Thursday, May 26, 2016

John 1

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning."  John 1:1-2
"Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become the children of God."  John 1:12

Jesus Christ is called "the Word" in John chapter one.  Jesus, "the Word," was with God the Father from the beginning.  Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  Jesus Christ is God Himself. Through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, all creation came into existence.

Jesus Christ, the creator of the universe and who is God Himself, is also our Savior!  Jesus Christ is the source of our salvation from sin and the source of our right standing before God. John 1:14 says, "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us."  Jesus Christ totally identified with us. Jesus Christ as God and man came to this earth and lived a perfect life for us that we could not live.  He then died on the cross to pay the just punishment for our sins!  John 1:29b says that Jesus Christ is the "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" Now because of Christ's sacrifice on the cross John 1:12 tells us that "all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God."  What grace! What awesome love!

Jesus Christ is the source of abundant life, spiritual light, and truth.  As His children He has worked in our hearts through His Holy Spirit.  John 1:14b tells us, "We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."  Jesus Christ is our source of truth and wisdom.  The world's philosophies will never lead us to true wisdom and truth. Only Jesus is the perfect revelation of God the Father to us. Only Jesus is the source of truth, wisdom, and light.  The Lord is also the source of abundant blessing.  John 1:16 states, "From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another."  From Jesus Christ we not only received the blessing of salvation, but we also receive bountiful blessings.

In gratitude for what Jesus, the Son of God, did for us on the cross and in gratitude for His daily blessings in our lives we must point others to the Lord Jesus.  John the Baptist pointed people to the Savior.  John said in John 1:34, "I have seen and I testify that this is the the Son of God." Then John said in John 1:36b, "Look, the Lamb of God!"

In verses of forty-one and forty-two Andrew also pointed his brother, Peter, to the Savior.  We do not read much about Andrew in the Bible.  He was perhaps not a spectacular person.  Christ must have been very real to Andrew, however, because Andrew was involved in leading his brother, Peter, to the Lord.  This was significant, because Peter later became a prominent apostle in the the church of Jesus Christ.  Peter also wrote two of the Epistles in the New Testament.  This would never have happened, if Andrew had not allowed God to use him in pointing Peter to the Savior!  Philip also pointed Nathanael to the Savior in John chapter one verse forty-five.

So we too must do all we can to point others to the Lord Jesus and His awesome salvation.  In God's providence the person we lead to the Savior might someday be used in a powerful way for the cause of Christ and His kingdom.  May others see Christ in us, as we seek to live our lives for Him!  

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Judges 6:1-16

The Midianites had been oppressing God's Old Testament people, the Israelites, for seven years. The Midianites ravaged the Israelites' crops and killed all their animals.  Judges 6:3 in the Old Testament tells us, "Because the power of Midian was go oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves, and strongholds."

One day and angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and said, "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior." (Judges 6:12b).  The Lord is with us also even in the darkest and most difficult times of our lives. Even and especially in the very difficult times in our lives we can be used as "mighty warriors" for the cause of Christ and for His glory.  We can be used for the Lord's glory, because the Lord's strength is residing in us.

After the angel spoke to Gideon he replied to the angel in Judges 6:13, "if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?"  Sometimes it is difficult to understand why we have to go through some of the trials that we experience in this life.  We have to trust that the Lord is in control in all situations, however.  God weaves both the "bad" and "good" circumstances of our lives together for our ultimate good.  Often trials help us grow spiritually and cause us to lean more heavily on the Lord.

Romans 5:3-4 tells us that difficult times in our lives helps to produce perseverance. Perseverance in turn produces Christ-like character in us.  This Christ-like character in us produces hope.  The word "hope" in Scripture means something we are absolutely certain about but have not yet received.  We have absolute certainty about our eternal futures with the Lord.

The Lord turned to Gideon and said to him in Judges 6:14, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand.  Am I not sending you?"  God was calling Gideon, a timid and fearful man with no real ability, to lead the Israelites against the Midianites,  Gideon did not have to go in his own strength, however, because it was the Lord who was sending Gideon.  Since the Lord called Gideon to this task, the Lord would also supply Gideon with His supernatural grace and strength.

In spite of this fact Gideon began to make excuses for not following God's calling.  The Lord once again reassured Gideon in Judges 6:16 by saying, "I will be with you."  In spite of his own weaknesses and inadequacies Gideon would be be able to do great things in the name and strength of the Lord!  When the Lord calls us to a task we also must not make excuses.  We must not say that the task is too great for us.  The Lord always gives us His strength for whatever tasks He assigns in this life.  We simply have to trust in Him and in His strength.  We may be weak, untalented, and ill-equipped; but the Lord's strength in us is all-sufficient.

In II Corinthians 12:9 the Lord says to us, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  God delights in using people who feel inadequate in themselves, because such people will lean more heavily on the Lord and on His strength.  Our human weaknesses provides the perfect opportunity for God to display His awesome power and all-sufficiency.  In ourselves we can do nothing. but with Christ's strength in us we can do whatever task He asks of us.  Paul said in Philippians 4:13, "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength."

Gideon undertook the task assigned to him by the Lord, and he was able to accomplish great things in the Lord's strength.  Continue to read in the book of Judges about the exciting defeat of the Midianites by God's people.  The Lord can use us also to do great things for Him.  We just need to be willing to follow the Lord's leading and rest and trust in His all-sufficient strength!  The Lord promises to always be with us with His presence and strength!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Luke 18:1-8 and James 5:13-18

(There will be no post next week.  The next post will be on or around May 19.)

"always pray and not give up."  Luke 18:1b

"The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."  James 5:16b

There is power in prayer.  Needs are met, and the seemingly impossible is accomplished through prayer.  Prayer should be a daily and constant part of all of our lives.  It should almost be like breathing to us.  We may at times become discouraged and not always feel like praying, but we must persist in praying.

Luke 18:1 says that we should "always pray and not give up."  Obviously we can't have our hands folded in prayer every second of the day, but there should be a constant attitude of prayer in our lives. Our line of communication with our Lord should always be open.  There should always be a sense of the Lord's presence right beside us.

We often have a tendency to pray only after our own perceived resources and attempts to solve a problem has failed.  We need to pray first and "always" and not seek to run ahead of the Lord. We are also to be persistent in our prayers and "not give up."  Even if if we have been praying about something for a long time with seemingly no visible results, we must persist in prayer and trust the Lord to bring about His results in His perfect timing.  God is infinitely wiser than us.  Luke 18:7-8 says,  "And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night?  Will He keep putting them off?  I tell you, He will see that you get justice, and quickly."

James 5:16 states, "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."  God's power is released in our lives and in the lives of others after we pray.  The possibilities of what can be accomplished through the power of prayer are limitless.  We need to be persistently praying for our needs .  We must also be persistently praying for the needs of others and for the needs of the world around us.

We need to not only be persistent in our prayers, but we must be fervent and genuine in our prayers. There is great power in persistent and fervent prayer.  Our prayers requests also must be specific, if we expect specific answers to our prayers.  There is great power in Holy Spirit directed specific and fervent prayers.

Elijah in the Old Testament was a man of prayer.  Although Elijah sometimes became discouraged and faltered in his faith, much was accomplished through his prayers.  James 5:17-18 says, "Elijah was a man just like us.  He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.  Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops." Read the exciting stories of Elijah in I Kings in the Old Testament!  Elijah, the prophet for God's Old Testament people, knew the power of prayer.  Elijah understood and saw that the impossible could be accomplished through the power of prayer.  Elijah's prayers were specific, persistent, and fervent; and Elijah's prayers were answered!

We too can experience the power of prayer in our lives.  We need to first be sure that our hearts are right, and we need to be sure that we are passionate about our Lord and His will.  Then we may and must come to the Lord boldly with our specific and fervent requests.  Like Elijah and many other Biblical saints of old we too can experience the power of answered prayer!