RSS

Monthly Archives: August 2012

Where God Provides

Hello again!

Yesterday we finished studying the book of Luke, and so today we are moving on to the book of Ruth. — This is what God gave me today in His word:

In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, (Ruth 1:1-4)

Now, the Merriam Webster dictionary defines “Sojourn” as the following: “a temporary stay <a sojourn in the country>” One of the examples it provides is, “Our family enjoyed a two-week sojourn in the mountains.” Elimelech didn’t plan to stay long in Moab. He apparently just wanted to outlast the famine, and then return to Bethlehem. He certainly didn’t expect to die, and have his sons marry there.

See, Elimelech’s problem, was that He didn’t trust God to provide for His people. Instead of trusting God, He left, “The House of Bread” (which is what “Bethlehem” means), and went to a sinful nation to eat; but only for a little. We can have the same exact problem as Elimelech, whenever we decide to sin… Just a tiny bit. James puts it better than me:

Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:15)

Giving into a little sin, often leads to giving into more sin. One year in Moab, turned into two, which turned into three, which eventually turned into Elimelech spending the rest of his days there. One desire, turns into one sin, which turns into a many sins, which turns into death. Our only hope to avoid this happening, is to never leave where God provides for His people!-We should never leave Jesus’ presence. No matter how tough things seem to get, dying in our sin is much worse than living in temporary trouble.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Joy and Marveling

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” (Luke 24:38-39)

In yesterday’s post, we talked on how going to the cross, repenting, and asking for forgiveness is the only way a Christian who is lacking peace (or anyone else) can gain true peace in Christ. In these verses, we see the proof of that. Jesus assures them that He is not a Spirit by telling them to look at His pierced hands and feet, and to touch Him. Now, quite obviously Jesus is no longer with us physically, however, we are still invited to Spiritually do what the disciples did physically.-To see Christ’s pierced hands and feet, and to “touch” Him (when I talk about Spiritually “touching” Jesus, I’m talking about times when we feel extremely close to Christ; where it’s almost as if we were “touching” Him). And when we do so, it should create the same response in us as it did in the disciples:

And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, (Luke 24:40-41a)

They couldn’t hardly believe in was Him for joy. For us, this might equate to having such a profound revelation in Scripture that we can hardly believe Jesus would show us such a thing for joy and marveling, or some other such thing. Regardless though, the point is this: Looking at Jesus’ nail pierced hands and feet, and realizing that He truly did die for us, should produce nothing but peace, joy, and utter marveling at how great our God truly is.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Getting Cold

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? (Luke 24:37-38)

In yesterday’s post, we talked on the peace that Jesus gives everywhere He goes. However, His disciples don’t seem to become exactly “peaceful” when Jesus appears. In fact, they thought they were seeing a Spirit! Now, remember, if anyone on Earth were to be able to recognize Jesus, it would likely be these men. They’d eaten with Him, traveled with Him, and obeyed Him. And yet, at first, they believe they’re seeing a Spirit.

This is what happens to everyone (with some variations) that go through their circumstances. Namely, it happens to everyone who has had Jesus with them day in and day out. Who have lived with Him, who have traveled and obeyed Him whole heatedly… Only to suddenly seem to “lose” Him, and enter into a sort of “cold period”. And who then proceed to almost curl into them-self; who run away from and hide from their enemies. (John tells us that the disciples were hiding “for fear of the Jews”. See: John 20:19). Anyone who does this, will not recognize Jesus, at first.

As you may have gathered, I’m not talking about people who do that physically, as the disciples but those who do it Spiritually, which is something we are far more prone to doing. It’s even somewhat easy to go from seeming to have Jesus with you, to seeming to enter a time where His presence seems a little farther off. It’s even possible to get so doubtful of Christ and His saving power, that we don’t even recognize Him in the Scriptures.-We don’t even recognize Him when He “appears” to us. But, how can we keep ourself from becoming “cold”? How can we keep ourself from drifting away from Christ?

By making sure we can’t drift away. By that, I mean we should identify what weaknesses we have; where we have a tendency to give in, and then ask God to give us His strength to cut off all possible access to whatever is making us weak.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 29, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Peace in Jesus

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” (Luke 24:33-36)

Look at what Jesus says to His disciples when He suddenly appears to them. He says, “Peace to you!” Jesus doesn’t say “Hi,” nor He doesn’t say, “Good morning everyone.” No, the very first thing He did when He came to His disciples, was bring peace. Jesus hasn’t changed, even two thousand years latter.-He is the same today, tomorrow  and forever.

