Live as Christ Lived

Live as Christ Lived

Do you think that you can live as Christ lived?  What do I mean by that?  Let’s review some passages from the Scriptures.In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.  (Phil 2:5 NIV)This verse of Scripture advises us to have the same outlook or convictions that Jesus had.  Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest.  (Mt 11:29 CEV)Jesus calls us to wear the same “yoke” that He wore. He says in so doing, we will find rest for our souls.To whom or to what are we yoked (or coupled)?  Once we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we are linked to Him.  This means that we humbly do His will and allow Him to guide and to direct our lives.The one who says that he abides in him must live the same way he himself lived.  (1 Joh 2:6 (ISV)We must live the same way that Jesus did.  He lived in obedience to the will of the heavenly Father, and He operated in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus was our example.For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.  (Joh 13:15-16 NKJV, emphasis added)

We are called to the same lifestyle, and to the same love for and obedience to our Father God that Jesus had.  And God has given us the necessary grace that we need to empower us to do so.  Hallelujah!

God’s Mighty Acts Should Provoke Praise from Us

God’s Mighty Acts Should Provoke Praise from Us

Whenever we witness the great and mighty acts of God, it should activate us to praise and worship Him spontaneously!  Am I exaggerating?  Absolutely not!

In the Bible, Jesus instructed people who received wondrous miracles—after they had rejoiced and praised God—to go and spread the good news about Him to other people.  But FIRST, every single person erupted in praise and thanksgiving.

And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.  (Lk 13:17 NKJV)  This passage says that the multitude rejoiced!  That means that a great crowd of people were happily praising and thanking God.  And you’d better believe that they eventually told everyone all about it!

However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”  (Mk 5:19 NKJV)
Here we see Jesus again telling the man who received the blessing to go and tell everyone he knew about God’s love, mercy and goodness to him.  This is another form of praise and thanksgiving!

But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these [disciples, crowd of people] become silent, the stones will cry out!”  (Lk 19:40 NASB)
Jesus is telling the Pharisees, who criticized the praise that He was receiving, that He not only accepted the worship from them, but that it was reasonable and justifiable for the people to act that way.  (See Lk 19:37-38, 39)

For the stone will cry out from the wall, and the beam from the timbers will answer it.  (Hab 2:11 NKJV)
So often in the Bible, inanimate objects take the role of a witness to events.  When we refer back to Jesus’ comment in Luke 19:40, we see that Jesus testifies to the fact that if the people remained silent, the very STONES would cry out in praise and worship of Him! 

Wow!  That’s pretty impressive.

Don’t let inanimate objects upstage you!  When the Lord performs miracles for you or around you or for your friends and loved ones, burst forth into praise, rejoicing, and thanksgiving.  Let your voice be heard in adoration and thanksgiving to the Living God.  God bless you.

Jesus Was Taken Up to Heaven

Jesus Was Taken Up to Heaven

As the Bible tells us, Jesus ascended into heaven after His resurrection.  In heaven, He still intercedes for us and serves as our Mediator.  (1 Tim 2:5)  He is the same Jesus in heaven as He was on earth, in the sense that His personality and His mission have not changed.

And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. (Ac 1:9 ESV)

So the Lord Jesus, after talking with his disciples, was taken up to heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.  (Mk 16:19 ISV)

When Jesus arrived in heaven, He sat down at the right hand of God, the Father.

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.  (Lk 24:50-51 NIV)

Therefore He says:  “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.”  (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also He who ascended far above all the heavens that He might fill all things.)  11 He gave some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints, for the work of service, and for the building up of the body of Christ . . .  (Eph 4:8-12 MEV)

Upon His ascension, Jesus gave gifts to the Church, and those gifts are shown above in this passage from Ephesians. 

Jesus is watching over His body, the Church.  He continues to love us, bless us, and to give us His presence.  He is worthy to be praised!

In All Situations, God is With Us

In All Situations, God is With Us

It’s an important fact to remember that God is always with us.  He always loves us and always fights for us.  He will NEVER forsake us.

Let’s look at what the Scriptures tell us:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  (Isa 43:2 NIV)

No matter what fiery trial may have come upon you, don’t forget that Jesus is in the midst of the fire WITH YOU.  We never walk alone, once we have accepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord.

