Monday, April 28, 2014

Sure Foundation

1Corinthians 3:10-11 - According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

I was talking to a friend the other day and as usual the things of the Lord entered into our conversation. It can't be helped because we so share in the love of Christ. We love to discuss spiritual things. They are most important and satisfying, energizing.

Somehow we got to talking about how things are playing out in the world and how we so see the last days as represented in the Bible taking shape. We see how people are lovers of self, deceit and anger and hatred rising and other things. While we do not know today who the players are in the end time events, we can discuss those who look like they fit the bill, but may not be.

To add to what we discussed, I see how God is being mocked or rejected, how there is an attempt to sweep Him under a rug or ousted out of public view. I'm so glad in my little world, He still exists on a daily basis and for many others He does also. I'm thankful we still have the freedom to talk about Him in public yet I know there will be a day when that may cease. If it's in my lifetime, that will be soon!

We might even have to go into hiding to have church, just like some other countries where worshiping God is allowed.

It is written in the Bible about a day where a one world religion and one world government will take place. Not in those exact words. This will be forced on us. Many today, even those who say they are Christians, who believe that there are many ways to God. This is a lie of the devil. And those who believe the lie, well...woe to them some day.

Jesus said He was the way, truth and life and none go to the Father except through Him. But then you need to believe the Bible to believe that...

As we talked, my friend and I, I confessed that I have a difficult time understanding parts of biblical prophecy. It's where my mind can't wrap itself around it all. Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation in particular. I seem to have difficulty putting them together, like my mind goes blank, as it did in school during algebra, science or geography! I understand it  just enough to recognize the signs and maybe that's enough. God will reveal it in due time. I just know it won't be pretty. It won't be life as we are accustomed to, which is quickly eroding.

I am also thankful that despite any dark days where we are no longer allowed to worship God in public, no one can take our Lord from within our hearts. He can remain our hope for the days ahead. In fact, He will most likely be all the more present in our lives when more of our freedoms are removed. I am sad that others will have no hope in those days. Fear will rise up.

Doom and gloom?? No, reality. For my friends in Christ and I it is an exciting time. We have a sure Foundation.

So they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?” And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them. But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.” Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost. By your patience possess your souls. (Luke 21:7-19)

As I read this I saw something I swear I never read before! Verse 13: But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Yes it will. People are going to, and probably already are, wondering what is going on in this world. How can anything get worse? Or, we've recovered before, we can recover again...but will it? It's not just about what we see happening in our own country with all the corruption taking place. It's also about Israel...and Russia...and Iran...and Islam. All these things are part of the last days scenario. The pieces of the end time puzzle are getting ready to be out into place to finish the picture.

Praise God He wins in the end. Praise God as He came to save multitudes on earth, He will return with those people to live in peace on earth for a thousand years more. Woe to those who have rejected Him. Praise God there is still time to receive Christ now. He can be our sure Foundation.

When I came to Christ, April 18, 1999, 15 years ago, I thought because it was "so late" for me I needed all the training I could get and I studied. I think if the days are short, the Lord can hasten our understanding. He will put that new heart and new desire in anyone in an instant today. He is being patient that as many as will receive Him will before the end times. But His patience will give out also in His perfect timing. I would not want to be hard hearted to Him.

Isaiah 28:16 - Therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

He So Offended

John 5:10-18

And that day was the Sabbath. The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, "It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed." He answered them, "He who made me well said to me, 'Take up your bed and walk.'"

Then they asked him, "Who is the Man who said to you, 'Take up your bed and walk'?" But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you." 

The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and fought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus said to them, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working."

Therefore, the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.

So the paralyzed man at the Pool of Bethesda was healed by Jesus. He was told to take up his bed and walk. Oh, the offense! How could the Jews be so offended that a man could now walk? Where is the rejoicing?

And oh, the laws those Jews had. Laws no one could ever perfectly keep. And these people were in the midst of One who was speaking of Himself...the One who would one day die that these impossible laws would no longer be a stumbling block for them. One Who would free them from the captivity of not only all these laws but their sins. Their access to God would be free, no longer subject to the Jewish priests. No sacrifices necessary. Just open communication with the Father.

Jesus so wanted to show these people that His way was a new way. Only God's laws were necessary, not man's added laws. These rituals practiced were useless. And in the process, as we will see, the religious leaders would be offended by one Man who would turn the world upside down with His teachings.

Jesus so offended. He told a man to take up his bed and walk. According to Jewish customs healing on the Sabbath was forbidden. So was the act of carrying anything. Two strikes against Jesus. And more to come.

Jesus also made the comment that "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working." He was equating Himself with God...blaspheming in their eyes. How did they know this? The Greek word for Father had no special meaning; I looked it up! So it had to have been the miracle which they took offense to. It was the other healings and miracles they knew He had done. Who but God could heal? Yet they still did not want to believe Jesus was Who He said He was...the Son of God...come to take away the sins of the world. Imagine what this would do to their religious views. He was a threat.

In the end we find out that He was right and they were wrong. And knowing this, believing He has the power to do all things even today, should be our great comfort, should drive us to seek Him for our salvation. Should...

We find that we need not make the same sacrifices, nor do the works that once were necessary to enter into relationship with God. We just believe in our hearts that He alone has the power to heal and save our sorry souls! He heals all spiritually who desire Him. That is the greatest healing of all. Armed with that we can live our lives without fear of our future. It is secure because He has healed our broken hearts and bodies. We are no longer offended by His name. He has taken the old man and made it Christ Jesus. Hallelujah and Amen!

Ephesians 3:9-12 - and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.

Saturday, April 26, 2014


John 5:1-9

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 

Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to Him, "Do you want to be made well?" The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me."

Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your bed and walk." And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. 

I love this story. I look at it as how the world might view the issue of salvation. The world is one vast multitude of spiritually sick people. We are sick in our sinful, fleshly natures. We are born this way. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But there is a Man who can change all that.

At some time in their lives, many have been met by this Man. He knows all about us. He asks us in some way if we want to be made well. When that water, that knowledge, is stirred, some make it into that pool and are healed. Others, however, maybe don't go into the pool because they just aren't sure now is the time. They aren't sure if they want to be healed. They might know what they should do, means change. It means letting go of, losing, the old life for a new and better one.

But our God is patient and won't hesitate to confront again, and again, and again. This man was afflicted 38 years. Yet Jesus came to Him. He will meet us and ask us repeatedly in some way if we want to be healed (saved). This salvation is for whoever steps into the pool. Maybe all our excuses have run out or this time we understand the call, or maybe we just need one more word of urging. Then Jesus will tell us to rise from our wrong spiritual condition and walk...follow Him.

There is only one way to be healed, to have our spirits stirred, to rise out of our sinful spiritual condition. His name is Jesus Christ. If you hear Him, respond. Rise and walk with Him.

Matthew 16:24-26 - ... If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Unless You See Signs and Wonders?

John 4:43-54

Now after the two days He departed from there and went to Galilee. For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things He did in Jerusalem at the feast.

So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implores Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe."

The nobleman said to Him, "Sir, come down before my child dies!" Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your son lives." So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him saying, "Your son lives."

Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, "Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him." So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, "Your sin lives." And he himself believed, and his whole household.

This again is the second sign Jesus did when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.

What is it with us that we cannot always just take God at His word? The Bible is filled with examples of miracles and signs that God/Jesus performed. In the Old Testament God performed miracles, set people free, provided for them, kept them safe in extreme circumstances. There were always good reasons for these things. That He would be glorified, that people's faith would enlarge, that trust in Him would grow. Yet, some still forgot or wandered away from Him just the same. There are still good reasons and the reason are still the same!

God also had prophets to speak of things that would occur. Some of these prophetic words have yet to be seen but it does not mean they won't. If we have read about the prophecies that took place shouldn't we have faith? If God told us a child would be born of a virgin and it occurred, then we should believe all that was written, even about last days and Jesus' return.

The New Testament brought about another hope and miracles performed by this Baby born of a virgin. Greater than all the prophets He was. He spoke of Himself and had the proof. It's recorded for us that we might know and believe.

But why is it that people still don't believe? Like Jesus said, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe."  Even the littlest things can be signs and miracles. I can look back in my life and see before I knew Christ where I could have been in some rough situations or harmed in some way, but I wasn't. I believe it was God's hand upon me because He had other plans for my life...even if they are not earth shattering. But if one person is changed somehow, hey, great. There might be a situation that does not go well, is difficult, painful, because He wants to build our faith and use this testimony in someone else's life some day. God is in control. He's the same today as He was yesterday...something I say a lot!

It's sometimes easy to say doctors healed someone with their medicine. But what about the wisdom God imparts to the doctor? And we have to be careful not to always place the emphasis upon a person healing someone. It is always God's power through a person. He is always in control. If man takes the credit for a miracle isn't that like saying he is God? Shouldn't all praise be to God?

God never changes. He performed miracles and brought about signs all throughout the Bible. It was for them to believe and trust in Him. Yet today many don't recognize signs. Or we give credit where credit is not due. Have we become a people who will not believe unless we see a sign? What about just believing in those things we do not see? The example of the nobleman is great (and there are others). Jesus proved He could heal just by speaking a word, not by touching the son. He only told the nobleman to go his way. And I ask, isn't the Book filled with similar examples of miracles and healings? We should believe because of that!

Believe because He is who He says He is!

1Peter 1:7-9 - that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

They, Too, Believed

John 4:39-42

And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, "He told me all that I ever did." So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word. 

Then they said to the woman, "Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world."

I'm sure many of the people of Sychar knew this woman. She had a reputation. She'd been married five times and now only lived with a man. If you noticed, she went to the well alone. There were no others there. She may have gone when the others would not be there rather than face the looks of the women who shunned her because of her immorality. Maybe it was a law. It was around noon when Jesus appeared. Water was generally drawn, because of the heat, early in the morning and later in the afternoon. I wonder if the disciples figured this out when they sized up the situation?

And there was Jesus, talking to her! The thoughts that could have been going through their heads. She was not just a Samaritan woman, but a shunned, immoral woman too. Jews avoided all such things. The disciples may very well have learned a lesson from Him this day...or at least began formulating thoughts about what He did. The message being, Jesus was willing to forgive anyone, was compassionate about everyone. All people are sinners and He came that all might be saved.

These people listened after she raced back, leaving her water pot behind, telling them about this Man at the well and how He told her all about herself...and we don't know any more about these people, whether they also shunned her or lived in immorality as she did. Nothing was mentioned about this woman in the other Gospels. But they went to see for themselves because of her enthusiasm and many more believed but not because of her word but because of His own word. How compelling His words must have been.

This is how it is. This is how we know we have encountered Him. We hear from someone, or many, and in time our interest might be piqued. Something stirs in our spirit to the point where we have to see if there's some truth to all we've heard. We go to see for ourself. And, like these Samaritans, we hear the truth of God's Word and we encounter Jesus and because of His Word alone, we believe. He has given us ears to hear and hearts and spirits to receive the Savior of the world. Hallelujah!

Ephesians 1:13 - In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sowing What You've Reaped

John 4:27-38

And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, "What do You seek?" or "Why are You talking with her?"

The woman then left her water pot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, "Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" Then they went out of the city and came to Him.

In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat." But He said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know." Therefore the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?"

Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: 'One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors."

As the Samaritan woman went back to Sychar to share what she had been told, Jesus was about to enlighten His disciples yet again. In our daily lives little scenarios might play out that open doors to "preach" a little, or instruct or enlighten. So it did with Jesus! The disciples wanted Him to eat and boy if that didn't erupt into a message for them! I wonder if it was a prelude to what was about to happen (and which we are not told) when the people from Sychar heeded the Samaritan woman's words and came to see if this truly was the Christ?

So here we have a message about sowing and reaping. For many of us, someone first had to have  sown a message about Jesus. We either receive it...reap...or reject it. Let's say we've received it. The next step is to sow ourselves, share what truth we now know,  based on our own story of how or why we received Christ.

This is how Christ and Christianity have never faded away. There has always been someone who needed to hear the Gospel and always someone to share. There always will be. The fields are as white and ripe today as before. Maybe even more so as we approach, what I believe are the last days before Jesus' return.

Jesus was in an area normally off limits to the Jews. There was hatred among Jews and Samaritans. Then comes Jesus. He knew these people were just as important to reach as anyone else because of the "whosoever" in John 3:16: 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.

Jesus claimed earlier to the woman at the well He was the living water, that all who receive the water He offered would never thirst again and have eternal life. He also claimed He was the manna from heaven, the bread of life. You no doubt recall how He fed thousands of people (which comes later!). The people came to hear Jesus speak. They heard the Word of God speaking the words of life...and they were fed spiritually and physically. Boy, did they get fed.

We get fed from His Word, from Jesus Himself. Through the Bible...He is the Word, He is the Bread...of life. Remember, our daily bread? Whenever we reap what He has sown (and it always starts with Him) we have a natural desire to sow even further that others might reap. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes not so much. Persistence and patience are two keys. Sometimes thick skins, too, for those not interested in hearing!

