Hangin' Out With God

Getting up close and personal with God through knowing and believing His Word

Jesus Is Alive! — April 16, 2017
For Love of the Father — April 3, 2017

For Love of the Father

 

Originally posted several years ago, this article continues to expound one of the most powerful truths in the Christian faith, and still calls each of us to greater consecration to our Father God in obedience and love.

JESUS IN GARDEN - NEGATIVE  -KAREN'S WHIMSY” . . . but that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” John 14:31

With these words, Jesus is personally explaining to His disciples the reason He agreed to be born as a human being and become the sacrifice for man’s sin. Until the reality of these words sank into my heart during a time of meditation one day years ago, I had always believed that Jesus had been willing to go through the terrible crucifixion and separation from His holy Father just because He loved me so much. I had thought His love for us, the people He had created, had compelled Him to that cruel cross.

But this verse forced me to come face to face with the truth. It wasn’t love for us that caused Jesus to pay the awful price. Rather, it was His love for His Father: “That the world may know that I love the Father . . . even so I do.”

Now, to be sure, it was the Father’s love for us that caused Him to send Jesus. But it was Jesus’ love for the Father that caused Him to obey and carry out the plan. Indeed, love for the Father instigated and controlled absolutely everything that Jesus, the Son, did. We were the fortunate recipients of that beautiful obedience, but we were not the cause.

Most assuredly, as God, His love for us moved Him to compassion, but His love for the Father moved Him to obedience. He spoke and acted, not out of His own compassion, but only as He felt the Father speak and act in compassion. He makes that fact clear repeatedly during His ministry. Because He was determined to be a continuously obedient vessel, He never acted or reacted because of what He saw or felt personally, but because He felt the Father’s leading and wanted to please Him.

That truth seems so simple, but when it finally settled deeply in my consciousness, it brought me to a new level of enlightenment concerning Jesus and what moved and controlled Him. Not only did I see Jesus in greater revelation, but consequently I was confronted with a greater understanding of what it means for me to be “like Jesus.”

I realized more than ever that being like Him was much more than obeying commandments, walking in forgiveness, loving people, and reaching out to meet their needs in the power of God. Those endeavors are, to be sure, part of the Christ-like character. But the overriding requirement for being Christ-like, indeed the very root of Christ-likeness, is love of the Father.

Love of the Father must be our primary reason also for doing or refusing to do anything. Certainly, the right words and the right actions will get a job done or solve a problem many times. But speaking or acting because we believe it is what Jesus would do, or even because we love those whose needs we are trying to meet by those words and actions, never makes us one with the nature of Jesus. No, beloved Christian, only a passionate, all-consuming love of our Father God will bring us fully into oneness of nature and character with Jesus.

When we love the Father so much that we live to please Him, even hunger to please Him, we have truly entered into the nature of Jesus Himself. When no circumstance and no person moves us to action, but rather the leading from our Heavenly Father, Whom to please is more important than life itself, then we will have come to that place where Jesus is truly living His life in us.

Then the world will “know that we love the Father, and as the Father gives us commandment, even so we do.” They will see the same love of the Father that they saw in Jesus – a love that leads us to an obedience so supernatural that it compels those watching to turn to a God Who merits such a love.

Dear Christians, may it be our constant prayer that the love of the Father will be our only motivation in every facet of our lives from this day forward.


THE REASON

O, Lamb of God
So pure, so holy, undefiled,
You came so meekly,
Vulnerable, a tiny child.

You took our sin
And took all of its consequence.
You chose the cross,
And on it your lifeblood was spent.

But for what cause,
When tempted in the garden that night,
Did you still choose
To let yourself be crucified?

You told us, Lord;
If we’d just listen, we would know.
You said, “Because
I love the Father, I will go.”

Lord, work in us
That holy and obedient love,
That we, when tried,
Will speak and act only for God.

~~~
(Photo courtesy of Karen’s Whimsy)

 


 

Daily Post Prompt: Purple – the Royal Color — March 27, 2017

Daily Post Prompt: Purple – the Royal Color

PURPLE EQUATION 2

Christ’s blood seeped from the puncture wounds the thorns produced around his head. His blood ran freely from the scourging that tore apart his back and torso. It gushed from his side slashed open by the soldier’s spear. His bright red blood mingled with death’s morbid, black shroud that afternoon on Calvary’s infamous hill.

But during the somber three days following that seemingly fatal failure, that precious red blood inundated the black of death — mixed with it and overcame its fearful depths — and thus created the regal color of victory. And purple reigns forever, the color of royalty upon the throne of the universe. Salvation is complete.

______________________________________________________________

Today I’ve chosen to post the same response to the prompt on both this site and my “Happy Wordcrafter” site. So if they look identical, you’re right: they are.
To participate in the prompt visit
Daily Post.

 

***

Daily Post Prompt: Replacement — January 30, 2017
Resurrection Day, 2016 — March 27, 2016
Two Trustworthy Acrostics — February 18, 2015

Two Trustworthy Acrostics

CROWN OF THORNS ULTRA MODERNTRUSTWORTHY

There is but One whose love and help are sure.
Renewed each day as surely as the sun.
Under His wings of grace I find the cure:
Sin and hate, sorrow, sickness – done.
‘Tis Jesus Christ, the sole trustworthy One.

PROVEN

Tiny babe: He took that form in Bethlehem.
Relinquishing Heaven’s privileges, became a man.
Upon Himself, He took my sin and all its curse.
Secure in Love’s omnipotence, He took the cross.
Then surely I can trust myself into His hands.

 