‘Do not fear [anything], for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you; I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation].’  (Isa 41:10 AMP)

God is with us at all times to strengthen us, to help us, and to hold our hands.  And His hands are full of justice, power, victory, and salvation.  Praise God!

I’ve commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged! I am the Lord your God, and I will be there to help you wherever you go.  (Josh 1:9 CEV)

No matter where we go, the Lord commands us to be strong and to be brave.  We should not be afraid or discouraged.  Now that’s a pretty big ask.  To never be afraid—to never be discouraged—it seems almost too much to ask. 

But if we really meditate upon the fact that Jesus is with us, facing every foe and looking every challenge right in the face, right along WITH us, it will not seem quite so impossible.  Remember that Jesus carries justice, power, victory and salvation wherever He is.

But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.  (2 Tim 4:17 ESV)

Even so, we will be able to testify that ‘I was rescued from the lion’s mouth’ right along with thousands of other believers.  All glory to God most High!

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 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.

Clothe Ourselves with Virtue

<strong>Clothe Ourselves with Virtue</strong>

How can we clothe ourselves with virtue?  For that matter, how can we “put on love” as instructed in Colossians 3:14?  And note that Romans 13:14 tells us that we have “put on Christ,” as does Galatians 3:27.

And what virtues are we encouraged by God’s Word to put on?

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  (Col 3:12 NIV)

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.  (Col 3:14-15 NIV)

Your love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to each other with mutual affection. Excel at showing respect for each other.  (Rom 12:9-10 ISV)

. . . with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love . . .  (Eph 4:2 NKJV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  (Gal 5:22-23 NASB)

Wow!  This is an impressive list of virtues and good traits to pursue and to practice.

In the natural realm, when we want to be clothed, it is a conscious act of the will.  Our clothes don’t fly through the air and attach themselves to us, right?  We have to physically maneuver ourselves into the clothes, and then button or snap or zip them into place.  And we have to choose exactly what items we want to wear each and every day.

As believers and followers of Jesus, we must be just as deliberate about what virtues we choose to use in every circumstance and situation in our lives.  We must decide to be peacemakers, just as we must choose to be kind, humble, gentle, patient, peace-loving, joyful, faithful, and self-controlled. 

As we make the decision each new day to follow Jesus, we must make the decision in every circumstance and life situation about how to react to our current challenges or trials. 

In answer to our prayers to Him, the Lord will give us the grace and power that we need to weave these virtues into our lives.  The Holy Spirit will guide us if we yield to Him in humility and obedience. 

The Holy Spirit is the only One who can teach us and transform us into the image of Christ.  And best of all, He can be trusted to guide us lovingly and faithfully.  Hallelujah!

Why Did Humanity Throng Jesus?

Why Did Humanity Throng Jesus?

A THRONG means a multitude, crowd, mass of people, or swarm of people.  The Bible points out that everywhere that Jesus traveled, people swarmed to Him.  They ran to Jesus in hope, out of need, and due to a yearning to see the hand of God operating among them.

The people not only crowded around the Lord, but they were actually pressing in upon Him—trying to get as close to Him as they possibly could.  Let’s turn to the Bible:

And He went off with him; and a large crowd was following Him and pressing in on Him.  (Mk 5:24 NASB)

And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”  (Mk 5:31 NASB, emphasis added)

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret . . . (Lk 5:1 ESV)

. . . because his twelve-year-old child was dying. She was his only daughter. While Jesus was on his way, people were crowding all around Him.  (Lk 8:42 CEV)

Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” While everyone was denying it, Peter and those who were with him said, “Master, the crowds are surrounding you and pressing in on you.”  (Lk 8:45 ISV)

The people wanted and needed to experience the forgiveness, the love and the mercy of God that Jesus radiated to all who were exposed to Him.  All human beings desire love and acceptance, and no one conveyed that as powerfully and as genuinely as Jesus Christ did.

In the physical presence of Jesus, I believe that every human being on earth would react in just the same way today as people did in Bible times. 

What we would do well to remember is that we already having a loving and personal relationship with Jesus as our Savior, Lord, and Messiah.  We have access to all of His blessings and to His presence in our lives.  All we need to do is to stop, and get alone with Him in a place of prayer and worship.  At once, the Lord’s presence will be magnified as we focus upon Him, alone.  God bless you.

