Plainly Said

“When it was day, the Council of elders of the people assembled, both chief priests and scribes, and they led Him away to their council chamber, saying, “If You are the Christ, tell us.” But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask a question, you will not answer. But from now on the son of man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God .” And they all said, “Are You the Son of God, then?” And He said to them, “Yes, I am.” Then they said, “What further need do we have of testimony? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.” ” – LUKE 22:66‭-‬71 NASB

Plainly said.

He doesn’t hesitate to say the words that condemn Him to the most gruesome death imaginable. Would you be so bold?

“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him. As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull, they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink. And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots. And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” – MATTHEW 27:27‭-‬35‭, ‬37 NASB

After a night of being beaten and mocked, Jesus is brought in front of the authorities. I can only imagine the dignity with which He must have carried Himself as He was brought into the chamber. He knew what would happen to Him, yet He refused to cower or deny the Truth.

I would be that honest and forthright in my bearing and my witness: plainly spoken.

Betrayed

Who betrayed Jesus the most, Judas or Peter?

Both men loved and were loved by Jesus. We despise Judas for what he did, and we call anyone who betrays us a “Judas”. Does taking money for his betrayal make him worse than the one who swears allegiance and then denies Him? I’m not convinced that there is a “worse” between the two. We like to vilify Judas, and we praise Peter because of his missionary work after Jesus ascended. We know that Judas hung himself in remorse, and Peter went on to become a champion for Jesus. Does that make up for Peter’s betrayal?

Judas –

“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.” …… “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.” – JOHN 13:21,26‭ (“Judas then, having received the Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I am He. ” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them.” – JOHN 18:3‭-‬5)

Peter –

“Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.” – JOHN 13:26‭, ‬38 (Then the slave-girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” ….. Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it, and said, “I am not.” One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” Peter then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed.” – JOHN 18:17‭, ‬25‭-‬27)

Judas felt deep remorse, so much that he couldn’t live with his conscience, and so he ended his life by hanging himself. Did he, in his guilt and shame, receive forgiveness? I hope he did. As heinous as his action in betraying his Lord, Judas did what was required of him to bring Jesus to the place of His sacrifice for our sins. He did as God ordained. Who am I to judge?

“Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself.” – MATTHEW 27:3‭-‬5

Both men were separated from God by their actions. We can see from the scriptures that Peter received Mercy. Did Judas? Sometimes I feel like a Judas, knowing that things I have said and done in my life were motivated by money, and other times, like a Peter, denying knowledge of my Lord either by words or by omission. Do you ever feel like either of these men?

All scriptures are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

Aliens on Earth

There are people who claim that Jesus was an alien being from another planet. You might be surprised to hear me say that they are at least partially correct. Jesus was – and is – an alien in this world, and on top of that, as Christ-followers, we are – we should be – as well. When we follow Him, our lives are supposed to be a reflection of Him so that non-believers can see how beautiful it can be to have that Love and Mercy and Grace. Many times, we really are the only Bible that person might ever see!

Too much pressure for you? As Americans living in the U.S., we aren’t recipients of the physical persecution (although we seem to be headed there) endured by Christians in many countries. In fact, especially in the middle of the so-called “Bible Belt”, many Christians have a hard time imagining physical persecution ever happening here. Friends, we are much closer to it becoming a reality than we want to accept. I believe that Peter was addressing us, Christian Americans in 2019, as much as he was when writing to Christians living outside of Rome in the first century after Christ.

“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles [non-Christians], so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” – 1 PETER 2:11‭-‬12 NASB

In the above letter, Peter refers to the “earthly lusts” we are to avoid, and Paul expounds on them in this letter to the Galations:

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” – GALATIANS 5:19‭-‬21 NASB

These are the things, the attitudes and actions, we need to avoid as followers of Christ Jesus. What kind of testimony is it when a professed Christian business acts in a dishonest manner? When a prominent Christian is caught cheating on their spouse, or lying, or drunk? And all those other things like these? Oh, we are fallible, and we are sinners, and we are held to a higher standard because of our profession of faith. I am chief among the sinners and the hypocrites! All I can do is publicly confess* and ask GOD for forgiveness, which I have done – and will continue to do. (*The exception is when your confession will cause harm to another. Then you should confess privately to another Christian whom you trust.) When we choose Jesus, we choose a higher moral ground. That means we have further to fall when we sin, and we make a bigger mess when we fall. I know. I’ve made some big messes!

Thank You, JESUS, for Your Saving Grace, Your Forgiveness and Mercy! Bless us as we make our poor attempts at following You. Amen.

A New Heart

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart [Hebrew a heart of flesh] And I will put My Spirit in you so that you will follow My Decrees and be careful to obey My Regulations.” – Ezekiel 36:26 NLT

GOD promised the Israelites a new heart and a new spirit, and that the Spirit would be in them to help them follow His decrees and regulations. Sound familiar? He promised this to His people, the people closest the His heart, hundreds of years before He sent His Son to earth to save all people.

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” And again He says: “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” – John 3:3‭, ‬5‭-‬8 NLT

GOD showed Himself to the Israelites many times over the centuries. He started by walking with Adam and Eve in the Garden, and He appeared through signs and miracles such as the burning bush, and pillars of fire and cloud that led the Israelites through the wilderness. He was in His Tabernacle in His Shechinah Glory [literally, His Presence], but the people still wandered away from Him and moved to idols and other gods…..

“For we live by believing and not by seeing.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7 NLT

We will see Christ, the Living LORD, when our physical bodies die, but the Israelites had Him there; His physical presence in the Tabernacle, and still couldn’t see Him. Blinded by the enemy, just as so many of us are today.

“For God made Christ, Who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT

LORD, grant me a new heart and a new spirit today. Grant me a tender, responsive heart and fill me with Your Spirit in order to follow Your Desires and Your Will. Amen.

Could It Be Any More Simple?

Jesus spoke quite plainly to the Samaritan woman and to the people who followed Him, saying,

“If you only knew the gift God has for you and Who you are speaking to, you would ask Me, and I would give you Living Water.” Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the Water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them Eternal Life.” Then Jesus told her, “ I Am the Messiah!” – John 4:10‭, ‬13‭-‬14‭, ‬26 NLT

“I tell you the Truth, you want to be with Me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the Eternal Life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given Me the Seal of His approval.” They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the One He has sent.” – John 6:26‭-‬29 NLT

The Bread of God. Living Water. What is Jesus talking about? How can I never be hungry or thirsty again? It’s too simple. There has to be a catch. “….. ask Me, and I would give you Living Water. Believe in the One He has sent.”

We are so conditioned to everything having a price. Nothing is freely given in this world. It might be not be much of a price in the overall scheme of life, but still a price – and it could take everything a person has left to pay it. Even the love of our earthly fathers and mothers isn’t unconditional. That’s why it’s so difficult for us to believe that a gift so huge can truly be free! There is nothing to give up in order to receive this gift. All we have to do is open our hands and accept it. Freely given.

“The True Bread of God is the One who comes down from heaven and gives Life to the world.” – John 6:33 NLT

Painting “Christ and the Samaritan Woman” – Henryk Siemiradzki, 1890.

Are You Thirsty?

“My soul thirsts for GOD, for the Living GOD. When can I go and meet with GOD? ….. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in GOD, for I will yet praise Him, my SAVIOR and my GOD.” – Psalm 42:2,11 NIV

Psalm 42 was written as a poem to be sung by the sons of Korah, the highest choir of the land for King David. The psalm tells us that though our road to heaven is trying, it is the same for the king. It helps to know that we aren’t alone in our struggles. However, we have a major advantage over King David and his people: we have seen JESUS, the Living GOD, MESSIAH, Who has come and fulfills the prophecies! JESUS is the embodiment of what the prophet Isaiah spoke of in this passage, which JESUS refers to in John 37.

“Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost. “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance.” – Isaiah 55:1‭-‬2 NASB

“Now on the last day, the great day of the feast [the Feast of the Booths], JESUS stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'” – John 7:37‭-‬38 NASB

Have you drunk of the Living Water, or do you depend on yourself and the world to satisfy your thrist? Without JESUS, you will never be satisfied.

Truth, unvarnished and unrepentent.

Good works, being a “good” person – these will not satisfy your soul, and at the the time of Judgement, when you face the LORD on His Throne – only one thing matters: have you received the Salvation freely offered, the Living Water of JESUS CHRIST? Not Buddha, not Muhammad, not Nostradamos or any other human prophet; not the greatest good deeds nor the best intentions…… only JESUS.

Are you thirsty?

References: https://www.biblestudytools.com and

https://bible.com/bible

The Fear of GOD: Praise Be!

“The fear of God” is a phrase used numerous times in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelations. One of the first times it was used was to illustrate how much God wants us to love Him. In Genesis 22, Abraham is prepared to offer his son, Issac, as a sacrifice to the LORD – his miracle son, born to him and Sarah in their old age. Abraham trusts with his whole heart that the LORD will provide an alternative, and He does. Abraham answered [Issac], “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” He [GOD] said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear GOD because you have not withheld from Me your son, your only son.” Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.” – Genesis 22:8‭, ‬12‭-‬13 NIV

Do I love the LORD, the GOD Who created me, enough to sacrifice my child? I’m pretty sure I don’t have it in me to do so. I would gladly offer myself, my own life, to save my family and loved ones – but to willingly lay one of them on an altar and prepare to offer their life? Could you? Do I “fear” GOD enough? Thank GOD that He made that decision for us by sending HIS Only Son as our sacrifice!

“Praise be to the GOD and FATHER of our LORD JESUS CHRIST! In His Great Mercy He has given us New Birth into a Living Hope through the resurrection of JESUS CHRIST from the dead, and into an Inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This Inheritance is kept in heaven for you….. Concerning this Salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the Grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care….. Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your Hope on the Grace to be brought to you when JESUS CHRIST is revealed at His coming.” – 1 Peter 1:3‭-‬4‭,10‭,13 NIV

“But just as He Who called you is Holy, so be Holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be Holy, because I Am Holy.” “Since you call on a FATHER who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in Reverent Fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed …… with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through Him you believe in GOD, who raised Him from the dead and Glorified Him, and so your Faith and Hope are in GOD.” – 1 Peter 1:17‭-‬19 NIV

To “Fear GOD” means to be awestruck, astonished, conscious, reverential; to live a God-centered life. In Genesis 31:53 NIV, Laban said to Jacob “May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.” “So Jacob took an oath in the Name of the Fear of his father Isaac.” (“the Fear” = GOD)

Since we call Him Father and reflect Him as our Father, shouldn’t we want to avoid offending Him or disappointing Him? If I do a thing, will it hurt God? From Romans 14:12, we learn that God judges our work, but He doesn’t judge whether we will be in heaven. Belief in the LORD JESUS CHRIST determines where we will be – heaven – and our service & works determines how we will be there. Our ‘graduation’ is the works we do while still on earth. Our Foundation is Jesus and as such is rock-solid, but the rest of our building will reflect our works. When GOD tests our works, our “building,” will His Holy Fire destroy my building?

“For no one can lay any foundation other than the One already laid, which is JESUS CHRIST. If anyone builds on this Foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved – even though only as one escaping through the flames.” – 1 Corinthians 3:11‭-‬15 NIV (Also read 1 Corinthians 4:5 and 2 Corinthians 5:10-11)

Teachers and preachers are held to an even higher standard because they are the leaders and guides for everyone else. (James 3:1-2) Our life, our deeds will be judged; not our salvation. On earth, money talks; in heaven, only the Blood of JESUS is accepted as payment for our sins because His is the Blood of the Unblemished, Innocent Lamb (Exodus 12, Rev 5). The Blood of the Lamb is the scarlet thread that runs through the Bible from start to finish – there is no hope in a bloodless gospel. We are ransomed with a precious, priceless, infinite price, the price of JESUS as the Lamb. Listen to John’s Revelation:

“Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, Who was slain, to receive Power and Wealth and Wisdom and Strength and Honor and Glory and Praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To Him Who sits on the Throne and to the Lamb be Praise and Honor and Glory and Power, for ever and ever!” – Revelation 5:6‭, ‬12‭-‬13 NIV

Jesus is our Sacrifice, our Pardon, and all we have to do is to accept the Pardon as offered – Free, clear, no strings attached. If you don’t accept a pardon, then it’s no good. From the great evangelist Billy Graham, “We all have a hunger in our hearts for God – an empty place in our souls that only He can fill.” (Read Psalm 42:2).

We have our past redemption by The CHRIST, and the future prospect of judgement:

“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear GOD and keep His Commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For GOD will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” – Ecclesiastes 12:13‭-‬14 NIV