Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Forgiveness and Unforgiveness

“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” (Matthew 5:25-26)

I once heard unforgiveness described as,

"Drinking poison, hoping the other person will die."

The "matters" that Jesus is telling people to settle quickly in His Sermon on the Mount have to do with unforgiveness. Issues of the heart. It could certainly include legal matters, such as taking someone to court. But looking at the previous verses, the heart and its condition are what Jesus is addressing.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)

Unforgiveness and the bitterness that accompany it, are a self-imposed prison, that you will never be freed from, until you choose to forgive someone who you feel has wronged you.

Jesus makes this principle of forgiveness clear by saying, "If you there remember that your brother or sister has something against you...Go and be reconciled to them."

You can go and seek to be reconciled to someone, but unless that other person chooses to forgive you, there will be no reconciliation. I have learned that over the last 60 years.

You can't make someone forgive you.

They have to choose to forgive you from the heart. It can't just be begrudging, obligatory lip service. Like when you and your little brother got into a fight and your mom told you, "Now tell your brother that you're sorry!" And you hesitantly, and in resentment say, "Sorry!" But inside you didn't really mean it. That was not a sincere apology. You only said it because your mom made you do it.

Reconciled means repairing something that has been torn in two—such as two pieces of fabric sewn back together by a tailor. Mending the breach.

Think back to a time in your life when you were really bitter toward someone who had hurt you. Eventually they came to you and apologized. Or tried to. But your heart was still so hard and bitter, you refused to forgive them. And it ate you up inside. It's like a slow, terminal cancer destroying you piece by piece, a little at a time, making your heart harder and more bitter.

Reconciliation takes two forgivers because it takes two to make any relationship work.

In a marriage it always takes two to make it work. Always. One person can't do all the giving and compromising and do all the work and do all the communicating and forgiving. That's not a marriage. That's a cold, lonely existence, that will only end in resentment and the death of the marriage.

A friendship is the same. It takes two. Same in a parent/child relationship.

Perhaps the most destructive thing in a relationship, or in an individuals life is the "blame game." For some people it seems easier to blame others for our own failures and unhappiness in life, rather than take responsibility for our own mistakes and choices. And one of those choices is choosing to forgive others for how they have wronged us, or our perception of how we feel we have been wronged.

People can go through practically an entire lifetime with a false narrative in their head blaming others that says, "It's your fault! You ruined my life!" But that's not true.

No one can ruin your life but you.

From Jesus' words in His Sermon on the Mount, we see that we ourselves are the only ones that can truly ruin our own life, when we choose to forgive others. That self-imposed prison of our own bitterness and unforgiveness can indeed ruin our life. I know. I lived in that prison for many years.

I blamed my wife for years for not doing what I wanted her to do. For not agreeing with my way. Everything was her fault in my twisted, selfish way of thinking. I thought she was totally selfish and stubborn. But God showed me I was the problem. Eventually, at a men's retreat in the mountains, He clearly corrected me and said, "Why don't you stop praying that I will change her, and start praying that I will change you!" And I did. That day.

That was a pivotal moment in my marriage and in my walk with the Lord.

And as I humbled myself, and began loving my wife unconditionally, all the while praying that God would change my heart and make me the husband and man He called me to be, I did began to change. And our marriage improved. God gave me the love and grace to lead in love. To let Him work in my wife's heart and life. That is His job. Not mine. I couldn't make her do anything anyway. I've had to ask myself more than a few times, "Hey dumb ass, how's that workin' for ya?"

Seeking to make reconciliation with others sometimes takes many years of patience and grace. Someone can carry a bitter grudge and unforgiveness against you their entire life. You may have apologized to them several times and tried to show them love and kindness for years. And for the most part you thought that they had moved on and didn't still harbor that resentment. But one day all those years of built up bitterness and unforgiveness can explode and they lash out at you with a vengeance.

I have experienced this too.

All we can do is try.

We're not responsible for people's response. We're only responsible to be faithful.

Again, you can't change someone else's heart. You can try to be reconciled to them. But they have to choose to forgive you and be reconciled with you.

