Wednesday, June 28, 2017

How Do We Serve God? We Believe on Him!

"For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham his servant." (Psalm 105:42)

When I read this verse, a uestion came to mind:

"How did Abraham serve God?"

I mean, really, what did Abraham do for God that showed him to be a servant?

God invited Abraham to leave country, kith, and kin to a new land that He would give to Him:

"Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:'

"2And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

"3And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." (Genesis 12: 1-3)

What was Abraham supposed to do? Trust God and go.

And he did not trust God perfectly, because he took his nephew Lot with him, even though he was to completely go away from his family--all of them (Lech Lecha).

So, again--how did Abraham serve God exactly?

Abraham believed Him!



"And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." (Genesis 15:6)

How does God want us to live, anyway?

"Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith." (Habakkuk 2:4)

We live by faith, the faith of the Son of God!

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)

So, How do we serve God today?

We believe on Him--just as He served God by believing Him:



"Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." (John 6:29)

We are all children of Abraham:

"And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Romans 3:29)

and

"Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all," (Romans 4:16)

That's what service to God comes to for us. What really can we do for Him of ourselves! We are called to believe on Him. and His life flows through us to do good works.

Just as Abraham trusted God to bless Him, to keep Him, and to ensure glory and honor for him and his descendants, which includes you and me!



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

He Protects Us, Even from Liars and Dividers in Our Midst

18Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. 19They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

I have been working in some very heavy, trying circumstanes.

All of us have to deal with the fact that there are men and women who will betray their trust, who will undermine our efforts subtily while pretending to be our friends.

First of all, we must remenber that our safety and security depends on Him who has been from the beginning (1 John 2: 15):

"In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1)

And also

"10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:" (Hebrews 8:10)

He is our protection!

Now, notice how John the Beloved takes on anti-Christs and other liars who come into the midst of the Body of Christ.


There are indeed many anti-Christs. There will be men and women who come into our ranks who do not believe what we believe.



Our faith is in Jesus!

That is what He asks all of us to do! That is the one work that matters!

"The is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He hath sent" (John 6:29)

So, what happens when we who believe on Him stand true to His Word and trust Him?

Those who oppose Himself will go away.

Bad people who want to undermine the truth and the community of saints will soon be forced to reveal themselves. They won't stick around, they won't stand by, for they will not "continue with us."

Keep seeing Jesus, and He who is the Light of the World (John 8:12) will expose the darkness--even in our midst--to the light.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Even When You Fail, Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

"Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice. Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me." (John 13:38; 14:1)

In most Bibles, chapters as well as verses divide up the Gospel and other Biblical records.

Yet those are ultimately artificial, and can give us a misunderstanding.

Jesus was speaking to Peter in John 13:38.

Then in John 14:1, we see Jesus is still speaking to Peter and to the rest of the disciples.

Notice that Jesus is telling Peter, the rough-necked fisherman, that even though he will betray him, his heart should not be troubled.

Even when you and I fail, Jesus still loves us.



He cares for us, even when we mess up. He stands with us even when we fall from Him, depending on our own strength.

Remeber how Jesus reached out and helped Peter, when he was about to sink into the water?

"But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" (Matthew 14: 30-31)

In the above account, once again we see Peter not keeping his eyes fixed on Jesus His Savior.

But Jesus didn't let him drown! He reached out and helped him.

Let not your heart be troubled, beloved child of God! Even if you fail, He is still ready to stand by and help you. When you fall into the pit, He will help pull you out!

Jesus: The Lamb Who Died for Our Sins, and Who Then Clothed Us in His Righteousness

"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." (Isaiah 53:7)

I reread this passage a few days ago.

It was interesting to me how the prophet writes that Jesus, our Passover Lamb, was lead to the slaughter, then he compares him to a sheep about to be sheared.

In shepherding, a sheep is sheared first, then slaughtered.

Why was the order reversed in this passage of Scripture?

Remember, Isaiah is talking about Jesus, our Savior.

He is also expounding on all that Jesus did for us:

"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

God the Father instituted an incredible exchange for everyone of us at the Cross!

He took our sins, and gave us His righteousness!

Jesus' death on the Cross ensured the shedding of His blood, which cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7, 9).

Then Jesus gave us His righteousness:

"For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:17)

Shearing of sheep produces wool, which in turn forms robes, clothing, and other textiles.

Throughout the Old Testament, righteousness is presented as a robe!

"I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem." (Job 29:14)

and

"I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels." (Isaiah 61:10)



In Zechariah's prophesy to Joshua, the Angel of the Lord gives Joshua a new garment to replace a filthy coat that he is wearing:

"Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. 4And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment." (Zechariah 3:3-4)

And even in the New Testament, we see linen as a picture of Jesus' cleansing work in our lives, making us righteous:

"After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded." (John 13:5)

Towels, made with hte wool of a sheared sheep!

