What Does The Image Do For You?

King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it. Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” Daniel 3:1-6 NIV

At that time, the king had an image of himself constructed out of a spirit of arrogance and commanded that people worship it. Of course, there were some who refused to worship the image and didn’t care who knew it. And even though attempts were made to kill them, they survived and thrived because of the One who is in the furnace with them.

Being in a fiery furnace is a topic for another blog, but this one is just an attempt to have people reflect upon the image they have set up to worship.

Is it a spouse a child?

Is it a pastor or a church?

Is it an ideology based on traditions without justification?

Is it material possessions?

Is it status and position?

When I see people consumed with talking selfies, I wonder if they are ruled by arrogance and are infatuated with images of themselves. It is possible is it not?

There is one image that keeps me humble whenever I see a depiction of it or it rises in my spirit and that image is Jesus on the cross–loving me so much He was willing to die for me!

Does the image set before you remind you of Christ’s love? If not, I would suggest that you are worshipping an idol and idolatry won’t save your soul–only Jesus can.

 

Defeating Grace!

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that ALL of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:1-4 NIV).

What shall we say–about sin and the grace given to us–when we didn’t deserve it–giving us another chance to get living right for God? What shall we say about God’s mercy–that kept us from receiving what we did deserve–when we knowingly opted to live in sin and yet, He loves us so much He was not willing to let us lay in the muck and mire we created for ourselves? Do we really understand that when we deliberately keep sinning–after all He’s done for us–we defeat the entire purpose of grace?

There are many–who profess to love The Lord–who have no idea of the purpose of grace–they tend to get grace mixed up with forgiveness and that God will forgive us for what we do–so they keep living in sin–attempting to justify it, by saying, “God forgives!”

Oh yes, He does forgive us when we repent–turn away from doing all things that dishonor Him. But if people are simply mouthing a request to Him to forgive their sin when there has been no change of heart or turning away from what brought them into position to seek forgiveness–they waste their time. God is not deceived and He knows when they open their mouths, hearts have not been renewed in Him.

And this is what we see in our society’s celebration of sin–against God–not man and the tragedy is that they refuse to see the sin; they justify it, and celebrate it, and see no need to repent. Without repentance–there is no forgiveness of sin. No court in the land on earth can ever determine what is sin and what is not. They may legalize  what God has called sin, but they can never redefine sin. And what mere mortals have forgotten is that no matter how many times they change what is legal or what is not–God never changes. Since He is the only person who can determine our place of eternity, I’d rather look to His instructions than man’s.

For by grace–God’s favor towards us–unmerited, unearned–have we been saved by the finished work on the cross. There is no more need for God to come down to offer Himself a sacrifice for us–that was completed over a long time ago–on the Old Rugged Cross, where He gave His life–took on sin so we would not have to suffer the consequence for sin–death. For the wages–the payment, final consequence of sin–is death. Accepting the finished work on the cross in the person of Jesus Christ, puts us into a position to develop a right relationship with Him and to know and understand more about how He wants us to live our lives–sin-free–honoring the grace He has given.

To continue to live in sin and celebrate it as a lifestyle defeats the grace given and we make a mockery of the finished work on the cross. Jesus sacrificed Himself in vain for some since they do not recognize the benefit of His sacrifice. For all who will not repent, they have only the lake of fire to expect as their eternal resting place. What a shame!

But for those of us who understand, let’s move forward, maintaining our faith in Him and living to please Him so He will give us the desires of our hearts and stamp our names on our mansions in heaven–the place prepared for those who obey God. We accept the grace given and will not allow its purpose to be defeated in our lives. Hallelujah!

Brought Into Relationship By His Blood Shed On The Cross!

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13 NIV)

Relationships–of all kind–have historically been cemented by the shedding of blood. The significance of the blood is apparent throughout the Bible.

Sacrifices–to pagan gods and in the law given to Moses–were by made by the shedding of blood. Even before The Law was given, Abraham was told to sacrifice his son to demonstrate his obedience, but God provided the ram for the sacrificial offering.

