Monday, October 31, 2011

The most powerful prayer

John 11:11 (NKJV) 11 ..."Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up."

This was the prayer Jesus prayed to bring Lazarus up from the dead after 4 days in the tomb. No shouting. No explaining. Just a confident declaration because He knew that His Father always hears Him (John 11:41). How do I know that this was His prayer? Just because the Bible doesn't indicate otherwise, does it mean He didn't pray another prayer? I believe that the Bible reveals this to us somewhere else.

The Bible says in James 5:17, "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months." Notice that it says that Elijah "prayed earnestly". Now let's take a look at this earnest prayer. The Bible says in 1 Kings 17:1, "And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word."  That's it, that's Elijah's prayer. No shouting or explaining, he simply said "there shall be no dew or rain". It was a confident declaration.

The key to all of this is knowing that our Father always hears us. He hangs out with us. As you learn to talk to Him continually you will have an awareness of His presence. This awareness will give you a confidence of His love for you. You will learn about His desire for you to prosper in every area of your life. Simple fellowship with God will cause prayers that are powerful enough to raise people from the dead. Talk to Him continuously and spend some time in His Word. He will reveal Himself to you.

Be Blessed!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The first commandment.

Exodus 20:3 (NKJV) 3 You shall have no other gods before Me.

The New Testament section of the Bible begins with four books that are known as the Gospels. These books reveal the ministry of Jesus as a man here on earth. This is a period of about 3 1/2 years leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross. There are many things to be learned in the Gospels and in this post we will uncover one very valuable lesson.

The lesson is this: On our own we could never earn the position of righteousness. We needed a Savior.

The story we'll look at is about a rich young ruler, it is first mentioned in Matthew 19:16-22. This story is also told in Mark 10:17-27 and Luke 18:18-27. I think because it is repeated three times in the Gospels, we need to take a really close look.

The Bible tells us in Matthew 19:16-17, "Now behold, one came (the rich young ruler) and said to Him (Jesus), "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." Jesus made a point here of saying that no man is good.

The young man then asked, "which commandments?" (verse 18). Then Jesus began to list off a few of the 10 commandments that were the foundation of the old law covenant. The Bible then goes on to say in Matthew 19:20, "The young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?" Most of us have wrongfully believed that this young man did indeed keep these commandments. After all he said that he did. Jesus however could see much deeper than the surface.

The Bible tells us in Matthew 19:21, "Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." He started to list the commandments like a check list, one by one. Exodus 20:3, "You shall have no other gods before Me." This was the first commandment and that alone was enough to cause this man to fail the test.This was as far down the list as Jesus got.

The Bible tells us in Matthew 19:22, "But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions."  The young man's possessions separated him from God. This demonstrates the first point Jesus made back in verse 17, "No one is good but One, that is, God". Jesus made a point. No one could ever be perfect. The Bible says in Matthew 19:25-26, "When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?" But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Jesus paid a huge price for our sins so that we could talk to God face to face. No matter what sins we have committed in the past, present, or future, God wants our fellowship. The New Testament tells us in Romans 8:38-39, "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  This tells us that time, space, matter and even life itself can no longer separate us from God.

Thank God that we don't have to earn a place in heaven. It is a gift provided by the sacrifice of Jesus. Does this mean we just continue to sin? When we stay connected to God our desires just change for the better. He does the changing as long as we stay connected. We just sin less and less. Stay connected through prayer and studying His Word. He is REAL. He will speak to you and you will learn His voice.

Be Blessed!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Recognizing God

John 3:17 (NKJV) 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:21, "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."The Bible also says in Deuteronomy 28:7, "The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways." Notice that it says the enemy comes against you only one way.

The Bible then tells us in Revelation 12:10, "...Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down."  This verse is talking about Satan. This is his tactic; to accuse us.

Here are the facts:
  1. Jesus didn't come to condemn us. (John 3:17)
  2. We are the righteousness of God in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
  3. The enemy will come against us only one way. (Deuteronomy 28:7)
  4. Satan accuses us day and night. (Revelation 12:10)
The God told us in Isaiah 54:14, "In righteousness you shall be established; You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; And from terror, for it shall not come near you." This is prophetic because it was before Christ. This is why it says "shall be established". This was the gift provided by the sacrifice of Jesus. Now the next verse (Isaiah 54:15) says, "Indeed they shall surely assemble, but not because of Me." 

