The Road to Damascus

Is anyone ever so evil there is no hope for them?  Can a person go so far that nothing can be done but eliminate them?

Many of us profess Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  We say we want our lives to be a living witness, to His Power and Authority.

Yet, sometimes we are tempted to respond to evil, using what we think is our power and authority.

How would Jesus have us respond to evil?  Hear The Answer in His Own Words.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’

“But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. 

“If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 

“Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in Heaven.  He causes His Sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 

“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 

“And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 

“Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”

Matthew 5:38-48

How did Jesus respond to the evil committed against Him?

“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’”

Luke 23:34

Isn’t living that way surrendering to the power of evil?  No!  It is  surrendering to The Power of God.  It is opening wide the door for Him to act.

When we surrender completely to God’s Will, we will discover He acts in a Way far beyond anything we could ever imagine.

A young man, named Stephen, preached about Jesus.  Those opposing The Way, stoned Stephen.  As he was transitioning from death to Life eternal, he saw Jesus and surrendered fully to His Power and Authority.

The witnesses to the stoning laid their coats at the feet of a young man, who was an enemy of Christians.  His name was Saul.

Saul and the others heard Stephen’s final words.

“While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’  Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’”

Acts 7:59-60

Saul did not instantly change.  But he remembered what he saw and heard that day.  He saw Stephen, but what he heard was The Voice of Jesus.

He would hear that Voice again at another time.  He would hear it on the road to Damascus.

“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. 

“He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 

“As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 

“He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?’

“‘Who are You, Lord?’ Saul asked.

“‘I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting,’ He replied. 

“‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’”

Acts 9:1-6

Saul did as Jesus directed him.  Saul became Paul.  It was through Paul that God wrote many books of our New Testament.

Thanks be to God that the Christians did not kill Saul when he was considered their enemy.  

Among the wonderful Truths Paul shared with us was his certain knowledge that nothing can separate anyone from The Love of God.

 “For I am convinced 

that neither death nor life, 

neither angels nor demons, 

neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 

neither height nor depth, 

nor anything else in all creation, 

will be able to separate us 

from The Love of God 

that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39

Damascus, the city in which Paul began his ministry, is in the news right now.  There are those who are persecuting people there.

Please pray for all, including those we might call our enemies.  God might soon raise up another Paul on the road to Damascus!

As Paul also said, 

“Rejoice always, 

pray continually, 

give thanks in all circumstances; 

for this is God’s Will for you 

in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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Is This Love?

In the rock opera, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Mary Magdalene sings the hauntingly beautiful song, “I Don’t Know How To Love Him.”

She is puzzled by her feelings for Jesus. She has known many men before, as she says, “in very many ways.” She does not understand why Jesus should be any different.

While she repeatedly says, “He’s just a man,” her soul knows He is much more. She realizes she loves Him, but this Love is different.

Should she even trust Him? His Gentleness attracts her. His Revolutionary Teachings enthrall her. He speaks with Power and Authority. He seems to know Who He is.

He treats her with such respect. He seems to welcome her into the discussion of life. She is not afraid to speak up, even when she feels the disapproving gazes of others. She likes herself when she is with Him.

She is baffled that she feels no sexual desire for Him. She almost feels that He is already with her, bonded to her on some level that surpasses any physical union.

His touch is electric. When He touches her, all the cells of her body seem to come to attention and she feels like all the Light of The Universe pours into all the empty spaces. She feels full and satisfied.

When He hugs her and she leans against His Chest, she seems to hear thousands of heartbeats coming from inside. It is like a mighty orchestra, and she feels strangely drawn into the middle.

And when He looks at her, His eyes seem to look into her center. He knows her somehow. He knows her and loves her.

She can’t figure out how He could possibly know her so well. And if He does, how could He still love her? Does He love her? And if He does, what should she do?

Does He have marriage in mind? Could she be married to a man like Him? Leave everything behind and follow Him? Go everywhere with Him?

Mary Magdalene was not alone in her thoughts of loving Jesus. Peter, James, John, Thomas, Judas, Jesus’s Mother … they were all considering the feelings of Love they had for Jesus.

He had come into their lives, quietly, but radically changing them. There was something about Him that caused them to want to leave everything behind and follow Him.

There was something about Him that caused them to want to be better and to believe they could be. There was something about the way He looked at them that made each of them feel He was their best friend.

They could not deny they loved Him.

