Matthew 10:22 (NIV) – You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved – This scripture verse is short, but I think it packs a big message. While the first part of it tells us what we can expect from the world for following Christ, the second part seems to imply that some who follow him will fall away. I wonder if that will be the rebellion told about in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 (Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.) The man of lawlessness (a.k.a. the anti-Christ) will convince many that Christ is not who he says he is. He’ll probably say some of the things we’ve already been hearing like “the Bible makes no sense and is outdated”, or “if God was coming he’d have been here by now” or something similar. Recognizing him will be easy by comparing what he says to what is written in the Bible. Christ wants us to resist the man of lawlessness and be ‘die-hards’. I’m not talking about the famous movies or car batteries here, but the people who will not change their beliefs no matter what. The word ‘die-hard’ is defined as someone very determined or loyal; especially : very loyal to a set of beliefs and not willing to change those beliefs.Since Christ is our only Savior who can justify us to God, lets stand strong to the end for him. What About Jesus?
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV) - But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.- The stories of Moses leading the Hebrews out of captivity in Egypt (Exodus 13:3), The old testament Joseph (with the coat of many colors) being sold into slavery by his brothers (Genesis 37:12), David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17:50), the Pharisee and the Publican praying (Luke 18:14), the life of Paul after his conversion (Acts 9:18) and more can all be thought of as God using weakness. But why would God use weakness to do his work? It’s often our strength that denies God and causes us to trust in ourselves, so a good dose of weakness might be just what we need to bring us back to him. King Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylon learned this in Daniel 4:28. Nebuchadnezzar thought he and his accomplishments were so great and he saw no need for God. But then he became weak and God showed Nebuchadnezzar that without him he would have nothing. On the surface the humble birth, life and death of Christ looks like weakness also. And after his crucifixion many probably thought he was gone for good and would soon be forgotten. But Christ did great things through that apparent weakness. As planned he rose from the dead and became the only Savior of anyone who wants him. All can come to him and dump all their sins at his feet and say “get rid of these for me.” So when we’re feeling weak, and sometimes we all do, we should remember that it isn’t always a bad thing. What About Jesus?
”Luke 7:22 (NIV) – So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. -
John the Baptist heard that Jesus Christ was working nearby where he was working and wanted to know if he was the messiah (from Hebrew mashiah, “anointed”) whose coming was foretold in the scriptures, “the genuine article” if you will. So he simply sent some of his helpers to ask him if he was and Luke 7:22 tells us what Jesus told them. Many might ask “what does all the healing have to do with it?” or say “this is not what John asked”. But I think we should remember that almost everything Jesus did was to provide us with a “teachable moment”. By his power and authority Jesus could heal earthly maladies as he did in Luke 7:22 but the bigger picture and more importantly is he can heal our spiritual “blindness”, “lameness”, “leprosy”, “deafness” etc. if we let him. Jesus often used sick people to describe the condition of the world and calls himself the doctor it needs (Mark 2:17 NIV – On hearing this, Jesus said to them, It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.) - It’s natural for us to think (in a spiritual sense) that we don’t need a doctor because we’re not sick. That’s exactly what the Pharisees (a Jewish denomination of Jesus’s day) thought, but Jesus told them they were wrong. He is the only “doctor” that can treat our sins and we need his medicine. What About Jesus?
(A repost of my blog from Jan. 2012) 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! - A new year is often viewed as a new beginning, and we can think of ourselves as having a new beginning if we have come to Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote 2 Corinthians about 55 a.d. probably when he was in Macedonia, and in 5:17 notice that Paul says “has come,” “has gone” and “is here,” he never uses the words “might come,” might be gone,” or “might be here.” It’s a done deal for those in Christ because of what he did for them on the cross. He paid for all our sins and promises us eternity in Heaven as his free gift to us if we have faith in him. Ephesians 2:8-9 says – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast. Despite our feelings and what we may have been told, we can’t work our way to forgiveness and eternal life, we can only rely on Christ for that. We need to have faith in him in order to be a new creation. What About Jesus?
Matthew 1:21 (NIV) – She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”- The prophecy foretold in the old testament was soon to be fulfilled. The event that the Jews had waited so long for was finally coming. The Savior who could take away their sin and make them justified before God would be born. In his usual style God didn’t do things like we probably would have. He allowed Christ to be born in a simple animal manger, not in a fancy palace located in a great city. And he first announced the happening not to v.i.p.s, but to shepherds, who in those days were pretty low on the social ladder. Despite all this humility Christ was recognized by those present for who he was and they bowed to him as their Savior and king. Many have asked and still ask “how could the Messiah have a human birth, wouldn’t he have to be just a human then?” No, the Bible tells us that Christ had a dual nature, being both God and man at the same time (Philippians 2:6-7, N.I.V – Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.) Why would God do all this ? He takes our sins (transgressions to God’s law) so seriously that we can lose our eternal salvation because of them. But because he would prefer that we not be lost Jesus was sent to be our Messiah because there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. This Christmas while we’re enjoying the festivities at our homes, if any, we should remember “the reason for the season” as the saying goes and the words of Acts 4:12 (Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” ) Merry Christmas everyone! What About Jesus?
1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV) - I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. When the apostle Paul wrote 1 Timothy, historical tradition has it that Nero was the emperor of Rome. Yes, the Nero said to have played the fiddle while Rome burned (but the violin wouldn’t be invented for about 1500 years.) As emperor Nero’s behavior was reportedly often questionable. He is said to have burned Christians alive to make light in his garden at night, murdered his stepbrother, executed his mother and may have executed Paul himself, and that’s just some of the stuff we know about. Most of us would agree that Emperor Nero could be an unsavory character at times. But Paul urged his readers to be thankful and pray for those in authority because it is pleasing to God, and he knew that in his day that would include Emperor Nero. Surprisingly Paul never preached revolt and in some of the new testament, he even tells us to obey government in all it’s forms (some examples are Romans 13:1 – Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. And Titus 3:1 – Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good,) As hard as they often make it (I know I sometimes wonder if they’re taking stupid pills, from local government and up), we need to remember that those in authority are there because God has put them there, and we should obey them. God uses all kinds of people to do things and some of them don’t even know it. He puts people in power and when he decides to he takes them out of it. In the Bible Jesus Christ says he now has authority in all things (Matthew 28:18 – Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.) By believing and obeying him we can be forgiven all our sins and live with him in his heavenly kingdom one day. What About Jesus?
Luke 13:22-24 (NIV) – Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. - As a carpenter Christ probably knew a thing or two about doors and used a type of one as an illustration for his listeners. He calls himself the narrow door, the entrance to his father’s heavenly kingdom. The word “narrow” is sometimes used in the Bible to describe God’s way, while wide is what our sinful nature prefers (e.g. Matthew 7:13-14 - 13.“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.) This reminds me of t.v. shows I’ve seen where a big guy is watching the door at a popular place. There is a line of people waiting to enter and the big guy watching the door is only letting those in that meet his requirements. We can think of ourselves as the people in line and God is watching the door. Those who are let in have accepted Jesus as their Savior, that is the only requirement God has. And those who can’t enter have not, it’s just that simple. Trying to get in under our own power because of something we do or have done, or being a good person is just not good enough. The narrow door is the only way we can enter, and Christ tells his listeners to make every effort to use it. Lets all do what he says. What About Jesus?