Genesis 1:1 | Beginning with Purpose

The start of something is beautiful and there are usually only a few that are involved or even notice. Birth of a child. Start of a business. A new relationship. So it was at the beginning of physical reality. God acted bringing forth everything.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1 ESV

He created planets, space, time, life, laws of nature, wisdom, and anything else that is ordered and true. Our very existence points back to God. We cannot understate his influence on every moment of our lives. So why did he create? Why begin something so vast that did not previously exist?

I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ Isaiah 46:9-10 ESV

What is this creative all-powerful God’s purpose? Paul writes that God’s purpose is to “lavish” upon peoples his plan to bring all of creation into unity. He created all things not to watch disinterestedly. Many people mistakenly think that the Creator is passive and that we are free of any interference from Him. A passive creator is not possible. Some view him as weak and powerless to control the creation once it was unleashed. A Creator big enough to create the reality we live in is big enough to control what is going on. God knew exactly what he was doing at the beginning and has demonstrated the truth that “I will accomplish all my purpose” as declared by Isaiah. That purpose is revealed in Christ.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Ephesians 1:7-10 ESV

The beginning was beautiful and demonstrated the majesty and holiness of God. What follows from Genesis 1:1 is the purpose of God to draw people to him that want to love him and that want to fellowship with him. There is more to the event in Genesis 1:1 that is revealed after the arrival of Jesus. That backstory is the amazing knowledge that Jesus was created first before the beginning. God’s purpose was evident before the beginning even started.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. John 1:1-3 ESV

Not only was Jesus the word and the active agent through which God spoke creating everything. Jesus is the image of God the first born of everything we see today.

[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. Colossians 1:15-16 ESV

The beginning was created through Christ and for Christ. Jesus lived and walked this earth and he left a record of his purpose that we can read and study today. Dear reader today is the moment of mercy and grace that you might connect with his purpose. From before the beginning. Before God created you, he planned a moment and provided a way of reconciliation. This is the purpose and Jesus is his plan to accomplish that purpose.

12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, John 1:12 ESV

*Edited and Revised. Originally Published September 2018

2 Corinthians 5:8 | Why God?

One objection to God that has gathered my attention lately is the question why would God allow suffering and death. Why the loss of a child? Why death from covid? How could God do such a thing especially when one sees the evil done toward children from other people and from the harsh environment of the world itself. This question for me was resolved long ago and for those asking this question now the answer is found in understanding the world from God’s perspective.

We are always so wrapped up in ourselves. Focusing on our loss or our expectations. And here is the big perspective issue… We live and view this world as the end. This world is not our home. This world is temporary and trying to get comfortable here in such a way that we delude ourselves into thinking it is forever leaves us to question God when this world is not forever.

6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 2 Corinthians 5:6-9 ESV

There are two homes. The temporary home and the home with God in eternity. Paul uses a Greek word for home that is only found in these few verses ἐνδημέω (endēmeō). The definition is to be among one’s own people, dwell in one’s own country, stay at home. Paul is saying here that we are of good courage because while here in this temporary body we are with brother and sisters in Christ. And we are also of good courage if dead because we are at home with our heavenly father dwelling in our true home with our true people.

We see a tragedy where people die due to an accident and we question God. Why Lord? Jesus responded to an accident that happened where a tower (under construction, due to negligent building practices, or due to earthquake we don’t know) collapsed and killed 18 people. It must have been all the news because Jesus brought it up. Were the 18 judged by God and the preverbal lighting bolt fell from the sky? Where the 18 in the wrong place at the wrong time? Why Lord?

3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3-5 ESV

Jesus offers no answer to the “why” question. He only notes that everyone is a sinner and unless we repent, we will perish. God owes me no answers. He is God and he has ordered the days of my life. We are promised nothing beyond today because this life, this time, this world, and this universe are temporary. If God permits a child to die that child while taken from us here and now is reunited with God in eternity. We greave and it is a hardship that can break hearts we take good courage, as Paul writes, that this child is at home with God.

12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

13 Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants!

