Archives For Jesus

I’m going to be interested in receiving feedback on this post. I’ve not read of this anywhere else but simply God impressing this on my heart. So please, let me know what you think.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2 ESV)

From my understanding of Genesis 1, God creates the heavens and the earth at an unknown time before Genesis 1:3 begins. But before God makes light and life, earth was chaotic, dark, and empty. It had no purpose and could not sustain life.

In God’s judgment upon Israel, the prophet Jeremiah declares this:

“For my people are foolish;
they know me not;
they are stupid children;
they have no understanding.
They are ‘wise’—in doing evil!
But how to do good they know not.”
I looked on the earth, and behold, it was without form and void;
and to the heavens, and they had no light.
I looked on the mountains, and behold, they were quaking,
and all the hills moved to and fro.
I looked, and behold, there was no man,
and all the birds of the air had fled.
I looked, and behold, the fruitful land was a desert,
and all its cities were laid in ruins
before the Lord, before his fierce anger.

Notice that the Bible illustrates sin and death by referring to the heavens and earth of Genesis 1:1-2.

But we see the Spirit of God hovering or moving above this formless and chaotic water. This to me is huge proof that God already had planned redemption for mankind long before he declared “Let there be light.”

Then out of this chaotic creation, God speaks into it and light shines forth, life springs up.

Eventually, mankind became so corrupt and filled with violence and every intention of the thoughts of their hearts were evil continually, that God decided to put an end to them. He would destroy the earth with a cataclysmic flood.

Noah and his family are saved by the ark. And after the earth was uprooted by water, everything tossed and turned, and all living creatures outside the ark destroyed, the storm ceased and the waters began to recede.

Noah eventually released a dove who soared over the waters and returned to him with an olive leaf. A sign of life and a sign of peace from judgement.

Though God had not obliterated mankind completely in his grace and long-suffering, we still continued to rebel against his authority. But instead of destroying the world once again, he comes to us as a man named Jesus.

As Jesus begins his ministry, he is baptized by John the Baptist. As the Son of God is raised from the water, this is recorded:

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Jesus was born into a world of darkness and chaos.

The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble. (Proverbs 4:19 ESV)

The Spirit (dove) moved above the waters of darkness and descended on the Christ who is called the Light of the world, the Life, and the Prince of Peace.

In these instances, the Spirit is seen moving above chaos and darkness as a promise of life and light to come. The ultimate source of light and life being the person of Jesus Christ in whom we find eternal life and light.

The accounts in Genesis, though real events, being prophecy, and the account in Matthew as the reality.

As the Spirit moves in the first book of the Old Testament, Jesus declares, “Let there be light.”
As the Spirit moves in the first book of the New Testament, the Father declares, “This is my beloved Son.”

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Jacob loved Rachel.

Not Leah.

Though tricked in to marrying Rachel’s older sister, his feelings never changed toward this woman whose eyes were weak. She was rejected by her husband for her beautiful, younger sister.

But she desired nothing more than to be desired. Leah passionately wanted her husband to look at her with the same gleam as he always did with Rachel. To be tied to a man that had never wanted her, she lived married to him, and yet alone.

So when God opened her womb, and not her sister’s, she believed this would change his feelings toward her. The greatest pride for a woman were children and she was able to give this to Jacob.

Reuben…

then Simeon…

then Levi.file000456350909

Each bore names as an eternal testimony to her inward grief and longing to be loved.

And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me. She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the LORD has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also. And she called his name Simeon. ~Genesis 29:32-33

When Levi was born she was confident that with these three children, Jacob would be attached to her, thus she named the third Levi, meaning “attached”.

But sadly, it was never meant to be. Jacob only had eyes for the younger, and the older died having never been loved by her husband.

Levi’s descendants would be chosen by God to be the nation’s priests. They would have no inheritance but God and live solely to intercede on the behalf of their brothers. This tribe would live to offer sacrifices, pray, and seek redemption for their people.

In fulfillment of his name, Levi lived to “attach” Israel to God. But their labor would be in vain.

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. ~Romans 3:20

Ancient Israel depended on the Law of Moses to attach them to God, to make them right before their Creator. Our contemporary society does the same thing. Baptism, service, kindness, church attendance and more are highly depended on to grant us passage into Paradise.

