Friday, December 5, 2014

Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit.  The miracles that he did, the words that he spoke, the kindness and compassion that he showed to people, his life and his death, all was the outflowing of a Spirit filled life.  It was from God that he received; and was enabled to freely give.  The Spirit gave him eyes to see all things.  And the Spirit gave him words to speak that would be a blessing to all mankind.  At the beginning of his public ministry Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit in a remarkable manner.  "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:" Mathew 3:16.  Afterwards, though not in so remarkable a manner, Christ continued to receive the Holy Spirit day by day.

A life led by the Spirit was not always easy for others to understand; but that was in itself enough to give meaning to all that He did.  Jesus did not come to do his own will, but the will of his Father in heaven.  He did not live to please men; but to honor God; and at the same time uplift humanity.  The record of his life being led by the Spirit is clear, and insightful.  "And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil."  "And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.  And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all."  Luke 4:1, 2, 14, 15.  When he announced his mission in his home town he read from the prophet Isaiah.  "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord."  Luke 4:18, 19.  And as he began to speak "they all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth."  Luke 4:23.  Jesus was "meek and lowly" and yet was always firm for principle, never turning from the path of duty.  He had compassion on the multitude, which were as sheep without a shepherd, but he was not afraid to rebuke the proud.  He was kind and gentle with every individual treating each as a child of God and at the same time taught the way of God in truth.  People were often amazed at the things He said and did; at other times many were offended.  Many were thankful for the wonderful blessings they received; others cast contempt on the work he was doing.  At one time a multitude tried to take Him and make Him king; but at last, He was crucified.  But in all that he was, and all that he did God's purpose was fulfilled.  The blind that could see, the lame that could walk, and the poor that could understand the gospel, all were a living testimony to the power of God in Jesus Christ.  The results of one Spirit filled life are remarkable. 

How was it that Jesus received the Holy Spirit?  Can we have the same power in our lives today?  Paul tells us "we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."  Romans 6:4.  "Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him."  Luke 3:21, 22.  Jesus received the Holy Spirit in answer to his prayer, and likewise, he teaches us to pray for the Spirit.  "And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.  For every one that asks receives, and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.  If a son ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone?   Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?  Or if he ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children:  how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"  Luke 11:9-13.  No greater gift is available to us today than the presence of the Holy Spirit; and God is waiting to answer our earnest prayers  for that which we most need.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

"Be like Jesus this my song, in the home and in the throng, be like Jesus all day long, I would be like Jesus."  These are the words to a song we enjoyed singing when I was in elementary school.  I look back with fond memories of being with other children that also wanted to be "good" and do what was right.  Of course we were much like other children in school and in play; but disagreements were usually laid aside quickly and easily.  When I was in high school a popular saying was "what would Jesus do?"  Or WWJD.  This also seemed to have a positive effect as we began making decisions for ourselves.  However, I began to notice there were many different ideas and opinions of what Jesus would do! 
How can we know for sure what Jesus would do?  Do we have something concrete that can show us what Jesus would do today, and how we can be like Him? The answer is yes!  The Bible properly understood gives us principles that we can safely follow.  Jesus said "Search the scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."  John 5:39.  The scriptures referred to are the Old Testament scriptures. 
In His famous sermon on the mount Jesus said "think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfil." Mathew 5:17.  The "law" was a reference to the books of Moses, the first five books of the Bible, the beginning of the written Word.  The "prophets" were the other writers of scripture whose work had been tested and found to be in harmony with what God had already said.  Again, to us this is the Old Testament.  Often, in the gospels we see the words "now this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet…"  Did you ever think of the Old Testament as prophecies about the life of Christ?  People like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Daniel, to mention just a few, all show us a little of what it means to be like Jesus.  Others, in many different stories, show us clearly what is not Christ-like.  When a prophet makes a prediction and it comes to pass we then believe that prophet and have confidence in what he says; this is how we should view the Old Testament.  They are prophecies that find fulfilment in Christ and their teachings stand forever sure.  Together with the life and death of Jesus revealed in the New Testament we have the clearest revelation of our Heavenly Father. 
Jesus knew the scriptures.  Even as a child his understanding amazed the teachers of his day.  Luke tells the story of His first visit to the temple at age twelve.  After his parents had started the journey home without him they returned and "found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.  And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers."  Luke 2:46, 47.  Later, as he was beginning his ministry, the devil brought on him the severest temptations; but to each one Jesus answered with "it is written."  It was by the scripture that Jesus was able to both recognize sin and find strength to resist it. 
The scriptures were also the basis for his teaching.  Mark tells us that when the people were gathered together that "he preached the word unto them."  Mark 2:2.  And when a lawyer asked him what he could do to inherit eternal life Jesus answered "What is written in the law?  How readest thou?"  Luke 10:26.  Jesus wants us to read and understand the scriptures today. 
After his resurrection, before revealing himself to two of his heart broken disciples, he first explained the scriptures that told about him.  "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself."  Luke 24:27.  It was more important that the faith of Christ's followers be based on the written word than their own personal experience.  Peter tells us "we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.  For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'  And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.  We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts."  2 Peter 1:16-19. 

Our first step to be like Jesus each day is to meditate on his word.  Then we can know "what would Jesus do."  And truly appreciate the words of that old song "Be like Jesus this my song, in the home and in the throng, be like Jesus all day long, I would be like Jesus."

Monday, December 1, 2014

                THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN


"The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field; which is the least of all seeds; but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof."  Matthew 13:31, 32  When Jesus spoke these words Rome ruled the world.   Their soldiers had traveled to every country; and with their iron armor, swords, and shields, they had conquered every nation.  Rome was hated by the Jewish nation and they longed for a deliverer, a king who would rule the nations with a "rod of iron".  They remembered king David, who God had used to deliver his people from all their enemies; and the wealth and honor they had received from the nations under the reign of king Solomon.  The ambition of Rome, and many of God's people was very much the same; they desired supremacy and worldly greatness. 

"For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out or a dry ground; he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him."  Isaiah 53:2 Christ set up his kingdom when he lived here on this earth; and it was established by his death.  A kingdom not now displayed in glory, but in humility. 

The parable of the mustard seed represents the work of grace that Christ longs to do in the hearts of his children today.  "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh." Ezekiel 36:26 "Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts." Hebrews 4:7 "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." John 3:3 This is the first work that Christ will accomplish for us. Like the mustard seed buried in the earth, we must become dead to the world and begin a new life in Christ.  "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God. Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." John 1:12, 13  

The man Jesus was truly the greatest teacher this world has ever known; and wherever sincere hearts receive his word in its simplicity there will be growing spiritual life.  "The path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day." Proverbs 4:18  "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass." Psalm 37:7

  Today the kingdom of God on this earth is in humility, just as it was in the days of the apostles; and our first work is to see that nothing hinders the growth of Christian principles in our own lives; and secondly to work for the heart conversion of our fellow man.  This it has been, and will continue to be till Christ comes and takes us to heaven. 

Speaking of his death on the cross Jesus said "if I be lifted up from the earth I will draw all to me" John 12:32 "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." Matthew 24:14  "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." Revelation 22:12

Saturday, November 29, 2014


The life of Christ was a life of prayer.  Though himself God, in his humanity he turned to his Heavenly Father each day for strength and direction.  He could have relied on Himself, but because we could not, he turned to his father.  The example he has left for us is both challenging and inspiring.  "And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed." Mark 1:35.  This is the record given early in his ministry.  After a "day's work" that had begun at sundown, I'm sure it would have felt good to sleep in just a little; but Jesus knew the source of his strength, and wanted to know his Father's plan for the new day.  This was the pattern of his life and ministry.

Jesus instructed us to pray in secret, away from the distractions of life around us.  This would be a safe guard against hypocrisy; and was a lesson that he himself practiced.  For Christ the "closet" was a secluded place in the wilderness, on a hillside, or in a mountain.  "And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray."  Mark 6:46.  "And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed."  Luke 5:16.  Like Christ, we can find purpose and meaning, peace and joy, strength and devotion in our private time with our Heavenly Father.  Prayer is more than just words.  It is our joys, our sorrows, our desires; it is what's on our heart that we take to God.  This kind of prayer can never be unmeaningful, it is deep, and it is powerful.  Jesus said "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."  Matthew 7:7.  God is waiting to answer the earnest, heart-felt prayers of his children.

Prayer covers all of life's experiences; and there is no time or place when we should not pray.  Our communion with God can be constant.  By silently lifting our hearts to Him throughout the day, we can remain in the atmosphere of heaven.  We are told to "Pray without ceasing."  1 Thessalonians 5:17.  And again; "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God."  Philippians 4:6.  Jesus himself presents our prayers to the Father, and he desires to come close to us throughout our day.  With Him we will be blessed with peace and joy.

A simple tradition that Christians have followed down through the centuries is giving thanks to God before a meal.  Did you ever wonder why or when that began?  The Jews had been instructed to thank God when they had eaten and were full.  Deuteronomy 8:10.  But Jesus gave thanks first.  When feeding the multitude we're told; "And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.  And they did all eat and were filled."  Mathew 15:36, 37.  It was just a little thing, the way he gave thanks for the food, but it made a big impression on those that saw it. After His resurrection, on the road to Emmaus, it was when they stopped to eat, and Jesus gave thanks for the food, that the eyes of the disciples were opened and they recognized Jesus.  Could such a little thing mean so much today?

We are in greater need of prayer now than we have ever been before.  When we look at the world around us we see perplexities and distress.  When we look to God, our Creator, we know there is hope; and a way through every difficulty.  It is time to look up; our Redeemer lives!  Jesus said "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."  Luke 21:36.  Prayer is a very great privilege; one that was honored by Christ, and is still available to us today.  "But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life."  Jude 20, 21.