Christ reveals Himself to us. He testifies of Himself. We can testify of what He has revealed to us. Christianity will never die because there will always be someone wanting to share, like He did..."My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work."

1Peter 1:12 - To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things which angels desire to look into.

Monday, April 21, 2014

That's What He Does

John 4:11-26

The woman said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?"

Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."

The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw." Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You have well said, 'I have no husband,' for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly." 

The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship."

Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things." Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He."

More than one thought going through my head. Of course!

How Jesus reveals Himself to us is amazing. Here the Samaritan woman was standing before Jesus, knowing of Him and telling Him that when He comes He will tell her all things! She does not recognize Him. Then He reveals Himself to her.

One day we might be staring right at Him or hearing from Him but we might not recognize Him. Then one day He might say "I who speak to you am He." Your eyes are opened and you recognize Him. Now I'm not suggesting He will be physically standing in front of you or audibly speaking to you, but it can happen in an instant in your spirit. Words you've heard and didn't understand, or rejected, will one day come to life. Those words may have been repeated many times just so one day will make an impact: Oh, now I get it!  I remember being bombarded by little instances before I was saved. Then one day I recognized He had been setting the stage for my salvation. He's an awesome God.

Yesterday in church our pastor reminded us that God seeks us. Some think we seek Him, but He's seeking us first. It always starts with Him. He created us with the desire in our hearts. He puts the emptiness and need for more there too. Always starts with Him. Some just choose not to heed His call.

Psalm 14:2-3 tells us He looks down from heaven looking for anyone who might seek Him...but there are none! But when He reveals Himself then our seeking can begin. He seeks because of what John 3:16 tells us: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Jesus testifies of and personifies this. He is the a God who loves. He is the Son who gave His life that whosoever believes can have eternal life.

While whosoever includes all people, only some respond. To those who do not, He exacts His judgment...have to clarify that. He loves all, but will place judgment on those who do not accept His call.

He is the living water. He knows all we need and He can satisfy with greater things than what we think we need. When something, or someone, doesn't satisfy anymore, don't we look for something, or someone, new only to find out we still need more? He so loves the world He wants to give us what will satisfy.  That's what He does.

The Samaritan woman didn't understand the feeling of emptiness she had. She thought she had what would satisfy...many husbands. Jesus began to open up her understanding. When Jesus offered living water that she would no longer thirst she misunderstood. She talked of this well she was at providing water in the physical sense. It met part of her physical needs. Jesus offered her more. More.

Jesus says we can only receive from Him, the One who is greater. No other person can offer us what He has. We worship what we do not know. Anything greater than God is a god or an idol. We can go to a banker, an instructor, friend or spouse, food, our job, children, another lover, a doctor, psychiatrist, pastor, priest or rabbi, but none can offer what Jesus can. He frees us from believing all these other things satisfy. We go directly to Him because He knows us.

When we recognize God (meaning we have received Him and know Him) we can begin to worship Him in spirit and in truth. We recognize we've been looking for things that never fully satisfied. Those who know Him can worship in spirit and truth. He seeks us first that we might in return seek and worship Him, and He will give us the living water. Praise God He does that. Praise God for those who respond.

Exodus 20:1-3 - And God spoke all these words, saying: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt [dryness, want], out of the house of bondage. “You shall have no other gods before Me."

Saturday, April 19, 2014

It Is Finished

Revelation 5:12 - ... “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” 

As I listened to the mini sermon I thought about our lives. I thought about death. I was reminded that all things must come to an end. But what end will we have? 

I was reminded how our personal Sunday's coming. As Jesus was resurrected from the dead so will those who are alive in Christ. This is our end. Life everlasting. If we have Jesus. The name above all names. The glorified Christ.

Jesus suffered tragically. Sometimes in our own lives we suffer. We suffer before we have a relationship with Christ and we can suffer even after. So why receive Christ if the suffering doesn't end? We are given hope...if we know Jesus. All that we have in the world does not compare to what He gives us. 

We know that some day all suffering will cease because we have made a commitment for Christ. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) Passed away...death...the end. When we receive Christ our old man and old things have passed away. Our eternal life is Christ.

He died for our sins. He died to give us this hope. He remained silent...the most amazing thing...despite all the false words spoken against Him. He remained silent when His disciples and followers scattered. He remained silent as they beat Him. He remained silent. Who does that?? Only One was able. 

Jesus spoke words that tell us all He had willingly gone through for all of us was done. "It is finished." He became the final sacrifice for mankind. He died for us. Tragically. The sacrificial Lamb of God. The Lamb who takes away the sins of the world...if we choose to follow Him. "It is finished" can be our words too. 

All praise is given Him. 

Revelation 5:13 - And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Living Water

John 4:1-10 

Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But He needed to go through Samaria.

So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. The. The woman of Samaria said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."

I know this is only part of the story of the Samaritan woman's encounter with Jesus but I felt I could stop here.

Today is Good Friday. Today is also a special day for me. On April 18, 1999 I was born of the Spirit! I received Christ. I had no clue it was to happen and it happened in an instant. No sinner's prayer, no bells and whistles, no wriggling on the floor, no exciting music. Just a few moments where the truth of God's Word penetrated a stubborn, yet broken, that I believe God had been slowly working on for this particular day and time. A perfect time it was too, considering I'd not stepped into a church for years!

What does that have to do with the Samaritan woman? Jesus had been summoning me for awhile. I can't even tell you how long but in bits and pieces He was making Himself known to me through others. I was growing tired and worn. He met me that morning, like He met the Samaritan woman at the well.

I can look at that church, that service, that morning, as a time when Jesus sat at my well. I didn't know He was there until He chose to use a pastor to speak the truth of His words to an instant. I was the one, however, needing the drink but didn't know it. My life had been dry without Him.

In not so many words He might have said to me, "I have the gift of God. If you ask I will give you a drink of this living water." The actual words were: "There is nothing you can do to change your situation, but I know Someone who can and that is the Lord Jesus Christ." He gives us what we need. He refreshes and strengthens weary souls.

That Sunday our pastor said this also: "God says we're not weak, we're powerless. We can't do anything alone, ever."  And he added, "It's not about a program, a technique, but a person. It's walking humbly with our God, a relationship with Jesus Christ, not a religion or philosophy."

When we receive Christ He becomes our Living Water. He provides from a well that never runs dry. We live in a dry and thirsty land without Him. This is Good Friday. It's also a good day to consider this Living Water. We are celebrating Jesus' resurrection this weekend. He is alive! He still comes to us asking us to receive the living water, the gift He supplies. He is our gift. He desires being received.