But each time any of them processed this peculiar sense of intimacy, it frightened them. They compared it to Love, as they always understood it, but it did not fit. Nothing had ever been this way before.

Then the crucifixion happened. Satan came in full force.

Satan held up his cruel mirror to their faces and accused them. He called them deserters, deniers, liars, betrayers. He reminded them of their past. He called them prostitutes, whores, adulterers, murderers.

“You said you loved Jesus? Is this how you love Him?” He roared. “Well, no matter, He does not love you. He despises you.”

Satan showed them Jesus’ mangled body and told them that was what God wanted to do to them for their sins.

He told them they had strayed so far that God had forsaken them in their misery and would never take them back.

Then satan screamed into the darkness, “You thought you loved Him … you thought He loved you? Is this Love?”

And in that moment, Love answered. He broke satan’s mirror.

They saw Jesus as He was. They saw The One they loved revealed as The One — Jesus, God and The Holy Spirit — in all His Power and Majesty loving them.

They saw satan revealed as the liar, the accuser, the torturer. They saw him trying to pay them the wages of sin.

And then they saw The One they loved stepping forward and receiving all the wages of their sin.

They knew. They believed. And all but one devoted the rest of their lives to that Love.

“And we have known and believed The Love that God has for us. God is Love and he who abides in Love abides in God, and God in him.”
1 John 4:16

“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My Love.”
John 15:9

 

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The Cross Has Fallen!

God tells us many things through His Word, but He also leaves room for us to discover more and more about Him.

It is easy to believe we know all there is to know about The Easter Story. When we hear the “old, old story” told in the same way all the time, we may not go back and read it again. We may miss new revelations.

Such is the case with the story of Jesus’ Crucifixion. We may leave Jesus’ lifeless body hanging on the cross until He is mercifully cut down and taken to the tomb. But, did it really happen that way?

Let’s look again. To begin, let’s look at the insults that were hurled at Jesus as He hung on the cross.

“Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!’

“In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him.

‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
Matthew 27:40-43

Notice they were all taunting Jesus to come down from the cross. Did He?

When we hear “Jesus gave up His Spirit, “ we sometimes interpret that to mean He just gave up on having an earthly life. But when Jesus “gave up” His Spirit, He was connecting with The Full Power of The Three in One.

And then Jesus released The Holy Spirit of God in all its Power and Authority. What happened next?

“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open.

“The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.”
Matthew 27:51-52

Mike Mason in his writings about the rock upon which Jesus’ cross was anchored, describes what has been found about that rock at Calvary.

At The Church of the Holy Sepulcher,

“Visitors can reach their hands into the hole and touch the rock of Calvary below. The bone-colored limestone is also visible, behind glass, on either side of the altar.

“… the rock is cracked—perhaps evidence of earthquake activity, which accords with the gospel report that at the moment of Jesus’ death ‘the earth shook and the rocks split’. (Matthew 27:51).

“It is even possible that the crosses were wedged into such fissures, for as the northern extension of the Rift Valley, Israel has been subject to recurrent earthquakes (see Ps 46:2). “
From “The Rock of Calvary”(Chapter 61 of Jesus: His Story in Stone)” posted March 22, 2016.

When the earth shook and the rocks split, it is likely the crosses would have fallen.

Yet, we often see pictures that depict someone climbing up to a still standing cross to take Jesus’ Body down.

While it is not explicitly stated what happened to the crosses, I believe that the “hidden message” of Easter might have been the one that was dramatically revealed to everyone that day.

Satan’s instrument of torture was literally thrown down and God Himself was raised in Power and Majesty, just as Jesus had foretold.

When Jesus was praised on His Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the Pharisees told Him to quiet the people.

Jesus responded, “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
Luke 19:40

On the day of Jesus’ Crucifixion, the rocks, the stones, the very earth cried out. And in the midst of the chorus, mere men cried out too.

“When the centurion and those with Him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely He was The Son of God!’”
Matthew 27:54

It is Easter. The cross has fallen! God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit are alive and very present in us. Rejoice!

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The Way of Suffering

I remember the Easter I decided I was done with passion plays. I had just returned from the goriest drama ever.

As “Jesus” made his way down the aisle of the large church, the soldiers followed, their whips cracking and tearing open the “flesh” of “Jesus.”

The strategically placed bags of “blood” on his body were ripped open, as he stumbled forward and “blood” sprayed over those of us near the aisle.

As I was moved to feel what it might have been like to be in the crowd at Jesus’ crucifixion, I looked around at the audience.

I was baffled to discover there were people who seemed to be day dreaming, totally untouched by the horrific scene being played out before them.

Even worse, some were laughing.
Some yelled out to the soldiers to hit him harder. They were not a part of the play. They were genuinely entertained by the portrayed suffering of Jesus.

Suffering has always bothered me. The desire to stop the suffering of others led me to become a nurse. My inability to stop suffering almost drove me out of nursing.

I watched countless nurses and doctors, who did not leave their helping professions, but instead developed an immunity to suffering. They were able to do the job on some level, but from a distance.

How does suffering affect us? Have we developed the same immunity? Have we removed ourselves from its sting?

Have we heard so many reports of violence on the news that it no longer affects us? Is our only response to shake our heads and comment on what a mess the world is in?

Even worse, are we entertained by the suffering of others? How many movies or tv shows are we watching where the whole plot line centers around the torturing or killing of others?

Are we entertained by the Easter Story or motivated by it?

What did Jesus mean when He said,
“Whoever wants to be My Disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me.”
Matthew 16:24

If we take up the cross and follow Jesus, where are we going? We are going where Jesus goes. We are going to The Way of Suffering.

We are going to share in the suffering of all those around us. We are going to show them The Wonder of carrying our cross harnessed to Jesus.

Jesus allowed suffering to interrupt His Life daily. He saw. He heard. He touched. He allowed Himself to be touched.

No one was too dirty. No one was too diseased, too contagious. No one was too crazy. No one was too sinful. He loved them all and healed them all.

He sees you. He hears you. He cares about everything you are experiencing right now.

When you are weighed down with the burdens of life, you may think, “This is just my cross to bear.”

We cannot escape the cross. There will be hard and heavy things to bear. But Jesus is here to be yoked with us to carry the load.

A yoke was a wooden bar by which two animals were harnessed together to pull a load. Jesus chooses to be harnessed together with us to face whatever awaits us.

If you accept His Offer to be yoked with Him, you will discover The True Miracle of The Cross.

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

“Take My Yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

“For My Yoke is easy and My Burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Our response to our own suffering is a testimony to all those around us. It is the measure of our faith in The One we profess in good times. Others are watching how well He carries the load and how much we trust Him to carry it.

And then we can face the suffering of others and give them the comfort with which we have been blessed.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill The Law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:2

“Praise be to The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

“For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

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Who Condemns You?

Adam and Eve knew they were guilty. They tried to hide from God.

The woman taken in adultery knew she was guilty. She lay powerless at the feet of Jesus, Who she knew would find her guilty as charged.

Peter knew he was guilty. He didn’t need a crowing rooster to tell him. He felt it in the pit of his stomach the first time he denied Jesus. If Jesus spoke as Peter did, He would have said, “I don’t know him.”

Judas knew he was guilty. He tried to atone for his sins by trying to reverse what he had put into play. He did not ask for Jesus’ Forgiveness and he could not forgive himself.

The thief on the cross next to Jesus knew he was guilty. Those who had called for his crucifixion knew it too. But in a moment, he knew he was not on just a cross. He was at The Throne of Grace. He asked for Jesus’ Mercy.

Do you feel the weight of guilt for things you have done in your life? You know you are guilty.

Sometimes you feel guilty because no one knows and you have managed to go on and have a good life. No one accuses you but yourself. You know.

There may be others who accused you. Their words from the past still sting. The words of today only add to the charge, “ You are guilty!”

But who is it really who accuses you and condemns you? Who tempts you to run from God instead of running to God to ask forgiveness for your mistakes? Satan.

When you fall, he rises and tries to keep you down by condemning you with shame and fear of punishment.
His primary mission is to keep you from surrendering to God and get you to surrender to him.

Jesus was sent into the world with a Mission. His Mission was the opposite of satan’s.

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”
John 3:17

Jesus had All Power and Authority to judge.

“All Authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.’”
Matthew 28:18

But He chose to use that Power and Authority to forgive, not to condemn.

“I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.”
John 12:47

“I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”
Mark 2:10

Jesus can forgive any and all sins by The Power of His Grace and Mercy. But we must be willing to come close and experience His Love and Mercy up close and personal.

And we must fulfill one other condition. We must forgive. Often the first one we need to forgive is ourselves.

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Matthew 6:14-15

When we forgive and receive forgiveness, the curse of condemnation, shame and fear is removed. We can hear The Words we have longed to hear.

“Your sins are forgiven.”
Luke 7:48

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Hebrews 4:16

“For it is by Grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is The Gift of God!”
Ephesians 2:8-9

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Who Do You Say I AM?

There is Power in God’s Name and Power in Jesus’ Name. When the Two Names are used together, The Power is so strong humans fall to their knees.

When the soldiers came with Judas to arrest Jesus, “Jesus, knowing what was going to happen to Him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’”
(John 18:4)

In order to answer Him, they had to say His Name.

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

(Get ready, because here comes the one, two punch.)

“I AM He,” Jesus said. (And Judas, the traitor, was standing there with them..)

When Jesus said “I AM He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
John 18:5-6

But Jesus was not done. Picture the scene. They were on the ground.

Again He asked them, “Who is it you want?”

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.

Jesus answered, “I told you that I AM He. So if you seek Me, let these men go.”
John 18:7-8

Jesus’ Mission was defined again at that moment. He was not a victim. He was there in All Power and Authority to save. He allowed the soldiers to take Him to the next stop on the journey to the cross.

Peter remained outside the door of the high priest’s courtyard, while Jesus was taken inside. A servant girl recognized him and asked,

“You aren’t one of this man’s disciples, are you?”
John 18:17

Peter had the opportunity to reply with all The Power of God’s Name. However, at that moment, satan had the victory. Remember how Jesus described satan.

“When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
John 8:44

Peter lied. Peter replied, “I am not.”
John 18:17

Peter said the same thing on two more occasions when he was asked if he was a follower of Jesus. “I am not.”

The stronger the lie, the weaker the man. Satan, having convinced Peter to lie, to deny and to desert, was standing ready to accuse Peter. His next step would be to try to convince Peter that Jesus had lied to him.

Peter remembered that day when Jesus had asked His Followers who people were saying He was. They told Him of the various speculations — Elijah, John The Baptist, Jeremiah, one of the prophets.

But then Jesus had made it personal.

“But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I AM?”
Matthew 16:15

Peter remembered how the hair had stood up on the back of his neck when Jesus said, “I AM.” There was a kind of electricity in the air.

Peter remembered the moment he knew. He didn’t “think.” He didn’t “believe.” He knew! Time seemed to have stopped. The world became just Peter and Jesus. Peter had blurted out,
“You are The Messiah, The Son of The Living God!” (Matthew 16:16)

In the glow of Jesus’ Face that day, a miraculous thing had happened. Jesus had blessed him. And Jesus told Peter who he (Peter, then called Simon) was.

Jesus replied, “ Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed by flesh and blood, but by My Father in Heaven.

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Matthew 16:17-19

Peter had not understood it that day, but he knew it was true. It was true not because of what he thought. It was true because The One Who was Truth said it was true.

Later Peter had gone over all of it again in his head. He said “I AM Peter. I AM the rock upon which Jesus will build His Church. I AM given The Keys to The Kingdom.” Every time he said it, he felt Power flowing through him.

But satan was waiting. He was shaking the Gates of Hades and waiting for the right moment.

The opportune moment came right after Peter lied about being a follower of Jesus. When Peter attempted to disconnect himself from The Truth, satan was ready. He came against every Truth Peter had ever known.

He enticed Peter to think “I am not a rock. I am not strong enough for anything to be built on me. I am not the keeper of the keys to the kingdom. I am not in Jesus’ Favor anymore. I am not feeling His Presence. I have fallen so far I am not able to ever get back to Jesus.”

Peter might have perished under the weight of his “ I am not” thinking except for The One Who prayed for him and knocked the “not” away, so Peter could see the great I AM again.

At the last supper Peter had promised he would be the one who would never leave Jesus. But Jesus had told Peter The Truth. His heart was in the right place, but his spirit had some growing to do.

“Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Luke 22: 31-32

Jesus knew Peter would fall in his human weakness, but Jesus also saw the day when Peter would turn back and become everything God had created Him to be.

Perhaps you have fallen under the weight of satan’s lies and turned to “I am not” thinking. Repent for misusing God’s Name. Turn back.

Ask God to reveal Who you are in Him. Who did He create you to be? Begin a sentence with God’s Name of “I AM” and let Him finish the sentence.

When you know Who He is, you will know who you are and you will know why you are here!

