12 June 2013

Fortress of Faith- Pillars of Faith: Study Five

Pillar Two- God the Savior
Thank you for coming back for this next study.  Previously, we have learned about the first Pillar: God our Creator, and God our Father.  A couple weeks ago, we learned about God the Son.  Today, we learn about God our Savior.
When you think of a savior, what attributes come to mind?   Many of us probably associate a savior with a hero.  Someone who acts to save a life- a policeman, a firefighter, a soldier, a doctor, even a regular guy who happens to act to help someone in distress.  In our fiction world, heroes and saviors are essentially one and the same.  A superhero that saves the world from some supernatural force.  A team of heroes that take on evil villains.  There are plenty of examples in day to day life, both real and imagined, that play on the inherent human need to be saved, even if we do not realize that is what we are looking for.
Throughout the Old Testament, God promised His people that He would send a Savior.  From a human perspective, the Jews envisioned a Savior who would free them from earthly persecution and tyranny, who would reward them with their uncontested promised land, and would sit on the throne as their King.  Never did they imagine that God would send His Son to be their Savior, to save them from eternal damnation, to sit on an eternal throne.  Yet, according to Matthew 1 verses 18 through 23, we learn that Mary and Joseph were both told of the coming of Jesus who would be the saver of sins, who would be God among men.
Then when Jesus was born the humble birth in a manger, an angelic host proclaimed to nearby shepherds: "Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord..."  Luke 2 v 10-11
That Jesus is not just the Son of God but also the Savior that our Lord spoke of is not something to take lightly.  First, we must understand that Jesus had the ability, given from God, to save us all.  Second, we must understand that Jesus was WILLING to take on our sins in order to save us.
According to Romans 5 v 6-11, Christ's ability and willingness to die for us saves us from God's wrath.  We all know, as it is repeated throughout both the Old and New Testaments, that our God abhors sin. Sin frustrates Him, angers Him, and disappoints Him.  He gave us life.  He gave us free will.  But like any parent, as He directs us one way and we struggle against Him to go our own way, especially to the point that we knowingly break away from morality, He experiences all the same pains a human parent does when they walk through those trials with their child (of any age.) With our human tendency to simply continue to sin, He certainly feels a large amount of wrath at our willfulness, our stubbornness, and our blatant disrespect.  Wrath that He has rained down from Heaven throughout history, though now many, I am sure, would reason away with modern technology and "understanding" of science.
Not only does Christ's sacrifice save us from God's wrath, but according to John 1 v 29, Jesus also saves us from our sins.  This is repeated throughout the New Testament.  The book of Romans especially covers the wages of sin, and the price Jesus paid to pay those wages.  However, this does not mean that we can continue on in the sins we commit.  Rather, as new creations in Christ, we are encouraged to try to leave those sins in the past, to move on to a more Holy life, to try to be more Christ-like.
In Romans, we learn that the wages of sin is Death.  This Death is not dying and being non-existent.  No. Eternal death- in this case, eternal damnation.  Eternal suffering.  The wages of sin is to be separated from God for all eternity.  In John 11, Jesus very clearly addresses this with Martha upon learning of Lazarus' death.  He said to her,"I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?" Jesus very clearly identifies Himself as not only the Son of God, but also as the Savior of us all.  "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." Luke 19 v 10
Throughout the rest of Jesus' life, he performed miracles, he spoke of love, peace, and humility.  He showed us that "righteousness" is not always "Godliness."  He lived a perfect example of living last, putting others first, striving to fulfill God's will no matter how hard.   Then, when the time came, He took up the Cross, not His Cross- OUR Cross, and He carried it upon His shoulders.  He took the lashings.  He suffered the humiliation.  He suffered the betrayal, the ridicule, and the torture.  He sacrificed His very life in order to fulfill God's promise of salvation to all mankind.   He paid those wages.  Then He rose victorious over death and damnation, and offers us each salvation, hope, love, and peace.

10 June 2013

Musical Monday

PCS season is upon us.   Like my family, if you are in the midst of a move, you will be leaving your assignment with mixed feelings.  On the sad side of those feelings are the friendships, the lasting relationships you have made with neighbors, with coworkers, with church members.  

The following song is a favorite despite it being a classic at this point.  However, it reminds us that those friendships that are based on His Truth- love, respect, truth, honesty, integrity, hope, and peace- will last throughout our lives no matter the time and distance that separate us.

God bless you, your families, and your friendships!

03 June 2013

Musical Monday

Two words- You are...   (He IS)

This song by Colton Dixon makes a great prayer.  Take a moment to use this song as a prayer today.  A prayer of recognition of His love and grace.  A prayer acknowledging His presence in our lives.

God bless you!

02 June 2013

Sacred Sunday

A reminder on the constancy of our Lord.   A reminder that His promises are not like our promises.   Humans are fickle.  We change our mind.  We fail to keep our promises.  We lie- big or small, white lies, justifiable lies- still lies.  We are never constant.   God- OUR GOD- is constant.  He does not lie.  He does not promise and then forget His promise or break His promise. 
God bless you this week as you remember His promises, and take comfort in knowing those promises will be kept.

19 God is not human, that he should lie,
not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
Does he promise and not fulfill?
20 I have received a command to bless;
he has blessed, and I cannot change it.
~Numbers 23 v 19-20

29 May 2013

Fortress of Faith- Pillars of Faith: Study Four

Pillar Two- God the Son
Four pillars hold up our Faith.  The first pillar, God the Creator who is God our Father, is not alone in upholding the Faith we hold dear.  The second pillar is God the Son who is also God our Savior.  This week, we will learn more about God the Son. 
For thousands of years after God created all that we know to exist, after He proved Himself to be actively interested in the lives of His people, God realized it was time to fulfill His promise of salvation. 

We all know the Christmas story.  A virgin girl found herself pregnant.  During a period and in a culture where being pregnant out of wedlock meant being cast out or worse, that young woman and her skeptical fiancee were visited by angels and directed on what was truly happening.  Into their humble lives, they were about to welcome the Son of God made into human flesh with the promise that He would be the Savior their people had been waiting for.

From the very beginning of His life on earth, Angels first declared Him to be the Son of God.  Throughout His life among us, people gathered around Him, at first skeptical, but later admitting they too knew Him to be the Son of God, for no other man could have done or said what He did.

In Luke 2 verses 41 to 50, Jesus was a young boy on the cusp of becoming a teenager.  He found Himself in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast along with Mary and Joseph.  When it was time to go home, His earthly family left him behind without realizing it.  When they did realize He was missing and turned back to search for Him, they found Him in the Temple where He was learning from and sharing His thoughts with the teachers there.  Of course, as a distraught mother, Mary rebuked Him for the worry she felt over His disappearance.  In reply, Jesus said to her,"...Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?"  This was Jesus' first recorded admission that He was the Son of God.

Later, as an adult, Jesus visited with John the Baptist.  John instead wanted to be baptized by Jesus, but finally relented and baptised Jesus.  As Jesus came out of the water, God Himself declared,"This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased."  Matthew 3 v 13-17

What is the significance of Jesus being the Son of God?   

Why does it matter that Jesus Himself, God the Father, Jesus' disciples, new believers, and even the unbelievers acknowledged Him to be the Son of God?

As Christians, we believe in right and wrong, heaven and hell, good and evil.   We believe that there is life after death.  What many of us struggle with is the reality of a place we have not seen, and the reality of salvation.  All doubts in our Faith stem from society's take on our God, our Savior, our Spirit, and our Word.  Because of these society induced doubts, the significance of Jesus as the Son of God is amplified.  If He is not the Son of God, then He truly is just a fantastic teacher, prophet, and one heck of a magician and illusionist. 

However, when you weigh all His words, all His actions, and all his teachings, we find that He never sought to uplift Himself.  He never asked for anything more from His followers except that they listen, believe, and follow.  He did not ask them for their earthly possessions.  On the contrary, He asked them to leave those things behind.  He did not ask anyone to fight for Him.  On the contrary, He healed the man Peter injured in the attempt to resist arrest.  He did not provoke His followers to riot as He hung on the cross.  On the contrary, He prayed to GOD, His Father, to forgive us.

If Jesus were simply human, the miracles He performed time and again throughout His short life among us are nothing more than coincidental chances of luck.   But because He is the Son of God, He has the power to not just heal, but to CURE.  He has the power to not just preserve life, but GIVE life.  He has the power to not just look over our sins, but to FORGIVE them.  Most importantly, He has the power to love us, like His Father, completely without condition and without expectations.

So if its so important to keep in mind that Jesus truly was the Son of God, why must we also acknowledge His humanity?

Many of us, as parents or child care workers, realize on a daily basis how hard it is to relate to children of any age.  From infant, to toddler, to child, to tween, to teen, we adults forget what it is like to walk through certain struggles.  Even as adults, as we move from one chapter of life to another, we forget the struggles we walked through and then have a hard time understanding what our neighbors are going through even as they walk through something similar.  In a perfect world, we would retain all that knowledge and experience and treat our fellow man better and raise our children with more patience and unconditional love.

In that way, Jesus, as the Son of God, was a perfect being.  However, how does God save His children if He has a hard time understanding the struggles they face?  When Jesus became human, even in His perfection, He felt the emotions we feel.   He was tempted by wealth, by power, by earthly things.  He struggled to do what He knew was expected of Him by His Father.  He even felt anger when He saw His faith being watered down and marketed.   His time among us drew Him closer to us, drew His empathy, drew His compassion, and committed Him to His role as Savior.

His humanity and His deity in combination are what make all  He accomplished so completely perfect.  His actions, His character, His words, and His faithfulness were so incredible that even the soldiers who crucified Him admitted."Surely he was the Son of God!" Matthew 27 v 50-54

Do you have a hard time imagining a perfect human being?   Take a few minutes to imagine what the perfect person would be like.  What attributes would they have?  Would they be someone well liked?  Or would they be someone met with criticism?

Do you find it hard to imagine how Jesus could balance His divinity and His humanity?  Take a moment to compare the struggles we face as humans to live a life free from sin.   Do you think Jesus had it easier or harder than we do?

Read the following passages to learn more about Jesus as the Son of God:
Matthew 14 v 29-37
Matthew 16 v 13-17
Matthew 17 v 1-7
John 3 v 16
Hebrews 1 v 1-3
Phil 2 v 6-11

27 May 2013

Musical Monday- Memorial Day Tribute

In honor of those who sacrificed so much for our Country, I created this video.

God bless America!  God bless the men and women who gave their all.

26 May 2013

Sacred Sunday

In honor of Memorial Day- in honor of the men and women who have ever fought for their Faith, fought for their Freedom, fought for their ideals, fought for their Country, and fought for their Family.   God bless those left behind.  God let us remember the sacrifices made.  God bless America.

For those who now stand in the shadows of those who have come before, who voluntarily take up arms to follow in the footsteps of those we honor this weekend, I salute you.   Memorial Day is for those who have come and gone, but its also a reminder to you to encourage you and challenge you.
God bless you as well!

"10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,
20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."  ~Ephesians 6 v 10-20