We Are Still Secure

November 1, 2019
Three stories of Old Testament heroes evoke comforting and compelling images of God’s tender care as He intervenes in the lives of His precious Children.

For instance 1 Kings 18 presents the contest for validity between Elijah and 850 prophets at Mount Carmel. Those who witnessed the challenge saw the “Fire of the Lord” fall from Heaven to consume an animal sacrifice—drenched with water—that distinguished the True and Living God from the false god: Baal, and validated Elijah’s position as the “Prophet of the Lord.”

In addition, the Three Hebrew Boys presented in Daniel 3, were rewarded for their faithfulness to God demonstrated in their unwillingness to bow down and worship Nebuchadnezzar’s image as they were commanded. As result, they were thrown into a fiery furnace, which was heated seven times hotter than its normal level. Onlookers saw a fourth person in the furnace, who Nebuchadnezzar described as, “the Son of God.” The three were delivered from the flames–with not even the smell of smoke!

Moreover, 1 Samuel 17 presents the story of David, the young shepherd boy, who defeats the mighty giant Goliath with slingshot. After the victory, the people heralded David’s bravery and conquest. Life was good for the young shepherd boy who would eventually marry the King’s daughter and experience the opulence that accompanies royalty. Unfortunately however, persecution and adversity would soon follow as well.

King Saul sought to kill David, and as he ran for his life, hundreds of other outcasts joined him.

Over time, the Lord leads David to Abigail, the wife of wealthy Nabal.  She gives David and his men ample food and supplies to sustain them in their journey. She also affirms the Lord’s protection along with his succession to the throne as recorded in 1 Samuel 25:29 (KJV):

A man is risen to pursue thee, and to seek thy soul: but the soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the LORD thy God; and the souls of thine enemies, them shall He sling out, as out of the middle of a sling.

David’s life appeared to be full of uncertainty and turmoil. Yet he found comfort knowing that he was “bound in the bundle of life with the Lord his God.” In other words, the Lord cared for David and would meet his needs and fight his battles.

In Psalm 23, David illustrates how the Lord, his Shepherd, would keep him safe and secure throughout his life:

The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

The Lord Jesus Christ is our Good Shepherd, and He promised that we as His sheep will never perish, nor would be taken out of His (or His Father’s) hands. 1

Nearly two thousand years have since passed, and we are still secure today. What a wonderful Savior!

 

He Still Wants Your Heart Today

October 12, 2019
From the time of God’s Creation until now, it has always been the His design to have eternal, unbroken fellowship with the centerpiece of His Creation: humanity. So while addressing us, the Lord Jesus Christ cites Old Testament Law (Deuteronomy 6:5) to revise the old, established model of faith.

Here, He establishes a new faith-fellowship paradigm not based on our works, (although works can serve as evidence of our faith), but upon our affection instead:

Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40 NIV)

We delight in those whom we love. We like to be around them and want do all we can to please them. Thus, to love the Lord with all of our heart infers that we have a sincere, passionate, single-minded attraction towards Him, as the only true and living God, Redeemer…and Friend.

The heart represents the seat of our emotions. No other person or object can dominate our attention or command our affections when the Lord owns our hearts. However, His access is by our invitation only as Revelation 3:20 (NIV) teaches:

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

The Lord also wants our soul and mind, which means that our love for Him is evident in every facet of our lives. In essence, both who we are and what we do. In other words, we surrender not just our emotions, wishes, desires, feelings, affections, understanding, intellect, but also our character, personality, thoughts, words, deeds, lifestyle, goals, aspirations and so forth.

All these things and many more should resonate a deep love for our Lord with every fiber of our being. In short, we are commanded not love the Lord half-heartedly, but wholeheartedly.

The Lord Jesus Christ could rightly demand such love from us because He demonstrated His when He died on Calvary’s Cross to pay the menacing, unbearable debt of sin, which we could not pay for ourselves.

Then He rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven where He intercedes for us today. While we await His glorious, imminent return, His Holy Spirit lives within us, communing with us while preserving us as His precious children. What a wonderful Savior!

We may not arrive at this level of love towards Him in all its intricacies and implications 24/7 in this life. Nevertheless, we can give Him our hearts daily as we set our affections on things above, as Colossians 3:1 teaches.

