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Mortality

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)

Jesus is giving a little look at our own mortality here. He’s saying, in modern language: ‘the Galileans that were killed, did they do anything worse than all of Israel? The people on which the tower fell on and killed, were they worse than everyone, and so “deserving” of an early death? No, they were just like everyone else. And unless you repent, you too will come to the same fate.’ He’s making us look at time different; He’s making us look at time like God looks at time. i.e., making us see that it doesn’t matter if we live one, or one thousand years, we will all die.-Regardless of how good or bad we were in this life, we will all die. And, unless we repent, we will then die a second time, this time a Spiritual death.

This still holds true today. At any moment, a “tower” could fall on us. But Jesus has provided a way for us to live, even after we die. I hate to sound like a corny, “It’s the end of the World!” preacher, but it’s true that we could at any moment, simply die. But Jesus has provided a way for us to live forever, through His death and Resurrection. Through His blood, we can live. So let’s obey Jesus’ call, and repent, and submit to Him.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
 

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Strength in Weakness

Hello again!

Yesterday we finished up with Hebrews, so now we’re going to take a leap back in the books of the Bible, to the Gospels, to look at the two (Matthew and Luke) that we didn’t read before. – This is what God gave me today in His word:

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, (Matthew 1:1-5)

Well, this is quite an interesting way to open up a book. What could we possibly learn from a string of names, like this one here? — Well let’s take a closer look at them:

Jesus is the son of David the adulterous, of Jacob the deceiver, of Judah, who was also adulterous, and of Ruth, the Moabite. Not exactly the most impressive heritage ever. – Though, granted, He was also the son of  God almighty… – So, why did God chose people such as these to be the ancestors of the Savior of the World? Wouldn’t it have been better for Him to choose the best of the best?

Well, no, in fact, it would not have been better. God uses weakness to show His glory for fully. When Jesus died on a cross, it seemed like He was defeated, rather than victorious. Yet that was how God chose to save the entire World, and because of it, His power is shown even more clearly (i.e. He has power to use even a cross). God also used those specific people, to give us hope. – He used even them; He used even a cross, so, in spite of our weaknesses and failings, perhaps He’ll use even us.

The point is this: yes, we’re weak, and yes we have failings, but so did Jacob, and look where he ended up. So, rather than worry about what we don’t have; whether it’s courage, ambition, or something else entirely, let’s focus on what God can do. – Use even us to spread His word.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
 

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Magnification

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” (Romans 11:5-8)

Yes, sure there’s a remnant of people; those who have been lucky enough as to be “chosen” to be saved by grace from the wrath of God, but it seems God has put everyone else into a spirit of blind stupor! What sort of God would purposefully close the eyes and ears of His people to His own message of salvation? What God would bother sending His son to die a horrible death for the sins of “all people”, when all along He never actually intended to save them, but rather to doom them? Surely this “God” is both confused and cruel!

So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! (Rom 11:11-12)

God is neither confused nor cruel. Rather, He purposefully blinds some people’s eyes, for a time, so that others may be saved. Not only that, but by the salvation of those ‘others’, to make the first group, in essence, realize what they’re missing out on; eternal life, and thus, perhaps repent. To put it as simply as possible: God puts some people into a spirit of stupor, in order to have a bad example. Others look at what they have become, and where it seems they’re going, and recoil from them, and towards Christ. Then, God opens the eyes and the ears, and takes away the spirit of stupor, so that the “bad example” realizes there is indeed a better way; trusting in Christ.

Yet, does this affect us today? So far everything we’ve been talking about is rather abstract; it doesn’t really touch our lives.

Well, there’s also an exhortation in the verses that we read. We can see it rather more clearly in the following verses:

Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? (Rom 11:13-15)

Paul says that he, “magnified his ministry”. In other words, he made his ministry known to them; made the radical changes that were happening in the lives of those he spoke to, known to them. We, even if we don’t have a “ministry”, such as an actual Church, should still magnify our lives to those around us, by living in a way different to those who aren’t Christians.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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The Sermon Today

Hello again!

Today my dad was the pastor at The Fountain of Grace Church. Here’s what he said today:

Jesus Christ, the Fulfillment of All God’s Promises

Micah 5:1-4 1 Marshal your troops, O city of troops, for a siege is laid against us. They will strike Israel’s ruler on the cheek with a rod. 2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” 3 Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. 4 He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.

