Posts tagged ‘Jesus Christ’

Jesus on the Kingdom & Power of God, the Spirit, & Our Service

The Gospel of Luke is a wonderful resource.  Written by a non-Jewish doctor who had a love for facts, it is clear, precise, no frills.  A historian’s dream.  And yes, I am a mild to moderate historian:-)  I have a degree to teach history, even though I have not taught it outside of my student teaching days in college.  Luke does a wonderful job of capturing Jesus’ teachings.  It is something like reading the compilations of a great philosopher.  A book of teachings by Socrates, or Plato.  Except, of course, Luke is a compilation of the teachings of the greatest teacher ever to walk on this planet, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  The teachings are connected.  One verse here, then later the topic comes up again, but with a twist…another piece of a puzzle that equals a whole picture…the complete message that Jesus was teaching.  Like any puzzle that is put together over time, it is great fun to gather enough pieces to see a clear picture of one part of the whole.  That is what I have for you today.  Pieces that will present part of a whole.

I will start with the very familiar verses of Luke 11:8-10, but then add to that verse 13.  Watch where this goes.  Jesus begins with a story about a man who receives surprise visitors during the night and goes to his friend to borrow a few loaves of bread, but the friend refuses to get out of bed to get them.   “I tell you, if friendship is not enough to make him get up to give you the bread, your BOLDNESS will make him get up and give you whatever you need.  So I tell you, ASK, and God will give to you.  SEARCH, and you will find. KNOCK, and the door will be opened for you.  Yes, everyone who asks will receive.  The one who searches will find.  And everyone who knocks will have the door opened….How much more your heavenly Father will give the HOLY SPIRIT to those who ask him!”

Puzzle piece number one:  anyone who asks, searches, knocks…with boldness (don’t be afraid because God wants to give this to you)…will receive the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit.  (I didn’t write the Holy Spirit twice by accident.)

Skip ahead a few verses to where Jesus is defending the power by which he casts out demons.  Verse 20 says:  “But if I use the POWER OF GOD to force out demons, then the KINGDOM OF GOD has come to you.”

Hold on to that.  Look at Luke 12:32 – “Don’t fear, little flock, because your Father wants to give you the KINGDOM.

Puzzle piece number two:  The KINGDOM OF GOD is the POWER OF GOD given to us.

Puzzle piece number 3:  How does the Father give us the Power of God?  The Kingdom of God?  Through the Holy Spirit, whom He tells us to boldly ask, search, and knock to find and receive.

Let’s bring these pieces together for the why.  God doesn’t give us His power through the Holy Spirit, making the presence of His kingdom here on earth just for the fun of it.

Luke 12:35, followed by Luke 12:48b:  “Be dressed, ready for service, and have your lamps shining.”  “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded.  And from the one trusted with much, much more will be expected.”

Puzzle piece number 4:  We have each been called to service to the King.  God has a calling for you.  (If you have not figured out what that is, the quickest, easiest way to find out is to tell God you surrender all of you to Him, and ask Him to do with your life what He wills.  Believe me, He will take that and run with it.)  God expects you to be faithful and obedient in the calling He has given you.  If you are called to serve coffee between Sunday School and the service at your church, do it with all the muster you have.  Ask, seek, knock and receive the Holy Spirit who will open doors while you serve Him in this area.  But be faithful!  And obedient!  When you have the Holy Spirit within you, you have the power of God.  You carry His kingdom in this world.  If you minister to a flock, minister with faithfulness and obedience!  No matter what God has called you to do, do it knowing that you are accountable for that calling.

Puzzle piece number 5:  This is the piece that connects the little picture-within-a-picture to the rest of the puzzle.  The piece that has the last color of the picture are working on, and also has more that makes you know there is more to be done.  Luke 12:43 – “When the master comes and finds the servant doing his work, the servant will be blessed.”  Do your work now, because you don’t know when Jesus will return.  It will be soon.  When Jesus appears in the sky to call His own to Him, will you be caught with your pants down, or will you be dressed and serving Him?

