Archive for November, 2017

Jesus Pursues Your Salvation

Jesus and His apostles were traveling through Samaria on their way to Galilee. The Bible tells us that Jesus needed to go through Samaria. (Jn. 4:4) Most Jews avoided that region because they were prejudiced against the Samaritans for being a gene pool hodgepodge of Israeli and Assyrian lineage, i.e. not pure Jew, and therefore considered inferior.

So, Jesus had a purpose for being there. They came upon Jacob’s well. Jesus remained there while He sent the apostles to a nearby town to purchase food. Seemingly coincidental, a woman approached the well to draw water. I believe that Jesus’ purpose for going through Samaria was for this very meeting – so that He could reveal something to her that we all need to know.

Jesus asked the woman to draw Him a drink. Initially, she is taken aback because this ‘Jew’ is talking to her, a lowly Samaritan, and she tells Him so. But, there isn’t a prejudicial bone in Jesus. 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! She responds by asking Him of the whereabouts of this ‘living water.’ He ignores her question and instead contrasts the water of the well with His living water:

“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 eternal life.” Jn. 4:13, 14. NKJV

The woman’s curiosity was piqued, and she asked Him for some of His living water. But instead of directly responding to her request, He keeps her off balance by telling her that He knows that she has been married and divorced five times, and that she is presently shacking up with another guy.

Jesus is bringing the depth of her sin to the light for examination, but not with condemnation, so that she could perceive her need for salvation. Then, Jesus leaves the subject of her sin alone.

That’s the way Love operates. Jesus knows everything we’ve ever been up to. Even if our deeds are deleterious to our spiritual health, His love for us never waivers. He faithfully waits by our side, until we choose to return to Him.

Because of Jesus’ revelations about her past, the woman now believes Jesus is a prophet. So, she asks Him what she perceived to be a relevant spiritual question (and undoubtedly wanting to turn the focus of their conversation away from her sin). She tells Jesus that the Samaritans worship God in a temple in Samaria, but the Jews maintain that He can only be worshiped at the temple in Jerusalem. She asks Him which temple was the correct place to worship.

Jesus answers in a way to plunge the woman into deeper contemplation:

“Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming the 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. 2:55 NKJV

Jesus is telling her that worshiping God will no longer be limited to designated physical settings. He is also saying that Samaritan worship is a corrupted mixture 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. He 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

Jesus is saying that the time for worship is now. In addition, He reveals that God is a Spirit, and therefore occupies all space and time. Thus, He can be worshiped from anywhere at any time. Jesus is also opening her mind to the reality that God is available to all sincere worshipers – regardless of race or ethnicity.

How do we worship in the spirit? Our spirit must first become predominant in our lives when we are born again.

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

“I know that Messiah is coming, (He who is called Christ – the Anointed); when that One comes, He will tell us everything [we need to know].” Jn. 4:25 AMP

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

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

The woman left to go into the town and tell all of the Samaritans that she knew about this ‘Man’ at Jacob’s well – whom she believed to be the Christ…

Jesus will go to any lengths to lead someone to salvation. If you haven’t made the choice for Jesus yet, He is just waiting to swing your doors wide open as well. If you have, help Him with your ministry, swing wide someone else’s…

Goodnight and God bless.

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November 30 2017 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

Making a Public Declaration of Your Faith

It is glaringly apparent that the world is becoming increasingly hostile to Christians. That should come as no surprise, as Jesus warned us of this very thing:

“Brother will betray brother to death, and the father his child; and all children will rise up and rebel against their parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by everyone because of [your association with] My name, but it is the one who has patiently persevered and endured to the end who will be saved.” Mt. 10:21, 22. AMP

The world hates us just because we follow Christ. Why? Because if we do our best to emulate Him, we are vicariously heaping judgment upon it as He did:

“…it (the world) does hate Me because I denounce it and testify that its deeds are evil.” Jn. 7:7

AMP

“For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” Jn 3:20 NKJV

And so it is with us:

“…and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.” Mt. 24:9 AMP

All you have to do is pick up any issue of the Huffington Post to validate that. Indeed, we are entering tumultuous times, where we will see both persecution and a falling away of many of the faithful:

“At that time many will be offended and repelled [by their association with Me] and will fall away [from the One whom they should trust] and will betray one another [handing over believers to their persecutors] and will hate one another. Many false prophets will appear and mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, the love of most people will grow cold. But the one who endures and bears up [under suffering to the end will be saved.” Mt. 24:10 – 13. AMP

The time will come when Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats. You definitely want to be in the sheep crowd. (Mt. 25:31 – 33.)

Sometimes, Christians are their own worst enemies, by letting their flesh take precedent over their spirit. For example, you have people playing with snakes, denying their children medical care, protesting outside of military funerals, killing abortion providers, advocating war over peace and putting politics over the kingdom.

We all have our human side, and fall repeatedly. This is where we must stay humble in the face of our sinful nature, take Jesus by the hand, and get up over and over to once again try our best:

“…he who comes to the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” Jn. 3:21 NKJV

And we mustn’t lose sight that Jesus is depending upon God’s children to spread the gospel message for the salvation of the world:

“You are the light of [Christ to] the world…Let your light shine before men is such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Mt. 5:14 & 16. AMP

“What I say to you in the dark (privately), tell in the light (publicly); and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim from the housetops [to many people].” Mt. 10:27 AMP

So, it is both what we say and do for the kingdom that matters; and the more that we can do that publicly (teach the word, evangelize, volunteer, etc.) the larger the net we will cast for Christ.

Our public outreach begins humbly, but powerfully, with our first public declaration of our faith – our baptism. Why is that an important deed to undertake?

“I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a person is born again [reborn from above – spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified], he cannot [ever] see and experience the kingdom of God.” Jn. 3:3 AMP

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

This was Jesus’ first ministerial teaching – laying out the entire reason that He came, i.e. that there is nothing that we can do in and of ourselves that will get us into the kingdom of God. It is only open to those who allow God to birth them anew by changing what is in their hearts. Then, the continued presence in that kingdom is assured for those who do their best to live by those changes.

Water baptism is a requirement from God, through Jesus – not only for ourselves, but we are also called to help facilitate the baptism of as many people as possible:

“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

When we get baptized, our example of faith in God and our obedience to His word can potentially draw others to do likewise. It is an outward sign that our faith is both growing and being reinforced. Without the faith, the act of baptism would be worthless. The water is just water. It is the connection of the water to the word of God, by faith, that fulfills our requirement.

Water baptism by itself however, is not the way to salvation. It is a declaration of one’s faith in salvation through the Spirit. Baptism in water is a metaphorical demonstration of being re-birthed as a newly cleansed child of God, through the forgiveness of sins – confirming that your old ’worldly self’ has been buried (symbolized by your immersion in water) and that your ‘spiritual self’ has been resurrected and cleansed from the stain of original sin (portrayed by your rising out of the water).

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

True salvation (having been made righteous from the cleansing blood of Christ) comes when you ask God for your Spiritual new birth by petitioning Him to fill you with the Holy Spirit – changing you into a new child in Christ. Only then, does God provide kingdom guidance and eyesight so that you can walk in His ways.

This is so BIG:

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 Pt. 1:3 – 5. ESV

Declare…

Goodnight and God bless.

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November 24 2017 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

The Nature of Jesus Christ

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. Jn. 1:1, 2. NKJV

Christ is the ‘living word of God’ – the ultimate expression of Jehovah. We can see too, that Jesus was with God in the ‘beginning.’ The beginning of what? [Because God has no beginning or end (Ps. 90:1, 2.)] Here’s two big clues:

All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him not even one thing was made that has come into being. Jn. 1:3 AMP

He is the exact living image [the essential manifestation] of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible], the firstborn [the preeminent one, the sovereign, and the originator] of all creation. Col. 1:15 AMP

Therefore, Jesus was with God at least at the point of when our universe was created, because we can see that God created everything through Christ. How long before time began, was Jesus created? Well, we can’t measure that, because there was no ‘time’ yet.

In addition, we have the viewpoint of many Christians that profess that Jesus was not born or created, (saying that the term ‘firstborn’ in this scripture refers to privilege, and is not literal), but rather has eternally co-existed with God and the Holy Spirit.  This is according to the Trinitarian doctrine, the scope of which is outside of this discussion.

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. Jn. 1:4 NASB

So, not only did God create everything through Jesus, He brought the spark of life to His children through His Son as well.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Jn. 1:5 ESV

Christ, being the primary agent of God Himself, is a light that cannot be quenched – especially not by the darkness in this world or by its followers.

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. Jn. 1:9 – 11. ESV

Thus, God sent us the image of Himself to facilitate our reconciliation with Him. However, most people who encountered Jesus, rejected Him – as still happens today. Yet, the true children of God readily receive Christ:

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believed in His name: who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God. Jn. 1:12, 13. NKJV

We can see then, that there is no earthly path by which we can become a child of God; it is only through Christ and Christ alone. Only when we receive Him, can we be ‘reborn’ by the Spirit of God, to a child of God (which is when we return to our true nature).

