Monthly Archives: March 2012

Dayspring

“You, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God.” Luke 1:78

Where does salvation come from? Does it come from our sense that something is desperately wrong and we need to change and make it better? Does it come from casting things in a more positive light so we don’t become discouraged and quit? Does it come from a lucky break? Does it come because we are scrupulously righteous and deserve for it to come our way? Does it come from rigorously obeying everything in the law? No! Salvation and forgiveness come from one source — “the tender mercy of our God.”

Son of Man

This seems like a simply question, doesn’t it? My guess many “Christians” might answer that question with a resounding YES!

However, before we rashly answer the question we might consider what the phrase “The Son of Man” means.

Matthew 16:13-17 NIV says:

“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”

 

There are 83 references to “The Son of Man” in NIV translation.  Not all are references to Christ, but the ones with “Son” capitalized are.  Here are some for your consideration:

  • Matthew 20:28 “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
  • Matthew 24:27 “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”
  • Matthew 25:31 “”When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.”
  • Luke 21:36 “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
  • Luke 22:69 “But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”
  • John 1:51 “He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
  • John 5:27 “And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.”
  • Acts 7:57 “”Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.””

We can see clearly from these verses, the Son of Man is title displaying authority and Diety.  As we ponder on these verses, we might be inclined to add other fitting titles such as: Son of God, Messiah, King of kings, Lord of lords, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, and Almighty God.

Now think for a moment of all God has done.  He spoke the world into existence. He created all we see from nothing that was seen.  He created all the plants, the animals, the earth, the sky, the stars, the planets, and the sustaining power of the balance of our solar system.  He created people with a free will.  He gave us creativity, communication, and intellect. He holds the waves of the sea in His hand.  He is without time because a day is as a year to Him.  He healed people through touch, sight, and simply speaking it.  He raised people from the dead.  He spoke dry scattered bones back into place and breathed life into them. He caused the sun to stand still.  The earth quakes at His presence.  All of creation cries out in praise to Him.  Nothing is impossible for Him.

God, in the form of Jesus, reigns over everything.  You and I are included in everything, whether we choose to acknowledge Him or not.

If we do choose to believe Jesus is the Son of God, then we are agreeing to be under His authority.  We willingly yield to His agenda for our life and sacrifice our own.  In order to place our self under His authority we must be willing to accept our position when compared to God.

Let’s think about what position that might be.

He is God.  We are His creation.  He is Author of life. We are alive because He made us.  We can nothing apart from Him.  He holds our very breath in His hand.  God is holy, without sin, without deceit, and without hypocrisy.  In Him is every good gift.  We are not holy, we are stained. We are not pure, we are tainted with sin. We are not honorable, we are manipulative, selfish and hypocritical.  He is merciful. We are critical and judgmental. The list could go on. Just remember what Romans 3:23 says “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  This sin we speak of has to be dealt with.  Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death.”

We must see this about our self to fully appreciate how great God is.  He loved us enough to do something we could not do for our self. He made a way to cleanse us from every wrong. He took our sin upon Himself, and died in our place to pay for our sin.  The last part of Romans 6:23 says “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The sin is dealt with.  It is finished.  We who believe in Jesus’ atoning work on the cross, are forgiven our sin-dept.  We are dressed in His robe of righteousness, as if we had never sinned to begin with.

If we have fully grasped the meaning of God’s authority and our position under His authority, our life should show some signs that we are different beings.  Jesus said you must be born again to enter the kingdom of God.  Through faith we believe and are saved by His grace.  Our obedience to God’s Word is one outward expression of the inward transformation.  But don’t think you can short cut the process by avoiding looking at our sinful self and try to do more good things than bad, for that is evil in God’s sight.  The good works done are done from a heart so radically changed by the grace of God it is done in reverence and love for HIM and nothing from our self.

Now, having looked at the authority of God compared to our sinful state, are you able to answer the question?  Do you believe in the Son of Man?

Excerpt from here.

Immanuel: God with Us

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:23

When Jesus Christ was born, God in human flesh dwelt among mankind. The long-awaited Messiah had come into the world. Immanuel was here.

The news was given first to the shepherds, who hurried to see this God-man for themselves. From there, they spread the word that a Savior has been born (Luke 2:20). What a momentous day! God had sent His Son into the world to live among the people.

For 30 years, Jesus lived in obscurity—till the Father’s appointed time for Him to begin His work. Then for three years, He ministered among Jews and Gentiles, teaching and preaching to whoever would listen. In the end, His message and His person were rejected; He was crucified on a cross and buried in a tomb. It appeared that Immanuel was gone.

However, the resurrection proved that was wrong. And then on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was given to all believers (Acts 2:1, 4) just as Jesus had promised. The Lord’s Spirit would now live within them forever, guiding them into all truth and leading them in the way they were to go. The promise was not just for the disciples but for every person who chooses to trust in Jesus.

