Tuesday, May 17, 2016

In the absence of God…

“11 He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also put eternity in their hearts, but man cannot discover the work God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) (Holman Christian Standard) Bible)
It is not in the nature of man to pursue God! This statement defines the total depravity of the human condition. However, Even though man does not pursue God, he does pursue things trying to fill the void that is left by the absence of God. Solomon addressed that point in the Book of Ecclesiastes, saying that such pursuits were as “dust in the wind!”
Because man will not, of his own volition, pursue God, God pursues man! Man is the only thing in all of creation that is formed in the image of God. God gave man life by the breath of His mouth (ref. Genesis 2:7) God did all of this because He desired to continue to have an intimate relationship with man, just as He did in the Garden of Eden!
In the absence of God, man will go to great lengths to give their lives meaning! There is nothing that they won’t pursue or indulge to fulfil that purpose! A look through history will show you the depths of depravity that man will sink to! Every evil thing that has ever been done is not from God! They are instead, from the lusts of the worldly man! “For everything in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--comes not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:16 NIV)
What is the makeup of these “lusts”?
Lusts of the Flesh:
• Eating addictions: Obesity due to overeating.
• Sexual addictions: There is no end to the depravity sexual addiction! It has many forms from simple sex to pedophilia! There are many multi-billion dollar industries that pander to this addiction!
• Drug addictions: There seems to be no end to the substances that people will try, just to get a “higher high” or a bigger buzz! The illicit drug trade makes billions of dollars, catering to the addicts desire for a fix! They target children so that they will become the next generation of addicts!
• Alcohol addiction: This lust is one of the oldest in the world! From the first fermented wines, man has clamored after the consumption of alcohol; resulting in the destruction of marriages, families, businesses and people!
• Fitness addictions: This addiction is one that sucks in so many people! They desire to have the perfect body, the largest muscle mass, the skinniest figure or any one of many different reasons for going to great lengths to look their best; in their own eyes! These addicts will use anything that will add another inch of muscle, take off another inch on the waist or increase their performance by whatever unit they happen to be using to measure performance.
Lust of the eyes: This stems from the “I want that!” mentality of so many people! The following lust fall into this category!
• Greed: People who are greedy, will never be able to satisfy their lust for more, whether it is money, possessions, power or recognition. There is nothing they will not do to achieve satisfaction. There is also nothing they can do be satisfied!
• Stinginess: This is a lust that drives people to hold onto what is theirs! Generosity is not in their vocabulary!
• Selfishness: Much like stinginess but different in that this lust causes people to refuse to let someone use what they have, even something as simple as a cup of sugar!
• Envy: Envy is a driving force that causes people to covet that which someone else has! It to, can never be satisfied!
• Laziness: This lust could be one of the worst of all! It stems from a mindset that says “The world owes me!” These people are slothful, they have the ability to work, but choose not to! They prefer instead to live off of the backs of other people! They depend on the government for whatever handout they can get!
Pride of Life: This lust stems from pride, not humble pride, but a pride that is loud and arrogant! These people are always drawing attention to themselves or their achievements!
• Craving of Attention: People with this lust thrive on attention! The more they get, the more they want!
• Craving for Position: These people will do anything to anyone, in order to move up in position! For them, it is all about “Looking good!”
• Craving for Authority: These people are much like those who crave position, but they are driven by the power that comes from a higher position!
• Craving for Identity: These people seek identification through attention, position and authority! They will never be satisfied with just one, for them, it is the “Hat trick” or nothing!
• Craving for attention! These people are the saddest of all the prides because they feel alone, depressed and unappreciated! They will do anything to get a thank you or a hug! They often do not recognize true appreciation when it is offered because they do not comprehend what it is! They often look for motives in the words of others, causing them to doubt the sincerity of what is offered!
That is what a person looks like in the absence of God from their life! These are the things that man pursues in order to fill that God shaped void in his heart! As Solomon wrote “They are as dust in the wind!”
As John wrote; “For everything in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--comes not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:16 NIV) God desires to give us nothing but His best for us! He desires to reward us and to make us one of His children and heirs! He wants us to be recognized for what we have done, not as the world does but as only He can!
To accomplish that purpose, He sent His own son, Jesus; to be an atoning sacrifice for each of our sinful lusts! His sacrifice, resulted in the forgiveness of our sins and our total and complete redemption by God! If we call on the name of Jesus, we will be saved! Paul wrote those words in the book of Romans “11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” “12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:11-13) God promises us that for those who call upon His son’s name, there will be no shame, but rather, there will be forgiveness, rest and salvation!
Why would anyone want to spend their lives in a vain pursuit of something that can never be attained, when all that we are pursuing is available to us in the Son of God!
I urge you, if you have not or are not sure if you have or not, please; call on the name of Jesus! Talk with Him in your heart! Let Him minister to you! Ask Him to be your Lord and your redeemer! Ask Him Today!
In Christ,

