Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Basic Truths About Our Faith

The Bible is full of promises that assure us of God’s love and our position in Christ. We need to keep some basic promises at the forefront of our minds all the time to keep us hopeful in our walk with Jesus and enable us to encourage each other.

Our Security and Safety
First and foremost, we need to remember that God’s love for us will never fail under any circumstance. The apostle Paul states it clearly, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV). (Also see Isaiah 49:16).

We are His Children
Out of His love for us, God has adopted us into His family and calls us His children. Even though the world does not recognize us as such, God does, and we recognize each other as brothers and sisters. The apostle John calls our attention to this truth, “How great is the love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him” (1 John 3:1 NIV).

Assurance of Our Sins Forgiven
We have the assurance of our sins forgiven, never to be mentioned again. Unlike us, God does not lie. He has promised to let go once He forgives. He never brings issues back to accuse or shame us —
·         “Your sins have been forgiven on account of His name” (1 John 2:12 NIV),
·         “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12 NIV).

Ongoing Cleansing
Since we don’t cease to be human after conversion, our old nature still presents a challenge. It is in constant opposition to our new nature, resulting in occasional falls. God made provision for those times as well, and no matter how many times we fall, we can go back to Him for cleansing and restoration. John clearly states, “If anybody does sin, we have One who speaks to the Father in our defense-Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1 NIV).

We are Never Alone
God assures us of His constant presence through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit:
·         “This is how we know that He lives in us: we know it by the Spirit He gave us” (1 John 3:24 NIV).
·         “The Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you” (Romans 8:11 NIV).
·         “Those who are led by the Spirit God are sons of God” (Romans 8:14 NIV).

Assurance of eternal life
We have the assurance of eternal life. We shall be with Him forever and ever:
·         “This is what He promised us—even eternal life” (1 John 2:25 NIV),
·         “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:11 NIV). (See also 1 John 2:17; 1 John 5:13; Titus 3:7).
·         The night before Jesus was crucified, He prayed for His disciples and all believers (present and future). In His high priestly prayer, for us, Jesus asked that God would guide our walk in this life, keep us safe from the evil one, and pave the way for us to be where He is to see His glory someday. Would God deny Jesus anything? Of course not! (See John 17:1-26). Hence we are all set to be with Him forever.

Promise for Answered Prayers
God has given us a blank check we can cash any time the need arises. That check is not drawn on a financial institution, and doesn’t necessarily refer to physical cash, even though it could sometimes. The name of Jesus is like a blank check to get us whatever we need from the Father, as long as the request is in accordance with His will:
·         “My Father will give you whatever you ask in my name … Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:23-24 NIV).
·         “If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us –whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of Him” (1 John 5:14-15 NIV).
Employees expect to get paid and even receive bonuses every now and then. Believers are not employees; we are bond slaves with no rights. We cannot demand payment for anything we do. Yet without our asking, our Father has taken the initiative to reward us from time to time, and He has reassured us regarding the big finale—eternal life with Him.
·         While predicting His death, Jesus said to His disciples, in regard to His return, “The Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what he has done” (Matthew 16:27 NIV).
·         Also, in Revelation, Jesus reminds us, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done” (Revelation 22:12 NIV).

These are wonderful promises that solidify our position in Christ! Let us review them often for encouragement, growth, and victory over the enemy!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


A promise is the assurance that one will act as specified. The Bible is filled with promises to encourage us in our walk as Christians, and these promises cover every area of life. There are conditions surrounding some of the promises, so before we claim one, we need to read and re-read to make sure we understand the promise and its requirements, if any.

There are many promises that start with ‘If.’ For example, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land”(2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV). If we don’t follow what He commands, He will not fulfill the promises. 

By claiming promises erroneously, we are putting words in God’s mouth; we are holding Him accountable for something He has not promised us. The result then becomes disappointment, thinking God has not honored His Word. Clearly, He is not going to do something he has not promised just because someone is claiming it.  The promises He fulfills are the ones He’s spelled out and where the conditions, if any, have been met by the claimer.

For example, look at this promise: “I will be with you always.” What does it mean?  First, I’ll tell you what it does not mean. It doesn’t mean everything will go well, or that there will be no problems. It does however mean He will be with you no matter what is going on. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you… The flames won’t set you ablaze” (Isaiah 42:2 NIV). This promise clearly implies problems, with the certainty of God’s presence. So don’t claim promises He hasn’t made.

Also, when you go to God with a request, make sure you call your need by name, because calling it by any other name could make it difficult for you to see the answers. For example, if you ask God for a car, what you are really asking for is the ability to be able to get around.  If He responds by providing you with somebody to give you a ride, or if He puts you on a bus route, would you consider that an answer to your prayer? Probably not!  Because what you really wanted was a car with the title in your name. So if you need transportation, ask for transportation, and if God decides you need a car in your name, He will provide you with one. 

The other promise we love to claim is, “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:24 NIV). What does this promise mean? Does it mean we can ask for anything? I don’t think so. When Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” Then He concluded by saying, “Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39 NIV).  This prayer is an indication that we need to take God’s will into account.  If what we request is against God’s will, we can forget it. So we need to find God’s will about issues before asking, because He will not grant anything contrary to His will.

Also, God doesn’t always tell us the duration of assignments, so don’t assume your job, relationships, etc. are for a lifetime. He can redirect you as He sees fit, at any time. You could be devastated if you get too comfortable and He redirects you. But always remember redirection is okay, because, “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV). Let’s not hold on too tightly to our assignments! For example, when Moses was asked to go bring the Israelites from Egypt, he did not have details. I am sure he assumed he was going to get them into the Promised Land, but that is not what happened.

Let’s claim promises with care!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

You Were Bought At A Price

Anyone who purchases a product with his or her hard-earned money likes to value and protect that product, and in addition, expect that product to perform as specified by the manufacturer. For example, how would one feel if one spent thousands dollars buying a car that keeps breaking down and leaving one stranded day after day? I am very sure one would be very disappointed and frustrated, and maybe, even return the car to the dealer.

In the same way, God gave His one and only Son to die to pay for the sins of the world, and expects those whom He purchased to live and function in a certain way. The apostle Paul wrote to the Church of Corinth about sexual immorality in the Church (i.e. among Christians). He told them, “Flee from sexual immorality” and then reminded them, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20 NIV). Since we’ve been bought, we have a Master to obey; we can’t live any how.

It cost God the life of His Son Jesus to free us from sin. The expression, ‘At a Price’ is an indication that our salvation was very expensive, and because of that He does not take sin lightly. What is the point in giving His life if we are going to continue to live in sin anyway? When He said, “You are to be  holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be mine” (Leviticus 20:26 NIV), it was not a suggestion; it was a command.  He bought us, He owns us, and has the right to demand that we live up to His standard. He deserves our admiration, obedience, and honor!  

Which sin do you struggle with? Is it fornication, extramarital affairs, lying, gossip, or something else? It is not too late to turn your life around. God is ready to enable you to turn your life in the right direction, but you have to be willing to identify the sin and be willing to flee from it; you have to want to change.  Jesus said to His disciples before He ascended into heaven, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in …” (Acts 1:8 NIV). Our way of life is included in being witnesses. We received the power that gives us victory over sin when we came to faith in Jesus, because that is when the Holy Spirit came to indwell us.

There are many who say God is love and will forgive, and that is true.  But the Scripture asks, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase” (Romans 6:1 NIV)? The answer of course is, “By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer” (Romans 6:2 NIV). Let’s not take His grace for granted. 

Our faith becomes questionable when we continue to live in sin. This is what the Scripture says about that, “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin” (1 John 5:18 NIV). In other words, continuing to sin intentionally, is an indication that one has not been born of God. Ouch! May our way of life match the truth of God’s Word, and serve as proof that we were bought at a price!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Who is Jesus?

Who is Jesus? This is a life or death question everyone needs to ask and answer. It is a crucial question, because each person’s future depends on what he or she chooses to do or not do after they discover who Jesus really is. More about that later.

During His ministry, Jesus’ disciples and other people often wondered who He was. Usually, it was after Jesus taught some truth or performed a miracle. For instance, there was a storm when Jesus and His disciples were in a boat on the sea, but Jesus was asleep. They woke Him up to let Him know they were in trouble. Jesus rebuked the storm, and there was instant calm. The disciples, surprised and impressed with what they had just witnessed, asked each other, “Who is this man?” Their question indicated they were sure Jesus was not an ordinary person; there was something more to Him. He is the Christ, Son of the living God!

Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), took on the form of man, was born of the Virgin Mary, and lived among men. As Mary’s first born son, conceived by the Holy Spirit, Jesus was born in a manger. Jesus lived with His mother and step-father, and was obedient to them. He found favor with God and men. Many testified about who Jesus was, and needless to say, Jesus Himself testified numerous times as to who he was.

According to God
Jesus’ coming was announced by God in the Garden of Eden when He confronted Satan for deceiving Eve, leading to her eating the forbidden fruit. He said to Satan, “I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15 NLT). Jesus defeated Satan when He died on the cross.
At Jesus’ baptism, God announced, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy” Luke 3:22 NLT). God confirmed Jesus is His Son!
At Jesus’ transfiguration, in the hearing of Peter, James, and John, God said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him” (Matthew 17:6 NLT). Again, God made it very clear that Jesus is the Son of God, and needs to be obeyed.

According to the Prophets
Jesus’ trip to earth, and His agenda, were planned by God and announced by prophets years before they actually happened.
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah prophesied, “The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means God is with us)” (Isaiah 7:14 NLT). In chapter 9:6-7, he also prophesied, “A child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end.”  
Likewise, Micah prophesied about Jesus’ place of birth. “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past will come from you on my behalf” (Micah 5:2). And yes, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and yes, He’ll be coming back to set up His kingdom!

According to Jesus Himself
As the crowds argued with Jesus regarding His relationship with God, Jesus declared, “Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad. Before Abraham was even born, I AM” (John 8:58 NLT). So Jesus existed before Abraham; in reality Jesus was claiming deity. He also declared to the disciples, especially to Thomas who had asked to know the way to heaven, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NLT). On one occasion, the crowds wanted to know for sure if Jesus was the Messiah. He admitted it, and went on to explain He gives eternal life to all who believe in Him (see John 10:22-29). He concluded by saying, “The Father and I are one” (John 10:30 NLT). Jesus’ claims reveal He is one with God, He is the promised Messiah, and Faith in Him is the only way to God and heaven.

 As declared by Jesus’ disciples
Jesus once asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” After their response, He asked another question. “But who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:13, 15 NLT). Peter responded, “You are the Messiah, the son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16 NLT).                    
Toward the end of His earthly ministry, many of Jesus’ disciples deserted Him. He asked the remaining ones, “Are you also going to leave?” (John 6:67 NLT). Simon Peter responded, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68 NLT). The disciples understood and believed the claims of Jesus. He is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, and our coming King!                                                            

What do I say?
I agree with the Psalmist who said, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps 34:8 NLT). In order to experience firsthand what the Psalmist experienced, I placed my faith in Jesus, and that made all the difference. He is my Savior and the Savior of all who place their faith in Him.
Ever since I placed my faith in Jesus, I have experienced Him in amazing ways, and attest that the Bible is 100% the Word of God, and for that reason, I trust it! I believe Jesus is the Son of God, and the second Person of the trinity. He became man, suffered at the hands of sinful men, died a painful death, was buried, and rose the third day. He ascended to heaven forty days later. He’s at the right hand side of the Father, interceding for us. And one day, He’s coming back to take me (and all who believe in Him) to be with Him forever. I’m looking forward with great anticipation to His return, because then I’ll see Him face to face, and I’ll be like Him. This sinful world will be behind me; I’ll be out of this sinful and sickly body. In heaven, there’ll be no more pain, tears, or death, and life will be forever lived in his presence. Amazing!

What do you say?
Have you had my kind of experience? Are you eagerly looking forward to Jesus’ return? If so, I offer you the right hand of fellowship. Let’s love and serve Him, working tirelessly until He returns.
If you don’t quite understand my excitement about Jesus, let me take you back to Psalms 34:8 (quoted above). In order to experience God’s goodness, you’ll need to understand that you’re a sinner (see Romans 3:23), and as a result cannot have a personal relationship with God. To be able to have this relationship, you’ll need to ask God for forgiveness through Jesus who died in our place. He’ll credit you with His righteousness, thus opening up the way for you to have a personal relationship with God. With that done, you’ll begin to experience His goodness as you read and study His word, and live in obedience to Him. Then you’ll also be able to attest that, “Jesus is Lord!”

If for some reason you decide you don’t care for that experience, I’d like you to understand there are consequences for that position. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 NLT). Not having a relationship with God means being outside the family of God and spending eternity in hell. Not believing there’s life after death will not keep you out of hell. The only thing that will keep you out is to have the relationship I’ve been talking about. Please think seriously about this; your future is at stake!  

So from your point of view, who is Jesus?