~~~

Poems of Passion Week – Day 7 – ‘The Price Is Paid’ — April 19, 2014

Poems of Passion Week – Day 7 – ‘The Price Is Paid’

 

SATAN CAST DOWN - red - for blog
How deep and dark the grave in which they laid the Lord.
And naught to give Him hope except the Father’s Word.
But ’twas enough, for God had said, “When day three comes,
You’ll rise with life anew and come again to home.”


Throughout the vigil, silence reigned and men did mourn.
And in the halls of Hell, the demons, they did groan:
This man from off the cross had stormed their barriers staid.
Hell panicked at the word from Heaven: “The price is paid!”


Then Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, stepped forth
And grasped the keys of Death and Hell with violent force.
Then rose through realms beneath to burst from earth and grave.
His shout of victory rang abroad: “Mankind is saved!”

 

~~~

 

~~~

 

God’s Looking At Your Lamb — April 18, 2014

God’s Looking At Your Lamb

 

LAMB - LIGHTER

Today is ‘Good Friday,’ and it brings us almost to the end of the 6-week Lenten season. During that season Christians all over the world have focused on the suffering and crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, contemplating the awful price He paid for man’s rebellion and sin. John the Baptist introduced Jesus as “The Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29).

The Word of God also says, in the book of Hebrews, “He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. …We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Now where there is forgiveness … there is no longer any offering for sin. Since, therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus … let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.”

As believers consider what Jesus has done for all mankind this season, it would be good to remember this truth: Even under the Old Covenant, when a man brought a lamb to be sacrificed for his sin, neither the priest nor God Himself looked at the man to see if he measured up to a certain standard so that his sacrifice could be accepted and his sin forgiven. The only thing they looked at was the lamb itself. If the lamb was unblemished — spotless — perfect — the sacrifice was accepted, and the man walked away free of all guilt and condemnation.

So it is in the better covenant that Jesus instituted through His death and resurrection. In the New Covenant — as in the Old — God is not looking at you and me to see if we measure up well enough to be forgiven or to be admitted into His presence.  He’s looking at your Lamb.  He’s looking at my Lamb.  So we can rejoice, beloved!  We can go free from all sin and guilt and shame. We are forgiven and accepted totally and freely — for OUR LAMB IS PERFECT!

~

 

 

~~

 

Poems of Passion Week – Day 5 – ‘Christmas Promises Crucifixion & New Creation — April 17, 2014

Poems of Passion Week – Day 5 – ‘Christmas Promises Crucifixion & New Creation

 

MANGER AND CROSS - NO WORDS

What will Christmas bring, Mom?”
“Why, Son, ’twill bring you lots of toys and joys.”
“What else will Christmas bring, Mom?”
“Well, fun and games with other girls and boys.”


“But later on in life, Mom,
Will Christmas mean a lot when I am grown?”
“Oh, yes, it will mean more, Son.
For as you grow, a great truth you’ll be shown.


“You’ll learn that Jesus came, Son,
Not just to be a babe in manger sweet,
But to grow up a strong man,
Horrible death and suffering to meet.


“He came to take our sin, Son
And pay the price for it on Calvary.
So God could look upon us all
And shout, ‘From sin and all its curse you’re free!’”


“But I love the little babe, Mom.
I don’t want to think He died for me.”
“That’s what makes Christmas grand, Son:
That Jesus came to die and set us free.”


“You mean, the little baby, Mom?
He had to die and never live again?”
“No, Son, on Resurrection Day,
He rose victorious o’er death for all men.


“This truth of Christmas time, Son,
I think you now begin to understand:
It was the birth of death to sin,
And of eternal life for every man.”

 

~~~

 

 

~~~

 

Poems of Passion Week – Day 3 – ‘Sufficient’ — April 16, 2014

Poems of Passion Week – Day 3 – ‘Sufficient’

 

CRUCIFIX - FOR YOU - GOSPEL GIFSSeized and stripped and slapped and spit upon,
Scornful salutations; sorrow; shame;
Satan stalks the Son of God and Son of Man:
Scarlet stripes, scalding tears, searing pain;
Search the scriptures, surely they the story tell:
Insatiable evil strikes; the Lamb is slain.
But surely, it’s my sins He bore, my sorrow,
My sickness, my distress, my grief, my pain,
Submitted Sacrifice: He sealed the promise;
Sufficient, He bought me peace with God again.