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Cross or the Crown

For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise. (Hebrews 10:36)
When God calls someone to be His servant, to do His will and to spread the good news; He does not look for a fast talking salesman with a fake smile and a patronizing manner. Instead, He looks for the broken-hearted, the hurting, the humble, the timid and the reluctant. If a person is prideful, strong, arrogant or self-righteous; God will break him of these things so that he can be a devoted servant. God will only use broken vessels for His purpose.
It is only by the breaking down of our human desires to be strong, that God can make us worthy of being His servant. He does this so that we will recognize our need for Him and that without Him, we are worthless. This process can be very painful and difficult to endure. We do not know what God will ask of us but I can assure you that it will be something that is very dear to us.
Most of us are not content with going through this process. We naturally rebel against the goad of the Holy Spirit. We say we want to serve God but we are not sure to what extent we are willing to go to be of service to Him. We would much rather have God give us our task and let us get on with it. The problem with this way of thinking is that we end up doing the task in our own way and under our own power because we have rejected the urging of the Holy Spirit, to surrender our pride and arrogance. In other words, we want to wear the crown but we do not want to carry the cross.
We cannot put on our crown unless we have first carried our cross and we cannot carry our cross unless we have firmly held onto the cross of Christ. Luke 9:23 puts it this way “And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:22 ESV) For us, that means that we must pick up our cross every day. In order for us to take up our cross, we must get a firm grasp on it, we must wrap our arms around it and we must hold tightly to it.
That is a physical image of what we must do spiritually. Our cross will bring with it trials, tribulations, suffering and so much more. We must embrace these burdens as a joy. We must give praise to God that we can have a part in the suffering; because with suffering comes hope. “3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces purpose, perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)
Jesus gave us these words as a promise of hope: "28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) What He is telling us, is that when we take up our cross, He will help us carry it!
Our hope is not in what we can do, but in what He can do through us! It is this hope that gives us the strength to continue doing the will of God. Jesus told His disciples: “9 “You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them.10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”
12 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Mark 13:9-12)
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
The Crown of Christ was a crown of thorns! Are you willing to wear it? If so then take up your cross as Jesus did.
We must not deny the trials that God allows in our lives for they serve His purpose for us. I cannot tell you what burdens your cross will bring but I can tell you that by embracing those burdens and rejoicing in them and praising God for them, you will be a better servant of God and have a deeper and more meaningful relationship with Christ!
In Christ,

