Blessed Is He Who Comes In The Name Of The Lord!

For April 2, 2023
The eventful week began on what we refer to as Palm Sunday today with Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into His beloved Jerusalem, the City of David.

He chose not to ride a horse, as would a conquering hero. Instead, He rides the donkey’s colt, a symbol of peace, as He presented Himself as God’s humble emissary sent to redeem a fallen humanity.

His calculated actions fulfill the Messianic prophesies of Isaiah 62 and Zechariah, given 700 and 500 years before, respectively,

The Lord has made proclamation to the ends of the earth: “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your Savior comes! See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.’ ” They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted. Isaiah 62:11-12 (NIV)

And,

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 9:9 (NIV)

Enormous crowds gathered around their Messiah, laying palm branches in His path and shouting,

Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven! Matthew 21:9 (NIV).

The Lord strategically planned His Triumphal Entry to coincide with the festive week of the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread. Thus, it was not coincidental that His Messianic presentation happened during this high-holy week of consecration and celebration, when Jerusalem’s population increased exponentially, as Jews from around the world converged on Jerusalem to fulfill the requirement of Mosaic Law to attend the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

These feasts were associated with the Children of Israel’s release from four-hundred years of Egyptian slavery. (Exodus 12:1-13:16, 23:17, 34:23) Festive revelers, musicians, and celebrators packed the streets with song, dance, and reverie.

Jesus was well aware that His Triumphal Entry with Messianic overtones would hasten His death on Calvary’s Cross before week’s end. Yet, He humbly and meekly presented Himself as the Passover Lamb, whose blood would pay sin’s price for His people and all of humanity.

One author refers to the critical spiritual implications of Jesus’ earthly ministry,

But Jesus addressed himself primarily to spiritual rather than to physical need. He fed hungry hearts rather than hungry stomachs. His gospel was by no means an economic gospel; nor can it be characterized in general as a social gospel; primarily and essentially the gospel which Jesus proclaimed was an ethical and religious gospel.1

Yet, one must wonder what the Lord and His Disciples were thinking and feeling, especially within the context of this commentary on our Lord’s actions (my emphasis),

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But, God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8 (NIV)

Jesus’ critical mission was for our spiritual benefit because the first Adam’s disobedience introduced sin into God’s perfect world, which resulted in our spiritual and physical deaths. Our spiritual death (sin), which separates us from God, happened instantaneously while our physical death came gradually.

God created us to be holy (sinless) beings to live forever in His perfect world. But Adam’s disobedience introduced our world to sin, sadness, pain, disease, and death. Thus, as the Bible teaches, all of us will sin and die. (Romans 3:23, 5:14, 6:23)

Since we are sinners by nature, our “good deeds” are sin-polluted. One illustration is how when we commonly carried fountain pens in the breast pocket of our white dress shirts. When ink leaked from the pen, it left an ink spot that irrevocably ruined the shirt.

Just as the ink spot spoils the shirt, sin spoils our self-righteousness. So that even on our best day, we are still worthless before a holy God (who is not sin-spoiled), and we fail before His righteousness as filthy rags,

We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. Isaiah 64:6 (NLT)

Jesus Christ was without sin and fully aware His death would redeem all fallen humanity from sin and restore us to a loving, eternal fellowship with God,

Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Romans 5:18-19 (NKJV)

It is unfathomable how a sinless Jesus Christ freely offered Himself to redeem the entire world—whether Jew, gentile, black, white, rich, poor, believer or non-believer. All of us can vicariously receive the full benefit of His perfect sacrifice—without preference or distinction.

No longer do Satan, sin, and death bind us, because our faith in His perfect work determines our righteousness (or lack thereof) before our Heavenly Father.

Ultimately, Jesus redeemed those who love Him, those who hate Him, those who believe in Him, and those who do not believe in Him. This concept of “equal atonement” is difficult for the modern mind to capture fully. Not concerning Christ’s saving efficacy as His sacrifice remediates all our sins forever.

