Tomorrow – the Plan Unfolds!

even-smaller-bug-light114 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.” — Genesis 3:14, 15 NIV

​So the battle for the souls of men begins on earth.  The flesh gives into the deception of the enemy and is barred from the Garden.  The invisible, spiritual warfare for the control of our minds and thus our beliefs and our hearts’ desires stiil continues and will until the end of time as we understand it.  The perfect world God had created and given to man was handed over to the enemy and would remain his domain for years to come.  Sinful, imperfect humans could not, cannot and will never be able to defeat the enemy.  Instead, we would become slaves to sin and live in a sinful world.  We needed a Savior, a Redeemer, a Kinsman to purchase our freedom from the enemy.  But, God is never surprised, He had a plan in place to do just that.  In the “fullness of time”, that plan would explode onto earth.  A plan that the enemy could not see coming and would be so blind to it, that he would  even participate in the fulfillment of the plan.  The enemy would believe he had won the final victory by seducing humans into killing the Savior. What he thought was a final victory would turn into his worst nightmare!  
 

6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. — 1 Cor. 2:6-8 NIV

We have a part in that plan.  Our part is to keep telling the age-old story, the same story that we heard from someone else. The story that introduced us to the Savior. 

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” — Matt.28:19, 20 NIV

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

Post 12-24-2015

Infinity and Beyond

even-smaller-bug-light111 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. — Titus 2:11-14 NIV

​When Jesus was born, “the grace of God that brings salvation appeared to all men”.  The location and situation may not have been glorious from a human point of view, but from a heavenly point of view it was celebrated.  A bright, magnificient star was placed in the sky and His birth was heralded to shepherds by an angel speaking to them. That angel was joined by a host of heavenly angels praising the birth of this Jesus.
 

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,​
14  “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” — Luke 2:13, 14 NIV

​I think it​ is safe to assume that there was a huge party going on in heaven. After all, the Creator of the universe had just fathered a Son. This Son would spend His time teaching us that “we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age”.  He came in the flesh to give Himself “to redeem us and to purify for Himself His own special people”.  These people (Christians) would be zealous to do good works.  By His lifestyle and His death, He showed us the true meaning of love.  Not just for a day, not just for a season, but every day 24/7/365.25. 

38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.– Acts 10:38 NKJV

That is the example He set​ for us, to make “doing good” our lifestyle, not just a day or a seasonal event, but the complete and only reason He came to earth.  And  He is still here living inside us.  It wasn’t just for a day or for thirty-three years, it was for eternity. 
Post 12-23-2015

Celebrate! Give Gifts!

even-smaller-bug-light13 So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. 4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. — Galatians 4: 3-7 NIV

Unlike humans, God is not concerned with the segments of time, such as minutes. hours, days, months, etc.  He sees things throughout eternity. There is a “set time” for all of the events in His plan to take place.  God is never surprised by any event or action by any being.​  God did not see man sin and then quickly devise a plan to redeem him from that sin.  The plan had been put into place “before the creation of the world”.
 

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. — Eph. 1:3, 4 NIV​ ​

As the Divine Trinity, He could not shed blood, but He had ordained that without the shedding of blood, there could be no forgiveness of sin.
 

22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. — Hebrews 9:22 NIV

​To fulfill the law, He, Himself, became human so that He might shed His blood for our sins.​ 
 

But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. — Hebrews 9:26a-28 NIV

He came that we might be redeemed, forgiven, and made sons of the only true and living God.  He placed HIs Spirit inside of us that we might call out to HIm, “Abba, Father”.   We, who were once slaves to sin, have now been made sons and heirs of the Father.  And He is coming again to complete our salvation and take us home to live with Him for eternity. There is no better gift to be given and no better reason to celebrate a birth!  From slaves to sons,  from heathens to heirs!  Celebrate!  Give gifts!
 

10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.  ​
11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” — Luke 3:10, 11 NIV

Post 12-22-2015

A Story For The Ages

even-smaller-bug-light15 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.  6 It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 8 In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. 9 For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.” — Romans 9:5-9 NIV

​The promise that God made to His friend, Abraham, was fulfilled.  Abraham did become the Father of many nations through his first two sons,  Ishmael was the frist born, a child concieved with Hagar ten years after the promise. It was another 13-14 years later before Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah.  It was sixty years later when Jacob (Israel) and Esau were born to Isaac and Rebekah. ​ It was through ​Jacob that we trace the lineage of Jesus Christ. This promise was very slow in being fulfilled, but it was confirmed over and over throughout the Old Testament. Though Abraham did become the Father of many nations, the promise was not made regarding the physical descendants but, rather to the Spiritual descendants through One person.  It was not to the “seeds” of Abram but to the “Seed” of Abraham. That Seed is Jesus Christ.

16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed.  Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. — Galatians 3:16 NIV
In His own words,​ Jesus told us that He came to seek and to save the lost.
 

9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” — Luke 19:9,10 NIV

​Jesus also said:

16 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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. — John 3:16, 17 NIV

​It is ​for these reasons that all nations, tribes and kindreds can join in the celebration of the birth of Chirst. We have been commissioned by Christ to go tell “the old, old story that we have loved so long.”
Post 12-21-2015

Keep the Mirror Clean!

even-smaller-bug-light114 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is declared:
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”
18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. — Hebrews 7:14-18 NIV

Under​ the Old Testament law, the priest had to be a member of the Levite tribe. No one else was allowed to serve in the temple and/or offer the sacrifices that were required. Jesus was a member of the tribe of Judah.  This was one of the issues that the Jewish religious leaders had with Him.  But knowing the Old Testament, they should have realized that a new order would be established and the eternal priest would come from the tribe of Judah.
 

10 The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his. — Genesis 49:10 NIV

​This new​ order would begin when the law had been fulfilled and Jesus did just that.  He fulfilled the law and established a covenant of mercy and grace. The old law was weak and served only to show us that we needed a Redeemer.  We could never live the life of perfection that it required.  So, God sent His only Son, Jesus, to fulfill that law.  His death and resurrection would usher in a whole new way of coming close to God.  Earthly priests were no longer needed as we now could speak directly to God on our own behalf.  Having a living God and a resurrected Jesus to worship is the defining difference in Christianity and worldly religions.  It is why Chrisitanity offers the only hope for an eternity with Jesus.  No religion offers the hope that we have as Christians and that is the real Christmas message that we need to be telling every day.  It started with the birth of a baby in Behtlehem, it continued with the disciples and apostles and has been handed down to us to continue telling the old, old story.  A story that is just as alive and vibrant today as it was when Jesus walked on the face of the earth.  A light shone in the darkness then and has continued and will continue to shine throughout eternity. Our lifestyles should be mirrors that reflect that light every day, not just at this time of the year.
 
Post 12-20-2015

Are You Dressed?

even-smaller-bug-light13 This is the voice of one who calls out:“Prepare in the desert the way for the Lord.
Make a straight road in the dry lands for our God.
4 Every valley should be raised up, and every mountain and hill should be made flat.  The rough ground should be made level, and the rugged ground should be made smooth.
5 Then the glory of the Lord will be shown, and all people together will see it.  The Lord himself said these things.” — Isaiah 40:3-5 NCV

John the Baptist was chosen to be the “voice in the wilderness” calling out “prepare in the desert the way of the Lord”.  John was the son of Zechairah, a priest who was chosen by lot to offer sacrifices at this particular time and Elizabeth, his wife, who was a cousin of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. To fulfill this prophecy, when John became an adult, he actually lived in the desert. He wore rough clothing and his diet consisted of locust and honey. God has not called all of us to subsist as John did. However, He has called all of us to “prepare in the desert the way for the Lord”.  While John lived in an actual, natural, physical desert, we live in a spiritual desert which we call the world.  John could only preach about repentance from sin and being baptized with water since the Holy Spirit had not yet been sent to stay on earth.  He preached about the One coming that would change all of that,  The One who could baptize with the Holy Spirit. Our message is that Jesus has come and that we must accept that truth along with the truth that He died for us so that we could be baptized with the Holy Spirit.  Our message is that “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord”.  Whether you will do that or not is not a choice, you will do it.  The choice is when will you do it?  You can do it now and spend an eternity with Jesus in heaven or you can wait until the “the glory of the Lord is shown” and all the people still alive see it.  But, if you wait until then, it will be too late and your eternity will be spent in hell, a place prepared for satan and his demons. Each day as we go about in this spiritual desert, are we daily calling out to others that “Jesus is coming back again, get ready by accepting Him as your Savior, let Him make your paths straight and your pathway smooth”
Post 12-19-2015

He Just Keeps On Giving!

even-smaller-bug-light11  A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2  The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
3  and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. — Isaiah 11:1-3 NIV

 ​This passage from Isaiah is one of the many prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament.​  It gives us several of the characteristics of Jesus; wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and the fear of the Lord.  Notice that not only did He have the “fear of the Lord”, but He delighted in that fear.  Though, He was God, He came to us as all man.  As a man, His access to divine knowledge was limited.  He did this voluntarily so that He might live as all man so that He might be an example to us.  
 

6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.– Phil 2:6, 7 ESV

​We, as humans, have access to that same Spirit.  In fact, that Spirit lives inside each of us. ​ He gave us this Spirit as a gift.  So, our lives should exhibit those same characteristics, at least to some degree.  To what degree depends completely on our commitment to spend time in His presence praying, meditating on His Word, and listening to His voice.  The reason we need to do this is that there is so much more Jesus wants to give us but He will not force it upon us, we have to ask Him for it and delight in receiving it.  How can we know that He will give us more?
 

32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? — Romans 8:32 NIV

4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. — Psalm 37:4 NIV

Post 12-18-2015