Archive for May, 2016

Jesus Contact 8

Declaring Your Purpose

The time is approximately 28 A.D. Jesus and His disciples return to Jerusalem to celebrate a feast (Some scholars think it was Passover, others the Feast of Harvest). On the Sabbath, Jesus visits a pool called Bethesda, where many people would go to be cured of their infirmities. How so? God regularly sent an angel to Bethesda to ‘stir the waters;’ and the first person to enter the pool would be restored to health.

He came upon a man who was had been sick for 38 years. His sickness had weakened him so badly that he could never move fast enough to be the first in the pool and no one would carry him to it. Jesus healed him immediately. Well, that certainly did not bode well with the religious leaders of the day because Jesus broke the Rabbinical interpretation of the 4th of the Ten commandments, which declares that no work be done on the Sabbath day.

The Rabbis took it to the extreme, saying that no labor of any kind was to be done – including healing or saving lives. So they were frothing at the mouth over what Jesus had done. Indeed, at this point, some were even entertaining the idea of killing Him.

[On another occasion, our brave and bold Savior strutted right into a synagogue on the Sabbath and healed another man. He faced down the Pharisees, telling them that the Sabbath was made for man (as a time to reflect and bond with God), not to be terrorized by it; and He declared that He was Lord of the Sabbath. Thus, He was the final authority. (Mk. 2:27) Jesus further defied their twisted view and told them that doing good things on the Sabbath fell within the Mosaic Law. (Mt. 12:11, 12.)]

Getting back to our timeline, Jesus answers the wrath of the religious leaders over His poolside healing, by declaring who He is and what His purpose was:

My Father has worked [even] until now, [He has never ceased working; He is still working] and I, too must be at [divine] work. Jn. 5:17 AMP

This is the turning point in Christ’s ministry. He is now claiming His deity – saying that God is His unique Father and that He, Jesus, is doing His Father’s work.

Needless to say, His adversaries were lathered into a frenzy because He placed Himself on the same level as God. Jesus does not relent:

“Truly, truly I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” Jn. 5:19 ESV

Christ is proclaiming that He is a direct extension of God’s will and that His Father’s power courses through Him. Why does God do that?

“For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all the things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.” Jn. 5:20 NKJV

In other words, God will enable Jesus to work more miracles in order to try to open the stubborn hearts of the Jews, so that they might choose to enter into His kingdom.

Jesus then elaborates about the magnitude of the authority conferred upon Him by Jehovah God:

“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” Jn. 5:21 – 23. NASB

This is HUGE. Jesus is saying that He has both the power over the resurrection process in God’s ultimate end plan for all the people He has and will create and that Christ is in charge of the subsequent dispensation of those resurrected.

Note too that Jesus says that we are to honor Him just like we would God Himself. This is a big bone of contention with the Jewish and Islamic faiths, as well as some Christian sects. However, Jesus has just said (and He is the living word of God) that when we honor Him, it is a direct honor to God as well.

Jesus winds this up with a jab at His naysayers, trying to get them to see what will happen to them when they stand in opposition to His purpose:

“…the very works that I do – bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me…You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” Jn. 5:36 – 40. NKJV

“Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father, the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe in Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” Jn. 5:45 – 47. NASB

You can’t say that Jesus didn’t give them a chance. He stood right in front of His detractors and offered life. They refused. He told them that the Old Testament was filled with prophecy about Him – even from Moses himself. (Dt. 18:18)

What does all this have to do with you? When you make your Jesus contact, you become an official child of God. That is your declaration of who you are.

When you are a follower of Jesus, you also have a purpose to declare. What is that purpose?

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded of you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Mt. 28:19, 20. NKJV

And because you are a chosen declarer of that purpose, God equips you to carry it out:

“…do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.” Mt. 10:19, 20. NKJV

Furthermore, you must also declare your purpose, which is God’s purpose, by living it out in your actions:

“…what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD…” Dt. 10:12, 13. NKJV

“…to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked that you cover him, and not hide from your own flesh?” Is. 58:6, 7. NKJV

…to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? Mic. 6:8 NKJV

“…love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jn. 13:34, 35. NKJV

If you’re letting Christ shine through you in these ways, people will want to come to you to see what you’ve got and where it came from. Surely then, you are carrying out your purpose by offering them the eternal life of the Light…
Goodnight and God bless.

