Yeshua, Hailed As King, Rides A Donkey’s Colt In Fulfillment Of Prophecy

Our Lord, Yeshua, came in fulfillment of multiple prophecies provided by the Lord through prophets hundreds of years in advance of His coming. One such prophecy is referenced in John 12.  This should comfort us and remind us that our Father is in control, He knows what will happen and when and how, He is not surprised but rather always has a plan for His people. Yeshua was always intended to come and live among us and die for our sins so we could be made right with the Father by grace, through faith.

John 12:12-19

Jesus Enters Jerusalem

     12On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, even the King of Israel.” 14Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written, 15“FEAR NOT, DAUGHTER OF ZION; BEHOLD, YOUR KING IS COMING, SEATED ON A DONKEYS COLT.” 16These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him. 17So the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead, continued to testify about Him. 18For this reason also the people went and met Him, because they heard that He had performed this sign. 19So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are not doing any good; look, the world has gone after Him.”

He not only came with signs and wonders, but He came consistent with prophecy and fully aligned living out the Law provided by the Father as the standard for us all to follow. We can know that His word and His example are true. However we must remember that He spoke to a culture very far away from our own, to the Jewish culture. We must seek to understand the Jewish culture of that day to fully understand His teaching and how it applies to us today.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

You Will Always Have The Poor

Helping the poor is good, and it is consistent with the teaching of Yeshua. However, it is not an excuse to disregard Yeshua as Lord of our lives. We should not place others in a place of higher priority in our lives than we do Yeshua. He must be first.

John 12:1-11

Mary Anoints Jesus

     1Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. 3Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, 5“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?6Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. 7Therefore Jesus said, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. 8“For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.”

      9The large crowd of the Jews then learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead. 10But the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death also; 11because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and were believing in Jesus.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Spending and Debt – The Christmas Hangover

Sharing this message originally written by our partnership website, GrowGodsMoney.org.

Christmas is over and many of us are back at work. This is a good time to reflect on how we celebrate Christmas and brace for the credit card bills that are coming our way in January.  A good time to reflect on the last few weeks and look ahead with a plan for next Christmas.

Most people in our culture get drawn into the heavy marketing and traditions of the season which tell us that we should buy many things for everyone we know in order to show them that we love them or even care about them. As a result, they are facing heavy credit card debt from well-intended spending. For those who put it on a credit card and can not pay it off right away they will now also pay high interest until it is paid off, increasing the bill for the season.

It goes well beyond the money alone. Gift exchanging actually becomes a stressful distraction from celebrating Christ at Christmas. It can consume even those with the best intent for one whole month out of every year. It centers gift giving and getting as the important part of celebrating instead of Jesus Christ.

While you are experiencing your Christmas financial hangover, please consider a few alternatives or suggestions for next year.

1- Reduce the number of people for whom you buy gifts.

Buying gifts for everyone you know is not necessary. Instead of buying gifts out of obligation for many with whom you are not close, just make a point to be nice to them all year round. Treat them with kindness and sensitivity and they will know you care for them even if you do not give them a gift. If they only like you when they receive a gift, then they are not really your friend anyway. If you are concerned they will buy for you and you will not have something for them, just have a real conversation with them about managing your expenses and budget responsibly and encourage them not to give something to you. If they are not close enough to you to have this conversation, then why are you even exchanging gifts with them? In some cases, it may be very important to someone close to you to exchange gifts… go ahead if you want to.

2- Reduce how much you spend on each person

Contrary to advertising… you do not need to buy a car, a diamond, gold jewelry, expensive electronics, etc. for people just because it is Christmas. If you don’t show them you love them throughout the year, you will not fool them with an expensive gift in December. For those with whom you want to give or exchange presents, you can set a reasonable budget for each person and then stick to it. This helps you set your overall Christmas budget in a predictable instead of impulsive way.

3- Save up your Christmas budget in advance and avoid credit cards you can not pay back before you have to pay interest.

Once you decide who you will get gifts for and how much to spend, you have a good estimate for your budget planning. Now divide by 11 and start saving it each month starting in January and continuing through November. Inevitably you will still have surprise expenses in December from the season’s activities, so you don’t plan on taking money for gifts from that months budget.

4- You can even consider replacing your current gift exchange traditions with a donation to a charity or family in need… someone you can give to in God’s name with no hope of receiving a gift in return. You will spend less money and honor God more.

5- Simply agree not to exchange presents. Enjoy spending time together without the high expense and extra distraction.

If you find yourself condemning me as “Grinch”… I do not mind. You are not alone, but you are in fact also not correct. If Christmas is all about giving and getting gifts as the centerpiece and focus, then it has nothing to do with Jesus Christ and is simply a pagan festival where people want to get a lot of expensive stuff from each other. I wholeheartedly and enthusiastically reject giving (and receiving) gifts on the basis of obligation.

The alternative is to recognize that gifts are intended not as the focus, but as a means of showing those closest to us that we were thinking of them. That does not require spending lots of money, despite what our culture would have us believe. Besides, you can  give gifts to those you love any time during the year… it does not all have to be at Christmas.

Many tell us that giving gifts is a tradition originated to honor God’s gift to us in the birth of Jesus Christ or because of the acts of the real man who came to be known as Saint Nicholas. Though many give with this in mind, the fact is that this is not the accurate origin of gift exchange. In fact gift giving to children in late December did not start with Christian origins, but rather as part of a pagan celebration of the sun god, Saturnalia, in ancient Rome. It is easy to research for yourself… even in Christian history encyclopedias such as by Zondervan.

Let’s explore the gift giving tradition further and test if it is even consistent with celebrating Jesus’ birth according to the principles of the Biblical record of that glorious event. Does this tradition point to or honor God, or is it just a tradition of men and a potential distraction from God?

Mary and Joseph did not get gifts for one another or even for Jesus and they knew who He was and that He would be born soon. The shepherds came to celebrate and honor God. They did what they were commanded by God to do… which did not involve bringing gifts. The wise men did not even come when Jesus was born… contrary to common tradition.  Scripture tells us they came and found Jesus in a house, not a manger. Herod killed all the male children two years and younger… not a week and younger, or even a few months and younger. It was likely they arrived over a year after Jesus was born. When they did come, they brought gifts to honor God. They did not exchange gifts with each other, nor did they expect to receive gifts in return from Joseph and Mary. I should not fail to mention that God came down as Jesus to die for us and while this is a great gift, He expects no gift from us in return.

So if you really want to focus on giving gifts to honor Christian traditions… give in a way that honors God to those who will not be able to give anything in return and convince others to do the same. You will honor God more, find more joy instead of stress, and spend less.

If suggestions number 4-5 seem overwhelming… start with suggestions number 1-3. The less focus you put on gift exchange, the more focus you will find is available to consider God’s gift to us in the person of Jesus Christ. You will have more time and less stress to enjoy the holidays and hopefully next year you will not have the Christmas hangover in January.

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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.

Long For Your Spouse and Your Lord

I find Song of Solomon 8 a bit hard to fully digest and understand at first. I believe it is at once showing us a passionate and virtuous love between bride and groom and also an allegory for our love for Christ as the true body of Christ.

It begins with an innocence that seems to wish that her love had not the trappings of being king, so that she could love him more privately and without anyone despising her.

It includes some additional allegories, one in verse 8 about the younger daughter who may soon be of courting age.  The story highlights that should the girl be virtuous and avoid men’s advances, she will be honored. Should she be weak and susceptible to temptation, then they will try to protect her. This can also apply to us in a spiritual sense in our relationship with Yeshua. Let us not commit spiritual sin by participating with other false beliefs or false gods. Let us be pure and set aside for our Lord.

Another allegory begins later in verse 11 concerning vineyards. It would appear a reference perhaps to our being good stewards to all our Lord provides to us to manage in this life. All that we have belongs to Him. Let us use it well and consistently with His desires and instructions. Let us not be greedy and driven only by our own desires.

At the close, we see again how she can hardly wait for her love to come. Oh that we should be so anxious for our Lord to come and be with us… that we should put that focus in our prayer, Bible study, and worship time as priority above other daily activities.

Song of Solomon 8

The Lovers Speak

    1“Oh that you were like a brother to me
Who nursed at my mother’s breasts.
If I found you outdoors, I would kiss you;
No one would despise me, either.

      2“I would lead you and bring you
Into the house of my mother, who used to instruct me;
I would give you spiced wine to drink from the juice of my pomegranates.

      3“Let his left hand be under my head
And his right hand embrace me.”

      4“I want you to swear, O daughters of Jerusalem,
Do not arouse or awaken my love
Until she pleases.”

      5“Who is this coming up from the wilderness
Leaning on her beloved?”

“Beneath the apple tree I awakened you;
There your mother was in labor with you,
There she was in labor and gave you birth.

      6“Put me like a seal over your heart,
Like a seal on your arm.
For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy is as severe as Sheol;
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
The very flame of the LORD.

      7“Many waters cannot quench love,
Nor will rivers overflow it;
If a man were to give all the riches of his house for love,
It would be utterly despised.”

      8“We have a little sister,
And she has no breasts;
What shall we do for our sister
On the day when she is spoken for?

