Saturday, October 15, 2016

James 2 - People Working

James chapter 2 is about people and works, so I'll call this message "People Working".

Do not show partiality

[James 2:1 NKJV] My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, [the Lord] of glory, with partiality.
[James 2:2 NKJV] For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes,
[James 2:3 NKJV] and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, "You sit here in a good place," and say to the poor man, "You stand there," or, "Sit here at my footstool,"
[James 2:4 NKJV] have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
[James 2:5 NKJV] Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world [to be] rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?
[James 2:6 NKJV] But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?
[James 2:7 NKJV] Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?

Seems like these days all sorts of people blaspheme that noble name by which we were called.

[James 2:8 NKJV] If you really fulfill [the] royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well;
[James 2:9 NKJV] but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
[James 2:10 NKJV] For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one [point], he is guilty of all.
[James 2:11 NKJV] For He who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

Guilty of one part out of a thousand is still guilty. Now if the rules were flipped around and we only had to keep one part of the law out of a thousand, we would be quite proud of the parts we keep. We would be confident in those parts; saying "I am faithfully keeping, oh, FIVE parts of the law!" But it isn't that way. And we find ourselves guilty of breaking some section of God's laws, even if we do try our best to live in a way that would please Him.

[James 2:12 NKJV] So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.
[James 2:13 NKJV] For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

The law of liberty by which we shall be judged. That phrase "law of liberty" occurs back in James 1 as well. Laws condemn. Laws point out our failures. Laws find us guilty. And yet there is for those who believe in Jesus, a law of liberty.

[Rom 10:9-10 NKJV] 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

[1Jo 1:9 NKJV] 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
 That seems like a pretty good deal to me. Judgement is without mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgement. Which to me sounds odd, because I'd figure judgement is somehow, stronger, more manly, tougher. Mercy sounds weak. But when you're the one facing judgement, suddenly mercy is that life preserver tossed to you in the middle of a raging storm. I'll take it! Give me that mercy!

Have faith and works

[James 2:14 NKJV] What [does it] profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?
[James 2:15 NKJV] If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,
[James 2:16 NKJV] and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what [does it] profit?
[James 2:17 NKJV] Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
[James 2:18 NKJV] But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

Faith, alone, doesn't save anybody. People have faith in Buddha, faith in Scientology, faith in Islam, faith in watered-down "let's not offend anybody" church-ianity, and even faith in atheism. The Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh said in a death-row interview, that he was ready for Hell and was looking at it like a survival adventure or something. He had faith that he would be okay in Hell, it'll just be rough going. Faith with nothing behind it is just a wish.

[James 2:19 NKJV] You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble!
[James 2:20 NKJV] But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
[James 2:21 NKJV] Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?
[James 2:22 NKJV] Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?
[James 2:23 NKJV] And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God.
[James 2:24 NKJV] You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
[James 2:25 NKJV] Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent [them] out another way?
[James 2:26 NKJV] For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Do works save us? No. But works do demonstrate the faith we have in Jesus, and He saves us. My faith is not in my faith. My faith is in JESUS. So what do these works James is talking about do for us? It demonstrates that faith is active, it's a validator of a claimed faith.

Now that we have Krispy Kreme donuts in Anchorage, people can now drive by and see if the "HOT" light is lit up. If it is, you know you can go in and get a hot doughnut. You woudn't need to call in to ask, if you see the "HOT" light, you know. The donuts are there awaiting you. Mmm. Your works? That's the sign, and instead of reading "HOT", it reads "Faith In Action!" Your works are going to naturally benefit those around you, but it benefits you as an indicator.

You need faith and works. Faith and no works is dead. Works and no faith is dead. Faith and works? Ah, now that's where you want to be. Let your "HOT" light shine, folks, let it shine.

Friday, October 7, 2016

James 1 - Instructions for believers

Let's take a look at the Book of James. Its in the New Testament, just after the book of Hebrews.

[Jas 1:1 NKJV] James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.

Count it joy

[Jas 1:2 NKJV] My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
[Jas 1:3 NKJV] knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
[Jas 1:4 NKJV] But let patience have [its] perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

It would be pretty rare to be excited about going through trials, but James tells us to count our trials as joy. The testing of your faith produces patience. If you have patience, you are on your way to being perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Now does that mean, when you die and stand before Jesus, or does it mean while you walk this earth? I don't know, I guess you'll need patience to find out!