Forgiveness is a choice.

And it works both ways. Be faithful to love that person, even if it takes years, or an entire lifetime to bring about true forgiveness and reconciliation. The only true reconciliation is made possible by a person's heart changing by being born again by the Spirit of God.

Jesus is the true mender of the breach.

Pray for those in your life that they will hear the voice of Jesus calling them to repentance. To come home to His love and healing.

That's the only way my wife and I have forgiven each other and the people in our lives that have hurt us.

All of us are imperfect people, who have made lots of mistakes. We have failed many times. We have unintentionally hurt the ones we love the most. And try as we might, we let each other down constantly. We can't fix ourselves or make ourselves perfect people. We can't save ourselves. And that's the whole point...

That is why we need the Savior, Jesus.

God is Love and Love Never Fails.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

A Letter From My Father, Part 2

“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty” (1 Corinthians 1:26-27)

For the past year or so I believe God has really been moving on my heart to prayerfully consider how He wants me to read and receive His Word.

And as I mentioned in my July 29, 2018 post entitled "A Letter From My Father" I don't believe God ever intended for His Word to be studied in the same way we would study a college text book. (See http://marriage-miracles.blogspot.com/2018/07/a-letter-from-my-father.html)

Along with the reasons I gave in my first post, the first thing I want to ponder today is this:

Look who God gave His Word to.

Besides Paul, the disciples of Jesus were fishermen and simple people.

They didn't have college level theological training or degrees. Along with that, they didn't have complete, leather bound bibles, concordances or endless bible commentaries available to them the way we do today. Much of what later became the scriptures that we have in our bible now, were initially spoken orally to the first followers of Jesus. They didn't have pocket sized New Testaments in their back pack or hip pocket. And the early disciples couldn't pack a heavy Old Testament Torah scroll around to quote from. Those were large, heavy and very costly.

Fast forward to the twenty first century. Most of the followers of Christ in our day are not bible scholars. We don't have a Doctorate in Divinity or a Masters in Theology. We didn't go to a seminary or even attend a bible college in our church. We're pretty simple people.

“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty” (1 Corinthians 1:26-27) 

In the early first century a small group of Christ followers turned the world upside down with the Gospel. (See Acts 17:6). So how did they do it?

They couldn't quote any passage they wanted to out of the New Testament because most of it had not yet been written. 

They preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus had previously commanded them:

“Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)

They were told by Jesus "You shall be witnesses to Me..."  They needed the empowerment of His Spirit to be effective witnesses of Jesus Christ. That's why Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem until they received power from on high.

Jesus said:

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

We need that same Holy Spirit power from on high today to be effective witnesses for Jesus. Power from on high, from God Himself. Not Doctorates in Divinity from a seminary.

However, that does not mean we shouldn't read and study the bible. Paul wrote:

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

"Correctly handles the Word of truth?" What does that mean? I don't believe it means to go right out and get a Masters in Theology from a seminary, majoring in Greek, Hebrew, church history, exegesis and hermeneutics. (Look those terms up in the dictionary for yourself).

First, to correctly handle the word of truth, we should pray and ask God for His understanding of a passage or chapter. Ask Him what His heart and purpose was in giving it. And ask Him how we are to apply it to our life and walk with Him.

And for those who preach and teach the Word, do so correctly, conveying the heart and purpose of the Lord who gave us His Word. Context is very important. But don't get so hung up on the context that you miss the forest for the trees.

No one understands the whole bible 100%. No one. Even the Apostle Peter said:

“As also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand.” (2 Peter 3:15-16)

I believe we should take the Bible at face value. Keep it as simple as possible. But always pray and ask God for understanding. Don't rely too heavily on the interpretations or commentaries of any one man or movement.You could put the top 100 bible scholars in the world in one room and it's unlikely that they would agree completely on any one thing.

The prophetic books of the bible such as Daniel, Ezekiel and The Book of Revelation contain some difficult symbolism, metaphor and poetic language. But most of the bible is not that difficult to understand if you take it at face value and, by faith, believe it. It is God's Word. It is true. It does not need to constantly be interpreted and re-interpreted by every denomination or religious group or scholar. The cults and enemies of Christ twist it and corrupt it, to their own destruction.

