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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.

Transformed Into His likeness

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Being Changed by God’s Glory (2 Corinthians 3:7-18)

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

Paul has just introduced a contrast between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, between the letter of the Mosaic law and the leadership of the dynamic Spirit of God.

“He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant “� not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (3:6)

Now Paul continues this contrast in 3:7-18 by showing the basis of the Old Covenant as the work of the Spirit through Moses, the Spirit that “� under the New Covenant “� works through all believers.

But why is Paul explaining such things to an overwhelmingly Gentile church? Probably because his opponents in Corinth had Jewish connections and were trying to “out-Hebrew” Paul himself. Later in this letter, Paul argues against these false apostles:

“Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descend­ants? So am I.” (11:22)

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul offers a similar defense, for the same reason “� to counteract the Jewish or Jewish-Christian opponents there:

“… Circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee….” (Philippians 3:5)

The Greater Glory of the Spirit (3:7-11)

Paul, the trained Pharisee, corrects these Jewish-Christian opponents with a typical Rabbinic argument from the lesser to the greater.

  1. Ministry of Spirit is more splendid than ministry of death (3:7-8)
  2. Ministry of righteousness is more splendid than the ministry of condemnation (3:9-10)
  3. Permanent ministry is more splendid than that which passes away (3:11).[93]

You’ll see these themes in the text:

Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily[94] at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading[95] though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing[96] glory. 11 And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts![97]” (3:7-11)

The Glory of God on Moses’ Face (Exodus 34)

Paul agrees that the Old Covenant, characterized by the Ten Commandments (“engraved with letters on stone”�) was glorious. He refers to Moses’ experience of encountering God on Mount Sinai and his practice of talking to God in his tent of meeting and then emerging with the glow of God’s glory on his face.

29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiantbecause he had spoken with the LORD. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him….

33 When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face34 But whenever he entered the LORD’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD.” (Exodus 34:29-30, 33-35)

I envy Moses! He had prayed, “Show me your glory,” and God had answered in this unique expression of God’s glory on Moses’ face. That’s how the law was given. That’s how Israel was led through the desert “� by a man who sought God and spoke with him face to face.

But, Paul argues, that however glorious its origins, the law didn’t bring life to God’s people as the Spirit does.  In Paul’s analogy, the glory of the law fades or passes away, while the Spirit of God continues with us to this day.

Q1. (2 Corinthians 3:7-11) Why did Moses’ face glow? Why did he cover it when he was out with the people? Why didn’t more people’s face glow in Moses’ time? What’s the difference between the spread of God’s glory in Moses’ time when compared to our own time?

 

We would never be guilty of making worship more about ourselves than God, would we? How many times have you left a worship service only to complain, “I didn’t get anything out of it today!” We make statements that are saturated with self as if worship is all about us:

– “Why can’t we sing more of the songs that I like?”
– “I don’t think the preacher should talk about this or that!”
– “I can’t believe so-and-so didn’t talk to me today!”
– “No one ever notices what I do in the church.”

Here’s the problem: Worship isn’t about getting anything; it’s about giving everything to God! The above attitudes make us idle judges of activity rather than active participants in adoration toward a holy God. Christian consumerism defines the quality of our worship by the number of ministries for people, the size and quality of our buildings, the popularity of our pastors, the style of our music and an obvious determination to make people happy. One concern emerges as primary: “What have you done for me lately?”
Unfortunately, we still fall short of making everyone happy, and God is disgusted with our obvious worship of and preoccupation with ourselves. Our efforts to be seeker-sensitive and self-sensitive have made us insensitive to the Divine Presence who is to be the focus of our worship. Or, as the apostle Paul said, we have “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).
Personal struggles, selfish ambitions, bickering among God’s people and worship wars are all indications that we desperately need to return to the heart of worship. Doing so requires recognizing who we are in light of who God is and seeking to exalt Him to His rightful place in our lives, our families and our church. Paul gives us three realities that point us to the heart of worship. First, you have to realize . . .

Our Life’s Privilege Is to Receive Christ
Notice how 2 Corinthians 3:18 begins: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord.” Notice two phrases here: “with unveiled face, beholding” and then “the glory of the Lord.” Through Christ, the veil, which covers the glory of the God, is removed. How? John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” In the person of Jesus Christ, we behold the glory of God continually.
The background of this statement is found in Exodus 33, where Moses meets with the Lord on Mount Sinai after the people of Israel committed idolatry. In doing so, he saw the glory of God. Why does Paul use the imagery of an “unveiled face” beholding the Lord here in 2 Corinthians 3:18? After seeing the glory of God, Exodus 34:29-30 reveals: “It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai . . . that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him. So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.” Thus, the Bible says in Exodus 34:33, “When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face.”
Throughout 2 Corinthians 3, Paul offers his commentary on this incident. Notice 2 Corinthians 3:7: “But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was” (emphasis mine). 2 Corinthians 3:13 says that we “are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away” (emphasis mine).
Moses was in the presence of God for a limited time, thus the glory of God faded. Christians, however, abide in the presence of God forever; and the glory never fades. Verse 18 proclaims “with unveiled face” we are beholding “the glory of the Lord.” It is a privilege to receive Christ because in Him we behold the glory of God continually.
Moses understood that leading the people on their journey was impossible without the presence of God. Thus, in Exodus 33:15 he says, “If Your presence does not go [with us,] do not lead us up from here.” The lesson is powerful: Having God is better than having what God gives. Seeing God in all His glory is the primary goal of worship. It’s not about how we do or don’t feel. The privilege of Christianity is God Himself. Beholding His glory must be our agenda.
Our tendency to make worship about ourselves is not new. 2 Corinthians 3:15 describes the religious leaders of Jesus’ day this way: “But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart.” In other words, you can’t see the glory of God and worship yourself at the same time. 2 Corinthians 3:16 presents a better alternative: “whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”

 

2 Corinthians 3:18 ~ The Glory of Jesus Christ

From: faithbibleoc.org

Gospel Sanctification: Great Gospel Texts that Transform Our Lives

2 Corinthians 3:18 ~ But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

The greatest person in the universe is God. He is transcendent, eternal, infinite, self-sufficient, sovereign, just… He is the all-knowing and all-wise being to whom the angels cry out day and night, “Holy, holy, holy!” These holy angels who’ve never sinned and have remained in their perfect created state need to shield their faces from the brilliant radiance of His glory (cf. Isa 6:2). If He were to unleash the fullness of His splendor upon us right now, we would all fall dead instantly (cf. Exo 33:20). So when Paul states in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that believers are able to behold God’s glory, we scratch our heads and wonder what he means. Is it possible for saved sinners to actually see the glory of God?

This verse has transformed my life. I’ve probably read it hundreds of times. But it was only when I studied it and took the time to ponder it, that by God’s grace, the amazing truths packed into this one verse changed everything – truths of God’s glory, faith, sanctification, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I pray it will grip your heart and light a passion in you for the glory of Christ! Look with me at three profound truths from this single verse.

The first truth is that all believers have access to the glory of God. Paul states, “But we all, with unveiled face.” Earlier in verses 14-16, Paul says that believers have had the veil of their hearts taken away through faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, the very moment we are saved, the veil has been lifted from our eyes so that we can see the glory of God for the first time. And this access to see Him is never impeded, but always available to us as His children (cf. Heb 4:16).

This ought to give our hearts great hope! No matter where we are at, no matter how “stuck” we feel spiritually, no matter if we haven’t seen His glory in a long time, if we belong to Him, we have had the veil removed from our hearts and we can behold His glory once more!

The second truth is that the glory of God is the supernatural source for our spiritual transformation. The grammar of this verse proves this point (Let’s go back to grade school grammar, shall we?). The subject and main verb of this sentence is: “We all… are being transformed.” Then there is a participial phrase that shows how this happens: by “beholding the glory of the Lord.” So how are believers transformed? By beholding the glory of the Lord. But how can we behold it without dying? And where can we go to see it today?

A few verses later in 4:6, Paul describes where the glory of God is revealed… “in the face of Christ.” In other words, the glory of God is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, and specifically, according to 4:4, “the gospel of the glory of Christ.” The Gospel encompasses the great work of Christ in His death and resurrection (cf. 1 Cor 15:1-4). So according to Paul, the glory of God can be clearly seen in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But why is this so? Why does the death and resurrection of Christ reveal God’s glory most clearly? It’s because no other event in human history reveals the love, grace, and mercy of God more than the Cross work of Jesus. John Piper writes…

“All things are created and guided and sustained for the glory of God, which reaches its apex in the glory of His grace, which shines most brightly in the glory of Christ, which comes to focus most clearly in the glory of the Cross.”[1]

Therefore, seeing the beauty and wonder of God’s love and grace for sinners like us through the excruciating, agonizing, shocking death of His beloved Son is the means for our spiritual transformation. Paul says we “behold” it, which simply means we believe it (cf. John 6:40). We trust in it. We walk by faith in “the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal 2:20). And when we do, the supernatural power of God through the Holy Spirit changes everything about us – our motives, our desires, our attitudes, our affections, our thoughts, our words and our works (cf. Gal 5:22-23).

This leads us to the third truth… true spiritual transformation takes place from the inside out. The word “transformed” is where we get our English word “metamorphosis.” It speaks of a total and complete change in a person’s fundamental character. It’s change at the deepest level of our being, at the heart. And this internal transformation will inevitably and joyfully lead to obedience to the will of God. There is no room for “cheap grace” or licentious living when we’re dealing with God’s powerful grace.

When we continue to behold the glory of God in the gospel work of Jesus Christ, our hearts are transformed with a profound love for Christ! And this love motivates us to joyfully live for Him, no matter what the cost may be. Just as the forgiven woman in Luke 7 endured the public shame and ridicule at the home of Simon the Pharisee so that she could demonstrate her loving devotion to Jesus Christ (v. 38), our hearts will be willing and longing to do anything in order to please and glorify Jesus!

So there you have it. Yes, we can behold God’s glory today. Not visibly with our eyes, but with the eyes of our hearts. We can see the amazing, everlasting glory of God in the truth of the Cross-work of Jesus Christ. Maybe your Christian life has been on “cruise control” and you’re not sure how to get out of the lukewarm rut you’re in. Maybe you’re suffering under a heavy trial and you’re responses aren’t very godly. Maybe you’re battling a recurring temptation to sin… again. Maybe you’re doubting God’s great love for you because of the weight of sin’s guilt. Whatever the struggle may be, know this truth, that Jesus Christ can bring instant and powerful change to your heart and life.

So run quickly to the resurrected Christ. Gaze into the depths of His sufferings. And think of what He did in order to demonstrate the infinite depths of His love for great sinners like us!

God Tore The Temple Veil

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The Tearing of the Veil

From: first15.org

Devotional

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Matthew 27:45-54 says,

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

At the death of Jesus, God turned what was the world’s greatest tragedy into our greatest triumph. With every crack of the whip, the bonds that entangled you and me to the sin and darkness of this world became a little looser. And with Jesus’ final breath the earth shook and the rocks split under the magnitude of the power of Christ’s sacrifice. Only God could take the greatest injustice and turn it into the world’s greatest good. Only God could take death and produce abundant life for all.

Out of everything that resulted from Jesus’ final breath, none was more important than God’s tearing of the veil. The veil that signified the necessary separation between God and man was ripped in two from top to bottom, from God down to us. The great chasm over which no man could cross was now covered by a bridge created by God’s wrath poured out on Jesus. The tearing of the veil represents the very purpose for Jesus’ death: that God could now once again have restored communion with his people. No matter how many or how horrendous our sins might be, Jesus’ death gained victory over it all.

Just as the saints who had fallen asleep were raised at Jesus’ death, you and I have been raised to newness of life. We are caught up in the glory of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. God has made unveiled, face-to-face relationship with him available to us once again.

If God would pay the price of Jesus’ death to have restored relationship with us, encountering him face-to-face must be the absolute best way for us to live. If God considers restored relationship with you worth the death of his only and blameless Son, he must place his highest value on total communion with you.

Maybe the concept of having real, tangible encounters with your heavenly Father is new to you. Maybe he feels distant. Maybe you come in and out of his presence day-to-day. Wherever you are in relation to God, know that nothing can separate you from him any longer. The death of Jesus was more powerful than any sin, lie, or belief. His death paid the entirety of your debt. There is nothing left to pay. Seek out a revelation of what it looks like to encounter your heavenly Father unveiled in prayer. May the Holy Spirit guide you into a lifestyle of continual, face-to-face, unveiled encounters with the living God.

Prayer

1. Meditate on the chasm that separated you from God as the result of sin. Reflecting on your status prior to salvation will give you a greater appreciation for what Jesus has done for you.

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” Romans 5:12

“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” Isaiah 59:1-2

2. Now meditate on the power of Jesus’ sacrifice. With his death on the cross, Jesus carried you across the great chasm that separated you from your heavenly Father.

“He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” Hebrews 9:12

“And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.” Matthew 27:51

3. Worship Jesus for the newness of life available to you through him. Give him thanks and praise for his love. Allow your affections to be stirred up towards him by the truth of Scripture.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.

 

The Veil Was Torn!

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From: worthydevotions.com

Hebrews 10:19-23 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

The New Testament records that when Yeshua (Jesus) died; there was a great earthquake and the veil of the Temple was torn in two. The size of this gigantic veil is not recorded in the NT…but we read from other sources that it was roughly 60 feet long and 30 feet wide with multiple woven layers the thickness of a man’s hand! It was hung on a crossbeam stone – a lintel – which was over 30 feet long and weighed more than 30 tons! It was not an easy cloth to tear…

Jerome, a fourth century Church Father, writes concerning the tearing of the veil, that not only was the veil torn, but the great earthquake had also caused the lintel of the Temple to be broken in two. In fact, it seems that the breaking of the lintel was what caused the veil to be torn in half from top to bottom, since the veil hung down from the lintel.

In the culture of the Jewish people, a father will commonly mourn the loss of his son by rending or tearing his garment…

Can we suggest that the rending of the Temple’s veil likewise, dramatically expressed our Heavenly Father’s agony over the death of Yeshua, His only begotten Son?

The way was prepared through the death of the Son of God for us to have access to the Holy of Holies, that place on earth which was prepared for the abiding Presence of God’s Spirit, and, in earlier Temple times, actually contained His Glory. In the death of the Messiah Yeshua, every barrier and obstacle, even a 30 ton stone that needed to be broken – was removed, to make a way for us to have an intimate relationship with the Father!

The sound of ripping cloth, the rending of a massive veil, echoes throughout history to this very day. The agony of that sound of mourning opened for us “a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh” [Hebrews 10:20]…so that now, at any time, we can approach our Heavenly Father with boldness and confidence in His love and acceptance. As we embrace the sacrifice of Yeshua, come with a clean heart in His righteousness, we may fully expect His constant intervention and blessing in our everyday lives— because the way has been permanently opened to us!

