Monthly Archives: April 2019

Don’t Forget God

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Don’t Forget

By: joe Stowell, Strength for the Journey

“Be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 6:12

We all have little slips in our memory once in a while, right? I love the story about the guy who decided to do something about his increasing forgetfulness. This poor chap decided to attend a seminar on how to increase his ability to remember things. And, to his great delight, the seminar worked! A few weeks later he sat in his living room, chatting with a friend about his newly improved recall ability.

“You won’t believe it,” he gushed, “This memory seminar really has helped me remember things better. I have a whole new lease on life!”

“That’s great,” his friend replied. “How does it work?”

“Well, you simply think of a common object that helps you build a link to whatever you need to remember. If you can remember the common object, then you’ll remember the other object.”

“Wow!” said his friend. “You know, to be honest, my memory’s slipping a little. What’s the name of the seminar? I think I might sign up for it.”

“Okay,” the guy replied. “Let’s see, think of a flower with red petals . . . long stem . . .  thorns . . .  rose.” Then he yelled to his wife in the next room, “Hey, Rose, what was the name of that seminar I went to?”

In Deuteronomy 6:12, Moses is talking to the Israelites about the danger of memory loss when it comes to forgetting God. God’s people were standing on the edge of the Promised Land, ready to enter a land with great cities they did not build, houses full of good things they did not fill, and vast and lush vineyards they didn’t plant. And, as good as the prospect of all this prosperity was, there was a danger lurking under the blessing. Moses knew that in good times it’s easy to forget God. The people were in danger of forgetting that it was God who had given them this land flowing with milk and honey; forgetting that it was God who went before them in each battle; forgetting, in fact, that it was only through God’s gracious choice of them as His people that they were enjoying the blessings of their new home and country. And, when we forget God, we become unthankful, proud, and self-sufficient—the kinds of things that are offensive to the Giver of every good and perfect gift.

So the solution for Israel—and for that matter, for us—is keeping God in mind! The book of Deuteronomy is actually a memory seminar about God’s goodness to His people. Moses reminds the Israelites of the law that was given on Mount Sinai. He tracks the Israelites back over the ways God miraculously provided for them—battles won, food given, shoes that didn’t wear out—the list of God’s providing work is long.

So, here’s the lesson. Beware! When God is abundantly good to us we are in great danger. We are in danger because in good times it’s easy to forget God. It’s easy to be so consumed with the gifts that we forget the Giver! And if we do that, we end up worshiping the blessings and not the One who in His amazing grace has blessed us.

The benefit of keeping God in mind is that it keeps our hearts grateful, appropriately humble, and delighted in our God for His goodness to us. Believe me, delighting in Him beats being consumed by the stuff that He has given us.

Memory lapses in our daily routines may be normal for us. But remembering God’s goodness in our lives is something we can’t afford to forget!

 

Don’t Forget to Remember!

By I Gordon ,jesusplusnothing.com

Introduction

This study is pretty simple… It’s about the importance of remembering, or being reminded, of the truth. When I preached this message recently, I decided to start by giving a little quiz comprising of questions from what I had spoken about in the last two sermons. Without saying how they went (ok, they were abysmal! [1] ) let’s just say that the results of the quiz greatly enforced what I then went on to speak about – the importance of remembering, and being reminded of the truth. So let’s start with a few questions for you that have all been mentioned in the preceding studies of 2nd Peter…

  1. What year did Peter write ‘2nd Peter’?
  2. What year did Peter die?
  3. What was the key thought in the first study on 2nd Peter 1:1-4?
  4. What was the key thought in the second study on 2nd Peter 1:5-11? [2]

Easy questions I’m sure! Now the key word in the last study that we did was ‘diligence’. The key word in this study would be ‘remember’. So let’s have a look at the first verse.

Remember what you know!

2nd Peter 1:12 ‘Therefore I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.’ (NASB)

So Peter starts off in 1:12 with a ‘therefore’. Now the golden rule when you see a ‘therefore’, is to ask yourself what is it ‘there for’? In this case, Peter is saying that he will always be ready to remind them because of the eternal consequences of this truth. In the verse preceding this one, we see the importance of putting into practice the truth of God, and how it will lead to an abundant entrance into the kingdom of our Lord. So Peter is willing to remind them, and remind them, and remind them once again.

Why is it, do you think, that we need this constant reinforcement and reminding of the truth? Simply put, we have leaks! While you may know the truth, you will still be bombarded with worldly philosophies everywhere you turn. As I said in a previous study, the Christian life is one of swimming against the tide. And so, being reminded of the truth is critical! [3]

Before moving on, there are two points that I want to make about this verse.

  1. They needed to be reminded even though they already knew the truth Peter was speaking about. Sometimes you can listen to a sermon, or read a Christian book and think ‘Come on, I know that! Get on with it.’… ‘I’ve heard that already!’… And switch off spiritually. Peter says that it is still important to be reminded of that which you already know.
  2. It wasn’t a new truth that Peter was bringing to them. He knew, even if some of us don’t, that there is nothing wrong with the gospel. We just need to let it take a grip on our hearts. [4]

Do you need a stir up?

2nd Peter 1:13 ‘I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder.’

Peter says in this verse that a person may have heard the truth, been established in the truth, but not be stirred by the truth. And that, my friend, is a scary place to be in because it leads to spiritual apathy! We need to remember the importance of what we believe. We need to be stirred up, and gripped by the reality of it. It may be that you need to go back to the Lord again and ask Him to speak and open your eyes to the truth of His word. Especially the things that Peter has been talking about in 2nd Peter 1:1-11. You see, the Christian church is very little different from the nation of Israel. And when you look at the history of Israel, you see a constant repetition… a constant cycle… of forgetting to remember the ways of the Lord. Let’s just look at one example, from Deuteronomy chapter 8.

Remember, my people!

Deut 8:1-3 Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today , so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands . He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD .

Deuteronomy chapter 8 is a very important chapter and I would encourage you go away and read it. Go on, go do it now… It’s better than this study! It is very important because it was written at a critical point in Israel’s history. The 40 years of wandering in the wilderness was behind them… the land of promise stands before them. And I would suggest to you, that Moses’ words in this chapter would prove to be prophetic of not only Israel’s future history, but of Christian history as well.

So what does Moses say first? Easy… ‘ Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today’. So what is the first command? Still easy… ‘ Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way’. At this important point in their history, Moses is saying ‘Israel, you have got to remember. Don’t forget how God has led you… there have been many difficulties, many trials, many humbling times…God was testing you and teaching you His way. Don’t forget this!’ This is important for us. You may be feeling tried and stretched right now. You must remember! Don’t forget that the path of God does involve testings and trials. And also never forget verse 16 of this chapter. Any testing, and humbling, any trial from God, is ‘to do good for you in the end’.

And if you’ve got it easy…

So maybe what I have described above isn’t you at the moment. Maybe everything is going very nice and easy thank you very much! Maybe you’re having a nice little time of ease and prosperity. If that it you, then here is my verse for you from Deut 8 –

Deut 8:10-18 ‘When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God , who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth , and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.

And that prophetic portion of scripture my friend, has been proven to be sadly accurate in the lives of many in Israel and the Church. How many have ‘slipped away’ as prosperity increases? Remember the Lord your God! Do not let the ‘deceitfulness of wealth’ choke your life so as to forget the Lord (see Matt 13:22.) Do not forget [5] to remember! [6] Deuteronomy chapter 8 is placed in the Bible to remind you of Israel’s history, the reasons why they fell, and to serve as a warning for your own Christian life.

And Finally… Back to Peter

2 Pet 1:13-15 ‘ I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.’

There are a couple of things that made Peter very focused…. The first is mentioned above and it is that He knew that his time on this earth was nearly up. The second is found in verse 16 (not shown above) and that will be the focus of the next study. So Peter knew that his time was short… Tell me, what would you be doing different in your life if you knew that the time of your departure from this life was at hand? Probably make you pretty focused on the things that really matter now wouldn’t it? The problem that we have is that we think we’ve got all the time in the world… and so we become hazy and unfocused on the things of eternity.

Well let’s gain some clarity from a man who was focused. What was Peter focused on? He was focused on using his time to remind Christians of the truth of God’s word… and specifically the key truths that he writes about in this little book of 2nd Peter. May we too be reminded, and remind others, of these things.

DON’T FORGET WHAT GOD HAS DONE IN YOU

shortdailydevotions.com

PSALM 103:2-5 –

Daily Devotional Bible Verses

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:2-5 ESV)

The other day, my son went to the junior high with me to pick up my daughter. He is a sophomore, and watching all the junior high kids come out of school, he says to me, “Mom, they all look so young!” I tell him he looked just like them. “No way!” he replies. So, we get home, and he looks at his old year book and exclaims, “Mom! I looked so young!” Yep. You sure did son.