However, His commitment to give Himself freely and willingly for every man, woman, boy, and girl—past, present, and future—so comprehensively is difficult to fathom. For it is not a normal human response, especially toward someone we feel is “less desirable.”

Sacrificing for a loved one is conceivable when our love for them or our desire to protect them motivates us. However, choosing to sacrifice our lives for an enemy or someone who dislikes us is extremely hard to envision.

History has shown there may be certain situations where we would risk life and limb for someone we might not care for. During the Second World War, for example, cultural issues fostered adversarial relationships that fragmented our troops occasionally. Although these valiant men and women may have been divided, they proved themselves more than willing to sacrifice for their adversary’s greater good by fighting and dying to spare the world from the global tyranny of the Axis’ powers.

Fast-forward eighty years to our modern day, when we have replaced our noble altruism with a cold-hearted malevolence and barbarism. Truly, the Enemy (Satan) is at work in the callous and malicious disregard for human dignity witnessed in the indiscriminate killing of the unborn and helpless, the calculated euthanization of the weak and aged, and the exploitation, abuse, trafficking, oppression, and violence perpetrated against all those who fall between these two extremes.

Ultimately, we have reduced precious, God-given lives to little or no worth. Our heartlessness is most unfortunate because technology, education, politics, military, and industry do not make our country great. It is our faith in God, and the Judeo-Christian values we embrace and uphold, as the Scriptures attest,

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14:34 (NKJV)

Ours has never been a perfect nation, but no nation is, especially with sin and entitlement issues running rampant as they are today. Yet, there was a time in our not-too-distant past when we understood right from wrong, and we intuitively maintained a line of demarcation between what was morally good and morally bad.

We seem to have erased that line by our existential relativism. Our existentialism celebrates our human subjectivity while our relativism denies the existence of all absolute truth,

Dress as you will, fornicate with whom you will, infect whom you will, wear clothes, or go naked as you will. The only right is what is right for you, and the only wrong is that which produces pain or inconvenience for you. There is no law, no principle, no proper course of action of any kind, so go with the vibes! Whatever is your thing, do it.2

No longer does God’s Word (Bible) and His Helper (Holy Spirit) guide our thoughts, words, and behavior. Instead, whatever feels good or gives us pleasure—at this moment—is what governs our conscience and behavior.

In these Last Days, which feature our ever-changing new ways of thinking and behaving, global catastrophes, rampant hostility, and heightened existential relativism will ensue to our detriment, just as Jesus predicted,

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. Matthew 24:6-12 (NKJV)

Oh, what sorrow and despair await those of us who insist, “evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.” Isaiah 5:20 (NLT)

A civilized people must exercise vigilance and due diligence to promote and secure the moral and spiritual well-being of our fellow countrymen and women,

The freedom of God is exercised and illustrated in His government of His moral creatures. It has pleased God to create intelligences possessed of moral freedom and to make their ultimate destiny contingent upon the right use of their freedom.3

God has endowed all of us with the sacred trust to preserve civility, decency, and goodwill for people with whom we work, serve, and live.

Those of us over twenty-one years of age especially should foster a congenial atmosphere since we have matured beyond our childish self-interests to pursue those things that are in everyone’s collective best interest. We who have so matured understand if we persist in raucous discord, no person will be spared from hostility and violence.

At some point, we must stop long enough to ask this question with the utmost sincerity, “What kind of world do we want for our children, and their children?”

With our non-absolute, selfish, proud, twenty-first-century minds, it is extremely difficult to imagine how someone in perfect health, with all His faculties, and less than one week to live would spend His remaining moments teaching enduring lessons that would shape future generations of His Followers around the world as Jesus did.

In His shoes, we would spend our last week fulfilling selfish desires, visiting exotic places, visit our families and close friends, or completing unfinished tasks on our “bucket list,” but not so with our Lord. He knew He would die on the cross shortly, and He spent His remaining moments with His beloved Disciples, sharing lessons most important to them—and us.

