Acts 16:25-26 (NIV) – About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. – It didn’t look to good for the Apostle Paul and his helper Silas at first. They were in prison for preaching about Christ, probably chained to a wall and I’m guessing the food wasn’t so good (if there was any). But God released them so they could continue preaching the Gospel, and he freed everyone else in the prison also. While we don’t all preach the Gospel, God can release us from the prison cell and chains of our sinfulness and separation from him. He accomplished this by sending his son Jesus to be a sacrifice for our sin and reconcile the world to himself. When Christ hung on the cross, all our sin was put on him, and all his righteousness was put on us (Romans 8:1 – Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,) “The world” regards this as foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18 – For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God) but those with faith in Christ know he is the only way out of prison. What About Jesus?
Daniel 7:13-14 – “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. – This scripture was written hundreds of years before Christ walked on the Earth. And people should have known who he was, yet few he came into contact with seemed to have a full grasp of who he really was. To many he was little more than an outspoken cult leader who was teaching differently than the mainstream religious leaders were, and he ate and slept like a regular person did. There were even times when some of Christ’s disciples seemed to be unsure of who he really was. Maybe it was Christ’s lifestyle that threw some people off. He certainly didn’t seem like the Messiah they were expecting, and he even described himself as what we would call homeless (Matthew 8:20 – Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”) and he often acted like a servant to people (Philippians 2:7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.) Christ led a simple life because he chose to. When we look at Daniel 7:13-14 we see “another” Christ, one that shows us what he is really like, with authority and everlasting dominion. After his resurrection Christ went back to his heavenly home to be with the father he was with before he came here to be the Savior of the world (John 1:1-2, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.) Christ left his throne to live here as a common man and die on a cross to provide the free gift of eternal life to anyone who will take it, something no one else could do. What About Jesus?
Matthew 22:1-3 (NIV) – Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. – A banquet can be thought of as a kind of formal party. With the holidays coming up many of us will be receiving invitations to parties and will be deciding whether to attend. One party we all need to go to is the one that God is throwing, and the best thing about it is it never ends. The Israelites in this parable got an invitation to the king’s (God) banquet for his son (Christ) but declined to go because Christ didn’t fit their idea of what the Messiah would be like, an idea that still stands today (the apostle Paul talks about the Israelites in Romans 10:2 – For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge). Christ told them their ideas were wrong and that he was the one they were waiting for but they wouldn’t listen (John 8:24 -I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”) Replacing God’s word with our own ideas is spiritually dangerous because it is our nature to always be wrong about him. God’s word is the only place we can get to know him. In his word is the story of his son Jesus who died for the sins of the world because he was the only one qualified to do so, and all people need to come to him for salvation because it can be found no where else. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone. What About Jesus?
John 20:29 (NIV) - Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” - I think that John 20:29 can be thought of as the basis for the entire Christian church on earth, because it talks about the faith and blessedness of anyone who believes in Christ without having seen him. God has forbidden us to make images of him, and of course there are no photos or accurate portraits of him that we can point to. But we know he’s there, that’s what faith is all about. Having faith in God is the “linchpin” of belief in him and something that he demands (Hebrews 11:6 – And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.) According to the Bible this doesn’t have to be a strong unwavering faith, it can be a weak faith like the apostle Paul talks about in Romans 14:1 – (Accept the one whose faith is weak,,,). There are no high and mighty requirements for coming to God, and sometimes we’re going to have struggles, but accepting God and his son Jesus as our Savior requires only simple faith. What About Jesus?
Deuteronomy 7:6 (NIV) – For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. – The prophet Moses is generally regarded as the author of the book of Deuteronomy in the old testament of the Bible. Written shortly before his death about 1406 B.C. he summarizes God’s laws and reminds the Israelites that they are chosen by God as his treasured possession. The Israelites probably didn’t know it, but they were being prepared to teach the world about the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. I think that is what made the Israelites God’s chosen people. Now let’s fast-forward about 1,469 years to the new testament of the Bible to 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV) – But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.) - It’s possible that Peter was familiar with Deuteronomy and was paraphrasing Moses’ words and expanding on them or was writing completely original thoughts. Whatever the reason for the parallels between the two is, it gives me comfort to know that Moses and Peter wrote basically the same thing almost 1500 years apart about people that believe in God. Though there are exceptions the world today seems to be convinced that Christians are about nine bricks short of a load (Matthew 5:11 – “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me). Christians can regard themselves as special and chosen by God. Not because we have done anything to deserve such treatment, but because God has called us out of darkness by his grace. God is calling to everyone and whoever answers and believes that his son Jesus Christ is the Savior of all is his treasured possession. What About Jesus?
Ephesians 2:7 (NIV) – … in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. – Concerned with how long ago Christ was here some people may say “why is God taking so long to come back, shouldn’t he have been here by now?” And some have undoubtedly fallen away from the Christian faith thinking he’s not coming or are tired of being made fun of and considered behind the times by some. But Christ tells us in Matthew 10:22 – You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. - He makes it plain that he has not forgotten us and that we need to stand firm in the faith until the end of time to be saved. God does things on his timetable, not ours, and we are told in 2 Peter 3:8 – But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.- I think we need to remember that time as we know it (which didn’t start until creation) doesn’t apply to God and that he is eternal, so what is time to him? One of the definitions of the word ‘age’ (or ‘ages’ as used in this scripture verse) is a certain period of time (such as bronze age or space age). In most cases there isn’t a set amount of time defined when the word is used this way. One of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definitions is simply ‘a long time’ and one of Easton’s Bible Dictionary definitions is ‘an indefinite period’. The Bible makes it clear that a long time will pass before judgement day, but God’s plan of salvation in his son Jesus Christ is worth waiting for. What About Jesus?
Luke 18:9-14 (NIV) To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” – Here Christ is talking to members of a Jewish denomination, probably the Pharisees. In Christ’s time and place the Pharisees were very big and controlled the “religious institutions”. Among other things they replaced the word of God with their own, told people they could be saved by their own works, and generally looked down big time on anyone who was not of their ranks. I think that the term we would use is that they were “full of themselves”. While the Pharisees (mentioned about 87 times in the new testament) thought they were so great before God they actually became an example of what Christ said not to be like, so we need to be careful not to adopt their attitudes and become like them (Matthew 23:1-3 – Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach). When the Pharisee in the parable prayed, he didn’t humble himself like the tax collector did because he thought he was so great (tax collectors were considered very low because when they went door to door collecting taxes they often charged more than the law stated then kept the difference for themselves). Thinking we’re better or less sinful than others puts us in the same boat that the Pharisee was in. God sent his son Jesus (because he was the only one qualified) to be the Savior of everyone including the Pharisee, but the tax collector had the attitude that was more pleasing to him, so let’s try to be more like the tax collector. What About Jesus?