Monday, June 30, 2014

That He May Be Glorified

John 11:1-16

Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, "Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick."

When Jesus heard that,  He said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it."

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, "Let us go to Judea again." 

The disciples said to Him, "Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and You are going there again?" Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him." These things He said, and after that He said to them, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up." 

The disciples said, "Lord, if he sleeps he will get well." However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him."

Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him."

The Book of John describes Jesus the best. From the words in the beginning of John that He is the Word, is with God and is God, to His death, resurrection and reappearance to His disciples, we begin to know Jesus. We see His compassion, judgment and power through healing and miracles. All designed that we might know and believe like those in His days.

All that is written in the Bible from Old to New Testaments is there that He may be glorified. Nothing less. While some may believe He is too judgmental, it's only because those who think this are convicted...which brings anger and a turning away from Him. No one wants their sin revealed. None of us do. But for those who believe, we know it is for our good.

So here we see an account being set up. Jesus knows a family: Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Lazarus has become ill and Mary and Martha call for Jesus because they know He can heal him.

The odd thing is Jesus doesn't rush to handle the situation. He lingers awhile before deciding to head back to Judea, where His life is in danger, to Lazarus and his sisters. But this, as He says, is to glorify God...and essentially Himself. May sound a little arrogant but I assure you it is not. It is just added proof of His previous miracles and statements that He is the Son of God and that He does nothing apart from His Father's will. An attempt to reveal Himself. And attempt to show us who we should be putting our trust in.

Even the disciples who had seen the miracles and healing He had performed needed more proof. I look at how we live our lives in Christ. We do not see where God is doing something and we might even forget to trust Him until we are reminded of how He works, which in each of us is different. It's all part of how we believe and trust Him in all areas of our lives.

Examples: a serious illness overtakes us and we don't see how we will be healed; yet God might withhold healing for a specific reason. Or what seemed to be the perfect job isn't received; God may be withholding that for His perfect job, one that is even better suited. Something unexpected shakes up our comfort zone and we are forced to change our lifestyle, if even for a season. Unexpected death might bring about a miracle in someone else. We just don't know all of God's plans. And we can't second guess God. We shouldn't.

The disciples had heard Jesus say returning to Judea would glorify God. They heard when He said "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." (John 8:12) and now He's talking about walking in the day because they might stumble at night? What's this all about? They were confused about Jesus' words about Lazarus. He's asleep; he's dead. Which is it? How was He to be glorified by someone's death? He hadn't gone directly to help this good friend of His. I suppose it takes us all some time to get stuff like this into our heads.

And they thought by going back to Judea He might be Thomas determined at least himself, but urged the others, to go and die with Jesus. They couldn't see past what was in their minds as impossible. Haven't we read and stated many times that "nothing is impossible with God?" Sometimes not until we see His hand at work do we truly believe. They would soon learn that He was the Way, Truth...and Life.

I'm sure the rest of the story of Lazarus is well known. We will see how we are all like Lazarus. We will see the glory of God. We will see Truth in action. But all that's for tomorrow!

John 1:14 - And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

That You May Know

John 10:32-41

Jesus answered them, "Many good works I have shown you from My Father, for which of those works do you stone Me?"

The Jews answered Him, saying, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God."

Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, "'You are gods"'? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him."

Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand. And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed.

Then many came to Him and said, "John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true." And many believed in Him there.

As a believer I have to take myself back sometimes to the days when I did not know Jesus as I do now. It gives me perspective. It also is a reminder that God change anyone's heart. When I think about how adamant I was I didn't need Jesus...and how that idea reversed itself.

Jesus still shows us good works...signs...if one looks for them. We can see them daily...from the breath we take each morning which was given to us by God to all those things around us...those things we love, and sometimes take advantage of. Everything we have has been given to us. That you may know...

The Jews claimed to understand it was not about His good works that they wanted Him stoned. They couldn't tolerate anyone claiming to be God. The next statement made me question what Jesus meant.
 Is it not written in your law, 'I said, "'You are gods"'? The word of God, we know, came to mere men. It was passed down from generation to generation. It was learned by religious men and taught. I looked up gods in this context. One of the meanings is God's representative; of magistrates and judges. These Jews were religious leaders. Were they not as this definition states, God's representatives? Yet they questioned Him for telling only what He knew to be true...He was the Son of God. He spoke with an authority they couldn't dismiss.

We are told to search the scriptures...that we may know...what the truth is. These Jews KNEW the scriptures yet did not know. Was it pride and stubbornness on their part? God's written word is true so it stands to reason that God's Son, also known as the Word made flesh, tells the truth. Believe in Me and you will be saved, Jesus asks of us. Belief in our heart, not our mind. These Jews wanted none of that.

As I was typing these scriptures and "listening" again to Jesus telling these men He was the Son of God, I thought back on when He was being baptized. The words of His Father at the time of His baptism, the truth, came to mind. I was not aware of the words that were about to follow underlined above. They warmed my heart...He went back to the place where He was baptized. And more

believed. He can so change anyone's heart.

Even more, the confirmation...He is the Son of God. The power of His words...amazing. No denying from me that He is the Son of God. Wouldn't those people who'd heard those words then have spread the word? Wouldn't the word have gotten to these religious leaders? How could anyone who'd seen or heard not believe? Especially then when they had Him right before them. What were those words? Read this:

Matthew 3:16-17 - 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 on Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

...After I posted this I turned to Hebrews to read a little more of the Word. The answer was clear why these men didn't believe...why others don't believe...
For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. (Hebrews 4:2)

Friday, June 27, 2014

I And My Father Are One

John 10:19-31

Therefore there was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings. And many of them said, "He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?" Others said, "These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?" 

Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon's porch. Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, "How long do You keep us in doubt? If a You are the Christ, tell us plainly." 

Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are one."

Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. 

I needed to look up the word division. These Jews were just so adamant. We know what the word means, but... Strong's Concordance defines the word: dissension, schism, rent. The root word is defined: to cleave asunder, split into factions.

Those definitions add more punch. Jesus was great at bringing division. These Jews just wouldn't listen. Did they really want to know who He was? Or were these questions and declarations just other excuses to kill Him because He was more than they could handle?

Again Jesus told the truth. He had proven to them using not just the healing of the blind man but other examples of miracles. The Jews knew the scriptures of the Old Testament where prophetic words were spoken regarding He who would come to be their Messiah. They turned their own blind eyes even after Jesus said that He and His Father were one. Such blasphemy to these men.

Imagine talking like this to the Son of God. Yet some do.

We either believe Jesus is who He says He is or we do not. We either follow Him or we do not. We are serious about Him or not. We either trust explicitly in Him or we do not. There are some who still turn blind eyes to Him.

Jesus was and always will be controversial. He will either be believed or dismissed. There will always be division. We will either follow Him or our own ways. We will be like the wandering sheep or the sheep that follow. It's our choice.

He tells us, My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish... He is the sole protector of those whom He considers His sheep. His Word, His voice will either delight us or have no meaning for us. And that brings division.

Psalm 23 also points out that with Jesus as our Good Shepherd we shall not want. Our lives will not always run smoothly. But Jesus will care for each of us. While He brought division back then, He also laid down His life for all mankind, and offered eternal life to those who would take the step to follow Him, to those whose blind eyes were opened, whose hearts would believe. More where division comes in. Those who believe and those who do not.

Matthew 10:34 - Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I Lay Down My Life

John 1:10-18

"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.

I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father, and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of the fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father."

John 10 is predominantly the chapter discussing the sheep and the shepherd.

The Bible says: All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6) And Jesus is describing this in this part of John 10.

We are all like sheep. We are. Sheep are not too bright; neither are we sometimes. We need God's wisdom, His Spirit, to understand the things of God. We need His Son Jesus to provide this wisdom. We need to be in relationship with Him, like Adam and Eve once were in relationship with God. Like what happened in the Garden, the thief, our enemy, satan, came to destroy that relationship, which ultimately removed our relationship also. We can so be like sheep and wander from God's truths.

To avoid the wiles of the devil we need a Savior. We need the guidance and correction of a good shepherd. As Isaiah stated we have all gone astray. But God...sent His only begotten Son to lay His life down for us. Jesus willingly laid down His life that we could all have life. Shepherds watched over their flocks. The good shepherd would sleep at the entrance to his sheepfold to protect them from the wolves and robbers. He was willing to lay down his life for the sheep. The Good Shepherd in real time does the same.

In the natural we haven't a clue. Until one day Jesus comes into our lives and opens our eyes to His truth, salvation, protection, wisdom. Because we are so like sheep and so prone to wandering, Jesus, our Good Shepherd, took all the sins imaginable...and unimaginable...upon His body when He was scourged and beaten. He endured the pain each of us as wandering sheep piled up in our lives. Imagine every one of everyone's sins all throughout history and those to come...imagine just your own. He bore them all. He laid down His life for each of us that we might have life.

We are to follow the One who laid down His life for us. Only in He is the truth. Jesus is our guide and protection for life. If we look to anyone else we will fall prey to the enemy...the hireling. He will take in anyone who has a desire for what He has to offer, any people, nationality, age. He is THE God of heaven. He alone has the power to save.

There are ministers, pastors, priests who are like the hireling. They don't care so much about the people, the sheep who need guidance, as they do about their own wallets, ministries, churches. This is very sad. It is why we need to go direct to our Shepherd, to Jesus, to receive all that is good. We are told we can have direct access to God. We do not need to go through anyone else. Actually, to do so is ineffective! Who knows the Father better? Who has the real power, man or Jesus?

Matthew 7:15 - Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Door

John 10:1-9

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers."

Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. 

Then Jesus said to them again, "Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved! and will go in and out and find pasture."

I am thrilled with God's timing. Psalm 23 has been on my heart lately. I'm reading a book called A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller. I also recently watched (and transcribed) a short message by a Jewish believer in Jerusalem about shepherds and sheep (and Psalm 23). And I was amazed that it all came together as I am delving into John 10. But then I'm amazed about a lot of things God does!

Jesus tells all of us that He is the Door. He is the way, truth and life and no one comes to the Father but by Him. We are told to enter by the narrow gate, that Jesus is the only way. We can look at it this way...

We have the world. Within the world there is a sheepfold. Within that sheepfold are those who have a good shepherd to guide them. Jesus is our Good Shepherd. If we believe and receive Him we have entered that sheepfold. We know His voice over all the false voices in the world. We follow Him over all the others claiming they have the keys to success, prosperity and happiness. We trust in Him.

Listen to the Jewish believer's account regarding the door: If the entrance to the cave was wide, the question arises, how did a shepherd protect the opening? They gathered stones to fill in the opening and leave one small opening to allow the sheep to go in and out. The good shepherd would lead the flock by day to secure water and pasture, and at night stand at the entrance to the cave holding his staff and one by one count the sheep as they entered. He must, of course, have known they were his sheep. He must recognize his own flock. So he counted them. And since there is no door to speak of; he is the door. John 10:7 - I am the door of the sheep. 