Need wisdom? Ask!

[Jas 1:5 NKJV] If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
[Jas 1:6 NKJV] But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
[Jas 1:7 NKJV] For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
[Jas 1:8 NKJV] [he is] a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Are you lacking wisdom? Ask God for more! I like that; you know what, if you are wise enough to ask God, you're on your way already. Psalm 14:1 tell us it is the fool who says in his heart "...there is no God." Don't be the fool, ask God for wisdom. But ask like you mean it.

We are all going to die some day

[Jas 1:9 NKJV] Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation,
[Jas 1:10 NKJV] but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away.
[Jas 1:11 NKJV] For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.

Rich or poor, we all get a tiny slice of time down here, and we then shall stand before God.

Enduring temptation

[Jas 1:12 NKJV] Blessed [is] the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
[Jas 1:13 NKJV] Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.
[Jas 1:14 NKJV] But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
[Jas 1:15 NKJV] Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

Each person has their own temptation trigger. I get drawn to something evil, and give in, and suffer the consequences. A mouse smells a wiff of peanut butter coming from the loaded mousetrap. The end result? Death.

Good Good Father

[Jas 1:16 NKJV] Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
[Jas 1:17 NKJV] Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
[Jas 1:18 NKJV] Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
[Jas 1:19 NKJV] So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;
[Jas 1:20 NKJV] for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
[Jas 1:21 NKJV] Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

This bit does make me think of the song "Good Good Father". Ever good and perfect gift comes form above. I think it might be fair to say that therefore, every bad gift does not come from above. Why are we here on Earth? Because He willed it to be so. He willed you and I to be the best of his creatures. "Creature" sounds like a strange word, but it also means the object made by its creator. Literally, "something created". And here we are, created beings.

So, being literally a "made man", we owe our loyalty to our Creator, and our gratitude. We should be swift to hear, and slow to speak, and slow to wrath. Leave the wrath to God.

Receive the implanted word. What implanted word, you say?

[Rom 2:15 NKJV] who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves [their] thoughts accusing or else excusing [them])

You know when you're doing something wrong. That sort of knowledge is built-in.

Be a doer, not just a reader

[Jas 1:22 NKJV] But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
[Jas 1:23 NKJV] For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;
[Jas 1:24 NKJV] for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
[Jas 1:25 NKJV] But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues [in it], and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

Look into the perfect law of liberty. Those two things seem like opposites. Law. Liberty. So what sort of law is this? Well, it's like this:

[1Jo 1:9 NKJV] If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We have freedom in Jesus, in that we just have to ask. So, be doing what is in the Bible and not just reading it. And when you mess up, confess your sin and move on.

Control what you say and what you do

[Jas 1:26 NKJV] If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion [is] useless.
[Jas 1:27 NKJV] Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, [and] to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Oh yeah, I get caught up on this all the time. Just being honest. Never give up, though. Never give up! Jesus, help me to say the things that please You, and do the things that please You.

That last verse is another example of the Bible showing that Jesus is God. "...before God and the Father...".

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Mark of Cain

Let's take a look at one of the more interesting fellows in the book of Genesis, a man of many firsts, a man of infamy, Cain.

[Genesis 4:1 NKJV] "Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, "I have acquired a man from the LORD.""
Cain was the first son. [Genesis 4:2 NKJV] "Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground."
Cain is the first recorded farmer. [Genesis 4:3 NKJV] "And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD."

We have no idea why Cain chose to make an offering to the LORD. I believe we might see a clue later on, but for now, we don't know why. Being a man of firsts, Cain is now the first recorded person to make an offering.
[Genesis 4:4 NKJV] "Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering,"
[Genesis 4:5 NKJV] "but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell."

Cain is the first person with a rejected offering, and the first person recorded to get angry.

[Genesis 4:6 NKJV] "So the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?"

[Genesis 4:7 NKJV] ""If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire [is] for you, but you should rule over it.""

God takes the time to speak to Cain. Amazing. And instead of saying "Your offering is lame, I rejected it.", God offers Cain words of consolation and encouragement!