14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Psalms 90:12-14 ESV

The pain of lost loved ones is real and I do not wish to diminish that for anyone who has lost, but I also want us all as we approach God see things from His perfect perspective. He has limited our time on earth. He calls us to repentance for our own actions and we like Paul can take good courage in knowing that our true home is with Christ in Heaven.

9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 ESV

2 Corinthians 4:3 | The Veiled Light

As Christians it is our primary duty to share the gospel of Jesus with family, friends, community, and the world. Jesus promised the disciples, and modern Christians by extension, that “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth”. (Acts 1:8 ESV) Nothing in that promise has changed. That promise that Christians will be the witnesses of Christ to everyone is ongoing right this minute. Paul in his letter to the church writes what may be the most inspiring and motivating evangelistic words in the Bible.

3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 ESV

The gospel of Jesus Christ is hidden. The Greek word for “veiled” here means to “hinder the knowledge of a thing” καλύπτω (kalyptō). The knowledge of Christ is hidden from those who are perishing. Christians speak of a lost and dying world but in reality, we should change that phrase to a dark and dead world and only the light and new birth in Jesus Christ, the gospel, will save that dark and dead world. Those whose minds are blinded are blinded by the “god”, or Satan, of this world to keep them from seeing the “light of the gospel of the glory of Christ”.

Satan is actively working to suppress the light of Christ in this world. Where then does the light come from and how is it suppressed? The source of the light is God and specifically the glory of Christ and Paul tells us that the light shines from our heart outward.

6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV

Pause for a moment brother and sister in Christ. Pause and think for a moment that the light of God, the light of the knowledge of God, the light of the gospel message, shines in our hearts. The light is inside of you Christian! Therefore, of the light is veiled. If the light is dim, if the light is not making it to those around you then why?

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 ESV

Do you hide the light in your heart? Are you fearful to expose your heart of light to the world? Paul understood that there are risks and there are abuses for those that open their heart for the world to see. The god of this world wants you to hide you light. This evil god wants the dead to remain so in darkness and Paul addressed that with these wonderful words of realism and encouragement.

7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 ESV

March on spiritual warrior of God. Take up the spiritual weapons and walk right into that ridicule, that mockery, that persecution, that loss of a job, even that death in this life if so called because of the surpassing power of God is there at work. Let that light shine. Eternity is at stake.

2 Corinthians 2:14 | The Smell of Victory

One of the best parts of the fall holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, are the smells. The smells trigger wonderful memories for me. I love the pine smell of a Christmas tree. I love the fire place smoke. I love the smells of the kitchen spices. It is a wonderful time of the year. I think if one were to walk into a home that is cooking something wonderful the smells alone can change the mood in a positive direction.

14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 ESV

Paul in his letter to the Corinthians reminds them that they themselves are a sweet fragrance and a positive influence because they are infused with the aroma of Christ. Is there a person that walks into a room and you instantly feel more at ease? To others Paul says that Christians are the “fragrance of the knowledge of [God]” in every direction. We fill up the room with the smell of God. That presence flows to every corner of our influence. That aroma is noticeable and pervasive. People know when you have been with God. His love flows out of you in overflowing glory. Some hate that smell and others embrace it. So what is the smell that is so overwhelming? What is this fragrance? It is the “aroma of Christ” an incense burned up to God. Christ is the incense and we who are being saved are bathed in the atoning smoke.  

And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it. Every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall burn it, and when Aaron sets up the lamps at twilight, he shall burn it, a regular incense offering before the Lord throughout your generations. You shall not offer unauthorized incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering, and you shall not pour a drink offering on it. 10 Aaron shall make atonement on its horns once a year. With the blood of the sin offering of atonement he shall make atonement for it once in the year throughout your generations. It is most holy to the Lord.” Exodus 30:7-10 ESV

When we look at the history of the Old Testament everything prescribed and everything commanded by God was done to point toward Jesus and the perfect savior. The Priest would burn a specific type of incense as part of the temple duties before God as part of the sacrifice and sin covering attornment process. Jesus completed and fulfilled all those duties when he died on the cross for my sins and your sins.

Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV

Jesus Christ became the burnt offering of attornment. Jesus Christ is the fragrant incense burning before God and those who are being saved are bathed in that smell. So therefore, be imitators of God. Be his representative on earth toward everyone around you. Smell like victory in Christ.

Titus 3:9 | Christ > Race

white

What if you were related to a King from a faraway country or maybe your family happened to be related to someone even more awesome like Lebron James who is the King of basketball? Ancestry and relations that hold great, famous, and wonderful people is a fun topic to think on. Movies are made about this (Luke I am your Father). But there is a downside to ancestry and we are living in the middle of this woke awakening and self segregation. The Biblical makes a big deal out of family narrative but it is even more clear that being in God’s family is the highest priority for every person. The Bible hosts several geologies that link together famous people. The original patriarch’s descendant from Adam to Noah. The Jewish nation from Abraham to King David. And the genealogy of King David to Jesus as a baby born in Bethlehem. Who we are is very much wrapped up in who our families are and where they came from. It is no surprise then that how the world perceives and treats people can be directly related to ancestry. One of my favorite shows on television is called “Finding your Roots”. I enjoy the detailed research and the way the host, Henry Louis Gates Jr., unveils knowledge of the past to his guests. Sometimes the events and history he shows to the guest is amazing and emotionally powerful. There is good and bad in those family trees. Sometimes ancestry can be used in evil ways. Racial and ethnic pride is might be the ugliest use of the genealogy of ancestors. Hate or approval might be bestowed just from the color of someone’s skin. The reality is that people like to categorize themselves into nations and tribes. People prefer to be around others like themselves.

While genealogy is a hobby for some it could mean being part of the power structure to some societies. Who your parents are could carry serious privileges and unlock doors to wealth and success. Genealogy and proving historic links to be part of the power structure was something that Paul warned Christians against. He did not want them to be caught up in things that are not factual or relevant to God’s kingdom.

4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 1 Timothy 1:4 ESV

Devotion to endless genealogies describes a worldly focus of pride in things are not constructive to the present. Genealogies and learning ancestry are not bad in and of themselves because even Jesus needed to establish a pedigree in the line of King David to be the messiah. It is good to know and relevant in proving citizenship and understanding of where one has come but at the end of the day it should not be all consuming and it should not be divisive. Paul warns his other apprentice in similar fashion.

9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Titus 3:9 ESV

Where one comes from can be a distraction in regard to where they are going. Are you white and do not like to associate with people of color? Then you are allowing your past to cause quarrels and dissensions that are unprofitable and worthless. You are also just flat out sinning against your brother in Christ. Are you a person of color and harbor ill will toward the callous, privileged, uncaring white guy living an oblivious life in his suburb? Well you may be perpetuating speculations and controversy due to genealogies by pre judging based on ancestry. Note: Life is hard for the prince, the pauper, and all of us in-between. Everyone and I mean everyone has hidden sins and demons to face. Paul has harsh words for us Christians in this current age.

3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? 1 Corinthians 3:3-4 ESV

Look at the world and see that it is normal for people to segregate and commune with those who are like themselves in a worldly way. Jealousy of others who appear to have more is powerful when living in the flesh. If I fellowship with a Christian from anywhere in the world it should be that our unity in Christ stands taller than nationality, skin color, political affiliation, or family background. If not, then Paul is telling us that our dissension is worthless and unprofitable because it is of the flesh and we are behaving in a human way.

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:1 ESV

William Barclay puts what Paul is saying this way. “Paul is talking about the difference between the person who is spiritual, and who therefore can understand spiritual truths, and the person who is [not spiritual] who interests and aims do not go beyond physical life”. If we are stuck on national pride, where someone is from, or the color of their skin (or if you have ill feelings toward the people who are in the first category) then we are not ready for the spiritual life. The obsession and focus does “not go beyond physical life”. We are much too obsessed with this earth, this life, and a desire for this world to be fair and accepting. Note: This world is not going to accept a follower of Christ any more than it accepted Christ when he was here. Stuck in infancy in the relationship with Christ we struggle with the worthless genealogies that mean nothing in God’s spiritual kingdom. The fact is all men are related no matter the nation or color. We all go back to one set of parents in Adam and Eve both physically and spiritually. They held the genetic make-up of every person living on earth today and they held the image of God that is also in the make-up of every person living on earth today. We all are just a shadow of their perfection in the hands of God our Creator. We are all brothers and sisters. Don’t let a genealogy separate the body of Christ that should be united under his Lordship.

