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TRUTH: The Reason for Grace Given II

September 18, 2017

In the post TRUTH: The Reason for Grace Given, the premise presented was that God gave grace to Paul for the sake of the Gentiles. God purposed to use Paul to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles. In TRUTH: The Reason for Grace Given II, the purpose is for the Gentiles to see that too can be given grace just like Paul.

TRUTH: The Reason for Grace Given II. Despite the liability, we all compare ourselves to one another. In the right way, this can be helpful. When someone has overcome a struggle, hardship or tragedy, they serve as an example for someone else facing the same or similar situations. I believe this is what God intended for Paul when he wrote this:

Ephesians 3

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people,this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ,and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

I will not be able to scratch the surface of the depth of this because I do not know everything, but that which I do know is truly too deep for this one reading; however, I want to point out the focus of grace – unmerited favor. Grace in other words is God not giving us what we deserve (mercy) and giving us something we do not deserve. Let’s take Paul as the example as he presents it.

Paul, whose birth name was Saul, was a part of the group who looked on when Stephen was stoned to death. He looked on in approval as we see in Acts 8:1. Furthermore, the text tells us “On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.” Then in Acts 9, we see this report about Saul “ Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”  “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

In those brief excerpts from scripture, we see that Saul was an onlooker and a perpetrator of mistreating, imprisoning and killing Jews who followed Jesus. In Philippians 3, Paul said of himself “If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.” He was giving more reasons as to his belief that he was doing the right thing according to Jewish beliefs to persecute those who followed Jesus. This is the reason for TRUTH: The Reason for Grace Given II.

Saul, who became Paul at God’s command, represents the depth of God’s forgiveness and the power to change their lives. Paul went from a persecutor of the church to a pillar of the church. He wrote a minimum of 8 books in the New Testament. There is debate that he wrote 13. The point is that God changed his life and used him in a mighty way as a means to represent the TRUTH: The Reason for Grace Given II.

if I can forgive, save and use Paul, God’s intent is for us to see that He can do the same for us. Do you think what you have done is unforgivable? Not true. Do you think that you are unworthy of God’s grace? True. God has decided that neither of those matter. You do. God wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4). If you want to be saved from the consequence of your rebellion/sin, trust Jesus as Lord and Savior and you will be. That is the reason for TRUTH: The Reason for Grace Given II.

 

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TRUTH: The Reason for Grace Given

September 14, 2017

According to Dictionary.com, Survivor’s Guilt is the feeling of guilt for having survived a catastrophe in which others died. It was first noticed among survivors of the Holocaust. Survivors often feel they did not do enough to save those who died or that they are unworthy relative to the perished. “Although survivor guilt can have a lasting and significant impact on mental and emotional well-being if unaddressed, it may also serve an adaptive function. Those who survive may transform their feelings of guilt into a sense of increased meaning and purpose. They may also use survivor guilt as a way to cope with the feelings of helplessness and powerlessness that can occur in traumatic situations.” People often wonder why they have been given this chance, blessing or experienced grace in those types of circumstances. Well, I want to generally share the TRUTH: The Reason for Grace Given.

As we continue in Ephesians 3, we see the forerunner to the Jews of the Holocaust. The Apostle Paul communicated the TRUTH: The Reason for Grace Given.

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people,this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ,and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

I don’t want to over simplify this matter, but Paul states it simply. He gives the reason for the TRUTH: The Reason for Grace Given. Paul says that it was for the sake of the Gentiles. He goes deeper in the verses following verse 1, but his message to the Gentiles, of which you and I are, is that we receive God’s grace, namely and specifically salvation, for the purpose of passing that on to others. We were saved, so God could use us to save others. Our entire purpose for being included in the family of God, for His Spirit for dwelling in us is to promulgate the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I have to cut it short today, because I am running out of time; however, this is all we need to know. We are blessed to be a blessing. Not because we are worthy or did anything that was noteworthy. We have received this ministry of reconciliation in order to be used by God to reconcile people to Himself. Now, that is the TRUTH: The Reason for Grace Given. 

