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Monday, April 19, 2021

Your Greatest Commission-Discipleship

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

All life is about growth from the cradle to the grave. While God’s plan of salvation includes the forgiveness of our sins, Jesus calls us to be His disciples and says, “If you love Me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). This is becoming His disciple and growing and maturing in your Christian experience.

What defines a disciple of Christ?

  • ·      Knowing, Showing, and Growing.  Knowing Him as your personal Lord and Savior by having asked Him to forgive your sins and govern your life.
  • ·      Showing your faith through water baptism.  Baptism by total immersion doesn’t save you from your sins. It is a symbolic act that shows your life is buried in Christ. Coming up out of the water symbolizes being resurrected in to a new life in Him.  It is a confession of your faith in Him.
  • ·      Growing in your faith by learning and doing what Jesus commands.  He says of Himself, “Take My yoke [calling] upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).

It's not just praying a prayer to Jesus; it’s living your life for Jesus. “If you love Me, you will obey My commandments.” But there’s a difference between being saved that happens in a moment, and being a disciple of Christ, which happens over a lifetime. 

The Apostle James writes, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says” (James 1:22).  It is not a suggestion. When we hear and do, it becomes an instruction with a promise.  The promise of growth, and sanctification that will come to define our lives in Christ Jesus.

Finally, He said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you hold [believe and practice] to my teaching, you really are My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” (John 8:31-32). The whole world is in the bondage of the lies of Satan. Our choices can bring us into the harsh slavery of sin or the freedom and eternal life in the Son.  Pilate asked Him, “What is truth?”  when He stood before him.  All he needed to do was reach out in acceptance. Rely on His promises, and obey all He commands.  The First Choice of Freedom indeed.


Monday, April 12, 2021

My Lord and my God!

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29 (ESV)

Even though the Apostle Thomas had been a part of Jesus’ three-year ministry, listening to His astounding words and witnessing His miraculous acts, he was no soft sale.  He was a skeptic.

He remained a skeptic even after the other disciples said they had seen the Christ alive and well, three days after His crucifixion and death.  He said, “Unless I see in His hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into His side, I will never believe.”

Jesus appeared to them eight days later and confronted Doubting Thomas, challenging him to do what he said he would do to believe.  Thomas didn’t need to as he saw and recognized his risen Messiah, causing him to say, and rightly so, “My Lord and my God!”

After Thomas saw and believed, Jesus pronounced a blessing on all who would believe without seeing.  Some of you reading this are searching and have not arrived here by accident.  You might be unsure of who this Jesus is or how He can affect your life for the better.  Like Thomas, you might be a skeptic.

Thomas carefully weighed the outcome of the cross.  But he did as Jesus commanded, and received a shocking reality check. If you’re skeptical, I hope you will just simply believe, as he did.  He was awakened to the Reality of God’s Salvation and was led to experience it fully through the working of the Holy Spirit. He was blessed by what he saw, but for those of us who have believed on Jesus Christ in ages since, we are the recipients of a greater Grace and Blessing. 

Why not put your trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins? If you’re skeptical ask Him into your heart and receive the greater blessing. What do you have to lose?  If Jesus isn’t real nothing will happen and you can go on with your life. But He is real and alive forevermore (Revelation 1:18), and as did Thomas, you will receive that blessing, only in a greater way, coming to say of Jesus the Christ, “My Lord and my God!”


Monday, April 5, 2021

Standing on the Sun

Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them. Hosea 14:9

There was a not-so-wise astronaut who announced he and his space team were going to make an historic manned flight to the face of the sun. A reporter sensibly pointed out, “You can’t do that.  You’ll burn up.” The determined space explorer smiled knowingly and said, “Ah, we’ve already solved that problem. We’re going at night.”

I’ve never thought of solving a problem as serious as standing on the sun, but I must confess I have tried to figure many brilliant ways to push my own agenda. In those times I’ve taken my eyes off Christ, the Founder and Perfecter of my Faith (Hebrews 12:2), and every time found myself standing on the sun. This spiritual hotfoot never fails to demonstrate that choosing my own will over the Lord’s always brings on the heat.

Waiting for an answer from the Lord is probably one of the hardest things we’ll ever do. We get apprehensive and begin to fret and worry. Impatience can breed rebellion against God’s plan for our lives. When things move too slowly, or seem to not move at all, we’re tempted to try and control our destiny.

Standing still in confidence demonstrates patience. Patience with confidence brings peace. Wait on the Lord. I need to hear this reality check often myself, realizing He begins working the first second I ask. His course for any of us is far more miraculous and wonderful than any plan we can come up with. I have learned the Wheel of God often turns slowly, but it is always turning toward His perfect completion. When we take time to slow down and wait on God’s moves, we will be wise and discerning. Instead of finding ourselves standing on the Sun, we will find ourselves standing on the Son. 


Monday, March 29, 2021

Whose Life is it Anyway?

Martha said to Him, “I know that he [Lazarus] will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live…” John 11:24-25

You’ve got to admit that after carefully reading the words of Jesus, one cannot honestly walk away saying, “He was just a great teacher.” His fellow Jews knew this and were always asking Him if He were the Christ (Messiah). And He said, “I told you, but you didn’t believe Me.”

Historical witness tells us when answering that question to Israel’s religious leaders in the positive, their response was to shout “Blasphemy!” Then they manipulated the Roman authorities into executing Him.

But, there’s that well-worn saying, “You can’t keep a good man down.” And with authority from God His Father, He had the say when He could lay His life down, and when He could pick it up again (John 2:19, 10:18,). It was His to do with when and how He pleased (Luke 23:46). At the tomb of his beloved friend, Lazarus, after He made the astonishing declaration that He was the Resurrection and the Life, He asked Lazarus’ grieving sister the question we all must answer, “Do you believe this?”

Jesus did not come out of that grave alone.  No, the Bible teaches He was the firstborn from the dead with all supremacy (Colossians 1:18). When He exited that tomb bodily, being very God of very God, future millions, perhaps billions, who would believe on Him, followed behind.

 To crush Christianity at the start, all the religious leaders of Israel had to do was simply produce the body.  They could not, because it was not there.  There’s never been an adequate explanation how His followers could have stolen His dead body while the Roman guard detail slept.  For a soldier of Rome, being found asleep at their post carried the gravest consequences (Matthew 28:13-14).

It's called Easter, but I prefer “Resurrection Day.”  The tomb is empty.  Listen to His words; “I am the resurrection and the Life.  Do you believe me?”  If you have not already answered that, you will have to, either now or at a future time.  The Firstborn from the dead who is the resurrection and the life.  Do you believe Him? Your answer has eternal consequences for He is risen.  Yes, He is risen, indeed.


Monday, March 22, 2021

The New FAX of Life

Jesus replied, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.”  Matthew 22:37-38

A holy man high in a mountain cave had a paper jam in his FAX of life.  After a technician climbed the mountain and cleared the jam, he turned to the hermit and asked, “So tell me, Sir, what is the meaning of life?”  The holy man only smiled and said, “I’ll FAX you.”

As much as we might make light of the question, the reality of it haunts us.  The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) has estimated close to 800,000 persons successfully commit suicide yearly (W.H.O, 2 Sept, 2019).  With these kinds of stats, the meaning of life, with its deep source of pain, cannot be flippantly ignored.

Jesus Christ put the meaning of life into perspective when He quoted today’s verse from the Hebrew Scriptures (Deuteronomy 6:5). We were created for eternal fellowship with God (Genesis 3:8-9), to love Him with our complete being. This was the original meaning of life and the only thing that can still offer its real meaning. 

Adam and Eve were the only human beings, outside of Jesus Christ, ever to walk in Perfect Meaning while in their flesh.  The rest of us have had to fight the FAX machine.  God wants us to know there is more to life than annihilation at our last breath. He demonstrated this graphically when He offered His Son for us all and raised Him from the dead (1st Corinthians 6:14, Ephesians 1:20).

Finding resolution to our conflict, and a sound relationship with Christ, is as easy as believing.  When we do, His Holy Spirit will guide us into His Truth (John 16:13). He is the only One who can clear the jam in our FAX of Life. What flows from His throne is pure, unadulterated love and meaning.  

When we love Him back with our greatest love and affection it will bring to us a fellowship and meaning we can find nowhere else. When we know the true meaning of life, life can’t help but finally have true meaning, finally clearing that jam from our own FAX of Life.


Monday, March 15, 2021

Cherubim Plural

After he [the LORD] drove the man out, he placed on the eastside of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:24

I’ve touched briefly on our original parents, Adam and Eve, concerning their fall from a perfect and holy life, to one of sin and the suffering it brought.

God said after the fall, man should “…not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” He placed cherubim at the east of the Garden of Eden to stop mankind from ever eating of that fruit. Cherubim are often depicted, wrongly so, as chubby little toddlers with wings, but are far different. They are powerful and complex beings. Some attend the Throne of God. The prophet Ezekiel describes them in detail (Ezekiel Chapters 1 & 10).

But why deny Adam and Eve eternal life? And why put cherubim there?  Wouldn’t any angel have been enough?  After all, one angel went through the camp of the Assyrians besieging Jerusalem, and in one night killed 185,000 soldiers (2nd Kings 19:35). 

Satan was one of the highest created beings of God. Scripture teaches he was the anointed guardian cherub that perhaps even led heaven in music praising God (Ezekiel 28:13,14). He was created with free choice and was perfect until, being lifted up with his own beauty and pride, wanted to be God! (Isaiah 14:13,14).

That he tempted Adam and Eve into sin wasn’t enough. He not only wanted to cause man and woman to fall out of relationship with God, but to make them irredeemable, completely ruining the Creator's plan.

Over my lifetime I’ve read today’s verse many times and have never given much thought as to why God placed cherubim to guard the way to the tree of life. 

God knew if Adam and Eve were able to eat of the tree, they would become eternal flesh and blood beings, trapped in their sin forever, unable ever to be redeemed. 

As Satan was of the highest order of God’s angelic beings, He was, and is, a very cunning and powerful adversary. His hatred of God was so vicious that it was a very real possibility he might have attempted to go into the Garden and bring fruit from the tree of life back to Adam and Eve, making sure they would forever be trapped in their sin with no possibility of redemption. It would have taken angels of the same order and magnitude to ensure it didn’t happen.  Notice God sent ‘cherubim’ (plural).  There being more than one, it seems, would have given the supremacy to stop the enemy of mankind, should he try it.

Driving our first parents out of the Garden would at first glance would seem cruel, but allowing them to live forever in sin, without any chance of redemption, would have been crueler.

When God allows us to be pushed into uncomfortable situations it is always for our greatest good. God placed the Cherubim at the entrance of the garden to protect the man and woman that was ultimately worse than death.

The Psalmist writes that God will send His angels to protect us and guard us in all our ways (Psalm 91:11-12).  He will do that indeed, with whatever it takes.  Even if it means sending Cherubim Plural into our battle, to guard us from every direction, with flaming swords that light the darkness.


Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Carpel Tunnel Release

I have had Carpel Tunnel Release surgery on my dominant hand and cannot at this time type much due to post-op pain.  I hope to be back next week.  Please keep me in your prayers.  Thank you.