*Revised and Edited Original Post Aug 2016

Romans 12:10 | How to Outdo Everyone

“Hold my beer…” is a joke that is usually followed by someone doing something terribly stupid. Alcohol does impair judgment and matched with the nature of people wanting to one up someone else leaves us with a result that is going to be cringe worthy. The idea of trying to outdo others or be in constant competition for attention is not what God wants for us. Social media is like this. We see pictures of our online friends with the perfect trip or the perfect dog or the perfect family and so we want to outdo others or at least try to attain what they have. Outdoing others is madness so when I read Paul in Romans telling the Church to outdo one another he has my attention.

10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10 ESV

Paul wants us to love others in a family way and in a genuine way and then he pairs that with “Outdo one another in showing honor”. If one looks at the various translations of Romans 12:10 they are all over the place and one of the reasons is that Paul uses a Greek word that is not used anywhere else in the Bible. That word προηγέομαι (proēgeomai) creates the image or idea of one person giving deference or humbly preparing a way for someone else who will have the attention. So, this lifestyle that Paul wants for the church is that we would complete not to gain over someone else but that we would humble ourselves, that we would outdo one another in shrinking our egos.

35 The next day again John [the Baptist] was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. John 1:35-37 ESV

The idea that we would give up or moment of glory or that we would give way to allow someone else to have attention is the exact opposite of Hollywood, journalist, and politicians. All of that group fights to get their share of the attention. So now imagine this situation where John the Baptist has a growing ministry. He has followers and he has groups of people coming to hear him speak. John the Baptist sees Jesus walking in the streets. John sees this Jesus before Jesus has gained any followers or made a mark in the world. John tells his disciples that guy over there… He is the one. John starts losing followers.

Now the human reaction would be to want to hang onto what was built and worked for. John the Baptist has social influence and attention yet now he is going to lose some of that to this other upstart? Those two disciples that John had worked to attain where great disciples also. One of them is Andrew who becomes one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. Andrew’s brother is Peter one of the two disciples that made up the inner circle of disciples. The second disciple that John the Baptist lost that day is John. The author of the gospel of John and the disciple that Jesus loved the most.

25 Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:25-30 ESV

John the Baptist outdoes everyone is understanding how to decrease and humbly defer. He leaves us with the profound point that we all must decrease so that Christ may increase. Following Christ is no easy thing in a world where everyone wants to increase in stuff, increase in wealth, increase in power, increase in lust, and increase attention. Following Christ means that we set aside our own glory, die to ourselves, and worship Christ because his glory is greater than anything we can achieve on our own.

Romans 7:1 | When in Rome

There is an idiom “when in Rome” that means when you visit or travel to a location that you should try, adopt, or live with the norms of that society. While you are in a country be it your own or one you visit you must follow the laws of that country. Americans when they travel abroad sometimes have a bad reputation because they do not respect the local cultures and rules. I know I appreciate when someone who is visiting my community goes out of their way to understand and acknowledge how we do things.

Paul in his letter to the church in Rome uses this when in Rome idea to make a life changing point about how God works out salvation and restoration of human kind.

Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? Romans 7:1 ESV

We all know the law it is written in our hearts and God makes it concreate with the Ten Commandments. Do not lie, do not murder, and so on. While you live on this planet you are bound to the law. When in Rome… The law written in your heart, your conscience, condemns when we fail to meet its expectations. Paul writing to a group that knows Jewish law very well then goes into detail about a specific law regarding adultery.

3 Accordingly, [a woman] will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Romans 7:3 ESV

Divorce, unfortunately, is common in American culture so much so that many people refuse to even get married because of the pain of the situation. Paul using this as an example shows that when two people are married that they are bound under the law for a life time. Only death of one partner frees the other to remarry. The law is binding as long as we live on this planet. Jesus spoke about this issue when a group questioned him asking if a man had married multiple times over the course of life what wife would he be with in Heaven.

29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” Matthew 22:29-32 ESV

The laws that make the standard for life on earth and the rules of life on this earth do not apply after death. Death ends the hold of the law on people both in the positive way, marriage, and in the negative way, adultery. In eternity the law will no longer be our master and no longer will we be slaves to the passion it brings up in our hearts.

5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. Romans 7:5-6 ESV

We are married to the law of sin and apart from God. The law points out our sinful passions and inflames them even more. And as long as we live, we are bound to the law of sin and unable to be with God. So, God in his grace and love kills us to free us from the law sin. This is the message of the gospel. We die to ourselves. We are buried with Christ. And we are raised to a new life. A new life bound and now remarried to the Spirit.

4 We were buried therefore with [Christ] by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4 ESV

Exodus 14:14 | Me in My Way

I like to be in control. I avoid organizations that require me to submit to some kind of leadership structure. I would struggle to be part of the Methodist church for example because there are so many decisions that happen outside of the local church leadership and if the local church does not like it then too bad. Now this is not to disparage the Methodist church it is just that I would have a hard time submitting to that authority. This frustration says more about me than it does the church. I like the rugged individual ideals of conservative politics and Americanism. Leave me alone and let me live my life as I see fit. I work in the corporate world and I am much happier when the work space trusts my judgment and gives me freedom to be creative solving problems. I do not last long in a work space where everything is scripted and the script must be followed blindly.

I think I am this way because of a single parent home where the one parent that was at home was always at work. I fixed my own dinner at night (hello frozen dinners). I was responsible to do my homework, or not. I came and went as I pleased. It is only by God’s grace, mercy, and restraining hand that I survived unsupervised as a teenager. I reflect on my desires and personality to come and go as I please because it is contrary to God’s expectation of submission as a central tenant of Christianity. Christians should submit to God’s authority and follow Christ, sometimes blindly because his ways are always the right ways. But I know I am not the only one to struggle with submission. Look at the fledgling nation of Israel marching out of Egypt for God’s glory.

“Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today … The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:13-14 ESV

They had just left the devastated Egyptian nation as slaves made free when the people of Israel realized that the King of Egypt had changed his mind and was bringing an army against them to kill and recapture. Israel was afraid and they questioned Moses. I would have done the same. Why did we go this way into a dead end? Why did we not arm ourselves before we left? Maybe we should have waged war before we left? I could solve these problems but no Moses tells them to they have only to “be silent” because the “Lord will fight for you”.

The Lord fights for us in three ways that I have struggled to learn. Can I wait on him? Yes, I want to be silent because I want to submit to the King of King for His Glory.

God fights for us even now in our current problems

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32 ESV

Whatever our worldly issues, whatever our current danger, whatever our failures right at this moment God is bigger. Israel was stuck between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea. They could do nothing to fix the problem. They like peoples of today needed to do nothing more than trust God and yield to his authority. He provided a safe path forward for them and the same is true for those who would put their trust in Him today.

God Secures our Salvation Apart of Works

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV

God is the fighter who not only fights to free Israel but fights to set people free today. God is here to give this gift to freedom and salvation. I don’t need to fight for it I only need to be silent and yield to his plan.

God is the Righteous King and the Future Victory is Secure

12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Revelation 22:12-14 ESV

Whatever our limitations and struggles here and now Jesus is going to return and set all of it finally and completely right. Those who have waited on God in salvation and daily life will be given the right to the tree of life inside the city gates of the King of Kings. Those who are not submitted to God will be washed away like the Egyptian army.

Do you want to fight for yourself or will you stand down and allow God for fight for you? If you want to yield to the King of Kings then there is life. I pray that I would put aside my failed independent and controlling nature to trust God to fight for me.

1 Timothy 1:8 | Lawless Evil

Today is another day where there is a killing of the innocence without regard to human life at some soft target be it a school, a place of worship, a concert, a nightclub, a workplace, or a retail establishment. My heart breaks. Lawlessness abounds. Right is wrong and wrong is right as society thinks itself enlightened and progressing into supposed fairness and supposed justice.

8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers 1 Timothy 1:8-9 ESV

One of the things that makes America great is law and order. It is a pardox that I did not understand in my youth. Law allows for freedom. I can safely go where I want because of laws. Anarchy restrains freedom. Without rules then I will live a guarded and fearful life because of the lawless and the murderer. Murder is evil and God has written into our very nature that it is wrong. Outside of the authority of government (war and capital punishment) God grants no person the right to take a life. I don’t need a law to tell me murder is wrong. But the law against murder condemns those who seek to take up that evil.

Peter in his first sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) speaks of lawlessness the same lawlessness that Paul is talking about here in 1 Timothy. Peter reminds the audience that it was lawless men who unjustly crucified Jesus (they corrupted the legitimate process of capital punishment for their own selfish desires) but that this lawlessness was done according the plans of God.

23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. Acts 2:23 ESV

Translation: God allowed Jesus to be murdered. God knew people would murder his son and he allowed it to happen. Today when people are gunned down God know this will happen and yet God allows it to happen. The restraining hand of the Holy Spirit is removed from society and evil lawlessness is allowed to roam free.

7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8 ESV

The evil of murder is just a taste, a mouth of ash, of what is to come when the restrains on evil are lifted completely. Outside of the freedom and greatness of America many have lived and continue to live in lawlessness. God has permitted this. God has allowed this evil.

God has also allowed peace and prosperity. God has allowed peace and prosperity that makes these killings all the more shocking. These killings are a wake-up call and a reminder that God’s grace and mercy are available. Everyone including the lawless will be held to account. God has not overlooked this lawlessness. God comforts those who draw near in this moment of anguish. And God sees the big picture that our life here be it long or short is temporary. God calls us to an eternal home where evil lawlessness is not found. This pain and this anarchy are temporary while we pass through. Are you making your home here and now or are you looking to an eternal home? Submit to Jesus repent of your lawlessness and draw near to the Creator. Ultimately peace, security, and home will only be found in Him.

9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 2 Peter 3:9-10 ESV

1 Corinthians 15:3 | The Very Best Miracle

Miracles are more than just important to Christians, they are foundational to what is believed about the universe, God, and His intervention into the lives of humanity. When people think about miracles, the first thought might be Jesus walking on water or healing the sick, but I want to direct attention to the most spectacular miracle in the Bible.

More than walking on water or healing the blind the most impressive of all is the resurrection of Jesus on the third day. We cannot repeat history to see for ourselves exactly what happened so we must rely on the multitude of eyewitnesses who left their accounts recorded for the next generations to read and study. There is no evidence that they lied, or manufactured a legend. One only needs to point to the fact most all of these men died because they claimed Christ resurrected and their witness is consistent from the beginning.

Paul claims hundreds of people witnessed the resurrected Christ:

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 ESV

Paul providing his defense to the Romans:

“For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner.” Acts 26:26 ESV

Peter making a case for Christ and the Gospel message:

“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” 2 Peter 1:16 ESV

So why is the death, burial, and resurrection of “first importance”? Paul answers that question and puts it this way when it comes to the centrality of the miraculous that surrounds Christ…

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:12-14 ESV

The resurrection of Christ is the hope of the world because God so loved the world (John 3:16) which leads this miracle to become even more spectacular in that it impacts individuals even today. The 5,000 that Jesus fed are long gone and that food does not do us any benefit today. The miracle of the resurrection however continues on in my life even now. The resurrection is a miracle that happens daily all over the world. It is a miracle that we can see in the changed lives of our friends, coworkers, and family. The resurrection propagates miracle of salvation on each individual who calls on Christ. The very gift, the deposit of the Holy Spirit, given to those who believe in Jesus is a miracle because God the creator of the universe gives to His children hope for the now and a promise for eternity.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV