Archive for March, 2018

Easter, this changes everything, Pt. 5 (Romans 6)

March 30, 2018

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4.

Today is the day we celebrate Good Friday.  This day our Lord and Savior endured the horror’s of the cross that you and I might walk in newness of life!!!

Take a moment and allow the above statement to sink in: “newness of life.”

The power of the cross means new life to all who surrender their lives to Christ.  Question, what does this newness of life look like?  Paul’s answer comes in the context of Romans 6:

  1. The power of the cross renders sin dead, Vs: 2.
  2. The power of the cross redeems us to live a new life, Vs: 4.
  3. The power of the cross raises the flag of victory over the old life, Vs: 6-7.
  4. The power of the cross renders death ineffective, Vs: 9.
  5. The power of the cross raises us to a new life that is eternal, Vs: 10-11.

These six benefits lead us to live in a way that is unknown to the world.  This way frees us from the sin that used to hold us.  We now have a life that seeks to walk in righteous ways.  We have a life that seeks to labor, love, and to lead others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

It is a good life that leads to glory in the next life because of the cross!!!  Today, focus on rejoicing in what the cross means to you!!!

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Easter, this changes everything Pt 4. (John 20:1-18)

March 29, 2018

 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;  John 20:8

Our Lord and Savior spent His last hours leading up to the cross pouring Himself into His disciples.  Each of the disciples must have been in mental and spiritual overload mode.  The passage before us moves beyond the cross and brings us face to face with the empty tomb.

The first people to hear the news of the empty tomb were the women who came to care for His body.  When they hear the news, they run to Peter and John who in turn run back to the tomb.  But there is something we cannot miss here.  What was their report to the disciples?  Look at it again: “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Wow, these ladies were struggling to believe.

Notice Peter and John coming to the tomb.  John looks in and Peter goes in.  What does the Bible record here, “John believed.” 

You might be thinking, I thought they all believed?  Yes, they would each come to believe, but in this moment the agony of the cross was consuming their faith.

Three moments of truth flow through my heart in this moment:

  • Sorrow can cloud our faith.  These followers were so consumed by this that they forgot the Lord’s prophecy of the resurrection.
  • Shame complicates our faith. Peter had openly denied the Lord and now it was complicating what should have been a moment of great joy.
  • Only our Savior can clarify faith.  Jesus reveals Himself to Mary and then to the others.  Her words of testimony say it all, “I have seen the Lord.”

As we come to Easter, do you need clarity in your life?  If so, allow the risen Lord to show you the way.  Here are some amazing words of prophecy Jesus gave before the cross and they are amazing words fulfilled after the cross:

16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.”19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. John 16:16-23

Easter, this changes everything, Pt. 3 (John 20:24-29)

March 28, 2018

 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” John 20:25

The story of Thomas has always been one that has intrigued me personally.  Maybe it’s because I can so easily identify with him.  To me, Thomas seems like a simply guy who has a realistic view of life.  He sees things for what they are and he is willing to believe what he sees.

It is clear that he is not a weak man.  In John 11:16 he is willing to die with Jesus.  But one think is for sure, the resurrection of Jesus was in question for Thomas.  He makes his position clear.  Unless I see… I will not believe.

Do you know any people like Thomas in our world?  Think through your answer.  Thomas position is so clear: “I must see to believe.”

I imagine how frustrating the next seven days would have been for Thomas.  Without a doubt he was wrestling through all the reports of Jesus being alive.  He probably rehearsed all the times Jesus had taught concerning His death, burial, and resurrection.  Maybe he wondered, if I would even get to see Jesus.

But eight days later, the moment came.  I can see Thomas looking with amazement at Jesus.  Jesus turns to him and offers to show him His hands and feet.  Thomas bursts forth in open confession:

                             “My Lord and my God.”

Thomas believes what he sees.  But wait, what about you and I?  How are we to believe?

