Jesus' Footprints

Posts Tagged ‘flesh

Let this mjesus-crossind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,  who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,  but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:5-8).

When I read this the other day, it hit home that Jesus didn’t think anything of leaving the glory of Heaven and coming to earth to live among His creation.   He had no problem setting aside His nature which made Him equal with the Father and taking on the form of sinful man.  Why did He do this?  1 John 3:8 tells us why.  “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”  Jesus came to undo the work of the devil which he started in the Garden of Eden when he tempted Eve and succeeded.

Jesus wanted to defeat sin in the flesh because it was through the flesh that sin entered the world. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—” (Romans 5:12).   Sin is like an epidemic, a cancer and Jesus is the only One who could completely destroy it.  So, He came into the world as an infant, born to a virgin.  He lived a simple life, worked as a carpenter before He began His ministry.  Throughout His life here on earth, Jesus lived in total obedience to the Father and humbly.

In His humility He defeated the devil in the wilderness, using, not His divine power, but the Word of God to counter each temptation until the enemy had no other choice but to go away.  In humility, Jesus allowed the religious leaders and the roman soldiers to mock, spit, strike and humiliate Him.  Not once did He complain or call down the angels to help Him.  In humility, He carried the cross to the place where they would crucify Him.  On the way, women bewailed and lamented Him but He didn’t think about Himself.  He foresaw what would befall them and warned them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.  For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’ Then they will begin ‘to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’ For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?”

I always wondered what Jesus meant by “green wood and dry” and today I learnt that green wood is not used as fuel for fire, whereas, dry wood is perfect for that.  And Jesus is represented by the green wood, as the One undeserving of the cruel treatment He was receiving from the people.  And the people who were fanning the flames, pushing for Jesus’ crucifixion, after requesting that, Barabbas, a criminal be released, were the dry wood.  They were deserving of the Divine judgement that they would one day face.  Jesus was telling the women to cry for these people.  The people who continually reject Christ and His work on the cross are the ones we ought to mourn for the time will come when they will be judged and will be cast into the lake of fire.

In humility, as He hung on the cross, He asked God to forgive the very people who wanted Him dead.  He was dying for them too.  The cross is where we ought to go when we find it hard to forgive those who hurt and humiliate and mistreat us.  In humility we realize that Jesus hanging on the cross in our place is what made it possible for God to forgive us too.  We too are responsible for Jesus becoming a curse for us. Humility is about acknowledging that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory and that we have a Saviour who thought nothing of emptying Himself.

In humility, Jesus thought nothing of the shame of the manner of His death, endured the cross, because of the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2).  He wasn’t thinking about the shame but the salvation that would be offered to all those who accepted His ultimate sacrifice.  Through His death, many would receive life eternal.  And through His death and resurrection, many would have the same victory over sin and death.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for humbling Yourself and becoming one of us so that You could defeat sin and death.  Sin had separated us from our Father but Your death on the cross, reconciled us to Him.  We will never be able to repay the debt You paid with Your precious blood.  We can honour You by loving others and sharing the Good News about what You did for them on the cross.

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,  and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).

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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.

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,  by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.

Peter makes these statements:

  • Christ died onec for our sins
  • Christ who was innocent died for us who are guilty
  • Christ died in order to bring us to God
  • His body was put to death and His Spirit made alive
  • Christ preached to the spirits kept in prison
  • The people disobeyed God while Noah built the ark
  • Eight people went in the ark and God brought them safely through the flood

What these verses say to me is that Jesus died for our sins in order to reconcile us with God because sin separated us from the Father. 

Christ preached to the spirits in prison during His ministry here on earth.  He preached, “Turn back to God!  The kingdom of heaven will soon be here” (Matthew 4:17).  The people were prisoners of sin but Jesus came to free them.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Jesus read this to the people and then after He closed the scroll, He announced, “What you have just heard Me read has come true today” (Luke 4:18-20).  Throughout His ministry, Jesus fulfilled this prophecy.  He healed the sick, the lame, the crippled, gave sight to the physically and spiritually blind, cast out demons and taught people the good news about God’s love and His kingdom.  He freed many from spiritual darkness and the bondage of sin.

He also preached to the people in Noah’s time.  He did so through the Holy Spirit.  These were the people who disobeyed God while Noah was building the ark.  God was patient with them, giving them ample opportunity and time to repent.  He gave them 120 years during which Noah preached to the people.  Peter referred to Noah as “a preacher of righteousness”.  Sadly, in the end, only eight people (Noah and his family) were saved. 

Today, Jesus through the Holy Spirit is preaching to us, urging us to repent so that we could be saved from the destruction of the earth.  We ought to pray like David that God would bring our souls out of prison (Psalm 142:7).  Just as in the days of Noah, God is patiently waiting for people to repent and turn to Him so that through Jesus, they could be saved.  Peter confirms this, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).  God wanted to save more than eight people in Noah’s day but when the people continued to wallow in wickedness and rebellion, God had no other choice but to condemn them to destruction.

Don’t make God do something that breaks His heart.  Follow Peter’s advice, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.  Don’t allow yourself to be being led away with the error of the wicked;  but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:14, 17, 18).

The LORD [is] my shepherd” – Psalm 23:1

Although we are saved, we still face temptations.  This because we are sinners by nature which means we still have the capacity to sin against God, however, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.  Jesus left Him behind to help us.  We have to keep on working to be sanctified.  The Holy Spirit helps us to live holy lives.  He empowers us when we are weak and vulnerable and more susceptible to old destructive habits, old temptations, and old desires.  He is our Helper who teaches us all things and reminds us of all the things Jesus said. 

This is what Paul says about the Holy Spirit, “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  For who among men knows the thoughts of man except the man’s spirit within him?  In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that e may understand what God has freely given us.”

The Spirit is a gift from God.  He helps us to communicate to God when we are unable to express ourselves when we are hurting.  Many times I reach out to God because I need Him so desperately but am unable to get the words out because I’m so overcome with tears and hurt and that’s when the Holy Spirit steps in.  As Paul confirms, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.  For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  Now He searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to will of God.” (Romans: 8-26-27).

Becoming more like Jesus is an ongoing process.  The Holy Spirit helps us along the way.  Whenever I am tempted to do something I know I shouldn’t whether it is buying another clothes or shoes or when I hesitate to do something I know is the right thing to do, the Holy Spirit talks to me.  He reminds me that I don’t need to buy anything and I leave the store.  He reminds me that I want to be like Jesus and that prompts me to do a kind deed.  He keeps me focused on the will of God.  He keeps me in line.  I may not always be receptive to His guidance but I know that He loves me and wants what is best for me.

The Spirit reveals the truth to me—He reveals to me that God loves me and wants me to live a full and healthy life by walking in His ways, trusting Him and obeying Him.  Once I focus on God and the truth, the spirit will grow stronger and the flesh weaker.  “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.  And it is the Spirit who bears witness because the Spirit is truth.”  (1 John 5:4, 6b)  As long as we believe that we have the power through the Holy Spirit to resist temptation and to fight the enemy, we will be fine.  We have a long way to go but we have help and encouragement along the way.

Before Jesus came into the world, we were separated from God by sin.  Jesus’ death on the cross reconciled us to God.  He was the bridge between sin and holiness.  His death and resurrection brought us closer to God.  Through Jesus we were able to have a relationship with God.  This brings to mind the parable of the Shepherd and His flock.  We are the lost sheep, Jesus is the gate, God is the Shepherd and the pasture is God’s word or the life that awaits us once we are saved and pass through the gate.  Jesus says, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  He will come in and go out, and find pasture.” (John 10:7-10)

Through Jesus’ death on the cross, we were saved; we were called to fellowship with God who leads us to greener pasture—to a new life.  We allow God, the Shepherd to lead us because we know him.  We let Him lead us to a better life where the spirit is willing and the flesh is weak.  The opposite of what life was before Jesus came into the world—before we passed through the gate of salvation and into the pasture of sanctification.  We are God’s sheep and we cannot let the thief or what we now know as sin or the enemy lead us astray.  Sin is like a thief, it creeps up on us—it is underhanded, sneaky and it tries to drive a wedge between God and us.  We cannot allow this to happen.  We cannot allow ourselves to think that we can handle whatever comes our way without God’s help.  We cannot allow the thief to steal our attention away from God.

God leads us and we follow Him because we trust Him.  He is a God of truth and He makes us face the truth about ourselves and that is no matter how many good deeds we perform we could never measure up to Him.  We are not righteous—we are flawed creatures who need the power of the Holy Spirit to help us to live godly lives.  We cannot find the pasture on our own—we need the Shepherd to lead us to it.

Thanks to Jesus, the Gate, we were able to enter into a loving relationship with God and graze in His presence.  Once we were on the other side of the Gate, lost in the wilderness and then, one day, the Shepherd came and the gate was opened and the sheep were led away from their live of sin.  Jesus was the Good Shepherd who came to get His sheep and led them to the Father.  He led us away from the wolf that wanted to attack the flock and scatter us—keep us separated from God.  Jesus like the Shepherd laid down His life for us to save us from the enemy.

In Psalm 118:19:21, the psalmist writes, “Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.  This is the gate through which the righteous may enter.  I will give you thanks, for you answered me; You have become my salvation.”

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

To keep us from tooting our own horns, God allows or causes adversity in our lives.  As Paul points out, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7)  This was to keep Paul in line and make him realise that God is in control.  God wanted him to continue to grow spiritually and to emerge from these trials a stronger person. 

Without trials and adversities a person will have no need for God or will more likely boast about his accomplishments instead of giving credit where credit is due—God.  When Paul asked God to remove the trial (thorn) from him, God’s reply was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

God’s reply opened Paul’s eyes to the value hidden in his adversities.  He realised that God was teaching him that it was during hardships, persecutions and difficulties that God is able to show His power.  When the Israelites were oppressed in Egypt, God delivered them through Moses.  Moses had his weaknesses.  He did not have confidence in himself and did not believe that he could do what God asked him to do.  He had many excuses—he was not eloquent, Pharaoh would not listen to him.  He didn’t think he was worthy of such a mission.  He didn’t trust that God knew what He was doing.  Moses wanted God to send someone else.  God insisted on him delivering the Israelites with Aaron’s help.

Moses faced many difficulties.  After he spoke to Pharaoh, the Egyptian ruler ordered that the Israelites gather their own straws for making bricks and still produce the full quota.  They said to Moses and Aaron, “May the Lord look upon you and judge you.  You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” (Exodus 5:21) 

Moses then asked God why He brought trouble on the people and if that was why He sent him—to make things worse.  God promised deliverance and told Moses what to say to the Israelites but they were discouraged because of their situation.  They did not listen to Moses. (Exodus 5:22, 23, 6:1-11)  Moses lost heart and doubted that Pharaoh would listen to him. (Exodus 6:12)  God convinced him to do as He asked.

Pharaoh let the Israelites go but Moses problems were far from over.  When they were in the desert, the people grumbled against Moses, were disobedient, and were attacked by other nations and the people made a golden calf to worship.  But God saw to it that His people were taken care of and He used Moses to do this.

Moses’ faith in God became steadfast because He delivered His people fromEgyptand sustained them in their journey and took them to the Promised Land.  Moses was able to speak to Pharaoh, show him God’s power and he taught the laws to the people.  The people mourned Moses’ death.  It is said that since then, there was no prophet like Moses whom the Lord knew face to face who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt-—to Pharaoh and all his officials and to his whole land.  For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of allIsrael. (Deuteronomy 34:10-12)

Had Moses been an eloquent speaker, he probably would have tried to appeal to Pharaoh on his own or taken the credit when the Israelites were delivered.  He probably would not have relied on God.  Just like Paul.  If everything continued to go well without any obstacles, he wouldn’t have had any need for God.  He would have felt that he could preach and reach the people on his own.  Paul realised that in his weakness he was stronger because he depended on God who gave him His strength and His grace.  God gave him everything he needed to continue in the face of adversity.

God gave Moses the encouragement, the strength, the words and the necessary tools to carry out His plan.  But, Moses allowed anger to get in the way and he did something on his own.  He struck the rock with the staff instead of speaking to it as God had instructed.  As a result he angered God and was not allowed to go to the Promised Land.  Instead of trusting God, relying on Him, obeying Him, Moses did his own thing.  He did not allow the people to see what God could do in impossible situations.  He did not glorify God.  He allowed his ego to get in the way.  He wanted to show the people what he could do because they were grumbling against him and God.

When we allow our egos or emotions to get the better of us and we move away from the will of God, the consequences are great.  David is another example.  He wanted Bathsheba and probably felt he had the right because he was the king.  He tried to manipulate Uriah so that he could pass off his unborn child on him.  When that didn’t work, he had him killed.  If David had gone to war instead of remaining in Jerusalem, he would not have indulged in a sin that would bring death and destruction to his family or incurred God’s wrath.



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