Friday, February 27, 2015

The rod and the staff

“4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
The rod and the staff of God have a very important lesson for every believer! To understand this lesson, we must first understand sheep. Sheep are one of the dumbest animals in the world! If left on their own, they will stray from the flock and get in all kinds of trouble! They have learned to look for the shepherd and to trust him for everything. When they look for the shepherd and the shepherd cannot be seen by them, then they will wander aimlessly and become lost. They will fall into streams and drown, weighted down by their wool coat. They will get stranded on a ledge on the side of a cliff. There seems to be no misadventure that a sheep will not try and they usually end up in trouble because of it!
Lambs are worse than adult sheep because they have not learned to look to the shepherd and to trust the shepherd. They gambol about in a playful romp that is fun to watch but if they are in a lea and not fenced in, it is easy for trouble to befall them.
It is the shepherd’s job to tend the flock and to insure that they have good grass to eat and fresh water to drink. Jesus said: “14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:14). This is the ultimate role of the shepherd, to put his own life in peril for the sake of the flock. David was a shepherd before he became king and he knew the safety of the flock was his responsibility. The prophet Samuel tells us “34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.” (1 Samuel 17:14-15).
As you can see, being part of a flock or tending a flock can be dangerous for both the sheep and the shepherd. This brings us to the rod and the staff. In ancient times, shepherds did not have a lot of weapons at hand. They usually had a rod which was a club, about two to four feet in length. It was carried in the belt and was used as a weapon against predators and as a means of disciplining the sheep. If a lamb or a sheep, wandered away from the flock, the shepherd would leave the flock to go and find the lost animal. If it was a sheep that was prone to wandering, the shepherd might separate the sheep to be slaughtered for food. This may sound harsh, but the safety of the entire flock must be considered and one wandering sheep can lead several more astray!
If the animal was a lamb, the shepherd might use the rod to break or bruise the leg of the lamb. This of course made it difficult if not impossible for the lamb to walk; so the shepherd would then carry the lamb across his shoulders. He would insure that the lamb was fed and watered. He provided every need for the lamb. In the process, the Lamb learned to look to the shepherd and to trust him for everything!
The staff was a long wooden pole with a crook at one end. It was used to guide the sheep by gently touching it’s flank. The sheep knew to trust the shepherd for the direction it was supposed to go. If a sheep got into trouble, the crook of the staff was used to pull it out of a stream or thicket, and off of a cliff by hooking it under the front legs and pulling it to safety.
Jesus is our shepherd! He laid His life down for us so that we might live in peace and safety and that He will lead us to where God wants us! We are just like sheep! If we take our eyes off of Jesus, we can easily get into trouble or be led astray. We must learn to trust Jesus for our safety and our every need. We must keep our eyes on Him, trusting that He will not lead us astray. We must submit to the gentle prodding of the “staff” which is the Holy Spirit as He leads us! We must also submit to the rod as we are disciplined and trained to walk in righteousness. Only then will we become followers of Christ!
In Christ,

Monday, February 17, 2014

I count it Joy…

David was described in Acts 13:23 “22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” I can think of no greater blessing than to be described as a “Man after God’s own Heart”. David trusted God in every situation. In Psalm 40 showed a confident faith; a faith that was based on his assurance that salvation comes only from God.

During the time of David, if a loyal servant loved his master, he could elect to make a lifelong covenant with his master to remain as his servant. This covenant was declared before the judges per Exodus 21:6: “then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.” David used this metaphor to signify his servant-hood to God in Psalm 40:6. He further declared his loyalty and devotion to God in verse 8: “8 I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” David was in fear for his life and was being pursued by Saul, yet he still took time to talk with God on a daily basis.

Jesus is the perfect example of spending time with God on a daily basis. He fully understood the price that was being asked of Him, He willingly and lovingly obeyed His Father; even to the point of death. (Ref Philippians 2:8) Just like the bondservant of David’s day, Jesus was determined to be completely obedient despite the cost. In Hebrews 10:7, Jesus repeated David’s declaration of Verse 8 “7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, O God.” Jesus’ joy was in being obedient to His Father: “34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34)

We must seek the same joy of obedience that Jesus found. The writer of Hebrews admonishes us “1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrew 12:1-3)

We can never find joy in wealth, material goods, power or other carnal pursuits (These may bring us pleasure, but they are temporary and fleeting). True joy will only come when we realize who God is and live our lives as He desires us to and as Jesus did per Luke 22:42 “42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” It is okay to be fearful of the task that God sets before you. What is not okay is to let that fear stop you from being obedient. God knows that you will not be able to do His task by yourself; that is why He promises to be with us always “…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b). Remember what Paul said “13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

When the Holy Spirit prompts us to look at an area of our life that is not under submission to God; we must obey and bring that area into obedience. Sin will always draw us away from obedience and towards the carnal pursuits that bring pleasure but not joy. Obedience is the difference between a growing Christian and one that is dead in spirit. Joy comes from knowing that we are walking in obedience to the will of God!

If we live in obedience to God, we will live in joy!

