About yourgodmoments

Father, Husband, Chiropractor, Teacher about all things God. Committed to everyone knowing and experiencing the love of God, and keeping that love-connection forever.

The Book of Revelation Revisited

I’m revisiting the last book of the Bible, The Book of Revelation or The Revelation of Jesus Christ, because four years have passed since I last posted a related series called ‘How the World Ends as We Know It.’ I believe the book should be read annually to reset our focus, fill us with clear knowledge, and build up our faith in the marvelous promises that God will fulfill for His children at the end of time.

I will do my best to render a concise and succinct exploration, which hopefully, will not be near as voluminous as the first 13-part series…

The contents of the Revelation of Jesus Christ were revealed to the apostle John by Jesus Himself. The word ‘Revelation’ here, is translated from the Greek apocalypsis, meaning ‘the unveiling of things previously hidden.’ It’s a study of eschatology, i.e. of the ‘end times’ – the time between the first and the second coming of Christ.

Revelation serves to reveal the great battle between the good and the evil spirits in heaven; and it is also the last evangelical appeal in the Bible to reach out to unbelievers, so that they might latch onto their own salvation before it’s too late.

There are horrific scenes of how things play out for the unbelievers; but for the children of God, the book is meant to be a blessing of comfort, as we are given a vivid picture of our heavenly redemption.

John begins by telling us that Jesus directly relayed John’s revelations from God, and then he says that every word will come to pass. (Rv. 1:1 – 3.) John then shares the divine imperative that he receives at the outset:

John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Rv. 1:4 – 7. NKJV

John then, has been divinely directed to share Jesus’ revelations to the ‘seven churches in Asia.’ These particular seven were singled out because they represented in total, the broad examples of congregant behavior within each, (which still applies to today’s church), that either brought a blessing or a curse upon the church.

We see that the churches are being greeted by the Godhead: Jehovah God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Jesus is described as the ‘faithful witness’ because He continually delivered (and stayed true to) the testimony of His Father. Christ is also described as the ‘firstborn of the dead’ because He was the first to die and then be resurrected to eternal life. Finally, John refers to Jesus as the ‘ruler over all the kings on the earth. Indeed, Jesus’ name is above all names. (Phil 2:9, 10.)

Notice too, John points out that the Son of God already loves us, already washed our sins away, and has already made us kingdom priests for His Father – wherein we now hold the same high honor as the children of Israel. (Ex. 19:6)

Finally, we see that every eye will recognize Jesus’ return simultaneously, even those who crucified Him – physically or mentally. And all who had heard of His salvation and denied it, will mourn.

Next, the apostle shares a direct meeting from God Himself:

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Rv. 1:8 NASB

God is asserting His authority as the author and creator of all things – declaring that what is about to be revealed is by His own hand, and that it will come to pass. ‘Alpha’ and ‘Omega’ is Greek for the ‘beginning and the end,’ meaning that all things began with God, and that He will determine their final fate at the end of time.

The stage is set to begin…

Goodnight and God bless.

Advertisements

All God’s Children Are Preachers

Or they should be. We have all received Christ’s Great Commission:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words]…” Mt. 28:19 AMP

Fortunately, God never leaves us at a loss. He sent the Holy Spirit to the apostle Paul so that he could teach his disciple Timothy how to lead the church. And knowing how to be a church leader is something all God’s children should learn, because we are all walking, talking and acting ambassadors of the church of Christ.

So, we come from the same place Jesus came from, when we represent Him – from love and faithfulness:

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 1 Tim. 1:5 ESV

And before we get too far into the how of our commission, we must ground ourselves into the why:

…God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time… 1 Tim. 2:3 – 6. NKJV

Our Creator wants everyone to be saved; and the only way for that to happen, is for all to be led into a personal relation with God through Christ. So, we must testify:

And great, we confess, is the mystery [the hidden truth] of godliness: He (Jesus Christ) who was revealed in human flesh, was justified and vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. 1 Tim. 3:16 AMP

We have to ‘train’ for our mission, separating ourselves from the ways of the world, and walk by the spirit. Godly behavior is a reflection of our faith in God’s word, which locks us into His kingdom. We stay strong by staying in His word; and we’ll need that strength when we come up against ungodly resistance:

Have nothing to do with irrelevant, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness…for godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for that life to come. 1 Tim. 4:7, 8. ESV

For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. 1 Tim. 4:10 NKJV

Let’s return to seeing how we attend to our ‘commission’:

…pursue righteous, godliness, faith, love, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold of eternal life, to which you were also called… 1 Tim. 6:11, 12. NKJV

…keep the commandment unstained and free of reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ… 1 Tim. 6:14 ESV

Paul wrote a similar command to his disciple Titus, with regards to the self-conduct needed to confess God’s word:

He must hold firmly to the trustworthy word [of God] as it was taught to him, so that he will be able both to give accurate instruction in sound [reliable, error-free] doctrine and to refute those who contradict [it by explaining their error]. Titus 1:9 AMP

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned…so that everything may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. Titus 2:7, 8 & 10. ESV

Okay. We’re out there ready to spread the word. What is our leading message?

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearance of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify of Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Titus 2:11 – 14. NKJV

…when the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace, we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4 – 7. NKJV

Returning to Paul’s message to Timothy, we see how God equips us for spreading His salvation message:

For God has not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Tim. 1:7 NKJV

We are meant to use that power to deliver the message, keeping it pure, and teach others to spread the word as well:

By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us guard the good deposit entrusted to you. 2 Tim. 1:14 ESV

…be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Tim. 2:1, 2. NKJV

Again, all of this requires that we stay in the word of God:

Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, correctly handling and skillfully teaching the word of Truth. 2 Tim. 2:15 AMP

Remember though, do not let your knowledge puff you up, but rather stay humble in the task that you have been entrusted with. You are saving lives, as you tell the good news with gentleness – disarming the hearer with love:

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel, but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. 2 Tim. 2:24 – 26. NKJV

Paul is saying  that we need to be intimately familiar with the accurate meanings of God’s word (via the Holy Spirit), so that we are always prepared to engage in communication that is rich in salvation for the ears of the recipient. And to be the most effective, the speaker must be one who has separated him or herself from the ways of the world.

Finally, Paul sends us on our way, reminding us that time is of the essence:

…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and understanding. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching…As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Tim. 4:2, 3 & 5. ESV

God wants all His children out soldiering for His kingdom, gathering souls for their salvation – while there are still people willing to receive His message.

That is the greatest love we can show to others, presenting them with a chance to latch onto endless love. Whether they accept it or not is entirely up to them. We can tell Jesus that we did our part.

You’re equipped, you’re ready – get on out there!

Goodnight and God bless.

How BIG is Your Jesus?

For He has rescued us and has drawn us to Himself from the dominion of darkness, and has transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption [because of His sacrifice, resulting in the forgiveness of our sins [and the cancellation of sin’s penalty]. Col. 1:13, 14. AMP

He is mighty BiG.

It is the blood of Jesus that broke Satan’s hold over us – granting us amnesty from our old worldly selves, and it ushers us into Christ’s kingdom.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. Col. 1:15 – 17. NKJV

Jesus is the animated essence of God, drawn into existence before time or space began, to become God’s creative force for the entire universe – both material and spiritual. All things were made for Jesus, He has dominion over them and their very existence is dependent upon Him.

And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn of the dead, that in all things He may have preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. Col. 1:18 – 20. NKJV

(There were others who were raised from the dead, by the Old Testament prophets and by Jesus Himself, but they all eventually went on to die again. Jesus was the first to be resurrected to eternal life.)

Jesus is the centerpiece and the ultimate authority of the church. He is the reflection of the will of God, and the instrument of our reconciliation with our Creator. Our BIG Jesus is still at work today – cleansing us to make ourselves presentable before God. Our part is to remain in faith:

And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight – if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard… Col. 1:21 – 23. NKJV

It is imperative as God’s children, to convey to as many as we can, the bigness of our Savior and His salvation – because there is no salvation at the end of time for those who hear our message and reject it.

As for ourselves, we must walk as Christ walked to the best of our ability and turn aside from the lies in the world:

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith… Col. 2:6, 7. NKJV

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. Col. 2:8 ESV

We can do this by keeping our focus on His bigness, and He in turn, passes some of that to our spirit:

For in Him all the fullness of Deity (the Godhead) dwells in bodily form [completely expressing the divine essence of God]. And in Him you have been made complete [achieving spiritual stature through Christ], and He is the head of all rule and authority [of every angelic and earthly power]. Col. 2:9, 10. AMP

Therefore if you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, sharing in His resurrection from the dead], keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Col. 3:1 AMP

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you will also appear with him in glory. Col. 3:3, 4. ESV

So, walk BIG for your BIG Jesus. You are the expert on God and His salvation through Christ. You are a facilitator of God’s salvation – a purveyor of His word. Express the BIGNESS…

Goodnight and God Bless.

Making Spiritual Progress

We make spiritual progress only because God within us is doing the work:

…He who began a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return]. Phil. 1:6 AMP

God wraps His arms around you and never lets go. All the while, He’s working within you, bringing you to spiritual perfection – preparing you for your Christ-deliverance into eternity.

We help God maximize that work when we embrace His path to the best of our ability:

…that your love may abound more and more [displaying itself in greater depth] in real knowledge and practical insight, so that you may surely learn to recognize and treasure what is excellent [identifying the best, and distinguishing moral differences], and that you may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ [actually living lives that lead others away from sin]… Phil. 1:9, 10. AMP

It sounds like a monumental task, but it really isn’t. If you continue searching the word of God and live out His commandments, the Holy Spirit will constantly bring you greater revelation of God’s purposes, which, He wants to fulfill through you. As you do this, God occupies more of your heart, tweaking your perfection, and applying compassion: picking you up when you fall short, and setting your feet back upon His path. So, you see that the odds of completing your mission are really stacked in your favor.

And how does that mission look?

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents – which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake… Phil. 1:27 – 29. NASB

…having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his interests, but also to the interests of others. Phil. 2:2 – 4. ESV

It always comes down to walking the walk. The more that we emulate Jesus, the more of God’s purpose will be revealed – where He immerses us in His love, so that we can radiate that love outwards.

When we pursue our spiritual progress, Christ brings us closer to Him and His Father, revealing yet more of God’s divine plan, and allowing us to play an ever-increasing part. In that part, we must stand in faith and unity for the gospel, even in the face of worldly opposition – tirelessly working through whatever suffering the world brings to bear, continuing to usher in more souls for salvation.

God calls us to be humble and live in peace – united in Christ, holding the needs of others above our own.

Jesus is the ultimate example of humility: He relinquished His divine nature and stature, in order to become a mere mortal. In so doing, He could feel our sufferings; and out of His limitless compassion, take our deserved divine punishment upon Himself, for the salvation of the mortals that He and His father love so much.

Likewise, it is to the glory of the Father and the Son, that we too put our personal concerns aside, and strive to bring the Key (Jesus) to the kingdom to everyone that we can touch in our lifetime:

…it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life… Phil. 2:13 – 16. NKJV

We must be diligent in our continual pursuit of spiritual progress. We cannot forget the reverence that we must hold for God and His Son, nor the imperative that we must muster for completing the tasks that They set before us – especially in the face of opposition:

…I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Phil. 3:7 – 11. NKJV

We don’t have to be perfect in our endeavor. Nevertheless, we remain a marvelous work in spiritual progress because of our sincere efforts:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Phil. 3:12 ESV

Why?

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. Phil. 3:20, 21. NKJV

Transformed and transcendent.

We are content because we have faith. We have faith because Christ empowers us. We have abundance because our Father is a promise-keeper. (Phil. 4:11, 13 & 19.)

You are a marvelous work in progress…

Goodnight and God bless.

The True Easter Story

I’ve written about Easter for many years. This year I thought that I’d do the same, but that I would use a chapter out of a book about Bible stories that I’m writing for adolescents. I hope you enjoy it…

The True Easter Story

No, Easter is not about Easter egg hunts or eating chocolate bunnies and eggs from ‘Easter baskets.’ Here’s the real deal:

After Jesus died on Good Friday, He was buried in a cave with a really heavy rock placed over the entrance that would be really hard to move.

On Saturday, the priests had soldiers stand guard at the tomb so that no one could steal Jesus’ body and claim that He was alive.

Yet early Sunday morning (Easter morning), Jesus’ mother and one of His friends (also named Mary) came to the tomb. Just as they arrived, an angel appeared and rolled away the stone. All the soldiers fainted.

The angel told the two women that Jesus was not in the tomb, because God had resurrected His Son from death to life!