The second chapter of the Book of Philippians relates to the humiliation and exaltation of Jesus Christ,

Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:6-11 (NLT)

Proud, self-righteous human endeavors will never invoke God’s favor, as does Calvary’s Cross. It has never been about us; it is about Jesus Christ, and our faith in Him vitalizes our being, position, conduct, and eternal destiny.

The first time, Jesus presented Himself to the world as the Suffering Servant in order to redeem a fallen humanity. Upon His second arrival, He will present Himself as the Eternal Righteous Judge before whom every knee will bow and every tongue will confess.

Those who will not acknowledge Him now will face Him as Eternal Judge when He returns to make His final Triumphal Entry, that will last forever. But those of us who love Him, and whose faith begins and ends with Him, He is our hope, peace, expectation, and glorious reward. Galatians 3:11 reads, “The just shall live by faith,” and 2 Corinthians 5:7 states, “We walk by faith, not by sight.”

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the lord. For Jesus promises, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NLT) Won’t you come to Jesus and experience rest, peace, and joy in your life today?

What a Wonderful Savior!

Finding Peace And Security In God Today

For March 18, 2023
Uncertainty and insecurity mars our fallen world, with the global pandemic, troubled global economy, financial upheaval, and global conflict. We want safety and security with some level of control—or predictability—over our personal, social, and financial well-being.

We want to return to “normal,” when life was more predictable. But fear, uncertainty, and helplessness make coping difficult in our modern day society. Some will look to family to fill the void, but will not find it there. For more often than not, our family members are broken and empty, seeking solutions to fill the void for themselves.

Some turn to friends and acquaintances for relief, but find that, as sin grows more rampant in our world each day, cold indifference is often the outcome, just as Jesus foretold in Matthew 24:12.

Others turn to professions with careers in science and medicine, business and enterprise, information technology, finance, sales and marketing, education and academia, law and politics, or sports, travel and entertainment to gain wealth, power, and influence hoping to fill the void. But then they discover that even after achieving those magnificent accomplishments, the void remains, and we feel empty, alone, and frustrated and realize we live in a cold, cruel, and unfulfilling world.

Some will try to escape their inner emptiness by splurging on the newest, biggest, and shiniest thing we can afford, convinced that it will bring us internal satisfaction and instant gratification. But inanimate objects will not comfort us like the wonderful blessing of God’s tender, loving companionship, and we feel more empty and unfulfilled.

When that does not work, we turn to sensual pleasures (i.e., gluttony, sex, pornography, marital infidelity, drugs, alcohol, other intoxicants, etc.) to find euphoria. However, we learn that our self-medicating, self-numbing, and self-gratifying will not quell our inner turmoil and spiritual suffering.

But we soon learn that a compulsive-addictive lifestyle will not give us the metaphysical relief we seek. Instead, it fosters counter-productive thoughts, speech, and conduct that promote our own self-destruction while contravening the overall safety and well-being for others as well.

Where should we turn for answers? By faith in God, we can find security and safety in an unpredictable world. But we must turn to Jesus Christ, as our personal Lord and Savior, and are Born Again. Then, at that precise moment, we can have eternal safety, security, and reliability.

God’s Holy Spirit fills the “God-size void” inside us to enliven (quicken) us spiritually. Instantly, we come to know His selfless love and experience His lasting peace, joy, fulfillment, and deep satisfaction as He transforms us into His new creations,

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)

From the beginning, God has had a perfect plan (or will) for His creation. He said, “Let there be!” and the heavens and earth; water and air; plants and animals appeared—instantly! Then He said, “Let us make!” and He combined clay with His eternal Spirit; breathing into His creation the “breath of life,” and thus the human species exists, and He said it was “very good!”

God designed His perfect plan for our welfare and benefit before He created the world, and He has not changed or rescinded it. God is sovereign, and everything that happens will bring about the fulfillment of that plan.

The fallen angels, Satan, our disobedience and subsequent Fall resulting in the interjection of sin and death, human free will and personal choice, wars, famine, and cataclysmic disasters can distract us from clearly seeing His glorious end, seemingly hijacking His beneficent will.

