We Need God’s Word Today!

For March 6, 2022
With all the confusion and disorder in our world, we need the calming voice of God guiding us more than ever. His is the voice that brings life and joy. And as we follow His commands, we can experience peace and fulfillment.

We can have many fulfilling moments 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, as opposed to our subjective thoughts or feelings,

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:8-11 (NKJV)

The Bible, or the Word of God, presents how Enoch walked with God, (Genesis 5:24), and shows it is possible to stay connected to God for an entire lifetime. We who follow this pattern are living demonstrations of His miraculous power. God’s Word enables us to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts, so we can give a prompt response to the hope within us with meekness and godly reverence, as 1 Peter 3:15 teaches.

Knowledge, or the Greek gnosis (Strong-G1108), denotes the information we’ve accumulated through diligent study. In our age of specialization, we require knowledge and skill to be a qualified professional. Physicians learn medicine, attorneys research law, and we as Believers examine the Word of God (Bible) to become competent practitioners of the Christian faith.

Our Lord Jesus valued Scriptural knowledge. At twelve, He was in Herod’s Temple at Jerusalem, listening to the teachers of the Law and Old Testament traditions and asking questions. (Luke 2:46) Our spiritual existence depends on Christ, the Living Word, who said,

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63 (AKJV)

The Bible helps us to grow spiritually and morally, as David attests,

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Psalm 119:11 (AKJV)

We cannot read this holy book as we would a newspaper or paperback novel. Instead, we must rely on God to give us the spiritual insight to interpret and apply it properly. We may pick up nuances from independent study, but we best learn from spiritually mature Christians who teach the Bible exegetically and “read out” of the Bible God’s instruction for us. The antithesis is eisegesis or “reading into” the Bible speculation and subjective opinions that produce Scriptural error, false doctrine, confusion, and controversy. We must pursue sound doctrine and teaching,

Knowledge does not take twentieth-century people back to first-century ways of living. It brings the universal and timeless truths as redemptive realities for living today. It translates the Jesus of history into the Christ of faith.1

Helping Believers draw proper conclusions from the Bible underscores the importance of Christian discipleship in a church setting. There, we can explore the Bible’s content, context, and application through Biblical hermeneutics to avoid biblical speculation and render a true reckoning of God’s inspired Word.

In the beginning, the Enemy used half-truths and innuendos to dissuade Adam and Eve from pursuing God’s words. As in Peter’s day, false teachers today deploy the same strategy by adding subtle changes to the Bible through clever phrases and speculation. Instead of drawing conclusions from the Bible’s text itself, spurious opinions are for the “itching ears” of 2 Timothy 4:3–4.

We can “rightly divide” (interpret and share) God’s Word, as 2 Timothy 2:15 instructs. God will punish us for adding or taking from God’s Word as Proverbs 30:5–6 and Revelation 22:18–19 warn us. Much like a carpenter whose screwdriver differs from a claw hammer, we can learn how each book differs from one another.

In addition, we should use a Bible version that is easy to read and understand that contains chain references, maps, and concordances. Bible dictionaries, atlases, commentaries, and other aids are invaluable in our study. Supplemental reference materials (e.g., Old and New Testament surveys, Old and New Testament, Jewish, church, and world histories, systematic theology, Christian doctrine, Hebrew and Greek word studies, dictionaries, etc.) can benefit us as well.

Through diligent study of God’s Word, we learn we are not of this world. God has a plan for us He will complete in His proper time. Six doctrines tell of His incredible purpose in grace.

