Sex Education According to God

If you are a practicing follower of Christ, you’ve surely noticed that God’s ways are quite unpopular with those who’d rather wade in the ways of the world. This is especially evident in the arena of sexual relations.

God’s parameters are crystal clear:

…a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Gn. 2:24 NKJV

Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Heb. 13:4 NASB

The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord and the Lord for the body. 1 Cor. 6:13 ESV

So, what is God saying? Marriage is between a man and a woman; and godly sex is that which only takes place within a marital environment. There is no gray area of confusion. And if we want to walk accordingly in God’s word, we’re going to take a lot of flak from the world:

“And you will be hated by everyone because of [your association with] My name, but it is the one who has patiently preserved and endured to the end who will be saved.” Mt. 10:22 AMP

God never sows confusion; the choice between right or wrong is always black and white:

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father [but He is not], you would love and recognize Me, for I came from God [out of HIs very presence]…Why do you misunderstand what I am saying? It is because [your spiritual ears are deaf and] you are unable to hear [the truth of] My word. You are of your father the devil, and it is your will to practice the desires [which are characteristic] of your father. He…does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.” Jn. 8:42 – 44. AMP

We are either following Christ, and thus His Father, or we are living under the sway of the angel-gone-bad, who oversees this world.

The world hates us because when we do our best to walk in a godly fashion, because it convicts them. So, their tactic is to persecute you, in the hope that you will break down and swim in the muck with them. The Killers recorded a song called When You Were Young, that really exemplifies the world’s message:

‘…the devil’s water it ain’t so sweet, you don’t have to drink right now – but you can dip your feet every once in a little while…’

We are held to be ‘contrary’ in the world’s eyes. Heterosexual relationships? Not good in the world’s eyes. Look at the websites that are dedicated to homosexual hookups; e.g. Manhunt.com or PinkSofa.com.

Fidelity within marriage? Check out AshleyMadison.com, whose motto is ‘Life is short, have an affair;’ or Cupid.com, who advertises ‘Cheaters of the world choose Cupid.com’

Have you heard of the ‘North America Man Boy Love’ (NAMBLA) group that openly promotes pedophilia?

And then there are all the genetic science deniers in the very vociferous alphabet soup groups.

If we truly want to walk as God would have us to, we must love all of these people, and be ready to sit down and share God’s promise through Christ; but we cannot condone their behavior just so that we can ‘go-along-to-get-along’:

We must stand up for God’s word:

“So because you are lukewarm (spiritually useless), and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of My mouth [rejecting you with disgust].” Rv. 3:16 AMP

That’s not a Jesus that I want to have to answer to…

So, let’s go back to God’s Sex Education 101:

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple or the Holy Spirit who is in you whom you have from God, and you are not  your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit, which are God’s. ! Cor. 6:15 – 20. NKJV

Thus, our body is to be dedicated to sacredly serving God; but if we add immorality to our union with Christ, we desecrate God and Jesus and our holy merger with them.

Paul thought that celibacy was the ultimate answer to victory over sexual immorality, but he realized that the majority of the people could not win that fight; so, he gave us the framework for sexual relations that comply with our Father’s intent:

But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body but the wife does.

Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer, but then come again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Cor. 7:2 – 5. ESV

So wise this God of ours. He knows of the strong pull for sexual union between a man and a woman. (He put it there!) God is saying that the place for that to be expressed is in a monogamous marital relationship. We can also see that we are to give over the control of our flesh to our spouse and vice versa, so that we can achieve a mutually rewarding intimacy. Finally, we can understand that the commission of that union is of such paramount importance, we should not withdraw that right from our spouse as a means of control – or the devil will leverage that ‘withholding’ to try to turn the eyes and heart of our spouse elsewhere.

Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; he who does so, destroys his own soul. Pr. 6:32 NKJV

And let us not forget that the perpetrator of sexual infidelity is often caught, which many times leads to divorce – the devil’s greatest tool:

A wife is not to depart from her husband. But if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. 1 Cor. 7:10, 11. NKJV

“For I hate divorce,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong and violence,” say the LORD of hosts. “Therefore keep watch on your spirit, so that you do not deal treacherously [with your wife].” Mal. 2:16 AMP

Divorce should never be an option unless one of the spouses is an unrelenting, unrepentant adulterer, abuser or one who abandons the other.

Sexual union in a marriage, is a gift from God; it’s a good thing. Not to mention that there are other benefits:

But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks Godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. Mal. 2:15 NKJV

Well, there’s only one way I know of to make offspring. Receive and cherish your gift, and keep it in the home…

Goodnight and God bless.

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February 15 2018 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

Is Your Focus on Jesus?

Why focus on Jesus? It’s because of what He does for you when you do:

…the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, is all speech and knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Cor. 1:4 – 9. NASB

When you accept Christ as your Savior, He fills you with the Holy Spirit, so that you will receive an enriched plethora of revelation with regards to who He is, what He did, and why He came. The Spirit then fills you with the spiritual gifts that you need to walk by faith, and to spread the gospel message, advancing the kingdom of God.

From this oneness that you were called into with the Father and the Son, you are cleansed of sins, so as to be prepared for your date with eternity.

