Friday, May 30, 2014

No Division

1Corinthians 1:10-13 - Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 

As I read these scriptures this morning I realized it was showing us what the Church should be. There are various denominations, but I think this points to not having them. It says we should not be divided. It's not about a religion, with man made doctrine or rules or rituals, but about our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Paul is writing this and even he states it's not to be about him. It's about one Man, Jesus Christ. Denominations divide because of doctrine. Today we might say, I am of the Lutherans or I am of the Baptists or I am of the Catholics...or I am of Christ.

It's about the relationship between each of us and Christ, not what religion we are. Even as a new believer there was something stuck in my spirit about denominations, a thought that continues to come back to me today. I was raised Lutheran and then became nothing. When I received Christ and began attending church again, I was of a different denomination. I realized even then that at that church only certain men trained in a certain doctrine would be allowed to pastor there. But I had wondered once early on if there was someone better suited than those trained in that doctrine, wouldn't he be a better choice? Would our church allow it?

I never received an answer because the answer was, our church was this particular denomination. Can't stick a Baptist into a Pentecostal church just like you couldn't make a priest head of a Baptist church. Something would have to give.

But isn't the Church to be based on just the Word of God? Isn't Jesus alone the Word who became flesh? Isn't that what the scriptures above are saying, that we are not to follow Paul, Apollos or Cephas (Peter)? It is Christ we follow because it is His church...He is the foundation, not any man. I know many churches preach the truth of Jesus Christ so then why the denominations? These questions still go through my mind. I do not believe one denomination is the right one. It is Christ alone as what, or Who, is the right One. Not religion but that relationship.

Christ preaches one word, that of His own. He is the way, truth and life. No one else. The disciples were just disciples...of Jesus...not themselves. Seems the Corinthians were divided. It makes me believe they were listening more to their teacher than Who their teachers talked about. We can make the same mistake if we take the words of our preachers, pastors or priests and elevate them instead of Who they are to be teaching about. A church should be showing where we go to learn the truth...into His Word. Sit at His feet and learn...or just discuss His Word in church.

God is the same today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow. He still desires that we speak the same thing, that we be perfectly joined together with the same mind in the same judgment. Yet we judge, sometimes righteously, sometimes not, that our church and its denomination is the best one. That should not be.

I am now in a nondenominational church. Our pastor preaches only from the Word. It is not about him.  If there are any divisions in the church they are discussed and worked out. We all, including our pastor, need to have teachable spirits. And because of this belief, he is willing to be wrong. We use no other book but the Word for our Bible studies or Sunday school. We do not preach another person's "gospel."

I'm so grateful that Jesus, not man, has all the right answers. Let me always have a teachable spirit, Lord.

2Corinthians 4:2-5 - But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Who Are You?

John 8:19-27

Then they said to Him, "Where is Your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also." 

These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come.

Then Jesus said to them again, "I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come." So the Jews said, "Will He kill Himself, because He says, 'Where I go you cannot come.'?" And He said to them, "You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." 

Then they said, "Who are You?" And He said to them, "Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning. I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but he who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him." 

They did not understand that He spoke to them of the Father. 

Repeatedly Jesus spoke of the Father but an understanding just was not to be. I believe we all hear what we want to hear and if it does not fit into our lifestyle or viewpoint we dismiss it.

I am so thankful that one day God sought me, chose me and allowed my heart and mind to receive the gift of His Son Jesus that I might understand the spiritual things of God. I don't proclaim to know everything, believe me. But I believe that He has opened up my understanding to believe things others may not. And this is not arrogance or thinking more highly of myself. This is something God will reveal to anyone with a desire to know.

Jesus had been stating repeatedly His Father was greater than all, that He did not come from the world but separated Himself from what the world believed. He wanted others to understand this and some did and followed. To those He gave eternal life. But those who argued with Him, who wouldn't listen, wouldn't believe because what they considered truth had flaws, who were unteachable, would die in their sins and would not go where He would go. No matter what they heard they asked Who are You?

We all have a direction to take in life. We choose to believe that what the world has to offer is greater than what God has to offer and, as Jesus has said, choose to die, or we choose Jesus and choose life. But so many times I have written believing is not just head knowledge. It comes deep from within one's heart. It is an experience you know that you know has occurred spiritually. Church doctrine goes out the door as does world view. It's between you and God...and you know that you know.

As much as God so loved the world that He sent His Son to die for us all, He is so holy as to not allow unbelievers into His kingdom. If someone has an authority problem this might be a difficult thing to grasp because He is our highest Authority. We must first humble ourselves and let go of the ideas that we have so long believed.

John 3:36 - 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.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Christ Our Lord

Hebrews 1:1-4 - God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. 

A break, sort of, from the Book of John. Over the past few days John has shown these very things that Hebrews has stated.

The prophets of old told us about this Man who was to come. And then He came and spoke of Himself. Some believed, some did not.

He spoke of Himself as the Son of God...who first created all things, who was (and is) the light of the world, being the brightness of God's glory, and who has the power to uphold all things by the very power of His words (of truth). Only He has purged us from our sins if we first believe in Him.

This scripture in Hebrews showing us the more excellent way is just another one of many confirmations of who He says He is, Christ our Lord, THE more excellent Way. It would be good to heed them.

Ephesians 3:14-19 - For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

He Bears Witness

John 8:12-18

Then Jesus spoke to them again saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." The Pharisees therefore said to Him, "You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true." Jesus answered and said to them, "Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I come from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me. It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me."

So far in the Book of John He has called Himself the living water, bread of life and now the light of life. This is the Christ. He is Life. He alone offers life in a way no other can. His life does not bring continual hunger or thirst. His life is satisfying, fulfilling all needs. The light He shines in the dark places allows us to see what is true. And when we understand truth, we have life.

