The universe as it exists in time is finite. The life you live in this universe is the same. Then what? What happens next? This question has plagued mankind since it was aware enough to ponder it. But, it is only the children of God who possess the truth of the matter. Why? Because the Creator of this universe and all that is in it, the Author of truth and truth personified, has revealed it to them.
The urgency of that revelation was instilled in the identical messages of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ as each began their ministries:
Repent (change your mind for the better, heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Mt. 4:17 AMP (see also 3:2)
The coming of this same kingdom was prophesied 600 years prior by the prophet Daniel:
…the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed… Dn. 2:44 NKJV
The ‘kingdom of heaven’ is biblically interchangeable with the ‘kingdom of God.’ It is a spiritual kingdom, an inner kingdom that can only be entered through one’s change of heart ( through earnest repentance and by choosing Christ for salvation) – a spiritual state to be lived out on this earth and shared with our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is a kingdom on earth composed of God’s children: a family dedicated to forwarding that kingdom by lovingly attempting to gather as many others into that family as possible.
Yet it is also a kingdom that we aspire to spend eternity in, when we transition from our life on this present earth to our heavenly destiny.
And this kingdom is personified in Christ.
So, the kingdom is here now and at the same time it is coming in its full eternal manifestation:
For the outward form of this world (the present world order) is passing away. 1 Cor. 7:31 AMP
But the end and culmination of all things has now come near; keep sound minded and self-restrained and alert therefore for [the practice of] prayer. 1 Pt. 4:7 AMP
Don’t panic! This transition is going to be a good thing!
For surely there is a hereafter, and your hope will not be cut off. Pr. 23:18 NKJV
A good name is better than a good ointment, and the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth. Eccl. 7:1 NASB
In fact, Jesus Himself has already prepared for your arrival:
“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 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. NASB
Jesus also forewarned us of the urgency to get right with God now because if we don’t do that before we take our last breath or if Christ returns first (and we don’t know the date and time of either) we will have lost our chance to do so:
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only…Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Mt. 24:36 & 44. NKJV
“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Lk. 21:34, 35. ESV
When we get right with God, (repent and receive Christ and do our best to live by His word) the coming of the ‘Day of the Lord’ will hold no terror:
And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 Jn. 2:17 ESV
“Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” Jn. 8:51 NKJV
…a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name. “They will be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “on the day I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” Mal. 3:17 NASB
…since you have been set free from sin and have become the slaves of God, you have your present reward in holiness and its end is eternal life. Rm. 6:22, 23. AMP
…having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. Rm. 5:9 NASB
God will pour out His wrath in that last Day; yet His wrath is not like the mindless vengeance of a rabid dog. It is instead a ‘sifting’ that comes from the tender love of a merciful Father – that He must apply after having given a multitude of chances to His creations: a profusion of pleas to return to His love. God can only save those who come to Him through Christ:
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!” Mt. 23:27, 28. NASB
Before this world as we know it comes to an end, tumultuous events will transpire because of the continual spiritual degradation of the inhabitants in it:
…in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. 2 Tim. 3:1 – 5. ESV
Thus, we see the cesspool that the majority of earthlings will become. God has told us that bad things will come against those who rebel against Him; and as usual, God does not leave us guessing. He reveals them to us in sequence:
The first thing we learn is that many of the churches will have lost their way. (Rv. 2:1 – 3:21.) The second is that tribulation (the wrath of God / Day of the Lord) strikes the earth. The Bible strongly suggests that those who have already chosen Christ as their salvation and took on a godly life will be spared from these events. (1 Th. 4:16, 17 & 5:9; Rv. 3:10.)
The tribulations begin with the coming of the Antichrist, Israel being invaded by an ‘army of the north,’ (which God Himself thwarts) and a series of partial disasters set upon the earth to try to motivate the rebellious to return to their Creator – consisting of a burning of a portion of the earth, pollution of a third of both the seas and the fresh waters, darkening of a third of the sun, moon and stars and demonic mental and physical torment. (Rv. 8, 9 & 11:15 – 19.)
Following these ‘plagues, an ‘army from the east’ marches towards Jerusalem for the battle of Armageddon, killing 1/3 of mankind during that journey. (Rv. 9:13 – 18.) These are the last warnings the strays will get. There will be no salvation available for those who have not come to Christ by this point of the tribulation period.
The devil then wages war against those who did choose to become children of God during the first half of the tribulations. He acts through the Antichrist (who was aligned with a ‘church’ of false religion but then destroys it) who claims to be God and has a false religion built around him by Satan’s ‘false prophet.’ And yes, the rebellious worship him – all of whom will be cursed to damnation. (Rv. 12:10 – 12; 13:3 – 8 & 11 – 18; 14:9 – 11.)
During the second half of the tribulations, God gathers up all of His children who accepted their salvation, to keep them safe from His ‘final judgments’ that He unleashes upon the earth against those who have kept their hearts hardened against Him. (Rv. 14:14 – 19 & 15:1 – 3.) Thank God we don’t have to experience the plagues against the flesh, the loss of fresh water and all amphibious life, severe earthquakes and other topographic destruction. (Rv. 16)
On the last day of the tribulations, Christ leads His saints into battle against Satan’s armies at Armageddon and He vanquishes them with the word of God. Afterwards, He imprisons Satan for 1000 years. (Rv. 19:11 – 21; 20:1 – 3.)
Jesus then sets up His kingdom with His saints on a new earth and reigns for a thousand years with all of the resurrected children of God. (If there are any unbelieving people who survive the tribulations, they too will inhabit this new paradise and propagate over this millennium.)
At the end of that time, Satan is released once more to try to convince those who will listen to follow him and gather for war against the saints. Yet just as they begin to pounce, God takes the devil and his followers out of the picture forever – lining up all who followed Satan since the beginning of time in front of the judgment seat of Christ to receive their eternal condemnation. (Rv. 20:7 – 15.)
But that’s not what’s waiting for the children of God is it? No…
Goodnight and God bless.