Like my son, I think we forget what we used to look like in junior high. We sometimes forget the great work God has done in us. Where He brought us, and what He delivered us from. King David often reflected on what God had done in His life personally and in the lives of the children of Israel.

Now, I’m not telling you to dwell on your past or your past mistakes and sins, but I am telling you that it is beneficial to remember the good works that God has done in your life. It is beneficial to encourage yourself in the Lord. You can get so caught up in not being where you want to be, that you forget how far He has brought you. Remember how He had blessed you. Remember where He found you. Remember how He adopted you, and plucked you out of the muck. Washed you whiter than snow. Set you upon a Rock. Lifted you up in the presence of your enemies.

Responding To Trials In Your Life

 

 

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Responding to Life’s Trials

By: Diane Markins,   www1.cbn.com

Two women I know are going through difficult times. One (we’ll call her Jen) lost her 32-year-old son to suicide, experienced the death of her beloved father-in-law and her husband of nearly 40 years, all within the past few months. Over the years she has known other hardships, including the loss of both parents and personal health issues.

The other woman (“Judy”) has also known grief. She waited many years before finding “the right man” to marry, but after fighting valiantly to make it work, her marriage ended. Single most of her life, she is a consummate career woman; battling for position, security and survival. She has endured a physical problem that causes her to feel self-conscious and she too lost both parents. Most recently, she faced the death of a cherished pet.

So much in common, but their responses are polar opposites. Jen is sort of in a grief haze. She is desperately sad and lonely and is struggling to get through each day, but she keeps moving forward. She has invested in the lives of family and friends throughout her life; and they are rallying by her side. While she doesn’t understand how all this loss could come to her, she doesn’t blame God or turn her back on Him because she’s been in a loving relationship with Him all her adult life. She knows Him and that He’s still with her. He will take her through this trial.

Psalm 63:7-8 says,

“Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”

Jen has experienced this and relies on it as truth for this difficult trial.

Judy bounced back from her latest loss fairly fast; but doesn’t have the same vast array of friends and family around her as Jen. She is often alone and lonely. She is angry in general and specifically toward God; even questioning whether she still wants to call herself a Christian.

Jen is taking her time as she processes and experiences the pain, allowing it to come in measured doses each day, then doing her best to take grief breaks.

Judy plunged into the pain and immersed herself there for a week or so, then got back up and is working at closing the door on her hurting soul. She puts on a happy face and appears to be coping well.

We all have tragedy invade our lives; big and small, short-term and sustaining, just as Peter says,

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12

Our response to those awful times can define us and shape our future. If we don’t properly deal and heal from a deep gash in our spirit, all our actions and relationships are impacted. We are less able to be honest and committed if we hold back and protect ourselves.

When crisis and pain hit, we need to walk through the fire instead of looking for a way out or around it, denying it or disguising it (alcohol, anger, etc). God’s promises can sustain us, like the one in 1 Peter 5:10,

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

The Benefit of Trials

From: truthforlife.org

My grace is sufficient for you.

 2 Corinthians 12:9

If none of God’s saints were poor and tried, we should not know half so well the consolations of divine grace. When we find the wanderer who has nowhere to lay his head who still can say, “I will trust in the Lord,” or when we see the pauper starving on bread and water who still glories in Jesus, when we see the bereaved widow overwhelmed in affliction and yet having faith in Christ–oh, what honor it reflects on the Gospel.

God’s grace is illustrated and magnified in the poverty and trials of believers. Saints bear up under every discouragement, believing that all things work together for their good, and that out of apparent evils a real blessing shall ultimately spring–that their God will either work a deliverance for them speedily or most assuredly support them in the trouble, as long as He is pleased to keep them in it. This patience of the saints proves the power of divine grace.

There is a lighthouse out at sea: It is a calm night–I cannot tell whether the edifice is firm. The tempest must rage about it, and then I shall know whether it will stand. So with the Spirit’s work: If it were not on many occasions surrounded with tempestuous waters, we would not know that it was true and strong; if the winds did not blow upon it, we would not know how firm and secure it was. The masterworks of God are those men who stand in the midst of difficulties steadfast, unmovable– Calm mid the bewildering cry, Confident of victory. The one who would glorify his God must be prepared to meet with many trials. No one can be illustrious before the Lord unless his conflicts are many.

If, then, yours is a much-tried path, rejoice in it, because you will be better able to display the all-sufficient grace of God. As for His failing you, never dream of it–hate the thought. The God who has been sufficient until now should be trusted to the end.

 

God Works Through Trials (James 1:1-13)

 From: bible.org

Introduction

As I have reflected over the events of the past few days and months I was drawn to the first chapter of James. In the first 13 verses we are given some understanding of the purpose of trials that come our way.

  • The good that has come from trials.
  • The comfort we can have in trials.

So this passage speaks to us to help us in our time of trial when we need understanding and comfort. And yet in a real way I have also thought that the life of our friend and loved one actually was a living example of this passage:

  • As she and her family demonstrated before us the reality of this portion of God’s Word.
  • I shall never be able to read these verses without thinking of (Name) and how her life reflected this passage.

So for a few minutes, think with me as we look into God’s Word. (Read verses 2-4) The Lord would first of all have us know that there is. . .

Purpose in Trials
(verses 2-4)

1. When difficult times come into our lives and we find ourselves unable to comprehend/to understand; the enemy is quick to throw doubts/questions into our minds.

2. We find ourselves questioning God’s goodness/God’s wisdom in allowing these things to happen.

3. We may even be bitter and angry with God for allowing this to happen to us and wonder if He really understands.

4. But God’s word confidently reminds us that God does understand . . .

  • Things do not just happen haphazardly to the Christian.
  • With no meaning/no purpose.

5. God is in control and as Paul reminds us no one or nothing can separate us from God’s love. Rom. 8–even the most difficult of circumstances.

6. James reminds us that God wants us to trust Him in the trials of life.

  • For as we trust Him in the trials God can use the difficult trial to mold us:
  • To mature us.
  • So that we will be more like Jesus Christ our Savior.

7. Isaiah the prophet said in trying to comprehend God’s ways: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8-9)

8. God would have us trust Him in the difficult trials:

  • For even though we cannot understand He loves us and He is in control.
  • He will use this trial to help us grow spiritually and to help us mature and become more like Jesus Christ.

9. Trust Him! Keep your eyes on Him! And God will use even this trial for His glory.

10. But James goes on to tell us that not only does God have purpose in trials–but also that God gives wisdom in trials.

Wisdom in Trials
(verses 5-11)

(Read verses 5 and 6)

1. James recognizes that we may not always be able to see the purpose in trials or see the good that can come from trials.

2. When we find ourselves unable to see the good and the purpose in trials we are to:

  • Keep on asking Him for wisdom.
  • In faith.
  • And our God who loves to give will respond so that we can see the good and the purpose in trials.

3. Then James illustrates and says:

  • That even a poor man has much good in his trial of poverty if he knows God–the owner of the universe.
  • And a rich man through he lose everything can rejoice in the good of having learned not to place his faith in riches which quickly pass away.

4. God has been very good to us in allowing us to see the good even in this difficult trial.

  • For so much good has already come from this trial:
  • As a church family we are growing spiritually and united together.
  • As individuals we have seen faith in action and we have learned lessons we shall never forget.
  • As we have seen at least three people come to Jesus Christ through faith. (As NAME shared her vital faith with Jesus Christ with others)

5. Yet in the days to come we will continue to need wisdom to see the purpose and the good in this trial.

  • James exhorts us to keep on asking God in faith for wisdom.
  • And our generous loving God will give us the wisdom needed.

(But finally James reminds us that not only does God have a purpose in trials; and gives wisdom in trials but thirdly there is comfort in trials.)

Comfort in Trials
(verse 12)

(Read verse 12)

1. James here reminds us that this life is not all there is to life.

  • That right will be commended.
  • That due reward will be give for faithfulness.

2. We often live as if we are the living on the way to the dying.

3. But God’s word makes it very clear that we are the dying on the way to the living.

4. What is in store then for one who knows Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and passes from this life?

  • Phil. l tells us that when a Christian departs he is with Christ.
  • II Cor. 5 tells that when we are absent from the body we are present with the Lord
  • And I Corinthians 15 and I Thessalonians 4 tells us that someday that body which for the present sleeps in the grave will be resurrected and united with our soul/spirit and in this glorified state we will be with the Lord forever.
  • And there rewards will be given for endurance through trials and for faithfulness to God in difficult times.