Who is He?
“I AM The Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have The Light of Life.”
John 8:12

Who are you?
“You are The Light of the world… let your Light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.”
Matthew 5:14 and 16

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What’s In A Name?

Words are important to God. He spoke the world into creation by The Power of His Words.

God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit are One. When God spoke, All His Creative Power went forth by way of His Word.

His Word was that part of Him called Jesus. John 1:1 says,

“In the beginning was The Word and The Word was with God and The Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.”

The Holy Spirit is The Breath of God. Our ability to speak is closely tied to our breathing. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that “all scripture is God-breathed.” The Holy Spirit works with Jesus, The Word, both flowing from God The Creator.

Not only are Words important to God, but also Names. From the beginning, He assured that Adam and Eve had names. He instructed Adam to name all the animals.

Psalm 147:4 tells us that not only does God determine the number of the stars, but He also “calls them by name.”

God knows your name. Isaiah 43:1 says, “Listen to the Lord, Who created you … The One Who formed you says … “I have called you by name; you are mine.”

God even gave Himself a Name. When Moses asked God what His Name was, God answered, “I AM Who I AM.”

God’s Name is short in terms of numbers of letters, but They are the two most Powerful Words in the Bible. If you want to know God, start with His Name.

The Bible is full of God’s Name of “I AM.” If there were ever a true Bible Code, it could be found by going through the Bible and finding all the places God or Jesus spoke, using I AM.

Here are some of the ways God revealed Himself through His Name.

“I AM The Lord Who heals you.”
Exodus 15:26

“I AM merciful.” Exodus 22:27

“I AM slow to anger and filled with unfailing Love and Faithfulness.”
Exodus 34:6

“Be still and know that I AM God.”
Psalm 46:10

“Don’t be afraid, for I AM with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I AM your God.”
Isaiah 41:10

“Yes, I AM The Lord, and there is no other Savior … I AM The Only God.”
Isaiah 43:11-12

“From Eternity to Eternity I AM God. No one can snatch anyone out of My Hand. No one can undo what I have done.”
Isaiah 43:13

“This is what The Lord says – your Redeemer and Creator: “I AM The Lord, Who made all things.”
Isaiah 43:13

“Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone AM God! I AM God and there is none like Me.”
Isaiah 46:9

“I AM a God Who is near,” says The Lord. “I AM also a God Who is far away. No one can hide where I cannot see him,” says The Lord. “I fill all of Heaven and earth,” says The Lord.
Jeremiah 23:23-24

“For I AM The Lord. If I say it, it will happen.”
Ezekiel 12:25

“I AM The Lord and I do not change.”
Malachi 3:6

Jesus, The Word, was also God. God gave specific instructions about what He was to be named.

“He shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:6

“They will call Him Immanuel, (which means ‘God with us.’).”
Matthew 1:23

“You are to give Him The Name Jesus, because He will save His People from their sins.”
Matthew 1:21

As Jesus, God continued to reveal Who He is.

Then Jesus said, “I AM He [The Messiah]— I, The One, talking to you.”
John 4:26

“I AM The Bread that gives Life.”
John 6:48

“I AM The Light of the world.”
John 8:12

“I AM The Good Shepherd.”
John 10:11

“I AM The Gate; Whoever enters through Me will be saved.”
John 10:9

“I AM The vine; you are the branches.”
John 15:5

“I AM The Resurrection and The Life.”
John 11:25

“I AM The Way, The Truth, and The Life.”
John 14:6

“Believe Me when I say that I AM in The Father and The Father is in Me.”
John 14:11

“The Lord God says, ‘I AM the Alpha and The Omega. I AM The One Who is and Who was and is coming. I AM The Almighty.’”
Revelation 1:8

“I AM The One Who lives; I was dead, but look, I AM alive forever and ever.”
Revelation 1:18

“I AM coming soon.”
Revelation 3:11

“I AM making everything new!”
Revelation 21:5

These are not all the scriptures that reveal Who God is. The Bible is packed with God’s Revelation of Himself. He wants us to come find Him in His Words.

His Words are not just a collection of Letters of the alphabet. His Words are actually alive!

“The Word of God is alive and active.”
Hebrews 4:12

When you read the Statements of The Great I AM, you will know that not only is your Creator alive on the pages of The Bible, He is also alive on the inside of you.

Jesus said,
“I AM in My Father and you are in Me and I AM in you.”
John 14:20

“Be sure of this —I AM with you always.”
Mathew 28:20

Jesus’ Name confirms it. U are in His Name. And either direction U go, right or left, you find US. We are all in Him!