Wherever Jesus is, He brings peace, or a word of peace. He brings many other things as well, but first, before all others, He brings peace. Peace from no longer having guilt plague us; peace from knowing that we are secure in His hands, and in many other ways. However, wherever Jesus is, whether it is among a family, friends, or a band of disciples, He will bring peace.

That being said, some genuine Christians still lack, to some degree, peace in their lives. The typical reason that I’ve noticed for this lack of peace, is the Christian-in-question’s reliance upon them-self. Why do these genuine Christians lack peace? Because, though they do have faith and trust in Jesus, they still rely somewhat upon them-self… Now, let me clarify what I mean by that:

We are sinful by nature. It’s only by Jesus’ grace that we can do anything other than be in complete bondage to sin. However, some people attempt to use “will power” to break free of sin, rather than look to the cross, see that their chains are only broken there, and then repenting. I define this as relying on yourself, rather than be willing to look to the cross and repent. This performance based type of system causes insecurity, and a distinct lake of peace. And (as I’ve implied) the only real solution for anyone with this particular problem, is to come to Jesus at the cross (even if the person is already a Christian), repent, and ask for forgiveness.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

Tags: , , , ,

Apology

Hello again!

I am very sorry for the lack of posts recently. My family has recently moved (from Ohio to the state of Washington), and it’s thrown our schedule way out of wack. Anyway, I should be back to posting somewhat soon.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
2 Comments

Posted by on August 24, 2012 in Apology

 

Tags: , ,

The Prophets

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
(Luke 24:25)

Jesus said these words to two of His disciples while on the road to Emmaus. His disciples, at the moment, still don’t believe that Jesus truly rose from the dead. So, to confirm to them that He had indeed risen, Jesus reminds them of what the prophets have said. Not only that, but read the next couple of verses:

Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:26-27)

He showed them, in all the books of the Prophets, the things which concerned Himself. Not only that, but He interpreted them in light of how the Christ was to suffer and then enter into glory. In essence, He shared the Gospel from the Old Testament.

The good news that Jesus has died, and risen again for the salvation of all, can be found all throughout the Bible, including the Prophets. And, if the references to the cross are there, then there is no reason that we should not look for them. All Scripture has a purpose, and passages which reference or point us to the cross are no different; they are there for our benefit and encouragement.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 20, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Resurrection

Hello again!

(The following verses happen after “the women from Galilee” had gone to Jesus’ tomb to anoint His body, and found that the tomb was open, and that Jesus’ body was no longer there).–This is what God gave me today in His word:

While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”
(Luke 24:4-7)

Now, these women obviously had some sort of faith in Jesus. They had followed Him all the way from Galilee, after all. However, their faith had some limits to it. They only believed so much of what Jesus said, not quite all of it. We see this in the fact that they had somehow managed to forget some of the most important words in all of history, which Jesus had told them. i.e., that He would be delivered into the hands of sinful men, crucified, and on the third day rise from the dead.

Also, it’s worth noting the wording of the angels (if you don’t believe the “men in dazzling apparel” where angels, consider that normal men don’t suddenly appear out of nowhere): “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” In other words, these women were looking for Christ in all the wrong places. Now, with all that being said, are we like these women?

Does our faith only extend, “so far”? Are we looking for the living one (Jesus) in the dead law? Whatever our issue might be, there is exactly one solution; it’s the same solution these women were given by the angel. The angel reminded them that Jesus had risen from the dead! If we are lacking faith, we can look to Jesus’ Resurrection to help us. If we’re looking to the law for salvation, we can look at Jesus’ Resurrection, and see that we really can be saved by faith in Jesus.–If Jesus’ sacrifice hadn’t been accepted on our behalf, Jesus would’ve never risen from the grave.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

P.S. Note: It’s possible that I will not be able to post on Saturday, and I’m fairly confident that on Sunday I really won’t be able to post. Thank’s for bearing with me.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 17, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

Shadows of the Cross

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. (Luke 23:32-33)

Jesus’ dying for us at “The Skull,” is the completion of a plethora of shadows. For example, we see one such shadow of the cross when Joshua was commanded to make flint knives and circumcise all the Israelites:

