Archive for July, 2017

TRUTH: Are You Sealed?

July 18, 2017

In the ancient world, Ephesus was a center of travel and trade. Located on the Aegean Sea at the mouth of the Cayster River, Ephesus was one of the greatest seaports of the ancient world. Three major roads led from the seaport: one road went east towards Babylon via Laodicea, another to the north via Smyrna and a third south to the Meander Valley.  When goods or merchandise was brought into Ephesus and sealed by the owner, it was placed on ships and carried to Rome and other European cities. When the goods arrived in port and identified by the seal, it was claimed by the owner, who redeemed that which was his. TRUTH: Are You Sealed?

To reiterate, the physical mimics the spiritual. In a spiritual sense, the bible talks about a seal of ownership. Just as the person who had the seal demonstrated ownership of any goods or merchandise, God has a seal that demonstrates His ownership. Anyone without that seal does not belong to God. Let’s see this in the scriptures. TRUTH: Are You Sealed?

Ephesians 1:11-13

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,  (NASB)
13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, (ESV)

It is clear from verse 13 that the promised Holy Spirit is the seal of God’s ownership of any particular person. TRUTH: Are You Sealed? There are a variety of other verses that work in concert with verse 13. Let me share those with you. All from the ESV

1 Corinthians 3:16 
16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Romans 8:9-11
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Galatians 4:6
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

1 John 3:24
24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

1 John 4:13
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

TRUTH: Are You Sealed? The answer is found in Ephesians 1:13 which says, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” If you have not believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior evidenced through a surrendered and obedient life, you are NOT sealed. If you are not sealed, you are not included in Christ; therefore, you forego all of the spiritual blessings namely salvation of your soul from the wrath of God because of your sin.

TRUTH: Are You Sealed? If not, repent and follow Jesus. Romans 10:9-11 says, ” If you declarewith your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

TRUTH: You Have Obtained an Inheritance!

July 12, 2017

According to Wikipedia, The World’s Billionaires is an annual ranking by net worth of the world’s wealthiest billionaires compiled and published in March annually by Forbes magazine. The list was first published in March 1987.  For 2017, the U.S. continues to have the most billionaires in the world, with a record of 565. China has 319 (this does not include Hong Kong with 67 and Macau with 1), Germany has 114 and India has the fourth most with 101; India has reached over 100 billionaires for its first time. This year there was a record of 2,043 people on the list, which is the first time over 2,000 people were listed, that included 195 newcomers that included 76 from China and 25 from the U.S.; there were 56 people under 40 and it had a record of 227 women. On the Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires, this is the fourth year in a row that Bill Gates was named the richest man in the world. The number of billionaires increased 13% to 2,043 from 1,810 in 2016; this is the biggest change in over 30 years of tracking billionaires globally.

Here are the top 10 billionaires.

No. Name Net worth (USD) Age Nationality Source(s) of
wealth
1 Steady Bill Gates $86.0 billion Increase 41  United States Microsoft
2 Increase Warren Buffett $75.6 billion Increase 86   United States Berkshire
Hathaway
3 Increase Jeff Bezos $72.8 billion Increase 53  United States Amazon.com
4 Decrease Amancio Ortega $71.3 billion Increase 80  Spain Inditex, Zara
5 Increase Mark Zuckerberg $56.0 billion Increase 32  United States Facebook
6 Decrease Carlos Slim $54.5 billion Increase 77  Mexico América Móvil,
Grupo Carso
7 Steady Larry Ellison $52.2 billion Increase 72  United States Oracle
Corporation
8 Increase Charles Koch $48.3 billion Increase 81  United States Koch Industries
8 Increase David Koch $48.3 billion Increase 76  United States Koch Industries
10 Decrease Michael Bloomberg $47.5 billion Increase 65  United States Bloomberg L.P.

What if one of the top ten billionaires told you the TRUTH: You Have Obtained an Inheritance! In financial terms, almost all of us would be ultra excited to know that you had a share in 47.5 billion dollars to 86 billion dollars. Undoubtedly, you lifestyle would change to some degree. It would reflect more of the financial wealth that you had inherited. Depending on the amount that one had access coupled with one’s willingness to spend or share, lives or lifestyles would truly be different.

Similarly, but in spiritual terms, the Apostle Paul tells us the TRUTH: You Have Obtained an Inheritance! The question is whether your life is different as it would have been had the inheritance was financial. Let’s read.

Ephesians 1:3-11

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, (ESV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. 11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will (NIV)

11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, (NASB)

What is the TRUTH: You Have Obtained an Inheritance! The Apostle Paul is telling the Ephesians that God, through Jesus Christ, has adopted some people as sons or children and as such we have obtained an inheritance. Again, John 1:12 clarifies who are the children of God. Furthermore, Galatians 3:26 tells us “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” It is only through Jesus Christ that mankind becomes a member of God’s family and thus receives an inheritance. Listen to 1 Peter 1:3-5.Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” As God’s children by being born again or the new birth, Christians are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:16, 17). Their inheritance is called “salvation” (v. 5; Heb. 1:14, crf)

Now, you know the TRUTH: You Have Obtained an Inheritance! If you have surrendered your life to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have become a child of God and thus will receive your inheritance of eternal life. Billions cannot buy you a relationship with the Almighty God nor can it buy you “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away.” What will you do? Will you become a child of God or will you continue to be an object of God’s wrath?  “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36) Believe in Jesus and follow Him.

TRUTH: IF God Kept a Record of Sins, Who Could Stand.

July 11, 2017

In this information age, people keep all kinds of records on us. As we casually surf the internet, the sites we go and how often we go are being recorded. A profile of our preferences are being kept, so that advertisements suggestions can be placed on our browser. Our credit score is another example of records being kept on us. Supposedly, our credit worthiness is determined by what we have purchased and the relationship to how we have paid those debts. I work in a school system where records of attendance, assessments, behavior and grades are kept on each student. As a student graduates, those records are used to give awards to those who have never missed a day of school or for scholarships for those who have a record of strong academic performance. Records are kept on us for so many things. We are all aware of that. While I don’t support Santa, he too keeps a record. We are told that he is checking his list to see who has been naughty or nice. TRUTH: IF God Kept a Record of Sins, Who Could Stand.

Why should it surprise us that God Almighty has a list, a record if you will. Luke 10:20  tells us … “but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.” Psalm 139 tell us other records, but verses two and three tell us that God “You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.” We also learn in Psalm 130 (NASB) about the record of our sin. TRUTH: IF God Kept a Record of Sins, Who Could Stand.

Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.
If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, (If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, (NIV))
O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait,
And in His word do I hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than the watchmen for the morning;
Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is lovingkindness,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
And He will redeem Israel
From all his iniquities.

TRUTH: IF God Kept a Record of Sins, Who Could Stand. As my prayer partner, Thomas Milloy, began to pray today, the words “If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?” resonated in my mind as someone had struck cymbals. Those words just echoed in my head so much that I had to ask him where that was in the Psalms. It resonated because I know my sins are numerous, too many for me to count, but God is aware of everything we have done. He knows our sins. 

From Romans 6:23, we know that we deserve death for our sinful hearts and minds, but just as verse four above tells us, “there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.” God, through Jesus Christ, offers us forgiveness of our sins and more lucidly forgiveness from His judgement of our sins. While there are consequences in the here and now, God, again through Christ, gives us an eternal reprieve from His wrath because of our sins.

Billy Graham expressed it this way. ”

“It’s wrong, however, to think that God is just like a massive computer, endlessly storing up information about us. The main difference is this: a computer doesn’t love you or care anything about you — but God does! If God didn’t care about us, He wouldn’t bother remembering what’s been happening in our lives. He also wouldn’t care about our worries and heartaches — or even the wrong things we’ve done that brought us harm. But He does care.

And because God loves us and cares about us, we don’t need to be scared of the future or shrink back from His judgment — not when we know Christ. On one hand we deserve to be scared over what we’ve done — because we have sinned, and we deserve only God’s judgment. But on the other hand, because He loves us, God has provided the way for all our sins to be forgiven and removed. That way is Jesus Christ, who by His death took upon Himself the judgment we deserve.

Why carry the burden of your sins any longer? Instead, give them — and your whole life — to Jesus today. When we come to Christ, all our sins are taken away — almost like hitting your computer’s delete button! The Bible says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).”

TRUTH: IF God Kept a Record of Sins, Who Could Stand. For those of you who do not surrender your life to Jesus as Lord and Savior, you will not be able to stand. Nahum 1:5-7 says,

Mountains quake because of Him
And the hills dissolve;
Indeed the earth is upheaved by His presence,
The world and all the inhabitants in it.
Who can stand before His indignation?
Who can endure the burning of His anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire
And the rocks are broken up by Him.
The Lord is good,
A stronghold in the day of trouble,
And He knows those who take refuge in Him.

Malachi 3 teaches us that “16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name. 17 “They will be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” 18 So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.Romans 14:4 says, “Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” It is only through the Lord Jesus that any of us can stand before God. It is Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection that affords us to receive redemption, the forgiveness of sin. In this forgiveness, God does not hold us eternally accountable for our sins. It is in Christ that we find the TRUTH: IF God Kept a Record of Sins, Who Could Stand.

TRUTH: We Have the Riches of His Grace!

July 6, 2017

In the post TRUTH: Redemption Is In Christ Alone, I shared that everyone likes a redemption story. In the post TRUTH: Sonship – A Spiritual Blessing , I shared that everyone likes a blessing. Today, brings together the both of those having a redemption story as the result of a great blessing. For those who surrender their lives to Jesus as Lord and Savior, we find the TRUTH: We Have the Riches of His Grace!

You see, we who have Jesus have been given grace by God. Our text, Ephesians 1, states that clearly just as many other passages in the Word.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

In Christendom, it is commonly accepted that grace is defined as God’s unmerited favor toward man. Essentially, we don’t get what we deserve (death) for who we are while getting something we don’t deserve (life, union with God). We learn from the passage that we just did get grace as followers of Christ. The word lavished is used to describe how grace was given to us. It is defined as great amounts or without end. For the sinner that I am, I know that it has been given to me without end. Hallelujah!

2 Timothy 1:8-10 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” Furthermore, we are encouraged by Paul through Timothy “So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

Verse 9 tells us the purpose of God’s grace – saved us and called us to a holy life. How are you living your life? Is it out of a desire to be holy? Holy meaning set apart for God. It is for the believer to be separated from sin and therefore consecrated to God, sacred. Our lives should be devoted to God as a consequence of the grace we have received. TRUTH: We Have the Riches of His Grace! We are to richly love God for lavishing His grace upon us. I fail everyday; however, I have new mercies daily to commit myself to a new start in Christ Jesus. 

As a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, the TRUTH: We Have the Riches of His Grace! Truly, I have not even scratched the surface of what this means, but I wanted us to think of how much grace God has given us in Christ Jesus. Really, it cannot be quantified, just know it is a lot and it is a great blessing.

TRUTH: Redemption Is In Christ Alone

July 5, 2017

Whether in sports, in movies, in books or in life, everyone loves a redemption story. Perhaps, we are reminded of our fallibleness as well as our need to recover from the error of our ways. Who decides who or how does one obtains redemption?

Back in 2000, 23-year-old Cornealious Anderson III, nicknamed Mike, was arrested for robbing a Burger King at gunpoint. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison, released on bail, and told to await orders on when to show up to serve his time.

The orders never came. Due to a clerical error, Anderson never went to prison.

But instead of using his freedom to commit more crimes, Anderson started his own construction business, became a youth football coach, and volunteered at his local church. He also got married, had three children, and became a well-liked member of his community.

Thirteen years later, the state discovered their error and put Anderson behind bars for nearly one year. As the case received international coverage, an online petition for his release gained more than 35,000 signatures.

After a court hearing that lasted a mere 10 minutes, the judge conceded that Anderson was a changed man and granted him credit for the years he should have been in prison. A teary-eyed Anderson walked out of the courthouse with his wife and daughter, telling reporters that he was grateful to God. (@)

In Cornealious Anderson III case, who and how was redemption decided? Was it Cornealious’ positive social actions for thirteen years? Was it the judge and the jury who decided? Cornealious told us who and how. He credited his redemption to God.

Likewise in a spiritual sense regarding our sinfulness, the TRUTH: Redemption Is In Christ Alone. That fact is woven throughout the scriptures. We are directly told in Ephesians 1:7

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace

In the context of the verses, him is understood to be Jesus Christ. Go back and read the proceeding verses to verify my assertion.  Furthermore, consider the following verses that substantiate the TRUTH: Redemption Is In Christ Alone. 

Psalms 111:9
He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever— holy and awesome is his name.

Psalms 130:7

Israel, put your hope in the Lordfor with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.

1 Corinthians 1:30
30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness,holiness and redemption

Romans 3:23-24
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 4:30
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Colossians 1:13-14
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.

Hebrews 9:11-15
11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 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! 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.

Again, I ask who decides who or how does one obtain redemption. It is quite clear from the scriptures of the TRUTH: Redemption Is In Christ Alone.  Surrender your life to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, so you can receive redemption. Without Christ, “ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

TRUTH: Who Can Give Up Essential Liberty

July 4, 2017

US Flag with Lady LibertyThey who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Benjamin Franklin, Memoirs of the life & writings of Benjamin Franklin. It is Independence Day, July 4, in the United States of America. The quote by Benjamin Franklin was highlighted in a document encouraging us to be thankful for our freedom in these United States of America. Thomas Jefferson, said, “How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!” For those Americans, including my brother, uncles, cousins, and other family and friends, I salute you for your devotion and sacrifice to preserve my liberty. but I ask the TRUTH: Who Can Give Up Essential Liberty?

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the rights of free expression and actions that are fundamental to democratic government. These rights include freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech. We live in a country that allows an athlete to stage silent protests during the National Anthem. He was free to do so; yet, there was a cost for him, no job. We live in a country where our President is free to break from conventional norms of “presidential” behaviors. Like the athlete, there is a cost for him too – a loss of respect by some countrymen, but I ask the TRUTH: Who Can Give Up Essential Liberty? A

s we spend time today reflecting and celebrating our political freedoms, let us focus on the religious freedoms that we were given on this Independence Day. I have asked the TRUTH: Who Can Give Up Essential Liberty? Psalm 33:12 (ESV) answers that question for us. It says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!” The most essential liberty that we have is our service of the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He sent. According to the verse and other scriptural texts, the nation or people of God are not solely Jews or those who live in the United States of America as some purport. Romans 9:6 tells us “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.” We also know from scripture that “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17) Again, I ask the TRUTH: Who Can Give Up Essential Liberty?

You give up your freedom or liberty by not knowing the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He sent. Galatians 3:22-29 tells us “22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” Without Christ, each is still held captive to sin. You have First Amendment and other Constitutional rights, but that has nothing to do with citizenship in Zion. 

TRUTH: Who Can Give Up Essential Liberty? No one. Surrender to Jesus and be freed from clutches and curse of sin – eternal death.