2 Corinthians 1:18-22 18 As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. 20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Well let’s ask a few questions this morning to get us thinking about this passage of Scripture. What did Jesus Christ accomplish when He came to this earth? Well that’s easy, He came to save the world. True, but the Bible tells us that He came to accomplish something specific for the Jewish people. And He accomplished something for the Gentiles. What did He come to do? And what does this have to do with us today?

Well if we look at our passage of study today we’ll see what He accomplished for the Jews and what He accomplished for the Gentiles. Let’s look at Romans 15 verses 8-9:

Romans 15:8-9 8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.”

And so we see clearly that Jesus came to show the Jews that God is a truthful God, that He keeps His promises. And He came that the Gentiles might praise God for His mercy. The Jews are to praise God for His truth and the Gentiles are to praise God for His mercy, and we see both of these in Jesus Who is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

So in this passage let’s notice just two points: 1–what Christ became, and 2—why He became it.

So just looking at verse 8, first we see that Christ became a servant. I wonder if you are in awe of the tremendous humility here? Before this time, Jesus was the King of heaven and He received the worship of all the angels. He is Lord of all created beings in the whole universe, and was clothed with majesty and glory, and now He has became a servant. One day He took a towel and washed His disciples feet like a common house-slave would do. Though He was the Lord of glory, He became the servant of all, the lowliest of the low. What tremendous humility. And what a stark contrast to today’s world where people walk all over other people to get up one step higher on the ladder of success. Here Jesus came down, and made Himself nothing, taking on Himself the form of a servant.

And just notice in passing that this word “servant” is “diakonos” where we get our word “Deacon.” One who ministers to the body of Christ. Christ became a deacon. Now we have deacons in this church and they are charged with ministering to the needs of the body. So think how Jesus elevated the role of a deacon by becoming one Himself. Deacons you have the same ministry Jesus did: a servant who meets the needs of the body. What an honorable role.

And secondly, why did Jesus become a servant? Verse 8 tells us it was “to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs.”

So the very existence of a man named Jesus Christ tells us something right away: God is a truthful God.

Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? The existence of Jesus Christ answers these questions: God has said and He did it. In Jesus. God has spoken and He fulfilled it. In Jesus.

And turn with me if you would like to the Book of John chapter 3. Here John the Baptist is speaking about Jesus and he says something very interesting about all believers:

John 3:31-33 31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.

So if we’re here this morning and we believe in Jesus Christ what we are saying is that God is true. But if we reject Christ in essence we are saying “God, you are liar.” But God cannot lie. God has fulfilled His promises in Jesus Christ. The Jews are to praise God for His truth, and Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and therefore the Jewish nation is to praise God for Jesus.

Now what does this have to do with us? I wonder if you have considered the amazing benefits of reviewing the promises God made to Israel and seeing the fulfillment in Jesus Christ? This method of study convinces us that God can be believed, His Word is good, we can count on what He says.

And what Romans 15:8-9 invites us to do is to examine the promises God made to the Jewish nation, and then to see the fulfillment of them in Jesus Christ. So today we’re going to look at just a few promises in the Old Testament, and see their fulfillment in Christ. Wait a minute, aren’t we studying Romans? Yes, but sometimes a passage of Scripture invites us to study other passages to confirm the truth. And that’s what Romans 15 has done, both last week and this week. So we just take a little break from Romans and come right back to it. Now just watch how this creates faith in us. See if you don’t find tremendous confidence in the Word of God as we do this study together.

So I invite you to turn to Micah chapter 5, which was our first Scripture reading this morning. It has been proven beyond all doubt that Micah was written 700 years B.C. So 700 years before Jesus was born as a baby in Bethlehem, Micah wrote this book of the Bible. And here God promised that Israel’s ruler would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). And of course we know that Jesus fulfilled this. And it says that his origins would be “from old”, from ancient times. And so Jesus said to the Jews of his day, “Before Abraham was born, I am.”

But did you notice that His sufferings were actually predicted before His birth? Vs. 1 says that Israel’s ruler would be struck on the face with a rod. It reminds us of Matthew 26 where Jesus is before the Roman soldiers and verse 67 says,Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him.” Jesus was fulfilling the promises and predictions of Micah chapter 5.

