Tag Archives: god

You Are Amazing

19 Oct

Does God have to hold his nose when He interacts with us? Does He grit his teeth and say, “Well, I died on the cross so I guess I have to deal with them.” Many in the church would give this impression of God and his view of humanity. A popular term I have heard in books is “worm.” It is seen as humble for church leaders to say, “I am such a worthless little worm, yet for some reason God continues to love me.”

But is that really how Jesus sees us? An important term used in the New Testament is “redemption.” To redeem something means to buy it back, or to return it to its original value. Jesus illustrates this in Matthew 18.11-14 when He tells the story of a sheep who wanders away from the fold. When the shepherd realizes that the sheep is gone, He sets out to find it and bring it home, or redeem it. The concept of redemption assumes original value. Something can not be brought back to its original value unless it had value to begin with.

We each have individual value as unique and special creations by God, and our value was proven by Jesus’ death on the cross. In Romans 8.31-32, the apostle Paul says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” According to Paul, we lost the right to question God’s love and value for us when Jesus sacrificially gave his life for us. This is also emphasized in 1 John 4.9a where we read, “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world…”

We are each children of God, but when we sin we take on guilt and shame which causes us to flee from God just as Adam and Eve did long ago (Gen 3.1-8). But God was not willing to leave us wallowing in guilt and shame. So He came to the earth and weighing his own life against ours, He willingly chose to sacrifice his own life for us. When He was killed, he took all of our shame and guilt and buried it deep in the ground, never to be seen again. But did He do it reluctantly? We read in Ephesians 1.5 that He has adopted and redeemed us “according to the good pleasure of his will.” Did you hear that? It pleased God to save us and adopt us as children!

When we speak down of ourselves we are misrepresenting the heart of God. He does not see us as disgusting little worms, He sees us as something amazing, as something worth redeeming. We lost the right to question God’s love and value for us when He gave himself for us on the cross. God did not die for you because you are a disgusting worm, He died for you because you are amazing and worth it! Let’s praise Jesus for that.

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A Pure Heart

5 Jun

“Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.”
Matthew 5.8 NKJV

One really cannot over-emphasise the important of a pure heart in the life of a believer. Jesus said that the pure in heart will see God, and that is because the heart (or soul) is the center of communication between our spirit and our mind. When our heart is pure, the lines of communication are wide open and we are able to see and hear God. But when our heart is filled with sin, the lines of communication are closed and God feels distant.

It is always difficult to talk about sin, because the natural human reaction is to fall back into legalism and try by one’s human strength to avoid sin. But while it is a sticky subject, it is still one that needs addressing.

When we believe in Jesus and accept His gift of salvation, we are cleansed within. All guilt and condemnation are done away with and within our spirit we receive the perfect righteousness of Jesus. But even though we are righteous in God’s eyes from that point on, we still can sin. Now the whole point of our salvation is that we are able to enter into a right relationship with God, but that is undone when we continue in sin. It happens in increments, rather than all at once. As we continue to sin without repentance, the lines of communication become increasingly cloudy and can lead to a point where God is so distant that you the believer no longer feel His presence or hear His voice at all. That is the worst thing that could possibly happen to a believer because it turns the purpose of our salvation upside-down and calls into question whether we are even saved.

The unfortunate truth is that much of the church today and throughout history has taught that we are born in sin, we live in sin, and die in sin, never reaching practical righteousness until we leave this earth. This kind of thinking is death, because it gives believers an excuse to continue in sin. The assumption is that Jesus was perfect but we will never be–in practical terms. But is that the truth? No!

Jesus told His followers to “be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Mat 5.48). He did not include any ifs, ands or buts! We have been called to righteous perfection, not unrighteous defeatism. The apostle Paul said that we have been “set free from sin” and have become “slaves of God” (Rom 6.22). If we have been set free, then why do people teach that sin will be a reality in our lives until we die?

One popular passage used by those who want biblical justification for continuing in sin is 1 John 1.8 which says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” But the following verse puts that in context by saying, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The acceptance of sin in our lives is a precursor to salvation, not the reality of one after having been forgiven and cleansed by Jesus! And if there is still any question, two verses later he says, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Notice that he says “if” someone sins rather than “when” someone sins. Once we are saved, our default is set to righteous. We have become slaves to righteousness. Our “old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (Rom 6.6).

Our redeemed value is perfection, both on the inside and out. We have no more excuses to continue in sin. If we want to continue in a right relationship with God, we must take the necessary steps to eradicate sin in our lives through prayer and saturating ourselves in His Word. Remember what Jesus told Peter, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Apart from vigilance and prayer, our flesh is weak. But when we are honest with ourselves and earnestly seek the Lord in prayer, our flesh is strong!

If we want to see God, know God and hear His voice, we must have a completely pure heart (or conscience) before Him. That is the truth.

The Millennial Kingdom of Jesus Christ

1 Aug

Power, Signs, and Gifts: Part 2
The Millennial Kingdom of Jesus Christ

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.” Mark 13:26

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And the world, in its Edenic perfection, was good (Gen 1:31). At this time, mankind walked and talked with God face-to-face, there was no pain, suffering, sickness, death or any other such hardships that we experience today. And in this perfect state, mankind was given dominion over the earth and everything in it (Gen 1:26). This was God’s ideal for the world and mankind. But soon afterward, man left God’s ideal and followed the serpent instead (Gen 2:16-17; 3:1-6), effectively giving dominion of the earth over to the devil (Luk 4:6). Along with sin came pain, suffering, death, violence, discontentment and physical hardships. This is the opposite of God’s ideal. So it begs the question, did God mess up? NO!