Nothing is more important than this event. God put His new and last plan in motion – washing us clean from our sins with the blood of His Son so that we can stay in the presence of His love forever! It’s not because we did anything to earn it; it was a gift from God because He loves us so much.

Mary and Mary ran off to tell the apostles that Jesus was alive. While they were running, they met Jesus along the way. They were overjoyed. Jesus told them where the apostles could find Him.

The apostles did not believe them at first; but two of them ran back to the tomb and only found Jesus’ burial clothes.

Later that afternoon, two of Jesus’ disciples (but not of the 12 apostles) were walking along a road, saddened because of Jesus’ death. Suddenly, Jesus appears to them but keeps them from recognizing Him. He asked them why they were sad. They answered Him by saying that they watched Jesus die; and they were now doubting if He really was the Messiah.

Jesus then taught them about everything that the Bible said regarding the coming of the Messiah, so that they would understand why He had to die. Then He ate bread with them and let them recognize Him. When they did, He disappeared right before their eyes!

At the same time, the apostles were meeting in a house when all of a sudden Jesus appeared in the room. They were frightened because they thought that they were seeing a ghost. Jesus calmed their fears by letting them touch Him, to see that His body was solid.

He also showed them the holes where the nails had been driven through His wrists and feet. Finally, He eats some food in front of them.

The reason that Jesus’ body was solid but could appear and disappear at will, was because His body had changed. Jesus now had all of the powers that He had in heaven, before he came to the earth.

When we leave this earth, we too will get a new body. It will never wear out, never die, and it will have powers that we can’t even imagine.

Jesus then breathed upon the apostles to give them the Holy Spirit.

Eight days later, Jesus appeared to the apostles again and then spent another 40 days on the earth before He returned to heaven. During that time, He was seen 500 times by various people.

Jesus met with the apostles and told them to go all over the world, making new disciples for Him, and to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Then, Jesus opened their minds up and gave them a complete understanding of the Old Testament and everything that He had said, so that they could tell everyone about their Easter gift. And that is something that we are all supposed to do.

When Jesus finished speaking, He rose up to heaven while the apostles watched. Then, two angels appeared to give them God’s promise that Jesus would come back.

The apostles then understood that everything Jesus said was the truth. They also knew that Jesus’ promise of coming back was true – His promise of coming to be with us forever, where we all live filled with love.

That’s the true Easter Story. Happy Easter!

Before and After Jesus

How great is your transformation in Christ? Well, let’s see who you were before that took place:

…you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Eph. 2:1 – 3. ESV

Who are you now?

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us together and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding richness of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Eph. 2:4 – 10. NKJV

God loved you even before He helps you clean up the mess that you made of your life. When you choose Him, through Christ, God pulls you away from the clutches of Satan; and you are no longer grouped with the ‘sons of disobedience’ (those whose promised future is one of annihilation).

You were dead spiritually, but now you are alive by the grace of God through Christ – all because you were obedient and exercised your faith, which draws in the free gift of God’s salvation. You have been raised to sit in heavenly places, meaning that you have a vital role in advancing the kingdom of heaven, a role that God Himself will reveal to you.

Yet hold on! There’s even more to your transformation:

But now [at this very moment] in Christ Jesus you who once were [so very] far away [from God] have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace and our bond of unity. He has made both groups – [Jews and Gentiles] – into one body and broke down the barrier, the dividing wall [of spiritual antagonism between us], by abolishing in His [own crucified] flesh the hostility caused by the Law with its commandments contained in its ordinances [which He satisfied]; so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thereby establishing peace. Eph. 2:13 – 15. AMP

God’s intent was for there to be only one church, with Christ as its head; and for it to welcome all peoples (Jews and Gentiles alike), that make Jesus their Savior and do their best to walk in His gospel. If you are a member of that church, you are now on God’s team:

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. Eph. 2:19 – 22. NKJV

You have a heavenly citizenship, and you are a spiritual part of this church of Christ, the holy temple of God. So, being that you are a vital spiritual member of the Love Church, it would behoove you to search out a physical church to be involved with. Why? Because it is in imperative to hang out with like-minded Christians, so that you can draw strength from each other to stay strong and accountable in your faith.