Again the Pharisees struggled with His words because, despite understanding all their religious laws, they could not see, or did not want to see, that He was who had been written about, prophesied about in their books of the law. There was a connection missing. How could He claim to be God's Son? The audacity! I've had a couple look strangely at me because of my witness! Who do I think I am?

When we come to Christ we become children of God. We are co-heirs in God's inheritance. Jesus and His Father bear witness of this even if others don't understand or are offended by our beliefs.
He/They judge not by the flesh... And as children of God through Christ Jesus, we share in His suffering, persecution. Jesus told us this would happen.

What Jesus gives us is the most special thing we can receive. The living water, bread of life and light of life. They desire all to know and receive this. But we are not to be surprised by what others think or fear them because we are in the protective arms of the Almighty.

Matthew 20:21-22 - “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved." 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Where Are Your Accusers?

John 8:1-11

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. And early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.

Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?"

This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." And again He stooped down and wrote something on the ground.

Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?"

She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus spoke to her, "Neither do I condemn you: go and sin no more."

The events in the Bible are true. They may sometimes seem far fetched but we're talking about God here! We're talking about the One who created this earth and all things in it. Is nothing impossible for Him?  Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You. (Jeremiah 32:17)

Jesus had the right words for any occasion because they were the truth. And often these words stupefied or upset those who were trying to slip Him up. No one ever did, no one ever will.

Here again Jesus has brought the masses to listen to His words. It doesn't say they were forced to be there; and all the people came... What a commanding figure, this Jesus, and so amazingly wise. Who was this Man? They'd seen no one like Him. Surely He did not present Himself as one who was arrogant. He just spoke from His heart with all wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Just why the Pharisees despised Him. He was looking greater than they. A threat. Someone to get rid of. Just like we see Jesus here being tested by those who felt threatened, couldn't it be that today the whole idea of Christianity is in the same circumstance?

So here's a chance for the religious leaders to try to stump Him. There they went again bringing up the Old Testament laws, right before the Man who spoke of a new covenant, a new way. He put them in their places very swiftly! Was there any man there who had not sinned? No, because there is none righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10). There is only One who is totally without sin and they were standing before Him, trying to test Him!

And what does Jesus do? We don't know what He wrote on the ground although people have tried to speculate. I won't. We don't know. Maybe it was just something to give them a moment or two to think. So few words needed to be said, but such a conviction placed on these men.

Everyone is now gone. Just this woman who'd been caught in the "very act" of adultery. Had they been spying on her to catch her in the very act? What does that say about those who spied? Where were her accusers now? So they felt convicted!? Didn't stop them from wanting to stop Him, as we know. People feel convicted even today.

Anyway, then came what Jesus came into this world to do, for this woman and for us. Remove the condemnation and forgive sin. But there is a stipulation: go and sin no more. Jesus comes into our lives spiritually that we might turn from our sins and walk in obedience to a new life in Christ. He tells us that while others might condemn us, He will forgive. But it takes an act of belief that He has done this and still does.

As I write this I'm thinking about judgment. Some judge Christians for their seemingly narrow minded view of things. And we are told not to judge, and yet we are...righteously, like He did. He judged those Pharisees. He had them pegged! He also knew what all the sins of this world were. He had to judge. But He also hoped that people would turn from their sinful lives. It's what He asks of each one of us. And nothing is impossible through the power of Jesus Christ! In His own words He has told us this...

John 3:17-18 - 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."

Friday, May 23, 2014

No Man Ever Spoke Like This

John 7:44-53

Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him. Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, "Why have you not brought Him?" The officers answered, "No man ever spoke like this Man." Then the Pharisees answered them, "Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or Pharisees believed in Him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed."

Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, "Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?" They answered and said to him, "Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee." And everyone went to his own house.

I will say it again, there is no one like our God. There is no other name under heaven who is greater. There is only one God, the One who has created all things, knows all things, has all power and is ever present.

The people had a hard time "capturing" Jesus. Something just wouldn't allow them. There Jesus was and they couldn't do it. His time had not yet come. There were still things that needed to be accomplished before it could happen. Knowing the Book of John, He had more healings and miracles, more words to speak, more teaching and a lot to explain to His disciples before His arrest and death.

Jesus spoke words too difficult for some. They were no doubt words more powerful than the Pharisees'. They came from an understanding much deeper than the religious leaders could grasp...because His words came from above.

The Pharisees' statement, "But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed," to me was a judgment upon themselves. They accused others for believing in Him when they did not know what they, in all their religiousness and self-righteousness, knew! I am reminded of words Jesus spoke, "Come as little children." In other words, let go of all the preconceived ideas of who I am and just believe in Me. Have childlike faith, let go of worldly knowledge. Receive what I have to give over what the world deems important.

No man ever spoke like this. No man ever will. To know Jesus we must sit with Him, at His feet, and learn what He has to say about life, death, sin, repentance, obedience, love, heaven, hell, and a myriad of other sometimes offensive issues. It may not be everything we want to hear, but I guarantee it will be the truth. And there's where I think some get lost.

Thank you, Nicodemus, for standing up for Him! If there is anyone we should not, nor dare not, judge, it is Jesus. He alone has the words of life. He preaches the Gospel, the good news. Only He can give what others think they can give. The Pharisees' final statement here could be responded to in today's terms as don't judge a book by its cover. Jesus came from humble surroundings, was humble by nature, One who probably stumped the people when He spoke such powerful, intense words. Taste and see that the Lord is good! (Psalm 34:8)

Just like then, those who stand on His promises are viewed as different. To which God has said, they are a peculiar people. Sometimes even we say things that others can't fathom. What's this about last days? What's all the brouhaha about Jesus returning? Haven't those things been said for thousands of years? Who says we must be born again? I am a basically good person... What's so important about this relationship with Jesus? Doesn't everyone go to heaven? 