May 23 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
In other words, what does God say about who you are? You are definitely somebody. In fact, you are a divine creation – created by God in His image:
So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them. Gn. 1:27 AMP
Your hands have made me and fashioned me… Ps. 119:73 NKJV
Moreover, your Father in heaven watches over every moment of your entire life (which He planned out in advance):
For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there were none of them. Ps. 139:13 – 16. NASB
Everyone on the face of this earth (throughout the ages) were and will be created as God’s children – to have Him live in them and for them to live with one another as a single family:
…they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after Him and find Him, although He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being…For we are also His offspring. Acts 17:27, 28. AMP
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 1 Cor. 3:16 ESV
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth… Acts 17:26 NKJV
How precious we must be to God!
“But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Mt. 10:30 AMP
See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. 1 Jn. 3:1 NASB
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Jn. 3:16 NKJV
God created you to be perfect but He knew that you were going to be tainted by the sin of Adam and Eve; so He left you His word (Bible) so that you would have a roadmap to return to Him – by becoming Christ-like through your faith-walk in Jesus’ salvation by the Holy Spirit:
For those whom He foreknew [of whom He was aware and loved beforehand], He also destined from the beginning [foreordaining them] to be molded into the image of His Son [and share inwardly His likeness]… Rom. 8:29 AMP
…God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. 2 Th. 2:13 NASB
For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.] Rm. 11:29 AMP
Yet God has given you free will. You can choose not to answer His call but that is a dead-end road. (Pun intended.) Answering that call puts the Lord of the Universe by your side. What does that do for you?
“…no weapon formed against you shall succeed…” Is. 54:17 ESV
So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me? Heb. 13:6 AMP
God covers us then with a spiritual invulnerability and He offers this solely through His Son, by Whom you meld with Them both:
God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Cor. 1:9 NASB
…we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart. 1 Cor. 2:16 AMP
…your bodies are members (bodily parts) of Christ… 1 Cor. 6:15 AMP
This melding occurs when you accept Jesus as the Son of God and for what He did for you at the cross. At that point, you begin to change:
But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Cor. 6:11 NKJV
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will… Eph. 1:7 – 9. NASB
Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!
But all things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself [received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself] and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation [that by word and deed we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him]. 2 Cor. 5:17, 18. AMP
In our transformation we become more Christ-like with each passing day, more harmonious with the Father and the Son – being prepared for the day of our passage into eternity. Notice too that we are charged with passing the knowledge of that grace-empowered transformation along to others as well.
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body… Phil. 3:20, 21. NKJV
This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life. 1 Jn. 2:25 NASB
These are part of the promises that we need to share with everyone; and thank God that He equips us to do so:
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 2 Cor. 2:14, 15. NASB
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 1 Cor. 12:4 – 7. NASB
When you do your sharing, God blesses you as well as the echoes of your transformation makes themselves available to the recipient:
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 1 Jn. 3:14 ESV
(That love does not just hold for your brothers and sisters in Christ but for everyone else as well – i.e. your potential brothers and sisters.)
I have been crucified with Christ; 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 for me. Gal. 2:20 NKJV
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God… Eph. 2:19 NKJV
Once God begins to transform you, (and the others that you reach for Christ) that changing will never let up until you are called at the last day:
…He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil. 1:6 NASB
Even then, there is yet a prize waiting for you:
…to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Pt. 1:4, 5. ESV
So what have we seen? God personally created us (through Christ) in Their image and planned out our entire life for us. (Of course, many chose their free will to mangle those plans. It’s our job to help them by bringing light to their darkness.)
He created all of us to be His children and took up Spiritual residence within us, having placed the door to salvation within – sending hints and people to help us see the importance of opening that door.
God wants you to be a part of His global family – the one that He sent His Son to die for. He left an eternal covenant for you, a salvation opportunity that exists only to the moment before you die. (Seeing that you don’t know when that event will take place, it makes the timing of your free-will choice to come to Him take on an extreme urgency.)
When you make that all-important choice in the affirmative, God begins to transform you moment-by-moment, to become more Christ-like, removing the stains from your past and surrounds you with His strength and favor as He brings you into oneness with Jesus and Himself. In that harmony, the doors of eternity beckon…
You are changed for the better:
…children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world… Phil. 2:14, 15. NASB
You’re worth everything to God. He has an infinite love investment in you. He knows what and who your self is, and He loves you for it:
“The Lord knows those who are His,” 2 Tim. 2:19 NKJV
Goodnight and God Bless.
May 14 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Love is often misconstrued as a conjoined exercise of the mind or a merging of the flesh, but that is mere infatuation. True love is an employment of the heart – i.e. a spiritual endeavor.
Love is the ultimate state for all of us to attain – a place where we mirror and become one with God, opening the way for us to accept each other and all that is happening around us. (In the case of ‘negative happenings’ note that ‘acceptance’ is not the same as ‘condoning.’ Acceptance allows us to see what is real and what our part is in dealing with it. That concept requires a very deep investigation that we will take up in the near future.)
Love brings the end of suffering; it is heaven on earth.
What does love look like? God tells us; and to do so, He describes Himself:
Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly.
Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.
Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is every ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are faceless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]. 1 Cor. 13:4 – 8. AMP
Doesn’t that sound like the spiritual path that we all seek? That’s because from the moment we are born until we graduate from this life, we are called to emulate our God – who is Love itself and loved us even before we knew who He was:
God is love and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 Jn. 4:16 NASB
We love Him because He first loved us. 1 Jn. 4:19 NKJV
All God asks is that we love Him back. That cements our connection with Him and allows Him to move on our behalf:
See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 1 Jn. 3:1 NASB
God is impartial with the doling out of His love. He loves all people no matter what. But He can only connect that love to those who seek Him out with love. Those who don’t cannot feel God’s love, nor do they understand His followers’ (saints) love for Him.
How do we show our love for God? Jesus clearly spells it out:
“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 manifest Myself to him…and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” Jn. 14:21 & 23. NKJV
We show God our love by lovingly obeying His word; and Jesus is the living word. Thus, Christ’s commandments are God’s commandments:
“Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;” Dt. 7:9 NASB
“Indeed, He loves the people; all Your holy ones are in Your hand, and they followed in Your steps…” Dt. 33:3 NASB
Jesus Christ distilled all of God’s commandments down into two – and they are both about love:
You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind (intellect). This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. These two commandments sum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets. Mt. 22:37 – 40. AMP
When you love God, He rewards you with His love, which carries with it a plethora of big dividends:
Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love and kindness – trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never]. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show My salvation. Ps. 91:14 – 16. AMP
The LORD preserves all who love Him… Ps. 145:20 NKJV
But God – so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us, even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation). Eph. 2:4, 5. AMP
God’s love has us covered on every side – bringing us abundance and honor, delivering us from all that stands against us and it culminates in our salvation through Christ to spent an eternal love-filled life with Him.
The Father’s love is also reflected in the Son. When we love Jesus, it is mirrored back to Jehovah, which allows us to receive the love of Them both:
“…for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.” Jn. 16:27 NKJV
…know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:19 NKJV
If indeed we possess this love, it will be demonstrated in our behavior:
…make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard on another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Phil. 2:2 – 4. NASB
“…love one another as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples…” Jn. 13:34, 35. NKJV
…he who loves God must love his brother also. 1 Jn. 4:21 NKJV
A friend loves at all times… Pr. 17:17 NKJV
Let all that you do be done with love. 1 Cor. 16:14 NKJV
Out of all things, God puts love on the top of His list:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have…but have not love, I gain nothing. 1 Cor. 13:1 – 3. ESV
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Col. 3:12 – 14. ESV
God loves you. He pours it out like a torrent through His Son to all of His children and nothing can take it away:
…neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor thing to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom. 8:38, 39. ESV
Life is love, it’s what you do, it’s who you are and it’s all you need. The Beatles said it best (showing my age):
All you need is love, love – love is all you need.
Goodnight and God bless.
May 09 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
God created our universe and invested it with ‘universal laws’ that cannot be defied, e.g. gravity, time, quantum mechanics, etc. There are also universal laws in the spiritual realm. One such law applies to communicating with God. If you want to talk to Him, you have to pray.
Even Jesus prayed to His father: Now in those days it occurred that He went up to a mountain to pray, and spent the whole night in prayer to God. Lk. 6:12 AMP
When things got rough for Him on this earth, what did He do? He prayed all the harder: And being in an agony [of mind], He prayed [all the] more earnestly and intently… Lk. 22:44 AMP
Given that prayer is the only direct line we have to our Father, it behooves us to become familiar with His rules regarding creating a prayer connection. After all, if we can’t talk to Him, how would we ever gain His presence?
Fortunately, God never leaves us in the dark. He told us how to pray through His Son:
“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 verbatim. He is giving us a template for effective prayer. In this template (often referred to as the ‘Lord’s Prayer) we can see that His prayer begins with a preface – a declaration of just whom it is that we are praying to. (That would be God.) Notice too that we can meet Him in prayer at the most intimate level – as our heavenly Father.
Our preface is immediately followed with offerings of praise and reverence out of our recognition of His goodness and lordship over all things.
We continue with a petition to God to bring His kingdom to earth; and in doing so, we remind ourselves of our own role in forwarding it through our godly walk – asking for His help to keep our hearts open to His will and the courage to carry it out.
Following this, we then appeal to Him for our ‘daily bread’ – our necessities for living. Note too that Jesus words it as praying for ‘us.’ Thus our prayer is not only for ourselves but for our brothers and sisters in Christ as well. (My personal belief is that this is where you would also pray for whatever else is on your heart.)
Continuing with our template, Jesus reveals a third petition: for forgiveness of our ‘debts’ (transgressions we and our brothers and sisters have committed against God) so that we can bring our earnest confession and repentance before Him to restore our love-connection. Simultaneously, we ask God to help us forgive those who have perpetrated ‘sin debts’ against us – following God’s model of forgiving our sins.
The fourth petition (And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one) may seem confusing. Why? The reason is that God does not tempt anyone:
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 by his own desires and enticed. Jm. 1:13, 14. NKJV
So then, this fourth petition is really about praying when we are tempted, that we would not follow through in the commission of the related sin and that He would nudge us to enlist His strength to resist the temptation.
The devil throws temptation your way in almost every moment. So the frequency of your prayers to resist should follow suit.
We conclude our prayer with additional praise for our Creator and we seal it in the name of His Son:
“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
Sometimes we ask God for things that aren’t in our best interest. Thankfully, He only answers prayers that align with His will – a will that only has our highest and best life in mind. Here are the two sides of the coin:
You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. Jm. 4:3 NASB
…if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. 1 Jn. 5:14, 15. NKJV
God loves you so much and He wants you to have that love continually. Thus, you can do that by keeping your love-connection continual. (And why wouldn’t you do that? What could be cooler than having a running conversation with God?):
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Th. 5:17, 18. ESV
Jesus tells us how that should look:
“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. Assuredly, I say to you they have their reward. But when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees you in secret will reward you openly.” Mt. 6:5, 6. NKJV
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Mt. 6:7, 8. ESV
Prayer is a sacred ‘love exchange’ between you and your Creator. You demean that sacredness if you pray to promote your piety. (Public prayer has its place, but it is generally rendered for the benefit of others.)
Prayer is also synergistic:
“…if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the mist of them.” Mt. 18:19, 20. NKJV
Earlier, we saw that there were rules for having prayers answered. One of the biggest rules is to show obedience to God’s word (and part of being obedient is to act godly towards others):
“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.” Mk. 11:25 NASB
“…pray for those who persecute you…” Mt. 5:44 NASB
…the Lord has set apart for Himself [and given distinction to] him who is godly [the man of loving-kindness]. The Lord listens and heeds when I call to Him. Ps. 4:3 AMP
The LORD is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous. Pr. 15:29 NKJV
When God refers to the ‘wicked,’ He is speaking of those who are willfully and chronically disobeying God’s word. He is not speaking of His children who are doing their best to walk godly. We all fall from time to time. Repentant prayer restores us:
He shall pray to God, and He will delight in him, he shall see His face with joy, for He restores to man His righteousness. Job 33:26 NKJV
The second biggest rule for effective prayer (as with anything else regarding God) is to have faith:
“…whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mk. 11:24 ESV
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Heb. 11:6 NKJV
Maybe you’re new at prayer and feel your prayers are a little weak. No problem. You can call on the Holy Spirit and He will buttress and strengthen them:
So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer up nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groaning too deep for utterance. Rm. 8:26 AMP
Or maybe you think that you’re not important enough for God to listen to you. Phooey!
The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. Ps. 145:18 NKJV
And whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered and saved… Joel 2:23 AMP
Not only does God listen and deliver, He goes way above and beyond what you pray for:
Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]— Eph. 3:20 AMP
Wow! It’s time to get on that praying train. Prayer can bring you many things: open doors (Mt. 7:7), victory (2 Sam. 22:4), long life with deliverance from troubles (Ps. 91:15, 16.), revelation (Jer. 33:3), restoration of health (Jm. 5:13 – 15.), deliverance from sins (Jm. 5:16), restoration from loss (Job 42:10), and godly growth (Acts 4:31).
And God remembers your prayers forever. (Acts 10:4).
All the prayers that we have talked about are discursive in nature, as they require a dialogue between you and God. Now I want to consider another form, (for which I’m sure I’ll bring the hot wrath of the ‘religious’ upon me) which is the contemplative prayer.
Catholic monks first formulated this type of prayer, whose devotion I admire – especially those who, through their prayer, took their subsequent spiritual insights and wrote of them so that their fruits could enhance the God-connection of others. In other words, they didn’t just retreat from the world.
These same monks have been unfoundedly demonized by mainstream Protestants as ‘heretical mystics.’
According to the practitioners, (see www.ContemplativeOutreach.org) contemplative prayer is a silent prayer where one is trying to set all their mental distractions (and we all have a lot of them) aside and just rest in God’s presence to deepen their relationship with Him.
It’s like a 20-minute meditation with God as your sole focus. (Meditation is another word that sends the ‘religious’ off screaming of demon possession and damnation.)
The practitioners first decide on a ‘sacred word’ that they will mentally say, only if, during their silent prayer, they become distracted by their thoughts or surroundings; or, similar to meditation, they refocus on their breathing to bring them back to their intention of seeking God.
Suggested sacred words include God, Jesus, Father, love, peace, mercy, faith, trust, etc. This word is not sacred in its inherent meaning; the sacredness arises because of the meaning that the practitioner brings to it, as an expressive tool of their intent to be in God’s presence and action.
It’s not a specific prayer to get anything; it is just holding a space for God to express Himself, i.e. to see what God wants.
Unlike the religionist who would have you believe that if you try to clear your mind the devil will come in and take over, (if that was the case, you wouldn’t have had God firmly implanted in your faith to begin with) it’s actually a good thing to put your worries and the other elements of your mental chatter, aside. It’s refreshing and it can help you see where and how you act against your own best interests.
The religious again will say that those who exercise contemplative prayer are in some wacky ‘alpha state’ where the mind is imprisoned by some droning mantra. Hogwash and falsehoods.
They’ll tell you that nowhere does scripture talk about contemplative prayer, but the Bible doesn’t talk about a lot of things. Yet, I ask you to contemplate this:
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Ps. 46:10 NKJV
You have to take the time to ‘be still,’ to let your mental stuff fall away, to understand who God is and where He wants to lead you. Then you will actually be enriched in your ability to have your discursive prayers be more focused and effective and bring greater glory to God.
Personally, because I also see the enormous benefits in meditation, (a discussion for another time) I see real value in contemplative prayer, though I have yet to practice it. But I plan to give it a try and I’ll keep you posted. (Pun intended.) If it sounds valuable to you, pray about it.
Indeed, your prayer journey should always align with God. Let Him lead your way…
Good night and God bless.
April 30 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Grace is the ultimate gift that God gives to His children. It is His favor (unmerited by anyone) that He pours over us, which brings the blessing of eternal reconciliation – a divine, benevolent invitation to spend eternity with Him:
For the grace of God (His unmerited favor and blessing) has come forward (appeared) for the deliverance from sin and the eternal salvation for all mankind. Ti. 2:11 AMP
All God asks from us is that we do our best to walk in the path He sets before us (in His word):
For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor and [future] glory (honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss)! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. Ps. 84:11 AMP
God asks for our best efforts but His grace is a gift of His mercy – not a reward for what we have done. It is His bestowal of an infinite love that closes the gap between our efforts in obedience and where we come up short:
…there is a remnant (a small believing minority), selected (chosen) by grace (by God’s unmerited favor and graciousness), it is no longer conditioned on works or anything men have done. Otherwise, grace would no longer be grace [it would be meaningless]. Rm. 11:5, 6. AMP
Notice that is says a remnant of them who believes. Thus, we must supply our faith in order to receive God’s grace:
For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing it came not through your own striving], but is the gift of God; not because of your works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands] lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.] Ep. 2:8, 9. AMP
God freed His children from the burden of the Mosaic Law (that same Law that brought us an awareness of our sin and its devastation but that was humanly impossible to meet) by delivering us with His grace – given through Christ at the cross:
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. 2 Cor. 8:9 NKJV
But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of suffering and death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. Heb. 2:9 NASB
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Rm. 6:14 NKJV
Christ willingly stepped down from heaven to take on the poverty of man (with all of their frailties in both life and death) to give up His life (through the grace of His Father and of Himself). That grace is made available to everyone so that they might have eternal life – freed from the ravages of sin. I say ‘might’ because you can only tap into that availability if you embrace Jesus as your Savior – which then wipes out all your previous transgressions against God:
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. Rm. 3:23 -35. ESV
It doesn’t matter what state you are in or what you’ve done; Christ will meet you where you are and lift you up to a place where you can embrace His clemency:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9 NKJV
And this divine grace sustains you through all of eternity:
…so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rm. 5:21 ESV
…when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Ti. 3:4 – 7. NASB
Grace, like any divine gift, comes with a responsibility of stewardship. The grace of God enriches our lives, brings us into His presence through Christ and opens the doors to eternity. In that grace, we also receive spiritual gifts that empower us to effectively tell others about how they too can receive this precious grace:
…to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Eph. 4:7 NKJV
Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them: Rm. 12:6 AMP
As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 1 Pt. 4:10 NASB
And just like everything we do, we use our God-given grace to bring Him glory:
For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. 2 Cor. 4:15 NASB
So, what have we been talking about? The gift of grace. The gift of Christ. The gift of Their love. Amazing grace.
The Bible itself finishes with the promise of heavenly grace:
The grace (blessing and favor) of the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) be with all the saints (God’s holy people, those set apart for God, to be, as it were, exclusively His). Amen (so let it be)! Rv. 22:21 AMP
Goodnight and God bless.
April 25 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
In this final installment of this series, we are going to finish examining what God said about your Jesus through the mouths of the apostles after His resurrection.
Continuing with the apostle Paul:
And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn of the dead, that in all things He may have preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. Col. 1:18 – 20. NKJV
For in the whole fullness of the Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form [giving complete expression of the divine nature]. And you are in Him, made full and having come to the full expression of life [in Christ you too are filled with the Godhead – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and reach full spiritual stature]. And He is the head of all rule and authority. Col. 2:9, 10. AMP
Old Testament prophets and Jesus raised others from the dead, but they all eventually died a natural death. Christ was the first to be raised to eternal life.
We see too that Jesus is both the focus point and ultimate authority of the church, whom through we are continually made presentable before God, by this divine indefinable amalgamation of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who lives in us as well.
Are you seeing the unfathomable magnitude and desirability of your Jesus – your only connection to God?
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all… 1 Tim. 2:5, 6. NKJV
Finally, let’s explore the post-resurrection Holy Spirit revelations sent through the apostle John. First, John sets the tone by showing us the glorified relationship we have available through Christ:
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 Jn. 5:4, 5. ESV
Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself…that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life… 1 Jn. 5:11, 12. ESV
…the One who was begotten by God carefully watches over and protects him [Christ’s divine presence within him preserves him against the evil], and the wicked one does not lay hold (get a grip) on him or touch [him]. 1 Jn. 5:18 AMP
Now we’ll make a big shift and observe Christ through the eyes of John as Jesus shows him how the world will end. First, we get to see Jesus as He looks now in His ascendant glory:
His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters…and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. Rv. 1:14 – 16. NKJV
And He placed His right hand on me saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” Rv. 1:17, 18. NASB
The white hair suggests the wisdom of His Father (Dan. 7:9), the flaming eyes Jesus’ omniscience, His feet of brass omnipotence, and the voice demonstrating the power and authority to speak as God. (Ezek. 1:24)
Jesus was in the beginning God’s creative agent and Lord over life; and here at the last, He is Lord over death as well – victorious over the devil.
Jesus then speaks of seven actual churches (in John’s time) but His message is also metaphorical for all churches for all time – encouraging some, correcting others and warning those who make a mockery of His church. At the end of each description, Jesus tells us how He will reward those who throughout their lives remain in faith in and obedience to Him:
“To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” Rv. 2:7 NKJV
” Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life…The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.” Rv. 2:10, 11. ESV
“To him who overcomes I will give some hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name which no one knows except him who receives it.” Rv. 2:17 NKJV
“The one who conquers and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations…And I will give him the morning star.” Rv. 2:26 & 28.
“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Rev. 3:5 NKJV
“The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.” Rv. 3:12 ESV
“To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne…” Rv. 3:21 NKJV
So, Jesus grants to His faithful: eternal life, heavenly blessings (manna), an acquittal from their transgressions (white stone), Himself (the morning star), His grace (white garments), a place within God’s temple in New Jerusalem as reflections of the Father and the Son and the ability to play out some part in His kingdom reign.
We turn now to the last day of the ‘tribulations’ – to the onset of Armageddon, and view our Champion:
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called the Word of God. Rv. 19:11 -13. NKJV
From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron…And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” RV. 19:15, 16. NASB
Jesus’ robe is dipped in atoning blood. (He hadn’t gone to battle just yet.) He then wipes out the devil’s minions with the sword in His mouth; i.e. by speaking only the word of God as His righteous weapon.
The devil is then bound for 1000 years; and Jesus’ rules over a peaceful earth filled with His followers and their descendants – some of whom rebel when Satan returns. Jesus kicks his butt and puts him down for eternity. At that point, time itself comes to an end.
All who did not accept Christ as their savior are resurrected for judgment and Jesus sends these ‘goats’ to join the devil for eternity.
Earth and the universe around it undergoes dramatic changes; and the children of God are led into eternal peace, joy, happiness and love…
Jesus then gives us His final invitation and encouragement at the very end of the Bible:
“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” Rv. 22:12, 13. NKJV
“He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly!” Rv. 22:20 NKJV
That’s your Jesus!
Goodnight and God bless.
April 17 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
We first looked at the Old Testament prophecies that described the true nature of your Jesus and then we examined all that Jesus had to say about Himself. In the final two parts in this series, we now listen in on what the apostles had to say. Keep in mind that at this point, Jesus had ascended to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to open their minds so that they understood all of what the Old Testament scriptures meant, as well as everything He told them and what He hadn’t had time to teach them.
At this juncture, the first church of Jesus Christ was formed, the apostles were healing the sick by the power of Jesus (through the Holy Spirit) and have been preaching the gospel of salvation through Christ – in spite of various threats, incarcerations and even an execution (of the disciple Stephen).
Ironically, it was Saul of Tarsus, educated as a Pharisee, who had overseen Stephen’s execution. He was also participating in an effort to hunt down the followers of Christ in order to imprison and / or put them to death. I say ironic because one day Jesus manifested Himself to Saul (who would later become the apostle Paul) and read him the riot act – telling him to cease and desist in his persecution of God’s children and charged him with bringing His salvation message to the Gentiles (of which He imputed to him).
The apostle Peter received a vision from God telling him to go to a Gentile’s house, whereupon God pressed upon him that all peoples needed to hear the gospel (not only the Jews). In that house, Peter speaks out his vision:
“I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.” Acts 10:34, 35. NASB
“The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ – He is the Lord of all…And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” Acts 10:36, 42 & 43. NKJV
As Peter spoke this to the Gentiles, the Holy Spirit fell upon them – building his faith in the veracity of these words of God concerning His Son.
The apostle Paul was elsewhere, preaching the same message:
“Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.” Acts 13:38, 39. NASB
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, to whom be glory forever and ever. Gal. 1:6, 7. NASB
Jesus delivers us from what this world has become and from the times that we’ve been taken with its ways. And this is how He ultimately does it:
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thess. 4:16, 17. NKJV
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 1 Cor. 15:22 – 26. NKJV
Why does He do it?
For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should be together with Him. 1 Thess. 5:9, 10. NKJV
(As you recall, God’s wrath is for the ‘goats.’)
So what’s Jesus doing in the meantime?
