Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A MAN'S EVOLVING FAITH

One of my favorite chapters in all of the Bible is John Nine. We are told that Jesus saw a blind man. We don't know who he was, but Jesus gave much attention to him. When asked why he had been born blind, Jesus told His disciples that his blindness was not due to his sin; after all, can a baby sin?  He also tells them that God wasn't punishing the man's parents for their sin, but that the man was born blind for a special purpose. God, knowing that His Son would one day heal him, and that in so doing, provide proof of His Son's identity, determined that he should be born blind. This sounds like a very cruel thing to do, but in all honesty, most of us would be willing to suffer and even die to be used of God for His glory.

After Jesus healed him, all those who knew him, and knew that he was born blind, were faced with a decision. They would have to acknowledge that Jesus had healed him, or that it was the devil trying to fool them. While they debated his true identity, the man testified that he had been blind, but that a man named Jesus had healed him (v. 11). Later, when asked by the Pharisees who had healed him, he responded in verse 17 that Jesus was a prophet. The religious leaders, not being satisfied with his answer, summoned his parents to verify his identity. Apparently the parents, and perhaps by this time the man himself, knew He was the long awaited Messiah, the Christ, but none of them dared to say it (v. 22). When asked again, the man questions them as to whether they, too, wanted to be the Christ's disciples (v. 27); and, "If this man were not of God, He could do nothing" (v. 33).

When Jesus heard that the religious leaders had cast him out, He went to the man and asked him if he believed on the Son of God. Not knowing that it was Jesus, he said, "Who is He, Lord, that I might believe on Him ?" When Jesus identified Himself, the man worshiped Him. Jesus had gone from being just a man, to being a prophet, to being the Christ, to being the Son of God, and finally, the man knew Jesus was God, for only God was to be worshiped (Ex. 20:2-5; Mt. 4:10).
 

At what stage of awareness are you? Born again believers know Him as Lord. 
And as such, He is worthy of our obedience and worship.

Monday, October 20, 2014

COREY'S BELIEF GIVES US PEACE

The Bible speaks of new beginnings many times.  The first book, Genesis, is named for the beginning, and starts out with, "In the beginning...."   In Chapter Four, we are told that men began to call upon the name of the Lord (YHVH).   It took three generations before man understood his need for God's help.  Adam's son, Seth, had a son, Enosh, and only then did man begin calling on the Lord.  We are such slow learners.

The Gospel of John starts with the same three words: "In the beginning...."  The next word(s) in Genesis One, and in John One, describe the same person, but the Lord used different ways to say it.  In Genesis, it is "God." In John, it is "was the Word."  To those unfamiliar with the Bible, "the Word" is a title for Jesus.   If one reads the entire first verse of John, it is clear that Jesus is God;  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."   Then in verse fourteen, John tells us that "...the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth."

So did Jesus begin at the moment of His conception, at His birth, or some other time?  The answer is that He did not have a beginning!   He is God, and God is eternal.  Over and over again, Jesus speaks of being with the Father before the foundation of the world, which by the way, Jesus created (Jn. 1:1-3; Eph. 3:9; Col. 1:16; and Heb. 1:1-2).   He told His opponents that He lived before Abraham (Jn. 8:58).   And, in John 17:5, Jesus prays to the Father and says, "And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was."  The Son of God had no beginning, but He chose to become a man in order to die for us (Phil. 2:5-8).  And because He made that choice, you and I can have a new beginning.  Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17, that when we believe in Christ, we become a new creature (creation).  We begin a new life, a new life that will have its final change when we see Jesus and are immediately changed into His likeness (1 Jn. 3:2).

On October 7th, my eldest grandson, at the age of twenty-nine, entered into the presence of God.  Because he had believed the Gospel that says Jesus died for his sin, that He was buried, and that He rose again, according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3-4), Corey was transformed into Christ's likeness!  He no longer struggles with the trials and temptations of this world, but is now experiencing that for which all born again believers long:  the peace and joy of being in the presence of Almighty God!


If you were to die today, would your loved ones know you are with Jesus?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

2 CORINTHIANS FIVE (NLT)

"For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.  We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing.  For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies.  While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us.  Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.  God Himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee He has given us His Holy Spirit.

So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord.  For we live by believing and not by seeing.  Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.  So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please Him.  For we must all stand before Christ to be judged.  We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body. 

Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others.  God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too.  Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart.  If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God.  And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit.  Either way, Christ’s love controls us.  Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.  He died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves.  Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view.  At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view.  How differently we know Him now!  This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.  The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ.  And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him.  For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.  And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.  So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us.  We speak for Christ when we plead, "Come back to God!"  For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ."

This is the Word of God; faith that saves, is the result of believing His Word!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A BAKER'S DOZEN OF HOPE

*** (1 Cor. 1:7) "...eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ."

*** (Phil. 3:20) "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior...."

*** (Col. 3:4) "When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory."

*** (1 Th. 1:10) "...and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead...."

*** (1 Tim. 6:14) "That you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing."

*** (2 Tim. 4:8) "Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing."

*** (Titus 2:11-13) "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 appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ."

*** (Heb. 9:28) "So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation."

*** (Heb. 10:37) "For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry."

*** (Jam. 5:8) "You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand."

*** (1 Pet. 1:13) "Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

*** (1 Jn. 3:2) "Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."

*** (Rev. 22:20) "He who testifies to these things says, 'Surely I am coming quickly.' 


Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"

Friday, October 17, 2014

WAITING, WORKING, & WORSHIPPING

It may be possible to ascertain whether or not a person is a Christian by asking him the same question the Apostle Paul asked in Galatians 3:2 - "Received ye the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith?" After all, the Lord had said that a man must be born of the Spirit to be saved (Jn. 3:3-8). He told His disciples that the Spirit would dwell within them (Jn. 14:17). Jesus told them that they were to wait for the Spirit who would make them witnesses for Him (Acts 1:4; 1:8). Notice that the sequence is wait, then work. There was nothing they were to do but simply wait.

But someone might say, "Isn't waiting works? Isn't it doing something?" The answer is yes. However, one does not follow instructions unless one believes the person giving them deserves to be obeyed. And one does not obey a person unless there was already a decision to submit to the authority of that person. Therefore, works follow faith. Ephesians 2:8-9 speaks of salvation being a gift from God, and says that being saved is not by doing works. Ephesians 2:10 says that those who have received salvation should do the work God intends for them to do. Works do not save us, salvation is a gift.

And, it is not always easy to tell who is, or who is not, saved by observing their works. Religions require works for salvation. The difference is, their works are done to merit their salvation, while the Christian understands there is nothing he can do to earn it. Man's effort to clothe himself in righteousness is doomed from the start, for all his righteous acts are compared to "filthy rags" (Isa. 64:6). For religions, good works lead to salvation; Christianity teaches that salvation leads to good works.

A perfect example of the futility of looking at someone's works to determine if they are a Christian, is given in Luke 10:38-42. If those present at the visit of Jesus to the home of Mary and Martha were asked which of the two was saved, the religious person might say, "Martha," while the Christian might say, "Mary." Both could be wrong. Martha could have been either trying to earn the Lord's love, or she could have been working because of her love for the Lord. Mary could have been worshiping at the feet of Jesus, or she could have been seeking instruction on how to be saved. It is clear that by the time Jesus arrived in Bethany in response to word that Lazarus had died, both believed in Jesus (Jn. 11:1-32). Mary believed that had Jesus come earlier, He could have prevented her brother's death (vs. 32), but Martha believed Jesus had the ability to raise her brother even though he had dead (vs. 21-27). Both were saved, but it was the "worker" who had the greater understanding of who Jesus was.

The moral of the story is, it is impossible to determine who is saved and who is not. The lost do good works to be saved; the saved worship by doing good works. Only God knows a person's motive, and therefore, only God knows who is saved and who is not.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

IN THE MEAN TIME.....

Paul wrote, "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.  For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  Wherefore comfort one another with these words" (1 Th. 4:13-18).

Paul wrote, "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.  Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do" (1 Th. 5:9-11).

Peter wrote, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:  that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 1:3-7).

Jesus said, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (Jn. 16:33).

Jesus said, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (Jn. 14:1-3).


In the "mean" time, we have trials and tribulations!
In the meantime, we trust the promises of God's Word!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

PAIN

In the sick world we live in, apparently there are a few people who enjoy experiencing pain, even to the point of paying others to inflict it upon them. Masochism is the psychological term for this mental illness. As horrible as that sounds, those who enjoy inflicting pain on others, known as sadists, are far worse. I would say, without fear of objection, that Satan falls in the last category. He seems to get great satisfaction in hurting people.

In Job, he even attempted to hurt God by attacking His "poster child of faithfulness." Satan tried to prove Job did not truly love Him, and while God allowed him to attack Job's family and possessions, He did not permit him to harm His servant (Job 1:12). When Satan persisted in challenging God, the LORD allowed him to inflict pain on Job, but he was not to kill him (Job 2:6). Through the experience of suffering, Job learned much about himself, and a great deal about God, as well (Job 42:1-6). Pain humbles.

Pain does several things that are good. It causes a child to cry out for its mother to come to its aid. It warns of a physical problem, which left unattended, could result in serious physical limitations or even death. An abscessed tooth can be deadly, and without pain, a person would not know he was in danger. In some cases, pain is a good sign in that it tells us that the spinal cord is not severed. And how many lives have been saved by the warning of a heart attack?

While physical pain is often unbearable, the pain of losing a loved one can be even worse; it can go on for the rest of one's life.  But for the born again believer, just as physical pain ends with our death, our emotional pain stops with death, as well.  John wrote:  "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Rev. 21:4).   

Finally, pain makes us willing to leave these corruptible bodies. I cannot tell you how many people I have known that looked forward to death to escape pain. But a warning is needed, for even though we are told in Revelation that pain will cease to exist for the believer, everlasting pain awaits those who fail to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior (21:3-8). So a little pain today, which brings one to Christ, is far better than the alternative. Thanks be to Jesus Who endured the pain of the cross for us!

Do you think the nails hurt Jesus as much as having His Father turn from Him
during that three hours He hung there with the sins of the world on Him?