In Christ,

Psalm 41

Psalm 41
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 Blessed is he who has regard for the weak;
the LORD delivers him in times of trouble.
2 The LORD will protect him and preserve his life;
he will bless him in the land
and not surrender him to the desire of his foes.
3 The LORD will sustain him on his sickbed
and restore him from his bed of illness.
4 I said, “O LORD, have mercy on me;
heal me, for I have sinned against you.”
5 My enemies say of me in malice,
“When will he die and his name perish?”
6 Whenever one comes to see me,
he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander;
then he goes out and spreads it abroad.
7 All my enemies whisper together against me;
they imagine the worst for me, saying,
8 “A vile disease has beset him;
he will never get up from the place where he lies.”
9 Even my close friend, whom I trusted,
he who shared my bread,
has lifted up his heel against me.
10 But you, O LORD, have mercy on me;
raise me up, that I may repay them.
11 I know that you are pleased with me,
for my enemy does not triumph over me.
12 In my integrity you uphold me
and set me in your presence forever.
13 Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and Amen.

Psalm 41 is a treatise on what it is like to be hated. Hatred can raise its ugly head in any relationship. Spouses can get angry with each other, siblings can (and do) get angry and our best friends can get angry with us. When this anger is allowed to fester, it can raise up a root of bitterness “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:15) This bitter root can easily turn to hatred. When that happens, we are essentially saying “I don’t want you in my life anymore!” In the body of Christ, this can even happen between fellow believers.

In Psalm 41, David is writing about a close friend whose love has turned to hatred. David is familiar with the disappointment of having former companions turn against him (see verses 2 and 5), He knows what it is like to have a friend tell lies about you (See verse 6), of having people listen to the lies and assume the worst about you (see verse 8) and of having even his best friend turn against him (see verse 9).

David knew that even though people were failing him; God had not, was not and would not fail him. God was on his side (see verse 10), he knew that God was pleased with him (see verse 11) and he knew that God would always be there with him and for him (see verses 12-13).

Even God knows the feeling of being hated by His people. The Bible is full of stories of people that wanted God to leave them alone, to get out of their lives. His son, Jesus also knew the sting of being hated by those He loved. He was betrayed by a close associate, who not only sold Him out for thirty pieces of silver; but he also led them to Jesus and identified Him with a kiss. What is amazing is how Jesus handled this ultimate betrayal. When Judas (a name synonymous with betrayal) came up to Him, Jesus looked him in the eye and said “50 Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came for.” (Matthew 26:50). It was if Jesus was giving Judas permission to betray Him. Jesus knew that what God was going to do was significantly more important than having revenge on Judas (see Matthew 26:54).

Jesus tells us “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44). Jesus knew that it is more important for us to have the “mind of Christ”; to see people as He sees them; than it is for us to plot ways to get even with those who hurt us. It is virtually impossible for us to hate someone that we are praying for. We may pray initially out of grudging obedience, but if we persevere in our prayers, the Holy Spirit will change our attitude from one of reluctance to one of love. Our desire is to see them restored to a full relationship with Jesus because hatred is a sin. Jesus equates it to murder in Matthew 5:21-22; 21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”
Note: Raca is a term of reproach used by the Jews of our Savior's time, meaning "worthless”.
God will do something amazing, not only in the life of the one who hates us but also in our life as He changes our attitude and softens our heart. The rewards will be peace with God, peace with others and peace of mind.

In Christ,

Monday, February 3, 2014


John 4:6-14 6Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" 8(His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans). 10Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." 11"Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?" 13Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

This passage presents a mystery to those who do not believe in Jesus Christ and unfortunately, it remains a mystery to many believers. There is no imperative in the words of Christ; He simply states a fact in response to the woman’s question. Her question was guided by a historical separation of the Jews and the Samaritans. Jesus’ response revealed a promise of a different kind of water; a water; unlike any she had ever known. Jesus said: “10Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." The woman saw the impractical reality of the situation; Jesus had no pot or rope to drop into the well so that water could be drawn. She then asks Him the most important question of her life; “Where can you get this living water?” Jesus told her that the water He gives would slake ones thirst for all eternity and that it will become a spring welling up to eternal life.

According to Psalm 139:16; everyone’s name is recorded in the Book of Life from before we were born and our days were set down:

Psalm 139:16: “16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”

This fact does not guarantee us eternal life because the Book of Life is God’s list of everyone ever born and the days of their lives. For eternal life, our name must be recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life. It is possible for our names to be removed from the Book of Life as David pled for God to do: “28 May they be blotted out of the book of life
and not be listed with the righteous.” (Psalm 69:28)

However Jesus offers this promise “ 4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.” When Jesus acknowledges His believers before the Father, He is recording their name in the Lamb’s Book of Life!

Just as the Samaritan woman was possessive of the well of her ancestor, Jacob; people today hold fast to the traditions of their fathers and the things that they know are real. Holding on to these things puts us in peril of having our names blotted out as recorded by the prophet Jeremiah: “13 "My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Jeremiah 2:13). Our traditions and our possessions cannot provide one moment of life for us. Jeremiah prophesies that forsaking God (Jesus) will be written in the dust (Indicating that it is easily blown away as if it never existed.) and that it can be removed from the Book of Life: “13 O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the LORD, the spring of living water.” (Jeremiah 17:13)

Just as Jesus told the Samaritan woman to drink from His well, He is telling us to do the same: “37On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (John 7:37-38). John went on to explain: “39By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” (John 7:39) It is the Holy Spirit that will flow well up inside of us. It will not be satisfied with us until it occupies every part of our lives to the point that He (Jesus) becomes evident in us to all whom we encounter.

We all have the Same Spirit in us: “13For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (1 Corinthian 12:13) It does not matter what denomination, ethnicity, race, nationality or religion we belong to. If we have given our life to Christ Jesus, the same Holy Spirit abides in us.

Jesus by way of the Holy Spirit will guide us to the springs of living water. I hope you see the significance of the plural “springs”; it refers to the spring that wells up inside of every believer: “17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:17) There is one Holy Spirit but He has made us all a spring of living water. It is His intent that we be “poured out” as His witnesses: “8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Jesus tells us to come. The Holy Spirit is leading us to the spring of living water so that we need not be thirsty again. We are to be poured out but the source of our spring will never run dry so come and come often! Refresh yourself as often as necessary and bring those around you with you: “17The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” (Revelation 22:17)

I urge each of you to consider this prayer as a prayer of dedication and rededication;

It is GOD’S Work GOD’S Energy GOD’S Lordship GOD’S LOVE

Lord, I come thirsty. I come to drink, to receive. I receive Your work on the cross and in Your resurrection. My sins are pardoned, and my death is defeated. I receive Your energy. Empowered by Your Holy Spirit, I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength. I receive Your lordship, for I belong to You. Nothing comes to me that hasn’t passed through You. And I receive Your love. Nothing can separate me from Your love. AMEN

In Christ,

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Defending Our Faith

The enemies of Christianity have always tried to entrap believers into making statements that would expose their beliefs as a lie. This has been true from the time of Christ. Jesus had to deal with several groups that were always trying to ensnare Him with His own words. Matthew 22 recounts several of those moments.

On one occasion; the Pharisees sent their disciples and the Herodians to entrap Jesus by using a series of questions: ““Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”
18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.” (Matthew 22:16-22)

On another occasion; the Sadducees made an attempt to catch Jesus in a statement that they could use against Him. “23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question.24 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died.28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”
29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.
33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.”
33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.” (Matthew 22:23-32)

The Pharisees themselves tried their best to best him on the most significant law of the Old Testament. ““34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”* (Matthew 22:34-40)
*Note: This passage of verses establishes the way we believers should live our lives in relationship to God and to our fellow man!

Now Jesus asked them a question; He said “42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”
“The son of David,” they replied.
43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,
44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
under your feet.”’

45 If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.” (Matthew 22:42-46)

Jesus quoted the psalmist’s words from Psalm 110:1

“The LORD says to my lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.” (Psalm 110:1)

In each incident, the people were amazed at His words. Those that tried to entrap Him, walked away with His words ringing in their ears. He left no room for debate: Jesus Christ, the Son of God is also Jesus, the descendant and Divine Lord of King David.

The words of the Bible require no defense from us for they are the word of God! However, they are more than words. They form the core of our faith! As Jesus is the foundation of our faith, His words teach us. They show us who He is, why He came and what He has done for us! There are many non-believers that acknowledge the words of God but they deny the faith in God that those words inspire. It is that faith that we must be willing and able to defend!

As followers of Christ; we should be able to use a reasoned argument to silence those that will challenge our beliefs. 1Peter 3:15-16 admonishes us “15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

Are you ready and prepared to defend your beliefs?

In Christ,