Romans 10:25-16 - ...As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah said, "LORD, who has believed our report?"

Isaiah 53:1-2 - Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

So There Was Division

John 7:35-43

Then the Jews said among themselves, "Where does He intend to go that we shall not find Him? Does He intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? What is this thing that He said, "You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come?"

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." But He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. 

Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, "Truly this is the Prophet." Others said, "This is the Christ." But some said, "Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?"

So there was division among the people because of Him. 

Not many verses but full of truth...that divides.

There still were a lot of questions about this Man who claimed to be the Son of God. Oh, the words He spoke. Words difficult to understand. Words which are still difficult for some to understand.

If Jesus stood before us in the flesh today knowing all we know about Him, with all the controversy and offense He stirs up, would there still be doubt, questions? There is a day coming where He will return. It is said that every knee will bow and tongue confess Him then. But this will be either voluntary or involuntary. I prefer to voluntarily bow. I bow before Him today...

Listen to this, Jesus cried out! He cried out then and He cries out now. The love He has for all mankind is enormous, greater than we can imagine. He cries out that people would hear and receive what He has to offer, eternal water, bread of life, His Spirit...His Spirit...that will live in us when we give ourselves to Him. Bread and water that will no longer cause us to hunger or thirst because we have all we need in Him.

He cries out because He knows what happens if we do not...eternal death. He died that all could receive this eternal life if we first call on the name of the Lord to be saved, if we humble ourselves as He humbled Himself. The Son of God, God Himself, died for us. How much more humility do we need? And what does He ask of us? That we become new creatures, letting the old man go (die to selves) and let the new man emerge, through Him. A new spiritual birth. We become part of those through the ages who have received, who are separated unto Him, who receive His righteousness and the good things He has to offer.

Like above, some will believe and some will remain skeptical. We so desire to fawn over Hollywood actors, sports figures, politicians, activists, musicians, ourselves, yet reject Christ. It makes no sense. So there was division among the people because of Him. He still divides. He has so much more to offer.

...I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 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. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations. (Ezekiel 36:24-26, 28-30)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Concerning the Doctrine

John 7:11-24

Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, "Where is He?" And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Some said, "He is good"; others said, "No, on the contrary, He deceives the people." However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews.

Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying, "How does this Man know letters, having never studied?" Jesus answered them and said, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority." "He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?"

The people answered and said, "You have a demon. Who is seeking to kill You?" Jesus answered  and said to them, "I did one work, and you all marvel. Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."

The Passover feast had begun. Jesus had slipped into town unannounced. People talked about Him. Who was this Man? Where was He? Was He for real? So many differing opinions. And the fear of speaking openly of Him... There are still controversies About Jesus. I would guess He has been the most controversial figure of all time. He still divides people.

Jesus sneaked into town. After a time He got up to preach. He only did the will of His Father. He had to have known that He would not yet be arrested although there were those who sought to kill Him. His time "had not yet come" for this. He had to have known He could continue to preach His Father's words to the people, to hopefully gather more people for the Father's Kingdom. What did He preach? Oh, to have been there.

The Jews, those who knew God's Word, marveled at how "this Man" could know so much. They had studied but He had not. And His answer to their question was as always that He preached only the words of His Father, the one who sent Him. Again He was openly saying He was the Son of God, the very thing the Jews called blasphemy.

I try to convey messages that Jesus and the Word of God that have already been established. I may not always be 100% accurate. But I am learning as I go. Hopefully I am encouraging others and maybe opening up hearts and minds to do the same, to seek Jesus and His Word to learn truth. My desire is that others grasp hold of what Jesus has to offer to all people, first of all the gift of His salvation.

Jesus said to the Jews that although they had the laws God gave to Moses, even they couldn't keep them all. Neither can we on our own. That is why Jesus came, to become the One who would bring forgiveness of sin if we believed on Him. But the laws, the commandments have to be in place and understood that we have some sort of foundation, that we see what sin is...and realize that we need Jesus.

He came not to abolish those laws but to fulfill them. There were many prophetic events about what was to be, about Him, about His coming, teaching, commanding, offering of Himself for our sins. Yet here He was before the Jews' very eyes and they didn't believe. And so it still is, people not believing.

Yet these words that the Jews knew have since shown us that Jesus came to fulfill them. We know that the Word of God is eternal. Jesus is eternal. In Him we have eternal life. Today we see Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and atheists coming to Christ, as it has been prophesied. The Word of God (both the written Word and Jesus the Word) will last forever. No matter what forces try to abolish it, it will remain. The truth remains...we need to know Jesus.

I see another theme here. Just as the Jews thought it was okay to do some things on the Sabbath, a holy day, but Jesus was condemned for what He did, the same happens today when Christian views and traditions are condemned, while others are allowed to exact their own. That old double standard. But praise God, we know these things must happen...and that God, Jesus and His followers will be victorious in the end.

If we want to be victorious we must let Jesus give us a heart to understand what truth is. We must be open to receive, not close-minded like the Jews. We must first allow Him remove our sin. He then opens the eyes of our understanding and begins transforming through the power of a mighty God. "If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority."  Some day we will all know whether we've done His will or not. the name of Jesus every knee should bow...and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ...I looked, and behold, a great multitude which not one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothes with white robes, with palm branches in their hands...  Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Philippians 2:10-11, Revelation 7:9, Luke 21:36)

Friday, May 16, 2014


Ephesians 1:17-21 - ...that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at his right hand in heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

What a wealth of promise in these verses. That we may know Him, the Father of glory. That our wisdom is the most meaningful and important things. That His power transforms. Death to life in no more than believing (committing one's self to trust in, be persuaded of, placing confidence in) on Him and then continuing in this fashion. To know the God of this universe, the name above all names...can you even imagine that He wants us to have and know these things?