At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.” So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites at Gibeath Haaraloth. (Joshua 5:2-3)

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the place has been called Gilgal to this day. (Joshua 5:9)

Gilgal, Golgotha, and Calvary, are names for the same place.-It’s worth noting then, that on “Calvary”, God “rolled away all reproach” from His children. We see another such shadow with Abraham, when he was commanded to sacrifice his son, Isaac. You may be familiar with the story, but if you aren’t, this is the gist of it:

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 22:1-2)

13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place,“The Lord will provide”;[b] as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” (Genesis 22:13-14)

We aren’t told the exact mountain on which Abraham was commanded to go, however, it was on the same mountain range as Mount. Calvary. Regardless though, it is worth seeing that “the son who was loved” (look at John 3:16 if you want to see the connection between us, and Isaac) was to be killed, but in his place was sacrificed another. That being said, though the ram here is a shadow of Christ, so is Isaac. In earlier verses, we see that Abraham and Isaac’s journey took three days.-The son was under the death sentence for three days. On the third day though, the death sentence was lifted.

We see many such places in the Old Testament; places where something similar to what would happen at the cross was demonstrated. As Paul tells us, all Scripture is useful (2 Timothy 3:16), and certain passages in the Old Testament are “useful” for telling us what exactly happened at the cross.–All our reproach from our old life living in sin (our “reproach of Israel”) has been rolled away. Likewise, we who are loved by the Father (like Isaac) will always be “provided for” on God’s mountain.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
2 Comments

Posted by on August 16, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Good Amongst the Bad

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other. (Luke 23:10-12)

Even in this, seemingly the darkest of times, Jesus is able to make two enemies friends. Granted, the two people in question are a tyrant and a corrupt official, and that he brought friendship between them by being mocked and beaten… But even so, it’s still quite incredible. Not only that, but Jesus hasn’t stopped doing incredible things, even two thousand years later.

There are times in the Christian’s life where things are simply going bad. There are times when, as happened with Peter in the previous chapter of Luke, the Devil “sifts” us. But even in these times, Jesus always makes some good come out of it. As Paul puts it when writing to the Corinthians:

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. (2 Corinthians 1:8-10)

Paul’s faith was strengthened by the affliction that he and whoever he was with experienced. Likewise, when trials of any kind come to us, we can know for a fact that some good will come out of it.-In Jesus’ case, two friends were made, and the whole Earth was saved. Now, nothing so dramatic as that will ever happen again, however, Jesus can and will give us the strength to stand firm during the time of trial.

The point being this: when trials come, let’s ask Christ to give us the strength to stand up under them.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
1 Comment

Posted by on August 14, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Guilt

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:41-42)

The cross was such a daunting prospect, that Jesus asks that it be taken away from Him. Think about that for a second. Imagine how you feel when you’ve done something wrong; you feel guilty. When you tell a lie, you feel the guilt of it. Now, try to imagine all the guilt you’ve ever felt. It’s impossible, but go ahead and try anyway. Now try to imagine your parent’s guilt, and their parent’s guilt, and on up your family tree, and add it to your own. The  pure amount of guilt, all the way from Adam and Eve down to you, is so utterly staggering, it’s unbelievable. Now multiply that by all the individual people in the World, who all have had families and have family trees like you, and imagine all the guilt their kid’s will eventually accumulate, and on and on until finally the World comes to an end. And when faced with having it all put onto Himself, Jesus does nothing more than pray that the cup might be taken away from Him. Some people believe Jesus was being selfish here on the Mount of Olives, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of or seen a less selfish display, except for when Jesus was actually on the cross.

Jesus has crucified our guilt, our sinful nature, and our shame, along with everyone else’s down through the centuries. The Christian no longer has anything to be guilty about. Because Jesus was willing to experience the worst horror in existence, we now have the opportunity to experience a guilt free life, and later, Heaven. Now, though nothing we can do will ever have the same impact as what Jesus did, we too are to be as Jesus was here. When trails come, we should recognize that it’s God’s will that they come. Trying to fight God is like trying to fight the wind: it’s impossible. So let’s not try to, rather, let’s acknowledge that God really does know what’s best for us.

Anyway, the point is this: Jesus has done what no other could, and has removed our sin and guilt and shame, by taking them all into Himself, and dying.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: