Often Lives Speak Louder than a Voice

The lives speak

Hebrews 11 to 13 Others Tell the Story of Faith

Long ago in a faraway land, isn’t that how fairy tales begin? Yes, they often do, but this is not a fairy tale! It actually did happen long ago in a land far away, and the voices of those in the story tell a story of faith, not by words but by their lives. They hope you will embrace their story for yourself. 

In Hebrews 11, the faith chapter, the author wants you to know the real Christmas story as told, not by words, but by the lives of Abel, Enoch, Noah, and others. Each one says, I never saw Christ or touched Him or heard his voice, but I believed by faith. Like Abraham, God took that as my confession and counted me, just as him, righteous. [Rom 4:3]

Christ was the light that came into the world and centuries later, the Apostle Paul added that this light “died for our sins according to the scriptures; he was buried, and he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” [1Cor 15:3-4] Peter too shared. “You do not see him now but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy…”[1Peter 1:8-9]

They all were telling about the Christ Child who was and is the Messiah. Their story is true and not a fairy tale. Our prayer is that you also join them and believe by faith this Christmas so God can call you righteous.

What is your life verse?

Crucified with Christ

Gal 1 to 3 Paul and the Galatians

Paul arrives in Galatia and is horrified to learn that they had deserted the faith. He asks them bluntly, did you receive Christ by doing the works of the Law or by believing? Remember that Abraham didn’t have the Law! He was, and we are justified by faith, not by the works of the Law.

Paul reminded them that like him, they should be able to say: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. [Gal 2:20 KJV] That is the testimony of a transformed believer. It is the life verse of a believer because it is the gospel in a nutshell.

What is your life verse?

Acts 7 “The Door of Opportunity”

God has the key to unlock the door

As a history teacher and anointed with the Holy Spirit, Stephen relayed to the High Priest and the religious council the account of Israel. He reminded them that their ancestors hardened their hearts, and now they are in danger of doing the same thing!

Stephen’s life is an example of what Jesus said would be true. The Holy Spirit will anoint you and provide the right words to say even when tried. [Matt 10:19]. When you speak, it will be the Holy Spirit who will be pricking their hearts. Would they believe, or would they choose to ignore the Truth of the Messiah? Jesus reminded the religious leaders that they were the masters of the scriptures, which spoke of the Messiah; yet they refused to believe the man behind the scriptures standing before them. Now they were also rejecting God’s messenger. God was closing their last door of opportunity.

God lovingly prepared Stephen both as he spoke and looked up to heaven. It was then that he saw Jesus waiting for him. Then, as he drew his last breath he sought forgiveness for those who would hurl their stones of death upon him; just as Jesus has done. [Luke 23:34]

You are God’s servant, just like Stephen. Trust that God will provide the right words at just the right moment. When God opens the door of salvation, do not ignore the door of opportunity.

Will you believe?

Jesus saves

Acts 4 “Salvation in No Other Name”

Satan is a master at deception and pride and the religious leaders fell into his trap. They thought they were done with this “Jesus thing” by crucifying him, but now a man stands before them healed by this same “dead” Jesus. They realized that they were unable to produce a body to use as evidence to refute his claims. They also noted that uneducated and unlearned Peter and John had been with this Jesus. They were living proof of what Jesus told them: “do not worry about how to speak or what to say.” [Mt 10:19] God provided the religious leaders’ evidence of a man healed by His power, and they could not deny it.  

Once again these leaders heard the truth that salvation takes place “not by works of righteousness … but on the basis of his mercy” [Tit 3:5] and “there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved.” [Acts 4:12] Yet, Satan blinds the minds of those who refuse to believe, so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel. [2Cor 4:4] Because of the evidence, they now stand without excuse. [Rom 1:20] They saw and chose to deny it. 

When the evidence is before you, will you believe it? 

Whom do you seek?

The tomb of the rich could not hold Him!

Acts 1-3 or: Who is your Savior?

Interestingly, Peter references the empty tomb as proof of the deity of Christ. Other religions have their saviors,” but where are they? Peter proclaimed: “our forefather David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. “[Acts 2:29] Mohammed is in his tomb as are Buddha and others, but where is Christ? He is in the heavens sitting at the right hand of God. If ever there was proof of Christ as the Son of God, it is that. “This Jesus God raised up, and we are all witnesses of it.” [Acts 2:32] Peter then explained: God raised up his servant and sent him first to you, to bless you by turning each one of you from your iniquities.” [Acts 3:26] Christ lived, was crucified, buried in a rich man’s tomb which could not hold him, and He was raised on the 3rd day just as He said.

What do you seek? A prophet in a tomb or one who has ascended to heaven just as He prophesied He would do and did in Acts 1?

Again Peter preached that Moses prophesied that God would raise up another prophet like him. Peter did not mince words! Jews, listen to him and do whatever he says. He also warned them that many will not hear and be utterly destroyed. All the prophets from Samuel and those who followed them foretold these things. Again, you, Jews, are from the prophets and the covenant God made with the fathers. To you, FIRST, God raised up this Jesus. BELIEVE HIM!

Romans 1:16: the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and the Greek.

Believe Him, Worship Him, Praise Him!

Father, thank you for the boldness of Peter and his preaching. His words are crystal clear! Jesus is the revered Prophet foretold.

Photo courtesy of Dreamstime. Simon Lehman https://www.dreamstime.com/photogranary_info

“Wonder No More.”

He is risen

Mark 16 In the early hours of the first day of the week, the women who had stood at the cross came to the tomb. They “wondered” then and are still “wondering.”  As they walk to the tomb where they had seen their Master lain, they “wonder” again; who will roll the stone away. When Lazarus had died, Martha reminded Jesus that it was four days, and he “stinketh.” Did these women “wonder” if their blessed Master also, even after three days “stinketh”? They had seen Joseph and Nicodemus wrap Him with the 70 lbs. of spices, but they are undeterred in their quest to honor Christ. And so as they continue to “wonder;” they come upon the tomb with its entrance not closed but open! There sat a young man dressed in a brilliant white robe. Again they “wonder” as he reminds of that which they had dismissed or forgotten: “But after I am raised, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” [Mk 14:28] The young man tells them he has risen. Like when Jesus was alive, he says if you don’t believe my words come and see reminding us of what Jesus had said: ‘if you do not believe me, believe because of the miraculous deeds themselves.’ [John 10:38]

Today no longer “wonder” but believe. The crucified Christ is no longer on the cross. He is not in the tomb, “He has risen just as He said!” Look at where he was; then go forth to tell the world, He has risen from the dead!

“Good Friday & Beauty out Ashes”

Beauty out of ashes

Luke 23 Dr. Luke records for us the witnesses at the cross. Only by the Spirit of God could one chapter hold so much that it grabs our attention and cause us to fall upon our knees in humble adoration for the Messiah who gave all that we might worship Him alone.

Today, just as then, God desires that we draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience..” [Heb 10:22] 

There were two criminals crucified with Jesus. One recognized and submitted to the Son of God as he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” In that one brief interchange, Dr. Luke transcends earth to heaven so that beauty may come from the ashes of sin, and we learn of the plan of salvation. First, one must revere God; secondly, one must recognize that they are a sinner who needs repentance. Like him, we are justly condemned for our sin. Therefore, we must seek His face and His forgiveness so we can hear his response: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” 

Note the promise: it happens today, not in the future. We will be with Him! We will be in paradise with Him. 

One Man’s Gift

Joseph's tomb was a gift to Jesus

Mark 15, Matthew 27 As the holidays approach, we begin to think and consider a gift for those we love. What would our gift be?

Joseph of Arimathea needed Pilate’s permission to remove the crucified Jesus from the cross. Then he and Nicodemus prepared his body for burial and transported it to Joseph’s tomb, which was new and had never been used, thus fulfilling the prophecy: “His grave was assigned with wicked men; Yet He was with a rich man in His death.” [Is 53:9]

Joseph was a secret believer, as was Nicodemus. Yet, they took courage and sought to bury Jesus properly. What a precious gift for our Savior. He was disparaged by those he came to serve, but he was honored by a wealthy man and his tomb in death. Those who wore the robes of religious piety were not willing to be defiled; they would not stoop to enter the governor’s residence so they would not be ceremonially defiled, yet were ready to break the sixth commandment: “you shall not murder.” [Ex 20:13; John 18:28]

One man’s gift and his name will live on in eternity as one of the righteous, but one man’s evil words will live on as testimony as a dishonor until he sees Jesus in the clouds. [John 11:50; Matt 26:64]

Which man and which gift do you think gave God pleasure? What will my gift be?    

“An Upside Down View”

What do you see?

John 14 How often have you looked through a rainy window only to realize that your view is distorted because of the raindrops? Our view of life is like that and why Jesus reminded the disciples that He would ask the Father for an Advocate, the Holy Spirit. He would be with them because our view of life may seem upside-down but God has it just right! He would give us the Holy Spirit’s presence to prove the world’s upside-down view of sin and righteousness and judgment because we often see our sin as not sin at all. Again, our view of righteousness is by works, but Paul later would confirm: “he saved us not by works of righteousness.” [Titus 3:5] Instead, we are saved through faith lest we boast in our self-righteousness. [Eph 2:8-9] Our view of judgment is that of a balance scale based on works but again, God judges righteously based only on faith.

Again Jesus said, the Advocate will set your view correctly because He will be in you and with you! He “will teach you everything and will cause you to remember everything [Jesus] said.” [John 1:26]

Have you felt alone or is your view somewhat distorted? Instead, remember this, you have the indwelling Holy Spirit with you moment by moment, day after day, until He calls you home to heaven to give you the correct view of life and faith. Rejoice in this!

“A Steadfast Faith”

Jesus prays for you

Luke 22 As the disciples argued over who is the greatest, Jesus reminded them that the key is not their greatness but their faithfulness. Jesus remarks: “pay attention! Satan has demanded to have you all [all disciples], to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you, Simon, [in particular] that your faith may not fail.” 

It is when we are self-confident in our faith that Satan comes to sift us. Then we must ask ourselves what is most important. Do we answer that our faith remains strong? Satan is audacious, arrogant, and is the father of lies, and he comes telling us that our faith will not carry us through. Note that Jesus’ concern is not about one’s failure to succeed but faith to remain steadfast.  We have two avenues of protection in times like this. We can remind Jesus of his promise to intercede/pray for us that our faith not fail and remind Satan that “The Spirit intercedes on behalf of the saints according to God’s will; [Rom 8] that Christ is at the right hand of God….interceding for us. [Rom 8] that He always lives to intercede for us.[Heb 7] and that we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One [1Jn 2]

Beloved, Jesus prays specifically for you and me that our faith not fail. Take time today to thank Him for His prayers.