This is the biggest and most important decision that you will ever make! Indeed, it must be made while you are still living. You can either choose to become a child of God, accepting Christ as your Savior, followed by a guarantee of an eternal life of complete love, or, you can reject Jesus, live out your allotted time on this earth, and then be thrust into an eternity that promises not to be a pretty one…

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Jn. 1:14 NKJV

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. Jn. 1:16, 17. NASB

No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. Jn. 1:18 NKJV

God sent His only Son, out of His great love for us. And Jesus, the ever faithful and obedient Son, consented to allow His limitless Spirit being, to be housed in flesh, to have the full experience of being human – with all its temptations and sufferings.

Christ did so, so that we could commiserate with the image of God Himself, to be able to receive the opportunity of a lifetime: to make the choice to allow Jesus to elevate us spiritually, to be conjoined with God through Him.

Our heavenly Father gave His Son, who had been by His side for eons, to cover us with His love. He sent Jesus to envelop us with the grace of God, that yields the forgiveness and reconciliation that the Law of Moses could not…

How blessed we are.

Goodnight and God bless.

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November 15 2017 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

God Lifts Us Out of Our Afflictions

God never said that life would be easy. There are many setbacks in our lives that we must overcome. We place some of them in the middle of our own path through lapses in our godly thinking and acting. Other setbacks come from other people who suffer from the same, and we get blindsided due to active interference from our spiritual adversary.

However, God is bigger than all of that; and He can lift you out of any affliction that you find yourself mired in. There is no better Biblical account of this than in the book of Job.

Job is introduced to us as a man of great wealth and one who possesses righteous character – always bent on doing his best to serve God. (Job 1:1 – 3.)

The narrative then shifts heavenward to the throne of God. Satan approaches and tells God that he has been roaming the earth. God responds by asking him if he’d seen His righteous servant, Job. The devil retorts by claiming that Job only acts righteous because He has blessed him so mightily. Moreover, he asserts that if those blessings were stripped away, Job would turn against Jehovah and curse Him.

God is so sure of Job’s righteousness and devotion, that He allows Satan to take away everything Job has, except his life. On the surface, this seems cruel and unjust on God’s part; but God is going to use Job’s upcoming trials and tribulations to show him (and all of us) His glory, in how He honors those faithful to Him and so that He can provide hope and assurance to anyone who is afflicted in life.

The devil takes away all of Job’s material wealth and even his children. How did Job respond? He grieved, as anyone would, but he did not curse God:

And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong. Job 1:21, 22. NKJV

(There’s a huge lesson about the fleeting meaning of material things.)

Heavenward, God is pleased with Job. Satan protests, saying that if Job suffered personal injury, he would turn on God. So, he afflicts Job with painful boils.

Job sits in the dirt in resignation. Even his wife screams at him to curse God. Job responds:

“Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:10 NKJV

Life happens. But God never throws things towards you at random. If God is placing something in your way, it has to do with spurring you on towards your highest purpose – love lessons sent repeatedly, until you get it. It’s always about bringing you closer to Him…

Three of Job’s friends come to comfort him, but Job begins to indulge in self-pity. Yet even in his despair, we find jewels of God-inspired wisdom:

“Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, and whom God has hedged in?” Job 3:23 NKJV

I believe that Job was wondering as to why God would bring the good news of His love and salvation to those whose situation would seem to be hopeless. There is no doubt that some people have a rougher time in life than others, with no apparent reason. But it is how we respond to our circumstances that determine whether we expand as a human being.

We must make ourselves available to learn from the lessons that we receive, or from those that others have gotten. I also believe that God uses adversity to bring people to Him.

Job wails again:

“For the thing that I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me.” Job 3:25 NKJV

Another great pearl of wisdom. Job was apparently a worrywart – even when things were going his way. Fear leads to worry, worry keeps your fear on the center stage of your mind, and what you think about comes about. You must sweep off that stage and recast it with thoughts of God, His love and abundant provision, and His protective arms.

After Job’s little fit, his ‘friends’ lambast him – telling him that it is his sins that are the cause of his situation. Job retorts with a little self-righteousness.

A fourth friend shows up and condemns the first three for their attack on Job, tells Job to quit trying to justify himself and adds that he is wasting his time trying to figure out the nature of God.