Yet, these factors do not escape His foreknowledge. The Lord will accomplish His perfect plan nonetheless, as one author observes,

The benefit of an emphasis on God’s decrees is that it helps us to realize that God does not make up plans suddenly as he goes along. He knows the end from the beginning, and will accomplish all his good purposes. This should greatly increase our trust in him, especially in difficult circumstances.1

Despite our failings, which are many, His unfailing plan will sustain us always,

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand. I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lends; And his descendants are blessed. Depart from evil, and do good; And dwell forevermore. For the Lord loves justice, And does not forsake His saints; They are preserved forever, But the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off. Psalm 37:23-28 (NKJV)

I rejoice knowing there is a Beneficent Creator and Infinite Sustainer who is concerned about our personal welfare and is active in our daily lives. I do not rely on the capriciousness and unreliability of happenstance, fate, chance, or luck to govern the course of our human lives.

God’s unfailing design offers us the positive hope of a blessed future for this life,

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29: 11-13 (NKJV)

Yet, God has also planned a blessed hope for our eternal future with Him,

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:1-3 (NKJV)

The Spirit of Christ within us gives hope for eternal life. This hope is our confident and joyful expectation of future blessing based on the certainty of our salvation through Christ and of the wonderful eternal future He is preparing for us.

Flesh and blood will not inherit the Kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 15:50) When our Lord calls us from labor to reward, we will experience the pinnacle of His redemptive plan where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest. (Job 3:17) Of this glorious transformation, the Scriptures attest,

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory. 1 Corinthians 15:54 (NKJV)

This is our present hope and eternal destiny or glorification. Then, God will give us immortal bodies that will resemble Christ’s resurrected body. Then we can experience God’s magnificent presence, free from sin, pain, and disease. We will see Him “as He is” and be like Him. (1 John 3:2)

Proud, self-righteous human endeavors will never invoke God’s favor, as does Calvary’s Cross. It has never been about us; it is about Jesus Christ, and our faith in Him vitalizes our being, position, conduct, and eternal destiny.

Those who will not acknowledge Him now will face Him as Eternal Judge then. However, we who love Him, and whose faith begins and ends with Him, He is our hope, peace, expectation, and glorious reward. Galatians 3:11 reads, “The just shall live by faith,” and 2 Corinthians 5:7 states, “We walk by faith, not by sight.”

God alone is in control. In Him, we can find peace, security, and fulfillment forever. All that is required is our complete surrender to His Lordship through Jesus Christ as Savior. Won’t you give Him your heart today and experience His lasting contentment?

What a Wonderful Savior!  

Jesus Christ, A Loving Savior Today!

For March 12, 2023
In our contemporary world, love has many meanings. It can name an emotional attraction for job, house, vehicles, classical music, pizza, that odd Christmas sweater, and that pair of comfortable jeans. To the Greeks, we can express parental (storge), fraternal (phileo), or sensual (eros) love. However, Jesus transcends these concepts when He establishes this new paradigm (my emphasis),

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:34-35 (AKJV)

The Greek agape (Strong-G26), is the highest form of pure love because God is its power source. Our Lord is holy, and His love is without sin and selfishness. We are incapable of such pure altruistic love with our human strength alone, since our love seeks reciprocation. The Holy Spirit’s power makes it possible—although difficult—for Christians to express God’s agape love in ways that serve the recipient’s best interests.

The Bible tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8), and He continues to express it unselfishly. In the beginning, He created a perfect habitation for imperfect humans. After we fell and sin contaminated the world, He showed mercy to Adam and Eve through a promised Redeemer, who would nullify sin’s curse and dominion forever.

God’s love preserved humanity through Noah, when sin was rampant in the earth. Later, He produced a people of faith through Abraham to be a blessing to others. God’s love motivated Him to deliver His people from Egyptian bondage, part the Red Sea, give them His Law, feed them in the wilderness for 40 years, and give them a “Promised Land.” His love foretold of David’s successor, who would establish His Kingdom of justice and peace forever.

Agape motivated Jesus to leave glory to inhabit human flesh, walk on earth for thirty-three years, and share His message of love, faith, and redemption. He healed the sick, raised the dead, fed the hungry, encouraged the downtrodden, and taught a most captivating and distinct message.

He showed exceptional love to His betrayer, Judas, who attended His last Passover Seder. He could have exposed or condemned him, but He did not. Instead, He gave Judas permission to betray Him, “That thou doest, do quickly.” (John 13:27) Although Judas did not recognize it until it was too late to turn back, Jesus was offering Judas a last chance to repent.

Later, while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, agape led Jesus to accept His vicarious death on the cross for our redemption. The Disciples were sleeping, and He was praying alone to His Father. He asked His Heavenly Father if it was possible to escape death.

Yet, He chose to fulfill God’s will, not His. After being beaten, spat upon, and crowned with thorns, Jesus still surrendered Himself to be humiliated, stripped naked, and crucified so that we might know His love and forgiveness.

Isn’t it ironic how The Eternal Creator made the trees and metal ore that His creation—the human species—fashioned into a wooden cross and metal spikes used to bring salvation into a sin-cursed world? What a remarkable demonstration of unselfish, everlasting love for us!

Although we affixed Jesus to a wooden cross and placed Him on a hill between two thieves before throngs of mocking people, yet He still loved us. He could have commanded legions of angels to destroy us, but He did not. Instead, He surrendered His life to pay the penalty for our sin,

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 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. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:14-18 (AKJV)

Three days later, He rose from the dead, declaring He had all power in Heaven and earth! His love raised Him from the dead to ascend into Heaven where He intercedes for us before the Father. His love sent us the Holy Spirit to comfort and abide with us while we await Jesus’ glorious return. Then we shall know His pure love in its full measure forever. Hallelujah!

God’s love provides what is best for us. 1 John 4:10 tells us we should never measure love by how much we love God. Instead, we should measure love by how much He loves us, and how He sent His Son to pay sin debt. His unselfish love makes us right before God, as He sees His own amazing grace.

Jesus Christ relinquished His deity and glory, not for what we could do for Him, but for what He needed to do for us at Calvary. No longer are we without hope for redemption. God’s love lifted us from despair into the presence of God forever, as this familiar hymn attests,

Love Lifted Me1
James Rowe (1865-1933)

I was sinking deep in sin, Far from the peaceful shore, Very deeply stained within, Sinking to rise no more; But the Master of the sea, Heard my despairing cry, From the waters lifted me– Now safe am I.

All my heart to Him I give, Ever to Him I’ll cling, In His blessed presence live, Ever His praises sing. Love so mighty and so true, Merits my soul’s best songs; Faithful, loving service, too, To Him belongs.

Souls in danger, look above, Jesus completely saves; He will lift you by His love, Out of the angry waves. He’s the Master of the sea, Billows His will obey; He your Savior wants to be– Be saved today.

Refrain:
Love lifted me, Love lifted me, When nothing else could help, Love lifted me; Love lifted me, Love lifted me, When nothing else could help, Love lifted me.

All that the Lord requires from us today is to accept His love by surrendering ourselves to His Lordship—by faith—believing that we can have the forgiveness of sin along with the gift of eternal life because of His loving sacrifice at Calvary. As a result, you will know God’s peace and His abiding presence forever, as you bask in His eternal and amazing love. Won’t you turn to Him as your Savior today?

What a Wonderful Savior!

How Can We Reveal Christ Today?

For March 5, 2023
On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus reassured His Disciples that His followers would continue the Kingdom work He began. His work to bring glory to His Father would not end at His death. Instead, it would continue unimpeded until He returns,

I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. John 14:12-13 (NLT)

The Universal Church or the Body of Christ is comprised of diverse members who show Christ through their effectual love for God and others, demonstrated through benevolent service to God and others. Human beings are ill-equipped to perform such altruism consistently, so God gave us His Holy Spirit to empower us with the spiritual gifts that enable us to perform admirably—consistently,

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. …It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have. The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 11-13 (NLT)

When we place our faith in Christ, and are Born Again, the Holy Spirit endows each of us with a spiritual gift we can use to honor Christ and serve others. The local church is the primary agent by which we see the fulfillment of Ephesians 4:12, equip and edify others for service or ministry.

Through our Christian service, many spiritual gifts are displayed, but we can honor Christ and benefit our churches and communities using these eight spiritual gifts,

    • Helpers (1 Corinthians 12:28) unselfishly share their time, talents, and resources to assist others. Easily recognized, they are first to respond to needs. They also shun recognition, because God will reward them. A fine biblical example is Ruth, who helped Naomi.
    • Givers (Proverbs 3:27, Romans 12:8, and Galatians 6:10) share their resources unselfishly to meet needs. They, too, respond quickly and prefer anonymity. Givers delight meeting needs without repayment. God provides them with resources to share with others. Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan shows how givers respond to the needs of others.
    • The Wise (1 Corinthians 12:8 and James 1:5) can see problems from God’s perspective and they respond appropriately. More than human intellect, the wise deliberate and act in ways that glorify God and astound people. Solomon’s resolution to the two prostitutes who claimed to be the mother of one infant astonished everyone because it was from God.
    • Exhorters (Romans 12:8) share Scripture to console discouraged Christians. Without fanfare, exhorters take great pleasure in helping people gain a renewed inspiration and motivation to serve God. Jonathan exhorted David to trust in God and stay on course as the future king of Israel.
    • Evangelists (Ephesians 4:11) can share Christ with positive results. God calls, equips, and inspires people to serve Him in this capacity. The Bible tells about Philip the evangelist at Caesarea.
    • Pastors (Jeremiah 3:15, Acts 20:28, Ephesians 4:11, 1 Timothy 3:1–7, and Titus 1:5–16) nurture people toward spiritual maturity. Not recent converts, they are spiritually mature leaders who serve under the authority of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. God serves as both teacher and leader.
      • As a Teacher (Romans 12:7 and Ephesians 4:11), the pastor explains the Bible so that others can understand and apply to life, just like Jesus, who taught with great effectiveness.
      • As a Leader (Romans 12:8 and 1 Corinthians 12:28), pastors give oversight with tact, vision, and prudence to maximize resources and provide direction.

God used Moses to shepherd and instruct the Children of Israel while leading them out of Egyptian bondage.1

There will be many fulfilling moments in our lives that show how God loves, protects, and provides for us. We grow confident that He directs our steps and will never leave or forsake us. Our Christian experiences enhance our knowledge and strengthen our faith in God and His Word.

Some believe that ministers are more effective when they have had a troubled past. However, our ministry effectiveness is up to God. It’s always appropriate to acknowledge our sinful past in testimony as we contrast it to the eternal, abundant life that we now have in Christ.

All Christians require accountability, but those who have had years of painful episodes should complete a spiritual treatment program before they engage in ministry, since untreated or unresolved, counterproductive “baggage” can surface and expose others to spiritual, physical, emotional, or psychological injury.

1 Timothy 5:22 (NKJV) tells us not to “lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure.” Thus, taking vetting precautions will help lessen the risk of the server’s relapse and harm to others.

The saving of souls, growing in faith, and the serving others define ministry effectiveness from God’s perspective. This is how we can reveal Christ and glorify God, which is all that matters.

As Enoch walked with God daily (Genesis 5:24), it’s possible to accept Christ and abide in Him for a lifetime. Those of us who follow this pattern are living demonstrations of His amazing grace and miraculous power.

We can reveal Christ today when we sanctify the Lord God in our hearts, so we can give a prompt response to the hope within us with meekness and godly reverence. (1 Peter 3:15) Won’t you give the Lord Jesus your heart today and reveal Him nobly to a lost and needy world?

What a Wonderful Savior!

God’s Word is True, Reliable, and Consistent.

For February 12, 2023
The veracity, reliability, and relevance of God’s Word are beyond question. In today’s ever-changing world, there is one constant: God is faithful, and we can trust Him to keep His Word regardless of the circumstances we face.

The Old Testament narrative of Micaiah, presented in 1 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 18, illustrates how we can trust God and His Word in ways that are most astounding.

One-hundred and fifty years before this story unfolds, (a thousand years before the birth of Christ), as David reigned over a united Hebrew monarchy at Jerusalem. David was succeeded by his son, Solomon, who was later succeeded by his son, Rehoboam.

Under Rehoboam’s reign, the kingdom was divided, with Jeroboam I controlling the Northern Kingdom (Israel) with Samaria as the capital city, while Rehoboam remained king over the Southern Kingdom (Judah) at Jerusalem.

One-hundred and twenty years pass before Ahab and Jezebel become king and queen of the Northern Kingdom in Samaria. Known for their despicable wickedness and ruthlessness, they surreptitiously cause the unjust killing of Naboth, an innocent man, so that they can take his vineyard, which was situated next to the palace.

After Naboth was stoned to death, King Ahab took immediate possession of the vineyard. God, who was not happy with their treachery, sent Elijah the Prophet to the vineyard to confront Ahab with His Word of judgement,

Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: “Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth’s vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. Say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?’ Then say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!’ ” 1 Kings 21:17-19 (NIV)

Sometimes evildoers may think they can “get by” with their misdeeds, but they will never get away. Numbers 32:23 warns, “Be sure your sin will find you out.

Three years pass before Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, visits Ahab in an effort to reclaim Ramoth, a city that fell under Syrian domination.

Before the battle, Jehoshaphat asked Ahab to ascertain God’s Word about their endeavors. Ahab gathered his 400 prophets, who predicted that God would undoubtedly give them a victorious conquest.

Their claims of victory troubled Jehoshaphat, a godly king, who then requested to hear from a prophet of the Lord about the matter. Ahab identified Micaiah and summoned him immediately.

It must have been awe-inspiring to see Ahab and Jehoshaphat in full regalia sitting on thrones near the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all the opulence and splendor befitting dual royalty.

Yet, when challenged to speak God’s Word, Micaiah replies,

I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the Lord said, “These have no master. Let each return to his house in peace.” 1 Kings 22:17 (NKJV)

Then he goes on to say,

Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left. And the Lord said, “Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?” So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, and said, “I will persuade him.” The Lord said to him, “In what way?” So he said, “I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.” And the Lord said, “You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.” Therefore look! The Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the Lord has declared disaster against you. 1 Kings 22:19-23 (NKJV)

For his faith, courage, and tenacity, Micaiah was sent to prison, where they were to feed him bread and water until Ahab triumphantly returned to Samaria.

But God had other plans that He revealed trough Elijah and Micaiah. Although one revelation was during a private meeting and the other was in a public gathering, both foretold of God’s judgement against Ahab for his wickedness.

Subsequently, Ahab was mortally wounded in battle when an opposing archer “drew a bow at random,” and struck him between the joints of his armor.” (1 Kings 22:34) Further, when Ahab died, his chariot was washed that evening and “the dogs licked his blood” just as Elijah had foretold earlier. (1 Kings 22:38)

Ahab was dead, and a vindicated Micaiah left the prison, comforted by the sureness of God’s Word that is ever-inspiring for us today,

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. …I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. Psalm 27:1-3, 13-14 (AKJV)

Twenty eight-hundred years have passed, and God’s Word is still absolutely true, dependable, and applicable. The New Living Translation of Proverbs 30:5 reaffirms that, “Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.” Amen!

In our vacillating world—full of its contradictions—it’s comforting to know that our faithful God will not change His mind about keeping His precious Word, despite the conflicting results of the latest opinion polls, its incompatibility with human reasoning, or when it is in contrast to godless societal expectations. Trust the Lord, and His Word, for He and it will be true, reliable, and consistent. Won’t you trust in Him and His Word today?

What a Wonderful Savior!

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