5. So today we sorrow – but we sorrow not as others who have no hope.

  • We have the assurance of the word of God that (name) is with Christ.
  • (Name) had trusted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior from sin.

6. But I cannot help but think that perhaps some of you are not prepared to face death and you are not prepared to meet Jesus Christ face to face. Nor are you ready to face a trial like (Name) has faced with peace in your heart.

  • The strength that enabled this dear one to face her trial with confidence and assurance was not her own.
  • It came as she allowed the life of her Savior to live His life through her. It came from a confidence that she was ready to meet her Savior.
  • She had made her peace with God through faith in Christ and desired above all else to glorify Him with her life.

7. I invite you right where you are sitting to invite Christ into your life as your Savior from sin.

  • Jesus Christ died as your substitute paying the penalty for your sin.
  • But He asks you ;by an act of your will to trust Him as your personal Savior from sin.
  • If you do this, on the authority of God’s word you are a new creature/born again and prepared to meet your Savior.

Trust In God and Walk By Faith

  • Isaiah 26:3  You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

  • Isaiah 41:10   So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

  • John 14:26-27   But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

  • Proverbs 3:5-6    Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

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The Journey of Faith

by Inspiration Ministries

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11:8 NLT

Born in London in April 1770, David Thompson was one of the most important explorers in the history of North America. He has been called the greatest land geographer who ever lived, yet he received little credit during his lifetime. Only after his death did the world realize the extent of his accomplishments. Thompson’s life of adventure began when he was just 14, after being sent to western Canada to work in the fur-trading business. Three years later, driven by curiosity, he left on a personal journey. Walking throughout the prairies, he encountered many types of peoples and explored uncharted places.

Along the way, Thompson learned astronomy and mathematics, and spent so much time examining the heavens that he lost sight in one eye. After suffering a broken leg, he limped the rest of his life. He could have given up, but he continued to explore, even mapping much of Canada and the US. Overall, Thompson traveled more than 100,000 miles in his life, a remarkable achievement for his day.

The Bible describes the impact of pioneers like this who accomplished great things in the spiritual realm. Abraham and many other Biblical heroes dared to venture into the unknown. Despite the risks and uncertainties, they were willing to leave the comfort and safety of home to follow God’s leading, trusting Him completely.

These are people who lived by faith. As a result, they experienced new possibilities and new dimensions of God’s blessings. They also pointed the way for others, making a difference for time and eternity.

The Long, Hard Journey of Faith

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

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When I became a Christian, I thought all my problems would go away, and God would take care of everything with a snap of His fingers.

The truth is, my life fell apart within weeks of being baptized. Suffice it to say, accepting Jesus and asking Him to be Lord of my life didn’t obliterate the garbage I’d pressed down in the compactor of my heart.

In His mercy and grace, God didn’t bring up all my sins, sinful habits and sinful ways of thinking at one time. I’d have likely despaired if He had.

Instead, He opened my eyes over time. Through His Holy Spirit, I saw the painful truth. I agreed with God about my sins. Even before I was a Christian, I knew when I did wrong. My conscience told me. But the heart is deceitful, and the mind can rationalize and justify any behavior. And we tend to surround ourselves with like-thinkers. I can’t cast blame. Wrongs are done to us by others, but that never excuses us from doing wrong ourselves.

Thankfully, God created us as His masterpiece — His work of art — and He has destined us to accomplish great things in our lifetimes: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10). God knows who and what we are. He offers one way to be saved for all eternity: Accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. No other way. While seeing and acknowledging the truth about myself, I also experienced the amazing grace and love of God.

Coming to Jesus opened my eyes to who I am. I am a sinner. I am human. I am weak. I stumble and fall, even now that I am saved. I am also a daughter of the King. I am loved by God. And He is strong. He is faithful. He keeps His Word. He will never abandon me. He helps me stand again. He gives me the will to keep walking in the steps of Jesus.

But honestly, it can be very hard, working out our salvation. By working, I mean living it, not earning it. As the Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 2:12b, we are to “Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.” (NLT)

Friends, the faith journey isn’t easy. Believing is only the first step onto the narrow pathway. The next steps put a believer on the road of trial and blessing as we walk out a new life as a disciple of Christ. We must stick close to Jesus, read His Word, lean in and listen. We need to obey, even when it means personal, painful sacrifice. That’s the long, hard journey of transformation. That’s the kind of faith that impacts the world.

A Long Journey of Faith

By: Paul Watson, seedsofthekingdom.org

God has called upon Moses to go to Pharaoh to ask him to set the Israelites free, but after his visit, Pharaoh makes things worse for the people. Far from letting the people go – they are now in a worse predicament than before! Moses comes before the Lord and cries out the words quoted above.

Moses has begun a long journey of faith! He will begin to learn about God’s plans versus his own understanding of how things should work out. He will learn about God’s timing which is not his own timing. He will learn about trust. He’s beginning to interact with God.

It’s interesting that in verse 22 Moses cries out ‘O Lord!’. Often in the Old Testament God is referred to as LORD, from the Hebrew expression Jehovah – the self existent one.

Here, however, Moses calls God Lord – from the Hebrew Adonai, meaning ‘the Lord my Lord’. Moses is using a proper name of God, with a very personal meaning. ‘O Lord my Lord!’ he cries. The foundation of the faith journey ahead is a close relationship with his God. This relationship ensures that despite circumstances, Moses knows the character of God personally, and is able to trust Him, even though God’s ways are not his ways.

Our life too is a journey of faith. There are often times when we feel that God has made things worse. We can be tempted to believe that we could have done it better than God has. The essence of faith is to resist this temptation, to wrestle with God by sharing our heart with Him, and ultimately – to put our trust in Him. And as Moses learned, God never lets us down.

 

God Is Beautiful

A primary way God nourishes our souls with his loving presence is through the beauty of nature. The face of the Lord shines on his in the sun. The moon and stars remind us that God’s light and love shine to us even in the dark. The Lord is speaking to us and warming us from the heavens, the Psalmist says (Psalm 19:1-6). The joy of the Lord comes to us in splashing waves and playful animals! (Psalm 29:3, 6)

Throughout the Bible we read testimony of the Lord communicating to us in the skies, ocean waves, breeze rustling through the trees, fields and flowers, and birds that sing cheerfully. Jesus reassures us that our Father in the heavens always near cares for the little sparrows and he cares for us (Matthew 6:26 and 10:29).

Nature reveals to us God’s beauty, glory, power, wisdom, presence, creativity, and, most of all, his loving care. This is why we’re drawn to spend time in the beauty of nature and to enjoy animals. To talk a walk on a beautiful day, play with your dog in the grass, or hold your cat are reliable ways for many people to connect with God’s loving presence.

Jesus makes continual use of nature in his parables that welcome us to find life with him in the Kingdom of God. The revelation of God in nature is so poignant and prevailing that the Apostle Paul cautions if we don’t notice and honor our Creator we are without excuse (Romans 1:20).

The Word of God inspires us to contemplate God in creation. Saint Francis of Assisi and Henri Nouwen are two devoted disciples of Christ who draw our attention to love God by loving his creatures and creation. Below are some of the Bible verses that inspired them. These are followed by Saint Francis’ famous nature hymn: “All Creatures of Our God and King” and a meditation from Henri Nouwen on “Being Sisters and Brothers of Nature”.

Bible Verses on God’s Beauty and Presence in Nature (NIV)

Understanding God’s Creation Helps us Trust Him

“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” (Hebrews 11:3; See also Genesis 1:1ff, Isaiah 42:5, and many others.)

The Creation Reveals Christ  it’s Co-Creator with God  Sustaining All Living Things

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15-17; See also 1 Corinthians 8:6)

God Created Human Beings to Reflect his Nature and Care for All the Living Things he Created

“God spoke: ‘Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature so they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, and, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.’ God created human beings; he created them godlike, Reflecting God’s nature. He created them male and female. God blessed them: ‘Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge! Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.’” (Genesis 1:26-28. MSG)

The Animals and Earth Teach us to Look to the Lord’s Open Hand

“Job, the righteous man who trusted God in suffering, wrote: “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” (Job 12:7-10)

The Earth and the Heavens, Even the Night Skies, Reveal God’s Loving Care for People

“O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens… When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers — the moon and the stars you set in place — what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?” (Psalm 8:1, 3-4, NLT)

Look Up and Be Warmed by Your Bridegroom and Champion!

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.” (Psalm 19:1-6)

Our Beautiful God

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I’ve always found it interesting that the Bible often makes reference to the beautiful. In fact, if you took the time to look up every reference to “beauty” or every reference to “the beautiful” in a concordance, you would see that the word beauty in one form or another occurs frequently in the pages of sacred Scripture, particularly in the Old Testament. First Chronicles 16:29 is one of the places where we read of beauty: “Give to the Lord the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!” (NKJV). This passage conjoins the holiness and glory of God with respect to the idea of beauty. We are called to come into the presence of God and to worship what is beautiful about Him—His glory and holiness.

Other texts also talk about God’s beauty. “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple” (Ps. 27:4). In Psalm 29, David calls upon us to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. In both places, the Lord (or significant aspects of His character) are called “beautiful.”

I’m afraid that the idea of the beauty of God has been all but eclipsed in our contemporary culture, both in the secular community and in the church as well. I’ve said many times that there are three dimensions of the Christian life that the Scriptures are concerned about—the good, the true, and the beautiful. Yet we tend to cut off the third from the other two. Some Christians reduce their concern for the things of God purely to the ethical realm, to a discussion of righteousness or of goodness with respect to our behavior. Others are so concerned about purity of doctrine that they’re preoccupied with truth at the expense of behavior or at the expense of the holy. Rarely, at least in many Protestant circles, do we find a focus on the beautiful.

This reflects a striking imbalance given that the Bible is concerned with goodness, truth, and beauty. God, Scripture tells us, is the ground or fountain of all goodness. All goodness finds its definition in His character. In the final analysis, God’s character is the measure of goodness. At the same time, the Scriptures speak about God as the author, source, and foundation of all truth. In the same way and in the same dimension, the Scriptures speak about the beauty of God. His Word tells us that all things beautiful find their source and foundation in the character of God Himself. So, God is ultimately the norm of the good, the norm of the true, and the norm of the beautiful.

We live in a time of crisis in the secular culture and in the church with regard to the beautiful. I hear all the time from Christian artists—musicians, sculptors, painters, architects, writers, dramatists, and others—that they feel cut off from the Christian community. They tell me that they are treated as pariahs because their vocation is considered worldly and unworthy of Christian devotion. That’s a sad commentary on our state of affairs, particularly when we look at the history of the church and we see that the Christian church has produced some of the greatest giants in music, in art, and in literature. Where else but in Christian history do you find a Milton, a Handel, a Bach, or a Shakespeare—men who have been pioneers of greatness in the arts?

If you were to go to the Louvre in Paris or to the Rijks museum in Amsterdam and peruse the history of art, you would see that it’s dominated by a religious orientation, and specifically, a Christian orientation. Ever since the people of God have existed in community, art has been a significant concern. When we go to the Old Testament, for example, we see there that the first people filled with the Holy Ghost were the artisans and craftsman that God selected to prepare the objects for the tabernacle. That’s divine inspiration—these artists were inspired by God the Holy Spirit. He inspired them for their craftsmanship of the tabernacle and its furniture, for the metalworking in the tent, and for the making of the gowns and robes for Aaron—which were to be made for glory and for beauty. God was concerned not only to use artists in the building of His sanctuary in the Old Testament, but also to endow those very artists with the power of His Holy Spirit to ensure that what they were doing met with the standards of beauty He set.

At the same time, we also see in the Old Testament strong prohibitions against the misuse of art. One of the Ten Commandments even prohibits the making of graven images that become part of the practice of idolatry, and so there is a hedge put around the use of art in the Old Testament. Though there were some forms of art that received the blessing of God, there were other forms of art that did not receive the blessing of God.

One cannot come away from the pages of Scripture with a simplistic conclusion that all art is good art or that all art is bad art, that art is always lawful or that art is always unlawful. What we can come away with is the understanding that God saw art and what it communicates as being important enough to include in His tabernacle—to include the beautiful where people would meet to worship Him. Beauty is important to God because He is beautiful, and so what is beautiful must be of importance to His people as well. Christian artists should be encouraged to create beautiful art, and Christian people should be encouraged to appreciate the beautiful alongside the true and the good, for the Lord Himself is beautiful.

 

 

 

God Gives You The Words To Say

 

Acts 2   Peter speaking Boldly by the Holy Spirit

36 “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!”

37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away[f]—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” 40 Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!”

41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.

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God Can Give You the Right Words

By: Diane Pearson, 1cbn.com

In 1975, an Indiana farmer named Frosty Hofmann was diagnosed with severe kidney problems. He was only 35 years old at the time and eventually had to go on dialysis. He and his wife Jane managed his dialysis treatments at their home for the next two and a half years.

In 1978, Frosty’s brother gave him the gift of life:  a donated kidney. Frosty lived another 25 years and earned the distinction of the longest living kidney transplant patient in the country. He passed away in 2002.

For the last 15 years of his life, Jane and Frosty traveled around the country, entertaining more than 1400 audiences. Jane was known as “Erma Bombeck on a tractor,” drawing from her 35 years of farming with her husband and raising four children. Frosty concluded their program with a serious message on patriotism and respect for the flag. They were a popular team.

Jane and Frosty had an unwritten rule that they never mentioned his health problems.  “We didn’t want to capitalize on it or make people feel sorry for us,” said Jane. “But just one time I broke that rule and made a little comment about the kidney transplant, certainly not something I planned on doing.”

At the end of the program, a woman made her way to the front of the room. She said, “My grandson is having kidney problems and may have to have a kidney transplant. I need to know all the details about your experience.”

Jane said, “She was desperate for some first-hand information. Her family didn’t want to upset her, so they didn’t let her know what was going on, which only made her fears worse. She was so encouraged to meet a man who had lived a normal life for so many years.”

“It was so evident,” continued Jane, “that God led me to say those few words at exactly the right time so we could be a source of information, comfort, and encouragement to her.”

Isn’t it amazing how God uses people to speak exactly the words He wants in His perfect timing?

Scripture confirms this through the Lord’s words to the prophet Jeremiah:

But the Lord said to me … “You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.” Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth.” Jeremiah 1:7, 9(NIV)

As you go throughout your day, pray that God will put His words into your mouth. You never know when God might use your words in a powerful, life-changing way.

 

God Will Give You Something to Say

 

I would like to encourage you to enjoy a particular experience of the ministry of the Holy Spirit promised by our Lord Jesus.

When he made this promise, he had in mind mainly the tense and dangerous moments when the adversaries of Christianity bring you before authorities and give you a chance to speak. For example, he said,

“When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” (Luke 12:11–12)

Or later he said,

“When they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 13:11; compare with Matthew 10:19)

Perhaps something like this has happened to you. But most of us in the West have not yet encountered that kind of official arraignment for being a follower of Jesus.

Yes, It Applies to You

“The Holy Spirit will help us in the most frightening settings. How much more may we depend on him in less threatening situations.”

Does that mean this promise of Jesus has no application to us? No. It does apply to us. Notice, when Jesus says in Luke 12:11 that they may bring us before “synagogues and rulers and authorities,” he is not thinking of only one kind of arraignment. Being questioned in the synagogue was not the same as being interrogated by a Roman governor.

Jesus’s promise that the Holy Spirit will teach us what we ought to say is not meant to free us from anxiety in only one kind of trial and then leave us to ourselves in another. The promise is that the Holy Spirit will help us in the most frightening settings, and so how much more may we depend on him in less threatening situations.

One of the reasons I want you to enjoy this particular work of the Holy Spirit is that I have found it so true and amazing and precious in my own life. I am thinking particularly of two kinds of situations. One is cold-turkey street evangelism, and the other is spontaneous question-and-answer sessions in front of hundreds or thousands of people.

Jogging in Minnesota

During the eight months when I jog outside in Minnesota, I regularly carry booklets and Gospels of John in my pocket. I pray for guidance for someone to talk to about Jesus, and for the help of the Holy Spirit in what to say. It is usually quite early in the morning, and I am running in what most people would call “the inner city.” If I find a guy standing alone, I may stop and say, “Good morning! My name’s John. I run through the neighborhood and pray for people. Is there something I can pray about for you?” From this point on, it is unpredictable.

But ordinarily, they will give me something to pray for. Now and then it is something really significant. A couple months ago a young man said his girlfriend had just kicked him out, and he was devastated. He thought it would be long term. Sooner or later in my interaction, I say something like, “Do you know the best news in the world?” Depending on what they say, I ask, “May I tell it to you?” Ninety percent of the time they say yes. So I put the gospel into as few words as a I can and see where they are willing to go with that.

I come away from these brief encounters thankful and amazed at what just happened. Yes, I am often frustrated that I did not say things better. But I am also really happy that the Holy Spirit gave me something to say. Not only that, he inclined me to say it. He caused me to love it. He awakened compassion. He overcame anxiety. He put hope in my heart. He fulfilled the promise of Jesus, “The Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

 

Acts 4:23-31 – Speaking the Word with Boldness

From: Global Christian Center, globalchristiancenter.com

When Peter and John (Acts 3:1-10) went up to the Temple to pray, they met a lame man at the gate called Beautiful. The man, who was about 40 years old, had been lame from his mother’s womb. Peter commanded the lame man to walk in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene. The lame man was healed.

A crowd gathered (Acts 3:11-26), and Peter preached. Many people believed in Christ when they heard his message. Whereupon, Peter and John (Acts 4:5-12) were arrested by the Temple guard and the Sadducees. The next day they the rulers and elders questioned Peter and John. They wanted to know by what power and in what name Peter and John had done this. Peter told them that the man was healed in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene. Moreover, he proclaimed that salvation was through Christ alone.

The elders and rulers (Acts 4:13-22) met privately and decided to warn Peter and John to speak no more in the name of Jesus. When Peter and John were released, they (Acts 4:23) went “to their own companions” (NASU) or “to their own people” (NIV) to report what the chief priest and elders had said. Today, we will consider what this means for us.

1. The disciples prayed to God who is all-powerful. We have the same privilege in prayer.

When the people present heard what the rulers and elders said, they lifted up their voices to God with one accord to pray. They began by addressing God as Lord and by acknowledging that it was He who made the heaven, the earth, the sea and all that is in them. The Greek word used by the people for Lord is despota. It can be translated Lord Almighty or Sovereign Lord.

Today, we who believe in Christ, pray to the same Sovereign Lord. The rulers and elders opposed Christ, the Anointed One, but they would be defeated by the Sovereign Lord. The Lord is all-powerful, and all things are under His control and in His hands. When we are confronted with opposition, and events seem to be out of control we must turn to despota, the Sovereign Lord. He will walk with us through our trials.

2. Even the enemies of God were under His control. No matter what the circumstances, we can be sure that God is in charge.

Both the Jews and the Gentiles were implicated in the death of Jesus. Even though they were guilty, what they did was within the plan of God. The prayer of the disciples says that these enemies had gathered (Acts 4:27-28) “to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.” (NASU) In this passage free will and predestination are brought together without any attempt to reconcile them. The Jews and Gentiles were guilty, but God achieved His purpose.

Very often we pray for people knowing that God allows them to make their own choices. So we wonder whether or not God is in control. We know that God sets the stage and sends His Spirit to persuade people to do His will. As a result, many people do yield to the will of God. Sometimes they do not. However, we know that, no matter what decision they make, God will weave all things together for good. All those who follow God will be blessed.

3. The disciples prayed to speak the Word with confidence. We can pray this prayer today.

Now, the disciples make their request. They knew that powerful forces were arrayed against them. They knew, as well, that Peter and John were determined to continue their witness. They prayed for strength to speak the Word of God with confidence. Then, their prayer includes their expression of faith that God would extend His hand to heal and works signs and wonders in the name of “Your holy servant Jesus.” While they spoke, God would work His wonders!

When we pray, let us ask God to help us speak the Word of God with boldness. It is the Word that penetrates the hearts of people everywhere. The Word of God is imbued with the Spirit of God. When proclaimed, this Word brings changes in lives and transforms those who hear. We must pray that we deliver the Word in the power of the Spirit.

4. God filled the disciples with His Spirit. He will fill us with the Spirit to be bold in our witness.

Now, God answers the prayer of the disciples for confidence in speaking the Word. The place where they had gathered was shaken. Another result was that the disciples were filled with the Spirit and “began to speak the word of God with boldness.” (NASU) The result was a direct answer to prayer.

When we pray, we can expect God to fill us with the Spirit and to enable us to speak the Word with boldness. Many times when I am waiting to speak, I ask the Lord to empower me to speak with boldness. He is faithful to help. His Spirit will enable our spirit to soar and to inspire all who hear. He stands in the pulpit with us to proclaim the Word of God.

Conclusion

When we pray, we can call upon God who is the Sovereign Lord. Because of this, we can pray in full confidence. Even the enemies of God are under His control. Many times they are persuaded to yield to God, but even when they are not, He is still Sovereign Lord. He will make all things work to benefit His kingdom and His servants. The disciples prayed to speak the word of God in confidence and power. God filled them with the Spirit in answer to their prayer, and they boldly proclaimed His Word.

The Ascension Of Jesus Christ

 

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Ascension Day: A Heavenly Celebration

By: John P. King, 1cbn.com

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Today we celebrate a wonderful holiday – Ascension Day. What? You aren’t celebrating? Why is
that? Why do we neglect to recognize this spectacular day? Let me suggest one reason we don’t
recognize the significance and importance of this day; we haven’t truly taken the time to grasp
its full impact.

When we think of Jesus, we tend to envision any of the countless paintings or people who played Him in a movie. However, that is not who is on the throne right now. On this day, the risen Jesus, who met Mary at the tomb, who walked the road to Emmaus with two of His followers, who let Thomas touch his hands and side, and who cooked breakfast for His disciples on a beach has become the ascended Jesus – glorified with the beauty of His holiness and enthroned in the splendor of His majesty. The glimpse seen on the mount of transfiguration is now the full state of Jesus’ being as we see Him in Revelation;

“And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance.” Rev 1:13-16 NLT

Jesus is re-crowned! The prayer he prayed in his last night before to the cross, has become completely fulfilled because of this day:

“Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.” John 17:5 NLT

Can you imagine the processional as Jesus traveled the streets of Heaven returning to the throne He left 33 years earlier? Angelic choirs singing Psalm 24:

“Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, invincible in battle. Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The Lord of Heaven’s armies – he is the King of glory.” Psalm 24:7-10 NLT

All those who had passed into the Bosom of Abraham now allowed into heaven itself because of redemption’s fulfillment – Abraham and Sarah, David, Samuel, Ruth, Jeremiah, Esther, Noah, John the Baptist, the thief who had hung with Him in death – now lining the roadways celebrating the full triumph and return of the Savior King to His rightful place – the throne of Heaven.

“These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and have Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Eph 1:19b-23 NASB

Jesus is KING! He has ascended and is enthroned. Great glory, splendor, majesty, and goodness emanate from Him – it is who He is. EVERYTHING is under His rule and authority. Grasp the impact. We can know that whatever is going on in our lives, Jesus has power over it. Difficulties, trials, temptations, heartbreaks, illnesses, persecutions…whatever name it goes by, Jesus’ name is greater. The Bible encourages us to bring these problems to our King;

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16 NLT

So hail the once and future King! For He has ascended on this day with victory and bids us come.

A Glimpse of Ascension Day

By: Julius Medenblik, today.reframemedia.com

  

Scripture Reading — Psalm 110

The Lord says to my lord, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” — Psalm 110:1

This coming Thursday will mark Ascension Day on the calendar of the church. Forty days after Easter Sunday, Jesus ascended into heaven, leaving his disciples to do the work of his church on earth. In today’s psalm reading, we have a glimpse of that day from King David, who wrote this psalm.

Jesus is in the genealogy line of King David. About 1,000 years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem (David’s hometown), David gave thanks and praise to God as he wrote this psalm.

Jesus links himself to this psalm in the gospel of Matthew. He asks the religious leaders and teachers, “Whose son is the Christ (or, Messiah)?” They all answer that the Christ is the Son of David. Jesus then asks how that son can be called a lord over King David. To back up his point, Jesus quotes Psalm 110:1, which they know is a prophecy of the Messiah, who would one day sit at God’s right hand. The teachers are silent. They don’t know how to answer. (SeeMatthew 22:41-46.)

The answer is in the fact that Jesus has always been with God the Father. He has always been the Son of God, even before he became the Son of David. As Colossians 1:17 puts it, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

Isn’t it amazing and humbling that the triune God was working out this story from the beginning of time?

The Ascension of Christ: A Most Significant Event

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the foundation truth of the gospel (1 Cor. 15:13-19). For that reason, occasionally the resurrection narrative has overshadowed the ascension record. But the ascension event is of equal significance, and careful attention should be given to it.

Prophetically Announced

A thousand years before the Savior’s birth, David prophesied the ascension of Jesus when he announced the Lord’s enthronement at the Father’s right hand (Psa. 110:1). No other psalm is so frequently quoted in the New Testament — an indication of the importance of the event.

Though the disciples struggled with the concept of Jesus’ death, he told them plainly that he was going back to the Father (Jn. 14:12). And, while on trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin, Jesus announced to the high priest that presently he would be “sitting at the right hand of Power” (Mt. 26:64). His ascension was one of the tests of Christ’s prophetic credibility.

Effected by God

Five times New Testament writers employ the Greek term analambano (to take up) of the Lord’s ascension (Mk. 16:19; Acts 1:2, 11, 22; 1 Tim. 3:16). Each time the verb is in the passive voice, he “was taken up.” The passive voice represents the subject of the verb as being acted upon. Thus, in this instance, indicating that the taking up was empowered from above, namely by God.

