RSS

Tag Archives: Lord

A Christian’s Prayer, Pt. 2

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD! (Psalms 25:6-7)

God has a perfect memory. He can remember before He even made time, and can remember when He made the first human. A perfect God, with a perfect memory, therefore, should have no problem remembering the myriad of sins every human has committed in his or her lifetime. However, rather than remember our wrongdoings any longer, He sent His son to take on the punishment and guilt of our sin. So now, when God looks at us, He sees perfection.

This was not so in David’s time, as Jesus had not yet come. However, David could still look forward to the prophesied Messiah. And, while we know we are forgiven before we even open our mouths, we still need to ask God for forgiveness when we sin against Him. So many people ask the person whom they have sinned against for forgiveness, and yet neglect (in spite of the fact that any sin against another human is equally hurtful to God) to ask God’s forgiveness.

It’s also important that we pray for forgiveness for our own sake. Any normal Christian feels guilt after sinning, and to a certain extent we should feel guilty; any lapse into sin is a direct insult to the work Jesus has done for us in dying and rising again. However, by praying for forgiveness, our conscience is appeased.

Advertisements
 
 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Old Testament: Is it Actually ‘Useful’?

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17)

All Scripture, Old and New Testaments, are useful in teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness… However, there are some books of the Bible, such as Numbers, Lamentations, and Leviticus, which, when we look at them, don’t appear to be exactly “helpful” in any of these areas. The book of Numbers can seem like nothing more than a bunch of useless numbers and history. The book of Lamentations can appear to be nothing more than a man lamenting. The book of Leviticus can seem like nothing more than rules and regulations which are no longer helpful to us.

They are much more than that though: Numbers is an account of how God sustained His people. Lamentations shows us that, even for a believer in God, things do get tough at times (we have to look at the New Testament in order to see that, even when things get tough, God always either helps us endure or provides a way out). As for Leviticus, while the rules within it are no longer applicable to those who have been saved through the blood of Christ, it can still aid us in showing us exactly what Jesus went through for us on the cross. For example, burnt offerings were consumed completely in fire. Likewise Jesus, the final burn offering, was consumed completely in God’s wrath for us on the cross.

The Old Testament is more than a collection of stories. It can be, when we look at it in light of what Jesus has done for us (i.e., in light of the New Testament), can be an encouraging and helpful aid in our walk with the Lord. We just have to look at Job in order to see that whatever trouble we’re going through now is meant to build us in the Lord. We can look to Noah’s ark, and see that God saves His people through the wood. 1 Kings 19:18 tells us that, even when it seems like no one around us believes in Christ, there are those that do.

In conclusion: The Bible doesn’t lie. When Paul says that all Scriptures are useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, he truly does mean all Scriptures, both from the New and Old Testaments.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 24, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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

Does God Get What God Wants

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (1 Timothy 2:3-6)

Now, this is one of the favorite passages of Universalists, because of the simple logic that B must follow A. i.e. God wants all people to be saved, God is all-powerful and therefore can get whatever He wants, therefore all people will be saved (come to the knowledge of truth). Now, I personally won’t say one way or the other as to what I believe on this, as I just know somewhere out there, there is someone on both sides who will claim they’ve figured out all the passages on the matter fifteen years ago, after their parents and uncle just died, and using only a spoon, and I just don’t want to have that conversation as of right now. However, I will say that there are passages on both sides of the matter. Some people would say that Matthew 25:31-46 (where Jesus separates the goats from the sheep), for example, teaches that not all people will be saved.

Regardless of your personal belief on universal salvation though, there is one thing that we should never forget, and that is context. So many people read “God wants all people to come to the knowledge of truth,” and then ignore the very next couple of verses! Regardless of whether or not all people will be saved, we can know for a fact that the only way they will be saved, is through Jesus Christ’s death and Resurrection. Jesus is the only mediator between God and man (sorry Pope), because He is the only one that can be mediator between God and man. I believe the main point of the passage is that God has provided a way whereby all people can be saved. Does that mean all people will be saved? Maybe, maybe not. We won’t know until we are in Heaven, but we can always be confident that if someone puts their faith in Jesus, He will cleanse them, save them, and make them a new creation in Him.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 10, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Beauty in Misery

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

19 So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”

20 “Don’t call me Naomi,[b]” she told them. “Call me Mara,[c] because the Almighty[d] has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted[e] me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”

22 So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning. (Ruth 1:19-22)

This is something which happens to every true Christian who was temporarily caught in a sin trap, and is now free again: they go away full with Christ, and return empty and desolate; leaving the very place where God provides for His people; the cross for us, is never a good idea. However, even in the worst of circumstances, there is always some good. In this case, Ruth joined God’s people.

That being said, Naomi’s husband and two sons still did die in Moab. Sin always forces us to give far more than we want to, and it’s only by God’s mercy that any good can come out of it at all. Paul tells us this quite clearly:

20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:20-21)

In chapter six, Paul somewhat completes his train of thought by telling us that we have died to the sin nature, and so can no longer live in sin. (We can still fall temporarily into sin, but we cannot live in it anymore).

The point is this: God can bring beauty in misery, but it is never a wise idea to test God. It is better by far to pray for strength to stay free of sin.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 3, 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: , , , ,

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: , , , , , , , ,

Three Notes

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:8-10)

Now, it’s worth noting two things here: first, that Jesus declaring that Zacchaeus’ household was saved wasn’t because of his giving to the poor and returning what he had stolen. Also, Jesus isn’t talking about Zacchaeus being a physical descendant of Abraham, rather, Jesus was speaking Spiritually. We can see these two things by the following:

First of all, we know for a fact that someone cannot be saved simply by giving to the poor and returning stolen goods. No matter how you look at it, this remains true. So then, with that in mind, we can see from the previous couple of verses (namely verses 1-6) that Zacchaeus saw Jesus, rejoiced in Jesus’ company, then gave to the poor etc., and after all that was when his household was pronounced saved. In other words, we see the process of salvation here: first Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus; pretty much everyone who begins to want to become a Christian wants to see Jesus the word. Next, He rejoiced in Jesus’ company. Likewise, when someone finds Jesus, they too often rejoice. Finally, we see Zacchaeus evidence his desire to be made right by what he does; give to the poor, and return what he had stolen plus interest.

Also, we see that Jesus wasn’t talking about Zacchaeus’ physical relation to Abraham as being the cause of his salvation. Rather, Jesus is saying that Zacchaeus has now become a Spiritual child of Abraham; a Spiritual “Jew.” As Paul puts it in his epistle to the Galatians:

Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”[d] So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. (Galatians 3:7-9)

Jesus is saying that Zacchaeus’ being a descendant of Abraham is evidence of his household’s salvation. Now before Jesus had come, this may have applied in the physical sense, because back then the Jew’s were still the chosen people of God. However, Jesus made it so that now there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile;   he made it so that being a physical descendant of Abraham no longer meant you were somehow “qualified” for salvation. Rather, He changed it so that everyone (including you and me) can become Spiritual sons and daughters of Abraham, by having faith that Jesus came, died, and rose again.

With all that being said, there is actually a third thing that needs to be noted, and that is Jesus’ love and kindness. More than that even: His love, His kindness, His grace and mercy; all these are on display here. That Jesus would bring a vile tax collector (who were known for taking more “tax” than was actually required) to Himself, and save even his household, is simply amazing. Not only that, but that He would do the same for us today is even more amazing.-He gave up His very life to save us. Our response should be, therefore, to do what this tax collector did, and accept Jesus into our homes, to love Him, to rejoice in His presence, and to repent.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
3 Comments

Posted by on August 10, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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

 
%d bloggers like this: