An Open Heaven

An Open Heaven

There is much discussion in Christian circles and among the highly educated about the concept of “an open heaven.”  I can’t say that I have definitive answers for us, but I always like to open the Bible to read what God is saying about every topic.

The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.  (Deu 28:12) 

This passage of the Bible gives us the idea that “opening heaven” to a person means that they shall experience God’s plentiful blessings, favor, and prosperity.

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.  (Mal 3:10) 

The verse above discusses opening the windows of heaven to pour out ABUNDANT blessings upon each one who gives generously to the Lord’s work, church, and people. 

When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened.  (Lk 3:21)

The Scriptures tell us that at the time of Jesus’ water baptism, as Jesus prayed, the heaven above Him was opened!  The Bible goes on to say:

And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”  (Lk 3:22)

When I ponder Luke 3:21-22 along with John 1:50-51, I start to draw some basic conclusions for myself.  Let’s read the verses in John:

 Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”  (Joh 1:50-51) 

This section of Scripture is actually a record of Jesus speaking, and Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” 

The “Son of Man” refers to Jesus Christ, Himself. 

My conclusion from studying these Bible verses is that the person of Jesus IS our open heaven, and all who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord live under an open heaven.  All praises to God most High!

SPECIAL ARTICLE: Hope in the Midst of Crisis

SPECIAL ARTICLE:  Hope in the Midst of Crisis

In the midst of this worldwide health crisis known as the Corona virus, it’s important that we recognize that we believers have a hope that the world does not know.  It’s at times like these that we must hold onto our faith, and be a light in the midst of darkness.

Let’s consider some Biblical truths:

. . . according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.  (Eph 3:11-12)

Our Father God accomplished His eternal purpose through Jesus Christ by giving mankind the gift of salvation.  In Jesus, through Him and by Him, all who have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, have been given access to our Father God; and as a result, we may have full confidence in our relationship with Him.  Hallelujah!

Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.  (Heb 10:35)

So do not abandon your assurance and faith in Jesus Christ and in His salvation.  Hold onto your faith; take a firm grasp of your salvation and never let it go!

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.  (1 Joh 5:14-15)

This is a precious promise from God for us TODAY.  We know that when we ask for something that agrees with the will of God, He hears us AND He gives us the specific answer for which we have asked.

You may ask, “How do I know if it’s God will for me to be healthy and well?”  Here is how you may KNOW:

  • Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (3 Joh 2)  This passage would not be in the Bible if God did not want us to be healthy.
  • My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you. (Pro 3:1-2)  God shares His wisdom with us that as we hide His Word in our hearts, it will add long life and peace to us.
  • It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones. (Pro 3:8)  God is again telling us that His Word, sown into our hearts and minds, will give health to our physical bodies and strength to our very bones.
  • For I am the Lord who heals you. (Ex 15:26c)  The Lord declares that He is our Healer!  If it was not His will for us to be healthy, He would not declare Himself to be the Mighty One who heals us.

Believe in and rely upon these supernatural words of power from God.  Place your faith in Him and in His Word.  Be unshakeable and stubborn in your faith in God, dear brothers and sisters!  Hope in Christ who is our health, our strength, our life.

Our Need for Improvement

Our Need for Improvement

This article is a reminder for each of us to focus upon our own, individual need for improvement rather than to look around at other people’s failings. 

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  (Mt 7:3)

The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  (Lk 18:11)

And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.  (Joh 8:7-9)

As human beings, we have a tendency to look at other people and compare ourselves to others.  Most of the time, we do that when we want to see ourselves as “not being so bad.”  Other times, we look around at the circumstances of other peoples’ lives and we feel jealous.  It is not good to compare ourselves to others; it is what the Bible would term as foolishness.

As the verses shown above demonstrate, we should never focus on other people.  (2 Cor 10:12)

Also, there are a number of Scriptures instructing us to avoid comparing ourselves.  (Exo 20:17; Mt 7:1-2; Joh 21:22)

Rather, we should focus upon Jesus Christ and yearn to follow in His footsteps.  As we focus upon Christ, He will shower us with His love and encouragement.  He will give us a purpose and a plan for our lives, as well as all of the grace and mercy that we will ever need to fulfill that plan.  (Jer 29:11; 32:19; Pro 16:4; 19:21; 1 Cor 2:9)

Let us trust the Lord Jesus to transform us in His own way, in His own time.  We are His workmanship, and He will see the work through to its completion.  (Eph 2:10; Phil 1:6)  Just trust Him and trust His plan for you!  God 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..

Faith and Wholeness

Faith and Wholeness

Notice that faith and wholeness are connected!  Even in the natural realm, if a person doesn’t have faith in their medical team or the medical facility’s reputation, their healing will be impaired or slowed.  If a person doesn’t believe that they WILL get better and if that person doesn’t talk about getting better, then their body will begin to obey their thoughts and their words.

Notice what the Bible teaches us repeatedly about the power of faith.

And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.  (Mk 10:52 ESV)

But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour.  (Mt 9:22 NKJV)

And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”  (Mk 5:34)

Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.  (Mt 5:28)

Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.  (Lk 1:45, emphasis added)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— (Eph 2:8)  Each believer has been given the gift of faith.  Let us use this precious gift.

We must place our faith in Jesus Christ!  We must exercise our faith in the power of the Word of God!  We must trust in the powerful, unrelenting, unconditional love of God for us.  He is our Healer; He has compassion [mercy] upon each one of us at all times.  God cannot lie (Tit 1:2), so receive the promises of the Bible as guaranteed! 

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy . . .  (Ps 103:2-4) 

Preach on the Housetops

Preach on the Housetops

Good day!  As a believer in Jesus Christ, what is your calling or assignment in life?  Well, I’m sure it’s multi-faceted. 

You’re called by God to be a loving and faithful spouse (if married); you’re called to be a loving and responsible parent (if you have kids); you’re to be a good steward of all that God has given to you; you’re to bring glory to God by being a good, diligent worker; AND you’re called to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

As you can see, we all have multiple responsibilities to fulfill in life.  Not the least of these responsibilities, as a servant of Christ, is to share the Good News of the Kingdom of God with everyone as we have opportunity.  We need to stir up our resolve from time to time to actually fulfill this crucial responsibility.

Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.  (Mt 10:27)  When the Holy Spirit teaches us something through the Scriptures, He would like us to meditate upon it and pray over it; and then share it with others.  In other words, “broadcast” it to the neighborhood.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.  (Mt 28:18-20)

We are given the assignment to preach and to make disciples of all nations!  Of course, the Lord will honor our support of our church ministry both in working as a volunteer and in our financial giving.  The Lord also considers us as taking part in preaching the gospel when we financially support ministers, evangelists, and missionaries who travel throughout the world sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

It’s also a good idea to set a goal of some sort—known only to ourselves and God—of how many people we would like to share a testimony with in a given period of time (i.e., a month or a year). 

Any testimony that we share with someone gives them a glimpse of the love and faithfulness of God to us.  Our testimony also demonstrates that we have a strong, personal relationship with Jesus, our Savior; so it is clearly a powerful tool to use.

We’re called to preach on the housetops!  Be blessed!

 

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.