True enough. God’s big picture will always elude us to some degree because we cannot grasp plans that were made on a universal scale. Yet, God does not leave us totally blind. He tells us what we need to know, to wisely navigate through the part that He wants us to play in His grand design:

“In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds, then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction. In order to turn man from his deed, and conceal pride from man, He keeps back his soul from the Pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.” Job 33:15 – 18. NKJV

Finally, the fourth friend tells Job to be patient and wait upon God, keeping his righteousness in the face of duress:

“Although you say you do not see Him, yet justice is before Him, and you must wait for Him.” Job 35:14 NKJV

“He does not withdraw His eyes from the righteous, but with kings on the throne he sets them forever, and they are exalted.” Job 36:7 ESV

At this point, God Himself enters the fray – telling Job that none of his assumptions are true. Then He asks Job if he could possibly have any comprehension of the galactic scale that He operates on.

Job does the wise thing. He humbles himself before His Maker:

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted…Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” Job 42:2, 3. ESV

“Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:6 NASB

God is a loving and merciful God. It doesn’t matter what we have done – even if it includes blaming Him and doubting His ways. He knows that we cannot grasp His ‘Big Picture’ (which always has our highest and best purpose in it).

He is demonstrating His unchanging character and His desire for us to turn around, (confess and repent). Love, forgiveness and mercy will always follow.

What was Job’s outcome?

And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. Job 42:10 AMP

And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. Job 42:12 ESV

Notice that Job grew prosperous again after he prayed for someone else. Notice too, that even though Job indulged in self-righteousness and self-pity, he never cursed God or lost faith in who He was.

God loves you. There is a reason for everything that is happening around you. Ask God what it is, (especially when it doesn’t make sense), so that you can learn from it. Ask Him to strengthen you, so that you can move through it and grow thereby.

There are no bad times with God. There are only lessons that we need. And God always delivers those lessons (including a way out of them) with love in mind…

Goodnight and God bless.

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November 09 2017 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »

God is Calling Us Home

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens [outsiders without rights of citizenship], but you are fellow citizens with the saints (God’s people), and are [members] of God’s household… Eph. 2:19 AMP

All these died in faith [guided and sustained by it]…having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. Heb. 11:13 AMP

Children of God are heavenly citizens, living on this earth; yet strangers and exiles to the ways of the world – at least, that is our continuing goal. We live in the faith that we have an upward calling when it’s our time to exit, a call to go home.

So, while we are here, we lean on Jesus for the strength to live godly lives; and when we slip and fall, we go to Him immediately in confession and repentance for the cleansing of our transgressions. We don’t want to get caught up in the ways of a wayward environment:

I will judge you according to your ways, and I will repay you for all your abominations…No one will strengthen himself who lives in iniquity…when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it. Ezek. 7:8 & 13; 14:13. NKJV

Let’s face it, our country’s present state of chaos and moral degradation is not something we want to associate ourselves with. It is in major danger of judgment. Thank our merciful God that He loves us so much:

“But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live.” Ezek. 18:21, 22. NKJV

“For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord GOD. “Therefore turn and live!” Ezek. 18:32 NKJV

God is a forgiving God, not wanting to lose a single soul. Obviously, we cannot of ourselves, keep every single statute. That’s where Christ stands in the gap for us and blankets us with His righteousness. That way, we get to go home – a promise foreshadowed by God’s promise to the repentant Israelites, to bring them back home after they were exiled to Babylon for their sinful ways:

But you, O mountains of Israel, will put out your branches and bear your fruit to My people Israel, for they will soon come [home]. Ezek. 36;8 AMP

I will make you inhabited as in former times, and do better for you than at your beginnings. Ezek. 36:11 NKJV

What God is doing, is lifting up the homeless. You can live in a physical home, but you’re still homeless if you don’t have a loving relationship with God. God offers you a home, but you must contribute a personal note to the restoration of your heart to help spread the glory of God to fill His kingdom:

“…the nations shall know that I am the LORD,” says the Lord GOD, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.” Ezek. 36:23 NKJV

So, not only must you get right with God through Christ, you must radiate that relationship outwards to beckon those who are still lost. After all, every one of us is commissioned to gather others into the kingdom, are we not? No one can come home to know God’s love, joy, mercy and forgiveness unless they can first see it in the eyes of His children.

Just like Israel, all God’s children get to go home:

“Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever.” Ezek. 37:25 NKJV

And that home will be a heavenly one:

“…and the name of the city from that day shall be THE LORD IS THERE.” Ezek. 48:35 NKJV

God is building a house for all of us to call ‘home.’ And if you are willing, your homeless days are over…

Good night and God bless.

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November 01 2017 | experiencing god's love | No Comments »