And vs. 3 says that “Israel would be abandoned until” this ruler would be born. And we know that for 400 years God said nothing to the nation of Israel. 400 years of silence, of no prophets, and no visions. Nothing. Until Jesus was born. And He was born as the Word of God—God’s final communication to man.

And vs. 4 tells us He would stand and shepherd His flock. In John 10 Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd—the Good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” And vs. 4 tells us He would be a king. A shepherd-king like David who ruled in the majesty of the Lord His God. And so over the cross Pilate wrote “The King of the Jews.”

And vs. 4 tells us that His greatness would reach to the ends of the earth. His ministry wouldn’t be limited to the nation of Israel. And Philippians 2 shows the fulfillment, that because Jesus was obedient unto death, and rose from the dead, at the name of Jesus every knee will bow. Unity of worship through the gospel. The whole world will acknowledge the greatness of King Jesus.

And finally, notice what the effect of this ruler would be on the nation: vs. 4 says “they will live securely.” Well of course. If you had a Shepherd that would die to save you, if you had a king who would reign in righteousness and justice, and these two were combined into one Person, you could live in security. You would have peace and safety.

And so look what hope the nation of Israel would have, based upon this writing 700 years BC. Someone was going to come and be born in Bethlehem, who would be their ruler, but He would be struck on His face with a rod, there would be suffering in His life, but then He would reign as a Shepherd-King over the whole world, bringing security and peace and joy to the people. And Jesus fulfilled every word of this promise.

So we looked at His birth, now let’s go back and look at the first promise God made, in Genesis chapter 3. And in this chapter we see that sin has entered the world: Adam and Eve have disobeyed God and now everything is messed up. When sin came in the ground was cursed (vs. 17), thorns and weeds came up (vs. 18), hard work; Adam would work by the sweat of the brow (vs. 19), pain in childbirth (vs. 16), banishment from paradise (vss. 23-24), and finally death (vs. 19). All of this came through sin.

But God had promised that somebody would come and fix the whole mess. Look at vs. 15. God is talking to the serpent, to Satan, and He says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Now notice that this promise is to the woman’s offspring, not the man’s. Well how can the woman have an offspring and without the man? I mean it would have to a miracle, like a virgin birth for this promise to be fulfilled, where the offspring is only the woman’s, the man is not included. And we read in Matthew 1:21-25 21 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.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.”

And then notice the reference to the battle in Genesis 3:15. There would be a fight. But the woman’s offspring would win: he would bruise the head of the serpent, a fatal blow, while He Himself would be bruised in the heel. Like someone stomping on a serpent, who might be bit as their foot is coming down. So the woman’s offspring would be victorious and would destroy the devil and His work; He would fix the whole mess and put things back right again. 1 John 3:8 The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. Hebrews 2:14 Jesus “shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil.

So Jesus, the Seed only of the woman, not a man, destroyed the work of the devil, made everything right. He perfectly fulfilled the promise in Genesis 3:15, born of a virgin, destroyed the devil and his work, receiving wounds in His flesh as He did so.

Now there are literally hundreds of these promises made to Israel, it would take us years, maybe a lifetime to go through them all. But let’s look at one last promise, this one in Isaiah chapter 9. We hear this a lot at Christmas time:

Isaiah 9:6-7 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

So the promise is that David would have a descendant who would sit on his throne forever. A king would rule forever. Now question: looking at the nation of Israel today, who is king? I was just in Israel last week and there is no king. There’s a democracy but there’s no theocracy: no king is reigning. Has God lied? Could He not fulfill this promise? Well let’s look at the promise:

Notice verse 6 says “to us a child is born.” That’s just a natural thing, a child would be born, a human being would become king. But look at the next part, “to us a son is given.” A son given is different than a child born. A child born is humanity, but a son given is deity. It reminds us of John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son…” This God-Man would be King. The Government would be on His shoulders. And so Jesus said to Pilate, “you’ll see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, sitting at the right hand of God.” And He would be called “Wonderful.” Do you know Jesus as wonderful? Marvelous? Magnificent? As the Counselor, Mighty God.” The Son given is the Everlasting Father. Jesus said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30).

