Tag Archives: the Gospel

That Same Jesus

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

The touch of His hand healed everyone. (Luke 4:40b)

Jesus offered Living Water to the woman at the well, and told her if she drank it she would never thirst again. (John 4:14) In fact, He told her, it would bubble up inside her like a spring bringing eternal life.

The demons knew who He was, but they had no power to resist His demands.

He called ordinary men to follow Him, and turned them into extra-ordinary forces for the Gospel, the good news that Jesus is God, the Savior of the world.

That same Jesus is alive today, continuing to touch diseased souls, giving eternal life, and calling His followers to be extra-ordinary forces to share the Good News.

That same 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.

Mixed Messages

Ezra 9-10

I wonder if the Church isn’t guilty of “marrying foreign wives” like the people of Israel including priests and Levites were guilty during the time of Ezra.

So the holy race has become polluted by these mixed messages. Worse yet, the leaders and officials have led the way in this outrage. (9:2b)

No one wants to talk about the Church as the holy race. We’d rather talk about how we can be attractive to foreigners, to those who don’t know the Savior. Our goal, preached from so many pulpits, is to actually bring the foreigners into the Church!

That’s like marrying a non-believer, expecting them to change. Folks, you know that doesn’t work. It certainly isn’t working in the modern Church.

I watched a movie on Pure Flix last night, “Play the Flute.” We geezers will recognize Loretta Swift from “Mash,” Fred Grandy from Love Boat (your remember Gopher, right?), and Clint Howard, Opie’s real life brother. It’s a good movie about a young youth pastor, burdened for the teens in his church who not only do not read the Bible, they don’t even see a need to read it.

The youth pastor struggles with whether or not to make his youth group about programs and events and fun so numbers grow. He hears from a friend whose own youth group has grown because of all the things they are doing. He reads articles and commentaries from church leaders who promote the idea that if youth group is an event, kids will come. But he can’t shake the conviction that the Bible needs to be the focus of his youth group.

So he gets up in front of the teens and reads what Jesus says in Matthew 11:

To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a funeral song, and you did not mourn.”

He likens God’s Word to the flute, himself as the musician, and to the teens as those who refused to dance, who just sit there and don’t accept what they hear. The pastor tells the kids he’ll continue to play the flute. What they do with what they hear is up to them.

I hope you’ll watch the movie. I think you’ll like it. It certainly has me thinking today in light of what I read in Ezra.

Church, it might be time for us to divorce ourselves from foreign wives, and return the Church to that which God intended – a holy people. It might be time for us to simply play the flute and quit dancing to get attention. Why do we think the sound of God’s Word is incapable of changing hearts today? What if we got back to having the preaching and teaching of Scripture plus nothing be our focus?

I know some of you will say times have changed, kids are bored with church, we are a technology focused society, that bells and whistles are needed to draw people in. And some of you say we want anyone to come in no matter what they believe.

But is that what God says He wants of His Church? Times have changed, but He hasn’t. His demand for a holy people still rings true today. And foreign wives, mixed messages, are defiling His Church.

That’s not just my opinion. It’s what God’s Word says, whether we like it or not. I’m praying for my church, and for your’s. I’m praying for Christians everywhere to get back to God’s Word and let Him work in the hearts of people without our interference. I’m praying for the holy people of God to pick up our flutes and play them with all our hearts.

And let God do the rest. He’s better at it than we are anyway.

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.

At Home

Ezekiel 40-46

Reading about the Temple courtyard, the thick walls, the gates, and the little rooms surrounding the Sanctuary, I thought I’d like to have lived there had I been alive at the time. To walk out of my door that overlooked the place where God lived on Earth would have been awesome! I honestly had an “at home,” cozy feeling as I read Ezekiel’s vision this morning.

But then I remembered my heart is where God lives on Earth today. My! Heart! And I am overwhelmed with the same “at home,” and cozy feeling I had while reading.

Oh, the privilege of living in the actual presence of God! What comfort, strength, peace, and love envelope me! I don’t have to walk outside my door, or look toward a building to experience God’s Presence. I don’t have to wait for a priest to enter the Holy of Holies. I live there!

Yet I am reminded that not everyone can say the same. Only we who have humbled ourselves before our Holy God, recognized our sin and repented of them, accepted God’s forgiveness, grace, and mercy through the blood of Jesus, can experience the Presence of God.

Christ in me, my hope for today and eternity.

Be at home in me today, Lord. Fill this temple called Connie with Your Presence. And may others recognize that this is where God lives on Earth! Then my prayer is that they will want You in their lives, too.

Let Your light shine through me today and point others to Your saving grace. For Jesus’ sake, and for Your glory!

Hard Hearted and Hard Headed

Ezekiel 1-2

I read something in Ezekiel’s vision I want for myself and for the Church in 2022. First of all, the prophet felt the hand of the Lord take hold of him (1:3). Makes me wonder if we’ve placed ourselves in a position to feel the same.

Oh, I read the Bible every day. I teach Sunday School and Good News Clubs. The church emphasizes a worship experience and fun programs. But does God take hold of us as a result of our own efforts? Ezekiel was in exile by a river when God got hold of him.

Maybe I, maybe we ought to be still, and quiet our hearts in order for God to take hold of us. Maybe our busy-ness is preventing us from knowing what it’s like to feel the hand of God on our lives.

The second thing I read that I pray for myself and the Church is found in 2:8-9. God made Ezekiel hard hearted and obstinate. He gave him a hard head so that the prophet would not be afraid to speak the truth.

Should we be praying God will harden our hearts, too? Yes. When it comes to sin – yes! When it comes to compromising the truth or fearing what might happen if we actually stood firm – yes!

God told Ezekiel to eat the scroll, to let God’s words sink deep into his heart, to listen to God’s words carefully for himself – then get out there and tell the people: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says!”

Say it without apology or fear. And keep saying it, whether they listen or not.

So today, I’m praying for hard hearts, uncompromising spirits in you and me. I’m praying for hard headed Christians with a mission to speak the truth no matter what.

Let’s do this!

Here I Am!

Isaiah 65

There is an old 35mm home movie of me at my parent’s Sunday School class’s Christmas party. I’m probably four or five at the time. Each year “Santa” would make an appearance and bring presents (provided by the parents) to pass out to the kids.

We’d usually sit on the floor in front of the jolly old man, and excitedly wait for our names to be called. All of us, dressed in our Sunday best. Me in a dress, hair ribbons in my braids, and my Mary Janes.

Santa must have called my name (it was before sound made it into home movies. Yes, I’m that old) because you see me jump up and hurry to stand in front of him. You can see him holding the present and looking to his left, totally ignoring me! “Connie,” you can see him call out again.

You can see my mouth move: “Here I am,” I say, my eyes looking intently into his face.

Santa looks to the right, still holding the present. “Connie, are you here?” he says.

This time you can see my little hand come up to my chest, pointing at myself, and watch my mouth say, “This is me. I’m right here.”

But the old guy still doesn’t seem to see me, even though I am nose-to-nose with him. He looks over my head and once again calls out my name.

You can see the look of disappointment and confusion on my young face, until he looks down and with surprise says, “There you are!” My face changes from disappointment to gladness in an instant. I walk back to my place on the floor, present in hand, and a smile on my face.

I thought of that this morning as I read the first verse of chapter 65.

The Lord says, “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call my name.

So many people are looking for Truth, when Truth is standing right in front of them. Many are searching for God, when He is nose-to-nose with them. They look to the right, lean into the left. They look to science, philosophy, preachers and musicians. They look to politicians and influencers, and some even look to themselves.

Friend, if that describes you, hear God say, “Here I am, here I am!” Then run to Him. You’ll find His arms open wide. Submit to Him. You’ll find forgiveness and cleansing. Trust Him, and you’ll find eternity.

Can you hear Him?

“Here I am, here I am!”

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.