Monday, January 30, 2012

A Heart Full of Worship (Part 2)


Our Exaltation of Christ
We are told in Philippias 2:9-10 that "God has highly exalted Him and given Him a name above every other name. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.." We really can't exalt Him any higher than God has exalted Him. And yet there is a practical way you and I can exalt the Lord Jesus. Notice verse 2 "they made Him a supper" The supper was for Him. He was the center of attention. The focus was on Him, not on Lazarus who had been raised from the dead. The reason for the supper wasn't for Mary or even on the finecooking skills of Martha! It was on Christ! They made Him a supper! This word "made" suggest preparation, the use of time and resources. It wasn't a spur of the moment thing.

We have the privilege of making Him a supper every week. Some call it the remembrance meeting, the Lord's Supper and some give it other names. 1 Corinthians 11:23-34 explains for us what the Lord institued in Luke 22:14-23. We learn from Acts 2:42 that it was one of the main characteristics of the early church. In Acts 20:6-7 we learn that it was held regularly on the first day of the week. So in the gospels we have the supper instituted, in Acts have it celebrated and in 1 Corinthians we have it explained. The bread speaks of His body which was given for us. The wine speaks of His blood that was shed for us. As we celebrate this we remember Him! In a way we exalt Him each we, by given Him that special place, by in a way making Him a supper.

Our Appreciation of Christ
This is not the first time Mary came to the feet of the Lord Jesus. In Luke 10:34 she sits at His feet as a learner. She comes to Him as the One who instructs her. There He is seen as the Prophet. Then in John 11, when her brother died, she comes to His feet, pouring out her heart to Him. There we see Him as Priest. Then here we see her falling down with a heart full of worship. The account of Mary's anointing of he Lord is found in Matthew 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9. When you combine all three accounts, you learn she anointed both His head and His feet. It was an act of pure love on her part. Her anointing Him points to the fact that He is King. Here in John the emphasis is on the fact that this man who won Mary's heart is the Son of God! She is seen anointing His feet which speaks of His walk here as a man. We see three things here:

  1. Her submission to Christ. She wasn't concerned about herself or how it might look to others. She simply came to Him and pour out the costly spiknard. So there was not only preparation for the supper, but there was a cost here, and later we see that Judas did understand it at all. He thought it was a waste. But Mary pour it all out no matter how much cost was involved. For Mary it was all or nothing. Not just a few drops but she pour it out! When Mary undid her hair (something Jewish women did not do in public), she humbled herself and laid her glory at His feet (1 Cor. 11:15). According Ps. 16:9, 57:8, 108:1 we ought to be willing to use our glory to exalt Christ. Our glory should be hid and His ought to be seen. It is not about us but about Him!

  2. Her affections for Christ. She had enjoyed Him as her prophet and priest, now she is giving him his proper place in her heart! Think for a moment of the affect that this type of heart felt woship had on all around. Remember there was a meal that had been prepared. I'm sure the aroma of that meal filled the air. But when Mary poured out her spiknard and anointed the Lord's feet, the fragrance permeated the entire house! The aroma from the food that had been prepared fades in comparison to the aroma that filled the house from the precious oil. It wasn't about the food they would receive, it was about the worship He would receive from her heart! When they left the house the aroma stayed with them, the fragrance would eventually fade, but the aroma has lasted even up till now as we read about it!
  1. Her motivation was Christ! We see in verse 7 that she had spiritual insight. She had had kept the oil for His burial. Interesting that she did not use it for her brothers burial, but kept it for her Lord! Her heart was in tune with God's heart. God the Father wants each of us to appreciate the One He appreciates. Where did she learn this, at His feet as in Luke10. We too ought to spend time at His feet. Can others tell that we have been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). He invites us to come to Him and learn of Him (Matt. 11:29).

Conclussion:
There will always be those who don't understand why we what to make Him a supper or why we desire to exalt Him as we see in verses 4-6. But what a privilege to enjoy our position and association with Christ and to seek to exalt and appreciation Him more and more.

A Heart Full of Worship (Part 1)

John 12:1-11

As twelfth chapter of John opens we have a beautiful picture of what the Christian life ought to look like. In the first eleven verses we have three people brought before us. These three individuals had their lives completely change forever by the Lord Jesus. If we put the lessons that each one teaches us together, we have a real challenge for our own lives.

I learn three things from Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Lazarus represents a life that is in full enjoyment of the resurrecting power of Christ. The power that Paul desired to know about in Philippians 3:10. That same power that Paul prayed that those at Ephesus would come to know in their lives (Eph. 1:18-19). We might say Lazarus represents our witness. Martha represents our work that is done for Christ and accepted by Christ. Lastly, Mary represent our worship. Worship that flows from a heart occupied with Christ.

So I would like to look at these three people as a picture representing the Christian position and association with Christ and their exaltation and appreciation of Christ.

Our Position with Christ
At the end of chapter 11 we see Lazarus as a beautiful picture of one who has been raised from the dead, set free from the dead man cloths. He is a picture of what has happens to the lost sinner who comes to Christ.
  • We were dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1-3).
  • We have been raised from that dead position (Jn. 5:24, Eph. 2:5)
  • We have been set free from the grave cloth (Col.3:1) and have been given liberty (Jn. 8:36).
  • We have been seated with Christ (Jn. 12:2, Eph. 2:6).
  • We enjoy fellowship with Him (1 Jn. 1:1-3).
  • We are now to be a testimony to others as Lazarus was (12:9-11).
  • Some will be against us just as in Lazarus's case (Jn.12:10).

Lazarus was enjoying what Christ had accomplished for him. He was in the good of it. The question for us is, are we in the good of the resurrecting power of Christ. This is the truth of the book of Ephesians. Are we living like those still dead or are we like Lazarus was for a brief moment, raised but still wrapped up with the dead man's cloths that restrict our walk, work, and worship. Lazarus could never have appreciated his raised position with those grave cloths on.

Our Association with Christ
Lazarus was sitting at that table associated with the One who raised him from the dead. Every born again believer has this same privilege. It speaks of our association based on our position. Look at Colossians 3:1-4. Notice how many times that little phrase "with Christ" is used. "In Christ" emphasizes our position, as seen in Ephesians and Colossians 1-2 over and over. But "with Christ" emphasizes our our association based on or that flows out of our position.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Gardens of Scripture (Part 5)

5. THE GARDEN OF REJOICING – (PARADISE/HEAVEN) We read concerning the thief on the cross in, (Luke 23:42, 43) “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with Me in paradise”.  The word “paradise” means a park or a garden.  It is a word that expresses the sum total of blessedness.  It means heaven, the dwelling place of God.  It says in, (Psalm 16:11) “In thy (God’s) presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forever more”.  This will be the portion for all who are saved, who are “born again”.  There will be no more sorrow, no more heartache, no more disappointments, no farewells, no more pain, and no more death.  There will be one eternal day of peace and joy in the presence of their Savior at home in Heaven.  O the joy and rejoicing, even now, with the prospect of Heaven as ones eternal dwelling place.   Which will it be for You dear reader, Heaven or Hell?  Will it be “the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25), or will it be the blessedness of heaven and its eternal pleasures? 


Dear friend, if you remain unsaved, it will not be because God does not love you or be because God’s Son did not die for you, but it will be because you have not believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.  Which will it be for you, reception or rejection of the Savior?  You are traveling the “HIGHWAY OF LIFE”, passing through time into eternity.  Now that you have read this message, you have come to “THE CROSSROADS”.  Which way will you go? Will you continue to reject the Savior and God’s free gift of salvation?  Or, will you believe in Him and receive Him as your Lord and Savior?  It is your decision and your responsibility.

Gardens of Scripture (Part 4)

4. Garden of Reception We read in Song of Solomon 4:12-15 “A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.  Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits, camphire, with spikenard, etc.  A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon”.  It is the voice of the Bridegroom – a type of the Lord Jesus Christ that is speaking to His Bride which is a type of the Church or the individual believer. The Church or the individual believer is viewed as a garden, i.e., a life that is lovely and fruitful and pleasing to Him self.  At the end of verse 16 we hear the voice of the Bride speaking to the Bridegroom and she says, “Let my Beloved come into His garden, and eat His pleasant fruits”.  She is eager for His Company.  She invites Him to come.  She wants Him to come that she might have fellowship with Himself.   The contrast could not be greater.  In the first garden we considered (The Garden of Rebellion – Eden) we saw that man, because of sin, dreaded the approach of his Creator. Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, whose sins have been forgiven, will always desire fellowship with their Lord.  We have the Bridegroom’s response to the invitation He received.  It says in, Song of Solomon 5:1, “I am come into my garden”.  The garden belongs to the Bridegroom, just as the Church and the individual believer belong to Christ. The Lord Jesus can make YOUR LIFE a “GARDEN of RECEPTION”.  He will take a way the “thorns and thistles” of sin and make your life a garden where He will delight to dwell.  It says in, (Romans 10:13) “For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved”.

Gardens of Scripture (Part 3)

3. THE GARDEN OF REDEMPTION – (CALVARY) We read in, John 19:41 “Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new sepulcher”. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, went into this garden to save YOU from YOUR SINS.  Seeing the utterly helpless and hopeless condition of mankind through sin, the Son of God, in marvelous love, clothed Himself with humanity and became Man.  From the infinite mystery of the eternal light of heaven, He came to the simplicity and humility of a human body in order to bring man back to God.  There on the cross;


                         All our sins were laid upon Him
                        Jesus bore them on the tree
                       God who knew them, laid them on Him
                      And believing, I am free


It says in, (1 Peter 3:18) “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God”.  The divine commandment of God was, “without the shedding of blood is no remission (no forgiveness)”.  There on the cross, the Savior shed His precious blood to pay the price of our redemption.  He assumed the liability of our sins, and went willingly to the cross in order that, on it, He might, (1 Peter 2:24) “bear our sins in His own body on the tree”.  As the holy, spotless Son of God hung upon the cross, God put all our sins upon Him, and then poured out upon the Sin-Bearer all the judgment and wrath that was our rightful due.  The Savior endured all the penalty of our guilt and, by the sacrifice of Himself, accomplished all  that was necessary for the salvation of every sinner that will trust in Him, and will rest on His finished work alone for salvation. “The Garden of Redemption” became “The Garden of Resurrection” because on the third day Christ rose from the dead according to the scriptures.  God signified His approval with the work of His beloved Son by raising Him from the dead, (Hebrews 7:25) “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them”.  

Gardens of Scripture (Part 2)

2. THE GARDEN OF REJECTION (GETHSEMANE) We read in John 18:1, “When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which He entered, and His disciples”. From other scriptures, such as, (Matthew 26:36) we know that this garden was called “Gethsemane”. Notice that it says, Jesus went forth”. He went forth knowing full well that before Him was suffering and death. Into this “Garden of Rejection” Jesus went forth;


· Jesus went forth – to Anticipation.  For the Savior, this garden was the place of His anticipation of Calvary and the cross.  We can never fully understand what it would mean for Him, the holy One of God, to bear our sins in His own body on the tree.