There are those, however, who do not understand this. They do not understand the things Jesus speaks. And Jesus tells us...very truly, very assuredly, very honestly...that He is the door. He is the protector, success in His realm is greater than success in the world. His prosperity far outweighs worldly prosperity. And He offers happiness we cannot understand until we receive Him. Add to that the peace that passes all understanding. All things eternal are given us when we receive Christ. All He has to offer, including eternal life, green pastures, living water, He offers to us if we come to Him.

Unlike the game show which displays three doors one can open, in this world there are only is a good door, the other is not. There is only one winning door.

Psalm 23:1-3 - 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. He restores my soul...

Monday, June 23, 2014

For Judgment I Have Come

John 9:34-41

They answered and said to him, "You [the blind man] were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?" And they cast him out.

Jesus heard that they cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, "Do you believe in the Son of God?" He answered and said, "Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?" And Jesus said to him, "You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you." Then he said, " Lord, I believe!" And he worshipped Him.

And Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind." 

Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words and said to Him, "Are we blind also?" Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin remains."

The Pharisees now began to berate the blind man for the truth he told...that they could not believe: He was blind but now he saw. They cast him out of the temple for this statement. And what about those who are in a relationship with Christ today and say the same thing, I once was blind but now I see? 

Hmm, they were pretty much trying to cast Jesus out also for what they believed to be blasphemy. The Truth stood before them; they heard Him speak, saw Him do miracles, but they could not get beyond what they had always known. The Truth stood before them!

As stated, Jesus found the man and wanted him to know for a fact who He was and who had healed him. Oh, Lord, that people would ask, "Who is He, that I may believe in Him?" That they might begin to see like the blind man because you have opened their spiritual yes and the eyes of their hearts to the knowledge of You. That they might shout, "Lord, I believe!" And worship You.

Jesus makes an odd statement, that those who are blind might see but those who can might be made blind. Think about it. The man was blind, healed and now could see. He knew a miracle had occurred and was willing to believe. Those who are able to see, in the natural, who have seen or heard how others changed yet believe it's something "those people" needed but not themselves will be judged by Jesus and forever made blind. We all need Jesus.

It is God's desire that all should believe and be saved, but that will not happen. There will always be some who just can't or won't do it. And for that reason they will be judged. When one is determined not to believe in God or not to believe a relationship with Christ is necessary, nor believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to change lives, one remains spiritually blind. ...with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved, ...for this reason God will send them a strong delusion that they should believe the lie... (2Thessalonians 2:10-11)

As was testified in church yesterday, God will open doors for us to witness to others. Even those hard-hearted who do not want to hear might come to a place in their lives when they "give in." Their hearts are finally willing to hear and believe the truth of Christ. We must never give up in prayer. We must always be aware of God's leading, His guidance. The timing will be perfect if in His will. God would rather not judge against. Do not say you see, yet see not, by forsaking Christ.

Ezra 8:22 - ..."The hand of our God is upon all them for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those those who forsake Him.” 

Friday, June 20, 2014

I Will Not Back Down

Philippians 3:12-14 - Not that I have already attained or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Lord, this is my prayer, that I never give up following You, that I never back down in grasping for more truth about You. 

For some it might be easy to back down in their belief of God. Maybe no results in prayer might be the issue. Thinking God has not heard the prayers or has decided not to answer...or thinking that we are not worthy enough to receive the answer. Or maybe there are too many disasters in life and we come to a time of being worn out for it all.

It's then we are to remember that everything is in God's timing. He knows all we are going through, all our desires...and motives. His timing is everything. Maybe He needs to get us right in our thoughts, or He has to change so done else's heart. Through difficult times we must draw nearer to Him. That's what it's all about anyway...trusting when we just do not see His hand. When we look back after a breakthrough we then see all He has done, all He had to put into place before our prayer could be answered.

So often I refer to life as a puzzle or a spider's web. Pieces must be in place...and everything plays a part, has a reason; one part of the web connects to another, to another, to another. That tangled web we hear about. Yet it's not tangled in God's purpose. He knows just what needs to happen.

I've been thinking on and off all week about trusting in what we cannot see. It fits in with the account of the man blind from birth in John 9. Jesus healed him and he was able to see. He saw Jesus! And I'm assuming after that he believed and trusted in Jesus. And once our spiritual sight is restored and we see Jesus then we are faced with the task of believing in Him when we don't see Him. Those unseen things. If we continue seeking, trusting, obeying despite all odds, we will receive the greatest prize of all.

I don't know if I will hear, "Well done, my faithful servant." I don't really feel I'm doing that much. I have had conversations with others who feel the same way. But maybe I am (we are) His eyes. How can any of us judge? We are not to compare ourselves with others. If we think purposely getting out and doing just to prove to God something to Him, our motives are wrong. A matter of the motives of the heart. Maybe I will hear those words based on what I am doing! There's where faith again comes in. There's where plugging along reaching forward to those things which are ahead. Always looking forward, not back at mistakes or wrong directions.

So, I press on. I know what God likes and dislikes. I also know, as stated above, I have not been perfected. We never will be this side of heaven. But we press on to achieve the one thing that is most important...the upward (heavenly) call of God in Christ Jesus. 

Today's thinking tells us that to be politically correct, there are no losers, all are winners. It's better for morale. Not so by God's standards. There is one narrow road we are to walk...or run...on. There is only one Way to heaven and to get there we had better be on that right road. We had better stay on that road, follow that Way, no matter which direction He goes, and press receive the prize of heaven. This ending scripture reminds me of that narrow road that few are on.