For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Rom. 3:22 – 26. ESV
There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. Rom. 8:1, 2. NASB
Jesus is busy as God’s redemptive gift, bringing everyone who comes to Him into His Father’s grace and justification, so that they can be cleansed – preparing them for their heavenly transformation. See too that in order to get that gift, we must have faith in Christ. Where do we get it?
…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith… Heb. 12:1, 2. NKJV
We get it from Jesus Himself! He leaves nothing to chance for those who love Him. Once Jesus gets a hold of us, what can stand in our way?
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. Rom. 8:38, 39. NKJV
NOTHING! (Unless you choose to walk away from God.)
So again, how do we grab a hold of that love?
…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Rom. 10:9, 10. NKJV
Let’s take a quick look at the Jesus revelations in the book of Hebrews. Many biblical scholars attribute the authorship of Hebrews to the apostle Paul as well:
God…has in these last days spoken to us by His Son… Heb. 1:1, 2. NKJV
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty, having become as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. Heb. 1:3, 4. ESV
We are informed then (because this was written 60 years after Jesus ascended to heaven) that as soon as Jesus was resurrected, the ‘last days’ of the earth commenced – the final age. Yes, it’s been over 2000 years, but in the timeframe of the age of the universe that’s just a blink of an eye.
We see too that God now speaks through Christ, who for all intents and purposes is identical to His Father and He sustains the universe through His Son. Moreover, Jesus sat down next to Jehovah to reign and rule as the King of kings – even over the angels. However, Jesus on earth did not reign over them because He had to take on mortality:
…we are able to see Jesus, Who was ranked lower than the angels for a little while, crowned with glory and honor because of His having suffered death, in order that by the grace (unmerited favor) of God [to us sinners] He might experience death for every individual person. For it was an act worthy [of God] and fitting [to the divine nature] that He, for Whose sake and by Whom all things have their existence, in bringing many sons into glory, should make the Pioneer of their salvation perfect [should bring to maturity the human experience necessary to be perfectly equipped for His office as High Priest] through suffering. Heb. 2:9, 10. AMP
…that by [going through] death He might bring to naught and make no effect him how had the power of death – that is the devil… Heb. 2:14 AMP
Jesus had to become mortal in order to be able to identify with our weaknesses and suffering by experiencing them (without giving in to them) so as to connect His human side to us and be able to sacrifice Himself for our sins – saving us from death forever. Until that day, He holds the compassionate office of High Priest to be sure that we are privy to His help, compassion and healing:
Therefore, He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Heb. 7:25 NKJV
Paul speaks about that exalted station of Christ and how we should worship and exalt Him:
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and that every tongue should confess that Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil. 2:9 – 11. NKJV
The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made know to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:4 – 7. NKJV
Goodnight and God bless.
April 11 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
The last three parts of this series examined what God tells us about Jesus through the mouth of His Son. Let’s finish that narrative as we complete the final year of Christ’s ministry.
As He and His apostles continue to minister, Jesus receives a message that His friend Lazarus was ill. Jesus decided to go to him. Lazarus was dead by the time Jesus arrived (as per His plan so He could strengthen the faith of His apostles). Jesus told Lazarus’ sister that he would rise again. She took it to mean that Lazarus would come to life in the final resurrection at the end of time. Jesus corrected her:
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live, and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” John 11:25, 26. NKJV
Jesus spoke and Lazarus came forth living after being dead for 4 days…
The apostles accompanied Jesus through Samaria and Galilee on His final journey to Jerusalem. During their travels, they were waylaid by some of those pesky Pharisees, who demanded to know when the kingdom of God would come. He retorted by telling them that the kingdom of God was right in front of them – in the persons of Himself and His followers. Jesus then spoke to His apostles:
“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
Christ was telling them that will be impostors will come after His ascension to heaven and claim to be the Messiah or claim to know where He is, but to ignore them because His return will be global in its impact.
As Jesus was almost finished with His journey, He overheard two of His apostles arguing over who is going to have greater stature in heaven. Jesus admonished them, reminding them that their purpose was to serve and held Himself up as an example:
Just as the Son of Man came not to be waited on but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many [the price paid to set them free]. Mt. 20:28 AMP
On Palm Sunday (the first day of Jesus’ last week on earth before His heavenly transformation), He entered Jerusalem on a donkey to much fanfare from His followers. He left Jerusalem but returned on Monday to teach in the Temple. During that time, Jesus asked God to glorify His name (letting Him know His Son is ready to fulfill His Father’s mission). God’s voice booms from the sky:
“I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.” Jn. 12:28 NKJV
The crowd around Him is stupefied. He turns to them and says:
“This voice did not come down because of Me, but for your sake. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” Jn. 12:30 – 32. NKJV
He’s telling them that the appearance of the voice of God was a final attempt to get these dunderheads to wake up and realize who Jesus is, that after His resurrection He (not Satan) will be in charge of the world and He will call all people to salvation. The outcome will be up to them. (This was Jesus’ last public address to the Jews.)
Jesus taught in the Temple on Tuesday for the last time. When He left Jerusalem that day, He told His apostles (that includes us) that their lives would be difficult in this world that hates Him but that He would empower them (us):
“…they will lay their hands upon you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought out before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle in your hearts not to meditate before hand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.” Lk. 21:12 – 15. NKJV
“…whatever is given you in that hour, speak that, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.” Mk. 13:11 NKJV
“…he who endures to the end shall be saved.” Mt. 24:13 NKJV
He then told the apostles to remain prepared for His second coming, not getting caught up in the world and its ways, because no one but His Father knows when that return will take place. (Mt. 24:37; Lk. 21:34 – 36.) Jesus continued by saying that when He does come back, this is what He’s going to do:
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the world’…”Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ “ Mt. 25:31 – 34 & 41. NKJV
It certainly doesn’t pay to be a goat (unbeliever)…
On Wednesday, the priests and their cohorts hatched a plot to kill Jesus and the devil entered the apostle Judas who subsequently offered his assistance in the plotters’ plan. On Thursday, Jesus celebrated the Passover (this one being the ‘Last Supper’) with His apostles and exposes Judas’ role in His impending death. At that meal, Christ also initiated the sacrament of Communion and He gave them their last in-depth teaching:
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe in Me. 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, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” Jn. 14:1 – 3. NKJV
More comforting words have never been said. Jesus continued by revealing His true relationship with His saints:
“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…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 and the vine and you are the branches…without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire…” Jn. 15:1, 2 & 4 – 6. NKJV
Jesus then wrapped up His discourse:
“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
Jesus then went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray to His Father until early Friday morning, whereupon Judas led the temple guards, the priests and an armed mob to arrest Him. All the apostles deserted Him.
