Archive for April, 2016

Jesus Contact 4

Victory

The Bible tells us that Satan bore enmity towards Christ even at the time of Adam and Eve. (Gn. 3:15; Rv. 12:4, 5.) Much later, he even tried to kill the baby Jesus through King Herod. (Mt. 2:13 & 16.)

But we see that the devil’s first direct encounter with the incarnate Christ happened just after Jesus’ baptism:

Then, Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days, He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. Luke 4:1 NKJV

So, the moment Jesus set Himself upon His God-quest, the devil attacked Him with temptations, attempting to sway Christ from fulfilling His Divine mandate.

Similar attacks come against God’s children when they are making an effort to do the same. Indeed, they are continually in Satan’s line of fire. Jesus says:

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” Jn. 10:10 NKJV

The devil is not your friend:

Be sober minded; be watchful. Your adversary prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Pet. 5:8 ESV

Let’s look at how Satan attacked Jesus in this first encounter, as well as the way He thwarted it:

Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Mt. 4:3 NKJV

Jesus was famished from His 40-day fast. The devil is making an effort to leverage this, trying to tempt Him into satisfying the ‘lust of the flesh’ – to rely upon His own resources instead of keeping faith in His Father to pull Him through.

Check out Jesus’ first line of defense:

“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ “ Mt. 4:3 NKJV

Christ sets this example for all of us. He defends Himself by using the word of God (in this case, quoting Dt. 8:3). When we use and walk by God’s word, He covers us with His armor by giving us access (through our faith) to His truth, righteousness, unshakeable peace and salvation so that we can successfully resist the adversary. (Eph. 6:11-18.) When we align ourselves with God spiritually, He will see that our physical needs are met as well.

Satan launched a second attack against Jesus by taking Him to the top of the temple and asking Him to prove that He is the Son of God by jumping to the ground – depending upon angels to come and keep Him from harm.

The devil quotes scripture to back him up! (Ps. 91:11, 12.) But, he’s using it out of context to suit his own purpose. That’s why it’s so important for you to stay in the word of God so as to know its right application – freeing you from the Satan’s efforts to twist those same words.

In this attempt, Satan is trying to tempt Christ into giving into the ‘pride of life,’ to cast His humility aside and exalt Himself. Jesus fires back again with the word of His Father:

“On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’ “ Mt. 4:7 NASB

In other words, we are to take God’s words as truth (by faith), believing that they will be fulfilled, instead of arrogantly demanding that fulfillment.

Having failed on his second attempt, Satan finally takes Jesus to the top of a high mountain and shows Him all the kingdoms of man throughout time, offering to give them to Him if He will worship him.

(Notice that the devil says that those kingdoms are his to give – suggesting that he is working behind the scenes of all governments. Hmmm. Still, this is only a half-truth, because ultimate authority always belongs to God.)

In this final attempt, Satan is trying to get Jesus to choose riches and power over the will of God, to satisfy the ‘lust of the eyes.’ Thus, we see that a craving for these things amounts to devil worship.

Jesus is not swayed. He rides this altercation to victory with God’s word – quoting Dt. 10:20:

Begone, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you serve. Mt. 4:10 AMP

The word of God is our life. The devil will attempt to steal it away at every opportunity. Look and see how effective he’s been at doing that around the world. That’s why we need to marinate ourselves in His word daily, so that we own our salvation – rising above the ways of the world with its lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life.

Thankfully, we’ve got Jesus on our side:

The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 1 Jn. 3:8 NASB

The devil wasn’t done with Christ however. He invaded the mind of Judas Iscariot so that Jesus would be betrayed and crucified. (Jn. 13:2) Yet, he didn’t foresee Jesus’ resurrection. Another BIG victory for us:

In the world you will have tribulation and trials and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage, be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] Jn. 16:33 AMP

Eventually, near the end of time, Jesus will vanquish all of Satan’s followers with the word of God again (…the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him…Rv. 20:21.) and ultimately tosses the devil himself into the abyss for all time. (Rv. 20:10).

Until then, we know that with regards to his attempts to sabotage our lives, he is beatable. He looks to exploit the weakest chink in our armor. However, the devil cannot make us do anything. He only has the power that we give him. We have the free will to choose God or Satan. There is no in between.