      9“If she is a wall,
We will build on her a battlement of silver;
But if she is a door,
We will barricade her with planks of cedar.”

      10“I was a wall, and my breasts were like towers;
Then I became in his eyes as one who finds peace.

      11“Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon;
He entrusted the vineyard to caretakers.
Each one was to bring a thousand shekels of silver for its fruit.

      12“My very own vineyard is at my disposal;
The thousand shekels are for you, Solomon,
And two hundred are for those who take care of its fruit.”

      13“O you who sit in the gardens,
My companions are listening for your voice—
Let me hear it!”

      14“Hurry, my beloved,
And be like a gazelle or a young stag
On the mountains of spices.”

Ask the Lord to help you want more of Him… more worship, more prayer time, more Bible study. Ask Him to make it a desire of your heart and not just another task to be done each day. Let it be exciting to us as if waiting on the one we love to come to see us.

At the same time, for those of us who are married, let us also ask Him to help us continue to long for our spouse in this way that we should cherish our time together and not take it for granted.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

All Of Us Have But A Role To Play For Our King

All of us will die and face our King. None of us are going to live forever in our earthly lives. No matter how important we think we are or others think we are, the Lord can manage a proper handoff with others to continue His work. We are not indispensable.  For those of us who have accepted Yahweh as Lord and accepted the offer of grace and forgiveness through Yeshua… we each have but a role to play in service to our Lord. Let us find joy in playing it well and contentment (or even joy) in coming to face Him when it is our time to die.

Deuteronomy 34

The Death of Moses

      1Now Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, 2and all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, 3and the Negev and the plain in the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. 4Then the LORD said to him, “This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” 5So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. 6And He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows his burial place to this day. 7Although Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated. 8So the sons of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses came to an end.

      9Now Joshua the son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; and the sons of Israel listened to him and did as the LORD had commanded Moses. 10Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, 11for all the signs and wonders which the LORD sent him to perform in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, all his servants, and all his land, 12and for all the mighty power and for all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.

Moses was “one of a kind” in His relationship with the Lord. However, even He has but a role to play in the service of the King. He is one player on the stage which the Lord has established. Each of us has a role to play. Let us focus on what we are called to do and not envy or covet the role others have. Let us also remain humble that we are not indispensable to His work. It is His power and glory, not our own.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Following Yeshua’s Example In Celebrating Yahweh’s Appointed Times

The Lord’s appointed times are important to Yeshua. He knew some were plotting to kill Him. He no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jews. He knew that the religious leaders who wanted to kill Him would expect Him to possibly come up to Jerusalem for Passover and they made plans to seize Him if / when He did. What we see if we continue reading in John 12, is that Yeshua actually went up to Jerusalem anyway to be there for Passover.

The Lord’s Moedim, appointed times, are described in Leviticus 23 among other places. Scripture shows us they were important to Yeshua and His disciples. We should follow our Lord’s example and seek to learn more and celebrate them as He did to the extent we can still do so today. Let us devote our time and efforts to the Lord’s holy days rather than man made holidays.

John 11:47-57

Conspiracy to Kill Jesus

     47Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. 48“If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” 51Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, 52and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.

      54Therefore Jesus no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jews, but went away from there to the country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim; and there He stayed with the disciples.

      55Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the Passover to purify themselves. 56So they were seeking for Jesus, and were saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think; that He will not come to the feast at all?” 57Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where He was, he was to report it, so that they might seize Him.

It seems obvious also, but perhaps worth calling out. Yeshua in His obedience to Yahweh was unmatched. He went to Jerusalem where He knew they were looking for Him to kill Him to honor the Father. Let us not be turned away from our obedience by fear of rejection by man just because they don’t understand.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

How Will You React To Yeshua’s Miracles?

Face with the miracles that Yeshua has done, we each must decide how we will react. Will we accept the evidence… accept the miraculous? or will we just be disturbed by it and become afraid that it will be disruptive to our lives if we believe. It is not only individuals, but also churches and organizations and people groups as a whole which must ultimately grapple with this decision. In many cases, people refuse to see or cannot see the evidence right before their eyes. We see one such example in John 11 as the Pharisees hear about Yeshua raising Lazarus from the dead.

John 11:38-53

      38So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” 40Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42“I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” 44The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

      45Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him. 46But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done.

Conspiracy to Kill Jesus

     47Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. 48“If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” 51Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, 52and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.

Are you ready to accept the evidence of Yeshua in scripture? Evidence around you still today? Or are you going to resist and dismiss or ignore the evidence such as miracles that still happen around us?

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

For The Glory Of God

We have a tendency to think about what we encounter in life by how it affects us personally. However, with the Lord’s help, we can begin to accept that many things that happen in our lives are not just about us.  He sometimes allows difficult circumstances for His own purposes, so that He may be glorified. One such example is recorded in John 11 with the death of Lazarus. Yeshua could have healed Lazarus, even without being physically with him. But instead, the sickness and subsequent death was to be used for the glory of Yahweh… even though the people living through it felt much pain and sorrow in experiencing the event.

John 11:1-46

The Death and Resurrection of Lazarus

       1Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” 4But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” 5Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was. 7Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?” 9Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10“But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11This He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” 12The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. 14So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.” 16Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.”

      17So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off; 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. 20Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. 21Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22“Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” 23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”

      28When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was coming to Him.

      30Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. 31Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, 34and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35Jesus wept. 36So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!” 37But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?”

      38So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” 40Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42“I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” 44The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

      45Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him. 46But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done.

Let us trust in the Lord and ask Him to help each of us to see how our experiences, good and bad, can be used to glorify Him.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

A Prayer for One Another In Christ

A prayer for us as followers of Yeshua in considering praying for one another.

1 Thessalonians 3:11-13

      11Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you; 12and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you; 13so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

A Clean Start… God Is Ready Anytime, Not Just in January

It has become very common for people to view the start of a new year as a means of getting a “clean start” with regards to making changes in their life to improve their situation. Sometimes people take this time to commit to stopping a bad habit or undesirable behavior and sometimes a start of something desirable. Somehow they come to feel as if a new year means their past mistakes are behind them and they have a clean start. If they tried to exercise regularly and failed, somehow now the past failure is forgotten. Unfortunately, seeking a “clean start” in the powerless framework of December turning to January usually falls apart quickly and by the end of January people have lost any momentum in their “New Year’s Resolutions”.

There is a way to make a true clean start, one that comes with power to help us… and it is available to us any time, not just in January. Through Christ, our sins can be forgiven. We repent of our sins, ask forgiveness, believe that He died for us and submit ourselves to the Father. He is waiting for us, looking on the horizon so to speak for our humble return to Him. There is no sin too big to be forgiven, no previous disrespect of God that we can not repent from.

Luke 15:11-32

The Prodigal Son

     11And He said, “A man had two sons. 12“The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. 13“And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. 14“Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. 15“So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16“And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. 17“But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! 18‘I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ 20“So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21“And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22“But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; 23and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

      25“Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26“And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. 27“And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28“But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. 29“But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; 30but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ 31“And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32‘But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”

God waits for us to return home to Him, as the father waits for the prodigal son. He will run to greet us and welcome us. He will not, however, force us to come home. He will allow us to remain separated from Him if we choose to do so.

It is hard for us to get our minds around this type of forgiveness, because we can not imagine granting it to others, but He is God and we are not. Come home to Him now, without delay. He is always ready to receive you… not just in January.

When He receives us as His children, He also gives us a helper in the Spirit to bring His power to bear on our repentance and our fresh, clean start. We are not on our own. We have the power and help of God Himself.

John 16:5-15

The Holy Spirit Promised

     5“But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6“But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8“And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

      12“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14“He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15“All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.

Some may still be asking, does God really forgive all my sins if I repent and submit to Him in Christ? … yes and He speaks a lot about it. But to be clear, do not expect forgiveness if you continue in rebellion toward Him and do not live according to His word.

Isaiah 1:18-20

18“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the LORD,
“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.

      19“If you consent and obey,
You will eat the best of the land;

      20“But if you refuse and rebel,
You will be devoured by the sword.”
Truly, the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Daniel 9:7-14

  7“Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against You. 8“Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. 9“To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him; 10nor have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets. 11“Indeed all Israel has transgressed Your law and turned aside, not obeying Your voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him. 12“Thus He has confirmed His words which He had spoken against us and against our rulers who ruled us, to bring on us great calamity; for under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what was done to Jerusalem. 13“As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth. 14“Therefore the LORD has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the LORD our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice.

Acts 3:19-21

19“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.

Ephesians 1:3-14

    3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

Colossians 1:13-14

     13For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

1 John 1:9-10

9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

Psalm 103:1-13

1Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.

      2Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;

      3Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;

      4Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;

      5Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

      6The LORD performs righteous deeds
And judgments for all who are oppressed.

      7He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.

      8The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.

      9He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.

      10He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

      11For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.

      12As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

      13Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.

And there are plenty more scriptures about forgiveness… a clean start can be yours, in Christ, in January or any other time of the year. You don’t have to do it alone, but the power and guidance is in God and not in the turn of a calendar from December to January and not in what our culture or society says is good and to be valued.

To learn more about following Christ, continue reading The Message of the Cross.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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