There are many people who have heard the Word spoken and understand the meaning of salvation. They know how it is attained. They may have even, strictly out of obligation or intimidation, went through the motions of receiving Christ. And yet they do not understand. The eyes of their understanding are still veiled.

Ephesians speak of the riches of knowing Him. The inheritance we have in Christ, the power He bestows upon us when we receive Him. Some may think these are just words. Jesus died and was raised from the dead. It was an example for us...what happened in the natural for Him was that spiritually we might also be raised from the dead at the end of our life when we receive Christ.

God and His Son are higher than any other power. We hear of people who believe in a higher power. And that higher power  can be different depending on who you talk to. There is only One who is higher and more/most powerful. All others do not come close. All other things we idolize cannot compare.

Most people receive an inheritance after someone in the family dies. Money and material goods are passed down. There might be some enthusiasm about this...looking forward to receiving these gifts. God offers an even greater inheritance. I wonder where the idea of an inheritance began?! It is not a physical, hold in your hands, live in, sit on or spend/invest type inheritance. The inheritance God has is eternal. A home, a chair of great worth can still fall apart; money might diminish or be lost; there is no absolute assurance of growth. But there is an absolute assurance in God and His inheritance.

It boils down to this: without God, by the saving grace that is through Jesus Christ alone, we have no hope. We have no glorious future. Sadly some will not realize this until it is too late.

I pray, Lord, that You would open the eyes of understanding that this inheritance of greater value would become real to the lives of those who have not yet received it, to those who have heard but have not understood.

Acts 26:18 - open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Who I Am

John 7:1-10

After these things Jesus walked Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him.

Now the Jews' Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. His brothers therefore said to Him, "Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world." For even His brothers did not believe Him.

Then Jesus said to them, "My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil. You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come."

When He had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee. But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.

Jesus had clearly offending the Jews. It appears He offended those closer to Him also. I looked up the word brothers in a concordance (in the King James Version it is brethren) because I wanted to see if there was a specific meaning in this context. A brother can mean a sibling, fellow or man, or of the same nationality. It comes from the Greek word adelphus which means from the womb.

I know there are some who believe Jesus had no other siblings and that this would reference just fellows, men, or followers. I believe scripture proves He had other siblings and this makes reference to that. All four Gospels say that He was not received as the Son of God by some of His own family. And it states outright here that even His own brothers did not believe Him.

It appears they were putting Him to task, to once again bring about miracles. Perhaps they, too, wanted more proof. Like He told His mother at the wedding in Cana, His time had not yet come, so He also told His brothers. He did only the will of His Father...and the time was not right. He would not allow anyone else to dictate what He was to do.

As an aside, isn't it part of human nature to want people to know the good we do for others? Look at all whose names are listed as donors to this or that. While there is absolutely nothing wrong in doing this, why do we often need to be recognized? For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly! But in Jesus' case it's different. What He had to offer was far greater than what any man had. He did this not for Himself but to glorify the Father, to show what great things He had to offer. And what we do should also glorify the Father. Not so sure every donation to all the worthy causes do that. I think they tend to make us feel better about ourselves...Jesus can do the a better jobs for us. We are actually told to not let the left hand know what the right is doing (Matthew 6:3).

Anyway, how skeptical His brothers seemed to have been. How skeptical we can be. Imagine a friend or family member who one day says they received Christ as their Savior. Maybe that person (male or female) used to swear, had anger issues, was into drugs, pornography or alcohol and they stopped. A change took place and they were not that same person, the one you would hang out with and now might find you cannot be with. I remember a coworker, after my confession of Christ, saying she couldn't understand why I needed to change. It's a change that Jesus begins to make in you. It comes with the territory. You want to let go of your old self.

Imagine also Jesus, the carpenter's son, a brother, who one day begins to proclaim He's the Son of God. And imagine a friend or family member who now claims they have received Christ, and says they are now a son (or daughter) of God, that the Spirit of God now dwells within, is a child of light and not dark, is raised up and made to sit in heavenly places, free from sin and made righteous? (John 1:12, 1Corinthians 3:16, 1Thessalonians 5:5, Ephesians 2:6, Romans 6:18) And there are more scriptural descriptions! Wouldn't there be similar thoughts of "who do they think they are"?

If Jesus proclaimed He was hated by the world for what He spoke, where does that put others who claim to know Him?

But here's the thing...Jesus offers those "who I ams" to all people. All. But we have to let go of our misconceptions, pride, want Him and choose Him to receive them. We must know Him to receive all His gifts.

1John 3:1 - Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Flesh Profits Nothing

John 6:59-71

These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?"

When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, "Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.

From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" But Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.

Jesus has just talked about the eating of His flesh and drinking of His blood for eternal life. A difficult subject for many. Jesus spoke of a spiritual eating and drinking...a receiving only of Him as the way to eternal life.

His teachings sometimes seemed way out there, against the things people had learned and strived to maintain. He went against the flow. He came to turn the world upside down. And don't we know that today evil is considered good and good evil. And there are people today who find the words of Christ unpalatable and inconceivable. "Does this offend you?" We see for some it does.

When the Spirit of God works in the life of an individual the world view of things changes. Eyes are opened to the truth. Jesus is the truth and all He has said is truth. It cannot be disputed! He never changes, nor does His Word. If we receive Him and His Word we receive the truth and eternal life. If we scoff at His words, do not heed them, consider them of no account, we reject Him and we reject a chance at eternal life.

We might call ourselves Christians because we know who Jesus is and believe He was and has done all He said, but we go about our lives without regarding Him daily. To those people Jesus will say, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’" (Matthew 7:21-23)  This is sobering.