When you feel condemned because of sin, we know that the condemnation isn't from God. We know it comes from the devil. Consider this a good place to learn how to identify God. Encouragement comes from God and discouragement comes from the devil. You will be surprised how much this simple filter will make you recognize God. Whether you hear the words in your thoughts, through another person or even a message preached in church, if they condemn you then they are not from God.

God sees you as the perfect righteousness of Jesus so He has no reason to condemn you, EVER!

Be Blessed!

Monday, October 10, 2011

He cleanses us with the Truth

John 13:5 (NKJV) 5 After that, He (Jesus) poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

This verse reveals several things to us. In this post I am going to discuss two points. The first point that I will draw your attention to is that Jesus did the work. This is the difference between Old and New Covenant thinking. Let me show you the difference.

The Old Testament says in Genesis 43:24 (NKJV), "So the man brought the men into Joseph's house and gave them water, and they washed their feet..." This Old Testament verse reveals to us that they had to wash their own feet. In the Old Testament, man had to make himself clean and earn righteousness. In the New Testament, Jesus did the washing.

Now let's look at the second point. The verse at the top of this post tells us how Jesus washes us. Take notice that He used the towel with which He was girded. The Bible says in Ephesians 6:14 (NKJV), "Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness." It says here to have your waist girded with truth. The towel that Jesus was girded with represents truth.

So what is the truth? This last verse we quoted from Ephesians is perhaps a little more revealing to us in a more modern translation of the Bible. I like how the New Living Translation puts it. This translation says in Ephesians 6:14 (NLT), "Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness." We are righteous because we are wrapped in God's righteousness instead of our own. This is the truth we need to be washed with.

The New Covenant of grace is so much more powerful than the Old Covenant of law. No matter what goes on in our lives we are clothed in flawless righteousness. In the eyes of God we cannot fail. Something really amazing happens when we lose the fear of failing. We don't fail! If you are struggling with some sort of sin, stop looking at the sin. Instead look at the fact that you can stand in a place where sin cannot stand. In the presence of God.

Spend time with God. Talk to Him the same way you talk to a good friend. Spend time studying His Word. In this way you will keep your mind on good things while God takes care of the bad things. Let Him do the work in you.

Be Blessed!

Monday, October 03, 2011

If Grace remains...

John 21:22 (NKJV) 22 Jesus said to him, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me."

The Bible is amazing. It is packed with revelation from cover to cover. Not only do the words have significance, but often the numbers and even the names that are used do too.

The above verse came from the last chapter of the Gospels. The Gospels are the first 4 books of the New Testament portion of the Bible. The Gospels give an account of the 3.5 year ministry of Jesus Christ as a man among us here on earth. The Gospels reveal the need for us to have a savior and how Jesus became that savior by offering himself on the cross. The book of John is the last of the 4 Gospels. This verse comes from the last chapter of John or the end of the Gospels. This chapter closes the ministry of Jesus and marks the beginning of our new covenant with God.

The Gospels finish with this account of the disciples Peter and John walking with Jesus. Jesus just told Peter how he (Peter) was to experience death and glorify God (John 21:19). The other disciple named John was following behind them. John 21:21 (GW) tells us, "When Peter saw him, he asked Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” The verse at the top of this post is the answer Jesus gave. This answer has a beautiful revelation hidden in it. You see the name "John" means "God's Given Grace". What Jesus actually said was, "If I will that God's Given Grace remains until I return, what is that to you?" 

The word grace means unmerited favor. This is the "God's Given Grace" that Jesus left behind. In other words Jesus left behind a free pass to heaven that will remain available until He returns. It's Grace and we don't have to earn it. The truth is that we could never achieve true righteousness and earn a place in heaven. Because of this Grace we don't have to earn it we just declare Jesus' righteousness and receive our ticket to heaven. It is an unmerited gift of favor.

The Bible says in Colossians 2:14 (GW), "He (Jesus) did this by erasing the charges that were brought against us by the written laws God had established. He took the charges away by nailing them to the cross." This verse tells us how Jesus provided this gift. Take notice that this verse says the written laws were nailed to the cross. This brings us to another truth hidden in these names. You see "Peter" means "Stone". The name Peter is significant because the 10 commandments were written on stone. Jesus told Peter that his death would glorify God. At the end of his ministry, Peter, also died on a cross just like Jesus. Jesus was saying, in this last story of the Gospels, that Peter (the law), was to be nailed to a cross.

Simply put, the last story of the gospels summarizes the reason Jesus came. The law (Peter) was nailed to a cross and left us with Grace (John) until Jesus returns.

You don't have to work your way into heaven. Just receive this free gift of God's Given Grace!

Be Blessed!