He was brought before the former high priest, who, frustrated that Jesus wouldn’t cop to false charges, had Him sent to the reigning high priest – who accused Jesus of blasphemy when He declared He was the Son of God. (Mt. 26:64)
Jesus was sentenced to death and severely beaten. Because the council did not have authority to mete out the sentence, they sent Him to Pilate to do the dirty deed, to whom Jesus told He was King of the Jews.’ (Lk. 23:3) Pilate couldn’t find where Jesus has done anything wrong and shipped him off to Governor Herod, who couldn’t get Jesus to speak, so he sent Him back to Pilate, who had Jesus scourged.
Pilate had Jesus carry a cross to Calvary where the Roman soldiers crucified Christ at the unbelieving Jews’ request. Yet even dying upon the cross, Jesus prayed that His Father would forgive His killers. Jesus was buried in a tomb sealed by a large stone with soldiers standing watch.
Early Sunday morning Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of the disciple James (not Jesus’ brother) went to the tomb. There had been a great earthquake as an angel came and rolled away the stone. The guards had fainted. The angel told the women that Jesus had arisen!
They went to tell the apostles but along the way Jesus appeared to them. Jesus later appeared to two disciples that were mourning the loss of their Messiah and were beginning to doubt that Jesus was He. Jesus kept them from recognizing Him until after He revealed all of the prophetic scriptures pertaining to Him and broke bread with them. At that moment, He revealed Himself and then supernaturally vanished from their presence.
The two disciples went to the apostles to share this experience, whereupon Jesus suddenly appeared in front of them and showed them the wounds that He received on the cross.
Eight days later, Jesus appeared to His apostles again and spent an additional 40 days on the earth with approximately 500 recorded sitings of Him.
Jesus lastly met with His apostles at Mount Olivet in Galilee where He gave them (and us) His ‘Great Commission':
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Mt. 28:18 – 20. NKJV
He then opened the minds of the apostles so that they would now completely understand and remember the scriptures and everything He taught them. Jesus told them to remain in Jerusalem until they received the power of the Holy Spirit. At that point, Jesus ascended into heaven and 2 angels appeared and promised the apostles that Jesus would return…
He is risen! Happy Easter!
Goodnight and God bless.
April 04 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
For the last two installments of this series, we have been reviewing what God tells us about your Jesus through the mouth of the Son of God Himself – from His first recorded words as a child through about the first half of His ministry. Let’s pick it up from there…
Still in the region of Galilee, Jesus took a moment to teach His apostles about exercising godly compassion for those who fall off of their God path and how to help the same receive righteous correction. (Mt. 18:15 – 18.)
He then shifts His teaching to one of His role in the prayers of His followers:
“Again I say to you that if two or more of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Mt. 18:19, 20. NKJV
Jesus is saying that there is a powerful synergism created in heaven in response to corporate prayer of the saints and He joins in that synergism when the prayers are sealed in His name, to bring those prayers to fruition…
Near the end of September 29 A.D., Jesus’ brothers (those born to Joseph and Mary after His virgin birth) invited Him to the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem and asked Him to perform miracles there. (They did not believe He was the Messiah at this time.)
Jesus knew that this wasn’t the exact time that God wanted Him to go. He reveals this to them, as well as enlightening them with regards to His overriding purpose:
The world cannot [be expected to] hate you, but it does hate Me because I denounce it for its wicked works and reveal that its doings are evil. Jn. 7:7 AMP
The world hates the Son of God (and His followers) because He brings with Him a righteous light that exposes the darkness in the world – the sin it tries to hide or legitimize.
This is not a malevolent undertaking on the part of Christ. He is trying to get the wayward to see the seeds of their destruction and the need for embracing His salvation.
Jesus and the apostles finally do go to the Festival, whereupon Jesus entered the Temple to teach, astounding the people with His command of the scriptures, yet doing so not to glorify Himself, but His Father – as a sinless example of Him:
“He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” Jn. 7:18 NKJV
I know Him [Myself] because I come from His [very] presence, and it was He [personally] Who sent Me. Jn. 7:29 AMP
On the last day of the Festival, Jesus returned to the Temple and spoke of His salvation promise:
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Jn. 7:37, 38. NKJV
The day after the Festival, Jesus went back again to the Temple and spoke of His salvation once more:
“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Jn. 8:12 NKJV
The Pharisees who were present in the Temple had a fit over Jesus’ revelations and demanded that He show them this ‘Father’ He is supposed to be representing. Jesus replies:
“You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also…You are from beneath; I am from above, You are of his world; I am not of this world.” Jn. 8:19 & 23. NKJV
When you have lifted up the Son of Man [on the cross], you will realize (know, understand) that I am He [for Whom you look] and that I do nothing of Myself (of My own accord or on My own authority), but I say [exactly] what My Father has taught Me. And He Who sent Me is ever with Me; My Father has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him. Jn. 8:28, 29. AMP
At this point, Jesus omnisciently realized that He had won some converts in the crowd and speaks to their hearing:
“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know that truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Jn. 8:31, 32. NKJV
“Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” Jn. 8:51 NKJV
Most of the crowd (Jews) are becoming unruly, claiming they were already free through their birthright as descendant sons of Abraham. Jesus retorts by saying that Abraham was well aware of His coming. The crowd argued that would be impossible because Abraham lived 1800 years ago. Jesus drops the hammer:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I Am.” Jn. 8:58 NKJV
Thus, Jesus is telling them that He is eternal, like God Himself. Well, that sent the crowd over the edge and they tried to stone Him but He supernaturally disappeared from the Temple…
As Jesus and the apostles prepare to leave Jerusalem, they come upon a blind man whom Jesus’ heals. The man is beside himself and tells everyone he knows. The Pharisees try to discredit the man’s claims and excommunicate him from the Temple.
Jesus heard about it and found the man, who worshiped Him on the spot. Christ did not stop him. (Important to see because God only accepts worship that is exclusive to Him; thus, this relationship between God and Christ is one that transcends our understanding, but it certainly suggests that they are unified.)