Isaiah 12:2-3 - Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; ‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.’ ” Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

He Who Comes From Heaven

John 3:22-36

After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. For John had not yet been thrown into prison.

Then there arose a dispute between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purification. And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified--behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!"

John answered and said, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, 'I am not the Christ,' but 'I have been sent before Him.' He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true. For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

Quite the discourse from John the Baptist to the Jews. I'm almost surprised he wasn't arrested then and there but more talk like this is what cost him his life. He explains again that he is not the Christ, that only one who comes from heaven can receive such honor. But he is filled with joy that he has received such a One and has allowed Him to increase while he decreased.

John believed what he heard from Jesus. He believed it unto death. He would not compromise his testimony. And we should not either. Jesus is our testimony. Paul even said, And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (I Corinthians 2:1-2)

Oh people, there are so many references that state that we are fools without Christ. That His words are foolishness to those who do not receive Him, that without Him and them we lack understanding, that He is a stumbling block. Only through the power of God will we understand and we cannot have that power without Jesus. It breaks my heart.

We are all earthly beings. We must all allow Jesus to increase as we decrease. We are to testify only of Jesus. We are to testify of heavenly things. Jesus alone is worthy of all things. He makes Himself known to us that might receive Him and then testify of what HE has done, not what we have done. Jesus increases because only He can speak the true words from God. We decrease because, as believers, we can only speak of what He has said. His words alone are true. We are only the messengers of the Word of God. It's all about Him...because He is worthy to receive all glory and power and praise (Revelation 4:11).

John also point blankly tells them that none, or very few, will receive Jesus and His testimony. The same goes for today. But for those who take Jesus and His heavenly words to heart know in those very hearts He is who He says He is. And isn't it sad that many do not want to know? Sad because of what they will lose, as John goes on to explain...He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

Take Jesus at His word. Know Him, receive Him, receive the power of God, His Holy Spirit, that His true words might be understood. Don't let Him become your stumbling block.

John 3:11-12 - Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Light and Dark

John 3:13-21

"No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."

The Book of John is amazing. It so shows us who Jesus is. It's a great read. John 3:16 is one of the most popular verses. That God so loved the world...He sent His Son to live among the sinners that He might make Himself known to them as the One who they must believe in to be saved. We love hearing about His love, don't we?

Jesus, the Light, lived among us who lived in darkness. A huge step down from the holiness of heaven into an evil world. If we are all sinners at birth, we live as evil beings, according to the Word.. We do. Only Jesus was perfect. That is why we need Him, to believe in Him, follow and obey Him...that our evil would be covered by His blood.

He came to earth to reveal Himself to man. Those who walked with Him, who were healed by Him, saw His miracles, saw Him go through an agonizing death and then saw Him once again alive, risen from His grave, have shared their testimonies with us that the Word would not be forgotten, that others would believe in Him also. Just because we weren't there doesn't mean it didn't happen. See how over the years many people have still believed and follow Him. He won't go away!

But there's that word again, believe. It seems to mean different things. It's a heart attitude, not a mental one. We cannot just know who Jesus is but we must have a heart knowledge of Him. We know Him and our lives change; we move away from that which He has said in His Word is evil...which is where we can get hung up. Who wants to believe they are evil?

In His own words Jesus claims those who do not believe are condemned. Sounds pretty harsh for a loving God, One who so loves the world. Many believe He is only love, that His judgment was only an Old Testament characteristic. But He does not change. He's the same today as He was then. It is we who must change.

So what does God claim is evil?

Proverbs 6 gives us a sampling of what He abhors: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren. Galatians 5 adds: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idol worship and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies. There are more...including teaching as doctrines the commandments of men (false preaching, teaching), Matthew 15.

If we say we know Jesus but continue to do evil, we don't know Him. All right, I can say I still struggle, like we all do, with some of those things above. We are not perfect. As long as we are on this earth we wrestle with our flesh. That's where this heartfelt belief in Him comes in. If we are in Christ, if we have given ourselves to Him, we are a new creation. Who can understand this fully? It's God's grace, that free gift He gives that we cannot work for. And we should not purposely sin after this new birth but when we catch ourselves, repent of it. Without that repentance we are guilty.

This is a hard teaching from our Lord. Some prefer not to know Him because they prefer their lifestyles, find it too difficult to let go of those things that are so all consuming. A lifestyle out of God's will is what He calls evil, darkness. The light (Jesus) is hated because of what it will expose. Seems we have so much to hide. But there is a freedom that also comes from letting go of what is considered evil by God.

Once we let go and are in God's will, understand His truth, what we do we know comes out of hearts wanting to do for God. Doing right is a lifelong process. He purges us that we might become more like Him. It's why we go through trials. There are always lessons to be learned.

Monday was the start of Passover. The Israelites were told to apply lamb's blood on the door posts of their houses to protect themselves from God's wrath as He went through Egypt killing all first born of each house. That is like what Jesus's blood applied to our hearts does for our safety. It comes in the form of a spiritual act of receiving, believing, following and obeying Jesus Christ. Amen!

1John 1:6-10 - If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

He Who Came Down From Heaven

John 3:13 - "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven."

Okay. There is this book that has been popular and a movie that is coming out based on it. It is called Heaven is for Real, written by Todd Burpo, Colton Burpo's father. It's based on the accounts of this 3 year old's claims to have gone to heaven (during an emergency appendectomy). He saw Jesus; he saw a sister who died in the womb, whom his parents had not yet told him about; he saw his great grandfather, whom he'd never met, and sported huge wings, among other things. At four when he began to retell his story in more detail, he had an amazing vocabulary and wisdom.

His father is a pastor and was skeptical of what his son was saying until some of the things he pointed out could not have been made up. When he talked to his son he was careful not to put words into his mouth, that this boy would speak only what he saw.

I have to admit I read this book when it first came out and I was enamored by it. We so all want to know what heaven is like. We want to believe certain things. Yet I'm so sure God does not reveal all things for a reason...maybe to keep us trusting only in Him, without all the answers. What better way to believe in Him than without all the answers? Pure trust.

Other stories abound on near death experiences; I'm sure they believe what happened. And who knows why or how they saw what they saw. How do I know it couldn't happen to me?

So, I read the above scripture this morning and it spoke volumes to me. No one has ascended to heaven but He... If we are to believe that the Word of God is true then we must believe this statement that no one has ascended to heaven. Again, I have to admit I still want to believe this little boy saw heaven. I really do. But there is also a catch in my spirit.

