Two or Three Gathered…

Daily Reading: (Matthew 18:20):

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

You must have heard this before, but where? Not in a sermon typically. Perhaps when you were praying with other believers. What many have done is to take this verse to mean is that prayer with more people means an increase in the likely to gain God’s attention. This is not what Jesus is talking about here.

The truth of this passage is really good news because while it is powerful and important to pray together, in my greatest times of need, when an emergency situation arises, I don’t necessarily have the luxury of calling everyone over for a middle of the night prayer. Does that mean that when I pray by myself, God is not with me or will hear me? Does it mean that my prayer will be less powerful when I cry out to God alone and in distress? Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount the following:

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6).

Do I need at least two or three people, should I just always pray in secret, by myself? Obviously, context is important but the simple answer is. Pray all the time (1 Thessalonians 5:17) with others and by yourself.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 is the greatest and most simple instruction for prayer. When should I pray…always! How should I pray? Rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances. Pastor Matt I am supposed to give thanks in a bad diagnosis at the doctors office. How does that work? You aren’t giving thanks for the cancer because that is not from God. Thank Him that He is your Prince of Peace, and that His peace will arise in you and still the storms in your life. Thank God for being in the situation with you. Thank you for His divine healing made available to you in Jesus’ name.

Pray always with other believers whose prayers can bring encouragement and comfort and also pray by yourself. God hears you and is with you and your prayers are powerful with or without others. “The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect” (James 5:16).

So, going back to our original text- what is up with that statement that when there are two or three gathered that Jesus says He is with them? Jesus is not saying we need to have three people to be with us in prayer in order for it to be worth Jesus time to show up. Did you know that in Matthew 18:20 Jesus wasn’t talking about prayer?It wouldn’t make sense if He was.

So, what was Jesus talking about if it wasn’t about prayer? In Matthew 18, He’s referring to an important part of Old Testament Law, the part about church discipline.

Jesus is explaining that if you have an issue with someone in the church…

  1. Talk to him or her privately about it.
  2. If they don’t want to hear it…Take two or three believers with you

*The heart of this approach is restoration. 

You know there is a chance he/she might not even be aware of the wrong they did. The word fault here is the Greek word (elegchō) meaning bring to light, expose it (privately). Bring the Word of God, who is the Light of the World into their situation to bring them to repentance, a change a mind about what they’ve done and are doing. If they listen to you, you have won them over. This is a Greek metaphor which means you have helped them escape from evil. You helped them from continuing to sin in that area and sin is destructive and it not only hurts them it hurts others as well.

“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:18-20).

Jesus is giving His disciples instruction (Matthew 18:1) about restoring someone who has gone astray (verses 12-14), and offering forgiveness (verses 23-35), and in between these parables of the wandering sheep and unmerciful servant, how the process of reconciliation works (verses 15-20). God assures us that as we go through the process of bringing our brother or sister in Christ back into the fold of the church, God will be a part of it and bless us for it.

I know that ultimately we want to put a number on how many times we should be willing to go through this process with someone. How many times if someone has wronged us should we extend forgiveness? That is what Peter is thinking and asks and that might be your next question too.

“Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

70×7= 490. 490 is the numerical value of the biblical Hebrew word “tamim” which means to “complete,” “perfect,” or “finished.” A person who chose not to forgive will live a less than abundant life or incomplete life that lacks a true understanding of the “finished” gracious work of the cross.

When it comes to forgiveness toward an offender remember how greatly and how much you have been forgiven.

Be Still… In Stillness is Strength

“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

The most common travesty committed toward Psalm 46:10 is that only a portion of it is quoted.  A portion of this verse is seen on coffee mugs, in artwork paintings, on fridge magnets, and other trinkets. Because only a part of the verse is what is often seen most don’t know how to “Be still, and know that I am God.”

The greatest justice we can provide for this verse is to actually quote it in its entirety. What an incredible comfort and reminder to know that we can be still and know that God is in control. Stillness indicates lack of movement but it does not indicate inactivity. We are able to be still as we wait on God’s plan to unfold. We do not have to try and manufacture the work that God is trying to bring forth. Christians who receive God’s rest are the most active people I know which is best illustrated in a story of a lumberjack competition.

There was a story of one man who challenged another to an all-day wood chopping contest. The challenger worked very hard, stopping only for a brief lunch break. The other man had a leisurely lunch and took several breaks during the day. At the end of the day, the challenger was surprised and annoyed to find that the other fellow who took breaks constantly had chopped substantially more wood than he had. “I don’t get it,” he said. “Every time I checked, you were taking a rest, yet you chopped more wood than I did.”

“But you didn’t notice,” said the winning woodsman, “that I was sharpening my ax when I sat down to rest.”[1]  The sword of the Spirit, your spiritual ax is sharpened as you rest and receive from the Word of God, Jesus Christ.

When we are still and surrendered to God, we find peace even when the earth gives way and the mountains fall (Psalm 46:2), or the nations go into an uproar and kingdoms fall (verse 6). Be still and know that He is God and your axe or your Sword of The Spirit will be sharp to take down those troubling things that come against you as you speak out verses like our verse today in Psalm 46.

The words “Be still” is raphah which means relax.Relax and know that your God is with you. He is our refuge, our strength, and our ever-present help in time of need. Crazy stuff happens in the world and in our lives, but through it all, watch God work. When trouble comes you have an ever-present help in your time of need. Find shelter, take refuge in the shadow of His wings.

How does acknowledging God impact our stillness?

Acknowledging God implies that we can trust Him and surrender to His plan because we understand who He is. His plan for you and me is so much better than anything we could devise on our own. Stillness significance trust. We can look to other things to help us and God can use people to help us in our time of need, but ultimately, I have been at peace and find rest and can relax even in intense moments is when I remember that God is my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in my trouble.

It isn’t into we relax in His presence and we receive His peace that we become at peace. Allow God’s universal triumph to take hold of you and change the outlook of your very life. God’s desire is for rest and refreshment of our soul. What we need is spiritual rest from God’s Word which will lead us to physical rest. How well are you going to sleep at night if you are not relaxed and your spirit is troubled?

Many people in our world today are exhausted, fatigued, and frustrated. Those emotions would describe Peter who had labored all night and caught nothing in his fishing net. What turned it around was the words of Jesus. Because Peter followed Jesus’ guidance, he caught so much his boat began to take on water. Whatever your struggle is today, you can know that God is with you (ever present) and knows exactly how to help (He is your help in time of need).

[1] Source Unknown.

All the Promises of God are Yes in Jesus

Daily Reading: (2 Corinthians 1:20):

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”

In this verse we discover that we can’t receive any spiritual promise apart from or outside of Jesus. If we aren’t receiving a promise God made it isn’t that God isn’t sending it, our faithfulness to God is an Old Covenant problem that is solved by the New Covenant. So, if we aren’t receiving from God what God wants to give us, it doesn’t mean we are no longer in Christ, what it means that we need to get to the amen part of the verse in order to receive it. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God”

Amen is a declaration of our faith. The word “Amen” comes from the Hebrew word for faith. When we say, “Amen,” we are saying, “I agree, Lord. Be it unto me as it is in Your Word!”

When we believe for something that we don’t appear to have that God has promised to give, it says I trust in God’s faithfulness and it brings God glory. Amen means we take ownership of the promise God has made to us. Only you can “Amen” to what God’s Word says about you and your life. I can’t do it for you. Your grandparents or your parents or your friends can encourage you in it but only you can speak “Amen”.

Have confidence in God’s faithfulness to you. If He gave His only Son so that you might have life, will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things, especially those things He has promised to us?

One of the most common questions that I see in the Christian community is: “Why do some people experience their breakthrough but I don’t?” It all comes down to right believing. The word “repentance” is the Greek word “metanoia, which means “change of mind.” We repent by looking to Jesus and believing that all His promises are for us to claim.

If you belong to Christ by faith, then everything God could possibly give you for your good, He has signed over to your account in Christ. Is this promise in my account? Yes! “Every sinner who comes to God in Christ, with all his needs, finds God coming to him in Christ, with all his promises.” -John Piper[1]

Prayer is drawing on the account where God has deposited all His promises. Prayer is not hoping in the dark that there might be a God who could possibly provide us what we need, He already has and He will continue to do so in Jesus. Prayer goes to your spiritual bank account and draws on those promises. Amen spoken at the end of our prayer to God is affirming that God is faithful to deliver on His promises.

[1]John Piper. December 31, 1989.

The Promise of Resurrection

The Promise of Resurrection

Daily Reading: (John 5:28-29):

“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.”

Resurrection is promised to every single human being, however, the destination is not the same. So, the better question is not who will be resurrected- that is everyone. The better question is who will be resurrected to life?

If you have “done good” you will live, but what does it mean to do good? Jesus tells us a few verses earlier:

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).

They will never be condemned for their sins, they have already passed from death into life.” You stand right now with Christ’s life because you have already died and been born from above. Doing good, as Jesus defines it, is hearing and believing Jesus. Nothing more, nothing less. Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29).

The promise of Resurrection is for all humanity. But there are some who are resurrected to be condemned and some who aren’t, and that is why the usual Greek word (katakrima) is not used here. Remember there is absolutely no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). John is telling us that believers will not be judged based on wrong doings. We have been forgiven all of our sins, so our resurrection is a resurrection unto rewards.

So, the Greek word John uses here instead of katakrima is krisis which means a judgment of right or wrong. The righteous are judged on their rights, or a better way of saying it is they are receiving a judgment of rewards, the fruit Jesus bore in their lives. The non-believer is receiving a judgment based on their works, a judgment of wrongs. They have not received the forgiveness of sin, so sin remains and must be judged. I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19) says.

The outcome of the gospel is not merely the forgiveness of sins, as wonderful as that is. It is literally new life, His life.

Many Christians settle at the cross for grace and forgiveness and miss the resurrection.They lead others to the cross and no further and the result is powerless, fruitless Christianity. God saved us so that we might live, really live here and now. Eternal life is knowing God in your present circumstances and trials (John 17:3).

“This good news is about his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ! As a human, he was from the family of David. But the Holy Spirit proved that Jesus is the powerful Son of God, because he was raised from death” (Romans 1:3-4, CEV).

Confess Jesus as Lord and you shall be saved. Do you know what the word “Lord” means? It means Jesus has power and authority. It means He is the living king, on the throne, not on the cross.

When you proclaim the Lord Jesus over your addictions and failings, you are making a bold declaration of faith. You are receiving Jesus’ salvation over your trouble. I cannot defeat you in my strength, but let me tell you about Jesus, my Lord, at whose name every knee shall bow, including yours. Jesus is the powerful Son of God because He conquered death as He was raised from the dead. His salvation is available for you to receive today by faith.

El Niño | Born in Bethlehem |Micah 5:2 | Christmas 2020

El Niño: A Christmas Message

Daily Reading: (Micah 5:2):

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

El Niño as you might know is a tropical Pacific Ocean condition where surface water along the Equator warms up to temperatures above normal, the change in weather pattern affects the entire world, just as the birth of Christ did as well. The name came from locals along the coasts of Peru and Chile. El Niño if you noticed is always capitalized. In Spanish, El Niño means “The Boy.” It’s not just any boy. They were talking about Jesus Christ. During an El Niño cycle the wind along the coastline switches from blowing from the east to blowing from the west. With an easterly wind there is a dry wind in a normally very dry area- a desert. The westerly wind during an El Niño is a wetter wind. Rain increases and one nice benefit in some parts of Peru and Chile is the ability to grow food in a desert. This change in wind direction normally shows up around Christmas.  So, El Niño is known to represent a “Christmas rain gift from the Christ Child, Jesus Christ.

I absolutely love this because the Chileans and the Peruvians celebrate the abnormal weather pattern as a good gift from God. They said let’s name it after the One who is the bread of life, and provides us food in the desert so every time it happens, all glory to God through Jesus the Son. El Niño!

Jesus’ birth is the reason we celebrate Christmas. Christ has had enormous impact throughout the world and in a lot of ways it has made the seemingly impossible possible (like growing food in a desert) those who were dead in sin, have been given new life. Jesus as our bread of life.

So just as a meteorologist would give the announcement that El Nino is coming, we had an announcement of Jesus’ coming birth and where it would take place.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2).

Micah is writing at the same time as his contemporary Isaiah in the 8th century before Christ when Assyria captured the northern kingdom and took the ten tribes into captivity. So, the question of Israel’s future was heavy in his mind. What now God? Maybe you have been contemplating your future with the same question, “what’s next?”

Bethlehem was such a strange choice to announce the future birthplace of the Messiah. It was small and humble, yet God chooses to bring his magnificent Messiah out of this town. Why? God chooses the lowly so we can’t boast in merits.

So What do we know about Bethlehem?

Bethlehem was in the district of Ephratah. Bethlehem Ephrathah is an old name for Bethlehem meaning “fruitful”. “It was at Bethlehem that Ruth went forth to glean in the fields of Boaz. In the streets of Bethlehem did Boaz and Ruth receive a marriage blessing which made them fruitful (Ephratah).

In Genesis 35:19 Bethlehem became a place of sorrow as it was the burial of Rachel the wife of Jacob who died giving birth to Benjamin. Before she died, Rachel named her son Ben Oni (“son of my mourning”). Jacob changed his name to Ben Yamin (Benjamin). “son of the right or south” since Benjamin was the only one of Jacob’s sons born in Canaan, which is to the south of Paddan Aram. “Benjamin was a more appropriate name”. Do you want your child to remember by their name that their mother died giving birth to them? Benjamin’s birth in Bethlehem was a foreshadowing of the birth of Jesus to come. The name change from Ben Oni (son of sorrow) to Ben Yamin (son of the south) was appropriate because the baby born in a manger was to become the real “Man of Sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3).

We already discovered that Ephratah means fruitful but Bethlehem itself means “house of bread” as Jesus came to be the Bread of Life and offer Himself as the provision for the needs of men. We are as Christ followers supposed to feed on Him daily, not just during the Advent season. Because of the Bread of Life nourishes our soul as we fill our hearts and minds with His Word.

The deepest meaning of the littleness of Bethlehem is that Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem is an announcement that God does not bestow the blessings of the Messiah (the blessings of salvation) on the basis of our greatness or our merit or our achievement. So, let us say with the angels, “Glory to God in the highest!” Not glory to us. We get the joy. God gets the glory look at what He has done. In the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Christ living in us, the Bread of Life, will make us to be Ephratah (fruitful).

Promise of Protection

The Promise of Protection

Daily Reading: (Psalm 91:4-6):

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.”

The Psalmist refers to God with two different names. He calls God both Most High (El Elyon) and Almighty (El Shaddai). The Hebrew name for God Most High means the extremely-exalted, sovereign, High God. He that dwells in the secret place of the Extremely-Exalted, Sovereign, Almighty is the One absolute in power (Psalm 91:1). If you are a believer, the place you dwell and find your rest is in the protection of the one who has absolute power. When we know this truth about our positioning in Christ, protecting by the One with absolute power, what is there to fear? Wisdom tells us not to jump off a cliff without a parachute. The wise thing would to not gather in large crowds during a pandemic. As you go through your life guided by God’s leading, dangers will be present no matter what you do, but His protection is there for you.

This word rest or abide means to stay permanently. Our permanent dwelling place in Christ is with the extremely exalted Sovereign High God (El Elyon) under the shadow of the One in Absolute Power (El Shaddai), which means we have the protection of the Lord. 

Let’s follow the Psalmist in his writing: “This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him” (Psalm 91:2). Do you trust the Most High? Do you trust that He loves you and that He has and will continue to take care of you? Do you trust him with your life?

 “For he will rescue you from every trap.” When you set a trap, it is to ensnare the unexpecting, otherwise, traps wouldn’t work. God’s protection protects us from dangers we can’t even see (Psalm 91:3).

“You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday” (Psalm 91:5-6).

When we receive His love for us the fear is cast out. David says in Psalm 91 that we don’t need to fear, we only need to trust. We were created, our bodies were not designed for fear. Our bodies were designed for faith and trust in our Creator (Psalm 91:2).

Psalm 91:15-16: “He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

This means that trouble will most certainly come. The doctor could give troubling news but the report from the Lord is “I will deliver him”. Deliver him and honor him. As the troubles and the terrors come all around us may we remember that Jesus, Our High Priest prayed on our behalf, that God the Father would protect us from the evil in this world. “Father I pray not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil in the world” (John 17:15). His prayer was not to be delivered out of trouble, but to be protected in the midst of it.

The Psalm concludes in verse 16. “With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” There is another name of God mentioned in Psalm 91 (Yeshua). So we started off with two names for God listed: El Elyon (Extremely-Exalted, Sovereign, High God) and (El Shaddia) absolute in power, and then finally Yeshua.“Show him my Salvation/Yeshua.” The final word of Psalm 91 is the name of Jesus.We have been shown our salvation is Yeshua/ Jesus.When trouble comes you will find salvation in the name of Jesus.

The Promise of Peace

The Promise of Peace

Daily Reading: (John 14:1-2, 27):

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?”

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Peace is an interesting emotion as it is one of two Kingdom emotions that God wants your life to have right now, the other being joy. Peace and joy. These are the two emotions the devil works the hardest to try and remove from your life because they are Kingdom emotions. This is what you will experience for all of eternity in heaven, perpetual inner peace and great joy.  And what that means is every time you seek Christ’s kingdom and His righteousness, the righteousness that He has given to you, the emotions of both peace and joy will be present. You can find joy even in what would seem to be joyless moments and so I believe one of the main reasons the devil works so hard to try and rob us of peace and joy is those are the most attractive emotions that give us an opportunity to bring forth the very Light of the World to the lost and hurting people of the world.

If you make a choice to seek or pursue something outside the Kingdom or that might bring glory to God, peace and joy will not be present. So what this means is that your peace and joy are not linked to what happens to you, or what comes on you, it is linked directly to what you have in Christ (access to the Kingdom).

When bad things happen, use them as reminders to seek the Kingdom and the promise is you will have the Kingdom emotions flowing out of you of peace and joy. When bad things that come by way of the enemy will cause you to seek the kingdom first that will completely dismantle the enemy’s strategy. The devil is only able to rob from you, peace and joy by getting your mind on your situation instead of your Savior.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

Trouble is coming on the disciples and Jesus wants His disciples (which includes all believers) to be ready, to not be moved to trouble but to be brought and kept by peace. To start the chapter off in John 14, Jesus says:  “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

Did you notice what just happened? Jesus modeled for us what we are to do to not let our hearts be troubled, seek or reflect on the kingdom (John 14:1-2). In verse two, Jesus starts talking about the kingdom. “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?”

Now moving ahead in the text Thomas at this point is troubled because he wants the GPS coordinates of how to get to the kingdom. “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way” (John 14:5)?  There are two questions for me to answer here. The first question is for a non-believers? How do I get to heaven? How do I get to spend eternity on streets of gold with unending joy and peace where I am in the very presence of God forever? It is the grandest question of all time. Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Anyone who believes in Jesus as the Messiah, the One who paid the penalty for their sins on the cross- John‘s Gospel tells us they will not perish but have everlasting life. If you place your trust in Christ today as your means of salvation- you have just found the way (Jesus Christ) to the Kingdom. 

Now the second question is for anyone who already is a believer. How do I have peace in the middle of my life’s storm?Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” But Pastor Matt, Jesus is talking about the way to the kingdom. And what does the kingdom bring? “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). Jesus showed us the way to the kingdom through Himself, so that we might have the kingdom emotion of peace right now. There is a promise of peace which takes us back to our main verse today.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Jesus has permanently given you His peace (John 14:27). It is available to you whenever you put your mind on the Kingdom.

The Promise of Wisdom

The Promise of Wisdom

Daily Reading: (James 1:5-7):

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”

Only a foolish person would say I don’t need anymore wisdom in my life. In today’s world our brains are wired that when we don’t know the answer to something what do we generally do? We google it. But there are some answers we seek that Google can’t help us with.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask… Alexa. You should ask Siri, or Google, or just ask Jeeves. No!“If any of you lacks wisdom…” that is all of us and it is all the time. I want us to get out of the mindset that it is only life changing decisions where we need wisdom. We always need it and God is ready to give it.

So what exactly is wisdom?Wisdom in the Greek is the word sophia. There are generally two kinds of wisdom. The first is the wisdom of man. It simply means wisdom, broad and full of intelligence. We all know wise people. But even the wisest people you meet will have limitations in their wisdom.

This takes us to second definition of wisdom: supreme intelligence, such as belongs to God. If you try to discover wisdom apart from God you are seeking it from a limited intelligence source but if you want supreme intelligence, just ask God (James 1:5). This actually means something very specific and it is found in the last half of the verse which we will get to in a minute.

So we know the text says and life tells us if or even when we lack wisdom we should ask God for it and now the promise comes. “who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” What does finding fault have to do with asking for wisdom? How are we able to stand before God where He does not find any fault in us? How have we gained access to come boldly before the throne of grace that we might obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need? It has to do with Jesus. Because of Jesus who is our wisdom, we are able to come before God for whatever it is that we need and we will find or be given grace (in this instance wisdom) to help us in our time of need.

God desires that we pursue wisdom as we are told in the Old Testament (Proverbs 4:7). However, we learn in the New Testament that Jesus is our wisdom.

“God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin” (1 Corinthians 1:30).

Whatever your situation, make it your ambition to know the Lord. Know Jesus, and you will know wisdom. Pursue Jesus and you will experience wisdom in every area of your life. Because in Christ, God does not find fault and gives you generously what you need.

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7).

If we lack wisdom ask God and ask Him in faith so that you might receive and you will receive wisdom generously. God who gives“generously” is the Greek adverb haplos and it reveals that God gives you wisdom led solely by His desire to bless you. Our part is simply to ask and believe God for it (James 1:6).

The Promise of Forgiveness

The Promise of Forgiveness

Daily Reading: (1 John 1,7,9, 2:12):

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from allsin.”

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

“I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.”

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). This does not sound like good news to me at all because it sounds conditional. It sounds like there are some things we must do in order to receive forgiveness.

I don’t think confess means what you think it means.” If confession (meaning our ability to list off all of our sins) was needed for forgiveness this would mean that salvation is upheld by us and our sin confessing abilities, but confess means something entirely different (1 John 1:9).

“The problem with a confess your sins in order that you might be forgiven theology is it makes us sin-conscious. Did I confess enough? Life transformation happens as you change from being sin-conscious to focused on our righteousness that Christ gave us, that we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The way you relate to God because of the cross will change. God remembers my sins no more and that’s a fact, jack.

Confession is not a bringing to our mind and reciting to God our wrong doings. Why would we try to remind God of the very things God says He remembers no more?

“If we confess our sins,

“Confess”/Homologeō: to say the same thing as another, to agree with (God).

So we are to agree with God about our sins and if we do forgiveness is ours. So, what exactly are we to agree with God about our sins on?  Did you know John already told us the answer two verses earlier- that is why you got to read it in it’s context. Context is king.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

In 1 John 1:9 the word confess (homologeō)- in the Greek remember it means agreeing with (what God has said). Confess does not mean review your sins. The condition for forgiveness is faith in Jesus’ death on a cross to atone for it. Forgiveness is based on Jesus’ work, not ours. If you agree that the blood of Jesus purifies you from all sin than the conclusion of 1 John 1:9 is yours, “He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

If you are struggling with how good God’s grace is to you, in the very same letter in the next chapter you’ve got to see this: John will write– 1 John 2:12 – “I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name” (1 John 2:12). Did you notice something is missing? There is no mention of confessing needed. For believers in Jesus, our sins have been, not might be or could be, but it is a done deal. We are forgiven because of one thing, on account of Jesus.

When you go back to 1 John 1:9 armed with the correct definition of the word confess means everything else makes sense. When we agree with what God says (that your sins have been forgiven on account of his name—[1 John 2:12] He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. The condition for forgiveness is satisfied with Jesus.

You might have noticed a footnote in your Bible inserted for 1 John 1:9 Which says Psalm 32:5 because John is referencing the Old Testament which says:

“I will confess my transgressions to the Lord” and you “forgave the guilt of my sins.” John quotes this Old Testament verse (Psalm 32:5) to show us that we will not receive the blessing of forgiveness except through faith in the Son of God.

The Promise of Abundant Life

The Promise of Abundant Life

Daily Reading: (John 10:10):

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

There are seasons we all go through where it doesn’t feel like a time of abundance. It feels lean, and the Apostle Paul even acknowledges lean times when he writes from prison the following: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:12). What this tells us is the abundant life, using the example of Paul’s life, the abundant life is not a life that is never in need. The abundant life is a life that when one has needs, receives all that is theirs in Christ (Philippians 4:11b-12).

So what exactly is the abundant life that I have in Christ and what does that look like lived out in the life of a believer? Those are the questions we should seek an answer to. When you go back to the story of Adam and Eve in the garden, we are given a clear picture of Satan’s motive. Satan used to be an angel in heaven (Isaiah 14:12-15), the one who led a rebellion against God and Scripture tells us that he took one-third of the angels with him (Revelation 12:4). Jesus says his purpose is to try and steal, kill, and destroy from mankind. He thought he was victorious as Adam and Eve sinned, but God had a plan. God would send His only Son, whose purpose is to give us who were dead in our sins, life.  he gave us a new life, His life, life to the full.

We have the abundant life in Christ, however, our enemy is still out there trying to steal from us what is ours. 1 Peter 5:8 says:“Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walketh about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). His motive has not changed.

Isn’t it interesting the devil has to seek out those whom he may devour? This means that he can’t devour everyone. You can be at a place where the devil will be unable to devour you. The secret is found in the preceding verse, “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). The secret is to be carefree and not be bogged down by anxieties and worries! Your greatest responsibility is to rejoice in the Lord always. We are not to not worry about past failures, present circumstances, or even future challenges. Release every oppressive thought, worry, and care to Jesus.

Did you also notice that 1 Peter 5:8 says the devil roams about like, or as, “a roaring lion”? In Proverbs 19:12, it says, “The king’s wrath is like the roaring of a lion (Proverbs 19:12). The devil is an imposter who goes about as a roaring lion because he is imitating the King of kings, the real lion of Judah, Jesus Christ. He wants people to think that our King is full of wrath, anger, and rage against us. He comes at us roaring with the voice of condemnation, accusation, and shame and he does it to try and rob from you the truth of who God is and what His disposition toward you is. When you run away from God, you are running straight into the devil’s snare and that is where he can devour you.

“The thief (speaking of Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

“May have” is the Greek word (echo) it means tht we might have and hold, it means you and I possess life (zōē): real and genuine life, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed.

What do you believe about your life? What do you believe about yourself? Do you believe that you are blessed, that you are abundantly blessed? You see the enemy is scared that you might actually believe and live as if your life is a blessed one. The enemy is afraid that you would live knowing that the things you put your hands to, the endeavors you set out for in this life will prosper. The people you encounter will be better as a result of knowing you.

You have and hold the blessed life and you have it to full (perissos): over and above, more than is necessary, superadded

David who found the Lord as His shepherd, the one who watched over him and protects him and loves him said in Psalm 23:5- “my cup runneth over.” “My cup runneth over” means “I have more than enough for my needs”.In desert cultures in the Middle East in times of antiquity, a person is required by laws of hospitality to provide a drink to strangers. The amount that was provided was indicative of how welcomed the guest was, and to pour a full glass or a glass that “ran over” would be reserved only for the most welcomed guest. This is what we have in Christ, super-abounding grace. Our cups overflow. We are the most welcomed guests in God’s presence because He has adopted us as His children. Our life cup runneth over, we are blessed- super-abundantly blessed.