· Jesus went forth – to Agony. It says in, (Luke 22:44) “And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground”.  We read in, (Matthew 26:37) “He began to be sorrowful and very heavy” (It speaks of His distress of mind and of His deep depression as He contemplated taking our heavy burden of sin upon Himself.)


                      O Christ, what burdens bowed Thy head 
                      Our load was laid on thee; 
                      Thou stoodest in the sinner’s stead,
                      Bearest all my ill for me. 
                      A victim led, Thy blood was shed; 
                     Now there’, no load for me.


Matthew 26:37 says, “(Jesus) began to be sorrowful and very heavy”.  It speaks of His deep grief.  The grief associated with the contradiction of sinners against Him, the cruelty He would endure, and the curse He would bear.


· Jesus went forth – to Arrest.  It says concerning the Lord Jesus, (Isaiah 53:3) “He is despised and rejected of men, a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief”. It says also, in, John 1:11 “he came unto His own, and His own received Him not”.  When the Lord Jesus was betrayed with a kiss from Judas, it says in, (Matthew 26:47, 50) “Judas came and with him a great multitude with swords and staves.  They … laid hands on Jesus and took Him”.  Here, in this garden, is the climax of the Saviors rejection that He experienced throughout His three years of public ministry.


· Jesus went forth – to Abandonment.  It says in, (Matthew 26:56) “Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled”.  Jesus was left  alone to accomplish the work of redemption on the cross.  It was a work that only He could do.  “There is none other good enough to pay the price of sin.  He only could unlock the gates of Heaven and let us in”.  No animal sacrifice, no one among mankind, no angel of God could redeem sinful man back to God.  Only the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ could do this great work.

Gardens of Scripture (Part 1)


The various gardens mentioned in scripture are significant and can be looked at in a way that illustrates God’s Way of Salvation.  The Word of God begins and ends with events that are recorded in a garden. In this series I would like to consider five “Significant Gardens of Scripture”beginning with:

1. THE GARDEN OF REBELLION (EDEN)We read in, (Genesis 2:8) “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed”.  Then, we read in,(verses 15 -17) “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”.  We see from these words that man’s history began in a garden.  God’s power was manifested in His creation.  God planted this garden.  God’s prohibition was in this garden.  Man was not to eat of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” under the penalty of death. (Genesis, chapter 3) records the sad outcome.  Notice what happened;


· SATAN came into this garden.  In his conversation with Eve, he cast doubt on God’s goodness to them by concealing the God given privileges and putting emphasis on the one God given restriction.  Then he directly contradicted the word of God when he said to Eve “ye shall not surely die”.  With his subtlety and temptation,  Eve fell into sin and involved Adam in the transgression as well.


· SIN came into this garden.  In (Genesis 3:6) we have the “three stages” of the woman’s sin.  She saw, she coveted, and she took.  We have also, the “three-fold substance” of sin.  There was the lust of the flesh (that which appealed to the physical nature), the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (that which appeals to the intellectual nature).  We find this truth also, in the New Testament in, (1 John 2:16) “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world”. When Adam sinned he not only acted for himself, but for the whole human race, of which he was the head.  When sin came into this garden, sin came into this world.  We read in,(Romans 5:12) “Wherefore as by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”. Through sin death came, “and so to all men death traveled (penetrated, pervaded) inasmuch as all sinned”.  The Bible teaches that all men are sinners, both by nature and by practice. Everyone born of human parents inherits Adam’s sin, and also sins by his own deliberate choice.  God says in His Word, (Romans 3:23) “For ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God”.  It is evident that each one of us, in the sight of a holy God, is a guilty, lost, hell deserving sinner, utterly unable to deliver himself from the condition in which he finds himself.  Consequently, each person needs God’s deliverance (salvation) from this state, for if you die in your sins your destiny will be hell and eternal separation from God.


· SORROW came into this garden. Because of the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve, God pronounced judgment upon them, (Genesis 3:16) “Unto the woman he (God) said, I will greatly multiply the sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children”.(Genesis 3:17) “Unto Adam He said, cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life”.  Sooner or later, sorrow will always follow sin.  None of us pass through this life without experiencing some degree of sorrow.  The ultimate sorrow  however, is an eternal sorrow.  When a person dies in their sins their destiny is eternal separation from God in the place called hell and the lake of fire, where it says in, (Matthew 8:12; 24:51) “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth”.


· The SOVEREIGN came into this garden.We read that after Adam fell into sin, (Genesis 3:8, 9) “They heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the tree’s of the garden.  And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, where art thou”? God’s purpose for coming into the garden was to have fellowship with man whom He created.  Sin severed that fellowship.  God was calling but Adam was hiding. 


· SEPARATION (death) came into this garden.God previously said that man’s sin and disobedience would result in death. God said to Adam, regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, (Genesis 2:17) “Thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”. Later, because of his sin we read in,(Genesis 3:23, 24) “The Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden”.  “So He drove out the man”. Access to the “tree of life was prevented by God." It says in, (Romans 6:23) “The wages of sin is death”. It says also in, (Hebrews 9:27) “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”. "Death” in the Bible is not just physical and spiritual in this present time, but it is also eternal in time to come. Sooner or later death will come.  Are YOU prepared to meet God? 

Marriage Points On To Better Things


The marriage bond is dissolved fully by death, the death of either partner. "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord" (1 Cor 7:39). And "in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage" (Matt. 22:30).