But still, we don’t see a king reigning on the throne in Jerusalem. Did God not fulfill His promise? Oh yes He did, because Hebrews 12:2 …for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Revelation 7:17 says the Lamb of God is “in the midst of the throne.” He’s reigning from the heavenly Jerusalem. We aren’t people who put off the reign of Jesus for some time in the future, no He is reigning right now in the heavenly Jerusalem. He’s on David’s throne.

And so this promise is wonderfully fulfilled. The child born is a human, the Son given is God, the God-man reigning on the throne forever and ever. So just like the cross was a sign, the throne is a sign that says “God is truthful. He fulfills His promises.”

Now as I said, there are literally hundreds, maybe thousands of promises God made, and Jesus fulfills them all! So, what does this mean to us today? We’re not Jews, what does God fulfilling His promises in Christ mean to us today? Just this: God is trustworthy. Jesus confirmed the promises made to Israel. We can believe Him, put our faith in Him, trust in Him, rely on Him, count on Him, take His Word to the bank.

This builds our faith, it gives us confidence in God. We can say just like Joshua did: Joshua 21:45 Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” We have faith that God will be true to His word because He sent Jesus. And so we see that Christ did indeed come as a minister to the Jews to fulfill all of God’s promises to them.

So let’s close by just looking at a couple of promises God makes to us today. We can be sure that God will be true to His Word as we read these. So the first one is in John chapter 6. As we read this together, see if you can pick out the promises God gives:

John 6:37-40 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

This passage tells us how to be saved. By looking to Christ and coming to Christ. In  other words, all people whom God saves first are made to see our sin and feel condemned and rejected and hopeless. We have failed, we don’t measure up. But then we hear the words “whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” No matter what you’ve done, no matter the sin you’ve committed, come to Jesus and He will welcome you and receive you and never send you away. All you have to do is look away from your sin and look to the Son of God as having paid your penalty on the cross, and believe that. And His promise is that He will save you and never lose you.

Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Do you believe this promise that God is always with us, will never leave us? There is a way to know if we believe this promise. When something catastrophic happens in your life, do you lose it? Do you go crazy? Or do you have absolute confidence that God is right there with you in the midst of it? So that you have stability and strength? David could walk through the valley of the shadow of death, even, because He knew God was with Him.

Galatians 6:9-10 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Do you believe that if you do good you’ll reap a harvest if you don’t give up? If you stay the course, if you keep plugging along, doing good?

Jesus came as a minister to the Jews, to show that God has fulfilled all the promises in Him. And He will fulfill all His promises to us too. Let’s pray.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2012 in Todays Sermon

 

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Finding Peace and Shelter in Jesus

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace. When the Assyrian comes into our land and treads in our palaces, then we will raise against him seven shepherds and eight princes of men; (Micah 5:2-5)

We see a couple of things here. First of all, we know that the person Micah is referring to here, in the beginning of the passage, is Jesus. That’s obvious, because only He was the one who was born in Bethlehem, and was the ruler of Israel, and through His birth caused God to remember His people. Along with that though, we also see what we’re supposed to do:

  1. Dwell secure in Him.
  2. Find peace in Him.

Our job/s are really pretty simple; it’s not like we have to die on a cross. All we need to do is find our security in Jesus, easy, right? People have a problem (yes, that’s a slight understatement). That problem is that they tend to require physical things, such as food. Sadly, people, including myself, have a tendency to carry over that need to touch, to taste, etc. over into Spiritual matters; things which you cannot tough or taste. Which is a long-winded way of saying that, frankly, putting our security in Jesus (someone we can’t touch) is rather difficult. We’d rather trust in money, something we can see. Or we’d even prefer trusting in nature, or better still, our own works! — A song-writer put it in this way:

Sink the whaling ships, save the whales
Kick out the French, save the baby snails
Stop the interstellar radiation
But we can never be our own salvation

— From: Ian Eskelin

Dwelling in Christ, and finding peace in Him, can only be done with the help of the Spirit. Because, as previously mentioned, we typically prefer tangible to Spiritual things… Unless the Spirit is working within us to will and to do the will of the Lord. With that being said, though, this is what it means to dwell in Christ, and what it means to find peace in Him, in simple terms:

We dwell in Christ when He dwells in us (seems like a paradox, I know, but the same rules don’t apply Spiritually that do physically). And we find peace in Jesus, when we aren’t worried about what will happen to us physically; i.e., when we have the attitude that if we die, all that’ll happen is that we’ll go somewhere even better than where we are now… Because, to be frank, we will.