I read this scripture and then another one popped into my head: Satan comes as an angel of light (2Corinthians 11:4). And another, not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God (1John 4:1).

The boy claims to have seen the face of Jesus. His father showed him many pictures over the subsequent years until one was what he claim He looked like. We don't know what Jesus looks like. We have man's image planted firmly in Bibles, books, in stained glass and in statues and idols. We just don't know...

We live in a world where powers and principalities rule. Our enemy so wants to take God's Word and twist it that we might suck it in and believe it as if it were God's literal Word. Satan is the father of lies. He is subtle. And aren't we all capable of being deceived?  When in doubt, search the Scriptures.

I so want to believe this boy. I really do, but we are also told that even the elect can be deceived in the last days. And why not just this one time by an innocent little boy? As just the beginning of more deceit. I so do not want to say he is wrong. But don't we also know, as believers, that satan is so deceptive? Look at how he has deceived in the Bible. None of us are immune.

It might be a good book to point people to Jesus through an innocent child's belief and because I remember this boy adamantly stating we have to know Him in our heart to go to heaven. I say this hesitantly...

We also know that in the last days deceit will run rampant (1Timothy 4:1). We cannot allow ourselves to be deceived. This boy may not be considered a false prophet, but might be being used for no good. If we allow one little deceit, others will gain footholds. It's why the way is narrow that leads to life...and wide is the way to destruction.

Galatians 1:9 - As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Is There More?

John 3:1-12

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old?" Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

Nicodemus answered and said to Him, "How can these things be?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Are you the teacher of Israel, and you do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?"

Haven't we all wondered if there is more to life than what we know? Some might question but because the answer is elusive will let it go believing there is no answer or that it takes too much thought. Others are determined to know the answer. The answer. Yes.

Nicodemus, a religious man, wanted answers. He saw Jesus at work. He knew what Jesus said and did, that He seemed to come from somewhere even beyond his own wisdom. He recognized something different and sought Him out for deeper answers. He sought Jesus by night. In the shroud of darkness. He might have been questioned for his talking with this Man. He might have been ousted from his position. It was dangerous to seek a Man whom other Pharisees would just as soon have disappear for His criticism of their religious ways.

Nicodemus recognized Jesus as having greater wisdom. He admitted He was of God. And out of the blue Jesus answered him by saying without being born again this was not possible. Praise God! We can all have this sort of wisdom...if we seek the answers, seek Jesus, like Nicodemus did.

Jesus gives us the exact answer: we must be born again. Today the phrase born again Christian does not go over too well. I remember someone I worked with, after I became born again and all filled with the initial excitement of knowing I'd met God in a very personal way. She said she had been offended by people in an airport asking if she was born again and what the consequences were if she were not. I remember feeling the same myself.

But Jesus' message won't change, and as often as we reject that message, we reject God. Jesus' answer is simple, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." This is where the meaning differs depending on one's understanding.

Becoming born again is a choice we must make. It's not made for us through infant baptism. While those little babies have no concept of Jesus or much of anything yet, they are God's children. But as we grow and begin to make our own decisions in life, even at an early age, then we are able to make the choice for Jesus. We may not know that this type of decision must be made because such an idea is not promoted in our church. It is just assumed that with our infant baptism we are in Christ.

There's something flawed about this concept. That then means that every thief, murderer, liar, anyone like this, will be in heaven beside us some day. It means almost everyone who attends church or is a good person and was baptized will be part of the kingdom...without any commitment, living just as they wish. Some may even believe everyone will go to heaven. If that's the case, there was no need for Jesus to have been born, live, suffer and die for us. We are all separated from God at birth because of sin. The only way to bridge the gap is through Jesus. Is it right that a person who has no need for God is allowed entrance into heaven?

Being born again is a verbal and spiritual acknowledgment with a change in attitude and thinking. You know it has happened when it does. Something takes place within you, in the Spirit. It takes place when you believe. Believe in what? Believe that Jesus is who He says He is and is able to do what He says He can. It's not just knowing about Him but knowing Him through the power of the Holy Spirit. It's that change that takes place inside. That Holy Spirit only comes when we willing receive Christ.

Sometimes it starts with wanting to know if there is more. I asked that question as a young person. Our pastor yesterday says he still looks at the stars or the clouds and is still amazed that our God created them...and that anyone can see this. I did that as a child. Laid on the front lawn at night, summer and winter, and gazed in wonder knowing that beyond what I could see there were more I couldn't. I was in awe.

I always knew there was something greater and it had to do with God. But I couldn't put my finger on it. Then one day, after many years of His attempts or at least promptings, maybe others' prayers, I suddenly got it. I knew I needed a Savior. And I received Him. None of those people who had planted seeds in my life or literature in my hand even came to mind. He alone was right there. Just He and I and  His Spirit, in a split second, filled me. He was between God and me, my Mediator. I was born the Spirit. And later I gave myself to the same type of baptism as Jesus, total immersion...having my sins washed away, being born again in the Spirit, verbally testifying that I had received Him as my Savior. My old man had gone, my new born again man was put on.

If this religious man had to ask, I think we all need to ask. Maybe we've seen others change and they will not back down; it's become part of their lives. We see it, but do not believe it and because it is a heavenly thing it cannot be comprehended. It's where seeking comes in. Ask God to show you in a way you can understand. Ask Him if He is who He says He is or that He can do what He says, or He can do what I say He did. This is part of the believing. Believing Jesus can change a life, allow His Spirit to enter in to ours, cause us to become born again.

It's for everyone who wants to believe, who wants to know the truth that there is more than this life we live and more after, in Christ alone, through his Spirit.

2Corinthians 5:16-17 - Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Intent of Man

John 2:23-25 - Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. 

Many people in Jesus' day followed Him because they were enamored with the signs...they were given food to eat, they saw others whose sight was restored or the lame who could walk again. What might they hope to glean by following Him? I'm not saying all the people felt this way. There were always some who recognized more than the physical and truly came to Him with all their heart with a desire to follow Him.

On one hand His gift to us is free. On the other we must act on it. This is where He knows the intents of man.

We can say we believe in Christ and go to church and say the right words, but God knows our intent.  It's why, I'm convinced, there will be a small number of people who really enter into the kingdom. Even I have to wonder at times about my intent...

God has known the intents of man for a very long time:

Genesis 6:5 - Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

This is Commendable

Romans 13:1-2 - Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.

I did a little study on submission and spiritual authority. I understand the biblical view of it. I understand how right and wrong came to be in this world. I understand also how hard it can be. And I had no idea I would have so much to share.

