God’s Dwelling Place…

Revelation 21:2-4 (NIV)

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Our Verse of the Day always stirs my imagination and deepens my longing for that Glorious Day! I think of what Paul wrote to the Corinthians as he quoted the Prophet Isaiah:

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 (NIV)

However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived,” (Citing Isaiah 64:4) —  the things God has prepared for those who love Him — these are the things God has revealed to us by His Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

Indeed, there are things that God has revealed to us by His Spirit. Yes, there is a day that awaits the people of God … that glorious day when Jesus returns to “take” us to be with Him so that we may be with Him in the place He has prepared for us! 

John 14:1-4 (NIV)

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

And what captures my thoughts is this promise: “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.” So, I searched the scriptures to find additional references to this promise of God to dwell among His people. Here are a few for your consideration:

Exodus 29:44-46 (NIV)

“So, I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.

2 Samuel 7:23-24 (NIV) – See also 1 Chronicles 17:22

And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for Himself, and to make a name for Himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, Lord, have become their God.

Jeremiah 24:6-7 (NIV)

My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

Jeremiah 31:33 (NIV)

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

Ezekiel 11:19-20 (NIV)

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.

Ezekiel 34:23-24 (NIV)

I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and He will tend them; He will tend them and be their shepherd. I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken.

As I read through the prophecies of Ezekiel, my heart trembled and I just had to smile at these words he wrote under inspiration. Look at the language he used … the message. I can only imagine the connection and confirmation that the Apostle John felt as he wrote The Book of Revelation….

Ezekiel 37:22-28 (NIV)

I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God. “‘My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.’”

It is clear to me that God has always desired to dwell with His people … the living beings He created for fellowship with Him. We are the object of His great love and affection! Over and over, He has said: “I will be their God, and they will be my people.” This is the created order! The first living beings, Adam and Eve, communed with the Lord until their transgression … when sin breached their holiness and separated them from God. Yet, God has passionately pursued His people ever since! God has continued through the millennia of human history to reveal Himself and His holiness to His people. In these last days, God has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom also He made the universe. (Cf. Hebrews 1:1-3) It is ONLY in Christ Jesus, through the atonement of His blood, that we are restored to holiness and fellowship with the Father. And I believe it is in Jesus that Father God makes His dwelling place among us both now and forever….

Revelation 21:5-6 (NIV)

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is finished. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.

My friends, these ancient prophetic words are trustworthy and true! Yes, the Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent His angel to show His servants the things that must soon take place. (Cf. Revelation 22:6) Let us share with the world: “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.” (Cf. Isaiah 55:1-3)

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! ~ Revelation 22:20

Keep His Covenant…

Psalm 103:17-18 (NIV)

But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children— with those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His precepts.

Psalm 103 is a beautiful meditation of David. In its 22 verses, he explores the foundations and depths upon which intimacy with God is established. Here we find David speaking to his own soul … addressing his inner being with truths about the nature and character of God that can only be understood and appreciated by the soul. As God is Spirit, our relationship with Him must be in the spirit realm … in a transparent form where nothing is hidden and truth abides. Psalm 103 invites us to think deeply and introspectively about the God who created us and His relationship with us:

1 Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits—
3 Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 Who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

7 He made known his ways to Moses, His deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever;
10 He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on His children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him;
14 For He knows how we are formed; He remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 The wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlastingthe Lord’s love is with those who fear Him,and His righteousness with their children’s children—
18 With those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His precepts.

19 The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the Lord, you His angels, you mighty ones who do His bidding, who obey His word.
21 Praise the Lord, all His heavenly hosts, you His servants who do His will.
22 Praise the Lord, all His works everywhere in His dominion. Praise the Lord, my soul.

(Verses 1-6)

I’m really glad that David began this Psalm with praise for the nature of God. He tells his soul, “Praise the Lord.” In my view, David “commands” his soul to praise God as he unfolds the “reasons” for doing so. He says to himself, “Do not forget all the benefits that the Father has bestowed your life.” God forgives ALL your sins and heals ALL your diseases. He redeems your life from the pit … the dark abyss of sin. He crowns you and intentionally places His love and compassion upon you. His favor promotes good things to bless your life. He works righteousness and justice for those who have been oppressed by others…. And that is just the beginning of how God acts on our behalf.

(Verses 7-13)

David now continues to explore how God manifests His character. God revealed His ways to Moses and displayed His works among His covenant people. From what has been reveal and demonstrated, David concludes that the Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. David observes the kindness of God in that He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. David senses in his soul that the love of God … the forgiveness of God … the compassion of God surpasses our ability to comprehend.

(Verses 13-18)

David shares that what He experiences in His relationship with God is special. The intimacy he has come to know with the Creator … the benefits of fellowship with God the Father … is for those who fear Him! Indeed, His great love is for those who fear Him. (Verse 11). The Lord has compassion on those who fear Him (Verse 13). Yes, His love is with those who fear Him … with those who keep His covenant … with those who remember to obey His precepts. (Verses 17-18) As David wrote in another Psalm: “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge (trusts) in Him.Fear the Lord, you His holy people, for those who fear Him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” (Cf. Psalm 34:8-10) To fear the Lord is to exalt and reverence Him. Indeed, there are no benefits nor rewards in life except for those who fear the Lord … for those who keep His covenant and obey His command.

(Verses 19-22)

David concludes this meditation within his soul with a declaration of the sovereignty of God. His throne is established in heaven! His Kingdom is the only authority throughout the universe He created. And this conviction ignites praise and worship within David again. David sees that ALL creation is subjected to the Lord God. ALL are commanded to obedience … ALL are enjoined to worship the Almighty God! His Word … His Will … His Works have been revealed to ALL creation. So, David commands his soul, “Praise the Lord!” For the soul of every living being WILL bow before Him; and every tongue will acknowledge Him. (Cf. Isaiah 45:22-24; Romans 14:10-12; Philippians 2:9-11)

Here is the application I have found. I cannot know the blessings or rewards of God apart from an intimate relationship with Him – a covenant relationship that He initiated and conferred upon me through His Son, Christ Jesus. The Apostle John explains, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (Cf. 1 John 4:10) And Paul wrote: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Cf. Ephesians 2:8-9) Indeed, there is nothing I have done to earn it or deserve it … but I am compelled in my innermost being to respond to His irresistible grace and love with great reverence. For I am convinced that His desire for relationship with me is knowable, and the thought of such love overwhelms me!

David said the love of God is everlasting with those who fear Him. His compassion is on those who fear Him. So, we need to understand this “fear” … this “reverence” … for God our Creator. To show reverence is an intentional act; and it encompasses how I regard God with the highest honor and deepest respect. Shall we not humble ourselves, and repent, and submit to Him in faith? Shall we not observe His commandments which reveal His will? God said, “Keep my commands and follow them. I am the Lord.” (Cf. Leviticus 22:31) Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands.” (Cf. John 14:15, 14:21; 15:10) Shall we not worship (love) in the manner that God has ordained? Obedience demonstrates our love. Obedience reveals truth. And obedience is better than sacrifice. (Cf. 1 Samuel 15:22)

My friends, I hope that something said here will resonate with your soul. What King David imparted in his Psalms is prophetic of the intimate relationship God desires with us in Christ Jesus. Indeed, the grace of God we know and experience in Christ Jesus should elicit an overwhelming desire within us to love and adore Him … which is manifested in truth through obedience. Reverence IS obedience … because the New Covenant has not been written on tablets of stone; rather, it has been written on our hearts.

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

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

The Visible – Invisible God…

Romans 1:20 (NIV)

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Our Verse of the Day has always resonated with me … when I think of the “apologetics” we have available in the Scriptures to speak with others about God. Do you need evidence for the existence of God? Do you need assurance for your faith? The Apostle Paul, through the wisdom given to him, affirms that you and I can look at creation and know the unseen attributes of God. We can understand both His eternal power and His eternal divine nature just from observing creation … with our eyes … eyes that He designed and formed for us to be able to view all the wonder and majesty of creation. The intricate design … the delicate order … the raw and fascinating beauty of the earth were created just for our habitation as living beings. It truly is incomprehensible; and yet, we can know this all comes from a God who passionately loves us!