    1. God is the one true, living God. He expresses Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father creates, sustains, and rules Heaven and earth. The Son is Mediator, Redeemer, Savior, and Lord. He secures our atonement by His death and resurrection. The Holy Spirit quickens, comforts, guides, unites us in Christ, guarantees our victory over the Enemy, and secures our place in Heaven.
    1. Jesus Christ is the center of our Christian community. As our Prophet, He inspires us and guides the trajectory of our lives through the biblical accounts of His life and teachings. As our Priest, He forgives, purges, and removes our sins. As our King, He governs our hearts and minds through His Spirit and Word. In Him, we unite, because He is the center of our love, gratitude, and faith.
    1. Our Sin Nature (Sin). God created us in His image to have eternal fellowship. Because of our disobedience, we fell from our innocent state to become sinners. We are without God’s righteousness and are amenable to wickedness. Alienated from God and subject to His condemnation, we need a Savior.
    1. The Bible is the Word of God. Inspired individuals penned His sacred words to disclose His divine truths to fallen humanity. It contains principles for human conduct and opinion. It unites the Old Testament, which reveals God’s eternal standards through His Law, with the New Testament, which reveals our reconciliation to God through Christ. As we read, study, memorize, and apply its principles, we grow into his productive people of faith and grace.
    1. The Church: As one body in Christ, Christians are the “called out,” or in the Greek ekklesia (Strong-G1577); a people who are distinct from the world. We unite in prayer, worship, fellowship, Bible study, service, and accountability. We observe its ordinances and rituals that strengthen us. Christian Baptism symbolizes our death to sin and our resurrection to new life. In the Lord’s Supper, we use bread and wine to commemorate the Lord’s death, and show our dependence on Him for our spiritual life, and looking forward to dining with Him in Heaven as He promised.
    1. In the World to Come, our Lord will descend from Heaven to occupy a new Heaven and earth without sin, Satan, or things defiled. A final separation will occur where those of us who trust in Christ will share eternal bliss in Heaven. There we will have His eternal peace, rest, and comfort. Those who have not come to Christ will face eternal torment and separation from God in Hell.

Why not try living by God’s Word—the Bible—for His direction and prosperity instead of relying on our own insufficient thoughts and ways, that lead to frustration and failure? Our desire should mirror those of the ancient King David,

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward.  Psalm 19:7-11 (NKJV)

What a Wonderful Savior!

What A Wonderful Savior!

For February 20, 2022
It is in Chapter Fifteen of First Corinthians where we can find the core of the Gospel by which all Christians find our purpose, identity, liberty, and eternal hope (my emphasis),

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (NIV)

The idea of “equal atonement” is troublesome for the modern mind to capture fully. Not concerning Christ’s saving efficacy as His sacrifice remediates all our sins forever. His commitment to give Himself freely and willingly for the comprehensive salvation of every man, woman, boy, and girl—past, present, and future—is yet impossible to fathom. Such an action is not a normal human response, especially toward someone we feel is “less desirable.”

Sacrificing for a loved one is conceivable when expressing our love for them or protecting them is our motivation. However, choosing to sacrifice our lives for an enemy or someone who dislikes us is extremely hard to envision or practice in real time. History has shown there may be certain situations where we would risk life and limb for someone we might not necessarily 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 universal tyranny of the Axis powers.

Fast-forward eighty years to our current international pandemic. Some have replaced noble altruism with a cold-hearted malevolence thorough modern day “germ warfare.” Imagine the depths of depravity for one to create a microorganism that indiscriminately targets innocent victims with underlying health issues and/or acute pre-morbidities. Moreover, some who should adhere to the Hippocratic Oath, to “do no harm,” by protecting and improving our overall health and safety, would instead politicize and withhold the vital, life-saving technologies and medical remedies that have been shown to treat illness.

What happened to our compassion for those who are absolutely marginalized and vulnerable among us? Where is our concern for the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40)?

I am saddened by the barbarism plaguing human hearts now. Truly, our Enemy, Satan, is at work in the callous and malicious disregard for human dignity witnessed in the indiscriminate killing and violence directed at the unborn and helpless, the calculated euthanizing of the weak and aged, and the exploitation, abuse, trafficking, oppression, and savagery expressed towards anyone and everyone who falls between those two demographic extremes.

Ultimately, we have reduced our precious, God-given human life to mere dollars and cents.

