A Garden Hose and Eternal Life

Ahhh, how I love these sweltering days of summer.

Growing up, we lived nearby my grandparent’s home. During the blistering hot days of summer, I’d turn on the old electric pump, find the end of the green garden hose lying somewhere among the beans, peace, cucumbers or carrots, and take a long drink of the cool well water. Hose water, watermelon, and fudgsicles were the unforgettable tastes of summer.

No matter how much of that cool hose water I’d drink, my thirst always returned.

In John 4, we’re told that Jesus became thirsty as He traveled through the area known as Samaria. The disciples went into a town to buy lunch which Jesus sat alone by a well dug by the patriarch Jacob centuries earlier.

In the heat of the day, a woman of ill-repute appeared at the well to pull up her daily supply of water. Jesus asked her for a drink and then offered her something amazing in return.

Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again. But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into eternal life (John 4:13-14).

Jesus said that once a person drinks from Him, that person will never thirst again. The one who is born again will never wander from Him in search of something else to satisfy the soul. Jesus saves, Jesus keeps, and Jesus satisfies those who are truly saved.

Anyone who wanders from the Water of Life in search of some other drink, has never really drunk from Him.

His Mercies are Great

substituteAll we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6).

Second Samuel 24 tells the story of when King David sinned and God gave him a choice of how he would be judged: seven years of famine for the land, three months of military defeat, or three days of plague upon Israel.

The choice put David in great distress (2 Samuel 24:14), but He put Himself in the hand of God whose mercies are great. He knew that God was both just and gracious. God sent a plague that killed 70,000 Israelites.

Some are appalled that God would kill 70,000 people for the sin of their leader; that one would bear the judgment for another. But consider that we pay for the sins of others each day, whether it’s the child hit by a drunk driver or the policeman killed by an angry protester. We must remember that none of us is “innocent” before God. We all have earned the wages for our sin (Romans 6:23) and how God pays those wages of death is up to Him.

At the cross, Jesus bore the sins of the world. He took upon Himself God’s judgment for your sins. The truly innocent Christ died in your place, for your sins, so you could live eternally.

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18). 

** Please keep us in prayer while we minister in Kenya. Thanks!

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

innocent-until-proven-guiltyThe American judicial system deems every accused person “innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.” Everyone accused of a crime is automatically declared innocent of every accusation until the government proves otherwise. You do not have to prove your innocence.

The Bible says, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Are you guilty of sin? or has God falsely condemned you?

Jesus set the standard of righteousness very high. He said, You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Are you perfectly sinless like God the Father?

Jesus gave a few examples of such perfection. He mentioned murder and explained that murder is not just an act of violently taking the life of another person; murder includes the thought and intention of being angry with his brother (Matthew 5:22). Ever been angry toward someone? You’re guilty of murder.

How about adultery? Again, Jesus said that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:28).

Sin dives far deeper into you than your outward actions. Sin includes your thoughts, motives, and intentions. For example, if you have considered taking something that doesn’t belong to you, you are guilty of stealing.

Jesus also said that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37). Do you love God with all of your being? Does He come first in every decision and choice? Is pleasing Him your only goal in life with never a hint of selfishness?

The Bible not only declares that you are guilty of sin as charged, but also declares your sentence: The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).

In His mercy and grace, God also provides this great hope: The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23). Jesus died in your place. He took your sin and guilt upon Himself as your Substitute before God. Trust Him as your only Lord and Saviour.

** Please keep us in prayer while we minister in Kenya. Thanks!

Be Ye Perfect

be-ye-perfectI remember as a child watching another child at the 1976 Olympics. The world and I watched as 14-year old Nadia Comaneci finished her routine on the gymnastic uneven bars, her dismount bringing wild cheers from the crowd.

Since the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, no one ever expected a perfect gymnastic routine. Score boards were built to only go as high as 9.9. Nadia became the first athlete to receive a perfect score of 10 from the international judges.

Spiritually, only God sets the standard of perfection. He alone judges whether His standard is ever met. The standard goes like this: Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48), yet the reality is that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

When Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, meeting God’s standard became impossible … until Jesus. When He was born, the world encountered the first and only perfect Person. He lived a perfect life socially, morally, religiously, and spiritually. He kept every standard of man and God, never sinning and never falling short of the glory of God (Hebrews 4:15).

He gave His perfect life on the cross as the Substitute for sinful man. All who trust in Him receive His perfect righteousness applied to their lives. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

You can’t ever be perfect, but you can respond to God’s gift of salvation. The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

On Sunday Morning

JFK

Nearly a decade before I was born, President John Kennedy said in his Inaugural Address: My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

In America, this attitude has become a platitude. Kennedy’s words are long forgotten as people routinely fight each other to get more rather than to consider what they may freely contribute.

Sadly, this same mentality pervades the church set. We ask: What can I get by going to church? What will God, or the church, or the pastor, or the musicians, or the people there give to me today?

People attend church for the social experience. They seek a smiling face, friendship or a handout. They want heart-stirring music, an emotional charge, or a platform for income equality and gender-fluid politics. Others make it a cover of godliness to hide a lust for material possessions or a place to lurk after vulnerable, hurting people.

The Bible portrays the Church as a spiritual organism in a material world. It pictures the Son of God coming to Earth to reveal the Father and be the redemption for man’s sin. Christ’s mission wasn’t social engineering or political revolution, but ending sin and death. Jesus is eternal life rather than health or wealth here and now.

Few ever arrive Sunday morning and ask, “What will God receive from me here today?

The Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him (Habakkuk 2:20).

 

Greater Works

Lake County, Oregon, USA
Lake County, Oregon

He who believes in Me the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14:12-13)

Think of the works of Jesus and what comes to mind? He walked on water, cast out demons, knew the thoughts of others, multiplied food, preached the gospel of the Kingdom, healed the deaf, gave sight to the blind, caused the lame to walk, cured the diseased, raised the dead, forgave sin, and gave eternal life. That’s quite a list of works!

Jesus claimed that each of His works was actually a revelation of the character of the Father (John 10:25; 14:10).

On the night of His betrayal and arrest, Jesus told the 11 disciples that they would do His works and greater works because He was going back to Heaven. What are “greater works”?

Some people believe that the “greater works” means miracles of greater power. To these people I like to ask, “What is more powerful than the works Jesus did 2,000 years ago? What could be greater than raising the dead, forgiving sins, giving eternal life, and feeding tens of thousand with few sardines and bites of bread? If you have greater power than Jesus, you are greater than God!”

Jesus could not, and did not, mean more powerful without diminishing His deity to you the creature!

The gospel record shows that Jesus never traveled more than 150 miles from His birthplace. Both His message and works were limited to a tiny sliver of ground known as Israel, about the size of Lake County in my home state of Oregon, only 8,019 square miles. Yet within only  a decade of His death, the apostles took the Gospel of salvation into Africa, Asia, and Europe. They multiplied His works throughout the known world and salvation changed the course of human history.

Each of His works, Jesus said, were done to glorify the Father through Him. “Greater works” doesn’t mean that we can do something more powerful than the en-fleshed God could do, that’s heresy! It means that Christians would spread the Evangel around the world (Matthew 28:18-20).

How to Know God

knowing-godYou search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me (John 5:39).

Most people think of the Bible as either a rule book or a story book, when in fact it is a divine Book revealing God in the Person of Jesus Christ.

It didn’t take long before people, including the Jewish leaders, took notice of Jesus. By night, one of them, a Pharisee named Nicodemus approached Jesus to find out who He really was.

There’s no record of the conversation until Nicodemus said, Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him (John 3:2).

In the two simple words we know, Nicodemus revealed how the Jewish leaders were gaining spiritual knowledge and discerning truth. Everything they knew about God and how He worked was by personal experience and observation.

What did the Jewish leaders know? First, they’d observed that Jesus was a miracle-worker; second, they believed that the miracles proved that Jesus had been sent by God; and third, the concluded that because of the miracles, the Jewish rulers should listen to Jesus.

Was personal experience and observance the way to discern truth and gain spiritual knowledge? Jesus didn’t think so. He said that their method for knowledge and truth was wrong. Instead, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). Seeing God’s ways requires a new birth, a spiritual transformation, not seeing miracles.

Nicodemus was honest enough to admit that he didn’t know everything he should have known and that he was thinking in material, physical terms and not spiritual terms. How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born? (John 3:4).

Spiritual knowledge and truth begins by knowing God, and knowing God requires what Jesus called a re-birth. There is no other way. The only foundation for knowing God is to know the Bible, for the Bible is the testimony of Jesus.

Past Feeling

img_20170126_082553572Sorry to show you this, but it’s a callus on the bottom of my big toe. It’s been there as long as I can remember.

A callus forms by repeated pressure or rubbing on the skin. The skin then forms into a hard layer, completely dead and long past any feeling.

This is exactly how the Bible describes the soul of a person alienated from the life of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

In the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart; who being past feeling, have given themselves over to licentiousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness (Ephesians 4:17-19).

Like the body in the graveyard is beyond hearing – no matter how witty your remarks or loud your oratory – only the One who conquered death can speak life where death reigns in the sin-hardened soul.

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life (John 5:24).

Scare the Hell

Scare the Hell 10 2015Marcus went to bed earlier than usual. The morning would bring a special day for the 13-year old. He was trying out for his junior high school basketball team and needed to be rested and ready to make the squad.

From out of the hallway he heard the clock chime its familiar tune. It was 2 am. “So much for going to bed early if I don’t fall asleep early,” he thought to himself.

A short time later Marcus awoke to a screeching sound and the smell of smoke. In the same hallway where the clock chimed every hour hung the smoke alarm. He heard his parents yelling and his two baby sisters crying. He was scared. Just then his bedroom door smashed open. Marcus jumped hastily from his bed and followed his father through the smoky hallway to the front door. He could feel the searing heat of the flames as he rushed past the kitchen.

Safe outside, the family huddled in the street as the police arrived and then a fire truck. Now every part of the house lit up the night sky. Marcus felt dazed by what he was seeing. Everything he had … everything he knew … it was gone. He was sure he was going to puke.

The young teen turned in the street toward the sidewalk just in time to walk into the path of a passing car, the driver looking at the fire rather than the road. Marcus was dead.

Just because you scare the Hell out of someone with tales of everlasting fire, the mark of the beast, or a world war, doesn’t mean he is safe in the arms of Jesus. Threats and fears don’t convert men; only grace through faith in Jesus saves.

 Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).