Tag Archives: Jesus

Human Nature

John 2

It seems a lot of people trusted Jesus because of the miracles He did. This was no ordinary man. He must be God, the Messiah. So, Scripture tells us, they began to trust Him.

But Jesus didn’t trust them…” (vs 24a)

Well that wasn’t very nice. Wouldn’t the polite thing be to reciprocate their trust? Why wouldn’t Jesus trust them, take them at their word?

But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like. (verses 24-25, NLT)

What’s that supposed to mean? Aren’t we to believe that people are innately good? What’s not to trust?

Popular philosophy tells us we are good, worthy, pure of heart from birth, that all we need to do is tap into that goodness within us, that given a chance people will be worthy of trust others place in them.

Friend’s that is NOT human nature. I don’t care what Oprah says.

Human nature is self-serving, ego centric, evil. Good hearted? Listen to what Scripture tells us:

The heart is deceitful above all, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

Well, evidently Jesus can know the human heart. He knows that people are emotional, fickle, deceitful, and evil because that’s human nature. That’s what Jesus knew about the people who began to follow Him after seeing the miracles.

And I’m sorry, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize those traits in all of us. Yes, I’m talking to you! (and especially me). Jesus knew the people would get bored, maybe offended, they’d get distracted, and many would fall away.

But He loved them anyway. He would continue to speak truth to them, continue to reveal Himself by miracles. He would die on a cross for them and come back to life to give them life when they truly believed, truly put their trust in Him, and allowed Him to change their wicked hearts into clean hearts.

I don’t know where you stand in your spiritual journey. But Jesus has done all of that for you, too. His death and resurrection offers you the cleansing you need. His truth, as recorded in the Words of the Bible, speak the only Truth. And when you believe in Jesus as your Savior, you are given eternal life!

On your own, you can’t be trusted any more than the people we read about in John’s Gospel. But God can change you into someone He can trust to be the person and do the things that bring glory to Him.

It’s not human nature. But it is God’s nature in you that can make you trustworthy enough to wear His Name and represent Him to a world that needs Him.

I’m praying for you today.

Revenge. Seriously?

Joel

I know someone who, because a member of the church his parents attended said something that offended him, quit going to church. He was a teenager at the time. He’s in his thirties today. And he will give that incident as the reason he still doesn’t go to church today.

I’ve heard of others who see injustice in the world and say, “If God causes such bad things to happen, I don’t want anything to do with Him.” or “There must not be a God at all.”

Do you wonder how God feels when people convince themselves of such?

What do you have against me, Tyre and Sidon and the cities of Philistia? Are you trying to take revenge on me? (3:4a)

Do people who judge God and find Him guilty think they have the upper hand? Seriously?

If you are (taking revenge on me) watch out! I will strike swiftly and pay you back for everything you have done. (4b)

Everything YOU have done.

Joel goes on to remind us we all enjoy the blessings of God. We all live in a world where the sun shines, the rain falls, wounds heal, crops produce fruit, hearts beat…

But we have taken those blessings and carted them off to pagan temples. (vs 5) Instead of using them to glorify God, instead of being grateful, we turn it around and use them against Him

But be warned. Especially when God repeats Himself:

… and I will pay you back for everything you have done. (verse 7b)

Here’s the good news:

But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (2:32)

If you have any excuse why you haven’t called on the name of the Lord, if you have put yourself above God, found Him guilty, or blame your present circumstances on that old church lady who hurt your feelings – get over yourself!

Are you trying to teach God a lesson? Get even? Punish Him? That, my friend, is foolishness. Do you have any idea who it is you are dealing with?

Here’s the deal: obey God according to His Word, the Bible. Or not. Just remember your decision will stay with you for eternity. And in the end you won’t judge God. He will judge you.

I pray that when He does, He will be able to judge you according to the righteousness of His Son Jesus. The flip side of that is unthinkable.

The Writing Is On The Wall

Ezekiel 5

We’ve probably all heard the phrase, “the writing’s on the wall” to indicate the inevitability of something happening, usually referring to something bad happening. That certainly was the case for Belshazzar who watched the hand of God write a proclamation on the wall of the dining room about the king’s impending death. That very night, the king was killed.

The writing was on the wall.

Does that speak to us today? Has God written a proclamation concerning the death of civilization? Are we looking at the end?

Yes. And no.

God has absolutely proclaimed the edict that this life as we know it will end. It’s been rushing to that end since Adam’s sin. The inevitable end of this world is getting closer every day. But nowhere in Scripture does it say that event will happen in 2022.

Oh, it could be today. Or it could be 1,000 years from now.

The sad thing is, some Christians see the writing on the wall and think, “Things are awful out there, but there’s nothing I can do about it.” So they sit back and wait for the end to happen.

That seems to be the case for Belshazzar. Instead of reading the writing on the wall and allowing it to convict him, to drive him to his knees in repentance, he threw a party for Daniel. That night his reign was brought to an end, just like God had written on the wall.

Friend, we can look for signs, complain about the state of the world while we sit comfortably in our homes, living life as usual, resting in the assurance of our salvation. But is that what God demands of us?

The signs we see all around us ought to drive us to our knees, light a fire in us to reach as many people as we can to introduce them to their only hope, Jesus the Savior.

Jesus is coming again. He’s promised us that in His Word. When He does, many, many people will go to hell for eternity. Many, many people you and I know will face eternity without Him.

Do you know what else is written on the wall, so to speak?

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him, will not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Let’s take that message to our world that needs Him. Because, dear one, the writing is on the wall.

Equal Shares

Ezekiel 47-48

The land was divided equally among the tribes of Israel. I love how God leveled the playing field. Everyone was given the same.

That’s something I love about God. He sees us, demands of us, treats us, and loves each of the same.

  1. All have sinned. Yes, that means you and me. All. Everyone has sinned. (Romans 3:23)
  2. That sin has earned us a death sentence. (Romans 6:23)
  3. God loved each of us and sent His Son Jesus to pay our death sentence. (John 3:16)
  4. Whoever (rich, poor, young, old, healthy, sickly, black, white, a murderer, a liar, me, you) believes won’t have to experience that death, but live forever with God. (John 3:16)
  5. When we repent, He forgives us completely. (1 John 1:9)
  6. When we repent, we are no longer slaves to sin. (Romans 6:1-7)

The flip side of that coin is also fair and equal. If you reject God, He will reject you (Matthew 10:33) no matter if you are rich, poor, young, old, healthy, sick, black, white, a murderer, a liar, me, or you.

A word of caution: accepting God on your terms is rejecting Him. Jesus said that He is the only way to God. (John 14:6) That is true for all of us.

It rains on the just and the unjust. The sun shines on everyone everywhere, night falls, morning dawns, and we all have 24 hours a day to choose God or reject Him.

I think you know how I am praying for you today.

What Good Is It?

Jeremiah 22

What good is it to live in a nice house, go to church in a beautiful building, enjoy a healthy body, and not know God? The blessings are fleeting. The blessings don’t make you a good person. The blessings aren’t even a sign you are right with God.

In fact, God says many have eyes only for greed and dishonesty, they murder the innocent, oppress the poor, and reign ruthlessly. And that doesn’t make Him happy.

I warned you when you were prosperous, but you replied, “Don’t bother me!” You have been this way since childhood – you simply will not obey me! It may be nice to live in a beautiful palace paneled with wood from the cedars of Lebanon, but soon you will groan with pangs of anguish – like that of a woman in labor. (22:21,23)

I sure hope you are enjoying a healthy, prosperous, comfortable day today. I hope you have clothes to wear, food to eat, a job to go to. I hope you have a family you love and who loves you. And I hope you’ll go to church on Sunday..

But don’t neglect the most important thing. Don’t neglect obedience. Confess your sin. Be holy, separate. Stand for the Truth at all cost. Because things are going to change. You won’t live on this planet forever. And God is not going to care what your house looked like. Only what your heart looks like. He won’t care where you worshiped. He’ll care that you worshiped Him in spirit and truth according to Scripture.

Jesus asked this question:

What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36)

How would you answer Him?

What good is it to live in a nice house, go to church in a beautiful building, and enjoy a healthy body?

Nothing, unless Jesus lives in you!

Accepting The Joy

Habakkuk 3

Any time we base our happiness on circumstances and/or relationships, we set ourselves up for disappointment, even devastation. I know from personal experience, how quickly situations change that can steal my joy, if I am depending on imperfect people (including myself) to make me happy. I’ve seen how quickly things can happen to change a sunny Sunday afternoon into the darkest day of my life.

But there is something deeper than happiness, something surer than circumstances, something more lasting than even the best and purest marriages and friendships. Listen to what the prophet Habakkuk says:

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! (verses 17-18)

Even when I don’t “feel” happy, I can rejoice in the fact my sins are forgiven at the cross of Jesus. Even when people fail me, or life gets hard, I have joy knowing God is my Heavenly Father who sustains me, embraces me, loves me, and strengthens me.

You see, joy is a fruit of the Spirit, something that supernaturally defines those in whom the Spirit dwells! It has nothing to do with whether or not I get that promotion at work, or if my children are obedient, or if I’m surrounded by friends. This joy is a result of my relationship with God, my Savior. It’s joy non-believers can’t understand or experience.

May we who have received God’s grace through the blood of Jesus rejoice in the Lord, separating that joy from our circumstances. May we accept the joy that come from knowing God who has saved us.

Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, said the following. I’d like to say the same to all of us today:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

Another Jesus

The King of Assyria sent his thugs to threaten the children of Israel, to bully them into surrendering. They pointed out that Assyria had successfully defeated the nations around them, that none of their gods we’re able to saved them from the mighty Assyrian army, and that the writing was on the wall. Israel was next.

Surrender or die.

Then these representatives of the Assyrian king said something that has me thinking today:

What’s more, do you think we have invaded your land without the Lord’s direction? The Lord Himself told us, “Attack this land and destroy it.”

One of two things could be true about that. Either God is using Assyria to punish Israel for their sin, and indeed instructed the enemy to be His judgment on the Jews, or the men representing the Assyrian king were lying.

Today, Satan is to us what the Assyrian King was to Israel in this portion of Scripture. He is the one threatening to destroy God’s people, and bullying us into submission. And he is using the Name of God to do it.

Bethel names the name of God. Benny Hinn names the name of God. Joel Osteen calls himself a Christian minister. I could go on. And so could you.

The question is, are we going to stand with God according to His inspired written Word, or are we going to be bullied into surrendering to Satan?

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse. (Galatians 1:8)

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4)

Guard your heart, dear one. Know what Scripture has to say so that you can recognize Satan’s lies. Then stand firm. Because the truth is, there isn’t another Jesus. There is only the One who is revealed in the pages of the Bible. If anyone says they have had a special revelation concerning Jesus… they are lying

There is only one true Gospel. There is only one true Jesus.

Do not be deceived.

Stepping Between God and the People

Psalms 105-106

These psalms recount the Exodus of the Jewish nation out of Egypt in the days of Moses, and reminds us how God moved in dramatic fashion on behalf of His obedient children. I think one amazing thing about Scripture, however, is how often we are also reminded how God moves when His children aren’t so obedient, like in these two psalms. God doesn’t sugar-coat anything. I’m thankful for that.

What stood out to me today was in 106:23,30. The Jews were living in blatant disobedience, even after God had blessed them. So God declared He would destroy them. Their disobedience made Him that angry.

But Moses, his chosen one, stepped between the Lord and the people. He begged God to turn from his anger and not destroy them.

So God did not destroy them.

Later, as punishment for yet more disobedience, a plague broke out among the Jews.

But Phinehas had the courage to intervene, and the plague was stopped. So he has been regarded as a righteous man ever since that time.

This morning I am reminded that Jesus has done the same for me. My disobedience angers God as much as the disobedience of the Old Testament Jews angered Him. What makes me think He hasn’t considered taking me out, too?

But I have a Savior. When I sin and make God angry, Jesus steps between the Lord and me and pleads my case. One day when I stand before the Throne of Heaven, Jesus will intervene for the last time, and I will not be destroyed. He will usher me into Paradise unlike anything I have ever known in this lifetime.

Here is something else that occurs to me. While I am still on this earth, I have the privilege of being a Moses or a Phinehas, one who intervenes for my loved ones, our nation and the whole world, and for you. I can beg God like Moses did, that He would turn from His righteous anger, and give each of us another chance to obey Him.

So today I want you to know that I am praying for you. I am going to step between the Lord and you and beg Him to have mercy. Will you do the same for me?

Praising the Judge

Psalm 98

For the first 9 1/2 verses the psalmist tells us to sing to the Lord, shout to the Lord, break out in praise to the Lord. Our victorious God has revealed His righteousness to every nation! He remembered His promises to love and be faithful to His people. Praise Him!

Living after the cross, we know God revealed Himself to the world when He became a human, and lived on this earth as a physical man. Jesus won the ultimate victory over death, Satan, and sin when he died on the cross and three days later came alive again. He saved the world.

Make a joyful symphony before the Lord, the King! (Vs 6b)

But here is why the psalmist tells all creation that God is worthy of our praise:

For the Lord is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice and the nations with fairness. (Vs 9)

Wait! Praise God for the coming judgment? Aren’t there psalms that tell us to praise Him for His goodness, faithfulness, grace, presence…?

Of course! He is all that and more, and deserves our praise. But these verses tell us to praise Him for the coming judgment as well.

Does standing before a judge in a court of law seem like something to be glad about? I had to stop and consider this for a while.

When I finished my course work in the School Counseling graduate program, I was required to take a comprehensive examination. It was a four or five hour test that would be the deciding factor whether or not I’d receive my graduate degree, and be qualified to be a school counselor. My future depended on my passing that test.

A few of us grad students got together periodically to study, and quiz each other on the different parts of the upcoming exam. We took practice tests, and discussed our answers.

I myself, would spend hours and hours on the Saturdays leading up to the test, pulling out every memorization technique I could think of. I actually started looking forward to the test date.

For one, I knew that I would receive my degree if I passed. That is what I had been working toward for a couple of years. Passing the test would mean no more evening classes to take after teaching school all day, no more papers to write, no more costly graduate fees.

That test marked the end of hard work, and the beginning of enjoying the benefits of the work. I was so ready to have it over.

On the morning of the test I remember standing in the shower and praying that God would help me recall what I had learned. Such a peace came over me I can only explain as from God. In fact, I felt so prepared, I almost dared the test-makers to come up with a question I couldn’t answer. (They actually did come up with one or two. 🙂 )

So I took the test that would judge my preparedness to be a school counselor. After several hours, I turned in my test, and walked away somewhat elated. I was pretty sure I had passed, and I did pass!

So why would God bring that to mind today as I considered the psalmist’s direction to praise God because He will come to earth to judge the world? Here are my thoughts:

The first is that we can know with certainty that God will judge the earth with justice and fairness. The truth is, He has been very upfront with His requirements.

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. (John 3:3)

Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

So the requirements the Judge will consider are whether or not we have accepted His grace and forgiveness through the blood of His Son Jesus. We all will be judged by the exact same standard. It will have nothing to do with how good or how bad we’ve been. Only whether or not we’ve received what Jesus died to give us. That’s fair.

The second thing I thought is, Jesus did the work. When my classmates and I were studying for our test, some of us put in the work before our sessions, others not so much. So when we actually took the test, we were judged on what we had put into it. As we should have been.

But if God operated on the same scale, none of us would pass the test. The standard for passing His test is:

For it is written “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)

Are you a good person? Not good enough. Do you go to church? Not good enough. Do you abstain from certain sins? Not good enough. It’s not good enough to simply read your Bible, or stay faithful to your spouse. Holy is holy, without sin. And the Bible tells us:

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

You have sinned. And that renders you unholy, falling short of God’s standard. And falling short of God’s standard results in:

The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)

Now I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t make me want to praise God for the upcoming judgment. Who can stand before a holy God and expect to hear, ”Not guilty,” if all of us are guilty? No one!

That’s why Jesus did the work. That’s why He took on our sin and paid the death sentence we earned by telling a lie, taking something that doesn’t belong to us, thinking bad thoughts, or disobeying our parents. You see, because He paid my debt, I have no fear of standing before a Holy Judge who will judge with justice and fairness.

I did what He told me to do. I asked Jesus to forgive me, I repented of the sin that sent Him to the cross. I have been born again, not of flesh but of spirit. I wear His righteousness, His holiness, because I have none of my own.

The rest of Romans 6:23 is:

but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So yes. I can look forward to judgment day. It marks the end of all the struggles and hardships living in this world affords. It marks the beginning of an eternity, reaping the benefits of having Jesus pass the test on my behalf.

So, dear one, continue to praise God for all His benefits, His blessings, your health, your comfort, your family and friends, and on and on and on. Praise the One who deserves your praise.

And praise Him for the fact that when He judges the world, when He judges you on that day, there will be no surprises. One person won’t be judged more easily or more harshly for the same sin you’ve committed. You won’t fall short because you only did 9,999 good deeds, and someone else will get a free pass because he did 10,000 good deeds. No one will barely make it into heaven while someone else almost makes it there.

God is fair. God is just. God will judge each of us by the standard He has laid out so clearly in His Word. I look forward to judgement day. I hope you can say the same. I hope that because we both have been born again, cleansed and made holy by Jesus, we can praise the Judge together now and for eternity!

It’s A Miracle Either Way

Psalm 91

My brother-n-law fell off the roof of his house and landed on the concrete driveway this week. The result? He didn’t hit his head, he has no broken bones. He bruised his shoulder and is in pain. It’s a miracle he didn’t die.

It’s a miracle.

I thought about that this morning as I read this psalm. Verses 9-12 say this:

If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.

When I first heard about what had happened to my borther-in-law, I said angels must have carried him off that roof. I think the psalmist would agree.

My cousin was trimming the limbs at the top of a tree when he lost his balance and fell. He died as a result of that fall. Where were the angels for him?

Both of these men had made the Lord their refuge, accepted Jesus as their Savior, and served him faithfully for decades. So why was Psalm 91 true for one and not the other?

I don’t know. I’m not God.

But I am reminded that God is Spirit, that His kingdom in spiritual. I know that, according to Scripture, my cousin fell from that tree and landed in heaven. The angels didn’t escort him safely to the ground, they escorted him right into the presence of God Himself!

My brother-in-law landed safely on the ground. And he will continue to live on this earth with all its blessings and curses, joys and hardships, health and sickness, laughter and tears. I’m very glad he’ll be around a while longer!

I am also reminded that God is much more invested in our spiritual health than our physical comfort. He has His eye on eternity, even if our eyes are on the 70, 80 short years we are alive on this planet. And what may not be true according to our physical bodies, God’s promises are 100% true for our eternal souls.

When we make God our refuge and take shelter in His spiritual arms, He will take care of us. Satan’s evil has no power over us when we are walking with the Lord. Verses 14-16 say:

The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me, I will protect those who trust in my name. When thy call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

And one day, the angels will escort us into the glorious Presence of our Lord and Savior!

So whether we are saved from an accident, are cured from a disease, or leave this world to be with Jesus…

It’s a miracle either way!