As a child of God, you have all the tools to stand in unison with the body the church of Christ. The last thing in the world that God wants, is for His children to be divided in purpose:

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1 Cor. 1:10 NKJV

The church of Christ was supposed to be as one – required to have Jesus as its focus. Jesus can only be saddened by the advent of a Catholic, Protestant, Presbyterian, Calvinist, Lutheran, Unitarian, or Jehovah Witness church to name a few – churches focused on man’s interpretation of the scripture as well as the interpreter.

The church of Christ has unfortunately been fractionated almost since its inception:

What I mean is that each of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephus,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or where you baptized in the name of Paul? 1 Cor. 1:12, 13. ESV

‘Cephus’ was another name for the apostle Peter. Apollos was a highly skilled Christian orator. What the apostle Paul is trying to convey here, is that it is the message of salvation from God through Christ that is paramount, not the messenger.

When you have God in your heart, through Christ Jesus, (not by something man has done or thought), the Holy Spirit will open your eyes and the scriptures will come alive for you:

Where is the wise man (philosopher)? Where is the scribe (scholar)? Where is the debtor (logician, orator) of this age? Has God not exposed the foolishness of this world’s wisdom? 1 Cor. 1:20 AMP

…your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 1 Cor. 2:5. NKJV

…no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 1 Cor. 2:11, 12. ESV

So, it is by embracing our spirit, which is connected to God’s Spirit, that the revelation of His word is given to us. Unbelievers don’t get it, because they deny their spiritual side, and thus they cannot connect to the Spirit of God or to His Son.

We can and should appreciate our pastors, priests, etc., but we always want to have our focus on the Source:

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants no he who waters is anything, but only God gives the growth. 1 Cor. 3:5 – 7 ESV

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 3:10, 11. NKJV

So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death of things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God. 1 Cor. 3:21 – 23. NASB

I am not a big fan of church denominations, because I feel that they invite division, strife, judgment and one-upmanship. None of these things belong in the house of God. Yet, I do not bring fault upon anyone who chooses that route.

Just as long as you take what you hear and bring it under the scrutiny of the word of God, and most of all, keep Jesus your focus…

Goodnight and God bless.

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February 07 2018 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

The Perfect Christian

Is there such a thing? Of course not. That’s why Jesus came:

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father… Gal. 1:3, 4. NKJV

The world doesn’t get that. It wants to crucify you as well, when you come up short. They want to see you fall. One of the ways that they do that, is by trying to dilute your faith:

…there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. Gal. 1:7 NASB

In fact, no one, on their own, is perfect in anything. So, we needn’t be perturbed by the opinions of the ignorant, with regards to of our spirituality. We know that we can become a perfect Christian in God’s eyes because of the cloak of righteousness that Jesus provides to all His followers. We also know that on this earth, we are humans who make mistakes. Thank God that we aren’t judged by them (because we are made immune to His wrath through our continued faith in Christ, and our continuing practice of confession and repentance:

…we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ… Gal. 2:15 ESV

There isn’t anyone who could live in perfect obedience to all of the Mosaic laws. We slip and fall – repeatedly. So, we do our best to obey those that we can, and humble ourselves before Christ for the ones we can’t:

For through the Law I died to the Law and its demands on me [because salvation is provided through the death and resurrection of Christ], so that I might [from now on] live to God. Gal. 2:19 AMP

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” Gal. 2:20, 21. NASB

The apostle Paul speaks of the ‘curse’ of the Mosaic Law – because its function was to bring an awareness of one’s sinful nature. (Gal. 3:10) Yet, in and of itself, the Law offered no solution for overcoming our tendency to indulge our flesh. Instead, it showed us where we were helpless, and our need for divine intervention to achieve the righteousness required for entering the kingdom of God.

That same righteousness is offered to all people, who place their faith in the saving power of the blood of Jesus. Indeed, the ultimate purpose of the Mosaic Law was to point us towards that necessity:

It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made… Gal. 3:19

The seed was Christ – who brought the Mosaic Law to its final evolution. The original law was given so that people would know what constituted ‘transgressions’ against God, and that having such knowledge would place some restraint upon the would-be perpetrator.

The Law itself was not bad. How could it be? It is the word of God. But its relationship to God’s children changed with the advent of Christ:

So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer in need of a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized have put on Christ. Gal. 3:24 – 27. ESV

No one can be justified by the impossible task of obeying every letter of the Law. So, as a follower of Christ, we let that insurmountable task ‘die’ in us and accept what Jesus did – how He filled that gap from what we are, to what we can ultimately become: a righteous child of God. We are justified by faith – period. How so?

Even as Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Gal. 3:6 NASB

Faith.

There is a spiritual transformation that takes place upon salvation, and it does not require that the recipient perfect their flesh. Can’t be done. It’s like this: we do our best to live by God’s laws, and Christ will free us from the curse of the law when we stumble in it. He stands between God and His child and says, “It’s okay, I’ve paid the price for this one.”

Even during this life, sends us help to minimize those stumbles:

…walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]. Gal. 5:16 AMP

…if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Gal. 5:18 NASB

So, next time someone tries to find fault with you for your imperfections, explain why you’re covered. After all, what a great opening for evangelizing, yes?

Goodnight and God bless.

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February 01 2018 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

How Are We To Find Salvation?

Isn’t that our primary spiritual concern? That is, we want to reach a ‘state of heart / spirit’ that guarantees our best life on Earth, as well as opening the gates for our heavenly arrival.

It’s obvious to those of the Christian faith exactly who does the saving:

“…you shall name Him Jesus (The LORD is Salvation), for He will save His people from their sins.” Mt. 1:21 AMP

“For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.” Mt. 18:11 NKJV

“I am the Door; anyone who enters through Me will be saved [and will live forever], and will go in and out [freely], and find pasture (spiritual security).” Jn. 10:9 AMP

“This Jesus in the STONE WHICH WAS DESPISED and REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH HE BECAME THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among people by which we must be saved [for God has provided the world no other alternative for salvation].” Acts 4:11 – 13. AMP

…having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. Rm. 5:9 NKJV

That pretty much puts that question to rest…

So, how do we get saved? The Bible seems to have two ‘camps of thought’ on this matter. The first we shall consider is what the Holy Spirit gave the apostle James (Jesus’ brother), to speak to God’s children:

What is the benefit, my fellow believer, if anyone claims to have faith but has no [good] works [as evidence]? Can that [kind of] faith save him? [No, a mere claim of faith is not sufficient – genuine faith produces good works.] James 2:14 AMP

…faith, if it does not have good works [to back it up], is by itself dead [inoperative and ineffective]. James 2:17 AMP

James even brings up Abraham as an example to justify his position:

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? James 2:21, 22. NKJV

It appears that James is teaching that faith alone cannot confer salvation upon the believer.

The apostle Paul seems to teach the opposite:

In fact, he quotes the Old Testament regarding Abraham, to justify his stance:

Then Abram believed in (affirmed, trusted in, relied on, remained steadfast to) the LORD; and He counted (credited) to him as righteousness (doing right in regard to God and man). Gn. 15:6 AMP

What is salvation? is it not the conferring of Christ’s righteousness upon a child of God – cleansing the recipient of sin with His sacrificial blood? And, according to Paul, this is not something that we can do for ourselves, it is a gift from God:

For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that not one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for this salvation]. Eph. 2:8, 9. AMP

Oh, there is something that we must do – it is not a work, but it is rather to make ourselves available to receive our salvation:

‘AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD [invoking, adoring, and worshiping the Lord Jesus] SHALL BE SAVED (rescued spiritually).’ Acts 2:21 AMP

For Paul, it’s a matter of having faith:

…if you acknowledge and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [recognizing His power, authority, and majesty as God], and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Rm. 10:9 AMP

For we maintain that a man is justified apart from the works of the Law. Rm. 3:28 NASB

Well, here we have two mighty men of God, both of whom are Holy-Spirit inspired to write God’s truth. Which one is correct? They both are.

Paul rightly teaches that salvation is a gift of God’s grace – given in exchange for one’s faith in Jesus Christ as being the Son of God, that He died for their sins, and that He was resurrected to the right hand of HIs Father in heaven. Being that salvation is a gift, you cannot earn your way into the kingdom of God – even through good works.

Jesus Himself said the same:

“He who has believed [in Me] and has been baptized will be saved [from the penalty of God’s wrath and judgment]…” Mk. 16:16 AMP

All we have to do is hold onto that faith:

“…it is the one who has patiently persevered and endured to the end who will be saved.” Mt. 10:22 AMP

Thus, it’s about having faith and declaring that faith. Looks like Paul was right. But wait, Jesus also said:

“Repent [change your inner self – your old way of thinking, regret past sins, live your life in a way that proves repentance; seek God’s purpose for your life], for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Mt. 4:17 AMP

To ‘repent’ means to turn away from sin with true remorse, and to make our best effort not to repeat that sin. And we repent in faith, believing that God’s way is the best way.

James rightly states that if we turn from our worldly ways and walk in the love of God, our character will change – which cannot help but change what we do, i.e. our ‘works.’

God gave the same message to King David as well:

LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness… Ps. 15:1, 2. NKJV

Similarly, Jesus said that our works are a product of our godly transformation, and that they become part of our testimony for the glory of God:

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Mt. 5:16 NKJV

Our ‘transformational character is born out of our best efforts to be more Christ-like. And we can thank God that He helps us do that very thing, by changing us from the inside-out:

…He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ… Phil. 1:6 NKJV

So, we see that James is just as correct in his own way as Paul; because if there is no change in a person’s heart, there will likewise be no change in the way that they conduct themselves. That person then, did not accept Christ in earnest in the first place.

We are saved by faith; and then that faith clears a path before us for taking righteous actions…

Goodnight and God bless.

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January 24 2018 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

Are You Bold for Jesus?

After Jesus ascended to His Father, the apostles returned to Jerusalem, whereupon they formed the first church of Jesus Christ with an initial group of 120 people, all of whom received the power of the Holy Spirit at the same time. This empowerment rendered them with the ability to ‘speak in tongues’ – in this instance, to be able to preach the gospel in various languages to travelers from different countries that were in the city.

Some outside observers accused the church members of spewing drunken gibberish. The apostle Peter rebukes them, and then uses this occasion to speak up for Jesus – delivering the very first Christian sermon. He begins by telling the crowd that what they have been witnessing is the Holy Spirit at work in Christ’s followers – the supernatural spreading of the gospel to the multitude. This event constitutes the commencement of the ‘last days’ before the end of time and Christ’s return for the redemption of God’s children.