Oh, how I delight in God every night when I look out into the universe and study the stars, their positions, and their ordered movements.  I think about ancient people who gazed on the same constellations and their parades across the night skies over the seasons of time.  It reminds me that God is faithful and steadfast … His mercies endure forever … His love is everlasting! Likewise, when I think about living creatures and the complexities of all life forms, I cannot help but be amazed at the diversity of life. I contemplate how no plant, animal, or human being had any choice, power, or control in being brought forth into existence here on earth. Our time here had already been determined (ordained) without our knowledge or consent. Everything that exists is by the will of God the Father; and I believe we would do well to embrace His loving will that we have been created in His image … created in Christ Jesus to do good works with God prepared in advance for us to do. (Cf. Ephesians 2:10) There have been no accidents or mistakes. Every person (soul) is precious to our Sovereign Creator.

We will not ever know or fully comprehend the unsearchable things of God. (Cf. Romans 11:33) As Moses affirmed: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this Law. (Cf. Deuteronomy 29:29) Still, I believe there are truths that God has given us the capacity to understand:

God is Spirit              (Cf. John 4:24)

God is Love                (Cf. 1 John 4:8; 4:16)

God is Holy                (Cf. Leviticus 19:2; 1 Samuel 2:2; Psalm 99:9; Revelation 4:8)

God is Merciful         (Cf. Deuteronomy 4:31; Daniel 9:9)

God is Faithful          (Cf. Deuteronomy 7:9, 32:4; 1 Corinthians 1:9, 10:13)

All of these invisible aspects of His divine nature can be understood through His visible creation and through the testimonies of His Prophets. But even more, God has granted us to see Him through someone more tangible and visible: Jesus – His Son!

John 14:1-11 (NIV)

Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing His work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.

My friends, “Jesus is the image of the invisible God and the firstborn over all creation. For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.  (Cf. Colossians 1:15-17) Jesus is the revelation and declaration of God! And when we come to the conviction of His majesty and glory, then we will humble ourselves and fear Him with all the reverence and honor due His name! Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever. (Cf. 1 Timothy 1:17) Yes, it is my prayer that each of us will see the God who sees us – El Roi!

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom also He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in Heaven. ~ Hebrews 1:1-3

The Debt of Love…

Romans 13:8 (NIV)

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

Today, many of us will calculate the “debt” we owe to our government in the form of taxes; but our Verse of the Day speaks to the real debt that we owe … and that is to love one another!  Paul said, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.”  Yes, to love and to forgive one another is a debt that can never be fully repaid … because the debt of love is what we owe our Savior, our Lord Jesus, for the debt (forgiveness) of our sin that He paid on through the cross.  Because Jesus is resurrected and lives forevermore, our debt … our gratitude … our thanksgiving … our praise and worship is an eternal debt! And it clear His example of forgiving debt is to be extended to our relationships with one another.  Consider how Jesus taught us to pray:

Matthew 6:9-14 (NIV)

“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

The debt of love is a continuing debt because our we are indebted to our Savior.  Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (Cf. John 13:34) And what shall we say about His love? It is an everlasting love … a covenant of love … a surpassing love that those who are in Christ will experience forever.  As Paul concluded: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Cf. Romans 8:38-39) And just as the love of Christ is eternal, so is our forgiveness through Him.

As we celebrate His Resurrection, I pray we will keep the continuing debt of love foremost in our minds.  Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands.” (Cf. John 14:15) “And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us.” (Cf. 1 John 3:23) “And He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” (Cf. 1 John 4:21) “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome….” (Cf. 1 John 5:2-3)

Why is this important for us to grasp? Why is loving one another the ultimate command for us to fulfill?  Paul put all of this in perspective for us when the full context of our verse is in view:

Romans 13:8-10 (NIV)

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Citing Leviticus 19:18) Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the Law.”

Galatians 5:13-15 (NIV)

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Citing Leviticus 19:18) If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

When you and I love one another, we demonstrate to God that we love Him. Loving others fulfills the two greatest commandments … to love God and to love one another. (Cf. Matthew 22:36-40) The Apostle John was especially attuned to this truth when he penned: “We love because He first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” (Cf. 1 John 4:19-21)

My friends, I pray the conviction and determination to love one another will continue to be the desires of our hearts. We have become new creations because of the sanctifying atonement Jesus wrought through His death on the cross! We have become sons and daughters of the Most-High God because of His resurrection and His ascension to the right hand of the throne of God! Indeed, we have become brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus … members of One Body. In unity with both the Father and Son, we are to love one another as we have been loved. (Cf. John 15:10) There is no ambiguity in the Scriptures regarding His command. There is no pre-condition to be met. It is not dependent upon one’s perceived merit. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Cf. Romans 3:23) “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Cf. Romans 5:8) “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (Cf. 1 John 4:11)

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. ~ Colossians 3:12-15

Jesus Died For All…

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (NIV)

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.

Our Verse of the Day brings a great opportunity for deeper understanding of the purposes and implications of the resurrection of Christ Jesus. I have decided to reprint the entire chapter to afford the context because it is packed with theological applications for us to consider.  For me, there are lessons that impact not only my view of the world, but my understanding of finding my identity in Christ Jesus. Paul helps us discover who we are and what we are supposed to be doing with our lives as new creations who has been born of the Spirit to abide in Christ Jesus forever.  Yes, this portion of scripture captures a myriad of faith-building tenets; and I hope you will find faith-growing encouragement as you review these insights of Paul….

2 Corinthians 5 (New Living Translation)

For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God Himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God Himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee He has given us His Holy Spirit.

So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So, whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please Him. For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.

Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too. Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. Either way, Christ’s love compels us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.

So, we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know Him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So, we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

I’m not quite sure how the theological thoughts and applications of the resurrection could be more succinctly presented.  What God has done for us through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, our Lord and Savior, is overwhelming to contemplate! His great mercy; His amazing grace; His abiding Spirit; His everlasting love are fulfilled and completed in Jesus! His last words while on the cross were: “It is finished!” And with that, Jesus bowed His head and gave up His spirit. (Cf. John 19:30) There is nothing else to be done except to receive His gift of reconciliation!

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

For this reason. I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. ~ Ephesians 3:14-21

The Riches of God’s Grace

Ephesians 1:7 (NIV)

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace … that He lavished on us.

Our Verse of the Day is central to the Gospel message we have been called to declare: In Jesus we have redemption – through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace! And I believe we should look deeper at this verse … its declaration of redemption in Christ within the full context of the prologue of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:

Ephesians 1:1-10 (NIV)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He (God) chose us in Him (Christ) before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will— to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, He (God) made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

By the grace of God the Father, we have been saved! This is not of ourselves … but through the lavish gift of grace given to us. And this grace is received through the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives. Yes, our redemption and salvation is the will of God; and we can know it without fear or doubt! Everything else given to us by God can be understood once this foundation of truth has been laid within our souls. As Paul instructed, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. (Cf. 1 Corinthians 2:12) But before the Spirit of God can give us this discernment, the testimony of God in Jesus Christ must be believed! As Paul addressed the believers in Corinth:

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (NRSV)

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery (testimony) of God to you with superior speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were made not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.

Why is this so important? Because there is a spirit of deception permeating, enveloping, and encircling the world right now. There is a veil of darkness that is blinding people to the truth concerning Christ Jesus. (Cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4) People are searching for answers and seeking truth; but there are world powers, spiritual forces of darkness, and false prophets who cloak the truth with a lie. The seeds of doubt are being sown and watered under the disruptions of wars and rumors of war; world economic instability and collapse; pestilence and famine; and the birth pangs of coming tribulation. (Cf. Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21) Indeed, the spirit of deception and doctrines of demons is spreading rapidly in these last days. Even now, as Jesus declared to the lukewarm Church at Laodicea: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Cf. Revelation 3:20)

My friends, we are in spiritual warfare for the Truth to be unfettered and released! For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Cf. Ephesians 6:12) And within this spiritual war going on … and we need to hold fast to this Truth: In Christ Jesus we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. We need to remain steadfast and confident … to trust God at His Word. Yes, even now I am reminded of this scripture Jude 3-4:Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”

It is my prayer that the message of the cross will be declared in this season. I pray for those who have wandered from the faith to repent and return to Jesus who willingly and joyfully shed His own blood for the forgiveness and atonement of our sins. And I pray in hope for those who have rejected the offer of salvation through Jesus Christ that God would grant them repentance … so that we, the Body of Christ, can lead them to a knowledge of the Truth. Yes, I pray they will come to their senses and escape the deceptive schemes of the devil (Satan), who has taken them captive to do his will. (Cf. 2 Timothy 2:25-26) Amen.

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good. ~ Titus 2:11-14

Palm Sunday … Reflections

Matthew 20:17-19 (NIV)

Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, He took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day He will be raised to life!”

Today is Palm Sunday and the beginning of a solemn time to reflect on the events that culminated in the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Verse of the Day affirms that Jesus told His disciples in advance what would soon take place. Jesus prophesied His condemnation to death by the authorities; His abusive treatment and torture ending with crucifixion; and His triumphal resurrection on the third day!  Jesus had shared and explained these things before (Cf. Matthew 16:21; 17:22), but it appears the disciples could not comprehend what He was saying to them.  And I wonder if today we truly comprehend the significance of a Suffering Messiah becoming our Passover Lamb. (Cf. Genesis 22:8; John 1:29: Revelation 5:6)

Jesus explained the events that would happen to Him because He knew that a blood atonement was required for our iniquities and transgressions. God the Father had ordained this sacrifice for atonement of sin before the creation of the world. (Cf. Revelation 13:8) And I think Jesus did not want His disciples to miss the significance of what would take place … the prophetic requirement that must be fulfilled through Him … or that there would be a New Covenant mediated by Him through a final sacrifice. Yet, there are people who resist the thought that God would require such an act of justice for sin. There is some notion that a loving God (as they define loving) would never have assented to the unjustifiable murder of His Son. Such a proposition is implausible and incomprehensible in their eyes.  But that is what Jesus foretold would happen, before it happened, so that we might know the truth. Hebrews Chapter 9 affords us a theological explanation of this requirement, and I have provided some excerpts here:

Hebrews 9:6-15; 24-28 (NIV)

When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning. This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.

But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, He went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a New Covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; He entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did He enter heaven to offer Himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But He has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.

The blood of Jesus, through His sacrificial death on the cross, not only atoned for our sins and transgressions committed under the Old Covenant, but He removed the power of sin through His resurrection to life again! He is seated at the right hand of God. (Cf. Luke 22:69; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1) It is there that our Lord Jesus is interceding for us! (Cf. Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25) It was the Father’s intent for Jesus to accomplish His will … our reconciliation … through a mechanism of substitutionary justice so that the penalty for sin (death) would be met. Jesus is the MERCY of God toward us! Jesus is the LOVE of God toward us. Consider what Paul wrote in Romans 5:8 on this issue: “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” And in 1 John 4:10 we find this affirmation: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son (Jesus) as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” There is no question or vagueness here. In His mercy toward us, God ordained that His One and Only Son would make the atonement for us because without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Indeed, the crucifixion was intentional on the part of God because of His passionate love for us! 

My friends, I hope we will think deeply about what God has done to reconcile us to Himself – to clothe us in righteousness and to empower us for sanctification and holiness.  God did so because of His great and enduring mercy … His everlasting love. I believe all God has ever wanted for His people is our holiness … for us to bear His image as we were created to be. And He has made it possible through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus! So, as the Season of Lent ends this coming week, I pray we will take time to prepare our ourselves for the table of communion to be served on Easter Morning.  Let our celebration be a foreshadow of the wedding supper to come!

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.) Then, the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” ~ Revelation 19:6-9

Christ – Our Sin Offering

1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NIV)

God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

Our Verse of the Day asserts an interesting theological statement, but I really do not like how it has been translated here in the New International Version (NIV). So, I thought that I might explore some other English translations for comparison. I found some that I think better express what I believe Paul was communicating here:

New Living Translation

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

New Matthew Bible

For he has made him who knew no sin to be a sin offering for us, so that we, by means of him, should be that righteousness which is accepted before God.

