Our Stellar Christian Witness

For May 16, 2021
When asked which was the greatest of all God’s Commandments, Jesus said there were two; to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:36–40, Mark 12:28–34, Luke 10:25–37). The Lord’s answer discloses how we are to live in harmony with God, neighbors, and ourselves—especially when we are meeting our physical, social, and aesthetic needs appropriately.

In other word, our altruism can sustain and improve the quality of life for others and ourselves. However, when we exploit people for our own sensual gratification, danger ensues to everyone’s detriment. Thus, Jesus offers this profound illustration to tell how important His Followers are as we impact our world and glorify God,

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:13–16 (NKJV)

The Bible speaks about how in the last days false teachers will promote a form of lawlessness where no longer do the Word of God and the Holy Spirit inform and direct our thoughts, words, and actions exclusively. Instead, we consider whatever feels good (or whatever feels right) with far greater value.

As a result, too many of us today live conflicted lives as we try to accommodate two diametrically opposed realities. One reality features Christ as savior where His abundant and eternal life prevails. The other reality features Satan, the world and self where a life of sin and debauchery prevails.

Just before our Lord’s return, our world will be lust-driven where iniquity abounds and where people no longer have a regard for their fellow human beings. Here, using people and cherishing things is commonplace as we pursue the pride of life, the lust of the eyes, and the lust of the flesh with all fervor.

The pride of life is a self-centered obsession with power or influence, without regard for the safety or the well-being of others, which is in stark contrast to God’s design for power and influence: to maintain order, render justice, and help others in need.

When we succumb to this particular sin, we turn our focus away from others and onto ourselves. With a new credo, “God helps those who help themselves,” or “I’ve got to get paid,” we resort to satisfying our selfish cravings at the expense of others.

Over the last few years, we have witnessed an escalation in the abuse of power that has manifested itself in global tyranny and violence, adversely affecting so many of us around the world.

The lust of the eyes is coveting things of value for our own aesthetic gratification. The love of money is one example of this. God wants us to use our money as a form of worship through tithes and offerings, which express our appreciation to God for His providence while providing for His servants who minister to us.

God also wants us to use our money to show benevolence toward others who are less fortunate through charitable giving and to create wealth for ourselves as well. The lust of the eyes changes purpose for money into selfish extravagance. We splurge on ourselves and are cold toward others in need of our generosity and compassion.

The lust of the flesh is the overindulgence of our sensual desires. Gluttony, substance abuse, and sexual incorrigibility are all forms of this obsession. The Bible also teaches that sexual incorrigibility devastates God’s plan to sustain healthy, interpersonal relationships. Fornication, adultery, homosexuality, masturbation, voyeurism, pedophilia, rape, and pornography all lead to what one writer considers as a false intimacy,

The fantasies of a sex addict are feeble attempts to gain what only God is capable of giving, which we will experience partially on earth and fully in Heaven. Sexual fantasy can conjure up a perfect world of nourishment, love, generosity, and tenderness. The truth is, however, that when we try to bury the core reality of emptiness, the result is false intimacy, not genuine. When we insist that our needs of intimacy be fulfilled and ignore the reality that loneliness is always present, we get the very opposite of what we’re demanding: We’re left alone to stare with open eyes at the harsh reality of nakedness.1

Promiscuity and debauchery are not the identification badges we are to display before the world. Our Lord Jesus Christ calls us to represent Him—as salt and light—with moral and spiritual purity. The Holy Spirit gives us the remarkable ability to resist not only the lusts of the flesh in general, but also our sexual cravings in particular.

Sexual gratification outside of God’s intended purpose of monogamous relationships yields shattered hopes, destroyed relationships, and feelings of intense guilt, shame, and emptiness. People who seek mere physical enjoyment in sex, outside of the commitment of love and fidelity in marriage, are deceiving themselves as this writer notes,

Don’t buy into the promotion of sex as mere physical enjoyment totally apart from the commitment of love. Men [and women] who open their Christmas present before the holiday invariably find themselves bored by the celebration.2

We tend to admire those who practice a personal self-control through moral temperance to contrast the moral licentiousness that is accepted and encouraged by our fallen world.

Through our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we can find the strength  to live morally and responsibly. Through our faith in Christ, we now have a willingness to honor Him, to serve others, and to meet our needs safely and appropriately.

When He transformed us from the inside out, He released us from the bondage of sin and gave us the ability to resist temptation as we walk in His Spirit just as the Bible further teaches,

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Titus 2:11–14 (NKJV)

There will be times when we fail. Yet our Lord supplies us with the power we need to resist the urge to blame others and make excuses. In this way, He turns us from our destructive patterns of compulsive, addictive behavior. Instead of using blame and excuses, we ask the Lord for forgiveness and reconcile with the offended, relying on His Spirit to strengthen our daily faith walk.

Over time, His Spirit helps us become morally astute practitioners of the Christian faith who refrain from exploiting others and live lives that feature astounding “good works” that glorify our Heavenly Father. Let’s live for Christ today and show our stellar Christian witness. Shall we?

What a Wonderful Savior!

Listen To Him!

For May 9, 2021
In Matthew 17:1-9, the Lord takes Peter, James, and John up a mountain where He was “transfigured” or transformed before them. Jesus’ face and clothing turned bright as the sun, and Moses and Elijah appeared suddenly; talking to Him about what would happen at Jerusalem shortly thereafter.

Out of fear and at a loss for words, Peter offers to build three temporary dwellings for the Lord and His two esteemed guests: Moses and Elijah. While Peter was yet speaking, a cloud  overshadowed them, and a voice thundered: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him!” (v. 5).

At first glance, one could almost miss God’s command: “Listen to Him!” But those words capture the essence of the Lord’s earthly ministry as this writer observes,

Whether he realized it or not, Peter was ostensibly putting Jesus on the same plane with these Old Testament servants of God (“one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”). That will not do. God spoke in the past to the fathers through the prophets, but now He has spoken through a Son. The difference must be understood and respected. Jesus is a prophet but more than a prophet.1

Jesus Christ is more than a “good” man, prophet, religious leader, or teacher, and God’s command to listen to Jesus not only points to His deity as the God’s Son. It also implies emphatically that our Lord’s words are greater than Moses the Lawgiver, and Elijah the Prophet.

No other person in history received the accolades our Lord Jesus Christ receives here. This declaration was unheard of, given how God spoke to Moses “face to face” as He would towards a friend (Exodus 33:11, Numbers 12:8), and how Elijah is still considered the quintessential prophet of God (1 Kings 17:24, Luke 1:17).

Yet in retrospect, it is comforting to know that God’s thundering declaration did not distract the Lord Jesus Christ from His mission to save the world from sin by way of His death at Calvary.

He was the only person—past, present, or future—uniquely suited to accomplish that mission. Thus, without pride, selfishness, or the quest for celebrity status, He retains His humble demeanor as He continues His redemptive work, which speaks volumes about His impeccable character in the absence of personal, ulterior motives.

Now as a result, by faith in Him, we can know and experience God personally, intimately, and eternally. His powerful words can impart abundant life into our spiritually dead bodies now and forever, just as He promised,

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life (John 6:63 NKJV).

Moreover, Jesus taught that He did not come to destroy the Mosaic Law or invalidate Elijah and the prophets. Instead, He came to fulfill that which the Law and Prophets declared. (Matthew 5:17) In this way, He always affirmed the importance of those who preceded Him.

We can trust in the words of Jesus Christ because the voice of God heard here affirms His pre-incarnate deity. Jesus spoke as did no other person—living or dead. Of the relevance, and importance of His sayings, Jesus also declares,

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall (Matthew 7:24-27 NKJV).

Jesus Christ’s words are true, steadfast, and relevant for today’s ever-changing world. We cannot go wrong when we listen to Him and obey Him. Won’t you listen to Him today?

What a Wonderful Savior!

Uniquely Transcendent Person: Jesus Christ

For May 2, 2021
In the Upper Room during their Passover Seder, Jesus old His disciples that He was leaving them. He was going to a place that was familiar to them and that He would return for them shortly. However, Thomas told Jesus that he and the Disciples did not know where the Lord was going or how they could get there, Jesus responds with an unforgettable lesson on His uniquely transcendent person,

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6 NKJV).

Jesus says He is the way. This Greek word used is hodos, (Strong-G3598), which distinguishes something from the normal path or way.1

This is most significant since shortly after the Day of Pentecost, Christians were referred to as followers of “the way” (Acts 9:2). Jesus’ characterization of Himself was intentional and emphatically clear. He is the only way to the Father,

I do not merely point out the way, teach the truth, and bestow life, but I am the way, the truth, and the life, so that by attachment to Me, one necessarily is in the way and possesses the truth and the life. He is the goal of all human aspiration.2

Here, Jesus also speaks in deistic terms—as though He is God—the ultimate authority to ensure and guarantee our access to the Father,

Christ is the gate. He is the way. There is no other avenue to Heaven. Every other choice is wrong. There is no in between, no third alternative, no other gate. The options are simple and straightforward. There are not many good religions; there is only one. And so the options are only two—the true and the false, the right and the wrong, God’s way and humankind’s way. All this world’s religions are based on human achievement. Biblical Christianity alone recognizes divine accomplishment—the work of Christ on humankind’s behalf—as the sole basis of salvation.3

Peter repeats Jesus’ distinctive tone when he addresses the religious leaders at Jerusalem shortly after the Day of Pentecost,

Jesus is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved (Acts 4:11-12 NIV).