TRUTH: The Consequences of Jesus

September 13, 2017

When I was a child, I distinctly remember my mother having a conversation with me about the choices I made. She told me that every decision has consequences. She said those consequences from my choices could either help me or hurt me. That got my attention, because I did not walk around trying to figure out how to hurt myself as there was already enough hurt for me to deal with just living life. I grew to understand that consequences meant the effect, result, or outcome of something occurring earlier. One classic case that my mother and I still discuss 40 plus years later is when I got smart with her one day in September. She told me that I was not going to video game system that I wanted. Months later and long after I had forgotten her comment, I woke up Christmas morning tearing through packages, but my game was not there. The rule in my house was not to awaken my mother on Christmas morn, so I had to wait until she awakened to find out where she had placed it. When I asked her, she told me “You must have thought I was joking (I knew I was in trouble because she did not joke) when I told you I was not going to get that game.” Yes, that is what she said. Despite her being a woman of her word, I just figured that she did not mean it. Wrong. She kept her word, and I learned a great deal about the consequences of my choices. This one hurt me. 

Today, I want to share about the TRUTH: The Consequences of Jesus. Jesus made a choice. He choice to follow the plan that The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit unveiled because of man’s choice to be disobedient. Sin separates man from God (Is. 59:2) and brings about dire consequences. As such, man needed help in overcoming the consequence of sin which ultimately spiritual death i.e. spending eternity separated from God. Romans 6:23 say, “23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Without faith and following Christ, John tells us that wrath of God, the consequence of disobedience to God, remains on man. In a nutshell, the TRUTH: The Consequence of Jesus is man being saved from the consequence of his sin. 

As we continue and conclude in Ephesians 2, we clearly see the TRUTH: The Consequences of Jesus. 

17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Because Jesus came and preached peace, we have access to the Father. We are no longer separated from God through Christ Jesus. Consequently, 

  1. We are no longer foreigners to God.
  2. We are no longer strangers to God.
  3. We are citizens of God’s kingdom.
  4. We are apart of God’s people.
  5. We are members of God’s household – His family.
  6. We have Jesus to serve as our foundation of our lives.
  7. We become a part of His church, the holy temple in the Lord.
  8. We become a dwelling place of God by the Holy Spirit living in us.

The are so many more consequences that we experience as a result of surrendering our lives and following Jesus. In fact, Psalm 40:5 says, “Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.” Again, I go back to Romans 6 to highlight the essential consequence of Jesus. Paul said,

16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness….20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Now that is the TRUTH: The Consequences of Jesus. 

 

TRUTH: Jesus Gives Access to the Father

September 9, 2017

Access is one of the most desired privileges one seeks. There are shows like Access Hollywood that touts access to those who are interested in following movie stars. We have access codes to enter into building or complexes whether business or personal. Without the code, you cannot access a building, an ATM machine, an email account, a home, a part of plant or hospital, or specific places designed for those with special privileges. Generally speaking, access is defined as the ability, right or permission to approach, enter, speak with , or use; admittance. The Greek word used for access here is prosagōgē (pros-ä-gō-gā’). It has been submitted that in oriental courts there was a prosagoges who brought a person into the presence of the king. Jesus, through the Spirit, brings us into the presence of God. One can see that without access one is denied entrance into a desired place. TRUTH: Jesus Gives Access to the Father

Theologically speaking, the bible teaches that we have access to God only through Jesus. Without Christ, no one can have access to God. Let’s listen to the Word to confirm that claim.

Ephesians 2

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his fleshthe law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundationof the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy templein the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Remember, it is sin that separates or blocks us from having access to God where He hides His face from us and does not hear us. Sin is man’s primary problem. Atonement for sin has to be made in order for man to be united or in union with God. Without Christ, we have no access. Let’s reflect on what Jesus said about the matter. TRUTH: Jesus Gives Access to the Father

I AM the True Vine (John 15:1-17)

I AM the Way, Truth and Life (John 14:1-7)

I AM the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:1-44)

I AM the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-18)

I AM the Door (John 10:1-9)

I AM the Light of the World (John 8:12-18; 25-30)

I AM the Bread of Life (John 6:25-35; 48-59)

TRUTH: Jesus Gives Access to the Father
Jesus said “27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.(Matthew 11:27) “In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” In John 10:9, Jesus said, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” Furthermore, Paul tells Timothy that “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.