Tree of Live Version

He made the One who knew no sin to become a sin offering on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

What I struggled with in the more widely known translations (i.e., KJV, NKJV, NIV, ESV, RSV, AMP, etc.) is this language: He (meaning Jesus) became sin or that God made Him to be sin. I just have a hard time conceiving that possibility in my mind. So, I was glad to see additional translations that confirmed what I believed Paul meant: the concept of Jesus “becoming a sin offering”. This is highly consistent with the surrounding context of “reconciliation with God” and with the inspired writings of the Apostle John. Let’s look at the additional context first:

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (NIV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creation. The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made Him who had no sin to be a sin offering for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

And this language is consistent with the doctrinal material that Paul shared in the Book of Romans:

Romans 3:20-26 (NIV)

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—He did it to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Romans 8:1-4 (NIV)

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

In my mind, Paul simply explained in greater detail what the Apostle John had attested:

1 John 4:9-10 (NIV)

This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

While John focuses on the love God demonstrated by sending His Son to become an eternal sin offering so that we might have eternal life; Paul deepens our understanding of HOW the love and grace of God has effectually accomplished our justification through Christ Jesus. Paul preaches an absolute home-run sermon which you will find in Acts 13:13-42. I highly encourage you to read the entire linked passage, but I want to focus on his conclusion:

Acts 13:38-41(NIV)

“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through Him, everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you: “‘Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you.’”

Although Paul is quoting Habakkuk 1:5 in Verse 41, he uses its prophetic application of warning for those who scoff, dispute, discredit, and do not believe the message being declared to them. He was urging them to not reject the Gospel or it’s proclamation of freedom from darkness or it’s declaration of hope and reconciliation with God. Yet, the religious and self-righteous could not understand or accept this message of love and grace or the justification afforded us through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus through His blood shed on a cross. Paul explains the reason for this spiritual tension and conflict produced in people when the Gospel is preached to them:

2 Corinthians 3:13-18 (NIV)

We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is the veil taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

It is not that the Gospel is unclear; rather, it is that unbelievers are blinded by Satan. There is a veil of darkness that covers their hearts so that the light and liberty of the Gospel cannot be discerned. The Apostle John stated, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. (Cf. John 3:19-21) And Paul informed us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Cf. Ephesians 6:12)

My friends, we need to be aware of this struggle. There is spiritual warfare being fought on the battlefields of our minds. That is why embracing truth is so important! This is why we are sanctified (set apart unto God) by the Truth … which is found in Jesus, the Word of God. (Cf. John 17:17) So, I pray we will all take time to read, study, and be transformed by the truth found in God’s Word; and to share it with others. I think that is the most important thing we can be doing in these latter days.

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the Gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:3-5

There Is No Other…

Deuteronomy 7:9 (NIV)

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.

Our Verse of the Day extols the character of God … declaring that the Lord, the God of Israel, He IS God. He alone is God! There is no other God! There is none besides Him! And I think that we might need to be reminded today of His Supremacy … His Sovereignty … His Faithfulness … His Everlasting Mercy and Love! 

Deuteronomy 4:32-40 (NIV) – An Exhortation of Moses

Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created human beings on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of? Has any other people heard the voice of God speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived? Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides Him there is no other. From heaven He made you hear His voice to discipline you. On earth He showed you His great fire, and you heard His words from out of the fire. Because He loved your ancestors and chose their descendants after them, He brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and His great strength, to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you into their land to give it to you for your inheritance, as it is today. Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. Keep His decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.

1 Kings 8:56-61 (NIV) – A Prayer of King Solomon

“Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel just as He promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises He gave through His servant Moses. May the Lord our God be with us as He was with our ancestors; may He never leave us nor forsake us. May He turn our hearts to Him, to walk in obedience to Him and keep the commands, decrees and laws He gave our ancestors. And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God, day and night, that He may uphold the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel according to each day’s need, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other. And may your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.”

Isaiah 45:4-7 (NIV) – A Prophetic Word from Isaiah

For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me. I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.

Yes, God is faithful and has kept His covenant of love with His people. He is worthy of all praise and honor! Give unto the Lord the glory due His Name! (Cf. Psalm 29:2) Oh, how I pray that we would be faithful to the Lord God … that we would walk faithfully with Him who loves us with an everlasting love (Cf. Psalm 103:17-18; Jeremiah 31:3) … who gave His only begotten Son (Cf. John 3:16) … who demonstrated His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Cf. Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:9) Yes, let us worship the Most-High God … and keep His commands with the obedience that comes from faith!

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

I will give thanks to the Lord because of His Righteousness; I will sing the praises of the Name of the Lord Most-High. ~ Psalm 7:17

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your Name, O Most-High. ~ Psalm 9:1-2

For you, Lord, are the Most-High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods. ~ Psalm 97:9

God Showed His Love…

1 John 4:9 (NIV)

This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.

Our Verse of the Day has been cited in previous commentaries numerous times. I want to think that since this verse appeared today, there is an anointing on this Scripture that we need to grasp and embrace. We have read this verse. We have quoted this verse. But do we really understand what this verse means? Do we truly comprehend this love that surpasses all human understanding? Indeed, God has shown His love. God has demonstrated His love. It is revealed in the life of His One and Only Son, Christ Jesus! Yet, I wonder, have we fully embraced this truth….

I have often become overwhelmed with thoughts and mental images of the crucifixion – the visage of blood trailing down sunken cheeks … a piercing crown of thorns penetrating His brow … jagged tears of flesh … whip-inflicted wounds covering every square inch of His back.  The magnitude of unconscionable, demonic-filled physical torture that Jesus suffered is just beyond imagination. And I find myself weeping in my spirit at the unimaginable pain He bore … the sacrifice His endured to atone for the iniquity of us all.

Yet, the Lord Jesus reminds me that He knowingly and willingly went the cross. (Cf. John 10:11-18) For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross while scorning its shame. (Cf. Hebrews 12:2) God sacrificed His own life … His own blood … according to His own plan and purpose.  Jesus died to reconcile me to God the Father.  He paid the debt of sin for me.  I am redeemed. I have been purchased by His blood.  Not because I was good or worthy or merited His favor; rather, He died for me and set me free from the ultimate cost of sin within the human heart. He did that for me! He did that for you! Why?  So that we might truly live through Him!

I am convinced there is no true life outside of life within Christ Jesus.  Jesus proclaimed, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (Cf. John 14:6) We either believe Him at His word … or we arrogantly reject the sacrificial death He suffered to bring us eternal life. Jesus Himself affirmed: “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise Him up on the last day.” (Cf. John 6:40) “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (Cf. 1 John 5:11-12)

The cross is a hard message. It is hard to understand because it is not rational to the human mind.  I feel like Paul … when he expressed this message to the Corinthian Church: “And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony (mystery) about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (Cf. 1 Corinthians 2:1-2)

This is the message of the cross, and for that matter, all of the Holy Scriptures. This is the Gospel … the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes. (Cf. Romans 1:16) The Son had to do this for us! It was required by God; and He sent Jesus into the world for this very purpose – at the appointed time in history … at the appointed place of birth … in the chosen nation of inheritance … for the appointed children of God. Our Savior Jesus was slain for us … for the forgiveness of our transgressions … ordained by God the Father before the foundation of the world. Yes, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (Cf. 1 John 3:16)

Can I leave you with a passage of Scripture from the Prophet Isaiah?  I believe he can best orate what I am trying to share here as he foretold the suffering, death, and resurrection of the Messiah 700 years before it occurred! I just think God wants us to focus on this message – maybe as we begin to prepare ourselves and our hearts for the season of Easter:

Isaiah 53

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem. Surely, He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth. By oppression (From arrest) and judgment He was taken away. Yet who of His generation considered that He was cut off from the land of the living; that He was punished for the transgression of my people? He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death, though He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer, and though the Lord makes His life an offering for sin, He will see His offspring and prolong His days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in His hand.

After He has suffered, He will see the light of life (see the fruit of His suffering) and will be satisfied; by His knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will give Him a portion among the many, and He will divide the spoils with the numerous because He poured out His life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. ~ Ephesians 3:14-21