Historical Reality

The ascension of Christ presents a problem for the opponents of Christianity. If Jesus was not raised from the dead or if he somehow survived the ordeal of Calvary and died later (as Hugh Schonfield speculated in his infamous book, The Passover Plot), surely the Lord’s enemies would have vigorously sought to reclaim his body, thus nullifying the resurrection story. With such a trophy, Christianity could have been crushed in its infancy.

Those efforts, however, if they occurred, were in vain. That lack of evidence indirectly supports the record of the ascension; there was no earthly corpse.

The apostles themselves witnessed the Savior’s ascension (Acts 1:9-11). Luke’s record of this event was under-girded by his careful research (Lk. 1:3; 24:51), not to mention his guidance by the Spirit. Mark, who wrote under the tutelage of Peter (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 2.15), also took note of the ascension (Mk. 16:19).

The event was taken for granted in the balance of the New Testament (Acts 2:33; Eph. 4:8-10; Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:1; 1 Tim. 3:16; 1 Pet. 3:22). At the time of his martyrdom, Stephen was permitted to actually see the ascended Christ and petition him (Acts 7:55-60).

It is significant that Luke’s account of the ascension episode (Acts 1:9-11), consumes only 63 words in the Greek Testament. This brevity demonstrates the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit; strictly human journalistic impulses would have expanded the narrative considerably.

It also that the ascension was never a point of controversy among the early disciples, thus requiring elaborate argumentation.

The Abiding Significance of Christ’s Ascension

There are several significant doctrinal points connected with the ascension of Christ. Let us consider some of these.

The Lordship of Christ

The ascension of the Savior is an integral part of the proposition that Christ is the “Lord,” who has the right to exercise “all authority” (Mt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-23). On Pentecost, after arguing for the resurrection and ascension, Peter contended:

“Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36).

Especially note the “therefore” connective.

The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was implemented by the ascended Christ (Mt. 3:11; Acts 1:5; 2:33). This supernatural event authenticated the fact that the circumstances of that day, resulting in the establishment of the church of Christ, were divinely orchestrated. The Christian regime is from God, not man.

 

Worship God With You Offering

Deuteronomy 12:6-7

there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, what you have vowed to give and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you.

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A Worthy Offering

By: Joe Stowell, Strength For The Journey

Apr
24
2019

If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. —Genesis 4:7

I was delighted when a mutual friend gave my neighbor a Bible. But my neighbor told me she stopped reading it because she couldn’t understand why God would be so unfair as to reject Cain’s offering. “After all,” she said, “as a farmer, he simply brought to God what he had. Did God expect him to buy a different kind of sacrifice?” Sadly, she had missed the point.

It wasn’t that God didn’t like vegetables. Rather, He knew that Cain’s offering was masking an unrighteous attitude. Cain wasn’t fully committed to God, as expressed by the fact that he wasn’t living according to God’s ways.

It’s easy to worship God on the outside while stubbornly keeping territory from Him on the inside. Jude writes about outwardly religious people who use religious activities to cover the reality of their sinful lives: “Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain” (Jude 1:11). We can faithfully serve God, sing His praises, and give sacrificially to His work. But God doesn’t want any of that without our hearts.

Does the Lord take priority over our plans and dreams? Is He worth more than the sin that tempts us? When we express to Him that He is more worthy than anything or anyone else in our lives, it’s an offering He won’t refuse.

Lord, may our worship and our praise,
From hearts surrendered to Your ways,
Be worthy offerings of love
For all Your blessings from above. —Sper

God won’t refuse a heart that is surrendered to Him.

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A vision of the latter day glories

From: Charles Spurgeon

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.” Isaiah 2:2 & Micah 4:1

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-15

I am looking for the advent of Christ; it is this that cheers me in the battle of life—the battle and cause of Christ. I look for Christ to come, somewhat as John Bunyan described the battle of Captain Credence with Diabolus. The inhabitants of the town of Mansoul fought hard to protect their city from the prince of darkness, and at last a pitched battle was fought outside the walls. The captains and the brave men of arms fought all day till their swords were knitted to their hands with blood; many and many a weary hour did they seek to drive back the Diabolonians. The battle seemed to waver in the balance; sometimes victory was on the side of faith, and then, triumph seemed to hover over the crest of the prince of hell; but just as the sun was setting, trumpets were heard in the distance; Prince Emmanuel was coming, with trumpets sounding, and with banners flying; and while the men of Mansoul pressed onward sword in hand, Emmanuel attacked their foes in the rear, and getting the enemy between them both, they went on, driving their enemies at the sword’s point, till at last, trampling over their dead bodies, they met, and hand to hand the victorious church saluted its victorious Lord. Even so must it be. We must fight on day by day and hour by hour; and when we think the battle is almost decided against us, we shall hear the trump of the archangel, and the voice of God, and he shall come, the Prince of the kings of the earth; at his name, with terror shall they melt, and like snow driven before the wind from the bare side of a mountain shall they fly away; and we, the church militant, trampling over them, shall salute our Lord, shouting, “Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”

For meditation: The Lord’s second coming is an encouragement for us to hold fast to what we have (Revelation 2:253:11). “Hold the fort, for I am coming!”

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Streams in the Desert

April 24

When God Says No

“There hath not failed one word of all his good promise” (1 Kings 8:56).

Some day we shall understand that God has a reason in every NO which He speaks through the slow movement of life. “Somehow God makes up to us.” How often, when His people are worrying and perplexing themselves about their prayers not being answered, is God answering them in a far richer way! Glimpses of this we see occasionally, but the full revelation of it remains for the future.

“If God says ‘Yes’ to our prayer, dear heart,
And the sunlight is golden, the sky is blue,
While the smooth road beckons to me and you,
And the song-birds warble as on we go,
Pausing to gather the buds at our feet,
Stopping to drink of the streamlets we meet,
Happy, more happy, our journey will grow,
If God says ‘Yes’ to our prayer, dear heart.

“If God says ‘No’ to our prayer, dear heart,
And the clouds hang heavy and dull and gray;
If the rough rocks hinder and block the way,
While the sharp winds pierce us and sting with cold;
Oh, dear, there is home at the journey’s end,
And these are the trials the Father doth send
To draw us as sheep to His Heavenly fold,
If God says ‘No’ to our prayer, dear heart.”

Oh for the faith that does not make haste, but waits patiently for the Lord, waits for the explanation that shall come in the end, at the revelation of Jesus Christ! When did God take anything from a man, without giving him manifold more in return? Suppose that the return had not been made immediately manifest, what then? Is today the limit of God’s working time? Has He no provinces beyond this little world? Does the door of the grave open upon nothing but infinite darkness and eternal silence?

Yet, even confining the judgment within the hour of this life, it is true that God never touches the heart with a trial without intending to bring upon it some grander gift, some tenderer benediction. He has attained to an eminent degree of Christian grace who knows how to wait.
–Selected

***

When the frosts are in the valley,
And the mountain tops are grey,
And the choicest buds are blighted,
And the blossoms die away,
A loving Father whispers,
“This cometh from my hand”;
Blessed are ye if ye trust
Where ye cannot understand.

If, after years of toiling,
Your wealth should fly away
And leave your hands all empty,
And your locks are turning grey,
Remember then your Father
Owns all the sea and land;
Blessed are ye if ye trust
Where ye cannot understand.
–Selected

Walk With God

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What does it mean to walk with God?

From: Compelling Truth

God created us for fellowship with Him and He desires us to walk with Him (Micah 6:8). Before the fall, Adam and Eve would walk and talk with God in the garden of Eden, but after they had sinned, they were ashamed and hid when they heard Him coming (Genesis 3:8). Their sin separated humanity from God (Romans 5:12). But Jesus came to offer us forgiveness and restoration. The sacrifice of Jesus enables us to have a personal and close relationship with God through the Holy Spirit (John 14:16–17). When you put your faith in Jesus, your relationship with God becomes the most important thing in your life. You want to talk with Him, seek Him, and please Him in all your ways. This is walking with God.

Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Noah (Genesis 6:9) were called men who walked with God. When you walk with God, you factor Him into your everyday life and your decision making. You spend time praying and talking with Him throughout the day.

If you go on a walk with your friend, what do you do during your walk? Besides the obvious, walking, you are having a conversation, sharing things that are on your mind, and listening to your friend do the same as you head to your destination. You stay focused on what each other is saying and do not get distracted. As a believer in Christ, you can walk with Him throughout your entire life here on earth until you arrive in heaven. God loves to be in relationship with us, and we can converse with Him through prayer and reading His Word, hearing His love and gaining His wisdom for us as we live our lives here on the earth (Psalm 32:81 John 3:1).