May 26 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

Jesus Contact 7

Keeping the Message Pure

Jesus and His disciples are having dinner at His latest apostolic convert’s house (that would be Matthew). At this point in Jesus’ ministry, the Pharisees are following Him around to try to catch Him doing something for which they can accuse Him of blasphemy. True to form, they got upset because Jesus’ disciples weren’t fasting. Jesus replies:

“Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” Lk. 5:34, 35. ESV

Jesus is saying that when He (the bridegroom) was with His disciples, it was time for rejoicing, not mourning. He is also alluding (unbeknownst to the Pharisees) that He is also aware of His impending death and resurrection.

In addition, Jesus is insinuating that He is the ultimate authority with regards to the correct interpretation of God’s word. Indeed, He then plies them with His first recorded parable to offer greater illumination:

“No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece of the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.

And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old one is good.’ “ Lk. 5:36 – 39. ESV

In the example of the garment, Jesus is describing a process well-known at that time, whereby his hearers understood that using a new piece of cloth to patch an old piece of clothing would tear away unless it was first ‘preshrunk’ with pressure + heat + moisture.

What Jesus was trying to get the Pharisees to understand was that their ways (often twisted) of Judaism could not contain the New Covenant message because His gospel was not a patch for the old system.

Similarly, the people in Jesus’ time also understood that new fermenting wine must be put into new wineskins that could hold the pressure caused by the ‘out-gassing’ in that process.

What He’s telling the Pharisees is that they can’t mix His message with their old one. Moreover, He finishes His parable by pointing out that they want to stubbornly cling to their old ways and are unwilling to listen to His gospel.

That is not to say that the Mosaic Law does not have its place, but that’s a long discussion for another time. It’s just that the Pharisees had corrupted it with their own traditions and man-made interpretations. God is very clear about keeping His message pure:

“You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” Dt. 4:2 NKJV

Every word of God is pure…Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you… Pr. 30:5, 6. NKJV

So here we have God speaking through both Moses and King Solomon, commanding us to keep His word pure. Jesus Himself speaks of His reverence for the Law:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass away from the Law until all is accomplished.” Mt. 5:17, 18. ESV

Jesus came to bring the Law into its final evolution.

At the end of the Bible, we have the book of The Revelation of Jesus Christ – a sweeping landscape that encompasses the advent of the first and second coming of Christ and the victory of the gospel over evil. At that book’s end, we find a similar admonishment against distorting the gospel message as God speaks through the apostle John:

If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. Rv. 22:18, 19. NKJV

It doesn’t get any clearer than that. If we’re speaking of things spiritual, we must speak what God speaks and nothing else. After all, Jesus Himself is the Living Word of God; and what does He say?

My teaching is not My own, but His Who sent Me. If any man desires to do His will (God’s pleasure), he will know (have the needed illumination to recognize, and can tell for himself), whether the teaching is from God, or whether I am speaking from Myself and of My own accord and on My own authority. Jn. 7:16, 17. AMP

Jesus speaks for His Father; and as we seek Them out, They will illuminate our spirit to know that.

We have been entrusted with God’s salvation message and commanded to spread it to everyone we can. (Lk. 24:44 – 48.)

Those that ‘do their own thing’ instead will pay a heavy price:

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth… 1 Tim. 6:3 – 5. ESV

We definitely do not want to listen to them nor be counted among them.

We are privileged with a Holy Spirit-empowered job to do. Let’s keep that message pure, which we can do when we keep our Jesus contact…

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded of you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Mt. 28:19, 20. NKJV
Goodnight and God bless.

May 21 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

Jesus Contact 6

Author Finisher, Founder and Perfecter of your faith

No faith, no God. Oh, God is still there, but He doesn’t connect with the unfaithful. Faith is the bedrock of Christianity:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Heb. 11:1 NASB

When Jesus began preaching, He lamented over the lack of faith in the Jews regarding His message:

Unless you see signs and miracles happen, you [people] will never believe (trust, have faith) at all. Jn 4:8 AMP

Jesus was approached by a nobleman who urged Him to come to his home and heal his dying son. That’s what prompted His afore-mentioned utterance. Yet, He pours His compassion forth and says:

“Go your way; your son lives.” So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. Jn. 4:50 NKJV

The son was healed before the man got home! Why? It’s because the nobleman had placed his faith in Jesus’ words.

Shortly thereafter, Jesus returned to Nazareth and began to preach in a synagogue. He starts by laying out His entire purpose for coming to this world by quoting Is. 61, 62:

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Lk. 4:18, 19. NKJV

The ‘acceptable year of the Lord’ is alluding to the ‘year of the Jubilee,’ which was a specified year when all debtors and slaves were set free in Israel. Jesus is saying that He came to set them free from spiritual darkness and the consequences it brings.

All eyes are on Jesus when He delivers the clincher:

“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Lk. 4:21 NKJV

How did the people of Nazareth respond? They scoffed at Him because they were blinded by their familiarity with Him due to the fact that He grew up in that town. They had no faith. Guess what? Neither did they receive any miracles.

Even Satan and his demons have faith in Jesus. When Jesus was preaching in another synagogue in Capernaum, the devil entered into a man who stood up and said:

Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!” Mk. 1:23, 24. NKJV

The people in that town had faith and brought all of their sick and demon-possessed to Jesus for miracle cures, and He healed them all!

While still in Galilee, Jesus was approached by a leper who entreated Him:

“If you are willing, You can make me clean.” Mk. 1:40 NKJV

He brought his faith. He got his miracle. Indeed, many times that Jesus performed miracles, He stated that His ability to do so was facilitated by the recipient’s faith. (Lk. 7:50, 18:42; Mt. 9:22; Mk. 2:5.)

Let’s look at one more. Jesus went into the apostle Peter’s house to preach. Because the house was crammed to capacity, friends of a paralyzed man took the roof off the house and lowered their paralyzed friend to Jesus:

And when He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” Lk. 5:16 NKJV

There were scribes and Pharisees in the audience who went apoplectic with rage over Jesus’ claim to be able to forgive sins. Jesus read their minds and rebuked them, saying that in order to prove He had that power, He was going to heal the paralytic as well – which He did.

Christ has the power to overcome sin. Notice that He cleansed the man of his sins before He healed him. Consider too that it was the faith of the man’s friends that provided the atmosphere for Jesus’ healing power to manifest.

Faith is at the center of everything:

“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Mt. 21:22 ESV

“All things are possible to him who believes.” Mk. 9:23 NASB

Faith bonds all of God’s children as one. (Eph. 4;4 – 6.) Having faith is the only way to please God. (Heb. 11:6) We are justified and sanctified by it. (Rm. 3:28) It brings us divine strength (Ps. 125:1) and protection. (Ps. 31:23, 56:4, 71:5, 6.) Faith even wards off the devil himself. (1 Pt. 5:8, 9; Eph. 6:16.) Our happiness is based upon faith, our revelation, (Jm. 1:5, 6.) healing, (Jm. 5:15) as well as all the rest of God’s blessings.(Pr. 28:20; Lk. 1:45.)

So, where do we get this faith?

…God has allotted to each a measure of faith. Rm. 12:3 NASB

But the fruit of the Spirit is…faithfulness. Gal. 5:22 ESV

It comes from God Himself! He’s helping you do the believing. In fact, we can’t even understand the gospel message until that faith is activated. (2 Cor. 4:3, 4.) We must have the gift of God’s grace to be able to know Christ and have Him reside within us.