1Corinthians 9:24 - Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

It's Called Faith

John 9:17-33

They said to the blind man again, "What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes" he said, "He is a prophet." But the Jews did not believe concerning him., that he had been blind and received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight.

And they asked them, saying, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?" His parents answered them and said, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but by what means he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself."

His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that he was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, "He is of age; ask him." So they again called the man who was blind, and said to him, "Give God the glory! we know that this Man is a sinner." He answered and said, "Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see."

Then they said to him again, "What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?" He answered them, "I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?" Then they reviled him and said, "You are His disciple, but we are Moses' disciples we know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from." 

The man answered and said to them, "Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing."

I'm certain this lengthy account of the blind man is long for one is important that God make a point about blindness and skepticism regarding eyes today being opened spiritually.

We see again the angst among the Jews. They had no answer for the miracle of a blind man's eyes being opened. They didn't want to hear or believe Jesus...who claimed to be the Son of God, or believe He could do this miracle. All they wanted was a scrap of evidence to accuse Him of sinning and blasphemy so they could do away with Him according to their understanding of the laws.

They just couldn't believe the blind man so they went to his parents who sent them back to the now seeing man. Aren't we like this sometimes? Skeptical of one's beliefs...especially when it comes to God? You say Jesus is the only way? Prove it. You say He is absolute truth? Prove it. You say only He brings eternal life? Prove that, too. What about my way? What about my beliefs? Why can't there be more than one way? 

It is a narrow road Jesus walks on. It's why this is in the Bible. We don't always want to be told this. I struggle with the thoughts I want to write. There seems to be a deep knowing or confidence/assurance in my belief that so go beyond the words I believe. I'm not trying to sound super spiritual. This happens when you come to Christ and know that you know the way, truth and life is through Jesus alone. It's called faith.

While we all know what faith is but here's the definition anyway: strong belief or trust in someone or something; belief in the existence of God; strong religious feelings or beliefs; a system of religious beliefs. We can have faith in things other than God, but that faith can surely fail. God will not.

Like the blind man said: "This is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes!" I concur with this statement. I marvel at my knowing Christ. I marvel that He took me to a different place in my life, that He opened my spiritual eyes, that I might see Him for who He is, like the blind man. He's right here for all to see but not all do.

He loves, forgives, heals, sets free, encourages, supplies, protects. He is all we need. He is a wonder. Yet some have a hard time taking Him seriously. It is such a thrill to read His Word and know that He speaks to us through it. He commands, enlightens, rebukes, desires. He wants only that all know Him. His desire is that all should be saved. Look outside right now. You can see His glory. It's all around us. Sometimes we see but do not comprehend. Let this be the day your eyes are opened.

Matthew 13:14-15 - And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 
hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
and seeing you will see and not perceive.
For the hearts of this people have grown dull. 
Their ears are hard of hearing, 
and their eyes they have closed, 
lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, 
lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, 
so that I should heal them.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Division Among Them

John 9:14-16

Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also asked him again how he had received his sight. He said to them, "He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see."

Therefore some of the Pharisees said, "This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath." Others said, "How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?" And there was a division among them.

Wow. Here we go again. More division. Jesus had a knack for this! And Jesus a sinner?

The Pharisees again needed to hear, perhaps to be sure they had ample argument against Jesus, how this blind man was healed by Him.

Jesus wanted people to know Him. He wanted them to know that He was the Son of God. He wanted them to know that He was greater than all the sacrifices that had been made for the sins of the people. That He was going to become the once-for-all-sacrifice for our sins. He was willing to endure the comments, untruths. He hoped to open the eyes of these men, too.

What happens when others attempt to show what Jesus has done in their lives? Not all respond favorably. That's good enough for you, but not me. I don't need God. My life is fine the way it is. The world is tangible; I can see, touch, smell everything. I will put my trust in what I can put my finger on. We can't even see God.

Jesus came to turn the world upside down. He came to show the world if we trust in what is unseen (Jesus), our lives are more secure. Isn't that an upside down statement?  ...while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2Corinthians 4:18)

The issue here was that Jesus did a miracle on the Sabbath, their holy day, a day of rest.That was unheard of in Jewish tradition. Jesus was not part of their tradition but a new way! This was a bone of contention for these men. He was upsetting their ways. How could this Man who claimed to be the Son of God, who knew the laws, do this? Isn't that a sin? They could not see that a new way (Way) was before them. We are called to all have teachable spirits...

While God took a day of rest after creating all things, I'm certain in Jesus' day He did not mean not to heal...or be about the Father's business if He so commanded. The day of rest then, and now, is to be a day devoted to God. A day of rest from work. We can still devote every day to God through our lives and our prayers, our communication with Him. If He urges us to do something, we do it, even if it's on that day of "rest."

All the Jewish religious leaders were challenged because they only knew what they had been required to do generation after generation. They might have felt their responsibilities would be in jeopardy because of this one Man. Their power was at stake. Who would listen to them, who would abide by their rules if this Man changed people's way of thinking? All Jesus wanted was for them to understand. I wonder how their lives might have changed had they believed? What changes might we have seen?

Rules and works...legalism. Today as then we need to realize we cannot do works to please God or enter His kingdom. We cannot buy our way or work our way to heaven. We must believe and have faith in God alone. Not a man, nor his ideas. Then our works are deemed good. Jesus was upsetting the Pharisees' apple cart. Part of what they had always adhered to was looking like it was about over. The laws, however, were still intact; God wouldn't change the commands. But He was about to change the means of entering the kingdom through one Sacrifice instead of endless ones which never achieved permanent forgiveness of sins.

