God Makes Wars Cease

God Makes Wars Cease

Jesus is the Prince of Peace referred to in Isaiah 9:6.  It makes sense that the Prince of Peace, sent by His heavenly Father, is opposed to war.  Instead, He chose to make changes on earth through His love and His self-sacrifice even to the point of dying on the cross for us.

He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire.  (Ps 46:9)  God’s mighty power extends all over the earth in every country, region, and land.  He has power to demolish weapons and bring an end to war anywhere on earth.

Then I will knock the bow out of your left hand, and cause the arrows to fall out of your right hand.  (Ezek 39:3)  The Lord can cause weapons to be forcefully removed from human hands and to fall out of a person’s strongest hand! Wow!

He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.  (Isa 2:4)  In God’s perfect timing, He will cause nations to destroy their weapons and cease from attacking one another. 

Until that time, Christians are to “make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”  (Heb 12:14) The gospel of Jesus Christ is Good News for all human beings.  It establishes peace between God and man through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. 

We should always promote peace instead of discord, and be instruments of God to demonstrate His love, mercy, and forgiveness to all.  We are blessed!

The Importance of Forgiveness

The Importance of Forgiveness

Today we meditate upon God’s Word concerning forgiveness.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.  (Mt 18:21-22 NIV)

The Lord is telling us that we must practice forgiveness, and grow so accustomed to it that it becomes habitual.  Does that surprise you?  But that is the way that God forgives each and every one of us!  Whenever we repent of any sin, whether small or large, God faithfully forgives us.

Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”  (Lk 17:3-4 NKJV) 

Again, we understand that forgiveness is something that all who follow Jesus Christ must do without grudging.

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  (Mt 6:14-15 NKJV)

Now, we see that it can even be self-serving to forgive other people, because God’s Word says that if we forgive other people’s sins that God also forgives our sins.  Thank God!

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”  (Mk 11:25 NKJV)

This verse encourages us to forgive anyone who has injured us. 

Of course, it requires the grace of God for us to be able to forgive someone who has betrayed us, wounded us emotionally, or injured us physically.  All we need to do is to ask the Lord to give us His grace to be able to forgive.  And He will.

When we give it all to God and know that God sees all of the hurts that we have endured and that He stands with us, empowering us to forgive, we find that we have the grace that we need to do what God has asked us to do.  And never forget that He blesses our obedience to His Word. God bless you.

Make Every Effort to Do Good to All

Make Every Effort to Do Good to All

The Bible invites us to do good to everyone.

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.  (1 Thes 5:15 NIV)

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.  (Gal 6:10)

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord . . .  (Heb 12:14)

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.  (3 Joh 1:11)

As children of the most High God, we desire to live holy lives that obey the Word of God.  We serve a good God who is full of mercy, forgiveness, and love.  God has given every believer the blessing of the indwelling Holy Spirit, who leads us and teaches us. 

We should:

  • Strive to do whatever is good—for each other and everyone else;
  • Never pay back a wrong; never seek revenge;
  • As we have opportunity, do noble, virtuous, kind things for everyone—especially other believers;
  • Seek to be at peace with ALL; and
  • Pursue holiness always.

Jesus, our Good Shepherd, demonstrated “doing good” to all.  If we follow His example, and emulate our Prince of Peace, we will be blessed.

The Message of the Cross

The Message of the Cross

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  (1 Cor 1:18 NIV, underlining and emphasis added) 

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.  (Rom 1:16, emphasis added)

 . . .  but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.  (1 Cor 1:23-25, emphasis added)

. . . because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.  (1 Thes 1:5 ESV, emphasis added)

The message of the cross is sometimes referred to as the:

  • Gospel of Christ (Rom 1:16)
  • Good News (1 Thes 3:6)
  • Power of God (1 Cor 1:23-25)
  • Wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:23-25)
  • Resurrection Gospel (1 Cor 15, entire chapter)

What is the message of the cross?  It is that God LOVES the world, and desires to be in RELATIONSHIP with each and every one of us.  Thanks to this truth, the Father God provided salvation to all mankind through Jesus Christ.

Jesus humbled himself in coming to earth as a newborn baby.  He grew up as a normal, human boy and learned the trade of carpentry.  He lived a sinless, perfect life serving His heavenly Father.  Jesus preached Good News, and demonstrated the love of His heavenly Father by performing signs, wonders, and miracles. 

Jesus displayed the need for continuous fellowship with His Father, as well as drawing apart for prayer.  He modeled forgiveness, wisdom, and walking in the Spirit for us all.

The symbol of the cross is an icon of grim human suffering and public humiliation.  Jesus’ suffering and subsequent death and resurrection are all part of the message of the cross.  In the light of Christ’s resurrection, there is restoration of hope, complete joy, and utter triumph.  Hallelujah!

Notice that the preaching of this gospel of salvation is always accompanied by the POWER of God.

The message of the cross proves the magnitude of the love that God has for mankind.

The Way, the Truth & the Life

The Way, the Truth & the Life

Why did Jesus connect Himself with these three words and how does it impact a life of faith?