We see in Acts 4:12 that Jesus is the only one to bring salvation. Hebrews 10:19-20 says, “19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body,” David Gusik wrote that Jews and Gentiles are to be presented unto God the Father; the Spirit of God works in their hearts, and prepares them for this presentation; and Jesus Christ himself introduces them.” (Clarke) Finally, we see in Hebrews 9 that “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.”  “25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.” We see the doctrine of the Holy Trinity at work in Ephesians 2 – Jesus died and left His Spirit who indwells believers and speaks or communicates with God for us. We are told in 1 Corinthians 2 that ” What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.” TRUTH: Jesus Gives Access to the Father

If you don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior, you do not have access to the Father. As such, you are still a foreigner and stranger without citizenship in heaven and not one of God’s children who has no membership in His household. TRUST Jesus. TRUTH: Jesus Gives Access to the Father

 

TRUTH: How to Stop Entitling, Robbing, Killing and Racial Profiling

September 7, 2017

People have hot topics and hot buttons. Those are the things of this life that matter the most to them. It is what has sparked protests or demonstrations about one master race, equality among the races, confederate statues, sitting or kneeling during the national anthem. More recently, we see the claims and videos of what happened with Michael Bennett in Las Vegas. Seemingly, there are always two sides – an us versus them mentality. As early as I can remember, I have always heard about our seen protests. People, at times I was one of them, express skepticism or doubt that conditions will change because of the doubt that people change. I am here to say that I have been changed, so there is hope that others may change reducing the numbers of people who have a us versus them mentality. I want to share the change can reveal the TRUTH: How to Stop Entitling, Robbing, Killing and Racial Profiling.

The reality is that man is sinful. It is man’s sin that creates the problems he experiences with one another. We cannot make this solely a racial issue. It is not. It is a sin problem masked in all sorts of disguises designed to keep us from seeing the TRUTH. I want to cheat a little bit. I want to read the Cliff Notes or ask someone who has seen the end. In this case, God is the only reliable source who wrote the book and is playing the movie of how this life plays out. Through His people, He has shared with us what’s going on. Again, we truly do not have a problem with one another. Paul, later in this book of Ephesians, tells us that “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” That is the TRUTH: How to Stop Entitling, Robbing, Killing and Racial Profiling. It is sin that is the problem.

Ephesians 2

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his fleshthe law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

The answer is Jesus who is our peace. I don’t want that to get lost in what I am saying today. However, let’s look at what the text says Jesus did in verse 14b. It says that Jesus “has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” In this case, Paul is talking about Jews and Gentiles. Despite that, the principle is the same. God, through Jesus Christ, is out to “was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.” The consequence of putting to death their hostility is peace. Hostility exhibited to God through their sin and hostility with one another exhibited by sinful interaction man to man. This is why text tells us that He (Jesus) himself is our peace. TRUTH: How to Stop Entitling, Robbing, Killing and Racial Profiling.

Make no mistake about it, there are two contending spirits. The Holy Spirit of God and the spirit of the ruler of the kingdom of the air (satan), the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. The real battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. For the follower and believer in Christ, Paul clarifies the battle in Romans 7 where he said, “22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” Later in Romans 8, he says, ” 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. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

In Galatians 5 Paul says, “16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whateveryou want. ” Furthermore in Revelations, we are told “ Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.” It was told that this says that satan had failed to destroy Christ (vv. 45), the Dragon (satan) tries to destroy the people of Christ. He uses his mouth, representing deceit (vv. 1592 Thess. 2:910). When deceit fails, he tries persecuting power (12:17–13:10).  TRUTH: How to Stop Entitling, Robbing, Killing and Racial Profiling.

There we have the battle within the Christian. It explains why we still struggle with sin. For the unbeliever or the one who does not follow Jesus, there is no battle. You have no strength. In fact, you probably haven’t the slightest idea of a battle between The Holy Spirit of God and the spirit of the ruler of the kingdom of the air (satan). You just live life doing whatever. As such, we see fights, robbery, arrests, killings. These are all acts designed to not only the people of God but any of mankind who are God’s creation. Satan abhors God and is trying to discredit and destroy Him. By your choices, you decide to live the TRUTH: How to Stop Entitling, Robbing, Killing and Racial Profiling. If you trust, believe, and follow Jesus, you live out how to stop the desires/acts of the flesh. Your life becomes one that helps to destroy the dividing walls of hostility making mankind one rather than enemies. You also please God because of your obedience. 

What will you choose? Christ or satan. Those are the only two choices. Sorry, but in this case, it is truly black and white.

TRUTH: God is My Refuge

September 6, 2017

I received a text from my brother in the Lord, Jermel Dortch. At the heart of the text, he had embedded a verse that struck a chord with me as it relates to Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. Undoubtedly, we all face literal storms. For those in Texas and Louisiana, Harvey represented a life changing experience. The vast majority of those impacted by the storm lost their major possessions like homes, cars, photos and the like. Now, as Hurricane Irma is speeding through the Caribbean seemingly toward a head on collision with Florida and the east coast, others are facing a storm that has been heralded as one of the most powerful storms in history. It has already been tabbed as Category 5 hurricane that has sustained winds of 185 miles per hour. TRUTH: God is My Refuge.

With winds like that, no one needs to tell people to seek refuge. In fact, there has already been a call for an evacuation in Florida. On Monday, the governor of Florida, Rick Scott, said, “In Florida, we always prepare for the worst and hope for the best, and while the exact path of Irma is not absolutely known at this time, we cannot afford to not be prepared,” Finding refuge in a storm is not unique to Houstonians, Floridians or those in the Caribbean.

King David cited Almighty God as his place of refuge. Listen to what David said.

Psalm 62:8

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.

David said, “God is our refuge.” Clear cut and simple. I simply want to share the TRUTH: God is My Refuge. What is a refuge? Dictionary.com defines refuge as a place of shelter, protection, safety, relief or escape. With Hurricane Harvey, some did not seek refuge when they were told the storm is coming. After seeing the impact of the storm especially with those who did not listen to the call to seek refuge from the storm, those in Florida are more attentive and responsive. We can see that from the long lines for gas, for food and water and the like.

Since the Fall of Man in Genesis 3, man has been seeking refuge not always in the right place. King David shares with us that Almighty God, Jehovah, is our refuge for the storms of life. Furthermore, David did not limit us to seeking refuge in God to only in the storms of life. He said, “Trust in him at all times, you people.” This was written to those who claim allegiance with Jehovah, the one true God. We are to pour out our hearts to him. When things bother or hurt us, we are to empty ourselves of that thing by sharing it with God allowing Him to hear and help us with what we know we cannot contend. Just as those in the path of Irma know they have no reasonable defense against her, we, without God’s help, have no reasonable defense for our lives and the lives of those we love and care deeply about. TRUTH: God is My Refuge.

TRUTH: God is My Refuge. God is the one to whom I flee. What about you? To whom do you seek refuge? Perhaps, it is not even a person but a thing – a drink, a drug, an idol.  In this passage (62), David tells us “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

With storms like you see in the lives of others, do I really need to tell you to seek refuge?Do you want rest for your soul? Do you want to find a firm foundation, a place of stability for your life? Do you want to be covered and protected far from wavering in faith in critical times? Do you want salvation and honor for your life? If you do, seek God, Jehovah, and trust in Him to be and do all those things for you. TRUTH: God is My Refuge. Is He yours?