Church is also a good place to bring people who are still dabbling in the world, so that they can be immersed in the corporate love of God. You are the Love Church. And that being so, God tells you how to be it:

…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Eph. 4:1 – 3. ESV

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men… Eph. 4:11 – 14. NKJV

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Eph. 4:15, 16. ESV

The Love Church then, is filled with Love Children – those who walk humbly in love and unity, as they exercise their God-given gifts of the Spirit, to edify one another in their kingdom purpose: bringing the saving love of God, through Christ, as a beacon to those who still dwell in the darkness of this world.

And if we are to stand as an image of that church, we have to step up to a higher standard – one of righteousness:

…regarding your previous way of life, you put off your old self [completely discard your former nature], which is being corrupted through deceitful desires, and be continually renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude], and put on the new [the regenerated and renewed nature], created in God’s image [godlike] in the righteousness and holiness of the truth [living in a way that expresses to God your gratitude for your salvation]. Eph. 4:22 – 24. AMP

Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. “Be angry and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers…And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Eph. 4:25 – 29 & 32. NKJV

In other words, God asks us to refrain from our old ways of being, when we were ruled by the flesh instead of the spirit:

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of the light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of the dark, but rather expose them. Eph. 5:6 – 11. NKJV

Before Jesus, we were the darkness. After we made our covenant with Him, we are His transcendent light, turned back around, and sent forth to the darkness to gather His lost sheep:

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Eph. 6:10, 11. NKJV

If God tells us to be strong in Him, then we must be able to do that, because God cannot lie. He goes on to say that we gather our strength by continually immersing ourselves in His word – fortifying ourselves with His truth, peace, righteousness and the certainty of His salvation, which He sends to us in response to our earnest prayer. (Eph. 6:12 – 18.)  If we do this, God promises us that there will be nothing that we can’t overcome…

Goodnight and God bless.

Jesus Never Said That Life Would Be Easy

You ever notice that followers of Jesus rarely make it on the ‘A-list’ in the world’s social circles? We’re seen as peculiar, old-fashioned, out-of-step, and holders of scientifically unsound beliefs. We are often cast out of the mainstream.

That’s a good thing, because at the end of time, it is not us that will be cast out:

“The Son of Man will send out His angels and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Mt. 13:42 – 43. NKJV

Until then, on this earth, the righteous will suffer:

“And you will be hated by everyone because of [your association with] My name, but it is the one who has patiently persevered and endured to the end who will be saved.” Mt. 10:22 AMP

It is because of our emulation of Christ (i.e. standing up for what is righteous) that we are made to suffer. And yet, these trials are part of God’s crucible, where He purifies His children, preparing us for eternity:

In this you rejoice greatly, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials and suffer temptations, so that the genuineness of your faith, which is much more than gold which is perishable, even though tested and purified by fire, may be found to result in [your] praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Pt. 1:6, 7. AMP

God is exhorting us, through the apostle Peter, saying that regardless of what life is throwing at us, we should respond in joy – knowing that God is building our faith in Christ. When we do that, we are bringing a positive increase to our heavenly account and are glorified for our endurance.

God never said that life would be easy. However, through Christ, He fills you with His boundless love and joy, and covers you on all sides with His mercy and protection – empowering you to transcend your trials, as you complete your journey. Indeed, God is pleased with your efforts:

For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows, while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 1 Pt. 2:19, 20. ESV

Christ suffered for us; and we honor His sacrifice when we follow His example:

…because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth;” who, when He was reviled did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed. 1 Pt. 2:21 – 24. NKJV

In our gratitude, we acknowledge what Christ submitted Himself to, so that we can be healed from our sin. He made the ultimate sacrifice, laying down His life so that we could be righteous in the presence of God.

So, in doing our best to emulate Him, we too can face un-righteousness with resolve, yet doing so with a loving example, that will encourage others to follow our commitment:

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 1 Pt. 3:13 – 16. ESV

For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 1 Pet. 3:17 NKJV

It’s not a matter of if you will face trials in this life, it’s only a matter of when. But God will bless you through it:

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also be glad when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 1 Pt. 4:12 – 14. ESV

Love no matter what. God glorifies you when you suffer for Him; and you are repaid with eternal love. During any trial, count on God, because He is with you:

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares about you. 1 Pt. 5:6, 7. NKJV

Also, take comfort in knowing that your brothers and sisters in Christ are all fighting the good fight along with you:

Resist him (Satan), firm in your faith, know that the same kinds of sufferings are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Pt. 5:9, 10. ESV

During our walk with Christ, we will all suffer – ultimately at the hands of those who serve Satan. The devil does not want anyone to land in the loving arms of God. We understand that our earthly sufferings are borne upon us from the futile puffs of breath pathetically blown by this angelic outcast, who does not want to suffer alone.