Jesus asked His own disciples if His words offended them. He knew not all would continue to follow because His words would become too hard to understand. And if we don't understand something sometimes, can't we just shrug our shoulders and walk away from it all? Many walked away...and many will walk away.

The Spirit of God opens eyes. Why all eyes are not opened is a matter of our own desires, our own
wills. We choose whether or not to take God seriously. And like the example shown of some of Jesus' followers, we will walk away because it's just too hard, His words are too hard to hear...or
understand. God calls all but not all will respond. It's called free will which God has given us. As has been brought up several times in church, there is only one way which is right. There are five references to this in Proverbs. Jesus is the way, truth and life. No one comes to the Father but through Him. That's why God sent Him and why Jesus spoke, to draw all men to Him.

His center twelve disciples knew. Twelve out of how many? They understood. There will be a few in the grand scheme of life also. They stayed and believed. They knew He spoke the truth and believed He held eternal life in His hands. He chose them...and He also knew that in order for all the events that needed to take place as prophesied in the Old Testament, one disciple had to betray Him. Yet, it was Judas' decision. The lure of money was greater than his love for Jesus. And it caused him much grief when he realized what he'd done.

The flesh profits nothing. What we deem so important in our lives is not what will give us eternal life. Only Jesus does. If our attention is on Him, He will show us what is truth that we may have life.

What grief there will be someday when those who have not taken the Lord seriously realize the outcome of their decision. Jesus still calls today. A decision can be reversed before it's too late. Lord, open eyes, minds and spirits that they might answer Your call today.

Proverbs 16:25 - There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Eat and Drink

John 6:52-58

The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?"

Then Jesus said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats of My flesh and drinks of My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven--not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever."

A thought came to me as I read/wrote these verses. Jesus never relented with His words. No matter how controversial, He kept it up. When we receive Christ we are called to do the same. He knew He was rankling these Jewish religious leaders. But He had to tell the truth. And the truths that He spoke then are truth today.

Now, what Jesus is describing above is merely an act of receiving Him. Acknowledging Him as the Son of God. Have faith in what He has done for us. This falls in line with our pastor's sermon yesterday on faith being an action verb. Receiving Him, confessing Him before men and other steps of faith walked out, after we receive Christ.

But I was also reminded of the scripture in Leviticus where God says:
‘And whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’ (Leviticus 17:10-11)

Wow. God said don't drink the blood. Jesus said eat and drink. What do we do? But I'm seeing something here. Bear with me. In the Old Testament Leviticus scriptures God was saying that life was in the blood, therefore it was unlawful to partake of that blood, to ingest it. And He was talking about all the animal sacrifices required by the people. The blood and flesh of those animals were sacrificed to God for the atonement for sins. "...for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul." That was a shadow of what Jesus would do for us. He gave of His body and blood as a sacrifice. However, He came that no more ongoing sacrifices were necessary.  It was finished. It was done. Once for all.

Jesus tells these Jews though that eternal life comes from eating His flesh and drinking His blood. This must have been really hard to understand since I'm sure they recalled God's command in Leviticus. Receiving Christ by faith is taking in His flesh and blood. We become one with Christ. He is in us and we in Him...spiritually. I had a lot more written, but I think this about sums it up. It's a spiritual concept, one which the Jews in John 6 found hard to grasp. It's not about physically eating His flesh and drinking His blood.

Even communion today is no more than something done in remembrance of Him. (Luke 22:19) If we think we are literally taking in His body and blood, isn't that like having Him being sacrificed over
and over and over when scripture says He died once for all? Life is in the blood. Jesus's blood was shed for us once for all. We receive Christ by faith and we have received Him, His spiritual flesh and blood, once for all. No more sacrifices. No putting Him back on the cross.

It's just all about receiving by faith, then living out that faith, or as our pastor said one other time, putting feet to our faith, walking it out. We receive Christ and He comes to live in us. He takes the old person and makes it new, in Him. And in turn, He lives in us. We are one in the Spirit.

Gosh I hope this made sense!

Galatians 2:20 - I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bread Which Came Down

John 6:41-51

The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, "I am the bread which came down from heaven." And they said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, 'I have come down from heaven'?"

Jesus therefore answered and said to them, "Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life."

"I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes from down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."

Again Jesus is trying to explain who He is, what is His purpose. We are not much different from these Jews. How many times we sometimes need to hear something before we understand!

He used an example. As the Israelites were fed by bread which came down from heaven in an endless, substantial, satisfying way, Jesus also came down from heaven in the flesh to provide a way spiritually. While the Israelites physically ate, Jesus offers Himself as the bread of life for eternity.

There's a point made that causes confusion. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. It makes it sound like God has already chosen those who will follow Him and those who will not. It's one of those mysteries we may never understand. Salvation is definitely a spiritual thing. Only by the power of God will someone understand and receive Him. We don't just, on our own, make the decision. We may think we have, but God works behind the scenes of our lives to bring it about. He draws us. Not necessarily with miracles or signs, although that causes belief to rise up, but the final act of His power alone.

It doesn't mean that the word shouldn't be preached. It doesn't mean we stop praying for lives to be saved. There's the scripture that comes to mind to explain this: I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. (1Corinthians 3:6). People still need to preach, teach and water, but the end result is God's. He gets the glory for it. God created all with a will and sometimes we will not to believe. It's that choice I so often mention.

So, if God has worked in someone's life and He knows the desire in any one person to receive Christ, He will impart His wisdom and ability to understand. And yet it's still a mystery. I have repeatedly shared how one moment (and it was literally a moment) I was pushing God away until someone said something that utterly caused me to become undone and pliable in His hand. I wasn't saved at that moment, but He had broken through something in my heart and opened it to receive Him the next day! Not my will to receive because I didn't initially want to. Someone had planted, another watered, and this day God gave His increase.

