Today I saw a bumper sticker that read; Jesus Died For Us.
I was very pleased to see the bumper sticker, as I wholeheartedly believe the statement made on the sticker. Almost as fast as my mind acknowledged that I agree that Jesus did die for us, I had another thought…
I thought, man you hear this a lot, the acknowledgement that Jesus died for mankind, for our sins, because he loved us. All of these things I believe to be absolute truth yet my mind wandered on yet another thought.
My immediate thought was envisioning all the pictures, jewelry, etc that depicts Christ dead on the cross. I thought, yes he did die but he is not dead.
The Enemy would love to twist the fact that Jesus died and is still hanging on a cross or rotted in the grave, that it all ended with Jesus’s death. He would love to use it to convince people that Jesus was like any other man. Maybe even try and convince people that Jesus was just a good guy that took on an awful death in the name of goodness.
I thought it would be just like the Enemy to take anything and everything and twist it, even this very truthful statement on the bumper sticker. Yes Jesus died for the sins of mankind but…death on a cross is not where it ended.
Mark 16: 1-14
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.
Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.
Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
The life of Jesus did not end in death. Jesus conquered death. Death has no power over him! We cannot let the Enemy let us be satisfied that Jesus died. Jesus is not dead…He is alive!
While with the disciples, Jesus gave his final instructions:
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
Then God took Jesus into heaven so he might make intercession for mankind.
After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God
Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
What exactly is intercession?
To intercede is to intervene with a focus of reconciling differences. In other words Jesus is in heaven sitting at the right hand of his Father (God) continually seeking Gods favor for us, just as he did in his final moments on earth.
Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Yes it is absolutely true that Jesus died so that we may be forgiven. God gave his only begotten Son so we could have life eternally. Jesus’s birth, life, and death are critical. My point is that we not allow the Enemy, through worldly religions, viewpoints, and philosophies to fools us into forgetting and/or not acknowledging that Jesus died but is not dead.
Jesus was born to live, die, and rise. We cannot let the world forget about that.
There are many that will acknowledge Jesus as a man in history. Some will say he was a good man of strong morals and ethics. Some will say Jesus died as a mere martyr (a person who sacrifices something of great value and especially life itself for the sake of principle).
Jesus is the way for us to be redeemed of sin so we can spend eternity with God in heaven. We are cleansed by the flowing of his blood.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
1 John 1:5-7
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
This is a message to Believers and non-believers alike. Even though I have accepted Christ as my Savior and Lord of my life, I am still a sinner. I mess up all the time. When I do, I must seek God’s forgiveness by means of a genuine heart.
As those claiming to believe in and accept Jesus into our lives, there should be evidence of it. Many times the things we say and how we act do not show evidence of our claims. What we say and do is the proof if Jesus is really Lord of our life or not.
By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
If Jesus were not alive sitting at the right hand of his Father interceding for me, I would be in a world of hurt. As a sinner I am not worthy of God’s glory.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.
The Enemy is very crafty. He would love us to look upon Jesus and conclude his existence stopped with his death. If it had, Jesus would be the same as any other person in history that people worship.
Jesus is alive, in heaven, interceding for mankind, and waiting to return so he may gather up The Church (those dead and living that have proclaimed Jesus as Lord of their life, and acknowledged that through faith in Jesus, he is the only way to the Father and heaven).
Please do not think I am saying that having a bumper sticker or saying that Jesus died for our sins is wrong. By all means, that is correct.
My intention with this writing is an encouragement of increased awareness in how the Enemy uses trickery and deception to discredit Jesus in his entirety.
Jesus is alive!!
I think one of the top challenges we as Born-Again Spirit Filled Christians face today is making sure we do not blend in. It is so easy to compromise the way we talk and the things we do that results in us not being distinctive.
Lyrics from a 1981 song from the group Petra, titled Chameleon
Chameleon - You blend with your surroundings
Chameleon - No one knows where you come from
Chameleon - You change with every situation
As Christians we are supposed to illuminate, to not just stand out, but represent the Light that all mankind needs to seek. Through what we say, how we speak, what we do, and where we hang out, we are supposed to represent Christ as he lives in us. Man it is so easy to get lost in this world and before you know it we look, sound, and live just like it.
I used to do a lot of clubbing in the 1990’s. I never drank alcohol but I did go to clubs and enjoyed dancing. I met a lot of great people. With them, in our one-on-one relationship I would talk about the Lord and how Christ was part of my life. The result was many really good conversations. Because of the one-on-one relationship and the nature of our discussions, they knew where I stood, or so I thought.
Now years later after I think about those years I realize I was not as “right” as I thought I was. I thought because I shared the Lord with them it justified my going out to clubs.
I do not believe for a moment I was called to go clubbing so I could be a witness. What drew me to the clubs were things of the world. Fortunately the Lord was a big enough part of my life that I spread his message to those people I met. For those choice few people a seed has been planted. Still I look back at that time and have concluded I let them and so many other people down.
See…only the 8-10 people I met had a chance to learn about how the Lord is part of my life. Now I realize I was still sending a mixed message. They saw no harm in me liking to dance and respected me for expressing what and whom I believe in.
What about all of those people that saw me at the club on the dance floor? By my actions, by my being there, by my having drinks (orange or cranberry juice), by dancing to music that spoke about sex, drugs, gangs, minimizing women and so on…did that show them that Christ is in me? Not in the slightest.
Yes I enjoyed myself and never drank. By looking at me you might be surprised to know I was a rather good dancer. I was a natural for hip-hop dancing. I was too large for doing any floor work but steps and body fluidity…I was actually good. I met club dancers from Milwaukee and Chicago and many loved my style. Often I was nick-named Heavy D, after the very popular rapper/dancer of the late 1990’s.
All of that was fun and good. Was I really doing what God has instructed me to do? No.
Many will twist and turn what I have shared and attempt to justify that it was ok. I was having innocent fun…whats the harm in that? Yeah…I used to say that too. That is what kept me in the clubs from 1990 to 1998.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them
I know of Christians that have been convinced that drinking socially is ok. As I have matured spiritually I am confident that social drinking is a poor witness and based on our love for God and desire to credit him in all that we do, social drinking is wrong.
God tells me I am not to be conformed to this world. In other words I am not to - give the same shape, outline, or contour to : bring into harmony or accord, according to Merriam-Webster.
God also tells me to not fellowship with unfruitful works but to reprove them. In other words I am to - to express disapproval of, according to Merriam-Webster.
Although Gods Word may not express that social drinking is a sin, I am not saying it is a sin. I am saying it is a poor witness. By being a poor witness we are not crediting God and sending a mixed message. God is not about confusion.
There are several religions that openly accept social drinking. People created religion (a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices) resulting in methodologies not in alignment with God’s Word.
Man-made religion is not of God. When I drink socially I do not create a distinction between my personal relationship with God versus a man-made religion. Therefore, I am giving a poor witness of Christ who lives in me.
1 Thessalonians 5:22
Abstain from all appearance of evil.
Social drinking may not be a sin, drunkenness is. When we are sitting and drinking socially do people that observe us really know that we are drinking socially or getting drunk? Are our actions clear in appearance?
When I went out to clubs did the people that observed me drinking know that I was drinking straight orange juice? I can tell you this, many would express to me that they were surprised that I was not drinking alcohol.
Many people would say to me that I must have had a couple to loosen up. They would say that they themselves could not get on the dance floor until they had a couple (meaning allowing alcohol to influence them). So they saw me as the same as them. They saw me as needing drinks in order to get on the dance floor. To them I was no different than them. I know now I was a very poor witness. I appeared just like the world.
This is not an attack, this is more of a statement of the revelation I have had as I have grown spiritually. I have referred to a topic in my past so I can include myself as having struggled with discerning myself to be different than the world. I have referred to social drinking because I know many Christians that struggle with that topic. There are many more topics that Christians struggle with in not being a Chamelon in this world we live in.
The bottom line is that the Enemy is focused on discrediting God. The question we must ask ourselves in the things we say, do, and act is – Are we crediting or honoring God?
I am confident the Enemy has many Christians fooled on debating the “sin vs. not a sin” aspect of some of the topics that challenge us as we attempt to follow Gods commands of distinguishing ourselves from this world.
I have read article after article that attempts to justify social drinking based on the focus that the Bible only refers to drunkenness (excessive drinking) as a sin and drinking in moderation is ok. I justified my enjoyment of dancing because it was fun, which it was. Like I mentioned earlier, I was dancing to music that promoted sex before marriage, violence, and defamation of women, drunkenness, drugs, and other ungodly topics.
Dancing and drinking in moderation may not be specified as sins in the Bible. Not following Gods command of not conforming to the worlds is disobedience and that is a sin. When I look back at those days in the 1990’s I realize now that I was not obeying Gods Word.
Yes I did meet people and to those people I shared Gods Word. Still when I think back I can’t help but think I brought forth a mixed message. I wonder just how effective my message was in talking about God then stepping on the dance floor and dancing to a song that spoke of sexual immorality, describing a sexual act of “smack it, flip it, rub it down”. ( lyrics from a song from the then popular Bell Biv Devoe). I am confident now that I discredited my witness.
So my thoughts and/or message to all of us struggling with distinguishing ourselves from the world, is to seek God’s wisdom in these matters and ask ourselves how what we are doing, saying, and participating in reflects on our witness of Christ.
I understand that some, maybe even many that read this will want to indulge in a debate. If someone wants to debate, their debate is not with me. This is a reflection of what God has put on my heart. Those that want to debate should talk to God to see what he puts on their heart regarding such matters.
Every year, once a year, many will take time out to celebrate Christmas.
For many the focus will be a family get together, making sure Billy and Susie receive the toys they want, the stress about traveling to grandmas, eating until you’re ready to pop, watching football, or the loneliness of having no one to spend the day with.
The original intention of celebrating Christmas, the day we acknowledge the birth of Christ, has nothing to do with those things I mentioned.
The few will acknowledge the birth of Christ as a glorious day, but why?
Why was Christ born?
Jesus was born to live, to die, to rise, and to come again.
Who or what is Jesus coming back for?
He is coming for The Church.
Who is The Church?
The Church is those that have acknowledged that the only way to the Father, to God, to Heaven, is through Christ. The Church is those that have submitted their lives to Jesus, confessing that Jesus is their Savior, and have asked that Jesus become Lord of their lives. That is The Church.
1 Peter 1:3
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
No Jesus = no Living Hope.
Hope, meaning to cherish with anticipation? No.
Hope, meaning to expect with confidence.
God’s Word tells us that Jesus is the way…
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Therefore the Lord himself will give youa sign: The virginwill conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Immanuel, Messiah, Savoir…the many names of Jesus.
The book of Isaiah was written between 701 and 681 B.C.
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
King Herod reigned from 37 B.C to 4 B.C
Herod was not pleased with the birth of Jesus, the one prophesied about.
When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him
God protects his Son Jesus
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Herod tried to use the Magi to find Jesus
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
Historians calculate the Magi having visited Jesus in early 4 B.C. and he was a young child of 1 year or so at the time.
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.
When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”
Herod died in 4 B.C. Historians estimate his death to be in November, a few months after the order to kill boys 2 years old and under.
Historians calculate Jesus was born in early 5 B.C.
Is Christmas a glorious day?
Oh yeah!! In fact with Jesus there is one glorious day after another.
The day Jesus was born – a glorious day because the Savior arrived
The days Jesus lived – glorious days because everything he said, taught and did was based on his love for mankind.
The day Jesus died – a glorious day because his blood was shed to redeem us, freeing us from captivity through Jesus paying the ransom for us with his life.
The day Jesus rose – a glorious day because he proved death could not conquer him, and we were made justified (becoming righteous and worthy of salvation).
The day Jesus returns – a glorious day because he will gather The Church, those that have submitted to him as Lord, and take them to the Kingdom of God, to be with his Father.
Christmas…what a glorious day!!!
It is so sad how the real meaning of Christmas has become lost with gifts, Santa, decorations, gatherings, big meals, football, etc.
Believing in Christ, accepting him as Lord of our life is a choice.
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
How we celebrate Christmas is a choice.
Choosing Christ will result in criticism, persecution, being laughed at, being called names, being made fun of, separation of friends, separation of family, possibly physically beaten, possibly killed…
Still...I choose Jesus!!
Thank you God the Father for sending your Son Jesus to be born, live, die, and rise so he may come back and take me Home to be with you.
Merry Christmas to all!!