good news

The bad news first.  I am a sinner.  I am a liar. I am a thief. I have pretty much broken all Ten Commandments.  I am doomed! I am a sinner!

How did this happen? How am I this bad? Is there hope?  Where is the good news??

You see, along came a serpent that asked a simple question, “Did God really say?” And then he replied to the answer “that is because you will be like Him.” Often this continues to be what plays out when we sin. The question gets asked and then we choose to try to be our own God. Our sin separates us from God because He is so Holy. But He gives us a way to be next to Him.

In the Old Testament God kept coming for His people. He chose a nation for Himself to make holy. Through this nation a redeemer would come to the world. Even though this nation kept disobeying, God kept saving them. He chose Moses to lead the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt. He did not give them a law to obey before he rescued them. He saved them from the rule of Pharaoh then He gave the law. The order of redemption is Salvation, Obedience, and Blessing. This is a theme throughout the Bible.

Knowing that the law couldn’t be kept God allowed animal sacrifice to atone for sins. The penalty of sin is death. Blood is the source of life. It must be spilled to atone for sin. A sacrificial system was laid out by God, but it pointed to something greater.

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

As time went on Israel kept falling. The whole time this was going on God kept pointing to one moment in history. The Holy Spirit led some to prophecy about it hundreds of years before it happened.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law. Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” Isaiah 42:1-9

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. Psalm 22:1-18

These are just a few examples of the many. God has always been pointing to His plan to redeem. This wasn’t just for Israel. His plan is for all the nations. He gave us His only begotten Son. He came and did what the law could not do. He came and did what sacrificing lambs and goats could not do. He is the perfect Lamb. He is the scapegoat.

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

God, knowing that we couldn’t keep the law, came down to us and became a man. He kept the law His entire life, being tempted as we are tempted, feeling the same suffering we do, yet He did not fall.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

He lived a perfect life without blemish. He did so knowing the pain of the cross was His main mission. He did so amongst many who hated Him. Many spit on him. Many thought He was just crazy. Yet He lived a life of perfection rooted in the Word and abiding in the Holy Father.

Then comes the humiliation. The scourging. The Cross. His death was the worst in history. The beating and the scourging took Him inches away from death. Then He had to carry His cross with a crown of thorns placed on His head.  Then they nailed Him to the cross.  Nails through His wrists and feet and the He was raised up to hang there suffocating.

On the cross came His Words:

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.  Luke 23:34

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30

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His blood is the blood of the perfect Lamb. It was spilled to cover sins. Every sin committed and yet to be committed.  His sacrifice is what the old system pointed to yet could not fulfill.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthian 5:21

This took place for whosoever believes in Him. He suffered the worst death one could suffer so our sins can be forgiven. He suffered the worst death one could suffer so whosoever believes can have eternal life.

This is Good News!

It doesn’t end here. After this happened Jesus was in the tomb for three days and three nights.

For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Matthew 12:40

Then He rose. Not just spirit, but bodily. This is Good News! This is the resurrection. This is what Sunday is all about. He has risen! Risen indeed! Now we have an advocate with God.  Now we share in His resurrection.  Now we are free from the slavery of sin.  Now death has been defeated.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,   1 Peter 1:3

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7

I pray you believe.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

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

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17

Holy Father, You are almighty God. You set heaven and earth in place. You make all possible. I pray that the readers of this believe in Your Son. I pray they are “whoever”. Lord, work in their hearts. There is nothing we can do. You have done it all. Others say “do, do, do,” you have said “it is finished.” Holy Spirit, work in hearts to take out hearts of stone and make them flesh. Let us put our faith in Christ Who died the worst death, taking on the sins of the world, so whoever believes and repents can be forgiven. Thank You so much for Your Son, giving us forgiveness, a way to turn from sin with a hearts of repentance, and eternal life with You. Thank You for giving us the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us. Thank You for Your Word to show us the reflection of who we are and the way to know Who You are. May we always find You there.  I pray all of this according to Your will being done on earth as it is in Heaven. I pray all of this in the Name above all names. In the only Name that saves. I pray in the Name of my Lord, Savior, Healer, Sanctifier, coming King, Yessuah AhMessiach, Jesus Christ. Amen

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.  Ephesians 1:3-10

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THIS IS GOOD NEWS!!

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Have you ever loved someone so much you would do anything for them?  Have you loved someone so much you would risk getting hurt for them?  Have you loved someone so much that you would give it all for them?  Have you ever loved someone so much that you would go to battle and die just to win that battle for them?  Have you been willing to give everything you have because you believe the one you love is worth more than you are?

Many warriors fight for these reasons.  They go to war for their country, friends, family, and other loved ones.  They are willing to go into battle and risk their lives for loved ones.  Losing limbs or life is worth it to them.  Conquering the enemy to free loved ones says the loved ones more important than their own life.

When warriors come back home from war their entire family is victorious.  Even those who did not fight on the front lines share in the victory.  The mighty warriors defeated the enemy and now the family has them home.  While the warrior was fighting, the family may have been fighting battles at home.  Living while that loved one is away at war is tough.  Many challenges arise, but through the warriors bravery, the family battles on because they know how important they are to the warrior.  Sadly, sometimes that warrior doesn’t return.  He dies in battle while conquering.  He conquerors for them and the family is still victorious through the mighty warrior.

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What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can beagainst us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,  “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”  Romans 8:31-36

The warrior loves for the people he fights for.  He gives all of himself.  This is what God did for us.  He gave himself.  He took our place because He loves us. We conquer because He conquered.  Because Jesus overcame we overcome.  Because Jesus defeated death, we have eternal life.  But there is more to it than just a victory.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  Romans 8:37

We don’t just conquer because of Him.  We are more than conquerors.  We are seen by Him as more.  We are so loved by God that He became a man and was tempted as we are tempted. We are so loved by God that we are worth dying for.  We are so loved by God that we are worth suffering the worst torture and death in the history of the world.  We are so loved by God that He suffered all of this and still is the victor and our Savior.  We are so loved by God that, once we believe on Jesus Christ, nothing can take Him away.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

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When you are a warrior you fight not just for yourself, you fight for who you love. When you are a warrior you fight with passion for someone more than you.  You conquer for those who are more than conquerors.  Jesus conquered the grave for us because we are more than conquerors through Him.

Do you believe you are more than a conqueror?  Do you know Jesus?  Is He your Savior?

If He isn’t, He can be.  If you think there is more to this world than what we see, pray for Him to show you.  If you are asking, the Holy Spirit is already be at work in your heart.  He will show you.

If you feel you don’t deserve the love of someone who died for you, you don’t.   It is by grace Jesus forgives.  It is why He died.  He said “It is finished”.  He conquered not for the perfect, but for the broken.  He conquered for me, the biggest of all sinners.  And if he conquered for me, He definitely conquered for you.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

If you feel like you have done too much wrong to deserve forgiveness, you haven’t.  It is not about doing or deserving.  But we can turn to Him.  He died knowing what I have done.  He felt what I have done.   It was nailed with Him to the cross.  Now I am no longer a slave to sin, but I am free as a slave to Christ.  You can be too.  You can be “whoever”.  I pray you are.

For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17

You can be more than a conqueror.

dspotting

I am a personal fitness trainer and strength coach.  Clients come to my gym to lose weight and get stronger.  Some may think it will happen just by coming in.  Some may think they will get results by doing just enough.  Some may think there is some magic trick that only the trainers know.  These people often don’t last long.  They don’t understand that in order to get stronger you have to lift things that you haven’t lifted before.  In order to get results you have to be challenged.  Many trainers have used this great saying “if it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you.”  So in order to get stronger you need to lift heavier weights. I look at faith in a similar way.  If there are not challenges in your life how can your faith grow? How can your faith increase?  If things continue on in a nice status quo manner is anything making you stronger spiritually?

So we pray for our faith to be increased.  This is one of the best things to pray for.  Just be ready and understand what that may mean.  Understand that in order to increase your faith, it may be challenged.  This should not discourage you from praying that prayer. In fact, let it encourage you knowing that Jesus will be with you every step of the way.

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I wrote a post a few months ago about faith being a gift from God.  For Him to increase our faith is a huge gift. It comes with many blessings.  But like I stated, it may come with trials.  Persevering through those trials is what we need to do .

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1:2-3

The enemy will try to attack. He will come at you and tell you to give up.  He will come and tell you to run away from your faith and not to trust anyone.  He will show you the dangers that having faith will bring.  But much like lifting a heavy weight and being under the barbell when you are on the bench, you know when you lift that weight you will become stronger. You know that you have a spotter, a coach, a Lord and Savior named Jesus Christ, who will be with you as you press that bar of trial off of your chest and high to the sky.  Then you pray for more faith and put some more weight on that bar.

Remember this too, Jesus won’t give you what you can already handle.  No! He is looking to get you stronger. Prepare for more than you think you will get.  Why? Because He is there with you.

Let’s take a look at Peter. Here is a man who was out fishing.  Jesus said to him “follow me” and He did.  Throughout each Gospel story Peter is asking many questions.  Even after just following Him without asking why at that moment.  Even after walking on water.  When Jesus asked the Apostles who they thought He was, Peter gave an answer.

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.  Matthew 16:15-18 peter

This answer that Peter gave was of faith.  Jesus even told Him this faith was given to him by God and not man.  He then called him a rock and said on this confession of Him as the Christ the church will be built.

Something I find interesting about Peter was even after these miraculous things, his faith was tested even more.  Tested to the point of him denying to know Jesus even after he told Jesus he would not.  Even after this Jesus still loved him.   He was not done with him.

But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you. Mark 16:7

Peter went on to do many great things in the face of persecution.  He preached, healed, raised to life, all by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Everyday his faith must have been challenged and everyday his faith must have grown.  In fact he wrote:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,  who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.  1 Peter  1:3-9

I can pick several people in scripture who faced trials and tribulation, all the while their faith increased.  God could have just left them alone.  He could have turned His face from them.  He can turn His face from us.  But He loved them and loves us.  He blessed them and he blesses us.  He sent His Son to die on the cross just so we can be with Him.  We are sinners who deserve death but we get life, freedom, grace, mercy, love, and faith.

There are many promises in the bible.  One way I know it is true is because we are promised tribulation.  We see that everyday.  But we also see hope.  We believe in hope because after three days in the grave our Savior rose from the dead. He is alive and in every believer.  He can raise our broken spirits back from the dead.  He can raise our broken relationships back from the dead.  He will leave the 99 sheep to get the one. He will welcome you home meeting you on the road as He sees you in the distance.

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Your faith may be under the bar right now.  The weight may be more than you can handle.  Stop trying to lift that bar alone.  Those hand that are helping you lift it have wrists that have been pierced so you can know you are not alone under that bar.  I might have a day where I miss the spot and the bar crushes you.  Man will fail.  God will not.  Sometimes He will just spot you with 2 fingers instead of pulling the bar off quick.

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I pray that if you are reading this and don’t know the Savior I speak of, that you desire to know Him.  I pray He is at work in your heart right now.  I pray that you get on your knees and talk to God.  Ask Him to show Himself to you.  Tell Him what you are feeling.  Tell Him what you want.  Ask Him to give you faith, and if you have it, ask Him to increase it.  If you are under the heavy barbell press hard.  Jesus is with you. A funny thing about faith, it really doesn’t take much for miracles to happen.

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.  Luke 17:5-6

increase faith

Go

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

There it is.  The great commission.  This is what I am wrestling with right now.  What does this look like?  How, in this American culture, does making disciples of Jesus Christ happen?  Am I doing it now?

Lately I feel restless.  I read Scripture and think about how Jesus walked around and went to people.  He made himself accessible.  He didn’t just have a Sunday morning meeting.  He didn’t just go to the temple.  He walked around town.  He got in a boat and went across the river.  He went to places where even his apostles didn’t want to go.  He talked to people who were not looked at as people who a Holy person should talk to.  He ate with tax collectors. He ate with prostitutes.  He healed people who were considered “dogs” by many.  He asked questions.

Is that what I am doing?  Am I being salt and light to the world by more than Facebook posts and writing a blog?  Am I really showing I love the Lord by really loving my neighbor?  Is my faith being shown by my works?

But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”  James 2:18

The more I read Scripture the more I feel convicted on all fronts.  This is not in a bad way.  It is not a guilty feeling.  It is a feeling of longing.  It is a feeling of longing to be more like Christ.  To live a sacrificial life.

As I write this I realize it may be the sin of pride I am fighting with.  I sit and sometimes think of the church in countries where it is illegal to be a Christian.  I think of how there are places where, if you have a Bible, you can be killed.  I think of Paul and other Apostles and disciples who were beaten, put in prison, and killed for going out and proclaiming the Good News.

The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. Act 16:22-24

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In a contrasting situation, I sit here writing a blog free from that persecution.  I live in a country where yes, sometimes Christian views are not popular, but we get to express them in many ways.  While that freedom may be threatened one day, I still have that gift.  Instead of feeling like I am not sacrificing enough because I am not persecuted, I should take advantage of the Grace and Blessing God has given me by being in this country.

If you are restless out there, let’s get bold.  Let’s be the body of Christ.  Let’s be the Church and not just go to church.  Let’s take care of our brothers and sisters in Christ everyday.  Let’s make a difference where we live so the light of Christ can be seen so that people want to be a part of the body.  Let’s be salt so people seek the living water of Christ.  Let’s build each other up so we are prepared to accept the great commission.  Let’s speak the Truth in Love to each other so we can grow up in Christ.

As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.  Ephesians 4:14-16

I need to be held accountable.  The commission needs to be taken seriously.

We need to GO!

If you are not a believer and are reading this blog for the first time I pray the Holy Spirit works in your heart and you know Jesus.  I pray He saves you and you are born again.  I pray you know He died on the cross for you.  I pray you can trust Him and that, because He died on the cross, if you repent and confess He is Lord, you are forgiven and you don’t have to be a slave to your sins.  You are free in Jesus Christ.  I pray that you believe.  I pray in the Awesome name of Jesus Christ.

“How do you know God?  Does He talk to you directly?  Have you even seen Him?  How do you know who He is?”

These are questions that are often asked of believers.  These are questions that some believers even ask.  These are questions I used to ask myself.

So, how do we know God?  I find it is the same way we know any person.  How do we know people?  We spend time with them.  When you meet someone for the first time you get to know a little about them.  You know as much as they reveal to you at that point in time.  Each time you meet there after you may learn a little more.  You see things they do and habits they may have. You get to know if they are trustworthy and other qualities they have.  You can know someone for years and still learn something new.  For example, I have been married to my wife for almost 10 years and the other day I just found out she doesn’t like cherry flavored things.  She likes cherries but not cherry flavored things like cherry pop-tarts or cherry coke.  This may seem small, but it is an example of no matter how long you have known someone, you can still learn more.

This is an example of how our relationship is with God.  We get to know Him through the Scriptures.  My experience so far in reading the Bible is I always learn more about who God is.  I can read the same passage a few different times and He reveals something new.  It is just like how we get to know other people.

God gave us Holy Scripture so we can know Him.  It is His letter or email to His people.  The Bible is not like any normal book.  It is not a book you read just once and you understand.  It is not “Twilight”, “Harry Potter”, and definitely not “50 Shades of Grey”, (although the book Song of Solomon in the Bible does get pretty steamy.)  He did not design it to be read as such.  It is the living and breathing Word of God.  The more you read and study it, the more you know who He is.  He will reveal more to you the more you pursue Him just as you pursue a person.  It is the only true way to know who He is and how He wants us to live as His sons and daughters.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12:2

Here is a problem some face when trying to know God.  Sometimes we conform to this world.  We listen more to what the world says instead of what God tells us through His Word.  This world distorts His Word and we are deceived by that distortion.  From this distortion, some think either there isn’t a God, or if there is, He either can’t be known or He is bad because the world is bad.If however, they read, study, and begin to understand His Word, they would see these things explained.  They would see the world for what it is and God for Who He is.  His Word reveals God to be Just, Loving, Truthful, and the Giver of hope in what is to come.  God is a healer.  He is the beginning and the end.  He is a creator and father.  He is merciful.  He is so much more and He reveals this in His Word.

Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises loving kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.  Jeremiah 9:23-24

If you want to know who God is start with His Word.  The fact that you want to know who He is shows that the Holy Spirit may be at work in your heart.  Let Him keep working.  Pursue Him.  Read His Word.  It is a gift.  It has survived thousands of years.  Throughout history the evil one, through people, has tried to destroy, control, and distort God’s Word, but God made a way for it to come to all to read and know Him.

The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.  Isaiah 40:8

If you feel the Holy Spirit moving you to know God and read His Word, keep in mind the big picture.  The entire Bible points to One.  From Genesis to Revelation there is One.

The Savior.  The Sanctifier.  The Healer.  The Coming King.

Jesus Christ

It is very sad and humbling to see the tendency of… those who, if they do not reject the Bible altogether, will compromise its supremacy and question its infallible authority. The Bible is either everything or nothing. Like a chain which depends upon its weakest link, if God’s Word is not absolutely and completely true, it is too weak a cable to fix our anchorage and guarantee our eternal peace. Thank God, we have reason to accept it as the supernatural revelation of a supernatural God, the word not of man, but the Word of God that lives and abides forever.

A. B. Simpson Biography and Bibliography

The Gift

Posted: December 6, 2013 in Uncategorized
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a red gift

It’s crazy.  It is insane.  Sometimes I can’t believe that I actually believe.  The story is unbelievable on so many levels. At one point in time I did not fully believe.  At one point in time I did not fully understand.  Now I believe.  Now I understand.  What has changed?  What is different about me that allows me to understand and believe something that by our own human thinking is impossible?

The answer is in the very book I didn’t want to read.  The answer is in the very book I thought was just like every other book written by men.  The answer is in the Holy Scripture.

In my second year of Spiritual life I can give a decent defense of my belief in God.  For those who don’t know, apologetics is a term used for defense of faith.  My apologetics argument is educated, but what does that prove?  Will that win a heart to Jesus?  No!  Is that how I was won to Jesus?  No!  While I do believe, and Scripture commands, that all believers should give a defense of our faith, and it shouldn’t be “because faith is believing in something I can’t prove,” it does not truly explain why we came to believe.

When Jesus was with His disciples, performing many miraculous things, people who witnessed them still didn’t believe He was the Messiah.  After He fed five thousand people with just a few loaves of bread and a few fish they still wanted to know what sign He would give them.  He showed them several times many signs and miracles yet they still did not believe.

So where does my faith come from?  Where does the faith of a believer in Christ today come from?  It comes from the same place faith in the Lord has always come from.  It comes as a gift from God.

 In John 6, after the people follow Jesus Capernaum, the day after He fed five thousand, they question Him about the bread and Jesus told them He was the bread of life.  He said He was the manna from heaven.  They grumbled about it because they did not understand and “Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves.  No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:43-44

a well God does not invite people to be saved. He commands them. —R.C. Sproul

Jesus is saying the faith that the followers lacked had not been given to them by God.  He had not drawn them, like drawing water from a well.  Do I know why God chooses some people and not others?  Do I know why I was chosen?  No and No.  There is an answer, given by the Apostle Paul, to why faith has to come from God.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

God gives us faith and saves us through grace so we do not boast.  There is nothing we can do to save ourselves from our ourselves.  Jesus did it all on the cross.  We believe because God opens our eyes, our ears, our minds, and our hearts to know Jesus.  No one can believe what we believe on our own without God giving it to us.

This is not to say the faith of a believer will not be tested.  This is not to say there won’t be times when you question what you believe.  I often come across things, in Scripture and life, that make me question my faith.  Let’s not get questioning confused with doubt.  When I question my faith I search deeper for answers.  For example, I was watching a video on youtube put up by an atheist, and she was questioning a Scripture in the book of Deuteronomy.  So I did some research and found an explanation for the verse that showed she was misinterpreting. The questioning made me search out God more and made my faith stronger.  I believe this is the design of Scripture and our faith relationship with the Lord.  As for the atheist, perhaps she doesn’t see the Scripture for what it is because she has not been enabled to by the Lord yet.

So this brings me to a possible dilemma for the believer.  If my faith is a gift that can only come from God, then why am I called to preach the gospel to all nations?  Why would anyone witness and give their testimony?  Why have missions around the world and go on mission trips?  The answer comes down to, because we are commanded to.  We are the vehicle God has chosen to bring the Gospel to the world.  The world needs to hear.  We are just the planters of seeds.  God makes the seeds grow.  Sometimes the soil isn’t ready.  Sometimes the soil will never be ready.  Sometimes it takes a little more fertilizer.  We do not have the ability to know when the soil will be ready.  We are just called to plant.

I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.  1 Corinthians 2:3-5

Since we do not know who exactly will have ears to hear and eyes to see, we must tell everyone.  Even people who, in our human minds, may not be the people we think God wants to save. This often makes me think of Jonah.  God told him who to speak to and he refused.  He ran the other way.  But Jonah couldn’t run from God.  Neither can we.  All we can do is obey and be so very thankful the He enables us to believe.

a jonah

If you are reading this and feel you have not been enabled by God to believe,  but you want to, ask God right now to change you.  Ask Him to make your heart turn to Him.  Ask Him to make you ready.  The fact that you are asking should show you He is working in you.

I did not believe but then He changed me.  It took me on my knees asking Him to change me.  He was already there when my knees hit the floor.

Thank you Lord Jesus for giving me ears to hear and eyes to see and a heart to love.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

You are “whoever”.

a cross

This post is not like my last few. This may come off as if I am being legalistic. That is not my intention.  I am writing this to bring to light what the Bible says to believers.  I am writing this so that the believer may be aware that what the world may say is ok to do God has said otherwise.  I am also writing because I used to take part in these activities before I was saved.

Many of you are familiar with the big craze for ghost hunting.  This is something I was interested in and actually did a few years ago.  The other day on Facebook I saw that the old team I used to be part of posted a question dealing with our fate and what could spirits possibly be.  I answered with what the Bible says.  I said that if you are a believer that you should not be dabbling in the occult and searching for ghosts. This is forbidden in Scripture.

There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you.  Deuteronomy 18:10-12

There are some who do these ghost hunts who say they are Christians. They may very well be but they do not understand scripture or they have not read.  There are a few passages that warn us not to communicate with the dead.  We are commanded to not consult with mediums or psychics or any other forms of the occult.  I believe that these people, like mediums, are communicating with spirits.  These spirits are not the loved ones we hope to contact.  The bible is clear that after we die we either go with the Lord for eternity, or go away from the Lord for eternity.  Then who are these mediums talking to?  They are talking to demonic spirits. They are talking to spirits under the control of satan.  They are being deceived.

When they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? Isaiah 8:19

So why do people chase ghosts, consult mediums, talk to psychics? I believe they are looking for answers.  In fact, that is how one of the ghost hunters I know answered my question of why do you do this.  He said they do it to help people and to find answers.  Perhaps they are looking into the wrong place for the answers.  While they may be helping people, they are also misleading them.  They are falsely confirming the supernatural and leading people away from the God of the Bible.

One of the ghost hunters said that after their findings they encourage people to go to church.  There is nothing wrong with that as long as they go to a bible believing church.  Something the evil one likes is when someone believes they are in a relationship with God when they really aren’t.  The evil one is a master of deception and when he gets you to believe you are talking to past loved ones or a nice spirit who is stuck between worlds he enjoys it.  When you believe his lie, it takes you away from the Truth.  The truth is Jesus Christ.  The way is Jesus Christ. The life is Jesus Christ.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10

In my research on this topic I came upon a former ghost hunter who came back to her Christian roots.  She was raised Christian and departed from the faith for a bit to get more into the occult. As her experience in the occult and witch craft began to grow, she felt there was still something missing and started to bring her Christian faith to her witch craft and called herself a Christian witch.  Her testimony is amazing and you should check it out here. http://kristinemcguire.com/  Something happened on her last investigation that made her realize what it was she was dealing with.  I do not want to tell the story here because I can not do it justice.  Please check out her website and read as well as listen for yourself.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, there are spirits that may seem intriguing to explore but I urge you to read and study scripture.  Pray for God to reveal His truth to you.  Do not be deceived by this world, for the evil one is the prince of this world.  The occult, including witch craft, mediums, psychics, ghost hunting, and even alien hunting, are not to be sought.  The bible says they are not of God but of the deception of the evil one.  If you believe, then believe it all.  It is the Word of God.  It is His Truth.  Do not depart from it.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:11

If you don’t know Jesus, I pray you ask Him into your heart. I pray the Holy Spirit softens your heart so that the answers you are looking for are found in the only place they can be.  I pray you find them in Jesus Christ who was crucified on the cross for our sins so we can be with Him in heaven when we leave this world.

Don’t hunt evil spirits, but be lead by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6