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through Me.
  (Joh 14:6)

Jesus said this to His followers the night before He was crucified.  He was preparing them for the challenging days that were ahead of them.

  • Jesus asserts that He is the Way which suggests that faith in Him is the open door to salvation and to eternal life.  This is the truth that the Good News is based upon, and we need to share it with everyone.  God has made the plan of salvation clear, and we have been given the honor of sharing His Gospel with everyone.

I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  (Joh 10:9) This is the Lord saying that He is to Door to Salvation and Eternal Life.   “Finding pasture” means that the Lord will supply all of our needs just as a shepherd cares for all of the needs of his sheep.

. . . that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  (Joh 3:15)  Believing in Jesus Christ as our Savior is the only road to God.

  • Jesus says that He is the Life because He is also the author and source of all of life. 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  (Joh 1:1-4)  Jesus is the Word made flesh and this verse is the foundation for that truth.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”  (Joh 11:25-26)  Jesus makes His claim clearly here that He is the resurrection and the life.

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.   (Col 1:16)  All forms of life were created by the Lord.

  • No one would care about or remember Jesus’ claim to be the Way and the Life if He was not also, in reality, the Truth of God.  Jesus’ actions and entire life demonstrate the love, mercy, forgiveness, and miracle-working power of the Father God.  It is no wonder then, that Jesus prays the following prayer:

I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.  (Joh 17:15-19, emphasis added)

Jesus prayed, “Your word is truth.”  Jesus is known as the living Word of God.  (John 1:1, 14)

He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.  (Rev 19:13)  This verse is referring to Jesus Christ and says that He is called The Word of God.

Jesus is the living Word of God and God’s Word is truth.  Jesus was speaking the truth about Himself!  Praise the Lord!

Union With Christ

Union With Christ

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.  (Rom 6:5-6 NIV)

. . . always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.  (2 Cor 4:10 NKJV)

. . . even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus . . . (Eph 2:5-6 NKJV)

These Bible passages are discussing a believer’s union with Christ.  Union with Christ refers to the relationship between the believer and Jesus Christ.  It also refers to a willing loyalty of Christ to the believer, as well as a loyalty of the believer to our Lord Jesus. 

The first 14 verses of Ephesians, chapter One, explain some of the blessings that we receive from being united with Christ.  These passages reinforce our understanding that we are blessed and highly favored by God. 

Unity in Christ—a result of our salvation—brings about an ongoing redemptive work in a believer’s life and conduct.  As we come to know and understand our Savior, and through the Bible learn about our untold blessings, we yearn to live in a manner that is completely pleasing to the Lord.  This is understandable. 

Even as a small child who is loved, valued and protected by their parents will choose to please and obey those good parents—so also does a believer desire to please and to obey our loving and merciful Savior.  From His hand we receive forgiveness, favor, health, prosperity, protection, provision, and the gift of grace to enable us daily. 

Our God is a good God.  He blesses people and nations, whether they acknowledge Him or not.  He places people in governing positions for the sake of giving people order and safety in the world.  He blesses believers individually as we love, obey, and serve Him.

In the last days, they will tremble in awe of the Lord and of his goodness. (Hos 3:5b NLT)  As this Scriptures states, in the end times we will tremble with awe because of the Lord’s magnificence and His unimaginable goodness to mankind.  Glory to God!

Secrets: Hidden Things Coming to Light

Secrets:  Hidden Things Coming to Light

All human beings—no matter what nationality, race, or creed—have secrets.  Some secrets are fairly harmless and others are very serious, and yet other secrets are actually very dangerous.  Most of us fall into having the “fairly harmless” category of secrets.

One important thing to know is that God promises to uncover secrets and hidden things.  One way or another, all dark and secret things will be exposed by the Lord.  Those of us who follow Jesus Christ need to know this truth and to live in the light of it.

Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.  (1 Cor 4:5)  The word counsels means advice, information, or instruction. 

 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.  (Heb 4:13)  The Lord our God sees everything and knows even the thoughts and intents of our hearts.  (Heb 4:12)  Even the content of our hearts will be revealed.  That’s a sobering thought.

In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.  (Lk 12:1-3, underscoring added)

We all have challenges, desires, disappointments, and heartaches. Most human beings have areas where they are weak, and they may occasionally fail and sin.   In all of these things, the Lord cares about us, and wants to help us.  As the Bible passage above reminds us, our innermost secrets—which may have been whispered in the dark—will one day be heard by all. 

A daily review, before the Lord, is the best way to deal with everything:  sins, challenges, secrets, disappointments, etc.  Bring it all to the Lord at the end of each day, and ask His forgiveness for sins, and His help and wisdom with problems and heartaches.  Seek His hope and grace to carry you through disappointment and heartache. 

Above all, whatever secrets you have, share them ALL with the Lord now.  Ask Him how to deal with them, and follow His guidance.  If you’re having difficulty in hearing from the Lord, go to a wise, mature, and trustworthy brother or sister in Christ, and request their wise input. 

We must all learn to live honest, holy, and productive lives that will bring glory and honor to the Lord.  Learning how to bring our secrets into the light of the Lord’s love and mercy is an integral part of holy living.  Our loving God supplies us with the grace and the ability to accomplish this goal.  May God richly bless you.

Beautiful Feet

Beautiful Feet

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:  “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!”  (Rom 10:14-15)

Another version of the final line in the above Bible verse is:  “Beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News!” 

We’re not talking about just any old type of good news, but specifically about the Good News of Jesus Christ.  This is the good news that tells how Jesus purchased salvation for all who accept Him as their Savior and Lord!  Hallelujah!

This is the “almost too good to be true” kind of news that no one readily believes in this cynical, unbelieving world. 

This very genuine good news MUST be passed on and accepted before its power can take effect.  When we each accepted Jesus as our own Lord and Savior, one of the main assignments we were given was to share our testimony of God’s love and forgiveness.  Consider this passage:

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  (2 Cor 5:18-19, emphasis added)

Jesus fulfilled His mission of reconciling mankind to His Father, and has committed the same ministry to us.  We are called to the Ministry of Reconciliation through Jesus Christ.  However, we don’t need to die as Jesus did but to simply tell our own testimony to everyone who will listen to our story.  As the Scriptures say, “Freely you have received, freely give.”  (Mt 10:8)

While we are still able, while a measure of freedom of speech remains, we must endeavor to fulfill this honored calling and mission entrusted to every believer by Jesus..

Extreme Mercy & Forgiveness

Extreme Mercy & Forgiveness

And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.  (Ac 7:59-60)

Focus on the extreme mercy and forgiveness that Stephen displayed!  Here are people in the process of killing him, and he forgives them and asks the Lord to forgive them.  Then he dies. What mercy!  What forgiveness!  Stephen went to heaven as a martyr for the gospel.

According to Daniel 9:9, mercy and forgiveness belong to God.  The Bible says (see below) that mercy and unlimited forgiveness belong to God.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, because with the Lord there is mercy and with Him there is unlimited forgiveness.  (Ps 130:7 GW)

In the church of Jerusalem, Stephen was chosen along with six other men to serve as deacons.  As deacons, they would take charge of the gifts of the people, and give assistance to those who were in need, including widows.  The criteria for choosing these men was that they had to have the Spirit of God and to have wisdom. 

Stephen not only cared for the poor, but he began to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone—Jews and Gentiles both.  This conduct enraged some of Jews, who plotted against him.

Clearly, as Stephen shared the Good News, the Holy Spirit used Stephen as an instrument for the Kingdom of God.  History records that Stephen, as he ministered to the people, performed signs, wonders, and miracles among them.  Glory to God!

Stephen clearly loved and obeyed Jesus Christ, his Savior and example in all things.  Stephen emulated the Lord Jesus Christ in his life, work, and even in death. 

This is a good moment to reflect upon our own lives; and to determine whether we are allowing mercy and forgiveness to operate in our lives, our responses, and our actions.

There’s Power in the Blood, Part 2

There’s Power in the Blood, Part 2

This is our second article about the power of the blood of Jesus.  Here are some Scripture passages on the topic with my comments following:

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.  (Lev 17:11)  We all know that the life of any flesh, human or animal, is in the blood.  And the Lord shed the blood of animals and brought the animal skins to cover Adam and Eve’s sin when they sinned in the Garden of Eden.  Therefore, we may reason that the blood of Jesus sustains our spiritual life, as well as cleanses us of sin.

. . . without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.  (Heb 9:22 ESV)  The Old Testament model of shedding the blood of animals to cover sin, is the basis of this verse in Hebrews.  In the New Testament, we see that Jesus is the sinless, spotless Lamb of God (Joh 1:29) and that His shed blood washes us from our sins. (Rev 1:5)

. . . the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.  (1 Joh 1:7)  Jesus’ blood cleanses us from all sin—not only once—but on a continual basis as we lead our daily lives.  Glory to God most High!

Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.  (Ex 12:13)  The Israelites were instructed by God to put lamb’s blood on their doorposts, and when the avenging angel came by, he would not visit the homes that had the blood on the lintels.  In spiritual terms, the blood of Jesus protects us from plagues, illnesses, disease and destruction.

And they overcame him [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.  (Rev 12:11, parenthesized text added)  We can overcome every temptation of the enemy when we are covered by the blood of Jesus, and when our testimony coincides and agrees with what God says.  Our testimony must always be:  “I am redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ.”

. . . how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience . . . (Heb 9:14)  Jesus Christ is the Lord, our righteousness (Jer 23:6; 1 Cor 1:30); and because He is, we have a purified conscience.

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus . . . (Heb 10:19) The blood of Jesus enables us with faith and confidence to enter the presence of the Lord in thanksgiving, prayer and praise.  (Heb 4:16)

Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.  (Heb 13:12)  We are made holy by the blood of Jesus poured out on Calvary, as are all who accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

We have every reason to rejoice in our salvation!