- We have life in His name (John 20:31)
- Forgiveness of sins comes through His name (Acts 2:38)
- Miraculous healing power comes through His name (Acts 3:6)
- Demons flee because of His name (Acts 16:18)
- Justification comes through His name (I Cor. 6:11)
- Every knee will bow to His name (Phil. 2:20)
Monday, March 3, 2014
And there is salvation in no one else;
for there is no other name under heaven
that has been given among men
by which we must be saved.
What's in a name? Apparently a lot.
The name of Jesus has a lot of power behind it:
So what is it about a name? Well, names bring to mind faces, people. Think of your mother's name or your father's name and what comes to mind? But it's more than a face - it's character, actions, expressions, words. Try this - what comes to mind when you hear the name of our president? Different people will respond differently to his name - why do you have that specific response? Some names bring warm responses and others incite anger - because a name carries with it the character of the one it represents.
In Acts 4 Peter is basically on trial because he healed a lame man. The rulers, elders and scribes demanded to know by what power or what name was he operating. Peter turns the tables on his accusers, pointing out that what he had done was a good deed, not a crime and that his power came through the name of Jesus, whom they had crucified. He went on to use Old Testament prophecies to point out Jesus' messiahship and ended by saying there is no other name but Jesus by which we must be saved. The leaders dismissed the room to discuss what to do and because of the nature of the miracle (which they couldn't deny) and the following it was causing (over 5,000 men had been saved as a result), they had to put a stop to it. So they demanded that Peter stop using the name of Jesus. Period.
Yeah. That didn't go over very well. Peter responded that it was impossible for him to keep quiet.
You see, the name of Jesus contained the character of God. How could he keep quiet? His life had been transformed by Jesus and Jesus had left him with a job to do - spread the gospel to the world. So Peter's message was pretty simple - there is only one way to salvation and that is through Jesus.
How is the name of Jesus treated today? Is it held in high esteem? Is it treated with great care? Does it carry the weight of the character of God? Does your heart break when you hear it tossed around and carelessly mocked?
I was watching a late night host last week who talked about the new Jesus movie coming out and with sarcasm in his voice he said that the ending was pretty predictable. It got a raucous laugh. A laugh from the very ones who can only be saved through His name.
The enemy has worked overtime to make a mockery of the name of Jesus and he's been highly successful. May we as children of God work diligently to steward the great responsibility that has been placed in our care - the gospel is no laughing matter, but it is the greatest treasure that the world desperately needs, for it is only through the name of Jesus that we must be saved!
As Peter refused to keep silent, may we follow his example and lift high the name of Jesus!
Monday, February 24, 2014
Monday, February 17, 2014
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world,
and death through sin, and so death spread to all men,
because all have sinned.
We have had the Michigan Crud in the house for over a month now. It started with one of my twins, spread to me and then to David. I am waiting for the other twin to fall, but she has successfully avoided it somehow. In the meantime it has shown up in my other children's households, knocking parents and children alike out of commission from anywhere from one to five weeks, depending on whether the Crud desires to show mercy or not.
But it's kind of been a given that if you're in the family, you're going to get it. Watch out, Nicole...there's still time!
But the Michigan Crud is nothing like sin. You don't need to be exposed to it to get it. You come with it - you're born with it. Romans 5:12 tells us that through Adam's choice to sin, sin and death has spread to all men. Psalm 58:3 tells us that the wicked are estranged from God from the womb (upon conception) and go astray as soon as they are born. Job 15:14 implies that if you are born of a woman you cannot be born righteous. I John 1:8 says that if any man claims that there is no sin in him, he is a liar and John 3:6 tells us that whatever is born of flesh is flesh - in other words, if you are born sinful, you are sinful.
Sin is not something to embrace but to address. I think we minimize sin by labeling and blaming others. Are we truly responsible for sin if someone else made us do it? In the garden, sin produced the gift of blaming seen by Adam's first words, "The woman, whom you gave to me, made me do it!" Blaming God and Eve in the same breath - masterful, but wrong. Just watch FOXNEWS for a few minutes and you'll see that most people have reasons for why they did what they did - they justify their sin by throwing others under the bus. Or maybe it's not a person we blame - maybe it's a disorder. We can't help it if we're made poorly, right? Oh, wait - perhaps we are blaming God again for our disorders. That's a problem.
God wants more for you. He knows that sin brings suffering - it's never the way out of any situation (notice the 100% words). He wants you to trust Him and walk by faith - to choose to be honorable even in the hard things and see what faithfulness produces. He knows that when we call sin what it is, that He will give us victory over sin - if we confess it, if we will repent of it, He will cleanse us of it. Jesus was victorious over death - do you not believe He can give you victory over bitterness or anxiety?
If you are struggling today with sin - if you're willing to stop the blame game, admit that you are a sinner and are ready to do something about it - then turn to the only option you have for victory - Jesus. He died to transform you from a diseased, dead corpse into a new creation where the old things are no longer ruling us, but Jesus Himself sits on the throne of your heart. Today - read Ephesians 1:17-32 and begin your journey of renewing your mind in scripture and tapping into the transforming power of the gospel!
Monday, February 10, 2014
No temptation has overtaken you but such as it common to man;
and GOD IS FAITHFUL,
Who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able,
but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also,
so that you will be able to endure it.
I Corinthians 10:13
God is faithful, amen?
This is a great verse to put to memory - very useful in times of struggle, wouldn't you say? Work through it phrase by phrase to marinate in its truths:
- Temptations you face are not unique - Satan doesn't have some new tactic he's using on you and your sin nature isn't so special that no one has ever faced what you are facing - so quit feeling sorry for yourself and realize that others deal with the same issues
- God is faithful - He doesn't change - He's exactly what He has always been and always will be - this is a remarkable truth in light of how much we humans change on a regular basis
- God is allowing the temptation - yep, that's right! He's involved, He's overseeing it and He knows your capabilities - trust that He's in this with you, has a purpose for it and knows you will not be overtaken by it
- With the temptation is the way of escape - don't stop there...the Y in the road is not a choice of staying in the temptation or getting out - it is falling to the temptation or enduring it! This is a huge difference - the road is still within the temptation but God provides the way to endure it
So what exactly is the way of endurance? Obedience and faithfulness. Know what God wants you to do - imitate Jesus - and be faithful, even when you don't feel like it. When faced with the choice of doing what your flesh wants and what Jesus wants, which will you do? Many, many times we have to put aside our feelings and walk by faith - this is sanctification at its most crucial point. The way of escape is always obedience to the Lord but there is an underlying assumption here - that you know what God wants you to do and the only way to know is to be in His Word. And if you truly don't know what He wants or where to find it, then phone a friend who knows and go from there. The fact that God ALWAYS provides the way of escape means that His Word is sufficient for all needs, but it takes elbow grease to find that escape.
One of my favorite truths taught from the story of Daniel, who continued to pray three times a day even after the king made the edict that no petitions could be made to anyone but himself and found himself in a den filled with lions because of it, is: you cannot have success in the crisis until you have success in the process. Now you might be thinking, success does not equal lion's den for me. But the truth still stands. Daniel continued doing something that he had already made a habit. Spiritual disciplines that are habitual in our lives will be what carries us through the hard times. I am sure his discipline of prayer continued even in the lion's den and what was the conclusion of that story? Miraculous salvation, right?
So determine now, before the crisis or before the temptation hits, to know God through His Word and see how the Lord reveals that way of escape that leads to successful endurance in the midst of the hard times. Phoning a friend is an option, but rather than trying to develop a spiritual discipline in the midst of the crisis, today when the sea is calm and all is right, choose to seek after and follow the Lord so that in the midst of the storm, His figure is recognizable!