Archives For Jesus

Hello and welcome back!

It’s always good to have the opportunity to share with you!

I hope your Christmas was all that you had hoped it would be and that this New Year will present you with a prosperous 365 days in the Lord!

Today’s topic revolves around the 1st century church and the Western church today.  How close is Western Christianity to the 1st century church?

Let’s take a look at some of the stand out differences.

Community

When we consider Acts 2:26-27, we see that they worshiped in the temple complex daily, met in houses to pray, study, and eat together and spent time in fellowship on a daily basis.  People were being saved daily and joined the Christian ranks.

This tells me that the early church took community and assembling themselves together very seriously.

Tolerance

In today’s post-modern world, tolerance and political correctness has become the order of the day.  I may be wrong, but it just appears to me that the 21st century church is more tolerant to open sin and unrepentant sinning that it was in the 1st century church.  Do you see it that way?

I mean, Paul was pretty plain in I Cor. 5:1-7 and there should be no interpretation problem in what those 7 verses state.

Discipleship

The Bible tells us in Matthew 10:25 25 It is sufficient for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant or slave like his master. If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub [master of the dwelling], how much more will they speak evil of those of His household.

We also read in Matthew 10:42 42  And whoever gives to one of these little ones [in rank or influence] even a cup of cold water because he is My disciple, surely I declare to you, he shall not lose his reward.

Matthew 16:24 (AMP) 24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also].

There it is.  A 1st century view of discipleship.  Read the three verses above and ask yourself: “Am I doing this?”  If not, why not?

 Love

 The Bible tells us this about love: Romans 12:9-10 (NIV)  9  Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
10  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

We also read in the Bible at Romans 12:9-13 (NIV)
9  Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
10  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
11  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
12  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
13  Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Just look at what the bible teaches us in Romans 13:8-10 (NIV)
8  Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.
9  The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
10  Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

“Finally, search yourself…”

There it is.  1st century truth written by the Holy Spirit through man.  This is the commandment that fulfills all of the other commandments in the Old Testament.

How close is Western Christianity in following the above Scriptures?  How close is your church in living out these Scriptures?

Finally, search yourself for it is between you and God.  You are not out to please man, but to please God.  Are you comfortable with how you are living out the above Scriptures?

Until next time,

Zach

QUESTION:  What is your opinion of this article?

Hello and welcome back!

How is winter treating you where you live?  You know – I have experienced three seasons in just as many days.

How?

By living in New Mexico!  New Mexico is a state where if you don’t like the weather today, hang around until tomorrow.  It is sure to change!

In fact, the only sure thing about the weather in New Mexico is that it will be different tomorrow!

Change can be good though, can’t it?

Think about your life before you found Jesus!  Oh.  You haven’t found Jesus yet?

Ok.

Hang with us while I discuss with those who have already found Him about how good change can be as a Christian.  Those of us who know Jesus as our Lord and Savior realize that our lives before finding Him were pretty bad, right everyone?

I mean, walking on the pathway of sin was a normal occurrence for most of us back in the day.  One day, we were truckin’ along – doing our thing – when Jesus found us.

Everything changed!  We went from death and entered into life!

Now, ff you are still in your sins, if you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, and if you really don’t know what it is I am talking about, let me tell you a story.

” For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Time: 1st century A.D.

Location: Outside the city of Jerusalem.

Scene:  A hill called Mount Calvary.

30–36 AD     

A Man named Jesus of Nazareth is being nailed upon a Roman cross, after being charged with crimes He didn’t commit.

Those driving nails into His flesh are cursing Him, are spitting on Him, and are causing pain in His already abused body which has been scourged (whipped and ripped almost to the point of death).

Why was this man, Jesus, being treated in such a manner?

Let’s take a look at what the Bible, God’s holy word, says on the subject:

Isaiah 53: 1:12

Who has believed what we have heard?
And who has the arm of the Lord been revealed to?
He grew up before Him like a young plant
and like a root out of dry ground.
He didn’t have an impressive form
or majesty that we should look at Him,
no appearance that we should desire Him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.
He was like someone people turned away from;
He was despised, and we didn’t value Him.

Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses,
and He carried our pains;
but we in turn regarded Him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced because of our transgressions,
crushed because of our iniquities;
punishment for our peace was on Him,
and we are healed by His wounds.
We all went astray like sheep;
we all have turned to our own way;
and the Lord has punished Him
for the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet He did not open His mouth.
Like a lamb led to the slaughter
and like a sheep silent before her shearers,
He did not open His mouth.
He was taken away because of oppression and judgment;
and who considered His fate?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
He was struck because of my people’s rebellion.
They made His grave with the wicked
and with a rich man at His death,
although He had done no violence
and had not spoken deceitfully.

10 Yet the Lord was pleased to crush Him severely.
When You make Him a restitution offering,
He will see His seed, He will prolong His days,
and by His hand, the Lord’s pleasure will be accomplished.
11 He will see it out of His anguish,
and He will be satisfied with His knowledge.
My righteous Servant will justify many,
and He will carry their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give Him the many as a portion,

and He will receive the mighty as spoil,
because He submitted Himself to death,
and was counted among the rebels;
yet He bore the sin of many
and interceded for the rebels.

(This description of the Messiah was written through prophesy, according to most scholars, between 701 B.C. and 681 B.C.  This is more than 700 years before Jesus actually appeared on earth).

What we have just read is the prophet Isaiah proclaiming God’s word of the coming of the Messiah Jesus Christ and the reason for His crucifixion.  He died in our place to redeem us from the wages of sin – death.

“I’m a good person!  Why am I condemned?  There’s worse people than me!”

Romans 6:23 – 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God’s love for the people groups of the earth was such that He gave His own Son to die upon a Roman cross for sins He did not commit so that we might live.

John 3:16-18 –  For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God [emphasis mine].

Condemned of what? You might be thinking, “I’m a good person!  Why am I condemned”!  There’s worse people than me!

“Just what are all people who are not in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ the Messiah – the living Son of God – guilty of?  I know I am better than many people who attend church!”

Disobedience to God, unbelief in God, unbelief in His Son, Jesus Christ – through the breaking of His Divine Law – the 10 Commandments is what creates the guilt before Him.

Are you familiar with the 10 Commandments of God?   Here they are below:

Exodus 20:1-17 – Then God spoke all these words:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.
Do not have other gods besides Me.
Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. You must not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ sin, to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commands.
Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God, because the Lord will not leave anyone unpunished who misuses His name.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: 9 You are to labor six days and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates. 11 For the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.
12 Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
13 Do not murder.
14 Do not commit adultery.
15 Do not steal.
16 Do not give false testimony against your neighbor.
17 Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

What we come to understand through the words of God in His holy word is the nature of God Himself.  God is Righteous, all holy (meaning set apart) and totally unable to abide sin.  He is perfect goodness.  He is love.  He is truth.

Any sin that is not confessed with the mouth, repented of, and salvation be asked for and obtained, ends in spiritual death and eternal punishment in Hell, the place where unforgiven sinners are destined.

“Have you ever told a lie?  Just one?”

Knowing this nature of God, we must understand that any sin at all, even breaking just one of the 10 Commandments only one time in our entire lives earns the wages of sin, which is death (See Romans 6:23 above).

Have you ever worshiped a false idol?  You have if you have ever put anything in your life above God Himself?  If so, that is what a false idol is today.  Anything you pay more attention to than God.

Have you ever told a lie?  Just one?  The wages of unpaid for sin – is spiritual death (Romans 6:23).  The only way to obtain forgiveness is to accept the precious gift of forgiveness and grace that comes only through Jesus (See Romans 10:9 below):

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Jesus died so that you might live!  Read the Scripture below:  I Cor. 15:2-5:

 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.

Jesus says to believe in who sent Him (the Father) and to believe in Him.  He is the way to God and eternal life.  Check out John 10:8-10 below:

All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

The above Scripture tells us that Jesus is the only way back in fellowship with God.  There IS no other way.

None.

Psalm 118:22:

22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.

Acts 4:11-13:

 This Jesus is

the stone rejected by you builders,
which has become the cornerstone.[a][b]

12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.”

13 When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus.

That said, can you understand the guilt of all humanity?  That all have sinned and unable to earn their way?  Below is what God says about it in Romans 3:22-24:

22 —that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 24 They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Christians, send an email link to those who you know have not found Jesus.  Post this on Facebook, Twitter, Google+.  These are the words of the Gospel that lead to eternal life.

To you, the unsaved, I pray that you will read the above again, pray to God for the Holy Spirit to show you the way, find a Bible teaching church, and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  Need Prayer?  Contact me on Facebook!

Please, pass this along for those who are dying in their sin and need Jesus in their lives!

Until next time!

Blessings,

Zach

QUESTION:  If you are saved, would you give your testimony so others can be encouraged!

Hello and welcome back!

You know, God is great, isn’t He?  I was just thinking at church tonight how fortunate we Christians are.  There are so many things we have to be thankful for.

We have a savior, the living Son of God, who loved us enough to willingly die for us while we were still dead in our sin.  Those in the world do not.

Romans 5:8 (BBE)  8  But God has made clear his love to us, in that, when we were still sinners, Christ gave his life for us.

We have a Father in heaven who sacrificed His only begotten Son to assure the salvation of those who believe on Him and His Son, Jesus Christ.

John 3:16-17 (ASV)  16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.
17  For God sent not the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through him.

We have everlasting life in fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – beginning the moment we believe.

Romans 6:11 (AMP)  11  Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.

Who could ask for more!

But ask we do, do we not?

We ask for things that we do not need.  We ask for things that are just thinly disguised manipulations to obtain selfish cravings.

 Matthew 6:9-13 (NASB)  9  “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  10  ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.  11  ‘Give us this day our daily bread.  12  ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13  ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.'”

I could continue but you already know what I am talking about, don’t you?  Sure you do.  The question is why?  Why do we continue to do the things we don’t want to do and don’t do the things we desire to do?

The apostle Paul said as much himself.

Here is a man who followed Christ with perseverance difficult to comprehend from the vantage point of 21st century Western Christianity.  He even wrote about 2/3’s of the New Testament.

He was a man like we are.

Flesh and blood.

Subject to every temptation that we are subject to but just a man – like us – not God.

He struggled with temptation.

Occasionally, he succumbed to it.  He grieved over it but confessed it and went on his way – never looking back but looking ahead – in humble service to his Lord and Master.

 Romans 7:19-20 (ASV)  19  For the good which I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I practise.   20  But if what I would not, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me.

Jesus died for such as us.  He came to serve and die for us because we could do nothing at all good enough to satisfy a righteous and holy God.  To do so, we would have to be perfect.

 We aren’t.

 Romans 3:10 (ASV)  10  “as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one…”

That’s why God sent His Son.  Because He is.

 Mark 1:11 (NKJV)  11  Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Please listen if you have quit going to church because of wrongs other Christians have done to you.

Please listen if you have been disillusioned by a pastor that has fallen to some temptation and let you down.

It is not a man that we follow but the living, triune God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Man is fallible, God is not.

You say, “I refuse to assemble together with such hypocrites!”  God says, not to fail to assemble yourselves together.  He didn’t say but do it in a sinless body of believers.

 Hebrews 10:25 (AMP)  25  Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching.

There is no such thing as a sinless body of believers.

Anyone who says so or believes so – is living under self-delusion.  The Bible says all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

The Apostle Paul, when speaking to the brothers and sisters in the church in Corinth that he was not pleased with them due to their sinful ways during the Lord’s Supper.

 1 Corinthians 11:22 (ESV)  22  What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

No, there is no perfect church on earth.  There is no perfect body assembled in the worship of Almighty God.

There are only humans saved by grace because they believe upon God’s Son and what he accomplished on the cross, not because they are sinless.

There are only humans who are saved because of the ransom paid by Christ for the purpose of purchasing them from eternal damnation.

In order to justify leaving the local body you serve in because of the fall of one of your brothers and sisters in Christ, you would need to be sinless in order to cast the first stone at them.

Are you out of the fellowship with your church family because you feel there are hypocrites in it?  You feel right.  Some of them are.

That’s why you need to be in the body.  To pray, reach out, and love them, not condemn them when disagreements happen.  We don’t leave just because of problems.

 Romans 14:1 (HCSB)
1  Accept anyone who is weak in faith, but don’t argue about doubtful issues.

Of course, it is frustrating when someone we love and/or look up to fails us.  It is ok to be troubled by it.  It is not ok to walk away and isolate.  In fact, it is a sin.  God says do not forsake the assembling of your selves together.

He said it for a reason.

When we assemble in imperfection but straining ahead – that is when we grow.  That’s when we grow in Christ.  We face problems rather than run away.  We forgive as we were forgiven.

 Philippians 1:27 (NKJV)  27  Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,

You are a Christian.

You belong to Christ, not fallible man.  Obey Him.

1 Corinthians 6:20 (NASB77)  20  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 7:23 (NASB77)  23   You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.

Go to church this Sunday.

Until next time,

Zach

 

QUESTION:  If you are a Christian, are you serving in a local church?  Biblically speaking, should we serve in a local church?

The Power of Perseverance

October 21, 2013

Here is another great guest post by Dr. Ed Hird:

Winston Churchill is famous for his advice during the Battle of Britain: “Never, ever, ever give up. Never give up. Never give up.”  It is so easy to let setbacks set us back, to let disappointments discourage us.  We can lose our first love, our original passion, our vision and focus.

Perseverance is the key to breakthrough in our lives, our marriages, our families and our work.  Without perseverance, we don’t finish well, we don’t fight the good fight, we don’t keep the faith.  The Good Shepherd once told a story in Luke 18:1-8 about a widow who was being exploited by a corrupt judge.  Widows have historically been some of the most powerless people, lacking protection and financial resources.  In some countries around the world, widows were even burned alive (Sati) on their husband’s funeral pyre.   This widow had no bribe to pay off the judge, so instead she wore him out with her pleading.

The Good Shepherd Jesus commended this persevering widow, and encouraged us to be preserving, especially in our prayer lives, never giving up.  Why are many people tempted to give up in their prayer lives? Sometimes the answers to our prayers often seem to take too long. Sometimes God says slow, or grow, or even no.   When there is great grief in our lives, our prayer lives can take a hit.  Our experience of tragedy can embitter us, and rob us of hope.  Jesus commended the persevering widow as a model for all of us.  God wants us to persevere.

Andrew Murray, a famous 19th Century South African write, once said “Of all the mysteries of the prayer world, the need for persevering prayer is one of the greatest.”  A Facebook friend of mine, Matthew Lee Smith, sent me this note: “This Sunday, preach like Jesus is coming Monday! I am praying for you right now my friend!”  I am so encouraged when I know that people are praying for me. People can gossip about you, or they can pray for you.  It is a radical choice.  It is so easy to get discouraged and cut back in our praying for certain people. We may not even want to think about them, let alone pray for them.  It’s too painful.  God wants us to persevere.

Jesus was a man of prayer. The closer Jesus came to the cross, the more he prayed. Jesus prayed like no one else did.  He ever got a prayer named after him: The Lord’s Prayer.   This is a challenging time to be a Christian, to attend Church, to be a worshiper. Without prayer, we will get taken out, distracted, knocked off course.  If you are discouraged, pray. If you have lost heart, pray. If you don’t know the way forward, pray.  Prayer is the way forward. God always makes a way when it seems that there is no way forward.

God loves to keep his promises.  He loves to answer prayer.  Prayer is about leaning on the everlasting arms.  It is about trusting that He’s got the whole world in his hands, his faithfulness is great, and all that I have needed his hand has provided.  Prayer is about practicing God’s presence.  Jesus will never leave us or forsake us. He loves us with an everlasting love.  My prayer for those reading this article is that we will learn from the persevering widow to never give up, to always persist, and to always keep on praying.

(Please give your comments below to this article – Zach)

The Torment of Jesus Garcia

October 21, 2013

Hello and welcome back!

 I have some thoughts to give you today that sprung from my off-the-wall thinking processes this week.  I have a tendency to dwell on things and sometimes entirely lucid concepts arise from these weekly mental meanderings.

Last post, I talked about how individual and subjective thoughts can shape our understanding of our abilities.

The objective word of God not only informs us who we actually are in Him but grants us the ability to understand the importance of the Holy Spirit and our obedience to Jesus’ commands to the church.

 And yes, that was presented by comparing two different sized dogs and their perception of their abilities based on what they both considered the reality.

This post, I want to talk about Jesus.  That’s right…Jesus.

Not Jesus Christ, my personal Lord and Savior.  Jesus Garcia who was the custodian of my first junior high experience.

Jesus Garcia was said to be an excellent custodian, dependable, loyal, honest as the day is long, and one who always did more than expected of him by the school system.

 But that isn’t the topic of Jesus’ life I wish to tell you about.  That’s not the topic at all.

 The Girl Froze – Jesus didn’t.

Jesus Garcia, alias “Ol’ Gar” to us 7th graders, was a man of great patience and kindness.  There wasn’t one day that passed that school year that “”Ol’ Gar” didn’t speak to me first and never forgot to ask how my family and I were doing. He was hard to understand sometimes but he had a good heart.

The sad part is, most of the kids at the school made fun of Jesus.  They would wait until he had passed by and make fun of the limp he had.  Either that or they would make fun of his unique voice character when he wasn’t around.

Jesus also had a hearing problem that was unusual in a man in his early 40’s and some of the kids began to ask him questions just to get him to say, “What you said dere?”

 It became a standing comment to make when you didn’t hear or understand what someone said to you at school, “What you said dere? Dent ketch it!”

Everyone knew that Jesus knew what was going on but that didn’t slow them down any.  Most kids said, Ol’ Gar don’t deserve any respect.”  They said that because they felt he was a retard and just good for cleaning the school and being the target of their jokes.  They said he was called “Ol Gar” because he smelled like one.

Around the last few weeks before school let out for summer, there was this incident that changed a lot of people’s attitude towards “Ol’ Gar.”

It was a Friday after lunch when most of the kids were on the school campus.  Groups of kids were standing around, some in circles talking while others just milled around from group to group.

A few minutes before the bell rang announcing the start of the second half of the day, Jesus walked out of the door between the gym and the cafeteria with a large bag of garbage and headed out to the street where the dumpsters sat.

An eighth-grade girl was crossing the street in the middle of the block when a motorcycle careened around the corner bearing down on her.  Ol’ Gar saw that bike heading toward her about the same time she did.

The girl froze.  Jesus didn’t.

Several groups of us kids saw what was taking place.  Jesus pushed that girl just as the bike slammed into his side.  Kids screamed.  Jesus went down as that bike carried him along with it – right into a tree between the street and sidewalk.

 A few of us ran over to where he lay.  The biker was up and standing over him as we came up alongside of them.  Ol’ Gar looked up, saw me, and asked about the girl he had just protected.  I told him she was unhurt.  He nodded.

The ambulance finally arrived after what seemed forever but was actually only about ten minutes.  I heard one of the medics say, “He isn’t going to make it, losing too much blood.

Turns out that the force of the accident had ruptured an artery in his stomach and that was where all the blood had come from.

 Mr. Jesus Garcia, alias “Ol’ Gar” had given his life to save one of us.  No one said so but it was obvious that attitudes had changed towards Jesus.

School turned out for the funeral.  That was when all the kids who attended had the opportunity to meet Jesus’ family consisting of his mother, his wife, and his two, young daughters.

Jesus became real to that group of kids that day.  There was a plaque put up in the hallway, a special assembly was held, the girl whose life he had saved read a poem she had written to him.  Most of the kids were silent -reflective.

 I don’t know who suggested it but I think it was the girl he had saved.  We all took up a collection school-wide.  Turned out to be almost $500.  I don’t remember the exact figure but that doesn’t matter.

What I do remember is the life lesson that was learned by everyone that day.  I remember the remorse I saw on many faces because of how they had treated Jesus Garcia when he was alive and among us.

 I also remember the look of shock on those same faces when they discovered at the funeral why Jesus limped.  The shock of why his voice sounded like it did.  He had been wounded severely during the Korean conflict but had carried 5 of his fellow soldiers to safety under enemy fire.  He had been hit twice by enemy fire as he rescued them.

Lives were changed that day.  Lives were changed for the better. One was saved from certain injury or death.  Others were changed from lives of judgmental egoism.  All because of the Christian salt and light that had shown from the life of one man.

He was a simple man.

 He was a follower of Jesus.

His life meant something.

May we all have the opportunity for our lives to count.  More than that, may we all value the lives of others and never judge them on appearances.

The Bible tells us at Matthew 7:1-2:  “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

Let’s all remember that another Jesus, the living Son of God, told us to love one another as He loves the church.  Jesus Garcia did.

Until next time,

Zach

 QUESTION:  Have you ever looked down on another only to regret it later?

Hello and welcome back!

This post will provide some background information before we start our first beatitude study, “The poor in spirit are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs” (Matt. 5:3, HCSB).  If you have not read the earlier post: Part One

Reflections on Life

Wow!  The weather in New Mexico is crazy!  Yesterday, it was beautiful (sunny and warm) and today it is beautiful (cloudy and cold).  What I mean to say here is that I love all kinds of weather because I relish variety!  Looking out my study window, I am enjoying seeing the occasional flurries of snowflakes falling.

Birds are sitting on the branches of the tree and the wind is gently blowing through the newly blossoming buds of green.  Winter and spring meet in contest but it is spring that is gaining momentum and winter will soon fade into the past.

Come to think about it, what I just described above is like our lives, isn’t it?  We have seasons.  We are born and grow up in the spring of our lives.  Everything seems to go on forever, one day leading into another in an endless procession of springtime breezes.

Then summer is upon us.  We mature, get married, raise a family and the days just seem to become a blur as fall approaches while we aren’t looking.  When the first leaves of our lives begin to change from green to various tones of browns and yellow, we notice that our children are raising families of their own.  As we are raking the leaves of our lives, our children’s leaves are just beginning to bud.

I am now at the end of my personal, fall season.  The winter of my life is fast approaching.  I have raked the leaves, put away my rake and leaf blower, and I sit here looking out at the tree that is blossoming with new life — even during winter’s last efforts to hold on.  As I look at the birds sitting in its branches, I reflect upon the winter season of my life that is fast approaching and I rejoice!

  • I rejoice because I am still running the race!
  • I rejoice because I know where it is that I am going!
  • I rejoice because this season is in God’s timing and His timing is perfect!
  • I rejoice because I am His and He is mine!

What season of life are you now in?

What season is coming?

Where are you at in this season of your life as you walk with Jesus?

It all depends upon your understanding of the Christian character and how you are developing it!  Let’s take a look at some background information needed before we begin our study of the Christian character model that Jesus provided us in the Sermon on the Mount.

The Christian Character

Did you know that Jesus has provided us the perfect Christian character development course that has ever been written?  He has!  The entire world seeks after happiness!  Unfortunately, the method in which they seek happiness has a way of turning into unhappiness.  Why is that?  Why is it that happiness, the goal of every person, seems to occur fleetingly — only to dissolve into misery and dejection?

“The beatitudes describe the character traits that separate us from the character traits of the world.”

Could it be that the world is looking for happiness on the sinful road that leads to misery and rejection?  Yes, Christians, we need to be following Christ in order to obtain true happiness.  So many Christians are missing the meaning Jesus provided in the Sermon on the Mount.

There are so many of us are caught up in the religion of our walk that we sometimes forget that Jesus is looking at our hearts.  It’s not about what we—DO—it’s all about who we ARE!  It is not so much our DOING but our BEING!  Jesus died because we cannot DO the law!

He died so that we can BECOME like Him!  The Sermon on the Mount is not about our OUTSIDE but all about our INSIDE!  It had nothing to do with empty, external religious traditions but all about who we are in Jesus!

What is the Christian character that Jesus provides the blueprint for in the Sermon on the Mount?  What is it that will bring us that elusive happiness that we all so crave?  Jesus looks at our character before he looks at how we act.  It is our character that determines our actions.

What to Expect

In the beatitudes, Jesus shows us how Christians are to become like Him.  The beatitudes describe the character traits that separate us from the character traits of the world.  These character traits in the beatitudes are portraits of Christ and not a portrait of the world.  The beatitudes describe the divine difference between those IN Christ and those who are not.

[IMPORTANT]: Please remember and tuck this away in your heart:  The Bible tells us to be LIKE Jesus and not the world.  The beatitudes provide the vehicle in which to do so.  Please join with me next post for the first study of the beatitude, “The poor in spirit are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs” (Matt. 5:3, HCSB).

 

Until next time…

Zach

QUESTION:  WHAT DOES “POOR IN SPIRIT” MEAN?

Hello and welcome back!

I’m so happy to see you here once again.  I’m beginning a series on the beatitudes for those interested.

 It’s amazing just how fast time passes, isn’t it?  It just seems like yesterday that I posted my Easter piece on the 1st of April and here it is — already the 6th!  Life is so very, very short, isn’t it?  It is so short that we need to consider the importance of our Christian walk.  Each and every day that passes brings us closer to that day when we shall leave this earth behind and look Jesus in the eyes.

What shall we say then?

This post series is about the Sermon on the Mount that begins in Matthew 5. You can look upon this sermon of Jesus as a key that unlocks the Bible while providing you with the secrets of the Christian walk.   We will take each of the beatitudes and delve into the spiritual meaning of each one to discover the essence of what it is to walk behind Jesus from the cross to the grave.

Jesus presented the beatitudes in order to present you with a blueprint or treasure map to guide your steps in following Him.  When you glean the meaning of the beatitudes, you will understand how each one builds upon the other — leading you closer to Christ as you follow in his footsteps.  The beatitudes paint an accurate objective truth about holiness.

When looking spiritually at the beatitudes, we can compare the teachings of the Pharisees and Scribes of Jesus’ day with His teachings of the Law of God the way He wants us to follow them.  In other words — unlike Jesus — the Pharisees were claiming the law must be perfected in us before we are worthy of God. Jesus taught that if we follow Him we are already children of God.   Then we follow the law in love, not to obtain salvation from the law.  Salvation comes because of how Jesus lived the law.

We obey the law of God out of love for Jesus who died for us because we could not be perfect in God’s law. Only Jesus could and did keep the whole law.

“The sum of all of this is you are to mature as you grow — a process, not an event.”

The Sermon on the Mount presents and stresses the elements of this truth.  If you understand and live out the Sermon on the Mount, you will understand the kingdom of God, you will walk a new life that attracts others to Christ, and you will grow in Christ and be able to carry out God’s plan for your life.

Knowing the full meaning of the beatitudes will provide the foundation to the Christian walk.  This full, Christian walk will allow the Holy Spirit to produce fruit in and from you for the kingdom work.  Not only will we talk about Christ to others, but present His walk to them.  Which of the two do you think will best allow them to see Christ?

As we look the Sermon on the Mount, keep in mind that the beatitudes build upon the others.  Once the entire picture is understood we will then understand what it is Christ is telling us.  Each part or beatitude is just part of the whole.

Please understand that a person must be a follower of Jesus to understand the truth of the beatitudes and how to live them.  No one can ever live the beatitudes without the Holy Spirit living inside of him/her.  If we truly belong to Jesus Christ, we will not only understand God’s requirement for us to live holy but we will understand the power within us that can help us to live it daily.

 We read what the Christian’s hope is concerning temptations:

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity.  God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.”

We will discover in this study that you as a Christian have to keep God’s law.  Now, this does not mean that you are under the law but that you must keep the law.  The Sermon on the Mount was given to you by Jesus for the express purpose for knowing how to follow Him and what will give you the power to do so.

 It does not mean that we never sin.  It means that you must repent all sin, not live in it.  It means that we follow Jesus by learning the Sermon on the Mount and living by it.  The sum of all of this — you are to mature as you grow — a process, not an event.

I hope that this overview of the new post series on the Sermon on the Mount has excited you.  I pray that you will comment on the question always provided at the end of a post.  This will help to initiate dialog on each post which will help us all to grow in Christ!

Next post we will discover the full meaning of the first beatitude at Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Until next time…

Zach

QUESTION:  WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN WE SAY, “I HAVE DECIDED TO FOLLOW JESUS — NO TURNING BACK, NO TURNING BACK.”