It started with Lucifer, determined to be greater that God, wanting his posts to be higher than God's clouds and stars. Impossible! What arrogance! And where did it take him...completely separated from God. He has become the ruler of today's world, satan. And he is fighting tooth and nail to get us to believe he was right and somehow that God is wrong. Well, it ain't gonna work.

GOD IS ALWAYS IN CONTROL. Many people are rebellious against God; yet some understand the act of submission He requires. And that some may be a very few. He knows better than we. He knows what we need better than we do because He knows what is in store for us. He also holds our eternal future in His hands based on this principal of submission. This goes for every person. This goes for me.

I think some believe in submission, to a point. In the world they might be willing to submit to some authorities in their lives, but not all and don't talk to them about the ultimate God. After all, who can see Him? Who can say what He commands us to do...especially when we don't pay enough attention to Him and His Word? We may not have not come to a point where submission to Christ is understandable, but we can see a boss, a husband, a military authority, even a president.

We are inherently rebellious. It's all about me. It's all about what I want to do, who I see myself as, how I have gotten where I am. At a certain time in a child's growth even he understands how to get what he wants. It starts early. It's called pride, which I think is the greatest of all sins.

I remember using these words years ago after I bicycled Europe: I got from Point A to Point B under my own power; that was quite an accomplishment and I'm proud of it. Who gave me that power? Today I see who gave me the strength to overcome obstacles during the ride, the long hours, the sore bottom and over-pushed leg muscles, illness, even the personality differences. I see the determination He gave me, the confidence. I even see where He protected me when I might have been in a bad situation. His eye was on the proverbial sparrow!

Imagine how different anything in our lives might be if we were totally under God's submission. The heights and depths of circumstances and how He got us through. When we are submissive to God only good comes of it. It's not easy though when we are so strong-willed, naturally.

In the world we can think we are greater. We can resist authority because we believe we have more to offer than "this guy." But we are still called by God to submit to all authority, whether right or wrong. Seems illogical, but that's part of being a Christian. Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. (1Peter 2:18)  And it's not just about servants and masters today. It's about any authority. It's all about trials we go through...and how we go through them. Remember, many were, and still are, martyred who followed Christ. It's why His ways are along the narrow road. The world takes the wide path, but it will ultimately lead to destruction. So much still to learn...

So what happens when authority is wrong? According to what I read in His Word, we are still to submit. Even our grumbling and complaining, our seeing others' faults, which we ALL do against authority, is not submitting to God. Ugh. We can bring up our grievance, but if it is struck down, we must submit to whoever the authority is. It's a hard thing.

I read this: Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian pastor who spent fourteen years being tortured in communist prisons said the following about spiritual authority. [And this may not be the type of situation we might be faced with, although it could.] "Christians are soldiers who belong to an army. They have commanders, and must obey them. Christ Himself  'gave some apostles...some pastors and teachers.'  Nobody can be a Christian and declare Jesus as his only pastor, just as nobody can obey a general while refusing obedience to the captain, or even the sergeant, though these are much less competent than the commander-in-chief." (If Prison Walls Could Speak) Yes, Jesus is our highest authority, but we have others in this world as well, unless we are completely cut off from the world.

While we might recognize something that is out of place, a wrong thought, a wrong dealing, we do not have to like it, but we might still have to be obedient to that authority. God will deal with that authority in His time. He will see us through if we are obedient to Him, even if we are wrongfully treated. I can't even imagine being in a situation like this in some grand thing, but Jesus was accused of an awful lot and He paid the price with His mouth shut. Others will pay for their wrongdoing; it's up to us to stay clear of it, being submissive to the authority.

Might our arguing bring strife? Might it make us look to be troublemakers? Wow, a fine line for us to submit to authority even if it is wrong in our eyes. I think of Jesus' words from an earlier blog...What concern is that of yours? Or even these words He spoke, "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You must follow me." (John 21:22)  I think in our worldly bodies our prideful, rebellious nature so wants to be right in our thinking. Don't we just have all the answers? Not!

God knows the outcome and will deal with all parties based on their ability to do, or not do, what He requires, part of which is submit. Submit to God's authority for He ultimately, if He is in complete control, placed that person in authority...again whether right or wrong. There were good kings and bad whom He put into power. It's all about each of us individually and our response in all situations. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. (1Peter 2:19-20)  Commendable.

Jesus is to be our highest authority. But like Wurmbrand said, we still have worldly people with whom we are to submit. That might be an unbeliever or believer. Do we ever always get it right? I'm sure we don't. God will show us; He might even bring conviction. It might come from one in lesser authority or even in one in whose higher authority we should be submitting to!

If we submit to our boss we are looked upon as being a good employee. We might get a raise and accolades. The outcome is good. Think of God as our boss. We do as He says and the ultimate outcome will be "well done, good and faithful servant." It is God who is the ultimate righteous judge. We are just called to submit. ...Easier said than done...

Acts 14:22 - strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I Will Raise You Up

John 2:12-22

After this He went down to Capernaum. He, His mother, His brothers, and His disciples; and they did not stay there many days.

Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables.

And He said to those who sold doves, "Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!" Then His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up."

So the Jews answered and said to Him, "What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?" Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them, and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.

So many thoughts in this short section of scripture. Jesus was going to the temple to celebrate Passover. He already knew He was to be the sacrificial Lamb as described in this ceremony. The Passover refers to when God used Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt, when they were instructed to take an unblemished lamb and apply blood to the doorposts and lintels of their house to prevent the angel of death from entering, that they might flee their captors. Jesus's blood over our lives allows entry into His kingdom.

But as Jesus entered the temple He was taken aback by all the merchants allowed in to use the temple as a means to sell their wares. I understand that some of the selling was of animals for sacrifices, but that the vendors were gouging the prices to make a profit. This so angered, so offended, Jesus and His zeal for His Father's house is shown by the overturning of the tables and harsh words for these people to leave. It was meant to be a holy place of God, not an unholy place for price gouging or selling for personal gain. The Jews with their vendors were destroying what the temple was meant to be.

This is a tender subject…I have seen churches do the same thing. Events to honor and praise God preceded by an entryway filled with vendors. I saw this firsthand and was saddened by it…and could not shake how I felt about it. Just one more thing the church has allowed that may not have honored God. What ever happened to just coming to worship, talk about and testify of God? I wondered how He thought about this? Was the money or any part of it given to the church? I can't say.

If the zeal of His Father's house had eaten Him up then, what about today? Do we take the stand that the times are changing and with it we need to change God's Word to suit the circumstances? Make worship more palatable? Do something out of the ordinary to draw the masses to our churches? What is the underlying purpose? To draw people to Christ or draw people to the Church? We may never have a true answer. But He never changes…

I can't help think that we, too, have to be careful what we allow into our own personal temples. We need to have discernment that we are not being lured by the vendors of false preachers, teachers or doctrine. We must desire the pure Word of God and not manmade religion.