But just as Levi failed, so does our vain attempts to please the Holy.

But Jesus…

Jesus is our Great High Priest, not after the order of Levi, but Melchizedek, the King of Righteousness. Jesus’ priesthood reigns forever and will continually intercede for us until our day of redemption. His sacrifice that he offered is once and for all valid and will erase all sins from those who enter in by faith.

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. ~Hebrews 10:12-14

Leah labored in vain. Levi labored in vain. Jesus labored once and for all with eternal victory and success. If we labor so to attach ourselves to our husband, Jesus Christ, we too will fail. The only way to enter in to a relationship with our God is to attach ourselves to Jesus’ satisfying work by believing in His Name.

Jesus died for our sins.

Yes. Absolutely yes.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.
1 Corinthians 15:3

This is the Sunday morning message, the message every sinner needs to hear. That the penalty of their sin was paid for by the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. That he who knew no sin became sin on our behalf. This truth has set me free from the penalty and p0wer of sin and reconciled me to my God.

But is this the only reason?

Jesus prayed in John 16, “I glorified you (the Father) on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.”

Everything Jesus does, is in accordance with the will of the Father. The Son is the Word, that spoke all things into being. He is also Emmanuel, God with us. God Himself condescended to this planet, was born in the flesh, and lived among his creation. This was the Father’s plan all along. From Abraham, to Moses, to David, and the prophets, God was orchestrating events to lead up to the first advent of his Son.

Why? Because man was sinful, separated from him, and the only way reconciliation was possible was if God himself took matters into his own hands, and won the victory for them.

And yet, while Jesus hung lifeless on the cross, another victory was accomplished.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Romans 3:23-26

The first part of this passage declares what I’ve already explained. All people are sinners because they are descended from the first man, Adam, and his sin is transferred to every person born. Jesus died to justify (declare sinners righteous), and this salvation is a gift that is received by faith. Jesus removed God’s wrath from us and gave us grace.

But this passage also describes Jesus as being put forward (displayed publicly) for all to see. His death was to be public because one other declaration had to be made known. That God is just and holy.

In God’s divine forbearance (patience), he allowed mankind to live despite their sin. The wages of sin is death, so any life after sin is a gift of grace from God. He had set up a sacrificial system called the Law of Moses which covered sin, but as we know, never was able to forgive them.

If Jesus had never died on the cross for our sins, we would still be in them, and God would be unjust and unholy. His justice demands punishment for sin, unrighteousness, and godlessness. But throughout the Old Testament, God simply passed over sin, never punishing it as it deserved.

The Jews in Ezra’s time realized this as they mourned over their disobedience to God’s Word.

And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, seeing that you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserved-”
 Ezra 9:13

The wrath of God continued to increase throughout the generations of men who lived in sin and rebellion. But on the cross, the entire cup of wrath was poured out on the Father’s beloved Son. His justice was served in it’s entirety upon the one righteous man that ever walked the earth.

And for all to see, God was seen as he truly is: holy, just, and righteous. We can worship him for God is never changing. And although for years, he looked unfaithful to his promises and justice, his plan was sure. That justice would be served, but not in the way anybody would have expected.

Now we can be declared righteous simply by placing our faith in the person and work of Jesus with full assurance that our God is righteous and faithful.

So, may we be careful in singing lyrics such as, “He took the fall, and thought of me, above all.”

I will argue that Jesus died for his Father’s glory and honor above all.

Our Self-Made Famines

November 12, 2015 — Leave a comment

During my three years of Bible school, I was saturated with the Word of God. Papers, tests, and assignments kept me delving into the Scriptures. God’s words were soaking into my every being. Slowly I was becoming dependent.

Yet I didn’t realize it until spring break of 2005.

The ensemble group I was a member of toured for a week from church to church. We would sing once or twice a day, sleeping in the houses of the church members as we traveled. In the busyness of it all, I neglected to read. I had reasons: car sickness in the van, exhaustion, and the obligation to talk with the Christians we met on the way.

One afternoon, again in the van for another long stretch of highway, my spiritual stomach began to growl. I knew intellectually that the Bible was our food. Jesus had compared the manna God had provided to the Israelites in the wilderness to his very words. They’d eaten the manna, but were very shortly, hungry again. But Jesus offered Living Bread that would forever quench their hunger.

In that moment, I understood. I suffered through the next performance anticipating getting away somehow from the crowds and the noise, and settle down with my Bible, and partake in a satisfying meal.

Every person is hungry but few find satisfaction. For some, they have no access to the God’s words of life. But many simply refuse to read. Bibles pile up on their shelves but their pages never see the light of day.

The Jews were condemned in Romans 2-3. Paul explains they are without excuse because they’ve been given every advantage. They had the precious privilege of receiving and being entrusted with the oracles of God. God spoke to them and yet they continued to ignore. They turned a deaf ear to the resonating thunder of the Lord’s voice. God was long-suffering but eventually had had enough.

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “when I will send a famine on the land-
not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.”
Amos 8:11

Discontentment and dissatisfaction plague our world in ways natural famines have not. Mainly, because it goes undetected. All people hunger for something, they just can’t find what fills that void that haunts their every day. And as we search in other places, and rely on other things to satisfy, we are creating our own famine. The place that lacks the words of God is a dry and weary land.

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.”

Jesus plainly said that if we want happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment, it can only be found in him. Jesus is the answer to our longings. And his Word is where he is revealed. We need food and water to survive but God has called us to a life of abundance, not one of survival. And it requires God’s words.

And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Deuteronomy 8:3

Is your life satisfying? Truly satisfying? Can you look at where you are and what you are doing and say, “I’m happy. All is well.” If our satisfaction or happiness is resting in people, places, or things, what if they were taken away? Would you still be happy? Would you still have confidence that life is good?

Jesus is the only faithful One. He alone never changes. And if our happiness is founded in him and his words, no matter what life becomes, our contentment remains. We are unshakeable because the Rock we built our life upon never moves.

Let every one of us seek Christ alone until we can honestly repeat the words of Job:

I have not departed from the commandment of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.
Job 23:12

Trapped within mortal reason and understanding, we are often left clueless to God’s ways. Our vision is limited to the present moment and how God will keep his promises are beyond us. But that should never deter us from trusting Him. How God fulfilled the Davidic Covenant is a great example that God will do what He’s said He will do no matter the impossibilities.

In 2 Samuel 7 God gives one of the greatest covenants in Scripture. He promised to King David that his son, Solomon, would take the throne after him and build the temple of God. But even greater than that, God declared three times that his throne would be established forever.

And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.
2 Samuel 7:16

But Solomon fell in love with his wealth, but worse, with the foreign gods of his foreign wives. The Bible says King Solomon chased after these gods. A sad statement reads, So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and did not wholly follow the LORD, as David his father had done. (1 Kings 11:6) And God seems to go back on His promise with his discipline of the ungodly king.

Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, ‘Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son.”
1 Kings 11:11-12

And God did just that. Judah’s second to last king only did evil in the sight of the LORD as had many of his predecessors. And with King Jehoiachin, God fulfilled his promise to Solomon. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God declared that this was the end. The man was written down as childless and none of his offspring would succeed him on the throne. The royal line of Israel had ended. The signet ring was removed and the nation was left without a kingdom.

How can this be? The throne was to be sure forever. But the Davidic Covenant could never be fulfilled with sinful man. Only one could be the answer. The prophet Isaiah was given the solution to this dilemma.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Then in comes Zerubbabel. After release from captivity, he is governor of the devastated city of Jerusalem. He was the natural choice for leader being a son of David, but not through Solomon, but David’s son, Nathan. The prophet Haggai, through the Holy Spirit, declared Zerubbabel would be the signet ring. The royal line would continue through him and the promised King would come through his bloodline.

Jesus is born of a virgin, the only human to be born from only one bloodline. His mother was Mary, daughter of Heli, a son in the line of none other than Zerubbabel himself. Jesus was born in the family of David. Mary married Joseph, a man in the line of Solomon. And Joseph adopted Jesus, now making the boy his legal son. The throne was to be through Solomon, and so being adopted into Joseph’s family, gave Jesus a legal right to the kingship.

God did the impossible. A miracle. Both promises fulfilled. Solomon’s direct descendants were cut off forever. And David’s throne would last forever. Because Jesus was born into both the direct lineage of David but also adopted into the legal line of royalty.

Don’t be discouraged by your present circumstances or the unknown. For God’s plans will not be thwarted. Even if it means pulling off the impossible, his promises will stand true. The good things He’s vowed to His children, He will give. The justice due to this world, He will see through.

Jesus is still Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Every Christmas, millions gather on Christmas Eve to remember the birth of Christ. They relax to the serene image of a child in straw, a gorgeous star lighting up the stable, and the harmonious choir of angels proclaiming the come Messiah. We rest in their message that Jesus has come to bring peace on Earth. We revel in the thought of the Prince of Peace removing the hatred and war, bringing end to violence, and initiating world peace.

But what if we are wrong? What if that isn’t why He came?

Here is the message of the angels as they sang before the fear-stricken shepherds:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.”

Matthew clearly states the reason for Jesus’ first coming. Chapter 9 states that Christ came to call sinners to repentance and then in chapter 18 says, “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.” Luke records Jesus reading from the prophet Isaiah as the prophecy’s fulfillment. He states it is He that has come to preach the gospel to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, give sight to the blind, and set at liberty those who are oppressed.

Wars. Murder. Oppression. These were only the symptoms of the true problem. It wasn’t that men were not at peace with one another. It was that men were not at peace with God Himself. Sin from the very beginning created a war far more intense than bombs, tanks, and guns. This was Creator vs. creation. God vs. man. Spirit of the Living One vs. the fallen spirits of mankind. And without reconciliation in this relationship, peace between man would not be possible. The sin in each human being striving for self-preservation and exaltation, would ultimately destroy all that God created as good.

So God came down. Emmanuel. With his eyes fixed on the cross, He became sin so we could know peace. A relationship with God that was once impossible, now open for all who’d believe in Him for the forgiveness of sins.

Jesus stated very clearly a reason that He did NOT come in Matthew 10:

Do not think that I have come to bring peace on Earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father,and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.

We are commanded to be at peace with all people if at all possible. But if the gospel is being readily preached in your life, the Spirit working through you as His servant, and you living in complete obedience, you will NOT be at peace with all people. Because of some people’s hatred towards Jesus Christ, they also hate those who follow Him.

Some will see our good works and come to know the Christ we serve as well. Then they too will experience the peace of no longer being at war with God.

But too often we don’t talk about God because we don’t want to hurt a relationship. We don’t want to sever family ties by being outspoken about our faith. But Jesus continued in Matthew 10 with this:

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

So, yes, we have peace. Jesus came and brought to us a spiritual peace unknown to us before. But what if Jesus is calling you and me to preach His truth even at risk of causing rifts in relationships?

Do we love Him more?

Why would a good and loving God send people to hell?

I think this a great question and worthy to be answered. For many, this is a major hang-up. In fact, many evangelical Christians have turned away from the idea of eternal torment because it doesn’t jive with their idea of who God is.  But the fact is, Jesus spoke on hell much more than he did on Heaven. So somehow there has to be reason.

The apostle John clearly states, “God is love.” The same man penned in the book of Revelation, “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

So either the Bible contradicts itself and cannot be considered truth OR there is a reasonable explanation. I vote for the latter. And here are my reasons why:

1) God does not SEND people to hell.

From the very beginning of the Bible in the book of Genesis, God has given mankind the ability to choose. And among those choices, whether to love or reject God. God is a relational being and desires us to love him in return. Not because we have to, but because we choose to.

But also from the beginning, mankind has chosen to follow its own wisdom and reasoning instead of the Lord’s directions. This created sin which always results in death. Death is separation from God. It’s our fault. Eternal death is hell. Sin has stained every life born into existence. Death has cast its ugly shadow over every soul.

BUT

“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.”

God wishes for none to die. (2 Peter 3:9) He desires a relationship with us. But that is impossible in our sinful condition. His absolute holiness and purity can’t dwell among sinners. (Psalm 5:4) So God became a man to die the death that we deserved. Jesus took upon himself our punishment so that we may gain his life. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.”

Jesus created a way back to Heaven. To continue to reject that means we remain in the death that we earned. So when one passes away and goes to eternal punishment, it’s not because God sent him, it’s because that person chose it. God is merely giving him what he wanted.

2) God is love AND just

Justice is as much of his character as love is. Unlike human judges who are swayed in numerous ways, God always judges fairly and accurately. “This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—Since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” (2 Thessalonians 1:5-9 ESV)

If God simply overlooked sin and allowed all to enter his kingdom, he would no longer be holy. His perfection rests upon his justice. He is loving enough to create an avenue for us to again have a relationship with him and spend eternity in his wondrous presence, but if that option is rejected, he is just and must see our punishment through.

3) Eternal hell is a result from God’s mercy

Yeah, you read that right. A person who has continually rejected God’s salvation would not want to be in Heaven forever. Exodus 33:20 reads, “But he (God) said, ‘You cannot see my face; for no man shall see me, and live.'” As a sinful human being, the most miserable place imaginable would be in the presence of the most holy and glorious God. His glory and utmost perfection would cause unimaginable anguish and suffering to one who was still dead in their sins. So much anguish that the torment he would face in hell apart from God would be a relief.

Even to those who have continually ignored the message preached from the heavens, the Word of God, the mouths of preachers, and actions of saints, God still shows mercy. Don’t be confused. Hell is a place of torment forever and ever, but the alternative would be far worse.

For the person who believes in Christ, he is made a new creation. The old is gone, the new has come. God’s perfection placed upon him. Now he can stand face to face with Jesus Christ because he is now a righteous being. True Christians are sinless in God’s eyes and will “become like him because we will see him as he is.”

So believe in Jesus Christ, friend. You will be granted life, peace, joy, and love. Hell is real and is your choice if you don’t heed the message. Don’t wait. Tomorrow may be too late.

churchsteeple

“I read in a newspaper article this week that the economy is doomed by 2020. If this is true than we better get on our knees. God wants us happy, but if this occurs, none of us will be. His will is for all of us to-“

Boom! Boom!

The lull of the sanctuary shattered. Two of the elders’ eyes shot open, and group of elderly women gasped. The intrusive banging on the front door paralyzed all inside the building.

“Is John Calvin here?” joked the youth minister in the back pew. Shallow, forced laughs followed. They barely cut the nervous silence.

Pastor Pete continued, “As I was saying, if we don’t pray for our nations economy, our happiness is in serious dan-”

Boom! Boom!

Every person now sat up straight. Mothers pulled their children closer into their side. The mounting tension brought the service to a halt.

Eventually, two deacons arose and made their way out of the room towards the front door. Fearful glances followed them.

“Don’t they know you can just come in?” one whispered.

Through the glass doors, they spotted a man, average height, dark hair, and sharp nose. His deep brown eyes watched them approach.

One of the deacons cracked open the door. “You need something, sir?”

The man smiled. “Yes. I was wondering if I could join you today?”

The door was opened completely, and they greeted him, shaking his hand. “Of course, sir. Everybody is welcome. There is no need to knock.”

They took his jacket and hung it up. “There was a reason,” the man chimed in. “I wasn’t welcome.”

coat

The deacons both smirked and motioned towards the congregation. “That’s crazy,” one of them chided. “We’ve never turned somebody away. What is your name, sir?”

The visitor looked him in the eyes. “My name is Jesus.”

“Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

This verse has been used countless times to preach the salvation of a sinner. A patient, lonely man standing outside waiting to be asked in to one’s heart. Paintings of this event are now classics as most have come to accept this view as Biblical.

But that is not the context. The door is not to one’s heart. It’s to the door of the church.

The angel is rebuking the church in Laodicea for it’s lack of passion, love, and dedication to Christ. They were going through all the right motions, but the heart was missing. A lukewarm church brought no joy to their Savior. And although they looked like the church, Jesus wasn’t involved. He stood outside hoping to be invited in once again. So instead of commendation, they received condemnation.

How many doors is Jesus knocking on today? Today is the day to stop acting like a Christian, and start being one.