If you’ve acknowledged that you are a sinner and accepted Christ’s payment for the penalty you owe, the Spirit now lives in you. Through Him, you have an intimate connection with God. Take time to dwell on the divine mystery of Christ in you. Let the knowledge of His constant presence transform loneliness into comfort, fear into faith, and weakness into strength.

Week 55: Dying He Saved Me

Moving on to verse two of Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me) by Casting Crowns (found here), I can’t help but weep for my Savior. As I listened to those words the first time, I was deeply saddened by the fact that my sin, my sin, put Him on that tree; my sin pounded in those nails; my sin…He paid the penalty for my sin. What wretch am I that He would care enough to give Himself in my place?!!?

I couldn’t help the images from Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ flittering through my mind at the following words:

One day they led Him up Calvary’s mountain
One day they nailed Him to die on a tree
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected
Bearing ours sins, my Redeemer is He
Hands that healed nations, stretched out on a tree
And took the nails for me

Living He loved me
Dying He saved me
Buried He carried my sins far away
Rising He justified
Freely forever
One day He’s coming – O glorious day!

The Master gave us a way out! Romans 5 reads: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly…but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life. (vs. 1, 6, 8, 10 ESV)

Faith – we are forgiven because of our faith in Him, we have access to Him because of this faith.  His shed blood and His dying on that cross paid our debt in full – before we were even born!  He loved us that much, knowing we would sin and in forethought, He provided the sin offering – himself.  When asked why I should be allowed to enter Heaven and be in His presence, the right answer will be “because of my faith in Jesus, my Master and His blood shed for me!”

Wonderful Counselor

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

The past year has brought many unexpected challenges in my life,  mostly in the form of stress over finances, dealing with past hurts, and uprooting my life and moving to a new city and state. These concerns wake me up early in the morning to pray, and they’ve led me to be increasingly dependent on God.

One morning as I was reading my Bible, God reminded me that I am not alone and I do not face these challenges on my own. I’ve known this for a while, but this morning God moved that truth from my head to my heart with the words from today’s key verse.

Jesus is my Wonderful Counselor. Have you ever paused to dwell on those words? Jesus is my Wonderful Counselor.

Literally this title means “a wonder of a counselor,” speaking of the wisdom of His plan. The word wonderful means astonishing or extraordinary. The writers of the Old Testament used it for acts of God which man cannot understand. The word counselor means advisor or ideal ruler.

This means He is a reliable counselor. Those who come to Him will never be led astray. There are many who make their living on giving advice – some good, some not so good. But the Lord goes to no one for advice. And when anyone comes to Him, He gives the counsel they desperately need.

When I don’t know or fully understand how to get out the financial hole I’ve dug for myself, Jesus is my Wonderful Counselor. When I don’t know how to comfort a friend who is facing challenges I never have, Jesus is my Wonderful Counselor. When I want to offer wise counsel to that same friend whose life seems to be coming apart, Jesus is my Wonderful Counselor. He is the perfect teacher and the ultimate counselor.

This gives us insight into His working. His plans are not our plans, His ways not our ways. He will accomplish things beyond human comprehension, and He will do it in ways we cannot fathom. He will do the greatest work ever accomplished, and He will do it successfully. A violent death would not be man’s way to victory, but it was God’s plan and our Lord carried it out perfectly.

As the Wonderful Counselor, He gives wholesome direction to His people. Those who follow Him will not walk in darkness but in the blazing light of day.

Do you know Jesus as your Wonderful Counselor? Whatever concerns or challenges you face today, you can take them to Jesus.

Have you asked Him into your heart and are you sure that you are a child of God? If not, click on the “Do you know Him” link below, and ask Jesus to be your Wonderful Counselor today. He loves you and can’t wait to be there for you now and always.

And if you already know Jesus as Savior, have you trusted Him to be Wonderful Counselor as well?

Only Begotten Son

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV

Nothing expresses the concept of God’ love more comprehensively than John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. It’s a scripture that children are taught to memorize and adults learn to lean upon. When the Scriptures speak of God’s love, we must embrace the fact that it is not limited to a selected few or one favored group. If that was the case, it’s a real possibility we would not be included. Notice the word world. God’s love is an inclusive love that goes beyond our failings and lifts us up when we fall. 

John declares this gift is for the whole world; not just Israel. It’s inspiring because it means that all people benefit from its reach. Many may not be where they need to be yet, but are pressing forward, are renewed by His presence. And His love transforms the possibilities in our lives into purpose and we are simply better because of it. 

