Our Kind of Savior

Reading through the genealogies of Jesus can be a mind-numbing task.  And even though we realize the lineage of Jesus is extremely special, it still isn't the highlight of our Bible reading.  Why should it matter to a twenty-first century Christian that Jesus' lineage is traceable to Abraham? But upon taking a closer look we learn some very revealing truths.  In Jesus' genealogy is Rahab, a woman of questionable morals.  And a generation later, the Moabite Ruth appears.  Then, within two generations, David, an adulterous king who committed murder shows up.  What are a Canaanite prostitute, a foreigner, and a law-breaking king doing in Jesus' genealogy?  Pointing to the hope we have in Christ, that's what. Think about it: Jesus--the incarnate God, the invisible Creator appearing in the flesh--is a descendant of sinners.  If Jesus could come from the seed of such as these, He's just the One to represent sinners to God.  While sinless Himself, the Son of God came in the form of [Read more...]

Keeping a Heavenward Perspective

In Philippians 3 Paul describes those "who mind earthly things" (vs. 19). Paul's intent is to remind those of us who are in Christ that this is not to be our perspective in life. We are not to live as those who see life as only in the here and now. Paul gives us the contrast in vs. 20. "For our citizenship is in heaven from where we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." We need to recognize just who we are! As Christians the hope of heaven should define our lives here on earth. After all, we are citizens of heaven. That is our eternal home and destiny. We will spend eternity there. That reality should become the focus of our lives here. But there's more! Paul goes on to tell us in vs. 21 that we will be eternally transformed. The Lord Jesus Christ will "change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body." This transformation has already begun. When we come to know Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, the process of transformation [Read more...]

He’s Alive!

What must it have felt like for the disciples when Jesus died? They had left everything for this man, followed Him for three years, and built all of their hopes and dreams on His ideas. Not only that,but they had heard all the incredible things He said. He told them that He "was" before Abraham lived. He said that He and the Father were one. He declared He was the only way to God. He had told them such amazing things, but now, there He was, hanging on a cross, dead. How could this be? The disciples were confused, scared, mournful, and completely distraught. Only one thing could have turned them around. Only one thing could have breathed new life into their downtrodden spirits. Praise God, that one vital thing came in the cry of an excited friend running toward them, shouting, "He's alive! He' alive!" Jesus had beaten death! Believers often take this news for granted. It seems so commonplace today to speak of the Resurrection of Jesus. Our familiarity, however, [Read more...]

Who is Jesus Christ?

It seems every year around this time some publication writes a story along the line of "Who is Jesus Christ?" Its not a new question. In fact, it is one that Jesus asked His disciples in Mark 16:15: "Who do you say that I am?" Peter answers correctly: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." What did Peter mean when he referred to Jesus as the Christ? "Christ" is a transliteration of the Greek word that is the equivalent to the Hebrew word "Messiah." "Messiah" and "Christ" mean exactly the same thing. "One who has been anointed." I don't know if Peter appreciated the full meaning of the word but when applied to Jesus it is an amazing picture of who He is. There were three anointed offices in the Old Testament: That of prophet, priest, and king. By being anointed they were set apart by God for a specific purpose. A prophet, a priest, and a king are essential needs for man. We need a prophet to reveal God and bring God's revelation to man. We need a [Read more...]

The Secret to Contentment

Paul shares with us the secret to contentment in Philippians 4:11-13. Paul said that whatever his circumstances he had learned to be content. How did he do this? Was he not paying attention? Was he in self-denial? What was his secret? I believe that Paul saw more than just the outward circumstances. I think he saw through the circumstances. Paul knew that God was sovereign, that He was in control. He knew that he could trust Him. He knew that God was at work in the midst of even the most trying circumstances to perfect His purposes in his life. When we look at the circumstances of our lives, what do we see? Some circumstances are good. Some are bad. I'm not implying that everything that happens to you is good. The Scriptures nowhere teach that. But they do teach that God is at work in every situation, good and bad, for our benefit. In other words, He can take even a bad situation and build some good thing into our lives. So, before you label something good or [Read more...]

Misunderstood by the World but Loved by God

We are all subject to being misunderstood by others from time to time. We are all unique individuals and people often do not know what is going on inside our heads and hearts. Sometimes they misunderstand us because they do not know us. Other times they misunderstand us because their own perspective on things is so unlike ours. But no one group is more misunderstood than Christians. Just turn on the television and tune in to any talk show. What you will hear is there is generally a mischaracterization of Christians and Christianity. Christians are portrayed as narrow-minded and unloving. Christianity is trivialized and marginalized. But this really should not surprise us. We should not expect people who do not know God to understand people who do. The Bible tells us that "the world knows us not, because it knew Him not" (I John 3:1). Being a child of God means that we are misunderstood by others. The world simply does not and cannot understand people who have a [Read more...]

Choosing our Master: Sin or Christ

Today, many Christians who inhabit the pews of our churches are discouraged, defeated, depressed and frustrated. They are limited, and they know it, in the things God can do through them, and sometimes they do not even know why. The reason is most likely due to the fact that we are not surrendering ourselves to Jesus Christ. We are harboring sin in our lives. It may be a seemingly small, insignificant sin. We may not be harboring some of the more serous sins, but we are harboring sin none-the-less. It may be the sin of choosing our own way instead of choosing God's way. Or it may be we are not surrendering some area of our lives because it is precious to us. No one wants to be limited when it comes to being used of God. Remember, it is not so much your ability, your gifts or your talents that matter. God has plenty of those to give freely. It is your availability to be used of God in His service that makes the difference. Do not sit there and say, "Well I just don't have [Read more...]

Taking God’s Perspective on Life

How do you view life? What is your worldview? A worldview is a lens through which life is viewed. It is your understanding of how life works and why it works that way. This is your worldview. This is your perspective. Our worldview is really a life-view. And this life-view makes a huge difference in how we react emotionally to the situations we encounter and how we behave practically. This explains why so many people react differently to the very same circumstances and problems. Life is both similar and different for everybody. It is similar in that all kinds of stuff happens to everybody. Good stuff happens and bad stuff happens. All of us can testify that we, as humans share a commonality of life experiences. Life is different however, in that the stuff that happens to you is unique to your situation. It is unique to your history and personality. But, the real question is not whether stuff will happen to you, but how you will respond to the stuff that does [Read more...]

Resurrection Life

Is there life after death? That has been a burning question that's been asked as long as mankind has been on this planet. Job put it this way: "If a man die, shall he live again?" (Job 14:14). The thought that these few short years on earth is all we have is terribly frightening. There is something within the soul of all of us that makes us yearn for something more. The truth of the power of Christ's resurrection is that believers will rise again. Jesus answers Job's question in His words to Martha. Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die" (John 11:25,26). Jesus said that even if we die, we will live. In other words, just as He came forth from that grave, so also will we come forth from our graves in that great resurrection morning. It is the destiny of all of God's children to come forth from death to new life in His eternal kingdom. [Read more...]

Heavenly-minded Christians

Perhaps you have heard some Christians described as being "so heavenly-minded, they're of no earthly good." To be honest, I don't know many Christians that fit that description. In fact, usually the opposite is true. Many Christians are so preoccupied with the things of this world that they hardly give heaven a passing thought. They have everything they want right here. The health, wealth and prosperity doctrine has convinced them that Christian's can have it all, so they pursue "the good life" with a vengeance. But Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:30: "Our citizenship is in heaven; from which we also look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." That's why we are exhorted to set our minds on heavenly, not on earthly things (Col. 3:1-2). Our deepest affections and highest aspirations should center there. Our actions and decisions should reflect heavenly priorities, not earthly indulgences. Seek to live your life with a greater awareness of the fleeting value of this [Read more...]

The True Meaning of Christmas

If we were to sum up the true meaning of Christmas in one word, I think the word "Emmanuel" would be a strong candidate. Christmas is all about "God with us." In the word Emmanuel, we discover the incredible love and sacrifice displayed by Christ in His incarnation. According to what the Bible says in Philippians 2:5-8, before Jesus came to this earth He was in very nature God and lived in equality with God. There was no higher position in the universe. Yet consider what He did. The Bible says that He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing (Phil. 2:6). This could literally be translated that He "laid aside His privileges." Christ surrendered His position in glory. He gave up His position in heaven with God for our sake. He emptied Himself and made Himself nothing - all for us. He took upon Him the very nature of a servant so that He could meet our need. This attitude is counter-cultural. We live in a society filled [Read more...]

An Infallible Source of Guidance

How do you determine what to believe and think?  How do you determine what is the right choice to make or the right course of action to pursue?  Guidance is a fundamental issue for every Christian.  We must all make decisions.  How can we know we are making the right one? Many non-Christians resort to a variety of methods to make "right" decisions.  Some people just do what they want to do.  Others consult horoscopes, palm-readers, astrologers, spiritists, and mediums.  Little do they know the danger in such pursuits.  James 3:17 says, "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits."  On the other hand, describing the opposite kind of wisdom, James 3:15 reads, "This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish."  One wisdom is heavenly, the other is earthly.  One wisdom is from God, the other is demonic.  Many people are putting themselves in danger of receiving demonic direction when [Read more...]

A Hope That Sustains Us

We live in an age where hopelessness is on the increase.  People have bought into the lie of Satan that we are hopeless creatures in the hands of fate and unable to do anything about it.  Hopelessness is a strategy of Satan to keep us down.  He wants us to live in defeat, discouragement, and despair.  If he can fill us with hopelessness, he has won a great victory in our lives. Hope is really a matter of perspective.  What is our perspective in life?  Paul refers to those whose perspective is on earthly things in Philippians 3:19.  This would encompass the vast majority of people today.  Most people are focused on earthly things rather than eternal things.  Even in the church many people fail to have an eternal perspective.  They see life as here and now.  While they may believe that they will go to heaven when they die, their view of life is almost indistinguishable from non-Christians. But what happens when Christians adopt that perspective on life?  If we adopt a perspective [Read more...]

God Helps Those Who Cannot Help Themselves

Christianity is not a religion.  Christianity is a relationship.  There are many religions throughout the world.  But most religions have something in common and that is they are based on works.  They seek to please God by some form of self-effort. Sadly some view Christianity in much the same way.  They are convinced that in order to please God they must live according to certain rules and regulations.  Their creed might be summed up in the saying, "God helps those who help themselves."  I am convinced that a majority of the people in churches believe that this is a verse of Scripture.  But the Bible never says God helps those who help themselves.  It's a uniquely American idea, but not a biblical idea.  God helps everybody and especially those who can't help themselves.  The idea that God only helps the hard working is a concept based on the idea of keeping the Law.  It is Old Covenant. And here's the problem  We've developed in many churches a Christianized version of the [Read more...]

The Certainty of Eternal Life

Most of us know that we are alive.  Although there may be some exceptions, generally it is pretty obvious that a person is living.  Even if they are sleeping soundly, you can generally tell that they are breathing.  From a distance they may not appear to be breathing, although for some of us, you can definitely hear us breathing when we are asleep.  We breathe loudly.  We call that snoring, and snoring is an indication of life.  So that is a good sign! But spiritual life is not as easily discernible as physical life.  There are some people who do not know whether they are spiritually alive or not.  Some hope they are, but really can't say for sure.  Others do not believe that anyone can really know for sure. Is it possible to know you are spiritually alive?  Let's allow the apostle John to answer this question.  "He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life.  These things have I written  unto you...that you may know that you have eternal life..." [Read more...]