Not only is Jesus the way, but He is also the embodiment of absolute truth. The Greek word used for truth here is aletheia (Strong-G225), which differentiates something from a mere object of knowledge or intellectual inquiry.[See: Walter Bauer, 35-36, W.E. Vine, “True, Truly, Truth,” 245, and William L. Reese, “Truth,” Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion: Eastern and Western Thought, 8th ed., (Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press, 1991) 588.[/note]

In other words, Jesus is not some common source of moral and ethical truth. He is “truth in all its fullness and scope.” He is the perfect expression of any-and-all truth—past, present, and future. When Pontius Pilate sarcastically retorted, “What is truth?” (John 18:38), he had no idea of the vast implications of his remark. He was oblivious to speaking with Jesus Christ—truth personified.

As we consider His life, teachings, death, and resurrection objectively, His uniqueness as our only God and Savior becomes unmistakably clear. God is the source of truth, and Jesus Christ is His representation of all that is true—in all its straightforwardness and complete authenticity.

Not just the only way and absolute truth, Jesus is the source of abundant and everlasting life. His words, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25), are consistent with His pre-incarnate being,

He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:2-5 NIV).

The Greek word used for life is zoe (Strong-G2222), to describe physical and spiritual life, which finds their origin and continuance in God, who is the source of all life.4Only the Lord Jesus Christ can bestow life that becomes the “light to all mankind;” a rich, fulfilling life to all who place their trust in Him. Because of Him, we live, move, and have our being (Acts 17:28).

Thus, Jesus Christ is not one who merely points the way to God or shows us how we can know God intellectually. He is God in human flesh so that when we see Him, we see the Father (John 14:9).

Since He and the Father are one, He offers the means to restore our broken fellowship with God. Only then can we experience God personally, intimately, and profoundly in ways that affect substantive spiritual changes that last forever. All He requires from us is our faith in His saving work at Calvary. We then love Him and obey Him because of the transformation His Holy Spirit performs in our hearts daily.

Ultimately, Jesus Christ left glory, not because of what we could do for Him, but because of what He could do for us—provide the way to God. He performed this wonderful work because He loves us more than we could ever comprehend. It is not our works but our faith in His works that allows us to return to God.

Because of His perfect work, we can be fully confident that God will hear and answer us when we can pray in Jesus’ name. Jesus’ perfect merit guarantees the Father’s immediate attention. Won’t you trust Him today?

What a Wonderful Savior!

Created In God’s Image

For April 25, 2021
Through God’s Creation, we can see God’s majesty and design in the most intricate detail to invoke our happiness and well-being.

But unfortunately, there has been speculation about our human identities—whether or not we are male and female. Unfortunately, the tone, content, and trajectory of these recent discussions have suggested that God made errors during His marvelous creation that now require human intervention to remedy.

The Bible declares otherwise. Colossians 1:16-17 tells how the Lord created all things, including us. Further, the Bible states that in the beginning, as God was completing His perfect creation of Heaven and the Earth, He created a human male (Adam) and a human female (Eve) and placed them in the Garden of Eden,

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:27 NKJV).

As He did with His other created beings, God told Adam and Eve to “be fruitful, and multiply.” Thus, He renders an irrefutable purpose and destiny for our human species,

Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28 NKJV)

Concerning our being made in God’s image, one writer makes this observation,

It is clear that man, as God made him, was distinctly different from the animals already created. He stood on a much higher plateau, for God created him to be immortal, and made him a special image of His own eternity. Man was a creature with whom his Maker could visit and have fellowship and communion. On the other hand, the Lord could expect man to answer Him and be responsible to Him. Man was constituted to have the privilege of choice, even to the point of disobeying his Creator. He was to be God’s responsible steward on earth, to work out his Creator’s will and fulfill the divine purpose.1

The Psalmist describes how God made us “fearfully and wonderfully” in Psalm 139,

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb…You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed (Psalm 139:13-16 NLT).

Fearfully (Hebrew: yare) implies standing awe-inspired and rendering tremendous respect for God’s exquisite creation.2 In other words, fearfully happens as we recognize our God-given “mystery” of being special or unique, which cannot be recreated by finite humans. Only our omniscient, omnipotent God can infuse blood, bone, tissue, and flesh with His Spirit to create special and unique creatures such as human beings.

In addition, wonderfully (Hebrew: pala) conveys the idea of being separate or distinct.3 It is worth noting that not only is the human species “separate and distinct” from other created beings. Our internal components are also separate and distinct from each other. (This can explain how the Apostle Paul chose the human body as a metaphor in Romans 12:3-5 to describe how Christians can be many distinct members, and yet we are one cohesive body.)