[Genesis 4:8 NKJV] "Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him."

Now there is the first for which Cain is so famous; being the first murderer. We don't have any details on the murder, but we will see blood was involved. Did Cain clobber Abel over the head with a rock? Jab him with a pointy stick? We do not know the details of the crime, but there is One who does.

[Genesis 4:9 NKJV] "Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where [is] Abel your brother?" He said, "I do not know. [Am] I my brother's keeper?""

And now we get the famous quote "Am I my brother's keeper"? This quote gets used by people all the time, and many people have no idea it comes from the Bible. I heard the President use the phrase "Brother's keeper" in a speech. A play on Cain's words gets turned into "and I'll be my brother's keeper" in the song "Hold us together" by Matt Maher.

So, when Cain answers God with a lame "I don't know", I can only conclude that Cain does not believe God knows what happened to Abel. Cain believes in God, which is pretty easy to do when God simply shows up and decides to talk to you. Cain even made an offering to God, but that offering was rejected. But is it possible that Cain believed in God the way that pagans do; thinking God was just one of many gods; a forest spirit, a "God of the harvest" who wanted a table of fruits and vegetables laid out before him, in order to secure better crops next year? I would suspect it might have been something like that. Cain did not truly know or grasp the greatness of who God was.
Abel, however did know something about God. Abel somehow put it together that if God had to slay an animal in order to clothe Adam and Eve, then blood must be required to cover our sinful ways. Blood was important. Abel may not have realized the depth of the model represented by a blood sacrifice, but his offering painted a model of Jesus on the cross, sacrificed to cover our sins with His blood. Abel somehow got it.

[Genesis 4:10 NKJV] "And He said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground."

The blood cried out. God lets Cain know he saw the whole thing. Cain was not dealing with some fairy god of the woodland creatures, some regional god, a god of the hills but not the valleys; but the awesome creator of the universe! Is there anything that can be hid from God? Nope.

[Genesis 4:11 NKJV] ""So now you [are] cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand."

[Genesis 4:12 NKJV] ""When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.""

Here is something Cain wasn't the first at, being cursed. Adam and Eve got that one when they were driven out of the Garden of Eden. But he does win the first for being specifically labeled a fugitive. We tend to hear the word "fugitive" and think "fugitive from justice". In this case, though, God has handed out the judgment, and cast Cain out from the area.

[Genesis 4:13 NKJV] "And Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment [is] greater than I can bear!"

[Genesis 4:14 NKJV] ""Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen [that] anyone who finds me will kill me.""

[Genesis 4:15 NKJV] "And the LORD said to him, "Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold." And the LORD set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him."

 There is a band "Avenged Sevenfold", so now you know where the term comes from. God puts a mark on Cain, and that's another first for Cain. The first "marked man". Driven out and left to fend for himself.  Cursed. Fugitive. Vagabond.

[Genesis 4:16 NKJV] "Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden."

Cain went on to raise a family and all, but he was always known for killing his brother Abel. Interesting that God marked Cain for his protection, that others wouldn't kill Cain in retribution. We don't even know where these other people came from; I guess God just created more folks beyond Adam and Eve. Regardless of how they showed up, the mark of Cain kept him alive as well as identified him.

So each day Cain woke up and knew he was a marked man. Did this kill his relationship with God? The last words we have recorded between God and Cain was God promising to take vengeance on whoever killed Cain. Seems like God was still looking out for Cain, in spite of what Cain did.

I believe God offers us far more mercy than even Cain received. Cain was protected by a mark, but we are covered by the blood of Jesus! That is, if you choose to believe. The mark of Cain was a warning; the blood of Jesus has power.

[1 John 1:6 NKJV] "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth."
[1 John 1:7 NKJV] "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin."
[1 John 1:8 NKJV] "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
[1 John 1:9 NKJV] "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
[1 John 1:10 NKJV] "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us."

We're just sinners, some of use choose to be saved by grace. Jesus offered himself so that we could have more than just a mark of protection, we can have complete forgiveness for our evil deeds. We just need to ask. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to wash us clean! That's amazing. Not just forgiveness, but to be washed clean. Available for the asking!

There is no point kidding ourselves; we have all sinned. I sure know I have. I need a savior. I don't need a mark to scare away attackers, I need the One who can forgive and forget, the one who washes me clean. What about you? I tell you what this world needs, this world needs Jesus.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Watching a nation crumble

What does the downfall of a nation look like? It looks like this:

[1Ki 6:37 KJV] "In the fourth year was the foundation of the house of the LORD laid, in the month Zif:"
[1Ki 6:38 KJV] "And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which [is] the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it. So was he seven years in building it."

Eleven years into Solomon's reign, the temple was completed

[1Ki 8:10 KJV] "And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy [place], that the cloud filled the house of the LORD,"
[1Ki 8:11 KJV] "So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD."

Not long thereafter, God fills the temple with His glory.

[1Ki 9:3 KJV] "And the LORD said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually."
[1Ki 9:4 KJV] "And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, [and] wilt keep my statutes and my judgments:"
[1Ki 9:5 KJV] "Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel."
[1Ki 9:6 KJV] "[But] if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments [and] my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them:"
[1Ki 9:7 KJV] "Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people:"
[1Ki 9:8 KJV] "And at this house, [which] is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and to this house?"

God provides Solomon with a simple decision tree. Obey and all goes well; Disobey, and all goes badly.

[1Ki 11:1 KJV] "But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, [and] Hittites;"
[1Ki 11:2 KJV] "Of the nations [concerning] which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: [for] surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love."
[1Ki 11:3 KJV] "And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart."
[1Ki 11:4 KJV] "For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, [that] his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as [was] the heart of David his father."

Solomon exercises his option to disobey.

[1Ki 11:14 KJV] "And the LORD stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite: he [was] of the king's seed in Edom."

Judgement begins. Later in chapter 11, we see God inform Jeroboam, son of Nebat, that he will be king over ten tribes.

[1Ki 11:42 KJV] "And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel [was] forty years."
[1Ki 11:43 KJV] "And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead."

The nation is torn apart into two parts; the greater part consisting of the ten tribes, Israel; and the smaller part consisting of the tribe of Judah.
[1Ki 14:21 KJV] "And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam [was] forty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD did choose out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. And his mother's name [was] Naamah an Ammonitess."
[1Ki 14:22 KJV] "And Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done."
[1Ki 14:23 KJV] "For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree."
[1Ki 14:24 KJV] "And there were also sodomites in the land: [and] they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD cast out before the children of Israel."
[1Ki 14:25 KJV] "And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, [that] Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem:"
[1Ki 14:26 KJV] "And he took away the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king's house; he even took away all: and he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made."

Solomon dies. His reign was forty years. The temple was completed eleven years into his reign. So, from the time that God let his glory rest on the temple until the kingdom was divided was about twenty-nine years. Almost immediately, the kingdom is torn asunder between Jeroboam and Rehoboam. Five years into the reign of Rehoboam, the nation of Egypt invades, and Rehoboam capitulates, letting the Egyptians haul off the wealth of the nation.

The time span from the greatest period of the nation to its humiliation is thirty-four years.

Let's say you were eighteen years old when Solomon's temple was dedicated. You personally witness God fill the temple with His glory. You live through the most prosperous period in the history of the nation; a time when "silver accounted as nothing" (1 Ki 10:21). During the prosperity of Solomon's reign, some warning signs appear. Solomon is amassing a huge stockpile of horses, and an impressive harem of the finest women from around the world. The women are bringing in the ways of their nations, and you are seeing a relaxing of standards to accommodate this new worldview. Time progresses, and as you get older, you watch the nation start to slide into idolatry. The days of God filling the temple with His glory are gone and forgotten.

And the nation is torn in two. You find yourself now in the tiny nation of Judah. The new king Rehoboam pays lip service to the LORD, but in reality is opposed to Him. Sodomites are emerging on the scene as a political force. The days of the nation seeking after God are not only fallen out of favor, they are flatly rejected. As a follower of the LORD, you find yourself now an oppressed minority, a social pariah.

You are fifty-two years old. Your nation's ruler surrenders to the Egyptians, and the wealth of the nation is carted off. All that gold, gone. The economy is crushed. One might think this would lead to repentance, but no; the leadership and the nation decide to continue on in their evil ways.

Does anything in this history lesson remind you of our present day and age?

Sunday, May 8, 2016

His blood be on us

[Mat 27:15 NKJV] "Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to releasing to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished."
[Mat 27:16 NKJV] "And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas."
[Mat 27:17 NKJV] "Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?""
[Mat 27:18 NKJV] "For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy."
[Mat 27:19 NKJV] "While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, "Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.""
[Mat 27:20 NKJV] "But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus."
[Mat 27:21 NKJV] "The governor answered and said to them, "Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" They said, "Barabbas!""
[Mat 27:22 NKJV] "Pilate said to them, "What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" [They] all said to him, "Let Him be crucified!""
[Mat 27:23 NKJV] "Then the governor said, "Why, what evil has He done?" But they cried out all the more, saying, "Let Him be crucified!""
[Mat 27:24 NKJV] "When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather [that] a tumult was rising, he took water and washed [his] hands before the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see [to it].""
[Mat 27:25 NKJV] "And all the people answered and said, "His blood [be] on us and on our children.""
[Mat 27:26 NKJV] "Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered [Him] to be crucified."

The apostle Peter preached to the people.

[Act 2:36 NKJV] ""Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.""
[Act 2:37 NKJV] "Now when they heard [this], they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men [and] brethren, what shall we do?""
[Act 2:38 NKJV] "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."
[Act 2:39 NKJV] ""For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.""
[Act 2:40 NKJV] "And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation.""
[Act 2:41 NKJV] "Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added [to them]."

Peter kept on preaching and it landed him in jail.

[Act 5:17 NKJV] "Then the high priest rose up, and all those who [were] with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation,"
[Act 5:18 NKJV] "and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison."
[Act 5:19 NKJV] "But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said,"
[Act 5:20 NKJV] ""Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.""
[Act 5:21 NKJV] "And when they heard [that], they entered the temple early in the morning and taught. But the high priest and those with him came and called the council together, with all the elders of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought."
[Act 5:22 NKJV] "But when the officers came and did not find them in the prison, they returned and reported,"
[Act 5:23 NKJV] "saying, "Indeed we found the prison shut securely, and the guards standing outside before the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside!""
[Act 5:24 NKJV] "Now when the high priest, the captain of the temple, and the chief priests heard these things, they wondered what the outcome would be."
[Act 5:25 NKJV] "So one came and told them, saying, "Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!""
[Act 5:26 NKJV] "Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned."
[Act 5:27 NKJV] "And when they had brought them, they set [them] before the council. And the high priest asked them,"
[Act 5:28 NKJV] "saying, "Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's blood on us!""

Wasn't that exactly what they asked for? Yes it was, but sadly for them, they wanted no part of having Jesus in their hearts, or His blood covering their sins.

And what were they afraid of? Those Pharisees were afraid of being found guilty of playing a role in killing Jesus, which is exactly what they did!

So what about you? What about me? And, what is so special about the blood of Jesus?

Now to see just what this "blood of Jesus" is about, let's take a look at the Book of Hebrews:

[Heb 2:14 NKJV] "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,"

Jesus conquered death through His blood.

[Heb 9:7 NKJV] "But into the second part the high priest [went] alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and [for] the people's sins [committed] in ignorance;"
[Heb 9:12 NKJV] "Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption."
[Heb 9:13 NKJV] "For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh,"
[Heb 9:14 NKJV] "how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"

 Jesus' death did forever what the blood of an animal sacrifice could only do for a moment.

[Heb 9:19 NKJV] "For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people,"
[Heb 9:20 NKJV] "saying, "This [is] the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.""
[Heb 9:21 NKJV] "Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry."
[Heb 9:22 NKJV] "And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission."

Blood was required to pay for sin.

[Heb 10:4 NKJV] "For [it is] not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins."
[Heb 11:28 NKJV] "By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them."[Heb 12:24 NKJV] "to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than [that of] Abel."
[Heb 13:11 NKJV] "For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp."
[Heb 13:12 NKJV] "Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate."

Jesus allowed Himself to be a sacrifice for us, once and forever.

[Rom 3:23 NKJV] "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,"
[Rom 3:24 NKJV] "being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,"
[Rom 3:25 NKJV] "whom God set forth [as] a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,"

We have all sinned. No surprise there, right?  Sin has cut off your access to God, and like it or not, has condemned you to Hell. If you do nothing about it, you end up in Hell. But Jesus has paid the price to "buy you out", paid in blood. All you have to do is to accept it and believe it to be so.

Okay, so how do you get started?
[Rom 10:9 NKJV] "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
[Rom 10:10 NKJV] "For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
[Rom 10:11 NKJV] "For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.""

Friday, March 25, 2016

None before Me, none after.

Does the Bible say anything about where God came from?

Does the Bible say anything about there being other gods that were actually gods, and not just carved wood and rocks?

Yes it does, and let's take a look.

Moses knew there was only one God. When Pharaoh called Moses in and begged him to take away the frogs which were one of the ten plagues, Moses said this:

[Exodus 8:10 NKJV] So he said, "Tomorrow." And he said, "[Let it be] according to your word, that you may know that [there is] no one like the LORD our God.

David the king knew there was only one God, he declares it in the book of 2 Samuel.

[2 Samuel 7:22 NKJV] "Therefore You are great, O Lord GOD. For [there is] none like You, nor [is there any] God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears.

King Solomon knew there was only one God, he says so in the book of 1 Kings.

[1 Kings 8:23 NKJV] and he said: "LORD God of Israel, [there is] no God in heaven above or on earth below like You, who keep [Your] covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts.

Moses knew it, David knew it, Solomon knew it. But has God Himself ever declared anything on this topic? Yes He has, as He spoke to the prophet Isaiah.

[Isaiah 43:10 KJV] Ye [are] my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I [am] he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

None before, none after.

God was always there. There was no "Grandpa God" before Him, nor was there a "Great Grandpa God" either. We are not little mini-gods looking to replace God once He gets too old, either.

But let's continue on.

[Isaiah 44:6 KJV] Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I [am] the first, and I [am] the last; and beside me [there is] no God.

The first, the last, no other.

[Isaiah 45:5 KJV]  I [am] the LORD, and [there is] none else, [there is] no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:
[Isaiah 45:6 KJV]  That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that [there is] none beside me. I [am] the LORD, and [there is] none else.

No others. None beside me. None else.

[Isaiah 45:22 KJV] Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I [am] God, and [there is] none else.

None else. God is making it pretty clear that He is the universal God. Look unto Him and be saved, all the ends of the earth. There is no other God.

[Isaiah 46:9 KJV] Remember the former things of old: for I [am] God, and [there is] none else; [I am] God, and [there is] none like me,

[Hebrews 6:13 KJV] 13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,

God had no ancestry to swear upon; as in "I swear on my mother's grave!", or the more common "I swear to God, your honor, I didn't do it." There was no greater than He. The best claim to authority God could make was His own authority.

By now it should be pretty clear that the following is true:
  • God was always there, and will always be.
  • There was not a God before God, no "Grandpa God."
  • There will not be a God after our God.
  • There are no other Gods concurrently.
But what about Jesus, the Son of God?

[John 1:1 NKJV] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
[John 1:2 NKJV] He was in the beginning with God.

[John 1:14 NKJV] And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit are appear as three manifestations of the same being; at times distinct, and at times one.

[Luke 3:21 KJV] Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,
[Luke 3:22 KJV] And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

Perhaps you have heard this before; how water can be a solid, a liquid, or a gas, and yet be the same water? Ice is water, water is water, so you have ice with water, and the ice is water. Let the ice melt into the water and it becomes impossible to tell which was the ice and which was the water. They are one and yet, when separate, they possess distinct characteristics.

Listen to Jesus speaking to the disciples of His imminent return to Heaven.

