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True Wealth

Today God has given me something in Revelation 3, verses 17 through 19, which say:

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. (Revelation 3:17-19)

A couple days ago, we talked about how you could be the poorest person in the World, but still be rich if you had Christ. Well, thing about that is, it works the other way ’round, too. If you don’t have Jesus in your life, it doesn’t matter how rich you are, you’re Spiritually poor. This is why God counsels them to “buy from me gold refined by fire,” because His “gold” is Spiritual. His gold represents a life lived closer with Himself, and with a greater amount of fellowship with Christ-something which is far more valuable than any Earthly gold. He also counsels them to ‘buy’ from Him “white garments,” so that their “nakedness”-i.e., their sin-may not be seen. He also tells them to buy from Him ‘salve’ for their eyes, so that they’ll be able to discern right from wrong, given that sin often times blinds us to the wrongness of our actions.

Hopefully this is nothing new, though. Most Christians know that their relationship with Christ should come before money, family, friends, etc., and that we need Christ to cover over our sins, and that apart from Jesus helping us to see, we would be Spiritually blind. The really interesting bit about this passage, however, is that He tells the Church in Laodicea to buy from Him the gold, garment, and salve. We all know that God is no peddler, why should He be when He made everything (including money) in the Universe? Moreover, Spiritual things are not easily purchased… You’ll be hard pressed to find cream in your local drug store that can allow you to see your sin clearly for what it is, or a robe that can cover your sin entirely.

So then, how do we buy something from someone who already owns everything we could give Him? We don’t. We couldn’t if we tried, because we humans are physical beings (up to the point when we die). It’s just as impossible for us to purchase something Spiritual with something physical as it would be for fire to purchase water; the two just don’t mix. That is why it took Christ, being both fully God (Spiritually) and man (physically), to purchase what we could not. It seems that God is telling the Church to “buy” the various items, in order to get them to realize that, in spite of their Earthly riches, they could not buy this with money. He’s showing them here the pointlessness of wealth that isn’t coupled with a love for Christ.

No currency in the World could have bought what Jesus bought for us with His death and Resurrection. It’s only by His paying the greatest price that we could be given a relationship with God; it’s only by His blood that our sin could be entirely covered, as by with a robe; it’s only by Him being made blind in death that we should be able to see clearly. So then, let’s give Christ the glory, and stop focusing so much on the money we do or do not have. In the end, it really won’t matter how much money we died with, but it will matter if died without having a relationship and love for Christ.

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2013 in Delivered Through Love

 

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Perfect in Christ

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Of David. Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering. Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness. (Psalms 26:1-3)

One of the many gifts Christ gives us, is to be able to look at a passage such as this, and know that everything can apply to us. David wasn’t perfect, nor are we. Yet, we both can say that we have walked in integrity, have trusted in God without wavering, and that we walk in faithfulness. We can say this, because even when we know we can’t possibly do those things in our own power, God will work in us, “to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” [Philippians 2:13]

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2013 in Delivered Through Love

 

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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.

 
 

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A Christian’s Prayer, Pt. 1

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His Word:

Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. (Psalms 25:4-5)

It seems as though this ought to be the prayer of most believers; that God would make known to us the ways in which He wants us to live our life, and that He would lead us in truth and teach us. The reason I say this, is because God’s plan for our life simply isn’t always all too clear. At times it may seem He’s leading us one way, at times it may seem as though He’s leading us in the opposite direction. At times, it may even seem as though God has outright abandoned us. (Of course, we know God never abandons us, but it can certainly be hard to recognize His presence in certain situations.) Which is why it’s also important that we ask God to, “make us know His ways.” – So that we can know, even when it seems we’re all alone, that God’s ways are above our ways. Thus, no matter what, it will all work out for our good and God’s glory in the end, one way or another.

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2013 in Prayer

 

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Clean Hands and A Pure Heart

(Ignore this if you haven’t read many, or any, of my earlier posts). In a previous post, I mention that I believe, “the hill of the Lord,” to be Calvary. However, the context of the phrase in this situation (Coming to the cross-i.e., Calvary hardly requires you have clean hands and a pure heart; anyone can come to the cross and be saved) leads me to believe that this time the phrase refers to Heaven. I say this to avoid confusion later in the post.

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. (Psalms 24:3-5)

There has only ever been one person who (of His own volition) deserves to come before God, and be declared fit for Heaven, and He was God incarnate. None of us can ever hope to be righteous in all that we do (i.e. have “clean” hands), or pure in heart. Particularly given that all we can do of our own volition is sin, sin, and sin again. Even if we try to get free from sin by will power and determination, there is no hope for us because our very heart is filthy and set determinedly towards sin. The blunt reality is, none of us deserve to receive any kind of blessing from the Lord, much less eternal salvation… And yet, that is exactly what He gives us in Jesus.

Because Christ came down from Heaven, and on the cross lay down His very life for us, God now declares us to have clean hands and a pure  heart. Because Jesus took our sin nature on to Himself, and became our sin  (as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21), we no longer are trapped by any temptation or any sin. We can now rest in the assurance that no matter what happens, God will always provide us with what we need in the moment.

 
 

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Trusting In God

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalms 23:1-6)

This particular psalm is one that most Christians find comfort in. However,if we actually examine our lives, how many of us would really say that, because God is our shepherd, we want nothing? How many of us would truly, “fear no evil,” in times of hardship, or life-threatening situations?

The reality is, not all that many Christians, if they were to really look at their lives, agree with every part of this psalm. After all, sure the Lord is my shepherd, but I still want the newest and the best of this or that! Sure, I’ll fear no evil… Unless of course something horrendous happens that calls for fear, such as the weather not being a perfect 72 degrees and sunny. It’s an exaggeration, true, but the point is none-the-less true.

I believe the problem most Christians have, including myself at times, is that we simply lack trust in God. We don’t believe that He is able to carry us through, “the valley of the shadow of death,” and so we fear times like that. We don’t trust God to give us what we need (or, at least the means by which to get it) when we need it, and thus, in our minds, our cup does not run over. In fact, we tend to want so much that our cup tends to appear half empty most of the time.

In conclusion, then; It’s trusting in God that makes all the difference in our life. God has shown us already that He is a more than capable provider by giving us His very son. We have no reason to believe that He won’t provide a way out of every temptation, and that He won’t always provide for us. Thus, it makes no sense to do anything but simply rely upon Him in every situation, to either give us the strength to overcome, or else to eventually end the temptation or trial we are undergoing.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2013 in Delivered Through Love

 

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The Christian’s Cause for Worship, Pt. 2

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

A Psalm of David. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. (Psalms 22:1-2)

The interesting thing about this particular passage, and about Psalm 22 as a whole, is that throughout the passage David is prophesying the words and feelings of Christ when He was on the cross. In this particular section, David uses the same words as Christ on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (see Matthew 27:46).

Jesus did this, I believe, in order to show us He was fulfilling this passage in His death. Once we know that, David actually gives us unique insights into what exactly Jesus was going through. We knew already, and rejoice in the fact, that on our behalf he endured unimaginable pain, and took all of our guilt and shame upon Himself. However, David reveals things such as this:

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet—I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; (Psalms 22:14-17)

Jesus went through every bad thing we could ever imagine. He was tempted in every way, shape and form that we too have been tempted in. He endured the unimaginable wrath of God, and all solely in order to save you and me. More over, He sent His very Spirit to comfort us and help us in our times of weakness and despair. Talk about something we can celebrate over!

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2013 in Delivered Through Love

 

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Today’s Sermon

Hello again!

Today the sermon was on Acts 16:22-25, and Philippians 1:1-5. The main point was that we can find joy when we look to the cross. We were showed this by looking to Acts, where Paul and Cialis where praying and singing and worshiping the Lord in prison. They had joy, in spite of their trails, because they could see that all this was to further the work of the Gospel. Something we see did indeed happen when the jailer and his entire family was saved and baptized.

Another thing that was brought up was the, “four joy killers”:

1. Circumstances

2. People

3. Things

4. Worry

We were also shown, however, how all these things don’t have to be joy killers, thank’s to the Gospel. Our circumstances don’t have to kill our joy, because God abandoned His own son at the cross so that He wouldn’t have to abandon us. We don’t have to let people kill our joy, because no matter what other’s may say, we can always know that Christ loves and accepts us. Things (i.e. not having this or that) don’t have to kill our joy, because Jesus can make us content when we have little and when we have much. Worry doesn’t have to kill our joy either, because we can bring all of our worry to the cross, where we see that no matter what happens, Jesus will always look out for us.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2013 in Delivered Through Love

 

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Prospering in Christ

Hello again!

Yesterday we finished 2 Timothy, so today we’re moving to the Psalms. — This is what God gave me today in His word:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalms 1:1-3)

Now, the above passage is very true. If we made the law of the Lord our delight, and meditated upon the law day and night, we would indeed prosper in every single thing we did. That would be because every single thing we did was to bring glory to God, though. Of course, we know we cannot hope to bring glory to God in every single deed, nor can we focus on Him or upon His law day and night. We humans are very self-centered, no matter how selfless we would like to believe ourselves to be: It will only be once we are in Heaven with perfect bodies and minds that we will be able to truly devote everything we have to worshiping Him.

Now, with that being said, there are some people who come awfully close to being entirely self-less. The apostle Paul was one such person, and in 1 Corinthians 11: 1 he tells us to ‘follow his example, as he follows the example of Christ’. Living in a body that is not yet perfect is no excuse in the slightest to give up on doing anything “good”. Indeed, if we don’t have a desire to help others and do “good deeds” through Christ who strengthens us, we should reëxamine our faith, and see if it truly is genuine. Jesus gives all that truly believe in Him a desire and the strength to spread the good news of His death and Resurrection. As Paul says in his Epistle to the Philippians:

13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)

In conclusion: Jesus can make what we do prosper, but we by our-self cannot. We can only fail, and sin in our own power; but through Christ we can do anything. The disciples wondered, once Jesus had woken up and calmed the storm in Matthew 8, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”. We know “what kind of man” Jesus is. He is our savior  protector, and our strengthener. We have to put our trust and faith in Him, and by that, and only by that, will even some of the things we do while on Earth will “prosper”.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2013 in Delivered Through Love

 

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Today’s Sermon

Hello again!

Today the pastor preached on Isiah 8:22 and 9:3-4. From these passages he got five main points:

  1. Oppression. Here the pastor talked on how people tend to turn to the wrong things to find solutions to their problems. He said they tend to go to the “Earth”, instead of to Christ.
  2. Illumination. The pastor talked here about zeal for the Lord. i.e. That our zeal for the Lord will spread Christ’s light.
  3. Celebration. Here he talked about how all nations are blessed by Christ.
  4. Liberation. Here the pastor talked about how the people in Isiah’s day would have known what it was like to have a “bar across their shoulders. He said that we too had a bar across our shoulders – one of sin, but that it was lifted from us and put on Jesus.
  5. Incarnation. Here the pastor concluded by talking about how Jesus is the fulfillment of all the previous four points: Jesus bore unimaginable oppression  He was the very light of the World. He is the reason we can celebrate, and He has freed us from our sins (we are liberated).

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

P.S. I apologize if the points don’t seem connected. I assure you they were connected quite nicely in his sermon, but I couldn’t quite remember the finer details of the sermon.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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