What We KNOW as Believers

What We KNOW as Believers

We, as Christians, don’t have to wonder or hope or try to get faith.  We need to stop and consider what we know.  Our key verse for this study is in 2 Timothy:

. . . for I KNOW whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day.  (2 Tim 1:12b KJV)

For we KNOW JESUS, our Savior and Lord, with whom we have a living, vital relationship—Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God!  (Mt 16:16; 26:63; Joh 6:69) To KNOW someone means to have a relationship with, to comprehend, and to have experienced who they truly are as a person.

As a matter of fact, because we have received Jesus Christ as our Savior, Redeemer and Lord, we are now known as SONS OF THE LIVING GOD!  (Rom 9:26)  Hallelujah!

These are some of the vital things that we KNOW as believers:

  • That the Lord has set us apart for Himself; the Lord will hear us when we call upon Him!  (Ps 4:3) 
  • That because we are set apart for God (His anointed), He will answer us with the saving strength of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ps 20:6)
  • That the Lord is great, and He is above all gods.  (Ps 135:5)
  • That God’s works are marvelous.  (Ps 139:14)
  • That Jesus is the Holy One of God. (Mk 1:24c; Lk 4:34c)
  • We know the mysteries of the kingdom of God.  (Lk 8:10)
  • We know Jesus, our Good Shepherd.  (Joh 10:14)
  • We know the Lord, because He dwells with us, and He lives in us.  (Joh 14:17)
  • We know that Jesus dwells in the Father; we dwell in Jesus; and Jesus dwells in us.  (Joh 14:20)
  • That wherever we go, we carry the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.  (Rom 15:29)
  • That we have received the Spirit who is from God through whom we know the things that have been freely given to us by God.  (1 Cor 2:12; 1 Joh 4:12-14)
  • We are the temple of God and the Holy Spirit dwells within each believer.  (1 Cor 3:16; 6:19)
  • That we are in Christ because we keep His Word, and the love of God is perfected in us.  (1 Joh 2:5)
  • That Jesus was manifested to take away our sins and in Him there is no sin.  (1 Joh 3:5)
  • That we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren.  (1 Joh 3:14)
  • We know the Spirit of God because we confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, and He is from God.  (1 Joh 4:2)
  • That we are born of God and know God because we love one another, and love is of God.  (1 Joh 4:7)
  • We know that we have eternal life because we believe in the name of the Son of God and will continue to do so.  (1 Joh 5:13)

Why Forgiveness is Important

Why Forgiveness is Important

Jesus is our perfect example in all things, and He demonstrated forgiveness to us.  (See John 8:7 & 11)  Let’s see what else the Scriptures teach us on this topic.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.  (Mt 6:14-15 ESV)

Whenever you stand up to pray, you must forgive what others have done to you. Then your Father in heaven will forgive your sins.  (Mk 11:25 CEV)

Both preceding verses remind us that as we forgive other people for ways in which they hurt us, our Father God also forgives us for our sins.  And they warn that if we don’t forgive others their transgressions, then the Lord won’t be able to forgive us.  Why?  Because our unforgiving attitude separates us from God, and from His loving plan for all people.  Unforgiveness can become a bitter root within us corrupting our faith in God.

But love your enemies and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil people. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.  (Lk 6:35-36 NASB)

In Luke 6, we’re taught by the Lord to love our enemies and even to do good to them.  We’re told to lend, without expecting repayment—but then the Lord will give us a great reward.  The reason for that is that the Lord is kind to ungrateful and evil people, and when we act the same way, He is mightily pleased with us.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  (Col 3:13 NIV)

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.  (Eph 4:32 NIV)

The two verses above in Colossians and Ephesians emphasize that we should be patient with each other and kind to one another.  And again, we are urged most definitely to forgive others in honor and remembrance of the fact that the Lord has forgiven us repeatedly.  As we humbly recall the many occasions that our Savior has forgiven every one of us, we can begin to recognize that the Lord is not asking us to do anything that He has not already done!

After forgiving someone, it may be necessary for us to forgive them again for the same issue.  Not because they have offended us again, but because the enemy of our souls tries to tempt us by reminding us of the offense to break our fellowship with Jesus. 

That gives us the opportunity to submit to the Lord and pray, telling ourselves and the entire spiritual realm that we forgive the one who hurt us, and we do so freely in obedience to the Lord.  The Lord will give us the grace that we need to be able to arrive at the peace that He so fully provides as the Prince of Peace.  God bless you!