We Dwell in Christ when He Dwells In Us

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)

Dwelling in Christ simply means being a Christian. As I said before, it means having Christ dwell in us; live in our hearts, thus making us “Christians.”

Finding Peace in Christ

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

We shouldn’t be troubled. Why? Because, as I’ve already said, we’re safe in Christ. As Jesus Himself said, “But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (see: John 16:33), thus no matter what “the world” (temptation/unbelievers) do to us, Jesus has already overcome; thus, through Him, we have as well.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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Jesus in Micah

Hello again!

Today we’re moving ahead a book from Jonah, to Micah. — This is what God gave me today in His word:

Hear, you peoples, all of you; pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it, and let the Lord GOD be a witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple. For behold, the LORD is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split open, like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place. All this is for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And what is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? (Micah 1:2-5)

Look for a moment here at exactly how, and in what order, Micah phrases things:

First off, he tells of God in His temple. Then he tells of how “the LORD is coming out of his place”. Thirdly, he says, “and will come down and tread upon the high places of the Earth.” And this is followed by mountains melting under Him and valleys splitting open. Not only that, but Micah then tells us why and where this will happen: it will happen because of the transgressions of Judah and Israel, and it will happen at Jerusalem. Well, I don’t remember any of this happening ever? When did God step out of Heaven, for the transgressions of sinners? If you don’t mind, I would like to share with you a couple of verses that may make you see this in a new light:

And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). (Mark 15:22) – An interesting thing to note here is that Golgotha is right outside of Jerusalem. In addition to that, it’s a mountain… One could even call it a “high place.”

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. (Mathew 27:51-53)

Jesus Christ stepped down from Heaven; stepped down from His place, down to the high place on Earth, called Golgotha. And, when He stepped down to Golgotha, and was crucified, tombs broken open; the dead were raised to life (their Spirits flowed from on high back into their bodies, possibly in a slightly water-like way, we don’t know for sure), the valley of death was breached! And why did all of this happen? It happened because of sin; because of transgression.  And where did it happen? Right outside of Jerusalem. Jesus, one can rather safely assume, is the fulfillment of the prophecy Micah made.

The point being simply this: the Old Testament, no matter where, to some extent or other, speaks of Jesus. We’ve just got to find it.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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Transquotation: Genesis 48:20

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Verses:

So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will pronounce blessings, saying, ‘God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh.'” Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh. (Genesis 48:20)

Transquotation:

Through Jesus’ death for us, God forgets our sin! Through Jesus’ taking on Himself the sin of the world, in fact, becoming sin Himself, and dying, our sin is no more in the sight of God. Rather, He now makes us to be fruitful in His kingdom.

Explanation of the transquote:

It may help at this point to realize the meaning of the names of Joseph’s sons:

Ephraim means, “Doubly Fruitful.” And Manasseh means, “Forgetfulness.” — Now that I’ve filled you in on that…

By them ‘Israel would pronounce blessings.’ To put it another way: by forgetfulness and fruitfulness (not necessarily in that order), people would bless each-other. Which, you may note, is rather like how God blessed us: through His son’s death, He “forgets” (i.e. destroyed along with His son) our sinful nature, and made us “fruitful” in overcoming our sin and sharing the Gospel with others.

Now that we’ve explained the transquote, let’s verify it with the New Testament, and with its context:

New Testament confirmation:

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Context confirmation:

But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.” (Genesis 48:19)

God “forgets” (i.e. utterly destroys) our sinful nature (as compared to the flesh, which we’ll still have until we die)… But then, He makes us even more fruitful then we were sinful. — This supports the transquote by strengthening the connection, in this passage, between what God does for us, and Ephraim/Manasseh.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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Transquotation: Genesis 46:1-3

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Verses:

So Israel took his journey with all that he had and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here am I.” Then he said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. (Genesis 46:1-3)

Transquotation:

Jesus died for us! He has made a way for us to at last talk openly with God, and to receive answers from Him! In this way, He has promised to free us from the bondage of slavery to sin, and He has promised to continue making us pure, sanctifying us.

Explanation of the transquote:

Let’s look at the verses we just looked at in a different way real quick:

First there came a sacrifice, offered by Israel. Then God “talked” to Israel through visions, and told Him that He would “make into a great nation.” In our case, the sacrifice was Jesus, and the promises God gives us aren’t to make us into a great physical nation (per se), but a great Spiritual one. But aside from that, the general idea is still there (I believe). i.e. That Jesus saved us, and through that we are given a “promise”.

In the case of Israel, that promise was singular in nature and was that God would make him into a great nation. On the other hand, God has given us (i.e. His children) hundreds of promises in His word, all of which He promises to fulfill (if not, per se, in the exact time frame, or way we expect Him to fulfill them). So, though there’s a difference in the number and type of promise/s, the idea remains. Which is that, through a sacrifice being made, God “talks” to us, – in some way or other, in the case of Israel that way was through visions. For us, it’s usually, at least in my experience, through God’s word; the Bible – followed by (a) promise/s being made.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s confirm that transquote with the New Testament, and context:

New Testament confirmation:

13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”

 14 I answered, “Sir, you know.”

   And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  (Revelation 7:13-14)

Context confirmation:

I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.” (Genesis 46:4)

Here we see God ‘promising to be with Israel’. Likewise, God promises, among other things, to be with us in the world. — This supports the transquote by strengthening the connection, in this passage, between us and Israel (formerly known as Jacob).

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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Transname: Genesis 33:17-20

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Verses:

But Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built himself a house and made booths for his livestock. Therefore the name of the place is called Succoth. And Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, on his way from Paddan-aram, and he camped before the city. And from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, he bought for a hundred pieces of money the piece of land on which he had pitched his tent. There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel. (Genesis 33:17-20)

Transname:

At first we found rest and refreshment in ‘the wisdom of the world’; we drank all the saltwater the world offered us. We turned our backs to God and continued on our path to death. Yet then Jesus was elevated on a cross; becoming an (elevated-)ransom for us all. And now we call Him our God; the God of Israel.

Explanation of the transname:

First of all let me, in you would, explain that last part of about God being our God/the God of Israel: no, I’m not an Israelite by birth, but every child of God is a son of Abraham and thus technically are Israelites:

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham (K)because they are his offspring, but (L)“Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but (M)the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: (N)“About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” (Romans 9:6-9)

With that out-of-the-way… Here are what the names mean (in order):

Succoth: Boothes (booths were place of refreshment.)

Shechem: Back (or sometimes, “Shoulder”)

Paddan-aram: Elevated Ransom or Plain of Aram (under the circumstances, the first one seemed to be more right)

El-Elohe-Israel: The God of Israel

New Testament confirmation:

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30)

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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All Encompassing Love: A Story of How We are Saved

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:12-13)

Once we were ‘far off’, separated from God and without hope. Ever since Adam and Eve’s fall, this has been the fate of all humanity. However, now, we’ve been brought close to God again! Not by magic. Not by any incredible feat we preformed. But by the blood of Jesus Christ. We didn’t force Jesus to get on the cross. We didn’t force him to spill his life’s blood for us. We, in no form or fashion, put him on the cross… Unless you count sinning, of course. He got on it, and gave up His own life for us. He shed his blood and gave up his Spirit to save a race of miserable life-forms which, the whole while, were jeering at him. — I have just one question. Why?

John 3:16 tells us it was because he loved us. His love for us; for the whole wide world, and his desire to save it from sin is what caused Him to die for us.

by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. (Ephesians 2:15-16)

Where once there were ordinances and laws we must abide by, now there is a person, who we love, to surrender our life to in a Spiritual marriage. While once we had strife towards God and he hated our sin with a just hatred; now there is only love between us and our Father in-Jesus (as compared to father-in-law… Haha?): now we live not under a fear that God will blow us to bits, but a holy fear of his power; and a love for Him who controls the power.

So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. (James 2:12)

As James tells us, we are those now who are under the law of liberty. We are judged and pardoned under this law. We are set free under this law; under Jesus (who is the law of liberty) we are set free of our chains! Thus now we are to live like it.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
 

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