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Blindness

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said. (Luke 18:31-34)

Now, this is really rather shocking. Jesus told them bluntly that He was going to be “shamefully treated, mocked, and spit upon,” and that three days later He would rise from the dead. But yet, “they did not grasp what was said.” Of course, we know that the saying was hidden from them, but it simply seems absurd! … Or does it? Well, as there is a verse dedicated to the subject, perhaps it’s not so uncommon as all that:

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

Satan, who is the god of this age, can blind people’s mind to the Gospel. Which is precisely why pastors can stand up and preach a sermon devoid of the Gospel, why those who believe in a doctrine of legalism can simultaneously believe themselves to be Christian’s. The Devil has blinded their minds to the Gospel, and so the only thing they can do or say is legalistic in nature.

But, what’s something we can do to keep Jesus’ death and Resurrection as our focus, and not wander off into other things?

Well, if we only fill our minds with the Gospel, the Gospel is the only thing that’ll come out of our mouths and actions. Filling ourself up with junk is a bad practice, both physically and Spiritually. If our focus is on  something filthy (such as a dirty picture/movie, and anything else which would be considered morally wrong), then that’s what’s going to come out of us. As Luke puts it elsewhere:

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)

The point being this: if we look for the Gospel in passages of Scripture, if we thank God constantly that He would give His son for us, to die and then three days later rise again, then the Devil will never be able to blind us to the cross.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

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Posted by on August 9, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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Alive in Christ

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil. (Luke 11:18-22)

This is something we should always remember. Because, though the Devil was strong, and we had no chance of escaping from Him, Jesus was and is stronger. Sometimes we have sin struggles in our lives that seem to dominate us; to overwhelm us so completely that think we may never get free. It’s when we have times like this, when we think that we will always be in bondage to sin, that we should remind ourself of these verses: Jesus is stronger. He has already overcome the Devil on the cross. Though the Devil can attack us, He can never capture us again; He can never in-bondage us to sin for long.

That being said, when we are attacked by the Devil, we shouldn’t simply surrender to him. Jesus is superior in every way to him; for us to simply surrender to the Devil would be like a massive army (the “massive army” is my way of referring to Jesus’ power. We, by ourself, are but half a man in our own power.) surrendering to a lone man. God will always provide a way out for His children when they are tempted [1 Corinthians 10:13]; He will always provide strength. But we must use the strength that He gives us. We must cut off every access point that we might have to sin in the way that we are being tempted in, and actually resist when attacked.–We must resist, in Jesus’ power. We need to pray and ask Him to give us strength, and we need to look in His word for strength, and we need to go to other believer’s to give us strength. Jesus is the one who has overcome the Devil by His death (and we through Him), and whenever we are tempted, it will be Jesus that overcomes through us.

But there is one last question left to answer: why?  If we can never be enslaved to sin, why should we bother resisting it? This is a very good question, to which the Bible gives a very good answer:

20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 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)

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Romans 6:1-2)

We will never be in lasting bondage to sin again, because when we are tempted, we are given grace to overcome. Does this mean we should go searching out sin and temptation? Of course not! We are no longer those who are enslaved to sin, but those who are enslaved to Christ Jesus. How then can we do anything but resist when we are tempted? Yes, sometimes we will still fall. But our new bondage to Jesus will never allow us to stay there. Where before, we would sometimes do random acts of good work, our bondage to sin would pull us back, now the opposite is true of us.

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:11-14)

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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The Bible

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.'” (Luke 4:3-4)

The Devil tempts Jesus, just as He will tempt any Christian, but unlike several of His followers, Jesus doesn’t run to a doctor for help. Neither does He use will power to “resist”. Neither does He look down a wrist band asking Him, “What would Jesus You do?”. And, He certainly doesn’t try to simply block out the Devil by turning on the TV, radio, etc.. What He did instead, was turn to Scripture. The Bible, the living word of God, is far more powerful than any anti-depression drug, wrist bands, and all the rest.

Jesus, who is the living word of God, is our defense against all of Satan’s attacks. We shouldn’t turn to things which cannot really help us (refer to the mentioned items), instead we should turn to the only one who was the power to help: Jesus Christ.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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From Guilt to God

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus, and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” (Matthew 14:1-2)

We see here a guilty man; Herod. We see his guilt in that, once he hears of the “fame of Jesus”, his mind automatically makes the completely logical and reasonable conclusion (bit of sarcasm there) that John the Baptist (who he had earlier executed) has risen from the dead and is now performing miracles. Someone who wasn’t plagued by guilt, may have wanted to see Jesus, maybe even fear Him. However, Herod’s guilt over the murder of John, caused him to end up at a next to impossible idea.

Guilt isn’t only Herod’s to endure, though. Guilt also can play a role in the life of any other unbeliever, and sometimes Christians too have guilt, even if that guilt is unfounded. Having guilt is inescapable, in fact, but guilt itself isn’t. God, as in all temptations, makes a way out. Take this example:

Then he showed me Joshua(A) the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan[a](B) standing at his right side to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you,(C) Satan! The Lord, who has chosen(D) Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick(E) snatched from the fire?”(F)

Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.”

Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin,(G)and I will put fine garments(H) on you.” (Zechariah 3:1-4)

Those verses could be stated rather like this: the chosen people of God stand under Satan’s accusation. We, in spite of our best efforts to be our own “high priest”, and offer sacrifices to God, are still filthy and dirty with sin. Yet, then, the one whose standing between us and God comes and removes our filth, and give us clean robes of righteousness!

This is how we can now stand; clean and forgiven. Yes, we will still be accused by Satan, and His accusations always have a grain of truth in them. But if we ask Christ to come and remove our sin and guilt from us, He will. Not only will He do that, but He’ll give us His righteousness. (We can see from Herod that guilt and sin are connected, which is why the “filthy robes” of sin which Joshua wore, also signify guilt). — Guilt is simply a tool which God uses to turn us to Christ. We shouldn’t see a “professional” over it, we should see the professional and great physician, Jesus Christ, and receive the free prescription of grace which He gives us. So, let’s turn from our guilt, to God.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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Running to God

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. (Matthew 4:8-11)

And now we see what the Devil truly desires. His temptations have been continually escalating up to now: first he tries to convince Jesus to turn stones into bread. When that failed, he tried to convince Christ to throw himself off a building. When that also failed, he resorts to offering Christ the World, if He’ll just bow to him. In each of these attacks, notice that we never see Christ asking, “Why me?”, or raging that He’s being tempted. We don’t see Him irritated at Himself for not being able to keep the Devil from tempting Him. We don’t see Him panicking at His situation. And we certainly don’t see Him going to “doctors” for medication to help Him deal with the over-whelming depression the Devil’s put Him into. No, we see none of that. Rather, we see Jesus simply quoting the Bible, and in the last case, telling the Devil to leave.

We, likewise, aren’t to be frightened when we are tempted. God promises to be our refuge, if we’ll only run to Him; to His word, so we really have no reason to get worked up. – It happens to everyone, older or younger, without exception. Even babies are tempted to be selfish, and only care about themselves, and not care about how much sleep others in the family get as a result.

The point being this: temptation is nothing new. Satan tempted Jesus Himself. We aren’t suddenly non-Christian if we fall under the Devil’s scrutiny. So, when we are tempted, let’s run to our shelter; run to the living Word.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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Temptation

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:1-4)

There are two particularly clear things to learn here: first, don’t let yourself get over-anything. The Devil attacks hardest (or, at least seems to) those who he believes to have the weakest defense. – We just have to ask ourselves to prove this, when would temptation affect us the most? When we haven’t slept in a week, or when we’re well rested? (Now, for the record, I’m not saying that Jesus’ fasting was something wrong. Fasting can be a good thing. But during the time you fast, you need to be particularly careful and watchful.).

The second thing which Jesus shows us, is to use Scripture to defend ourselves when Satan attacks. Christ, who is the living word of God, is the only way we can defend against Satan. By ourselves, we’re completely helpless to do anything except give in to temptation. Even Adam and Eve, who had everything perfect, and who actually talked and walked with God, still gave into temptation. So who are we, who don’t exactly live in a perfect World, or have ever seen God, much less talked to Him, think that we can stand up against Satan’s attacks by ourselves? We can’t! Our only hope in every matter, is to run to the Word – to run to Christ. He died to save us, He won’t let us fall to Satan if we ask for help.

So, in general, the point is this: we shouldn’t starve ourselves physically (except for short periods of fasting), or Spiritually, by depriving our Spirit of the Word. That, and when we’re attacked by Satan, regardless of our physical condition, we should always run to Christ for protection.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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The Eternal Covenant

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Now, notice the first half of the above the verses: “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,” Now, people in the Bible writing down a prayer that God would equip someone, is nothing new. In fact, its down right common in some sections of the Bible. Except, this part is somewhat new: “by the blood of the eternal covenant,” Now what is this doing here?

Just what it should be doing: pointing to Jesus. Well, specifically, it’s pointing to the “eternal covenant” of Christ’s blood. A covenant, which apparently is how God equips us with, “everything good” that we may, “do His will”. “The blood of the eternal covenant” (which by context, we can see is the “eternal covenant” of Jesus’ blood. i.e. that if we believe in Jesus, that God no longer has reason to seek justice for our sins) is how God chooses to disarm the powers and authorities of Satan, and it’s how He chose to equip us with everything good.

Now, we’ve talked about this several times, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Christ and His death is all-important! This is just another confirmation of that. Our goal should be to look for Christ in everything, in doing that; in studying the eternal covenant, God will give us “everything good” to do His will.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

Note: I’ve decided to close this post to comments (track-backs, etc., are excluded from this). I appreciate everyone’s point of view, and you can still contact me at this address: mikes_son_joshua@yahoo.com Thank you for your understanding.

 
 

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