Don’t Make Yourself God’s Enemy

Don’t Make Yourself God’s Enemy

As believers in Jesus Christ, we have chosen to follow Christ above all things, especially above the world.  Jesus taught that we cannot be loved by this world because we are not truly a part of it.

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be loyal to the one and have contempt for the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.  (Mt 6:24 CEB) 

The Bible reminds us that we can’t serve two different masters.  So we must make a clear and firm choice about our allegiance.

 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world, since I chose you out of the world, the world therefore hates you.  (Joh 15:19 MEV)

The world hates Christians because Jesus chose us out of the world, and we chose Jesus.  We have put Jesus first above all other relationships, alliances, and commitments.

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  (Jam 4:4 NKJV) 

Friendship with the world equals hostility toward God and the Word of God. Many in the world malign and ridicule believers, and all those who value the Bible.

Stop loving the world and the things that are in the world. If anyone persists in loving the world, the Father’s love is not in him. 16 For everything that is in the world—the desire for fleshly gratification, the desire for possessions, and worldly arrogance—is not from the Father but is from the world.  (1 Joh 2:15-16 ISV)

Everything—EVERYTHING—that is in the world [ambition, avariciousness, passions, arrogance] is connected with this world’s way of doing things; and does not connect to a love of God the Father.

As we continue to choose to follow Jesus and to obey God’s Word, we would do well to seek God’s face and ask Him for continuing grace to live a holy life.  We know that God hears and answers our prayers, so we may pray with confidence and assurance.  God bless you.

The Exalted Servant

<strong>The Exalted Servant</strong>

The Lord Jesus was not only the suffering, bruised servant of God, but He is also and more importantly the Exalted Servant.  Certainly Jesus was the suffering and bruised servant as He made His way to Calvary and to the suffering that preceded His crucifixion.  Dr. S. Lewis said, “That event is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ to which the saints of God through the past ages, the present body of believing men and women, and the elect angels constantly gaze in adoring gratitude.”  Jesus completed the mission for which He came to earth.  Glory to God most High!Let’s consider these Scriptures passages:Therefore God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth . . . (Phil 2:9-10 MEV)  God exalted Jesus and gave Him the name which is above all names.  He is worthy of honor, and glory.Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently; He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.  (Isa 52:13 NKJV)  Jesus surely did conduct Himself prudently [discreetly, wisely, carefully] on earth.  Here also, the Lord promises the exaltation of His Son.Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth.”  (Mt 28:18 CEB)  Jesus received all authority from His heavenly Father.He had become much greater than the angels, and the name he was given is far greater than any of theirs.  (Heb 1:4 CEV)  Jesus’ name is far greater than the angels.. . . who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.  (1 Pet 3:22 ESV)  In heaven, all angels, authorities, and powers are under the control of Jesus, the Messiah.On his robe that covers his thigh he has a name written:  King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  (Rev 19:16 ISV)  Jesus, alone, bears the names and titles mentioned in this verse.  So you see, we serve and follow someone who knows about serving and suffering, and received His reward and will enjoy His laurels for all eternity.  This is the Savior with whom we have the honor of being in relationship.  Let us rejoice in Him and give Him glory!

Called to Imitate Jesus

<strong>Called to Imitate Jesus</strong>

We are called to follow Jesus’ example on earth.  He is our example, or pattern, of godliness and holiness.  In order to model ourselves after Jesus, we must first comprehend what He was called to do.

Jesus had prophetic Scriptures to fulfill, and He was very aware of those Scriptures.  Let’s turn to the Bible and explore this topic.

  • The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord anointed me to bring good news to the humble; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim release to captives and freedom to prisoners . . .  (Isa 61:1 NASB)
  • The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.  (Lk 4:18 NIV)
  • The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.  (Mt 11:5 NKJV)

Jesus came to bring the good news of salvation to mankind.  He was sent to heal the brokenhearted, release the captives, heal the lame and blind and deaf, and to declare freedom to the prisoners of evil.