We love no matter what. We know that our Savior will separate the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats; and He will take us with him. Faith overcomes. Love always wins…

Goodnight and God bless.

Jew For Jesus

The most renowned ‘Jew for Jesus’ was the apostle Paul – the Holy Spirit-inspired author of the majority of the New Testament. In fact, he was converted by Jesus Himself on the road to Damascus. Ironically, his primary ministry was to the Gentiles.

I bring this up because we’re going to look at some of the book of Hebrews – whose author is anonymous. However, some believe it was penned anonymously by Paul to minister to Jewish audiences without causing any rifts between he and the apostle Peter, who, primarily ministered to the Jews. Other biblical scholars have attributed the authorship of Hebrews to associates of Paul, especially Barnabas or Apollo.

Regardless, Hebrews seems to be written to bolster the faith of Jewish converts to Christ, who had got the erroneous notion that Jesus’ return was supposed to be immediate. Well, 60 years had passed since Jesus’ ascension, and doubts had begun to fester.

WHO IS JESUS?

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds. Heb. 1:1, 2. NKJV

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty, having become superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. Heb. 1:3, 4. ESV

These opening scriptures tell us a lot: we learn that as soon as Jesus was resurrected, the ‘last days’ of the earth commenced. Also, God now speaks through Christ, who, petitioned His Father so that we could have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to be able to receive His words.

God tells us that His Son is an exact imprint of Himself – affirming that whatever comes out of the mouth of Jesus is the word of God. We are reminded again that God made the universe through Christ, who holds it all together.

Finally, at the point of Jesus’ resurrection, He received His crown from God, to rule over the earth as the King of kings and Lord of lords – exalted over all things, including the angels…

WHY HOPE IN JESUS?

For this reason we must pay closer attention to what we heard so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? Heb. 2:1 – 3. NASB

The author is appealing to the Jews’ knowledge of the Old Testament, which demonstrated that every time an angel would appear, its pronunciations invariably came to pass. The Jews are also well aware that the angels testified of the coming of the Messiah.

Continuing, the Holy Spirit-inspired author asks his audience to consider the ‘present-day’ proofs for the veracity of Jesus being that Messiah:

It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will. Heb. 2:3, 4. ESV

So, the salvation promise in the Son, was first testified by God and then His Son. It was also testified by the apostles and was visually confirmed through Christ’s Holy Spirit-empowered miracles and spiritual gifts. The author is essentially saying, ‘What more proof do you need?’

WHAT HAD TO HAPPEN BEFORE JESUS COULD FULFILL HIS PURPOSE?

We have seen that in heaven, Jesus is exalted above the angels. In His carnal nature, He was not, because He had to take mortality upon Himself:

But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while [by taking on the limitations of humanity], crowned with glory and honor because of His suffering of death, so that by the grace of God [extended to sinners] He might experience death for [the sins of] everyone. For it is fitting for God [that is, an act worthy of His divine nature] that He, for whose sake are all things, in bringing sons to glory, should make the author and founder of their salvation perfect through suffering [bringing to maturity the human experience necessary for Him to be perfectly equipped for His office as High Priest].

Both Jesus who sanctifies and those who are sanctified [that is, spiritually transformed, made holy, and set apart for God’s purpose] are all from one Father; for this reason He is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. Heb. 2:9 – 11. AMP

Angels do not die. Jesus had to be mortal, so that by His sacrifice He could nail our sins to the cross forever. He also subjected Himself to the ‘human experience,’ so that He can compassionately identify with our weaknesses and suffering, while He serves as our High Priest at the right hand of God.

Furthermore, Jesus calls us ‘brothers and sisters,’ acknowledging our connection to His human side, when we accept Him in full faith as Savior with our spiritual side:

Therefore, since [these His] children share in flesh and blood [the physical nature of mankind], He Himself in a similar manner also shared in the same [physical nature, but without sin], so that through [experiencing] death He might make powerless (ineffective, impotent) him who had the power of death – that is, the devil – and [that He] might free all those who though the [haunting] fear of death were held in slavery throughout their lives. Heb. 2:14, 15. AMP

Jesus conquered death for all who follow Him. We will not feel death’s sting and thus need not fear it. Our transition will be immediate and glorious. Until that time, our High Priest can identify with anything that we are going through in this world, (He Himself being a conqueror of all of them) and does not hesitate to send compassionate help and healing our way, for any situation.

IT ALL COMES DOWN TO FAITH

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me…they shall not enter My rest.” Heb. 3:7 – 9 & 11. NKJV

Let us be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Heb. 4:11 – 13. NKJV

The author is referring to the behavior of the Jews during their exodus journey out of Egypt, led by Moses. Those that rebelled against Moses (and so had no faith in God’s word), did not get to enter into His rest (heaven). Similarly, all followers of Christ are called to persist in the belief in, and obedience to, the word of God and to hold tight in faith to God’s promises, which are accomplished through Jesus.

WHAT DOES JESUS DO?

…a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. Heb. 7:19 ESV

Meaning that Jesus as a High Priest, far exceeds any priesthood that came before – giving us a direct connection to the Father.

This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. Heb. 7:22 ESV

A better covenant in that He brings with Him a guaranteed salvation that is not subject to the perfection demanded by the Mosaic Law. And, He’s always with God, acting on our behalf:

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God though Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Heb. 7:25 NKJV

…at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Heb. 9:26 NASB

And, He’s coming back for you!

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sins, but to save those eagerly waiting for him. Heb. 9:27, 28. ESV

Jesus went into the heavenly Most Holy Place (the throne room of God), for you. He rendered His own blood, from His only and final sacrifice, to perfect you forever. It was the moment that Christ decimated the power of sin for all time.

WHAT DO WE DO?

Your part is to confess, repent, accept Christ as your Savior, and walk His walk to the best of your ability. And when you come up short, Jesus has your back.

And until He comes back, it’s up to us to keep the faith:

…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down on the right hand of God. Heb. 12:1, 2. NKJV

Jesus foresaw His joy in connecting with you for all of eternity, and He decided that it was worth paying the price of His crucifixion. Our price, is to endure in faith:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried away with various and strange doctrines. Heb. 13:8 NKJV

DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT MAKE THE CASE FOR JESUS OR WHAT?

Goodnight and God bless.

Keeping Our Focus Heavenward

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subject to futility, not willingly but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will also be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. Rom. 8:18 – 22. NASB

What Paul is pointing out, is that when Adam and Eve corrupted themselves through sin, God levied the consequential penalty upon the entire earth and its inhabitants – in addition to our progenitors. The perfection of the Garden of Eden is now denied to the human race until the children of God receive their reconciliation and resurrection at the end of time. And the remainder of God’s creations await that moment as well:

And not only creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  Rm. 8:23 ESV

The children of God already possess the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (the first fruit of our heavenly transformation), and they are assured of the consummation of that transfiguration. God has given us a hope that does not disappoint. But it does require our faith, which is bolstered by the love of the Spirit of God:

For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Rm. 8:24, 25. NKJV

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Rm. 8:26, 27. NASB

So, in addition to strengthening our faith, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us through a supernatural prayer language that we do not understand, but Christ does. He takes up those prayers and stands in intercession for us as well. Thus, we are well-equipped to be able to cling to our heavenly focus – to the salvation promise of God:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. Rm. 8:28 – 30. NKJV

God has always had a plan for your total and absolute redemption. Your part in that redemptive process, is to accept His plan by placing your faith in who Jesus is, what He’s done, and to do your best to walk as He walked. Then, God has got you covered:

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Rm. 8:31 – 35. NKJV

We are justified by God through Christ, who continually takes a stand for us in His Father’s presence. Yes, Jesus will condemn those who rejected Him at the throne of judgment, but that condemnation will not fall on God’s children. We get a free pass to heaven – guaranteed:

…neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rm. 8:38, 39. NKJV

We have a remarkable future ahead of us, which should motivate us to live a wonderful life now. We do that be marinating in the word of God so that we conduct ourselves as the blessed children of Jehovah that we are – living out our heavenly focus…

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Rm. 12:2 NKJV

Goodnight and God bless.

What is the Gospel?

…the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection of the dead. Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among you also are the called of Jesus Christ… Rm. 1:1 – 6. NKJV

The gospel is the good news of God’s salvation through Christ Jesus, who is the living word of God, and thus, the living gospel. This introduction to the gospel above, declares that the Son of God was descended from King David (on His human side), and that Jesus has fulfilled all of the prophecies that the Holy Spirit inspired the prophets to write. This all points to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah.

Furthermore, this scripture states that God resurrected His Son through the Holy Spirit, and in that moment, Christ came into His kingship. Finally, we see that we, like the original apostles, have been granted the grace of God through Christ, in order to be apostolic ourselves – equipped to advance the gospel throughout the world.

How powerful is the gospel?

…it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” Rm. 1:16, 17. NKJV

It is our faith in, and obedience to, the gospel, that enables us to take on the righteousness of Christ as our own – opening the doors to our salvation. We are ‘justified’ (made innocent) by having faith in Jesus.

The gospel is God’s will for your future; and He made it available for all to see. Thus, those who reject the salvation message will be without excuse:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them. Rm. 1:18, 19. ESV

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. Rm. 1:20 NASB

God is saying that He left identifiable and irrefutable aspects of Himself within everything that He has created, in addition to the ‘knowing’ of that truth that He has placed in everyone’s heart, which calls to each of us to seek Him out through His Son.

Unfortunately, most people deny that call, and follow the invitations from the world and the god of it (Satan):

Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God…They were filed with all manners of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice.

They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them, but give approval to those who practice them. Rm. 1:24 – 32. ESV

This is a description of the dark potential that is awaiting everyone who does not embrace the gospel: i.e. addictions to perverse transgressions, as well as worshiping others who practice them.

Yet our loving and merciful God keeps an open invitation for the transgressors to change their hearts and seek His salvation. However, if they persist in rebellion, God steps aside and lets them sow the seeds of their own destruction. He will not violate their free will.

So, this is how it all ends up:

But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness – indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish on every soul of man who does evil… Rm. 2:5 – 9. NKJV

The latter is not a place where we want to be. This is serious stuff. The gospel message is a life-or-death matter. Again, how important is the gospel and what is its core message? God tells us:

But now the righteousness of God has been manifest apart from the law, although the Law and the prophets bear witness to it – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. There is no distinction: 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. Rm. 3:21 – 26. ESV

That’s the gospel in a crystal-clear nutshell.

The Mosaic Law showed us what perfect behavior would look like. In so doing, it also demonstrated the impossibility of perfectly meeting all of its dictates, due to our weaknesses. Thus, it pointed the way to our need for a righteous Messiah to remove that burden – one who possessed the ability to cleanse us of our sins. It is the cleansing that facilitates unification with God for all who place their faith in the blood of Jesus.

Our behavior is made perfect vicariously, through Christ’s righteousness. We cannot earn our salvation. It’s a gift of God’s grace; and if a gift, there can be no exchange. Salvation is not something we do; it’s what God does. Faith is the vehicle in which we receive the gift of salvation.

Faith is not a doing; it’s a being and a having. It’s not even something that we can produce. Faith is a gift that we receive from Jesus when we accept Him as the living Son of God:

…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith… Heb. 12:1, 2. NKJV

Christ gifts us with faith, in order to nurture our eternal relationship with Him. God uses our acceptance and faith to justify us in His eyes through the ‘propitiate’ (from the Greek hilasterion, which means ‘an atoning victim’) act of His Son on the cross:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Rm. 5:1, 2. NKJV

…God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. Rm. 5:8, 9. NKJV

God is love. He is merciful. Even when we are enemies of God, (enslaved to the ways of the world), He opens His arms through the those of His Son and scoops up everyone who is willing to receive His love.

In His limitless mercy, God sacrificed His Son so that we could be transformed – cleansed of those enslavements, by His grace, to become the children of God who will spend eternity with Him in complete love.

Through God’s clemency and grace, He struck down your Adam-derived death sentence with the free gift of Christ’s salvation; and the suspension of your sentence is eternal.

Jesus died for all of our sins for all time; and those who receive Him obtain the transformation of righteousness, becoming new men and women in Christ:

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. Rm. 8:1, 2. NASB

What a God! What a Son! See the word ‘now’ in that scripture? It means that God has already freed those who have received Christ from the condemnation of sin.

That is the Gospel! Doesn’t that make you want to go out and tell somebody?

Goodnight and God bless.