But Jesus would and still does be that end-all sacrifice. By Christ alone. No works, no being good enough. A way made that even the most hardened criminal can enter the kingdom if he, with all his heart, turns to Christ and allows Him to transform his life. Imagine that. The person(s) one might so never want to forgive, God will. That's His job! (We ARE called to forgive...even our enemy.)

Like the blind man, we must "see." We must put our faith and trust into Jesus alone. The world nor the traditions of man have anything eternal to offer. If we think like a Pharisee we will stay lost. If we allow Jesus to transform our mind, we will be saved. In Christ alone.

I "saw" fifteen years ago. He touched my life and I knew it. I'm so thankful for Jesus allowing me, a blind person, to see.

Colossians 2:8-10 - Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How Were Your Eyes Opened?

John 9:8-13

Therefore the neighbors and those who previously had seen that he was blind said, "Is this he who sat and begged?" Some said, "This is he." Others said, "He is like him." He said, "I am he." 

Therefore they said to him, "How were your eyes opened?" He answered and said, " A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, 'Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.' So I went and washed, and received my sight."

Then they said, "Where is He" he said, "I do not know." They brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees.

Previously in John 9 Jesus restored the sight to a man who had been born blind.

Here those who knew this man questioned the whole event. Is this he who was blind? Yes. Or someone like him. The man himself exclaimed it was he. Two thoughts go through my head: It's like Jesus claiming Who He was and people in various places of belief or disbelief. And like when one is born again, is changed and others find it hard to believe...or wonder why they had to change. Is this he/she who used to _____ (fill in the blank)?

The big question is, How were your eyes opened? Or how will they be if they have not been? In this case it was an unconventional means, spit and dirt! My testimony will be different from someone else's. We are "captured" when and where we will "see" and understand we have been touched by God. He is amazing.

The next step this once blind man was to do was go and wash. Reminds me of baptism. We are called to step out in faith and when we do, He becomes real to us. Without physically seeing Him today, we see spiritually. We know with our whole being we have been touched by God. Our eyes were opened and we see...and we share what we know.

1John 1:2-4 - ...the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us--that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Blind From Birth

John 9:1-7

Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" 

Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

When He said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.

No pun intended but, the way I see it, we are all born blind from birth. We are in a spiritual blindness until we hear of, believe in and receive Christ. As He says here, He is the light of the world.

When we are spiritually blind we live in darkness of the things of heaven. When the truth of Jesus Christ shines upon us and we receive Him by faith, as this blind man did, doing as Christ said by doing no more than going and washing his eyes at a particular pool, we receive our sight. He becomes our light.

As was also pointed out, again, we are born spiritually blind so that when we meet Christ the works of God will be revealed in and through us when we receive Him. Words from a popular hymn:

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

It takes an action to receive Christ. We must go...and be washed in His blood.

I think of Saul who persecuted Christians until He met Christ on the road to Damascus. God blinded Him. But he knew he had met God, had seen the light (of the world) and his life was turned around miraculously.

The name Saul means desired. Perhaps Saul's desire was to persecute but perhaps God desired for him to be changed. God's glory would be seen in the miracle. Saul's name was then changed to Paul which means small. Paul no longer looked at himself as this giant of a persecutor but as a man who now humbled himself before God and powerfully preached Christ. A miracle. God's glory seen.

I love this account. How God can open blind eyes that we might see Him as He should be seen, that we can worship Him in spirit and in truth. The light of the world now part of our lives.

The Jews could not understand. They were spiritually blind to the truth. They understood the laws of the Old Testament but they could not see that Christ was there to bring newness of life, through faith in  Him, not death through rules, regulations, works. Praise God for Jesus, the Way.

2Corinthians 4:3-4 - 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.

Friday, June 13, 2014

There is an Order to Things

Mark 16:15 - And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned." 

As I wrote yesterday's blog I thought about one of the ending scriptures. If you notice, there's an order to the scripture above, Jesus' words. He who believes and is baptized... God is a God of order. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. (1Corinthians 14:33). 

Belief must come first. Baptism follows. How can a child have such belief when they cannot even speak or reason? Somewhere in the early centuries sprinkling as a form of baptism was begun. The Greek term baptizo means to immerse. It is a symbol of death and resurrection of our old to our new man when we have received Christ. I believe any child unable yet to reason is secure in God's kingdom despite being born with the sins Adam and Eve initiated. When I came to Christ, it was a decision I made. And from that decision came an understanding of things I'd never contemplated before. This understanding grows.

Our church, as many others do, have full immersion baptisms for children and adults. I happened to be baptized in Lake Michigan one summer. Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. He was dedicated as a baby at the temple. We have dedications as well in our church. Dedication does not assure salvation. It is done that the parents of the child will commit to raising this child in the ways of God.

Baptism comes at a time when one can say for certain they believe who Christ is, openly speak those words before others as a form of accountability, then become baptized, to seal it in a manner. It's the washing of the water: There is also an antitype [symbol] which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ...(1Peter 3:21). I couldn't, obviously, say it any better! Symbolic washing to remove the filth of the flesh through (our belief and faith in) Jesus Christ.

When the meaning of dedication and baptism were made known to me it just made sense. Was Jesus sprinkled as a Child? He was given power from on high at the moment of His baptism. I believe while we are given the Holy Spirit at the time of our first admission of belief in Christ, that power is truly released at baptism. It becomes our show of faith in Christ, our true testimony of our belief.

This devotion also showed up in my email the same day. It points out the difference between head and heart knowledge. Baptism comes when we know in our hearts, not our heads, who Jesus is and are able to comprehend what sin is in His eyes.

Acts 2:38 - Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Faith in I AM

John 8:48-59

Then the Jews answered and said to Him, "Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?" Jesus answered, "I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges. Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word he shall never see death."

Then the Jews said to Him, "Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, 'If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.' Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be? Jesus answered, "If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, 'I do not know Him,' I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day! and he saw it and was glad."

Then the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I Am." 

Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

More questions and answers, accusations and truth, unbelief and attempt to show. I didn't want to use the word show so I looked for a synonym. It turned out to be the right word! To show means: to cause or allow (something) to be seen; to give information that proves (something). (Webster's).

Jesus wanted these Jews to see and know who He was. Their spirits were not teachable. They had their minds set that this Man could not be who He said He was. He was trying to open their minds to His truth. He wanted them to understand about Him.

Jesus came only to honor His Father. He came to earth to live among men for this purpose, knowing He would be questioned, accused, condemned, persecuted and crucified. He came for the purpose of showing all mankind the way to salvation, Jesus, the Way. He knew the obstacles and the cost.

He truthfully told these men they could not know the Father because if they did they would believe and know Him. But, again, they could not understand. Their minds could not comprehend. And I think that's the issue with many. Our minds cannot comprehend fully; it has to come from our hearts. We have to be touched by God in our hearts to receive and have faith in His words.

Abraham knew God and, by faith, knew there would one day come a Messiah. Death will come to all men physically, but Jesus tells us we will never taste that death if we, like Abraham, put our faith in Him. Abraham had faith in God in the Old Testament. We have faith in Jesus in the New Testament.

Jesus is God. Jesus was in the beginning with God (John 1:1). "Before Abraham was, I Am." One and the same. It's a heart and faith issue. These men could not comprehend this. There was no childlike faith. We must know Jesus by this childlike faith in our hearts. We must seek Him for eternal life. We must know Him or like Jesus said: If I say, "I do not know Him [God, the Father]," I shall be a liar like you.

These are Jesus' words; if we believe them we will not see death.

There are still questions and answers, accusations and truth, unbelief and attempts to show. As Jesus did as His Father asked, so those who believe in Jesus are called to do. It's called evangelism or witnessing. It's about continuing as the disciples did. It's speaking of what we know and what we've experienced. It's about keeping alive the truth of Christ by passing down those words that will never die because they are truth. It's about sharing Christ through whatever manner God has given us, through words and works...but not first without true faith.

Believing must be the first thing we do. Belief comes from the heart, not the mind. God knows the difference between heart and mind. He also knows our motives when we share Christ.

And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned." And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. (Mark 16:15, Galatians 6:9)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Where the Son Abides

John 8:33-47

They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, 'You will be made free'?" Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

"I know that you are Abraham's descendants, but you seek to kill me, because My word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father."

They answered and said to Him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them,"If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father." 

They said to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father--God." Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to my word."

"You are of your father the devil, and the desire of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth. When He speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God." 

My, these are some strong words. I am reminded every time I read the Word that not only is it the truth but it is for us today. And these strong words are just as relevant.

There are a few "if" statements here. There are always conditions for us. Every time these religious leaders spoke, Jesus had a rebuke. This may sound unfair, mean. But...Jesus only spoke truth. They argued with the truth; they didn't understand the truth.

He only spoke what the Father showed Him. No, not as a puppet. God is One who is holy and has certain standards which are in place for our good. There are many laws in place in this world we don't always like that are for our own good. Way at the beginning Adam and Eve had only one requirement of God...don't eat of a certain tree. They had every other tree available, but isn't it human nature to do what we are told not to? They chose to disobey and were immediately separated from God who walked with them, spoke to them. We continue to pay the cost for that disobedience.

But God sent His only Son because He loves us so much He wants us to rely on Him for all things because He knows what we are in need of. It can't get much plainer, He wants us to be His children and rest in Him, to be filled with His Holy Spirit and walk in His Spirit that we do what is right. He wanted us to live as Adam and Eve did in the beginning. So He sent His Son to take upon Himself the sins of all people for all time upon the cross that if we believe in Him and receive Him with our whole hearts and souls, not just in our heads, He would forgive us of the sins Adam and Eve "bestowed" upon us. He would remove the separation again, through Christ.

We are, as Jesus so pointedly said, are either of God or of the devil. There is no in between. If we hear the words of Christ and don't like them, don't listen to them, don't hear them, we are not of God. We also cannot believe that some words just don't apply to us. These words apply to all of us.

Jesus says we are slaves to sin...and a slave does not abide in the house forever. If we are in Christ, He is the Son who does abide forever. A slave to sin will not enter into the kingdom of God, where the Son abides. Believe in Him and this Son will set you free. It's that simple. Believe and trust so that you can understand His words.

We can say we are Christians, like these religious leaders said they were of Abraham. But Jesus says, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham." Or if you were God's children you would do the works of God. Hebrews 11 states that by faith, Abraham did... He had faith in God yet these religious men showed they did not because they did not believe Jesus. We cannot believe in God and not believe in Jesus. They are one and the same. Their words are the same.

Can we ever be perfect? No. The Bible says we will never be perfect. But having Christ as our Savior and Lord is a good place to start. His blood has covered our sin and we no longer are under condemnation if we walk in His Spirit.

