Friday, September 23, 2016

Our Substitute

                          Our Substitute

                                           Isaiah 53:4-5

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

The name Isaiah means: Salvation of the Lord. Isaiah 53 is prophecy, a vision given to Isaiah 700 years before Jesus came. There have been many visions in the Bible, but none surpass the vision God gave Isaiah depicting the cross and all that would follow.

He left His Father’s throne above, So free, so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love, And bled for Adam’s helpless race.‘Tis mercy all, immense and free!  For, O my God it found out me!

The Pharisees accused Jesus of being a blasphemer claiming to be equal with God and that God killed Him for His blasphemies. Surely, He didn’t die for His own sin, for His own iniquities, or His own transgressions? It was our griefs, our sorrows, that He suffered and died for. He took our place and is our substitution for sin.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay, Fast bound in sin and nature’s night; Thine eye diffused a quickening ray–– I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee. Amazing love, How can it be That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

     “And Can It Be, That I Should Gain?”  by Charles Wesley

We as Christians are so deeply moved by the amazing realities of this prophecy. The details revealed hundreds of years before they came to pass point to Christ and no other. We know that there is salvation in no other name but Jesus (Philippians 2:9-10). One day when we enter into eternity, there will be no more sin, for He took away the sin that belonged to us and put it on Himself.

Lord, thank You for such amazing love, that You died for me.





Friday, September 16, 2016

Consequences of Lying and Deception


     Consequences of Lying and Deception
 
                           Genesis 27 ~ The Beginning

Jacob’s deception and lying caused sever consequences in his life, something he would live with until his death. After Jacob deceived his aging father, he fled from the presence of his brother Esau, in fear of his life. Rebekah accepted responsibility for her wrong actions regarding Esau  and Isaac sent Jacob away to Laban’s home, Rebekah’s brother. Jacob would suffer consequences from his deception, being he would never see his mother again before her death.

Laban had two daughters; the name of the older daughter was Leah and the younger, Rachel. Jacob’s heart was definitely bent towards Rachel and he was willing to work seven years to provide a dowry to make her his wife. Unfortunately, Jacob, the deceiver, was about to be deceived himself. Local customs of the land required that the older daughter be married first and that meant Leah before Rachel. Fourteen years Jacob worked for Laban and ended up with two wives that would become jealous in childbearing competition causing tremendous sorrow.

Years later, Jacob would be deceived by his own sons when they made plans to murder their brother Joseph. They tried to cover-up their hate and envy by selling him to merchants passing by and telling their father that Joseph was dead, killed by a wild animal. The pain and heartache  that accompanied Jacob was overwhelming but God, in His divine plan, made Joseph second in command in Egypt. During this time, there was a great famine in the land of Israel, and Jacob’s sons journeyed to Egypt to buy food. They were shocked and fearful when they saw Joseph, their brother, whom they had sold into slavery, alive and in charge of the distribution of food. The sons of Jacob would have to tell their father that Joseph was alive and confess the sin they committed against him so many years ago.

What unnecessary suffering they caused their father in their lying scheme and what unnecessary grief and sorrow we cause our Father when we pursue to deceive.

Lord, forgive my deceitful, untruthful ways.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Adoption

                            Adoption
 
                                        Romans 8:15
"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, 'Abba, Father!'"

When walking through the doors of a pregnancy help center, women are faced with three parenting options: to parent, to abort or adoption. Some have made up their minds before they enter the doors what the outcome of their pregnancy will be and others are looking for answers, strength to survive or a glimpse of hope. Most women, when presented with the alternative choice of adoption, make the statement, “I could never give my baby away.” They do not realize that adoption is a loving response and a positive parenting option.

Birthparents and/or birthmothers need to understand that after making their decision for adoption, they are fulfilling their parenting responsibilities by making sure their child’s needs are met before their own. This is not an uncaring mother or one who will forget about their baby, shirking their responsibility, but a compassionate decision that a mature and selfless person makes. Adoption can be a loving alternative for parents who may, for various reasons, be unable to care for their own children.

There are only three adoptions mentioned in the Old Testament (Moses, Esther, and Genubath, I Kings 11:20). Israel is called God’s son or child in Old Testament Scripture (Exodus 4:22; Jeremiah 31:9) but not until the New Testament, do we see the word adoption written. The foundation for adoption is not based on earthly parents adopting humans but on God adopting mankind through the heart of the Gospel.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. ” (John 1:12-13). Once we believe and trust in Christ by faith we become part of the family of God.

Lord, I’m thankful I’ve been adopted into Your family.

Friday, September 2, 2016

How Do We Strengthen Our Homes?

How Do We Strengthen Our Homes?

                                  Matthew 18:21-22
"Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven."

What can we do to strengthen our homes?  Does the Bible have an answer for us? Keep in mind what God calls us to do, He enables and equips us to achieve. What is most important in our families that causes relationships to be sustained for the long haul? The answer, FORGIVENESS. Forgiveness is an undeserved and an unearned love that affirms to an offender that there is no anger, no hatred, no desire for vengeance, no retaliation necessary. The guilt has been removed and the blame is gone. This is the exact compassion that God demonstrates towards sinners. He grants to us a promise of unconditional love through His precious Gospel. Our reproach and humiliation have been removed and God’s attitude towards those who have put their faith in Him is His unfathomable favor. This is what makes a lasting relationship, when there are no resentments and no unresolved grievances we harbor.

In Colossians 3:13, Paul says, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”

Unforgiveness, imprisons and keeps people chained to their past. As long as they are unwilling to forgive offenders and their offenses, they are shackled to them, keeping their pain alive like an open sore. Christ is our model of forgiveness and has pardoned all our sins––the most important truth in Scripture (Colossians 2:13). He has cancelled out our sin debt against a holy God and redeemed us (fulfilled the necessary payment for sin) with His own blood (Colossians 1:14). How can we, who have been forgiven so much, not forgive someone? To make our homes strong, we need to release others through a heart of forgiveness (Ephesians 4:32).

Lord, build my home.  Amen!

Friday, August 26, 2016

My Little Children

                     My Little Children

                                          1 John 3:7       
 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 
 
The Apostle John was an eyewitness of the life of Christ and knew Him intimately. John’s letter assumes that the readers are Christians with a knowledge of the glorious gospel and are desiring a personal relationship with Him. Unfortunately, these dear people were being confronted with a philosophy of religion that was inaccurate and filled with error. This false teaching was known as Gnosticism, mostly influenced by such philosophers as Plato. Such erroneous doctrine started to infect the early church and John wanted to expose the wrong teaching by encouraging believers with the Light of truth. Gnostics saw themselves as a privileged class elevated above everyone else by their higher and deeper knowledge of God. John is displaying his heart for the early Christians by bringing them back to basic principles and lovingly assuring them of their faith. "
I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth." (I John 2:21).

At least nine times in the book of I John, the term, “little children” is used to speak to those believing the gospel of Christ. John is reassuring them that they are part of the family of God and uses loving, fatherly tones to communicate this. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God:" (I John 3:1a). John is conveying complete confidence in their sincere faith bringing hope to believers by calling them  “beloved” or “my little children.” “Beloved, we are God's children now. . .” (I John 3:2). These are positive expressions of deep affection used throughout John’s epistle encouraging believers to walk in the Light as He is in the Light.  John’s book is written with tenderness and a loving desire to demonstrate true joy in fellowship with one another and with Christ.

Lord,  I am assured of being one of Your “little children.”

Friday, August 19, 2016

Is Parenting Easy?

                                Is Parenting Easy?

                                         Proverbs 23:26
My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.

When you received the news that you were expecting your first child, your heart was most likely giddy with excitement. Your enthusiasm grew more and more with each day and a multitude of questions filled your mind. Can I be a good parent to this child that God has so graciously given me? Will I be someone my child can and will trust? How will I ever do this? God, will You please help me?

To set your mind as ease, there are no perfect parents that have ever existed or will at any time exist. If you think you must be that perfect parent, then you won’t need a perfect Savior to redeem you from your sins. As a parent, you will make plenty of mistakes in pursuing the roll of Mother or Father. You must remember that you have the Holy Spirit to guide, direct and comfort you through this life long journey.

Living the Gospel each day as you “parent,” will encourage you and strengthen your faith in Christ. The power of the Gospel is not to be set aside after salvation, but to be lived out daily before young eyes to observe and follow. The Gospel is the “good news” that you do not have to earn your salvation. The work of redemption has already been completed through the shedding of Christ’s precious blood and death on the cross. He was buried and rose again the third day ascending into heaven and is now seated at the right hand of the Father.

Gospel parenting is preparing your child to believe in what Jesus has done for them and to put their faith and trust in Christ, and in Christ alone. Effective parents do not center their lives around their children, but center their children around God’s dear Son. You, as a parent, must realize that you are utterly dependent upon God for parenting and responsible to Him as a parent.

Lord, may I center my life around You.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Slavery to Freedom to Bondservant

   Slavery to Freedom to Bondservant
 
                                 I Corinthians 7:22
For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant.

There have been many forms of slavery written about in our history books, including the enslavement of people recorded in Scripture. The Bible does not condemn slavery altogether seeing that the Bible gives instructions on how to treat a slave or bondservant (Colossians 4:1). During Bible times, slavery was sometimes pursued to aid and assist people struggling to stay alive. They would sell themselves to provide for their families or to get out of debt.

We suffered a great Civil War here in our country because of the unfavorable practice of slavery. This harmful action was directed towards the color of a person’s skin rather than their specific need for economic assistance. Men, women and children were taken from their homes unlawfully and forced to become slaves. They were treated as inferior human beings and abused physically and mentally. Freedom from this type of slavery was costly and many family members fought against each other during this difficult time. Roughly 2% of the population, an estimated 620,000 men, lost their lives in this devastating war.

The Word of God does tell us that we are born in sin and therefore, slaves to sin (Psalm 51:5; Romans 6:16-20). But, when we trust Christ by faith and believe in what He has done for us through His death, burial and resurrection, the Gospel, we are freed from the bondage of sin and its condemnation (Romans 8:1,2). When a person becomes a servant to Christ through regeneration, the Bible says they are then slaves, bound to serve but free to express their deep devotion to Christ. How can one not express such gratitude and overwhelming love for Him. Once slaves to sin, but now, a child of God, and heirs to Christ through Jesus Christ our Lord(Galatians 4:7).

Lord, thank You for the freedom to serve and to be Your servant.