Monday, February 20, 2017

Overcome The World

Our Savior has overcome and he promises that we will too.

 

John 16:29-33 Then His disciples said, "At last You are speaking plainly and not figuratively. 30 Now we understand that You know everything, and there's no need to question You. From this we believe that You came from God."

31 Jesus asked, "Do you finally believe? 32 But the time is coming--indeed it's here now--when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving Me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with Me.

33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."

The fact that you have the technology to see this blog post and choose to read it or click away to something else says that you probably have a very comfortable life. The odds are that you probably live in a culture that offers you a comfortable lifestyle, beautiful stuff at your side, and instant everything that requires little effort.

But there are some of you that have had a miserable existence, I am not talking about people that have first world country problems, these people have nothing easy or comfortable about their life. People that you loved and trusted have let you down, friendless, beat up and unloved, you find yourself all alone and hopeless.

That is the kind of people that Jesus had around him during his stay on earth, his people were beat-up and tired, they had been raided by foreign governments and their own religious leaders didn't have anything to offer.

Jesus Was A Man Of Sorrows

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.
Imagine living here after being in heaven for all of eternity past, imagine starting life over as a child, a child that is fully God but also fully man. You get cold, feel pain and you require sleep just like everybody else yet you are also God.

Imagine leaving the perfection of the best place ever to come to a broken world so that you can go head to head with your worst enemy. What would it be like to know that you were here for the sake of dying for people that don't like you and for friends that would turn their back and run. (John 13:37-38)

Jesus gave up a lot to come and be "God with us" but he didn't show any sorrow about what he lost by leaving heaven. The main source of his sorrow was for the condition of man and the fact that they rejected the only hope that could ever help.


Jesus Had The Best Friend

I am not alone because the Father is with Me.
The disciples’ faith was strengthened by Jesus’ words but it wouldn't be enough to pass the test that was coming. In a few hours they would scatter in fear but Jesus said that he had a close friend that was better than his earthly friends that he could count on.

Jesus had confidence in God and he was dedicated to God's plan. At his time of death he was able to say, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)

Jesus Best Friend Can Be Mine

I have overcome the world.
The victory that Jesus had over Satan makes it possible for me to become friends with God. Jesus worst enemy is also mine but thankfully Jesus closest friend can also be mine as well. I can have a close intimate relationship with God through my faith in Jesus as my substitute for the punishment that I deserved.

Since Jesus overcame I know that I will overcome, I can rise above this evil world and I can live without the horror of death, I can have the same confidence that Jesus had that death is not the end.
We can be encouraged by five aspects of God’s love and grace:
1. There is always hope in Christ for future spiritual growth. (John 16:25)
2. Be encouraged by your privilege in prayer. (John 16:26)
3. Be encouraged by the Father’s special love and grace. (John 16:27)
4. Be encouraged by God’s sovereign plan of salvation. (John 16:28)
5. Be encouraged that ultimately your peace is in Christ, not in your performance. (John 16:29-33)

Jesus Disciples Overcome

Every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.
God is still governing this world, don't let the daily battle get you down and cause you too much grief, there aren't any term limits on God's reign. He is in charge of the circumstances around us and he always will be. What we see as chaos isn't a surprise or a source of concern to him.

This is not my home, and I will never feel perfectly at peace and perfectly comfortable here but I must continue to the the good works that he has planned or me to do until the day I die and overcome this world just as Jesus did.
RELATED ARTICLES

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

A Bad Day

The worst day in history is the source of our greatest joy.

 

John 16:16-24 "In a little while you won't see Me anymore. But a little while after that, you will see Me again." 17 Some of the disciples asked each other, "What does He mean when He says, 'In a little while you won't see Me, but then you will see Me,' and 'I am going to the Father'? 18 And what does He mean by 'a little while'? We don't understand."

19 Jesus realized they wanted to ask Him about it, so He said, "Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in a little while you won't see Me, but a little while after that you will see Me again. 20 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to Me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. 21 It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world.