THE VEIL IS TORN

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From: sot-k.com

FEBRUARY 14, 2018

“And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God” Mark 15:37-39, KJV.

The veil in the temple covered the holiest place where the ark of the covenant and God dwelt. The high priest once a year to offer a sacrifice for man’s sin. He had to be a holy man, living upright before the Lord. The veil was thick and dark, representing the barrier of sin that separated us from the Father. No one was able to go beyond the veil and have access the Father except him.

If you’ve received Jesus into your heart as your Savior, your great and mighty high priest who was without sin, gave his life once for all, and when he did, the veil was torn from top to bottom. There is no more barrier of sin between you and the Father. There’s no barrier between receiving His promises and an eternal inheritance. Because of what Jesus did, don’t allow what you have done to make you believe or feel anything else. Don’t make your own veil. The veil was forever torn and you are redeemed through Christ Jesus.

You are right before God, free to walk with God, reach out to God, be empowered by Him, and live for Him with no condemnation. Because of Jesus, there’s no more veil.

Prayer: Thank You Father. Thank You for giving Jesus for all my sin and the veil is torn. Help me to tear any veils in my own life from top to bottom. I am righteous and I have access to the Father because of it. It’s a Good Friday! It’s good every day because of the price Jesus paid for me that I could not. I will live free in the Lord today. Hallelujah! In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Stay Ready To Serve God

When God Calls Be Ready To Serve Him.

Ephesians 6:10-18 E

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, .

 

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Being Ready

From: seedsofthekingdom.org, Malcolm Wood

A little while ago my wife went away for over two weeks, during which time I had a list of things I wanted to do. Although we’ve now been in our new home several months there are still things needing to be done. These jobs were things such as, decorate the hallway, finish some tiling, fit some cupboard door handles, and fit some new lights.

My plan was to try and complete what needed to be done, so everything would be straight and tidy by the time Anna returned. I had a lot to do, but as I knew when she was coming back I could work to that end. This proved to be the motivation for me to keep going!

Before Jesus went back to heaven He said He was going to return, “When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am” (John 14:3). He didn’t say exactly when, but there are several clues throughout Scripture about when this is likely to be.

When we observe world events in the light of Scripture, it helps us have a better understanding of the significance of the days we’re currently living, and when we can expect the Lord to return.

If we are living with the constant expectation of the Lord’s return, how is that affecting the way we live each day? Are we prepared and ready for Him? Are there still things in our own personal life which we need to work on, so that we’re not ashamed when He comes?

How about our churches and fellowships? Paul talks about the Church, the Body of Christ, being ‘holy and without fault, as a bride without spot, wrinkle or blemish’ when her Bridegroom (the Lord) comes for her (Ephesians 5:27). I think many will agree that there’s still work to be done in that area as well.

As we anticipate the Lord’s return, our passion to reach those who don’t yet know the Lord should grow even stronger. Another look at the Lord’s final words while on earth should inspire us afresh, ‘Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age’ (Matthew 28:19-20).

There is, obviously, still a great deal of work for us to do, in readiness for the return of the King of kings. The question is “Will I be ready, and will you be ready?”

Jesus said ‘You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected’ (Luke12:40).

 

LIVING IN CONSTANT READINESS
From: shortdailydevotions.com

The Israelites are getting ready to cross the Jordan to take on Jericho.

The momentum is building, and the Israelites are under the impression that God is about to perform something great.

But what did Joshua mean by using the word “sanctify?” The word means to “set apart” or “declare holy.”

To live a sanctified life first begins with possessing a legitimate relationship with the Lord.

Living a holy life has never been solely defined in following a set of rulesBy just following rules, we are only practicing religion. Whenever Moses went to speak to the Lord, his face would glow. This glow was apparent to all who were around him. While our faces may not physically glow, our lives should.

It struck me that Joshua specifically instructed the people to sanctify themselves before this huge manifestation of God in tearing down the walls of Jericho. And I began wondering, do we live sanctified lives only when we want God to perform miraculous works for us?

We may enter an intense period of prayer in order to ask God for his intervention. However, once our prayers have been answered and the situation has resolved our intensity for God ebbs with time. In essence, there are peaks and valleys in our relationship with God.

When our relationship God is characterized by peaks and valleys, we have placed limits upon where we think God can act in our livesWe have essentially said, “God, I will pray to you about the big situations and I will handle the small situations.” and, in doing so, we have come to rely upon our own understanding.

You see, God tells us that we should live lives that are constantly sanctified; our relationships with God should scream with intensity, allowing us to become vessels of the Lord.

 

Four ways to ‘always be ready’

From: Fervr.net

Always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have. But answer them in a gentle way with respect. (1 Peter 3:15-16)

1. Be ready through prayer

Pray specifically that God would cause someone to ask you a question. If you are praying everyday to your heavenly father for someone to ask you a question, you should never be taken by surprise. My kids usually tell me exactly what they want for their birthday, they’re always delighted when they get what they’d asked for, but they are never surprised.

Never stop praying. Be ready for anything by praying and being thankful. Also pray for us. Pray that God will give us an opportunity to tell people his message. (Colossians 4:2-3)

Asking specifically and believing wholeheartedly can help us to always be ready! You could pray something like this:

Dear Lord, I pray that today you would give me an opportunity to share my hope in Jesus with [insert name/s]. Help me be ready to spot the opportunity and be ready to give a good answer.

2. Be ready to share

One of the best ways of sharing what you believe is by sharing the story of how you became a Christian. You won’t know all the answers to the questions you are asked, but you will always know your story.

In John 9, a blind man who had been healed by Jesus was asked many questions by the Pharisees. His answer was brilliant! Though he didn’t know the answers to all their questions he told them the one thing he did know – his story. He said,

One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see.  (John 9:25 NIV)

Why not write down your story and practice retelling it in less than 2 minutes?

3. Be ready to learn

It’s OK to say ‘I don’t know’ to tough questions. When the disciples asked Jesus about the precise time of his second coming, what did he say? ‘I don’t know!’ (Mark 13:32)

When it comes to the questions people ask you, don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’ but don’t just stop at ‘I don’t know’. Go and find out the answer. One thing I’ve discovered is that there are lots of hard questions, but there are few new questions to answer. Here’s one of the classic questions: ‘If God is so good, then why is there so much bad stuff in the world?’ It’s a good question for which there is a good answer. There are Christians who have put loads of thought and time into how to best answer questions like these.

Why not get your youth leaders to take you through some of the BIG questions and how best to answer them? Or get a Christian book written for non-Christians and see how the author goes about answering their questions (e.g. Answers to tough questions by Josh McDowell).

Don’t forget that 1 Peter 3:16 also says that we should answer with ‘with gentleness and respect’. Remember, your learning is not so that you can win the argument but so that you can win people for Jesus.

4. Be an inviter

In John chapter 1, when Philip told his friend Nathanael about Jesus, his friend was deeply sceptical (had doubts). Philip’s response was just three words but brilliant. ‘Come and see’. He invited Nathanael to see for himself. There are some great answers to life’s big questions, but what our friends need more than a great answer is to meet a great saviour.

There are many ways we can invite people to hear more about the hope that we have in Jesus and one of them is through an exciting new course called ‘The Changing Lanes Course’. It’s a 7 episode course which aims to take teenagers on a journey of discovery in search of the meaning to life and the truth about God. It includes video clips, discussion questions and bible studies.

 

Feeling Troubled?

 

Philippians 4

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

 

 

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Feeling Troubled?

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by Inspiration Ministries

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me and I go to prepare a place for you and I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:1-3 NKJV

It was a decisive moment for Jesus disciples. As they gathered together to celebrate the Passover, He made it clear that dramatic changes were coming. He even told them that one of them would betray Him.

In light of these stunning developments, it would have been natural for them to feel worried and anxious. Seeking to calm their spirits, Jesus told the disciples not to let their hearts be troubled. He used a Greek word that suggests being agitated. Feeling restless. Overwhelmed with fear. Perplexed about how to respond.

Many things that can create these kinds of reactions. At times we experience seemingly insurmountable problems. Our hearts are stirred, and our emotions seem out of control. It is hard to think clearly and we don’t know what to do.

In any condition, Jesus words have special meaning. He said, Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.

When anything starts to worry or trouble us, we need to turn to Jesus. To focus on Him. We do not need to fear any person or situation, whether big or small. Jesus has prepared a place for us.

Is your heart filled with any troubles? Are you worried? Afraid? Restless? Perplexed? These are opportunities to trust in Jesus. Commit your needs to Him. Ask Him to take away any worries. Seek His peace.

 

The great liberator

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By; Charles Spurgeon

‘If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.’ John 8:36

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 8:12–17

If you are free, then remember that you have changed your lodging-place, for the slave and the son sleep not in the same room of the house. The things which satisfied you when a slave will not satisfy you now. You wear a garment which a slave may never wear, and you feel an instinct within you which the slave can never feel. There is an Abba, Father cry in you, which was not there once. Is it so? If you are free you live not as you used to do. You go not to the slave’s work, you have not now to toil and sweat to earn the wages of sin which is death, but now as a son serves his father, you do a son’s work and you expect to receive a son’s reward, for the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. One thing I know, if you are free, then you are thinking about setting others free; and if you have no zeal for the emancipation of other men, you are a slave yourself. If you are free you hate all sorts of chains, all sorts of sin, and you will never willingly put on the fetters any more. You live each day, crying unto him who made you free at first, to hold you up that you fall not into the snare. If you are free, this is not the world for you; this is the land of slaves; this is the world of bondage. If you are free, your heart has gone to heaven, the land of the free. If you are free today, your spirit is longing for the time when you shall see the great liberator face to face. If you are free, you will bide your time until he calls you; but when he says, ‘Friend, come up hither,’ you will fearlessly mount to the upper spheres, and sin shall be no hindrance to your advent to his glory.

For meditation: Men can promise freedom and deliver the opposite (2 Peter 2:19); Christ can actually free us from sin and from sinning (Romans 6:18,228:2). The Christian should not return to slavery (Galatians 5:1), but say with the Psalmist ‘I walk at liberty’ (Psalm 119:45).

 

Little sins

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By: Charles Spurgeon

“Is it not a little one?” Genesis 19:20

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 2:1-11

There is a deep pit, and the soul is falling down,—oh how fast it is falling! There! The last ray of light at the top has disappeared, and it falls on and on and on, and so it goes on falling—on and on and on—for a thousand years! “Is it not getting near the bottom yet? No, you are no nearer the bottom yet: it is the “bottomless pit;” it is on and on and on, and so the soul goes on falling, perpetually, into a deeper depth still, falling for ever into the “bottomless pit” and on and on and on, into the pit that has no bottom! Woe without termination, without hope of coming to a conclusion. The same dreadful idea is contained in those words, “The wrath to come.” Notice, hell is always “the wrath to come.” If a man has been in hell a thousand years, it is still “to come.” What you have suffered in the past is as nothing, in the dread account, for still the wrath is “to come.” And when the world has grown grey with age, and the fires of the sun are quenched in darkness, it is still “the wrath to come.” And when other worlds have sprung up, and have turned into their palsied age, it is still “the wrath to come.” And when your soul, burnt through and through with anguish, sighs at last to be annihilated, even then this awful thunder shall be heard, “the wrath to come—to come—to come.” Oh, what an idea! I know not how to utter it! And yet for little sins, remember you incur “the wrath to come.”

For meditation: This shocking description can give only a faint idea of the just punishment of our sins. Are you trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ to deliver you from the wrath to come? He is able to do it because he suffered the wrath of his loving heavenly Father on the cross (Romans 5:9;

 

The hand of the Lord hath wrought this (Job 12:9).

 

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Several years ago there was found in an African mine the most magnificent diamond in the world’s history. It was presented to the King of England to blaze in his crown of state. The King sent it to Amsterdam to be cut. It was put into the hands of an expert lapidary. And what do you suppose he did with it?

He took the gem of priceless value, and cut a notch in it. Then he struck it a hard blow with his instrument, and lo! the superb jewel lay in his hand cleft in twain. What recklessness I what wastefulness! what criminal carelessness!

Not so. For days and weeks that blow had been studied and planned. Drawings and models had been made of the gem. Its quality, its defects, its lines of cleavage had all been studied with minutest care. The man to whom it was committed was one of the most skillful lapidaries in the world.

Do you say that blow was a mistake? Nay. It was the climax of the lapidary’s skill. When he struck that blow, he did the one thing which would bring that gem to its most perfect shapeliness, radiance, and jewelled splendor. That blow which seemed to ruin the superb precious stone was, in fact, its perfect redemption. For, from those two halves were wrought the two magnificent gems which the skilled eye of the lapidary saw hidden in the rough, uncut stone as it came from the mine.

So, sometimes, God lets a stinging blow fall upon your life. The blood spurts. The nerves wince. The soul cries out in agony. The blow seems to you an apalling mistake. But it is not, for you are the most priceless jewel in the world to God. And He is the most skilled lapidary in the universe.

Some day you are to blaze in the diadem of the King. As you lie in His hand now He knows just how to deal with you. Not a blow will be permitted to fall upon your shrinking soul but that the love of God permits it, and works out from its depths, blessing and spiritual enrichment unseen, and unthought of by you.
–J.H. McC.

In one of George MacDonald’s books occurs this fragment of conversation: “I wonder why God made me,” said Mrs. Faber bitterly. “I’m sure I don’t know what was the use of making me!”

“Perhaps not much yet,” said Dorothy, “but then He hasn’t done with you yet. He is making you now, and you are quarrelling with the process.”

If men would but believe that they are in process of creation, and consent to be made–let the Maker handle them as the potter the clay, yielding themselves in resplendent motion and submissive, hopeful action with the turning of His wheel–they would ere long find themselves able to welcome every pressure of that hand on them, even when it was felt in pain; and sometimes not only to believe but to recognize the Divine end in view, the bringing of a son unto glory.

 

 

Salvation Comes Through Faith In Christ

 

 

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What a Gift!

By: Shadia Hrichi, cbn1.com

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Have you ever forgiven a loved one who wronged you and said they were sorry? It’s difficult, but
to save the relationship, often we find it in our heart to forgive – especially if the other person is
sincerely sorry. But how about the person who wrongs you and is not sorry? Would they be
dead to you? Should that relationship be pursued? Should they be shown forgiveness? Actually,
it happened to each of us … about 2,000 years ago.

All of us, at one time or another, chooses wrong over right: to lie, steal, curse, or to be resentful, bitter, or jealous of another person. Because we are made in God’s image and created to be in relationship with Him, when we violate His character, we separate ourselves from Him and sever the relationship. Still, as a loving Father, God wants to restore this relationship and is willing to forgive even when we’re not sorry. Romans 5:8 says:

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (NASB)

God did not wait for us to come to Him; for God knew that left to ourselves, it would never happen:

“The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God. They have all turned aside, … There is none who seeks for God.” Psalm 14:2-3Romans 3:11 (NASB)

And so, before the beginning of time, God arranged a rescue mission to extend forgiveness to those who didn’t know to ask.

Easter is the celebration of this amazing gift. 2,000 years ago, the Son of God willingly left the glory of Heaven and came to earth, wrapped in human flesh, to become the complete sacrifice for sin. Yet, when we look at the Cross, we often forget that Jesus suffered something far greater than physical death: He suffered spiritual separation from God the Father so we wouldn’t have to. Jesus laid bare His greatest agony when He cried out,

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)

The eternal God-head was torn apart for us. The penalty for sin is not the Cross; that’s the symbol. The penalty for sin is eternal separation from God, and only the eternal God could pay that price.

The greatest gift ever given is not God’s forgiveness that is now available to us, but rather God’s Son through whom forgiveness was made possible.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NASB)

The person who looks upon God’s Son who, as He was being nailed to the Cross, said,

“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34(NASB)

… and turns away, will not spend an eternity regretting his sin – that’s done and paid for. Rather, he will be left to agonize over all the ways God tried to reach out to him, reveal Himself to him, and demonstrate His love in an endless pursuit to have a relationship with him — that God even decided he was worth dying for — but he turned away … however:

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, …” John 1:12 (NASB)

On that first glorious Easter morning, the dark tomb was empty. God the Father raised Jesus from the dead, restoring Him to His rightful throne in Heaven, demonstrating God’s complete satisfaction that the penalty for all sin, for all people, for all time, has been paid in full. Easter is resurrection day! The day Christians all over the world celebrate that their relationship to God the Father, once dead, has been restored to life — and not just life, eternal life!

God wants to restore a relationship with you and He is only a prayer away. If you want to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior – God’s greatest gift — you can pray a simple prayer something like this:

Father, thank you for loving me and sending your beloved Son to pay the penalty for my sin. Jesus, thank you for dying for me on the Cross. I am sorry for living my life apart from You and choose today to follow You. Please come into my heart and make me the person You created me to be. Amen.

And one day, when you enter your heavenly Home, you will run to your Father who will scoop you up into His arms saying, “Welcome home, my child!”

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 (NASB)

What love! What a gift! What an amazing God!

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What’s In The Name?

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By: Joe Stowell, Strength for the journey

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” Exodus 20:7

There are a lot of fun events associated with being a pastor. And while great food at church dinners and getting invited to cool events with people in your church are near the top of the list, there may be nothing that quite compares to sharing some great moments with people — like the birth of babies. But in the joy of it all, there is a problem.

When you arrive at the hospital, you encounter a weary, but thrilled, couple who hand you this tightly wrapped little bundle and then impose on you a serious ethical dilemma. Of course, you are supposed to say, “Oh, my goodness, what a pretty little girl,” or “What a handsome little boy!” The reality is that I’ve never seen a child fresh out that looks anything like handsome or pretty. (Come to think of it, I have seen three really beautiful babies.)

But once I get past the ethical dilemma by saying something like, “My, isn’t she precious,” the conversation ultimately morphs into an easier realm of interaction regarding the child’s name: “What’s the baby’s name?” . . . “That’s a great name. What does it mean?” The answers vary:

“Oh, it’s his grandfather’s name.”

“Her name means ‘Father’s delight’” or,

“We have no idea; we just chose it from a baby book!”

For most of us, names are relatively insignificant. They are easily changed into nicknames and serve basically to distinguish us from Bob or Ted. But if we look at God’s view of names in the same way, we may have trouble understanding what the big deal is about God’s name. Why would He include the importance of His name in His top-10 list of “Thou Shalt Nots”? How could diminishing His name rank up there with murder, stealing, and adultery?

It doesn’t take much digging through the Bible to realize that names are important to God. Think about Genesis, when God was often giving new names to the main characters—Abram became Abraham, Sarai became Sarah, Jacob became Israel. Each change signaled a statement from God about that individual’s character and his or her place in His plan. It wasn’t about God giving a nickname, it was about God assigning identity and worth to these individuals through the meaning of their name.

Most importantly, names are one of God’s key means of revealing His own identity and worth. He reveals His identity when He tells Moses that He is named “Yahweh,” which means, “I Am.” It means that He is eternally existent. He also identifies Himself as “Elohim,” the Almighty God, the God of great power. His names are who He is, not just what we call Him.

God’s names also describe His worth. You may be familiar with names like “Jehovah-Jireh,” meaning that He is the God who will provide. Or “El-Shaddai,” which means that He is completely sufficient. There are, in fact, 210 different names of God throughout Scripture, adding incredible richness and depth to our understanding of God’s identity, worth, and character.

Which is exactly why He takes it so seriously when we degrade His name by using it as though it weren’t sacred and lowering it to mere casual conversation as though it were ordinary. The exclamation, “Oh my God” should be an urgent prayer, not a verbal exclamation point. When we lower the name of God to drag it through a moment of anger or to use it to intimidate or manipulate, we have taken God Himself and lowered Him from His holy position. His name is intrinsically locked into who He is and what He is like. To put it simply, when we hit on His name, we have hit on Him. No wonder He is offended.

So, what’s in a name?  If you’re talking about God, the answer is everything!

Be God’s Friend Like Abraham

Genesis 18 

The Three Visitors

18 The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day.Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.

He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord,[a] do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”

“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”

So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs[b] of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”

Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. He then brought some curdsand milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.

 

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Abraham: The Friend of God

by Gene Taylor

“‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ And he was called the friend of God.” (James 2:23)

Abraham is called the father of the faithful (Gal. 3:16-29Rom. 4:11) and “the friend of God” (Jas. 2:23). He is an example to us in many ways, therefore, it is always good to study him and learn from that which the Bible reveals to us about him.

In commenting on the statement that Abraham was “the friend of God,” Guy N. Woods said, “God regarded Abraham as his friend because he was ever faithful to God and always submitted his will to God’s.” (A Commentary on the Epistle of James, p. 146) In his faithfulness and obedience, Abraham demonstrated several characteristics that we would do well to emulate so that we too might become friends of God.

Faithful

Nearly every action in Abraham’s life shows his great faith in God. He left his country and countrymen never to return (Heb. 11:8-16). He believed the promise of a son though such a birth was naturally impossible (Rom. 4:18-21). He cast out a son, Ishmael when Sarah and God commanded it (Gen. 21:9-14). He was even willing to offer Isaac, the son of promise, when God demanded it (Heb. 11:17-19). Because of his great faith, he enjoyed the victory of faith (Gen. 22:12).

Obedient

As seen in the illustrations above, whatever God wanted Abraham to do, he did. Whether it was leaving his homeland, casting out one son or sacrificing another, he obeyed God without question or qualm.

Devoted

In Genesis 18:19 God states one of the reasons He was able to bless Abraham so abundantly and regard him as His friend. He said, “For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” Abraham’s devotion to God not only caused him to walk obediently but also allowed him to influence others, especially those in his own house, to do the same.

Peaceable

In situations where strife could have occurred and then escalated, Abraham seemed able to defuse them (cf. Gen. 13:1-13). There was one key trait in his character that caused him to be able to be such a peacemaker — he regarded others better than self. This is a quality that the Christian is to possess today. Philippians 2:3-4 states, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own in-terests, but also for the interests of others.”

His unselfish nature is not only seen in giving his nephew Lot first choice of land in which to pasture his flocks and herds (Gen. 13:9) but also in his willingness to intercede for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18:22-23). Even though they were wicked, Abraham was concerned for them and did what he could to spare them from the judgment which came upon them.

The hospitality he gives to three men, who are angels of God, in Genesis 18:1-8 also shows his regard for others. Though he does not know these men, he generously provides for their needs. Since Christians are to be “given to hospitality” (Rom. 12:13), the writer of the book of Hebrews uses this incident in the life of Abraham to emphasize this responsibility: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels” (13:2).

A Pilgrim and Sojourner

Christians are to be pilgrims and sojourners in this life, living in the world but not being of the world (John 15:19I John 2:15-17). Again, Abraham is their example. “By faith he (Abraham — GT) dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:9-10). As he looked “for a city,” we must ever be looking to heaven and the things that are above (Col. 3:1-3) realizing that, even now, our real citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20).

Conclusion

Because Abraham lived as a friend of God while on earth, he now lives in Paradise (Luke 16:23-31). Since God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34-35), we can have that same hope if we will live the same life. Let us all follow the example of Abraham and do what is necessary to be those who can be called friends of God.

 

Friends of God Continually Worship Him

Gregory Brown,bible.org

The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. (Genesis 18:1–2)

In this narrative, we see Abraham sitting at the entrance to his tent, in the heat of the day, when the Lord appears to him. It seems like these three men appear out of nowhere. Abraham looks up, sees them, hurries to meet them, and then bows before them.

An important part of ancient Middle Eastern culture was being hospitable to foreigners. There were very few inns. Traveling long distances could be dangerous, and therefore people relied on hospitability. In fact, hospitality is still a significant aspect of Eastern culture.

There is some controversy over when Abraham became aware these three men were special, and that one of them was God. It certainly would have been clear when these strangers asked Abraham where Sarah was (v. 9). This was the name God gave Sarai not too long ago. If Abraham did not know then, certainly, it was clear when these men prophesied about her having a baby in old age (v. 10).

However, Abraham probably knew immediately that these visitors were from the Lord. God had appeared to Abraham before, and therefore, he had a greater familiarity with God’s presence and how he appeared. Also, we cannot but notice how respectful he was to these three men. The text says he bowed low to the ground. The word used for bow is typically translated “worship” when God is the object.1 We see this in Genesis 24:26 when Abraham’s servant worshiped the Lord. It says, “Then the man bowed down and worshiped the LORD.”

It seems clear that Abraham knows these visitors are special and that one of them is God. In fact, he calls one of them “my lord” in verse 3. One of the three was clearly prominent, as he was God incarnate. To further support this, Abraham said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by” (v. 3). The implication is that Abraham had a previous relationship with the prominent one; otherwise the comment wouldn’t make sense. He had just met these gentlemen. It seems like a fair conclusion that Abraham knew the man was God with two angelic guests.

Worship is a natural response for those who know God intimately. Worship comes from the fact that one recognizes how “worthy” an object or person is. Abraham had known God for over twenty years; he knew God’s beauty and his characteristics. Abraham, therefore, bowed in worship to the Lord and reverence towards the two angels.

When the Lord gave Isaiah a revelation of God in Isaiah 6:3, he saw the angels crying, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.” Angels cannot but continually worship God, as they consider his characteristics.

Worship is not only a characteristic of a friend of God, but it is also a way we grow in intimacy with him. How can we grow in worship?

Application Question: How can we grow in worship towards the Lord?

1. We grow in worship as we know God’s characteristics more and therefore his worthiness.

The more we know God, the more we will worship. As we know his characteristics—his love, sovereignty, wrath, goodness, and holiness—the more we will want to worship him. Theologians often call God’s characteristics, his perfections. His love, wisdom, wrath, and goodness are absolutely perfect and worthy of praise.

How do we come to know his characteristics more? We get to know God’s characteristics more by studying his Word and creation, through fellowship with the body of Christ, and by continually being intimate with him. Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”

As the readers considered the truths about God and his work in the previous eleven chapters of Romans, they should be drawn to worship God—drawn to offer him their bodies as living sacrifices. This is true for us as well. The more we know God, the more we will worship.

If we are not continually worshiping God, maybe we don’t really know him as we should.

2. We grow in worship by knowing our unworthiness before God.

We get a picture of this in the extreme respect Abraham gives to God. He not only bows, but the text says that he bowed low to the ground. This means that Abraham recognized that God and the visitors were greater than him. Whenever people see God in Scripture, they always humble themselves, as they recognize the depths of their sin. Isaiah cried out, “‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty’” (Isa 6:5). Similarly, when Peter became aware of Jesus’ Lordship, he cried, “Away from me Lord, I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8).

One of the reasons many of us don’t worship God, and therefore grow in intimacy with him, is because we don’t know the depths of our sin. A diamond’s beauty is best displayed against a black cloth. We cannot truly worship God unless we know how great our sin is. And yet, the paradox is that we can’t truly know our sin unless we see God. In comparison to this great light, our sin appears extremely dark.

Are you recognizing your sin and that of others so that you can worship God more? Friends of God know both their sin and God’s beauty, and therefore, they worship.

3. We grow in worship as we recognize God’s hand in everything.

In this narrative, Abraham recognizes God in human form and, therefore, bows down to worship. Many times our problem is that we simply don’t recognize God. Jesus talked to his disciples about how God provides clothing for the lilies of the field and food for the birds of the air (Matt 6). He saw God’s work and provision everywhere. Colossians 1:17 says that Christ holds all things together. Ephesians 1:11 says that he works all things according to the purpose of his will. Romans 8:28 says that God works all things to the good of those who love the Lord.

Our God is involved in everything. He is not a watchmaker who simply allows the earth to function on its own. His hand is everywhere, sustaining and guiding all things, and unless we recognize this, we will not continually worship. As with Christ’s resurrection and appearance to the disciples, it is very easy for us to receive ministry from the Lord and not recognize him (cf. Luke 24:15–16). It’s easy to forget that every good and perfect gift comes from above (James 1:17). It’s also easy to forget that when disaster comes to a city the Lord caused it (Amos 3:6). Some only recognize God in the good and therefore don’t worship in the bad. However, Job cried, “The Lord gives and he takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). He lived in continual worship because he recognized God’s sovereignty both in the good and the bad.

 

How to Be God’s Friend

Greg Laurie, one place.com

I heard the story of two friends who were camping in the woods. As they were having their morning coffee, they heard rustling in the bushes. Coming toward them at full speed was a very large grizzly bear with a very hungry look on his face. One of them started pulling on his running shoes. His buddy turned to him and said, “You don’t think you can outrun that grizzly bear, do you?”

“No,” the man said. “I don’t need to. All I have to do is outrun you.”

That is how a lot of so-called friends are. They run away at the first sign of difficulty. It has been said, “A friend is one who walks in when others walk out.” I wonder how many friends we truly have. And I wonder what kind of friends we are to others. Time will tell.

Socrates once said, “Friend? There is no friend.” But Socrates didn’t know about the one whom the Bible describes as “a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). Of course, I am speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the greatest friend that any of us ever will have. To say, “Jesus is my best friend,” almost sounds like a cliché, but when you think about it, it really is true. You can have a close friendship with God.

Clearly Jesus Christ has offered His friendship to all of humanity. The question is, how many of us really want to be friends with God? He cannot be our friend if we don’t respond to His offer. I can’t decide to become someone’s best friend unless he wants to reciprocate and be my friend as well. I can’t just choose him. He has to choose me in return, and thus a relationship begins to develop.

Jesus offers the hand of friendship to us. He wants to be our friend. Jesus was called “the friend of sinners” because He would actually sit down and have a conversation with a prostitute or a tax collector or even a Samaritan woman. He extended His friendship to anyone who wanted it. Of course, He ultimately proved the legitimacy of His offer by laying His life down for us. The Bible says, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).

So what is required of us to call ourselves true friends of Jesus Christ?

First, true friends of Jesus will obey Him. Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14). If you are not obeying Him, then you have no right to claim that you are His friend. God is looking for consistency and regularity in your life. If you are really a friend of Jesus, then you will obey Him.

Second, the obedience Jesus requires is an active obedience. Some people think it is enough to merely avoid what God forbids. They might say, “I am not a thief, an adulterer, or an alcoholic.” That would be like saying to someone, “I am your friend because I don’t rob you or cheat you or insult you or beat you up.” Granted, your friend will appreciate the fact you don’t do these things. But maybe you can go a little further in the friendship than that. It is not just a matter of refusing to do the wrong things. It is also a matter of doing the right things. That is what God wants. That is what it means to be His friend.

Third, true friends of Jesus obey Him because they want to. Obedience comes as a desire and not a duty if we really have a friendship with Jesus. We don’t say, “Read the Bible? Again?” or “Pray? I don’t really feel like praying right now.” When Jesus is your friend, you look forward to Bible study. You look forward to prayer. You look forward to your time with Him.

Certainly our Lord had a lot of fair-weather friends when He walked this earth. Jesus was popular when He was handing out free lunch. When He fed the 5,000, He was the most popular guy in town. But when He started challenging that fickle crowd and telling them they needed to love Him and obey Him and do what was right, many of them turned away. They were fair-weather friends.

Don’t be a fair-weather friend. Be a true friend to others. More importantly, be a true friend to God.

Believing In Christ Gives Peace With God

Have you ever asked yourself whether God really loves you? And considered how you can know with certainty that he does? Current racial, political, and international turmoil swirling throughout the world might cause some to ask, “If God does love us, how do we know?”

Perhaps there are many answers to that question. But Romans 5:6-11 says God demonstrated his love toward us by offering his son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, and by raising him from the dead, so sinners would be justified by faith, reconciled to God, and delivered from God’s wrath.

Romans 5:8 and God’s Love

In Romans 5:6-11, Paul supports his preceding argument found in 5:1-5 that Christians have hope when they suffer. He introduces a reason for this hope in verse 5 when he says “because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” In 5:6-11, Paul provides an additional reason for hope: namely, Jesus’ death for sinners and his resurrection from the dead that guarantees future salvation from God’s wrath for those sinners for whom he died.

Paul introduces the death of Jesus in 5:6 with the words “Christ died at the right time for the ungodly while we were still weak.” He identifies the “weak” and the “ungodly” from 5:6 as “sinners” in verse 8 in order to specify that Jesus died for unrighteous people to accomplish their salvation. And these sinners, for whom Jesus died, are both Jews and Gentiles (Rom. 1:16-3:30). Paul emphasizes the uniqueness of Jesus’ death for the ungodly with the word “still” in 5:6. Jesus’ death for the ungodly happened while they were “still” sinners in a state of ungodliness, not when they were righteous.

In verse 7, Paul now clarifies the kind of death that Jesus, the righteous one, died for the unrighteous by contrasting Jesus’ ignoble death for sinners with heroic, patriotic, noble deaths in the ancient world. Ancient deaths were for a good or noble cause (e.g. Rom. 5:7). But in 5:6, Paul refers to Jesus’ death as a death for “ungodly” sinners. Unlike the kind of death mentioned in verse 7, Paul states in verse 6 and again in verses 8-10 that Jesus died for unrighteous people to achieve their justification, salvation, and reconciliation.

In Rom. 5:8, Paul explicitly mentions God’s love for sinners in association with Jesus’ death. He states “God demonstrated his own love for us like this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This statement echoes John’s remarks in John 3:16. Both John and Paul suggest God’s love is an action instead of a personal emotion.

In verses 9-11, Paul mentions a few of the benefits that his love achieved for us because of Jesus’ death: justification, salvation, and reconciliation. First, justification refers to God’s verbal declaration of not guilty. This declaration provides legal and divine exoneration for the sinners for whom Christ died (Rom. 1:18-3:20). The verb translated as “to justify” basically means to declare to be in the right, and God’s justification comes to the sinner by means of Jesus’ blood.

Justification by His Blood

Justification is primarily a future verdict in Romans that has invaded this present evil age (see Rom. 2:133:20245:19). God offers this positive verdict in favor of those who have faith in Christ, against whom God has counted their transgressions (Rom. 4:6-8). In 5:9, Paul continues his thoughts from 5:1 about the present reality of justification for those who have faith in Christ, stating justification by Jesus’ blood results in future deliverance (e.g. salvation) from God’s wrath (see also Rom. 2:7-103:21-26).

Reconciled with God by His Blood

Second, Paul states Jesus’ death accomplished reconciliation for those for whom he died (Rom. 5:10). Reconciliation refers to the friendship that now exists between God and the sinners as a result of Jesus’ blood acquiring justification. This friendship is applied to sinners by faith in Christ, because of Jesus’ death. And this friendship will serve as a means by which the reconciled friend will be delivered from God’s future wrath in the day of God’s judgment (notice verses 9-10).

Salvation by His Death and Resurrection

Third, in 5:9-10, Paul mentions salvation. Salvation, like justification, is primarily a future hope that has invaded this present evil age (Rom. 5:9-10). Although justification refers to one aspect of salvation, Paul’s reference to salvation with the words “will be saved” means future deliverance from God’s wrath. The phrase “from wrath” supports this very point in verse 9. The phrase “through him” in 5:9 asserts sinners will be delivered from God’s wrath through Jesus who shed his blood to accomplish justification, salvation, and reconciliation. The dead and resurrected Christ is the one through whom God accomplishes salvation for the ungodly and weak sinners (see Rom. 5:689-116:1-11). And the wrath from which Jesus’ death and resurrection will deliver/save those for whom he died is God’s future wrath that he will pour out on the Day of Judgment upon the entire world (e.g. Rom. 2:7-10).

The combination of the justification of the ungodly, the blood of Jesus, reconciliation, and deliverance/salvation from God’s wrath through the blood of Jesus together with his death for the ungodly speaks to the substitutionary nature of Jesus’ death in 5:6-9. According to verse 6 and verses 8-10, the ungodly and weak sinners, who are enemies of God and who deserve the penalty of his wrath (2:7-10), will be delivered from it because Jesus died for them, because God raised Jesus from the dead (see also Rom. 4:25) and because faith links the ungodly to the benefits of the blood of Christ (4:24-25; 5:1, 6, 8-10). Paul’s remarks in 5:10 support the above interpretation when he states because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, those who were once enemies with God are now reconciled to God, and therefore will be saved by Jesus’ life and resurrection.

God’s Wrath in Romans

In Rom. 1:18-32, Paul emphasizes God has handed the rebellious over to wrath in this world (Rom. 1:18-32) and in 2:1-3:20 that he will pour out his wrath against all disobedience on the Day of Judgment. Now in verses 9-10, Paul asserts that those reconciled sinners by faith in Christ will be saved from God’s wrath for four reasons: the blood of Christ (5:6, 8-9), Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (5:10), justification by faith (5:9), and reconciliation with God (5:10-11).

The ungodly sinners show their hostility to God by disobeying him, and God shows his hostility toward them by handing them over to his current wrath (1:18) and by reserving them for a future day of wrath (2:7-10; 5:9). But by faith in Christ, God’s enemies become his friends because God showed his love for sinners by offering Christ to die for their sins (Rom 5:8-10; see also John 3:16).

5 Practical Applications

1. God has written every Christian a love letter, whose content is the death and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. His death for sinners guarantees justification, reconciliation, and future salvation.

2. Jesus’ death for sinners proves that God loves us. And nothing can separate Christians from the love of God in Jesus Christ (cf. Rom. 8:31-39).

3. When we doubt God’s love for us, we should preach the Gospel to ourselves. When the devil tempts us to despair, and he reminds us of the guilt within, we should fight the devil off with the cross and resurrection of Jesus. We should kick the devil in the teeth with the bloody, resurrected-empowered, and exalted Gospel of Jesus Christ.

4. We who experience God’s love in Christ should therefore obey him in the power of the Spirit (Rom. 12:1-2). They should walk in the Spirit, and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5:16-21).

5. The love of God in Jesus Christ is God’s solution to the current racial strife in the U.S. and beyond (Rom. 3:21-3014:1-15:33Eph. 2:11-22).

Christians, God has demonstrated his love toward us like this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Delight with joy in God’s love for his people. Amen.

Peace With God at Last

Image result for pictures of God's peace and the crossImage result for pictures of God's peace and the cross

 

And God shall wipe all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain. — Revelation 21:4

We now know what it means to be a Christian. We know the price that was paid to get these elusive things called peace and happiness. I know men who would write a check for a million dollars if they could find peace. Millions are searching for it. Every time they get close to finding the peace found only in Christ, Satan steers them away. He blinds them. He throws up a smoke screen. He bluffs them. And they miss it! But we Christians have found it! It is ours now forever.

We have found the secret of life.

The word peace has been used often in the last forty or fifty years. We talk about peace, and we have many peace conferences; yet, at the moment, it seems that the world is heading toward anything but peace.

“The way of peace have they not known,” the apostle Paul says concerning the human race (Romans 3:17). As we look around, we find that there is little personal, domestic, social, economic, or political peace anywhere. Why? Because we all have the seeds of suspicion and violence, of hatred and destruction within us.

Jesus said,

Blessed are the peacemakers. — Matthew 5:9

We are to try for peace. This does not mean pacifism. We are to work for peace. But Jesus also predicted,

Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. — Matthew 24:6-7

Peace can be experienced only when we have received divine pardon — when we have been reconciled to God and when we have harmony within, with our fellow man and especially with God. “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isaiah 57:21). But through the blood of the Cross, Christ has made peace with God for us and is Himself our peace. If by faith we accept Him, we are justified by God and can realize the inner serenity that can come to man through no other means. When Christ enters our hearts, we are freed of that haunting sense of sin. Cleansed of all feeling of contamination and unfitness, we can lift up our heads secure in the knowledge that we can look with confidence into the face of our fellow men.

When a man’s ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him. — Proverbs 16:7

Even more important, we know that we can stand before God in the hour of our death with this same feeling of peace and security.

In the Bible Jesus told us there is going to be war until the end of the age. He knew that human nature is not going to change without a spiritual new birth. He knew that the vast majority of the human race were never going to be converted to Him. The vast majority of the people of the world today are not “born again.” So, we always have the potential that violence will break out in a home, in a community, in the world.

Peace with God

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Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. — Romans 5:1

Having made peace through the blood of His cross. — Colossians 1:20

There is a peace that you can have immediately — peace with God.

The greatest warfare going on in the world today is between mankind and God. People may not realize that they’re at war with God. But if they don’t know Jesus Christ as Savior and if they haven’t surrendered to Him as Lord, God considers them to be at war with Him. That chasm has been caused by sin. The Bible says that all have “sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “Oh,” people say, “I have joined the church. I have been baptized.” But has Jesus come to live in their hearts? Not only as Savior, but as Lord?

It would be the greatest tragedy if I didn’t tell you that unless you repent of your sins and receive Christ as your Savior, you are going to be lost.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever [that “whosoever” is you] believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. — John 3:16

It’s not just head-belief. It’s heart-belief too. It’s total trust, total commitment. We bring everything to the Cross where the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins. He made peace with God by His death on the Cross.

If we turn our backs on Him and don’t commit our lives to Him, we will have no hope in the future.

For one to have peace with God, it cost the blood of His Son. “With the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot,” said Peter (1 Peter 1:19).

If I were the only person in all the world, Jesus would have died for me, because He loves me. And He loves you! His love is pouring out from the Cross.

“Meet Me in Heaven”

I read a biography of Queen Victoria, and I learned that the queen would sometimes go to the slums of London. She went into one home to have tea with an older lady, and when the queen rose to leave, she asked, “Is there anything I can do for you?” And the woman said, “Yes, ma’am, Your Majesty, you can meet me in Heaven.” The queen turned to her and said softly, “Yes. I’ll be there, but only because of the blood that was shed on the Cross for you and for me.”

Queen Victoria, in her day the most powerful woman in the world, had to depend on the blood of Christ for her salvation. And, so do we. The Bible says that God is the Author of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33). God provided salvation through the cross. He made peace by the shedding of His blood. The war that exists between you and God can be over quickly, and the peace treaty is signed in the blood of His Son Jesus Christ.

Are you at peace with God? Or do the sins of your heart separate you from God?

 

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:16-17).

It was “very early in the morning” while “it was yet dark,” that Jesus rose from the dead. Not the sun, but only the morning-star shone upon His opening tomb. The shadows had not fled, the citizens of Jerusalem had not awaked. It was still night–the hour of sleep and darkness, when He arose. Nor did his rising break the slumbers of the city. So shall it be “very early in the morning while it is yet dark,” and when nought but the morning-star is shining, that Christ’s body, the Church, shall arise. Like Him, His saints shall awake when the children of the night and darkness are still sleeping their sleep of death. In their arising they disturb no one. The world hears not the voice that summons them. As Jesus laid them quietly to rest, each in his own still tomb, like children in the arms of their mother; so, as quietly, as gently, shall He awake them when the hour arrives. To them come the quickening words, “Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust” (Isa. 26:19). Into their tomb the earliest ray of glory finds its way. They drink in the first gleams of morning, while as yet the eastern clouds give but the faintest signs of the uprising. Its genial fragrance, its soothing stillness, its bracing freshness, its sweet loneliness, its quiet purity, all so solemn and yet so full of hope, these are theirs.

Oh, the contrast between these things and the dark night through which they have passed! Oh, the contrast between these things and the grave from which they have sprung! And as they shake off the encumbering turf, flinging mortality aside, and rising, in glorified bodies, to meet their Lord in the air, they are lighted and guided upward, along the untrodden pathway, by the beams of that Star of the morning, which, like the Star of Bethlehem, conducts them to the presence of the King. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
–Horatius Bonar

“While the hosts cry Hosanna, from heaven descending,

With glorified saints and the angels attending,

With grace on His brow, like, a halo of glory,

Will Jesus receive His own.”

“Even so, come quickly.”

A soldier said, “When I die do not sound taps over my grave. Instead, play reveille, the morning call, the summons to arise.”