Jesus' Footprints

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Now a word was secretly brought to me, And my ear received a whisper of it.   In disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night, When deep sleep falls on men, Fear came upon me, and trembling, Which made all my bones shake. Then a spirit passed before my face; The hair on my body stood up.   It stood still, But I could not discern its appearance.  A form was before my eyes (Job 4:12-16).

Sounds like something out of a horror movie, doesn’t it?   What an eerie feeling it is to sense that something is in the room with you while you are sleeping.  It makes the hairs on your body stand up, indeed.

This night vision is not a work of fiction.  It is real.  It happened to a man name Eliphaz.  He was one of Job’s friends.  When he and two other friends found out about the calamities Job had gone through–losing his livestock, possessions, children and finally, his health, they went to see him.  They were so stunned when they saw the condition he was in–probably disfigured from the boils covering his body, they wept, and threw dust over their heads in deep mourning.  They sat with him in silence for a while until each of them began to speak to Job, assuming that he had brought his suffering upon himself because of sin.

Eliphaz shared the night vision he had.  It was used to illustrate his point that no innocent person has ever perished or the upright ever cut off, implying that Job was neither innocent nor upright.  However, we have read stories of the innocent and the upright being persecuted, martyred.  It was not up to Eliphaz to determine whether or not Job brought this suffering on himself.  Job didn’t need to hear these hurtful words.  He needed a friend.

Job’s whole experience shows us that God doesn’t do bad things to people–He allows it sometimes.  And we are not to judge others.  We can’t assume that they are suffering because of something they did. And that bad things happen to good people too.  And in the case of Eliphaz, people misunderstand who God is.  He believed that God was punishing Job when it was Satan who was responsible for these calamities.

Eliphaz believed that Job must have done something wrong and that for him to say that he was innocent, was like saying he was more righteous and pure than God.  Job was not attacking God’s character but was maintaining his innocence.  He knew that he hadn’t done anything to deserve what had happened to him.  The devil wanted Job to believe that God was punishing him and was trying to get him to curse him.  The spirit was either Satan himself or an evil spirit sent by him to distort a true picture of God and to destroy Job’s faith in Him.

The Bible advises us, “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

Something else that stood out for me in the vision were the words, “Now a word was secretly brought to me, And my ear received a whisper of it.”  This took place at night and it was in secret.  God’s doesn’t operate like this.  His truth is light and it is not secret.  We have to be discerning and test whatever new “light” we receive and see if it is in harmony with the Word of God.  

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Jeremiah 11:18-23

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God warned Jeremiah that there were men in his community who threatened to kill him if he didn’t stop prophesying against them.  It wasn’t because Jeremiah was a false prophet.  They knew that he was prophesying in the name of the Lord.  It was because they didn’t want to hear the truth.  And they didn’t want to hear it from one of their own.  Anathoth was Jeremiah’s hometown and just as the people of Nazareth rejected Jesus, the people were rejecting Jeremiah.  They didn’t like what he had to say and they didn’t appreciate it coming from a member of their community.

Jesus said, “A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house” (Matthew 13:57).  When the people heard what He had to say, they were filled with wrath, rose up and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff (Luke 4:16-30).  This was the Son of the carpenter, who was He to talk to them like this?  Same thing with Jeremiah.  Who was he to be telling the people these terrible things?

These people are much like some of us today.  We are doing things that are contrary to God’s Word and when God sends someone to point this out to us, we get upset.  We don’t like what they are saying.  It makes us uncomfortable.  It hits too close to home.  We would rather hear what we want to hear instead of what we need to hear.  We don’t want to hear the truth.  It hurts.  It cuts into us like a knife.  Some of us have cherished sins we don’t want to give up.

The men of Anathoth loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil (John 3:19).  In order to hold onto their sinful and corrupt desires, they were willing to go as far as killing God’s prophet.  However, God was not about to let them get away with anything.  He was going to punish them.  This teaches us that we are to obey God and leave the consequences to Him.  We are not to allow people to intimidate us into keeping quiet when we have a message to share or work to do for the Lord.  We do what we are called to do and let God take care of the rest.

Jeremiah spoke the truth no matter the cost.  We need to do the same.  When we see someone doing something wrong, we need to say something instead of keeping quiet because we don’t want to ruffle features or upset the person.  And when someone tells us the truth, we ought to swallow our pride and listen.  Remember this person might have been sent by God to straighten us out and if we reject what he or she is telling us, we are really rejecting Him.

Bottom line:  Don’t be afraid to speak the truth.  Don’t be afraid to hear the truth.

“Truly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country”  – Luke 4:24, MEV

Read Luke 4:16-30

jesus-in-nazarethJesus is in the synagogue in Nazareth where as, His custom was, He went there on the Sabbath day.  He stood up to read. He read what Isaiah prophesied about Him in 61:1, 2.

After He finished reading, He sat down and all eyes were on Him.  It was then that He told them that the scripture He had just read was fulfilled that very day in their hearing.

At first they marvelled at His gracious words but that soon changed when Jesus got to the heart of the matter.  He told them the truth which was that no prophet was accepted in his own country.  He quoted the proverb, “Physician, heal yourself, whatever we have heard you do in Capernaum, do it here too.”  In other words, do these things in your own country.

Jesus reminded them that although there were many widows in Israel during the three and a half years of no rain and famine, the prophet Elijah was sent to a Gentile widow.  The widow did as he told her and make a cake for him although she but only a handful of meal in a barrel and a little oil in a jar.  Her act of faith resulted in her, Elijah and her household ate for many days and the barrel of meal did not run out, nor did the jar of oil empty, according to the word of the Lord, which He spoke by Elijah (1 Kings 17:7-16, MEV).

There were many lepers in Israel but Elisha cleansed none of them except Naaman, the Syrian.  Naaman was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master because by him, the Lord had given victory to Syria.  He was a mighty man of valor (2 Kings 5:1).

John 3:19 – “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

We see how fickle the people are.  They were fine where Jesus quoted Isaiah but when He rebuked them, their reaction was violent.  They had heard of His miracles and wonders and were thrilled that He had returned to His home town.  That’s why they said, “Is this not Joseph’s Son?”  We know Him, they seemed to say.  We know His family.  We heard of all the great things He has done in other places.  Perhaps they thought He would perform some of those miracles there.  He was accepted throughout Galilee before He went to Nazareth and news of Him went through all the surrounding region which is most likely how the people of Nazareth heard about Him.

Jesus taught in the synagogues in Galilee and was glorified by all.  Not so in Nazareth.  Once He pointed out, using examples of Elijah and Elisha, that prophets, are more welcomed, accepted by others and not by their own, the people of Nazareth were filled with wrath.  Jesus hit a nerve.  No one likes when their true motives, nature, or spiritual condition are brought to light.  They tried to push Him off a hill but Jesus slipped away.

How do we react when someone points out sin in our lives or bring to light something in our lives that we need to change? Do we reject them?  Do we turn against them?  Do we run them out of our lives?  What is it about truth that make people get so bent out of shape?

What condition would Jesus find you in when He comes into your life? Will you turn to Him?  He promised that, “While you have light, believe in the light that you may become sons of light” (John 12:35, MEV).  Or will you turn away from Him because you prefer your life the way it is? I pray that you will choose to accept Him.

abimelechabrahamAbraham and Sarah journey to Gerar where he passes her off as his sister again.  The first time was in Egypt.  Abimelech, the king of Gerar took her but God again intervenes.  He speaks to the king in a dream.  He tells him point blank that he is a dead man because the woman he had taken was another man’s wife.  Abimelech had not gone near Sarah but this was not of his own doing but God’s.  The king defends himself saying that Abraham told him that Sarah was his sister and he had believed him.  He was innocent of any wrongdoing.  God agreed with him on this point.  God who knows what is in a person’s heart acknowledged that the king had done this in all honsety.  Abimelech had no reason to doubt Abraham.  He had acted in ignorance and for his innocence God had prevented him from sinning–from committing adultery.  But now that he was aware of the truth he had to do the right thing and restore Sarah to her husband.

Abimelech shared his dream with his servants and then he called Abraham demanding an explanation for his deceit.  Abraham’s excuse was, “Because I thought surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake.”  He feared for his life and he tried to insinuate that the lie was not really a lie.  Sarah was his ister because they had the same father.  She was his half-sister. The nature of their relationship does not excuse his sinful deception.  This is the second time God had to intervene so that His law regarding adultery would not be violated.  Abraham encouraged Sarah to go along with this deception, refeering to it as kindness on her part.  This is almost like saying, “If you love me you will do this for me.”  Abraham’s motives here were purely selfish.  Fear fo his life took precedence over Sarah’s feelings.

Abimelech not only returned Sarah to Abraham but he gave them sheep, oxen, menservants and womenservants.  The king’s generosity did not end there.  “Behold, my land is before thee:  dwell where it pleaseth thee.”  He also gave Abraham a thousand pieces of silver.  His generosity put Abraham to shame.  Sarah was rightfully rebuked for her part in the deception when the king said to her, “Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver;  indeed this vindicates you before all who are with you and before everybody” (NKJV).

Abraham prayed to God who healed Abimelech, his wife and his maidservants so that they were able to bear children.  God had closed the wombs of the women in the king’s household because of Sarah.  This is the second time other people had to pay for Abraham’s deception.

God is a God of truth, honesty and this is why He could not tolerate deception.  He had to let Abimelech know the truth.  Even though it was His will that saved the king from becoming intimate with Sarah, that was not enough.  Abimelech had to be aware of what he had unwittingly gotten himself into and do the right thing.  Once God reveals the truth to us it is up to us to do what is right and to live our lives according to this truth.