When we medidate on the Finished Work, let us remember that God's Ways are not man's ways. Jesus died for us sins, and by doing so He could then accord to us His righteousness.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Let the Holy Spirit Be Your Advocate Today

"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;" (John 14:16)

Christians know that Jesus died for their sins.

He also died as us to grant us new life!

But we tend to forget that forevemore, we have an Advocate who pleads our case on our behalf!

The Holy Spirit, the Comforter whom Jesus promised to His disciples, and grants to us when we believe on Him!

"And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 2:4)

He does a far better for, God's Holy Spirit within us convicts us of our righteousness in Him:

"And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:" (John 16:8)

Do not try to be your advocate, for you will fall back on your own efforts.

Consider the plight of the wicked servant, who plead with his master over a debt so massive that he could never pay:

"The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all." (Matthew 18:26)



Notice that when we try to be our own advocates, we fall back on our own efforts.

When the same servant demanded payment from one of his fellow servants, then threw him in prison for the debt, the same wicked servant had to appear before his lord again:

"Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?" (Matthew 18: 32-33)

The word "desiredst" is actually "Parakaleo", which means "beg, advocate", and is the root word for the Holy Spirit, which in the original Greek is "Parakletos".

The first servant wanted to defend himself, which in turn led to threatening his fellow servant to pay a debt, which he in turn could not pay.

This account of indebtedness ended with the first servant throw to torments until he paid his own insurmountable debt.

Let's face the truth:

We cannot be our own advocates.

Let the Holy Spirit be your Advocate, your Defense, Your Helper today!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Jesus Over-Answers Our Prayers

"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us," (Ephesians 3:20)

Jesus always over-answers our prayers.

We are looking for a job. He instills in us and leads us into a career, a calling for His Kingdom.

Consider the  pleas of the nobleman whose daughter was ill:

"And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. 47When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death.' (John 4: 46-47)

Notice that this nobleman did not run to Jesus while He was ministering to the Samaritans.

Jews avoided the Samaritans at all costs, but Jesus came for the whole world! (John 3:16). In fact, He told his disciples that He had to go through Samaria (John 4:4)

Yet even for that, Jesus did not reject the nobleman's prayer.

Yet notice what Jesus said next:

"Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe." (John 4:48)

What is belief all about? That we take God at His WORD!

"Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." (John 6:29)

The father believed on Jesus, even before He did any miracle:

"The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way." (John 4: 49-50)

The nobleman believed what Jesus said.



Now find out what Jesus did:

"And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth. 52Then inquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. 53So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house. 54This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee." (John 4: 51-54)

Notice that the moment the nobleman believed on Jesus, that his son was healed.

Notic also, that Jesus did more for the father than he had asked.

Recall that in another Gospel account, the synagogue leader Jairus compelled Jesus to come to his house to heal his daughter:

"Behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. 19And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples." (Matthew 9: 18-19)

In the previous chapter of Matthew's Gospel, the centurion demonstrated greater faith:

"And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed." (Matthew 8:7-8)

In the Gospel of John, the nobleman wanted Jesus to come to his home.

Jesus did more--he healed his daughter right then and there, and despite his fear of losing his reputation or his initial unbelief!

Whatever your need is, look at Jesus, not yourself, and believe Him to come through for you in whatever need:

And watch Him provide further than you had ever asked!

"He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8: 32)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

How Ruth Was Obedient: She Trusted in God's Favor

Ruth had everything going against her:

She was a woman.
She was a widow.
She was a Moabite, one of a select number of races cursed by God, and not open to receiving the blessings of God or entering the congregation of the Israelites until the 10th generation
She had no prospects or property
She had no family other than her mother-in-law, who had become embittered from great loss.

Yet instead of looking at what she did not have, she looked to Him who has everything:

"And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:" (Ruth 1:16)

Ruth had very little idea how good God would be to her!

"And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz. 2And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace." (Ruth 2: 1-2)

Notice that Ruth does not know about Boaz, but her loving God did!

"And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech." (Ruth 2:3)

Notice it says "her hap." She wasn't planning where to go. She had no idea that this field belong to any kind of a kinsman-redeemer.

As a Moabite, she would have no knowledge a "kinsman-redeemer" or what he is (would be?) in the first place.

Then Boaz, his kinsman-redeemer, and a picture of our Lord Jesus, said to Ruth:

"The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust." (Ruth 2:12)

What was Ruth's work?

Ruth and Boaz (Credit: Walking Together Ministries)



She believed in a God in whose eyes she would find favor!

Consider what Jesus, our heavenly Kinsman-Redeemer, to the Israelites of His day:

"Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." (John 6:29)

Today, we need to believe that because we believe in Jesus, we can trust that He covers for us, and will provide for us in every way, and exceed our asking!

"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us" (Ephesians 3:20)

Consider also that under the New Covenant, we are called on to believe Him!

