“Thou art with Me”

“Thou art with me” is one of the best known phrases from one of the most quoted passages in the Bible – Psalm 23:4. The reason it’s so popular is it speaks to the need we all have for companionship. God made us social creatures (Genesis 2:18). He created people both male and female and instituted marriage to satisfy our need for human intimacy (Genesis 2:21-24). But we have an even greater interpersonal need that only God can fill because we were made by Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16 NIV). We all have an inner desire to know and experience God that cannot be ignored:

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42:1-2 NIV)

God’s activities throughout history prove His eagerness to be with His human creation:

  • . . . the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9 NIV).
  • The LORD appeared to Abram and said . . . (Genesis 12:7 NIV).
  • God said to Moses – “I will be with you” (Exodus 3:12 NIV).
  • He said concerning the people of Israel – “. . . I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. “ (Exodus 29:45 NIV).
  • He said to Joshua, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5 NIV).
  • He offered to be with Jeroboam as He had been with David, if only he would obey Him (1 Kings 11:38).
  • Through Isaiah God promised His Son (the Messiah) would be “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23).
  • The Apostle John said of Jesus – The Word became a human and lived among us. We saw his glory — the glory that belongs to the only Son of the Father — and he was full of grace and truth. (John 1:14-15 NCV).
  • Jesus promised the abiding presence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in those who believe, love and obey Him (John 14:17,23).
  • He promised the dying thief on the cross – “. . . today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
  • And He has promised to return and take all believers bodily to be with Him in heaven (John 14:3).

When we consider the awesomeness of God, who and what He is, and who and what we are – we are compelled to say with King David: “. . . what are people that you should think about them, mere mortals that you should care for them?” (Psalm 8:4 NLT).

Many know the words but fewer the experience of “Thou art with me.” How about you? Companionship takes two. Now you know what God wants. He’s only waiting to be invited in: “Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you.” (Revelation 3:20 The Message).

Jesus Knocking At The Door Of Our Hearts…Painting By William Holman Hunt

Wake Up and Watch!

It was Tuesday afternoon before the Friday of His crucifixion. Jesus and His disciples were leaving the Jerusalem temple when some began to remark about its huge stones and magnificent buildings. Jesus said to them, “Do you see all these great buildings?” . . . “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” (Mark 13:2 NIV). Later, while sitting on the mount of Olives opposite the temple, they asked Jesus when this catastrophe would happen and what sign would precede it (v.4). His answer – “Watch out that no one deceives you!” (v.5).

Jesus’ first warned that there will be those who try to use the expectation of His second coming to lure His disciples away from Him to follow them (false Christs) (v.6). Second He warned them not to become anxious about current events, i.e. wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines and the like (verses 7-8). Next, He gave them notice that His disciples would suffer the world’s abuse because of Him, but they would be saved in the end (verses 9-13).  Jesus was describing the intervening years between His departure (Acts 1:10 -11) and His return (Revelation 1:7).

He then said, “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong — let the reader understand” (Mark 13:14 NIV). In other words, “Here is a definite sign that the temple’s destruction is imminent.” The abomination references an idol image set up in the temple which would desolate or desecrate it and require its abandonment. Such a defilement had been prophesied by Daniel in 11:31-32 and occurred during the reign of Syrian ruler Anitochus Epiphanes in 167 B.C. The temple of Jesus’ day was again violated and utterly destroyed by Roman General Titus in A.D. 70. Those who visit Jerusalem today will not find one stone of that once great edifice left standing upon another – just as Jesus said. Daniel also foretold another temple desecration still future (Daniel 9:25-27). And both Apostles Paul and John prophesied it will be perpetrated by Antichrist just prior to Jesus’ second coming (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4,8-9; Revelation 13:1-10,14-15).

Jesus’ point in this prophetic discourse recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 was to encourage His disciples then and in every generation to anticipate and watch for His return. We cannot know the day or the hour (Mark 13:32), but we can and should recognize the signs of the season: “Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door.” (v.29). In early March in Georgia, it is easy to recognize the signs of approaching spring. Come late October, you know autumn is very near. Jesus has given us very definite indicators that His return is imminent. Are you watching? Don’t fall asleep! As Paul instructed the Roman believers – Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. (Romans 13:11-12 NLT). Hallelujah!

Jesus Fortells the Destruction of the Temple – http://www.joyfulheart.com

The Final Question

Only days before He was taken and crucified by His enemies, Jesus answered a lawyer’s question concerning the greatest commandment: “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31 NIV). The lawyer gave Jesus a verbal A plus for His answer to which Jesus replied: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:34 NIV). From then on, no one asked Jesus any more questions.

