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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Doubts

Hello again!

Yesterday we finished Matthew, so today we’re moving on to Luke.–This is what God gave me today in His word:

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. (Luke 1:13)

And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” (Luke 1:18-20)

Doubting is, quite obviously, a very bad thing, with some unpleasant consequences. The problem is, we all doubt. Everyone Christian has times when they aren’t sure they are saved (which is somewhat ironic, because being worried about whether you’re saved or not is a good indication that you are a child of God; no one who wasn’t saved would bother to think twice about it), that God will actually fulfill His promises, and if God even exists or not. But, what can someone do to dispel these doubts (and avoid the possibility of some version punishment)?

Well, in the case of whether or not God will fulfill the promises He makes in Scripture or not, the solution is the same as it was for Zechariah: wait until it happens. This may seem rather childish; the, “Just wait, and it will happen.” approach may not seem very scientifically correct. However, God wants us to have a child like faith, and so will specifically put us into positions where we need to trust Him; positions, where we need to just wait on Him.

The other two doubts that may enter a Christian’s mind, which I named (obviously there are many more doubts that may cross the mind), are not quite so easily addressed. In fact, there’s even a little thinking involved. The two others that were mentioned were:

  1. Not sure of their own salvation.
  2. Not sure that God even exists.

Both of these have one solution: dwelling on Christ, the cross, as Jesus’ Resurrection. Am I saved? Well, do you believe Jesus rose from the grave or not? Does God even exist? Well thousands saw Jesus, who is God incarnate, and based off of that, we can safely assume that yes, He does exist. (In addition to that though, we can see the evidence of Him in creation.)

The point being this: no doubt can ever truly stand up against scrutiny. The Devil only ever gives part truths, and once we look at the way, the truth, and life (who is Jesus), whatever he says falls apart.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

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Posted by on June 30, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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He Lives

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. (Matthew 28:1-6)

Now, being scared of an angel suddenly appearing, “like lightning,” and rolling away a massive stone, is perfectly understandable. However, the way in which the angel of the Lord reassures “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary,” is rather less readily understandable. The angel says, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.” These words ought to reassure the hearts of any, whether now, in the past, or in the future, who are truly seeking Christ. The angel knew that these women were seeking Christ, and so told them that He had risen from the dead, in order to reassure them. We see that it the angel said this in order to reassure them, because of the context:

“And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women,” The statement implies the women would have ‘trembled and become like dead men’ as well, but the angel spoke to them, and so they did not.

It should be the same way with us. (Minus the getting told be the angel of the Lord bit, naturally.) Knowing that Jesus lives, and that He’s interceding on our behalf even now, should quell all fear and doubt we may have. Jesus has conquered sin and death; He’s conquered the grave! Giving us the strength to put our bodies under submission is nothing to the one who has power over death itself. Helping us when we need it is far within His capabilities; we don’t need to fear that any sin struggle in lives is somehow too powerful to be dealt with. If we ask, Jesus will give  us the strength to both stop whatever it is we’re doing wrong, and to cut off access to it. 

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
 

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Separation

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. (Matthew 27:51)

The curtain mentioned here, is the one which separated the “Holy of Holies” (where only the High Priest was allowed to venture, and that only ever once a year) from the rest of the Temple, where people came on a regular basis to offer sacrifices. Yet, when Jesus died, this veil was torn from top to bottom.–The way to God (who was dwelling in the Holy of Holies) was made open. Where once only the High Priest could go, now anyone can enter and see God.

The curtain of the Temple represented separation between man and God. It’s presence said that any who would dare to enter through it, must be perfect in the sight of God. It was not a place for the average person. Yet Jesus, through His death, has made the way open, not only to Jews, but also to everyone who believes in Him as their Lord and Savior: all Christians. As the author of Hebrews puts it, we can come before God’s throne of grace with confidence (we see that in Hebrews 4:16). Which is exactly what we should do, in prayer (and once we’ve died, it’s exactly what we hopefully will do in Spirit): come before God’s throne of grace, and ask Him for help, for strength to overcome, and for forgiveness where we have failed.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
 

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Humanity, Divinity, and Death

Hello again!

(The following verses are, as you may be able to guess, where Jesus is being crucified.) This is what God gave me today in His word:

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. (Matthew 27:50)

Now, there are several Christians, quite a lot in fact, that claim Jesus actually died. Now, I agree with this completely, I completely believe that Jesus died completely, and then three days later rose again. However, people tend to mix up “death” as we know it to be today, and the death which Jesus died. “Death” implies a forceful taking, some would call it a “stealing”, of life. (Of course for the Christian, life never ends, I’m using “life” in this context to represent our Spirit being trapped in flesh and bone. Thus, “dying” in the context which we’re looking at it, is releasement.) Jesus’ life wasn’t stolen from Him, rather, we see the verse says that He, “yielded up his spirit.” He gave up, willingly, His Spirit. Something which Jesus Himself tells us is true:

17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life —only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18)

The main reason I bring this up, is to answer one of the arguments which those who don’t believe in the Trinity of God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit bring up, in order to attempt to state that the dual nature of Christ; that He is both fully God, and fully man, to be a contradiction. i.e. That God cannot die, yet Jesus did. The thing about this, is that Jesus did not die, as we think of dying. He lived, even after He died. Though it’s true His physical, mortal body came to the end of its service, His Spirit lived. It’s impossible to put God in a box, and say that He must always maintain a single form. No one really has any clue what God looks like, or what He consists of, or if He even consists of anything at all. God is so far out of our grasp of understanding, that we simply cannot look at Jesus, taking our sin nature onto Himself, and dying, and claim that the was His end. Assuming that Jesus really is God, and Scripture says that He is (i.e. John 5:7-8), physical death would not mean His being coming to an end, as death implies.

To put it more rather more simply: Jesus’ human self died, and along with Him died our sin nature, guilt, and condemnation. However, His divine self did not die, rather His divine self went on to preach hope and salvation to the captives in Hell, and then to rise again.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
 

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It’s Only History

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled. (Matthew 26:55-56)

“But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” What an interesting, and clearly wrong, statement that Jesus makes here. After all, everyone knows that all Prophets spoke only to those in their own time period, and only spoke about those in their own time period, and the only value to us which they hold, is in Historical reference.

Except, according to Jesus, not to mention Paul, that isn’t true. The prophets prophesied of Jesus’ betrayal [Psalm 41:9], and of His death and Resurrection [Psalm 22], and everything that they said is still useful for us today [2 Timothy 3:16]. We can just as much from the Old Testament as we can from the new, though the New Testament sometimes states things somewhat more clearly.

The  entire Bible; God’s word, was written for a purpose, and that purpose is never simply to give us some historical facts.–All Scripture is meant to build us, and grow us up to be more like Christ. In the verses quoted above, we see Jesus telling us that through His betrayal, prophecies were fulfilled about Him. But, we aren’t to simply look at Jesus’ betrayal as the only area in which we see Jesus in the Old Testament. A perfect example of this, is Psalm 22, specifically verses fourteen through fifteen:

14 I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint. 
My heart has turned to wax; 
    it has melted within me.
15 My mouth[d] is dried up like a potsherd, 
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; 
    you lay me in the dust of death. (Psalm 22:14-15)

We can see numerous comparisons between these verses (which, by the way, were never actually true of David–These things never happened to him). e.g. A cross puts all your bones out of their joint, which is one of the things which David talks about here.

The point being this: all Scripture is useful, so let’s treat it that way, rather than discarding it on the basis that (in the Old Testament), “It’s only history.” Or that (in the New Testament), “Jesus was only speaking to these particular people, and not to us.”

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
 

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The End Times

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. (Matthew 24:35-36)

There has been, and there still is, a large amount of speculation as to when Jesus will return. In fact, there’s been a wealth; a down right  overabundance of speculation on the subject. Some of the “theories” (though they aren’t true theories, but hypothesis’) don’t make much sense, but most are mathematical, and actually do make a certain amount of sense. The problem with these speculations, though, is that they are completely unBiblical. The above tells that no one, not even the mathematicians, knows the day or hour when Christ will return, and the World as we know it will end.

The simple reality of it, is that it doesn’t matter. None of it. When will Jesus return? I don’t know (and, in spite of innumerable claims, neither does anyone else). What I do know though, is that we should live every day of our lives, as though that was the day Jesus will be coming back. Which is something that we do, by living every moment, of every day, in light of the Gospel; remembering everything that He went through for us, and the freedom that we now have because of Him.

To put it simply: our focus shouldn’t be on when Jesus will return, it should be on Jesus.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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The Sermon Today

Hello again!

Today the pastor preached on Acts 27:13-26. The gist of what was said is the following:

The pastor drew an analogy from the boat mentioned in the story, by comparing what happened to “the wood”, to what happened to Jesus. i.e. That the boat was pummeled and smashed to pieces, yet everyone inside of it survived. Likewise Jesus was pummeled, yet all who are “inside” of Him live.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

P.S. We actually heard two sermons today, both on the same passage. The first I’m sorry to say we didn’t agree with, at all, in any way. The second was very short, only about fifteen minutes, and as it was the one which we agreed with, I decided to share it with you instead of the other one.

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2012 in Todays Sermon

 

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