Friday, September 28, 2012

DON'T DO THAT! (BUT IF YOU DO)

The Apostle Paul and I have some questions for a particular somebody.  Paul had the questions for the Believers in Galatia and now I submit them to the Believers who will read this blog seriously.

"I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" (Galatians 3:2-3)

After doing something for so long or behaving in a certain way for possibly a lifetime, it is extremely challenging to completely lay that habit or behavior or lifestyle down even if it is for something better.  I know, I have been there and done that and have the t-shirt.  I eventually saw the errors of my ways because I got hurt or I hurt others.  It is too bad it had to come to damage control to get me to STOP operating in the wrong mode.  I imagine it is that way for many of us.  Again, Paul writes, but this time to the Believers in Rome -

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. (Romans 7:15-19)

So, Paul fully understood this dilemma.  However, I believe there is something on a more serious level that Paul is trying to communicate to the Galatian believers.  Yes, in the letter to Rome Paul confesses he does not understand his actions sometimes and to me this speaks of daily struggles and temptations to overcome.  But the grave concern Paul has toward Galatia seems to be a matter of salvation.

If you will observe, Paul asks, "Did you receive the Spirit by...." and "After beginning with Spirit, are you now....".  These first parts to the questions allude to the fact that the Galatian believers at one time accepted by faith the message of salvation through Christ Jesus.  Now, evidently, the Galatian believers had received some bad teaching that placed them back in the shackles of The Law (or was threatening to) - "are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?"  

It is commonly accepted that individuals called "Judaizers" visited these believers after Paul's ministry and corrupted their new found faith.  The "Judaizers" that were undermining what God had done through Paul in Galatia were placing the Galatian believers back under condemnation because of their own pride (Romans 8:1).  By losing their congregation to God's Grace, the Pharisees and Sadducees did not have their Law and their supposed perfectionism to lord over the populace (like Matthew 20:25).  So, they go behind Paul at Galatia and say something like, "Is that what Paul said to believe now?  Well, if you want to be a true and complete Christian then you need to be sure to follow The Law."  Can't you just hear the voice of the serpent (from the Garden Scene) in these words?  Whatever the persuasion, it was crafty and successful enough for Paul to pen Galatians 3:2-3.

There are no self works, no deeds required to have a right relationship with God and gain access to heaven.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--  not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
God has provided the access, the way as a gift to us.  The only Holy Instructions are to verbally accept your gift and from your heart activate your faith - "believe".

"That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)

The Encouragement:  No matter where you are in you Faith Journey with God, it is always good to pause and take inventory and/or reflect.  Mentally, physically, and especially spiritually we acquire a lot of junk we do not need.  Sometimes all the acquisitions can lead to a back-slidden lifestyle.  If you have returned to old ways (before knowing Christ) like these Galatian believers did, I encourage you with the words of Jesus through John -

"You have forsaken your first love.  Remember the height from which you have fallen!  Repent and do the things you did at first." (Revelation 2:4)

Remember your first love, your true first love - God - and His meeting with you on your day of salvation, then you and God take it from that memory forward.

First Love by Petra

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

OH, HOW THE TUMBLERS FELL!

Forgive me if you have heard the following analogy before, but I am now in Galatians (in my read through of the Bible) and as I was pausing to soak in what I had just read, the Holy Spirit dropped this into my heart, mind, and spirit -

Imagine a door.  On the other side of this door there is Father God.  No one can go over, under, or around the door.  The door has a lock and the door is in fact...locked.  This door has only one key that will open it.  You and I have tried many other keys, made by us, to unlock the door, but with no success.  However, there is one key that has been known to unlock the door if we would just set our set of keys down, recognize the one true key, and use it by activating our faith in Father God's Son, Jesus Christ.

You see The Door that separates Father God from man represents our fallen/sinful relationship with God. 

The Lock on The Door has many tumblers inside it and will only match the grooves of one key.  The Lock and it's many Tumblers represent all the requirements of The Law which had to be met for the redemption of humanity's relationship to God.

The One Key is Jesus.  He prophetically fulfilled every letter of The Law with His life, death, and resurrection - therefore, turning the key and swinging wide the Door-Way of Heaven, covered in the Lamb's sacrificial blood - providing the open way back to a redeemed relationship with Father God!