Throughout His ministry on earth, Jesus was asked many questions. Seekers and followers asked Him questions wanting to know the truth. His enemies asked Him questions hoping to catch him in his words (Mark 12:13). And people the world over have been asking questions about Jesus ever since. God doesn’t mind questions at all. Truly, He invites us to ask: “Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.” (Jeremiah 33:3-4 NLT). God actually enjoys making known what He knows to we who don’t: I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, (Isaiah 46:9-10 NIV).

In the end, only one question truly matters; and Jesus asks it:  “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29). We each must answer it for ourselves, and how we answer makes an eternal difference: Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:18 ESV). “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31 NKJV).

See the source image

Bing.com – Jesus in the Temple

Let’s Listen

Jesus’ transfiguration is recorded in all three synoptic gospels – Matthew (17), Mark (9) and Luke (9). It gives us an earthly glimpse of His heavenly glory. Jesus was preparing His disciples for His soon coming arrest and crucifixion, and He had some things to say to them. Peter also had some things to say to Jesus. Thing was, Peter forgot to let Jesus go first (Mark 9:7). Truth be known, most of us can relate to Peter. Every time we are thinking about what to say while the other person is still speaking proves the point. It has been said, “God gave us two ears and one mouth. Gives you an idea which we should do more of.”

First thing today, let’s take time and listen to Jesus –

  • “He who has ears, let him hear” (Matthew 13:9 NIV).
  • So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17 BBE)
  • “Everyone should be quick to listen” (James 1:19 NIV)

It just makes sense!

 

Touching Others for Jesus

Mark chapter five contains the story of the woman with an issue of blood. In verses 27-29 we read: When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. (NIV) She was healed, and Jesus said her faith made her whole (v.36). Word of her experience spread so much that Mark 6:56 says, “And wherever he went — into villages, towns or countryside — they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.” (NIV) We don’t know her name, but that woman’s touching Jesus touched the lives of many others encouraging them to touch Jesus, and “all who touched him were healed.”

The man Jesus delivered from a legion of demons wanted to follow Him. Jesus told him instead to – “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:20 NIV)  Preacher and song writer V.B. (Vep) Ellis penned it well: “Let me touch Jesus, so that others may know and be blessed.”

Make it a point to tell others how Jesus touched and changed your life, so they can touch Him too.

 

THE WOMAN WITH THE ISSUE OF BLOOD ...

Found on Bing from christianitymalaysia.com

“Stop Doubting and Believe”

John’s Gospel – Chapter 20

 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” (John 20:26-27 NIV)

Despite all the evidence, Jesus’ own disciples had difficulty BELIEVING in His resurrection. On that Sunday morning, everything about Jesus – His mission in the world, His ministry and His message – was forever validated. Still they struggled to BELIEVE! Mary was blinded by grief. Peter and John still did not recognize that Scripture was fulfilled right before their eyes.  And Thomas simply refused to believe it until He could see and touch Jesus for himself.

Now, when it comes to FAITH, i.e. BELIEVING GOD, the Scripture is clear: Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus had finished everything He came into the world to do. The proof was literally right in front of them, but they had to choose between doubting and believing. It is the same for every one of us. When the case has been presented and the evidence for Jesus laid before us, the time comes when we must choose to “stop doubting and believe.” The consequences of our choice are both life-changing and everlasting.

Seeing IS NOT always believing!

Jesus’ disciples saw many evidences to His resurrection within hours of the event; but they all struggled to believe.

  • Mary Magdalene saw the stone rolled away, two angels and was the first to see the risen Jesus. Still, she did not recognize Him until He called her name (vv.1-2; 10-16).
  • Peter and John were first to enter the empty tomb. They saw the burial cloths minus Jesus’ body. John saw and believed, but neither of them understood that Bible prophecy and Jesus’ own prediction had just been fulfilled (vv.3-9):
    • For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. (Psalm 16:10 NLT)
    • “On the third day he will be raised to life!” (Matthew 20:19 NIV)
  • The other disciples heard the reports of Peter, John and Mary Magdalene, but they did not believe and rejoice until Jesus himself appeared to them that evening behind their locked doors (vv.19-20).
  • Thomas heard all the others’ testimonies but vowed not to believe until He saw and touched Jesus himself. Jesus obliged him (vv.24-28).

Jesus’ final words to Thomas teach us that BELIEVING is MORE THAN SEEING! – “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29 NIV)

What causes doubt?

With so much EVIDENCE for believing in Jesus, His resurrection and everything about Him – why did His disciples struggle so with doubt? What causes doubt?

  • The first doubt and innumerable doubts ever since are caused by SATAN (Genesis 3:4). He specializes in planting doubt into the human spirit. Jesus called him the father of lies (John 8:44). He even tempted Jesus to doubt himself and God the Father (Matthew 4:1-11).
  • Our own EXPECTATIONS lead us to doubt. Mary expected to find things just as they were when she saw Jesus buried two days prior. Peter and John did not expect to find Jesus missing from the tomb. What they all found instead was just hard to believe.
  • EMOTIONS can confuse and cause doubt. Mary’s grief and anxiety blinded her recognition of Jesus.
  • DEMANDING MORE from God than He requires of us is doubting, not believing. Therefore, Thomas is commonly called Doubting Thomas. Jesus said that faith as small as a mustard seed can move a mountain (Matthew 17:20). It doesn’t take much to please God! Thomas demanded more evidence than was already given before he would believe Jesus was alive. Jesus described the generation of His day as “wicked” because they demanded a miraculous sign. He also said the only sign they would be given was “the sign of Jonah” – a reference to His resurrection (Luke 11:29).
  • BIBLICAL IGNORANCE causes doubt. Though confirmation of multiple Old Testament prophets and Jesus’ own prophesies was starring them in the face, Peter and John still did not understand the meaning of all this (v.9). Paul writing to the Romans said, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom 10:17 NKJV). Reading, hearing, learning the Scriptures not only increases our knowledge and understanding – it BUILDS OUR FAITH!

Two things to REMEMBER:

  • The things we cannot see (the spiritual) are just as real and even more significant than what we can see (the physical) – 2 Corinthians 4:13-18.
  • The spiritual/supernatural world explains/interprets the physical/natural world; not the other way around. Jesus himself is evidence of that. The Son of God (spiritual) became the Son of Man (physical) in order to reveal heavenly/spiritual things to us: But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. (John 3:12-15 NLT)

Doubting is more than not believing.

We all struggle to believe at times, i.e. when going through new experiences, coping with suffering and loss, challenges that exceed our own capabilities, etc. James, the head of the Jerusalem church and brother to Jesus, described doubting as an uncertainty of mind that leads to an unstable life (James 1:8). Think of a boat at sea without anchor or rudder. There is nothing to hold it steady or direct its course. So, it drifts aimlessly and helplessly toward an uncertain end. Today’s society has become more and more a culture of doubt rather than belief. Postmodern philosophy which rejects advocates skepticism, rejects reason, and deplores traditional ideologies, has come to dominate younger generations and increasingly directs, or misdirects, older groups as well. If America seems generally to have become untethered, drifting and aimless – it is. Without guidance from God law and order disappear, but God blesses everyone who obeys his Law. (Proverbs 29:18 CEV)

Believing in Jesus is more than a statement.

Paul said to the Philippian jailer, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31). But there’s a lot of meaning in so brief a statement:

  • Believing in Jesus is “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Jesus’ himself is the SUBSTANCE (the content, solidity, body) of everything we hope for (believe in) as Christians; and His resurrection is the key EVIDENCE (proof, confirmation, substantiation) that what we believe in is true/valid – 1 Corinthians 15:17-23.
  • Believing in Jesus is the only way to really live (John 14:6). We are what we believe (Proverbs 23:7). We walk (are guided in our everyday living) by our faith and not by our sight (Galatians 2:20). Jesus is the ONLY WAY to know God and live in His light (truth) not darkness (deception). There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. (Proverbs 14:12 NIV).
  • Believing in Jesus is knowing and applying His words (the Scriptures) to our lives: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” (Matt 7:24-25 NIV). Also see Luke 24:45-47.
  • Believing in Jesus is LIVING in the BLESSINGS of God 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. (Ephesians 1:3 NIV).

Summary

Living the life of faith in Jesus Christ is CHALLENGING but also very REWARDING for both individual believers and whole societies. There are many causes to doubt, but more reasons to BELIEVE! The evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is there for any and all to examine. JESUS IS the substance of everything we believe, and His resurrection is the evidence that what we believe is true. Believing in Jesus entitles us to enjoy the blessings of God here and now and the blessings of life in Heaven with Him forever. As Jesus said to Thomas, “Stop doubting and believe.”

The Meaning of Eternal Life

John 17:1-26

LIFE, or the extinguishing of it, has been very much the talk of the nation these last few weeks since New York State law makers passed sweeping legislation that allows the wanton murder of children both within and outside the mother’s womb. Other states have since followed suit or are considering similar laws. America’s leadership among the nations in the slaughter of the most innocent and helpless just edged higher. Surely this is the most egregious violation of everything America was and is supposed to be. The very first document relative to our founding, the Declaration of Independence, declares that all persons have the “right to life”! And our Founding Fathers wisely recognized that it is the first responsibility of government to protect life, but the right itself is given not by government or anyone else, but by Almighty God!

I submit to you that as Americans we are already engaged in a great new civil war. A war that will determine the future of our country, who and what we are and what we will be remembered for. This is a culture war; a struggle for the very soul of our people. There are multiple points of conflict between sides, but the ISSUE OF LIFE is the most contentious and unquestionably that one point on which there can be no quarter because apart from LIFE nothing else really matters. In just my lifetime, our society has devolved from a society that reveres life and recognizes the intrinsic value of every individual life to a culture that reverences nothing and insists that a person’s value is determined, not by their being, but by how their being affects others. This war is not fought nor can it ever be won with bombs and bullets. This is a battle for the heart and mind – what we believe and think as a people. The Bible says we are what we think (Proverbs 23:7). The Apostle Paul challenged New Testament believers to realize that ours is a spiritual warfare and the foremost weapons in our arsenal are TRUTH and RIGHTEOUSNESS (Ephesians 6:12-14) – what we BELIEVE and THINK! What we as a people believe and think about life will determine how we live our lives and how we view the lives of others.

So, let us consider the DEFINITION OF LIFE and from there the MEANING OF ETERNAL LIFE!

 

The Science of Life

The Oxford English Dictionary definition of “life” is – “The condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.”[1] This strictly physical and non-spiritual definition of life follows the school of thought espoused by progressives, socialists and atheists the world over, and we have been indoctrinating America’s youth into it for several generations. The idea that life exists apart from and is better off without God has been systematically drummed into the minds and hearts of our people via public education, the news and entertainment media, political leaders and even some in the Church for years – and now the armies advancing a culture of death and those defending a society that values life are called into action.

The Science of Life is a book written by H.G. Wells, Julian Huxley and G.P. Wells in three volumes between 1929 and 1931. It has been called “the first modern textbook of biology” and “the best popular introduction to the biological sciences”. The subtitle summarizes its content – “a summary of contemporary knowledge about life and its possibilities”.  As late as 1960, it was still being used in college classes in the U.S. H.G. Wells was a renowned English writer described as “a worthy successor to Charles Dickens”. An outspoken socialist, Wells “devoted his literary talents to the development of a progressive vision on a global scale.” “His thinking on ethical matters took place in a specifically and fundamentally Darwinian context”.[2] Julian Huxley was a secular humanist, eugenicist and internationalist. “Secular humanism, or simply humanism, is a philosophy or life stance that embraces human reason, ethics, and philosophical naturalism while specifically rejecting religious dogma, super-naturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition as the basis of morality and decision making.”[3] Humanism replaces God with man as the center of universal attention and authority. “Eugenics is a set of beliefs and practices that aims at improving the genetic quality of a human population by excluding (through a variety of morally criticized means) certain genetic groups judged to be less desirable and promoting other genetic groups judged to be superior.”[4]Internationalism is a political principle which transcends nationalism and advocates a greater political or economic cooperation among nations and people.”[5]

Wells, Huxley and The Science of Life are only one example of numerous contributors dedicated to transforming America from a society that reverences life to a people that see it as not very special at all.

 

The Giver of Life

The Bible gives a very different definition of life. Life is more than organic! Life is more than the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death. Life is the capacity for KNOWING GOD!

  • God made you both physical and SPIRITUAL! And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7 KJV). It is the breath (life-giving Spirit) of God resident in you that elevates your life and the life of every human being above the purely organic.
  • Your life BELONGS to God! I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course. (Jeremiah 10:23 NLT) This really “ruffles the feathers” of those who reject the existence of God and our accountability to Him.
  • Your life is PRECIOUS to God! His IMAGE resides in you (Genesis 9:6).
  • Your life is by APPOINTMENT not accident! Contrary to Charles Darwin, John Huxley and all evolution theorists “. . . it is he (God) himself who gives life and breath and everything else to everyone. From one human being he created all races of people and made them live throughout the whole earth. He himself fixed beforehand the exact times and the limits of the places where they would live.” (Acts 17:25-27 Good News Translation)
    • An impoverished itinerant preacher and his wife had fourteen children and fifteen was on the way. Thank God they didn’t abort; He was sending us John Wesley – founder of the Methodist Church.
    • A mother with TB is pregnant with child number five. Her first child is blind; the second died; the third is deaf; and the fourth also has TB. Thank God she didn’t abort – He was sending the world Ludwig van Beethoven.
    • A 13-year-old black girl raped by a white man is now pregnant. They are so poor; the family often steals for food. Thank God she didn’t abort – He was sending us gospel artist Ethel Waters.
    • A teenage girl is pregnant and the man she hopes to marry isn’t the father. Thank God she didn’t abort – God was sending us His Son, Jesus Christ.[6]
    • God alone knows how many blessings to humanity have been forever lost because their bearers were not deemed worthy to live.
  • You are God’s MASTERPIECE made for His Glory! (Ephesians 2:10; 1:12). Literally, God broke the mold that made you. In the world of art there is only one Mona Liza. In all God’s universe, there is only one you. Countless priceless treasures have been destroyed in the name of personal choice!

