Archive for September, 2013

Unwavering Faith

September 30, 2013

According to dictionary.com,  wavering is to feel or show doubt. The meaning of doubt is to show distrust, disbelief or uncertainty about the person and promise of God.  In Matthew 13:58, let’s see the outcome for those who had no faith in Jesus -“And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” Specifically, Jesus was talking about his home town. He provided commentary about faith. Where there is disbelief, His demonstration of supernatural power will be limited; therefore, it is all the more important for us to have Unwavering Faith.

Jesus clearly evidences in His home town that He expects for our belief in Him to be unwavering. He does not respond to distrust, disbelief or uncertainty about His person and His promises. If that is the case, how then can any of us expect God/Jesus to answer any prayers that we have as all of us at some point waver in unbelief? As with everything else, we must go to the Word of God to find that answer. Before we do, I want to share that I  have really contemplated this matter myself as I have exclaimed “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

There are many times in my life where my faith was not only shaky but collapsed. How then could I ever expect God to answer prayer? In one sense, I could not since God responds to faith not disbelief or uncertainty. What does the Word of God say? In Romans 4, this is what God says,

17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. 18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

In verse 17, Abraham displays trust in God’s power. Abraham showed confidence that the promise for him to not only have a child but to be the father of many nations would be fulfilled. Here, Paul indicates that true faith is directed toward God and not humanity, toward the divine word and not toward the natural or human situation. Why? If you will recall an account of the situation, both Abraham and Sarah were very old. In fact, Abraham did not initially show belief or certainty. Let’s see what He said in Genesis 17:17 “Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” This was after Genesis 15:6 where it was said “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”

When I first read Romans 4, I was like God that is not what happened. Abraham did waver in unbelief. That is where I received a personal lesson from God about our faith. It is God who deems our faith as righteous. It is God who deems our faith as acceptable. It is only possible to accepted by God when He accepts it. It is God who gives us faith. God expects us to exercise the faith He gives us. In doing so, He can be responsive to the promises He has made to us; thus, He shows the benefit of having Unwavering Faith.  

Is your faith unwavering? If you are like me, you struggle. Stand on the promise God gave you not your circumstance or inability. God is faithful to His promises. “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” Numbers 23:19

 

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Looking For Jesus

September 26, 2013

As my daughter has entered into middle school, her growth and experiential existence reminds me of her as a little child. Now, the lighting of the eyes, the wondering and question can be verbalized. Just yesterday, she asked me why so many of her classmates crowd around one particular student. She does not know about the infamous popularity effect yet, but she is learning it day by day. I shared with her that some people just have magnetism that others don’t have. I shared with her that everybody is looking for someone to align him/herself with in life.

For those of us who are conscious of the Lord of Lords, all of us are Looking For Jesus. Why? We are like everyone else. We are looking to align ourselves with someone who can benefit us. We all are looking for salvation. We just believe that it comes in different ways/forms. I am convinced that no one was Looking For Jesus anymore than the disciples. After all, they are the ones who spent time with him face to face.

As the StubHub commercial says, “Not everyone has a ticket oak, …” but everyone can have a relationship with Jesus. You can align yourself with Him. Let’s go to John 21 to see what happens when we align ourselves with God in our lives. This text accents the benefit of having aligned oneself to Jesus. Though we do not see Him, He sees us and is in tune to what we need.

“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

When we align ourselves with Jesus, He keeps His eyes on us. In fact, we know that He is at the right hand of the Father interceding for us (Romans 8:32-34). Just as Jesus manifested Himself to the disciples, He will manifest Himself to those whom He has chosen. In the text above, a few of the disciples went about their regular business after Jesus had been risen from the dead. At that time, Jesus manifested Himself to the disciples. Why did and why does Jesus manifest Himself?

We see the answer to that in John 20.

30 Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

Jesus manifests Himself to man that he may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. Remember, we all are looking for someone. Our destiny is determined by who we place our faith. If you want the best, why not position yourself like those who are Looking For Jesus.

Able Jesus

September 24, 2013

In the post I Am Still Able, I failed to provide the definition for able that occurs many times on the New Testament. The word used most often for able is dynamai (dü’-nä-mī) which means  to be able, have power whether by virtue of one’s own ability and resources, or of a state of mind, or through favourable circumstances, or by permission of law or custom. As previously stated, there are countless of circumstances in our lives where God asks “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” such as in Mark 9:23.