Of course the Jews were upset with what He did. They had allowed worldly devices into the temple. I wonder if churches would be upset with what I feel is wrong? Is this more a matter of doing worldly things than doing what God desires? Jesus purified His Father's house because He didn't approve.

The Jews thought there was some underlying miracle in what He did. Jesus' answer pointed only to Himself. That one day this temple (of His body) would be torn down but raised back up in three days. As He purified the temple that day, He would one day bring purification to all who believed in Him. A temple made with human hands is not necessary; God is not confined to a building. But we can be the temple of God with God residing within us when we turn ourselves to Jesus and allow purification of our own temples to take place.

As Jesus was raised up, we can be raised up when we give ourselves to Him.

Romans 8:11 - But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Perfect Timing

John 2:1-11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have no wine."

Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it."

Now there were six water pots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons of water apiece. Jesus said to them, "Fill the water pots with water." And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, "Draw some out now and take it to the master of the feast." And they took it. When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. He said to him, "Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!"

This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.

The beginning of Jesus' ministry. He had gathered all his elected followers, those twelve men who were part of His inner circle. His mother was a follower as well.

I don't think Jesus' mother was exactly meddling when she spoke these words to Him. She must have known what He could do. And, what I have heard, it was not a good thing to run out of wine at a wedding in those days. It would be an embarrassment to the family. Despite the gentle rebuke, she must have still been certain He would do something because she alerted the servants. Jesus didn't do anything without His Father's command. He was always about His Father's business.

We must all keep in mind we can't force God to do something for us or someone else for that matter. Everything is in God's perfect timing. And Jesus let His mother know this. His hour had not yet come. He didn't pat her on the shoulder or give her a hug and say thanks for letting me know, Mom; I'll handle it. No, He told her gently it was none of her concern. And so it should be with us. We cannot always help God out. We can offer up our prayers for things but it is ultimately in God's hands. It's best to thank Him for the wait! Best to ask what we can learn during the wait. But we must wait upon Him and stay out of His way in the natural so He can do what He needs  in the supernatural. Then it is done according to His will.

It seems odd to me though that after this encounter, Jesus seemingly promptly turns the water into wine. Might Mary have sensed He was about to do something? Was Jesus planning on doing something anyway? Maybe this was added to the Bible for just this lesson on not interfering with that which He has control over. We may never have an answer to this. I guess we just have to come away with His words, "My hour has not yet come."

There are many times in our lives when His hour has not come. There are many unanswered prayers or questions about why some things happen. We go through difficult trials and don't know how God could be working this into His plan for our lives. We can wonder all we want or get angry or frustrated. Until the trial is over we may not have the answer. But know that He is still at work. When you look back you might see how it all fell into place.

You didn't get the job you thought would be perfect; a better one shows up later. You lost something (or someone) but God provided just what He knew you would need later. The trials are used for strengthening...and even to find out how much trust and faith in God you have. Do you rely on Him more or give up? You just haven't a clue what He's up to!

His timing is perfect. Continue to trust Him for the outcome. Even the most dreadful trial can produce something great. And sometimes that trial will bring you closer to Him. That might be the case for many people.

Psalm 27:13-14 - I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Before You Were Called, He Saw You

John 1: 43-51
The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, "Follow Me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." And Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!" Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you."

Nathanel answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Jesus answered and said to him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these." And He said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."

Jesus says, "Come and see" and "Follow Me." If we do not know this Man Jesus through a close relationship with Him, we cannot envision all there is to see when we follow. I've said it over and over, a whole new world opens up. We receive spiritual wisdom, understanding, knowledge, blessings. Yes, we see trials also, but we have Someone greater than those trials on our side.

Nathanael was skeptical. He might represent a majority of people today who hesitate going, seeing and following Christ. What can be so great about this relationship might be the question. Nathanael must have known Nazareth had a sketchy reputation; I'm guessing he also knew Jesus was no more than a carpenter's son. How could their Messiah come from such a humble background?

But upon meeting Jesus his mind was changed. This so reminds me of a similar encounter the Samaritan woman had with Jesus at the well. He told her what things she had done, things no one else would know, and she believed. Nathanael said: "Rabbi, You are the Son of God!" The Samaritan woman exclaimed: “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” 

Each one of us can come to a time in our lives when He shows us things that give us every reason to believe He is who He says He is. He opens the doors of our understanding. It happens!

I love Jesus' words: You will see greater things than these. The veil between God and man that keeps us from Him will be removed. I say, "Come and see!" Be among those who have heard the call, followed, believed. Nathanael's skepticism turned quickly, as did the Samaritan woman's…as did mine. Come and see those greater things. Who's next??

2Peter 1:10-11 - Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

What Do You Seek?

John 1:35-42

Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God!"
The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, "What do you seek?"
They said to Him, "Rabbi" (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), "where are You staying?"
He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).

One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.
Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, "You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas" (which is translated, A Stone).

Again, there were many who knew of a coming Messiah. They anticipated His arrival, hoping for relief from Roman rule. While Jesus' whole baptism was not mentioned in the Book of John, it had occurred when John mentioned seeing the Spirit descending like a dove and remaining.

John again proclaims the words, "Behold the Lamb of God." Andrew and Simon Peter stood with John as he spoke the words. I can only imagine the awe they felt yet doubt if they fully understood the impact the next few moments would have.

Why the Lamb of God? Hebrew sacrifices meant offering up a blood sacrifice of some sort to atone for the people's sins. They may not have known it yet, but the Lamb of God were prophetic words for what Jesus was to become before the very eyes of many.

While these disciples said they found the Messiah, had they really found Him or had He walked into their lives, as He knew He would? Didn't He already know all things as they would happen? After all, He was God. He commanded a presence of some sort I'm sure and caused Andrew and Simon Peter to follow without hesitation.

We never find God. He reveals Himself to us and if we choose, we follow. When a person comes into relationship with Christ, something changes them, and others might notice and claim "they found God." But it's because "they" allowed God to touch their heart and allowed a transformation to take place.

Jesus chose Andrew and Simon Peter. This is mentioned in the other Gospel accounts. They were just willing individuals to let go of the lives they knew to follow One in whom they believed. We can do the same. If we are willing we see things differently, think differently, act differently and sometimes talk differently. Our interests change. Sometimes others like it, sometimes not. Sometimes we are rejected. We have a new family and new friends.  It's part of the process.