 

~~~

 

 

~~~

 

Poems of Passion Week – Day 2 — April 14, 2014

Poems of Passion Week – Day 2

 

 

CROWN OF THORNS ULTRA MODERNBARABBAS

My heart pounded
As they dragged me out.
They stood me close beside Him,
And I looked about.


The crowd was frenzied:
With rage and raw disgust.
I wasn’t sure the real cause —
Why they fumed and cussed.


I glanced beside me
To catch a glimpse of Him,
But what my eyes saw in His
Convicted me within.


When the guards shouted,
“Who is it going to be?”
Then I understood they’d choose
To set one free.


“We want Barabbas!
Set Barabbas free!”
I could not believe my ears:
They chose, not Him, but me.


“But what of Jesus?”
Pilate asked the crowd.
“Crucify Him! Crucify Him!
He is not our God!”


My shackles fell off:
By law a free man.
Pilate called for water then
And there he washed his hands.


The day grew darker
As He was hanging there,
Upon a cross with thieves each side;
Then He said a prayer.


He prayed, “Forgive them.”
Did that include me?
Then He cried, “It is finished!”
I thought, how can this be?


For suddenly I knew —
He’d died to save me too —
Even me — Barabbas.

 

 

+++

 

 

 

(Scripture Reference: Matthew 27)

~~~

 

 

~~~

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poems of Passion Week – Day 1 —

Poems of Passion Week – Day 1

 

CROSS WITH CROWN OF THORNS - BLUE
I am setting myself the task, during Passion Week, of writing one poem a day about the suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. I want to focus in some special way on His suffering and death, and then His glorious victory and resurrection for my sake.

I can’t think of a better way than to create a poem every day from today – Palm Sunday – through Resurrection Day – Easter Sunday. In fact, since much of the church in several parts of the world celebrates Easter Week (the week following Resurrection Day), I think I will even write a poem for Easter Monday of that week as well. I hope these poems add to your commemoration of our Lord’s loving sacrifice and to your celebration of His glorious salvation.

( Those of you who follow all three of my blogs will most likely see several of this week’s posts on all three sites. I just think they are too important to limit their publication to one small venue.)

 

Here’s Palm Sunday’s Poem:

 

SACRIFICE

A crown,
A diadem,
A shackle placed upon the brow.

Bestowed
Contemptuously,
And scarlet robe on shoulders bowed.

The grief,
The agony,
The tortuous, mutilating pain.

All born
By Innocence
To give me peace and health again.

A cross,
On Calvary:
To execute the Father’s plan.

A tomb,
Now empty stands:
He’s paid the price for every man.

~

 

 

If You Need Healing … — May 5, 2013

If You Need Healing …

Exif JPEG

Remember:  If you or someone you love needs healing, I host a site, along with two other contributing ministers, that is devoted exclusively to the powerful truths about Jesus Christ and His will to heal today. You will find straightforward teaching from Scripture, as well as personal testimonies and links to other faith-edifying websites. Don’t wonder if it is God’s will to heal you. Visit that site and let the Lord Himself relieve your doubts and build your faith to receive all that you need from Him.
Visit us at this link:

http://healingfromjesus.wordpress.com/

No Other Name — March 31, 2013

No Other Name

CROSS & CROWN

Jesus the Christ:  “… There is no other name under heaven, that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” (Acts 3:12).

There is no other “religion” on the face of the earth — no other religious leader — no other dogma — no other doctrine — no other system of belief — that offers man the guarantee of salvation from his own sinfulness and from this cursed world — into a life of eternal joy and freedom from all that harms and destroys.

Every other system of religion offers man a life of working, struggling, straining, following rules, and sacrificing in an effort to earn an eternity on a higher plane. But even in the midst of the working and sacrificing, the disciple of those religions is never confident of his eternal rewards. He has a hope that he may get those rewards if he’s good enough — but he has no guarantee — no promise.

Only Jesus — Yeshuah — the Christ — the Messiah — offers man a guaranteed eternal salvation that is a free gift. “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son (Jesus), that whosoever believeth in Him should … have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him, might be saved.” (John 3:16-17).

Only Jesus offers His own perfectly-lived life, His own suffering, His own sacrifice, His own death, and His own resurrection for the sake of those who follow Him. He paid the price; He won the reward: That reward was eternal life with the Creator of the universe and the right to impart that life to anyone who would receive Him and the work He accomplished on their behalf.

The price was paid by Him alone. So the reward of eternal life with God is in His name alone. If any of the other religious leaders of the world had paid the price for us, we could be saved by following them. But the simple truth is that they did not. And that’s why all those religions can do is tell us we need to live better lives and follow a bunch of rules and make continual sacrifices of one kind or another in the hope of finding a better eternity after we die.

