WE SERVE A MAGNANIMOUS GOD

Matthew 5:43-45 (New Living Translation)

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.

 

As long as planet Earth continues to exist, and the cycles of day and night, wet and dry seasons do not cease, the planet will continue to support human life. The seasons and cycles were established by God when he created the world, to sustain life on Earth, irrespective of our moral choices, whether good or bad.

Sunlight is not just good for plants, but allows for human activities of all kinds during the day, and has a powerful influence on our moods and emotions. The rain nourishes the soil and is a delight to the human soul – just ask the billions and billions of children throughout human history with great memories of playing in the rain.

God in his magnanimity – in his great generosity and kindness towards all people, just and unjust – has given us a world where all the elements, living and non-living things, exist partly to be a joyful blessing to humans on the planet.

Our daily troubles often make us blind to the joys and wonder of creation freely available to all. Lets take a moment this week to appreciate God’s magnanimity to us all, and his great heart of love towards us that is behind it all.

Take a minute every morning this week, before you get busy, to pray ‘thank you Lord for the sun and rain, trees and flowers, birds that sing, people that are nice to me, and for your love that makes it all possible – Amen’.

 

Image: Enjoying the rain (Wikimedia

THE GOOD NEWS FROM JESUS – Part 3 conclusion

Prayer hands

Luke 4:18-21 (New Living Translation)

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.” … The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!

 

In his earthly ministry, Jesus did heal a number of blind people. However, his message here is addressing spiritual blindness – an inability to see and understand God’s plans and purposes for the world and for our individual lives.

When Jesus states that he has come so the ‘oppressed will be set free’ – the people felt he meant he was going to deliver them from Roman conquest, but as always Jesus was referring to spiritual oppression. A condition that involves wicked Satanic domination over a person’s spirit, sometimes in the form of demonic possession.

The good news for those who heard him read that passage from Isaiah, and to us, is indeed that the time of God’s favor has come through Jesus, and He is destroying the wicked works of the Devil. How can we enjoy this favor from God?

Apostle Paul states in Romans 10:13 (NLT) that whether Jews or Gentiles “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” 

FREEDOM from Satanic captivity resulting in ungodly habits, and eyes to understand God’s loving plans and purposes, is now available to us through Jesus. Speak with Jesus in sincere persistent prayers today, asking for freedom and spiritual enlightenment. May the Lord answer your prayers speedily, Amen!

 

Image: Praying Hands (Wikimedia)

 

THE GOOD NEWS FROM JESUS – Part 1

Street Painter View of Jesus

Luke 4:16-21 (New Living Translation)

When he [Jesus] came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.”

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he [Jesus] began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

 

The above passage is about Jesus introducing his ministry to the people after his 40 days fasting and being tempted by Satan in the wilderness. This is Jesus laying out the five big goals behind the work he will do while he walked on Earth. Let’s consider the first of these in today’s blog – “bring Good News to the poor.” 

Let’s start with the bad news – at creation, Adam was given rulership over the Earth, to rule under the guidance of God. Satan dethroned Adam, gaining authority and power over the Earth, including over our bodies, our soul, and our spirit. Satan uses this power to strongly influence every human person to live ungodly lives.

So, what is the good news?

It is that Jesus has set up the kingdom of God on Earth, side by side with the kingdom of Satan. Jesus has invaded the Earth and is forcefully establishing his own area of authority and power over our spirit, soul, and eventually our bodies. I can now choose to follow Jesus and live under the resurrection power of the kingdom of God.

Believing in Jesus, joining a Church, and diligent study of the Bible to understand God’s character, is how we join the kingdom of God. When God is satisfied with the number of people who have entered into the kingdom of God, this world will end, and a new world made up of only members of kingdom of God, ruled by Jesus, will begin.

This is the good news in summary. Are you in or out? Holy Spirit, please give us all a clear view of the good and beautiful kingdom of God, Amen!!!

 

Image: A street painter’s drawing of Jesus (Wikimedia)

HABAKKUK – EMPOWERMENT IN HARD TIMES!

Mountain deer

Habakkuk 1:2-4 (GOD’S WORD® Translation) – How long, O LORD, am I to cry for help, but you will not listen? I cry out to you, “There’s violence!” yet you will not come to the rescue… Quarrels and disputes arise… Wicked people surround righteous people so that when justice is carried out, it’s perverted.”

 

The book of Habakkuk opens with the agonizing cry “How long, O LORD“, things have fallen apart in Judah, “There’s violence“, frequent quarrels and conflicts, but the judges are so corrupt “when justice is carried out, it’s perverted.” In such conditions, poor people, simple people, and righteous people, often experience hard times.

The LORD answers Habakkuk that he has seen the ugly conditions in Judah, and has permitted Judah to be captured by Babylon as a form of discipline for Judah. Habakkuk thinks the punishment is too strong and ask God for mercy. God assures him that “the righteous person will live because of his faithfulness” (Hab. 2:4).

God’s response so delights Habakkuk that he was inspired to write Habakkuk Chapter 3 as a magnificent song of praise. Habakkuk 3:17-19 are among the most beautiful praise and testimony of God’s provision for the righteous in hard times.

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (GWT) – “Even if the fig tree does not bloom and the vines have no grapes, even if the olive tree fails to produce and the fields yield no food, even if the sheep pen is empty and the stalls have no cattle – even then, I will be happy with the LORD. I will truly find joy in God, who saves me. The LORD Almighty is my strength. He makes my feet like those of a deer. He makes me walk on the mountains.” 

In hard times, the LORD is our strength, empowering us to thrive – giving us feet like those of the mountain deer, so we can walk on the mountains to springs of living waters, which never runs dry, glory to His name, Amen!

 

Image: Deer in the Carmel mountain, Israel (Source: Wikimedia)

WHAT IS YOUR ANCHOR IN TIMES OF UNCERTAINTY?

Seraphim 2

Isaiah 6:1-2 (New Living Translation)

It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew.

 

Uzziah (also known as Azariah) was the twelfth king of Judah.  His father and grandfather were assassinated; they left Judah a poor and weak country. Uzziah was king at 16 and ruled for 52 years (see 2 Kings 15 and 2 Chronicles 26). He was faithful to God, and thus God prospered and made Judah strong again.

Sadly, in his later years, pride caused Uzziah to attempt to take over the functions of the Priests; God struck him with Leprosy and this eventually led to his death. It was while mourning over Uzziah’s tragic death that Isaiah had this spectacular vision of God on the throne in the Temple, filing it up with his mighty presence and greatness.

The vision showed Isaiah that Judah’s true King was still alive and full of power. The vision strengthened Isaiah’s faith, renewed his hope, and showed him the way forward. It was the key turnaround moment in Isaiah’s life.

Who or what is king over your life? Country? The President? The economy? The certificate you earned from College? Family? The job you do? Friends? Church you attend? Will these hold firm in times of uncertainty?

Isaiah’s confidence was wrecked when Uzziah died, but the Lord rescued Isaiah with a vision of His presence and greatness. Our anchor and stability in times of uncertainty is Yahweh, the true and permanent Ruler of Heaven and Earth.

May the LORD give us a vision of his presence and greatness, like he did for Isaiah, to strengthen our trust in Him in these uncertain times, Amen!   

 

Image: Seraphim on Jerusalem YMCA based on Isaiah 6:1-5 (Source: Wikimedia

PSALM 91 – A TESTIMONY OF MOSES

The_Call_of_Moses

Psalm 91:1-2 (New Living Translation)

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.

 

It is commonly believed that Moses wrote Psalm 91 when Israel was traveling through the desert on their journey to the Promised Land.

We remember that during their 40 years journey, a cloud was always over the children of Israel during the day to protect them from the sun; and a pillar of fire appeared in the middle of their camp at night to provide light, warmth, and security (check out Exodus 13:21). Psalm 91 is thus a testimony of how God cares for his children.

While it is often difficult for us to see the many ways God cares for us, especially in times of trouble and trials, we have the testimony and praise of people like Moses, to encourage us. Moses lived in the palace of Egypt from birth till he was 40; was then driven away and lived a tough life as a shepherd for another 40 years.

During his 40 years as a shepherd Moses must have felt abandoned; likely concluded he was a failure; and lived with pain at not being able to rescue Israel from slavery. All this turned around when Moses met God at the burning bush and was empowered to go deliver Israel (check out Exodus 3 for this terrific experience). 

We see Moses in Psalm 91, now as deliverer of Israel with full support from God, testifying that ‘those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty… he is my God, and I trust him.’ Moses speaks strongly to us today, let’s not give up on God no matter the challenges we face – Amen!

 

Image: Moses and the burning bush (Source: Wikimedia)

THE RESURRECTION – OUR LIVING HOPE AND GREAT EXPECTATION!

Callac Chemin15 3742.JPG

 

1 Peter 1:3 (New International Version) – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…

1 Peter 1:3 (New Living Translation) – All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation…

 

Throughout history, there have been many who doubt that Jesus lived and walked the Earth; some others accept that Jesus did live and preached the gospel but he died and did not resurrect. These claim that Christianity is a fraud and the claim to resurrection of the dead to a new life where death has no power is fake news!

I sympathize with all who hold these views. Truly the chief claim of the Christian faith, that Jesus is the messiah who died for our sins and rose from the dead after three days, is quite incredible, beyond belief, and a miracle of great power too good to be true.

To accept that the resurrection happened is to accept that JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD to who we will all give account of how we lived our lives on Earth. Many people just don’t want to accept that we will give account of our lives – with the righteous rewarded with bodily resurrection to a new life, where disease and death have no power.

To us, followers of Jesus, his resurrection is a guaranty of our own future resurrection – because Jesus rose from the dead, ‘now, we live in great expectation’ that we will rise from the dead to be like him, and be with him. To us, followers of Jesus, death is not the final word, glory be to God in the highest, hallelujah!   

Happy Easter – its a season of great joy, as we look forward with great expectation to our own resurrection to a new life, where death has no power over us, Amen!

 

Image: The empty tomb (Source: Wikimedia