Thursday, January 13, 2022

Jesus Can Heal Your Marriage!

Soon after making this post Connie and I will celebrate 48 years of marriage. We've been serving Jesus for about 43 years of our marriage. Our marriage blew up at the 4 and a half year mark. It was then that I cried out to Jesus. He answered my cry as I surrendered my entire life to Him. Connie accepted Jesus about 14 months later. But Jesus went to work to heal and restore our marriage the moment I surrendered everything to Him. Let me say as I begin this post...Jesus Can Heal Your Marriage! He did it for me. He will do it for you!

Jesus said, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10) Jesus made this powerful statement just after He had announced He was going to visit the home of the “wee little man” Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus had heard about Jesus and was eager to encounter him. But why? The truth is, Zacchaeus was a rich man and lacked nothing. In fact, as a tax-collector, and a chief one at that, he had become rich by defrauding folks who owed the Roman government taxes. He had Roman centurions as bodyguards to protect him as he raided homes to collect overdue taxes. Since he was a chief tax-collector, he had tax collectors collaborating with him who were at his command. Tax collectors were rich because they collected more than the people owed, and for that reason they were hated by their own people, the Jews.

So why was Zacchaeus so eager to encounter Jesus? Because Jesus had become well-known for restoring lives. Zacchaeus was living a life of rejection and guilt for all the fraud he had been committing against his own people. Even though he had become wealthy, he was sick and tired of living in total shame. When he heard Jesus was about to pass by, he desperately wanted to see Him. The Bible says he was a very small man, so he climbed up into a Sycamore tree in order to get a glimpse of the man who restored lives, as He was passing by. You know the story. Jesus stopped, looked up into that Sycamore tree and declared, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”  (Luke 19:5) Zacchaeus scurried down that tree and received Jesus gladly. I did mention he was a crook didn’t I? The religious folks standing around were grumbling about Jesus going to the home of a man who was a sinner. Imagine that!

The fact that Jesus gave Zacchaeus His undivided, compassionate attention touched his heart. He proclaimed in the presence of the crowd, Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much." (Luke 19:8) Wow! A crooked tax-collector saying, “If I have defrauded anyone!” Zacchaeus meant it however, because Jesus was restoring his heart, and his life to that of being a son of Abraham! Jesus said, Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:9-10)

Zacchaeus wasn’t eternally saved that day because Jesus had not yet offered Himself as the sacrifice for the sins of all mankind on the cross. But Zacchaeus was saved that day. The word for saved is from the Greek word sozo. Sozo means: “To save, to deliver, to preserve, to make whole, to heal, to protect”. On this side of the cross, sozo can mean “eternal salvation” as well.

If you look closely at the Bible you will notice something very special about Jesus. When He was physically on the planet, He didn’t save souls. He restored lives. Yes, He came to bear our sins on the cross and make it possible for you and me to be eternally saved. He did that at the end of His life and ministry on earth. But when He was here He made people whole. He freed people from demonic bondage. He worked miracles that affected lives immediately. Listen to what Jesus said at the very beginning of His earthly ministry. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19) My point is that Jesus came (as He said) to seek out and to save/restore that which was lost. His very life and ministry demonstrated this. Zacchaeus was just one powerful example out of many.

The great news is that Jesus is still restoring lives through His body here in the earth. When the church was established with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Jesus continued His ministry through His church. Jesus still continues to seek and to save that which was lost. He still  makes people whole. He still sets captives free and works miracles. He still restores marriages. He did it for me, and He will do it for you! If you are married, it doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve been through, or where you are right now. Jesus wants to restore your marriage. He wants to preserve your marriage. He wants to bless your marriage. He will do it if you allow Him to. Jesus doesn’t just save souls, He saves marriages!

The moment I totally surrendered my life to Jesus, God went to work healing our marriage. My friend, you must understand that God is the Creator of marriage. Therefore He is the only One who can retore your marriage and make it even better. If you are looking for help in your marriage, don’t take it to manmade institutions. Take it to the One who created marriage. He knows best. When everything fell apart for us, it was finally clear to me I had made a big mess of it all. This is because our lives were nowhere near being surrendered to Jesus. By God’s infinite grace it also became very clear to me that Jesus is the only One who can retore my marriage! And you know what? He did!

Friday, December 31, 2021

More....Faster!

Well folks, it's that time of the year again, the end of the year. It comes around every year at the same time! It's amazing to me though, how quickly the years come and go! I'm trying to decide if the years are getting shorter or if time is simply speeding up! In either case, 2021 has just flown right by us!

Here is an observation that I have developed over the past few years. If things are escalating, then we must expect God to do more, faster. The Apostle Peter makes the same observation, but states it a bit differently. "But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day." (2 Peter 3:8)  

Let me explain why the above verse is so significant to me. God has the ability to move through our timeline - from outside our timeline. He owns time! Since He is not confined by time (as we are), He is even able to control time. Come on now, you know this. He is God! Here's a good example: "Then I will make up to you for the years That the swarming locust has eaten, The creeping locust, the stripping locust, and the gnawing locust, My great army which I sent among you. (Joel 2:25) Wow! That's a lot of locusts! God says He will make up to us the years. Did you catch that? I've noticed from walking with Jesus for quite awhile that when He restores things which were lost, He does it much faster than the time it took for it to be lost or stolen by the enemy. This is just one of the many myriads of things I love about Him!

So my point in this post is that we must expect Him to do more, and do it faster in 2022. We must believe that time is escalating and expect Him to do more in and through us...even faster! In addition we must be careful NOT to expect time to pass at the pace it always has. I don't want to be surprised at the end of 2022 (again), at how quickly the year passed. Instead I want to be overwhelmed at how much more God did, and how much faster He did it! Remember, with Him, one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like one day. And as Peter said, let's definitely NOT let that fact escape our notice!

When a year ends, a new one begins! Along with the escalating of time, and God moving faster, we should also envision new things! We should see the beginning of 2022 as a fresh start with new opportunities. What are you envisioning for 2022? Have you even thought about it? Let me encourage you to do so. I am convinced that God is more excited about the a new year that you and I are. This is because He lives in the realm of eternity and knows the beginning from the end. He created you and me as vessels through which He offers the eternal realm to others.

I'll close by saying, God has great things in store for you in 2022. (No intention to create a rhyme there). Equally as significant, He wants to do great things through you at a much faster pace. The end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022 is a great time to pray and envision yourself being used by God to change the lives of others in greater and faster ways. He will do it you know!

Happy New Year my friends!

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Why Did God Become A Man?

"BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US." (Matthew 1:23)

This prophecy was originally declared by Isaiah the prophet in Isaiah 7:14. It was reiterated by the angel who appeared to Joseph in a dream to reassure Him that the child His fiance was carrying was of the Holy Spirit, not of a man. The word spoken by Isaiah the prophet approximately 700 years earlier was about to be fulfilled. John, the Apostle writes after Jesus was crucified and had ascended back to heaven, "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14) God had truly become one of us. He came to the earth and bore our sins, giving us the privilege of becoming the righteousness God through the offering of Himself.

God became a man through the body of Jesus, the Christ. "...although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men." (Philippians 2:6-7)

So WHY did God have to become a man to redeem you and me? The answer to this question is phenomenal, and clearly sets Jesus apart as the ONLY way to enter the Kingdom of God! Jesus is truly the Way, and the Life, and the Truth.

We must go all the way back to the beginning to answer this question. "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. God blessed them; and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Genesis 1:26,28) God not only created mankind, and placed them in the Garden, but He gave to them authority to rule over the earth. In addition it was God's plan for man to be fruitful (successful), and multiply and subdue the earth. This authority was inherent in Adam and Eve from the beginning.

I want to point out here that Adam and Eve had no sin nature like you and I have before they fell. Yes, they were flesh, but in creating them, God breathed His own breath of life into them and they became living beings. God is totally Spirit so His breath is the very essence of Himself. Adam and Eve were created to live eternally. When the serpent (the devil) came to them, his plan was to deceive them by perverting what God had said to them. He couldn't appeal to their sin nature because again, they had none. It was not in them to lust after immoral things or to rebel by their own volition. So the devil, as the master of deception, deceived them into doing what God had said not to do. Listen to the words of Eve. "Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" And the woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." (Genesis 3:13) Eve was telling the truth!

Both Adam and Eve had been deceived. Their decision to disobey God resulted in their handing dominion to rule and subdue the earth over to the devil. The devil became the god of this world. Paul referred to the him as the "God of this world". (See 2 Corinthians 4:4) The devil himself while attempting to deceive Jesus in the wilderness said, "I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours." (Luke 4:6-7) (Underline added.)

Since man is God's own creation, He loves us with an everlasting love. God in His infinite love for man devised a plan to redeem man from the enemy by sending another man. "For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous." (Romans 5:19) The man was more than just a man. He was God's Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary, and born of God...right from the womb! This man, Jesus, came with no sin nature. He was not created by God (like Adam and Eve), He was God. This man, Jesus, who was God in the flesh could not be deceived into handing over His authority like Adam and Eve. Why? Because He was God.

The devil came to Jesus in the wilderness, just after Jesus had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. It was the Spirit Himself who led Jesus into the wilderness to be tested by the devil. (See Matthew 4:1) It was as if God was saying to the devil, "You messed with my people and deceived them. Come on, pick on me!" The devil tried His best to do the same thing he had done to Adam and Eve, but failed miserably! Jesus overcame Him with the Word of God and the devil left Him. Jesus, at that point, began His three and a half year ministry that changed the world forever!

God came to the earth as Jesus, the Christ. He said of Himself, "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10) Understand that the "that" which was lost was not just man. It was everything man gave over to the devil in the Garden of Eden along with himself. Only through Jesus do we take back our authority to rule and reign over the devil and his forces on the earth. Only through Jesus do we have dominion over sickness, disease, and everything that came about as the result of the fall. Only through faith in Christ Jesus do we quench every single flaming missile of the evil one. ONLY through Jesus, who came as a man, can we be cleansed of all unrighteousness, become the righteousness of our Father God. and enter His kingdom to live forever and ever. Merry Christmas y'all!