Walking with God means you are in agreement with Him and His ways (Amos 3:3). No one is perfect, but when you are walking with God your desire should be to see your own selfish desires die for the sake of seeing God transform you more and more into the image of His Son: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17; see also 2 Corinthians 3:18).

Another name for walking with God that is commonly used in the New Testament is “walking in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16Romans 8:4). When Jesus ascended into heaven, He left the Holy Spirit with us. The Holy Spirit, being on the earth and in us when we believe in Christ, is our direct link to God (Romans 8:9–1126–27Ephesians 1:13–14).

Walking with God is a way of life, and it is a choice. We can walk in God’s ways or the ways of the world, but we cannot do both (2 Kings 8:27Ephesians 2:2Matthew 6:24James 4:4). There will be sacrifices made no matter which path you choose, but walking with God is the way of eternal life (Hebrews 12:1–2). It will not be without cost, but it will be worth it (Matthew 7:13–14). Walking with the Lord means you live to please Him and not yourself. We cut things out of our lives that keep us from walking in the ways of God, because we are motivated by His love and a desire to be close to Him (Romans 13:14Psalm 1:1–3). We also depend on the power and work of the Holy Spirit to enable us to walk with Him (2 Corinthians 3:18Philippians 2:12–13).

People who walk with God display the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23). Christ followers live in contrast to the ways of the world surrounding them (Philippians 2:15). When Peter and John were arrested and brought before the authorities for preaching the gospel, the authorities took note of the men’s boldness “… and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). When you consistently walk with God, others will be able to recognize that, though you are flawed and imperfect, you have been with Jesus.

A Closer Walk with God

by Inspiration Ministries

“So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” – Genesis 5:23-24 NASB

As his faithful housekeeper struggled with a serious illness, English poet William Cowper turned his thoughts toward God. While he pondered the situation on this day in 1769, Cowper wrote a hymn called “Oh for a Closer Walk with God.”

Cowper recalled that he began writing this hymn before daybreak but fell asleep at the end of the first two lines: “When I awaked again, the third and fourth verses were whispered to my heart in a way I have often experienced.”

The words that came so easily to Cowper spoke of his heart’s desire to have a more intimate relationship with God. He wrote, “O for a closer walk with God, a calm and heavenly frame, a light to shine upon the road that leads me to the Lamb!”

He looked back at his life, and asked, “Where is the blessedness I knew, when first I saw the Lord? Where is the soul refreshing view of Jesus and His Word?” He recalled the memory of knowing “peaceful hours,” but realized there was “an aching void the world can never fill.”

He knew the answer was to have a closer walk with God. He sought to be cleansed from the “sins that made Thee mourn and drove Thee from my breast.” And he wanted to worship God alone and remove every idol that had entered his life.

Can you recall a time when you were closer to God? Do you long to have a more intimate relationship with Him? Spend time with Him today, confessing your sins and eliminating any idols that have entered your life. Read His Word. Linger in His presence. Listen to His voice. Worship Him. Make knowing Him your highest priority.

Walking With God

Author:  Bill Sytsma, today.reframemedia.com

  Scripture Reading — Genesis 5:21-24

Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.
Genesis 5:24 —

My family lives near a paved bike trail. When you walk down this path, you say hello to people as you pass each other moving in opposite directions.

If the person you meet is wearing headphones and listening to music, it is better to merely nod at them. If you are riding your bike, it is polite to announce that you are about to pass the people walking in front of you.

It is possible to have a lot of human interaction while walking on this path, without really getting to know anyone.

Often you will see two people walking together. They talk together, match each other’s pace, and enjoy each other’s company. They are more than mere acquaintances who happen to be on the same path.

We don’t know very much about Enoch. His entire life story is summarized in a few words. The outstanding characteristic of his life was that he “walked faithfully with God.” (See also Hebrews 11:5.)

When God calls us to walk with him, he is looking for something more than a mere friendly greeting as we meet him on the path. It is possible to recognize God as someone we admire as we meet him (often) on the path of life, but he wants more for each one of us. God wants us to match his steps, converse with him, and take time to get to know him more fully.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

 John 20

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

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MARY MAGDALENE, FAITHFUL FRIEND

The name “Mary Magdalene” can evoke different images to various people.Many see her as a deranged woman suffering from being possessed by demons, while others view her as a fallen woman, even a prostitute. Although the biblical record is not silent on the matter, we are only given a few details about the life of Mary Magdalene in the Bible — and you may be surprised what Scripture does and doesn’t say!While the facts of Mary’s life are sketchy, at best, one thing is perfectly clear: Mary Magdalene loved Jesus, and Jesus loved her. In fact, her story will forever remain entwined with the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

HER NAME MEANS “TROUBLE AND SORROW”

The name “Mary” occurs 51 times in the New Testament and is taken from the Old Testaments names of Miriam and Mara, which mean “bitter.” The root of the name “Mary” is derived from the notion of trouble and sorrow. Being a common name during this time period, this Mary was distinguished from all others by being referred to as “The Magdalene,” which identifies her as being born in Magdala, a thriving city on the coast of Galilee about three miles from Capernaum. The city of Magdala was known for its primitive textile factories and dye works. While it is only speculation, it could be that Mary Magdalene was connected in some way with that industry, which would have enabled her to help support the ministry of Jesus, as she was known to have done.

There is nothing in the biblical record about Mary’s family life. The Bible does not list her parentage, any family members, her marital status, or her age. The gospel accounts of her life suggest that she had no family obligations, thus freeing her to follow Jesus in His traveling ministry.

FROM DEMON-POSSESSED TO DEVOTED DISCIPLE

While many equate Mary Magdalene with the sinful woman of Luke 7:37 or the woman caught in adultery in John 8:3, there is not the slightest evidence in the gospel narratives or in the writings of the early church fathers to support the claim that Mary Magdalene had ever been a woman of ill repute. What the Bible does tell us about her is that she had been possessed by seven demons, which probably caused her to have bouts of insanity, and that Jesus cast them out of her (Luke 8:2).

Being delivered from her tormenting captors, Mary became a disciple of Jesus, to whom she showed great love and devotion. Along with other women, Mary gave both personal and financial support to the ministry of Jesus, following Him from place to place in His missionary activities.

A LEADING WOMAN IN MINISTRY

Mary Magdalene is mentioned 14 times in the gospels and from that record we can compose a sketchy profile of her life. It is worth noting that in eight of the 14 instances that she is mentioned, Mary is named in connection with other women, of which she is always named first. This would lead us to believe that she occupied the place at the front in service rendered by godly women. In the five times she is mentioned alone, it is in connection with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Mark 16:9John 20:1111618).

Forever faithful to her Lord, Mary Magdalene was among the last at the cross to witness Christ’s death and, following Joseph of Arimathea to see where Jesus’ body would be laid, she was the last to leave His tomb after night had fallen. Intending to honor Christ by anointing His body with spices and perfumes, she was the first to visit the tomb on resurrection morning and the first to carry the news that Jesus had risen from the dead.

JESUS HONORED HER

What a great honor God bestowed upon Mary in permitting her to be the first witness of His resurrection! The gospel of John tells us best of what happened that day. Mary was at the tomb at first light that first Easter morning. How surprised she must have been to see the stone rolled away! Peering in the cave she saw that it was empty, which made her weep. After finding the grave empty Mary rushed to find Peter and John and blurted out, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him!” (John 20:2). Peter and John went to the tomb with Mary and found that she told them the truth, and then they “went back to where they were staying”(John 20:10). But Mary stayed. It was then, after speaking to two angels, that Jesus revealed himself to Mary.

After comforting her, Jesus commissioned Mary to be the first messenger of His resurrection. He told her to tell the disciples Jesus’ words: “‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God’” (John 20:17). What an honor to be the first to herald the resurrection!

WHAT MARY CAN TEACH US

There is much we can learn from the life of Mary Magdalene.

  1. We can see just how much Christ can do for someone. He delivered her afflicted, tormented soul and healed her, leaving her a changed woman.
  2. We not only learn what Christ can do for us, but what we can do for Him. His great love and compassion toward her completely changed her life and led Mary to become a faithful, sacrificial follower. So grateful for her deliverance, Mary practiced her faith by following Jesus and ministering to Him and His disciples out of her financial means and taking care of their physical needs. Her gratitude and love manifested itself in her devotion to Christ.
  3. Christ’s work for Mary Magdalene and her loving ministry to Him constitute the type of elevation of woman to the rank of friendship with man. She was no longer to be considered a slave or servant, but his co-worker and equal, capable of accepting equal responsibilities and sharing equally in the results.

Mary Magdalene owed much, gave much, loved much, and served much. She is a wonderful example of a woman whose life was poured out in response to God’s extravagant grace.

 

Mary Magdaline

From: allaboutjesuschrist.org

QUESTION: Mary Magdaline – What was her role in Jesus’ resurrection?

ANSWER:

The role of Mary Magdalene in Christ’s resurrection began from her very first appearance in the Gospels. She became a tenacious follower from the time Jesus exorcised seven demons from her (Luke 8:2Mark 15:41). Perhaps of a well-born family, she, with other women of wealth, expressed appreciation to Jesus through their generous financial support. They accompanied Him and His disciples as often as their family and social obligations permitted. Her emotional and spiritual attachment to Jesus naturally strengthened as time passed. However, any innuendo suggesting a physical relationship between them is flagrant blasphemy of God’s Son, who recognized only a spiritual family (Mark 3:31-35).

Mary Magdalene’s role in Christ’s resurrection grew by her devotion to Jesus during His six hours on the cross. Following the entourage from Jerusalem, she remained on site until His death (Matthew 27:55-56). That aside reeks of integrity, given the ferocious loyalty with which women have always supported the spiritual life.

Mary Magdalene’s role in Christ’s resurrection became certain by her, and the other women’s, loyalty to Christ’s corpse. They accompanied Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea to the garden and sat opposite the tomb as the man lovingly placed the precious body inside. With the rest, they plunged into grief-stricken despair as servants rolled the stone in place (Matthew 27:61). Devastated beyond tears, they returned home to prepare spices and perfumes to embalm the body after the Sabbath (Luke 23:55-56).

Mary Magdalene’s role in Christ’s resurrection became inevitable when she and other women took their spices to the tomb at dawn Sunday morning. Their remarkable action-adding to the rich man’s superfluity of seventy-five pounds their own store of spices-proved that love can never do enough for its object.

Mary Magdalene’s role in Christ’s resurrection reached its ultimate expression in her personal rendezvous with Jesus at the tomb (John 20:10-18). However, it seems that the meeting revealed more than the emotional, sentimental message of the hymn In The Garden.

Luke 24:1 and the following verses record their initial visit to the tomb, where the angels questioned their search for the LIVING among DEAD mortals. In a monumental distinction, they specifically spoke of Christ’s bodily resurrection – not the removal of His corpse from the tomb. They even underscored it by referring to Christ’s promise of resurrection. The women’s remembrance of Christ’s words obviously didn’t translate into understanding.

Leaving the tomb, the women told all the apostles generally (Luke 24:9), and Peter and John particularly (John 20:2), that THEY, that is, the angels, had taken Christ’s body, but no one knew where. The energized John and Peter raced for the tomb (John 20:3-9). After inspecting it, they left.

John 20:10 recorded Mary Magdalene’s return to the tomb after the men left. Nevertheless, despite angelic eyewitness affirmation of Christ’s resurrection, Christ’s promise to rise, and her witness to that, Mary stood outside the tomb, weeping. She forlornly bent over and looked inside, where her adjusted eyes saw two angelic beings and heard their assurance of Christ’s resurrection. Jesus meanwhile appeared, stood close to Mary and asked the reason for her tears. Drawn to the voice, she turned to see; but temporarily blinded by weeping and the bright morning light, she didn’t recognize Jesus. Only when He called her name did Mary KNOW that Jesus lived and stood beside her.

Mary’s reluctance to accept the Master’s resurrection reflected the adamant skepticism in every disciple. And while the empty tomb raised questions and hopes, it took the personal, visible appearance of Jesus to convince the disciples, Mary Magdalene included. This is evidence of integrity. The hard-headed men and women in that generation weren’t interested in believing an illusion. Jesus had to indisputably prove that He lived after being buried. In another mark of integrity, once He proved it, they believed it with a dogged perseverance they never surrendered.

 

 

Faith In Christ Makes Us Clean

 

Nobody likes to be dirty, except for maybe kids playing in the mud. That feeling of being washed clean is one of the best in the world. Our souls are the same way with our sin. When there is unforgiven sin in our heart, we have that dirty feeling. When our sins are forgiven the feeling of being washed clean is much deeper than any shower can provide. Jesus washes us clean with the blood he shed on the cross.

1 Corinthians 6:11

And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Complete Package

Before Christ, we were sinners only getting worse. After we came to Christ, we were washed, sanctified, and justified. Think about these three attributes for just a second. Sin dirties our life. Jesus’ blood washes it clean. Before Christ we were on a slow path to death. After Christ, we are cleaned up and the process begins to transform us.

Sanctified

After Christ, we are now growing and being transformed into the image of Christ, that process is called sanctification. It’s an important word because it shows us that God isn’t finished with us when he washes us clean. He continues to work on us, changing us. He cares about our growth and is there to make it happen.

Justified

We were also condemned to an eternity of pain and sorrow before Christ. Now with Christ, we are justified. Justification is another word that is important. We are justified in the eyes of God because the wrath of sin has been removed. Think of justification this way: “Just as if I have never sinned.” When we receive the forgiveness that Christ offers, it’s just as if I had never sinned. Salvation is a powerful work that radically changes us. When we are washed clean, some powerful changes take place in us.

 

Completely Clean

 

Showers are great. No matter how dirty we are, what filth we’ve gotten ourselves into, or how long it’s been since the last bath, we can get completely clean. A little shampoo for the hair, some cleansing cream for the face, a good bar of soap for the rest, and ta da! We’re clean again — as clean as we ever were.

We aren’t obsessed with how dirty we once were. We don’t rush from mirror to mirror, making sure the cleansing succeeded. We know we are clean.

We can be clean spiritually, too.

God promises to make us completely clean on the inside. Psalm 51:7 (KJV) says,

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

We can ask God to make us clean and He does. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done, how despicable we’ve been, or how many we’ve hurt, God’s cleansing is thorough.

We don’t always feel clean, though, do we? We remember what we’ve done and we’re ashamed. That shame and the guilt that goes with it keep us from believing the sins are gone. We can’t accept God’s forgiveness. We become obsessed by how dirty we once were on the inside.

Everything in the natural can be cleaned, but it sometimes takes a special process to get there. An oil stain in the driveway takes a combination of chemicals to get clean. Clothing might need bleach. A wall might need repainting. And some stains can never be cleaned no matter how hard you scrub.

That’s the kind of cleaning we’re used to, and we can’t help but wonder what else we could do to get right again after sin. Surely bigger sins require some sort of penance. Somewhere there must be a list of things we need to do to pre-treat our stains before we dare come before the sinless Almighty for forgiveness.

But God’s cleansing is thorough. 1 John 1:9 (KJV) says,

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

“All” is what it says. It doesn’t say “some.” It doesn’t say “certain sins.” It doesn’t say “except for the below-mentioned actions.”

Even if others haven’t forgiven us, even if we haven’t forgiven ourselves, even if we are still living with the consequences of what we’ve done, God’s forgiveness is thorough. Jesus Christ and His death on the cross paid the whole price for our sin. Because of Him, we can be as completely clean on the inside as we are on the outside.

All we need to do is tell God we’re sorry for what we’ve done and ask Him to forgive us. He is waiting to make us clean again.

It’s as easy as this: “Heavenly Father, I’m sorry for my sins. I’m buried under this guilt that I deserve. But please forgive me and make me right again with You. I want to be clean again on the inside. Thank You. I know You’ve forgiven me because Your word says so. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 

Wash Me, and I Will Be Clean

today.reframemedia.com, Tom Groelsema, Author

 

Scripture Reading — Psalm 51

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. — Psalm 51:7

Psalm 51 is David’s great psalm of confession after committing adultery with Bathsheba and arranging the murder of her husband (see 2 Samuel 1112). It’s a model psalm showing us how to confess our own sins to God. Its cries for mercy, honest acknowledgement of sin, and statements of renewed commitment to God are great examples for us to use in our own prayers.

Where did David find hope as he confessed? He wrote, “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” Hyssop was a small, brush-like plant in Israel. It’s mentioned in connection with the Passover; the Israelites used it to spread blood on the doorframes of their homes (Exodus 12:21-22). Later it was used to sprinkle blood on the tabernacle to dedi­cate it to God and on people with skin diseases so that they would be cleansed. Hyssop, blood, cleansing, and forgiveness all go together in the Bible, and David’s plea to be cleansed with hyssop was like saying, “Wash me with blood, and I will be forgiven.”

The blood of Jesus is our hope of forgiveness. When we confess our sins and are washed in the blood of Jesus, we are made clean. No sin sticks to people who trust in Christ. Confess your sins and believe in him today.