If we believe the lie that we do not need God we are of the devil. It's stated above in Jesus' own words. This is serious stuff. If Jesus only spoke what His Father showed Him, I am doing as best I can to do the same. It's the truth of God's Word. Isn't not hearing or listening to His Word just a bit like seeking to  kill Jesus, a Man who has told the truth which He heard from God?

Jesus so wants all to come to Him and believe and be set free of the condemnation of sin. It is up to each of us to do this. We are all born into sin but we can be made free from it through Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:17 - For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one [Adam], much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Then You Shall Know

John 8:28-32

Then Jesus said to them, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him." As He spoke these words, many believed Him.

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

I am struck by the phrase "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself." When He is lifted up...when He is crucified...when He dies but is risen after three days... All those things He said would make more sense. He did nothing out of His own will. God the Father's plans would be accomplished for the sake of all mankind.

Oh, how I am reminded that we all go through trials and have occurrences in our lives that cause us to make decisions. Jesus certainly did. How do we react, what do we do, where do we go, what do we say? Life in Christ won't be smooth. He perfects us every step of the way and sometimes that means having to go through something to cause us to look to Him for help. If we remain close to Christ He will go through whatever it is with us if we allow Him, if we seek Him and call on Him for strength and wisdom.

I am reminded that knowing Christ opens our spiritual eyes to things the world does not understand. The spiritual things of God. A richer knowledge of Who He is. Then you shall know...

Those who began to believe would see. They would seek Him and listen to His words. They would, as any follower of Christ, know the truth and be made free. They would no longer need to fear. He did not fear man, not even those who so strongly opposed Him,  so why would they need to if they believed in Him? We see people around the world, even to some degree in our country being persecuted for their belief in Christ. No one ever will stop Him from His plans. In fact, what we see in the world may all be part of His plan to bring about the last days. Keep trying to remove Him and His return may be sooner than expected.

We can hold on to this promise below for ourselves if we choose to believe and follow Christ. It's all about what Jesus can do for us. Our eternal security.

Hebrews 13:5-6 - Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we may boldly say: "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"

Friday, June 6, 2014

Continue At His Feet

Psalm 27:4 - One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. 

A friend of mine also has a Christian blog. She posted the other day about being a C student and struggled with not being able to help with one of her sons' school work when he was still in school.

I was recently in Arizona with a friend. We got to talking about school. I confessed that I was a C student, probably less than average. I went through graduation exercises but did not have a diploma in my little folder. That would be mailed to me after I redid a class I'd failed. I think I only passed because the teacher, the librarian, was not well (which I did not know) and he died later that summer.

But look what happens when God shows us His truth. When He gives us a desire to learn. I hated school. I was not popular. I liked band the most, but was never outstanding there either, other than being able to march and play an instrument at the same time! And reading music was more difficult than learning by listening. Go figure.

But when I met Jesus, I was in my early 50's, about 35 years later, and I became a new person, with new desires, new goals, new mind, new heart (well, I feel like He's still working on that part...)

The Bible has given me a new perspective. It has shown me what is most important. His Word is life. Although an education is a very vital thing, God's Word through His Holy Spirit, imparts even greater wisdom and gives greater meaning to life. I've heard God say to my spirit the Bible is the only book I'd need to take if I had a choice of one book. It was one of those, lower your head and sigh in resignation, humility and total understanding, moments when He spoke to me.

I may still be poor at math, not so great when it comes to geography or history, but I do know how to read. And the words of life, words of wisdom, comfort, peace, promise and a future are greater than the other issues. Hey, we have an internet now! Instant knowledge on other subjects just by Googling.

My favorite Bible is marked up and highlighted. I once thought I'd lost it and was frantically looking for it. What would I do without those pages all yellow or green or filled with inked words in the margins? Thankfully, I had only misplaced it. How could THAT have even happened? Wisdom at my fingertips. I would have been lost without it.

It's not about all the information we have in this world. It's about Who supplies our most vital information. The Bible offers us the proper wisdom and truth. Many don't agree with it because it seems harsh, it doesn't fit into their lifestyles, when He should be our lifestyle. God has high standards. He holds our lives in His hands, directs where our eternal lives will be. I think I will listen to Him over what the general population believes. He offers true wisdom.

I might look a fool to some, but that's okay. He takes the base, weak, foolish things and puts them at the head of His class. I learn from the very head Master. I will continue to sit at His feet. I like that. I will thank and praise Him for the work He has done. So I will not feel too guilty for sitting too long at His feet.

Luke 10:38-42 - Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Empty Words?

1John 1:1 - That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life--

As I prayed this morning these words were spoken...Let Your words, Lord, not be empty words to those who do not know You.

It prompted me to look up scriptures about the Word of God, what it is, what it does, how it affects our lives, how it IS life. Just sharing several of them today. As usual, I will add that the Word of God is not just the written Word. Jesus is also known as the Word:  IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD, AND THE WORD WAS WITH GOD AND THE WORD WAS GOD. (John 1:1) He not only, as God and Jesus, authored the words, but is them.

Psalm 119:105 - Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Jesus is the light of the world)
Revelation 12:11 - And they overcame him [satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony and they did not love their lives to the death. 
Romans 10:17 - So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Hearing what Jesus has to say)
John 6:63 - It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

The thought came to me yesterday: We are all born with souls. These souls live on after we die. There are two places where these souls will forever live after death, heaven or hell. If we do not have a relationship with our Lord, if we have not received the Word, our souls will be subject to eternal death. In heaven is eternal life. The Bible clearly states hell is eternal torment. It is a place for those who think hell is the trials we go through here and now; that it is imaginary; that because any one of us has done enough kind deeds we will avoid it.

The truth is, none of us are good enough to make it to heaven on our own. If I had anything I'd like to put in every blog it's that none of us are ever good enough. If we were God would not have had to send His only Son to die for our sins that we might believe in Him, follow Him, trust in Him only for our lives. Are these empty words? God doesn't think so. It's why He sent His Son, the Word, to become our life and has the written Word as a guide to life. Isaiah 55:11 - So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

These words are not meant to be taken lightly. Receive Christ, the Word. Taste and see that the Lord is good. His Word is the fresh manna that sustains. It is the bread (manna) of life. Like the manna came from above each day to sustain the Israelites in the desert, so Jesus came down from heaven to be our daily bread. His death was not an empty act. His words are not empty promises either.

Lord, I pray that these words would not be vain, empty words to anyone. I ask that You make them life to souls perishing without You. You are THE way, truth and life. We cannot go to the Father (Who is in heaven) without You. I ask these words, Your words, bring life to anyone who needs to know You. 

Proverbs 30:5 - Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Rise of Lawlessness

I had a blog ready to post. It sort of touched on this and I have decided to post this instead. My sentiments exactly. And said so pointedly. So, yes, I'm not the only one who believes the days of Revelation are nearing. Let Your Spirit open eyes to Your truth, O God.

The Rise of Lawlessness 
By Jill Martin Rische

June 3, 2014

The top headline on a number one news site is a quote from a Democrat:We've Proved Communism Works. Combined with a picture of the infamous Red Communist fist, it conveys a chilling message. Revelation has become part of our every day lives. 

The only comfort there is to be had is from the words of Jesus: And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.(Matthew 5)

How bittersweet to remember a time of innocence, a time when America cherished freedom and privacy. No internet, no cell phones, no iPads to lure and bind us to a lawless government. We could travel places and know for a fact that not a single soul watched us. We never had to worry that our cars might betray us -- that someone might actually be able to turn them off. We could laugh at the very idea of someone listening to every phone call we made. 

But today it is only reruns of Andy Taylor's Mayberry or Richie Cunningham's Happy Days that draw us back to a place where privacy mattered and family began with a mom and a dad -- and they were proud of America. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Presidents once believed in the rule of law, and took for granted the fact that it would be followed. Even the days of Watergate reflect a different America--one that actually cared if you were law-abiding -- and called you a crook if you were not.

The rise of lawlessness crept up on us in the 20th Century. It hit God first with Nietzsche's infamous God is Dead as a frontline assault, followed by the attacks on biblical inerrancy, in our own seminaries, because God has to fall before man can take His place. 

America became drunk on power and wealth; it wandered down the very dark road of drugs and sexual immorality, and experimented with all kinds of evil. The church offered soft lights, soft music, and even softer sermons. Much like today with Putin's advance into Crimea, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

Today, we are living in Walt Disney'sTomorrowland, and it's nothing like he ever imagined it. Being human has always been painful but now more than ever before, it is complicated by technological slavery and corruption on steroids. 

We live in a world that believes its own press -- thinking itself kind, compassionate and civilized, when in reality it is intolerant and cruel, deceived by the lie that there is no absolute truth; consumed by everything self-centered, despising self-control. 

Selfies -- quick pictures snapped on smartphones and posted to the internet -- are the banner of the "think not" generation. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Even our children are not safe from the long arm of a lawless government. Hospitals, endowed with taxpayer money, steal children from their parents in the name of "protection" and even have a name for it: Parent-ectomy. 

Harvard's Boston Children's Hospital is a terrifying example of tyranny in motion, deciding in less than three days to toss a respected doctor's diagnosis and experiment on a 14 year old girl. Armed guards escorted Justina Pelletier's parents from the hospital, and a corrupt judge awarded custody of her to the State of Massachusetts. According to Judge Johnston, disliking her parents -- who fought against them -- was an excellent reason to take away their child.
Across the oceans, more and more Christians suffer and die for their faith: 200 young girls kidnapped by the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram -- a group well within our power to decimate for their brutal terrorist acts -- but Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton protected them.   

A young doctor named Meriam Ibrahim sits in a filthy jail in Sudan, condemned to 100 lashes and hanging by the Muslim government for refusing to renounce her Christian faith in favor of Islam. She spends every day in chains caring for her toddler son and newborn baby daughter -- both American citizens. History tells us the long story of Islam, and it has never loved its enemies. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Revelation is upon us, and it is not a pretty sight. Christians are no longer the good guys, and those that are have compromised for a bit of popularity, embracing gay marriage or the gutting of Scriptural truth. "For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way." (2 Thess 2:7)  

We are at the beginning of the end, and without the power of God we could not endure it. But we wait for the blessed hope -- the return of Jesus Christ; the moment we will be caught up in the air and taken to be with Him. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The rise of lawlessness is a birth pang, a warning, and to those who know the outcome, an instrument of reward:Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
We are called to walk in the shoes of Jesus -- to feel His rejection and to suffer as He suffered. The servant is not greater than the Master. But we are not alone and we are not powerless. We must fight the good fight of faith and remember He is our hiding place. (Ps 32:6-8)

In a time of trouble, in a time forlorn 
There is a hiding place where hope is born

There is a hiding place, a strong protective space

Where God provides the grace to persevere;

For nothing can remove us from the Father's love 
Though all may change, yet nothing changes here.
In a time of weakness, in a time of fear 

There is a hiding place where God is near.

--Bryan Jeffery Leech