The Pharisees were in a lather but Jesus met them head on:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go out and find pasture.
The thief does not come except to steal, and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep…And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there’ll be one flock and one shepherd.
Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” Jn. 10:7 – 11 & 16 – 18. NKJV
Now there’s a mouthful! Jesus is saying that 1) the sheep are the children of God, 2) He is the only door to God (as the Good Shepherd who guides them into His Father’s presence), 3) the Pharisees are false shepherds who follow the devil, 4) He brings you an abundant life filled with the light of God, 5) He willingly laid His life down for your salvation out of His love for God and for you, 6) He has the power of life within Him – to resurrect Himself to complete God’s salvation plan and 7) salvation is not only for the Jews but for all peoples of the world (‘not of this fold’) who make the decision to follow Him.
Goodnight and God Bless.
March 27 2015 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »
Heretofore in this series, we have examined what God says about His Son through the Holy Spirit-inspired Old Testament prophets, Jesus’ apostles and lastly through the mouths of John the Baptist and Jesus Himself.
We continue listening to God’s ‘Christ revelations’ through Jesus, as He dresses down the Pharisees in the Temple of Jerusalem due to their unbelief:
“Truly, truly, I say to 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
“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
Jesus is saying that He is a direct extension of God’s will – facilitated by His Father’s power which courses through Him; and God will use Christ to work miracles in an attempt to open disbelieving hearts so that people will be led to salvation. He elaborates:
“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 has given all judgment to 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 possesses both the power to initiate and perpetuate God’s resurrection plan; and Christ solely decides the final outcome of all those who rise from the dead. Note too that God has charged us with honoring His Son, (with faith, praise, worship and obedience) which also brings honor to the Father.
The outcome of that honor will bring a most wonderful eternity to those who practice it. For those who don’t, it doesn’t bode so well:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” Jn. 5:24 NKJV
“…for an hour is coming when all those who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” Jn. 5:28, 29. ESV
Notice that those who believe in Christ have eternal life now. Note too that those who died prior to Jesus’ coming and had ‘done good’ (i.e. believed in God and in the promise of the Messiah and obeyed the word of God to the best of their ability) will be resurrected into all of His promises, as opposed to those who didn’t.
Jesus finished His discourse with the Pharisees, ultimately calling them ‘sons of the devil’ and journeyed towards Galilee, miraculously healing multitudes along the way. He then gathered His complete apostolic group of twelve and sat with them in front of a crowd and delivered the ‘Sermon on the Mount.’
In that teaching, He refers to a facet of His earthly purpose:
“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 from the Law until all is accomplished.” Mt. 5:17, 18. ESV
Jesus is addressing those who entertained the idea that the Mosaic Law (primarily the Ten Commandments) was no longer valid due to His arrival – i.e. those who believed the gospel replaced the Law.
[This clears up the fallacy that some modern-day ‘Christians’ adhere to, whereby they attest that it is only the ‘red letter’ words of the Bible (the gospel) that they need to follow. Jesus has just validated the ‘black letters’ as well. Moreover, He is saying that some parts of that Law will be evolved to their highest meaning through Him.]
After the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus and His apostles continued their travels. He heals the sick, brings a dead man back to life and continues to clarify His purpose to the crowds He encounters:
“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 through the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Mt. 11:27 NKJV
Thus, in addition to the God-given power that Jesus exercises, we see that all of God’s authority is given over to and expressed through Christ. Jesus is also saying that we can only connect to God through the grace of Christ.
Heavy yes? But Jesus immediately takes that heaviness away by turning it into an invitation:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavenly 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 continually carry our troubles and regrets with us like a veritable ball and chain. He says that we don’t have to do that, as He lovingly asks us to unload them at His feet and walk unencumbered in His light.
Jesus extends this invitation in another fashion during another encounter with the Pharisees:
“For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” Mt. 12:50 NKJV
Obedience opens the invite…
Jesus continued to teach in Galilee, stopped a storm on the sea, cast demons out of people, resurrected a dead child, brought sight to the blind and then sent His apostles out to evangelize with an admonition:
Therefore, everyone who acknowledges Me before men and confesses Me [out of a state of oneness with Me], I will 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 also will deny and disown him before My Father Who is in heaven. Mt. 10:32, 33. AMP
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” Mt. 10:34 – 36. NKJV
Obviously we are with Jesus or we are not; and it doesn’t look good for those who aren’t. Christ is like a scalpel, excising the tumor that consists of those who lodge themselves in unbelief. For them, there will be no peace.
The bottom line is that regardless of where or from whom one hears the gospel, the importance of receiving it cannot be underestimated:
“He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” Mt. 10:40 NKJV
The evangelizing apostles returned to Jesus and together were surrounded by a crowd of 5000 people. Jesus began healing and teaching. He also saw that the crowd was hungry; so He transformed two fish and five loaves of bread into enough food to feed them all.
Afterwards, Jesus and Company went on their way. He stopped to pray and then walked on water to a boat where His apostles were. They continued in their travels only to be approached by another crowd who heard about the miracle feeding and asked Him for bread as well. Jesus took that opportunity to teach:
“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
“For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Jn. 6:31 – 33. NKJV
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” Jn. 6:35 NKJV
“Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” Jn. 6:47 NKJV
“If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever, and the bread that I give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” Jn. 6:51 NKJV
“Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life…” Jn. 6:53 NKJV
This is the complete picture of our God-connection: when we seek God, He leads us to Christ, Who, if we accept Him, connects us to God through Himself.
The crowd was not very educated and could not grasp that Jesus was speaking in principles and not of a literal ingestion of His flesh. He’s trying to get them to see that His flesh is the ‘spiritual food’ they must ‘eat’ (bind to their hearts) in order to walk a godly path towards salvation. Jesus wants them to understand that the blood (life) He will shed, must be ‘drunk,’ (they must be believe it alone brings atonement for their sins) so they can receive that salvation.
Unfortunately, like today, most of the crowd rejected His message.
Receiving Jesus and His ways in the face of worldly doubts and temptations is not easy and the path can be arduous:
If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget himself, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living, and if need be, in dying also.] Lk. 9:23 AMP
In other words, we must put God’s will first over our own. Ah but the rewards…
“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” Mt. 16:27 NKJV
Goodnight and God bless.
March 20 2015 | experiencing god's love | 1 Comment »