When Your Future Becomes Now!

For January 26, 2020
I’ve often wondered what the thoughts of Joshua were as he watched Moses walk away from the Israelite camp on his way to Mt. Nebo where he was to die. For 40 years, he served the Man of God faithfully as a first-hand witness to the majesty, power, and faithfulness of God demonstrated towards His Chosen People: Israel.

Now, he hears from God—personally:

After the death of Moses the LORD’s servant, the LORD spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you—from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon Mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’ No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:1-9 (NLT)

Joshua was in Egypt with Moses when Egypt was devastated by the 10 Plagues, which facilitated the release of God’s Chosen People from 400 years of Egyptian bondage.1 Most notably, it was the final Plague: the Death of the Firstborn, which saw the institution of two important observations that are yet observed by devout worshippers today: the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of the Passover.2

Joshua saw how the Lord protected the Children of Israel at the Red Sea. There God parted the waters so that His Chosen People could walk across “on dry ground” directly in front of the pursuing Egyptian army, which was destroyed by the receding waters as they tried to capture them.3

He also watched Lord lead His People by a Pillar of Cloud during the day, and by a Pillar of Fire at night. In addition, he saw the Lord meet Moses at Sinai where The Law was instituted; a Law which yet governs and informs the moral and spiritual standards of God’s people around the globe today.4

Moreover, Joshua benefited from God’s miraculous provision of manna, quail, and water that sustained a nation through their time in the wilderness.

Incidentally, Joshua and Caleb were spies who gave a favorable report—confident of God’s victory—when they returned to the Wilderness of Paran after exploring the land of Canaan for 40 days.

Although all 12 spies agreed Canaan was a “land flowing with milk and honey,” just as God promised. Yet 10 spies gave an evil, disheartening report that incited the people to stone Joshua and Caleb, establish a new leader, and return to Egypt.5 However, God appeared miraculously to vindicate Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb and condemned the ungodly, unbelieving rabble to wander in the wilderness for 40 years.

All Joshua’s contemporaries (including Moses) were gone; having died in the wilderness, with the exception of Caleb. Now as his future hopes, dreams (and fears), opportunities, expectations, service, and victories became “today’s reality,” he held on to the promises and commands of God. And as a result, he discovered ultimate victory just as the Lord promised (in verses 5 and 9):

No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

I believe Joshua needed to look no further than his own name, which means: “Jehovah is salvation,”6 to find the faith and encouragement required to preserve him through the arduous task set before him.

For the odyssey would begin in just 3 days. Then he would lead God’s Chosen People: the Nation of Israel across the Jordan River—miraculously again—on dry ground into the land of promise.

Ultimately, Joshua was a first-hand witness to the faithfulness of God, and as he advocates Jehovah worship at the completion of his mission, he articulates the following resolve to trust and serve the Lord forever (emphasis mine):

But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15 (NLT)

Just as Joshua trusted God and experienced His faithfulness, we Christians today can trust in Jesus’ Matthew 28:20 (NIV) promise for our assured victory as He accompanies us forever: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age!”

Therefore, when your future becomes now, trust in the Lord. For He is ever-faithful and will fulfill His divine plan through you.  What a Wonderful Savior!


How About Some Grace Today!

For January 19, 2020
The moon must have been especially bright on the evening when Nicodemus met Jesus privately, as John records in the third chapter of his gospel. Scripture is silent regarding the meeting’s exact time and place except where John tells us it happened during Passover, which is a major Jewish observance that runs concurrently with the Feast of Unleavened Bread from the fourteenth day through the twenty-first day of the first month of the Jewish calendar or Nisan.1

During this week of feasting and celebration, massive throngs of people flooded Jerusalem from all over the world. Every Jewish male was required to attend this observance, which commemorates Israel’s Exodus from over four hundred years of Egyptian slavery.2

It was on this very special occasion when the Lord Jesus Christ offered the hallmark passages of our Christian Faith:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:16-18 (NKJV)

Herein lies the mystery of God’s amazing grace revealed in its fullest measure: God extending eternal forgiveness, eternal life, eternal fellowship, and eternal reconciliation to a morally and spiritually bankrupt humanity—because of His eternal love for us…alone.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NLT) further expands on this idea:

 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

We Christians define God’s gift of love and forgiveness as revealed through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ (i.e., His death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and future return), as grace, which is understood as:

Favor, gracious care or help, goodwill…that which one grants to another; the action of one who volunteers to do something…to which he [or she] is not bound.3

By faith alone, we benefit from His mercy. In other words, through our faith, we are spared from His wrath due to our sin. Instead, now we have access to God’s priceless gifts of eternal joy, peace, and delight. Ultimately, we no longer rely on our futile, human efforts to earn God’s favor through our own “good works.”  Instead, we rely solely on the “perfect works” of Jesus Christ—as we trust Him for everything else.

Now we have the goodness, loving-kindness, mercy, and favor He designed for us (and those around us) when He created the world. Until He returns for us, His Holy Spirit keeps, strengthens, and increases our Christian faith with an undying affection, gratitude, and power to perform His good works that benefits everyone and us while He receives the glory.

What a Wonderful Savior!


Why Not Try A Little Forgiveness?

For January 12, 2020
Isn’t it amazing how our omnipresent Lord God is not too big to care for us individually? He is omniscient, whereby He has the most intimate of knowledge regarding every detail of our lives—including the exact number of hairs on our heads.1

Nevertheless, the Lord is loving and compassionate enough to forgive us of all our misdeeds and chooses to embrace us as His children—forever!

Here, the Lord desires to remove our false assumptions, presuppositions, and sinful proclivities reflected in escalating hostility, and violence towards others, so He can establish His eternal peace fellowship with us—through the work of Jesus Christ alone as Ephesians 2:1-5 (NLT) teaches:

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)

The Lord characterizes the End Times as a period of escalating hostility. Each day we see the signs of the times in random assaults, terrorist attacks, school violence, workplace violence, and road rage. We live in a worldly kingdom that prefers retaliation over reconciliation, since from a child, we are taught not to let anyone take advantage of us or to show weakness.

One false assumption is the strong delusion our lives are above reproach and “never hurt anyone.” Here, we are lulled into a false sense of security, because when we misspeak to avoid hurting another person, we are telling a lie. Also, contemplating having a sexual encounter with someone—who is not our husband or wife—can be either fornication or adultery, depending on our marital status, and this is sin as well.

In addition, desiring the possessions of others (without having worked to earn them ourselves) is coveting, which is wrong. Similarly, expressing envy or jealousy towards another person is wrong, as is cheating, stealing, exploiting others, manipulating others, disrespecting others, expressing hostile speech, as well as violence, all of which keep us separated from God.

But an even more insidious threat to our eternal fellowship with the Lord is to feel that we have the God-given mandate to keep a record of offences, and to bear grudges against others. Here, sins are “rated” on a sliding scale as though one was more heinous than another.

However, rating leads to falsely characterizing others for their past behavior—even when they now live for Christ fully. We can never make comparisons since all of us have sinned and are deficient of God’s righteous standards.2

Our attitude should always be to overlook the offense and forgive the offender. It’s hypocritical to condemn a person for his or her past when we have “skeletons in our closet,” as Jesus observes in Matthew 7:3-5 (NLT):

And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, “Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,” when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

Matthew 21:32-35 (NLT) tells us that our “sliding scales” must be discarded. In other words, we cannot forgive only certain offenses or forgive only to a certain level:

Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.

Our massive sin debt has been forgiven and canceled forever through the blood of Jesus Christ.

In John 13:34-35 Jesus taught it will be our love that brings life to our Christian witness and makes our faith a practical alternative to the world’s counter-productive methodologies. We emulate this perfect love by forgiving others.

Then we can live rightly in the eyes of God and humanity. In God’s eyes, we are His children and can experience and express His glory. To humanity, we are the brilliant reflections of God’s practical and tangible love, which proves we belong to His Son, Jesus Christ.

We should never think it strange to try a little forgiveness. Our God extended it to us, and He transforms us into receptacles of grace and mercy so that we can extend it to others.

What a Wonderful Savior!

Be Of Good Cheer!

For January 5, 2020
I’ve often wondered what the Eleven Disciples must have been thinking while watching the Lord Jesus Christ ascend into Heaven forty days after His resurrection. Here, a few weeks earlier, the Mount of Olives was the location where Jesus made His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on a donkey as the gathering throngs of people surrounding Him exclaim:

Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest Heaven!    Matthew 21:8b (NIV)

Also from this location, the Lord taught them in graphic detail about the Destruction of Jerusalem, (70 AD), the Signs of His Coming, and about The End of the Age shortly before His crucifixion. 1

Now the mount served as a point of departure (and subsequent return) for their Beloved Savior and Redeemer. But before departing, the Lord would give them words of comfort that apply to us today:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  Acts 1:8 (NLT) 

While watching the Lord Jesus Christ ascend into Heaven, two men in white apparel encouraged them (and us) with these words:

Men of Galilee…why are you standing here staring into Heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into Heaven, but someday he will return from Heaven in the same way you saw him go!   Acts 1:11 (NLT)

Amen! Jesus is coming again…and  very soon!

The Disciples returned to Jerusalem, and waited for the promise of the Holy Spirit, which would happen in ten days, on the Day of Pentecost. At that time,  the course of their lives, and the lives of others would be forever changed by their faith in Jesus Christ and the redeeming work He accomplished for them and us at Calvary.

The Eleven had been fearful and were in hiding.2 Some doubted as did Thomas.3 Even Peter tried to resume his lucrative fishing career. However, this failed as he finally realized that feeding the Lord’s Sheep was his new profession exclusively.4

After Pentecost, the Disciples would no longer cower in fear, doubt, or seek personal interests. Instead, they would change the course of human history through their preaching, teaching and faithful, diligent service.

In essence, these men, along with those of us who would follow them became the “salt and light” Jesus foretold of in Matthew 5:13-16 (NLT):

You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

In this life, we are certain to experience trials and suffering. However, in John 16:33, the Lord Jesus Christ promises us His rich, abiding peace, which we will never find anywhere else on earth.

But best of all, because He overcame the world triumphantly, and because He now lives within us, in the person of the Holy Spirit, we can be of good cheer because we know that we will overcome triumphantly as well. What a Wonderful Savior!  


Happy Birthday Jesus!

For December 25, 2019
We desire to be with loved ones on special occasions. This is especially true during the Holiday Season as reflected in a recent Transportation Security Administration (or TSA) report of record numbers of travelers during this past Thanksgiving Holiday. For instance, on December 1, 2019, more than 2.8 million travelers were screened at TSA checkpoints nationwide, marking its busiest day on record.1

Our Loving, Holy and Eternal God, who created the Heavens and the Earth, was deeply motivated by a yearning to restore the fellowship He Had with a fallen humanity—like He shared with Adam and Eve, our ancestors in the beginning.

We will never know the size of our universe since the more we explore the more galaxies we yet discover. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA reports that beyond our own galaxy lies billions of galaxies.2

Nevertheless, in the fullness of time, our Living God easily bridged this vast expanse so that He could demonstrate His matchless love for us in an unmistakable way about two thousand years ago. Luke 2:8-14 (NKJV) describes this event:

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Jesus’ birth facilitated a new human relationship paradigm between God and humanity based on His peace and goodwill. Here, all God’s promises concerning the forgiveness of sin, reconciliation, peace, and forgiveness that were directed towards His Chosen People (vis-à-vis the Jews) exclusively, as conveyed through the prophets, priests, the Holy Scriptures, and through sacred family traditions and customs were now available to all of us—men, women, boys, and girls everywhere—by faith.

In other words, all of us now have the opportunity to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and as Savior in order to receive the promise of abundant life in this world leading to eternal life with Him in the next as Philippians 2:5-11(NLT) attests:

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 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.

Either in this life or in the next, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess Jesus Christ as Lord to the glory of God the Father. There is a far better outcome for us if it happens in this life out of our free will motivated by our love for Him. Then the result is eternal, loving fellowship. In the next life, the outcome is far more severe since it is by compulsion as we succumb to His omnipotence and invincibility before being relegated to spending eternity in a tormenting Hell.

Yes! We can celebrate the birth of this wonderful Baby Boy, Jesus Christ, on Christmas Day realizing His physical life began privately in a Bethlehem manger, but it will end publically on Calvary’s Cross.

Yet, when He rose from the dead, as our Redeemer, He won us back to God so that we could have fellowship with Him forever. What a Wonderful Savior!