February 10, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE TO:

BE MY SHIELD (part 2)

Genesis 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.

The next, wonderful phrase in this verse, is “the Word of the LORD came..” Is not that statement so true? What you and I need the most as we are facing the battles that show up in our life, is the Word of God. How badly we need it. How desperate we should be for it.

There are many instances in the Word of God, especially the Old Testament, where God showed up in certain circumstances to talk with men. Here in verse one, we see that God showed up in a vision. Now we believe since the canon of Scripture was complete, that God does not show Himself to us in visions now, He shows Himself to us in His Word. That means we do not have to wait every day to see “if” God will show Himself to us. It means that we know that He “will” show Himself to us every day if we will stay in His Word. We do not “hope” for visions, we “have” victory. We do not have to get God’s attention, He has already given it. You and I do not have to wait “after these things” to hear the Word of God, we can hear the Word of God before “these things”, during “these things”, and after “these things”.

Let me put it this way, “the Word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision”; but this morning, “the Word of the Lord came unto you in a verse”. God does not periodically give us a vision. Christ has made it possible for us to confidently, daily go to Him. He no longer descends His presence over us, He has delivered His presence permanently in us.

How excited, relieved, and thankful Abraham should have been when God spoke to him in that vision. And how excited you and I should be when God speaks to us through His Word. How could we go through even one day without His Word. Matthew 4:4 says,”But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

Think about this before you continue throughout your day. Here in verse one, Abraham would not even know that God was his shield, unless God had told Abraham. The only reason we know that God is our shield is because God told us in His Word. I wonder how many things God has told us that He would do in our lives that we are not aware of, because we have not been in His Word.

Because God’s Word says so, I am persuaded that He is able to be my shield!

February 9, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE TO:

BE MY SHIELD (part 1)

Genesis 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.

“After these things..”. As we will discuss, God comes to Abraham and announces that He is Abraham’s shield. God does this “after these things”. I assume that God knew that Abraham needed some encouragement after Abraham went through those circumstances. What were those circumstances?

To make a long story short, there were some kings that went to battle with some other kings and Abraham’s family were caught in the crossfire. Some of Abraham’s property was stolen, and some of his family and entourage were kidnapped; including his nephew, Lot. Lot ended up causing Abraham much grief in his life. If only Abraham had completely obeyed the command from God to leave his family. (That is another story for another day)

So Abraham went after his family and property, and God gave him victory. That is the story in a nutshell, with many details and side plots left out. MY POINT IS THIS ! What are “these things” that you have been through? What are some of the battles that you have fought? What are a few of the victories that God has given you? God was able to come to Abraham after the battle, because God fought for Abraham during the battle. When you are a child of God, God always brings you through. God always makes victory a possibility. As the Word of God says, “this to shall pass”. What God brings you to, God will bring you through. I love that phrase, “after these things”. There is always an “after”.

Now you might debate my interpretation of this passage by saying, “Preacher, I have some loved ones that I prayed for that God did not bring them through”. It may be that your argument is that they died anyway, although you prayed. I have a mother that I prayed for through 3 years of cancer, that went to heaven despite our prayers for healing. Some would say that victory was not given by God for her, and our battle. I beg to differ. I see Heaven as the ultimate victory. I also see Heaven as the ultimate healing. I have met many people that after “these things”, they walked out of a hospital, thanks be to God, and went home to good health. In our case, “after these things”, my mom took her first steps in Heaven. In both cases, God gave victory. In some cases, God was their “shield” over sickness. In our case, God was our “shield” over death.

The lesson I am trying to emphasize is this: God can be your shield against kings, God can be your shield against kidnappers, God can be your shield against disease, and God is even your shield against death. Today you might be in the middle of “these things”. Stay patient, because when you are God’s child, there is coming the “after”.

I am persuaded that He is able to be my Shield!

February 8, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE TO:

SEE US ALL THE SAME

Romans 3:22 “..the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:”

We are not all the same, not by a long shot. We all think different, see things different, and have different opinions. Different backgrounds, different upbringings, and different points of view create great diversity. And don’t even get me started about growing up in different parts of the country. We all grew up in different family atmospheres, and different religious environments. Ok, I have made my point, enough of that. We are all different.

Our diversity is contrasted by God’s divinity. We notice here, “the righteousness of God”. That is an accurate statement because righteousness can only be found in one person, that is God. In Him is the only place that righteousness exist. If it is ever found anywhere else or in anyone else, it is still the righteousness of God because He created it.

As we continue to put the pieces of this verse together, we see the two words, “by faith”. These are the connector words. “By faith of Jesus Christ.” What do you get when you mix our diversity, God’s divinity, and Christ’s death? What you get is a powerful verse that says that the righteousness of God is available “unto all and upon that believe”. So if I put my faith in Jesus Christ, God places His righteousness on me. It does not matter if I am Jew or Gentile, Black or White, Asian or Latina, rich or poor, yankee or southerner, or Tarheel or Blue Devil. (That was difficult for me to write)

Yes we are all different, but God sees us all the same. He sees us as sinners. But if we put our faith in Christ, He sees the righteousness of God in and upon us. Christ is what brings us all together. Christ levels the playing field. We, who have no righteousness, are given and covered with the righteousness of God. And it doesn’t matter who we are. Did we hear that? It doesn’t matter who we are!

Don’t you love the very last phrase? “For there is no difference.” You and I are very good at focusing on what makes us different from others. We should be focusing on what makes us the same.we are good at making issues out of everything that someone does different than us, and why we are better than them because of it. But in God’s eyes, “there is no difference”. Either God sees our sin, or He sees the righteousness of Himself. Aren’t you thankful that we are judged and governed in the eyes of God, not the eyes of man?

Even though we are all different, I am persuaded that He is able to see us all the same!

February 7, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE

TO BE MY MEDIATOR (part 2)

I Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

Notice the math in these verses. One God, one mediator, and one Christ, but a ransom for “all”. I guess it would be appropriate to say Christ was the righteous ransom. After all, that is what God demanded. Our problem is that “..there is none righteous, no not one”. That means if we are all sinners, and we are, that none of us are righteous. And if Christ was just going to pay the ransom for one of us, it would have cost the same price as it would for all of us. Think about it, it would take the same to redeem just one of us, as it would for all of us. (Mark 10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.)

The most powerful words in verse five, “..there is one God”. The most hopeful words, “..one mediator between God and men”. The most unbelievable words in verse five are hard to comprehend; “who gave himself”. Nobody took His life, He willingly gave it. Remember the verses yesterday from Hebrews nine, Jesus offered Himself to God. Jesus gave Himself “to” God, but He gave Himself “for” us. No one made Jesus come, and no one made Jesus die. He gave Himself for every single one of us. He “gave Himself a ransom for all”.

What a wonderful word, “all”. It is free of favoritism, inconsistency, and hypocrisy. Jesus did not just die for a particular race, or group of people. That word is full of fairness, kindness, sacrifice, and love. That means He loves us all the same, treats us all the same, and gives to us all the same. It would be horrible to have a mediator that only wanted to represent, or negotiate for certain people. What Jesus is and did means that each of us received preferential treatment. He did not give to those who had given to Him. We were people that had nothing to give Him. We did not earn it, we don’t deserve it, and are nowhere near worthy of it.

We are told, however, that this was “to be testified in due time”. Look at these verses.
I I Corinthians 5:14 “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again”. Jesus ransomed us, and now we through a grateful heart should commit to serve the one who mediated on our behalf. We serve by testifying to others of what Christ did for us on the cross, and out of the grave. Maybe it is now “due time”.

Let us seek out someone today and testify to them of the mediating sacrifice that Christ paid. Praise God I am persuaded that He is able to mediate, now let us testify and persuade others of the same. Time is over due.

February 6, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE

TO BE MY MEDIATOR (part 1)

I Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

“For there is one God!” What a statement. Take it in. That truth separates fact from fiction. That truth has divided families, religions, kingdoms, and countries. That truth is what separates the Bible from books. That truth separates God from gods. That truth still creates quite a controversy in our culture. Television personalities and motivational speakers often promote the idea of “many gods”, or “multiple gods”, to believe in for self peace, self enrichment, and self sufficiency.

If you will recall, the Bible states that a person that doesn’t believe there is a God, is a fool. (Psalm 14:1) But just as foolish to believe that there’s no God is to believe that there is more than just one, true God. So let us make it clear; there is a God, and there is only one God, and that is the God we are talking about here in verse five. Please don’t be confused. This statement is not contradicting the doctrine of the Trinity. The one, true God consist of three persons. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The three are “one”. My illustration is always the fact that although I am Daniel Hawtree, I am also pastor, husband, and father. Being Daniel Hawtree means I need to be all those things at one time. All three members of the Godhead, the Trinity, have different ministries. While there is only one God, there is only one person that can be the mediator between us and the one, true, Holy God. This verse tells us that this individual is the “man Christ Jesus”.

Jesus Christ had to be God the Son in order to mediate “to” God the Father, but Jesus also had to be man in order to mediate “for” us humans. Because we are sinners, we could not approach God the Father because He is a Holy God. So we had no chance, hope, or future without a mediator. If Jesus is our “mediator”, what is a “mediator”?

Interestingly enough, the word means a “negotiator”. That means someone had to handle negotiations between us and God, to see if a solution could be agreed upon. Now there is one problem with that, God does not negotiate. God never changes. His demands are now what they have always been. We really had nothing that we could use to negotiate with God. We had nothing that He needed. We needed Him, He did not need us. So as our mediator, Jesus simply agreed to pay what God demanded. Carefully read these verses from Hebrews chapter nine. (Hebrews 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?15 And for this cause He is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.) Did you notice in those verses that Jesus “offered Himself without spot to God”? Jesus made the payment, and we received the promise!

Stop a minute and take it all in. I am persuaded that He is my “MEDIATOR”!

February 5, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE:

TO LEAD US HOME (part 2)

John14:5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Today, let me give some simple perspective in these verses before we finish them. If you did not have the chance to read the previous devotion, please do that for proper understanding.

Jesus answers Thomas with the following statements:

“I am the way” – Who we should follow
“I am the truth” – who we should trust
“I am the life” – Who we should depend on

“I am the Life”
In verse six, Jesus was trying to explain to Thomas that there is no way without Jesus, and there is no truth without Jesus. Now Jesus is trying to teach Thomas a wonderful lesson. There is no “life” without Jesus. Just a few chapters earlier in John we are told “In him was life; and the life was the light of men”. (John 1:4) in chapter one and verse three, we are told “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made“. So our life STARTED because He created it, and our life is SUSTAINED because He controls it. So what makes us think that our life can be SATISFIED without Him? In fact, a little earlier in John, Jesus claims in chapter ten verse ten “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly“. So everything about our life, the creating of it, the continuing of it, and the conquering of it, are all in Christ.

Now Jesus answers the first question of Thomas. Where is Jesus, and hopefully us, going to? Jesus replied that nobody arrives to the Father, or the Father’s house, without Christ. That is the destination: HEAVEN! You see there is nothing in our lives here on earth that is ever really a destination. All the experiences and circumstances in our life are just stops along the way before we get to our final destination. I guess Thomas might have thought that Jesus was speaking of some earthly location earlier in the chapter, but Jesus was speaking of our heavenly home. Jesus made it clear that the only way to end up there is to follow Him. That is why in verse three of this chapter, Jesus made this statement about heaven, “that where I am, there ye may be also“. Jesus said if you follow me, then you will end up at the same place that I am going, because where Jesus is, there you will be. Jesus is speaking of our “eternal” life.

So if I may draw all of this together. Jesus is teaching all of us a lesson through the answer He gave to Thomas. Here it is:

1. I CREATED THE START OF YOUR LIFE
2. I CONTROL THE SUSTAINING OF YOUR LIFE
3. I COMMAND THE STEPS OF YOUR LIFE
4. I COMPOSE THE SATISFACTION IN YOUR LIFE
5. I CONQUERED THE SECURITY OF YOUR ETERNAL LIFE

I am able to lead you home, Thomas. Any other questions?