When you wear the word of God, clinging to your Jesus contact, you are invincible to the devil’s machinations:

Yet the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen [you] and set you on a firm foundation and guard you from the evil [one]. 2 Thess. 3:3 AMP
Goodnight and God Bless.

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April 29 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

Jesus Contact 3

Reborn

The third example the Bible gives us for emulating Christ so as to facilitate our contact with Him, is when Jesus presents Himself to John the Baptist for His own baptism.

When John sees Jesus approach, he is stirred in his spirit, which reveals to him that this Man approaching him is the Messiah. John exclaims:

“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ “ Jn. 1:29, 30 NASB

John is referring to Christ’s prior existence as a pure Spirit being, because in the flesh, John was Jesus’ cousin and six months older than Him.

John protests at Jesus’ request, claiming that He should be baptizing John. Jesus replies:

“Let it be so for now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Mt. 3:15 ESV

Jesus did not need to be baptized for the same reasons we do. He was pure righteousness (sinless). He was showing us by example, the path that was vital for the procurement of our salvation.

For Jesus, His baptism marked the beginning of His earthly ministry through His Holy Spirit empowerment.

Later, (after Jesus confronts the devil, gathers His first five apostles, turns water into wine at Cana and drives the money-changers out of the temple), we become privy to a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus (a Jewish theologian and member of the Sanhedrin), whereby Christ explains the significance of baptism for man:

I assure you, most solemnly tell you, that unless a person is born again (anew, from above), he cannot ever see (know, be acquainted with, and experience) the kingdom of God. Jn. 3:3 AMP

So, you cannot get into the kingdom of God in any other way – not by high standing in government or society, by riches, race, place of birth, good deeds or religious training.

Entrance into the kingdom is only granted to those who allow God to birth them anew by changing what’s in their hearts. One’s continued presence in God’s kingdom is assured when those same people do their best to live by those changes.

Jesus continues:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Jn. 3:5 NKJV

[Note: Some biblical scholars believe that Jesus is addressing the physical act of water baptism as well as the Spiritual one. Others think that the ‘water’ He is referring to, is that water God promised for cleansing the heart – prophesied by Ezekiel. (Ezek. 36:25 – 27.)]

Seeing as how we are talking about baptism, let’s explore the first interpretation. Water baptism is required by God as a public confession of our faith in His Son and what He accomplished on the cross. In fact, the resurrected Christ’s final words were these:

“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” Mk. 16:15, 16. ESV

Earlier in His ministry, Jesus revealed His Father’s imperative regarding this act:

“Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man will also confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.” Lk. 12:8, 9. NKJV

Water baptism is also a way that we can help bring others into the kingdom of God by this external example of our faith. Without faith, the act of baptism would be worthless, the water just water. It is through making the connection of the water to the word of God by faith that fulfills our requirement.

However, water baptism by itself is not the way to salvation. It’s a declaration of one’s faith in salvation through the Spirit – a metaphorical demonstration of your being re-birthed as a newly cleansed child of God through the forgiveness of your sins.

You are making a faith confirmation that you’re old ‘worldly self’ has been buried (symbolized by the water immersion) and that your ‘spiritual self’ has been resurrected cleansed from sin (metaphorically by rising out of the water). We must die to the life we’ve lived and the meanings we brought to it so that we can live a new life whose meaning is revealed by the word of God.

Water baptism begins with your repentance of the actions of your flesh and ends with your declaration of faith in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

True salvation (becoming righteous in the eyes of God through the blood of Christ) is fulfilled when you ask God for your Spiritual new birth. (Jn. 3:6 – 8.) Once baptized in the Spirit, you become a child of God – eternally related to Him in the most intimate way.

The spirit and the flesh are separate from one another. Our spirit animates the flesh. When we are born again, the Holy Spirit changes us inwardly, taking us from sinfulness to holiness so that we can enter into the presence of God. You are ‘born again’ when the Spirit brings the word of God to life in you. That rebirth is continually preserved through your obedience to that word. (1 Pet. 1:22, 23.)

It is vital that you be born again because prior to that act, you are spiritually dead, morally corrupt and living on borrowed time. There is nothing that you can personally do to change that other than to petition God, in faith, to access His free gift:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Pet. 1:3 – 5. ESV

Thus, declaring Christ as our Savior is part of our water baptism public profession and our confession of faith to God as we ask for our Holy Spirit re-birthing. Jesus is why salvation is possible.