However in the grander scale, human beings are separate and distinct from all other created beings just as God is special and unique; separated from all other gods. Only He could breathe in us the “breath of life” that eternally distinguishes us from everything else He created (Genesis 2:7).

Genesis 2:15 tells how the Lord placed Adam in the Garden of Eden to manage and cultivate it. Thus, ours is a solemn stewardship because we have dominion over the land, air, and aquatic creatures and the responsibility to cultivate vegetation, minerals, and water for its proper use and our benefit.

Yet, there are those who fail to see themselves as His greatest creation—greater than Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon, Aurora Borealis, the Amazon Rainforest, and the sun, moon, and stars combined.

The Psalmist also declares that God designed us to be lower than the angels, but we are crowned with glory and honor with all things under our feet (Psalm 8:5). Truly, God has given us an amazing pedigree that is up to us to accept.

Thus, God made no mistakes when He created us. For everything He made was very good! (Genesis 1:31)

However, we must never let our pride deceive us into believing we are the Creator God while He is the created. Psalm 36:6 tells us God preserves humans and animal kingdom. In other words, God preserves the earth and all that is in it as this author notes,

Preservation is that continuous agency of God by which He maintains in existence the things He has created, together with the properties and powers with which He has endowed them…Preservation implies a natural concurrence of God in all operations of matter and of mind…Without His concurrence, no person or force can continue to exist or to act.4

We are fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s incredible image. He loves us with an eternal love that transforms us into the image of Christ—through faith. Ultimately, He made no mistake when He made you or me to be His special and unique children. Won’t you trust Him today?

What a Wonderful Savior!

Have Faith In God Today!

For April 18, 2021
Trusting in what we have no empirical frame of reference is virtually impossible, especially in our materialistic, post-modern world where there is little or no regard for moral, godly, and spiritual underpinnings; especially with those related to Jesus Christ and the Christian Faith, just as the Bible depicts in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NKJV),

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

Christian Faith demands that the cold, hard facts associated with our day-to-day existence have to be changed. Only then can we embrace the transcendent, eternal realities that exist—whether we choose to believe them or not. The “cancel culture” purveyors will never cancel matters of Christian Faith, which are always relevant, and eternally substantive.

To compensate for our lack of faith, we have adopted flawed views of faith. Some see faith as a way to impose our will upon God. Here, we reduce God from being the Almighty; the All-knowing Creator and Sustainer of all existence to a mere puppet on a string to do our bidding, (as if He were our genie in a magic lamp).

Yet our God will do exactly what He will do at the precise moment and in the precise manner that suits Him—not us! His ways appear mysterious at times, but they are always perfect because He knows what is best for us in every situation. Besides, He created us and knows the exact number of hair on our heads. Thus, He is well acquainted with our needs, wants, and hearts desires.

Those convinced there is no God and that everything is haphazard view faith as aimless, pie-in-the-sky wishing tend to overlook or ignore how from purely a material standpoint, faith is a major part of our day-to-day existence. Without faith, we would scrutinize our air, water, food, furniture, appliances, vehicles, boats, and airplanes; everything we wanted to use before we used it.

Another flawed view of faith is to equate it with our feelings. Here faith is present only when we are happy with ourselves or our circumstances. Yet our pride, selfishness, emotional wounds, sinful cravings, “well-meaning” people, and our Enemy, Satan can influence our feelings and deceive us.

God is faithful, and He will always be at work on our behalf, regardless of how we feel. The Lord said that we could move mountains and that nothing would be impossible with faith the size of a mustard seed. Job cursed the day of His birth, and yet He had a tremendous faith in God. To gauge the quantity or fervor of our faith, we can never rely on our feelings alone, because faith is a mystery that is essential to our human experience,

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:1, 6 (NKJV).

Have faith in God. He is a rewarder to those who seek Him with their whole hearts. Ungodly hearts are spiritually dead, and emotionally ungratified. They lack meaning, and grope out an unfulfilled existence; futilely searching for happiness everywhere, but never finding it—remaining sad, and empty on the inside.

God has supplied our answer freely through Jesus Christ. With our faith in Christ and repentance of sin, we can receive Jesus Christ who gives us a complete spiritual overhaul, a restored fellowship with God, and an abundant life that lasts forever. In essence, we turn from sin, turn to Christ, and invite Him to be our personal Lord and Savior. Then, God seals us with His Holy Spirit forever.

We may not experience significant external changes, like having our names listed in Who’s Who, or having others speak well of us, or even obtaining wealth, influence, or notoriety. Yet we do have a new, internal spiritual being that makes us new creations who are acceptable before God forever,

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV).

Won’t you have faith in God today? What a Wonderful Savior!