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good news

The bad news first.  I am a sinner.  I am a liar. I am a thief. I have pretty much broken all Ten Commandments.  I am doomed! I am a sinner!

How did this happen? How am I this bad? Is there hope?  Where is the good news??

You see, along came a serpent that asked a simple question, “Did God really say?” And then he replied to the answer “that is because you will be like Him.” Often this continues to be what plays out when we sin. The question gets asked and then we choose to try to be our own God. Our sin separates us from God because He is so Holy. But He gives us a way to be next to Him.

In the Old Testament God kept coming for His people. He chose a nation for Himself to make holy. Through this nation a redeemer would come to the world. Even though this nation kept disobeying, God kept saving them. He chose Moses to lead the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt. He did not give them a law to obey before he rescued them. He saved them from the rule of Pharaoh then He gave the law. The order of redemption is Salvation, Obedience, and Blessing. This is a theme throughout the Bible.

Knowing that the law couldn’t be kept God allowed animal sacrifice to atone for sins. The penalty of sin is death. Blood is the source of life. It must be spilled to atone for sin. A sacrificial system was laid out by God, but it pointed to something greater.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

As time went on Israel kept falling. The whole time this was going on God kept pointing to one moment in history. The Holy Spirit led some to prophecy about it hundreds of years before it happened.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law. Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” Isaiah 42:1-9

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. Psalm 22:1-18

These are just a few examples of the many. God has always been pointing to His plan to redeem. This wasn’t just for Israel. His plan is for all the nations. He gave us His only begotten Son. He came and did what the law could not do. He came and did what sacrificing lambs and goats could not do. He is the perfect Lamb. He is the scapegoat.

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

God, knowing that we couldn’t keep the law, came down to us and became a man. He kept the law His entire life, being tempted as we are tempted, feeling the same suffering we do, yet He did not fall.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

He lived a perfect life without blemish. He did so knowing the pain of the cross was His main mission. He did so amongst many who hated Him. Many spit on him. Many thought He was just crazy. Yet He lived a life of perfection rooted in the Word and abiding in the Holy Father.

Then comes the humiliation. The scourging. The Cross. His death was the worst in history. The beating and the scourging took Him inches away from death. Then He had to carry His cross with a crown of thorns placed on His head.  Then they nailed Him to the cross.  Nails through His wrists and feet and the He was raised up to hang there suffocating.

On the cross came His Words:

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.  Luke 23:34

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30

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His blood is the blood of the perfect Lamb. It was spilled to cover sins. Every sin committed and yet to be committed.  His sacrifice is what the old system pointed to yet could not fulfill.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthian 5:21

This took place for whosoever believes in Him. He suffered the worst death one could suffer so our sins can be forgiven. He suffered the worst death one could suffer so whosoever believes can have eternal life.

This is Good News!

It doesn’t end here. After this happened Jesus was in the tomb for three days and three nights.

For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Matthew 12:40

Then He rose. Not just spirit, but bodily. This is Good News! This is the resurrection. This is what Sunday is all about. He has risen! Risen indeed! Now we have an advocate with God.  Now we share in His resurrection.  Now we are free from the slavery of sin.  Now death has been defeated.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,   1 Peter 1:3

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7

I pray you believe.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17

Holy Father, You are almighty God. You set heaven and earth in place. You make all possible. I pray that the readers of this believe in Your Son. I pray they are “whoever”. Lord, work in their hearts. There is nothing we can do. You have done it all. Others say “do, do, do,” you have said “it is finished.” Holy Spirit, work in hearts to take out hearts of stone and make them flesh. Let us put our faith in Christ Who died the worst death, taking on the sins of the world, so whoever believes and repents can be forgiven. Thank You so much for Your Son, giving us forgiveness, a way to turn from sin with a hearts of repentance, and eternal life with You. Thank You for giving us the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us. Thank You for Your Word to show us the reflection of who we are and the way to know Who You are. May we always find You there.  I pray all of this according to Your will being done on earth as it is in Heaven. I pray all of this in the Name above all names. In the only Name that saves. I pray in the Name of my Lord, Savior, Healer, Sanctifier, coming King, Yessuah AhMessiach, Jesus Christ. Amen

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 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 1:3-10

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THIS IS GOOD NEWS!!

The Gift

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It’s crazy.  It is insane.  Sometimes I can’t believe that I actually believe.  The story is unbelievable on so many levels. At one point in time I did not fully believe.  At one point in time I did not fully understand.  Now I believe.  Now I understand.  What has changed?  What is different about me that allows me to understand and believe something that by our own human thinking is impossible?

The answer is in the very book I didn’t want to read.  The answer is in the very book I thought was just like every other book written by men.  The answer is in the Holy Scripture.

In my second year of Spiritual life I can give a decent defense of my belief in God.  For those who don’t know, apologetics is a term used for defense of faith.  My apologetics argument is educated, but what does that prove?  Will that win a heart to Jesus?  No!  Is that how I was won to Jesus?  No!  While I do believe, and Scripture commands, that all believers should give a defense of our faith, and it shouldn’t be “because faith is believing in something I can’t prove,” it does not truly explain why we came to believe.

When Jesus was with His disciples, performing many miraculous things, people who witnessed them still didn’t believe He was the Messiah.  After He fed five thousand people with just a few loaves of bread and a few fish they still wanted to know what sign He would give them.  He showed them several times many signs and miracles yet they still did not believe.

So where does my faith come from?  Where does the faith of a believer in Christ today come from?  It comes from the same place faith in the Lord has always come from.  It comes as a gift from God.

 In John 6, after the people follow Jesus Capernaum, the day after He fed five thousand, they question Him about the bread and Jesus told them He was the bread of life.  He said He was the manna from heaven.  They grumbled about it because they did not understand and “Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves.  No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:43-44

a well God does not invite people to be saved. He commands them. —R.C. Sproul

Jesus is saying the faith that the followers lacked had not been given to them by God.  He had not drawn them, like drawing water from a well.  Do I know why God chooses some people and not others?  Do I know why I was chosen?  No and No.  There is an answer, given by the Apostle Paul, to why faith has to come from God.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

God gives us faith and saves us through grace so we do not boast.  There is nothing we can do to save ourselves from our ourselves.  Jesus did it all on the cross.  We believe because God opens our eyes, our ears, our minds, and our hearts to know Jesus.  No one can believe what we believe on our own without God giving it to us.

This is not to say the faith of a believer will not be tested.  This is not to say there won’t be times when you question what you believe.  I often come across things, in Scripture and life, that make me question my faith.  Let’s not get questioning confused with doubt.  When I question my faith I search deeper for answers.  For example, I was watching a video on youtube put up by an atheist, and she was questioning a Scripture in the book of Deuteronomy.  So I did some research and found an explanation for the verse that showed she was misinterpreting. The questioning made me search out God more and made my faith stronger.  I believe this is the design of Scripture and our faith relationship with the Lord.  As for the atheist, perhaps she doesn’t see the Scripture for what it is because she has not been enabled to by the Lord yet.

So this brings me to a possible dilemma for the believer.  If my faith is a gift that can only come from God, then why am I called to preach the gospel to all nations?  Why would anyone witness and give their testimony?  Why have missions around the world and go on mission trips?  The answer comes down to, because we are commanded to.  We are the vehicle God has chosen to bring the Gospel to the world.  The world needs to hear.  We are just the planters of seeds.  God makes the seeds grow.  Sometimes the soil isn’t ready.  Sometimes the soil will never be ready.  Sometimes it takes a little more fertilizer.  We do not have the ability to know when the soil will be ready.  We are just called to plant.

I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.  1 Corinthians 2:3-5

Since we do not know who exactly will have ears to hear and eyes to see, we must tell everyone.  Even people who, in our human minds, may not be the people we think God wants to save. This often makes me think of Jonah.  God told him who to speak to and he refused.  He ran the other way.  But Jonah couldn’t run from God.  Neither can we.  All we can do is obey and be so very thankful the He enables us to believe.

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If you are reading this and feel you have not been enabled by God to believe,  but you want to, ask God right now to change you.  Ask Him to make your heart turn to Him.  Ask Him to make you ready.  The fact that you are asking should show you He is working in you.

I did not believe but then He changed me.  It took me on my knees asking Him to change me.  He was already there when my knees hit the floor.

Thank you Lord Jesus for giving me ears to hear and eyes to see and a heart to love.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

You are “whoever”.

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Father

I am writing this to give thanks to my father.  He is my hero.  Anytime I need something he comes through.  He has always been there for my sister and I.

I haven’t been a perfect son. I remember things I have done and worries I have caused and he has stood by me through it all.

When I was a baby I had pyloric stenosis.  I don’t remember having it, but apparently, it is when your intestines are in a knot.  Having a little girl of my own, I can imagine how he and my mom must have felt when I was sick.  I know that I made it through that with him never giving up.There were other times growing up when I would fall down and he’d pick me up.  There were stupid kid things I did and he would love me through them, even when I caused damage to the house.  I remember this one time I was watching him fix something on the house.  He had his hammer and he was hitting nails into the wall.  So I grabbed my toy hammer and began to hit our plaster wall inside our house as I watched it crumble saying “look dad, I’m like you.”  How he or mom didn’t beat me I have no clue.

He granted me grace even when I damaged the house.  To this day I still mess up and I know he will always be there.

I know that God placed me in a house where I was loved.  I know my dad loves me.  Too many people don’t.  They have horror stories of their fathers. My heart breaks for them.  Coming from my situation is a big reason why I trust God.  You see, when we think of God as Father, Abba, most of us tend to think of our dads.  God as Father is a merciful, loving Father who gives us His grace through His Son Jesus.  Some people don’t know how to comprehend that if their image of God as Father is of their abusive father.  But Jesus is love, mercy, and grace.  He wants us to come to him as we are.

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? John 14:9

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19

My relationship with my father has made it easy to see my Heavenly Father as He truly is.  He is a loving God who loved us so much that He gave us His only begotten Son to die the most brutal death in th history of mankind.  He gave us Jesus not because we deserve Him to take our sins, but because He gives us grace because what we deserve is death.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

When I put that hole in our wall some might say I deserved a beating.  Instead what I got was grace.  Thanks dad for showing me how to be a father and showing me the Grace of God.  I love you!

Happy Father’s Day!

Everyday

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Lord, You bless me everyday with Your grace.

Your love is endless.

Though I do not deserve Your love, You shower it continuously.

I face this world of trials and pain, yet I am comforted by Your embrace.

I can never love as You do but I will with Your Holy Spirit as my guide.

Lord, may I take up my cross daily for You as You did for the world.

Lord Christ Jesus, You are my light and salvation.

I can only see by You.

Get It FREE!

As I enter into my 35th year of life I look back on the first 34. I can’t recall all of them. I do recall moments that have shaped me into who I am. Even as a young child the events that occurred helped mold me. Like I said in my last post, I am a work in progress.

But God has graced me all my life, just as He has graced you. Even at conception I was graced because He allowed it to happen.  That is really where my life began.  With each good and bad event that occured, His grace has gotten me through.  Even when I did not recognize it or appreciate it, His grace has been there.

Often times it is hard to see His grace.  When we are in the heat of the moment all we see is the moment.  When we get out of our troubles we may recognize it was Him with us, carrying us all along.  We may not.  Often times I recall I just felt I got through things by luck.  Often times I felt good things happened to me because of luck.  Yes, things usually work out with out a logical reason.  I have come to find the reason is God’s grace.

Everyday of life is a new day.  It is a new day given to us by God.  No matter what we did the day before, we have a chance to be new.  We are made new through Jesus Christ.  His grace washes us so we can be clean.  This is a gift that does not have to be earned.  But what I need to do is obey.

My parents raised me with grace.  They had rules and I had to follow them.  When I disobeyed I would be punished.  The rules they set out were not to hurt me, but were to protect me.  They did not punish me unjustly or exceedingly.  They understood that I was a kid and I was going to make mistakes.  I learned from my mistakes and knew I did not like to be punished.  I respect and love them for their graceful love and discipline.

God is the ultimate parent.  His grace knows no ends.  Does this mean we can do anything we want?  No.  God wants us to obey Him.  He has set rules to help us, not to hurt us.  They are not guidelines, they are commands. But God knows we mess up.  We are His kids and He knows it is hard to be in this world.  There are evil things that lead us astray from His commands and tell us we can do whatever we want.  Evil asks us “Did God really say you couldn’t do_______?”  Evil wants us to question God and all God wants is for us to trust Him.  This is how the serpant got Eve to take the fruit.  He posed a question.  He didn’t say “Eat this.”  He made her question God’s command and love.

How many of us question God’s commands?  How many of us question God’s love?  How many of us buy the lies of the world that we ourselves can be gods and can do what we please as long as we are good people?  Then we use our own measuring stick to define “good”.  I can answer that I have done all of the above.  Even as a believer I find my mind drifting to “Did God really say that?”  In those times I find the answer.  Where?  In His Word.  Along with the great gift of grace God gave us through His son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, God gave us His Word in the form of the Bible.  I know some do not read the Good News and may never, but I encourage you to start.  If you don’t know where to start there are versions that can guide you.  If you are afraid to start because you do not want to be told what to do, do not be afraid.  The Bible is not about that.

It is a book that points to the very gift that is blog post set out to be about.  It can’t be earned.  It can’t be bought.  It can’t even be made.  It is given and all we have to do is receive it.  GRACE!

The Bible is about God’s grace.  To receive it all we have to do is believe in the One who was sent here, who the Bible points to, who gave himself for everyone, who was and is and is yet to come.

Christ Jesus.

Thank You for Your amazing Grace.

May your life be filled with grace both given and recieved.