Although many may dread our Lord’s return, we can look forward to it, as the day when we unite with those other redeemed saints at the Great White Throne Judgment to hear the King of Kings and Lord of Lords say to us, as His beloved and redeemed children: Well done!

Then we shall forever experience His holy, unbridled love in its fullest measure just as this theologian observes:

But in heaven there is an undisturbed reign of holy love. All the inhabitants of that bright world love God supremely and love one another subordinately…The satisfaction arising from this consciousness will never be disturbed by a single doubt or solitary suspicion.1

Won’t you give the Lord your heart today? He’s given you His already!

 

No More Condemned

October 5, 2019
In His meeting with the Jewish religious leader Nicodemus recorded in John Chapter 3, the Lord Jesus Christ made several astounding claims.

His first claim was that we all have  to be Born Again to see the Kingdom of God (3:3). His second claim was that we have to experience both natural birth (of water) and a spiritual birth (of Spirit) to see the kingdom of God (3:5).

Then Jesus predicted His death at Calvary and promised that we who believe  in the merits of His sacrifice “should not perish, but have eternal life.” And later in 3:16, He presents the essence of the Gospel message that is still recited around the world some 2000 years later:

For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

The Creator of the Universe knows our deepest thoughts, motives, and desires. Although He is also fully aware of those “secret sins” hidden from others, He still chooses to love us with such a great love that despite what we’ve thought, said or done—past or present, He is willing to forgive us and extend to us His gifts of eternal fulfillment and bliss.

None of us are “good enough” to earn God’s consideration; struggling with some fault is something that all of us share in common. The only exception was the Lord Jesus Christ, who was morally and spiritually perfect, well qualified to make this observation in 3:17:

For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.

The Lord did not come to condemn us. We were condemned the moment that we took our first breath in this sin-tarnished world. A cursory look at news, entertainment, sports and political stories attest to the fact that we are yet fallen creatures in need of a Savior, just as the Bible teaches.

The Lord is choosy about the people He associates with, so it shouldn’t surprise us that the Lord has a “no riff-raff allowed” policy that remains in force today as Romans 3:23 observes: All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

 Over the years, I’ve met many people who struggled with some form of compulsive addictive behavior, who for the most part, never needed to be reminded of their flaw in character or judgment.

n order to relieve us of our flaws, the Lord chose to offer Himself as the perfect sacrifice so that our faith in Him would forever secure God’s consideration towards us both now and forever. What a wonderful Savior!

Won’t you give Him your heart today?

We Can Choose Whom We Will Serve Today

For September 14, 2019
About two thousand years before the birth of Christ, God promised to bless Abram and Sarai in a way where everyone on earth would benefit. In Genesis 12:3 (NLT), God speaks to Abram:

I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you!

Twenty-five years passed, and Abram was one hundred years old when he and Sarai would have a son, Isaac though whose son’s lineage, Jacob (Israel) the promise would be fulfilled. To mark the event, God changed their names to the more familiar Abraham and Sarah.

(Ultimately, Jesus Christ would be the fulfillment of this promise when He freely gave His life to purchase our forgiveness of sin and redemption to God through His shed blood at Calvary. What a wonderful Savior!)

Now, fast-forward about six hundred years to one of Abraham’s descendants, Joshua who was standing beside the overflowing Jordan River. The Lord commanded him to lead His Chosen People across the river to occupy the Promised Land.

Joshua was the successor to Moses, who was the most influential prophet and leader since Abraham. Thirty days passed since Joshua was entrusted with the responsibility of providing spiritual, moral and civic leadership to the Children of Israel. In Joshua 1:2-9 (NIV), the Lord says to Joshua:

Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites.  I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.  No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.  Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Joshua and Caleb were the only two of his generation to occupy the Promised Land, because they chose not to rebel against the Lord by giving an “evil report” after they searched the land. He was well equipped to serve as Moses’ successor. He was with Moses at Mount Sinai when the Lord gave Moses the Law, he also helped Moses lead God’s people through the wilderness, and he led many assaults against the opposing forces east of the Jordan River.

Joshua instructs the priests to take the Ark of the Covenant and stand in the riverbank. When their feet touched the overflowing river, the water stood in one heap, and the people crossed over. That day, the Lord magnified Joshua in the eyes of the entire assembly—as He had done forty years before to Moses at the Red Sea—from that day forward, Joshua served as the consummate successor to Moses, the Man of God, to lead the Children of Israel into the land of promise.

He practiced an unwavering commitment to the Lord. Even towards the end of his life, his desire to remain faithful to The Lord was so evident in the speech he delivered in Joshua 24:14-15 (NIV), that it still serves to inspire God’s people today (my emphasis):

Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord!

We can choose whom we will serve today. I too choose to serve the Lord! Won’t you join me?

Giving All Diligence

August 26, 2019
At the onset of His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ announced that He could resolve our sin problem with His sinless life and precious blood when He declared: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Mark 1:15 (KJV)

His was the greatest proclamation in history because it heralded a New Testament age for all people everywhere. Now we can have our sins forgiven, experience a complete, internal, spiritual transformation, and we can have our need for an intimate, eternal fellowship with God satisfied as well, as Hebrews 9:11-12 (KJV) teaches:

But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

This new period in history also revoked all claims of neutrality toward God. In John 8:24, Jesus warned that those who did not believe in Him would die in their sins. Either we can choose to receive His gift of abundant life on earth and eternal life in Heaven, or we can reject it and face an empty, unfulfilled life on earth along with a tormented eternity in Hell as a result.

Of Jesus’ Twelve Disciples, Judas was the one who was so preoccupied with obtaining a worldly kingdom that he refused to trust in the Lord and forever changed his identity from Disciple to traitor with a single kiss. Like many people today, the allure of “thirty pieces of silver” was too much to resist, and without Christ as redeemer, eternal separation from God in Hell awaited him.

Our Lord knew that Judas was a godless degenerate, yet He chose him to be one of His Disciples. Even more amazing was how the Lord loved him and gave him every opportunity to repent. For three years, the Lord revealed His redemptive plan to Judas through His moral and spiritual excellence, His astonishing miracles, and His eternal truths like those in Matthew 7:13–14 (KJV).

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Although tragic, Judas’ example provides hope for everyone everywhere, especially those who feel that God has forgotten them or that they are beyond redemption. In Judas, we see how patient, gracious, and loving Jesus is, as He extends himself to the worst of us freely and willingly. Jesus gives rest to those who labor under heavy loads, with a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light. What a wonderful savior!

Simon, another Disciple, recognized and understood the importance of having a sincere, penitent, and reverent faith in Jesus Christ. (Such a faith yields complete inner spiritual transformation, reconciliation to God, along with the privilege to share eternal blessing and glory with God in Heaven.)

When the Lord Jesus saw this impetuous yet rock-solid leader, He changed his name to Peter (Greek: petros, meaning “rock”). This characteristic was evident during the unfolding of Jesus’ warning to Peter that Satan desired to sift him as wheat in Luke 22:31-32.

Because although he denied his Lord three times, he repented, was restored, and later became the leader of the apostles, who fed his Lord’s precious sheep. Under his leadership, the New Testament church flourished during its infancy. Later, Peter encapsulates our Christian mission and message in 2 Peter 1:5–8 (KJV):

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity [love]. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated these eight moral and spiritual attributes, and we as His followers do so today. In this way, we fulfill His prophecy that we are not of the world and show that we are the recipients of God’s amazing grace and love as well.1

We Believers are the living examples of His good news (Gospel), by “living out” the undeniable fact that God can transform vile sinners into His holy people—from the inside out, even today.  Forever grateful, we are humbled by what our Lord Jesus Christ did on our behalf, which we were unwilling and incapable of doing for ourselves.

Now as the salt of the earth, we can represent Him around the world in a manner that reflects His noble character. The power of Satan, the cares of this world, and our own inadequate strength no longer debilitate us, as we operate under His unfaltering might. Should we try to be anything less, and live like the world, we become worthless, like tasteless salt.

We grow to be more like Christ and honor Him in everything we say, think, and do. Our new Spirit-driven life is born out of a sincere faith that transforms us while providing us with the clean hands and pure hearts that God requires.

Are we perfect? Absolutely not, but God is! Moreover, He provides us with all the spiritual resources we need to live for Christ nobly in this life while preparing us for the glorious Heaven awaiting us in the next life. In this way, we affirm the sentiments of Galatians 2:20 (KJV):

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Let us give all diligence to follow this wonderful legacy today!