We can no longer plead ignorance.  Once Abimelech knew the truth about Sarah, it was his responsibility to return her to where she rightfully belonged–with her husband.  Marriage is sacred to God and it is wrong for any of us to treat it lightly, casually.  And honesty is important to God.  It was deception which brought sin into the world in the first place.

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth!
For the Lord has spoken:
“I have nourished and brought up children,
And they have rebelled against Me – Isaiah 1:2

week2-largeThe prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 1:2 depicts a courtroom scene charging Israel with covenant unfaithfulness and calls on heaven and earth to testify to the truth of God’s accusation against His people and the rightness of His judgment– since they were witnesses to His covenant.

The message here is that God has taken care of His children all their lives, nourishing them, delivering them, providing for their every need and still, they have rebelled against Him.

God’s faithfulness was rewarded with disobedience and disloyalty so now He is calling to His two witnesses–heaven and earth.  They have seen all that He had done for the nation and how they have behaved so when God punishes them, it is rightly deserved.  His judgment is necessary.

Throughout history we have seen God come through for His people, taking great care of them and all He asked for in return was their obedience and loyalty but they continually rebelled against Him.  Despite His many warnings they continued to rebel so judgment was passed.

Today, we must still expect God’s to act when people continue to rebel against Him.  The only difference is that He has reserved a day for judgment.

03-032To defeat the enemy, one has to know him first.  The Bible teaches us everything we need to know about the devil.  He exists. He is not a figment of our imagination.

  • He was once  an angel named Lucifer.  He was an anointed covering cherub, perfect in beauty.  He had been in the Garden of Eden.  He was covered in precious jewels.  He was perfect in all his ways from the day he was created until iniquity was found in him (Ezekiel 28:12-15)
  • He became proud and ambitious, desiring to be like God.  He envisioned exalting his throne above the stars of God, ascending above the heights of the clouds.  He was no longer satisfied with the privileges he already had.  He wanted more.  Pride, envy and   covetousness consumed him and ultimately led him into rebellion.  Using his wisdom, he managed to get one third of the angels on his side.
  • As a result he was cast down from Heaven, an event Jesus Himself witnessed.  “I      beheld Satan as lightning fall from Heaven.” – Luke 10:18.
  • He was cast down to the earth.  “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” – Revelation 12:12.
  • Lucifer after sinning against God was no longer a light bearer.  He became Satan, which means Adversary.
  • He is known by many names.  Revelation 12:9 refers to him as the old serpent called the devil and Satan.  When he was in the Garden of Eden, he used as his medium a serpent, the subtlest of the animals.
  • Using subtlety instead of an outright attack on God, Satan managed to deceive Eve into sinning.  He lied to her by  downplaying the consequences of sin.   “Ye shall not surely die.” – Genesis 3:4.  Eve believed him, ate the fruit and gave some to her husband.  Thus, sin was introduced on earth.
  • Everything God is, Satan is not.  God is truth, Satan is not.  The Bible says he is a liar.  Those who follow him are also liars.  “Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” John 8:44.
  • God is not of this world, Satan is.  The moment he brought sin into it, it became his.       He is known as the prince of this world.
  • He misuses scriptures, insinuates himself anywhere such as among the disciples, among friends, families and in the church.
  • He is a deceiver.  He and his angels can become whatever they want to be in the war against God and His people.  “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” – 2 Corinthians 11:14, 15.  If there are false Christs, false prophets and false apostles then, it is very likely that the Mary seen by many is false as well. Satan uses those close to us to get what he wants.   He knows how to secure men’s worship. 

We are warned about this.  “Let no man deceive you by any means:  for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4.  Using the mother of Jesus is one way to secure worship.  He has succeeded in replacing the Bible’s teaching that there is one Intercessor by establishing Mary as the intercessor to the intercessor.

  • Doubt is one of his weapons.  He used it when he deceived Eve.  He was in essence      asking her in Genesis 3:1, “Did God really say that you can’t eat from every tree in the garden?”  In other words, “Are you sure He really said that?”  He makes us doubt God’s word, His love and His promises.  He makes us think that we are so sinful that God cannot possibly forgive us.
  • He is always scheming, looking for a way to get to us.   As soon as he knows our weaknesses, he will use them against us.  He used Cain’s jealousy of Abel; Sarah’s desire for a child; Saul’s jealousy of David; Judas’ weakness for money. 
  • He afflicts people.  “And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath     day?” – Luke 13:16.  It is interesting that Jesus used the Sabbath Day as an illustration of undoing Satan’s work.  He is using the  Lord’s Day to restore God’s creation, which Satan crippled with sin.

Now that we know what the devil is capable of we can better deal with him and the Bible tells us how to do this.  “Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.  Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” – James 4:7. We are exhorted to be humble for God gives grace to the humble and resists the proud.  It was pride that caused the fall of Lucifer and man.  Humility brings us closer to God.  Pride draws us away.  God’s Word is your best defense against the devil.  Jesus used it in the wilderness when the devil tried to tempt Him.  Take Paul’s advise and “put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

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.”


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