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Why Was Jesus Killed?

According to historical documents, a man was publicly executed for a crime many years ago. He was not famous then, but now He is known all around the world.

Some think he must have committed a heinous crime because the method of his execution was reserved for the worst of the worst.

He was crucified on a cross. Unlike other common criminals, His Name was posted on his cross.

“Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the jews.”
John 19:19

You might have guessed right away Who the condemned man was, but do you know The reason He was sentenced to death? He claimed to be God.

Hear His Own Words.

“I and The Father are One.”
John 10:30

The beginning of the journey to Calvary began with church people, those who were identified as “keepers of the law.”

They believed they understood Who God was. In their eyes, Jesus was not God. They felt it their duty to silence Him. And when He could not be silenced, they felt it was their duty to eliminate Him.

Judas believed he understood Who God was. In his eyes, Jesus was not God. He was a great teacher. He was potentially the revolutionary who would free Israel. But He was not God.

Herod believed He understood Who God was. He was the lead keeper of The Law. It was his job to contain God for his people. He was no missionary. He understood God chose his people and he wanted to assure no one trespassed the limits. No one in. No one out.

Pilate was not sure Who God was. He knew about kings and while this man standing before him intrigued him, it seemed unlikely he was king of anything.

Pilate asked the right questions, including “What is Truth?” (John 18:38). But he didn’t wait to hear the answer.

And then there was the crowd, made up of people just like the teachers of the law, Judas, Herod and Pilate as well as those who had no opinion, but were just lured in by all the action.

Many in the crowd did not know God or Jesus. But if so many wanted this man crucified, they concluded there must be a good reason to support their call. They were the crowd and they followed the crowd.

Herod and the teachers of the law could not contain or limit Jesus. Judas could not get Jesus to do what he wanted him to do. Pilate could not find any charge to condemn Jesus, but also found no grounds to free Him.

Pilate did not want to make a decision, but under the influence of the crowd, he cast the final vote. And his sentence was carried out.

What was the real reason for the sentence? Jesus Himself revealed The Answer.

“The time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.”
John 16:2

Why would anyone think that? Jesus explained.

“They will do such things because they have not known the Father or Me.”
John 16:3

They did not know God or Jesus. They did not know They were One. They did not know that the same God created all of them. They did not know that The One standing in front of them was their Creator.

“In the beginning was The Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.”
John 1:1-3

They did not know that
The Word had become flesh and had made His dwelling among them.

They did not see His Glory, The Glory of The One full of Grace and Truth. (John 1:14)

But Jesus knew them and He loved them as He had from the beginning.

“When He (Jesus)saw the crowds, He had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Matthew 9:36

Even from the cross, Jesus forgave them because He said they did not know what they were doing. (Luke 24:34)

The One knows you and loves you. He wants you to know Him and love Him.

When asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus answered,
“The Lord our God, the Lord is One.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
Mark 12:29-30

Do you know The One?

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Do You Smell?

Do people smell you? Before you grab your deodorant, consider another question. Did people smell Jesus?

John 12:1-11 gives the interesting account of Jesus’ last visit with His friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus, who He had earlier raised from the dead.

They were sharing a meal when “Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped His Feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
John 12:3

What was the significance of this act? Everywhere Jesus went after that moment of His Anointing, the sweet fragrance of nard could be detected.

As He went through the streets of Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday, His Fragrance filled the air.

As He ate at what we have come to call The Last Supper, His Fragrance filled the air.

As He spent time in The Garden of Gethsemane, the breeze carried His Sweet Fragrance through the trees.

The nard rose from the pores of His Skin, its smell reaching Herod, Pilate, the crowd, and the soldiers who were crucifying Him.

The sweet smell covered the smell of sweat, blood and decaying bodies. It lingered in the air even after Jesus was taken to the tomb.

Why was the smell important? Smells trigger memories. God uniquely designed our bodies in such a way that smells are processed through our noses to a part of the brain directly connected with memory and emotion.

Interestingly, visual, auditory (sound) and tactile (touch) information do not pass through these areas of the brain.

When Jesus was not present in His earthly body and could not be seen, heard or touched, memories would fade. But the smell would not fade in their memory.

Once triggered, those who had once been enveloped in the sweetness of His Presence would feel His Presence once again.

Jesus wanted all who were in His Presence to remember the day when the sweet smell of Life triumphed over the stench of death.

Would that smell last forever? Yes, it does. Jesus gave up one body to live in our many bodies. It is His desire to fill the world with the knowledge of His Presence.

How will He do that? Through us. What fragrance are you sharing?

Take a few moments and breathe in His Presence. And then share it with the world.

“For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.”
2 Corinthians 2:15-17

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Why The Cross?

In my last post we looked at the wonderful news that God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit are One.

They won the battle of good and evil at the cross. But the question still remains “why the cross?”

Why would God choose the cross as the doorway to such a Wonderful Gift?

The answer was given by Jesus.

(Jesus speaking)
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness,
so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
John 3:14-15 (NIV2011)
 
What do Moses and snakes have to do with Jesus and the cross? In order to understand what Jesus was talking about, we need to go back and join the Israelites, on their journey to The Promised Land.

God provided for them at every turn, but they were still not satisfied. They were not interested in learning the lessons of the journey. They wanted The Promised Land now! Numbers 21:4-5 records the people became “impatient.”

Often when we are delivered from a bad situation, we are overjoyed. Part of the joy comes from our anticipation of the wonderful things that will come next.

When we keep getting farther and farther away from where we left, but the “Promised Land” is no where in sight, we often start getting impatient.

That is the very time satan will strike. He will tempt us to question whether we heard God right. Maybe we are not on the road to the Promised Land at all.

As we continue to try to connect with God and things remain the same, satan will take it up a notch and tempt us to doubt God.

Does God have a Plan for us? Is it a good plan? If it is a good plan, then why are things not working out the way we expect?

Satan continues to draw us farther and farther into his trap. He will tempt us to consider whether God is good at all. Maybe God has lured us out in the desert just to torment us for His own enjoyment. Maybe where we just left wasn’t that bad after all. Maybe we should go back.

Satan is then poised for the next step. He will tempt us to consider whether God is really there at all. Maybe He has abandoned us. Or maybe He was never there. Maybe we imagined Him.

In the deserts of our life, things get reversed in our minds and in our spirits. Bad begins to look good and good begins to look bad. God begins to look evil and satan starts to look good.

The Israelites fell prey to every temptation of satan. They defected to his army and began to criticize and accuse God.

Then a curious thing happened. God sent poisonous snakes into their midst and the snakes began to bite them. This is the point in the story where some might be tempted to say, “See, that just confirms God is bad. God is against us. He is vengeful and punishing.”

But that was not the case at all. Satan, who was identified from the beginning of the Bible as a snake, was simply unmasked by God. He and his demons were brought out into the open where they could be seen as they were — evil and poisonous.

God’s Light not only revealed to the people that satan was evil, but He also revealed the evil that had crept into their hearts.

God allowed the people to feel their powerlessness to save themselves. He directed them back to understanding that He alone was God. He alone had The Power to remove death and restore Life to them.

So Moses prayed for the people.

The LORD said to Moses,
“Make a snake, and put it on a pole.
Anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”

So Moses made a bronze snake and put it on a pole. People looked at the bronze snake after they were bitten,
and they lived. 
Numbers 21:4-9 (GW)
 
Why would God do such a thing?  Wasn’t He opposed to idols?  Didn’t He say not to make any graven images?  Why did He want the people to look at the symbol of satan?  Most puzzling of all, why would staring at a bronze snake bring about their healing?

God wanted the people to stare at the snake and remember the agony it had brought them. It had poisoned them. It had brought pain, illness and death. It had brought grief and loss. And now it was powerless to do anything else.

In the hands of God through Moses, the snake was nothing. It was defeated. The healing of the people came not from following the ways of the snake, but in choosing to obey God.

Jesus’ Life was a study in obedience to God. Satan’s life was a study in rebellion against God.

God is good all the time. Satan is evil all the time. The cross unmasked for all to see the evil that satan could bring. But it also brightly illuminated the Joy that comes from obedience to God.

The cross should remind us that satan has been unmasked. He is out in the open challenging The Lord of The Universe. He wants to win the battle by luring us to his side.

But he is made powerless by our obedience to our Creator. When we look through the cross, we see what Jesus saw.

“For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of The Throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:2

He is our Gateway to the Joy of Eternity!

“I am The Gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;

“I have come that they may have Life and have it to the full.”
John 10:9-10

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”
Deuteronomy 30:19

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