Why would anyone follow after the teachings, the dogmas, the doctrines of a belief system that requires them to struggle and strain and perfect themselves in order to have a slim hope of something better, when Jesus the Christ stretches out His nail-pierced hands and offers eternity with the God of the universe for free?

Perhaps it’s our ego — our self-righteous belief that we can ultimately be our own savior — that makes some of us choose a belief system that forces us to try to do all the work ourselves — to “earn” the hope of a better eternity. But what a waste. When we could be living a life free from the fear of missing the mark somehow. We could be living a life filled with the joy of knowing for sure that we are moving toward a glorious eternity and amazing rewards and blessings from the Creator of the universe. Knowing that the end of the race is guaranteed makes running it so much easier.

Jesus the Christ is risen. He’s alive. And He’s offering the guarantee of eternity with God to every human being on the face of the earth — paid for by Him. That is why “there is no other name under heaven, that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.”

~

For Love Of The Father — January 10, 2013

For Love Of The Father

 

” . . . but that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” John 14:31

CROSS, MNGR MESSAGE -- NEG BLUE BCKGRD
Well, Christmas has come and gone. And, hopefully, we celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ during this most festive of holidays. But let’s not stop with celebrating His birth. Let’s look anew at the reason for that birth. We find that reason in the words from our text scripture above: “. . . that the world may know that I love the Father.”

With these words, Jesus is personally explaining to His disciples the reason He agreed to be born as a human being and become the sacrifice for man’s sin. Until the reality of these words sank into my heart during a time of meditation one day, I had always believed that Jesus had been willing to go through the terrible crucifixion and separation from His holy Father just because He loved me so much. I had thought His love for us, the people He had created, had compelled Him to that cruel cross.

But this verse forced me to come face to face with the truth. It wasn’t love for us that caused Jesus to pay the awful price. Rather, it was His love for His Father: “That the world may know that I love the Father . . . even so I do.”

Now, to be sure, it was the Father’s love for us that caused Him to send Jesus. But it was Jesus’ love for the Father that caused Him to obey and carry out the plan. Indeed, love for the Father instigated and controlled absolutely everything that Jesus, the Son, did. We were the fortunate recipients of that beautiful obedience, but we were not the cause.

Most assuredly, as God, His love for us moved Him to compassion, but His love for the Father moved Him to obedience. He spoke and acted, not out of His own compassion, but only as He felt the Father speak and act in compassion. He tells us that repeatedly during His ministry. Because He was determined to be a continuously obedient vessel, He never acted or reacted because of what He saw or felt personally, but because He felt the Father’s leading and wanted to please Him.

That truth seems so simple, but when it finally settled deeply in my consciousness, it brought me to a new level of enlightenment concerning Jesus and what moved and controlled Him. Not only did I see Jesus in greater revelation, but consequently I was confronted with a greater understanding of what it means for me to be “like Jesus.” I realized more than ever that being like Him was much more than obeying commandments, walking in forgiveness, loving people, and reaching out to meet their needs in the power of God. Those endeavors are, to be sure, part of the Christ-like character. But the overriding requirement for being Christ-like, indeed the very root of Christ-likeness, is love of the Father.

Love of the Father must be our primary reason also for doing or refusing to do anything. Certainly, the right words and the right actions will get a job done or solve a problem many times. But speaking or acting because we believe it is what Jesus would do, or even because we love those whose needs we are trying to meet by those words and actions, never makes us one with the nature of Jesus. No, beloved Christian, only a passionate, all-consuming love of our Father God will bring us fully into oneness of nature and character with Jesus.

When we love the Father so much that we live to please Him, even hunger to please Him, we have truly entered into the nature of Jesus Himself. When no circumstance and no person moves us to action, but rather the leading from our Heavenly Father, Whom to please is more important than life itself, then we will have come to that place where Jesus is truly living His life in us.

Then the world will “know that we love the Father, and as the Father gives us commandment, even so we do.” They will see the same love of the Father that they saw in Jesus – a love that leads us to an obedience so supernatural that it compels those watching to turn to a God Who merits such a love.

Dear Christians, may it be our constant prayer that the love of the Father will be our only motivation in every facet of our lives from this day forward.


When Should Christians Suffer? — October 19, 2012

When Should Christians Suffer?


This article was originally posted several months ago, but its message is one that so many people are confused about that I felt I should offer it again now.

The word of God has much to say about suffering. It’s a subject with which everyone has had some personal experience, and therefore, a subject of much discussion in Christian circles. One group of Christians believes that those who live for the Lord shouldn’t have to suffer anything at all in this life. And then there are the Christians on the other end of the spectrum who believe that everything Christians suffer is either from God Himself, or deliberately allowed by Him as a part of working His perfect plan in our lives. Actually, if we look carefully at the Word of God, we find that both of those groups are mistaken.

The problem seems to arise from failure in many Christian circles to realize that, according to the Word, there are three different types of suffering that befall the believer. Each of these kinds of suffering needs to be understood and dealt with in a different way. When Jesus said that a would-be disciple must take up his cross and follow Him, He wasn’t referring to accepting any bad thing that happens in life as a cross that we must obediently carry.

If illness, loss of income, physical or mental handicaps, drunken, abusive spouses, or rebellious children are the crosses we carry for the Lord, then every human being alive, whether he’s born again or not, is carrying a cross for Jesus – because every one of us has had to deal with one or several of those problems during our lifetimes. These kinds of things befall all people. But the key word here is “befall.” These things fall on us – we do not choose to pick them up and make them part of our lives.

Jesus makes it clear that the cross He requires must be willfully and deliberately picked up by each of us individually – even as His was. It must be the same cross – the cross of dying to sin, the world, and our flesh. Then, and only then, will we be able to live the life of a disciple by his resurrection power. So suffering cannot all be lumped together as a cross we carry Jesus.

Now that we have determined what is and is not a cross for Christ, we need to take a look at the three different kinds of suffering that the Word of God shows us may take place in a Christian’s life. For the purposes of this article, let’s refer to these three types simply as A, B, and C.

Suffering Type A:

This suffering results from our own sin or foolishness. Galatians. 6:7 says, “Be not deceived: God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Psalm 107:17 says, “Fools because of their transgressions, and because of their iniquities were afflicted.” And Proverbs adds to this truth in chapter 18, verse 7, saying, “A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.” The verse 21 of that same chapter adds, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Going a little farther into Proverbs, to chapter 19, verse 15, we find this: “Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep, and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.” Now, these verses give us just a few examples of the fact that God’s Word says when we disobey Him, or remain ignorant of His ways, we will suffer.

This suffering is not God’s will at all. He has not deliberately allowed it; rather we have caused it.

Now let’s take a little side trip here to consider this word “allow,” as it is used in reference to God. Most of the time when Christians say God has “allowed” something, they mean that He has deliberately considered whether or not to let the thing take place in His child’s life and has decided that He wants it to happen. In reference to that idea, this article will refer to that concept as “deliberately allowing.” However, there is the fact (so often missed by Bible readers) that God is required to “allow” some things to happen in the earth even though He does not want them to happen. He has not considered whether to let those thing happen and decided in the affirmative. He is simply bound by His own Covenant and His own word of promise to let man do what he chooses by his free will to do, and to let the devil do what man has legally allowed him to do. Many people get uncomfortable – even angry – when faced with the idea that God doesn’t always get His way in all things. But it is God Himself who says that He does not.

Many times throughout the Old and New Testaments, God verifies that He did not want something to happen to His people, but because they would not follow the dictates of His Covenant (which would have protected them) He must stand back and let those things happen. We will mention only three examples in this article, but any reader who truly wants to get to the truth about this issue can do further personal study on the subject and find others.

Example 1: Ezekiel 22: 29-31. Israel has been guilty of horrible actions, and God says according to His Covenant, they deserve wrath and punishment. But He says that He does not want to pour out that punishment, and He searches the entire nation for just one man who will stand and intercede for Israel and open up the way for God to pour out mercy instead. But He says He cannot find one man to pray, so He has no choice but to allow the wrath and punishment that Israel has justly earned. God does not get what He wants.

Example 2: Matthew 23:37: Jesus weeps over Jerusalem because He (and the Father) have desired that the people will come to Jesus and allow Him to “gather them under His wings as a mother hen,” but they refuse. He does not get his own way.

Example 3: 1 Peter 3:9: God is not willing that any should die unsaved. But he does not get His way.

Now, some people think that these facts interfere with God’s sovereignty. Not so at all. It was God’s sovereignty that allowed Him to decide to make a Covenant with man, which would govern exactly how He would deal with His people, and what would be required of them and of Him. He is the one who made the sovereign decision to bind Himself to that Covenant, both by the Covenant itself and by His solemn promise that He would never break it. He used His sovereignty to willingly put Himself in a position of having to keep His own word. He will never go back on it or change it even one “jot or on tittle.”

So now let’s get back to Suffering Type A, that which comes as a result of our own sin or foolishness. It is part of the “law of sin and death,” that is in eternal motion in God’s universe. (Romans 8). Oh, yes, we can attempt to save face by trying to convince ourselves and others that we are suffering because God is “taking us through something to mature us.” But that’s a lie, and clinging to it will only work to keep us in a state of immaturity. If I don’t have a good relationship with my boss at work because I’m late too often, or always have a negative attitude, it sounds more pious to say, “I’m being persecuted at work because I’m a Christian.” Or to claim, “God is testing me with all this persecution to see how faithful I will be.”

If I’m a student who’s being disciplined severely at school because I haven’t been diligent in my work, or I’ve acted outside of the accepted conduct rules, it’s much easier on my conscience to tell myself, “I’m just misunderstood by all these authorities at school. I guess that’s just a cross I have to carry.”

And if my body is sick because I won’t let go of unforgiveness and resentment, but continue to feed on bitterness, I can comfort myself by saying, “Well, I’m sure the Lord has some reason known only to Him for letting me go through this battle. He will get glory out of it.” (Now, that’s one of the biggest lies the devil ever told anyone, anywhere. There is not one single example in the entire Word of God where God received glory or honor of any kind because someone was sick. He never received any glory until the people were healed. But that’s another point entirely, so we can save it for another article.)

Do you see that these alibis for sin-induced suffering will only keep us in immaturity? Unless we see the problem for what it is, we will not come to repentance. It is the honesty and repentance that brings us to maturity and to His mercy, which will be able to alleviate the suffering. Instead of being content to just sit back and say, “Well all suffering is God’s will for a purpose in my life,” let’s go to prayer and find out just which kind of suffering we’re undergoing. Ask the Lord if there’s sin or foolishness at the root. God doesn’t play games; He’ll tell us quickly if there is, assuming our requests are sincere, and He’ll tell us exactly how to deal with it.

Suffering Type B:

This type of suffering refers to the various evils in this world, resulting from sin in general and the resulting curse that is in operation everywhere. Some common examples are disease, birth defects, miscarriages, accidents, poverty, barren crops, destructive storms, violent attacks on our person, property, or nation, and so forth. All of these things are part of the curse of the broken law, according to Deuteronomy chapter 28. These are the things that Jesus bore for us, as our sacrificial substitute “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us ….” (Gal. 3:13). Isaiah 53:4-5 in the Amplified Bible is very explicit: “Surely He has born our griefs – sickness, weakness, and distress – and carried our sorrows and pain. … But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement needful to obtain peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes that wounded Him we are healed and made whole.” Those words translate from the original Hebrew text exactly, rather than shortening the definitions as some translations do.

Jesus bore all of these things in our stead. I find the word chastisement most interesting. It has two distinct meanings: a) beating and physical punishment; and b) teaching and training. You can see from the literal translation of Isaiah 53 above that Jesus bore the physical punishment for us (as our substitute), and that leaves us with only the teaching and training to walk through, if we are truly in Him. The Lord never wills sickness and infirmity or calamity on us to teach us something. He put all of that (as part of the curse) on Jesus. Rather, He tells us that it is His Spirit and His Word which will teach and train us. (See Prov. 2:1-6; John 14:26; John 15:3; and 1 John 2:17.)

So if we are undergoing these kinds of suffering in our lives, we need to take a definite stand against them. We need to find the promises in the Word that pertain to our situation, take that Word to the Lord in prayer for deliverance from that suffering, and persistently bombard that evil thing with the Word of power and truth until it yields, and we are free. These things are never God’s will. We must see them as the evil things that they are and refuse to accept them in our lives. It does our dear Jesus a great dishonor for us to grasp and hold on to any of these things that He already so horribly suffered for us and put away.

Suffering Type C:

Type C is the suffering of persecution and harassment from the devil and the world because we are living as Christ. This is the only type of suffering that we are to accept and live with. Moreover, the Word even tells us to rejoice in it and glory in it. “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in Heaven ….” (Matt. 5:11). He later says in Matt. 10:16-25, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; … and ye shall be hated of all men, for my name’s sake, but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. … It is enough for the disciple to be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household.” Then, of course, we have Jesus’ famous words from John 16:33: “These things I have spoken unto you that you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

So is it wrong to pray for deliverance from some of this type of persecution? Certainly not. If you have loved ones or fellow servants in the Kingdom who are being tortured in a foreign land because they have taken a stand for Christ, by all means, pray for their deliverance. God still delights in delivering His people. And He in no way indicates that we should not seek His help in overcoming the enemy and his tactics even in persecution.

But my point is that it is only this type of suffering – persecution for the Gospel’s sake – that is related to taking up our cross. It is received by choice. If we are not a Christian, or choose to be a Christian in name but still live like the world, we will not be persecuted in this manner. Only when we decide to be a true disciple, will we endure this kind of suffering. And the farther we walk away from the world and into the ways of Christ, the greater will be the persecution. But if it comes, we have this assurance: “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example; that ye should follow His steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously ….” (1 Pet. 2:19-23.)

The key word here is “example.” Jesus is our example for how to endure the suffering of persecution. We must always respond in love as He did and trust ourselves to our Father God. But let us not get confused. The Word does not say He is our “example” for how to suffer the things that are part of the curse of the broken law: For that suffering He became our substitute, and there is a huge difference. If He has taken that suffering for us, then He intends us to walk free of those things as long as we walk in Him.

What Is This Thing Called ‘Salvation’? — May 2, 2012

What Is This Thing Called ‘Salvation’?

Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature (Greek: new species); the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. … Therefore, we … beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).

What’s it all about? This “being saved”? This being “born again”? What’s it all about? I just don’t understand it. And I could never get my life straightened out enough and cleaned up enough to fit in with Jesus Christ anyway.”

Ever felt that way? Have you ever felt that you might really like to turn your life over to someone stronger and wiser, who could get it straightened out and make some real sense out of it – give it some lasting purpose and value? But you just don’t think you measure up to God’s standards enough to come to Him?

Well, the good news – shouted loud and strong – in the scripture passage above is that you do not have to measure up to God’s standards – or anyone else’s. You don’t even have to get one little thing about yourself or your life made right before you come to God.

That’s right. I mean what I said. And I can say it with absolute confidence, because God Himself said it first. And He said it over and over again. The passage at the top of this article is just one instance, but, to me, it is one of the most important of those instances. I have two other favorite passages like it in importance: Romans 5:6: “Christ died for the ungodly.” 1 Tim. 1:15: “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

Now, of course, if you don’t think you need a savior – if you believe you are holy enough to live in the presence of the holy God of the universe, nose to nose, eye to eye, breathing the same air He breathes for all eternity, without being cleaned up at all – then I’m not talking to you. But if you realize that you are not on the level of that holy God – that you are not righteous and pure enough by your own merit to live with Him – then I am talking to you – and so is He!

The simple truth is that the work has already been done for you. Jesus did it all. He gave up the privileges of being on the throne of Heaven, came to this earth as a man, and lived a perfect life for you. Then God laid all of the sinful nature (to which you are heir) and all of the rebellion, disobedience, ugliness, and hatefulness of all the sin in the human race on Jesus (2 Cor. 5 21), and put all the punishment for that sin on Him as well. He bore it all for you, and after His death on your behalf, He came up out of the grave – also on your behalf – with eternal life and the right to bestow that new life on you. We have “been crucified with Christ,” (Gal. 2: 19-20) and “even when we were dead in our transgressions, [God] made us alive together with Christ … and raised us up with Him.” (Eph. 2:5-6).

But when we decide we’d like to have that salvation and that new relationship with our Creator, we often hold back because we feel powerless to separate ourselves from sin or the world’s way of life – or even from our own selfish nature. We feel powerless to make ourselves “worthy” of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Well, if you feel that way, rejoice! Because that means you know the truth: We are powerless! But that is okay. Because the work of saving us is His and His alone! And it’s already been done.

That’s what our beginning scripture is telling us. When God raised Jesus from the dead, He raised Him up as the head of a body – which would be made up of believers – everyone who would believe in that finished work. That’s what the verse in Ephesians means when it says He “raised us up with Him.” And that’s what the passage in 2 Corinthians means when it says that God was – in Christ – reconciling the world to Himself. That word reconcile means to bring back into original or proper position and make the relationship right again. That’s what the Word says God was doing when He crucified Jesus Christ and raised Him up again and seated Him in power and authority forever. He was bringing “the world” back into right relationship with Himself.

Now look at the rest of that verse: “not counting their sins against them.” Who is the pronoun “their” referring to in this verse? The church? The “good” people? The people who call themselves Christians? NO! The only plural noun in that whole verse that the pronoun “their” can refer to is the word “world.” Do you get it? God was – in Christ – not counting the world’s sins against them any longer. God was – in Christ (only in Christ) – forgiving all the people in the whole world for every sin counted against them. Can you grasp that exciting truth? In the mind and heart of God, it is already done. In the mind and heart of God, all of your sins are already forgiven – in Christ!

You see, that’s why there is no other way to salvation and eternity with God. There is no other religion, dogma, or program that has inherent within it the forgiveness of all sin and the eternal life granted by God. That forgiveness and that life are only in Christ – because He’s the only one who paid the horrible price of suffering and separation from God that was complete enough and perfect enough to buy freedom for the whole human race.

So, your next question is probably going to be, “Well if it’s already done, then what is my part?” Our part is believing and receiving. Even before Jesus’ crucifixion, when His disciples asked Him, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus told them, “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He hath sent.” (John 6:28-29).

Now, I do need to explain that the word “believe” from the original language means much more than mental assent. It means “yielding or surrendering to and obeying.” To truly “believe” means that you give yourself to it completely. But that is the beauty of it all. We do not have to do the work of salvation. We just have to surrender to that work and let it produce its fruit in us. How do we surrender? We simply pour out our hearts to this great, loving Jesus, who has done all the work. We simply tell him in our own words that we know we need what He offers and gladly give Him control in our hearts and our lives. (That’s what it means to make Him our “Lord.”)

Once we totally surrender, Jesus comes to reign on the throne of our hearts. From that position, He can begin to clean up everything else about us that needs cleaning up. You need never fear. Once He has the position of authority, willingly given to him by you, He knows how – and is well able – to do the rest of the work.

So what about that term “born again”? Go back to our original verse: “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature (Greek: new species).” When Jesus Christ comes in, our real man – the spirit man — is literally born again. A brand new species (the God-man species of Jesus Christ) comes in and generates its life in our spirit. (You must remember that man was created by a spirit God and therefore is primarily a spirit-being, having a soul and living in a body). Therefore the Word tells us again and again the we are to be aware of the fact that we are now “children of God.” (Romans 8:16, 1 John 3:2).

Now all of this work is done – finished. In God’s heart and mind it’s a “done deal.” But remember: it is done ONLY IN CHRIST. Therefore, it is only when we make the decision to yield ourselves to Jesus Christ and receive Him into ourselves and our lives that we get the benefit of this finished work. Although it is done, if we choose not to access it, we get no results from it in our personal lives.

You might compare it to the process of getting data from the Internet. You know there is data out there covering the subject about which you need information. But that data will do you absolutely no good at all unless you sit down, turn on your computer, take yourself to that site, open up the channel, and deliberately download that information. So — you must open up yourself to Jesus Christ and all He has done for you, and by believing (yielding, surrendering) download every single bit of it. It’s all yours. It has your name on it. But you have to hit the download (I Believe) button to receive.

So what is salvation? It is the free gift of a loving Father who has paid the deepest, truest, most sacrificial price to restore His rebellious children to Himself. It is the free gift of the brother Jesus, who has given Himself in our place and paid the full price, receiving brand new life to pass on to each one of us. The work of salvation has absolutely nothing to do with us. Our only work is to believe what He has done and surrender to it.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17).

Weekly Photo Challenge: Distorted — March 6, 2012
For Love Of The Father — February 10, 2012

For Love Of The Father

. . . but that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” John 14:31

When Jesus speaks these words, “that the world may know that I love the Father,” He is explaining to His disciples the reason that He’s agreed to become the sacrifice for man’s sin. Until the real truth of these words sank into my heart during a time of meditation one day, I had always believed that Jesus had been willing to go through the terrible crucifixion and separation from His holy Father just because He loved me so much. I had thought His love for us, the people He had created, had compelled Him to that cruel cross.

But this verse forced me to come face to face with the truth. It wasn’t love for us that caused Jesus to pay the awful price; rather it was His love for His Father: “That the world may know that I love the Father . . . even so I do.” It was the Father’s love for us that caused Him to send Jesus. But it was Jesus’ love for the Father that caused Him to obey and carry out the plan. Indeed, love for the Father instigated and controlled absolutely everything that Jesus, the Son, did. We were the fortunate recipients of that beautiful obedience, but we were not the cause.

Most assuredly, as God, His love for us moved Him to compassion, but His love for the Father moved Him to obedience. He spoke and acted, not out of His own compassion, but only as He felt the Father speak and act in compassion. He tells us that repeatedly during His ministry. Because He was determined to be a continuously obedient vessel, He never acted or reacted because of what He saw or felt personally, but because He felt the Father’s leading and wanted to please Him.

That truth seems so simple, but when it finally settled deeply in my consciousness, it brought me to a new level of enlightenment concerning Jesus and what moved and controlled Him. Not only did I see Jesus in greater revelation, but consequently I was confronted with a greater understanding of what it means for me to be “like Jesus.” I realized more than ever that being like Him was much more than obeying commandments, walking in forgiveness, loving people, and reaching out to meet their needs in the power of God. Those endeavors are, to be sure, part of the Christ-like character. But the overriding requirement for being Christ-like, indeed the very root of Christ-likeness, is love of the Father.

Love of the Father must be our primary reason also for doing or refusing to do anything. Certainly, the right words and the right actions will get a job done or solve a problem many times. But speaking or acting because we believe it is what Jesus would do, or even because we love those whose needs we are trying to meet by those words and actions, never makes us one with the nature of Jesus. No, beloved Christian, only a passionate, all-consuming love of our Father God will bring us fully into oneness of nature and character with Jesus.

When we love the Father so much that we live to please Him, even hunger to please Him, we have truly entered into the nature of Jesus Himself. When no circumstance and no person moves us to action, but rather the leading from our Heavenly Father, Whom to please is more important than life itself, then we will have come to that place where Jesus is truly living His life in us.

Then the world will “know that we love the Father, and as the Father gives us commandment, even so we do.” They will see the same love of the Father that they saw in Jesus – a love that leads us to an obedience so supernatural that it compels those watching to turn to a God Who merits such a love.

Dear Christians, may it be our constant prayer that the love of the Father will be our only motivation in every facet of our lives from this day forward.


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