"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

11And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." (Hebrews 8:10-12)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Not Just Redemption, but Fulfillment in Christ Jesus

"I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." (Psalm 81:10)

In the Bible, references to God leading the Israelites out of Egypt speak of Christ's redemption for everyone of us at the Cross.

Jesus was the Angel of the Lord who lead them out.

He is the pillar of fire and the pillar of clouds which protected the Israelites out of the land of bondage to the Promised Land.



Notice what the Psalmist connects with redemption:

"Open your mouths wide. I will fill you up."

Salvation is more than deliverance from death.

Salvation is more than being saved from hell and going to heaven

It's about God blessings  us spirit, soul, and body:

"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

And

"Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth." (3 John 2)

Remember. The Promised Land was a real place on this earth, not some far away kingdom.

Indeed we are citizens of the kingdom of heaven, not the earth (Philippians 3:20), but He intends to prosper us here on earth in the meantime!

"He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32)



and

"The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD'S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men." (Psalm 115:16)

We receive all things in Him, and our loving Father wants us to receive all things from Him!

Don't limit God's grace and blessings!

"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:" (Psalm 103:2)

Light Came First, and The Darkness Cannot Overcome It

"And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." (John 1:5)

Five is the number of grace.

Let us never forget that even when sin increases, God's grace super-duper abounds (Romans 5:20)

Notice that in the beginning, it was dark and without form before God:

"And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." (Genesis 1:2)

God created the heaven and the earth--then it was without form and void.

Let's never forget that there can be no darkness without God first having created or restored something,

God always comes first.

Light has already been there.



God the Father invited His Son to come: "Let there be light."

Notice that he did not "make" the light, nor did He create it.

The Light was always with the Father at the beginning of beginnings:

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

And Jesus is the Light of the World (John 8:12)

He has overcome the darkness, just as He was before all things with His Father, and the darkness could not last.

Rest in Jesus, the Light of your world, and know that the darkness cannot overcome you!




Sunday, January 8, 2017

Grow in Grace not Just Knowledge of the Lord Jesus

This is a new thought of sorts, if there ever was one!

I had been reading, hearing, and learning from pastors and preachers for the longest time -- you need to know the Lord, know about Him, read up and see more of Him.

Yet what did Peter exhort to His readers?

"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen." (2 Peter 3:18)

We are called to grow in grace first.

We need to see more of how much we have been forgiven, and how much He has blessed us!

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:" (Ephesians 1: 3-4)

and there's more:

"That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power," (Ephesians 1:17-19)



We need to see how much He has blessed us, how great is His goodness toward us!

"O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him." (Psalm 34:8)

and

"I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." (Psalm 81:10)

Let us not forget that Grace is a Person, anyway! When we learn more about the abundant, unmerited favor our Jesus, we are learning about Him!

"For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." (John 1:17)

Bringing Every Thought into Captivity to His Obedience

"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;" (2 Corinthians 10:5)

We are not called to bring our thoughts into obedience to God's law.

No one can keep God's law:

"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." (Romans 3:20)

and

"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." (Galatians 2:16)

It's not about bringing out thoughts into captivity to Christ, or trying to tie everything to Him.

We are to settle every dispute and attack against our minds because of Christ's obedience!

What is this "obedience" specifically referenced by Paul?



"For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." (Romans 5:19)

We are to rest in the truth that all our sins are put away because of Christ's obedience to His Father at the Cross.

Any fears about the future are put away at the Cross, because Jesus shed His blood and enacted the New and everlasting covenant:

"For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." (Matthew 26:28)

Here are the full elements of the New Covenant:

"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

"And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

"For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." (Hebrews 8:10-12)

Faith: Not About Believing Him for Something, But Believing He Did Everything

"Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." (John 6:29)

For us today under the New Covenant, faith is not about agitating in our minds or speaking words at great length about the future.

It is not a supposition that good things will come to pass.

Faith is about Jesus, and believing that He accomplished all thing for us at the Cross.

Faith is trusting that Jesus accomplished has provided all thing for us.

"1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1)

The whole context of Hebrews 11 and the Hall of Faith is not about people getting stuff. It's not about hoping for better personal outcomes in their lives.

It's about the coming Messiah and the promise of deliverance from sin, and the enactment of the New Covenant.




8By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went." (Hebrews 11:8)

What did God say to Abram (before he became Abraham) that would bring him into the Promised Land?

"1Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

2And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

3And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." (Genesis 12: 1-3)

We are blessed because of JESUS!

"6Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. 7Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. 8And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. 9So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." (Galatians 3:6-9)

And who is the object of our faith?

JESUS!

"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." (Romans 10:9)

Faith is about believing in Jesus, and that through His death and resurrection, He has justified us, and has granted us His life!

When we believe on Him, we can the truth that He will take care of everything in our lives!

"31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." (Romans 8: 31-34)