We Can Have New Life Today

For May 24, 2020
Some say rightly that the distance between Heaven and Hell is approximately twelve to eighteen inches—the distance between the head and the heart. So to clearly communicate this essential spiritual truth, the Jesus Christ appeals to the human heart by telling the most wonderful story about God, our loving Heavenly Father; Himself, the Son of Man, and the world, or all humanity.

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. For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:14-17 (NLT)

All of us were born with a need for spiritual transformation. The good news is God can change us from vile and sinful to pure and holy, through the Born Again experience or regeneration, as this theologian observes,

Regeneration is that act of God by which the governing disposition of the soul is made holy. It is God turning the soul to Himself.1

A computer contaminated by a virus can still function, but not at its optimum level. However, once the virus is removed, the hard drive is reformatted with new software installed; the machine can function at an optimum level according to its original design. Much like this computer illustration, sin contaminated us, and we need spiritual reformatting.

We acknowledge our contamination by confessing our sin before God. Then we turn from the continual practice of sinful behavior through repentance. We place our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who installs the spirit-directed software, which enables us to function according to our original design—at full capacity!

As 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, we become “new creatures.” Now, loving and pleasing God is our new all-consuming, lifelong objective. No longer do we seek the things of the world. They have become dead to us, and we are no longer subject to them. Our new aim is to live lives that emulate our Lord and live for Him to the best of our ability for the rest of our lives.

We were once proud and selfish; now humble and selfless, once aggressive and villainous; now assertive and virtuous. In place of deceit, we now practice sincerity. Once we sought to victimize others through hypocrisy, betrayal, and lies. Now we interact with God, others, and ourselves with authenticity, faithfulness, and truth at all levels.

Our spiritual transformation is all-encompassing as the Holy Spirit, who now dwells within us, enables us to perform the perfect will of God on the outside.

We can have a new life today, without financial cost. It only cost us our pride and selfishness as we surrender to the Lord by giving Him our hearts and lives. For some, this cost may be excessive. However, the peace of mind we experience from having our sins forgiven and from having our lost relationship with a holy God restored is worth the price because it’s priceless.

What a Wonderful Savior!

 

We Can Trust In The Lord Today

For May 17, 2020
Faith is the trust or belief we have in someone or something to perform a task that may be beyond our current level of understanding.

Some try to use it as an instrument to impose our will on God. Here, we look at God not as the almighty and all-knowing Creator and Sustainer, but as a puppet on a string whose sole purpose is to do our bidding, as if He were our own personal 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. To us, His ways may appear to be mysterious at times, but they are always perfect because He always knows what is best for us in every situation.

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.

The Lord not only wants us to commit every element of our very lives over to Him , but He wants us to completely trust in Him  also, get out of His  way, so that He can perform His  perfect work in us and through us as Psalm 37:5 (NLT) teaches,

Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you.

Faith, trusting, committing all convey the idea that we believe in God because He not only loves and cares for us, but that He also wants the best for us in every situation. In this life, we will experience pain and suffering as reflected in recent news reports that show how the entire world seems to be paralyzed by fear and panic associated with the covid-19 virus.

Life’s vicissitudes are attributable to our inherent sin nature, our own poor choices, or just because. But despite these challenges to our faith, we can still believe that the Lord is holy, infinite, and His ways are perfect. As He leads us through life, His most perfect purpose for us will take place in the fullness of time (Romans 8:28).

Through faith in Christ, God supplies us with a new spiritual being. He eliminates our sins by way of the New Birth that Jesus described as mysterious as the wind and as the prerequisite for true fellowship with God (John 3:3–8).

We must invite Christ into our lives by faith, and through our obedience and submission, we receive a new internal being that allows us to perform the will of God, secure His eternal favor, and become His beloved children forever.

What a Wonderful Savior!

Jesus Christ: Our Good Shepherd

For May 3, 2020
It happened during the Feast of Dedication (Chanukkah), an eight-day festival to commemorate the cleansing and rededication of the Second Temple in 164 B.C., some four years after the Greek ruler Antiochus IV had the Temple desecrated. Here, during its purification, miraculously the menorah burned for eight days when there was only enough sacred oil for one day.

The Lord Jesus Christ was on Solomon’s Porch within the Temple complex when He addressed the assembled crowd:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.  John 10:27-30 (NKJV)

As our Good Shepherd, Jesus offers us an eternal, personal, loving relationship whereby our hearing, knowing, and following Him is both valued and practiced, as we become His precious Sheep.

We hear His voice because we have a personal, intimate, vibrant, experiential knowledge of our beloved Good Shepherd. As Jesus says in John 3:3, we are Born Again. Here—through our faith in Him alone—we acknowledge His righteousness supersedes ours, we repent of our sin, we ask Him for forgiveness, and we invite Him to be our personal Lord and Savior forever.

As our Good Shepherd, the Lord is familiar with each individual sheep, and He knows our beginning, end, and middle. He created us in His image, and He establishes our paths. He knows our sorrows and joys; our cares and concerns; our dangers and trials; our fears and doubts; our words and ways; our thoughts and feelings; our past; our present, and our future, Yet He loves us perfectly and completely.

We will always follow our Good Shepherd because our enduring loving, trusting relationship constrains us to surrender and obey Him in everything. Just as He says in John 14: 15 (ESV): “If you love me, you will keep my commandments!”

Jesus also teaches that as the Good Shepherd, His bountiful provisions for us cannot be defeated by human or Satanic forces. In this life, we are never exempt from tribulations and trials. However, the Good Shepherd will always provide for us as His Sheep, just as Psalm 34:19 (NLT) attests: “The righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD comes to the rescue each time.”

In addition, although our physical death is certain, it is also certain that through Christ, we have an abundant life that lasts beyond the grave into eternity. Jesus says in John 11:25-26 (NLT):

I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.

 Our personal relationship with the Good Shepherd provides us an assurance, comfort, and security we cannot find anywhere else on earth. Won’t you trust Him today?

What a Wonderful Savior!

In Christ We Have Purpose And Meaning

For April 26, 2020
On the evening before He went to the cross to pay for our sin, Jesus offered these comforting words of His abiding presence—after His departure—to His Disciples that inspire us today:

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.      John 15:5-8 (NIV)

In Christ, we have purpose and meaning; that is when we place our faith in Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior and are Born Again. His Holy Spirit enlivens our dead spirits and lives within us forever. We pass from death unto life—alive in Him. Transformed and enlivened, our main objective in this life becomes loving the Lord as we fulfill our life’s purpose: to live abundantly as spiritually transformed and graciously redeemed Children of God’s Kingdom.

God also bestows Jesus’ righteousness on us in response to our faith in the merits of His sacrifice at Calvary. Hebrews 11:6 (NLT) teaches us:

It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Our new relationship provides the pardon for sin, the gift of eternal life, along with every other blessing we need for this life and the next. Romans 5:1-2; 9-11 (NKJV) further teaches:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ because of His mediation as Son of Man. Only Jesus, who was sin-less, had the right standing to satisfy all the righteous requirements imposed by God. As the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ served as God’s perfect representative before a sin-cursed world since He was totally God in human flesh. In other words, as both the Son of Man and the Son of God, Jesus Christ is fully capable of representing all humanity before a holy God and a holy God before all humanity.

Peace with God means we no longer live in guilt and shame because all our sins—past, present, and future—have been forgiven and forgotten. Peace with God through Christ also means we are poised to experience peace with others since the Prince of Peace lives within us.

Also, we are made righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ. Romans 6:23 tells us that the payment for sin is death. Someone had to die, and blood had to be shed to remediate our sin. Leviticus 17:11 teaches:

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.

Although God gave Moses instructions on how animal blood would pay for our sin, it was not a permanent fix and had to be repeated. Instead, it foreshadowed a lasting restitution through Jesus Christ, which would wash away our sins, make us righteous before God, and restore our lost fellowship with God permanently.

In addition, we are saved from wrath through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is our Great High Priest, in whom our forgiveness of sin is secured. Before His arrival, no person forgave sin but God. Yet, Jesus forgives our sin so that we stand before God as righteous. John the Baptist rightly referred to Jesus as: “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”1

Only Jesus is our perfect sacrifice for sin. As such, He is able to save us “to the uttermost” all who come to God by Him, seeing He lives forever to make intercession for us, just as Hebrews 7:25 teaches.

What a Wonderful Savior!

 

We Deserve God’s Wrath, But….

For April 19, 2020
In the beginning, God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden with everything they could ever want or need forever. In that blessed state of perfect innocence, our ancestors thrived in the company of loving, holy God.

God created us in His image to have eternal fellowship with Him. As such we are distinct from everything else He created and endowed us with self-awareness, personality, and a moral consciousness or holiness.

Eternal bliss was ours as long as we obeyed one command: do not eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:15-17 (NLT) reads:

The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the LORD God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

When our ancestors ate the fruit, spiritual and physical death happened just as God warned. Physical death came over time, but spiritual death happened immediately, as the entire world became sin-contaminated as Romans 5:12 (NKJV) teaches us:

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.

We all have a sinful spiritual condition that causes us to think, speak, and act in ways that are sinful.  Sin is defined as: “A lack of conformity to the moral law of God, either in act, disposition, or state.”1

We are inclined to practice sin instead of seeking after the things of God, just as the Bible teaches:

    • Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Psalm 51:5 (NKJV)
    • Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins. Ecclesiastes 7:20 (NIV)
    • For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 (NKJV)
    • But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.   1 Corinthians 2:14 (NKJV)

Those of us who try to live a “good life” by doing good deeds might wonder, “How can I be a sinner? I have a moral compass demonstrated in the love, kindness, and benevolence I extend towards others.”

We have a moral compass, but our sin nature often skews it in nefarious ways. Thus, to God we are sinners not because of the sins we commit. We are sinners because of the spiritually and morally depraved nature we’ve inherited from Adam and Eve that is always at work inside us.

The response of a holy God towards sin is wrath and eternal separation. We are the “Children of wrath” and subject to His eternal judgement and separation in a fiery Hell, where Jesus says in Mark 9:48: “The worm dies not and the fire is not quenched!”

Guilt, shame, depression, anxiety, doubt and fear are additional byproducts of this sin nature that produce a condition from which there is no human escape. In our own strength, we are helpless and hopeless—always falling short.

God’s solution is found in Jesus Christ. In Whom we can have a new position and standing with God. Here, we place our faith in Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, and are Born Again as His Holy Spirit enlivens our dead spirits and lives within us forever.

Alive in Him, now, we can fulfill our life’s purpose: to live abundantly as spiritually transformed and graciously redeemed Children of God’s Kingdom. In addition, God bestows Jesus’ righteousness on us solely because of our faith in the merits of the Lord’s sacrifice at Calvary. His perfection becomes ours—by faith as Ephesians 2:4-10 (NKJV) tells us:

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Only Jesus is our perfect sacrifice for sin. As such, He is fully capable to save  “to the uttermost” all who come to God by Him, seeing He lives forever to make intercession for us as Hebrews 7:25 teaches.

We deserve is God’s judgement and wrath. But through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we have eternal peace and favor instead.

What a Wonderful Savior!