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Waiting for our Savior

This is a slightly changed Christmas post from a couple of years ago. Enjoy!

But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.—Micah 7:7

What a wonderful example the prophet Micah is to us! As one of the minor prophets, the first few chapters of his short Old Testament book are basically messages of God’s judgment on Samaria and Jerusalem. But toward the end of this book, we see clear evidence of Micah’s faith and confidence that God would send a Savior.

As humans, we think we’ve got all the answers. And even when we don’t, we have the technology to find those answers in an instant by searching the internet for whatever may be baffling or confusing to us.

But because of the huge advancements in technology over the past few years, many people today believe that the Old Testament is irrelevant in this modern world. However, the Old Testament is filled with verses which talk about a Savior or foretell His coming. Here are only a few:

  • You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas. —Psalm 65:5
  • It will become a sign and a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and He will deliver them. —Isaiah 19:20
  • Yet I have been the LORD your God since the land of Egypt; and you were not to know any god except Me, for there is no savior besides Me. —Hosea 13:4

 Read the longing in these and many other verses. These men yearned for the Savior of the world to come soon, and exhibited great faith that it would happen. They obviously loved God without restraint and absolutely believed that God would send a Savior, someone who would rescue them from themselves and their sins and provide a way for them to live with and worship God forever.

So many people say they believe in God but when it comes to eternal issues, they are floundering in a huge sea of doubt and frustration. It is understandably difficult to believe in a being we cannot see. On top of that uncertainty, we are asked to trust that believing in Jesus Christ as our Savior is the only way to heaven.

Wow. That. Is. Huge.

I love what J. Vernon McGee has to say about this:

You may think you have your way of salvation, but God is the only Savior, and He is the only one who can offer you a plan of salvation.

Absolutely! God’s plan for our salvation was always in the works but was truly fulfilled with the birth of Jesus Christ, His Son. Jesus was born a human and lived an earthly life so that He could experience and relate to every single thing we humans go through.

The birth of Jesus Christ paved the way for His death on the cross, where He took our sins upon Himself and died on our behalf. That death paved the way for Him to be resurrected from the dead on the third day, proving that death and sin have no more eternal hold on us. All this to show how much God loves us and longs for us to live in heaven with Him forever.

But this is where faith and trust come into the picture. We must believe that our only chance for eternal redemption comes from Jesus Christ and has nothing to do with ourselves or what we do or don’t do:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” —John 14:6

Sadly, though, too many of us seem unable to take that giant leap of faith and trust:

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. —John 1:10-13

Beloved, Christmas is definitely a time of celebration. If you take away all the glitter, packages, decorations, baked goodies and music, we still have the greatest thing for which to be thankful. We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the One whom God sent to free us from the bondage of sin.

So if all you have to celebrate Christmas is that certain knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus Christ, then you have it all and more!

Let’s try to remember that Christmas is more about the Reason and less about the Season.

A very Merry and Blessed Christmas to all of you!

birthjesus-star

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” —John 1:14-16

 … for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. —Luke 2:11

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. —Acts 5:30-31

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What We Believe-Part 3

Believe-

Our church is currently going through a sermon series on what we believe, which is a good reminder for all of us. This is the outline from the first sermon in this series, very basic—sometimes it is good to get back to the basics! Since it is quite long because I decided to fully quote the referenced Scripture passages, I will post a portion of it each day for 7 days. Today’s post is #3 of 7. You can read the first of these 7 posts here and the second one here.

I have chosen to repeat the heading portion on each of the 7 posts for your remembering pleasure.

What We Believe: A Doctrinal Primer

The need for sound doctrine –

Proverbs 1:7—“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

2 Timothy 1:13—“What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.”

Titus 2:1—“You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.”

Colossians 2:4—”I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.”

God the Son: We believe in God the Son, fully divine and fully  human. He died on the cross, was buried and rose again.

John1-1-18

John 1:1-18—”In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”

1Corinthians 15-3-4

1 Corinthians 15:3-4—“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…”

Col1-15-20

Colossians 1:15-20—“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

Tomorrow’s post is the next section—God the Holy Spirit: We believe in God the Holy Spirit, who provides new birth, indwells us and enables us to live a godly life.

AnnaSmile

What We Believe-Part 2

believe

Our church is currently going through a sermon series on what we believe, which is a good reminder for all of us. This is the outline from the first sermon in this series, very basic—sometimes it is good to get back to the basics! Since it is quite long because I decided to fully quote the referenced Scripture passages, I will post a portion of it each day for 7 days. Today’s post is #2 of 7. You can read the first of these 7 posts here.

I have chosen to repeat the heading portion on each of the 7 posts for your remembering pleasure.