Our part is not to satisfy ourselves with an intellectual baptism. There is no strength or permanency in that. The flesh and its cravings are strong. We must yield our will to the Lord, allowing Him to mold us into His original intentions for us (Jer. 29:11), strengthening us to walk a godly walk even in the face of temptation. (1 Cor. 10:13)

When you truly own your baptism, sins (past, present and future) will become a reason to celebrate the love of God and His mercy as He pulls you out of them, giving you the opportunity to glorify Him.

We pay tribute to God for filling us with His life through the Holy Spirit, and to Christ for living that life through us (Gal. 2:20). We cannot walk our godly walk under our own power. Only through Jesus is that a possibility.

Because God loves you so much He made a way for you to meet the demands that His righteousness and holiness make upon you and to satisfy the punishment that He said would be meted out (death) when you violated that. He gave over His sinless Son to die a vicarious death for you so that His blood could make you free.

When we accept this gift, we are delivered from our obsession over the guilt we associate with our transgressions, which is a sin in and of itself because God never intended for us to mercilessly punish ourselves.

We understand that we are sinners, but it’s not about what we do but what Christ has done and continues to do for us. It’s our faith in God’s grace and mercy that makes them manifest – uniting our spirit with His. Our divine pardon is not based upon our feelings but on our trust in God.

Even so, we don’t want to focus on our transformation for assurance (setting up our transformed self as our savior) but must always return to Jesus in every moment for His mercy – clinging to His promise of forgiveness, a covenant that remains unshaken because God never breaks a promise.

Your baptism is a celebration of life, a tribute to your Jesus contact, and acknowledgment of God doing the work through Christ on the cross. We are initiated into the Church of Christ. We are free from the manipulated intentions of the devil and set upon the beginning of the path of our eternal spiritual fulfillment.

As we saw last time, to be about our Father’s business was to bring His salvation message (the very same message that we acknowledge in our baptism) to as many people as possible. But you cannot do that until you invite Christ to live in you and you look to find Him in everyone else…
Goodnight and God bless.

 

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April 20 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

Jesus Contact 2

About Our Father’s Business

In order to have a Jesus contact, we have to listen to how He communicates and watch how He acts. Why? Because the only way we make that contact is by emulating Him. That positions us for having a direct experience with Him.

The first time we are given an example to emulate (by looking at Jesus’ first recorded physical act) is found in the gospels when Jesus was approximately twelve years of age. He was with His family in Jerusalem for the celebration of Passover. They had traveled in a large retinue and during their return to Nazareth, Mary and Joseph discovered that Jesus was missing! Immediately, they returned to Jerusalem whereupon they found Him in the Temple:

…they found Him [came upon Him] in the [court of the] temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. And all who heard Him were astonished and overwhelmed with bewildered wonder at His intelligence and understanding and His replies. Luke 2:46, 47. AMP

Obviously, Jesus was heavenly-equipped at an early age for His task. And what task was that? Well, we get to find out when Mary and Joseph came upon Him and expressed their magnitude of worry over His absence. Jesus’ reply tells all:

Did you not see and know that it is necessary [as a duty] for Me to be in My Father’s house and [occupied] about My Father’s business? Luke 2:49 AMP

If we are to try to be like Jesus, we have to be about our Father’s business as well. And what is that business? It’s to bring the message of the light of salvation to everyone we meet – just like He did:

“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Jn. 1:29 NASB

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Jn. 3:16 – 18. NKJV

I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture. The thief only comes in order to kill and steal and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd risks and lays down His [own] life for the sheep. Jn. 10:9 – 11. AMP

God loves us all so much. He wants all of us to take that eternal ride with Him. This is a life or death message! As you can see, those that don’t know Christ are potentially condemned; and those who reject Him, well, there’s no ‘potential’ about it.

God is not asking you to take on a supernatural task, to become a super communicator; He’s only asking you to tell the Truth. God will do the work for His intended outcome.

You will be blessed in return. Let’s face it. No human being fully realizes him or herself and their happiness until they are freely practicing their rightful purpose – to serve God by serving others, i.e. by answering your highest calling.