We continue to strengthen that faith by continually immersing ourselves in the hearing of our newfound understanding:

So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips of Christ] (the Messiah Himself). Rm. 10;17 AMP

By faith you touch God, not by works. By faith you accept that Jesus has done everything – making us totally acceptable to God. In that faith, we act on the word of God, to live by it at all times. And what lies at the crux of that work? Your faith:

“This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” Jn. 6:29 NKJV

Your salvation in a nutshell…

So what’s left?

…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith… Heb. 12:1, 2. ESV

Looking to Jesus, making that contact…
Goodnight and God bless.

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May 13 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

Jesus Contact 5

Pursuing Your Salvation

Jesus was passing through Samaria with His apostles on their way to Galilee when they came upon a well. He sent His retinue to a nearby town to purchase food. After they left, a Samaritan woman approached the well and Jesus asked her to draw Him some water to drink.

The woman was taken aback because this Jewish man was speaking to her, a Samaritan, of whom the Jews normally held in great disdain because of their mixed-race (Jew and Assyrian) heritage. But Jesus doesn’t have a prejudicial bone in His body. He answers:

“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” Jn. 4:10 NKJV

What is Jesus doing here? He’s pursuing her salvation! This is the merciful love of God, pouring out His grace – a free gift that perfects and prepares us for eternal life. We were created for this heavenly ‘love call’ to come in union with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The woman asks Jesus to tell her the whereabouts of this ‘living water.’ He ignores her question and instead begins to reveal the nature of it:

“Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” Jn. 4:13, 14. NKJV

Now, the woman’s curiosity is piqued, and she asks Jesus for some of His living water. However, He keeps her off balance until she can absorb the entirety of the message He has come to share. Instead of responding to her request, He tells her that He knows that she has been married and divorced five times and is presently shacking up with another guy.

Christ does not condemn her. He is bringing the depth of her sin to the light for her examination so that she could perceive her need for salvation. Then Jesus leaves the subject of her sin alone.

Our merciful God confronts us with love even in our darkest state. He provides a Light (Jesus) to help us see that we are living in a misery of our own making, caused by our sins that punish us. Hopefully, when He compassionately brings us to that place, we can dispense with our will to continue in our old ways – in that sensual selfishness that blocks the charitable hand of God.

Because Jesus is able to reveal the Samaritan’s past, she thinks Him a prophet; and the woman asks what she believes to be a relevant question about which temple she should worship at – either the one in Samaria or the other located in Jerusalem. He replies in a way that plunges her into greater contemplation:

“Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.” Jn. 4:21, 22. NKJV

Jesus is saying that worshiping God will no longer be limited to designated physical settings. He’s also telling her that the Samaritan type of worship is a bastardized conglomeration of Mosaic Law and Assyrian paganism. And He’s letting her know that He is a Jew and that the Messiah comes from the Jews. Jesus continues:

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is a spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” Jn. 4:23, 24. ESV

The time for worship is now. God is a Spirit occupying all space and time (as well as transcending them). Thus, He can be worshiped anywhere at anytime. Jesus is opening the woman’s ears to hear that God is available to all sincere worshipers regardless of race or ethnicity.

How do we worship in the spirit? We begin in baptism when we allow our spirit to subjugate our flesh.

Jesus has worked His wonder. The woman’s spiritual eyes begin to open and she expresses her heartfelt yearning:

I know that the Messiah is coming, He who is called the Christ (the Anointed One); and when He arrives, He will tell us everything we need to know and make it clear to us. Jn. 4:25 AMP

In response, Jesus throws the doors of her salvation wide open. Turning to her in His infinite compassion, He says:

“I who speak to you am He.” Jn. 4:26 NKJV

The Messianic age begins.

God created every one of us perfectly. However, we all carry an Adam-stained soul, which given to its own desires will perpetuate a life of transgression. We cannot solve this problem by ourselves. We need God to wash that stain away and let our perfection shine by living out the loving grace of that God within.

We can only do that if we satisfy that innate thirst we have for Him that He placed in our hearts at birth. And that will only happen when we make our Jesus contact – allowing Him to pursue our salvation…
Goodnight and God bless.

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May 05 2016 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »