Tag Archives: salvation

Fulfilling ALL Righteousness…

Are you aware that God’s intention for us was a sinless life, one that was righteous and holy? His desire was a spiritual relationship untainted by anything but goodness and blessing. If you check out the first few chapters of the book of Genesis in the Bible, you’ll see that man didn’t understand that. Eve was deceived by the “father of lies,” Satan. She shared the deception with her husband, Adam. They fell under the serpent’s age-old tactic of creating doubt about God’s goodness. Sadly, they believed his lies, and since then, there was only one person in all of mankind that has been able to fulfill God’s intention for a sinless life. His name is Jesus!

The Good News is that Jesus made it possible for each human being to take what He was able to do, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and make that gift their own. Jesus came to Earth with us in mind. Everything He did, He did on our behalf. He chose to not sin. He chose to lay down every part of His life for us, despite the fact that He had no need. He was sinless!

Meditating on the book of Matthew, I came to the third chapter. We find Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, parked in the desert, dressed in camel hair and eating locusts and wild honey. I’m sure many came to gawk at this unusual man who is pointing out the need for mankind to repent (to think differently, or to reconsider in the Hebrew.)  John’s cry reaches the area surrounding the Jordan River, and once the people hear his message, their hearts are touched, and their lives changed.

As they understand what they’ve become, and surrender to the God of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Joshua, they step into the water that separated the desert from the Promised Land. Their lives are changes as a result. Their hearts are again open to God, and they are ready to hear, understand and receive all that God has in store for His people!

However, John is made aware, by the Holy Spirit, of the religious leaders that are coming to be baptized in the Jordan. John is able to know their hearts, which have little desire for repentance. Most have an ungodly desire for an outward show, which has the appearance of righteousness. In the Hebrew righteousness means equity (fairness, justice or impartiality) ~ or justification (the action of showing something to be right or reasonable.) So these men were not fair, just or impartial. They had no intention of showing John, or his call to repentance, to be right or reasonable.

As a matter of fact, John calls them a “brood of vipers!” How would you like to be called a nest of snakes? But John was aware that their hearts were not surrendered to God. Their agenda was to control the people by focusing on God’s Law, which He gave for direction and guidance, as well as all of the man-made laws they added over time to satisfy their own agenda! They saw themselves as untouchable since they were the children of Abraham! John saw their true intentions and told them that God could raise “children of Abraham” out of the very stones if He wanted! He added that there was destruction ahead if they didn’t change their ways and begin to bear Godly fruit!

God hates deception! His greatest enemy is Satan, the father of lies! These religious leaders were focused on deceiving the people, and God was using John to make His point! But God’s mercy is also great! Despite the rules and regulations that had multiplied over the years, God’s heart was for the true repentance and salvation of His people! And so, Jesus enters the scene.

John knows who Jesus truly is ~ the long-awaited Messiah! He hesitates to baptize the only perfect human, knowing his own need to be baptized by Jesus. But Jesus says, “Permit it to be so now, for this is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” This is God’s grace and mercy at work in His Son! This perfect God-Man is standing in the gap for every human being that has ever been born into this world, each one tainted by the inheritance of sin that passes from generation to generation. As Jesus enters the water, He repents on behalf of each one of us. He expressed sincere regret for OUR wrongdoing; our sin.  He never needed to do this, but He, the Father and the Holy Spirit are present at this great event ~ the baptism of the only perfect human for the sin of every imperfect human being ever born.

The process of redemption continues as Jesus obeys His Father. And so, each of us, must stand in agreement with all that Jesus did for us! We begin with repentance. We tell God that we are sorry for all that we’ve done to separate us from Him, and we don’t want to do those things any more. We look to all that the sinless Son of God did on our behalf, and we receive His great Gift of salvation ~ through Jesus!

In the days ahead, we will continue this journey through Matthew. This former tax collector ties together the Old Testament prophesies, and the unfolding physical presence of our Messiah on Earth. Join me as we meditate on the great mercy and amazing grace of Almighty God!

Without Faith…

After a seeming lifetime of belief in God, I was stopped short one day as I read this verse in Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith (Hebrew: moral conviction of religious truth, the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (NIV) I always believed that He existed, but I had somehow missed the rewards part. How could I have overlooked that part of the verse? For years I had embraced the mindset that salvation from my own sin was reward in itself.  On this day, however, I was reminded that there is more to the salvation that my Savior provided than an escape from Hell.

As I became convinced of God’s consistent love, truth and grace as it is reflected in His Word, I was able to develop a deeper relationship with Him, and better reflect His Image to others. This portion of the verse made it clear that my pursuit of God, my desire to truly know Him, carried rewards. Some may call these rewards blessing, favor, or promises from God. Whatever term you use, God is the One doing the rewarding. We do nothing but seek Him… not for the reward, because intimacy with God is reward enough, but because we want to respond to His love for us.

This is not about working to earn salvation. That is impossible! This is about a loving God who doles out gifts that cause us to smile and know that He loves us. He is the One who is pleased when His Creation wants to know Him. He is the One who rewards those who truly believe Him and His Word. He loved us while we were yet sinners, according to Romans 5:8, so how much more does He appreciate those who have received His plan of salvation and become His children!

When we really want to please God, we find out what His Word says and then believe and DO it! Jesus paid for a great many things by His death and resurrection. Healing, for instance, was never needed before Adam and Eve made the wrong choice in the Garden of Eden, so Jesus restored divine health with the stripes He took on His back.

God always wanted a prosperous and healthy life for His creation, so don’t believe for a second that God would give you something less than wholeness in your body. James 1:13-15 says, When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (NIV) So, if that “something less” shows up, surrender it to the God who heals, and watch Him do what He does best… create, sustain and restore life as we walk with Him. He created the universe with His Words. We do the same with our words. so speak His Word to remind yourself, and those around you, of all that Jesus redeemed in that ultimate act of love for humanity… for you! That undeserved love is just one of God’s rewards.

Remember, God always tells the truth. His very essence is righteousness and holiness. “God is not a man that He should lie.” (Numbers 23:19, KJV) So let’s trust Him when He tells us He wants to reward (Heb. ~ deliver, give, pay recompense) us, and be thankful as His blessings flow our way in every area of life. Have faith (Heb.~persuasion, conviction, belief) in God and His goodness! It’s what really pleases Him!

Isaiah 12…

Feeling like God isn’t listening? Like Isaiah, we may feel God is ignoring us or is angry with us, but when we look past our feelings, we see His heart, full of love for each of us… always ready to save, to hear, to heal and forgive. Consider Isaiah’s words…

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Reflecting on Christmas…

As I decorate our tree for this wonderful Holiday, I am reminded of the reason that we celebrate. It is the day we remember Jesus’ Birthday, pure and simple! Some people Continue reading