The picture put together today?  Ask for the Holy Spirit with boldness…and God will gladly give Him to you…because the Spirit brings with Him the Kingdom of God, which is the power of God…so that we can serve God in what He has called us to do in faithfulness and obedience…while we wait, expectantly, ready, for the return of Jesus…and will receive His blessing.

 

So What is God’s Story, Really? Pt. 2

In part one of this post, I laid out God’s over-all plan…to create a people to live with Him throughout all of eternity.  But not just people to fill the space.  He wanted, wants, people who love Him, and choose to be with Him.  In order to do that, He had to create them, and give them free will.  He allowed them to turn their backs on Him, and then went to the extreme to save them when He offered His own Son as the sacrifice, paying the penalty for their hatred of Him.  He patiently waits, year after year, century after century, to bring as many people into eternity as will come, and why?  Love.  He loves us with a love that we cannot understand.

God set the world spinning, filled with all these people, with the goal being eternity.  But He doesn’t just sit and watch it spin.  He doesn’t just let the chips fall where they may.  Earth and it’s people are not an experiment to see what will happen.  It is not happenstance or willy-nilly…God sitting back and letting it all play out, hoping for the best scenario.  God is busy, active, involved in this world that He created.  Yes, we, as a whole, are indeed the middle step in His plan, but God is involved in the lives of each and every person who has ever, or will ever live.  He knitted us together in our mothers’ wombs.  He takes the time to know our names.  He knows the very number of hairs on each of our heads!  He knows the desires of our hearts.    God is intimate with us.  He is developing the intimate relationships with each of us that He so desires, and it is all preparation for when we will see the end to the goal, when we will be in Heaven, for eternity, with Him.  No, this is not a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants plan.  God does not have ADHD, and decided impulsively to create a world filled with people without thinking it through.  God’s plan will be worked out in every life, from birth to death, until the time when Jesus returns.

I was so blessed by the words God gave me in part one of this post.  I could see the big picture so clearly, and was in such awe of my God!!  But what touched my soul was how God works within His creation, on a personal level, recognizing each and every one.  Like an artist, lovingly sculpting, noticing, and perfecting the finest details.  Loving what He is making, even though we are all just one tiny figurine in a shop of billions.  I can almost see Him, bent over the clay that is me, eyes warmed by deep love and affection, a carving tool in His hand.  He touches me gently, scrapes a little clay off here, but shifts a little, or adds some in another place.  In one spot, He uses a damp sponge to smooth a scratch.  He speaks lovingly to me all the while.  So devoted to making me just right…and at the very same time, with the same love, attention, and devotion, He works on thousands, maybe millions of other pieces of clay, all in different stages of readiness.  Look!  Do you see what He has done?  He painted the blood of Jesus on my forehead!  I am His!  And He is mine!  And when it is time, He will breath eternity in to me.  I will be able to commune with Him, face to face, in a way that I can only dream of now.

Psalm 139:13-14 (NKJV) – For You have formed my inward parts; You have covered me in my mother’s womb.  I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.

Psalm 37:4 – Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

John 10:14-15 – “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.  As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”

Matthew 10:30 – “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”

Philippians 1:6 – being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 64:8 – But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.

Peace Treaty With God: The Way To Salvation

[This is the gospel message, the plan of salvation.  Please share so others may receive the word of the Lord.]

Here are the plain facts.  We, all of humanity, are sinners.  We start our lives in direct opposition to God.

Romans 3:10-12 (NCV) – “There is no one who always does what is right, not even one.  There is no one who understands, there is no one who looks to God for help.  All have turned away.  Together, everyone has become useless.  There is no one who does anything good; there is not even one.”

It is God versus man.  God versus evil…yes, I said evil.  What is not good is bad, sinful, evil.  As sinful people, we naturally turn away from God.  We do not desire to do good.  But we do know what is right and what is wrong.  God gave each of us a conscience to know this.  Romans 2:15 – “They show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong, just as the law commands.  And they show this by their consciences.  Sometimes their thoughts tell them they did wrong, and sometimes their thoughts tell them they did right.”