Then, Peter dresses down the non-believing Jews for their complicity in Christ’s crucifixion. Convicted, the crowd asks him how they can right their wrong. Peter answers with the gospel’s central message:

“Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” Acts 2:38, 39. NASB

Peter was bold for Jesus; and 3000 people were added to the church that day.

On another day, Peter (along with John) was about to enter the temple when he came upon a crippled man who was begging for alms. The apostle responded:

“Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” Acts 3:6 NKJV

And he did! Peter was again bold for Jesus. He made himself available for divine use, by having faith in the name of Jesus. And he told telling a gathering crowd that it was God that did the healing through Jesus – glorifying His Son.

Peter again convicts the crowd for their denial of Christ, which led to His death. Yet again, out of his compassion and His boldness for Jesus, he offers them salvation:

“Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance…Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing my come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His Holy prophets since the world began.” Acts 3:17 & 19 – 21. NKJV

The church number swelled to 5000.

We too must be bold for Jesus, to re-extend God’s invitation – letting everyone, both the unknowing and the rebellious, that salvation is just a confession and repentant prayer away, asking Jesus for salvation…

Peter and John were dragged before the Sanhedrin to explain by whose authority they were preaching and healing. Peter declares that their authority was from Jesus. The Sanhedrin forbade them to preach anymore about Christ. But Peter and John did not let go of their boldness. They replied:

“Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19, 20. NASB

All of the apostles are now working miracles. Subsequently, the high priest had them arrested. Yet that very night they were freed by and angel, who encouraged them in their boldness in preaching the gospel.

Again, they were hauled in front of the high priest, but they stood firm:

“We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.” Acts 5:29, 30. ESV

“Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” Acts 5:31, 32. NKJV

This time they were scourged, and then let go. How did the apostles feel about that?

So they departed from the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. Acts 5:41, 42. NKJV

Not only were they happy for not backing down from the ‘Great Commission,’ they felt great joy in the opportunity to suffer for Jesus. In fact, it encouraged them in their boldness.

During this time, there was also a disciple from the church, named Stephen who stood boldly for Christ:

…a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit…And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Acts 6:5, 8. NKJV

He was also arrested for expressing his faith in Jesus, and then accused of blasphemy. He threw the charges right back at his accusers:

“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” Acts 7:51 – 53. ESV

And just when Stephen was finished, the Holy Spirit provided him with a vision of Jesus standing exalted at the at the right hand of God in heaven. Then he boldly declared that vision to the court.

For that, Stephen was stoned to death, making him the first martyr for Jesus. Yet even with his final breath, he was emulating his Savior – praying to God for the forgiveness of his executioners.

Are you bold for Jesus? You are entrusted with lighting Christ’s lamp, showing people the way out of the darkness. If you convict them of their sin, it is a bold endeavor to free them from it (without judgment). You are saving lives.

First, we convict if warranted. Second, educate with regards to what death without Christ will look like, and then offer the salvation message with love. What they do with it is between them and God. What you are doing is being a good and faithful servant.

We stand bold in our spiritual gifts, drawing upon them to bring home the lost. Jesus also told us that when we open out mouths to testify of Him, the Holy Spirit will fill us with the words that we need to say. Always be prepared to be used by Jesus.

We do that by living out the word of God, by teaching it, and by placing our obedience to it above all that the world would have us do. The world will be a better place, you’ll have more people to love in heaven, and you will live a better life now and for eternity.

Are you bold for Jesus? Can you be? Sure you can…

Goodnight and God bless.

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January 18 2018 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

Jesus’ Parting Gifts

During the ‘Last Supper,’ after Judas Iscariot fled into the night, Jesus imparted a treasure trove of revelations to the remaining 11 apostles (and thus, to us). The first such treasure would be His ‘new commandment:’

“A new commandment I give to you, that you 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

This commandment takes the Mosaic Law of ‘loving your neighbor as yourself’ to a new level. Jesus is implying that love must be the primary drive behind all that we think and do, in addition to having an attitude of selflessness and servitude so that we may emulate Him.

Next, Jesus initiates the ritual of ‘communion:’

…He took the bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise, He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” Lk. 22:19, 20. NKJV

“Drink from it all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Mt. 16:27, 28. NKJV

When we take ‘communion,’ we are performing a ritual whereby we take something physical (often referred to as a ‘sacrament’) to remind us of the offer of God’s grace through Jesus Christ. We visibly utilize the sacrament to act out Christ’s proclamation in faith, trusting in the power of the grace of the new covenant that replaces / transcends / enhances the Mosaic Law. We are not putting our faith in the physical sacrament itself (that would be a work or man). Rather, it is our faith in the forgiveness of our sins, which Christ has attached to His body and blood sacrament, that we receive. There is nothing else upon which we can rely.

After this, Jesus tells us that He’s building homes for all of us:

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am there you may be also.” Jn. 14:2, 3. NKJV

No guesswork. We have a heavenly appointment. Neither is any guessing involved as to how we get there:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jn. 14:6 NKJV

Christ is the only door to the kingdom. There are no gray areas. Jesus then says that being in His presence is the same as being in His Father’s:

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Jn. 14:7 NKJV

Jesus is building the apostle’s faith. Next, He tells them how to return His love:

“If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Jn. 14:15 NKJV

“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and disclose Myself to him.” Jn. 14:21 NASB

“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

Jesus has left us physically, (for now), but He always covers those who love Him on all sides. He continues to be with us spiritually – especially through another of His parting gifts – the Holy Spirit:

“…I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells within you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans…” Jn. 14:16 – 18. NKJV

“…He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” Jn. 14:26 NKJV

In a nutshell, Jesus said that because He taught them so much, they would not be able to recall it all. However, the Holy Spirit would bring it to light when they needed it. In addition, Jesus was only in a teaching mode for the last 3 years of His earthly incarnation. He didn’t have near the time to tell them all that He wanted to. The Holy Spirit will reveal those things, as well as any ongoing revelations regarding the full nature of Christ.

The peace of Jesus is yet another wonderful parting gift:

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Jn. 14:27 NKJV

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” Jn. 16:33 NKJV

Finally, Jesus left us with the gift of knowing who we are in He and His Father:

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch that is in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” Jn. 15:1, 2. NKJV

Jesus is saying that it’s not enough to know God. We have to live as He would have us live. And like any loving parent, He will, from time to time, dole out a little divine discipline to nudge us to return to His path whenever we stray.

“Abide in Me, and I in you As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” Jn. 15:4, 5. NKJV

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give you.” Jn. 15:16 NKJV

You were chosen by Christ Himself for the kingdom of God and for helping Him to advance that kingdom, by inviting others into the love of God, through the love of His Son.

Having parted with these gifts, Jesus stood and faced His destiny…

Goodnight and God bless.

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January 10 2018 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

Are You Ready for the Second Coming of Christ?

Jesus warned us that before He shows up, there would be imposters that would precede Him:

“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

The Son of God knows we will long for our Savior’s return, making us vulnerable to the false claims of others who profess to be the Messiah, or, at least pretend to know His whereabouts.

Moreover, Jesus is stressing the fact that His return will be global in its impact. And, it will unfortunately catch many by surprise:

“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 drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” Lk. 17:26 – 30. NKJV

We have to be ready for Jesus’ return. Furthermore, we have to impart the urgency of accepting Christ to others, instead of leaving them to blindly steep in their ignorance with regards to their eternal disposition. Why? Because that ignorance will lead to their eternal undoing.

When Jesus returns, the jig is up. You’re forever stuck with the ramifications of your decision. When He comes, He’s only ushering His sheep (the children of God) through the gates of heaven:

“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

You need to be ready when Christ returns, to have both feet in the kingdom. Jesus will accept no straddling, no fence sitters (like Lot’s wife). You are either with Christ, joined to Him for eternal life and love, or, you become one of those who are ‘left behind’ in the great sifting of all the people who have ever lived:

“I tell you, on that night there will be two in bed; one will be taken and the other will be left. There will be two women grinding at the same place: one will be taken and the other  will be left.” Lk. 17:34, 35. NASB

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

Jesus tells us to persist in prayer as we await for that glorious day. He told a parable that drove this point home. In it, Jesus weaves a story about a widow who suffered an injustice at the hands of an adversary. Distraught, she took her plight to an unbelieving and unjust judge, whose initial response was to ignore her pleas. However, she persistently returned to him again and again until he finally ruled in her favor, just to be rid of her. The point is, that her persistence in seeking a just outcome brought her the desired result. Likewise, God (being the ultimate ‘just’ judge), will not let the persistent prayers of His children go unanswered.

Christ also begs this question of us:

“Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” Lk. 18:8 NKJV

When Jesus returns, there will be many who have given up their faith and hope. That’s why He urges His followers to hold steadfast to theirs.

Jesus also warns us against believing that our ‘self-righteousness’ will gain us access into the kingdom. That path is doomed to failure. Only the true righteousness conferred upon you by Jesus Christ will open those doors.

He illustrates this with another parable, wherein a Pharisee and a tax collector (considered to be the lowest form of scum in the social strata of that era) went to a temple to pray. The Pharisee boasted about his self-righteousness, declaring that he was so much better than all of the sinners around him. The tax collector, on the other hand, would not even raise his eyes towards heaven. Furthermore, he beat his chest and cried out to God, begging Him to have mercy because of His sins. Jesus concludes the parable:

“I tell you that this man went down to his house justified rather than the other, for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Lk. 18:14 NKJV

During Jesus’ travels, He was approached by a rich man who told Him that he keeps the Ten Commandments and wants to know what else He must do to have eternal life. Jesus responds:

“If you wish to be perfect [that is, have the spiritual maturity that accompanies godly character with no moral or ethical deficiencies], go and sell what you have and give [the money] to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me [becoming My disciple, believing and trusting in Me and walking the same path that I walk.]” Mt. 19:21 AMP

Jesus is not telling him to make himself a pauper; He’s revealing his disobedience to the first of the Ten Commandments by making riches his god. Sadly, the man could not part from his possessions and went his own way. He left because in spite of his riches, his soul was stricken with poverty.

Wealthy people are not necessarily wicked. They can enter the kingdom of heaven if they don’t idolize their possessions. Wealth is a blessing from God – both for the possessor and for whom the possessor blesses with his or her wealth to forward the kingdom of God.

Lastly, Jesus leaves us with this:

“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

Jesus is speaking metaphorically. You don’t have to literally leave your house or family to be able to follow Him. You just have to make sure that you don’t make ‘gods’ of them by putting them before Christ. The last sentence in this scripture teaches us that one must serve for the sake of serving and out of a love of God – not for the sake of being rewarded.

Are you ready for the second coming of Christ? You can be. Jesus has just spelled it all out: Don’t follow ‘false shepherds,’ cling to Jesus for you salvation, walk in the word of God to the best of your ability, persist in prayer, nurture your faith and hope, let go of the ways of the world and what it considers righteousness (i.e. self-righteousness), use your abundance for good works and put Jesus first in your life.

If you love Jesus, He has already done the work. Your heavenly gate is wide open…

Goodnight and God bless.

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January 03 2018 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

The Cost of Following Jesus

Near the end of Jesus’ ministry, He explained to His disciples how the imminent culmination of His earthy mission was going to look like:

From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests, and be killed, and be raised up the third day. Mt. 16:21 NKJV

Christ had to suffer. Moreover, He tells us that anyone who would follow Him would be subject to suffering, and must be willing to do so:

“If anyone wishes to follow Me, [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests] and take up his cross daily [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living, and if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me].” Lk. 9:23 AMP

“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man will also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mk. 8:38 NKJV

“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with the angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” Mt. 16:27 NKJV

In other words, obeying God’s will should always come first – regardless of what our personal interests or desires are. The God-walk is a ‘Road Less Traveled,’ because the path can be difficult and it generally stands in opposition to the ways of the world. However, God’s ways are the best ways, regardless of what our flesh is yearning for…

To follow Jesus, is to walk in the kingdom of God. Jesus had something to say about this as well, when He caught two of His apostles arguing over who would be the greater in the kingdom:

“If anyone desires to be first, he shall be the last of all and servant of all.” Mk. 9:35 NKJV

To bring even greater clarity to what Jesus is saying, He places a nearby child in the midst of the disciples and says:

“…unless you repent [that is, change your inner self – your old way of thinking, live changed lives], and become like children [trusting, humble, and forgiving], you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Mt. 18:3 AMP

“Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Mt. 18:4 NKJV

Thus, being ‘great’ in the kingdom of heaven requires child-like faith and humbleness…

Jesus continues to reveal the character requirements of those who may follow Him to the apostles while they were traveling through Samaria on their way to Jerusalem. The Samaritans had refused to lodge Jesus and His retinue. This upset John and James, who asked Jesus if they could call down heavenly fire to destroy them. He rebukes them:

“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

Jesus was telling them that their intent was in error, because the spirt of true Christ followers is one that readily offers peace and love, through the free sharing of the gospel – not to direct anger or punishment at those who refuse to receive it.

Shortly after, Jesus is approached by three would-be followers while He kept traveling towards Jerusalem. They said these things:

“Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air 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 also said, “Lord I will follow You but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” Lk. 9:57 – 61. NKJV

But 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 enable us to become very clear about the parameters for, and the consequences of, making the decision to follow Him. First, it will be challenging because we must give up the (supposed) security of all worldly things and place our absolute trust in Christ to provide for our needs.

Second, Jesus in not telling us to ignore our familial obligations, but rather to make our obedience to Him our highest priority, i.e. to place our task of spreading the gospel (expanding the kingdom) first.

Third, Jesus uses the farmer and the plow analogy to show that we must face forward and not look back, so that 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.

Jesus would not ask us to follow Him if we couldn’t (with His and His Father’s help):

“…the one who endures and bears up [under suffering] to the end will be saved.” Mt. 24:13 AMP

“And I give them eternal life, and they will never, ever [by any means] perish; and no one will ever snatch them out of My hand.” Jn. 10:28 AMP

You can do this…

Goodnight and God bless.

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December 29 2017 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

The True Christmas Story

 

In approximately 7 B.C. during the reign of King Herod (also referred to as ‘Herod the Great’) who ruled over Judea, Zacharias, (a priest – also translated as Zachariah or Zechariah) was visited by an angel by the name of ‘Gabriel.’

Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth (she happens to be a cousin of Mary, the mother of Jesus) were very old and childless. Still, they were righteous and faithful, and never gave up hope that God would bring them a child.

Gabriel tells the priest that he and his wife’s prayers are answered, and that the child would be a son. He told Zacharias to name him ‘John.’ (The name means ‘God has shown favor.’)  And, John would be special:

“For he will be great in the sight of the Lord…He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.  And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Lk. 1:15 – 17. NKJV

Thus, John (to be known as ‘John the Baptist’ in adulthood) would be driven by the Spirit of God Himself, and he would preach powerfully in the manner of Elijah, the Old Testament prophet.

John the Baptist reconciled many people, turning them to pursue righteous behavior and positioned them to receive Christ – fulfilling yet another Messianic prophecy.