Jesus sees who we can be in Him. He saw it in Simon Peter. He already knew this impetuous man would lead His sheep some day. He knew that Peter would be the stone, or rock, having a firm foundation himself in Christ.

Jesus asked, What do you seek? They sought a political Messiah but would get much more than anticipated. I didn't seek God. I rejected Him until one day He touched my life and when I responded the seeking began. Now I wanted Him. But He sought me first and let me know it was He that I needed. In time I realized it wasn't about what was so familiar in my day to day life that I needed. It was He and what He offered that was necessary. What do you seek? He knows what you need.

For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, and the strength of salvation; the fear of the Lord is His treasure. (Matthew 6:32-33, Isaiah 33:6)

Sunday, April 6, 2014


John 1:29-35

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.' I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water."

And John bore witness, saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God."

Have you been touched by Jesus? Have you gone from not knowing Him, like John, to knowing Him through the power of the Holy Spirit?

I love the story about Mary and Elizabeth and how John in his mother's womb leaped when Mary came near with Jesus in her womb. Spiritually there was a connection. It's sort of like John's exclamation when he saw Jesus coming toward him above. He just knew, when he didn't know before, as he said about three times, "I did not know Him." We aren't definitively told whether John and Jesus had ever met before this time, except for that momentary meeting between Mary and Elizabeth. If anyone has any other explanation, please respond!

I did not know Him either for more than half my life even though I had heard of Him. I was well aware of Jesus, who He was, that He died for the sins of all mankind…and that, most amazingly, He rose from the dead, just like He prophesied He would.

But one day, about 16 years ago, He baptized me with the Holy Spirit and I can bear witness myself to this. I suddenly knew Him intimately through this miraculous, personal rebirth, which was very unsuspecting. And out of obedience to the Word, I was baptized again, symbolically in water, but of greater importance, in the Holy Spirit.

I, too, testify that Jesus is the Son of God, that I have been reborn of the Spirit. Have you been touched by Jesus? Have you gone from not knowing Him to knowing Him through the power of the Holy Spirit?

Ezekiel 36:26-28 - I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.

Friday, April 4, 2014

One Who is Greater

John 1:24-28

Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. And they asked him, saying, "Why do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?"

John answered them, saying, "I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose."

These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Those who were sent to look for this Man John was preaching about were religious men of the day. Men of some importance and intelligence within the religious circles, Pharisees. A Pharisee by definition then was a member of a Jewish sect, one who strictly observed the written laws. These men were well versed. They would have known of and looked for the coming Messiah because they knew of the Prophet Elijah's words. They came here to find out if John was that prophet. John claimed he was neither Elijah, nor the Messiah, nor a prophet.

So why was he preaching as he was? His words of repentance and baptism might not have made sense. A new concept. If he was neither the prophet or this Man, how could he do these things? They were accustomed to their religious rites and John's performance was outside that understanding. Remember, they were Pharisees, men who followed strict laws. They were looking for a messiah to save them from Roman rule, not change their whole religious thinking. A physical rescue, not a spiritual one.

Same is the message for today. No religion can save. It's not about religion or man made rites or works for salvation. Like John, Jesus came to call us into an act of repentance and baptism. Submission to God, not to a religion. We must first realize our sins then make a choice to receive Christ/God in order to have ourselves redeemed through relationship alone with Him, not by any works for our salvation...but through repentance, then regeneration through the act of cleansing, like Jesus was about to do Himself.

These men questioned John about this baptism. They would have some understanding of cleansing because the priests washed their hands and cleansed themselves before they offered sacrifices for the people in the temple. John said he baptized only with water. And he told them of Someone already among them who they did not yet know...and Someone some of them would ultimately reject because His beliefs were out in "left field" according to their beliefs.

John spoke of One who is greater than all of us, One who has the power over any man or any works to bring life or death to each of us depending upon a certain choice we have to make. He was speaking of Jesus. He was speaking about One who should be preferred over all others and while we are not worthy of what He has to offer, He is also willing to give freely, if we choose to receive Him, the gift.

There are many claims today that our good works will get us to heaven, because a person is better compared to others in the world, that they have a better chance. It's not about religion. It all comes down to relationship with Jesus. None of us are ever good enough on our own. We are only good through Christ's sacrifice. His sacrifice did away with all the works or rites performed in His day. Today all He wants is for us to believe, repent, receive and obey. No outward act of sacrifice but an ongoing inward act of repentance, no vain repetitive prayers, just giving of ourselves to Christ alone.

Jesus' appearance would make all these sacrifices null and void...and it was why He was so rejected and killed. But He became one final sacrifice...for all mankind. Our act of baptism comes, not as an infant, but as one who is able to understand the act of repenting and receiving Christ.

Remember, John came as prophesied as one calling in the wilderness, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." Jesus is the Way. John was doing as he had been led by the Spirit to do. To lead us to that One who is preferred over all others, including religions. We are to be born of God, not man. Religion is man made.

1John 5:19-20 - We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Voices in the Wilderness

John 1:15-23 

John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying: "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.'"

And of His fulness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"
He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ."
And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?"
He said, "I am not."
"Are you the Prophet?"
And he answered, "No."
Then they said to him, "Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?"
He said, "I am 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Make straight the way of The Lord,"' as the prophet Isaiah said."

John, the baptizer, was the man sent by God to make the way for Jesus. This is not the same John as the one who wrote the Book of John. John the Baptist was Jesus' cousin, so we are told in Luke 1. Did He know this man to whom he alerted people was the same man? I'm not positive.

John lived in the wilderness of Judea some distance from Jerusalem where Jesus lived. It is not recorded whether they might have seen each other during their childhood. What's important is that John was sent to be a prophet of God to preach Jesus' coming, repentance for their sins and the ultimate baptism of all who listened and received his word. But John was adamant that he was not the Christ, just the voice of one calling in the wilderness to announce His coming and what He stood for.

Jesus did the same thing, except He declared He was the Son of God. He promised newness of life in Him.

Aren't we all called to be voices in the wilderness? Aren't we all, while not all prophets, called to show people Christ? To preach that Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life. To preach that in Christ our sins are forgiven, to preach baptism when we come to this revelation. John did it, Jesus did it and so should we all be voices in the wilderness of this world that we live in. We wander in our own wilderness without Jesus. The wilderness becomes our promised land when we receive Christ.

Adam and Eve went from paradise to wilderness by their sin. God sent Jesus to reverse that, to bring new life. Heed the voices in the wilderness. Listen to the refreshing He will bring:

Isaiah 43:19-20 - Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field will honor Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen.