Friday, April 18, 2014

WHERE IS JESUS? WHAT'S HE DOING?

HE IS IN HEAVEN
"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).

"So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.  And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the Word with signs following. Amen" (Mk. 16:19-20).

"And He led them out as far as to Bethany, and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them.  And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.  And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:  and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen" (Lk. 24:50-53).

"And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight.  And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven" (Acts. 1:9-11).
 
HE IS INTERCEDING FOR US
"Who is he that condemneth?  It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us" (Rom. 8:34).  Note:  see also Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3; 7:25; 8:1; 9:24; 12:2; 1 Pet. 3:22.
 
HE IS WAITING FOR THE APPOINTED TIME
"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).


THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION IS:
WILL HE BE COMING BACK FOR YOU?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

MAKING GOD PERSONAL

I noticed while studying the Book of Genesis in Sunday School, that the words, "my God," only appear one time in the entire book.  And on that occasion, it was Jacob acting like the vast majority of folks today.  He was making his relationship with Almighty God, conditional!  The text reads: 

"And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, 'If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God'" (Gen. 28:20-21).

How many times have you heard of people saying something like, "If God will just heal my son, I will start going to church!"  Or, "If He will just keep me out of jail this time, I will never do that again!"  Heard less often, but often enough, is the "give me" prayer.  "If God will just let me win the lottery, I will donate a fourth to a local church!"  These folks have an "IF - THEN" relationship with the Creator of the Universe.  Sad!  They don't realize that God guarantees to always do what is the ultimate best for those who love Him (Rom. 8:28)!  We really don't even know how, or for what to pray; He even does that for us (Rom. 8:26-27)!

Fourteen times in Genesis, God is said to be the "God of" someone or something; but He is never claimed to be "my God" by a person himself.  He is the God of heaven and earth (24:3) of Abraham (26:24); of Isaac (31:5; 31:29; 46:1; 46:3); of Abraham and Isaac (28:13; 31:42); of Abraham and Nahor (31:53); of Bethel (31:13); and of Jacob (43:23; 49:24-25; 50:17).  God is first called the "God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob" in the Book of Exodus (Ex. 3:6).

Surprisingly, the first person to call God "my God," is Moses (Ex. 15:2).  Even more surprising, is the fact that the second person to call Him "my God," was Balaam (Num. 22:18)!  Joshua acknowledged God as "my God" (Josh. 9:23).  Ruth did (Ruth 1:16).  David did (2 Sam. 22:7).  Solomon did (1 Kg. 3:7).  Elijah did (1 Kg. 17:20). And so did Micaiah (2 Ch. 18:13); Ezra (Ezra 7:28); Nehemiah (Neh. 2:8); Isaiah (Isa. 7:13); Jeremiah (Jer. 31:18); Daniel (Dan. 6:22); Hosea (Hos. 9:8); Jonah (Jon. 2:6); Micah (Mic. 7:7); Habbakuk (Hab. 1:12); Zechariah (Zech. 11:4); and of course, Jesus (Mt. 27:46)!

But, even though many people in the Bible called God their own, the question I have for you is, is He your God?  Have you trusted in the God who sacrificed His Son so that you could be free from your sin debt, and so that by faith in Him, you could become a child of God Himself?  Jesus offered Himself as THE WAY to God!  Jesus' Resurrection will be celebrated in churches all over the world this coming Sunday; will you be there?  Is Jesus more than a Bible character to you?  Is He your LORD?  If not, give Him your life; allow Him to be your God - you will never regret it! 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

BELIEVE AND BE BORN AGAIN

When Jesus told Nicodemus, in John 3:3-8, that he must be born again, he had no clue as to what our Lord was saying.  Obviously Nicodemus had already been born once (physically from out of the water of the womb), but Jesus was telling him about a different birth, a second birth (being born of the Spirit of God).  Nicodemus already bore the resemblance of Adam, but Jesus wanted him to experience the life-changing metamorphosis that would begin the process of him growing into the likeness of Christ (1 Cor. 15:45-49; 1 Jn. 3:2).  He needed to experience the transformation that only God could work in him.  John had written earlier: 

"(Jesus) came unto His own, and His own received Him not.  But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name:  which were born...of God" (Jn. 1:11-13).

Notice that one becomes a child of God by believing in Jesus!  I don't believe I have ever heard a sermon on the Lord's conversation with Nicodemus, that included the rest of the third chapter.  That is sad, really, because it records the "how" of being born again!  And you would think it would be so obvious to preachers!  Verse nine says, "Nicodemus answered and said unto Him, 'How can these things be?'"  

The Lord's reply (Jn. 3:14-18) to him was the Gospel!  Jesus had to die, and be raised up (v. 14)!  In verses 15-18, John declares that it is faith in Jesus that saves:

"That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.  For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.  He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

Peter wrote:  "Being born again...by the Word of God..." (1 Pet. 1:23).  Paul wrote that being saved (born again) is the result of believing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17), and that it is that faith in God's gift, God's offer of salvation, that saves us (Eph. 2:8-9)!

 
Being born again is the result of faith in central character of Scripture:  Jesus!



  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

WILL YOU BE AS GRACIOUS IN DEATH?

The seven last "words" of the dying Son of Man:

*   "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Lk. 23:34).

*   "Verily I say unto thee, 'Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise'" (Lk. 23:43).

*   "Woman, behold thy son!" (Jn. 19:26).

*   "Behold thy mother!" (Jn. 19:27).

*   "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?"  "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"                    (Mt. 27:46).

*   "I thirst" (Jn. 19:28).

*   "It is finished" (Jn. 19:30).

Even in death, the Lord Jesus Christ was more concerned about others than He was about Himself.  He prayed for those who had scourged Him (Mt. 27:26), spat upon Him (Mk. 15:19), driven a crown of thorns into His head (Mt. 27:29); mocked Him (Mt. 27:29), and nailed Him to a cross (Jn. 20:25)!

He had compassion on man next to Him, reassuring him that he would be with Him in Paradise, the place of those whose faith in Him had resulted in their being declared righteous (Lk. 16:23; Rom. 4:3; 2 Cor. 5:8).

He wanted to ensure that His young disciple, the one who held a special place in His heart, and His mother were going to take care of each other after He was gone (Jn. 19:26-27).

In my opinion, it wasn't until after our sin was placed upon Him, from noon on, when the sky turned black, that He experienced being separated from His holy Father (Mt. 27:45-46)!  It was then that He cried out in agony!  I do not believe it was because of the pain of the torturous death, but I believe it was because He was no longer holy!  For the only time in all of eternity, He was unclean became of our sin (2 Cor. 5:21).  It was then that He thirsted; not for water, but for righteousness (Mt. 5:6)!

 
Finally, praise God, He could say, "It is finished!"








"In the mean while His disciples prayed Him, saying, Master, eat.  But He said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.  Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought Him ought to eat?  Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work" (Jn. 4:31-34).

"When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost" (Jn. 19:30).

Monday, April 14, 2014

AN IRONIC PASSOVER SURPRISE

Each year for about 3500 years, the Jews have celebrated their release from four hundred years of Egyptian bondage, with the Passover Seder, or Supper.  The meal is first mentioned in Exodus 12:1-11.  On the tenth day of Nisan, Israel's first month (Ex. 12:12), the Jews were to select an unblemished sacrificial lamb, and they were to kill the lamb and prepare it just prior to sunset on the fourteenth of Nisan.  After sunset, which was the beginning of the fifteenth of Nisan, they were to roast the lamb, and consume it prior to daylight.  There were to be no leftovers; that which remained was to be totally consumed by fire.