22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. 23 At that time you won't need to ask Me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and He will grant your request because you use My name. 24 You haven't done this before. Ask, using My name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.

Have you found yourself enduring a bad day? Maybe a week or a month or even a longer season of life that was incredibly difficult. No matter what the length of the trial, getting through it can seem impossible, without hope you can get so caught up in the situation that you become stuck.

Jesus is speaking to his disciples, it is Thursday night just after a rather eventful supper, first there was a confusing situation with Jesus acting like a servant, then there was the departure of their friend Judas, followed by the prediction that Peter would deny Jesus.

Jesus keeps talking about leaving them, where is he going? They were supposed to be governors in his kingdom! If he is going to die then how will we see him again in a little while? Why isn't Judas back yet?

The disciples are at the beginning of the worst days in their life, soon they will see their best friend be brutally beaten, none of them can see that this dark moment is going to be the best thing that could ever happen. I cannot imagine seeing a friend die in such agony. We like to think that we would have done better but I doubt that we would given the confusing and desperate situation.

They couldn't understand that the cross that brought them so much grief was going to be their greatest source of hope. Jesus spent a lot of time letting them know what was coming and encouraging them to refuse to give up hope.

Why does he give us joy?

He is a sensitive Savior (Psalm 103:13-14)
He is a suffering Savior (Hebrews 4:15, 5:7, 12:3)
He is a risen Savior (1 Corinthians 15:17)

The apostles were transformed from fearful, defeated, confused men into bold witnesses who were willing to suffer and die because they saw the risen Lord Jesus.

How does he give us joy?

Showing us the glory of the cross (Acts 2:23; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30)
Giving us an eternal perspective (Psalm 73:1-28)
Being our mediator (John 16:23-24)
Showing us a risen Savior (1 Peter 1:8)

Your grief will be temporary, your joy will be timeless!


Jesus doesn't minimize their sorrow or tell them to man up. The same love and compassion that brought him down here to live in this dark world is the same love and compassion that wants to ease the sorrow as he prepares his closest friends for his departure.

There is no way that they could understand that the bad days that are coming are nothing compared to the joy that is on the way. (Romans 8:17-18) They will soon realize that the very event that brought them all of this sorrow is the source of their eternal joy.

My worst day is nothing compared to the days that were coming toward the disciples.  I need to remember that Jesus is just as compassionate about my bad days as he was to his disciples. He would tell me that I will see him soon and all of my sadness will be turned into joy.

The disciples excitement and joy after the resurrection is nothing compared to the joy that we will experience when we step into heaven and see Jesus in our forever home. Think about that when life gets hard.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Love Broke Thru

When love broke thru you found me in the darkness.

Video: "Love Broke Thru" by TobyMac

I was feelin’ that, feelin’ that breeze
Singin’ like a song thru the tall oak trees
It was just another summer night
Had to be the last thing on my mind

Yeah, I was all but lost in the moment
I was young and runnin’ wide open
It was just another summer night
Had to be the last thing on my mind

When love broke thru
You found me in the darkness
Wanderin’ thru the desert
I was a hopeless fool
Now I’m hopelessly devoted
My chains are broken

And it all began with You
When love broke thru
And it all began with You
When love broke thru

I did all that I could to undo me
But You loved me enough to pursue me
Yeah, You drew me out of the shadows
Made me believe that I mattered, to You

You were there, You heard my prayer
In that broke down dusty room
It was the first time I said, “I’m Yours”
The first time I called You Lord
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life.
The moment that you realize that you have been pursued by the greatest love ever is a shocking moment. We are so full of ourselves that we ignore the best thing that could ever happen to us and the number one answer to our deepest need.

But then it happens, the blinders come off and we are overwhelmed by the love of God that has pursued us the whole time that we were chasing after other lovers. Those other loves held us captivate chained up in a dark room until real love breaks through.

That's a love that calls us to be hopelessly devoted to the lover of our souls. How could we respond in any other way?

