What Do You Call Jesus?

photo courtesy of Sunpath @ pixabay.com

And He is the Head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He might have pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.

— Colossians 1:18-19

Where does Jesus fit into your life? All of us who profess the Christian faith like to say that He is first, but is He really? In our day-in, day-out living does He have “pre-eminence in all things” as the text scripture indicates is the will of the Father?

The scriptures reveal Jesus as a man with many titles. That is not really surprising when you consider the scope of His ministry. How do you describe someone who is a Lamb and Lion, Cloud and Sun, Shepherd and Lamb, Water and Fire, King and Servant? He is, of course, all of the above, plus Savior, Healer, and Provider. But the most repeated title in the New Testament, and the best loved by the disciples was “Lord.”

Lord means master, owner, and possessor – one who has maximum authority. In view of this definition, we ask the question another way. “Is Jesus the Lord of your life?” The Bible tells us that we have been made the righteousness of God in Christ. And through this gracious work that we call “salvation through the Blood of Jesus,” He has placed in us a state of holiness. In other words, He has given to us the capacity to reach and maintain exalted heights of holiness. You see, righteousness comes only from Jehovah God, through Jesus Christ. Holiness, on the other hand, is a matter of personal conduct. We make the choice to live and walk in holiness by and through His strength in us.

The primary motivation for maintaining a state of holiness in our lives is actually having Jesus as the Lord of our lives. If He is not pre-eminent, there is no desire to be holy, no motivation to die to self, no desire at all to “take up the cross and follow Him. The question has been asked, “Can Spirit-filled Christians get together in one place, sing and praise with uplifted hands, and still have Christ walking among them as a stranger, virtually unrecognized?”

Sadly, the answer is yes. Consider the Israelites. They gathered every Sabbath to speak His name as the prophets had spoken it so many times in their writings. They sang praises to Jehovah God, who, through the prophets, gave the promises; they spoke the Messiah’s name with awe, great reverence, and anticipation. Then when He came and walked among them, He was unrecognized and rejected as a stranger.

A recent media statistic reported that church attendance in America is on the increase. We look around us and see magnificent structures filled with multitudes that ostensibly claim the Christian faith. We rejoice that they are in church, yet the question will not go away. “How many of these precious souls really know Jesus as Lord, total Owner and Master?”

And although church attendance is increasing, we see no real increase in active faith and trust in the Lord during troubled times. Could it be that our ability to believe and trust His promises to bless and meet our every need is closely related to our willingness to make Jesus Lord of our life?

So, is He Lord of your life? Does He, in all things, have pre-eminence? Is He the ultimate King in your temple? It makes all the difference in the world. For to truly have the fullness of the Spirit and overcoming faith is to have the fullness of Christ. We make the choice!

Wait Three Days …

“Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.”     (Psalm 27:14)

FLOWERS UNDER UMBRELLAAs Ben left his office in lower Manhattan, he followed the usual pattern for Friday and stopped by the little flower stand on the corner to pick up a bouquet for his wife. The stand was unpretentious, and the lady who operated it a study in contrasts of human nature. Elderly, frail looking, shabbily dressed, and yet, a pleasant personality with a perennial smile.

Although Ben had stopped by the stand of the “flower lady” every Friday for months, he had never taken the time to talk to her beyond making his selection. But this time was different; something prompted him to comment.

“Every time I come by here you seem to be happy.”

“Sure, why not? Everything is good,” she replied.

“Well, you mean you don’t have any troubles?”

“Oh yes, just like that man walking over there, and you, and everybody, I have troubles. But when trouble comes, I just think about Jesus and Good Friday.”

“What do you mean?” Ben asked, somewhat puzzled.

“Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, the worst day in the world. But after three days came the greatest day in the world … Resurrection. Jesus rose from the dead and everything was OK. So, when I have trouble I tell Jesus about it, wait three days, and everything always turns out OK for me too.”

Interesting philosophy … “Tell Jesus then wait three days.”

But there is a dilemma here; we are part of a “want-it-now” society that will not wait any length of time for anything. Even the most elementary student of the Word cannot help but notice that our God is just the opposite. He is organized, deliberate, extremely patient, on time, and always successful. Have you ever wondered about the death and resurrection of Jesus, and why the climax of that earthshaking event had to wait until the third day? He died on Good Friday; why didn’t God the Father bring Him out of the tomb the next morning … or even late Friday night?

We must remember that when Jesus died on the cross, only His physical body experienced the phenomena of death. His Spirit lived on and continued to function in the Father’s business. His Father had much for Him to do during the period described as “three days and three nights.”

He told the repentant thief, “Today, you shall be with me in Paradise.” Here is solid indication that upon His Spirit’s separation from His body, at the instant of death – on that day (today), He traveled to Abraham’s Bosom … Paradise, where all the faithful saints of old were peacefully awaiting that moment of fulfillment. They had believed the prophets and anxiously anticipated the coming of the Anointed One, but fell asleep in death before the appointed time. Can you imagine the excitement among those joyful souls, as they saw with their own eyes the vindication of their faithfulness? Then, the Risen One completely emptied Paradise and escorted all of the jubilant saints to heaven. Just think, they will be seated with us at the great wedding feast.

Now, on to the next job.

In 1 Peter 3:18, we are told that His body (flesh) was put to death, but He was alive in the Spirit and (in the Spirit) went to proclaim His victory to the spirits kept in prison. Those who rejected the message of God’s spokesmen, and (v.20) who thumbed their noses at Noah, as the Creator waited patiently for them to repent. All of the deceased unbelievers, now in Hades – the place of torment — saw the Messiah as He presented Himself as a proclamation of His eternal victory and proof that God’s Word was and is true!

And now, one final detail before Sunday morning. Our Lord faced Satan, himself, toe to toe. Undoubtedly the devil thought he had Him, and probably summoned every demon he had to join him in trying to keep the King of Kings in hell. Now, Satan is not stupid, but he does stupid things, and this act ranks as his dumbest move since his rebellion.

In a flash of divine power, Jesus stripped the evil one of every vestige of authority, and as an act of totally disarming him and his hordes forever, snatched the keys of death and the grave from his grip. Satan and his cast fell back in cringing fear, and could not stop the Messiah as he blasted out of the confines of hell and in a flash, returned to His body in the tomb.

And not a moment too soon, for dawn was about to streak across the Jerusalem sky. The Resurrection power of the Holy Spirit was dispatched by God the Father, and Christ the Anointed One, came forth out of the tomb in His glorified body … the First Fruit of many to follow!

It was the third day!


Wait three days …

There is a message here that has eluded us far too long: “Wait three days” or “wait until the third day” are simply metaphors for “waiting upon the Lord.” If Almighty God, Creator of all, had reason to wait three days before He brought His Son forth from the tomb, why can’t we trust Him to answer our prayers regardless of the time span? His Word assures us that He is faithful — that our prayers in faith that line up with His will (His Word) are heard and will be answered.

Sometimes the answer comes immediately. At other times, for reasons only He may know, the answer does not manifest until “the third day.”

Listen to the “flower lady.” In faith, tell Jesus about your situation; then wait three days! He has promised everything will be OK!



Be Not Afraid!

“For God has not given us the spirit of  fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”                                                                                                      2 Tim. 1:7.


Perhaps you have heard the humorous description of the lady who could never come to grips with her fears. She confessed that she always felt her worst at the times she felt best, because she knew and dreaded how awful she was going to feel when she felt bad again. Have you ever known that kind of person?

I had a friend many years ago who could never enjoy a beautiful spring day because of the stormy weather he “knew” was just around the corner and would surely strike any day. To the greeting, “Isn’t this a beautiful day, Chuck?” He would invariably respond, “Yeah, but when we get it we’re really going to get it.” Wherever this dear soul was, the aspirin bottle was always within reach, and I don’t recall that he ever had a truly happy day. And he was a professing Christian. Unusual? Not at all. Many Christians today are dominated or noticeably influenced by fears.

To some degree, every person reading these words has been to that barren wasteland called “fear.” And that is exactly what it is: a wasteland. Fear never builds, it never enhances, and it never blooms into anything beautiful. And when fear makes an appearance, it goes about systematically turning everything good into a wasteland. All over the land, day and night, we are fed a super dose of things to be fearful about: fear for our country, fear for our schools, fear for our children, fear of disease, fear of losing a job, fear of not getting a job — fear everywhere and about everything imaginable.

But for the Christian, there is an answer for fear in every phase of our lives. The Bible tells us explicitly that fear does not come from God. The Word calls fear a spirit, and considering its destructive force, it is easy to recognize it as an evil spirit. And since Jesus passed on his authority over evil spirits to the disciples and the believers after them (that’s us!), that translates into our ability to cast fear out and keep it out by exercising that authority. The text Scripture supports this truth by telling us we have been given the spirit of power and love and a mind that is anything but shy. And all of these attributes are part of Jesus! Hallelujah!

One night in the midst of a vicious storm on the Sea of Galilee, the disciples were on the edge of death and screamed out in terror. At His altar of prayer on the mountain, Jesus saw their plight through the all Seeing Eye of God and came to the rescue. God had already made provision for the safety of the disciples, just as He has, through Jesus, made provision for our total salvation; which includes healing, deliverance, provision, and safety. We must set our minds on Him as our total source. We must believe and act on His words that tell us, “Speak to this mountain (of fear) … and as you believe, you will receive.”

Go to work on the fears you are carrying with you. Hear those same words Jesus spoke on the sea as they ring from His throne of intercession, “Be of good cheer. It is I … be not afraid!”

And may the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. In the Name of Jesus our Messiah, Amen!

Plumbing the Depths of Christmas

Exif JPEGDo we really know the depth of the meaning of Christmas? For many, it’s the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child, but that birth was just the beginning of a massive plan prepared by God the Father before the foundation of the world. (1 Peter 1;19-20). Yes, God had a plan from the beginning to deliver man from sin and all of sin’s cousins. Then down through the centuries, from the day of Adam and Eve, God continually spoke to His prophets, telling them that a Messiah was coming, and to advise all of God’s people to look for Him.

And, finally, Galatians 4:4 says, “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.” So Christmas is really just the beginning of the culmination of the master plan of God begun before He even created us.

Actually, 337 times in the Old Testament, He foretold of the coming of Jesus, the Messiah, and here is just a short sample of what He told His covenant people to look for:

1 – He who is to come will be a prophet like Moses. Deuteronomy 18: 15,18

2 – He will be the Son of God. Psalm 2:7

3 – He will be of the tribe of Judah (A Jew) Genesis 49:10

4 – He will be born of a virgin. Isaiah 7:14

5 – He will be born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2

6 – He will be rejected, despised and forsaken. Isaiah 53:3

7 – He would be silent. Isaiah 53:7

8 – He would be betrayed. Psalm 41:9

9 – He would be tried and condemned. Isaiah 53:8

10 – He would be crucified with his hands and feet pierced. Psalm 22:16,18

11 – He will be our sacrifice. Isaiah 53:5-6

12 – He will be raised from the dead. Psalm 16:10

Why did He speak all of these words and over two hundred more to His people? Because He cared for them. He did not create man to be lost and separated from Him. Here is a glaring example of the goodness and love of God.

He wanted to redeem fallen man. And for Jesus to be the Word made flesh, that Word had to be spoken by the prophets into this world. As God spoke through these prophets, He was giving people hope so that they would have something wonderful to look forward to. What was to come was no more animal sacrifices, no more living in doubt and fear.

The Messiah Jesus would be the once and for all sacrifice for the whole world.

Christmas is more important than all of the outside glimmer we are used to. Christmas is the culmination of all that God said about the Savior to come. We celebrate with glimmer and lights – nothing wrong with that. But we also celebrate Christmas because we recognize that Jesus actually “came down” for us.

He “came down” so that one day we might “go up”.

He “came down” to a lowly stable so we can one day have a mansion.

Simple shepherds welcomed Him to earth, so that one day angels will welcome us into His presence.

He “came down” to put the devil completely out of business.

God has not changed. He wants us to reap and enjoy the benefit of Christmas, and to rejoice in our Savior who came to deliver us from sin, sickness, and everything the devil tries to throw at us.

Because of Christmas, we are overcomers.  KAVOD! GLORY!


‘Hopeless’ is Not a God Word

Looking upon them, Jesus said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God, … for with God all things are possible.”        — Mark 10:27

How often have you heard someone, in a state of total exasperation, blurt out, “It’s hopeless!” Closer to home, how often have you declared, “It’s hopeless!” when some minor or major circumstance loomed before you? Since we can all plead guilty, more or less, the question arises: is this a valid reaction from a Bible-believing Christian?

It is a revelation to note that in the common Hebrew, there is no word that can be translated “hopeless.” That may seem unusual or even weird until you take the time to seriously study the ancient and current history of the Hebrew people.

From its infancy the nation of Israel could look in any direction and see an enemy. Each of those enemies shared a common goal: eliminate the Jew. Israel was always outnumbered and out-gunned – and in the natural, it seemed they would never make it – but they did.

During their time of living in Egypt, after many years of prosperity and peace under Joseph, they suddenly found themselves enslaved under the boot of the most powerful monarch in the world at the time. It seemed hopeless: over 400 years in slavery, and in the natural there was no way they could ever see freedom again; but they did.

On the banks of the Red Sea, loaded down with Egyptian wealth, the Israelites were trapped (hopeless) before Pharaoh’s army bearing down with only one goal in mind — annihilation. In the natural they could never escape; but they did.

Down through the centuries, despot after despot — all of the “ites” of the Old Testament, through the “Hitler-ites” of the twentieth century, and beyond — all rose up with their identical solution to the world’s woes: Eliminate the Jew. How could Israel survive this relentless onslaught, this “hopelessness”? In the natural they could never endure it all; but they did.

Would you like to see living, breathing proof that God exists? Find a modern day Jew, and take a good look! No other people, nation, or ethnic group can even approach the perseverance and longevity of the Jew. You see, Jehovah God doesn’t have “hopeless” in His vocabulary either, and He covenanted that Israel would always be His Chosen People, and that the sun and moon would fail before the “Chosen” disappeared. So is it any wonder their beloved language does not recognize “hopeless”?

This narrative was inspired by a brief but moving address by an elderly Jewish Rabbi. He had just followed to the podium a speaker who had lamented the state of “hopelessness” that pervades our society. As he stood before his audience, he rolled up his right sleeve and displayed a number tattooed on his forearm.

This,” he spoke very gently, “was put there by the Nazis when, as a little boy, I was thrown into a concentration camp. Many of us were there, and most did not survive. But instead of thinking that I would die tomorrow, I remembered the teaching of my forefathers that still lingers within me and my people today. It is a centuries-old axiom that, translated into English says, ‘Where there is breath, there is hope!’”

Throughout all history, in the natural, the Jews had little reason to hope; but they did.

So, what about the born-again believer? The Scriptures tell us that Jehovah God – the God of Israel – sent His Son Jesus Christ to seal a better covenant. When we become a party to that covenant by repenting and receiving Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are grafted in and become the sons and daughters of Abraham and heirs to the promises — all of them! Hallelujah!

Let us join our Jewish brethren in eliminating from our vocabulary the faith-killing word “hopeless.” Let us join in declaring, “Where there is breath, there is hope.” And in total trust let us shout from the housetops the truth of our text, “…with God nothing is impossible!”

Then the world will look at us, puzzled, and mutter to one another, “Man, I didn’t think they would ever get out of that, but you know what? They did!


Journey To The Altar

We want to take a little journey to and into the mighty Tabernacle of God. Specifically, we will make our way to the Altar of Incense. We follow the pattern laid out in the Torah, the Law of Jehovah God.

Replica of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness by Petri Paavola

Begin to imagine with me: Picture in your mind how a priest of Israel would move from his bed in the early morning hours. Visualize what he is seeing, and feel the intensity of emotion as he gradually makes his way to the Altar of Incense.

Lots have been cast among the priests, and he has been chosen to burn the incense this particular morning. Since the choice was made by casting lots, sometimes a certain priest would be chosen for this honor only once in a lifetime.

Lying in his bed near the Tabernacle, he begins to wonder about this great honor. Moses and over three million Israelites are still asleep in their tents spread out over the desert floor. He is the one among these millions who has the responsibility of burning the incense. He wakes up as the sun is rising in the east–sitting up in bed, half awake, it dawns on him that this is his morning to go to the Altar of Incense. His pulse races as he stands up from his bed.

And there, laid out at the foot of the bed, are his priestly garments. There sits the breastplate, and as he trims the torch in his tent, all the brilliance of the jewels begin to awaken him even further. He puts on the robe and tunic, the sash, the turban, the breast piece, and the ephod. They are blue, purple, and scarlet in color. The jewels are beautiful. He begins to think about the skillful craftsmanship required for these articles: skills given by God Himself. Embroiderers, metal smiths, jewel cutters — all made and consecrated for this special purpose.

He pulls back the flap of his tent. The cool morning desert air smacks his cheeks. He smells the scent of the burning sacrifice that burns 24 hours a day. He looks out among the tents housing three million people — hears the muffled sounds of babies crying. Torches are spotted here and there throughout the desert camp. He hears the low rustle of camels and sheep. And he begins to think. Why me? Why am I up at this hour — the only one on this day among my people who is privileged to enter into the Holy Place?

And there on the desert floor he sees — yet again — as if it has snowed — fresh manna. God is on time. Manna covers the desert floor.

He hears the shuffling of his feet as he approaches the Tabernacle. The goat skins covering all the tents of this people are black. And there, standing out amidst all of that blackness, is a white linen fence — right in the middle of the camp. God’s Tabernacle. God’s dwelling place among His people.

He moves, clad in his priestly garments, toward the gate, not to the north, nor the south, nor the west, but through the east. And there before him, as he stands at the gate just before dawn,is a 30-foot opening — the Way into the Tabernacle. There he sees four 7 1/2-foot poles: one of blue, one scarlet, one purple, and one white linen. He looks at each tent peg and sees gold tops and poles of acacia wood overlaid with silver.

Suddenly before him is a terrific sight: the largest piece of furniture in the Tabernacle: the Brazen Altar. He can see the heat emanating from the bronze square. There is the scent of death — blood sprinkled over the top and smoke rising heavenward. He looks at all of the consecrated tools set apart for this very purpose. He sees the  pots, shovels, sprinkling bowls, meat fork.

There is the fire pan and the sensor. He picks up the sensor, picks up the tongs, fills the sensor with hot coals. He realizes and is reminded of his sinfulness and his lack of qualification to move any further. But he walks a few paces to the laver of cleansing — a large bronze basin. He looks into the water with the light that he has. He washes his hands and his feet, still asking, “Why me? What have I done to deserve this privilege?”

He moves forward to the Holy Place with his sensor, having picked up one half pound of incense. In the Holy Place he looks to the left and sees that the lamp stands in need of oil. He thinks, “ A privilege to see it, let alone having the privilege to add to it.” To his right is the Table of Showbread, and before him is the Altar of Incense — 18 inches by 18 inches by 3 feet high. All alone, he no longer hears the sounds from the people in the camp. He places fresh coals into the sensor; he sprinkles on the incense; he begins to weep, still asking, “Why me?” His nostrils are filled with the sweet fragrance; the Holy Place is filled fresh with the aroma. There’s something pure about it — something clean — pleasing — so special it is unexplainable. He even feels clean. He has been washed, and his conscience is clear. He drops to his knees — right next to the veil that leads into the Holy of Holies — as close as one can get to the Ark of the Covenant without going in. His garments are saturated with the fragrance. He begins to commune with the Lord. Overwhelmed!

Now, let’s look at 1 Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people; that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

Wow! Listen to what the Word of God is speaking to us. Literally, you are that priest! I am that priest! We, the redeemed of the Lord — with our perfect spirits within us. We are priests; today, tomorrow, and all the days to follow. We have access to the Holy Place right now. There is no lot casting; we have already been chosen.

Picture yourself in that position — interceding and thanking Jehovah — your God — for His blessings and answers to your prayers — worshiping Him with praise and prayers. You go to the altar of incense, and you are saturated with His holy fragrance. You reach out to spread that glorious aroma of his love to others. The price has already been paid by Jesus, and we have the privilege of releasing this wonderful fragrance of His eternal redemption and total salvation to the entire world.

Why you? Why me? Because we have been chosen — now!
Glory and Shalom!!