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.

Enthusiasm for the Christian Walk

Enthusiasm for the Christian Walk

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  (Rom 12:11-12)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  (Gal 6:9)

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters . . . (Col 3:23)

It’s not a bad idea to pray for enthusiasm for your spiritual life!  The verses above show us the importance of spiritual zeal.  Zeal means passion, or intensity.

The word “enthusiasm” is from the Greek enthusiasmoms. It means inspired by God.  Our Christian walk will get stale and boring if we are not inspired by God on a daily basis.  One way we can receive inspiration is to read the Bible daily.  Another way would be to spend time in the presence of God, not just in prayer, but also listening for His voice.  If you’re willing to hear from God, He will surely give you His insight, wisdom, and revelation knowledge.

Another great way to maintain your passion for the Lord, is to praise and worship Him regularly.  You can listen to good CDs and join along in song.  Or you can go to your prayer closet and have a heart to heart session of praising God and thanking Him for His many blessings. 

There are some great online venues for ongoing praise and worship you can check out, as well.

As you seek the Lord and His will for you, and keep your ears open for His voice, you will realize that these disciplines will assist you in maintaining your spiritual zeal and energy.  Don’t be surprised to feel your faith and trust in God growing as you do.  God bless you.

No Discrimination in Christ

No Discrimination in Christ

Here’s a reassuring thought:  God has no favorites and He shows no partiality!  If you grew up feeling that your mom or your parents had a favorite child (who was not you), this will be very meaningful to you.  It will give you reason to feel more thankful than you might have previously.

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  (Gal 3:26-28)  We are all children of God.

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Gal 5:14)

So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality . . . (Ac 10:34)

For God shows no partiality.  (Rom 2:11)

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.  (Rom 12:16)

These passages from the Scriptures advise us to love all people and to freely associate with everyone.  We are all equal in His sight because each and every human being was created in the image of God.  God wants every human being to be saved by accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

God offers salvation to all mankind as a free gift.  He isn’t withholding it from certain continents, from specific nationalities, or from people with a certain blood type.  His invitation is open to each and every person on planet earth.  Glory to God!  And He has given us each a free will so that we can choose our own destiny.  We can say “yes” to God or we can say “no.”  The choice is ours.

And then, we must keep on choosing, day by day, to serve the Lord with a joyful heart and to remain steadfast in Him.  As long as we stay in close relationship with the Lord, He gives us His gift of grace to make such choices easily and with a sense of contentment.  Hallelujah!

What Did You Want to See?

What Did You Want to See?

But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.  (Mt 11:8)

When the messengers of John had departed, He began to speak to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?  (Lk 7:24)

Jesus talked about a “reed shaken by the wind” because in Bible days, reeds grew similar to sugar cane. The reeds bowed nearly to the ground during the hot daytime. At night, thanks to the cool breeze of the Mediterranean, the reeds would stand up again. This singularity was a crowd-gathering event. Groups of people came out to see the reeds rise in the cool breezes of the night. Then they would return home, unchanged by what they had witnessed. 

Jesus was telling the people that they did not follow John’s teachings, but that all they wanted was to see a spectacle (similar to the reeds).  They were not willing to repent and to be baptized.

They were also coming out to listen to Jesus in the same way—without a willingness or interest in changing their lives. Jesus was showing them how empty and frivolous they were.  They simply moved through the events of their lives without ever connecting with God or His power.

We must determine that in the course of our everyday lives, we must “see Jesus” and His power come alive in our own lives and in our own experiences.  How do we do that?  We study the Word of God and we allow it—INVITE IT—to cleanse us, transform us, and empower us to act. 

We are Christ’s disciples and we are meant to carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth.  We are called to support the spread of the Good News of Jesus Christ, and to work in our own neighborhoods to be an influence for good and a witness of Jesus Christ.  God bless you.

The Name of Jesus

The Name of Jesus

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.  (Lk 1:31)  God the Father told Mary, through an angel, the name that she was to give to her firstborn child.  (You may read Luke 1:26-35 for the entire account of Mary’s encounter with the angel.)

. . . but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.  (Joh 20:31)

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  (Acts 2:38)

Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”  (Acts 3:6)

Today, we’re considering the Name of Jesus and some of the blessings that we enjoy through His name.  The first blessing that we receive through faith in the name of Jesus is salvation and eternal life. 

We’re also baptized into His name, and through it receive the Holy Spirit.  In Acts 3:6 we observe that there is healing in the name of Jesus.  Hallelujah!  There’s deliverance In the name of Jesus.  (Acts 16:18)  We believers are washed, sanctified, and justified in His name.  (1 Cor 6:11)

In the name of Jesus, we’ve been given power and authority over evil spirits and over all of the power of the enemy.  (Lk 10:18-20)

. . . which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.  22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church . . . (Eph 1:20-22)

This verse in Ephesians demonstrates that God has elevated the name of Jesus above ALL names—in this age and in the ages to come.  God has made Jesus to rule over all things and to be the Lord and Master over all. 

Let us honor the beautiful name of Jesus.

How Can I Go to Heaven? Part 2

How Can I Go to Heaven? Part 2

We are continuing with our topic from the last article. 

Here are various Bible passages that tell us what we need to do in order to go to heaven when our physical body dies.

  • Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. (Mt 10:32)  Jesus is speaking in this verse.
  • For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (Joh 3:16)
  • And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day. (Joh 6:40)
  • And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. (Joh 10:28)  Jesus is speaking here.
  • But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8)
  • For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lor (Rom 6:23)
  • . . . 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 5:19)
  • For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor 5:21)
  • In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 Joh 4:9-10)

In order to enter into heaven, all of these Scriptures point us to the person of Jesus Christ.  Once we believe the truth of these verses and accept Jesus as our own, personal Savior and Redeemer, we are born again or “born anew.”  In fact, we become a new creation in Christ Jesus.  (2 Cor 5:17; Eph 2:10; Rom 6:3-4) 

Once we’ve accepted Christ as our Savior, we’re qualified to enter into heaven.  We also become eligible to receiving the benefit of every promise of blessing that is shown in the Bible!  Knowing that this is true prepares each one of us to lead lives of significance in the here and now.  Choose living for Jesus right now, and an eternity  in Heaven for yourself today!

How Can I Go to Heaven? Part 1

How Can I Go to Heaven? Part 1

People who have not been exposed to church attendance or religious teaching of any kind may not know how to answer our title question.  They may not even understand why anyone would like to go to heaven!  What is the definition of heaven

Heaven is

  • the dwelling place of the Deity and the blessed dead;
  • a spiritual state of everlasting communion with God;
  • a place or condition of utmost happiness;
  • the abode of God, the angels, and the spirits of the righteous after death; and
  • the place or state of existence of the blessed after mortal life.

One thing mentioned more than once in these definitions is that heaven is the dwelling place of God.  Since we believers know that God is love (1 Joh 4:8), the concept of living forever with the God who IS LOVE becomes a very appealing goal for us. 

A key aspect of our life as human beings is the understanding that God created all humans in His own image.  (Gen 1:27)  Since we’ve all been created in the very likeness and reflection of God, not only is a relationship with God important to us but love, itself, is important to mankind. 

We need to recognize these two facts because every human being needs to make a decision about faith in God, and every human being wants to receive and to give love. 

In the next article, we’ll continue with this subject.