Here in John 10, we see Jesus interacting with the Pharisees who questioned Jesus’ deity thus His authority. In part, the text below shares why Able Jesus tells the Pharisees they should believe that He is God. Like the Pharisees, we should believe Jesus because He shows that He is God by the work He does.

22 Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

The significance of the text to me is what Jesus shares about those whom God has given them. He repeats the idea twice. He says “no one will snatch (pluck) them out of my hand; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” This describes how we can say Able Jesus. Jesus’ ability is because He is God. The Pharisees were upset about Jesus claiming to be God. I am grateful for Jesus’ deity. As a consequence, no one can snatch them out of His hand. To reiterate, Jesus says that no one can snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

The Greek word for snatch or pluck is harpazō. It means means to seize, carry off by force; to snatch out or away. The interesting contrast found in verse 29 is the comparison between the triune God’s ability and man’s inability. Listen to how it is said “no one can snatch…” The word can is dynamai (dü’-nä-mī) which means to be able, have power whether by virtue of one’s own ability and resources, or of a state of mind, or through favourable circumstances, or by permission of law or custom. In one breath, Jesus says He can and the other He says no one can.

Since He has the ability, the power, the resources, the mind, the means to control circumstances, laws and customs, Jesus is declaring that He can and no one else can’t. That declaration explains Able Jesus. Jesus is able to do anything He chooses to do. We know that He is able to fulfill all that He has promised to do. Where none of us can, Jesus can. Hallelujah – shout Able Jesus.

I Am Still Able

September 23, 2013

 

Throughout our lives, our faith will be continually tested. God’s design of each test is to draw us closer to Him by having us to depend on Him for that which we are most concerned. As I was on the way to church yesterday, a song came on the radio, Still Able by Jame Fortune. One section of the song goes:

Now the worry is over and the doubt is gone away
God reminded me, that’s he’s still able
God reminded me that he’s still able

What I heard as I listened to the song was I Am Still Able. As it is with you, there are a lot of things going on in my life right now. It runs the gamut from relational, financial, physical and vocational. At every turn, I am challenged to believe God. Essentially, this is the challenge of our lives. Will we believe God. It leaves me exclaiming like the father of the mute in Mark 9, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Why do we doubt or have unbelief? Pride. We take our eyes off the one who promises and provides and focus on the problem. We see the problem bigger than God’s power to resolve it as He sees fit.

Let’s look at how we should rely on the triune God when problems arise.  In this example, I hear God saying to me I Am Still Able.

Matthew 9

18 While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.

20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”

22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

23 When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, 24 he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. 25 After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 26 News of this spread through all that region.

27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”

28 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”

“Yes, Lord,” they replied.

29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; 30 and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” 31 But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.

As in this example, there are countless of circumstances in our lives where God asks “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” Our response will often dictate God’s provision. In Mark 9:23, , Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

Where are you struggling to believe today? Does it deal with your health or wealth? Where are you? Needless to say, that this post is an encouragement from God to examine the condition of our faith. If the focus of our faith is misdirected, we are to redirect the focus of our faith as we hear Him say I Am Still Able.

Listen to Fred Hammond’s song No Weapon. The first verse references Numbers 23:19.

Rule Your Heart; Rule Your Sin

September 18, 2013

In the Gunman’s Rampage, I equated all of mankind to the gunman. While I am not stating that we all are violent murders, we all are challenged to follow the evil inclinations of our heart. In Genesis 4, Knowing Cain’s heart, God warns him not to submit to the murderous temptation of the devil (cf. 1 John 3:12). Although unregenerate humans can rule over the ground and flocks, they cannot finally master sin (1:26 note; Ps. 53:3; Rom. 8:7) from Ligonier Ministries. If you know Christ, you can Rule Your Heart; Rule Your Sin.

Genesis 4

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

 

Cain’s actions are reflective of every heart that is not surrendered to God. Ligonier Ministries says, “It is pure anti-God hostility, incapable of being anything else, is the real mind-set of everyone who is not yet renewed by the Spirit (3:9–18). The natural person regards God as an enemy.” Listen to Romans 8

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

God gave humans the cultural mandate to rule the creation as benevolent kings (9:2; Ps. 8:5–8; Heb. 2:5–9). Natural man can rule the animal (v. 28) and plant (v. 29) kingdoms, but he cannot rule the heavenly powers, especially Satan (ch. 3; Eph. 6:10–12). Only the Last Adam, the very image of God’s Person (Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3) and those united with Him can do that (3:15; Matt. 4:1–11; Col. 3:10). It is ironic that man can rule beasts and plants, but not himself. Based on Romans 8, man is incapable of ruling himself to follow Christ as he is dead in his sins. Dead people don’t move. Without Christ, you cannot Rule Your Heart; Rule Your Sin.

Ephesians 2 tells us “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” This further asserts that without Christ, man cannot rule over his sinful nature or his aversion to sin.

In the post Do You Have Jesus in Your Heart?, I asked us to examine the condition of our heart. The verses said, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.” Galatians 4

Cry out to the Father to have Christ make you alive to God and dead to sin. Without Christ, we have no hope of escaping the clutches of sin. Remember, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Christ is our only means to rule over sin. With Jesus, you can Rule Your Heart; Rule Your Sin.

Gunman’s Rampage

September 17, 2013

While I have heard several statements about the shock of another mass shooting, really, I am not shocked. It may appear by the response that I am jaded by the who situation. That could not be far from the truth either. Let’s face it, people have a lot of issues with which they are not able to effectively cope. When one gets hurt or frustrated, any action is possible.

The question of why is inevitably asked in circumstances of this nature. Gunman’s Rampage is a descriptor of what type of person and how the person acted. He was armed with a gun. He acted out of violent anger. Again, we all face circumstances that challenge, frustrate, and hurt us which leads to anger. The question is not why, but whether the Gunman’s Rampage could have been averted. Well, we will never know. Reports are that the shooter was upset over a lack of payment for work performed. We will never definitively know that either. We do know that the Gunman’s Rampage was an act of violent anger.

We all may not have taken a gun and shot at people, but we all have been angry at another for some debt or trespass committed against us. I am convinced that this is where the problem arises not only for the gunman but for us all. In the post Forfeiture of Peace, I wrote “Because of the mercy, grace and salvation of God, I have a right to peace (John 14:27, Acts 10:36, Romans 5:1, Romans 15:131 Corinthians 7:15Galatians 5:22, Ephesians 2:14, Philippians 4:6-8, Colossians 3:15, 1 Thessalonians 5:13, Hebrews 12:11, Hebrews 12:14, 1 Peter 5:14, Revelation 1:4). When I fail to trust God, to forgive, to humble myself, I experience the Forfeiture of Peace.” I am sure that the Gunman’s Rampage could have been averted had he been able to forgive and experience peace.

When we fail to experience peace, we are subject to do anything. As heard and read about this incident, I thought of Cain and Abel. I thought of the verse where God told Cain to be on the look out for wrong doing, to not let it master him. Listen to what God said to Cain in Genesis 4

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

Cain was angry. We could spend all day talking about why, but it is not the focus. The focus is how do we deal with our anger. It is inevitable that we will get angry with someone. The matter at hand is how we will deal with it. In the post Forgiveness is Not an Option for the Believer, we see how we must deal with our anger. We must forgive, as we hope to be forgiven; and therefore must not only bear no malice, nor mediate revenge, but must not upbraid our brother with the injuries he has done us, nor rejoice in any hurt that befals him, but must be ready to help him and do him good, and if he repent and desire to be friends again, we must be free and familiar with him, as before. Matthew Henry

Had Cain humbled himself and realized that his brother had not done any wrong to him, he could have recoiled his anger preventing it from pushing him over the edge of sanity. Like the Gunman’s Rampage or Cain’s anger, we too have a choice today when we get angry. We can allow it to fester boiling over into acts of violent anger for which we will most certainly be mournfully regretful, or we can humble ourselves trusting in God and experience delightful peace in the midst of our insolence towards God and His law.

Make the wise choice and rejoice rather than regret.

Do You Have Jesus in Your Heart?

September 14, 2013

Do You Have Jesus in Your Heart? That is the question of the day and of life. Let’s turn to the Word of God to answer that question. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” In Jeremiah 17:9, heart is not merely how we feel, but it also represents the basis of all of our character, including the mind and the will (4:19; Prov. 4:23; 16:23). In our natural state, the answer to that question is no. We do not have Jesus in our hearts. We have deceit or sin in our hearts. Listen to what Jesus said about our hearts in Mark 7:21, “21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.”