TRUTH: HE Himself is our Peace

September 5, 2017

I have long known that peace is a leading desire among people. When surveying people, peace of mind is one common answer. Until this post, I was not aware of The Global Peace Index (GPI) found on www.visionofhumanity.com.  I did not take the time to fully explore its metrics used to draw conclusions; however, the site reported “This year’s Global peace Index (GPI) data captures a paradoxical situation in global affairs – 2016 saw the continuation of several negative trends from ongoing conflict in Syria, Libya, Iraq, South Sudan, Yemen and Afghanistan, not to mention the increased instability in the United States – yet, the global average peace score showed a slightly more peaceful world. While this is a positive trend, it also reveals an increasingly complex and divided world.”

I think we all agree with the last sentence – our world is increasingly more complex and divided. Where did this division come from? For me and according to the bible, division among mankind started at the Fall of Man found in Genesis 3. The peace between God and man was breached by man’s disobedience to God’s direction, command, law, etc. We know they experienced a lack of peace because they tried to hide from God when hearing his coming. When confronted by God, peace broke down between the man and his wife, Adam and Eve. Eve blamed the serpent. Adam blamed Eve.

David said “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;  there is no one who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Psalm 14:1-3

The prophet Isaiah crystalized this breach of peace between God and man when he said, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear…The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks along them will know peace.” (Isaiah 59:2,8).

Lastly, Hosea said, “What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah?
Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth— then my judgments go forth like the sun. For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. As at Adam, they have broken the covenant; they were unfaithful to me there.” (Hosea 6:4-7)

Since peace has been breached between God and man, we are not on good terms. In fact, we are told that we are enemies with God. How do we overcome this predicament? How can we go from being ones whom have no peace with God? TRUTH: HE Himself is our Peace.

Ephesians 2

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations.His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.

The corruption that David says is indicative of man and his quest to stand alone and follow his own pursuits while rejecting his dependency on God. Ephesians 2:3 says, among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Through the cross, Jesus ended the hostility among man and between God and man. The text says, “He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.” TRUTH: HE Himself is our Peace.

I have seen it written “No Jesus; No Peace” contrasted with “Know Jesus; Know Peace” It is clear that without Christ man cannot experience complete and true peace with God and man. Our text today says, “For he himself is our peace,” 2 Peter 1:2 says, “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” I come to you today and tell you the TRUTH: HE Himself is our Peace.

TRUTH: I have been Resurrected

August 31, 2017

No matter the time, no matter the place, all cultures reveal man’s preoccupation with overcoming death. Throughout all civilizations, we see man attempting to overcome our mortality. We want to live after the inevitable, death. For me and according to the bible, The Word of God, we can overcome death through faith in Christ Jesus. It is in Christ that we all can tell the TRUTH: I have been Resurrected.

For those of you who have been following along, this is sort of a back track. I have written about the following verses, but this morning I asked the Lord to speak to me, to give me a Word which He normally does, but I feel this is special. It is a deeper look into what we have in and through our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:4-6 

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.And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace,expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

In the verses proceed verse four Paul talks about the way the Ephesians and other believers lived before surrendering their lives to Jesus. God made us alive. If you were made alive, then you had to be dead. In that alone, we can say the TRUTH: I have been Resurrected. However, Paul goes further in that explanation when he says “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.

Wow! I do not get how deep this is, but I see is more than I did the past few weeks or ever before. I asked God to speak to me. He did. All sorts of study have been done on these verses. It is universal that the raising up here refers a spiritual resurrection. The text says raised up with Christ – the Greek word for raised there is synegeirō which means

  1. to raise together, to cause to raise together

  2. to raise up together from mortal death to a new and blessed life dedicated to God

Next, we the text tell us “and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” The Greek word for seated us with is sygkathizō which means

  1. to cause to sit down together, place together

  2. to sit down together

where does this take place, in the heavenly realms, epouranios which means

  1. existing in heaven

    1. things that take place in heaven

    2. the heavenly regions

      1. heaven itself, the abode of God and angels

      2. the lower heavens, of the stars

      3. the heavens, of the clouds

    3. the heavenly temple or sanctuary

  2. of heavenly origin or nature

Essentially, Paul is saying that positionally, we are not here on earth, but we are in heaven with or through Christ. Vines Expository Dictionary echoes that meaning as it says, “”heavenly,” what pertains to, or is in, heaven (epi, in the sense of “pertaining to,” not here, “above”),”

John Brown wrote “Christ rose again, but our sins did not; they are buried forever in his grave. It bears re-emphasizing that each of the verbs made alive with, raised with, seated with has the identical prepositional prefix “sun/syn” which means with in Greek but is significantly different than the other Greek word for with (meta) which conveys the of beside, whereas sun speaks of an intimate, indissoluble union. Let’s illustrate using a well known event, the crucifixion. Two criminals were punished with Jesus and both were crucified with (metá) Him, i.e., in His company, but only one was spiritually crucified with (sún) Christ, i.e., bound up or in union with Him while the other thief was not. The first thief entered paradise, while the second entered hell. And so we get a glimpse of the significance of Paul’s three combination verbs used to explain our salvation. Clearly, he is driving home not only these basic truths of our salvation but also emphasizing with the use of sun- that this salvation is irrevocable. The believer who has been made alive with Christ, raised withChrist and seated with Christ is eternally secure in Christ! Christ is our covenant partner and the “covenant Head” of the redeemed family. What Christ does, He does for us. What we do is done because we are in Christ. We are eternally identified with Him. On the basis of our past resurrection with Christ, we have the sure “hope of our calling”, of a future physical resurrection and transformation of our bodies into conformity with His glorious body.”

The focus here is not merely on a resurrection but on where – with Christ Jesus. If you have trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you are forever connected with Him. More than that, we are one with Him, but why? Romans 6 can help us with that question and the notion of the TRUTH: I have been Resurrected.  Romans 6

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

TRUTH: I have been Resurrected is for the purpose of living our lives to God. God did not resurrect us spiritually to live a life of sin. He resurrected us to live a life unto Him where He is Lord, Master, Boss and we gladly and lovingly obey Him. The result is that God gains glory to Himself through our lives, so that as text in Ephesians tells us “in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Our resurrection is for God not us. We do not need to revel in it but in God. 

To close, I quote Paul again this time as he writes to the Galatians. Galatians 2

19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

TRUTH: I have been Resurrected. Have you?

TRUTH: Jesus Brings You Near

August 30, 2017

I am not sure if you have ever been estranged or separated from one whom you love. You may be like those in the flood in Texas who have been separated from loved ones because of the storm. I recall seeing video of a man who had been searching for his father. And after feeling it was hopeless, he finally got in touch with him via the phone. The emotions that evidenced itself through tears and smiles showed how much it means to overcome separation and be brought near. TRUTH: Jesus Brings You Near

In the post TRUTH: Remember When You Were Dead, we see the TRUTH: Jesus Brings You Near.

Ephesians 2

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Paul calls for the Ephesians to remember where they were before Christ Jesus.

  1. They were Gentiles by birth (natural). This means that they were not a part of the people that God chose as His own, the Jews. They were not  children of God.
  2. They were uncircumcised which meant they lacked the sign of the covenant between God and them.
  3. They were separated from Christ. Spiritual death is a separation of our spirit from God because of their sins as Isaiah 59:2 tells us.
  4. They were excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise.
  5. They were “without hope and without God in the world”.

Then the symptoms of being dead reached a crescendo in the series of verses. We are told Jesus is the antidote. The text tells us “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Prepositions tell us the position of something. Those who were were far away or separated have been brought near by the blood of Christ. It was not just Jesus. It was His death on the cross where His blood was shed that brought about a cleansing for those who trust in Him. It was His blood that brought about our redemption, the forgiveness of sins. TRUTH: Jesus Brings You Near

Jesus, in Matthew 26:28, says, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Luke, in Luke 1:77, says, “to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins,”

Peter, Acts 2:38 in , says, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Paul, in Ephesians 1:7, says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”

Again, Paul, in Colossians 1:14, says, “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

It is Jesus and Jesus alone that we know the TRUTH: Jesus Brings You Near. Have you trusted in Jesus as Lord and Savior? If you have, you have been brought near overcoming and escaping the wrath of God because of your sins. If not, you are separated from God and His wrath remains on you.  Romans 10:9-10If you declare with 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.” That is the TRUTH: Jesus Brings You Near.

 

 

TRUTH: Remember When You Were Dead

August 28, 2017

Just as Ephesians was written to the believers, so is this post. I say that because if you don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior, you are still spiritually dead. You need to be made alive to Almighty God, but that is accomplished only in Jesus Christ as verse five of Ephesians 2 conveys. In the post TRUTH: Alive when Dead, the notion of being dead in our transgressions and sins i.e. the ways in which we used to live when we 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, was presented. I, like Paul, want you to reflect on the TRUTH: Remember When You Were Dead.

Remembering who we were and what God and Christ did for us is a recurring thought in this passage; therefore, I will follow the intent of the Word of God – I will remember when I was dead.

Ephesians 2

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

The primary focus that surfaced for me was all the benefits I received from surrendering my life to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That is what Paul is saying to remember. TRUTH: Remember When You Were Dead

  1. I am a Gentile by birth (natural). This means that I was not a part of the people that God chose as His own, the Jews. As with any inheritance, you only have a rightful share if you are a child of the parent. I was not, so I did not have a rightful share in God’s inheritance. The text says formerly which means that there was a change. The change happened as a result of a spiritual birth, the day I was saved. In that day, I became a child of God. It was Christ that gave the right to become children of God children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.  Ephesians 1:11 tells us that it is in Christ that we obtain an inheritance. Without Christ, I must know the TRUTH: Remember When You Were Dead
  2. In biblical times, being called uncircumcised was another reminder that you did not belong to God or God’s chosen people. It was God that initiated circumcision among the Jews as the sign of the covenant between God and them. Similarly for the Gentile, Colossians 2:11 tells us how we obtained access to the covenant between God and man. It says, “11 In him (Jesus) you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ,” Without Christ, I must know the TRUTH: Remember When You Were Dead
  3. Remember the time time you were separate from Christ. Death is separation; therefore, spiritual death is a separation of our spirit from God. Romans 6:23 says the for the wages of sin is death. As a sinful being, I was spiritually dead because of my sins. Isaiah 59:2 tells us that “…your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” God did not oblige Himself to hear my cry when I was dead in my transgressions. Without Christ, I must know the TRUTH: Remember When You Were Dead
  4. When I was separate from Christ, I need to remember that I was excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise. While this point has been made, it is repeated to stress the significance of what Jesus Christ did for those who were not apart of the covenant of promise. Galatians 3 speaks to this matter. It says, “15 Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,”meaning one person, who is Christ. 17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.” Without Christ, I must know the TRUTH: Remember When You Were Dead
  5. Perhaps the biggest and most immediate impact of being in this world without Christ is addressed in the last part of verse 12. It says, “without hope and without God in the world” When people don’t have hope, they make all kinds of foolish and irrational decisions because they have no hope i.e. an expectation of good in the natural and an expectation of salvation in the spiritual. We want eternal life after we die physically. Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 4, addresses the matter. He said, “13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.” Nevertheless, Without Christ, I must know the TRUTH: Remember When You Were Dead

The last verse in our passage today says, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” It is the capstone to the TRUTH: Remember When You Were Dead. Jesus is the only means that we who were far off have been brought near, that we who were not a child of God, or not circumcised, or not a citizen, or not eligible for the covenant of promise, or not one with hope or not with God in this world. Fellow believers, God is calling us to remember where we were without Jesus – Dead. Hallelujah, glory to God for bringing us life through Christ Jesus. 

Perhaps, you have read this post, and you know Jesus as Lord and Savior. You are without hope and without God if you ignore His invitation today for Him to become the Lord and Savior of your life. He will save you from all the things you don’t have access to without Him. Surrender, acknowledging that you are sinful and separated from God. Confess and repent or turn from your sins and accept Christ as the one who provides the forgiveness of your sins, the salvation of your soul. Read Romans 10:9-10 and just yield control of your life to Christ. Being reading the Word daily and find an honoring and bible-based church to fellowship, so you can grow.