When Elizabeth reached her sixth month of pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, to reveal His will to Mary – a woman engaged to a man named Joseph. Gabriel speaks:

“Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” Lk. 1:28 NKJV

Indeed, Mary was chosen to be the carrier of the Salvation of the Earth. What this scripture does not mean, is that she should be worshiped in any way. That would violate the first and the second of the Ten Commandments.

Mary was beside herself but Gabriel assuaged her fears; and then he makes a phenomenal earth-shaking declaration:

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.

He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Lk. 1:30 – 33. NKJV

The name ‘Jesus’ finds its roots in the Hebrew word Yhowshuwa, translated as Jehoshua or Joshua, and from the Greek word Iesous, meaning ‘The Lord is salvation.’

So, Jesus is revealed as the Son of God, who will reign over God’s children eternally.

Mary protests, thinking it impossible in her virgin state. She was thinking small:

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God.” Lk. 1:35 ESV

This is a one-time only event in all of history – a Holy Spirit-facilitated conception, whereby the Spirit of the Son of God is transferred into flesh.

(The Koran refutes this scripture, as it interprets this event to mean that God was involved in some carnal act, but it was nothing of the kind. It was a transformation.)

Gabriel went on to tell Mary that God had rendered her cousin Elizabeth and her husband Zacharias fertile so that they were now bearing a child. How did God do that, knowing that the couple was so advanced in age? Gabriel reminds us:

“For with God nothing will be impossible.” Lk. 1:37 NKJV

After Mary’s encounter with Gabriel, she rushed over to Elizabeth’s house. As soon as she entered it, the unborn John the Baptist leaps in his mother’s womb and Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit – who reveals to her the miraculous transformation of her cousin. Elizabeth shouts:

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Lk. 1:42, 43. NKJV

The answer was that Elizabeth was being rewarded for her faith.

Mary stayed with Elizabeth until just before John was born. When he is born, Zacharias is filled with the Holy Spirit, and he bursts forth with prophecy concerning his son:

“And you child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways; to give His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Lk. 1:76 – 79. NASB

At that time, Mary was three months’ pregnant. Joseph knows that the child isn’t his, so he is considering not marrying her. But in his dreams, God sent Him an angel who enlightened him:

“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Mt. 1:20, 21. ESV

This is yet another fulfillment of Messianic prophecy – one where Isaiah told of the virgin birth of Christ 400 years before it happened.

Joseph married Mary, but he did not have marital relations with her until after the birth of Jesus.

Near the time of Jesus’ birth, Caesar Augustus was the emperor of Rome, and he ordered a census be taken so that everyone would be registered for the purpose of taxation.

Everyone had to register in the city where his or her ancestral records were kept. For Joseph and Mary, that meant a trip to Bethlehem. When they got there, there was no available lodging, so they had to stay in a manger (translated from the Greek word phatne, meaning ‘stall’).

And that’s where our Lord was born.

Simultaneously, an angel appeared to a group of shepherds who were tending their sheep at night in a nearby field, declaring:

“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Lk. 2:10, 11. NKJV

Immediately after this declaration, the angel was joined by a multitude of other angels, who burst into praise:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Lk. 2:14 NKJV

(The fact that the shepherds were in the fields at night would suggest a warmer time of year than that of winter. So, we don’t really know the correct date of Christ’s birth.

One of the earliest references to December 25th says that in 354 A.D. the Catholic Church picked that date, as both Christ’s birth, and for a ‘Christmas’ to celebrate it.

Christmas has a storied past. It has been denounced as a Catholic invention to give the pagans a ‘holy holiday’ to celebrate – instead of reveling at winter solstice festivals or at celebrations used to worship a god named Saturn; i.e. ‘Christmas was believed to be some form of ‘conversion tactic.’

The early American colonists were against it because the holiday was too ‘English’ for them.

Many of the early Protestants were in opposition to celebrating it as well, because some people used the holiday for drinking and cavorting. Some even went so far as to call ‘Christmas’ evil, because it wasn’t biblical and because the only two examples of ‘birthday celebrations’ in the Bible were associated with evil outcomes.

Yet to me, that’s like saying that if someone died of a poisoned apple in the Bible, that all people should stop eating apples.

I believe that if a true follower of Christ wants to proclaim Christmas for the purpose of exalting the Savior and to celebrate God’s gift to us through the earthly incarnation of Christ, then they should be able to follow their own heart.)

Returning to our biblical narrative:

The angels left and the shepherds went to see the baby Jesus; and word began to spread about this Christ child.

On the eighth day, Jesus was circumcised and formally named. After approximately 40 days, He was dedicated to God in the Temple. At that time, there was a man named Simeon, whom God had directed to the Temple by the Holy Spirit (to fulfill an earlier promise that He had made to Simeon – a promise that he would get to see the Messiah before he died). Simeon picked up baby Jesus and said:

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, for glory to your people Israel.” Lk. 2:29 – 32. ESV

Thus, Christ is the Savior for all of God’s children around the world – Jews and Gentiles alike.

Simeon (still filled with the Holy Spirit) turned to Mary and said:

“Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed – and a sword will pierce even your own soul – to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Lk. 2:34, 35. NASB

So, Christ will be the eternal Savior of those who follow Him but He will be the harbinger of death to those who stand in opposition. And Mary’s heart will be pierced at the crucifixion of her Son, as the full impact of who He is and what He’s done, is acutely felt…

News of the birth of the Messiah traveled fast and far – even reaching the ‘East’ (a term generally used in the Bible to refer to Arab lands). And so it was, that ‘wise men’ (which can also be translated as philosophers or astrologers) from the East came to Jerusalem to find the Messiah. (The Bible never says that there were three of them by the way.)

The wise men inquired:

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” Mt. 2:2 AMP

King Herod got wind of this, and he began to worry about his rule being usurped. He gathered together his priests, who, in answer to his demand, tell him that the Old Testament says that the birthplace of the Messiah-King will be in Bethlehem.

Subsequently, the king gathered the wise men of the East to him and asked them to return to him after they find the Messiah, to tell him of His whereabouts so that he can worship him as well. (In reality, Herod wanted to kill this ‘Christ.’)

The wise men followed a star to where Jesus lay, and worshiped Him and presented Him with gifts. Afterwards, God sent the wise men a vision in their dreams – warning them against returning to Herod. Wisely, (pardon the pun) they returned to the East by another route.

Immediately after the wise men left, an angel came to Joseph in a dream and presented him with an urgent task:

“Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” Mt. 2:13 NKJV

Joseph obeyed.

After the wise men fail to return to King Herod, he figures out that he’s been duped. Using the approximate time of Jesus’ birth, (as was relayed to him by the wise men, before they found Jesus), Herod retaliated by having every male child in Bethlehem, aged two and under, slaughtered. His act is commonly referred to as the ‘Massacre of the Innocents.’

When Herod died, (approximately 4 B.C.) God sent another angel to Joseph – this time instructing him to bring his family back to Israel.

They returned to find Herod’s eldest son Archelaus ruling over Judea. Archelaus’ rule was oppressive, so Joseph takes his family to live in the region of Galilee (which was under the rule of Archelaus’ half-brother, Herod Antipas – who apparently ruled with a softer glove). Within that region, they settled in the city of Nazareth.

And the Bible tells us:

And the Child continued to grow and become strong [in spirit], filled with wisdom; and the grace (favor and spiritual blessing) of God was upon Him. Lk. 2:40 AMP

That’s the true Christmas story. Tell a friend…

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Lk. 1:5 – 14.

[2] Mal. 4:5, 6.

[3] Mic. 5:2

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December 21 2017 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

The Essence of Your God Connection

Jesus and His apostles had entered the city of Capernaum, where as usual, He drew a large crowd. Many of them were just looking for a free handout, after hearing about Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the 5000. Jesus perceives their motivation. Instead of performing a miracle, He begins to preach:

“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 God the Father has set His seal on Him.” Jn. 6:27 NKJV

What Jesus is saying is that God has placed His authority upon His Son. Thus, Jesus speaks with the authority of His Father, and that the content of His speech (the gospel) is the key to eternal life.

The crowd doesn’t get it. They’ve been brainwashed by the Pharisees, who taught them that they must earn their way to heaven. So, they ask Jesus to tell them of the nature of the works that they must perform. He responds:

“This is the work of God: that you believe [adhere to, trust in, rely on, and have faith] in the One whom He has sent.” Jn. 6:29 AMP

The stiff-necked crowd wants to see a miracle instead. But Jesus tries to steer them towards a greater spiritual understanding:

“Our fathers ate manna in the desert, as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’…”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

The crowd can’t stop thinking with their stomach. They ask Him to 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 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 could not be clearer. He is the ticket to eternity – the walking, talking plan and method of God’s redemption. But, Jesus is facing a tough crowd here. They still have doubts. Jesus persists:

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” Jn. 6:44 NKJV

“…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 that 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. 6:47 – 51. NKJV

NOW, WE GET THE COMPLETE PICTURE OF THE ESSENCE OF OUR GOD CONNECTION!

When we seek God, He leads us to Christ. Jesus in turn, if 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, so that we could relate to Him and to the redemption that God offers through His Son – which is accomplished through the sacrificial gift of Jesus’ flesh and blood. That’s it!

Unfortunately, this spiritually blind and hardened of hearts crowd cannot get past their literal take on Jesus’ teaching allegory. They become angry and horrified at the notion (as they understood it) of actually eating Jesus’ flesh.

Undeterred, Jesus is committed to bring His Father’s salvation to as many as possible. He pushes back:

“…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…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, 54, 56, 57. NKJV

Jesus is trying to break through the Pharisaic conditioning that binds and blinds this crowd, so that they can comprehend the spiritual implications of His death and resurrection. He’s trying to plant seeds of faith – the faith required to hold onto the hope of salvation, when these events occur.

Christ is trying to get them to see that His flesh is in reality the ‘spiritual food’ found in the gospel, that they must ‘eat’ (bind to their hearts), in order to walk a godly path towards salvation. And He wants them to understand that the blood (the life) that He is going to shed for them, must be ‘drunk’ (believed in) to acquire His atonement for their sins, so that they can receive that same salvation.

The crowd doesn’t see it, so they scattered. Even many of Jesus’ followers abandoned Him after this teaching. Thank God that the Holy Spirit brought the Apostle John all of this recollection and revelation, so that we could make that God connection and help others do the same…

Goodnight and God bless.

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December 14 2017 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

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