Monday, January 23, 2017

My Closest Companion

The Holy Spirit is a powerful friend that the believer is privileged to have.

 

John 15:26-27  “But I will send you the Advocate, the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry."

John 16:5-9 "But now I am going away to the one who sent Me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. 6 Instead, you grieve because of what I've told you. 7 But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don't, the Advocate won't come."

"If I do go away, then I will send Him to you. 8 And when He comes, He will convict the world of its sin, and of God's righteousness, and of the coming judgment. 9 The world's sin is that it refuses to believe in Me."

In the previous post on the book of John, Jesus was teaching his disciples that "God's Children Are Hated," we saw that the hatred that came at Jesus will be directed at his children after he is gone. We have to remember how incredible and huge the love of God is toward us because the world's hatred of us is almost the same size.

The opposition that they will face requires some help from a source that the disciples have never heard of. They knew they had a great friend in Jesus, so great that it is distressing to see him go after only three years, but Jesus tells them that there is a better relationship that will come about after he leaves.

The Holy Spirit doesn't get mentioned very much, we shy away from him, maybe it's because the spirit world seems too scary or magical and there are a lot of wrong ideas in religious circles about him. He does not typically draw attention to himself and put himself in the spotlight, most of the time the Holy Spirit’s work in your life is quiet and unassuming. His work is subtle and many times we give the glory he deserves to someone or something else.

Each member of the trinity performs their role with the full cooperation of the other members, God the Father creates, the Son redeems us, and the Holy Spirit sets us apart.
"The Holy Spirit: Jesus’ Closest Companion"
Pastor and theologian Sinclair Ferguson

Not only has the Holy Spirit been the Son’s eternal partner in the uncreated fellowship of the Trinity, but the Spirit was there with the Father and Son at creation (Genesis 1:2). He was there overshadowing Jesus’s conception (Luke 1:35), and there at his baptism (Luke 3:22) and temptation (Luke 4:1–2). Jesus performed his miracles through the power of the Spirit (Luke 4:14–19).

When Jesus’s closest earthly companions betrayed him, denied him, and scattered, the Spirit walked with him all the way into the jaws of death, empowering him to offer himself freely (Hebrews 9:14). And the Spirit was there on Easter Sunday to raise him in power (Romans 1:4). Indeed, what a companion he is.

Jesus closest companion can be mine as well


The Holy Spirit is often neglected and we avoid talking about him but we need to remember that he is a powerful friend that the believer is privileged to have. He assisted Jesus in his ministry and we can enjoy the benefit of his power in our ministry as well.

The Holy Spirit draws us to Jesus for salvation, he makes the gospel clear and gives us faith to believe. We have such a tendency toward being self-sufficient that makes it so difficult to think that we can't even believe without help.

The Holy Spirit gives us gifts and helps us to use them properly. It is tempting to use our gifts for our own interest or to just say that we are naturally talented in a certain area and ignore the source of that talent. It is an ugly thing to see a gift being used in a self-serving or unloving manner.

The Holy Spirit strengthens us in the face of suffering and persecution, enabling us to confront a hating world and a supernatural enemy with all of his demonic helpers, such a powerful foe would be impossible to defeat without the power that Jesus told his disciples to wait for. (Acts 1:8)

The Spirit guides me toward being obedient, it is easy to believe that being more like Christ is a product of our own efforts but really it isn't us at all, the ability to change comes about by the Spirit's power within us.

I need to be sure that I am as powerful as I can be by staying in the word each day and praying for the Holy Spirit's direction in every detail of my life. I need to give him credit for my abilities and use those abilities to glorify God.

RELATED ARTICLES

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Doing The Stuff

It's time to get busy working for Jesus.

 

Video: Doing the Stuff 

Matthew 9:36-38 When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 He said to His disciples, "The harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into His fields."

There are too many people in the church that are very content to be consumers, they come and take in the show and enjoy the music and preaching but they never contribute to the work of the church.

Many of us talk about the work and train to do the work but we never actually get to work, in the Bible there are plenty of examples of God's people working for him and very little discussion or training about the work, it makes me wonder how we got off course.

Jesus saw how desperate the world around him was and it moved him deeply and his heart was broken that there were so few workers for such a large amount of work that needs to be done. Jesus saw the field that needed to be harvested and asked his disciples to pray for more workers.

Work, Work, Work!

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

John 17:4 I brought glory to You here on earth by completing the work You gave Me to do.

1 Corinthians 15:58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.

Colossians 3:23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
The idea of working for God for the rest of your days on this planet is talked about all over the Bible and especially the New Testament.

Jesus has asked us to join in the work of helping with the harvest and praying for other people to join us in the work. What an honor and privilege to be chosen for such a highly important work.
RELATED ARTICLES
Doing The Works Of Jesus (desiringgod.org)


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Simeon: A Song Of Hope

Jesus gives me hope for this life and for eternity.

 

Luke 2:25-32  At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him 26 and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

27 That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, 28 Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,

29 "Sovereign Lord, now let Your servant die in peace, as You have promised. 30 I have seen Your salvation, 31 which You have prepared for all people. 32 He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and He is the glory of Your people Israel!"

The story of Simeon is a perfect blog post for after Christmas because Simeon didn't get to celebrate Jesus birth on the day it happened. The shepherds were told but Simeon didn't get to meet Jesus until Joseph and Mary brought him to the temple.

Mary was considered impure and consequently, she was not permitted to go to the temple, The laws pertaining to the "days of her purification" required the mother to stay home for forty days after the birth of a baby boy. (Leviticus 12:3-4)

We do not know very much about Simeon but what the Bible shares with us is enough. We know about the character and honor of this man, we know that God made a promise to him, and most importantly he believed the promise and God came through for him.

The Man's Character

He was a devout man with a proper relationship with God, from what we know of the other men of Jerusalem, he might have been the only one. Simeon was eagerly waiting, there was an expectation, I think that maybe he was like a kid that is waiting for Christmas morning.

We can see from these verses that Simeon's faith is mature, the fact that the Holy Spirit was upon him was an unusual occurrence at this time, this isn't said of many people before the Holy Spirit came to the early church after Jesus' resurrection.

We can also see his spiritual maturity from the things that he said about Jesus. He was fully aware of Jesus' mission to be the Messiah to all people.

The Promise Comes

Simeon is still living with the power of the Holy Spirit when Jesus is brought to the temple. Can you imagine the commotion that he must have made as he rushed to see Jesus? What did Jesus' parents think about this old guy rushing up to hold their son?

What did the people around them think about the prophecy that Simeon made about Jesus? It seems that nobody else in the temple that day had any idea what was happening. They must have been cold spiritually to ignore the excitement. The light of the world, the glory of God's people was here and yet there wasn't any response from anybody else.
The Source Of Hope
Romans 15:13  I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The hope that comes from God will give you peace and joy that will get you through the difficult times that you experience in this world. This hope will also give you peace and joy when you realize that the end of your life on earth is near, there will not be any reason to fret or worry about dying, this hope is good for today and will stay with you for eternity.

Simeon endeavored to have a right relationship with God. He didn't go after God so that he would get something from God, he pursued God first before the promises came along, Simeon knew that he should seek the giver, not the gifts that he can provide.
1 Peter 1:3  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead
I was dead in my sin, a hopeless situation that I could not possibly get myself out of, but now I have been born again into a life of hope. The resurrection of Jesus is proof that I will also rise. Praise God for such an awesome Christmas gift!

I am still waiting for my hope to be realized in the life to come for all of eternity. I will rejoice despite the waiting for my hope to be realized. I will continue to live for Jesus each day out of gratitude for the hope that I could never deserve.

RELATED ARTICLE:
How Advent Teaches Us To Wait Well (crossway.org)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Our Lullaby

Peace on earth has finally arrived.


Hush little baby don’t you cry
Heaven’s watching out for you tonight
Watching you tonight
Hush little baby don’t you fret
Nothing’s gonna hurt you
Not even death
No not even death

Lullaby
Let heaven and angels sing for you tonight
For you tonight
This is our lullaby
Peace on earth has finally arrived

Hush now Mary don’t be afraid
Baby done come to clear the way
Come to clear the way
Hush now Joseph, don’t you fuss
Soon this child gonna carry us
Gonna carry us

The day will come soon enough
When you are singing over us
But tonight sleep in heavenly peace
And we’ll be the ones to sing

Hush little baby don’t you cry
Heaven’s watching out for you tonight
Watching you tonight

Friday, December 23, 2016

One Solitary Life

If Jesus life changed the world then maybe you should learn more about him.

 


He was born in an obscure village
The child of a peasant woman
He grew up in another obscure village
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty when public opinion turned against him

He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never traveled more than two hundred miles
From the place where he was born

He did none of the things
Usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself
He was only thirty three

His friends ran away
One of them denied him
He was turned over to his enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing
The only property he had on earth

When he was dead
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend

Nineteen centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind's progress

All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life

Dr James Allan Francis 1926

Have you ever considered the fact that one person made such a huge difference in our world? He didn't have a blog or social media, he didn't have a talk show or become a star in Hollywood.

It makes me wonder why we spend so much time listening to the people that have any of those things going for them. The people that have a platform as a news anchor, a Hollywood star or a writer or whatever popularity they have are nobody special. So many of them think that they have the answers and we need to hear what they are because they are special and they are enlightened.

Wouldn't we be better off if we found out what this one man said and did? If we dig into God's word and get a better understanding of this one ordinary life then we would have something solid to base our life on.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Angels: A Song Of Peace

Is there really peace on earth? Can you have peace despite your circumstances?

 

Luke 2:8-16  And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them,

"Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"

15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." 16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.

The shepherds in the field watching their flock during the night were not very likely candidates to have such an amazing announcement made to them. God's Son has just made his entrance into the world that he created and the event is announced to some dirty, unlikable working class guys on the night shift.

The angels tell them that they don't need to be afraid, they are here with the best news that there has ever been, they announce that Jesus is born and tell the shepherds how to find him and then they break out into praise and worship.

How do you define peace? Most of us would say that it is a lack of trouble and the state of being where nobody is bothering us. That is a good idea but there is a deeper meaning that the Bible talks about.

In the praise and worship that the angels did in front of the shepherds they made it clear that peace comes to the people that please God. The world will try to help you have peace, it is usually a denial of your circumstances or a plan to get rid of the trouble around you, they might even tell you that you need just one more thing that money can buy.
God's Peace
Jeremiah 33:8-9 I will cleanse them of their sins against Me and forgive all their sins of rebellion. Then this city will bring Me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth! The people of the world will see all the good I do for My people, and they will tremble with awe at the peace and prosperity I provide for them.
God's children had a lot of people telling them how to have peace. Just like it is today, they had a lot of people telling them what it takes to have peace, but not all of these people knew what they were talking about.

A good relationship with God is the key. A sign of a false prophet in the Old Testament was their message of peace that came without any repentance. The real prophets message told the people that peace could never be achieved without righteousness and justice.


Even with great trials we can still be at peace. Consider the fact that Jesus told his disciples that he was giving them the gift of real peace just hours before he would calmly go on trial and be crucified. (John 14:27) And then there is Paul, a man that had plenty of sorrow and hardships, he told many of the churches that he started that followers of Jesus have peace with God despite the persecution. (Romans 5:1-3, Philippians 4:6-7)

Yes, there is peace on earth, you just have to look beyond the cheap peace of this world. You just have to know the Prince of Peace.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Light Of The World

The world waits for a miracle, oh come, oh come Emanuel.

John 1:1-5 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through Him, and nothing was created except through Him.

4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

John 1:9-14 The One who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He came into the very world He created, but the world didn't recognize Him. 11 He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him. 12 But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.

13 They are reborn--not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. 14 So the Word became human and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father's one and only Son.