[John 17:1 NKJV] Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You,
[John 17:2 NKJV] "as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.
[John 17:3 NKJV] "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
[John 17:4 NKJV] "I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.
[John 17:5 NKJV] "And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
[John 17:6 NKJV] "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.
[John 17:7 NKJV] "Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You.
[John 17:8 NKJV] "For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received [them], and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.
[John 17:9 NKJV] "I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.
[John 17:10 NKJV] "And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.
[John 17:11 NKJV] "Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We [are].
[John 17:12 NKJV] "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
[John 17:13 NKJV] "But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.
[John 17:14 NKJV] "I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
[John 17:15 NKJV] "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.
[John 17:16 NKJV] "They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
[John 17:17 NKJV] "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
[John 17:18 NKJV] "As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
[John 17:19 NKJV] "And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.
[John 17:20 NKJV] "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;
[John 17:21 NKJV] "that they all may be one, as You, Father, [are] in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
[John 17:22 NKJV] "And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:
[John 17:23 NKJV] "I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
[John 17:24 NKJV] "Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
[John 17:25 NKJV] "O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me.
[John 17:26 NKJV] "And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare [it], that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."

Jesus was preparing to return back to Heaven to be reunited with the Father and is now calling out to you to join Him.

[Revelation 3:20 NKJV] "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wine is still a mocker

I went over this message back at the end of 2014. Let's see if anything has changed in a year.

[Proverbs 20:1 KJV] Wine [is] a mocker, strong drink [is] raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

Maybe you know this to be true from personal experience. I've found it to be true myself. If you find yourself among those deceived by alcohol, pray that Jesus gives you the power to make 2016 a new year.

[Proverbs 20:3 KJV] [It is] an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.

You don't need to be jamming your nose into other people's business all the time.

[Proverbs 20:4 KJV] The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; [therefore] shall he beg in harvest, and [have] nothing.

We sure have cold up here in Alaska, but you can't let that stop you from working.

[Proverbs 20:6 KJV] Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?

Ever notice that people rarely say their situation in life is their own fault?

[Proverbs 20:7 KJV] The just [man] walketh in his integrity: his children [are] blessed after him.

Being a just man or woman does not necessarily mean being without trouble. In fact, how you manage hard times may be a greater mark of your character than you think. Walking in integrity has nothing to do with what you own or how successful you have been in life.

[Proverbs 20:9 KJV] Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?

Romans 3:23 says all have sinned. Psalms 51:10 says "Create in me a clean heart." Why did the psalmist ask God to create a clean heart? Because man cannot do it himself. I can no more create a clean heart than I could surgically repair it myself. I need a heart surgeon. Jesus, be my surgeon, please!

[Proverbs 20:10 KJV] Divers weights, [and] divers measures, both of them [are] alike abomination to the LORD.

You ever gotten ripped off in a bad deal? You ever rip somebody else off in a bad deal?

[Proverbs 20:11 KJV] Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work [be] pure, and whether [it be] right.

What you do in life matters. People will know you by what you do. And maybe 2016 is the year you give your all to Jesus so He can do through you, and you do something beyond whatever 2015 brought you.

[Proverbs 20:13 KJV] Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, [and] thou shalt be satisfied with bread.

Time to wake up! You got a new year in front of you.

[Proverbs 20:14 KJV] [It is] naught, [it is] naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.

Isn't this how it always is when you buy a used car? “Oh, I really talked that guy down!”

[Proverbs 20:17 KJV] Bread of deceit [is] sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.

How does the saying go? "You reap what you sow."

[Proverbs 20:20 KJV] Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.

You don't get to choose your parents, but you still should respect them. Some parents may not deserve that respect, but you still need to show it, for your own good.

[Proverbs 20:21 KJV] An inheritance [may be] gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.

Everybody wishes they'd come into money. Maybe a long lost relative and an inheritance, maybe by winning the lottery. Yet, the outcome of getting rich quick is often getting poor again just as quick.

[Proverbs 20:22 KJV] Say not thou, I will recompense evil; [but] wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.

Oh this isn't an easy one. We would much prefer to to have our revenge. Leave that to Jesus.

[Proverbs 20:24 KJV] Man's goings [are] of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?

This is so true. How many people really do have a clue on their own lives? I know I don't. So how will you understand your way? Why you don't let JESUS show you the way? Jesus said in John 14:6

[Jhn 14:6 KJV] 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

There you go, let JESUS show you the way. Ask Him. “Jesus, I need YOU to show me the way I should be living my life in 2016. I made a mess of 2015. Please show me the way!”

[2Ti 3:16 KJV] 16 All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

Start 2016 out right. Let the Word of God be your source of wisdom. Get in the Word!