 

The Enemy of Life

We face a REAL ENEMY in this cultural civil war. Our real enemy isn’t a politician or entertainer or author or TV talk show host or any other such that you could name. Our real enemy is the Devil:

  • Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NIV)
  • The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; (John 10:10a NIV)

Satan is a liar bent on murder (taking life from us), and the only way we overcome him is by clinging to the truth:

  • He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44 NIV)
  • Resist him, standing firm in the faith, (1 Peter 5:9 NIV)
  • take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:16 NIV)

 

Eternal Life

The preeminent prayer of Jesus Christ for you and me and the whole world is that we might know God and have ETERNAL LIFE!

  • Eternal life is made possible through Jesus’ sacrificial death: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.
  • Eternal life is KNOWING (having a personal relationship with) GOD through JESUS CHRIST: Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3-4 NIV)
  • Eternal life is had by RECEIVING and BELIEVING the WORD about Jesus Christ (vv. 6-8; Romans 1:16-17; 10:17).
  • Eternal life is a SECURE life (vv. 9-12; Romans 8:35-39).
  • Eternal life is a JOYFUL life (13-15; James 1:2-5).
  • Eternal life is a SANCTIFIED (living for God not myself) life (vv. 16-19; 2 Corinthians 6:17-18).
  • Eternal life is a UNITED (to God and with fellow believers) life (vv. 20-23; Ephesians 4:3-6).
  • Eternal life is the GLORIFIED (God’s finished work) life – when we are present with and see Jesus as He is (v. 24; Romans 8:30; 1 John 3:2-3).
  • Eternal life is KNOWING JESUS CHRIST for yourself (vv. 25-26). He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:12 NIV)

ETERNAL LIFE is having an up close and PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP with GOD, and the only way to know God is through HIS SON, JESUS CHRIST!

[1] https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/life

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._G._Wells#Political_views

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_humanism

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internationalism_(politics)

[6] https://www.catholicconvert.com/wp-content/uploads/Documents/AbortionDecide.pdf

“Do Not Be Afraid”

“Do not be afraid” occurs sixty-nine times in the New International Version of the Bible; “do not be discouraged six times; “let not your hearts be troubled” twice, and the word “peace” is there 250 times. Have any idea what God wants our attitude to be about circumstances in the world?

The LORD said to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 New International Version) The angels said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid.” (Luke 2:10) Jesus said to His disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27 NIV) And Paul wrote to Timothy, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim 1:7 King James Version)

The message of Jesus Christ, the gospel, is a message of courage, not fear. It is everything to celebrate and leaves no room for despair. The Son of God came down to earth to bring us up to heaven. The very God who sets the rules and judges the rule breakers, took that judgment upon Himself in our place. And this grace, this mercy, this salvation of God is for everyone who believes that Jesus is the Savior just as the angel announced (Luke 2:11).

Fear is the opposite of faith. But faith in just anything is no antidote to fear. It is our faith in God that makes the difference. If our faith is in others no better than ourselves – what good is that? If our faith is in people we think are better than ourselves – they still come up short. If our faith is in fortune – stocks plunge. If our faith is in politics – administrations change. If our faith is in good health – don’t ever get sick. No, in all the world and in all the history of the world, there is only One who never has or ever will fail those who put their faith in Him – Jesus Christ. Jesus was so confident in His ability to take care of His followers that He equated Himself with God – “you believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1 New King James Version).

Abel believed God and was counted righteous. Noah believed God and built an ark and rescued humanity from obliteration. Abraham believed God and received an earthly inheritance and a heavenly reward. Moses believed God and brought Israel out of bondage into liberty – a thing he tried and could not do himself. Joshua believed God and toppled cities – literally. David believed God and killed a giant and became king. The prophets believed God, opposed kings and won. The apostles believed Christ and, leaving all else, they followed Him to make disciples in all the nations. Through faith in Christ they preached the gospel, healed the sick, raised the dead, overthrew kingdoms and put demons to flight. Because of their faith in Christ no weapon ever forged prevailed against them. Through faith in Christ they established a new movement in the world that transformed the world and continues to change it to this day. Jesus declared to them, “Upon this rock I will build my church and the power of hell will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:18 paraphrase)

During World War I, on and around Christmas Day 1914, the sounds of rifles firing and shells exploding faded in a number of places along the Western Front in favor of holiday celebrations in the trenches and gestures of goodwill between enemies.

  • Our hope is in the LORD: “We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” (Psalm 33:20-22 New International Version)
  • Everyone who has faith in Christ will overcome the world: “For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:4-5 New Living Translation)
  • A new world is coming, and you will love it: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:4-5 New Living Translation)

No one can say what tomorrow holds, but we know Who holds tomorrow. Faith in Him not only dispels fear, it wins the fray!

Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life

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

Jesus is the one and only way to God and into His Heaven. He reveals to us the truth of who God is. That’s why He could say emphatically in 14:9 – Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. And Jesus is himself the life God wants us all to have and the power to live it.

Jesus is the only Way to God and Heaven. (John 14:1-6)

Jesus and His disciples were still in the upper room where they had just observed the Passover meal together – the Jewish Seder. Jesus was preparing them for His imminent departure. He said in John 13:33, “My children, I will be with you only a little longer.” And, although the disciples didn’t realize it, within 24 hours Jesus would be lying dead in the tomb He borrowed from Joseph of Arimathea.

A point to ponder here is the omniscience and sovereignty of God. Jesus knew everything that was going to unfold in a day’s time. And, although His disciples didn’t understand, He was preparing them for what lay ahead. Jesus knew and had known for some time that this day was coming. He said only a few days before when Mary, the sister of Lazarus, anointed His feet – “It was intended, that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.” (12:7) He also explained that dying is why He came into the world: “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. . .No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.” (12:23-24, 27) We never know what the next day may bring in our lives, but God does; and true to His Word – He goes with us and will never leave nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). That’s why Jesus says: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” (v.1)

While Jesus was preparing them for His imminent departure, He also promised them His imminent return: In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. 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. (vv.2-3)

Please allow me to give you Garmon’s paraphrase: Jesus said, “I am returning to my Father’s house to prepare a place for you to come and stay. When all is ready, I will be back to pick you up and take you home with me.”

“Receive” in the KJV means to “take out” – to catch away! In 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18, Paul says both the dead and living saints will be caught up together. . .to meet the Lord in the air. And so, we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.” (NIV)

Interpretations vary on the details of Jesus’ second coming; but He made some things very clear:

  1. His return is certain! He said – “I will come back”.
  2. His return is imminent! To His disciples’ earlier question “when” would it be, Jesus gave no date, no time and said only “keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Mt 24:32-42) That means it could happen any time!
  3. He is coming to take us to Heaven! “My Father’s house” is synonymous with “the house of the LORD” in Psalm 23:6 and is God’s dwelling place, i.e. Heaven (Matthew 6:9).
  4. Heaven is real! If it weren’t, Jesus would have said so.
  5. Heaven is BIG! The rooms are big as mansions and there are many of them – enough for everyone who wants to go there. John gives its physical dimensions in Revelation 21:16.
  6. Jesus is the ONLY WAY to the Father who is in Heaven! “I am the way. . .No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (v.6). If you want to go to Heaven, you got to go through Jesus!

Jesus is the Truth of God revealed to us. (John 14:7-14)

I know, people believe all sorts of things about all sorts of gods, and the universal question is – who is telling the truth? It was no different in Jesus’ day. The clear majority believed in many gods (polytheism). A few believed in no gods (atheism). The Jews, and later Christians, believed in one God (monotheism). Most people, then and now, are very mixed up in their understanding of God. Jesus said, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29 NIV)

The POPULAR CULTURE of our day believes there is NO TRUTH and that whatever one person or one religion believes about God is as true as any other. But TRUTH EXISTS, and it is by definition EXCLUSIVE, CONSTANT and REAL. Let us consider just one truth of God revealed to us in Jesus that is exclusively Christian, constant in Scripture and made real to everyone who believes it, i.e. the LOVE of God expressed in the GRACE of God through Jesus Christ, the SON of God.

Many people mistakenly think the God of the Bible and the god of the Quran (Islamic Scriptures) are the same God. Nothing could be further from the TRUTH!

The Quran (Islamic Scriptures) states – “If ye love Allah, follow me; Allah will love and forgive you your sins.” (Qur’an 3:31) “Allah loves not transgressors” (2:190) “He loves not creatures ungrateful or wicked” (2:276) “Allah loves not those who do wrong” (3:57, 140) “Allah loves not the arrogant, the vainglorious” (4:36).[1] Allah will show mercy to those who call upon him, forgive their sins and provide them guidance to follow “the straight path” so they may please him.

Now listen to what the Bible says about God in Psalm 103:8-12:

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. (NIV)

Unlike Allah, GOD LOVES EVERYONE, even sinners! The Bible says, God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.  (Romans 5:8 NLT) To be sure, God DOES NOT ignore our sins. But, realizing our complete inability to follow “the straight path” (according to Islam) that pleases Him, God sent Jesus, His only Begotten Son, into the world to fulfill justice through His death and to make us righteous through His life: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 English Standard Version) The word for the love of God expressed to us this way in Jesus is GRACE!

THE TRUTH IS, God by any other name is NOT THE SAME! Acts 4:12 declares, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (NIV) Allah requires we please him to be saved. God saves us so we can please Him. That is LOVE! That is GRACE! And, that is the God I serve!

Jesus is the Life God wants you to live! (John 14:15-31)

Jesus is much more than our example of how God wants us to live. Jesus IS THE LIFE God wants you to have and the power to live it!

The whole of a Christian’s life might be summed according to 2 Corinthians 5:7-10:

  • Living by faith in the LordWe live by faith, not by sight. (v.7)
  • Longing to be with the LordWe are confident. . .and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (v.8)
  • Living to please the LordSo we make it our goal to please him, (v.9a).
  • Looking for reward from the LordFor we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (v.10 NIV)

The only way we are able to live the Christian life is by Christ living in us: I have been put to death on the cross with Christ; still I am living; no longer I, but Christ is living in me; and that life which I now am living in the flesh I am living by faith, the faith of the Son of God, who in love for me, gave himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20 Bible in Basic English)

Through His death, Jesus justifies us. Through His life, He makes us righteous (pleasing to God):

15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” (John 14:15-21 NIV)

Conclusion

If you’re alive, then you’re on your way somewhere. Life, this life, here and now, your life is not an end in itself. It is a journey on your way to eternity, and at the end of your journey you will spend eternity either with God or away from God. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world, this world, this life to show us the way to God and into His Heaven. He came to reveal who God is to us, that He loves us and wants us to come and live with Him forever. And, Jesus came so that we might please God in our lives both now and forever. No matter where you look, you will never find in anyone else or in any other faith/religion One who is the Way to God, the Truth of God and the Life of God. All you must do is BELIEVE!

[1] http://www.religionfacts.com/allah

Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 New International Version)

This is arguably one of the most incredible statements Jesus ever made about Himself and it ought to have ended any credible claim He had to be Israel’s Messiah. Instead, by raising Lazarus from the dead, He proved that not only is He the Christ but the Son of God as well.

Jesus is the Son of God.

John’s gospel like Matthew, Mark and Luke is written in NARRATIVE (story telling) form. As much as 75% of the Bible is written as narrative. Narrative literature presents to readers a story of events sometimes factual, sometimes fictional and sometimes mixed together. All four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, were written by their authors and accepted by the early Church as factual accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus, the Christ (Messiah). Matthew begins by stating: The historical record of Jesus Christ (Mt 1:1). Mark’s account, like all the gospels, abounds start to finish with references to real persons in real places in the first century time that Jesus lived. Luke wrote in the introduction to his gospel: Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. 2 They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. 3 Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write a careful account for you, most honorable Theophilus, 4 so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught. (Luke 1:1-4 New Living Translation) And John states near the conclusion of his gospel that the things he writes about are factual and purposeful: The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name. (John 20:30-31 NLT)

To be clear, then, the gospels, all four of them, should be read and understood as:

  1. Factual records of Jesus’ life and ministry, and
  2. Inspirational literature intended to encourage belief in Jesus Christ.

Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, perhaps more than any other miracle, authenticates the DIVINITY OF JESUS. Only a little earlier the Jews in Jerusalem threatened to stone Jesus because He claimed equality with God (10:33). And to them He responded: Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. 38 But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” (John 10:37-38 NIV)

Jesus proved that He could do what only God can do – GIVE LIFE!

  • Genesis 2:7 says God breathed into man the breath of life: and man became a LIVING SOUL.
  • Job 12:10 says the soul of every living thing and the breath of man are in God’s hand.
  • And Jesus said himself: “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have LIFE IN HIMSELF.(John 5:25-27 English Standard Version)

Many make the claim or have the very mistaken idea that Jesus never claimed equality with God. They say the idea that Jesus was/is God is one that evolved in the growing first century Church. But, if you believe John’s gospel is a historical narrative of real events; and if you believe in miracles; then the EVIDENCE CONFIRMS Martha’s confession – Jesus is the SON OF GOD (v.27). A confession that Jesus not only accepted but later affirmed: “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (v.40 NIV). Jesus Christ is the GLORY (the very essence and person) OF GOD in the flesh: So, the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his GLORY, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. (1:14 NLT).

Jesus is the resurrection and the life.

In just two words Jesus moved the hope of resurrection from a day in the prophetic future (an hour is coming – 5:25) to a present-day reality (is now here – 5:25). Just two words redefined a religious dogma on paper as a divine relationship between you and God – “I AM” (v.25). This is the fifth of Jesus’ seven “I am” statements:

  • “I am the bread of life” (6:35)
  • “I am the light of the world” (8:12)
  • “I am the gate” (10:7)
  • “I am the good shepherd” (10:11)
  • “I am the resurrection and the life” (11:25)
  • “I am the way, the truth and the life” (14:6)
  • “I am the vine” (15:1)

Whenever Jesus prefaced these names/titles with “I am”, He was identifying Himself as God. You’ll remember that “I Am” is how the LORD identified Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14 when He commissioned him to bring His people, Israel, out of Egypt. “I Am” is equivalent to Yahweh/Jehovah transliterated in our English Bibles as “LORD” and the name by which God revealed Himself to His people (Ex 3:15). Jesus’ referencing Himself as “I am” was understood by the Jews as calling Himself God, so they threatened to kill Him (8:58).

When Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life,” He was claiming to be the source of both. There is no resurrection apart from Christ, and there is no eternal life apart from Christ. Beyond that, Jesus was also making a statement concerning His divine nature. He does more than give life; He is life, and therefore death has no ultimate power over Him. Jesus confers this spiritual life on those who believe in Him, so that they share His triumph over death (1 John 5:11-12). Believers in Jesus Christ will experience resurrection because, having the life Jesus gives, it is impossible for death to defeat them (1 Corinthians 15:53-57).[1]

Everyone wants to LIVE! Everyone wants to enjoy LIFE! Those who say otherwise are likely troubled emotionally, disabled mentally, darkened spiritually or just plain dishonest (Ephesians 5:29). The normal, healthy attitude about life is you want to LIVE IT! Death is antithetical to life and we do all we can to avoid it. We take pills, lose weight, have surgeries, exercise, etc. And, although we’ve managed to extend the average lifespan, we know death is inevitable! So, we look BEYOND DEATH to the HOPE of ETERNAL LIFE or life after death. Virtually every culture contemporary and historic believes in an afterlife. Orthodox Jews, like Martha, believed in the resurrection, a day foretold by the prophet Daniel when, “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12:2 NIV) At Word of Life Evangelical Church, we believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead; of the believer to everlasting blessedness and joy with the Lord, of the unbeliever to judgment and everlasting conscious punishment.[2] Jesus is WHY we believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead:

  • He proved His power as the Son of God to raise the dead to life. Lazarus was the third person Jesus resurrected. He had been dead four days and already begun to decay.
  • Jesus resurrected Himself by His own power on the third day following His crucifixion, and He will never die again.
  • He rose from the grave BODILY, and Scripture declares He is the first of many who will follow: Christ (the Messiah) [is] the firstfruits, then those who are Christ’s [own will be resurrected] at His coming. (1 Cor 15:23 Amplified Bible)
  • He said those who believe in Him will live, even though he dies (v.25) – that is the RESURRECTION.
  • He said the dead (multiple) would hear His voice (just like Lazarus), come to life and live ETERNALLY [John 5:23].

Those who have no faith/religion criticize them that do for believing in things, they say, are not real:

  • Faith means not wanting to know what is true. — Friedrich Nietzsche (19th century German philosopher spoke of “the death of God” and had a profound influence on western culture)
  • A man is accepted into a church for what he believes, and he is turned out for what he knows. — Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain – American author)
  • It’s an incredible con job when you think about it, to believe something now in exchange for something after death. Even corporations with their reward systems don’t try to make it posthumous. — Gloria Steinem (American feminist, journalist and social political activist)

And, if there were no actual SUBSTANCE of things HOPED for, or EVIDENCE of things NOT SEEN, they might be right. But Jesus is, by virtue of His RESURRECTION power and by the LIFE He gives right now to all who believe in Him, the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). JESUS CHRIST is both our HOPE (RESURRECTION) and the SUBSTANCE (LIFE) of our hope!

For Christians, eternal life is NOT something just ahead of you, it is IN YOU! For believers in Jesus, eternal life begins NOW, i.e. the moment you believe in Him:

  • The testimony is this: God has given us eternal life, and this life has its source in his Son. Whoever has the Son has this life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:11-12 Good News Translation) Notice it is present tense – has this life.
  • but it is Christ who lives in me. This life that I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me. (Ga 2:20-21 Good News Translation) The life we LIVE NOW is by faith in Jesus, the Son of God.
  • It is described in part by His other “I am” statements: “bread of life” – sustenance; “gate” – the way in, community; “the good shepherd” – sustenance, security, guidance; “the way, the truth and the life” – direction, understanding, purpose; “the vine” – vitality, productivity, connection.

But eternal life is more than spiritual, mystical or immaterial. It is very much physical, bodily and material. Jesus proved the SUBSTANCE of that as well:

  • Lazarus, already decaying after four days, was raised completely whole.
  • Jesus’ own resurrection was material, not spiritual. The women who were first at the tomb on resurrection morning, found the stone rolled away but they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. (Luke 24:3)
  • Jesus’ resurrection body was corporeal, powerful, incorruptible and empowered by the Holy Spirit. And our resurrection bodies will be like His:

It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

45 The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. 46 What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. 47 Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. 48 Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. 49 Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man. (1 Cor 15:42-49 NLT)

Other religions can talk about life after death, but only Jesus Christ gives you the substance (ETERNAL LIFE) of what you hope for (RESURRECTION) right now! “Do you believe this?” (v.26).

 

 

 

[1] https://www.gotquestions.org/resurrection-and-life.html

[2] WOLEC Statement of Faith, Article 12.