He also gave us the Law, the Ten Commandments.  You’ve heard of them.  They are intended to show us the things that we do wrong.  They are a standard.  A comparison.  Look at your life.  How does it stack up against the Ten Commandments?  When you see the places where you miss the mark, that is proof positive that you are a sinner.  (Romans 3:20 – “No one can be made right with God by following the law.  The law only shows us our sin.”)

The law shows us that we are sinful.  We are not for God, so we must be against God.  In essence, we are at war against God.  Since God is God, He is invincible.  There is no way possible for us to defeat Him.  You cannot stand against Him and have victory.  In the end, everyone will stand before Him to be judged.  Romans 2: 5b-6 – “On that day everyone will see God’s right judgments.  God will reward or punish every person for what that person has done.”

How do we go from being punished by God to being rewarded by God?  Can we do that on our own?  No.  We just don’t have it in us.  It is impossible.  Go back to Romans 3:20 – “No one can be made right with God by following the law.”  So then what?  Is it hopeless?  Are we doomed?  No.  But we are at the mercy of our enemy…God.  Thankfully He is a merciful God.  And because He loves us, even though we have never deserved that love, He has provided a way to become right with Him.  God has offered us a peace treaty.  Romans 3:22-25 – “God makes people right with himself through their faith in Jesus Christ.  This is true for all who believe in Christ, because all people are the same:  All have sinned and are not good enough for God’s glory, and all need to be made right with God by his grace, which is a free gift.  They need to be made free from sin through Jesus Christ.  God gave him as a way to forgive sin through faith in the blood of Jesus’ death.  This showed that God always does what is right and fair.”  The peace treaty came in the form of Jesus Christ, who died as our punishment, for our sin, but was raised to life again to conquer sin and death.  The only concession you need to make is to admit that you are sinful.  Accept the treaty by faith.  That is the hardest part.  It is a free gift from God.  But to believe that God is real, that Jesus is real and He is God’s Son, and that He actually gave up His life for you, is sometimes hard to do.  It is the only way, though.  You just have to believe.  Accept the peace treaty, and become an ally of God.  No longer an enemy, but a friend.  He can be on your side, or rather, you can be on His.

Romans 4: 6-8 – “David said the same thing.  He said that people are truly blessed when God, without paying attention to good deeds, makes people right with himself.  ‘Happy are they whose sins are forgiven, whose wrongs are pardoned.  Happy is the person whom the Lord does not consider guilty.’

IF YOU ARE READY TO SIGN THE PEACE TREATY GOD HAS OFFERED TO YOU, HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT DOING THAT?  This next step can be intimidating, although there is no reason for it to be so.  Remember, God loves you so much, and He has been waiting all your life to hear from you.  You just need to begin talking to Him…this is called prayer.  But to get you started, I offer the following prayer for you.  You may choose to read it as your own prayer to God, or you may read it and then formulate your own.  It is a starting point.

Dear God,
I know that I am a sinner, and that I cannot do what is right on my own.  The only way to be right with You, and to receive your reward, is to believe in You, and what Jesus did for me.  I want to be right with You, God.  Please forgive my sins, and accept my faith in You.  Please teach me more about who You are.  Thank you God, for Your love, and Your mercy.
Amen.

If you have prayed this prayer, welcome to the family of God!  You may be wondering what to do next.  The most phenomenal thing has happened to you!  The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit if God lives inside of those who believe in Him.  He will guide you as you seek to grow closer to God, and to learn more about Him.  I encourage you to find a church that teaches from the Bible.  Bring a Bible with you when you go.  Read what is being taught.  Ask God to show you the truth.  If a church is not teaching from the Bible, I encourage you to look to another one.

Be patient.  It takes time for God to make changes in your life.  But you will see them, and you will be blessed.

Finally, if you have prayed this prayer, please let me know through this blog.  I would love to pray for you, and I am sure other readers of this blog would pray for you as well.  God bless you!!

Christianity: Is It Down-to-Business, Or Child’s Play?

Do you take your faith seriously?  I don’t mean, “Yeah, sure I do.”  I mean, “YES LORD!!  AMEN & AMEN!!!”  Do you attend church on as many Sunday’s as you are able?  Or do you skip because the pastor is at a conference (the shepherd is away, so the sheep will play)?  Do you read your Bible every day, or at least most?  Or is it that you skip most days, and read it occasionally?  Do you take time to pray every day? Or do you pray at mealtimes…when you remember?  What does Christianity mean to you?

I was in church this morning, half full.  Perhaps because our pastor was gone, or perhaps because it is summer and it is much more enticing to be at the lake with a fishing pole or water skis.  During the service, I noticed that at least 3 cell phones went off.  And one adult person was using their smart phone for something other than reading an online version of the Bible.  The service is only an hour long.  Can God ask that much time of us?  Shouldn’t it be possible to sit through a one-hour church service without having to answer a cell phone or surf the web?  If church is not important enough to give your undivided attention to, then why attend?  I’m not perfect.  I have skipped church because it is inconvenient, or I am tired.  I have had Sunday mornings when my mind wandered to so many places during that one hour that I would have needed a map to find my way back home.  But I wonder, what does this kind of behavior say about the value I put on my faith, and on what Jesus did for me?  Shouldn’t we all be more than willing, eager to go to church to worship and praise the one, true, living God?  Shouldn’t we yearn to delve into the Scriptures and devour whatever message the Holy Spirit delivers through the pastor?

Speaking of the Scriptures, I see a lot of people being spoon-fed at church.  There are so few people who bring their Bibles to church anymore.  Why?  Too lazy to carry it?  Is it forgotten because it is so seldom opened during the week?  Is it because the pastor always puts the words up on the screen anyway?  Let me ask you something…what if he is putting up the wrong words?  What if he is taking the verses out of context?  Just a thought.

There are a lot of reasons to bring your own Bible to church.  One is to test the words of the pastor. Recently I was listening to a nationally known pastor speak.  He is a true man of God, and I have a great deal of respect for him.  But, as I was following along with his message in my own Bible, I realized that he had taken the verse out of context.  He was preaching a true message, but the verse he was using had nothing to do with what he was saying.  This is bound to happen.  The scary thing is that sometimes it is done intentionally, and a congregation is led astray by meanings twisted and warped to stress a particular agenda.  If we believers do not have our Bibles in front of us, how will we know?  We must be on guard at all times.  Peter warns us of this in 2 Peter 2:1 – There used to be false prophets among God’s people, just as you will have some false teachers in your group.  They will secretly teach things that are wrong–teachings that will cause people to be lost.  They will even refuse to accept the Master, Jesus, who bought their freedom.  So they will bring quick ruin on themselves.”

False teaching aside, how can we learn from the Bible if we do not study it?  I don’t know about you, but when I was in school and had a test coming up, I hit the books.  If I needed to rely just on my memory of the lectures, I would have been a straight F student!!  I sat down with my notes, and my text books and read.  I poured over the words.  I jotted notes.  And re-read what I had read before.  The same is true of studying the Bible.  Even in church, you can be studying.  Look at it as school.  A college class that had a fee to attend.  You didn’t pay it, but Jesus did, and it was a high price.  Don’t waist the opportunity to learn!  Pour over the Bible passage that the pastor is preaching from.  Read the verses before and after.  Write notes in the margins.  Underline.  Highlight.  Re-read.  Make that time worth the effort it took to get out of bed that morning.  Get down to business in church.  Come to worship.  Come to praise.  Come to learn!!

Take your faith seriously, Jesus did.  He died for your faith.  Dig in.  Get down to business.  Stop the child’s play.  It is time to grow up, and stand firmly on the promises of God, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is coming again soon.  Would you rather be caught studying His Word or reading a text?

Come Lord Jesus, come!!!

walking on the narrow path.

walking on the narrow path with Jesus

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