Can you hear the click, click, click of the key as it was inserted in the lock and law after law was fulfilled by Christ?  Praise you Lord for being The Key to my Redemption and saving me from the curse of The Law!   

PHRASEOLOGY

There is a phrase I have encountered in the Scriptures lately that grabs my attention every time I read it.  In the search engine on Crosswalk.com the phrase appears 500 times in the Bible.  I guess I would run across it sooner or later, eh? (haha).  This phrase is comprised of only two words but what usually follows them is the take-away of the verse.  The phrase is "so that...".

This phrase is a descriptive phrase.  For instance, consider Matthew 8:24...
"Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat."
We know from reading the verse that the storm that came upon the lake was a "furious" one, but the qualifier for the situation being described was - it was so "furious" that "waves swept over the boat".  Again, the key to this verse comes after the "so that".  In fact, it is the next sentence - "But Jesus was sleeping."  And from there you can start a sermon/teaching.

This phrase leads you to the right perspective and call to action.  My reading through the Bible has landed me in 2 Corinthians lately.  Here are some verses that provide perspective then call us to move on that perspective!

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." (2 Corinthians 9:8)

"You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion," (2 Corinthians 9:11)

In the first verse God pours into us comfort so we can pour out comfort to others in their time of need.  In the second verse, God is our Great Provider, graciously enabling us to "abound in every good work".  Finally, in the third verse, Paul prophetically speaks over the believers of the church in Corinth and sets up a standard that should be still followed today - from your overabundance, in EVERY AREA (not just monetary) bless others less fortunate.  

Verses like these and a phrase like "so that" alludes to a Holy Cycle and requires that we begin by listening to God.  It is hard to listen to God when all you hear is the noise around you.  Put another way, it is hard to pour into an already full vessel.  In order to be a comfort to others, a good worker, and generous at every opportunity - we first must empty ourselves.  After we are empty God can then fill us with His comfort, His standards of good work, and His timing for the next opportunity.  However, in order for us to empty ourselves so He can pour into us and then us to others - believers must have Personal Time, alone, one-on-one, with Father God.  It is not only good to have this time for equipping your mind and soul, but the Personal Time is great for your own relationship with God So That you may continue to mature in Christ.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

THE VEIL


Have you ever put up a "wall" or "disguise" so as to "run" avoidance from someone or something. I am guilty and have seen this in other people. With some people I have found it is a self-defense mechanism. Something threatens them or makes them uncomfortable and they retreat behind......."The Veil".

Father God established a Veil with His people.  However, He was not threatened or acting in self-defense. Humanity's distrust and disobedience toward God created the need for this Veil. Father God will not tolerate sin in His immediate presence, so He banished Lucifer and kept humanity from The Tree of Life by placing Cherubim in the path with a flaming sword guarding the way back after The Fall (Genesis 3) - a type of Veil.

Further on in history, the relationship between God and His people required that God place a Veil in the design of The Tabernacle of Moses and later Solomon's Temple. The Veil was the major divider between two sections, the most inner and most respected area called The Holy of Holies and the Holy Place located right outside the curtain. This was to remind the people of the broken relationship with God and His Holiness.

I have awesome news!  The Veil has been torn in two!  Split right down the middle.  How?  Only through and at the moment of the Sacrifice of Father God's Word made flesh - Jesus Christ.

  • "And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom." (Matthew 27:50-51)  

Therefore, the Good News is God's Holy, immediate presence can now be Directly Accessed!  Through Jesus as our Intercessor, our Atoning Sacrifice, believers can reverently speak to Father God or pray directly.  No bishop, no cardinal, no priest, no pope needed to pray for you. Just you, Jesus, The Father and His Holy Spirit. The Veil was torn for - "whosoever believes" - and the benefit is that believers - "shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16)!

Now, with that great news I speak to the Believers in Christ.  Do you have a "Veil" covering up who you are in God?  I encourage you, if you have a Veil - with God's help, remove it.  The dependencies a person has in his/her life apart from God are a heavy determining factor in the make-up of one's Veil. Things like insecurities, bad habits, misconceptions can "thicken" up a Veil in a hurry. It is a healthy thing to have a balanced dose of skepticism and guardedness, but to hide behind these things all the time is not healthy, especially as a Christian.