What We Believe: A Doctrinal Primer

The need for sound doctrine –

Proverbs 1:7—“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

2 Timothy 1:13—“What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.”

Titus 2:1—“You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.”

Colossians 2:4—”I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.”

God the Father: We believe in God the Father, Creator, Sovereign, Holy and Loving.

Ex34-6-7

Exodus 34:6-7—“And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.””

1-John-2-1

1 John 2:1—“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”

Beloved, tune in tomorrow for the next section—God the Son: We believe in God the Son, fully divine and fully  human. He died on the cross, was buried and rose again.

AnnaSmile

13 Days of Being Thankful

Day 11:

Jesus, thank You for the mercy and grace of your incomprehensible and indescribable gift of salvation!

Oh, how we long to be in heaven with You right now!

Our Selfless Savior (Part 5)

~This is the fifth part of the series on John 13 by Donna Baker~

Last Thursday Donna left us with several thought-provoking questions:

Am I teaching others God’s Word?

Am I modeling His Word as He did to His disciples?

Can my children and grandchildren look at my life and see the reflection of His Word at work in my life?

Or am I hiding in a corner shrinking back in fear or disappointment at how my life has unraveled?

Jesus knew Judas was betraying Him. He didn’t cast aspersions on Judas nor rail against him. Scripture says that Jesus washed his feet too. It would seem He gave Judas every chance to repent.

Am I doing that when others disappoint me? Or am I willing to forgive and “wash their feet” as Jesus did Judas’ feet?

When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.” The disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was speaking.

There was reclining on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. So Simon Peter gestured to him, and said to him, “Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking.” He, leaning back thus on Jesus’ bosom, said to Him, “Lord, who is it?”

Jesus then answered, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.”

Now no one of those reclining at the table knew for what purpose He had said this to him. For some were supposing, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus was saying to him, “Buy the things we have need of for the feast”; or else, that he should give something to the poor. So after receiving the morsel he went out immediately; and it was night.

—John 13:21-30

It is my understanding that at a Jewish Passover a morsel was given to an honored guest, but to be certain I looked for verification. Below is an excerpt from a study I found on the internet written by Keith Krell:

In [John] 13:26, we have one of the most beautiful verses in the New Testament. John writes, “Jesus then answered, ‘That [the one who will betray Me] is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.’ So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.”

In the culture of Jesus’ time, to take a morsel from the table, dip it in the common dish, and offer it to someone else was a gesture of special friendship.Interestingly, Judas must have sat near enough to Jesus for Jesus to do this conveniently (cf. Matt 26:25). Possibly, Judas reclined to Jesus’ immediate left. If he did, this would have put him in the place of the honored guest immediately to the host’s left.

Regardless, the morsel Jesus prepares for Judas was a piece of the Passover lamb wrapped in flour and rolled together. It would be dipped in sauce made of bitter herbs and eaten. Why did Jesus prepare a morsel and offer it to Judas?

In the greatest act of grace ever recorded, Jesus offers Judas one more chance. Jesus offers Judas a piece of the sacrificial lamb. Jesus, the Lamb of God to be sacrificed to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29), is offering Judas Himself. He is saying, “Judas, here I am. Do you want Me?”

Wow! Doesn’t it just stab at your heart? Don’t you know how it must have grieved Jesus?

This was the point of no return for Judas. In my opinion, until he took the piece of the Passover lamb from the hand of Jesus—the Lamb of God—he could have been saved. He chose not to be.

In the next sentence, verse 27, we see Jesus accept the evil of the heart of man and tell Judas “what you do, do quickly”.

Jesus knew He must be the sacrifice—the Lamb—so the timetable could be kept.

Our Selfless Savior (Part 4)

~This is the fourth part of the series on John 13 by Donna Baker~

Last Thursday Donna left us with this:

Each time we fall short of God’s standard for us, all we need to do is confess those sins to Him and we are immediately washed clean.

Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” — John 13:7

The disciples seemed obtuse to us, but they didn’t have the Holy Spirit yet. We do, and we still fall so short of understanding. It is sad how little I know of His Word.

Jesus told them not all of them were clean. This is true for us as well. Not all in our midst are saved. It is like the parable of the wheat and tares.

Tares Among Wheat

24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying,

“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. 26 But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.

27 The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’

28 And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’

29 But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

36 Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”

37 And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.

40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age.

41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

 Tares are a weed resembling wheat.

We are not called on to pull up the tares because we don’t know who they are…just like the apostles didn’t know that Judas was a devil in their midst.

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?

Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

And that is what some of you were.

But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. —1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Here again we are told there are those among us who are not clean. The unlined verses say some of us were, but we are now washed clean.

How?

“…in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

We are to serve others, we are to preach the Word, because it is the power of God unto salvation.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. —Romans 1:16

Dr.J. Vernon McGee defines salvation as the all-inclusive term of the gospel, and it simply means “deliverance.”

It embraces everything from justification [the act of God whereby humankind is made or accounted just, or free from guilt or penalty of sin] to glorification [the future and final work of God upon Christians, where he transforms our mortal physical bodies to the eternal physical bodies in which we will dwell forever].

Dr. McGee describes salvation as both an act and a process, and goes on to say that it is equally true that “I have been saved, I am being saved, and I shall be saved.

I ask myself:

  • Am I teaching others His Word?
  • Am I modeling His Word as He did to His disciples?
  • Can my children and grandchildren look at my life and see the reflection of His Word at work in my life?
  • Or am I hiding in a corner shrinking back in fear or disappointment at how my life has unraveled?

Beloved, how about you?

In the Beginning … the WORD

Waiting for the Savior

I know this is the day after Christmas but I wrote this a couple of weeks ago and yesterday my wonderful friend Johnny Harkins at GEM Ministries published this in his newsletter. I hope you’ll enjoy it a day late!

“But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD;

I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.”

—Micah 7:7

What a wonderful example the prophet Micah is to us! As one of the minor prophets, the first few chapters of his short Old Testament book are basically messages of God’s judgment on Samaria and Jerusalem. But toward the end of this book, we see clear evidence of Micah’s faith and confidence that God would send a Savior.

As humans, we think we’ve got all the answers. And even when we don’t, we have the technology to find those answers in an instant by searching the internet for whatever may be baffling or confusing to us.

Just the other night a friend and I were struggling to remember the name for an Italian dessert. Both of our mothers (did I mention we are both Italian?) had made this as we were growing up, and she and I had actually made it together several years ago. But could we recall the name? No way!

Our friends at the dinner table waited for us to remember, but it didn’t happen. That’s when I caught myself saying, “I’ll just google it tomorrow and let you know.”

And I did! I googled it and then shared it with them in a private Facebook message!

But because of the huge advancements in technology over the past few years, many people today believe that the Old Testament is irrelevant in this modern world. However, the Old Testament is filled with verses which talk about a Savior or foretell His coming. Here are only a few:

  • “You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas.” —Psalm 65:5
  • “It will become a sign and a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and He will deliver them.” —Isaiah 19:20
  • “Yet I have been the LORD your God since the land of Egypt; and you were not to know any god except Me, for there is no savior besides Me.” —Hosea 13:4

 Read the longing in these and many other verses. They yearned for the Savior of the world to come soon and exhibited great faith that it would happen. They obviously loved God without restraint and absolutely believed that God would send a Savior, someone who would rescue them from themselves and their sins and provide a way for them to live with and worship God forever.

So many people say they believe in God but when it comes to eternal issues, they are floundering in a huge sea of doubt and frustration. It is understandably difficult to believe in a being we cannot see. On top of that uncertainty, we are asked to trust that believing in Jesus Christ as our Savior is the only way to heaven.

Wow. That. Is. Huge.

I love what J. Vernon McGee has to say about this: “You may think you have your way of salvation, but God is the only Savior, and He is the only one who can offer you a plan of salvation.”

Absolutely! God’s plan for our salvation was always in the works but truly began with the birth of Jesus Christ, His Son. Jesus was born a human man and lived an earthly life so that He could experience and relate to every single thing we humans go through.

The birth of Jesus Christ paved the way for His death on the cross, where He took our sins upon Himself and died on our behalf. That death paved the way for Him to be resurrected from the dead on the third day, proving that death and sin have no more eternal hold on us. All this to show how much God loves us and longs for us to live in heaven with Him forever.

But this is where faith and trust come into the picture. We must believe that our only chance for eternal redemption comes from Jesus Christ and has nothing to do with ourselves or what we do or don’t do:

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life;

no one comes to the Father but through Me.” 

John 14:6

Sadly, though, too many of us seem unable to take that giant leap of faith and trust:

“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” —John 1:10-13

Beloved, Christmas is definitely a time of celebration. If you take away all the glitter, packages, decorations, baked goodies and music, we still have the greatest thing for which to be thankful. We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the one God sent to free us from the bondage of sin.

So if all you have to celebrate Christmas is that certain knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus Christ, then you have it all and more!

Let’s try to remember that Christmas is more about the Reason and less about the Season.

A very Merry and Blessed Christmas to all of you!

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” —John 1:14-16

 “… for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” —Luke 2:11

“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” —Acts 5:30-31

 

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