God is omniscient, which means that He knows absolutely everything (1 Jo 3:20; Job 37:16; Ps 147:5). God knew what would happen to His perfect creation and yet still decided to make it. But God was not willing that His creation should be entirely lost, so He put into motion a plan to redeem the world and its people. In Genesis 3:15, God indicated that there would be a son born on the earth who will crush the head of the devil. This perfect Son of Man is Jesus, who came to the world two thousand years ago and gave His life to redeem the souls of mankind. But while the souls of believers have been redeemed, the physical world has yet to be redeemed. Following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, two angels told His disciples that “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Act 1:11) That is the day that the whole world longs for (Rom 8:22). But what will characterize His return?

When Jesus returns, He will come with awesome power and glory (Mar 13:26) and cast out the devil (Rev 19:11-20:4) and all unrighteous people from the world (Mat 25:31-46). Then He will set up the perfect kingdom of God upon the earth (Rev 20:4-6). Right now, the kingdom of God is only a spiritual reality within the hearts of believers, but when the kingdom of God merges with the physical world, the characteristics that currently prevail only in the hearts of believers will for the first time since the fall prevail over the entire face of the earth! With Jesus as King of the world, righteousness, peace, and joy will reign! We know from the book of Isaiah that the major elements of the curse will be folded back and “the wolf also shall dwell with the lamb” (Is 11:6) and “the nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole” (Is 11:8). Also, all the spiritual cloudiness of today will be done away with and “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Is 11:9). At this time, thorns and thistles will all go away (Is 32:13-15) and the dry, barren parts of the earth will “blossom as the rose” (Is 35:1-7). Lastly, all physical deformity and sickness will be done away with as Jesus the great healer reigns as King (Is 33:24; 35:5-6)!

Some people might ask, “How do we know that Jesus has the power to accomplish all these great things?” Well, we know that He has the power to accomplish these things because He displayed that power while He was on the earth the first time. He did many great wonders and miracles showing his power and authority over physical infirmity, nature, demonic forces, and even death itself. He was at that time giving the world a taste of what is to come.

So now back to our question, “Did God mess up?” He most certainly did not. He had a plan which He began unfolding immediately after the fall and is still unfolding today. When Jesus Christ comes again, He will bring fulfillment to the earth and mankind. He is the “perfect” fulfillment of everything that God had planned. It is in hope and expectation of this future day that we pray, “Thy kingdom come.” May we live every day in light of this incredible truth.

The Kingdom of God

27 Jul

Power, Signs, and Gifts: Part 1
The Kingdom of God

“But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Matthew 12:28

In the twelfth chapter of the gospel of Matthew, Jesus attributes His power to the “kingdom of God.” But what exactly does that mean? Well, the Apostle Paul uses four terms to describe this kingdom. In Romans 14:17, he describes it as “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” In 1 Corinthians 4:20, he adds that “the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.” So that leaves us four terms with which to describe this kingdom. Now what can we learn from these?

First, the kingdom of God is a kingdom of “righteousness,” but this is deeper than mere outward righteousness, it is righteousness “in the Holy Spirit.” This inward righteousness can only be found in those people who have put their trust in Jesus Christ and have had His righteousness applied to their hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom 3:22, Phl 3:9). This would necessarily exclude unbelievers. So we learn from this that the kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom which includes born-again (Jhn 3:3) believers in Jesus Christ.

Next, the kingdom of God is “peace and joy.” Once again, this is “in the Holy Spirit” which means that it is spiritual. Before leaving this world, Jesus promised his followers both peace (Jhn 14:27) and joy (Jhn 15:11). This is a present reality in believers. In an ever-changing world full of constant pain and strife, Christians receive their joy and peace from Jesus Himself. Being a member of this kingdom certainly does have benefits!

Lastly, the kingdom of God is “power.” Jesus, as the perfect earthly ambassador of this kingdom, displayed power over physical infirmity (Mat 8:1-17), power over nature (Mat 8:23-27, power over demonic forces (Mat 8:28-34), and even power over death (Mat 9:18-26).

Because the kingdom of God is spiritual, the unbelieving world can not see it. But Jesus as an ambassador to that kingdom, showed the righteousness, peace, joy, and power of that kingdom to the world through His life. And when He left the earth, he left that responsibility to His followers. But what really is the point of this responsibility?

In the future, when Jesus returns to set up His millennial kingdom (Rev 19:11-20:6), the perfect kingdom of God will actually come down with Him. At that time the spiritual kingdom of God will merge with the physical kingdom of the heavens (all created matter from the third heaven [2 Cr 12:2] down to the earth) and for the first time will become a constant visible reality upon the earth! This is what Jesus demonstrated at His transfiguration (Mar 9:1-6).

As ambassadors of the kingdom of God, Christians are to manifest through their lives the righteousness, peace, joy and power of the kingdom in order to give the world a taste of what is to come. As Jesus lived, so are we to live. It truly is an awesome responsibility.