I believe that God has a plan for every one of us - individually and corporately. As His Body or Ambassadors, everyone's plan is to influence the lives of those around them for the Glory of God. Some are "planters".  Others are "caretakers".  But God is the molder, shaper, sustainer, and nutrients of all that is done. (My paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 3:6)  This influence can manifest itself in the form of a simple kindness like taking someone out to lunch or helping them move. Or our influence can reveal itself by being there for someone as they go through a divorce or when someone finally makes the decision to give their heart to The Lord. It requires genuine, authentic involvement in someone's life with your own Veil discarded so that your extension of friendship, brothership, or sistership is taken sincerely.

We all are called to share the Light, Jesus, with the world!  As far as I can tell, nowhere does it say in Scripture that a certain person like a Pastor, Elder, Usher, or church staff has the exclusive responsibility for sharing the Good News with everybody. No. In fact, 1 Peter 3:15 admonishes all believers -

  • "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,"  
And because Believers in Christ have the answer, we should not want to hide it in any way, shape, or form.

  • "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)

So, my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, I strongly encourage you - view yourself through God's eyes, through God's Word. Our Veil is the hindering force in this equation. The Holy Spirit said it so eloquently through Paul to the church in Corinth many years ago and it still applies today. Here is that Scriptural gem from The Lord -

  • "Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."  (2 Corinthians 3:12-18)

Therefore, if you have a Veil, counsel with The Lord for it to be lifted. David in Psalm 3:3 says that God is -  "My glory and the lifter up of my head."  And you know that if God is your glory and your lifter of your head, He can sure take care of that Veil and allow His Light to shine through you!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

ONE REASON FOR AMERICA'S DOWNFALL

I recently read an article entitled - "Systems, Not Sith: How Inter-service Rivalries Doomed the Galactic Empire".  As you can tell by the title, the content concerns a deeper look at the story lines in the movie/saga - Star Wars.

The article compares The Empire and its many different military divisions to the United States and its branches of military.  The author, Ben Adams, likens the weaknesses we see in the fictitious movie scenario to the real life events of the U.S. military.  Here are some of the contributions to the downfall of the Empire.  These may reflect on the U.S., so pay attention.

"Inter-service and intra-service rivalries are just an expression of the office politics that plague every large organization. The way that those systems are designed determine the effect of those rivalries on the organization’s effectiveness. The high-stakes of Imperial rivalries and lack of checks and balances in the Empire’s political system ensures that petty personal and inter-service politics would have dramatic negative effects on the overall effectiveness of the Imperial military. This resulted in myopic strategic thinking, shoddy acquisitions and ineffective tactical operations that combined to doom the Empire."

Mr. Adams proceeds to break down these thoughts of his - "strategic thinking", "shoddy acquisitions" and "ineffective tactical operations" - throughout the rest of the article.  However, I will supply the link at the bottom of this blog for your access to read the entire product.  Meanwhile, I will tell you that a major thought even though he may not have come right out and said it was - America will always have people growing in disgust at their government.  The rub comes with those that choose to go down a violent path for their so-called solution.  These people may get in touch with undesirables in other countries and as soldiers in our own military who have been treated badly, they offer to undermine some part of the equation by allowing an undesirable access (in many different fashions) to our military resources.  This is just one area that will degrade "The Shield" over the United States "Death Star".  Fighting among ourselves in the military from Private to the President is eating away at our unity.  Plus, not supplying the current troops appropriately (money, healthcare, and psychological services) and the vets respectfully, pulls us down even more.  There are many other cracks in the dam.

"The Emperor and Darth Vader enforce a system where only personal power and influence matter. Individual Admirals and Generals are shown early and often that to put any interest ahead of their own is a one-way ticket to force-choke town. When you demand nothing less than perfection, and enforce that demand with the threat of death, you are only inviting subordinates to lie to you. It’s why Storm Troopers can’t shoot straight OR find the droids they’re looking for; it’s why Super Star Destroyer can be taken down by a single fighter and why the most important defense shield in the Empire can be captured by a squad of soldiers and a bunch of Ewoks. Ultimately, it’s why the Empire fails."

Wow!  Who knew Star Wars could say so much?  But think about it.  Meanwhile, the link to the entire article is here - http://www.overthinkingit.com/2012/09/17/star-wars-empire-inter-service-rivalries/?page=all

Oh, and by the way....May The Forc.....Spirit Of The Living God Be With You!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A MENTAL IMAGE FOR YOU

Imagine this.......

"Just as there were many who were appalled at him-- his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness"--Isaiah 52:14  

Let us dissect what this means because most artistic renderings of the Crucifixion of Jesus do not come close to the Scriptural description of Jesus' appearance right before He was crucified on the cross.

His back was beaten, beard pulled out, face spat upon.  

  • "I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting." - Isaiah 50:6


Jesus was punched in the face and other places multiple times, mocked, insulted, stripped, flogged, and crowned with thorns.  



  • "When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck him in the face. "Is this the way you answer the high priest?" he demanded." - John 18:22


  • "Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him" - Matthew 26:67


  • "Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, "Prophesy!" And the guards took him and beat him." - Mark 14:65


  • "Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified." - Matthew 27:26  


  • "They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.  After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him." - Matthew 27:28-32



  • "All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: "He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him." (Psa 22:7,8)


  • "The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate."(Luke 23:10,11)


  • "Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!" In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, 'I am the Son of God.'" In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him." (Mat 27:39-44)


  • "Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, "So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!" In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe." Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him." (Mark 15:29-32)


  • "The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, "Hail, king of the Jews!" And they struck him in the face." (John 19:2,3) 


At times it was not just hands that were used to strike Jesus, it was a "staff", according to Mark 15:16-20.  

  • "The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, "Hail, king of the Jews!" Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him."


The flogging was not only a whipping but a brutalizing of the flesh with the Cat of Nine Tails.

From the movie "The Passion of the Christ"

The version of the Cat of Nine Tails the Romans used had metal shards, balls, or sharp blades of some sort stuck within the woven rope or leather.  This arrangement was so that when it struck the back or front of the victim it pulled the skin off and damaged the nerves when it was retrieved.  Jesus received forty lashes.

Now with the lack of sleep from the night before plus loss of blood and all the beatings and floggings and disfigurements, Jesus had to carry His own cross-beam.  For a while He managed but then His torture caught up to Him and the soldiers required a man named Simon to carry Jesus' cross-beam.

Crucified to a cross, Jesus was covered in lacerations, bruises, swellings, dirt, sweat, spit, splinters and blood all over.

  • "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing." (Psa 22:14-18)


Jesus was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was now upon him, and by his wounds we were healed. (Isaiah 53:5)  This, incredibly, was the will of God the Father who sent Him.  


  • "Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand." (Isa 53:10)  


It is here, naked with a crown of thorns on His head, disfigured beyond belief, and people still hurling insults and mockeries that the real pain comes.  The sin of the world, past, present, and future hangs as a cloak on Jesus.  Father God turns His head away from every sin represented on His Son's body, mind, and soul - Jesus, the Word of God, who was with Father God in eternal past, is now - Alone.


  • "About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mat 27:46) 


O How He Loves You And Me!










MY TESTIMONY

In the movie Shawshank Redemption, the character Andy says to his friend Red, "...the funny thing is - on the outside, I was an honest man, straight as an arrow. I had to come to prison to be a crook."  In my life the funny thing is - before accepting Christ, as my God, I was a regular kid, not too many problems. It seems I had to become a Christian to really experience difficulties.

These difficulties were mainly in the form of physical issues stretched out over the years since my decision to follow Christ in 1979.  Challenges like epilepsy, respiratory malfunction, mono, flu, third-degree ankle sprain, and both arms broke at the same time have come, gone, and come again. So, I have come to know this body as "fallen".  BUT GOD, has given me life, sustained my life, and promised me an eternal life in a New Body with Him one day (1 Corinthians 15:51-55).

Spiritually speaking I have always enjoyed the tremendous blessing of being brought up in the way I should go (Proverbs 22:6) by Christian parents.  I try my best to honor and remember my Christian heritage every day!

You have to go through test(s) to have a testimony.  Obviously I can share many stories of many different physical challenges in my life.  However, it has been the Christian foundation in my life that has kept me through everything.  Thank you Lord Jesus for your placement of my life in the family that I have... the provision you have provided me along my journey... and the protection in my life throughout.  Amen. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I KNOW WHERE I WOULD BE!

I have heard it said, "I don't know where I would be without the LORD?"  That is not true of me!  I know where I would be and what I would be doing.  I know about the lifestyle I would choose apart from God.  It would steal away years that could have been used for His cause.  I have heard testimonies concerning this life and am grateful to the LORD for His guidance and protection.  In addition, there have been several times lately that the LORD has shown me that there is even more growing to do.  At least I am aboard His ship.  I am glad I know God, His Son Jesus, and His Holy Spirit. More importantly I am ecstatic He knows me better than I know myself.

One of Christianity's largest icons, a man you could see growing in the faith, penned these words to the believers in Rome -

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. (Romans 7:15-19)

This is familiar to me.  So, when I read these words of Paul I am glad that I was not the only one who experienced these tendencies. 

We have assurances that if Jesus is not Master and Savior of our lives then we know  where our eternity stands - damned.  And on that road to the manifestation of that damnation there are enticements and wasteful lifestyles that attempt to fill a void that will never be satisfied.  If anybody's life is plugged into anything other than Jesus Christ then that person cannot and will not produce anything of eternal value for his/her life or the lives around them.

"Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." - John 15:4-5

I am extremely glad God promised me that, after I accepted Him as my Master and Savior, He would never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).  David confirmed God's presence especially in the difficult times of life by saying God -  "is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1).  In addition, I thank my God for His patience to be the ultimate potter and shape me and mold me more into His likeness every day because I am a Believer who is always under construction and in need of constant modifications and updates.  There is a song, performed by Higher Ground (I think) whose lyrics express my sentiments perfectly - "I'm not what I want to be, I'm not what I'm gonna be, but thank God I'm not what I was."

Friday, September 14, 2012

INTRIGUED BY TWO VERSES

  1. "...without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." - Hebrews 9:22
  2. "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." - 1 Corinthians 15:14
With these two verses I am reminded of the song "Jesus Paid It All".


Jesus Christ was not just rejected, associated with sorrows and familiar with suffering.  Jesus did not only take being despised and not esteemed - "He took up" - He voluntarily, in line with Father God's heart, decided to take upon Himself "our infirmities and carried our sorrows".  For all our wrongs and for all humanity - past, present, and future - He was "pierced".  Because we would never be able to measure up to The Standard - He was "crushed" for us.  The "punishment" He endured has the power to bring us "peace" now and forever!  Plus, the beating and scars He suffered can be claimed for healing by His believers. [My paraphrase of Isaiah 53:3-5]   

Then, even after all the beating Jesus took before The Cross and His loss of blood before Calvary - Jesus still had blood He shed for us.  "...one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water." - John 19:34  For Scripture says, as I have quoted above, in Hebrews 9:22"...without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."

Our fallen relationship with God was redeemed by Christ's death.  However, if Jesus did not overcome Hell, and if Jesus did not come back to life, and if Jesus did not in full health walk out of the grave - my faith and the faith of all of Christiandom would be useless!  Allow me to quote 1 Corinthians 15:14 once more - "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."  But on the third day - He Arose! The grave is empty!  No other has loved me like Jesus Christ.  There is hope!  His name is Jesus and that Hope is for "who-so-ever believes" in Jesus Christ and His eternal, sacrificial love gift. (John 3:16)

I conclude with one last song....



Wednesday, September 12, 2012

WHAT JESUS SAID HE CAME TO DO - Pt. 2 of 2

In my earlier blog I had trouble with two verses (still reasons Jesus came).  These two verses have required me to do a little more research - John 9:39 and John 12:47.  In the first reference Jesus says, "For judgment I have come into this world."  Then only three chapters later Jesus says,   "'As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.'" So, which is it - did Jesus come to judge the world or not?

Come to find out - the word "judge" or "judgment" has four or five words in the original Greek that one can select from to use.  The particular word used in the first instance (John 9:39) is kree'mah or krima.  The definitions I encountered and the way they were presented to me led me to believe that this word "judgment" means Jesus came to render a divinely private judgment and sentence from Father God.

The second usage (John 12:47) sees the Greek word kree'no or krino and infers that Jesus Did Not come to discriminate between good and evil or pass a condemning judgment on the world.  This lines up with the teaching in John 3:18.  Here Christ tells us the world is condemned already.

"Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son."

So, combining the two definitions together, I get that Christ Did come to render judgment, but not a discriminate and condemning judgment upon the world for it was already judged due to Original Sin.  Original Sin is the Sinful state we are all born into.  "...every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood." (Genesis 8:21)  It is the broken relationship between humanity and God with heavy tendencies to rebel against God.  This original sinful state was met with a judgment in the beginning - death (spiritually and physically) (Romans 6:23).  Therefore, Jesus does not judge those who choose not to follow His instructions or "hear my words but do not keep them".  Why would Jesus need to judge someone on that issue twice?

So what is Jesus judging?  In my view it is for judgment's sake that Christ came.

It was Father God who spelled out what it was going to take to make things right with Him in the beginning - blood sacrifice - "...without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." (Hebrews 9:22)  This sacrificial system started as early as Abel - "But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock."  – Gen. 4:4.  Then it continued with Noah - "Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it." – Gen. 8:20 - and finally saw the Levitical Priesthood be given the rules and regulations for entering God's presence and atoning for the nation's sins as well as the the priest's own sins - Leviticus 16.  Also observed along the way is the foreshadowing of Christ's sacrifice with God's testing of Abraham (not sparing his only son Isaac - Genesis 22:1-19) and the Passover Lamb example of Exodus 12:1-30.

Then Jesus Christ came and this is how Hebrews explains His visitation for "judgment's sake".

"When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!" - 9:11-14

"For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people;" - 9:25-28

Another Judgment that I view at The Cross was the judgment against Satan.  This judgment was devastating and will be played out or manifested in the last days.  Christ did not come to save any of the angelic host.  The Lord's ministry was directed toward humanity.  When the angels fell, their fall was final.  Three Scriptures to consider here are 2 Corinthians 4:41 John 3:8 and Matthew 4:8-9.

  • "...in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn [upon them]." (American Standard Version) (2 Corinthians 4:4)

  • "...the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work." (1 John 3:8)

  • "...the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 'All this I will give you,' he said, 'if you will bow down and worship me.'" (Matthew 4:8-9)

In the first Scripture we see that Satan was deemed the god of this world or age.  Continuing on in 1 John we are told that the devil started it and has kept sinning ever since the beginning.  However, the Son of God came on the scene "to destroy the devil's work" and did with His own ministry, sacrifice, and victory over death, hell, and the grave.  But before Christ's ministry really got started, Satan tested Jesus with a few temptations including the memory of a time when "all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor" must have been given to the care of Satan.  Because if it was not in his care he, Satan, would not be able to give it  or offer it (the kingdoms and their splendor) to Jesus.  And as you can see, all Satan wanted was the Word of God in flesh to bow His knee and worship something that Jesus created.  Then all that was given to him would be given back to Christ?  Yeah, right!  Remember, Satan is also called The Father of Lies (there is no truth found in his existence).

The Cross spoiled all plans the Evil One had for humanity.  It does not mean that Satan will stop trying to pull you down and away from God.  No!  By all means possible he is always "prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)  BUT praise God from whom all blessings flow...and that ultimate blessing from Father God to us and for us - Jesus Christ!  To view all the agenda items that Jesus said Himself that He came to do is awesome!  In addition, to attempt to grasp the price that was paid for "Judgment's Sake" and ponder about Father God manifesting His own Word in flesh, Jesus, because I was the target of His affections is mind-blowing and heart-blowing.  Again, I surrender whatever plans I have to God and accept His will and plan for my life through Christ Jesus - Amen.         

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

WHAT JESUS SAID HE CAME TO DO - Pt. 1

From a much earlier blog in my history of writing blogs I touched on the topic of - What did Jesus say He came to do? (Blog Title: "What He Said About His Visit").  Here is an expanded version of that research.

Jesus said He came to bring division.
  • "Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division." - Luke 12:51
Jesus said He came to do the will of The One who sent Him.
  • "'For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.'" - John 6:38
Jesus said He came to claim lives that He would in turn not lose any that were given to Him.
  • "...that I shall lose none of all that he has given me..." - John 6:39
Jesus said He came to make a way to raise them up on the last day.
  • "...but raise them up at the last day." - John 6:39
Jesus said He came to provide eternal life.  You just have to trust in Him and believe in His offering of salvation.
  • "For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life..." - John 6:40
Jesus said He came to fulfill prophecy.
  • "'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.'" - Matthew 5:17
Jesus said He came to make us "fishers of men".  Men and women who are involved in the lives of other men and women so as to attractively draw them into the Kingdom of God through belief in Christ Jesus' sacrifice.
  • "'Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men.'" - Matthew 4:19
Jesus said He came to seek and draw the sinners unto Himself.
  • "'For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'" - Matthew 9:13
Jesus said He came to be a disturbance.
  • "'Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.'" - Matthew 10:34
Jesus continued on this line of disturbance and division by saying His coming would create friction in the family.
  • "'For I have come to turn " 'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law--'" - Matthew 10:35
Jesus said He came to be a servant.
  • "...just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." - Matthew 20:28
Jesus said He came "to preach the good news".  
  • "Jesus replied, 'Let us go somewhere else--to the nearby villages--so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.'" - Mark 1:38
Jesus said He came "to redeem His people".
  • "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people." - Luke 1:68
The people declared that Jesus came as a great Godly prophet to "help His people".
  • "They were all filled with awe and praised God. "A great prophet has appeared among us," they said. "God has come to help his people." - Luke 7:16
Jesus said He came to bring salvation.
  • "Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham." - Luke 19:9
Jesus was confirmed as an awesome teacher.
  • "He came to Jesus at night and said, 'Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.'" - John 3:2
Jesus was confirmed by the people and fulfilled the prophecy concerning The Great Prophet to come into the world.
  • "After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, 'Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.'" - John 6:14
Jesus said He came to provide abundant life or a fulfilled lifestyle.
  • "'The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.'" - John 10:10
Jesus said He also came to provide, as Himself, the world a light.  
  • "I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness." - John 12:46
Jesus said He came to spoil the plans and accomplishments of the devil.  And He did.
  • "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work." - 1 John 3:8

Friday, September 7, 2012

NO PRIVACY

For many who do not believe in the Christian God there is an acceptance of some sort of universal force that permeates and guides the cosmos.  As a Christian, I believe that Father God, by the Holy Spirit is this omnipresent presence. I believe this because of what many Scriptures say concerning God's ever-present presence. So, to start things off, here is what John 4:24 and Ephesians 4:6 say -


  • "God is spirit..." (John 4:24)



  • "There is one body and one Spirit - just as you were called to one hope when you were called - one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Ephesians 4:6)


Whether I am in a valley of my life or on a mountaintop, I know my God sees me. Whether I am in public or private, hidden in the most remote place on the planet or in the limelight of the world, God sees me. I know this because God says in Proverbs 15:3 -


  • "The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good."


But my God promises He does more than just see me wherever I am. God promises He is alongside of believers holding our hand as a Father would in times when we need comforting. David says the following -


  • "Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand." (Psalm 73:23)


God promises to be help in trouble, a refuge and source of strength to rely on and tap from when needed. Again David sings -


  • "God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1)


God has promised No Privacy. Everything lies exposed before God. Nothing takes Him by surprise.


  • "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." (Hebrews 4:13)


As a believer in Christ you Really have a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24) when God promises -


  • "'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'" (Hebrews 13:5)



  • "'And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'" (Matthew 28:20)


This truth is extremely comforting to me.  It speaks to me that Since He never leaves me and will never forsake me, I have total access to His presence and His ear - should I desire to speak up verbally or in my mind or in my heart.  So, Hebrews 4:15-16 really comes to life now as it says,

  • "we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
My favorite Psalm (the whole chapter) is Psalm 139.  I love for people to ask me to read this out loud and always have a hard time finishing it Without pausing to sob some.  Most of this Psalm applies here, but I will just share the following with you.


  • "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,  even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you."  (Psalm 139:7-12) 

As I have stated in many ways with many supporting Scriptures above - God is everywhere and available to the Believer at all times.  In addition, there is a time when God's presence is magnified.  This special time, where people can sense a strong, heavy presence of the Lord in their company comes from Matthew 18:20.


  • "'For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.'" (KJV)

The context of this verse stems from decision making.  So, anytime there is a need with a decision behind it and two or more are required to come to a consensus, Jesus says, if you gather in my name, I will supernaturally be in your group also - available to provide counsel.  Scriptures that support a need for coming together for decision-making and having witnesses thereof are - Deut. 17:6; Deut. 19:15; Matt. 18:16; 2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Tim. 5:19; and Hebrews 10:28.  

In the past I had the wrong thinking.  I used to think if I worked-up enough emotion, enough positive, spiritual, Christian thoughts that God's Glory would descend.  I also, thought that there were things I could do to stir the Holy Spirit or nudge Him with others to make Himself known.  As I have pointed out above, God is already there!  He especially attends the meeting when you gather together in His Name!  Otherwise your meeting is just a meeting.  However, with a group united in His Name and of the same mind - that group can be edified and be a blessing when they disperse.  

Knowing God is there already is take-away point number one.
Wanting a more personal interaction with the Creator by gathering together in His Name (inviting/welcoming His presence) is take-away point number two.
Take-away point number three is freedom from bondage and empowerment or equipping by the Holy Spirit all come during one thing - Praise or Rejoicing in His Presence!  I Love How Carman puts it (and would love to sing this for my church some day) - 

"Now God was putting in operation a principle of war
Setting at our disposal weaponry that drops demons to the floor
Something with tremendous power that assassinates fear and doubt
It's the high praises of victory unleashed by a shout
When David played his songs of praise, demons fled from Saul
As Paul and Silas worshiped God, the chains began to fall
It lifts us above the circumstance and lets God's power flow
The shout of victory binds the devil with chains that won't let go" 
(Jericho:  The Shout of Victory)

God works things out in our lives when we choose to rejoice in Him and about Him - past, present, and future.  He is always there.  Always accessible.  Always willing.  And I Love Him for it!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

THE PLAN

"But what does it all mean?" asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer.
"It means," said Aslan, "that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards." (From the book - The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe)


You have heard from the book of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe - now hear from a few other books.

1 Peter 1:20 - "He [Jesus] was chosen before the creation of the world,..."

Revelation 13:8 - "...the lamb that was slain from the creation of the world."

Ephesians 1:4 - "For he [Father God] chose us in him [Christ Jesus] before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight."

 Love is not magic.  Love was the made-up mind of The God from everlasting to everlasting (Nehemiah 9:5; Psalm 90:2; Habakkuk 1:12).  In three places, (Revelation 1:8, 21:6, and 22:13) God refers to Himself as the Alpha and Omega, the one who is the beginning and who is the end.  He is before all, through it all, at the end of it all, and beyond it all.  However, before the creation of the world, God had The perfect sacrifice in mind to display His perfect love - The Logos, His Word.

Father God's Word has always been with Him.  For "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning." (John 1:1-2)  The Father, Word, and Spirit of God all live in harmony within the mind and heart of Father God.  Anytime Father God speaks, God's Word performs Father God's thoughts perfectly as He, The Word,  is uttered from God the Father's lips (i.e. - "Let there be light and there was light..." - Genesis 1:3) -  "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." (John 1:3).

However, according to the Scriptures above (1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8; Ephesians 1:4) there must have come a time before the creation of the "world" or in the Greek, Kosmos (ordered systems, solar system, universe, society, governments, kingdoms, etc..) when Father God's thoughts turned to The Plan.  A design, that when pictured in God's mind saw His Word becoming flesh, wounds appearing upon His body, nail scars emerging on His hands and feet, grooves on His brow from the Crown of Thorns, and the divot of flesh from His pierced side.

Father God decided before creating that His Word would become His creation - human, Yeshua (Jesus).  The Word (Jesus) was chosen before the creation of the world (and IMHO, before the creation of the Angels and their hierarchy) as His vessel of salvation (1 Peter 1:20).  All of humanity was who Father God designated as those "he chose in Him [Christ Jesus] before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight." (Ephesians 1:4) The Choice to accept Him (Jesus) as God's sacrificial gift of restoration was placed in our hands.  Father God, The Word, and The Holy Spirit all viewed the idea of Yeshua (Jesus) defeating Satan before there even was a Lucifer or at least a created world by the imagery of a slain lamb in the mind of God (Revelation 13:8).

Father God's thoughts of love and sacrifice became reality and manifested in the man Yeshua or translated for today - Jesus.  The Old Testament Law (Law of Moses) was created to show the severity of our condition.  However, Christ came as that ultimate, perfect sacrifice which would usher all who believe in God's gift into a restored relationship by grace through faith.  "For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself." - Hebrews 9:24-26

You see Father God thought everything through - creation, salvation, eternity, everything - "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' "Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. - Luke 14:28:33  This says Father God "sat down", considered the cost, and decided the plan to give up everything (His Word made flesh or human) to display the extent of His love was worth it all.  Verse 33 says if you are not willing to "give up everything" as the Savior has then Christ says to that person "he cannot be my disciple".  With that kind of God - sacrificial love, even of His own Word or Son -  why not surrender everything to God by believing in Christ and His free gift of salvation?  The benefits are eternal and there are No Disadvantages to His Design - The Plan!