Category Archives: Praise / Worship / Glorify God

In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!

Imagine that you were unable to walk and had been that way since birth. You have never known anything else.  You have no choice but to beg for money to survive. Then along come some men who stop to help you. They demand your attention for a few moments. Those moments change your life.  Expecting only a small bit of money, you receive something much better than money… they set you free from your bondage that has been holding you back since birth… all in the name of Jesus Christ!

Healing the Lame Beggar

      1Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. 2And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. 3When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. 4But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!” 5And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” 7And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. 8With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9And all the people saw him walking and praising God; 10and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

In a way, we are all like the beggar. We are born into the world in bondage to sin… to our own selfish nature and prone to believing the lies of the devil which permeate the world around us and pull us ever further from God. We are just trying to survive, really. Then, someone comes along and offers us something that totally transforms our lives. We must give our attention to it and listen. We must open our hearts to be receptive and then receive what Jesus offers… freedom from bondage.

In Acts 3, the beggar is set free from physical bondage associated with his legs not functioning correctly. For all of us, we can be set free from the bondage that we endure to sin. Listen to the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ! Give it your full attention. Accept the gift which is offered through grace… none of us deserve it , but it is offered to all of us. Accept Jesus as leader of your life, turn from your wrong ways of doing things… from bondage to sin and embrace God’s way of doing things. Jesus came to set us free! (Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.)

Imagine if the beggar turned away and refused what was offered him… we would call him a fool. So too for those of us who hear the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ and do not take heed!

Once you have been set free by Jesus… do as the beggar did when he was healed… go forth and praise God publically and let people know what He has done for you and how it has changed your life! Let your life and the changes in your attitudes and behavior proclaim the glory of Jesus Christ!

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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Let Those Who Have Eyes See… But Many Dismiss Even Miracles

Preparing for His departure, Jesus had instructed His disciples to wait for the Helper whom God was going to send to them… the Holy Spirit. His disciples obeyed. They were right to trust and obey Jesus Christ, as we should also in our daily lives. When the day of Pentecost had come… God made the event clear to those who believe so they would have no doubt and be encouraged. It was an incredible and dramatic event. Once again, however, we see that those who refuse to believe… who refuse to see truth… can always come up with an excuse to let them turn aside from God even as He demonstrates the miraculous!

Acts 2:1-13

      1When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

      5Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. 7They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8“And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? 9“Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” 12And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.”

What an exciting event. I can only imagine being there to experience it. What rejoicing must have been going on among the believers. Such a dramatic event that God Himself brought the crowds. There was no need for advertising or grandstanding. The believers just obeyed Jesus and let God bring the crowds. Then they seized the opportunity, with God’s power, and engaged the people who came for the sake of sharing the good news of the gospel!

All of our best efforts to bring the people to our podium amount to little if the Holy Spirit is not in it. And if God is in it… no one can stop Him. We are to obey God and pray for His Holy Spirit to move us and those to whom He would have us share the gospel.

Romans 8:26-31

      26In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

      28And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

      31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

Scripture consistently shows us that there are many who will just reject God and mock His people. In this case they dismissed the entire miraculous event claiming that the believers must be drunk… which is silly even given that people could clearly understand them speaking in multiple languages. Do not be discouraged when you encounter these mockers. It is not a personal reflection on you as God’s faithful follower, but rather a condition of their heart that they are responsible for changing with the help of the Spirit.

The Lord has instructed us in regards to the wicked and the mockers (also scorners). We do not prosper by listening to their counsel or letting them discourage us but rather by delighting in the law of the Lord and focusing on that day and night!

Psalm 1:1-3 1How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. 3He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.

Be encouraged. Live for God, applying His word to how you live your life. Let the Holy Spirit lead you. Thank God that He has given you eyes to see and ears to hear.

Proverbs 20:12 12The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the LORD has made both of them.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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Jesus Is Risen!

Jesus is risen! What wonderful news for those of us who submit to Him as Lord of our lives. We do not serve a dead Christ, but a living Christ… one who has overcome death and the grave! Let us rejoice in the glory of God’s plans and trust in Him.

In Matthew 28:1- 15 we experience the resurrection of Christ… the fulfillment of prophecy that Jesus told His disciples before His crucifixion. As we take a few moments to read and celebrate this wonderful event.

Jesus Is Risen!

      1Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. 2And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. 3And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. 5The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. 6“He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. 7“Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”

      8And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. 9And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. 10Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

      11Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. 12And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ 14“And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble.” 15And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.

 

Let’s break this scripture down and look closely at it to see more detail that God is communicating to us in addition to the bigger message filled with joy that Jesus has risen.

1Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.

Jesus was crucified on Friday. He died early enough for His body to be put in the grave before Sabbath started Friday at sundown. Then nothing happened until after Sabbath was over on Saturday night at sundown. In fact, the next event occurs on Sunday morning… the first day of the week. God honored the framework of the Sabbath even in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ… as He also did following Creation of the universe when He rested on the seventh day. (Learn more about Sabbath.)

Jesus first reveals Himself after resurrection to women. Considering the context of the culture at the time, this is a strong argument toward the accuracy of the Biblical text. Men writing this scripture or telling the story of resurrection would have a strong tendency to depict men, Jesus’ disciples, as the ones to whom Jesus first revealed Himself if they were just making up this story. As it is, Jesus revealed Himself first to Mary and Mary and the scriptures record it accurately… as they do everything else.

 2And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. 3And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. 5The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. 6“He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. 7“Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”

What an amazing site… an angel at once so intimidating that the well trained Roman guards shook for fear and yet the women who loved Jesus could be reassured to calmly converse with him. God’s messenger gave the women instructions and to their credit… they followed at once. He showed them the empty tomb as evidence.

  8And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. 9And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. 10Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

Consider the great joy with which they reacted upon hearing about Jesus. They ran to report it. Jesus met them along the way and they worshipped Him. Once again He had to reassure them not to be afraid and affirmed the instructions from the angel to take word to His disciples.

Each of us should consider… do we act with joy like that? Are we so excited to tell others that our Lord Jesus has risen from the grave that we run? Or do we take it for granted, thinking of it rarely and not letting it move us to share the good news of the gospel with others? Pray that God would help each of us to feel that joy and urgency to share the good news.

  11Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. 12And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ 14“And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble.” 15And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.

Again we see that when confronted with clear evidence of Jesus as Messiah… as the Christ… the chief priests act in the flesh and immediately plot and scheme to cover it up and maintain control through deception. They do not even seek God in prayer for the truth or hold out the possibility that Jesus is the Christ… the Messiah… God Himself in the flesh fulfilling the prophecy of scripture. They are filled with wickedness and led by hardened  hearts.

Even in their wickedness, they could not deny that tomb of Jesus had been opened and that Jesus was no longer there. The evidence was so strong that they could not even claim that it was the wrong tomb or that Jesus was not buried there or that Jesus was still in the tomb. Stronger evidence could not be provided for the fact that the tomb which held Jesus’ body had been opened and Jesus’ body was no longer there.

The best lie they could come up with was that well trained Roman guards were bested by the same disciples of Jesus Christ that ran and hid when they came to arrest Jesus at the garden of Gethsemane. The logic required is impossible to accept. The same disciples who fled when Jesus was alive, are now to be supposed to have confronted Roman guards when they believed Jesus to be dead? Impossible.

We are left then to accept the truth of God’s supernatural intervention by sending an angel to open the tomb and raising Jesus from the dead, as was prophesied by Jesus to His disciples and much earlier by Old Testament prophets of God.

Jesus Christ is risen! He died for our sins and has been raised from the dead. Praise God for His wise plans for redeeming us from our mistakes through His great love for us. May we never take this for granted, but rather may it always be on our hearts with thanksgiving and praise.

Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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No Greater Act of Love

The dreadful treatment that Jesus received up to and including dying on the cross gives us insight into what we deserve for our wrong behaviors and attitudes. He deserved no such treatment. Jesus lived without sin, in perfect obedience to God. God willingly chose to become man in the person of Jesus Christ and to suffer and die for our sins. There is no greater and more clear act of love than to take our punishment in our place. Picture yourself going through this suffering and death instead of Jesus… what would it be like? Then praise God for showing us love, grace, and mercy in taking our punishment for us.

Matthew 27:27-56

Jesus Is Mocked

      27Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him. 28They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. 29And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. 31After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him.

      32As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross.

The Crucifixion

      33And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull, 34they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink.

      35And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots. 36And sitting down, they began to keep watch over Him there. 37And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

      38At that time two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left. 39And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads 40and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying, 42“He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. 43“HE TRUSTS IN GOD; LET GOD RESCUE Him now, IF HE DELIGHTS IN HIM; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44The robbers who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same words.

      45Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. 46About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” 47And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, “This man is calling for Elijah.” 48Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. 49But the rest of them said, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him.” 50And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. 51And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. 52The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

      55Many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee while ministering to Him. 56Among them was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

There are consequences for our sin, for our wrong behaviors and attitudes. The wages of sin are death, but God offers us mercy and grace through Jesus Christ.

Romans 6:23 23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God offers mercy in that He will withhold from us the punishment we deserve if we accept the lordship of Jesus Christ. God offers grace in His offer of eternal life and forgiveness, which we do not deserve. God shows us love by paying accepting upon Himself the punishment we deserve. The consequences of sin had to be dealt with. They could not be ignored.  Jesus suffered for us.

We see also the wicked, who mock and scorn Jesus and those who follow Him. They reject and rebel against God. Ultimately, all shall recognize Jesus as Lord, but for those who reject Him throughout their lives on earth, it will be too late to accept His offer of forgiveness when they stand before Him after they die.

Romans 14:11-12

11For it is written,
“AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME,
AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.”

12So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.

Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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A Cry of Anguish and a Song of Praise

Psalm 22 at once represents the feeling all believers may experience in times of suffering and also foreshadows the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, God Himself, who became man to suffer and die for our sins and mistakes so that we could be forgiven.

For the choir director; upon Aijeleth Hashshahar. A Psalm of David.

1My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.

      2O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer;
And by night, but I have no rest.

      3Yet You are holy,
O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.

      4In You our fathers trusted;
They trusted and You delivered them.

      5To You they cried out and were delivered;
In You they trusted and were not disappointed.

      6But I am a worm and not a man,
A reproach of men and despised by the people.

      7All who see me sneer at me;
They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying,

      8“Commit yourself to the LORD; let Him deliver him;
Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.”

      9Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb;
You made me trust when upon my mother’s breasts.

      10Upon You I was cast from birth;
You have been my God from my mother’s womb.

      11Be not far from me, for trouble is near;
For there is none to help.

      12Many bulls have surrounded me;
Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me.

      13They open wide their mouth at me,
As a ravening and a roaring lion.

      14I am poured out like water,
And all my bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It is melted within me.

      15My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And my tongue cleaves to my jaws;
And You lay me in the dust of death.

      16For dogs have surrounded me;
A band of evildoers has encompassed me;
They pierced my hands and my feet.

      17I can count all my bones.
They look, they stare at me;

      18They divide my garments among them,
And for my clothing they cast lots.

      19But You, O LORD, be not far off;
O You my help, hasten to my assistance.

      20Deliver my soul from the sword,
My only life from the power of the dog.

      21Save me from the lion’s mouth;
From the horns of the wild oxen You answer me.

      22I will tell of Your name to my brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.

      23You who fear the LORD, praise Him;
All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
And stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel.

      24For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
Nor has He hidden His face from him;
But when he cried to Him for help, He heard.

      25From You comes my praise in the great assembly;
I shall pay my vows before those who fear Him.

      26The afflicted will eat and be satisfied;
Those who seek Him will praise the LORD.
Let your heart live forever!

      27All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD,
And all the families of the nations will worship before You.

      28For the kingdom is the LORD’S
And He rules over the nations.

      29All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship,
All those who go down to the dust will bow before Him,
Even he who cannot keep his soul alive.

      30Posterity will serve Him;
It will be told of the Lord to the coming generation.

      31They will come and will declare His righteousness
To a people who will be born, that He has performed it.

All of us face suffering of various kinds in this world… including Jesus Christ, His disciples, and God’s prophets. What a wonderful way to approach it… to trust God and even praise Him in the midst of the suffering. Let us each commit ourselves to this end so as to live the way Jesus Christ lived… submitted to the Lordship of God in good times and in bad times. Let our faith not waver based on our circumstances.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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Yes, Jesus Loves Us That Much!

After Jesus finishes His  prophetic response to Peter, James, John and Andrew regarding when the temple in Jerusalem will be destroyed and the signs of Jesus’ return and the end of the age, He again returns to the topic of His impending death. As we studied previously in our teaching, Jesus Predicts His Death and Resurrection – He Went Willingly, Jesus has made  a point to clearly communicate multiple times to His disciples that He is to die and be resurrected. As the day approaches, He even tells them what day it will occur, during Passover.

Matthew 26:1-13

The Plot to Kill Jesus

      1When Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples, 2“You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.”

      3Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas; 4and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him. 5But they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise a riot might occur among the people.”

Jesus clearly went willingly to His torture and death. God loves us all so much that He became man in the person of Jesus Christ and willingly suffered and died and was resurrected for us…for our sins… all of us. He extends the offer to us, having already paid the price for our sin and wrong choices. All we need to do is accept His offer. (To learn more, study our teaching, The Message of the Cross – Salvation.)

He loved His disciples enough to continually remind them in advance of what was going to happen so they would understand later and recognize the proper perspective that Jesus did so willingly in obedience to God’s plan. He confirmed multiple times what was to happen and then even when it was to happen. God truly loves us that much. The Bible records this history so that even today, thousands of years later, we can be clear that Jesus willingly laid down His life for our sins. He was not tricked or defeated… He volunteered to take our punishment. We deserved to be on the cross, but He went on our behalf.

If someone died saving you from being killed in a tragic accident, such as being run over by a truck… you would tell everyone about it with thanksgiving and praise for that person. You would probably remember and retell it your entire life.

If someone offered us $100 and all we had to do was accept it… and then told us they would offer the same deal to everyone, not matter what they have done wrong in their lives… no matter who they are…  we would take it, thank them, and tell everyone else we knew about this great opportunity.

Why is it that when we hear of this offer for forgiveness of all our past mistakes and reconciliation with God for eternity, we so often keep it to ourselves?

We would tell everyone about the $100 without worrying if we were insulting them by implying they need the money. If we do not feel the same way about telling them what Jesus offers we must consider deeply whether or not we, ourselves, really believe it is true and whether or not we love others enough to help them find Jesus.  Some will reject the message just as some would not believe you about the $100 offer… but some will believe and will come to Jesus.

Rejoice in being a worker in God’s harvest! Do not be “embarrassed” by your love for Jesus but rather be glad in it and share it with everyone!

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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Be Glad in God’s Strength and Rejoice in His Salvation!

King David praises God for deliverance in Psalm 21. David opens up by proclaiming how even a king is dependent on God for salvation and finds joy in this! So many powerful people try to find salvation in money or earthly power… only a righteous man recognizes submission to God and reliance on His power, even when he has the power of a king. How much greater is God’s power for those of us who have eyes to see and ears to hear!

     1O LORD, in Your strength the king will be glad,
And in Your salvation how greatly he will rejoice!

      2You have given him his heart’s desire,
And You have not withheld the request of his lips.

Selah.

      3For You meet him with the blessings of good things;
You set a crown of fine gold on his head.

      4He asked life of You,
You gave it to him,
Length of days forever and ever.

      5His glory is great through Your salvation,
Splendor and majesty You place upon him.

      6For You make him most blessed forever;
You make him joyful with gladness in Your presence.

      7For the king trusts in the LORD,
And through the lovingkindness of the Most High he will not be shaken.

      8Your hand will find out all your enemies;
Your right hand will find out those who hate you.

      9You will make them as a fiery oven in the time of your anger;
The LORD will swallow them up in His wrath,
And fire will devour them.

      10Their offspring You will destroy from the earth,
And their descendants from among the sons of men.

      11Though they intended evil against You
And devised a plot,
They will not succeed.

      12For You will make them turn their back;
You will aim with Your bowstrings at their faces.

      13Be exalted, O LORD, in Your strength;
We will sing and praise Your power.

 

David recognizes that even a king needs God. He is not deceived by worldly power to thinking that a king does not need God.

If this is true for a king in this world, than how much more so for the rest of us who have no such power or influence!

No matter what troubles or danger we face, God is sufficient to help us overcome it. We find true life and purpose in serving God. With God, we overcome death itself.

All we have in this world will be taken away from us… guaranteed. If not during our lives, then it is taken or lost when we die. We take nothing with us. Few things matter when we die…

  • Will we spend eternity in Heaven with God or in Hell, separated from God?
  • Have we lived for God and helped others to find genuine relationship with Him?
  • Will He tell us “Well done, good and faithful servant” or “Be gone, I knew you not”?

These are the questions that demand answers. God is gracious in that you have your entire life to prepare, but that opportunity ends when you die and few of us know when that will happen, so the matter is urgent.  Once you die it is too late to change the answers. All that is left is to accept the consequences… you will either have absolute joy or sorrow and suffering.

The good news is that each of us gets to choose! No one else chooses for us. The invitation is open to all.

God shows His love for us in this life and in the offer for eternal life through accepting Jesus as Lord. He became man, suffered, died, was buried and rose again so that we could be forgiven of the bad behaviors, thoughts, and actions in our lives and be reconciled to God. Have you turned away from your sin and asked God for forgiveness through Jesus Christ? Have you accepted Jesus as your savior?

Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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Afraid and Distressed, Jacob Turns Humbly to God

In Genesis 32:1-23 we continue on our journey with Jacob as he grows in relationship and trust with God. He is obeying God’s direction to return home, trusting in God despite his fear of Esau, who had been plotting to kill Jacob a long time ago when Jacob left.

      1Now as Jacob went on his way, the angels of God met him. 2Jacob said when he saw them, “This is God’s camp.” So he named that place Mahanaim.

      3Then Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4He also commanded them saying, “Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: ‘Thus says your servant Jacob, “I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed until now; 5I have oxen and donkeys and flocks and male and female servants; and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find favor in your sight.”’”

      6The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and furthermore he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” 7Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and the herds and the camels, into two companies; 8for he said, “If Esau comes to the one company and attacks it, then the company which is left will escape.”

      9Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD, who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you,’ 10I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which You have shown to Your servant; for with my staff only I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies. 11“Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children. 12“For You said, ‘I will surely prosper you and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which is too great to be numbered.’”

      13So he spent the night there. Then he selected from what he had with him a present for his brother Esau: 14two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15thirty milking camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16He delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass on before me, and put a space between droves.” 17He commanded the one in front, saying, “When my brother Esau meets you and asks you, saying, ‘To whom do you belong, and where are you going, and to whom do these animals in front of you belong?’ 18then you shall say, ‘These belong to your servant Jacob; it is a present sent to my lord Esau. And behold, he also is behind us.’” 19Then he commanded also the second and the third, and all those who followed the droves, saying, “After this manner you shall speak to Esau when you find him; 20and you shall say, ‘Behold, your servant Jacob also is behind us.’” For he said, “I will appease him with the present that goes before me. Then afterward I will see his face; perhaps he will accept me.” 21So the present passed on before him, while he himself spent that night in the camp.

      22Now he arose that same night and took his two wives and his two maids and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23He took them and sent them across the stream. And he sent across whatever he had.

How wonderful that God sent angels to encourage Jacob. That must have been quite some boost to his spirit… and he may have needed that reassurance from God when he heard that Esau was coming with 400 men to meet him. Surely Jacob remembered that Esau was plotting to kill him when he left, many years ago. They were not on good terms. Jacob clearly splits his group into multiple groups anticipating this possibility. He also puts in place a diplomatic strategy to help his relations with Esau… sending messengers, and gifts ahead of him, declaring he is Esau’s servant.

However, the most important part of the strategy for a righteous person is the prayer. Jacob, in his time of great anxiety, comes humbly before God with praise and thanksgiving, reminding himself of God’s promises and instruction, and asking God to protect him as he obeys God’s instruction to return home to a likely hostile and powerful brother. Jacob continues, faithful to God, despite his concerns.

We should take careful note that Jacob handles this situation as he did managing the flocks over the past 20 years. He comes humbly before God, asking help and protection and listening for instruction… obeying what God commands. Then he combines that with hard work, good strategy, and his own best efforts. He is not lazy, simply putting God to the test and saying God will take care of it all. Rather, Jacob prays for God to act and then does his own personal best to address the situation, trusting God to support Him.

We should model our own walk with God after this pattern. We should absolutely rely on God but also put forth our own hard work and good planning to accomplish what He tells us to do. We should do our part and trust God to bless it.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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The Law of the Lord Is Perfect, Restoring the Soul

Psalm 19 declares the glory of God through His creation, praises God for His perfect law and for God’s judgments, which are righteous. Finally, David concludes by praising God with thanksgiving that He is our rock and Redeemer.

1The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
            And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

      2Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.

      3There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.

      4Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their utterances to the end of the world.
In them He has placed a tent for the sun,

      5Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.

      6Its rising is from one end of the heavens,
And its circuit to the other end of them;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

      7The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

      8The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;            The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the   eyes.

      9The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.

      10They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.

      11Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.

      12Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.

      13Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;
Let them not rule over me;
Then I will be blameless,
And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.

      14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.

David praises God for His creation in the first six verses. Truly as we reflect on what God has created we, too, should be almost overwhelmed by the glory of it. How sad that many are deceived to thinking it is all the result of random events. How blind are those who believe the deception of Satan!

Verses 7-11 are focused on praising God’s “perfect” commandments, precepts, and judgment! Read them again, carefully. David is referring to the law God gave His people through Moses. The same law that most Christians are taught is no longer meaningful. How can it be? It is perfect, restoring the soul. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The judgments of the Lord (based on the law) are true and righteous all together. More desirable than gold, sweeter than honey… by them your servant is warned. In keeping them there is great reward!

Contrary to what many Christians are taught, the law is not bondage! Jesus did not come to “set us free from the law”, but rather to receive our judgment for our failure to execute the law perfectly… to redeem us. He sets us free from sin and the judgment we are due, if we accept Jesus as lord.

David closes by recognizing that the law helps him discern his errors and find his hidden faults. It helps him to recognize and avoid sin! Recognizing that he still fails, he looks to God and praises Him for acquitting him of great transgression.  David praises God for being both rock and Redeemer. The rock refers to God’s unchanging nature. What God said was good and right and true will always be good and right and true.  Through God’s grace we are redeemed through the word of God… through Jesus Christ.

For more about what the law means today, refer to our teaching Understanding The Law – What Does It Mean For Us Today?

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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The Lord Saw That Leah Was Unloved

Genesis 29:31-35 continues after Jacob has just been deceived by Laban in order to trick Jacob into marrying his older daughter Leah, instead of Rachel, whom Jacob wanted. Jacob then married both, but did not love Leah.

God loved Leah and had compassion on her while she was unloved by her husband. He grants children to her, but withholds children from her sister, Rachel. Scripture shares with us a very sad situation that resulted from the sin of Laban and Jacob and then impacts Leah and Rachel as well. Laban was wrong to trick Jacob into marrying Leah and Jacob was wrong for not loving her once he was married to her. Love is not a “warm, fuzzy feeling” born solely out of emotion. Emotions come and go. Love is best defined in 1 Corinthians 13, which we will get to further in today’s reading.

Genesis 29:31-35

31 When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, he enabled her to have children, but Rachel could not conceive. 32 So Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben,[b] for she said, “The Lord has noticed my misery, and now my husband will love me.”

33 She soon became pregnant again and gave birth to another son. She named him Simeon,[c] for she said, “The Lord heard that I was unloved and has given me another son.”

34 Then she became pregnant a third time and gave birth to another son. He was named Levi,[d] for she said, “Surely this time my husband will feel affection for me, since I have given him three sons!”

35 Once again Leah became pregnant and gave birth to another son. She named him Judah,[e] for she said, “Now I will praise the Lord!” And then she stopped having children.

We should take time to give Leah her due credit. When she was given the gift of children, she gave thanks and praise to God for it. How hard it must have been for her to know she was not loved by her husband.  There is no mention of her complaining to God that her husband did not love her, just thanking Him for the gift of children.

Jacob having accepted Leah as his wife, should have shown love to her. Remember… love is not an emotion and is not triggered by hormones. Love is best demonstrated by God’s love for us, which led Him to come down to live among us as Jesus and to suffer and die for us… despite the wickedness of our hearts and our sinful nature. He made a way for us to be reconciled with Him after we rebelled against Him, choosing sin instead of following God’s commands.

Paul summarizes love well in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Learning to love others this way is difficult for man. We are inherently sinful and selfish. Never the less, God calls us to show love for others in this way whether they are our spouses, children, or others we interact with in our daily lives.  As we strive to show others this love, we can remember that is the type of love for which Jesus died for us.

As a bit of a side note, we once again see the failure of those recorded in the Bible as the fathers of our faith. The Bible does not only record successes. What glorious evidence to the truth of the gospel. If it were “made up” or “fiction” the writers would certainly just show these founders as godly and minimize their mistakes. God reveals to us the failures and successes so we can learn from both.

This scripture is as relevant today as when it was first written. Please take time to reflect on how to apply it in your life. Pray the Holy Spirit would convict you and guide you to where you need to make changes in how you treat others around you.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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