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Glad Tidings

You May Think Easter Is Over

30 Apr , 2017  

GT—Volume 14 Issue 5
Glad Tidings 2017

Jesus Alive in Our Lives

Ruth and I, early in our life in Christ, were advisors to a church youth group. One Easter morning we went to a sunrise service, then had an early pancake breakfast at our church and afterward went to an Easter Egg hunt at my sister’s home. That night, after a very busy day, Ruth went into labor and our first daughter, Laura, was born the next day.

Aside from all that excitement, I remember something that struck me. As part of the sunrise service, they had an abbreviated Passion Play. The scene in the Garden of Gethsemane ended with the arrest of Jesus by soldiers. They dragged Him off resisting and fighting them.

I have reflected many times on that erroneous depiction. While it was dramatic, it was clear that the script writer or director and likely the actors had not read the Scripture. Jesus made it abundantly clear that He was willingly going to the cross. He stated He could call 10,000 angels to deliver him. He told Peter not to resist. He was and is God. No one could have forced Jesus against his will. The sight of Jesus fighting his captors was actually blasphemous. It made the Son of God out to be a weak and powerless man.

The dignity of Jesus was on display throughout that night. He wrestled alone in the Garden, but embraced His Father’s purpose, and so nothing could demean Him. The High Priest railed at Jesus,

“And the high priest stood up, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou art the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Henceforth ye shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:62-64).

Jesus-Good-Shepherd-guides-me

Jesus appeared to His disciples a number of times after his Resurrection and before His ascension. He appeared to others of the faithful as well.

In the same manner, he did or did not respond to Pilate and Herod.In the same manner, he did or did not respond to Pilate and Herod.

With the same dignity, after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples and those he loved (Mary Magdalene and Cleopas and his companion on the road to Emmaus, plus others). Jesus was completely in charge, unhurried in His comings and goings.

With the same authority, Jesus confronted Saul on the road to Damascus and He confronted me in my living room. Because Jesus is God He is the same Risen Savior that He was on that first day He arose from the tomb.  dove-vector-clipart

Resurrection Life

I am confident that most of you have experienced a meeting with Jesus that transformed your life from that of self- and world-centered to being Christ-centered. The Holy Spirit drew you to Jesus and your life became transformed as your spirit came alive in Christ. That day you died and were resurrected. You died to sin and became alive to Christ.

It was a day that was like any other day, except spiritually you breached history. You were back at Golgotha where the nails that pierced Jesus’ hands and feet also nailed your sins to the cross with Him. When He died, Jesus carried your sins with him into death. 2,000 years ago, they became no longer yours.

You were born again to life incorruptible. You became washed in the blood of Christ so that God no longer sees your sin, but He sees your alive spirit and your soul cleansed and pure. God no longer sees the filthy garments of worldliness, self-centeredness, but he sees you clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

Paul teaches that we are no longer chained to sin. Unhappily, all who are born come forth with that burden of sin chained to them. They are servants of sin and cannot escape. Mostly people do not want to escape. It is not until Jesus the Resurrected Son of God breaks that chain and liberates believers from sin, death, and Satan, that we become truly who God intended us to be.

Liberated from the weight of sin we are free to grow in the resurrection life Jesus has given us. We are free to learn about the deep, deep love of Jesus for us. We are free to develop the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives – Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Meekness, Self-Control.

God intends believers to be magnets by living in the spirit. His resurrection life manifested in them will draw two responses from the unbelievers. It will draw them to covet (positively) what is reflected in the life of the believer. It will draw out of unbelievers’ distaste, rejection, and even persecution. The believer’s life will, by its contrast, uncover sin and guilt. Most rationalize their sin through the sophistries: there is a “new morality”, there is no truth, everything is relative, there are no standards, or there is no life beyond this one, so it doesn’t matter what one does; because death is the eraser.   dove-vector-clipart

True Life In The Face Of Negativity

The Good Friday attacks on Christians in Egypt show how desperate the unbelievers are. The Christians there are no threat to Egypt or to Islam. But the violence of unbelievers against the very existence of Christians shows how fearful they are of truth. Their souls are so corrupt they see non-combatants, believers going about their lives in peace as a threat to the evil life they have chosen to follow.

In America, we have the same mindset, but currently without the physical violence. There are those so afraid of the influence of the truth of Christianity that they are seeking to erase all vestiges from view.

White CrossOver the centuries in America, crosses have been erected to give honor to God and to Christ. Most of them have been empty crosses, symbolizing the Resurrected Christ, Christ triumphant over sin and death. Because the silent message of crosses frightens unbelievers, crosses have come under attack. Suits forced their removal. The 10 Commandments are so threatening to people in courtrooms that they have demanded their removal.

Nevertheless, Believing Christians continue to witness individually. Nevertheless, individuals communicate the Gospel of the Resurrected Christ to other individuals and there is a spiritual transaction that occurs. One more believer’s name is inscribed, indelibly in the Book of Life.

“Behold, Jehovah’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:” (Isaiah 59:1)

We are coming to the place where on college campuses, that have been traditionally sites for free and open discussion, Christians’ Constitutional right of free speech has been stifled. College instructors who dare to present their faith publicly are persecuted, censored, refused promotion or dismissed.

We are coming to the place where on college campuses, that have been traditionally sites for free and open discussion, Christians’ Constitutional right of free speech has been stifled. College instructors who dare to present their faith publicly are persecuted, censored, refused promotion or dismissed.    dove-vector-clipart

Persistence of Christianity

Christianity has weathered 2,000 years of persecution. The unbelieving Jews first crucified their Messiah and then persecuted His followers. The Romans tried for 300 years to stamp out Christianity. Islam, since the 8th Century, has sought out and slain massive numbers of Christians in the Near East, Africa, Eastern Europe, India and Southeast Asia. Islam has attempted to wipe out its most formidable competitor for men’s’ souls.

Christianity is like a half-filled balloon. One stamps on it seeking to burst and destroy it, but it expands right next door. The early Church Father, Tertullian stated, “The blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the Church.”

The world seeks to wipe out the Church, But Christians must not forget that the One, true God is the Author and Finisher of our faith individually and of the Church corporately. God delivered His message to one man, Abram, who delivered it to his son and he to his son and he to his 12 sons. The Children of Israel came out of Egypt ca. 2,000,000 strong. During over 40 years wandering around the Sinai wilderness, God shaped them into People of God. They entered the land God had promised and changed the name from Canaan to Israel. For nearly 1,000 years the Children of Israel inhabited more or less of the Land of Promise. They were more or less faithful to the One, true God. In punishment, the Jews were exiled from the Land for 70 years. As strangers in a strange land, they kept the faith. Upon return to the Land, they were more or less faithful.

Then, in the process of God’s time, Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God proclaimed the Good News. There was forgiveness of sins and the Kingdom of Heaven was at the door. His death brought a new paradigm. The risen Christ became the touchstone of faith. The Holy Spirit founded the Church of Christ with 120 faithful. Immediately 3,000 more were added. They scattered throughout the Roman world to become seeds of the Gospel of the Resurrected Christ. As I mentioned for 300 years Rome sought to eradicate Christianity; only to have Christianity take over the Empire.

God has kept faithful remnants to produce a massive movement that has touched the lives of 100s of millions of people. From time to time there have been persecutions that have wiped out small to large groups of believers. Still, the Resurrected Christ has continued to bestow upon believers resurrection life that secures them from death. Bodies die, but Christians do not.   dove-vector-clipart

With All The Options?

Why is faith in the Resurrected Jesus so persistent? What is it about Christianity that defies the attempts to crush it out of existence?

The simple answer is faith in the One true God. He protects His own. The supporting reality is that Christianity is based on truth. Truth is persistent because it is reality. Reality isn’t just believed, it IS. The resurrected Christ isn’t just believed, He lives. He lives in the lives of believers. He lives in the believing Christian Church. He lives in the world, independent of the Church and believers. He is God.

Modern MartyrsBelievers withstand torture and death. This is reality. They stand firm in faith because they know that even in horrific circumstances and even when they face death, they also know that God loves them. And in return they love God. They persist because they have hope anchored on the truth that their lives are not material, but spiritual and eternal. They know that their loving Lord has a place for them in His Kingdom, where they will live eternally. They know that this life will soon be over whether by a persecutor’s sword or by old age. Upon death, believers will be rewarded with celestial bodies that are incorruptible. Sickness, aging, grief will no longer exist for them. They are endowed with eternal joy in the love of God.

Yes, there are many religions to choose from and there are vast numbers that are adherents of other religions. By far it is a one-way street. Adherents of other religions convert to Christianity by thousands every year. The number of true Christians that convert willingly to other religions is a minuscule fraction.   dove-vector-clipart

The Power of Faith

I do not have the strength of faith to stand up to torture. However, I am not under such severe persecution. I know that My Lord will give me the strength to stand firm when I need it.

“For which cause I suffer also these things: yet I am not ashamed; for I know him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed unto him against that day. (2Tim. 1:12)

The Holy Spirit is the power of God. He is in the believer and with the believer. When we are born anew in Christ we receive the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity comes as One. We are adopted into the family of God to be his sons and daughters of God. We surrender to Christ and receive from Him forgiveness of sin and His righteousness, which entitles us to eternal life. We receive the presence of the Holy Spirit who is the guarantee that we are in Christ and have eternal life in the Presence of the Father.   dove-vector-clipart

Power to Live in a Hostile World

However, the believer must have power to live the life of a Christian a hostile world. Jesus came to the Disciples in the Upper Room, where they locked themselves in for fear of the Jews. The Lord God, Jesus the Christ breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit. That was the moment they were born-again. They became believers, Christians.

Disciples receiving the Holy SpiritBut they still didn’t know what they were about, Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” He went back to his former trade, “Well, it was fun while it lasted, but back to reality.” Jesus met them on the seashore to give Peter his mission, “Feed My sheep.” On Ascension Day, Jesus indicated that the Disciples were thoroughly His men. They had been born again. They had received the Holy Spirit to be in them, but they had not received the power of the Spirit to be with them. Jesus said that they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit “not many days hence.” That was to be their empowering for ministry.

It is Jesus plan that all believers be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Most have not opened themselves to His power. They operate effectively on their own strength of faith and their witness is effective. However, God wants us to rely upon Him totally, not on our own strength. He has provided the Baptism in the Holy Spirit to be that empowerment. The release of the Holy Spirit allows Him to work in a believer’s life and He cannot until he or she lets go of the steering wheel and allows the Holy Spirit to drive the believer’s life.

The concept is scary. “Will He send me to Outer Mongolia to live in a yurt, drinking Yak milk and trying to learn the language? Will he send me to Arabia to preach on the street corners to be martyred?

I refrain from guaranteeing that God will not do that with a believer. But I will affirm that the ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit is a glory whose price it far above diamonds.

The Holy Spirit manifests his power in individuals through “Gifts”

  • Wisdom – supernatural understanding and counsel
  • Knowledge – revelation of something not learned
  • Faith – supernatural belief God will do the impossible
  • Prophesy – speaking words of God, often encouragement
  • Healing – restoration from physical maladies.
  • Miracles – changes in natural order by God’s power
  • Speaking in Tongues – a language that is not learned can be either private prayer or public declaration
  • Interpretation of Tongues – gives the sense of the Tongue offered as a public declaration.
  • Discernment of Spirits – supernatural recognition of good or evil spirits in a person or region

Each Gift is not the possession of the believer. “The Spirit gives severally as He will.” However, when the believer is open to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, as needed and at God’s discretion, she or he will “manifest the Gift or gifts appropriate. The Holy Spirit is in charge.  dove-vector-clipart

God’s Power is for All

The Holy Spirit’s power is for all believers, as are all the Gifts. There are times in a believer’s life when a situation is beyond him or her. That is where the power of the Holy Spirit and the manifestations of the Spirit are available and essential to meet the believers’ needs.

Kid with Glasses

Shout for Joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright. (Psalm 33:1)

One of the attendant blessings that accompanies the Holy Spirit is a release of Joy. We see in the Psalms and in the Prophets interspersed with the cries of deliverance and warnings of condemnation, there are peons of joy where the writer is caught up in the glory of God. He cries out in Loud Praise, joyfully proclaiming the Glory of God. To be sure there are quiet, meditative prayers. However, the boisterous joy in the Presence of God and the outpourings of holy love for God can be like the crowd at ball games when their team wins a tight game. In truth, these joyous celebrations outnumber the contemplative.

When you consider it objectively, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is far greater than winning the World Series or the Super Bowl. It truly calls for praise and great joyfulness, empowered by the Holy Spirit. God said that Adam and Eve in their perfection were naked and unashamed. It is good to allow your love for the Lord to be shouted out and not be ashamed. It is good for one to release one’s control to the Holy Spirit and while moving emotionally out of one’s comfort zone, trust that the Holy Spirit will do all things decently in order.

The Lord is worthy of our most energetic praise and worship. Hallelujah! Christ is Risen! Christ is risen indeed, Hallelujah!   dove-vector-clipart

Questions Demanding Answers

This will be a recurring feature. I will pose a question in one issue. You will have the opportunity to send me answers. I will publish the best ones in the next issue. Please cite Biblical authority, and keep you answer within 250 words.

QUESTION: What does it mean to be among the elect of God?

ANSWER: God is the creator of all that exists. He is the Potter and all that is material is in His hands. God can shape and reshape anything.

He has perfect knowledge of everything, even our thoughts

“O Jehovah, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising; Thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou searchest out my path and my lying down, And art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, But, lo, O Jehovah, thou knowest it altogether.” (Psalms 139:1-4)

Since this is true, God has already decided who will be a part of His Kingdom and who will not.

Those to whom he gives the faith to believe are the elect.

God’s offer of salvation is free to all, but there are many who choose not to heed His voice. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice.” One looks at one’s family and friends. Because we love them we want them to be part of God’s eternal joy. But some refuse.

It breaks my heart that a sister and a brother refused my sharing of the Good News that Jesus was offering them a free ride into blessedness in eternal life.

They are in God’s hands now, but I fear I will not see them in God’s Kingdom.

God’s elect have embraced Jesus as their only Lord and Savior. They can live in His love, knowing they are secure for eternity. Therefore, whatever befalls this body, we know that we will have an imperishable, celestial body that will be free of pain and suffering for eternity. We will be able to bask in the love of God and enjoy the Marriage Supper of the Lamb as not only invited guests, but also as honored guests.

Yes, in a sense, the elect is an exclusive club. But it is open to all comers regardless of anything in their former lives. Even the most hardened criminal, who truly repents and believes in Jesus is welcomed. The poorest beggar, the most ignorant, the offscouring of the world who embrace Christ are welcomed with open arms. The richest men and women of the world, who love Jesus are the elect. It is neither lack of money nor bags of cash that matter. It is the heart. If the Holy Spirit has given one a love for Jesus and led her or him to surrender to Jesus as Lord and Savior, that is the admission to the exclusive club of the elect.

QUESTION: Are there really demons in the world?

The Holy of Holies

Join me in bowing before our God in gratitude that we can speak directly and personally to Him. He is our loving Father, so we can embrace Him boldly, but respectfully.

Holy Spirit, Spirit divine, open my eyes to see You as the true power of the Resurrection. Deliver me from the veil over my mind that prevents me from understanding spiritual things.

Lord Jesus, Risen Savior, I am humbled that You went willingly to the cross to die in my place. I need Your Spirit’s touch to release me from the bondage to habits of mind that do not expect You to act in my life.

Holy Spirit give me a lively faith to go boldly through my life, discarding all inhibitions that prevent me from loving my Father with abandon, prevent me from proclaiming the truth of the Gospel with clarity in all places, prevent me from worshipping exuberantly, and prevent me from bubbling so with joy that I become infectious to those I am with.

I love You Father, I love You, Jesus, I love You, Holy Spirit. I honestly desire to be conformed to the image of Christ. I want to be in Christ.

Give me the heart to discard all that prevents me from loving You with an unguarded heart. Give me the eagerness to serve you regardless of the cost. Give me the openness to embrace all you send to me, despite my sensibilities and my prejudices.

I give You glory. You are my majestic Lord God. You are the magnificent and glorious King of kings. Let all the earth praise You. Let the stars sing to Your glory. Let the planets leap for joy at Your creation. The brooks dance with joy as they obey Your laws to run down to the sea. The trees applaud Your wisdom and they grow according to Your placing of them in their position. The mountains grow up at Your command and submit to wearing down according to Your law.

Now Lord Jesus come quickly to earth and restore Your perfect peace. Bring about the promise that all nations will come to You in humble submission. We long for Your gracious reign from one end of the world to the other. We long for that unanimity of worship with every other person on the face of the earth. Your Righteous Reign will instill in us a worship of enormous joy encompassing the whole world as all peoples and languages and races join in choruses of song, rejoicing in Your love and relishing Your universal peace.

Hallelujah, my God and King.

Hallelujah, my Savior and Lord.

Hallelujah, my Spirit of power.

It is marvelous that I can own You, God. It is my privilege because You own me. My heart is Yours, as is my mind, hands, and feet. My future is Yours as was my past.

I surrender all to You my God! Amen


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