Think of the ways in which we share our love for our mates, family, friends, even in our giving to strangers. We may choose service, affection, gifts, or simply language to transfer our feelings to that individual. But God’s love is expressed in the giving of his most priceless gift, His only son Jesus Christ; in essence, Himself.

When I reflect on the reality what He gave, I realize that normally we wouldn’t give people our only of anything. Human nature would caution us to keep back something for ourselves…we’re greedy creatures by nature. Even the most benevolent spirit that freely shares would hesitate on giving away their only coat, their only car, or their only dollar.

I recall as a child, if there was only one of something left in the refrigerator, you asked for it. The only slice of pie or only cup of milk had special significance because it might be needed for something important or intended for someone else. If you dared take the only of anything without permission, it was certain that you would bring the wrath of mom or dad upon your little head.

We can be encouraged by John’s revelation that God “so loved” us that His love is solidified with action and not just in words. It moved beyond rhetoric to the reality of giving that which He valued most, Jesus Christ. And we are all beneficiaries of that wonderful gift.

The immense power of God’s love is that He says, “I’m not just going to give you what I have, I’m going to give you all I have.”

God chooses to love us even when we aren’t that loveable and gently looks beyond our faults. And therein rests the power of love. That it gives us not only the chance to become better, but to become a part of something greater than ourselves through His love.

Bridegroom

And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Matthew 25:6

The Spirit of God is delivering a vital message to you today: Get ready for Jesus’ return! It’s an old message. But there’s a fresh urgency to it. An urgency you can’t afford to ignore.

Some believers make the mistake of saying, “Oh well, I just don’t think we’re supposed to know about the Second Coming. It’s supposed to come upon us like a thief in the night!”

But they’re wrong. The Word of God says that as children of light we shouldn’t be taken by surprise. We should be so keen in the Spirit that even though we don’t know the day or the hour, we should sense that the season of Jesus’ return has come.

First Corinthians 2:10 tells us that God reveals His plans to us through His Spirit. I suspect that those who are walking in the Spirit on the day the Lord comes again will actually begin to anticipate that something is about to happen.

Be like the five wise virgins in Matthew 25 who were prepared when the bridegroom’s arrival was announced. Stay full of the oil of the Holy Spirit and with your light shining!

Don’t get caught sleeping when Jesus returns. Wake up now to the Holy Spirit. Let Him put you on the inside track and get you ready for your Lord. Because just as Jesus foretold, there is a cry going out at midnight. The Spirit of the Lord is announcing His return.

Can you hear it in your spirit? Can you sense the Lord saying, “Get up and come out to meet Me. fellowship with Me. Get in the light now, and at that crucial hour, you’ll be on the inside of My plans.”

Obey Him quickly. For, behold, the bridegroom comes!

Prince of Peace

For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

The messianic prophecy of a child being born who will be the “Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” has its fulfillment in the life of Jesus. What does the Bible tell us about “peace” and this “Prince of Peace?”

What is Peace? According to Webster’s dictionary, peace is a state of tranquillity, quiet, calm, freedom from civil disturbance, A state of security – being secure within a community, freedom from oppression, strife and disorder. In harmony in personal relations. Untroubled by conflict, agitation or commotion. Is peace desirable? Do you have it? Would you like to have it? How may we receive true peace.

Jesus in His last discourse with His disciples before His crucifixion said to them, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). How is it that Jesus could give His disciples “peace” when He was about to suffer on Calvary and His disciples would soon go through the worst experience of their lives up to that time?

Just three days later, at evening on the day of His resurrection, Jesus came and stood in the midst of His disciples and said to them, “Peace be with you.– Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord” (John 20:19, 20). What a Prince! Death and the grave could not hold Him.

King of Kings

For at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. 1 Timothy 6:15

The kingdoms of this world are being moved around like checkers, but soon God is going to move His Son into King’s Row and say, “Crown Him King of kings!”

How many times have you prayed, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Do you think God’s will is being done on earth as it is in heaven? Look around at the crime, rape, murder, child abuse, and blasphemy. Do you think that’s God’s will? Of course not. Do you think Jesus Christ would have taught us to pray a prayer that will not be answered? God is going to move Jesus into King’s Row and say, “Crown Him King!”

The Great I Am

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!” John 8:58

Jesus never had an identity crisis. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Note Jesus didn’t say, “I am one way to God.” He didn’t say, “I am a life.” Jesus said, “I am the way, I am the life.” AndGod says, “He is my dear Son.”

In the Gospel of John, Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Not “I was,” but “I am.” He is the great I AM. He never had a beginning. He has always existed. He didn’t have His beginning at Bethlehem.

“For by Him [Jesus] were all things created, that are in Heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him; And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. Colossians 1:16-17

The One who created the universe not only has this whole world in His hands, but He has the past, the present, and the future in His hands.