  • But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  (1 Pet 2:9 NIV)

We are told in 1 Peter, chapter 2, that we who have accepted Christ as our Savior and Lord are a chosen people, called out of darkness into His marvelous light.  As His royal priesthood, we are called to live holy, righteous lives that shine before all men to the glory of God.

In imitating Christ, not only should we desire to act as He did, but to do so with the same purity of character and the motivations of LOVE for His Father in heaven and for the people to whom He ministered.  Without the correct heart attitude and inspiration, our actions would become a mere parody of our Lord’s. In order to fulfill our calling, we need to maintain a profound relationship with our Redeemer—a living relationship clearly conspicuous by our obedience, submission and love for the Lord.  Such an ongoing relationship coupled with an honorable character will result in a life of true service to the Lord and to His Kingdom.  God bless you!

The Tough Decision to Follow Jesus

<strong>The Tough Decision to Follow Jesus</strong>

The Scriptures remind us that when we make the decision to follow Jesus, we should “count the cost.”  (Lk 14:27-29)  In other words, Jesus wants us to know what it means to fully follow Him.  This is a serious subject with genuine consequences.

Just as the building of a physical house has a definite cost, so does the decision to follow Jesus have a cost.  We’re told that we must take up a CROSS and deny ourselves, in order to follow Jesus.  Let’s read what the Scriptures have to say:

And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.  (Mt 10:38 KJV, emphasis added)

Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  (Lk 14:27 NASB)

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  (Mt 16:24 NRSV)

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  (Mk 8:34 NKJV)

First, we must deny ourselves!  What does that mean?  It means that we put Jesus and the Holy Spirit in charge of our lives.  We give up the throne that is our life, and ask Jesus to sit on the throne and to direct us by His Spirit.  We cannot follow Jesus and the world’s way at the same time.  Neither can we serve God and money at the same time.

Following Jesus may mean that we lose relationships, dreams, material things, and even our lives.  Our relationship with Jesus must take priority over everything else in our lives and must be of the supreme importance to us. 

We must, in essence, declare:  “I’d rather have Jesus than anything.”

If a day comes when someone threatens us with death if we do not renounce our faith in Jesus Christ, then we should happily choose Jesus and eternal life above staying here in our earthly body.  Pray for God’s blessings and grace in order to live boldly for Jesus.

May God’s grace strengthen you and empower you.

The Gospel Will Bring Division

The Gospel Will Bring Division

With strong language, Jesus clearly explained that He came to bring a sword and division among people.  This dividing sword is described below:

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  (Heb 4:12 NKJV, emphasis added)

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’  37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.  (Mt 10:34-39 NIV)

“I came to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to receive, and how distressed I am until it is over! 51 Do you suppose that I came to bring peace to the world? No, not peace, but division.”  (Lk 12:49-51 GNT)

But the people of the city were divided. Some were with the Jews, while others were with the apostles.  (Ac 14:4 ISV)

The worldwide division created by the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that we are either saved or lost.  We see this theme repeatedly in the Scriptures.

Jesus speaks about the fact that everyone must enter either the small gate or the wide gate.  Depending upon which gate we choose, we find ourselves upon either a narrow or a broad road. 

These two roads end in two different destinations:  choose the wide gate and travel the broad road that leads to destruction (eternity in hell) or choose the small gate and walk the narrow road that leads to life in heaven for all eternity.

The teachings of Jesus brought divisions:

Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”  But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.  (Joh 9:16 NIV)

Wherever the Gospel is preached, some believe and accept Christ as their Savior and others mock what they hear and reject God.  The Lord designed the Good News to divide people intentionally.

All of this means that our love for Jesus and our commitment to Him must surpass and depose every other relationship, even with our closest family members.  The Bible says:

“If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.”  (Lk 14:26 NLT)  The way to have unity with our loved ones is to pray for their salvation and demonstrate God’s love and kindness in our interactions with them.  We can invite them to attend a church service with us and take opportunities to bless them and to help them.  The best way to minister to others is through acts of love and kindness. God bless you.

The Lord Saves His Servants

The Lord Saves His Servants

The Lord is committed to those of us who follow Him and serve Him.  His Word testifies to this truth repeatedly.

The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned.  (Ps 34:22 NKJV)  This is just one of the Lord’s promises to His people.  NONE who trust in Him shall be condemned.

The poor can run to you because you are a fortress in times of trouble.  10 Everyone who honors your name can trust you, because you are faithful to all who depend on you.  (Ps 9:9-10 CEV)  Our God is a fortress in times of trouble.  He is faithful to ALL who depend upon Him.  God cannot lie.  (Tit 1:2)

. . . who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion . . .  (Ps 103:4 NIV)  Not only does the Lord redeem our lives from hell but He also crowns us with His love and compassion.  Praise the Lord!

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  (Rom 8:31-32 ESV)  If God is on our side, but no one can succeed or gain victory over the Lord.  Since the Lord didn’t spare His own Son, it is certain that along with our salvation He freely gives us all that we need. 

We are blessed to serve a faithful and loving God. 

God Calls Us to Love Our Christian Family, Pt. 2

God Calls Us to Love Our Christian Family, Pt. 2

This is part two on this topic of loving our Christian brothers and sisters.  This is a very important subject to the Lord.  He has included so much information in His Word for us about this very thing.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.  (1 Joh 4:11-12 NKJV)

As we demonstrate and live in a helpful, loving way toward our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are revealing to the world, and to anyone who cares to notice, that God abides in us.  It is His life in us that enables and empowers us to serve one another in love.

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  (Joh 15:12)  Jesus modeled loving service in His life on earth.  He showed love to His followers and to all those who came to Him for help or for teaching.  The Lord Jesus is completely entitled to tell us to follow His example.

In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.  (1 Joh 3:10)  This says it quite baldly:  an unrighteous life and an unloving attitude to a brother is proof that we are NOT ‘of God.’  Wow!  The only alternative to being ‘of God’ is to be a child of the devil, and we absolutely do NOT WANT to be identified as that.

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?  (1 Joh 4:20 NKJV)  How can we possibly say that we love God if we can’t show love and helpfulness to people with whom we can interact, communicate, and see!  God is being completely reasonable here.

Here are some hints on ways to show love to others:

  • Be kind
  • Be open-minded, friendly, and able to make the first move
  • Empathize
  • Be genuine
  • Expect nothing in return
  • Be a good listener
  • Allow others to make their own decisions
  • Love in small ways
  • Keep showing up, and
  • Look for ways that you can be of help to the individual or family.

We can do this because God has said that we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS!  (Rom 8:37)  Hallelujah!

An Established Throne

An Established Throne

As we read the Bible, we can see a consistent theme running throughout:  that God desires ALWAYS to do good to His people.  As we follow Christ obediently, by faith, we are one of God’s people.  Furthermore, He has decreed that His throne and His kingdom shall prevail forever.

Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.  (2 Sam 7:16 NIV)

. . . 10 since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel. Also I will subdue all your enemies. Furthermore I tell you that the Lord will build you a house. 11 And it shall be, when your days are fulfilled, when you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up your seed after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He shall build Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. 13 I will be his Father, and he shall be My son; and I will not take My mercy away from him, as I took it from him who was before you. 14 And I will establish him in My house and in My kingdom forever; and his throne shall be established forever.”  (1 Chron 17:10-14 NKJV)

The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.  (Ps 103:19 CEB)

A throne will be established in mercy. In the tent of David a judge will sit on the throne in truth, seeking justice, eager to bring righteousness.  (Isa 16:5 EHV)

Why should God’s promise to establish a throne forever be good news to us?  Here are a few points for your meditation and reflection.

  • God, who knows EVERYTHING, is on our side.  (Ps 118:6-7 ESV; Heb 13:5)
  • God, who is ALL POWERFUL, is 100% for us.  (Ps 56:9b; Isa 41:10; Mt 28:20)
  • God is all-wise, and He shares His wisdom with us through His word.  (Ps 111:10; Pro 2:6; Lk 21:15; Jas 1:5)
  • God has good plans for each one of us.  (Jer 29:11; 1 Cor 2:9)
  • God is our healer.  (Ex 15:26; Ps 30:2; Jer 30:17; 1 Pet 2:24)
  • The Lord fights for us.  (Deu 3:22; 20:14; Josh 23:10)
  • The Lord has given us the victory.  (Deu 20:4; Rom 8:37; 1 Cor 15:57; Col 2:15; 1 Joh 5:4)

God’s plans for us are good.  He not only fights on our side, but He has already given us the victory! Hallelujah!

Peace Must Rule

Peace Must Rule

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.  (Col 3:15)

Synonyms of RULE:  govern, administrate, lead or control. 

Jesus is called the “Prince of Peace.”  (Isa 9:6)  He is our Savior and Lord, and we must follow Him in all that we do.  We must allow His peace to control and lead everything that we do and everything that we pursue in life and in ministry. 

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.  (Ps 100:4)

Praise, thankfulness and blessing work in beautiful harmony with peace.  As we exalt, praise and bless the Lord, thankfulness arises in our hearts.  The overflow of that thankfulness will result in our being a blessing and a joy to other people as we minister God’s love to them.  And peace will be the result.

. . . and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  (Phil 4:7)

God’s peace exceeds and transcends any other definition of the word.  His peace goes so far beyond and is so much better than any human concept of peace that it will always outperform the human version of peace! 

Therefore, allow yourself to be ruled by God’s peace, so that your life will be blessed and others will be blessed in your presence.  Glory to God!

Imparted Power

Imparted Power

Most of us who follow Jesus Christ don’t realize how much power the Lord has imparted to us, His people.  The word imparted means transferred, taught, or revealed. 

When we read the Bible, we need to think deeply about each and every passage that we read.  We should ask the Holy Spirit to guide us, teach us, and to give us revelations into the Scriptures.

Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ . . .  (2 Cor 2:10 ESV) 

We have authority to forgive others on behalf of the kingdom of God!  Think about the significance of this, and don’t take it lightly. 

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.  (Joh 20:23 ESV) 

Jesus has given us the example, along with our Heavenly Father, of forgiving mankind of all sin through the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus.  It is our responsibility to follow His good example and His teachings.  Let’s advance the kingdom of God by being just like Him by extending merciful, and generous forgiveness to others.

And I tell you this—whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven, and whatever you free on earth will be freed in heaven.  (Mt 18:18 TL B) 

We have power to bind on earth: 

  • to truss up or tie up;
  • to hinder or inhibit people, demons, or calamitous events; and
  • to deter or prevent situations—as God directs.  

We have authority to set free on earth:

  • to liberate (unshackle) people from bondage;
  • to emancipate human beings from every shame;
  • to release all those imprisoned by sickness, fear, pain, and the consequences of sin; and
  • to unshackle hurting ones from unhealthy situations and relationships.

The Lord Jesus has said clearly that He has given His followers power and authority.  This is an important truth upon which to meditate, and ask God to give us insight and wisdom into it.

Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.  (Lk 10:19) 

Later, in the book of Luke, Jesus talks again about our being given power from heaven.

I am sending to you what my Father promised, so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high. (Lk 24:49 ISV) Recognize who you are and what you have been given.  Believers are children of the Kingdom, and we have been given the message of the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ.    It’s our job to bind or to set free the right things for the right reasons.  It’s time for us to listen to and obey the direction of the Holy Spirit.  Praise God!