This year, the Jewish calendar and the Gregorian calendar match; the first of April, and the first of Nisan occurred on the same day.  Today, April 14, 2014, at sunset, the Jewish Passover begins.  That would make today the "preparation day."  Thus, today matches the day Jesus was on the cross, in that, the Jewish leaders wanted the bodies taken off the crosses, as it was the "preparation" (Jn. 19:14, 31, 42).  Because the Jews called Fridays the preparation day for the weekly Sabbath, many have mistakenly accepted Friday as the day of the Crucifixion.  However, notice in John 19:31, the day Jesus died was not just the preparation day for the weekly Sabbath, but was the preparation day for a special Sabbath; the Passover!

Now, looking at our calendar, we can see that the tenth of Nisan falls on a Thursday.  The Passover falls on the following Monday, the fourteenth (today).  Today would be the day Jesus was crucified.  His body would be taken down and placed in a "borrowed tomb" just before sunset.  Jesus told His friends and His enemies, "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Mt. 12:40).
If one counts three days and three nights from sunset today, Jesus would rise from the grave after sunset on April 17th.  Ironically, to the Jewish way of calculating days, Jesus would rise on Friday!  Sunset today to sunset tomorrow (Tuesday) is one day and night; sunset Tuesday to sunset Wednesday is the second day and night; and sunset Wednesday to sunset Thursday is the third day and night:  Jesus would rise on the day modern day Christians celebrate His death!  Irony of ironies!

What does that mean then as to what day Jesus died?  Well, He rose sometime after sunset on Saturday, which was the beginning of the first day of the week - Sunday (Mt. 28:1; Mk. 16:2; Lk. 24:1; Jn. 20:1).  Going backward three days and three nights, Jesus must have been taken down from the cross prior to sunset Wednesday!
 
Sunset 4-17-14 will begin the anniversary of the Resurrection, not the Crucifixion!  

Sunday, April 13, 2014

THE VINE, THE BRANCH, THE FRUIT

All men are sinners - Romans 3:23.

There are none that are righteous - Romans 3:10.

The penalty for sin is death - Romans 6:23a.

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us - Romans 5:8.

If we call upon Jesus as our Lord, we will be saved - Romans 10:9.

Our salvation is a gift - Romans 6:23b.

Salvation cannot be earned by works - Galatians 2:16.

It is a gift, so that God gets the glory - Ephesians 2:8-9.

We are not saved by works, but are saved to do good works - Ephesians 2:10.

It is the Father who transforms us into His workers - Philippians 1:6.

It is the Holy Spirit who empowers us to do God's work - Acts 1:8.

It is the Holy Spirit who produces fruit in believers - Galatians 5:22-23.

It is His fruit in us that brings glory to the Father - John 15:8.

It is His fruit that appeals to the lost - Proverbs 11:30.

It is by your fruit that you are recognizable - Matthew 7:17-18.


"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life;
and he that winneth souls is wise" (Prov. 11:30).

Saturday, April 12, 2014

THERE IS ONLY ONE GOSPEL

Earlier today, I had a discussion with a fellow on Facebook, concerning his false belief that the Apostle Paul preached a different Gospel, than did the other Apostles.  He used the fact that Paul called what he preached "my Gospel" (Rom. 2:16; 16:25; 2 Tim. 2:8).  He suggested that the rest of the Apostles were ignorant of the true Gospel, preaching instead, the Gospel of the Kingdom.  This is written as my response to him.

Of the ninety plus verses which contain the word "Gospel," at least seventy-five use the definite article "the" with the term.  The only time the indefinite article "a" is used, in the form of "another Gospel," is when Paul was rebuking those who insisted there is another Gospel (2 Cor. 11:4; Gal. 1:6)!  His actual words are: 

"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another Gospel:  which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ.  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other Gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:6-9).

There is but one Gospel; it is the Gospel which God's Word tells us; it is the Gospel which has the power to save the lost!  Paul wrote:  "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Rom. 1:16).  Notice there is not a Gospel for the Jews, and a Gospel for the Gentiles!  While Peter was the Apostle to the Jews, and Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles (Gal. 2:8), they preached the same message!  The Gospel Paul preached, was the same Gospel Peter, James, John, etc., preached; it contained three important parts:  "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Cor. 15:3-4).


If you believe the Lord Jesus died for you, call upon Him to save you!