Of course to serve in this fashion you will have to make some changes. Not in yourself. Christ never asks us to change who we are; He asks us to change our thoughts and actions. So we need to express these changes that our hope in the gospel has brought us – presenting ourselves as levelheaded, sensible, loving and filled with integrity and godly wisdom in spite of the swill that surrounds us in this world.

We’re here to share the joy in our salvation, telling of the ‘yes’ that God is holding out for everyone – a guarantee of eternal love and reconciliation in spite of one’s history. He did that by sacrificing His Son for His fallen children, so that they might receive the Holy Spirit to facilitate their repentance and bolster their faith in the grace of God’s forgiveness.

Every time we speak of this gracious gift, we are speaking for Christ, acting for Christ, and thus journeying towards greater contact with our Jesus…

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April 15 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

Jesus Contact

Contact: the state of meeting or communicating

Introduction

Unarguably, the coming of Christ to this earth was the most important event in post-creational history. He came to save us from ourselves – to unite us with the Father, through Him, for all of eternity.

In order to have that happen, we have to come in contact with Jesus. We can’t do that with our five senses, which are but elements of our flesh. Christ is a Spirit, as is His Father.

Jesus petitioned for, and God provided us with, the Holy Spirit so that through our connection between the Spirit and the piece of God our Creator planted within each of us (our spirit), we could make that contact. We make it through Holy Spirit-enabled prayer, in the course of revelation from observing Jesus’ life and by making His word the light by which we live. Doing that, we can have the intimate experience of Christ in order to receive His grace in this world and beyond.

He laid His life down so that we might once again be part of His Father’s temple – where God Himself resides. This new series then, is about that journey to full contact…

First Contact

In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. He was present originally with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being. In Him was life, and the Life was the Light of men. Jn. 1:1 – 4. AMP

The Word existed prior to any physical beginning – no universe or inhabitants thereof. Christ is the eternal Word that God spoke to create everything. Jesus in turn, spoke about the Father to us. He made contact.

The Word was with God, so He was distinct from His Father and yet in complete harmony because they were distinctly alone with each other – creating in unison.

The word was God. This is the cornerstone of the Trinitarian concept. Whether or not you accept that man-made treatise has no real consequences, as the complete understanding of the scriptural root of it is beyond our present ability to fully understand it. Nonetheless, according to the word of God (which by faith we must see as the unequivocal truth in order to be His child), Christ shares the powers of God (Heb. 1:3), He holds the entire universe together, God redeems the universe and its inhabitants through His Son and Jesus is the exact likeness of His Father. (Col. 1:15 – 20.)

God is a Spirit being, as is the Holy Spirit. The pre-incarnate Christ was also a Spirit being but is now a Spirit (God)-Man, the nature of which is beyond our comprehension. All Three share equal Divine attributes and exist within a unique harmonious relationship.

The Father puts forth His designs, which are created by the Son. Christ reveals God. The Holy Spirit reveals Christ and brings the spark of life to His creations. Similarly, God planned for our redemption, Jesus made it available on the cross, and the Holy Spirit imparts that salvation to God’s children.

There was a 1700’s theologian (Edward Swedenborg) who explained the ‘Trinity’ in this fashion: Jesus is the Son of God; and because God is infinite and cannot divide Himself without being finite, He must exist in Christ. After Jesus was resurrected, He re-arranged His human mind and body (was ‘glorified’) and became the God-Man. Prior to this glorification, Jesus’ human elements were not yet divine, which was why He spoke as if He and His Father were separate. But afterwards, God embodied Christ so that man could approach Him in his fallen state. Finally, Swedenborg taught that the Father was the Divine Soul, living in Christ (the Divine body), which proceeds out through the Holy Spirit (Divine love and wisdom) to work the salvation of man. Makes sense to me.

This first scripture also says that Jesus is the ‘light of men.’ The prophet Micah said:

He will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold His righteous deliverance. Mic. 7:9 AMP

Micah was speaking of God, who was going to bring His ‘light’ (Christ) for the deliverance of man.

See too how God prophesied over the baby Jesus regarding the same, through a man named Simeon when the Christ child was presented at the Temple:

“For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” Luke 2:30 – 32. NKJV

A ‘light’ for all peoples of this earth. Can you see the immeasurable magnitude of who Jesus is and who and what He represents? It’s mind-boggling. As we get to know Christ, our contact begins…
Goodnight and God bless.

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April 09 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »