Tag Archives: salvation

Find Freedom in Jesus

“Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw.” – Matthew 12:22

LifeLifter15

Isn’t it remarkable?

Jesus healed a demon-possessed man who was both blind and mute. Jesus freed him from his imprisonment to demons and darkness.

Jesus can free us, too.

In many ways, we all live inside our own prisons. Some prisons may be of our own making, through sin, addictions, and wrong decisions.

Every bad choice we’ve made locks us up in some form of prison. It can be relational, emotional, financial or something else. As a result, we may experience loss of freedom and despair.

The difference between freedom and confinement is found in our answer to the question, “Who is Jesus?”

The Pharisees claimed Jesus was a charlatan or doing the work of the devil. Others realized that He is the Son of God.

Our answer and response to that question – Who is Jesus? – is the most important decision we will ever make.

Jesus came to set us free.

Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free” (Luke 4:18).

With his sacrifice, Jesus declared us “Not guilty!” and opened our jail cells.

Will we accept the freedom that Jesus offers and walk through those open doors into his open arms? Or will we remain imprisoned by our sins, our addictions and our wrong behaviors?

God has given us freedom to choose. Let us choose wisely.

[Background photo courtesy Sundown First Baptist Church.]

Advertisements

The Essence of Communion

“For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26)

Most people have heard of communion but many are unfamiliar with either its meaning or significance. Some who have taken communion for years may not truly understand its meaning.

Communion

Communion symbolizes and celebrates the most important doctrines of the church and the very essence of the gospel message. Communion is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian.

Jesus instituted communion during the Last Supper, the night before he was crucified. At that time, Jesus explained it’s meaning. His simply spoken explanation is deeply profound: “Take, eat; this is my body … Dink, for this is my blood of the new covenant.”

Several aspects of communion have deep significance for Christians, and, indeed, all of mankind.

Communion is all about our relationship with God.

Jesus expressed his deep desire for a relationship with us on that unforgettable night. Jesus said, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” (Luke 22:15)

Why? Because he is eager to enter into the lives of his disciples and he wants to share his life with us.

We have a relationship with God because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

In Matthew’s account of the Last Supper, we read:

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.  For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28)

The “blood of the new covenant” – Jesus’ blood – was shed “for the remission of sins.” Our sins.

Unless we are cleansed by the blood of Jesus, we have no life. It is through identifying with Jesus’ sacrifice that we enter into a relationship with him. Jesus referred to this as a “covenant.” (A covenant is a binding agreement.)

At the time, the disciples did not grasp the enormity of what had just transpired. Jesus replaced the old covenant of works and obedience with a new covenant of grace and faith. (See Hebrews chapter 8 regarding why the new covenant is a better covenant built on better promises.)

We have a relationship with God through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

In Luke’s record of the Last Supper, we read:

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19)

Jesus wants us to remember – and to both commemorate and to celebrate – his sacrifice for us. It is through his sacrifice that we can approach the throne of God. We do that by coming (figuratively) to the foot of the cross. It is at the cross that we apprehend the body and blood of Christ.

Jesus referred to himself as the “door” (John 10:9) and “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). That door – that pathway to God – is the cross. We need to walk through that Door.

Jesus offers us a never-ending relationship with him.

Remember Jesus’ fervent desire “to eat this Passover with you before I suffer?” Jesus’ next words point to our final destination in Paradise.

Jesus continued, “for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:16)

Until what is fulfilled? The salvation of all those who accept the blood of Jesus as atonement for their sins.

Jesus offers each of us eternal life with him in heaven. In Revelation 3:20, Jesus gives us an invitation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me.”

Through communion, Jesus offers us the opportunity to dine with him; to partake of the bread and the wine, which symbolize his broken body and shed blood. The time of communion invites us to commemorate Jesus’ sacrifice and to remember that our relationship with God is made possible only because of what Jesus did.

Jesus is knocking at the door of your life. Will you accept his invitation? Jesus fervently desires that you do.

Take Heart, My Child

“Take heart, my son, your sins are forgiven.” – Matthew 9: 2

LifeLifter13

Jesus’ heart was revealed when he walked the earth 2,000 years ago. On one occasion, people brought a paralyzed man to him. Jesus astonished the crowd by unexpectedly declaring, “Take heart, my son, your sins are forgiven.”

The Pharisees objected to his words, claiming Jesus blasphemed God. Jesus proved that he could forgive sins by healing the man, who obeyed his instructions: “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”

The paralytic was transformed from being completely hopeless to facing unlimited possibilities. That’s what Jesus does.

Jesus healed the man from all that had held him down, freed him from a body and a life that did not work. Jesus offers to do the same for us. Jesus desires to give us freedom from death, from brokenness, and from the hell that lives within us.

The great miracle was not the outward physical healing of the paralytic man but, rather, his inward spiritual healing, which will last forever.

Jesus came to bring eternal forgiveness and to heal us from whatever paralyzes us, from the darkness that pulls us down.

Jesus also tells us to “take heart,” meaning, to have boldness and courage. We can boldly turn to the only One who can save us.

We all have a choice. We can choose to remain paralyzed by all that is wrong in our hearts, our lives, and the world. Or we can choose freedom in Christ.

In a nutshell, we can choose either sin or forgiveness.

Will you celebrate God’s forgiveness and joyfully live a life with God on your journey to heaven, or will you remain hopelessly paralyzed, stuck where you are?

Jesus beckons you, “Come to Me!” (Mt. 11:28)

Life at the Cross!

An instrument of cruel death was used by God to bring life to all.

The Easter season celebrates the fulfillment of Jesus’ most beloved words in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Life at the Cross

Jesus fulfills those words at the cross. There, he paid the penalty for all of our sins (1 Pet. 3:18, Rom. 6:8, Heb. 9:28). And it is there where we find Him to receive the gift of everlasting life (Rom. 6:23). It is a free gift when we repent in faith.

Jesus actually predicted the manner of His death in the words preceding his great promise. In John 3:14-15, we read: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Notice that verses 15 and 16 end with almost identical words. Why? Because Jesus was drawing a parallel between a spectacular Old Testament event (which prefigured the salvation which would be provided at the cross) with Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

14-Sept-Rm-Aloysius-1

As recorded in Numbers 21:4-9, the ancient Israelites rebelled against God in the wilderness. God punished them with “fiery serpents who bit them, killing many. After the people repented, God provided a means of salvation:

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.’ So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.”

numbers 21v9b

In similar fashion, whenever anyone who has sinned looks at Jesus  in repentance and faith, they shall live.

Speaking to the crowd, Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32). The next verse expressly states, “This He said, signifying by what death He would die.”

Just as Moses lifted up a bronze serpent on a pole to save all those who looked at it, God lifted up Jesus on a cross to save all those who put their faith in Him.

Let us all turn to Jesus, who beckons us with arms wide open, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28).

Nothing Matters More Than Jesus

“Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” – Matthew 7:23

 Often, we might think we’re OK. Our culture certainly promotes the “I’m okay, you’re okay” philosophy. The world says you can believe what you want and it will be okay.

But is it true? It is only true if you have a relationship with Jesus Christ. If you don’t, you’re missing out on the most important thing in life!

LifeLifter11

Many people know of Jesus, but they do not know him. Do you really know Jesus?

You might think you have a good relationship with Jesus because you go to church, serve other people, give generously, or engage in some other “religious” activity. Yet, if your heart has not been transformed by Jesus, if nothing internally has changed since you came to know who Jesus is, then perhaps there is no relationship. Perhaps other things are taking the place of Jesus in your life.

Jesus warned that many in the judgment would come expecting a reward for their external religious activities, yet Jesus will tell them, “I never knew you.” He will say this because their hearts are not right with God.

The communion service (Luke 22:14-21) celebrates our life in Christ. It affirms our fellowship with Jesus and it commemorates his sacrifice for us. The bread and the wine symbolize his broken body and shed blood. In a very real sense, when we partake of those symbols, we are sharing in his sacrifice and we are celebrating oneness with him.

Communion points to the cross and the cross points to God’s love for us (John 3:16).

If we have Jesus, we have everything we need. If we don’t, then we have nothing.

We all need to periodically reevaluate our lives and our priorities and place Jesus at the top of every list.

Nothing matters more than our relationship with Jesus.

A Fresh Start in Jesus Christ

During the Christmas season we are reminded of the birth of Jesus. The news of Jesus’ birth surely brought Joy to the World.

Fresh Start in Jesus

Why such joy? In “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” we sing these words:

“Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;

Hail th’incarnate Deity,

Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,

Jesus our Emmanuel.”

Jesus was pleased to clothe himself in human flesh and dwell with us. He stooped down from heaven to live with us mere mortals here on earth. This Christmas carol continues:

“Mild He lays His glory by,

Born that man no more may die.

Born to raise the sons of earth,

Born to give them second birth.”

Yes, Jesus humbly gave up his divine prerogatives to live with us, suffer with us, and die for us – out of his great love for us.

Jesus was “Born that man no more may die,” that through faith in him we might have everlasting life with him in Paradise (John 3:16).

Jesus was “Born to raise the sons of earth,” that we might become children of God and heirs together with Christ in heaven (Rom. 8:17).

Jesus was “Born to give them second birth,” that we might be born again – a spiritual birth – so that we might be transformed into his likeness (2 Cor. 3:18).

Jesus has given us a fresh start!

Adam and Eve failed in the Garden of Eden and they were expelled from Paradise.

Jesus, the last Adam, has succeeded and is bringing us into Paradise!

“The Scriptures tell us, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living person.’ But the last Adam – that is, Christ – is a life-giving Spirit.” (1 Cor. 15:45)

Jesus’ birth was a game-changerfor all of us. His birth is still recognized in our calendars, in this Year of our Lord, 2016.

Jesus came to give us new life and a fresh start. But we have a choice: Will we accept his freely-given gift or will we continue to live our lives our own way – a way which leads to destruction?

Moreover, having received Jesus’ gift of eternal life, will we live our lives as Jesus would, or will we take his gift for granted? The choice is ours. May we all choose better than Adam and Eve.

Obama and Reagan on Jesus

In Matthew 10:34, Jesus made a seemingly enigmatic statement: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth, but a sword.” Jesus graphically depicted how differing views of Jesus would divide people.

Obama & Reagan on Jesus

The contrast between views could not be starker between the Left and the Right. One party removed God from its 2012 platform while the other is derided by the Left for its embrace of the Religious Right.

As usual, Jesus is the pivot point, the demarcation line, or, as He put it, the sword which divides. Jesus is either a rock of offense or the foundation of one’s faith.[1]

The head of the Democrat Party, President Obama, views Jesus as a dead social justice activist, while President Reagan, the model for most Republican candidates, viewed Jesus as both alive and divine.

Obama’s Jesus – Social Justice Activist

President Obama’s Christmas message in 2015 was simple and secular. Obama said (emphasis added),

“Today, like millions of Americans and Christians around the world, our family celebrates the birth of Jesus and the values He lived in his own life. Treating one another with love and compassion. Caring for those on society’s margins: the sick and the hungry, the poor and the persecuted, the stranger in need of shelter – or simply an act of kindness.”

With his very next words, Obama watered down the significance of both Christ and Christmas, saying,

“That’s the spirit that binds us together – not just as Christians, but as Americans of all faiths. It’s what the holidays are about: coming together as one American family to celebrate our blessings and the values we hold dear.”

Actually, no. Christmas is about worshiping the newborn Babe and risen King.[2]

While people of all faiths can certainly enjoy this festive time of year, and Americans of all faiths should certainly strive for peace and harmony, only one faith – and, in particular, one Person[3] – is the reason for the season.[4]

God blessed America because people of the Christian faith sought His will in establishing this great nation. Our political, cultural and spiritual heritage is distinctly Christian in nature.[5]

Reagan’s Jesus – Divine

In contrast to Obama’s view of Jesus as a dead social justice activist, Reagan viewed Jesus as both alive and divine.

President Reagan’s 1983 Christmas Eve address (emphasis added):

“We celebrate the birthday of the Prince of Peace who came as a babe in a manger. Some celebrate Christmas as the birthday of a great teacher and philosopher. But to other millions of us, Jesus is much more. He is divine, living assurance that God so loved the world He gave us His only begotten Son so that by believing in Him and learning to love each other we could one day be together in paradise.”

Speaking of our nation’s Founder, George Washington, Reagan said (emphasis added),

“The image of George Washington kneeling in prayer in the snow is one of the most famous in American history. He personified a people who knew it was not enough to depend on their own courage and goodness; they must also seek help from God, their Father and Preserver.”

Endnotes:

[1]               See “Attacking the Faith: Did Jesus Say that He is God?” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-P.

[2]               See “Celebrating Christmas” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-ct.

[3]               See “Jesus, the Prince of Peace,” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-6J.

[4]               See “Not a Dickens Christmas” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-cq.

[5]               See “CPAC: America’s Christian Heritage Denied” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-8E.