Since our hearts are so sullied with sin, how can Jesus ever enter into our hearts. We have to be redeemed by Jesus. We are redeemed by surrendering our mind, will and emotions to Christ. We learn how in John 1:12Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—” Listen to what Paul says in Galatians 4

Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

Do You Have Jesus in Your Heart? The answer to that question is found in the verses above. More specifically, verse six identifies those who have Jesus in their hearts. Those who are sons. How does one become a son? That answer too is above. We become a son or child of God by faith in Jesus Christ. John 1:12Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

When we do, Romans 5:5 says, “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Matthew Henry wrote “The love of God, that is, the sense of God’s love to us, drawing out love in us to him again. Or, The great effects of his love: (1.) Special grace; and, (2.) The pleasant gust or sense of it. It is shed abroad, as sweet ointment, perfuming the soul, as rain watering it and making it fruitful. The ground of all our comfort and holiness, and perseverance in both, is laid in the shedding abroad of the love of God in our hearts; it is this which constrains us, 2 Cor. 5:14. Thus are we drawn and held by the bonds of love. Sense of God’s love to us will make us not ashamed, either of our hope in him or our sufferings for him.”

If you find a person who asserts to be a child of God but does not look like it, it may be that Jesus has never redeemed that person’s heart. You may ask that person about the verses above or other verses that you know. Despite that, encourage the person to trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior to answer the question of Do You Have Jesus in Your Heart?

The True Benefit of Salvation

September 12, 2013

In assessing any situation, people almost always look to see what the benefit exists for them. In fact, I just received an email yesterday from my employer regarding one aspect of the benefits package offered. Open enrollment for insurance is nearing. We have the opportunity to sign-up for a review of the benefits from the new insurance options. While I am not excited about escalating costs, I am grateful that my family and I will have coverage to address our medical needs, but what does that have to do with The True Benefit of Salvation.

In the post How Much More, it is stated asked How Much More could I ask for than a conscious that is guilt free? While that is really worthy having and living for, it is not the rallying cry or cheering point of salvation. It is a by-product. The True Benefit of Salvation is knowing God or rather that God knows us. Listen to what God says in Jeremiah 9 , 23 Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; 24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord. It is clear from God’s own mouth that the benefit of salvation is knowing Him. It must also be pointed out that our boasting, if we should dare do so, is only centered in relational benefits extended to everyone who trust in Christ. Those are lovingkindness (love/mercy/goodness), justice and righteousness. In the covenant promised to Abraham and us, those three attributes of God are revealed to us and given to us in the Lord Jesus Christ who sacrificed His life for that purpose.

The bible tells us that true wisdom is knowing God. More specifically, wisdom is know what God wants us to do and doing it. See 1 Kings 3:27-28 for one example. Job asks 12 But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell? Through Job, God provides the answer “27 then he looked at wisdom and appraised it; he confirmed it and tested it.28 And he said to the human race, “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.”

Rather than touting our wisdom, our strength and riches, God wants us to know that The True Benefit of Salvation is knowing God. Once again, it is in knowing God that salvation is realized. Just like knowing someone who hires or can extend a free or rescued cost to a product or service, knowing God affords us the benefits of lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness. Jesus’ death on the cross provides the justice to God’s law that must be satisfied. When you or I have Christ’s death on the cross as a payment for our sins, we are declared righteous in the eyes of God in addition to having the justice of God satisfied.

I could go on or deeper, but the main point is that The True Benefit of Salvation is knowing God. Do you know Him? Have you surrendered your life to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If you are not living your life in pursuit of what God outlines in His Word, you may not have surrendered your life to Christ as Savior and Lord. Get the The True Benefit of Salvation by knowing God.

 

How Much More

September 8, 2013

When I was awakened by God this morning, He told me to read Hebrews 9 for direction in what I would write today. I was not sure why God told me that, but I knew that I was supposed to read Hebrews 9. I have read that chapter, and, as with any of the Word of God, I am glad that I read it. Reading the Word of God just makes my mind better, my spirit better, my life better.

Speaking of a better life, we are always looking for a better life. I should say that about me at least. It is a constant struggle to be grateful for what I have in contrast to wanting more than what I have. This is the battle to be content with what you have. In that struggle, the questions that always looms is How Much More. I have realized that more stuff or more money does not equate to a better life. It may make life more convenient, but more does not improve the quality of life. We can look at the tabloids or TMZ to see that those who have such much more that the average person still suffers from the quality of life struggle.

In Hebrews 9, a comparison of the sacrifices to atone for sin is compared. The sacrifices of the priest year after year compared to the sacrifice of Christ once for all. The writer of Hebrews 9 uses an argument from the lesser to the greater. The lesser is the blood of animals offered by the high priest on earth; the greater is the blood shed by Christ. The lesser had ceremonial power; the greater can take away guilt from the conscience. The writer raises and answers the question of How Much More in terms of forgiveness which I have been posting about for many days now.  Listen to the question in verse 14 – “14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”

The question of How Much More refers to Christ serving as the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of man. The question of How Much More refers to man being freed from the guilt of his sin. Numbers 6:14 and 1 Peter 1:19 set and reiterate the How Much More answers the question for the comparison between the sacrifices of animals versus the sacrifice of Jesus. In Numbers 6:14, the criteria for the sacrifice was set. It was to be a lamb without defect. Jesus, the Lamb of God, was the perfect sacrifice for sins. In the chapter, How Much More is also answered in terms of the sanctuary. The priest on earth entered a replica sanctuary made with the hands of men whereas Christ entered into heaven appearing before God himself. My pastor, Robert Benson, preached on Christ being a better sacrifice during the Hebrews Series.

While there is so much more to evidence How Much More Christ is as a sacrifice, I want to end with the verse that resonated with me the most today! “14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” Ligonier Ministries states that the goal of forgiveness is ultimately God-centered—not merely to free us from the fear of judgment, but to qualify us to worship before God in a way that brings Him pleasure (12:28; 13:15, 16, 21). When I stand today in church before God, my conscious will be clear of any guilt from sins committed because of the forgiveness afford to me through Christ’s atonement of my sins. How Much More could I ask for than a conscious that is guilt free?

The writer of Hebrews summarizes what I said in verse 15. It says, “15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”

How Much More do you need to cause you to follow Jesus?

Rescued

September 6, 2013

Whether about animals, drowning children, miners or any other area, Rescue stories are a regular for media outlets. It is one positive spin in news that frequently adorns the front page or serves as the lead on television. Just recently, we heard of a young lady being Rescued after two teenagers saw her mouth “help me” through the back window of a car.

Rescue comprises responsive operations that usually involve the saving of life, or prevention of injury during an incident or dangerous situation. Tools used might include search and rescue dogs, mounted search and rescue horses, helicopters, the “jaws of life”, and other hydraulic cutting and spreading tools used to extricate individuals from wrecked vehicles. Rescue operations are sometimes supported by special vehicles such as fire department’s or EMS heavy rescue vehicle. (wikipedia) Again, by definition, rescued is to set free, as from danger or imprisonment; save according to www.thefreedictionary.com/rescued.

In the post What Daniel Prayed For, we see Daniel pray to be Rescued when the King Darius was misled in making a decree to throw anyone who prayed to a god or any person other than him over a thirty day period. If you don’t know the story, read Daniel 6. From Lot to the Disciples, the Word of God is filled with many stories of God rescuing people from danger. Despite that, the biggest rescue story in the bible has nothing to do with lions or angry mobs of people. As long as time is time, God’s purpose in rescue has and always will relate to drawing men to Himself saving them from the clutches of eternal damnation.

I am not sure about you, but I have been in multiple situations where I needed to be rescued. Some were situations that I created; others were ones that I was just destined to experience. Regardless of the impetus, I still long to be rescued. Listen to Paul in his letter to the Colossians about the greatest story of man being Rescued. “13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-15. Have you trusted Christ to rescue you?

In the post A Debtor to Mercy Alone, I continued to share about God’s rescue of man by providing the forgiveness of sin, and His expectation that we, likewise, also forgive those who commit offenses against us. As we are offended, those who hurt us are powerless to undo the harm or change the feelings what we have. In speaking to Paul, we see apart of God’s plan for the Gentiles being Rescued in Acts 26:17-1817 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’” Here are other verses that talk about going from darkness to light.

Whether being Rescued from sin, Rescued from trials, and/or Rescued from the influence of the evil one who controls the world, salvation only comes Jesus Christ, the Son of God who has come and “has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:19-20). We should, like the king in Daniel 6, pray that “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” If we want to be Rescued, we should pray to the Jehovah, the Almighty God.