not look like a good place to be:
“Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered.” Lk. 17:37 NASB
Yet Jesus is so full of compassion. He leaves His followers with hope by relating a parable (Lk. 18:1 – 7.) to illustrate the importance of faithful persistent prayer for one’s heavenly outcome. The parable tells of a widow who had suffered an injustice at the hands of an adversary. Distraught, she took her plight to an unbelieving and unjust judge, who initially ignores her pleas until her persistent reappearances in his court changes his mind; and then justice is meted out.
God, being the ultimate ‘just’ judge, will not let the persistent prayers of His children go unanswered.
Jesus immediately recounts an additional parable to the apostles (Lk. 18:9 – 13), where there was a Pharisee and a ‘tax collector’ (the lowest occupation in the social strata at that time) who went to the Temple to pray. The Pharisee boasted about his self-righteousness, claiming that he was so much better than the sinners around him. The tax collector on the other hand, would not even raise his eyes towards heaven. Instead, he beat his chest and cried out to God – begging Him to have mercy because of his sins. Jesus finishes:
“I tell you that this man went down to his house justified rather than the other, for everyone who exalts himself while be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Lk. 18:14 NKJV
It’s a warning about the danger of arrogantly believing that one’s own righteousness will usher them into the kingdom of God. Only the righteousness conferred upon you by Christ when you accept His salvation, will make that connection for you.
Arrogance is not accepted in those who would try to enter. Jesus drives that point home soon thereafter, when, while He was teaching another crowd, they brought their children to Him so that He might lay His hands upon them. The apostles tried to shoo them away, but Jesus delivers a rebuke:
“Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, will by no means enter it.” Mk. 10:13 – 15. NKJV
Simple faith and humility are the keys to entering heaven.
To be continued…
Good night and God bless.
September 02 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Spare Me the Religiosity
The first churches established soon after Jesus’ ascension to heaven were simply referred to as the ‘Church of Christ.’ Once men and their egos got a hold of the idea of founding their own versions of churches, denominations were born. Each was / is a reflection of what the founder of the particular ‘religion’ thought should emphasize – usually consisting of man-made rituals and interpretations of their version of Scripture and the additions or subtractions they made to it.
However, adulteration of God’s word goes back even further. Not long after God Himself laid down the Mosaic Law, scribes, Pharisees and the Sadducees mutilated much of the Scriptures with their pagan rituals and rules.
We get to hear our Savior address this when a Pharisee invites Him to dinner. Just before the dinner commences, the Pharisee takes Jesus to task because He did not wash His hands in their ritualistic manner. Bad move on his part. Christ retorts:
…Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside you yourselves are full of greed and robbery and extortion and malice and wickedness. You senseless (foolish, stupid) ones [acting without reflection of intelligence]! Did He Who made the outside make the inside also? But [dedicate your inner self and] give as donations to the poor of those things which are within [of inward righteousness] and behold, everything is purified and clean for you. Lk. 11:39 – 41. AMP
In other words, Jesus was telling the Pharisees to concentrate on keeping their hearts clean. He continues:
“But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the chief seats in the synagogues and the respectful greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like concealed tombs, and the people who walk over them are unaware of it.” Lk. 11:42 – 44. NASB
Jesus is saying that the Pharisees (the ‘religious’) were hateful, corrupt and prideful. Moreover, He said that they corrupt their parishioners as well, just by occupying the same space. (He used the Mosaic Law that forbade coming in contact with a tomb because it defiled that person, as a metaphor for the defilement caused by non-Scriptural religion.)
A scribe (also referred to as a lawyer) was present in this dinner as well. He spoke up against Jesus, telling Him that He was insulting the Pharisee. Another bad move:
“Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and it was your fathers who killed them. So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your fathers…so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation…Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering.” Lk. 11:46 – 48 & 52. NASB
Jesus is calling the lawyers ‘hypocrites’ for building monuments for the prophets when in fact their own ancestors murdered them. Secondly, He condemns them for hoarding the Scriptures (even though they themselves never heeded them), thus keeping the door of salvation closed to the people, in order to justify their place of exaltation over the laity.
Lastly, Jesus convicts them and the Pharisees for making it impossible for the people to live godly lives by keeping the very instructions from God to do so from them, and for laying the burden of all their man-made religious requirements for being a godly person, upon them – knowing that most of them were impossible to keep. Again, like most things religious, these rules were meant to exalt those that teach it.
So, next time you hear someone tell you that their church is better than another church, or that theirs is the only ’true’ church, or they offer a way other than Christ for salvation (e.g. allowing you to ‘donate’ money to them for forgiveness of sins) – RUN THE OTHER WAY!
The Bible is your complete blueprint for the construction and function of your church, as well as the manifesto for godly living and attaining salvation. A real church follows that. Those are the ones you want to make your Jesus contact with…
Goodnight and God bless.
August 25 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
The Only Way to Salvation
Jesus was leaving Jerusalem after the Feast of Tabernacles when He and His apostles came upon a blind man. Jesus heals him (on the Sabbath – horror of horrors!) and the man runs off to tell everyone he meets. When the Pharisees got wind of it, they excommunicated him from the Temple. Jesus found out and tracked the man down. When He met up with the him, he fell to his knees and worshiped Jesus.
[It’s important to see that Christ allowed Himself to be worshiped. We know that God demands that only He is to be our target of worship. (Ex. 20:3, 4.) Thus, it can only be explained through that special oneness that the Father and the Son share.]
A crowd gathers around them (including those nasty Pharisees). Jesus takes this moment to bring His mission into an all-or-nothing, black or white type of clarity:
I came into this world for judgment [as a Separator, in order that there may be a separation between those who believe in Me and those who reject Me], to make the sightless see and to make those who see become blind. Jn. 9:39 AMP
This bristles the Pharisees (obviously having had their pride admonished) and they call out to Him:
“Are we blind also?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.” Jn. 9:40, 41. NKJV
Christ is admonishing the Pharisees because they claim to be so knowledgeable regarding God’s word – including the Messianic prophecies found within. Thus, Jesus is saying that there is no excuse for their continuing rejection of Him. ‘Their sin remains.’ He continues:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.” Jn. 10:1, 2. ESV
“To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” Jn. 10:3, 4. NKJV
Jesus see’s that the meaning of His metaphor sails right over the heads of the ‘knowledgeable’ Pharisees, so He hits them between the eyes with the message outright:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
The thief does not come except to steal, and kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep…I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of myself. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” Jn. 10:7 – 11, 14 – 18. NKJV
Jesus has just revealed a powerhouse of salvation information / promises:
First, the ‘sheep’ are the children of God.
Second, Jesus is the only door to God; He is the Good Shepherd who guides the children of God into His Father’s presence. There is no one other than Christ who can bring you into the kingdom of God. Furthermore, those who say that they can (e.g. the Pharisees) are false shepherds – liars looking only to fulfill the agenda of their father (Satan).
Third, Christ has come to shower your life with abundance – filling it with the light of God.
Fourth, Jesus willingly laid down His life for your salvation. No one forced Him to do so; He chose to do so solely out of His loving obedience to His Father and because of His undying love for you.
Fifth, our Savior has the power of life within Him; and He used that power to resurrect Himself in order to complete our Father’s plan of salvation.
Sixth, Jesus came not only for the salvation of the Jews, but also for all of humanity throughout the ages (‘which are not of this fold’) who choose to follow Him – gathering a global flock that rests in the eternal protection of the Good Shepherd.
And you too can rest in that same eternal promise, that only way to salvation, when you make that Jesus contact…
Goodnight and God bless.
August 20 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Are You Declaring Jesus?
Christ and the apostles attended the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem in the fall of 29 A.D. Jesus entered the Temple and began to teach – astounding the hearers with His command of the Scriptures. Yet ever humble, He shifts their focus of amazement off of Himself by glorifying His Father:
“My doctrine is not Mine, but His Who sent Me…He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” Jn. 7:16, 18, 19. NKJV
Jesus just declared that He speaks for God to glorify Jehovah. Furthermore, He is inferring that He can do so because He presents Himself as the only sinless example of His Father.
Some of those listening began to grumble about whether Jesus should be arrested or killed. Others wondered if He was indeed the Messiah, and those from His home town clung to their disbelief out of their familiarity with Him.
Jesus’ next declaration boldly separated Him from His detractors:
Do you know Me, and do you know where I am from? I have not come down on My own authority and of My own accord and self-appointed, but the One Who sent Me is true (real, genuine, steadfast); and Him you do not know! I know Him [Myself] because I come from His very presence, and it was He [personally] Who sent Me. Jn. 7:28, 29. AMP
Jesus is laying it on the line! He says they may know His earthly form but that they have absolutely no understanding of His divine nature, nor can they see that God sent Him. Moreover, He is attempting to make them acutely aware of their ignorance, by contending that they don’t have a clue about who God is.
That was all the convicted people could take. The chief priests and scribes in the midst of the listening crowd tried to have Jesus arrested, but He was supernaturally delivered from their grasp.
On the last day of the Festival, Jesus returned to the Temple and said:
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Jn. 7:37, 38. NKJV
The day after, He entered the Temple again and proclaimed:
“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Jn. 8:12 NKJV
So, not only is Jesus the only one who has seen God and sent to speak for Him, He is also the living salvation of God.
Not unexpectedly, the Pharisees in the Temple called Jesus a liar, reminding Him that Mosaic Law requires corroboration of two witnesses to His Messianic claims in order for them to have any veracity. Jesus responds:
“Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I come from and where I am going; but you do not know…” Jn. 8:14 NKJV
You [set yourselves up to] judge according to the flesh (by what you see). [You condemn by external, human standards.] I do not [set Myself up to] judge or condemn or sentence anyone. Jn. 8:15 AMP
“Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me.” Jn. 8:16 ESV
“I am He who testifies about Myself, and the Father who sent Me testifies about Me.” Jn. 8:18 NASB
Jesus produced His witnesses: He and God Himself.
(Note that Jesus is not contradicting Himself when He says said that ‘I do not judge…Yet even if I do judge…” Christ did not judge during His earthly ministry. When He comes back, well, that’s another story.)
Flustered, the Pharisees demand that Jesus reveal the whereabouts of His ‘Father.’ He answers:
“You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also…You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” Jn. 8:19, 23, 24. NKJV
Jesus is saying that He and His Father are exactly alike in intent, Spirit and power, and if they don’t believe that, they will pay the ultimate price.
He then steps up His conviction against the Jewish naysayers by telling them that their mistaken belief that just by being Abraham’s descendants they will be heavenly bound, will in fact bring them no salvation. (Jn. 8:37 – 40.) Moreover, He accuses them of acting in a rebellious manner against Abrahams works because they follow the devil instead:
“If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God…you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth…” Jn. 8:42 – 44. NKJV
In their collective anger over being declared guilty, the crowd asked Jesus if He thought that He was greater than Abraham. Jesus drops a bomb:
“If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. Yet you have not known Him…but I do know Him and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” Jn. 8:54 – 56. NKJV
Thus, Jesus is saying that coming of the Messiah was revealed to Abraham. The crowd responded by asking how in the world could Jesus have seen Abraham, being that he was born some 1800 years prior to their present time. Jesus gives them an out-of-the-world answer:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Jn. 8:58 NKJV
He just said the He is eternal, just like God Himself. Indeed, claiming the ‘I AM,’ He is saying He is the explicit image of Jehovah. Shouts of blasphemy and pelted stones were sent towards Jesus’ way, but again He supernaturally disappeared from the Temple…
Are you declaring Jesus? After all, isn’t that the ‘Great Commission every follower of Christ is called to perform? Well, here we have Jesus Himself telling us how to declare Him – by declaring Him as He declared Himself.
Jesus said that He spoke for God, not for His Himself. Being sinless, He is the only one who can do so – this Messenger Son sent by God Himself to bring salvation with the light of life and the living waters to those who bring their faith.
He is that loving eternal Savior who does not judge, but instead opens His arms to usher us into His Father’s presence.
When you make this life-changing declaration, you are making your Jesus contact and opening the way for the lost children of this world to do the same…
Goodnight and God bless.
August 11 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Taking The Road Less Traveled
Jesus and the apostles’ ministerial travels take them to the region near Caesarea Philippi (a city 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee in the northernmost part of Israel). It was there that Christ asked Peter to tell Him whom he thought Jesus was. Peter replied:
You are the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). Mt. 16:16 AMP
Jesus responds by revealing how Peter will take the ‘road less traveled:’
“Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say this to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys to heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Mt. 16:17 – 19. NKJV
Jesus is telling Peter that he could not have perceived His divine nature unless God had opened his eyes. He is also exercising a little wordplay with Peter’s name. Peter’s full name was Simon Peter. ‘Peter is translated from the Greek word petros, meaning ‘rock.’ Jesus is alluding to Peter’s rock-like faith – the kind of foundational faith that Christ will build His church upon.
(This scripture is the first in the Bible to contain the word ‘church,’ translated from the Greek word ekklesia, referring to a ‘Christian assembly.’)