The type must surely give place completely to the anti-type; for then how much more wondrous a marriage will take place, "the marriage supper of the Lamb" (Rev. 19:9), involving a union of eternal joy, with never a marring circumstance to cast the slightest shadow upon this scene of perfect love, or brightest light, of vibrant, wholesome life. If marriage pictures this, then even the sweetest joys and blessings of marriage here ought only to quicken our hearts' longing for the blessed Day of our Lord's glory.

Soon deepest joy our inmost souls shall fill,
Soon Thine own joy be more exceeding still,
Soon we shall see Thee, --Thine enraptured bride, --
Soon, to Thy great delight, be near Thy side.

Above all else, in the home of the believing couple, let the Person of the Lord Jesus be the pre-eminent Object of each heart, and the blessed hope of His coming a real and vital incentive to every godly virtue. Thus will such a marriage more rightly picture that of Christ and the Church, -faintly perhaps, but really; and declare to the world that this means more to us than the temporary earthly picture and its blessings, sweet as these may be.

L.M.Grant

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Portraits of Forgiveness (Part 4)


We have looked at the repentant Heart of the prodigal and the forgiving heart of the father. Now let's take a look at what we can learn about the unforgiving heart of the older son.
An Unforgiving Heart. The older son (representative of the Pharisees who were listening to the Lord Jesus) is a study in the stubborn refusal to forgive that is characterized by:
  • Hardness. There was an unwillingness on his part to consider restoration of his younger foolish brother. He felt justifiably cold toward his brother. And he was outraged that his father would still want a relationship with a son who had so deeply offended him (v28).
  • Demanding of revenge. His focus was only on immediately punishing his brother for what he had done rather than focusing on what had changed in his heart. He wanted to make his brother pay for what he done. He had no mercy and no desire for reconciliation (v28).
  • Arrogant refusal to celebrate. The older son with held fellowship from both his brother and his father (v28). He missed an opportunity for joy and celebration because he was preoccupied with himself and his hurt. He missed the loving heart of the father that longs for restoration. Instead, he angrily withdrew in self-justified indignation and smugness over being right, and he refused to recognise that what he was doing was causing just as much pain between himself and his father as was caused by his younger brother.
The refusal to forgive indicates a rebellious, stubborn heart that has not drunk deeply of the water of grace and mercy at the well of God's forgiveness (Luke 7:47). Our unwillingness to love those who have harmed us reflect our own failure to understand how much God has loved us. Peter reminds us of this when he describes seven essential, progressive graces, which culminate in godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. Then He writes, "For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins" ( 2 Pet.1:5-9). Paul challenge us "not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, loud quarreling, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another even as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma" (Eph. 4:30-5:2). I am to forgive even as He forgave me and I am to love as He love me, anything less and I'm falling short of the standard set by God Himself.

This older son never changed his heart and far as we know continued to be unhappy and miserable and never entered into the joy of the father. A repentant Heart, a forgiving heart or a unforgiving heart. Which of these three types of hearts describe me? Which best describes you? 

Portraits of Forgiveness (Part 3)

Earlier we had said that there were three different types of hearts represented here in Luke 15. We have seen the repentant heart of the son. Now we want consider the forgiving heart of the father.

A Forgiving Heart: It is the father in this story who represents the unexpected forgiving heart of God in response to genuine repentance that is marked by at least four things.
  • Hopeful anticipation. The father never gave up hoping for his son's repentance and return home to be restored to him again. He was persevering in prayer and intently looking for the day he saw the familiar form of his son on the horizon (v20). Th hopeful yearning for restoration was never quenched in the heart of the father.
  • Courageous love. The father was willing to humble himself and not conform to the culture mandate of his day to make his son grovel in the dirt. Instead, in a spontaneous, jubilant act of love, he ran to embrace his son (v20).
  • Gracious mercy. Forgiveness was joyfully granted because he sensed the repentance in the heart of his son, and restored him to a position of son-ship that was unheard of (v22).
  • Celebration of repentance. The father planned a party to celebrate the return of his son. His son was heading in a direction that brought distance to their relationship and certainly interrupted their fellowship, but now was alive and reconciled to his father (v23-24).
This is a beautiful picture of the forgiving heart of God. God was the first Seeker in the Bible (Gen. 3:8-9) and now in the Person of His Son still seeks the lost (Luke 19:10). God is a loving God who is waiting to be restore to those that are at a distance from Him. God is rich in mercy and grace, and great in His love toward those that are away from Him (Eph. 2:1-10). God is able and willing to forgive you today, whether you are lost in your sins and need to be reconciled to Him or whether you might be at a distance from Him because even though you might be a Christian you have allow sin of one kind or another in your life and need to return to Him in repentance. He is waiting, will you come to Him now?

Portraits of Forgiveness (Part 2)

 I see three different types of hearts in the story of Luke 15 and I think it is instructive to look at each of them. As we do it is important for us to realize that while this is a beautiful picture of a lost sinner being restore back to God, this young man never stop being a son of his father. So these three a hearts that we observe could very well be the heart of a believer. Every Christian, at times need to have a repentant heart, a forgiving heart and not ever have an unforgiving heart. Let's look at each of these.

A Repentant Heart: The prodigal son demonstrated a repentant heart that was broken when he came to his senses and decided to return home to his father. The word "repentance" means "to change one's mind". It means to agree with God and make a "U-Turn" in our life back to Him. Repentance is a brokenness and change of life's direction marked by:
  • Hunger for Restoration. He longed for something more than what he had available to him in his sin. He longed to go home (Luke 15:16). When our hearts our not right with the Lord, for what ever reason the Spirit of God will work with in us convicting us of sin and provoke within us a hunger to be right with God and restored to anyone we might be at odds with. And we need both relationships right, vertically with our Father and horizontally with our brethren.
  • Humble Confession. He willingly acknowledge his selfishness violation of love, first toward God and then toward others (v 18-19). We are reminded in 1 John 1:9 of the need for Christians to keep short accounts of our sin with God, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." John goes on to challenge us to live constant with our position in the family of God. "He who says he is in the light and hates his brother, is in darkness until now" and again " he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes" (1 John 2:9, 11). If we hold something, anything, against another brother or sister it is like being in darkness, that gray cloud can become a dark cloud and then has the potential of becoming a black storm cloud in our Christian life! And that storm cloud can cause a turbulent storm in your own life and in the life of every one around you. James 5:16 exhorts us to "Confess our trespasses to one another, and pray for one another."
  • Plea for Mercy. He recognized that he deserved nothing and pleaded for mercy, to serve as a slave, without a demand for restoration to his previous position in the family (v21). This servant attitude is exactly what the Lord Jesus did as we read in Philippians 2:5-8. If my Lord and Savior could forgive those who nailed Him to the cross, if He could forgive me for all my sins, what right do I have to hold something against another believer in God's family?

Portaits of Forgiveness (Part 1)


A beautiful perspective on forgiveness is given to us in the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. We actually can see three different kind of hearts. This story here in Luke 15 is often called the story of the Prodigal Son. The word Prodigal means "wasteful". But this story could also be called "Story of the Loving Father" or of "the Forgiving Father". This story really emphasizes the graciousness of the father more than the sinfulness of the son. Unlike the shepherd and the women in the earlier part of the chapter, the father did not go out and seek the son, but it was the memory of his father's goodness that brought the young man to repentance and forgiveness (Romans 2:4 reminds us that the goodness of God leads men to repent. That is what brought this rebellious son back.

Looking at the portion then we see three sides of this story that concerns this prodigal son. In verses 11-16 we see his rebellion, he went to the far country. That is a picture of each of us in our lost condition in rebellion against God. Isaiah 53 reminds us that "all we like sheep have gone astray, We have turned everyone to his own way." Then we see his repentance, he comes to himself (v17-19. Lastly, we see his rejoicing, when he came to his father (v20-24). It is interesting to consider the father's description of his son's experience: he was dead, and was now alive; he was lost and was found. This is the spiritual experience of every lost sinner who comes to Father through faith in Jesus Christ (John 5:24, Ephesians 2:1-10). It is also interesting to note the parallels between the prodigals coming to the father and our coming to the Father through Christ (John 14:6):

The Prodigal 
He was lost (Luke 15:24) 
He was ignorant (Luke 15:17) 
He was dead (Luke 15:24)

Jesus Christ
"I am the Way"
"I am the Truth"
"I am the Life"

There is only One Way to come to the Father, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ. Have you come home?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hope for Today (Part 7)

Our Hope Rest on Trusting God
Salvation has nothing to do with obeying the right set of rules, doing the right type of good works or feeling a certain way. Salvation comes by simply saying, "Yes, Jesus, I'm a sinner and I trust you." When you accept Jesus' terms for  salvation, you can trust that God will honor His agreement forever. Your salvation is secure. the restoration process has begun and God will complete it.

God will Never Stop Loving Us
Our hope rest on God's promise rests on God's promise that even if we experience pain in the process of life, one day we will fully be restored in His presence. These experience will be gone. He will never change the terms of His agreement to finish the work He started in us. The end of the story is certain, and God will never stop loving us as it unfolds.

A Life Touched By Hope
There is no hope like the hope God offers through Jesus Christ. Whoever or whatever let you down in the past, Jesus is not like them. In Him, you will find your greatest dreams fulfilled. His love is like no other. His forgiveness free us to be all He created us to be. His power is without limit and your future with HIm is the best thing that could ever happen to you.

Hope for Today (Part 6)

Salvation is God's Free Gift
The good news is that it's all about what God does in you. Salvation is God's free gift to anyone who wants to receive it. Regardless of how badly you're damaged, no matter how any awful choices you've made, even if you've totally rejected God and never believed before now, Jesus paid the price and can forgive you. The decision to accept or reject this gift is up to you.

Jesus paid the Price and can Forgive You
His free gift of salvation is available to everyone at anytime. In fact, you can take God up on His offer right now. Tell Him you want to be in a relationship with Him, that you're sorry for the sins you've committed, and that you accept His free gift of forgiveness and salvation through Jesus' death and resurrection. Invite Him to guide you as you seek to get to know Him and learn to love other people like Jesus does. There's no mystery to talking to God. It's simple: share what's on your mind and in your heart. He doesn't really care what words you use, as long as you're being real.


Hope for Today (Part 5)

Belief that makes a Difference
Does believing, trusting in Jesus really overturn the hopelessness we experience in our world? What really happens when we discard our self-improvement plan and instead give control of our life to Christ?

When you accept something as true, it changes what you do. Accepting Christ means agreeing with Him about your sin, asking Him for forgiveness and inviting Him to be the new leader of your life. A decision to trust Jesus for your salvation means abandoning all attempts to earn His love and spending every day living in that love.

Does it mean we'll be perfect? No. Will we still sin? Yes. Our old sin nature still exists in us. But, we also have the Holy Spirit. He helps us grow in Christ and live a life that please God. And when we fail, He forgives us and helps us start again (1 John 1:9).

Monday, January 9, 2012

Hope for Today (Part 4)

The Gift of Life
Adam and Eve didn't instantly die. But spiritual death , spiritual separation from God, did occur when they sinned. That delay between spiritual death and physical death gives us hope. It means that we have been given an opportunity now to come back to God.

God loves us so much that He couldn't just let us stay in our broken condition in a life of misery and frustration. Because the wages of sin is death, the only way to pay for it once and for all would be through the death of someone else. And God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn us but that through Him we might be saved (John 3:16-18). The Lord Jesus came to earth fully human and fully God. He experienced all of the hardships and sufferings of living in a damaged world filled with broken people, just like us. But, He never sinned. This qualified Him to pay for all the wrongs of everyone throughout history. Through His perfect life, death and resurrection, God demonstrated His grace and love to His creation. We can't add to that perfect gift. Jesus erased our sin debt completely, past present and future.

Not only did the Lord Jesus pay the price on our behalf, but He did so willingly. Romans 5:6-8 tells us that people might be willing to lay down their live for a good person, but it is highly unusual for anyone to die for a scoundrel. Yet this is exactly what Jesus did on the cross for us.

There is nothing we can do to earn God's love or save ourselves from sin and death, but to accept His free gift of salvation. If we refuse it our sin continues to separate us from God and will forever in a lost eternity. If you come to Him and accept the free gift, Lord Jesus promise to you is "all that the Father gives Me will come to Me and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out" (John 6:37).

Hope for Today (Part 3)

Although God stamped His image in us, sin distorts the image. Our thoughts, feelings and actions often go against how god created us to live because sin corrupts our desire to do the right thing. In our broken condition, where do we find hope?

We All Fall Short
The Bible makes it clear that everyone falls short of God's perfect standard for living, including great people like Mother Teresa and Billy Graham. No matter what list of rules we follow, including the Ten Commandments that God gave us, we keep missing the mark. It seems the more we try to be good and do right, the more we fail. We can't meet God's standard or overcome the effect of our sin condition.

Our Situation: Physical Death and Eternal Separation from God
Since the beginning, the death rate for humanity has been 100 percent. The Bible explains our situation.Physical death and eternal separation from god is the payment for not living up to God's perfect standard. Romans 6:23 reminds us that "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life."

We will look into the gift of God in our next post.

Hope for Today (Part 2)

GOD CREATED US AND OUR WORLD


In the Beginning
Genesis, the first book of the Bible, tells us that God created everything, plants, trees, birds animals, you and me. God created the first man and women, Adam and Eve, in His own image and declared that all He made was "very good" (Genesis 1:27, 31).

What Happen to Us and Our World?
Look around you. What happened? How did things go from "very good" to "very bad"? How did the relationship between God , His creation and people get so messed up?

The answer, in a word, is "sin." Sin is any action, thought or word that violates God's loving standard. Because God is all-loving and all-holy, we can say that sin is simply being "not like God."

God loves us so much that He wants us to love and follow Him. Genuine love can't be force. So God created humanity with the ability to choose not to love or follow Him. And sad to say, that's what we've done. In the beginning, He gave Adam and Eve clear instructions about a simple matter, a fruit tree to avoid. But they let their pride override their desire to obey, crossing a boundary God had set. By choosing to disobey God, they traded His designed of perfect community for death and separation from Him forever. Sin enter their souls and spread to their descendants.

You and I have the same spiritual disease, as we can see by our ongoing choices that disregard God's desire to lead and direct us. Our universal condition is that we no longer trust God. Instead, we live on our own terms, hoping everything will turn out as we imagine it should be.

Is there any hope for our lost condition? The following posts will pick up here and answer this all important question.



Hope for Today (Part 1)

IS THERE ANY HOPE?


We All Need Hope
Life can be hard. Sometimes, we have to endure a bad day. Other times, we face unrelenting heartaches. No amount of tears can bring it to an end. Most of us face difficult times more often than we would like. Yet as difficult as life can be, hope guides us and gets us through the storms of life. Take away hope, and even the small things crush us.

The Big Picture
As we look at the big picture in our world, we see hopeless situations. The news regularly bombards us with stories of harmful and even evil situations people endure. Abuse, divorce, murder, war famine, rape, and natural disasters torment our lives and shred our broken world. Beyond the unexpected disasters that make the news, we're wounded by the daily actions of others who never get headlines, but hurt us deeply. We begin to wonder how God can allow bad things to happen to good people.

Is this how God intended us to live? Is this the kind of life He created us for? Thankfully, the answer is, no. The Bible tells us the true story of how God created us and our world, how we fell away from His original design, and what He did to heal our brokenness. It offer hope because we discover that God is in the business of restoring us to His beautiful original intentions.

In future posts, we will look into God's plan to provide Hope for the hurting and Help for the helpless.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Five Words of Comfort

They're on the corner, standing next to you in the store, at school, work and church, maybe even in your own home! Who, people with broken hearts. Here are five words of comfort from the One who is the healer of the heart, the Lord Jesus Christ:

  1. He feels and knows by experience what you are going through, for "He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities" (Hebrews 4:15).
  2. 1 Peter 5:7 reminds us that He cares for us.
  3. Luke 4:18-19 assures us that He shares with us in our distress.
  4. Isaiah 53:4 says that He bears our griefs and carries our sorrows.
  5. He repairs our broken hearts (John 14:1, 27.
Put these five words in your chambers of your heart, like David put those five smooth stones in his pouch. When the giants of discouragement, fear, and pain come rely His Word to strengthen you for the battle and comfort your heart. One day He will wipe away every tear and there will be no more heartaches or heartbreak. There is no sorrow or burden too heavy that He can not carry! There is no hurt so deep that He can not heal!

O yes He care I know he care, His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Savior care. 
Frank E. Graeff

Monday, January 2, 2012

Follow God's Word When the Wind Blows


When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete. Acts 27:13

Paul had warned the centurion in charge that trouble lay ahead, but the centurion ignored him and gave orders to set sail. We know the rest of the story as it is recorded for us in Acts 27, the storm blew , the ship and its cargo were lost, and by God's grace Paul and his companions were saved.

The centurion had to decide whether to winter at Fair Havens or set sail and try to reach the port of Phoenica. There is much we can learn from the centurions mistakes. His approach to making his decision is aclassic illustration of how not to determine the will of God.
  1. He became impatient (Acts 27:7-9, 12). He did not want to remain in the uncomfortable harbor of Fair Havens, because it was too open t the winter storms. Phoenica had a more sheltered harbor. He wanted to get on the move. Impatience is a mark of immaturity and unbelief. The prophet Isaiah reminds us "he that believes shall not make haste" (Isaiah 28:16).

  2. He listened to the "expert advice" of the pilot and captain of the ship, instead of God's word (Acts 27:10-11). No matter what ther "experts" may say, depend on the truth of God's Word.
  1. He took a vote (Acts 27:12). The majority voted to leave and the majority was wrong! The majority, you remember, kept Israel out of the promised land and the majority voted to crucify Christ! Obey God's Word even if the whole world is against you.
  1. He walked by sight, not by faith (Acts 27:13). The "soth wind blew softly and was the signal, for him at least, to start moving. Beware of the "golden opportunities that seems to contradict God's instructions. South winds often become stormy wnds.

Sometimes we get ourselves into storms for the same reasons. The only sure way to pilot your boat is to set your sails on obeying God's Word, come what may!

Lord, what do You want me to do?

Read Acts 9:1-22. Welcome to the first Monday  of 2012. Did you make some New Year's resolutions? Today I want to challenge you  with a question: What has God put in your heart to do? Because when you get in  the sweet spot of God's vision for your life, you'll be in the center of His will for 2012.

Every  person who has made a difference with their life has articulated a vision about  their future. Check out the visions of David (2 Samuel 7), Solomon (1 Kings 3:9),  Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:5), and the apostle Paul (Acts 9:6). Paul's vision for his  life dramatically changed on the road to Damascus with one question: "Lord, what  do You want me to do?" It's a question we all should ask.

God's  vision for you can be your road map for 2012. Is there a purpose you've been sensing  for your life, yet you're avoiding it because it's out of your comfort zone? God  will grow you in the areas that need strengthening. He will never call you to  do something that He won't help you do. Remember Moses' lack of confidence and  God's assurance? (Exodus 3:11-12) Ask this question, and catch God's vision for  2012!

You will invest your life in something, or you will throw it  away on nothing.
Haddon Robinson

Sunday, January 1, 2012

“THE SON OF MAN MUST BE LIFTED UP” (Part 3)

  1. THE BLESSING OF THE CROSS (SALVATION FOR EVERYONE THAT BELIEVES).
 Have you ever repented of your sins?  Repentance has to do with sin.  It has to do with our attitude toward God.  Repentance is a change of mind as to who shall rule over us.  It is a decision of your will that God shall rule and self and Satan will be disposed.  “HAVE I REPENTED”?  It is a question of vital importance to every person.  If sinners do not repent they will be lost eternally.  The Lord Jesus said in (Luke 13:3, 5) “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish”.  It says in (Acts 17:30) “God … now commandeth all men everywhere to repent”.  Notice the words of this verse closely;

·        GOD” – “God” is the speaker.  Your creator.  The One before whom you must stand and give an account. 
·        COMMANDS” It is a Divine commandment that you repent.  God is not asking or begging.  He is commanding.
·        NOW” When should you repent?  The answer is “NOW”.  There is urgency about this matter.
·        ALL MEN” There are no racial exceptions or exclusions.  “All” means you my friend.
·        EVERYWHERE” There are no geographical exceptions or exclusions.  Dear reader, no matter where you live in this world, you are included.
·        TO REPENT” This is what you must do.  You must repent.  There is no salvation without repentance.  The message of the Gospel is “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ”. (Acts 20:21).

Why does God command all men to repent?  The reason is found in the following verse (Acts 17:31) “Because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him (Jesus Christ) from the dead”.  This is the reason why you and I must repent..  Judgment is ahead and the Judge is the Lord Jesus Christ.  You will stand and give an account before the one that you rejected.  The Judge is the same one who died on the cross for your sins so that you might escape the judgment of God.

The Israelite not only repented.  It says that “when he beheld the serpent of brass, HE LIVED”.  The lesson is this my friend, you must repent and “look to the cross and behold the Blessed Savior who died in your guilty room and stead”.  You must believe in Him.  You must put your faith and trust in Him.  Have you ever looked to the cross for salvation? 

Will you “look and live”.  It says in (John 3:36) “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him”.  Dear reader, as you read this message you are at “the crossroads” in your life.  Which way will you go?  Will you reject the Savior and God’s offer of salvation?  Or, will you receive Him, by faith, to be your Lord and Savior?  It’s your decision and your responsibility.

“THE SON OF MAN MUST BE LIFTED UP” (Part 2)

  1. THE DEATH ON THE CROSS (WHY DID JESUS HAVE TO SUFFER AND TO DIE)
 Notice the words again of (John 3:14) “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, EVEN SO MUST THE SON OF MAN BE LIFTED UP”.  The reason that the Lord Jesus must be lifted up on the cross, the reason why He had to suffer and to die, was to provide salvation for poor, lost, helpless sinners.  He alone is the Savior of sinners.  You can not do one thing to merit or inherit God’s salvation.  Dear reader, what are you depending upon to get you into Heaven?  Are you depending upon your church membership, your baptism, your priest or pastor?  None of these things can save you.  You’re so called righteousness or good works can not save you.   The scripture says in (Romans 3:10) “There is none righteous, no not one”.  It says also, (Titus 3:5) “Not by works of righteousnesswhich we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us (or will save us).  


God’s “GREAT PROVISION” is in the giving of His Beloved Son.  It says this in that wonderful verse in (John 3:16) “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”.  It took the perfect sacrifice of “the Lamb of God” (the Lord Jesus Christ) to meet and satisfy all the demands of a Holy and Righteous God.  It says in (Hebrews 2:9) “By the grace of God He tasted death for every man”. It says also, (1 Peter 3:18) “Christ … suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God”.  Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness.  It is a type or picture of Jesus Christ being lifted up on the cross.  When He hung upon that cross, He was bearing your heavy load of sins.  He was dying in your place, paying the price you should have paid.  Dear reader, does this touch your heart?  Have you ever considered what He did for you?  Have you ever stopped to consider that He died for you personally? 

The bitten Israelites did two things to survive their death sentence.  First, they repented of their sins.  They said in (Numbers 21:7) “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord”.  Second, they “looked and lived”.  It says in (Numbers 21:9) “It came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.  This leads us to the third point we want to consider about the “lifting up”, the cross work, of the Lord Jesus Christ which we will look at in the next post.

“THE SON OF MAN MUST BE LIFTED UP” (Part 1)

Here in (John 3:14-15) it says that “THE SON OF MAN MUST BE LIFTED UP”.  This is a “divine imperative” in the Word of God.  It is something that is absolutely necessary.  He must be lifted up.  We should first identify the person who is called the “son of man”.  The phrase “son of man” is found many times in the Old Testament scriptures.  It means man on the earth with all his weakness and frailty that is inherent in human nature.  In (John 3:14) the title “Son of Man” refers to the Lord Jesus Christ”.  He takes this title and thus identifies Himself with humanity.  In the New Testament, “the Son of man” is the designation that Christ most frequently applied to Himself while here on earth.  It relates Him to the earth and establishes His absolute identification with mankind.  He was truly man naturally and physically like that of all men.  But, He is also truly God being the Son of God.  While here on Earth, He was both God and man in one person.  It says in (1 Timothy3:16) “Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh”.  His humanity was perfect morally, possessing the quality of sinless ness, unlike that of any other man.  Since “THE SON OF MAN MUST BE LIFTED UP” there are three things we want to consider about the “lifting up”, the cross work, of the Lord Jesus Christ, as found in (John 3:14, 15).  In this four part series we will look at the following:

1.       THE NECESSITY OF THE CROSS (WHY MUST HE BE LIFTED UP)
2.     THE DEATH ON THE CROSS (WHY DID HE HAVE TO SUFFER AND DIE)
3.     THE BLESSING OF THE CROSS (SALVATION FOR EVERYONE THAT BELIEVES)

  1. THE NECESSITY OF THE CROSS (WHY MUST HE BE LIFTED UP)
The cross was an absolute necessity. HE MUST BE LIFTED UP.  An investigation of (John 3:14) will help understand why this is so.  It says in this verse,As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up”.  The reference to the story of Moses is found in the Old Testament scriptures, in the book of (Numbers 21:4-9).  This passage can be considered by its revelation of “3 GREAT THINGS”.  These are as follows;

  • There was a “GREAT SIN” that was committed.  The children of Israel were passing through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land.  The people became grieved or discouraged because of their journey.  They complained to God about their circumstances and about the provision that God provided for them.  They said “our soul loatheth this light bread” (the manna from Heaven).  The “manna or bread from heaven” is a type or picture of Christ. To complain against God’s leading and God’s provision was to complain against God Himself.  This was their “Great Sin”.  It is a picture of man’s rejection of God’s Son and God’s Savior, the one who is called “the true bread from Heaven” (John 6:32, 33).  My friend, have you ever received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior?  If not, you are rejecting Him.  Neutral you can not be.  You have either received Him or you are rejecting Him.

  • Their “great sin” resulted in a “GREAT NEED”.  It says in (Numbers 21:6) “The Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, and much people of Israel died.”  The people sinned against the Lord.  Their sin brought them death.  It says in (Romans 6:23) “The wages of sin is death”.  It says also in (Ezekiel 18:20) “The soul that sinneth, it shall die”. You and I have sinned against God because it says in (Romans3:23)”All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”.  Like the children of Israel, you too, have a “GREAT NEED”.  Ahead is death and judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)” It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”.  Men and women have been “bitten by the viper of sin” and are condemned to eternal death.  Your “great need” is salvation and deliverance from the wrath to come.

  • The “great sin” that resulted in the “great need” of the people led God to make a “GREAT PROVISION”.  It says in (Numbers 21:8,9) “The Lord said unto Moses, make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass, that everyone that is bitten, when he looketh  upon it, shall live”.  “It came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived”.  This leads us to the second point we want to consider regarding the cross work of the Lord Jesus Christ which we will look at in the next post.