“A Son Given to Us”

6 For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. 
– Isaiah 9:6-7 (NRSV)

This prophecy was fulfilled in Luke 2 when the virgin Mary gave birth to the baby Jesus. God would keep His covenant with David that a member of David’s household would always occupy the throne of Israel. Jesus would not establish His earthly kingdom at that time, but it will be completely fulfilled when the new Jerusalem is established. It will be an eternal kingdom with Jesus as the last king. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, Mighty God, and the everlasting Father. We can celebrate the birth of Jesus because it is another assurance that God never fails to keep His covenants and His promises. He is an awesome, amazing God who holds us in the palm of His hand and we can never be separated from Him. He inhabits the praises of His people, so praise Him continually and “forget not all His benefits”.

Merry Christmas

“Have You Been Led Astray, Too?

 

47 “Have you been led astray, too?” the Pharisees mocked.– John 7:47 NKJV


John 7:46-53 NLT

The religious leaders and the Pharisees, the very ones that God had entrusted to shepherd His flock, were the ones that refused to believe that this man, Jesus, was the Messiah. They were well versed in the Old Testament and should have known all the prophecies. It would have been fairly easy for them to find out exactly where Jesus was born and how many of those prophecies His birth and life, up to this point, had fulfilled. The problem was this; if they acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah while He refused to set up an earthly Kingdom, then they would lose their positions and authority to rule over the people. The flesh is stubborn, even in the presence of overwhelming evidence, the flesh wants to hang onto the old ways, so they allow themselves to be deceived.. Accepting Jesus as the Messiah would have turned their society upside down. Our flesh is the same today. We want a better life but we don’t want to give up fleshly pleasures. We cannot allow ourselves and those around us to be deceived. It is our responsibility to spread the Good News. Jesus died for our sins and we can be set free.

13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?–Romans 10:13-14 (NLT)

Today, tell somebody about Jesus!!

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

“Born of Water and the Spirit”

5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. -John 3:8 NASB

Born Again

Nicodemus was a leader and a Pharisee. He came to Jesus at night because he probably did not want the other Jewish leaders to know about the visit. Nicodemus readily admits that he believes that Jesus has been sent from God. He wants to know more about this man that is proclaiming that the kingdom of God is near. Jesus immediately tells Nicodemus that unless you are born again, you will never see the kingdom of God. What an amazing concept! How can a human be born again? Jesus explains that He is not talking about physical rebirth, but spiritual. It is not a physical change, but a change of the desires of the heart. How does this happen? From a human standpoint, we are unable to explain what happens inside. But just as the wind comes and goes without our understanding, so the Holy Spirit works inside us to renew us and rebirth us as children of God. We may not know how, but the work that He does in our hearts leaves no doubt in our minds that we are being made into new creatures. At the very moment that we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, the new creation is born with all the rights that come with being a citizen of heaven. God will spend a lifetime completing the work that He has started in us, but finish it, He will.

1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,—Hebrews 12:1-2a (NKJV)

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

“God Will Use This Persecution”

5 And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering.— 2 Thess. 1:5 NLT

2 Thess. 1:3-10 NLT

Most Christians in the Western World have not experienced the kind of persecution to which Paul is referring. Probably the worst persecution that we receive is losing (temporarily, hopefully) the friendship of someone close to us because of our belief in the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Here, Paul is talking about those early Christians who gave their lives for the Gospel. I would guess that most of us have wondered, at some time or other, how far we would go for the Gospel. Would I really lay down my life for Jesus?  Paul tells us that we should consider our physical bodies as dead already. 

3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.– Col. 3:3 NKJV

Since this is true, we should consider our physical bodies already dead. But our Spirit will always be alive because of what Jesus did for us at Calvary. So, if we are attempting to live the lifestyle that Jesus wants us to, isn’t the decision already made? We agreed to die with Christ and mortify (put to death) our fleshly desires so that we will be raised with Christ in our new immortal bodies. It is all about faith and trust. Will God do what He said or not? The answer is “Yes, of course, He will.” In His mercy, He will protect and perfect us and in His justice, He will repay the persecutors.

Romans 12:19-21 NLT

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

“…No, It Happened for the Glory Of God…”

4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.”  – John 11:4 NLT

John 11:1-6 NLT

Lazarus and his sisters were dear friends of Jesus. Mary and Martha sent a messenger to tell Jesus that Lazarus was sick. The messenger and the disciples must have been very surprised at what Jesus said when he heard the message. “This sickness will not end in death, it is for the glory of God”. How could sickness be for the glory of God? They, like us today, look at things from the human standpoint. Why should a friend of Jesus, the Great Physician, or a child of God have to suffer? A better question might be, “Why don’t wretched sinners like us have to suffer more than we do now?” Sin came into the world when man disobeyed God and it will remain in the world until Jesus comes back to establish His Kingdom here on earth. Until that time of restoration comes, we remain under the curse of sin. God gets glory by overcoming the curse of sin. While Jesus was here on earth, He overcame the curse of sin one act at a time. Yes, Jesus could have just spoken a word right where He was when He heard the message or He could have left immediately and gone to Lazarus. He chose not to do either of those things, but waited for 2 days before He left to go to Lazarus. God’s timing is not our timing and His answer is not always what we want to hear, but they are always exactly what is necessary to bring glory to Himself.

8 The Lord says, “My thoughts are not like your thoughts. Your ways are not like my ways. 9 Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts–Jeremiah 55:8, 9 (NCV)

Now we aren’t able to see and understand these things, but one day we will know and understand.

12 It is the same with us. Now we see a dim reflection, as if we were looking into a mirror, but then we shall see clearly. Now I know only a part, but then I will know fully, as God has known me.—1 Cor. 13:12 (NCV)

Until then, we can be comforted with God’s promises and the many gifts He gives each day, 

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

“I No Longer Call You Slaves,…”

15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. — John 15:15 NLT

John 15:9-17 NLT

What an honor to be called friends by God, the Creator of the universe. What a great privilege to be chosen to join Him in His work to expand His Kingdom here on earth.  If we accept Him and His call, we will spend an eternity with Him and each other.  As friends of God, we are to learn from Him and bear fruit worthy of that friendship.  As Jesus said, we must do what the Father does.  We can know what the Father does by studying the lifestyle of Jesus because He only did what He saw the Father do and only said what He heard the Father say. If we believe in Him as our Savior then we will love each other.   We will go about doing good because He has “called us out of darkness into His marvelous light”.  We will trust the Holy Spirit completely to lead us into His truth.

1 Peter 2:7-10 NLT

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

“…Unless You Turn From Your Sins…”

3 Then he said,“I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. — Matt. 18:3 NLT

Matt. 18:1-6 NLT

When some hear this passage, they think of the innocence of a little child who has not yet learned the difference between right and wrong.  Perhaps that’s what Jesus was referring to but I am not so sure.  I think in the context of His remark about humility, He may very well have been referring to something deeper than that.  After all, small children who truly do not know the difference in right and wrong would not need forgiveness, would they?  No, I believe Jesus is referring to us becoming as dependent on Him for everything we need as a small child is dependent on his/her parents for everything they need to survive.  We have to come to Jesus in such humbleness and humility because we realize that we can do nothing about our situation. We are lost and will stay lost without his mercy and grace. But I believe He is reaching even deeper than that. We must humble ourselves to the point that we really and truly understand that we can do nothing in any situation without Him.  Just like a little child comes to us and says “Daddy, tie my shoe strings because I can’t”,  so must we humble ourselves before our Daddy and confess that we can’t.

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

“Already Among You”

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20 One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?”  Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. 21 You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you — Luke 17:20, 21 NLT

 Luke 17:20-37

The coming of the end of time and the return of Jesus are discussions that take up a lot of time and energy.  They are used positively in the fact that the hope of Christians is that this is factual and will happen.  They are used negatively by those that are non-believers because they hear the same story over and over and it hasn’t happened in over two centuries.  There is much discussion among believers because we can’t agree on the meaning of what is written in the Book of The Revelation.  Jesus tells us that only the Father knows the day and the hour when Jesus will return.

Mark 13:32-37   

Knowing that we can’t really know the time when Jesus will return, let us be concerned about the things we can and do know.  Jesus tells us here that “the Kingdom of God is already among you” and in Hebrews, we are told that we have come to Mount Zion and are receiving an unshakeable Kingdom. Both of these verbs are present and future.

Hebrews 12:18-28 

We have the Kingdom of God dwelling in us because the Holy Spirit abides within us.  And one day, we will receive the fullness of that Kingdom when we arrive in heaven.  Our concern needs to be on obedience to God so that we make it to heaven and to bring as many others with us as we can.  Our purpose on earth is to glorify God by witnessing for Him now.  He will take care of the “later”.

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

“The Kingdom of God”

even-smaller-bug-light1

30 Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? 31 It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, 32 but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.” — Mark 4:30-32 NLT

Earlier in this chapter, Jesus had told His disciples that they were permitted to understand the secret of the Kingdom of God.  He also stated that there would be some who would hear and refuse to believe (outsiders) and they would not be able to understand His teachings in the parables that He used (Mark 4:11,12).  So, if the disciples were permitted to understand the Kingdom of God, then so can we understand it.  Jesus told Nicodemus to enter the Kingdom that it was necessary for him to be born again.  So, we become a part of the Kingdom of God when we receive Christ as our Savior.  In doing so, we become eligible for all the benefits of that Kingdom here and now, not just in the future.  As the birds nest in the shade of the mustard tree, so we live under the umbrella of God’s protection now.  Right now, it is a spiritual Kingdom inside of us.  When Jesus comes back, He will establish a Kingdom here on earth that will encompass all of His creation and creatures except those that refuse to hear and believe (Daniel 2:44, Rev.11:15).  We are preparing to live in that Kingdom in our present life and one day that process will be completed when we are changed into immortal beings (1 Cor 15:50-53). Jesus taught us to pray “may Your will be done on earth even as it is in heaven”.   So, while we are preparing for eternity, we live with the assurance that the hope that we have will one day be fulfilled. And it will be so — His will “will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.  That is why we end our prayers with “Amen” which means “let it be so”.  Partially now and completely in the future.

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

“The Greatest In the Kingdom”

even-smaller-bug-light1

4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom from heaven, – Matt. 18:4 ISV

Matthew 18:2-5 ISV


As adults, we can become like children in two different ways. We can make decisions based on our wants and feelings with no knowledge or concern of what the consequences might be. This happens when we want to  exercise control or when we make decisions that are based on what we want and not what is good for ourselves and others.  An example is not sharing with others as we should and becoming angry when we are asked to do so.  Another example is being disobedient. This is being “childish”.  The other way we can become like children is to live our lives with the innocence of childhood, accepting others without question, being humble and being obedient to parents and authority figures.  This happens when we base our decisions on knowledge and when we consider the outcome of our decisions.  An example of this is to do what is best for the family and/or those around us regardless of what our desires and wants may be.  The best example is that of Jesus and that is to love without conditions and without expecting anything in return. This is being “childlike” and that is the attitude that Jesus says we must have to enter the Kingdom of God. If we are childish, we seek to satisfy our wants and we seek the approval and praise of men.  If we are childlike, we humble ourselves before God, do His work and seek His approval.

17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. —- 1 John 3:17-18 NLT

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