Jesus' Footprints

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“He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God” – Luke 23:35

031211_0125_CITIZENSOFA14As Jesus hung on the cross, soldiers cast lots for His robe and the people passed by, blaspheming Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” The chief priests and scribes jeered Him among themselves, “Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” (Mark 15:29-32).  The soldiers mocked Him, saying that if He were the King of the Jews, He should save Himself.  One of the criminals blasphemed Him, telling Him that if He were the Christ, to save Himself and them.  As He hung there, Jesus asked His Father to forgive them (Luke 23:34-37).

None of those jeering at Him realized that He had fulfilled the purpose for which He came.  He was not going to save Himself.  He was there to save them and the world so that those who believed in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.  He became a curse for our sake.  Nicodemus must have reflected on these words as He witnessed the crucifixion,  “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,  that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:14-17).

Jesus had to be lifted up so that all men would be drawn to Him.  Just as the Israelites looked upon the serpent in the wilderness and were saved so will those who look upon Him in faith.  The heavenly King to give His life a ransom for many.  The rulers seem to have forgotten Caiaphas’ prophetic words, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” John wrote that the high priest prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad (John 11:49-52).  Thus Jesus would die not only for the Jews but also for the Gentiles.  And it was expedient that He should die.  There is no remission for sin unless blood is shed.  The blood of the Lamb of God had to be shed for the sins of the world.  Without His death there would be no reconciliation with God for sin had separated us from Him.

Ironically, the other thief on the cross, who was also cursed because he was hanging from a tree, he realized that Jesus was innocent and undeserving of such a humiliating death.  He acknowledged his own sinfulness in the face of our Lord and asked Jesus to “remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”  Jesus promised him that day that he would be among those who were resurrected on that glorious day when Jesus would come again to gather His people to Him and take them to Heaven.  That thief gave his life to the King of Kings and in return received the promise of eternal life. 

Thankfully, Jesus did not come down from the cross as He was goaded into doing.  Instead, He cried out, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit’” and died.  Even nature responded to the death of its Creator.  There was darkness over the earth and the sun was darkened.  The veil in the temple tore, signifying that the old sacrificial system was obselete now.  “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.  For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.  For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Hebrews 10:1-4).  Only the blood of Christ can take away our sins.  He offered Himself once and for all on the cross. 

Another important point that should be made is that the tearing of the veil also signified the tearing down of the partition which separated us from God.   We read in Hebrews 10:19, 20, that we can boldly enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus and by a new and living way which He consecrated for us through the veil which is His flesh.  So, thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we are now able to boldly approach the throne of grace.  In the old system, “when a sacrifice was offered for the sins of the entire congregation, the blood was taken by the priest, who represented Jesus (Hebrews 3:1), into the sanctuary and sprinkled before the veil which separated the two rooms. The presence of God dwelt on the other side of the veil” (God Drew the Plans, Amazing Facts.  In the tearing of the veil, we see Jesus in His roles as our sacrificial Lamb and our High Priest.  Through Him we can go directly to God and confess our sins.  We don’t need an earthly intercessor.  The Bible clearly teaches that there is one Mediator between God and us and that’s Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5).  He is the only way to the Father because of what He did on the cross.

The King of Kings stayed on the cross until He was able to say, “It is finished.”  He had accomplished what He came to do.  Hebrews 10:7 states that He came to do the Father’s will.  Isaiah 53:11, 12 explain what that will was:  By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.  And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.”  It pleased God to give His beloved Son so that the world would be saved through Him.  And the Son was willing to lay down His life. 

When the centurion saw the veil tear in two from top to bottom, he declared, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39).  Here we have a Gentile, a Roman soldier who acknowledged that Jesus was the Son of God while many of the Jews rejected Him as their King and their Messiah.  This centurion declared that Jesus was a righteous Man and glorified God (Luke 23:47).  He believed that Jesus was the Son of God.  This was a confession of faith.  He was drawn to the King who was lifted up.  Jesus said of Himself, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).

Today, reflect on the King as He hung on the cross, cursed for our sakes so that He could redeem us.  Thank God for loving you so much that He sacrificed His Son so that you could be reconciled to Him.  Thank Jesus for laying down His life for you.  And rejoice because the King is now in heaven sitting on the right hand of the Father.

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Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd. And it was told Him by some, who said, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.”

But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it” (Luke 8:19-21).

Basically, you are a member of God’s family when you live in obedience to His Word.  It makes sense that if you want to be a child of God or if you already are, you would do what it says in His Word.  God has spelled out clearly what He requires of us.  Just look at Jesus’ teachings.  They are filled with how God wants us to live our lives.

We are told to forgive others if we expect God to forgive us.  Jesus told a wonderful story about a king who showed mercy to a servant who could not repay his debt and begged the king not to sell him.  The king forgave the servant his debt but that same servant refused to release another servant from the debt he owed him although it was far less than the debt the first servant owed the king.  Of course, the king was upset and that servant received a just punishment for his unforgiving attitude toward the other servant. 

joesph-and-his-brothersJoseph is a perfect example of someone who forgave his brothers although he could have easily justified holding on to his anger and bitterness.  After all they had planned to kill him and then decided that they would sell him instead.  He never saw his mother again and years passed before he was reunited with his father who thought he was dead.  He was falsely accused of and thrown into prison for attempted rape.  He spent years in prison before he was released.  In spite of all of these things, Joseph chose to forgive.  And he even saw the good which God achieved from the bad things that happened to him (Genesis 50:19-21).

We are told to love our enemies.  This is a tough one but Jesus said that we are to be like our Heavenly Father who “makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust”.  We are to be different from the rest of the world who loves those who love them and hate those who hate them.  We are called to love those who hate, spitefully use and persecute us.  

We are told not to judge.  Jesus used the example of a person looking at the speck in his brother’s eye when he has a plank in his own.  How could he possibly see that speck when he has a plank in his eye?  Why is it that we look at the sin of others and ignore the sin in our own lives?  Let us deal with our own sin problem.  It’s like the religious leaders.  They were judging the tax collectors and other people they considered outcasts when they were far from being righteous themselves.  They were envious, unmerciful, judgmental, self-righteous and hypocrites.  Are we guilty of judging others because they don’t measure up to our standards?  Do we think we are better than non-Christians?  We should always bear in mind the words of Paul, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  We cannot judge people.  Only God can.  He knows the heart.

We are told to be persistent in prayer.  God is just waiting to give good things to those who ask Him.  All we have to do is ask, seek and knock.  We ask as often as it takes.  We ask in faith, never wavering.  And if it is God’s will, what we ask for we will receive.

We are told to enter the narrow way.  Don’t do what is popular or easier or less resistant.  Don’t follow the crowd if it is contrary to the Word or will of God.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego did not go along with the rest of the society in worshiping the idol image of Nebuchadnezzar even if it meant their deaths.  They stood apart from the crowd and make a strong stand for their faith in the one true God.  We are to enter the narrow way which leads to everlasting life and not the broad way which leads to destruction.

We are to bear good fruit.  As Christians we are exhorted to bear good fruit.  Good fruit means we act in accordance to God’s word and will.  We bear fruit worthy of repentant and changed lives.  This means we are no longer living as we did before we came to Christ.  We practice what we preach.  We are Christians in deed and not in name only.  We follow Christ’s example and bear the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22, 23).  This goes back to what Jesus said about not acting as the heathen do.  We love those who hate us; have joy even during tough times; experience the peace of Christ during the storms; are patient even when it’s hard; are kind and good to others whether or not they deserve it; stay faithful to God even when it seems like our prayers are not being answered; show gentleness even when people are unkind or inconsiderate toward us; we exercise self-control no matter what kind of situation we are dealing with.  Bearing the fruit of the Spirit is not easy as we know that the flesh and the Spirit are always warring against each other but those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh.  Christ living inside you enables you to walk in the Spirit.

We are to do the will of the Father.  None of us wants to hear Jesus say, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’  Why would He say that?  There are professing Christians out there who believe that they will be saved because they have prophesied, cast out demons and done many wonders in Jesus’ name but Jesus will declare that He doesn’t know them.  These are Christians who, although they did all these things in His name, they did not do the will of the Father.  Only those who practice the will of the Father will enter the kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus said that not everyone who calls Him “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom.  If Jesus were truly Lord of their lives, they would not be practicing lawlessness.  They would be doing the Father’s will.  Their lives would bear fruit worthy of entering the kingdom.  Obviously, it is not enough to be active in church ministry, going to church, distributing tracts or feeding the poor.  If you are not doing something that God has revealed to you–that you need to change or renounce, you will not be among those of whom He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” 

We are to build on the Rock.  What is your foundation?  Is it tradition or the teaching of the church?  In Jesus day, the religious leaders seemed to place the traditions and teachings of men above the commandments of God.  Jesus made it clear that our foundation should be on His word.  When we hear His teachings and we apply them to our lives, we will be like the wise man who built his house on the rock and when the rain, floods and wind threatened to sweep it away, it stood.  It did not fall.  It’s the same with us.  Once we are anchored in the Word of Jesus and we do what it says, when the enemy comes and tries to topple us over with temptations, opposition, persecution, etc. we will stand because we have built our lives on the Rock.

Jesus taught many other things that would help us in our Christian walk.  All we have to do is to decide today to be doers and not just hearers of His Word.

Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established” – Proverbs 16:3

Thoughts.  It’s hard not to have thoughts.  We have them all the time and there are times when we have thoughts we wish we didn’t have.  We have thoughts that take our focus away from God.  We worry about all sorts of things.  We worry about our health, our jobs, our families, our finances and so many other things.  Then anxiety sets in and we become stressed and unable to concentrate on anything else.  When we have real problems become so intent in trying to solve them ourselves that when we are unable to find solutions, we become depressed.

We feel defeated and discouraged because we are unable to take care of our families and ourselves.  Instead of allowing this to happen, we should remember what Jesus said.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father fees them.  Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  Therefore do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6: 25-27, 31-34)

Jesus says here and we know this for a fact, that worrying doesn’t change anything.  It only makes things worse.  Instead, we should look to God who promised that He would take care of us.  Here are complaints we have and God’s responses:

  • We say, “It’s impossible.”
  • God says, “With Me all things are possible.” (Luke 18:27)
  • We say, “I’m exhausted.”
  • God says, “Wait on Me.  I’ll renew your strength.” (Isaiah 40:31)
  • We say, “I can’t go on.”
  • God says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
  • We say, “I don’t know what to do.”
  • God says, “I’ll direct you.” (Proverbs 3:6)
  • We say, “I can’t do.”
  • God says, “You can do all things through Me.” (Philippians 4:13)
  • We say, “I can’t make ends meet.”
  • God says, “I’ll supply all your needs.” (Philippians 4:19)
  • We say, “I can’t handle this.”
  • God says, “Give it to Me; I’ll carry it for you.” (Psalm 55:22)
  • We say, “I’m all alone.”
  • God says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

We should surrender our minds to God, give Him our troubles and worries and relieve ourselves of unnecessary burdens.  We have to remember that God is our Father, a loving Parent who desires to take care of His children.  When I worry about something, this is what Jesus says to me:

  • “When you are afraid or hurt, close your eyes and you will see My hands reaching out for yours, you put them in Mine and I will raise you up.  I will uphold you.”
  • I am the Resurrection and the Light.  He who believes in Me will have everlasting life.  Therefore I will heal you of negative and evil thoughts and restore you in mind, body and spirit.”
  • “Focus on Me and not on your real or imagined troubles.”
  • “Let your heart not be troubled.  Be assured that I will restore it to peace.  My peace.”
  • “Cast your worries on Me and I will take care of them.  Give Me your troubles and in return I will give you My peace.”
  • “Have faith and don’t be discouraged.”
  • “The Lord takes care of His children.  He keeps straight their paths so that they turn neither to the right nor to the left.”

We should ask God to free us from worry and anxiety and to instead, focus on Him and allow His peace to fill our minds, bodies and souls.  When we accept that God is in control of our lives and not we ourselves, it makes life so much easier.  We will be able to sleep a whole lot better at night and focus on what is important—our relationship with God.

A lot of times we mistakenly believe that people are angry with us or are gossiping about us and oftentimes it is all in our imagination.  The imagination could be a very powerful thing.  We imagine the worst only to discover that things are not as bad as they seem.  More than once I thought someone didn’t seem friendly to me because of my colour or to realise that I was mistaken.

I always remember that Othello thought that Desdemona didn’t love him because he was insecure.  He allowed his father in-law’s prejudice and his insecurity to ruin his marriage.  He allowed Iago to turn him against his wife and a friend.  Destructive thoughts can ruin friendships and relationships.  The mind is a battlefield.  We are constantly deluged with negative thoughts that we need to terminate before they take hold of us.  We should turn our minds to God.  We should set our minds on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:2)

Whenever we have a negative thought we should counteract it with God’s word.  Here are examples of negative thoughts and God’s word:

  • Thought: No one loves me.
  • God’s Word: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
  • Thought: I’m nothing, useless, a nobody.
  • God’s Word: “Beloved, now we are children of God.” (1 John 3:2)
  • Thought:  I have no friends.
  • God’s Word: “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” (John 15:14)
  • Thought: My friends say that this dream/idea of mine is impossible.
  • God’s Word:  “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)
  • Thought: If I do this, my friends and family will not understand.
  • God’s word: “My mothers and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” (Luke 8:21) And “Whoever acknowledges Me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.” (Luke:12:8)

We should hand our worries and doubts over to Jesus in exchange for His peace.  He told us not to let our hearts be troubled.  Worrying only makes things worse.  Jesus wants us to enjoy our lives.  He said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly” – John 10:10.  Let us not waste any more precious time worrying.

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD” – Psalm 31:24

Is there any hope?  Yes.  Jesus is our hope for a better life, a life not marred by sin.  Jesus’ death on the Cross gave us hope of having our sins forgiven and having a relationship with God.  Hope for everlasting life—eternal life made possible by Jesus shed blood.  I have hope in the Lord who is faithful and keeps His promises.  I have hope in the Lord because nothing is impossible for Him.  I have hope in the Lord who has plans for my life and who promised that He will guide me.

I have hope in the Lord who never forsakes His children.  I have hope in the Lord who loved us so much that He sent His Son into the world to die for my sins.  God has said and done many things to make us hope and when we hope for something it means that we believe they can happen—that they are possible.  God has taught us that anything is possible and that we can do all things through Him.

  • To hope is to have faith that the thing we hope for is not out of our reach.
  • To hope is to be confident that we can achieve anything we set our hearts on.
  • To hope is to believe that we can have what God means for us to have.
  • To hope is to be assured that we can get what God plans to give us.
  • To hope is to be encouraged because it seems that what we dream of is possible, promising.
  • To hope is to trust that it can and will happen.
  • To hope is to expect it to happen.

Hope springs eternal.  To hope is to trust in the Lord, to look on the bright side, to be optimistic.  As Paul writes in his letter to the church in Rome, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5)

Hope is the same as faith.  Faith is to believe in that which we cannot see and so is hope.  We don’t know what our futures hold but we can each hope for a bright one.  God promised that He has plans for us so we have those to look forward to and what makes this more exciting is that what God’s plans for us are always beyond our wildest dreams.  Look at how blessed Abraham was after Isaac was born.  He became the father of nations as God promised.  Hannah prayed for a son and was blessed with Samuel and other children.  Leah was blessed with six sons and a daughter and God’s favour.  Ordinary men became great apostles whose gospels and letters we read to give us inspiration and a better insight to who Jesus is.

It is exciting to hope when you read how the lives of these people and others in the Bible changed when they came to know Jesus.  As Paul rightly says, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” (Romans 8:25)  Hope makes us steadfast and more focused on God.

Knowing who God is and what He has done makes it easy for us to hope in Him.  He is loving, kind, merciful, faithful and compassionate.  In Psalm 145:9, David says that the Lord has compassion on all that He has made.  This is true.  He had compassion on Leah who was unloved by her husband.  He had compassion for Hannah who was barren.  He had compassion for the woman who would have been stoned for committing adultery had He not been there.  God does indeed take care of His children and as long as we hold on to that fact, we will always have something to hope for.

“To day if ye will hear his voice” – Psalm 95:7

God speaks to us but we must listen. We must be able to discern His voice like a child is able to discern his/her mother’s voice by listening for it. The child knows his/her mother’s voice. We, as children of God, our Heavenly Father, should know His voice. To do this, we should read about Him, learn more about His nature from the scriptures and spend more time with Him. It is like a person you develop a relationship with. The more time you spend with him or her, the more you learn about this person. You become close and you are able to tell when they are happy or when they are troubled.

God is the same way. The more we get to know Him the more we are able to tell the difference between Him and the intruder who enters the pen through another way instead of the gate. This is the devil who tries to draw us away from God through whatever means are at his disposal. He tries to tempt us, deceive us and distract us. But, if we keep our eyes on Jesus and listen for His voice we will not be led astray. He will protect us and provide for us. When we lean on him, trust Him, give our lives to Him, it will be easier to block out the temptations of the world and not be led astray by the intruder (the thief, robber) who tries to separate us from God and the truth.

Jesus is the means through which we are able to have a relationship with God. He is the gate through which we, the sheep, enter and God is the Shepherd. We have to go through Jesus to get to our Father. It is through Jesus that God expressed His love for His sheep. It is through Jesus that our sins were forgiven. It is through Jesus that we have the Holy Spirit, which dwells within us. It is through Jesus that God conforms us to Christ’s image and prepare us for His work. We are sanctified through Jesus.

It is through Jesus that we are able to resist temptation, follow His example, learn more about God, Heaven, forgiveness, love, trust, faith, tolerance, mercy, salvation, truth. Jesus is the gate. Whoever enters through Him will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture (John 10:9). This means that once we accept Christ, we are saved and have everlasting life. The pasture is the word of God. Once we feed on the word of God, we will not want of anything as pointed out in the 23rd Psalm. The pasture is God. Once we hunger for Him, we will not want of anything.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He knows His sheep and we know Him. He laid down His life for us. He protects us from the wolf (the devil). If one of us gets lost, He goes out of His way to find us and bring us back to Him—under His loving care and protection. He will not allow the wolf to scatter His beloved sheep.



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