1 He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today. ” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner. ” 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold. ” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. ”
Zacchaeus was a success by worldy standards. He had position and wealth, but these two things were of little use to him in his desire to see Jesus. They did not prevent him from climbing a tree to see past the crowd. From that position in the tree he could see and Jesus could as well. I imagine that Zacchaeus did not anticipate what then happened.
Jesus looked up and said, "hurry and come down", calling him by name.
Zacchaeus did just that. He came down from that tree a different man.
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
God is outside the box of human thought and knowledge. Yet we can approach Him if His Spirit dwells in us. Paul reminds us here that the fullness of God is love and we can be filled.
24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
The tree of life was hung on the leafless tree of our shame and sin. The fruit from the forbidden tree is replaced by the hand of God with the fruit of His Son, restoring man to the freedom from sin that is in Christ.
The tree of life is Christ. Those in Christ are fed by its roots, the body and bride of the one that has and will come. It is watered by the Spirit.
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us. ” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.
The Lord made known to the shepherds the birth of Jesus. They went and saw it for themselves. Then they made known what they had seen and heard. God continues to reveal Himself through unlikely people, in unexpected places, and surprising ways; in you and me.
It is up to us to live and make known what we've seen and heard.
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
The Holy Spirit works within us, even when we sleep, for He does not sleep. Like the seed that germinates unseen, the word taken to heart takes root and grows. We do not know how this happens, but begin to see the fruit of it's presence.
41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord. ”
Blessed are all those who believe what the Lord has said and is doing. The Holy Spirit has been given. The fruit of His indwelling provides food for the hungery and drink for those who thirst. Our womb is the heart and in it we are reborn.
9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
They beheld the star and came to see what Herod and Jerusalem could not see, though Israel had long awaited the one foretold. The light of the star rose for all men.
They had come in their own way, but upon finding the child they fall to their knees. After worshipping Him, they traded their treasure for His.
18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
There is a difference between being amazed at the hearing of something and taking it to heart. Mary embraced the unfolding events just as she had the Holy One of God. She too had been visited by an angel, but also touched by the Holy Spirit.
Responding with a life changed is the mark of a disciple of Christ. Just hearing and wondering about it does not make one a follower of Jesus.
38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing? ” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still! ” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
He was in the boat with them, yet they became afraid. The King of Peace was with them, but they did not know this. They ask a question that we have all thought at one time or another. Where are you Lord in the midst of my troubles? Don't you care?
2 And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. 3 And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years.
Why choice? Why does God allow us to choose to obey? Why did He put the forbidden tree in the Garden?
It says here it is so He would know our heart and that we would know that He is the author of life.
33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it.
If we are open we can receive and understand His words, if they don't stop at our ears but seep into the soil of the heart. There the seed of the good news can take root and grow. As the barren ground begins to transform, fruit appears, and God's pleasure prevails.
The words were too hard for some, and they turned away.
33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. 34 He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.
The seed is planted all around us. The heavens and earth declare the glory of the Lord. Life is a parable from which we can learn spiritual things. We can only think of and relate to God from our perspective. That is why Jesus said that we must be born again to see the kingdom of God.
Without the Spirit, one will read the Bible without understanding. One will live life not seeing God's hand everywhere. The Holy Spirit teaches and confirms the word for those who believe in His name. This happens in the privacy of our hearts and in the body of Christ.
We should always remember that God alone is worthy of worship and that He is Most Holy. We cannot fathom His forgiveness if we do not come to Him with a sense if awe and wonder, without kneeling in ours hearts to His Lordship. It is His grace alone that saves us. Our lives should reflect that grace and thanksgiving.
24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. 25 For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. ”
How we respond to Jesus makes a difference. As carpenters say, "measure twice, cut once".
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy— the Son of God.
Jesus was conceived from above by the same power that would raise Him from death. He was born from above into flesh that we might be reborn in spirit. He became the Son of Man that we would become children of the Most Holy God.
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,
We, like Paul, are declared to be sons and daughters of God through the power of His resurrection by that same Spirit.
24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken. ” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me. ” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name? ” And he said, “Jacob. ” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed. ” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name. ” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name? ” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered. ” 31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.
Jacob encounters God. His mortal body is wounded and he is diminished from a worldly standpoint, but his life has been delivered. He has striven and prevailed with the man he was, and thus God gives him a new name to reflect the new man.
The Son has risen and He is the light of the world. He has truly overcome the world and offers that power to all mankind.
28 “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” — 30 for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit. ”
It seems that everything can be forgiven except rejection of the Holy Spirit. The call of grace unheeded, ignored, and dismissed has no good effect. One is left in the fallen state, far from God.
11 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, 15 who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end.
Every day is cause for thanksgiving. Every day is the day to remember the Lord for the things He has done.
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.
The two disciples left the empty tomb, leaving Mary behind. In her grief, she remains. It's quiet now, so that only the soft sounds of her weeping disturb the air. Her eyes return to where the stone was rolled away. She bends down to peer into the darkness of the tomb. She sees in His place two angels, though there is no indication she recognized them as such. They are clothed with heaven's garments and are there to give witness to the resurrection of Jesus. The testimony of two were required by Hebrew law to be legally accepted.
8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
Tomb comes from the Greek word:
μνημεῖον * mnēmeion * mnay-mi'-on * From G3420; a remembrance, that is, cenotaph (place of interment): - grave, sepulchre, tomb.
a tomblike monument to someone buried elsewhere, esp. one commemorating people who died in a war.
The other disciple appears to have grasped the meaning of what he had seen. He remembered what Jesus had said was going to happen and why. As he looked upon the empty grave, things began to fall in place. The words of Jesus and Scripture came together in a way he had not seen before. He saw it now, and believed.
11 But you, Timothy, man of God: Run for your life from all this. Pursue a righteous life-- a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. 12 Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses.
We can only pursue a righteous life if we move from a worldly life. It is the destination that defines the journey. It is faith that allows us to see the distant finish line and provides the power to run, to endure to that end.
We are caught in the middle, but we are not left behind for He is with us.
1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
There are those who say we are no longer a Christian nation, but that this is a place hope and authority in anything other than Jesus Christ. They deny His gospel and their confidence is in themselves.
This is in opposition to the Spirit of truth, but truth will prevail for Jesus has overcome the world.
11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Being content appears to be a learned behavior, the secret is Christ and being with Christ. There is much in the world that teaches and encourages discontent. One can readily and too easily learn this.
True contentment is the state of heart and mind which rests in Jesus. From this place of strength we can find our center, for He is with us.
28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said( to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst. ” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
The first miracle in John's gospel is changing water to wine. The last thing thing He did before ending His ministry on earth was receive sour wine at the hands of His tormentors. Just as the new wine can represent the new covenant of salvation, the sour wine is representative of the old covenant which was not able to save man in his weakness.
The wine of Jesus was poured out for the world even as the sour wine of our sin was brought to His lips.
9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Not some or most, but everyone. It is a thing which is done and will come to pass, more certain than the morning sun.
25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son! ” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother! ” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
Jesus had previously asked who was his mother and brothers after being told his family was outside. Far from leaving behind family relationships, He is about to enable relationship in the family of God. Our earthly models will give way to heavenly realities as we become sons and daughters of our heavenly Father.
Jesus has moved through the roles of son and teacher to that of Savior and Lord. He will return, not as the Lamb of sacrifice, but as the King of kings and we will all be changed.
35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God! ”
John beheld the Holy One of God. He did not merely observe a man walking by, but comprehended Who He was, and the enormity of thing He was about to do. Jesus had begun the steps of His ministry which would lead to the salvation of man. How John must have been filled with wonder, joy, and awe.
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
In the same way as Jesus, in humble obedience, we lay hold of salvation.
We have been given an awesome gift, worthy of reverence and respect. He gives His Spirit to lead the way in the way of light. That is how it works out.
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
Knowing Jesus as Lord is truly knowing Him. Knowing Him as less than Lord makes us less like Him. It is difficult to say we are disciples if we have trouble saying we follow after Him.
Our right standing with God depends on faith. Jesus placed His faith in the Father, coming to live as man only to die, knowing He would be raised by the Father. We are to have that same faith, placing it in the Son, which is the righteousness of God. We will certainly die, but we can share in His resurrection.
The cup was set before Him. He drank all of it, the full wrath of God met by the power of His love and mercy. His next cup will be lifted at the marriage feast with His bride the church.
Paul trades everything for Christ. It was easy for him to do so when he saw everything as rubbish when compared to the treasure revealed in Christ.
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Jesus did not think His divinity something to hold on to, but instead came for us. We should be all the more eager to let go of our flesh for the form of Jesus.
We are to be humble and obedient as a new creature in Christ.
14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?
Love exercises all that is pure, holy, and just. It is the summation of God's message to us, of how to live and truly live. It is the path to God, shown by His Son Jesus the Christ, the perfect image of the Father.
This love is selfless. The opposite of Godly love is self love. Yet Godly love is the only way to find the true self.
More than a concept, it is an action, not to be done now and then, but integrated in all we do. Our yielding to love becomes a living sacrifice, as the flame of His Spirit works with our spirit. It rises as a pleasing fragrance to God.
2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
Each of us becomes the dwelling place, a temple of the Lord. The Father's house is where He is. We change in His presence as we take Him in our hearts. He performs a good work within us. Jesus leaves to make room for the Spirit, given to seal us in the kingdom. He prepares us, guiding and building His body the church in the way of eternal life.
26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
How is it that we can do good things, have a sense of right and wrong, love, feel compassion and empathy for our fellow man, and have a sense of justice?
These are a result of our Father, for we are made in His image.
Scientists have have embraced the big bang theory for the origin of the universe, but are unable to consider something similar for life, despite the evidence and lack of another viable explanation. They are still coloring with crayons.
29( When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)
31 “To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,
“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not weep. ’
33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon. ’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners! ’ 35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children. ”
The Pharisees rejected the idea that repentance applied to them. They were above that. They trusted in their religion and had become blind, more comfortable with the idol of their own making than with the Son of God standing before them. In the marketplace of the world, they had traded the wisdom of God for the wisdom of man. But some people, even tax collectors, were not confounded by their own thinking and desires, but responded to God's call.
Jesus likens the generation that rejects Him to children singing and playing a familiar tune. The lyrics of the songs mostly have the word "me" or "I" in them. They either never evolved beyond self, or sank into a muddled pool of futile thinking.
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel. ”
Jesus continues and expands on the message of John. John prepared the way by calling the people to repent. Repentance allows access to the gospel of God. Believing the gospel opens the gates to the kingdom of God.
This is the way of salvation. It is available now. "The time is fulfilled,"
24 When John's messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings'courts. 26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written,
“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you. ’
28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. ”
As blessed as John was to be the messenger that would prepare the way of the Lord, Jesus says the least in the kingdom of God is greater. The least of that kingdom walks in the presence of the Lord. Their feet are no longer confined to the path of this world, no longer subject to the chains of death, but are made alive and free in the grace of Jesus.
Those born of women, when reborn in the Spirit become children of God.
We have been given the privilege of pointing the way for others, and even more, walking in the way.
We will see more of John one day. I expect we'll find him in a pretty good place. Hope you'll come out to see him.
21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is! ’ or ‘There! ’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you. ”
We move from being near the kingdom, to being the "here" of the kingdom when we accept Christ. It is one step away, one heartbeat given to Him. It is where two or more gather, even as it is with each one sealed with the Spirit, the body of Christ. It is His light that burns in the lamp stands of Revelation and He is in their midst.
18 The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another? ” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another? ’” 21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me. ”
John begins to doubt what he has seen. Even though he announced the Son of God to the world, he now sits in a prison facing execution. I imagine it was dark and lonely, Satan's preferred playground. This may not have been what John was expecting.
He sends two disciples to ask of Jesus, "Are you the one?"
Jesus answers using Scripture and points to the evidence of it being fulfilled. Just as John fulfilled prophecy as the voice in the wilderness, Jesus was fulfilling all that spoke of the Lamb of God. The two disciples would see and hear for themselves this wonderful new thing being done by God.
Listening to the disciples report upon their return, I can see a smile growing on John's face and a burning in his heart. He knows. He can close his eyes and rest. The waiting is truly over.
Jesus is the One. He blesses each one who accepts Him.
21"Not everyone who keeps saying to me,'Lord, Lord,'will get into the kingdom of heaven, but only the person who keeps doing the will of my Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day,'Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name, drove out demons in your name, and performed many miracles in your name, didn't we?'23 Then I will tell them plainly,'I never knew you. Get away from me, you evildoers!'"
Sobering words for anyone who claims the name of Jesus but does not have a relationship with Him. There will be no faking it when our time comes to stand before the Lord. He Who searches the heart is not fooled or deceived. He tells us plainly now. He will judge plainly then.
20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth. ” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. ” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
This young man had wealth and did all the right things he thought, but his perspective and trust was in what he had done and what he would do. His treasure was in himself and his earthly possessions.
Jesus saw the lack in this man's life, his poverty of spirit. His good fortune here meant nothing in heaven. His own efforts and judgement would not deliver him into the kingdom of God.
Faith and trust in Jesus lead to eternal life. This is what the young man lacked. It is not what we have or done that means anything, but in whom we have believed.
In love Jesus says to all, "come". Don't stay where you are and don't turn back.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
We are told here that having the Spirit will cause us to groan inwardly. We groan because we eagerly await the completion of our salvation, because we know there is more. We are confident in the glory that will be revealed. We know this because of the Holy Spirit within, bearing witness to our spirit. That is how we know we know. We don’t understand this peace beyond understanding, yet we have it.
In our weakness, we are unable to translate our yearnings and desire into the language of the kingdom, for we are bound still by the flesh of creation and the finite. The Spirit speaks for us, even as we are without words, for He knows the language of the infinite. Just as the spoken words of the Father sound like thunder or the rushing of mighty waters, the words of the Spirit can be likened to groaning to our primitive ears.
The Spirit has been given by God and dwells in our hearts, and has become one with our’s. It is God Who searches the heart. It is with His Spirit we are able to answer. It is with His Spirit we have the answer. That is His plan. This is His will.
Mark 12:28-31 ESV 28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all? ” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. ’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ’ There is no other commandment greater than these. ” Jesus says in many places other than here that there is one God. Our undivided and total love is due Him. Verse 31 states the second commandment, which seems say that after giving everything to God, that more love is required for our neighbors and ourselves. If we are to give God our all, how can we be expected to have anything left over to give to someone else? When we love others, we show our love for God. They are one and the same thing, just as the Father and Son are one. We love God with our love for others.
38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me. ” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will. ” 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. ” 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.
I have always assumed the flesh Jesus speaks of is that of His disciples. They fall asleep as they wait for Him, but Jesus also has a body of flesh and He finds it to be weak. He faced the same temptations that are before all mankind. His spirit is willing, but He is also man, and that is why His soul is sorrowful, "even to death". The utter despair of those words comes from the lips of the One Who is the light and life of the world.
But He would overcome the flesh and thus overcome the world. He goes to the Father in prayer, as in all things. He brings this before the Father three times before rising in obedience. In contrast, Peter would soon deny Him three times after the Lord was taken. I don't see anything said about Peter praying before he boldly asserted what he would do. Maybe that is a type of sleep, a weakness of the flesh, even for a spirit that is willing.
34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Ephesians 1:3-4 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
Creation moves toward the kingdom which is yet to be revealed as the new heaven and earth. God is making a people that are holy, therefore able come into His presence. It is only then we are able to find our rest in Him. Choosing God, obeying Him, has always been the desire of the Father. He has given of Himself, lavishing us in a love that is both unmatched and without end.
We have been invited back into the Garden if we would but pick the fruit from the tree of life. He has chosen to make the choice ours. It has always been ours, from the beginning.
Exodus 3:3-4 Amp
3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burned. 4 And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the midst of the bush and said, Moses, Moses! And he said, Here am I. A mysterious thing caught the eye of Moses. Instead of passing it by, Moses went over to the bush to find out more. When God saw this, He spoke to Moses, calling his name. Moses answered, "Here am I". The bush could signify eternal life. It is not a flower that withers, or grass that fades, for it is lit with the fire of God and by His Hand. A sign in the desert. First Moses seeks what can be found. God reveals Himself. Moses answers. God calls to all of us. It remains with us whether we turn aside.
Luke 23:46 ESV
46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit! ” And having said this he breathed his last.
34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani? ” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? ” It is His human spirit He commits to God the Father on the cross, not the Holy Spirit. It was His human spirit which was sacrificed to death, His life given instead of our life taken. The Holy Spirit departed as the sinless one became our sin. It is because of that act of love that Jesus tells us He is with us always, that this is even possible.
12At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, 13and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
God told Moses that Aaron was to lay his hands on a live goat, confess the sins of the people and send it away into the wilderness by the hands a man who is able and ready. Jesus was ready. He entered the desert that proved too much for the people of Israel. It is too much for any and all of us. For this reason He came.
The wilderness of the heart is the journey we must all undertake. We would fall and fail without Him by our side. without Him in our hearts. His was the power of heaven, and angels attended Him. He makes this power available for us. As we face the wilderness within us and in the world, we can place our faith and trust in the One Who Overcame the world. The one who endures will be embraced by the One Who Endures Forever.
4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
We sometimes will point to the idea we are made in the image of God, and the Bible says that, but also says when Jesus took on our image He became nothing, in the likeness of man. We don't point to that verse quite as often. Some might read this as another example of why the Bible is unreliable, or take one verse and forget the other.
Another thought for consideration is that both statements are true if considered in context. Genesis tells us that man was created in God's image, but tells us that death entered creation through man's disobedience. Collectively, we fell and death became part of the human form.
God was not satisfied to leave us in that state. He came and took our fallen shape, a likeness of our own making. He became obedient to the point of death, for due to disobedience, that's where we are. He came to restore us to the glory we lost, for His glory.
Obedience is required, just as in the beginning. Jesus has shown the way, truth, and life.
John 3:1618 NIV 16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
Discounting the Bible, or being unfamiliar with it, one might say God loves everybody and that everyone will be saved. This is another way of saying there is no sin and if God sent His Son to die for us, then that was a mistake on His part, perhaps a careless error.
It is true that God so loved the world as it says in verse 16. However, if one continues reading there is more said. Ignoring this is of no benefit to anyone eternally, though it might make this "God" thing more palatable for some here and now.
Saying that God got it right in verse 16 but didn't in verse 18 would be laughable if it were not so sad. Both are true, or neither one.
The world is hostile to this truth. That is the bad news of the good news. But if you hold out the good news maybe another one will be saved or encouraged. This is the gospel of love and it is for the world.
Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt that day
But Pharaoh said it isn't going to end this way
Moses found himself at the edge of a sea
Pharaoh's army close at hand
And he knew it was here
He would have to make his stand
He cried out to the Lord
I need a little help oh Lord
I need a little help oh Lord
I stand in need
I need your strong arm to see me through
I need a little help oh Lord
I place my trust in you
Mark 1:9-11 ESV 9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased. ” Out of Nazareth, out of the Israelites, in the fullness of time, the heavens are opened as the Son begins the work He has come to do. He has opened the gates of heaven.
Later, when He is given over to death, the veil in the temple is torn providing access to God. His work is accomplished. No one is able to close what He has opened, or open what He has closed, for He is the gate and the way.
Jesus sees heaven opened, the Spirit descend, and hears the Father speak. No longer does the Spirit only hover over the water, but comes down and remains.
The Father gives witness. It doesn't say anyone else saw or heard. I think this speaks to the internal evidence of the eternal truth. This is the witness of the Father.
It is the same with us. The Holy Spirit testifies to our spirit and is revealed in our lives.
We have the power to open or close a door as well, the one to our heart. Jesus has opened the heavens and issued the invitation. He goes from door to door and knocks. We decide whether to open or not. No one else can do so.