Read, believe, receive and apply to your life, the scriptures that you do understand. And always ask the Lord for His wisdom and understanding of what you are reading.

God saved us into His own eternal family. He is now our Father. We are His children. That is why I like to read the bible as a letter from my Father.

In that letter He tells me how much He loves me. He tells me His promises for me, now, and forever. He tells me who I am in Jesus Christ. He gives me examples of the many harmful mistakes man has made down through the ages so I don't make the same ones they did. He tells me how He wants me as His son, to behave. He tells me how He wants me as a witness of Jesus to represent Him to the world. He tells me that I can have absolute hope in Him because He is in control of all things. He tells me to trust in Him for all things because His is God. He comforts me when I am suffering, so I can comfort others when they are suffering in the same way. He tells me to patiently wait for His return to earth because He is coming back soon and I will one day be changed and will be like His Son. He tells me how much I have to look forward to in a place with Him where there will be no more tears, no suffering, or pain. He tells me in His letter what Heaven will be like, and that I will be with him there forever.

And He tells me that He wants me to invite others to come to Him and repent and believe so they can be saved and become part of His family too.

"That God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever will believe in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

All that and more, in a Letter from my Father.

God is Love and Love Never Fails.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

No Salvation Without Repentance

“God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now He commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to Him. For He has set a day for judging the world with justice by the Man He has appointed, and He proved to everyone who this is by raising Him (Jesus Christ) from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31)

No RepentanceNo Salvation.

That's the cold hard truth.

Every person is at, or will soon come to, the fork in the road of making the choice to receive Christ, or reject Him.

Like the picture above of the fork in the road, you will have to choose one path or the other. This is often called the Valley of Decision. And if you are reading this right now, and have never received Jesus Christ, you are in that valley.

Choose Life.

It's not enough to just believe that Jesus existed. Or that He was a good man, or a great teacher. It does you absolutely no good to try to follow His teachings and strive to be a better person. Simply going to a church a few times a year accomplishes you nothing.

You must believe that He died on the cross for your sins personally, because you need saving. And then repentthink differentlyand then turn and go a different direction. Receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.

If simply trying to be a good person could get us into Heaven, Jesus would not have had to die on that cross.

That is all.

God is Love and Love Never Fails.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Seeing The Invisible

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Most of us live what could be called routine, ordinary lives.

To be honest our approach to life is pretty casual.

We get up in the morning and go to work, many get the kids ready for school. We start our day, do our work, chores and duties, and at the end of the day, we have dinner, rest for awhile, often in front of the television or computer. Then sometime after dark, we hit the pillow, and get up the next day and do it all over again. Day after week after month after year.

Some people read the bible and some may even have daily "devotions" and prayer, although this is not so common anymore.

But I wonder how often the average "Christian" thinks about the spiritual realm, and the unseen battle that takes place all around us every day? From my conversations with people over the last twenty five years, I believe I can say from experience the number is alarmingly low.

In the 1999 movie, "The Matrix", the people of the world are going about their daily lives, where all seems normal to them. However, they are completely oblivious to a parallel reality where an insidious, unseen enemy is actually controlling their minds and using them for its own diabolical purposes. Things are not what they seem.

And that's not all that different from our world today.

Unbelievers rarely will agree there is a "devil" or any kind of real demonic enemy to mankind. Try to share with people what the bible says about demons and the devil and they will typically laugh at you and call you crazy.

And many who profess to be believers will not acknowledge the very real presence of demonic principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness, and spiritual hosts of wickedness, even though we are specifically warned about them in Ephesians 6:12. And elsewhere in scripture.

I believe the reason for this is most people simply refuse to believe in, or acknowledge something they cannot see.

Christians will sometimes argue, "Well, since Jesus defeated Satan on the Cross, I don't ever have to worry about him."

Why then, are we given warnings about Satan, even after Jesus was crucified?

Here are a couple:

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9)

We need to see the invisible. 

And we can and must do that through the lens of the Word of God. 

If we are to successfully navigate these dark times, it is crucial for us to know who our Enemy is and how to do battle the way God directs us to. Therefore, we must put on the whole armor of God.

”Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Entire sermon series can be done on these verses from Ephesians 6. But to sum it up this is saying, put on Jesus Christ. 

Look at the key components to this passage:

1. Be strong in the Lord's power, not in your own strength.

2. Realize our fight is not with men, but with spiritual wickedness.

3. Stand firm in your commitment to trust in God always.

4. Always be ready to speak the Truth. Keep it close to you.

5. Let God's righteousness always guard your heart.

6. Everywhere you go be prepared to share the Gospel.

7. Let your faith in God be your shield against the attacks of the Enemy.

8. Let your mind always be set on the fact that your salvation is in Christ.

9. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, so know it well.

10. Pray always, without ceasing. For your own needs, and for others.

I believe a great daily prayer, first thing every morning is this:

"Lord Jesus, fill me afresh with your Holy Spirit today, and anoint me with Your power from on High to be your witness in this world. I pray for the full hedge of divine protection of Father, Son and Holy Spirit round about us this entire day and night. In Jesus' name I pray, for Your glory, Amen."

Jesus said, "Without Me you can do nothing."

God is Love and Love Never Fails.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Sharing in Christ's Sufferings

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to test you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” (1 Peter 4:12-13)

Suffering sucks.

None of us like it. I certainly don't.

But we're told in scripture to rejoice in fiery trials (1 Peter 4:12-13). Count it all joy when we fall into various trials (James 1:2). And we are joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him (Romans 8:17). 

So why do we need to suffer?

A fellow brother in Christ said, "God is getting us ready for Heavenready for eternity."

The more I suffer the pains and trials of this life and learn that this world is not where it's at, the more I long for Heavento be with Jesus. 

The temporary things of this temporal world cannot bring lasting, complete satisfaction. No marriage or spouse, no child, no other person, no amount of riches, no beautiful places, no material things, no luxury house, no sport or hobby, no mind-altering substance, will ever bring us the lasting joy, peace and happiness that we all desperately seek and need. 

Only Jesus can give us permanent and perfect joy, peace and love.

That's why we are given command in scripture to set our minds on heavenly things, and not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2). To not love the world or the things in the world (1 John 2:15). 

When we step into eternity, a billion years later, the kind of job we had, amount of money we made, brand of car we drove, luxurious house we lived in, or expensive fly rod we fished with will be long forgotten.

But any amount of righteous suffering we endured for Christ's honor and glory in this present life, will be like a red badge of courage for us in eternity. And that will bring us exceeding joy. Peter writes:

"But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy."

Doesn't "being glad with exceeding joy" with Jesus in Heaven sound far better than having the perfect luxury home in the here and now?

Suffering also produces perseverance, character and hope.

“We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)

And suffering for God's will brings Him glory. 

When people in our life see us enduring suffering and trials with patience and faith, it points them to the One who strengthens us in our trials. When non-believers all around us are complaining and crumbling in their trials, but we who follow Jesus Christ embrace and endure our trials with faith and joy, people see that and it magnifies the Lord who saved us. It is a powerful testimony.

When the Lord comforts us in our suffering and afflictions, it gives us more compassion to comfort others who are suffering in their afflictions, with the same comfort that God comforted us with.  

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Suffering is painful and very difficult. Sometimes excruciating.

But fortunately, it's only temporary. And compared to the joys of eternity with Christ, it's a mere blink of an eye. Not even worthy to be compared.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

That little passage in Romans chapter five has been a huge blessing in my life. Often times encouraging me when I had no encouragement. When I felt no hope. When I wasn't sure how much longer I could hold on.

But God has brought me through every single trial. 

And He will bring you through your trials toono matter how fiery they may be. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. He will never leave you or forsake you.

My prayer today and always remains:

"Oh—Lord Jesus, fill me afresh with Your Holy Spirit. Endue me with Your power from on high to be Your witness – here, and always. Amen."

—God is Love and Love Never Fails.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Where Christ Is

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2)

What things are you seeking in your life today?

I continually have to examine my own life and much of the time, I find that I am seeking earthly things, not those things which are above.  

The key to today's passage is:  "Where Christ is."

That's really clear. It doesn't need to be reinterpreted to find some hidden meaning. God clarifies His meaning just in case we don't see it:  "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth."

Consider all the things on the earth that we humans strive so hard to pursue. Status. Beauty. Pleasure. Material things. Lands. Houses. Cars. Entertainment. Riches. Power. Position. Immoral and harmful things. 

Solomon, perhaps the wisest and richest man who ever lived, said this of his earthly pursuits:

“Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor; and this was my reward from all my labor. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11)

King Solomon is said to have had 700 wives and 300 concubines. He had wealth and riches we cannot comprehend. And near the end of his life he said it was all vanity and grasping at the wind. He lamented that all his earthly pursuit of pleasure, power and wealth was worthless and futile.

God has written all these truths and lessons in His Word for our learning. For our protection. For our good.

So why do we so often disregard them?

While spending some quiet time alone with God this morning, He led me to the Book of Ecclesiastes. I read all of it. Couldn't put the book down. It has been a long time since I read this book. God knew exactly what I needed to hear. And what I was to focus on in writing this blog entry.

When looking for deeper meaning and life application to Colossians 3:1-2, please read the wonderful book of Ecclesiastes. 

King Solomon, "The Preacher", carefully lays out the life experiences of a man who truly had it all, and who found that all his earthly pursuits are vanity and grasping at the wind. Vain, futile, and worthless pursuits. And he writes out the wisdom that God taught him.

Chapter after chapter, and passage after passage stood out to me. The book of Ecclesiastes really sums up this entire earthly life. 

The following verses declare the sovereignty, providence, and, at times, the mystery of God:

“What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God. I know that whatever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him. That which is has already been, and what is to be has already been; and God requires an account of what is past." (Ecclesiastes 3:9-15)

Another verse that stood out to me on the mysterious sovereignty of God is this:

“As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes everything.” (Ecclesiastes 11:5)

In Isaiah chapter 55 God declares:

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)

We humans consider ourselves to be very intelligent. We think we have it all figured out. But God says otherwise.

God does everything according to His own will and wisdom, not according to what we think or want. And for that, I will be eternally grateful. And He has foreordained our steps and the direction of our life, that we should walk that path. Here are three verses that speak to this truth:

“A man’s steps are of the Lord; how then can a man understand his own way?” (Proverbs 20:24)

“The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way.” (Psalm 37:23)

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

That last one really speaks to me today. I've always tried to plan my own direction for my life, but God already has it mapped out. It has been foreordained by Him. Sometimes I have tried so hard to change the situation I am in, such as my job. But the Lord would not let me leave. He has a purpose for putting me there and I need to submit to His leading.

As to Proverbs 20:24... "How can a man understand his own way?"  Stop trying so hard to figure out out why you are where you are, and start trusting God that He has you there for a reason. We spend so much energy and emotion on trying to change our position or situation when God has a purpose for us being there. Just because I may be suffering much in a present situation does not necessarily mean that God wants me to get out of it. Perhaps He wants to do great things by using me in that difficult situation? However, I'm certainly not saying that a person who is being physically abused should remain in that abusive environment.

But down through the ages, God's people have endured times of great suffering and persecution for His kingdom. Prayerfully ask God for His wisdom on whatever situation you may currently be suffering through. He will help you.

When seeking the things which are above, start by going to God in prayer. And in reading His Word. Ask Him for wisdom. He has promised to give it to us liberally.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)

I wasn't sure what I was supposed to write today. The book of Ecclesiastes was not even on my radar at all. So I asked God for His wisdom on what to write, and what to say. And the book of Ecclesiastes was what He led me to. I'm still amazed. I have been so blessed by reading this book today. He's given me answers to some things I am going through personally. God is good!

Perhaps this blog is speaking personally to some of you today?  If so, praise God for it! He gets all the glory.

When I look to God in His Word and set my mind on Him, the things of earth loose their appeal. No one or nothing else can begin to satisfy my deepest needs.  

So what are you seeking today?

Set your mind on things abovewhere Christ is.

God is Love and Love Never Fails.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

New Kingdom Purpose

"Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6)

Please prayerfully consider from the Scriptures what I am going to write here.

Consider the crowd that had gathered and asked Jesus the question as we have seen in Acts 1:6:

"Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"

Their expectations in a nutshell, as Jews, was that their conquering Messiah would return and restore the Kingdom back to Israel. That He would put down Israel's enemies once and for all and that they would reign with Him, thus fulfilling a whole bunch of biblical prophecies concerning the future kingdom and Israel's triumphant place in that kingdom. 

But we know from Scripture that His first coming was not to restore the national kingdom of Israel. He was advancing the spiritual Kingdom of God. His first coming was as a Suffering Servant, come to earth to die on the Cross for the sins of man. His Second Coming will be altogether different. He came to earth the first time and rode humbly into Jerusalem on a donkey. His final return will be on a white horse, coming down out of Heaven in power and great glory with all of His angels, and all who dwell on earth will see Him coming on the clouds.

Here is Jesus' response to their question:

“It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8)

We shall be His witnesses. That is our purpose.

This is what being a new kingdom person is all about.

From Scripture and from our own Born Again experience with Jesus, what are we witnesses to?

"That God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son and that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) 
"That Jesus came to preach the Gospel to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, and to set free those who are oppressed." (Luke 4:18) 
"For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) 
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13) 
“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:15-16)

These are just a few of the amazing truths and promises from God to those who will turn and receive Him by faith through His grace. And we are to be Christ's witnesses to the world of His amazing love and grace. 

And we are to be witnesses of His Gospel, which is: 

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

I can testify to you today that my whole life was a train wreck, my marriage was shattered and hopeless, and I had no peace or joy in my life until I met Jesus Christ and He set me free from the downward death spiral I was in due to my own pride, arrogance, unbelief and my selfish, hard heart. He forgave me all my sin and is transforming my life, day by day, by His grace to be what He ultimately intends it to be. My marriage is wonderfully healed and is full of His love, joy and hope.

Getting back to our opening verse from Acts 1:6. 

Jesus said that He did not come to restore a (political/national) kingdom to Israel, even though this is exactly what they were hoping for.

And I would appeal to you from the Scriptures and ask, where in the New Testament does Jesus ever tell us that we as His witnesses are to pursue a place where we can freely worship according to the dictates of our own conscience?

Believe me, I am very thankful that I live in a free country today. I am thankful for our laws and the authorities that were established to protect us from unlawful evil doers. And I am thankful for living in a nation where I have many rights and freedoms. Amen.

But where does Jesus ever promise us this? Or command us to go forth and pursue that?

I cant find it in the New Testament bible.

I do see though where Jesus commands us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to everyone, to go and make disciples and baptize them in His name.

And  I see where we are commanded to love all people, to pray for our enemies, and to bless those who curse us and spitefully use us.

I see where He commands us to give to others in need and not worry about our own needs.

I see where He commands us to not love the things of this world.

I see where He said He sends us out as sheep among wolves, as lambs to the slaughter.

 I see where He promises that all who desire to live godly in Jesus Christ will suffer persecution.

I see where we are commanded to submit to the government authorities.

I see where we are to forsake all that we have if we truly want to be His disciples.

 I see where He commands us first to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, and all of our soul, all of our mind and all of our strength. Then He commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves.

But I cant find where He commands us to fight to the death in defense of our rights.

What I do find is that He has translated us out of the kingdom of darkness into His Kingdom. Into His marvelous Light. Into His way of doing things. 

I do find where His Word says, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 19-20)

When we breathe our last breath and step into eternity none of the earthly things we hold so tightly to today will even be remembered anymore.

So I will leave it at thatfor you to search the Scriptures for yourselfand see for yourself what it means biblically, to be a new kingdom person.

What it really means to be His disciple...

To be His witness.


God is Love and Love Never Fails.