Jesus gives us the answer, “Blessed are those who have no seen and yet have believed.”

II Corinthians 5:7 teaches us to walk not by sight, but by faith.  I Peter 1:8 teaches us of the moment when we will receive the end of our faith.

We have been called to faith.  How does this happen?

  1. We must be fully persuaded in our own minds, Romans 14:3.
  2. We must then fully persuade others, II Corinthians 5:11.

Even though I have not seen Him, I believe.  I have read the Bible and I believe. I have the evidence of history and I believe. I have the evidence of others changed lives and I believe.  I have a changed life and I believe.

This very day, I will persuade others to believe for the glory of God, II Corinthians 5:20!

Easter, This changes everything, Pt. 2 (John 21)

March 27, 2018

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. John 21:3

Tuesday of passion week was a busy day for Jesus.  He continues to debate with the religious leaders as they plot behind the scenes to complete their diabolical plans to destroy Jesus.  Little did they know but they were simply carrying out the plans of God from eternity past.

This morning our readings again find us in John 21.  In this chapter we often focus on Jesus restoration of Peter and we should.  But this morning, I want us to consider, for a moment, the other six disciples who had gotten in the boat with Jesus.

Question: “How many of them had denied the Lord?”  The answer is simple, “All of them.”  Mk. 14:50 “And they all left and fled.”  John 16:32, “You will all leave me.”

Each disciple had their own failures to deal with.  Their denial of Jesus did not send them to hell because they had already surrendered their lives to Jesus, Mk. 1:15-16.  The issue for each was the broken fellowship that had come because of their denial.  Jesus settled the issue of their salvation on the cross, Rom. 3:24-25.  But here the issue of broken fellowship would need to be settled on the shores of Galilee.

I wonder, “are there outstanding issues between you and Jesus today?”  Could there be some fellowship issues?  If so, you can identify with the guys that morning on the sea.

Take a moment and consider how Jesus brought these men back into restored fellowship:

  1.  Jesus came to His brethren.
  2. Jesus shows kindness to His brethren.
  3. Jesus initiates restoration with His brethren.
  4. Peter represents the brethren in walking through restoration.

 

This morning I just feel the strong need to tell you that God wants you to be restored in every area of fellowship.  Easter will be the best it has ever been for you, if you are walking in fellowship with him.

Check out I John 1:3-4

that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our[a] joy may be complete.

Easter, this changes everything Pt. 1 (Matthew 27:15-26)

March 26, 2018

26 Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged[c] Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. Matthew 27:15

Brothers and sisters, it’s almost here!!!  The weekend that changed everything.  You ask, “What weekend?”  Easter weekend.

What Jesus accomplished 2000 years ago has changed everything about my eternity.  One of my favorite verses is, I John 1:7

 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 

Easter is all about the miracle power of Christ in being able to accomplish what no one else could accomplish.  When we see Him there on the cross we see not a conquered and failed leader of a moment.  No we see the Savior spilling His blood out on the altar of sacrifice before God the Father as payment for sin!!!

Our focal text for Monday focuses on one scene of Friday morning as Jesus is facing false charges before the both the religious and political leaders.  In this moment Jesus stands before Pilate who knows Jesus is innocent but he does not know how to get out of what has been thrust upon him. In one last effort he offers the people a choice, I will release to you either Jesus or Barabbas.

Barabbas was a terrorist with a rap-sheet a mile long.  Surely one would take Jesus over him, but to the shock of Pilate they ask for Barabbas.

For one moment consider this fact.  Jesus is taking this man’s place.  For one more moment consider this fact.  Jesus took my place.  Just one more moment of considering.  Jesus took your place!

On this Monday, I say with all the church, “Easter has changed everything for me!”

It is my prayer that you would celebrate what Jesus has done for you at cross and it is my prayer that you would have the joy of leading someone to the story of Easter this week!!!

Faith In Jesus (II Timothy 1)

March 23, 2018

12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.  II Timothy 1:12

How often have you and I told someone the following. “Have faith in Jesus.  He will see you through your trails.”  As I read II Timothy one I wondered, how many people truly understand what it means to have faith in God?  And I also wondered, of those who understand how many really find success in having faith in God?

The Apostle Paul places before us both the understanding of who we are to have faith in as well as how to be successful in placing our faith in God:

  • Who is the one we have faith in (this is where our understanding comes from)?

Paul writes: “I know in whom I have believed.

Jesus is the giver of life, Vs: 1.  Jesus is the Son of God who came to be our messiah, Vs: 2.  Jesus is the eternal God who has one eternal purpose, Vs:9.  Jesus came to be the Savior of the world, Vs:10.  Jesus defeated hell, death, and the grave, Vs: 11.

This is the one we are called to have faith in.  Timothy be reminded of this!!!

  • What are we called to do with such faith (This is where our success comes from)?

We each have an assignment from God, Vs:11.  This assignment will be difficult, Vs:6, but we have an anointing from the Holy Spirit, Vs:7. We have an assurance from God, Vs: 12. “He is the one who guards our way.”

Timothy needed to stir up his faith in Jesus.  This happens as we surrender to the Holy Spirit’s filling of our minds with truth and our hearts with faith.  We are able to then fan into flame the actions of our lives knowing in whom we believed and in what we are doing with the assurance of where this is all heading!!!

Yes, have faith in Jesus!!!

This we can be sure of (II Corinthians 1)

March 22, 2018

20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.  II Corinthians 1:20

A much embittered person described their life as follows: “My life has been nothing but a series of broken promises.”  As I thought about this person viewpoint of life I found myself in a moment of choice.  I would either chose to consider men’s promises or God’s promises.

The truth is, there is not a person who has ever lived who has been able to keep their promises.  Oh, there is one exception: His name is Jesus!

If I chose to place my hope in men, I would be let down at some point and definitely I also would let others down.  However, if my hope is in Christ, I will live a life that is confident in Him.

This was the life Paul lived.  In II Corinthians 1 we read about Paul’s anxieties, his afflictions, and his near brush with death.  But through them all Paul discovered God to be the one He was sure of.  Here are three things Paul discovered concerning God:

  • God is a God of purposeful comfort, Vs: 3-7

God the Father from whom mercy originates comforts us in all our trials so we can in turn reach out to others with His comfort.

  • God is a God of purposeful testing, Vs: 8-12.

In every test God is leading us to trust Him more and more.  In every test God strengthen our hope in Him.

  • God is a God of purposeful promises, Vs: 20.

God never fails to keep His promises, forget His promises, or change His promises.  We can be sure He will always do what He says He will do.

So, can you say your life is filled with broken promises or kept promises?

Here are promises filled words from the book of Hebrews 13:5b-8:

, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper;
    I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 

Under cover of darkness (John 3)

March 21, 2018

This man came to Jesus[a] by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him. John 3:2

 

Our focal text today is one that is very familiar to those who are students of Scripture.  The conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus is one that begs our closer look.  The context of this conversation needs a look back to chapter 2.  Notice verses 24-25:

24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man

The fact is, nothing about us is hidden from God: He knows exactly who we are, what we are about, and where our loyalty lies.  When Nicodemus comes to Jesus under cover of darkness, Jesus knew what was in his heart.

Question: What is going on in your heart as you read the blog today?  Could it be, you are hiding hurt or hard feelings under the cover of darkness?

Nicodemus could not understand why Jesus preached with power and he simply with words of men.

Nicodemus could not understand who Jesus was.  Could Jesus be the true Messiah come from God?

Jesus goes to the heart.  Nicodemus, you must be born from above.  Unless one is born from above he cannot see the Kingdom of God.  Nicodemus has no spiritual insight.  He is under the spiritual cover of darkness.  Only Jesus could wash Him clean through His work on the cross.  Only the Holy Spirit could give Nicodemus a new heart and life, Titus 3:4-5.

No one can see this as it happens, but as we feel the results of the wind we also feel and see the results of a born again life.  Jesus wanted Nicodemus to know He was going to hang on a cross just like the serpent Moses placed on a pole for people to be delivered.

But the question was, what would Nicodemus do?  Would he stay under the cover of darkness or would he come to the light of Jesus, John 3:16-21?  Later we see him coming to the light.

So, what do you and I take away from this today?

  1. I want God to examine every part of my heart for the purpose of revealing to me what is in my heart.
  2. I want to live in the light of Jesus so that others will see His life in me.
  3. I want to labor with people who are in the dark so that they will know the way out.

But I cannot help them until my heart is fully in the light!!!

For all of us (Romans 4)

March 20, 2018

23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. Romans 4:23-25

Years ago an elderly man told me the story of how as a child he grew to dislike his uncle because he always would go to the ice-cream stand and buy his cousin ice-cream but he would never buy him any ice-cream.  After all the years had passed this elderly man still struggled with being left put at the ice-cream stand.

Question: “Has God ever left you out?”

According to Romans 4, the Jewish people, if they had their way, would have left you out of something.  The something is this, the opportunity to be right with God in salvation.

In context of our reading today, Paul has proven that all men are sinners under the wrath of God (3:23).  Paul has shown us the glorious redemption we can have in Christ (3:24-25).  However, the Jewish people are holding onto their position of circumcision.

Romans 4 is Paul’s response to their wrongly believing this is the way of salvation.  Paul sets forth Abraham as exhibit A.  He is the “Father of all who believe.”  This means, he was the first.

The question comes: “was he justified by works or by faith?”  Paul quotes from the OT.

  • In Genesis 15:6 Abraham was declared right with God by faith in what God was going to do in Jesus.
  • In Psalm 32:1-2 David declared the forgiveness of God is only by the grace of God.

Paul’s answer to the question is clear: Salvation only comes through faith in Jesus.  This faith is for all who would believe!

Throughout Abraham’s life he walked by faith ever since that day the Lord saved him!!!

Paul illustrates this with the 25 years of Abraham waiting for the promise of God to be fulfilled.  Here are some faith moments:

  • He lived in hope.
  • He increased in faith.
  • He was fully convinced.
  • He received the promise.

Oh what a picture this is of the salvation that is offered to all men.

Two applications for us:

  1. Jesus went to the cross because of our transgressions.  He offered up His life as payment for our sins.
  2. Jesus was raised from the dead as testimony of the acceptance of the payment.

God wants you to accept this by faith.  God wants you to increase your life in faith fully believing that someday you will receive the promise of salvation.  This is truly for all of us.

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. I Peter 1:8-9

Faith is ______________ (Hebrews 11)

March 19, 2018

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. Hebrews 11:39-40

Question: How will you fill in the blank, faith is ___________________?

In our readings for today we find no less than 14 people listed plus the prophets who according to this text would fill in the blank the same way. Each of these people found the following definition for faith:

“Faith is the assurance we have in God that He will do the things He says He will do.  Faith is also the confidence we have in the God who has given us continual evidences in the changed lives of thousands of people in every generation.”

As I walked through each name and their stories of faith I was lifted to higher and higher faith.  I truly wrote the following in my journal:

“I have never seen Jesus but my faith leads me to visualize the day when I will see Him face to face.  I picture in my mind the glorious city of God in the place called heaven.  I know for sure that all who place their hope in Jesus for their salvation will also be there.”

Such truth leads me to climb to heights of faith on a Monday morning that I could never climb apart from faith.  Such truth leads me to reach down into the darkness of this world and share the light of the gospel with confidence in my Lord.  Such truth leads me to lean into the storms of life knowing my hope will not disappoint me.

The words of Psalm 100: 5 see so right for this moment: “The Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.”  

How are you going to fill in the blank this day?