A moment in time where He steps in. I can't explain how. That's what makes God God and we mere humans. I can't ultimately say that by our own openness it happens. He's just always at work behind the scenes. And why some never choose is the biggest mystery of all, seeing how Jesus, the bread of life, the living water, has all we need over the things this world has to offer which can be removed in a heartbeat. But Jesus offers something eternal.

He and He alone is the bread from heaven. I repeat myself. Like the manna came down from Jesus came down. Both for the sake of feeding and preserving life. What I did not say here is written in the following scripture...not just the bread but what God proclaims. He sent His Son, Jesus, the Word of God, in the flesh. Receive Him, the bread of life, the Word, receive eternal life. That simple.

Deuteronomy 8:3 - So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Up or Down?

John 6:34-40

Then they said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always." And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

It doesn't get much better than this. Remember the words Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman? "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."

These people were still just wanting the bread but not understanding that it was He. We also look to the natural things in life to sustain us when it is only He who gives real life.

Does it amaze you like it does me that the idea of "up" is always good and "down" tends to refer to not so good? Jesus told the Samaritan woman and these people that we will be raised up, as He was, if we eat of the bread He gives and drink of His living water, which springs up and brings everlasting life. There's always a condition. No way around it, ever.

We see evidence of Jesus daily that we cannot deny His existence. He was with the Father in the beginning at creation. So He was part of creating what we see today. He came in human form that people might see Him and believe. Many saw and did believe and passed their encounters on down through the ages. Testimonies of Jesus. Yet many saw and did not believe. I guess there will always be skepticism or unbelief.

Jesus came down from heaven. That act resulted in His death. But it also resulted in life. Just as He came down and was raised up, so we can be. We are born down here on earth and the end result is death. This death is permanent. We do not come back, as some might believe (reincarnation). After death, however, there is more, one of two directions we God's design. Which "more" do we choose? If we choose Christ, we have eternal life. If we do not choose Him we have eternal death. Up or down? The condition, the result.

We can be raised up like He was. He said that the will of His Father was that He give His life, that we might see and believe and be raised up. Who would want to pass this up? Jesus even bluntly told these people that they saw but still did not believe. I know it's difficult sometimes to imagine what we have not seen. But our childlike faith, which Jesus asks we have, has to believe that He was raised up and that all He says is true and if that IS true, we also will be raised up...if we take hold of salvation through Jesus alone. Lose our life to Christ to have life.

I think if anyone then followed Jesus repeatedly they might have finally understood what He was saying. It's like that for us when we read His Word. Staying in the Word helps us to understand, opens up our understanding. Brings aha moments.

A fountain of water springing up into everlasting life, bread that never causes hunger...that everyone who believes in Him may have everlasting life and will be raised up at the last day. We all know that heaven is up, so where does that place hell? We give in to Jesus and all He has to give or remain content believing we are good to go on our own. It's a choice we make.

Matthew 16:25-26 - 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?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

This Is The Work

John 6:22-33

On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples, but His disciples had gone away alone--however, other boats came from Tiberius, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks--when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. And when they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, "Rabbi, when did You come here?"

Jesus answered them and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him."

Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent." Therefore they said to Him, "What sign will You perform then that we may see it and believe You? What work will we do? Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"

Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."

I love the types and symbols in the Word. This is such a wonderful example of that.

So Jesus disappeared for awhile to be with His Father before showing Himself in the sea to the disciples in their boat as they traveled from Tiberius to Capernaum. Imagine what the people must have thought: How did He manage to escape? And they sought Him. How I'd like to see more people seek after Him with such determination!

However, Jesus makes the point after they find Him that they don't seek Him, they seek the food He has to give. A free handout...missing the point. Just like us people. He actually said, "Do not labor the food which perishes." Makes me think that they truly went out of their way to seek Him by crossing the Sea of Galilee! Just my thought...

Then, as now, we labor for food, for our survival. But this is only temporary bread. We will have to continue to work for additional sustenance. It goes on till we die. Jesus was trying to make the point that while we need bread in the natural we also need the bread for eternal life. But He states we need to stop working, striving for it. It cannot be earned. We need only come to Him with right hearts and take what He has to offer.

Like the Israelites in the desert were sustained by bread which came down from Heaven, so Jesus became our Bread which came down from heaven. Oh how we make so much of receiving what He so freely gives. The people above asked, "What work shall we do (asked twice), what sign will You perform" that they would be able to do the right works and believe. Jesus' answer was only to believe, that He was the bread who came down from heaven to give life to the world. Receive Him, receive the Bread.

I'm sure this had to be confusing. They saw Him, they heard Him, they saw the miracles but still found it hard to believe. I thank God that even today when we cannot see Him we are able to believe in what we do not see. By His Spirit He enlightens, illuminates. He makes spiritual eyes to see and hearts to seek. He is who He says He is. He still does miracles in people's lives. The greatest miracle is one we don't immediately see but someday will...eternal life.

He still is our Bread from heaven. Taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 38:4).

Isaiah 55:2 - Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

It Is I; Do Not Be Afraid

John 6:15-21

Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.

Now when evening came, His disciples went done to the sea, got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them. 

Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid. But He said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid."

Then they willingly received Him I to the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.

We need not fear Jesus. He is our shelter in the storm. 

These people who had seen His miracles, who had been fed living bread and listened intently as He spoke wanted Him to be their king. They'd had enough Roman rule. They knew a messiah was coming some day. However, they misunderstood why, how and for what reason He came. If this was their Messiah, they wanted Him now to save them. Their idea was one who would come in a political manner to save them from Roman oppression. They gave up years ago the idea of a spiritual judge; they wanted a king like other nations had.

The problem is, kings are men. They were often not God followers but enamored with the power and control they now had. Many ruled unrighteously. Still happens today! Only a few did call on God. Along the way they became accustomed to an earthly king. They did not understand that one day their Messiah would not be an earthly king. Jesus knew what His Father's will was and this was not it so He slipped be with His Father.

That's just an introduction to the real story here! Again Jesus shows us something. All things happen for a reason. That may be something we say if we don't understand why something has occurred. But Jesus is again trying to get just His disciples to trust Him. And it amazes me that something like this happened at least three times...He told His disciples to fear not; where was their faith (Matthew 14, Mark 4, Luke 8).

And here in John, the same thing. With Jesus in the center of our lives we need not fear. The storms of life arise but He tells us to not fear, have is I who is with you.

I know three people who are in situations right now. Two only have months to live and one is in the midst of a loved one's health issue. Two are believers. One is trusting for His guidance and healing. One is not afraid to die because she will be with her Jesus; if initial treatment does not work, she wants no more. The third also does not want to go through a lot of treatments. She has lived a long and good life and is prepared to go. I know two are confident in their Savior. They have peace in their hearts. Not sure about the third. 

Jesus wants us to have His peace that passes all human understanding. He wants us to take our eyes off our situations and focus on any situation. Can we be in the midst of something without knowing what the end result will be and have peace? If not we don't know Jesus. Trusting in man alone (and this includes politically as well) will not bring peace. Man can fail. But in trusting in the Lord there is hope for whatever the outcome. He is our strength, refuge, strong tower. We can be nestled in the cleft of He Who is our Rock Who brings peace.

Lord, I pray for these three circumstances. I ask for Your hand to be upon each of them. I thank You for the two that I know have given their lives to You and trust in You for their situations. And I ask, Lord, that You reach out to the third. Open doors that she might be reached with the overwhelming word that You alone can bring her peace and hope for her eternal future. I thank You that in the storms of our lives You tell us to not be afraid, that You are there. You calm our storms. Praise You, Lord.

Mark 6:40-51 - And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were troubled. But immediately He talked with them and said to them, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Nothing Much Has Changed

John 5:39-47

You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

I do not receive honor from men. But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God? Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you--Moses, in whom you trust.

For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?

So few verses but so many thoughts. Each sentence a gold mine.

I repeatedly say that the Bible is the Word of God. That it is truth and wisdom. That it has been written that we might know Him. That through these words we might have life. That only through the Word, Who is Jesus, power will come to understand these words and bring that life.

Jesus continues to preach to the Pharisees, those religious men. They proclaim they know scripture, yet deny Jesus is the Christ though they have read about the Old Testament. The New Testament had yet to be written...

He tells them that if they searched scriptures and knew them they would have eternal life because they spoke of Him who was to come, but because they reject Him they reject life. Ouch.

He goes on to allude that they will receive honor from men, their contemporaries, but do not receive Him. This rebuke must have angered them. Who was He to tell them they were wrong? Then He states in other words that He is God...and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God? The only God...

The Pharisees knew of Moses, knew his words. They put their faith in Moses, a mere man but would not put their faith in the One of whom Moses preached. He may not have used Jesus' name but through prophetic words. Jesus came and fulfilled his prophecy. However, they rejected His words...the words of life. No other man, whether pastor, priest or rabbi, can do the work of Jesus. Moses put his faith in God. He spoke words for future generations that they might also believe:

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, according to all you desired of the Lord your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.’ “And the Lord said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:15-22)

God would raise up a P. The LORD said He would put His words in His mouth and He would speak all that He was commanded by Him. Hearing His words would be required. Not hearing would bring death, not life. Jesus told us previously that He only came to do the will of the Father. He spoke and healed. Jesus spoke the truth and it was not received by all.

Not much has changed. Jesus is still rejected as the only Way to life. Many, even like the religious leaders of Jesus' day, still put their trust in men. But one day every knee will bow and tongue confess Jesus is will be required.

I may not have always known Jesus. I may have rejected Him, though I knew of Him, but I do today. And when we get our minds wrapped around His words, He wraps His love around our hearts and grants us eternal life. We have the scriptures that speak of Him and His miracles. Will we be like Pharisees and not believe what has been written for our understanding?

Matthew 11:4-6 - Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

A Banquet

John 6:1-14

After all these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberius.
Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed in those who were diseased. And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.

Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. Then Jesus lifted up His eyes and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. Philip answered him, " Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little." One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?"

Then Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.

So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, "Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost."  Therefore they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world."

We all know the story of the feeding of the five thousand, how five loaves of bread and a couple fish were multiplied as another sign or miracle that Jesus performed that many might believe. The five thousand listed here were men. That did not include any women or children that might have also been there. So the number would be greatly enlarged.

In our flesh we look for signs. It's human nature to want to be able to see something. Look at  doubting Thomas; he had to see Jesus' wounds before believing He had risen from the dead. Taking someone at their word doesn't always work. It must be why coming to Christ can be difficult. We need to see the miracle.

So we are tested, like He tested His disciples. When we come to Christ, often it is at a time when we are at our lowest. At a time where all hope is lost, we can do no more on our own and we need to take our minds off the situation and look for another way out. Or should I say look for the other Way out?

I was reminded of Psalm 23 as I read that Jesus asked His disciples to make them sit down and all the grass that was in that place: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters... You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies...My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. He gives. Like the living water, He offers the living bread. Both satisfy. He offers a banquet table of spiritual blessings.

Nothing we have in the world is sufficient. Jesus offers us the bread in this story to people who were searching. A multitude showed up on this mountain. They had to have walked. They had to have been determined. Oh, they wanted the literal bread, they wanted healing, but He wanted to offer more. He offered His words of salvation, words of life. Not by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from My mouth (Matthew 4:4, Deuteronomy 8:3). There was not enough bread in the natural but Jesus performed a miracle that they might believe. He still has the same bread to offer that is enough for all.

The fact that there was not enough food to feed these people, to me, points out that we do not have much to give. We cannot work for our salvation. It comes in a time of our greatest need, when we have nothing left of ourselves. He alone gives us all we need and He has as much as we need. When we take what He has and realize we have been filled, that is the miracle, another life saved.

Lord, let all who are in such great need today come to You. Fill them with the bread and water that brings life. Let the words You have written, preached and have asked others to share alongside You be taken into hearts. All these things are offered that we might receive life and Your goodness and mercy, that You might be glorified, that the miracle of life is seen.

Philippians 4:19-20 - And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Bearing Witness to the Truth

John 5:30-38

I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true. You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved.

He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light. But I have a greater witness than John's; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish--the very works that I do--bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. And the Father Himself, who has sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe.

Jesus is directing this exhortation again to the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day. They knew scripture and laws. Here Jesus is telling them under no circumstances could He do anything on His own. He only did the will of His Father...which basically said He was the Son of God. To that, no doubt, the Pharisees called Him a blasphemer. See what Jesus says: There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true. Who is the "another?" Clue, just a few words later this another is said to be H, His Father.

As I read that I recalled this: When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)  God, the Father, testified of Him. It was done in the midst of many people. Don't you think those tongues were wagging that day!? Is this truly the Son of God? We heard the voice but did not see Who spoke. He told us this.

The Bible is God's Word. It is truth. Jesus is the Word and He is truth. The Bible testifies throughout the Old and New Testament about Jesus. Jesus can be found periodically in likenesses in the Old Testament; in the New He comes alive. In the Old He is concealed; in the New, revealed. How amazing is our God? I am, even now, filled with a fresh excitement over this. His Word is alive.

John the Baptist testified of Jesus. He was the voice in the wilderness. All who believe in Christ, have received Him as He says we should...born again of the Spirit...are also to be voices in the wilderness of this day. We can testify of what He has done for us, how He has changed us, how He continues to change us as we walk with Him. The work is never done! The process will only be complete when He returns.

Jesus testified by His words and actions. He spoke of Himself, He healed. Then the greatest testimony was when He quietly allowed Himself to be arrested, tried, deemed guilty, tortured, crucified, died...then rising from the dead. His Word in the Old Testament testified of this; words the Pharisees knew so well yet still didn't believe. And He stood right before them.

I have not seen His form but I believe. I admit I have heard "a voice" in my spirit. And at times I'd swear there was someone (Someone) standing right behind me when I heard the words. I pushed the whole idea of God away with a vengeance for a time when He was seeking me. And then someone told me that God spoke to her and I crumpled in the blink of an eye. I wanted that!!! Only God can do that. Only He can change a person in an instant. How I thank Him for that moment. That was Him personally testifying of Himself to me.

If we "want that" it can happen. It comes from deep within human hearts. It's not a surface desire. We want Jesus from the depth of our souls. We're done with the head knowledge. We want more. It can happen. Many, like the Pharisees, do not believe. The Spirit does not abide within. We must hear the Word, believe the Word, receive the Word and then the Spirit will work. The moment you believe with all your heart... Listen for His voice and respond.

Matthew 17:5 - While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Hour is Coming

John 5:19-29

Then Jesus answered and said to them, Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but whatever He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Father who sent Him.

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come I to judgment, but has passed from death into life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and He has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of condemnation.

Jesus speaks about His Father. He speaks about truth. He speaks about giving life to those who are dead. Who are the dead? Those who live their lives without the relationship with Christ that Christ has with His Father. Those who live without acknowledgment in their hearts that Christ lived, died and is risen again.

Just like Jesus could do nothing apart from His Father, neither can we do anything without our Father. And Jesus said we can only come to that same Father through Jesus Christ Himself, the only way, truth and life, that sincere acknowledgment of knowing Christ as our Lord and Savior and believing in Him. God the Father showed a greater work when He brought Jesus back to life.

Now Jesus wants to do the same for us. And His ultimate desire is that no one should perish, that He might cause others to be resurrected from their dead spiritual lives. We seem to think that we can do this without Him. If Jesus claims He can do nothing without His Father we should be worried if we think we can. Why would God have sent His Son if we could work our way to heaven on our own?

Jesus proclaimed who He was, what He offered, gave life to those who heard His words and believed. He spoke of removing judgment from those people. There will come a day of judgment. That's the hour that is coming. If we do not listen to the words of Jesus or trust in Him, judgment will be upon us. He has offered many opportunities. He has opened many eyes and yet some struggle with taking that sure step toward life. The road to destruction is wide. The road to life is narrow. Tough decision. Want the easy way or the hard way? Want acceptance in the world or acceptance from God?

Jesus says: Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life...  Do not marvel! He has told us what we are to do. He has told us right here that one day those who have done good, who have received Christ as outlined by He Himself, who may have physically died, will come forth out of the grave and will live with Him forever. Those who have not done as He requires will not rise to eternal life but will be condemned for eternity. This speaks of heaven and hell.

His voice resounds throughout the Old and New Testaments. Do what the Bible says, hear the words of God, believe, take them to heart, live them, share them. Then you have done what is good in His eyes. It's all about Him. It has nothing to do with us. We don't need to be wise in our own eyes. We need to be wise in His. That is what brings life.

He has told us again today what we must do: hear the words and take them to heart. The hour is coming. We need to be prepared before that hour arrives. The time is now.

Luke 9:24-26 - For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.