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 that allows God’s divine favor, as the Scriptures attest, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34 (NKJV)

Ours is not a perfect nation; no nation is, especially with sin and entitlement issues, running amuck as they are today. Nevertheless, 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. Unfortunately, we have blurred 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.1

God’s Word (Bible) and His Helper (Holy Spirit) no longer inform our public discourse. Instead, whatever feels good or gives us pleasure—at this very moment—is what governs our conscience and behavior.

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) There are far too many people who live for the here and now: “three-score and ten, and the most toys win!” Howbeit, there is a vast eternity beyond the grave, and we must acknowledge Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior in this life to avoid eternal peril,

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:26 (AKJV)

Proud, self-righteous human endeavors will never invoke God’s favor, as does Calvary’s Cross. It’s never been about us; it’s about Jesus Christ, and our faith in Him vitalizes our being, position, conduct, and eternal destiny. Those who don’t profess Him as such today will face Him as the Eternal Judge tomorrow.

But 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.” James 4:6 tells us that God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble—does He ever! Like airplanes on a runway before takeoff, we cannot fly without our Eternal Pilot at the controls. With humble, reverent, and sincere faith in Him, we shall reach our glorious final destination safely.

Additionally, 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.2

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. We should foster a congenial atmosphere since we have grown and matured beyond our childish self-interests to pursue 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 ask this question with the utmost sincerity, What kind of world do we want for our children, and their children?

Therefore, with our non-absolute, selfish, proud, twenty-first-century minds, it is extremely difficult to imagine how Jesus Christ, a person in perfect health, and with all His faculties, would spend His precious time teaching and demonstrating—thorough His death, burial, and resurrection—eternal lessons that would forever shape the character and conduct of His Followers around the world, as He did.

In His shoes, we would be consumed with pleasure, fulfilling our selfish desires, visiting exotic places, or completing unfinished tasks on our “bucket list.” Not so with Jesus Christ. He knew He would die on the cross for the sins of the entire world—even those who hated and/or refused to believe in Him. Yet, He spent His precious time sharing critical lessons with others (and us). Can’t we trust in Jesus, surrender to Him, and follow His example by living beyond the parameters of our own sin and selfishness for the benefit of all (and for His glory)?

What a Wonderful Savior!

Jesus Got Up From The Grave!

For April 4, 2021
All humanity was in spiritual peril. Sin and death bound us, where there was no escape. But, Jesus’ single magnificent act would change the course of our future once and for all.

Up to now, Jesus Christ was like any other person who has ever spouted lofty ideals, performing magical tricks, and leading a group of misfits and non-conformists. This behavior was seen before. (Although raising the widow’s son, Jairus’ daughter, and Lazarus from the dead were spectacular accomplishments.)

He was approximately thirty-three years old, give or take—a relatively young man—cut down in the prime of His life. His claim to be God in human flesh, (or the Son of God), along with His claim to be our only means of redemption were without validation to this point. Then, something happened that distinguishes Him from anyone who has ever lived.

Jesus Rose from the Dead!

Through His resurrection, God glorifies the Son and validates His authority over Satan, sin, and death, making Him the most significant person who has ever lived, and it ensures us that He will not disappoint those of us who put our faith in Him,

By any and all standards, Jesus Christ has always been regarded as the greatest figure in human history. On any list of the world’s greatest men, we always find at its head Jesus of Nazareth. Regardless of whether or not men acknowledge Him as Savior and Lord, they must pay tribute to Him as the world’s outstanding man. 1

Many refer to Jesus as a prophet or teacher. Some say He was a good man who died tragically. If death was all there was, we would be hopelessly lost. But, praise the Lord! Jesus’ death is not all that there was to know about Him. He also rose from the dead, and He left behind an empty tomb. Although some have tried, we cannot ignore the implications of this historical fact.

    •  The empty tomb validates the Lord’s claim to be the Son of God or God in human flesh and that He, the Helper, and the Father are one.

I and my Father are one…I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper…the Spirit of truth…I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you (John 10:30, 14:16-18 NKJV)

    • It confirms God has approved Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice for our sin and solidifies the new and abundant life we have in Him forever.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son (John 3:16-18 NIV).

    • It shows the Father answered His prayer to be glorified most emphatically.

Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11 NIV).

    • It proves and assures we will also experience a glorious resurrection, just as He has,

And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God (Job 19:26 AKJV).

    • It assures us we can pray, read/study His Word, abide by His commands, trust His promises, attend church, observe His ordinances, serve others, and strive toward spiritual growth knowing our actions are productive,

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV).

The foundation of our Christian faith is the actual bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because of it, we sorrow not as others who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13),

This is but natural, as Christianity must stand or fall with the resurrection. Christ “rose from the dead,” has always been a cardinal article of faith in the Christian Church; for the defense of the faith and comfort to the Believers. The difficulties that beset denial are found in: (a) the impossibility of explaining the empty grave; (b) the attitude of the enemies of Christ after the resurrection, revealing their helpless confusion; (c) the Disciples’ sudden transition from hopelessness to triumphant faith; (d) the founding of Christianity in the world, which can be rationally accounted for only in view of the fact that Christ actually rose from the dead.2

Our Christian faith, history, and theology derive from the idea that Jesus Christ rose from the dead physically. Along with the Disciples we, His Followers today, universally accept this as fact. And despite the two thousand years of skeptics, our Christian faith has never been a product of “lies, fraud, hallucinations, and sick minds.” Courageous, clear-minded Saints of God continue to die for their faith in the Lord because they know Him to be authentic and eternal. Christian faith stands or falls with the resurrection of Jesus.3

Our Lord willingly died to pay for our sins, and He triumphantly rose for our justification. He ascended into Heaven, where He now sits at the right hand of God, interceding for us. Soon, He will return for us, and we will be with Him forever in His peace and love. Won’t you trust Him today?

Jesus is risen…He is risen indeed!

What a Wonderful Savior!

Love In Action—Jesus Died For Our Sins!

For April 2, 2021
The word love has many meanings, although it defines our emotional attraction toward someone or something. For instance, we can love our jobs, houses, cars, classical music, pizza, and that old pair of comfortable jeans. Even the Ancient Greeks distinguished parental love (Greek: storge) from fraternal love (Greek: phileo) from the passion between lovers (Greek: eros).

However, Jesus Christ establishes a new love paradigm when He commanded us to love each other unselfishly and fervently, just as He loves us (Greek: agape). It is by this unselfish love, everyone will know we are His disciples (John 13:34—35). This is the highest form of selfless, pure love, which can only find its source in and expression through God. Jesus attests of this in John 15:13 (NKJV) when He states, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

God’s love is completely devoid of sin and selfishness. In our strength alone, we are incapable of such altruism because we are motivated by, “What’s in it for us?” before we consider responding lovingly.

Although difficult, Christians have the capacity to express His love as we yield to His Spirit, who instinctively responds to others through us in the ways that serve their best interests. The Spirit within us extends this unique, powerful, transforming love to all people everywhere—so that even our enemies can benefit greatly.

1 John 4:7—8 tells us that God is love. And He continues to express it as He has from the beginning. When there was nothing, He created the earth and all that is in it to make a perfect habitation for imperfect humans. Even after we fell and sin contaminated this world, He extended mercy to Adam and Eve by promising The Redeemer who would restore our lost fellowship.

Romans 6:23 tells us the payment for sin is death. In other words, someone has to die, and blood has to be shed to remediate our sin to restore our lost fellowship with God,

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 (Leviticus 17:11 NKJV).

God sustained our existence through Noah when sin was rampant, and He later produced a people of faith who would love Him and be a blessing to others through Abraham. Love delivered God’s people from Egyptian bondage, sustained them through the Red Sea, the desolate wilderness, and gave them a new identity in the land that He promised them.

God’s love foretold of One who would sit on David’s throne and rule God’s people with justice and mercy. He would also express God’s love completely by nullifying the curse and dominion of sin and by redeeming sin-cursed humanity in righteousness forever.

Only Jesus fulfills God’s enduring love for us. He left glory, inhabited human flesh, and walked on earth for thirty-three years; sharing His message of love, faith, and redemption. Unselfishly, He healed the sick, raised the dead, fed the hungry, encouraged the downtrodden, and taught about His transforming, redeeming message.

Yet, on the last day of His earthly life, He demonstrated exceptional love. Knowing that one sitting with Him during the Passover Seder would betray Him shortly, He did not condemn him. Instead, Jesus shared a morsel of food with Judas and gave him permission to perform the despicable act he contemplated. Jesus could have exposed Judas to the other eleven disciples in the room, but He showed love by feeding Him and giving Him another chance to repent.

Later that evening, while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had the opportunity to escape death on the cross. The disciples were asleep when the full weight of what was to happen in less than twelve hours hit Him like the proverbial “ton of bricks.” Jesus cried to His Heavenly Father and asked, if it were possible, to let the cup pass and excuse Him from the cruel death on the cross. Yet He was determined to fulfill God’s will, not His own.

After being beaten, spat upon, insulted, and crowned with thorns, our Lord still loved us so much that He was willing to be further disgraced and humiliated. Stripped of His clothing, Jesus was affixed to a wooden cross with metal spikes driven through His hands and feet. Then He was placed on a hill between two thieves before throngs of mocking people.

Instead of commanding legions of angels to destroy us, He surrendered His life for our sins and interceded on our behalf by asking His heavenly Father to forgive all those who were responsible—including you and me today.

Jesus died for you and I to prove His wonderful, matchless love for us. Won’t you receive His love today?

What a Wonderful Savior!

Hosanna To The King of Kings!

For March 28, 2021
During this week of consecration and celebration, Jews from around the world converged on Jerusalem to increase the city’s population exponentially as all Jewish males were required to attend the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), and the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles).1

Passover and Unleavened Bread hold critical historical significance to the Nation of Israel and to Jews around the world as these observances commemorate the Children of Israel’s release from four-hundred years of Egyptian slavery (Exodus 12:1-13:16, 23:17, 34:23).

Although festive revelers, musicians, and celebrators packed the streets with song, dance, and reverie, this day marks the last week of Jesus’ earthly life, which culminates with what we observe as Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter.

The week began on our Palm Sunday, with Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into His beloved Jerusalem.  He presents Himself as the long-awaited Messiah riding a donkey. Crowds gathered to lay palm branches and their outer clothing in His path 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).

Jesus did not ride a horse, as would a conquering hero. Instead, He rides the donkey’s colt, a symbol of peace, to present Himself as God’s humble emissary sent to redeem a fallen humanity. His calculated actions fulfill these two Messianic prophesies,

Indeed the Lord has proclaimed To the end of the world: “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Surely your salvation is coming; Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him’ ” (Isaiah 62:11 NKJV).

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9 NKJV).

Humbly, our Lord presents Himself as the Messiah, our Conquering Hero who will not only establish His eternal Kingdom where righteousness, justice, and peace will reign forever. He also presents Himself as the Holy One of Israel—the Lamb of God—who ultimately defeats the plague of sin and death that has troubled humanity since shortly after the Creation.

No one but Jesus Christ loves us so deeply, gives of himself so freely, and keeps us so completely in this life and the next. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who delivers us from a life of sin and presents us before God in His role as our everlasting Advocate, Alpha and Omega, Bridegroom, Deliverer, Faithful and True Witness, Lord and God, Good Shepherd, Great God and Savior, Great High Priest, Hope of Glory, I Am, Eternal Judge, Friend, King of Glory, Lamb of God, Light of the World, Physician, Prince of Peace, Prophet, Ransom, Redeemer, Resurrection and Life, Righteous Judge, Rock, Ruler of Kings, Savior, True Vine, Truth, Way, and Word of God. The Lord Jesus Christ is, and shall forever be, our all in all.

What a Wonderful Savior!