Circumcision–requires the shedding of blood.

For hundreds of years, people have cut themselves and shared blood to indicate a new-found relationship with each other as “blood brothers.”

The bloodshed when the hymen in a woman was broken on her wedding night was significant in the new relationship between a man and wife. Unfortunately, most females are never taught the significance of being a virgin when they marry in order to solidify the new relationship with her husband.

When God made the decision to come down to earth to fulfill The Law–making the ultimate sacrifice for us–by the shedding of His blood on the cross–solidified our relationship with Him, when we choose to accept the finished work of making blood sacrifices.

Notice–the finished work of blood sacrifices is no longer necessary for anyone to make in order to prove a relationship with God. What has to happen now is for anyone proclaiming a belief in Christ Jesus, must accept His sacrifice as the means to having a relationship with God. If we are not willing to understand the significance of the work on the Cross, we lie when we say we have a relationship with God. It is not possible to have a relationship with God without acceptance of His sacrifice on the cross.

Paul reiterated the importance of recognizing that we who were not born culturally or biologically into the first family (Israel), now have access into that relationship through the blood of Jesus Christ. We are joint-heirs with Christ–when we acknowledge Him as our Savior because of the work on the cross. There is no other way to get to the Father, except by the Son, no matter what others may teach or preach. There are no more sacrifices that can bring us into right relationship with God. There are no more acts of piety or any other act–no symbols, no beads, no crystals, no statues, no emblems, no repetitious rituals, nothing but the blood of Jesus brings us into relationship with God.

If we deny the importance of the work on the cross, we deny knowing the Truth about God and can have no relationship with Him. It is not baptism that solidifies our relationship–it is the shed blood of Jesus Christ and our acceptance of that sacrifice that solidifies our relationship with God.

It is the blood–flowing naturally through our bodies—carrying needed oxygen that makes living possible. It is the blood–shed on the cross–that makes living worthwhile, in Him.

I know it was the blood, shed for me on that cross, that saved me and brought me into a right relationship with God that will sustain me for all eternity. Hallelujah!

The Covenant of Grace!

“By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.” (Hebrews 8:13 NIV)

The old covenant between God and man consisting of ritualistic sacrifices for the atonement of sin, which man could not keep because of their willful nature, became obsolete, when the new covenant of grace appeared.

What is this covenant of grace? It is the recognition that God loved us so much that He was not willing to see any perish in their sins, and provided a means of escaping the fate of sinful behavior, by becoming the ultimate sacrifice for the atonement of sin. Our part in this covenant of grace–receive the finished work on the cross and obey Him in loving others. For if we love–Him and others--we will do nothing to disappoint Him or others. That’s what love does!

Under the covenant of grace–we have access into heaven by simply believing and accepting The Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. If He is Lord over our lives–we give Him complete control--no longer desiring to just please self, but to please Him. There is no more sacrifice for sin–just the judgment that comes with disobedience and unbelief!

Thanking God for the Covenant of Grace and for His willingness to be the ultimate sacrifice for me!

It’s All Good!

“So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” (I Corinthians 15:58 NLT)

No matter what happens in our daily lives–the good, the bad-the seemingly overwhelming odds we must overcome–we must remember that in the end–the victory is ours if we just stay strong, refusing to be moved by what we see, and know that what we do for the Lord–is all good.

After Paul explains in his letter to the church at Corinth how when we physically die, our corruptible bodies (subject to return to the dust of the earth) will rise incorruptible (spiritually) and we will never die again. Once we understand the purpose of the law (sin-driven) and the work of the cross (sin-defeated), we will have victory over sin–we can and must control our actions and then we have victory over death. Hallelujah!

Many of us get excited about a lot of things–new jobs, new cars, basketball teams, football teams, soccer teams, getting married–all sorts of things that we celebrate. Have we considered celebrating our victory over death? Do we really get excited about God’s love for us–redeeming us from the law of sin and death?

If you think this is just about going to church (as a celebration)–think again. Celebrating victory over sin and death doesn’t have to wait until the doors of the church open–we can celebrate Jesus every waking moment of our lives, excited about what He has done for us and willing to share the Good News with all we meet! We celebrate in our praises, in our dances, in our tears of joy, and in communicating His love with all we do. With joy in our hearts and a song on our lips–we celebrate His love for us! Glory to God!

And when we know what we know and do what we do that pleases Him–we know nothing we do is in vain–with His guidance in everything–it’s all good, nothing ever useless and time never wasted in sharing the news!

Now think–really think–do you have a reason to celebrate Jesus today? If you know Him for yourself, you do–start right now, don’t waste another minute–rise up from your beds of affliction and shout the victory in His name! If you don’t know Him–now is a good time to get to know Him and understand what it is He has done for you–providing an avenue to forsake sin and have victory over death!

Let The Lord into your hearts today and receive all His many benefits–celebrating His love! Hallelujah!

Thank You Lord, for Your Love, for new mercies each morning, for victory over sin and death, for making sure no weapon formed against us will ever prosper, for making us the head, not the tail, for blessing us with success in all things we do to Your glory! Our God is awesome and He alone deserves all our praise! He’s Worthy! There is None Like Him! Nobody can do for us what Jesus does and when we do–out of love–it’s all good!

 

 

Sin Still With Us!

“Sin-any act regarded as a transgression; especially a willful or deliberate violation of a religious or moral principle” (Webster). [hamartia: violation of God’s law]

1 John 1:8 NIV  If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

From this verse, John reminds us that even though the sacrifice/atonement for sin was completed on the cross (thereby needing no more physical sacrificial acts of atonement), people are still subject to sin–because they have free will and can make their own choices; some which are not always the right choices.  If the world was without sin, there would be no need for us to have laws that govern the land. But since there is sin–and we do have laws–there are also consequences for violating the laws.

I John 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Since we are not perfect and capable of straying from the path upon which God set us, when we do commit an act of sin, deliberately, if we confess it (own it, take responsibility for it), He will forgive us and when repentance is made (turning completely away from the act, not practicing to do it again–surrendering our hearts), He will cleanse us and purify us from all unrighteousness.  However, God’s forgiveness of our sins does not negate the consequences of our actions. This is a mis-teaching that has people believing that when God forgives–that is the end of the matter.  It is not. When we violate a principle or law there are consequences to be paid. If we kill, we either spend time in prison or will be killed. If we steal–we go to jail. If we abuse children–we suffer the consequences. Whatever it is we do, we will reap the consequences of our actions. God forgives–but consequences are never negated.  

1 John 1:10  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

Paul reminds us that we have all fallen short of the mark of perfection and committed some act of sin at some time or another.  If we say we haven’t sinned; we lie  and we are actually saying that God has lied, indicating we do not know or understand His Word.  We know that Satan is the father of liars and if Satan is our father, God cannot be. But having sinned in  the past, does not mean we should continue to sin.  Once we know The Truth and make a decision to allow Him to be the Lord of our lives, we should not deliberately, plan or practice to commit acts that we know God would not like.

The work on the cross–the sacrifice made for all mankind–the atonement for sin, means no more sacrifices (as prescribed under The Law of Moses) are necessary, but if we do go astray, we have an advocate–who is interceding on our behalves to The Father. Sin was not eliminated on the cross–the need for a sacrifice to atone for sin was eliminated on the cross.

Lord Jesus, thank You for making the ultimate sacrifice for us to atone for our sins. Thank You for being our advocate, always interceding for us.  Thank You for giving us understanding of Your Word through Your Spirit when we are willing to receive instruction from Holy Spirit. Thank You for loving us enough to die for us, now create in us a heart that is willing to be obedient to Your Word as a demonstration of our love for You. Thank You for revealing to us that relationship with You is better than religious affiliation since You reveal all truth to us, not religions. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!