Raptured to Attend the Marriage Feast

Raptured to Attend the Marriage Feast  

Daily Reading: (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17):

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

What is the Rapture? The Rapture is the time when the Lord will come down from Heaven and a trumpet call will precede the rise of “the dead in Christ” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Thereafter, “we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

The term “Rapture” doesn’t appear anywhere in the Bible. But don’t get hung up on this fact as some denominations have. “Rapture” the term, was created to describe this future event that Paul writes about that will happen in the last days written about in 1 Thessalonians 4. You can call this event what you’d like, the grand meeting in the sky, the Rapture, just don’t get hung up on the term itself.

“For the Lord himself will come down from Heaven”, many have referred to this as the Second Coming of Christ.  It is clear Jesus doesn’t return to Earth, “we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”

This is not the Second Coming, this is the Rapture. The Second Coming is a different event written about in Revelation 19.

So to find out why we are Raptured and what happens next we have to go to the book of Revelation chapter 19:

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people). Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God” [Revelation 19:6-9].

The reason for the Rapture is because Jesus is taking His bride (the church) and the friends of the bridegroom (Old Testament Saints) to the wedding.

Now Jesus Second Coming is not to welcome the bride because the bride is already with Him. Jesus is coming back to wage war on evil wickedness on the earth.

Revelation 19:11-14: “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. This is the bride of Christ the church already with Jesus. Revelation 19:8 just before this tells us so: Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”

The wedding feast happens first and then we return with Christ at His Second Coming (Revelation 19:11-14).

Jesus said in Matthew 24:30, speaking of His Second Coming- At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).

Why would all the nations mourn? If believers were here on the earth waiting for Jesus’ return wouldn’t this be a mixed reaction? Happiness, joy, excitement for believers and mourning for those who are not believers? There would be only one reaction if the believers were already taken before Jesus’ Second Coming.

With Jesus in Paradise

With Jesus in Paradise

Daily Reading: (Luke 16:22-24):

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.”

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores” (Luke 16:19-21).

Did you catch that last part? There was a beggar who was in need. His name is Lazarus (not to be confused with Jesus’ friend who He raised from the dead). I imagine where he slept and had his meals he encountered a lot of stray dogs. Have you ever met a dog before that liked to lick you? While Lazarus was ill-treated by man, the dogs showed kindness to him by licking the wounds on his body to help promote healing and reduce pain.

Jesus does a remarkable job of drawing us into the story of a man who is suffering and another who is extremely wealthy “dressed in purple”, the most expensive dye.

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire” (Luke 19:22-24).

No matter how much you have there will be a time when death will come for all of us, except for the Rapture, but even then we are separated from our physical bodies. Jesus shows that the beggar is being carried by the angels whereas the rich man ends up in Hades. What is the message Jesus is trying to send? The message is that the blessings Israel had enjoyed in the Old Covenant are for all people moving into the New Covenant. The reason we know this is because we have to ask what do the two characters represent in this parable? 

The rich man must be Jewish as “he called to him ‘Father Abraham”. Only a Jewish person would have referred to Abraham in this way. The rich man in the story represents the nation of Israel (Luke 16:24). The nation of Israel had enjoyed dining at the table of the Lord’s abundance. Israel had been blessed because of God’s gracious promises to Abraham.

Abraham in his name reveals who he is. Genesis 17:5: “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a “father of many nations” have I made thee.” Abraham would be the father of many nations or as Paul put it in Romans 4:16, “the father of all who believe.”

Now, Lazarus represents the Gentiles who longed to eat the crumbs from the rich man’s table.This should bring our minds to another story with Jesus and a Gentile Caananite woman. “The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table. Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.”

Like the rich man, the nation of Israel had also received good things from the blessings promised to Abraham but they did not receive Jesus. In the story the rich man doesn’t have a name, why is that? The poor beggar is clearly known and Jesus calls him by his name, Lazarus. The reason Jesus does not say the rich man’s name is because he is one to whom Jesus will say, “Depart from me I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23). The rich man is not lost because he was stingy with his wealth, he’s lost because he doesn’t know Jesus.

Why does Lazarus end up in a good place? Is it just because he is poor and suffered in life? Jesus provides clues as to why Lazarus’ fate is different. What did Lazarus do or say in the parable? Nothing. He did not say or do anything that would tell us why he was carried by angels. However, his name tells us the whole story, Lazarus means “God has helped”.  

Lazarus was found at Abraham’s side, but better yet we will be with Jesus. “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Welcome to Paradise

Welcome to Paradise

Daily Reading: (Luke 23:43):

“Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).   

Knowledge of Heaven is important. Access to Heaven or accessing the blessings that are already yours in Christ is even better. I know this might come as a shock to you, but since you spiritually died which happened the moment you first believed in Jesus, the Kingdom is now yours. Paul would say in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Now that you know that you have already died spiritually what happens when you die physically on earth too?

Heaven on Earth is the believer’s ultimate destination. So, let’s take a minute to imagine what Heaven will be like. What are some things you envision in your mind that Heaven will be like? Streets of gold, pearly gates, reunited with loved ones, a beautiful river running through the center, the tree of life, the throne of God. If you have spent any time reading the book of Revelation, these are some of the images that probably came to your mind. Even though we are given grand images of Heaven, we still have a long way to go in imagining what Heaven will be like one day.

It is interesting to learn that Jesus talks about being in “Paradise” instead of just saying Heaven when talking to one of the criminals on the cross.

To begin with, I want to go to the scene right before Jesus’ death. “But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence” (Luke 23:40)?

What sentence could these criminals be under? They are under the sentence of death. They are dying a criminal’s death and so was Jesus. We can find it hard to connect with the criminals on the cross that day, but Paul would write to the Romans that the wages of sin are death (Romans 6:23). Anyone who has sinned “has fallen short of God’s glory” (Romans 3:23), and so we all are given the same sentence as those criminals on the cross that day, the death sentence. There are two options for us, which are displayed by the actions of the two criminals. One criminal mocked the salvation of the Lord. “One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” He rejected the very grace of God while the other recognized his need for a Savior. “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:41)?

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And because of this Romans 6:23 becomes this criminal’s reality: but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The first criminal rejected the very grace of God while the other recognized his need for a Savior. “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:41). The point is that since God is righteous and just, our sins needed to be punished. Only the perfect spotless Lamb of God could be offered for the atonement of our sins. He died so that we might be given His life, but we must receive the free gift of salvation that He offers to us to be saved.

The keyword is “gift”. A gift cannot be earned because if it was earned it would be a wage, the criminal didn’t deserve such great a gift, that is how grace works. Jesus was on the cross for both criminals that day, He went to the cross for you and I so that we might receive the gift of everlasting life. 

So, some might expect to hear Jesus say, I’ll see you on the other side in heaven my son- but He doesn’t He says something different.

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).“Paradise”/Paradeisos: a park, an Eden.

Have you ever seen that show Extreme Home Makeover? It used to be hosted by a guy named Ty Pennington who would send a family on a mini-vacation so when they returned home they would be surprised when their home would be completely redone and it would look amazing and so much better.

So, when you die, if you are in Christ, you go to Paradise, Eden Park. Jesus is there and so are your loved ones and all the saints who went before us. So, Paradise is Heaven where Jesus is at. It is perfect and there is no suffering or sin there, it will be incredibly wonderful and yet it is still different from what we will experience as our wedding gift when Heaven comes down to a new Earth.

The Bible tells us when we enter into this new Heaven and Earth and the grand thing about it is all saints over all of the time will enter it together at the same time.

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). I like to think of it in much the same way as a family would on the Extreme Home Makeover Show that is sent to a fantastic place because their home is being specially prepared for them. So, Peter and Paul haven’t been relaxing in the new Heaven and Earth for some 2,000 years, they are in Paradise because we still have our wedding feast in Heaven to come and then our wonderful gift of Heaven on Earth.

“Paradise” is used is in Revelation 2:7 and it is the location of the tree of life. This makes sense as “paradise” means a park-like setting: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” Revelation 22 talks about Eden/paradise restored.

This is a huge clue because Revelation 2:7 tells us specifically that “the tree of life, is in the Paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7). What this means is that we are given a partial picture of what Paradise is like now, because Revelation 22 talks about Eden being restored and mentions the tree of life (which is already created) and some other things already existing in Paradise (God being there). However, some of the other things mentioned seem like they are yet to come after the old earth passes away, such as there being no more night and the curse removed. Our loved ones in Paradise aren’t experiencing night, they are in the presence of God’s light. The effects of the curse are not present in Paradise, but we still experience them on Earth. Eden restored is mentioned after Heaven comes to earth (yet to happen) in Revelation 21. So, some of these things are still to come.

Grace Has Come

Grace Has Come

Daily Reading: (Luke 2:10-11):

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord”

“Don’t be afraid”, let us start there. The angel realizes that his presence among the shepherds has startled them and caused them to be afraid.  Shepherds were tough characters who encountered a lot of dangerous predators. Predators mostly attack at night. So, when the angel appears they would have already been on high alert. Scripture says in Luke 2:8: “shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night” when all of a sudden out of nowhere in the darkness of night this is what happens next, an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.”The Greek word for terrified is “phobeo” and it is where we get the English word “phobia” from. Take a moment and think about what kinds of things in the past year have unexpectedly entered your life that caused you to be afraid.

The angels had a word to remove their fear, a message of love and one of grace. This same word will deliver you from all of your fears. “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” It is the Good News, the Gospel that will remove your fear and the Gospel is for “all people” (Luke 2:10).

The Gospel will drive out fear. Most of our fears come out of a newfound need. I have a health situation with the need to be healed. I have bad news that has come from a family member, they have a need for a new job.  Someone broke into our home, I am afraid it will happen again, there is a need for security. The announcement is that when Jesus arrived, grace has come. When we go back to Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” “Peace has come to earth!” Jesus Christ is the way to peace.

Whatever you need, grace has come so that you might not lack any good thing. “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things” (Romans 8:32). Hebrews 4:16 has become your opportunity: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

It is so hard to believe that God’s favor rests upon you and your life, when troubling things happen. When bad happens to you, listen to those angelic words, “do not be afraid.” Romans 8:28 says, “And we know…”, there is something that we know and believe in and can trust. While we don’t know what will happen to us in our daily lives as James 4:14 says that “you do not even know what will happen tomorrow” and that is why bad news can catch us off guard. Paul says, “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God. There will not be an absence of trouble in life, Jesus told His disciples “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Fear may enter in, but we can join the company of the heavenly hosts and praise God. We can have peace in trouble because Jesus has given us His peace.

May Christmas fill you with joy, grace has come! Whatever it is that you need, the greatest gift, Jesus Christ is your supply. Do not fear whenever bad things happen, for God’s favor is upon you, you are highly favored by God and so all things will work together for your good. Praise God in every situation because Christ is with you and He gives you the victory.

Live in the Grace

Live in Grace 

Daily Reading: (Galatians 1:6-7):

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.”

Turning or metatithēmiin the Greek means to fall away or desert something, however, there is a more common usage of this Greek word. I believe Paul is saying that the church in Galatia is transposing (two things, one of which is put in place of the other) the Law in place of grace.

The reason I am so confident in this definition is because of the history of the church in Galatia. Instead of living in God’s grace you have put something else in its place. How is this possible? The church that Paul started had now allowed false teachers to come who were trying to implement the law in place of grace. These teachers were a group of Judaizers—those who sought to make living under the Mosaic Law a requirement of the Christian faith—and they had gained an influence in the Galatian churches. We actually learn about this from Acts 15:1-30.  

This all makes sense when you follow the very next verse in Paul’s letter in Galatians 1:7- “Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the Gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:7b). Paul says when you turn from the Gospel of grace, Jesus Christ, you are preaching and teaching something that is really no Gospel at all.

The word “pervert” (metastrephō) means to turn around. A perverted gospel is a turned-around gospel. It is a gospel which turns the focus away from Jesus onto something else. If the gospel of grace reveals Christ alone, then a perverted gospel is Christ plus something. Whenever it is Christ plus something else that is how we transpose or place the law in place of grace.

So, this “different gospel” was not Buddhism or Hinduism or Islam that they are trying to get people to convert to, it was an in-house distortion. It was promoted by men who called themselves Christian “brothers” Galatians 2:4, and the purpose is to get other Christians to try to live under the Law.

Now that we have studied what it means to desert the gospel of grace by transposing it for law-based living, let’s focus on what it means to live in the grace of Jesus.

The original manuscripts doesn’t say “live in the grace”, the Greek word for live isn’t present. Galatians 1:6 reads like this: “I am amazed that you are so quickly transposing (the law in place of grace), of the One who has called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel.”

So the big takeaway of the more accurate translation is that grace is your calling.It was God’s grace that called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. So, continue forward in His grace, don’t let anyone deceive you into believing a false gospel that there is something you need to do in order to receive the salvation of the Lord. To preach the gospel of grace is to preach the exceeding riches of God’s unmerited favor revealed to us through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:7). I am amazed Galatians that you would choose anything over than this amazing grace.

Acts of the Flesh

Acts of the Flesh 

Daily Reading: (Galatians 5:16-21):

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

“Freedom in Christ” is the main point of Galatians chapter five. When we reach verse sixteen we have are introduced into the sub-header: “life by the Spirit”. So we have freedom in Christ expressed through life by the spirit.

Which what Paul is saying is “do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” The question really becomes, “how are we to walk by the Spirit and what does it mean to walk after the flesh?” Most people actually read this verse the other way around. “Do your best not to fulfill the desires or lust of your flesh, and then you’ll walk in the Spirit.” That is not what Scripture says or teaches us here. The Scripture teaches this not in the negative but in the positive. “walk by the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” As you walk by the Spirit you won’t have to worry about the lust of the flesh.” Our focus has to be on walking in the Spirit. If you are focused on trying not to fulfill the desires of the flesh that is living your life under the Law. And if you live this way you’ll end up walking after the flesh. Walking after the flesh is an attempt to meet any of your needs apart from God.Romans 8:13 tells us this is a disastrous way to live.

So, how do we walk by the spirit or what is walking by the spirit? John Piper says, “It is “being led by the Spirit” and it is “bearing the fruit of the Spirit. You allow the Spirit to control you by keeping your heart happy in God. Or to put it another way, you walk by the Spirit when your heart is resting in the promises of God.” [1]

George Müller learned the secret of walking by the Spirit: meditate on the precious truths of the word of God until your heart is happy in God, resting in his promises.[2]

“Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” You will have victory over temptation and know the guidance of the Lord if you keep your heart happy in God by resting in his promises.

We get a better understanding in the Greek for the word “walk” (peripateō) which means to be led around. This brings us to Psalm 23:3, “He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.” This is what it means to walk by the Spirit.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14). “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Habits of the flesh will all fall off as we walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16).

The Spirit of the Lord will move you to a place of rest and refreshment where you cast your cares on Him. Troubles and stresses will come, but walk by the Spirit to the place of lying down in green pastures. Enjoy the feast God prepares for you in the presence of those plaguing enemies that have risen up against you. 

“Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:11 WEB)

 Rest is not inactivity—it is Spirit-directed activity. The opposite of being in God’s rest is being in unbelief.

“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.” They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. I wanted to point out that the fight is not between you and the flesh, the fight is between the flesh and the Spirit.

Here is the good news: you are not under the Law any longer because we have freedom in Christ, freedom to live by the Spirit that He has placed inside us. Live as the new creation we have become. Live out of our new God-given nature that reflects His glory. Galatians 5:16 promises victory over the desires of the flesh, not that there won’t be a war, but that the winner of that war will be the Spirit.


[1] John Piper. The War Within: Flesh Versus Spirit. June 19, 1983. https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-war-within-flesh-versus-spirit

[2] George Müller. Autobiography 152–154.

Gracekillers: Bitterness

Bitterness 

Daily Reading: (Hebrews 12:15):

“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

How do we make sure that no bitter root grows up in us? Because what this verse is telling us is that a bitter root will cause trouble not just for the individual that it grows from, it will also negatively impact many.

The answer to this question and also how do we “see to it that o one falls short of the grace of God”, is in the text. We just have to break it down and I am excited to do that with you today.

“See to it” in the Greek means to look upon or be aware “that no one falls short of the grace of God”. This is a message for church leaders that those who are saved might continue and not fail to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What makes bitter roots grow from a person’s life is trying to live under the Law. We will see this as we progress in the text. In fact, someone who tries to live under the Law will cause trouble and defile many by trying to get others to do the same. The word defile is a word picture (miainō): to stain. It is like taking a single drop of ink and letting it go into a bucket of water. You cannot mix grace with the law.

This is why Paul wrote to the Galatians: “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:4).

So how do we make sure individuals don’t fall short of the grace of God?  Another way to say it is, “how do you spot a counterfeit?”  You know what experts in currency do so they can detect a counterfeit bill,they study the original. They know the original so well, that they can easily spot when something is not supposed to be there.

One year I was gardening and I had planted a lot of new perennial flowers.  The next year when the perennials started to return, I didn’t know what the original was supposed to look like. So, I faithfully was watering one plant that was actually a giant weed. Thanks to a gardening friend, I was told I was cultivating a weed. Long before someone becomes bitter, that person fell short of the grace of God. That is why the example of a root and growing up is such a marvelous illustration for us. If you don’t receive the grace God gives through Jesus Christ, then the seed is set for the root of bitterness to grow. 

How do people fall short from the grace of God?  

When you fall from grace, Christ becomes of no effect.

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). This is not a threat but describing a fact. And when the New Testament writers exhort us to “be holy,” they are calling us to live out our true Christ-borne identity. When Jesus said, “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), the word for “perfect” means complete or full grown. He was calling us to the life that is His.” But there is more in the progression of the text that will take us to an Old Testament figure in the Bible.

See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son” (Hebrews 12:16).

We have a contrast of what receiving grace produces versus what it looks like for a person who lives apart from grace.

  • The person develops a deep-rooted issue with bitterness
  • The person is challenged in the area of sexual immorality, e.g. lust, porn addictions, affairs.
  • Their speech is profane.

Whereas the grace of God produces:

  • Peace with all men
  • Holiness which is wholeness, health in soul, body, mind.

How do you know you have fallen short of grace?

You are law-conscious meaning performance-conscious. The story of the prodigal son teaches us that as soon as we turn back to grace (Luke 15:24), we become “a full-grown son with privileges,” able to access the abundant life that God has prepared for us.

Whenever life’s demands flood your mind, see Jesus’ supply of grace upon grace instead. Receive all that you need from Him.

Destructive Speech

Destructive Speech 

Daily Reading: (Luke 4:22, Ephesians 4:29):

“All spoke well of Him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from His lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked” (Luke 4:22).

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

The word unwholesome in Ephesians 4:29 actually means rotten, putrid, worthless. Maybe you have heard the expression, that is “rotten of you to say”. Before we speak, we should think about what the purpose is behind what I am about to say. Does it add value? Does it benefit those who listen?

Now let’s look at what was said about Jesus and the words He spoke:

“All spoke well of Him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from His lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked” (Luke 4:22).

Jesus is our example in how we are to build others up according to their needs. You might playback some of Jesus’ words in the New Testament to the Pharisees and think His words didn’t seem to build them up?

Consider the following:

“You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 12:34).

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to” (Matthew 23:13).

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are” (Matthew 23:14-15).

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27).

Jesus said all of that because He is gracious and recognized their need too. He was full of grace and truth and the lives the Pharisees are living are heading them straight toward the path of hell. Their need was salvation, and for them to recognize their own righteousness wasn’t good enough. Love guided Jesus’ actions. Jesus spoke firmly against the deception of Satan out of a desire for people to know truth and find life in Him.

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount gave us this classic statement: “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:20).

What always came from Jesus was grace. The definition of grace is that which is for our benefit, favor, gift, it is what strengthens us in faith. It is the exact opposite of putrid, rotten, unwholesome, worthless talk.

What might surprise you is what the people did who had marveled at what Jesus said, how His words are full of grace. “All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But He walked right through the crowd and went on His way” (Luke 4:28-30).

I want you to know that Jesus gave His life for us. “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father” (John 10:18). The people wanted to kill Jesus and He walked right through the crowd. This is miraculous, one of the miracles of Jesus that no one ever mentions or thinks about. It wasn’t time for Jesus to lay down His life, and so “He walked right through the crowd.”

You know what is really interesting to me is what happened to Jesus before He was in His hometown and the people were amazed at the gracious words, Jesus was first tempted in the wilderness by Satan. What did Jesus do in the Wilderness? He did not merely think about Scripture. He spoke it out loud. He said it is written and quoted Scripture.

In our lives, when we have temptations that come upon us, temptations to be afraid, to worry, to doubt, simply speak out God’s word. By doing so you are receiving His gift of grace, and power to overcome those temptations.

Do you know the words you say can alter the outcome of your situations and in fact, set the direction of your life?

The Bible tells us how the words we speak can open the door to good or evil in our lives. Our words can be grace killers in themselves or usher in our ability to edify others and receive life ourselves. Look at what Proverbs 18:21 says: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” As a believer, every word you utter has tremendous power. With your tongue, you can choose to build (edify) or destroy dreams, heal or break the spirit, bring delight or despair, bless or curse.

We see this principle in action in so many instances in the Bible.

Before they received their miracle child, God changed the names of a childless couple, Abram and Sarai, to Abraham (meaning “father of many nations”) and Sarah (meaning “princess”) just before He told Abraham that from them would come a multitude of nations (Genesis 17:5, 16–17). Abraham and Sarah’s new God-given names caused them to speak faith of what God would do in their lives before He did it. This newfound faith was authored by God in their name change so they might receive God’s promise by faith. It took faith, to introduce yourself as the father of many at age 100 before you have any children.

Somewhere along the way of doing this, Sarah experienced a renewal of youth, her barren womb was resurrected with divine life and conceived the miracle child God had promised them. Our words spoken in line with God’s promises have the power to change our circumstances (Proverbs 18:21, Mark 11:23).

Thief of Unbelief

Thief of Unbelief 

Daily Reading: (Mark 9:23-25):

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, He rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” He said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

“If you can”. Those are three deadly words that are robbers of grace.

In the middle of their drama, they were amazed to find the grace of God with them and they ran to receive Him joyfully. There is a word for all of us who will go through some extremely difficult, dramatic times in our lives. The grace you need to overcome whatever it is that you face is found in Christ Jesus who is with you now, receive Him joyfully (Mark 9:15).

“So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth” (Mark 9:20). You would think that when the boy was brought to Jesus, he would have instantly been better and the symptoms would have stopped. But the same thing that had been happening to the boy continued. Jesus’ nine disciples couldn’t do anything for the boy and here at this moment in the presence of Jesus it appears the boy is not doing any better.

“Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him” (Mark 9:21-22).

The father thinks back to how long his son has suffered. The past has made the man believe that his future will be no different. As believers, we can look at our past, and have our past tell us something different, that in Christ, everything has changed (2 Corinthians 5:17)!

God’s grace and His favor is upon your life, believe and receive the grace that you need to overcome whatever it is that you face.

Verse 22b “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

Now Jesus has an issue with three words that are robbing this man from receiving the compassionate grace of God.

In the Gospels, Jesus consistently affirms those who express faith and rebukes those who express doubt and unbelief. The leper He healed is a great example. This man said to Jesus, “If you will, you can make me clean” (Mark 1:40). This is a declaration of faith, and it moved Jesus to a compassionate response of healing.

But the father of this afflicted boy said to Jesus, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us”. “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” The statement for your life in Christ that will lift you up in your darkest days and give you the greatest hope in your most trying times, is when we properly understand this verse in the Greek. “Can you believe that all things are possible to Him [Jesus] who is always believing?” It’s not about how well or how much you can believe, but who you will believe. Jesus is the only one whose faith is always constant and never wavers. His faith never fails! And if you can believe that all things are possible for Jesus who never doubts, never wavers, then you are on your way to your miracle!

When there’s a problem, a strategy of the devil is to get your attention onto fixing the thing that’s not broken. If Christ lives in you, then there’s nothing wrong with your faith. But you still might have a problem with unbelief. God’s will is to heal, but unbelief will limit the power of God in your life.

Don’t worry about your faith, you already have enough to move your mountain, apply the hammer of God’s word to your unbelief and be ready to receive your miracle.

Pride is a Grace Killer

Pride

Daily Reading: (1 Peter 5:5-6, James 4:6-7):

“In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

“God resists the proud”, we see this over and over again with Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisees. It isn’t that God doesn’t love the Pharisees, but that the resistance provides the opportunity for the proud to be humbled, and to consider a better way in which they might receive grace.

Pride is what will hinder you from receiving the grace that God wants to give you (1 Peter 5:5) because you believe that you don’t need it or will try to work to earn it. God is not impressed with your sacrifice, especially when you are not impressed with His.

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble” (1 Peter 3:8).

C.S. Lewis said,“humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” It is being compassionate and loving to one another as Peter wrote.Pride looks at self-efforts, humility says look at what Christ has done for me.

On the Mount of Transfiguration after the voice of God came from heaven and told the three disciples “listen only to My Son” this is what Jesus had to say to them in Matthew 17:7: “Arise and do not be afraid.” What Jesus is telling His disciples is to “allow yourself to be lifted by God.” True humility is when you allow the voice of grace to lift you up (Matthew 17:7, 1 Peter 5:6).  “God shows favor to the humble.” Because the humble are those who have received His Son. And when you are lifted by allowing Jesus’ finished work to do this for you (humility), you realize that you stand on equal ground with Him because you have been given His righteousness. Everything God desires to give us, it is available through Jesus. Pride says, “no thanks, I’m good, I got this.” God opposes this attitude. This shuts down the pipeline of His special grace unto us, the grace that grows us and makes us more and more like His Son.

James writes in 4:6-7: “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Both men quoted from Proverbs 3:34 to show how important this is.

Leading up to these verses James is going to hammer home the point of how destructive and dangerous pride is. Pride brings with it strife, division, and war. Pride leads to wars and fights, lust, and murder but God gives abundant grace. You can choose to be proud or you can choose to receive abundant grace. The principle of grace is supply, while the principle of the law is demand. The reason pride is a grace killer is that pride will take our focus off of our supply, Jesus Christ, and it will only focus on the demand placed upon us. Our part is just to exercise faith by receiving from God, His supply of grace, and this is living a life of humility that blesses others out of the abundant grace we have received.