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 »
Building Your Foundation
Jesus wraps up His Sermon on the Mount by telling us to build ourselves a firm foundation upon the word of God. When we persistently do that, God makes Himself available:
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, it will be opened.” Mt. 7:7, 8. NKJV
We ‘knock’ by remaining tenacious in prayer – confident in our faith that if our prayers align with God’s will, they will be granted.
When God’s word is our foundation, it will show up in our behavior as well:
So then, whatever you desire that others would do to and for you, even so do also to and for them, for this (sums up) the Law and the Prophets. Mt. 7:12 AMP
This scripture is commonly referred to as the ‘Golden Rule.’ Jesus would later restate it, referring to it as the ‘second greatest commandment:’
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Mt. 22:39 NKJV
God is love. And so, when we make Him our foundation, we are all about love. God left us a path (in His word) by which we can gain that foundation. Jesus tells us that path is clearly marked but often ignored:
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Mt. 7:13, 14. ESV
Thus, standing in faith on our God foundation is a continuing imperative because we will be repeatedly attacked by the world for that faith – even by those who seem well-intentioned, who want to show us their better way, i.e. the way through the ‘wide’ gate. Jesus warns us of this very thing:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.” Mt. 7:15 – 17. NASB
Our job is to be one with our foundation, living out the will of God to the best of our ability. Jesus knows who we are, as well as He knows those who are only going through ‘religious motions’ to garner the favor of others. There will be a ‘day of reckoning’ for each:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ ” Mt. 7:21 – 23. NKJV
We have been given the blueprints. If we construct our foundation with the word of God, we stand upon the rock of His insurmountable strength:
“Therefore whoever hears these saying of Mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.” Mt. 7:24, 25. NKJV
That’s keeping your Jesus contact.
Those who do not, well, that’s a different story:
“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” Mt. 7:26, 27. NJKV
Stand on the Rock…
Goodnight and God bless.
July 07 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Continuing with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Mt. 6:19 – 21. NASB
Jesus in not prohibiting the saving of money or of having material possessions. What He’s saying is that these things are only temporal. They do require a good and responsible stewardship on our part, but Jesus is reminding us that our primary focus should be on things eternal (spiritual).
It’s all a part of us having our highest and best life. When our focus is on God, His focus is also placed upon us. We have complete control of our focus, and thus the outcome as well:
“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.” Mt. 6:22 NKJV
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Mt. 6:24 ESV
Jesus is using money as an example of the material things that tend to worm their way into our central thoughts. He’s saying that there is always a fork in our path and He’s urging us to take the way that keeps us dependent upon our God:
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil or do they spin, yet I say to you not even Solomon clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you?” Mt. 6:25 – 30. NASB
In essence, Jesus is saying, ‘Don’t worry. Be happy!’ Why? Because God takes care of our every need – but only after we see to our spiritual needs first, in order to keep our God-connection intact:
“For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But first seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Mt. 6:32, 33. NKJV
Seeing as how we are speaking of spiritual focus, understand that keeping it also applies to how we look at other people. We are all equal in God’s eyes. Yet there is a human aspect of each of us that indulges in judgment. Jesus warns against this practice in a big way:
“Judge not, that you not be judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye;’ and look a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Mt. 7:1 – 5. NKJV
“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.” Lk. 6:37 NKJV
Jesus is saying that it is far better to judge no one. We must judge at times; e.g. when we perform jury duty. But even then we want to focus on our spiritual duty to apply the same fairness and mercy that God showers upon us, because His portion is directly proportional to what we measure out.
When we find ourselves indulging in judgment, we can stop, breathe and focus upon the roots of our judgment. Often they are a reflection of something we don’t like in ourselves. We can ask God to show it to us, and then we can give it up to Him for healing…
Another part of keeping our spiritual focus in place is shown when we share the word of God with everyone – to advance His kingdom by sowing His seeds into their hearts.
Some will willing accept it, some won’t. Others will even aggressively rebuke you, because indirectly you are exposing their conviction to live in the ways of the world, which stirs up their own spirit to rebuke their flesh.
You are only responsible to bring God’s message of salvation and expound upon it if they are willing to listen. What they do with that message is between them and God.
Jesus warns us about these stubbornly unrepentant aggressors. Sinners like to recruit others to join them in their sin in order to attempt to bring some external acceptance to their actions. In short, they will try to diminish your faith. Our Savior says to walk away:
“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Mt. 7:6 NKJV
You are a wonderful child of God and you have a divine mission. Thank God for that spiritual focus in front of you to both use and to lean on…
Goodnight and God bless.
July 02 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
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 »