Jesus is not pointing to Peter as being in a relationship with Him that is more special that His with the other apostles. They all (with the exception of Judas Iscariot) had equal authority in the church. The ‘keys to heaven’ were given to them all. Peter held no special office (e.g. some kind of ‘pope.’)
Anyone who walks the road less traveled for Jesus (in faith) can be a part of the foundation of His church. You too can ‘bind’ problems (e.g. casting out a demonic spirit) and ‘loose’ a problem (e.g. helping someone to break free from sin).
Christ never said the road would be easy. Indeed, at this juncture of His ministry, He shifts His focus towards preaching about the necessity of His death. (Mt. 16:21) Moreover, He said that anyone who desires to follow Him must be willing to suffer as well:
If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget himself, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living, and if need be, in dying also.] Lk. 9:23 AMP
In other words, obeying God’s will should always come first – regardless of what our personal interests are at the time. The God walk is a walk on the road less traveled because it can be difficult and generally stands in opposition to the ways of the world, the ways of the flesh. For example, we must be humble before all:
“If anyone desires to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Mk. 9:35 NKJV
Jesus placed a child in front of Him to emphasize His point to the apostles:
Truly I say to you, unless you repent (change, turn about) and become like little children [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving], you can never enter the kingdom of heaven [at all]. Mt. 18:3 AMP
“Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Mt. 18:4 NKJV
Apparently the message didn’t quite sink in because late the apostle John boasted to Jesus about stopping a man from practicing a Christian ministry because he wasn’t one of the 12 apostles. (Looks like how denominations could have begun, yes?)
“Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is on our side.” Mk. 9:39, 40. NKJV
Christ is saying that His church consists of all who follow Him. I believe that the concept of denominations would have been abhorrent to Jesus.
The road less traveled also demands that one practices compassion and non-judgmental mercy towards their brothers and sisters in Christ who backslide into sin:
If your brother wrongs you, go and show him his fault, between you and him privately. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. But if he does not listen take along with you one or two others so that every word may be confirmed and upheld by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he pays no attention to them [refusing to listen and obey], tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a pagan and a tax collector. Mt. 18:15 – 17. AMP
Jesus is revealing the godly way for handling offenses that all peoples will perpetrate at one time or another. We first try to handle the matter privately with the offender. If the offender is unrepentant, we try again in the presence of 1 or 2 witnesses (as per the dictates of Mosaic Law, which Jesus is imputing still applies). If the offender wishes to remain in sin they would be asked to meet with the church elders. Finally, if the offender doesn’t accept and abide by the correction meted out by the church, he or she must be disfellowshipped so as not to pollute the church.
In other words, Christ asks us to go the extra mile to try to save them.
Jesus is committed to helping you stay on the road less traveled. He knows its going to be difficult, but He doesn’t ask you to do anything He doesn’t do for you.
Near the end of September on 29 A.D., near the time of the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths), Jesus and the apostles were in the region of Galilee. Jesus did not want to go to the festival because He could foresee that Jewish religious officials were there waiting to kill Him.
However, it wasn’t fear that kept Him from going. He didn’t go at that exact moment, because He had a divine timetable to adhere to. Even Jesus’ brothers tried to get Him to go so He could perform miracles. (They didn’t believe He was the Messiah at that time.) Jesus answers:
My time (opportunity) has not come yet; but any time is suitable for you and your opportunity is ready any time [is always here]. The world cannot [be expected to] hate you, but it does hate Me because I denounce it for its wicked works and reveal that its doings are evil. Go to the Feast yourselves. I am not [yet] going…because My time is not ripe. Jn. 7:6 – 8. AMP
Because Jesus brings the righteous light of exposure to sins that people try to keep hidden and / or attempt to legitimize, they hate Him and all who represent Him.
Not long after Jesus’ brothers left, His time to go manifested. (Lk. 9:51) Jesus and His apostles traveled through Samaria towards Jerusalem. The Samaritans refused to lodge them along their way and James and John got upset – even to the point of asking Jesus if they could call down fire from heaven to destroy them. Jesus rebukes them by showing them that a traveler on the road less traveled needs to stay on message:
“You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” Lk. 9:55, 56. NKJV
He was telling James and John that their intent was in error because the spirits of Christ’s followers are those that readily offer peace and love through the free sharing of the gospel – not the rendering of punitive anger towards those who refuse to receive it.
Lastly, Jesus teaches us about the vision and commitment it takes to walk the road less traveled: He was approached by three would-be followers on the road to Jerusalem who struck up a conversation:
“Lord, I will follow You wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” And another said to Him, “Lord I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” Lk. 9:57 – 61. NKJV
Jesus said to him, No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things behind] is fit for the kingdom of God. Lk. 9:62 AMP
Jesus’ responses clearly show the parameters for, and the consequences of following Him. It will be challenging because we must give up the (supposed) security of all things worldly, and place out absolute trust in Christ to provide. Second, He is not telling us to ignore our familial obligations, but to make our obedience to Christ our highest priority – to spread the gospel in order to expand the kingdom.Third, we must face forward and not look back, (Remember Lot’s wife?) so that we do not veer off course.
We cannot keep one leg in the world and try to straddle the other in heaven. It’s an all-or-nothing choice.
Let’s all go out and help others make that Jesus contact so that the road less traveled takes on more commuters…
Goodnight and God bless.
August 07 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Living Off Of Jesus
In the spring of 29 A.D., Jesus and His disciples were finishing their ministerial preaching for the day, when the apostles told Jesus to send away the crowd who had gathered about them (numbering 5000). Instead, Jesus told them to feed the gathering.
The apostles freaked out, telling Jesus that they only possessed 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread. Christ broke the bread, blessed it, placed it in a basket and as it was passed around, it fed the 5000 with enough left over to fill 12 additional baskets!
There were some converts made on that night! Later, Jesus and His retinue would journey to the city of Capernaum, whereupon He encountered another crowd who had heard of His miracle of feeding the 5000. They were looking to get their bellies filled as well.
Jesus uses this opportunity to try to get the crowd to transcend their flesh:
“Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because the Father has set His seal on Him.” Jn. 6:27 NKJV
What Jesus is saying is that God has placed His own authority upon His Son. Furthermore, Christ is teaching that through His Father’s authority, He is speaking the gospel – which is the key to eternal sustenance.
The crowd doesn’t get it. The Pharisees have told them previously that one must earn their way into heaven. So, they ask Him what kind of work it is that they must do. Jesus responds:
This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger]. Jn. 6:29 AMP
The crowd lets that go right over their head and instead asks Jesus to perform a miracle similar to how God sent manna from heaven during the Jew’s exodus from Egypt. However, Christ is not deterred:
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Jn. 6:31 – 33. NKJV
Christ couldn’t be clearer, but the crowd can’t get their collective selves off of their flesh. They ask Him to literally give them some of this ‘bread.’ Our Lord of infinite patience, love and mercy continues:
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” Jn. 6:35 – 40. NKJV
Jesus is calling them, inviting them to heaven. He’s telling them that He is their ticket to eternity – the walking, talking plan and method of God’s redemption for all of mankind. All they have to do is have faith in who He is and what He came for. Still, He’s facing a tough crowd who are unwilling to part with their doubts regarding His claim to be their Savior.
Christ loves us so much; He remains undaunted and persevering in His quest to save mankind:
“Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall be taught by God.’ (Is. 54:13) Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father.
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever, and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” Jn. 6:43 – 51. NKJV
This is the complete picture of our God-connection! When we seek God, He leads us to Christ. Jesus in turn, when we accept Him as our Savior, connects us to God through Himself.
Jesus willingly vacated His seat next to His Father in heaven to inhabit flesh on earth, so that we could relate to Him and to the redemption that God offers through Him, which is accomplished through the sacrificial gift of Christ’s flesh and blood.
This crowd of hardened hearts and blinded eyes cannot get past their literal take on Jesus’ allegories. They become angry and horrified at the notion of eating Jesus’ flesh. Thank God Christ doesn’t back down:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up in the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.” Jn. 6:53 – 57. NKJV
Jesus is attempting to break through the Pharisaic conditioning that binds and blinds them, so that they can comprehend the spiritual implications of His death and resurrection. He’s planting seeds of faith – the faith that will be required to hold onto the hope of salvation when those events take place.
Christ is trying to get them to see that His flesh is in reality the ‘spiritual food’ found in His gospel – that they must ‘eat’ (bind to their hearts) in order to walk a godly path towards their salvation. In addition, He wants them to understand that His blood (life) that He is going to shed for them must be ‘drunk’ (believed in) so that them can receive God’s atonement for their sins to pave the way for their reception of that same salvation.
In order to live in eternity, they must start living off of Jesus during their life on earth!
Unfortunately, most of the crowd (including some of His followers) began to abandon Him because of their misunderstanding of this teaching. He entreats them one more time:
“Does this offend you?…It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life.” Jn. 6:61 & 63. NKJV
God gives us life through the Holy Spirit. Christ maintains that life on earth. If we want our piece of the blessed hereafter, we need to start living off of Him now. We do that, when we make contact…
Goodnight and God bless.
July 21 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Are You With Jesus?
During Jesus’ ministry, he brought a widow’s dead son back to life.
As He continued His ministry, crowds begin to surround Him. He addressed one such crowd and said:
“All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal to Him.” Mt. 11:27 NKJV
We’ve seen that Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath and that He can heal the sick and raise the dead. Now we see that in addition, God has given over all of His authority to Christ, to be expressed by His Son. Furthermore, we see that we cannot even connect to God unless we first receive the grace of Jesus.
Jesus’ intent here is not to impress, but to get them to understand that whatever comes out of His mouth is an unquestionable imperative. Yet at the core of that immeasurable power, comes limitless love – which Jesus immediately demonstrates as He changes His tone and humbles Himself as He invites us into His arms:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Mt. 11:28 – 30. NKJV
Jesus knows we carry the trouble of the world and the pain of our mistakes in our hearts. This all-powerful God-Man wants to lighten our load and shine the Light in our lives. He’s making Himself available. Are you with Jesus?
Christ and His apostles are going from town to town to preach the gospel. During that time, Jesus healed a demon-possessed man who was both blind and mute. Well, those pesky Pharisees were lurking in the background at this miracle event and accused Him of casting out demons with the power of Satan. Jesus came right back at them and told them the devil wouldn’t be so stupid as to work against himself. (Mt. 12:25, 26.)
He then drew a ‘red line in the sand:’
“He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad. Therefore I say to you, every sin will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.” Mt. 12:30 – 32. NKJV
There is no middle ground! You are either with Jesus or you are not. You’re either promoting the kingdom or obstructing it.
(By the way, this sin that Jesus is referring to is commonly called the ‘unpardonable sin.’ You can’t get forgiveness for that one? Why is that? It seems to run against the gospel.
The reason is that the Holy Spirit is only available to those who willingly make the choice to embrace Jesus as their Savior. The Holy Spirit’s primary purpose is to bring revelation to the gospel and to further illuminate the nature of Christ to God’s children. Thus, a committed child of God could never commit the ‘unpardonable sin’ because, by definition, they’ve accepted Christ.
Who can commit that sin are those who turn their back on God and continually and unrepentantly refute who Jesus is and why He came. So, to blaspheme the Holy Spirit would be to deny His purpose, which is to glorify the Father through Son and to bring God’s truth.
At the end of this encounter, someone comes to Jesus and tells Him that His brothers and mother are nearby, waiting to speak to Him. Jesus, who never let’s a teaching moment go by, answers for the whole crowd to hear:
“For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” Mt. 12:50 NKJV
Are you with Jesus?
Jesus decided to magnify His efforts to expand His Father’s kingdom by sending out the apostles to teach and preach, empowering them for their efforts:
He gave them power over unclean spirits to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. Mt. 10:1 NKJV
He also gave them distinct instructions:
“And as you go, preach, saying ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give…” Mt. 10:7, 8. NKJV
“And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for that city!” Mk. 6:11 NKJV
[The Jews believed that only the land of Israel was holy. So, if they ever left Israel, upon their return, they would shake the ‘unholy’ dirt from their sandals. Jesus is intimating that those who refuse the gospel are ‘unholy.’ (Are they not committing the unpardonable sin?)]
…everyone who acknowledges Me before men and confesses Me [out of a state of oneness with Me], I will also acknowledge him before My Father Who is in heaven and confess [that I am abiding in] him. But whoever denies and disowns Me before men, I will also deny and disown him before My Father Who is in heaven. Mt. 10:32, 33. AMP
Are you with Jesus?
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and however loses his life for my sake will find it.” Mt. 10:37 – 39. ESV
Christ, the Son of God, the representative of God, our Savior, must reside at the summit of the hierarchy of what’s important in our lives. God is asking us to set our will aside and follow His, through Jesus:
“He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” Mt. 10:40 NKJV
Let’s go be with Jesus. Make that contact…
Goodnight and God bless.
July 16 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »