35: 50 Days of 3:16

For the last couple of days, I have been off grid or at least separated from the electronic devices that tend to keep us connected. Working as a counsellor at a Camp for Children. I really enjoy taking these times to pour into the lives of the next generation and although it wears me out I know that these times are vital to the growth of these kids. The kids learned about being empowered with Jesus. He is their hero they are looking for. He gives them Super Purpose, a Super Mission and Super Power through the Holy Spirit. This power is available to anyone who has turned to the Lord.

 

But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away

2 Corinthians 3:16

 

Back in the Old Testament, before Jesus had made the scene, God had provided the people with an earthy way for them to distinguish His presence. He had first given them a portable tabernacle and then they build the temple. The ark of the covenant was created not as an idol to be worshipped but as a seat where God’s presence rested. The power of God’s presence was revered and separated by a curtain and eventually a large veil. No one but the highest priest was able to go inside this veil and see the ark. This task was performed not very often and when it was the priest assigned went in with a rope around his ankle and bells so that if the presence of God overwhelmed him or he fell over dead that the other priests could pull him out. That is how serious they took the presence of God in their midst.

 

Jesus came along and turned everything upside down. He when talking promised to shake things up, he promised that every believer would have access to God’s presence, no veil required. He would take the place of the veil and ensure that those who needed to see God would and could experience His presence without fear of falling over dead. Not only that but He promised that each and every follower would have Gods presence inside them through the Holy Spirit, who will live within every believer. He even proved his power and authority in this by ripping the veil in two, when he died on the cross. This was no accident that the veil was torn, no Jesus didn’t sneak into the temple and cut the veil, he was hanging on the cross. The veil was no longer required Jesus displayed his power by removing the veil as a symbol that we could now enter into God’s presence.

 

Do you feel unworthy to be seen by God? That may be the sin that is shaming you. Sin separates us from God, Jesus on the cross provided a way for us to be free from the sin that causes this shame. This sin cleansing is offered freely to anyone alive that makes the step of faith and chooses Jesus. He may have died on the cross but displaying the awesome power of God, He rose again bringing life and forgiveness. Providing a way for us to remove the sin that separates us and removing the veil that divides us from Gods presence, and even goes one step further sending the Holy Spirit (which is part of God) to live in us. We are empowered by God, what is holding you back from receiving this power?

 

Father, many who will read this may not know you, I pray today that they will find the truth they need and finally make that giant leap into your arms asking Jesus to forgive them of their sins. They say the first step is admitting that we have a problem. Until they realize this they will fight the help Jesus offers. Give us wisdom and boldness to show the world that they need help, in my family, my friends, my community, and my world. Let me be the light you are asking me to be so that those around me can see what you have done for them and the power you want to give them. That following Jesus isn’t about losing everything but gaining everything.   Amen

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32: 50 Days of 3:16

It’s Sunday morning, a man is brought into church into your church in a wheelchair, easily observed this man cannot walk his legs deformed in such way that he may have been like that since birth. During the worship service, the man is rolled up to the front where he cries out for healing. Some come to pray for the man asking Jesus to heal once again. No one truly expecting anything to happen to the man. This attitude is a reality in many of our churches. We know God still heals but not really getting our hopes up as we never see it.

By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.

Acts 3:16

 

Take a second look at my story, what would happen if at the prayer moment throughout the building a loud crack is heard. Only seen to those who were faithful to come to pray, they see the man’s legs shoot out and start to gain strength and muscle right before their eyes. What if that man climbed out of his chair and put one foot in front of the other and gaining momentum started walking, no running and jumping around the altar praising God, how would the people in the pews react? There would be many surprise reactions, some disbelief others in shock.

This is what is happening here in Acts 3. Peter and John just met a man in need of a life-changing event. He was asking them for money, but they offered him the power of Jesus to be healed. What amazes me about this story is that they offered it but instead of waiting for the man to decided they took his right hand and pulled him up fully expecting him to be healed. Peter and John filled with the Holy Spirit had no doubt in the power of God to heal this man. They had personally seen Jesus do it, he told them they would do it, so they just did it. They gave all the credit to Jesus and the mans faith. They did not want any glory for this act nor should they. It was in the name of Jesus that the man was healed, and they had no doubt that it was going to happen. How would this world be changed it those who trust Jesus had this kind of faith to heal?

I can’t do that, I am no Peter or John, and I am definitely no Jesus. That was all back then and has no power now it just does not happen in this day and age.  Jesus promised us that the same Holy Spirit that worked with Him is in us and that we can do the same miracles and healings He did and even more. Why would his promise only extend for a generation or two and then disappear? If you google healings you will find that there are healings happening all over the world. Amazing things are happening in places, mainly in places where believers have less comfort and more reliance on God’s provision. Where I am it is very easy to get health care, but in a third world country where hospitals are in short supply trusting that God will heal seems to have more clout. Can God use you to heal someone right where you are? Yes he can, will you let him use you?

 

Father, we want to see people being healed. Not to build ourselves up as the ones doing the healing but to give you glory and draw men and woman to you. Strengthen our faith and destroy our disbelief. For far too long we have been quiet about what you can do, some thinking that it was only for the New Testament time period. Even today Jesus use us to reach this world through love, sharing your salvation and even healings. Give us the wisdom to reach the lost. Amen

31: 50 Days of 3:16

Not surprisingly, John 3:16 is the most well-known scripture in the world. Why exactly would this be? It most likely has to do with the fact that the Gospel is wrapped up in this one verse of the Bible.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

One of the things this world has a hard time comprehending is that our eternal destiny is given to us as a choice. Why would an all-powerful, just, good God give the people He created a choice? If they live a good life would that not be enough to grant admission into heaven and life eternal? This train of thought keeps many from ever accepting the Son and what He has done for them. They do not see any importance to His death and resurrection. They could be judging God based on what they have seen religious institutions do in the past but never being involved in the Church. On our own strength we have no way to redeem ourselves from the sin that separates us from the relationship God desires to have with us.

How then do we reach people around us when we as believers do not understand, let me explain;

On one hand we talk about the fact that we cannot force someone to accept Jesus into their lives, yet in the next breath we are praying that God will ‘soften’ their hard hearts to the truth.

Well God does not force Himself into people lives. Revelations says that Jesus is knocking at the door. Some days we wish Jesus was there at the door ready to kick it in, but He patiently waits for each person to open the door. How do they know who is on the other side of the door? That is what we are called to do, we are to tell others about who Jesus is so that they freely desire to open the door to Him. We need to be His salt and light in this world, showcasing who Jesus is, telling others why we accepted Him. Using the simple Gospel in this verse to be your starting point.

Father, today I pray that we be your salt and light, reflecting who you are in this world. Help us to remove the fear that holds us back from sharing your love with this world. The moment of possible rejection is a small price to pay for exposing them to the truth that can free them from an eternity of suffering. Give us wisdom to speak life into their lives. Use us to fulfil the mission. Amen.

30: 50 Days of 3:16

On day 28 we talked about Jesus receiving the baptism from John, how John did not feel worthy to provide this task, feeling it should be the other way around. Today we see how John felt about the coming Messiah and why he felt humbled in Jesus presence. John was a man like us, he had his doubts as well, even after making a strong statement like the one today or recognizing Jesus and baptising him we see that after he was imprisoned only months later, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he really was the Messiah. 

 

John answered them all, “I baptize you with[a] water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with[b] the Holy Spirit and fire.

Luke 3:16

 

The baptism in water is an important step in any believer’s life. But John here tells the reader of another important baptism that is available through the Messiah. This part of being a Christ follower is often ignored because people do not take the time to understand the role of the Holy Spirit. Some groups of believers have taken this to far and place a higher importance on it to the point where those who do not agree are ostracized.  The Holy Spirit is God. Just the same as Jesus is God, the Holy Spirit has been given to meet with us where we are. Many put the Holy Spirit on another level just a little lower than Jesus, all because Jesus promised to send another to help us. The Holy Spirit is not like a worker who has been sent but as an ally sent to assist. He was there with Jesus empowering Him in miracles, giving Him strength on earth.

 

If we were already baptised in water why would Jesus come and there be a promise to baptize with fire? Fire consumes us, fire is used to refine us. Just like gold when found is unpure, refinement with fire removes impurities and creates something beautiful. This process is not always a fast one as we resist the process, afraid that we will lose who we are and become something else. God created you the way you are for a reason, your personality and talents are what He wants to use. Refinement will not destroy who you are but enhance you for the better removing the bad traits and solidify the positive ones. Holding on to the past and things of this world keep us from refinement. Many have been attributed to the statement ‘Let go and let God’, it is what we need to do to allow God through the Holy Spirit to work in our lives.

 

Maybe today you feel like I have in the past, a stale Christian faith that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Church on Sundays, maybe a study during the week, casual prayer and devotions. But life is just blah, you want to feel excited about your faith but you just don’t. When was the last time you let the Holy Spirit work in your life? When have you asked Him to baptise you with fire revealing things that need to be removed?  This can be done alone or in church. Many a Sunday I see the altar empty and people rushing out of the church as soon as the pastor says his closing prayer. What if the church was to take time praying for the Holy Spirit to refine them? Give them purpose? Praying for more than being a seat warmer, holding a place for entrance to heaven? We are called for so much more, but until we are ready to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire we wander through life. We can’t expect change to just happen, most times we have to make the first step, it may be that first step that carries you into a new chapter in your faith.

 

Father, I pray today that everyone who takes the time to read this knows you, if they don’t I ask that today you will show them the relationship you have for them and the forgiveness that Jesus has for them.  Use us to reach our families, neighbours, coworkers and our world. Holy Spirit refines us in your fire, not to burn us up but to remove impurities that hinder us from growing with God. Use our personalities and abilities to be effective in the mission of sharing the love of Jesus to this world. We need strength and wisdom to be effective, Holy Spirit we ask for these things. Use us. Amen

28: 50 Days of 3:16

Here in Matthew, we start the ministry of Jesus. The Old Testament prophets spoke of a man preparing the peoples hearts for the coming Messiah. We read in this chapter about a man named John. You may know him as John the Baptist, he was given that name as he has known for baptising people preparing them to meet God. John was teaching that people must repent of their sins and the baptism was an outward sign of an inward change of heart, very different from the sacrifices of old. Why then would Jesus who had no sin need to partake in such an activity?

 

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.

Matthew 3:16

 

As we read we see that John recognized Jesus right away as the one who would save them. We know from reading Mary’s account of pregnancy that Jesus and John had met briefly when they were yet born, and Jesus had made an impression on him then. We know they were cousins, yet we have not record of any encounters between them after they were born. We know at some point in John’s life he departed into the desert to seek God and received his calling to teach repentance and baptism. But here on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, they meet once again. Jesus asking for the baptism that John has been performing.

 

John hesitates, asking why Jesus would need this baptism, instead John wants the baptism that Jesus will provide. We see here that John was hungry for more. He had received his calling and knew that he was only the foreshadowing of one to come, his whole life was about preparing the hearts of the people for Jesus. In essence, he was the preshow to the main headliner, he knew it and never once wanted to take his place. So, when the one who he has been preparing for asked him to baptise him, it took him by surprise. Jesus reassured John that this was needed to be done so that the calling could be fulfilled. John was once again obedient and did as Jesus asked.

 

Jesus went down into the water a sinless man, he was not being baptised to show and outward sign of an inward change, but as an act of obedience that each believer should follow. He came up from the waters in triumph as a symbol of what he would do in three years time. This moment when the Spirit of God descended on Jesus could very well be the kickstart to his early ministry. All his preparation and prayer leading to this point where God said ‘go’.

 

As believers in Christ, we have accepted Jesus into our lives, asking Him to forgive us of our sins. We go through our lives and as sinful beings we continue to sin, we must daily ask for forgiveness. Not as if the sin we do breaks our relationship with God, but that the sin hinders our walk with God and slows down growth. We also called to water baptism, to go under the waters as an outward sign of an inward change. In the early church believers did this almost immediately. Today we wait and wait and some never make this statement of faith. They wonder why things fall apart and their relationship with God is rocky. This is an important step for any believer and helps cement your heart. The baptism sprinkle as a child does not have anything to do with this event. This choice must be yours something you do freely to show others the change you have made and who you serve. If you are putting off water baptism or just never knew you needed to, I pray today that you don’t delay, talk to your Pastor or mentor and encourage them to help you.

 

Father, thank you for everything you do for us. You prepared the way for Jesus so perfectly. Sending John ahead to prepare the hearts of the people, instituting baptism as a symbol of repentance. I pray that we see hearts changed, lives transformed and people renewed in their faith. Let their lives be an example of your love in this world. Use us to share your love, let any fears that bind us be taken away and replaced with strength and wisdom. Give us opportunity after opportunity to reach the lost. Amen

 

 

27: 50 Days of 3:16

When we think of fear we might think straight to that scary fear. I always had a fear of horror movies, never tempting myself by watching them because I had a fear they would give me nightmares. I never watched Jaws for this reason and compared to what is out there today that movie is pretty tame. But fear can control us. There have been whole studies on phobias and how they control lives. They keep us from moving forward. So why then in the Bible does it continually talk about fearing the Lord?

 

Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name.

Malachi 3:16

 

This fear that the bible talks about is not the same as the fear that scares us. Well, maybe it is. But it is all in the perspective I guess. Many attributes this fear to reverence and that could be the case. What we have come to understand is that those who have accepted Jesus’s forgiveness now understand the judgement that is coming to all of those who choose not to accept. This fear of the Lord is attributed to one’s knowledge of what could happen walking outside of His grace. In this mindset, we can then work towards sharing our faith as we know what we have been freed from and others should be afraid of what is to come for those who don’t choose life in Christ. This fear reminds us that what we still have a freedom to walk away into the life we lived before but now we know what is there waiting for us. It hopefully keeps us from choosing our fear over life with Christ.

 

We see here in the last book of the Old Testament that the Lord listen to them. This is a promise that the Lord listens to His children when they talk to Him. We see here that they kept a record to preserve who feared God. This reminds us that we need to build each other up. Encouraging one another in the faith and before God. It is not a solo faith.

 

As those who fear the Lord, we also fear for our loved ones who are not walking with God. We pray for them and encourage them to come to church and accept Christ. It breaks our hearts when they reject our offers and ignore us because, in essence, they are rejecting the salvation that was freely given for them. We fear that it will be too late for them to choose life. I loved when I heard in the last couple weeks that a church in Ontario, lead by a former pastor of mine had created a book at the church recording those who needed to know Jesus. I had initiated something similar at the church I am at, a wall of those who needed to know Jesus. I titled mine ‘They matter to God, so they should matter to us.” In both examples, people would write down names some just first names of people that needed to accept Jesus forgiveness. These are ways that the church can work together to build one another up as they pray for family, friends and coworkers to meet Jesus.  I would encourage you if you haven’t already make a list of people who God can use you to impact with his love and keep praying for them. Use the fear of the Lord to empower you to reach others.

 

Father, we thank you so much for what you have rescued us from. When we look back at what we used to live like it is almost unimaginable that you would choose to forgive us, yet you did. Help us as believers to share this with our family, friends and co-worker. We have been called on this mission to spread the love of Christ and if we don’t we are being disobedient. Give us wisdom and knowledge to do this, Holy Spirit guide us daily to someone who needs to hear about Jesus. Use us. Amen

26: 50 Days of 3:16

If you believe God does not care about what is happening here on earth you might want to take another read of your bible. God is always watching He does not sleep like a man does. As you read some of the minor prophets letters you may just decide to ignore them as they are small and not quite sure why they were even added. But the information and revelations about God and His character are undeniable. Here in Zephaniah we again read about God’s love and hope for His chosen people. He hears their cry of anguish and promises to punish their enemies for the actions.

 

 

On that day
they will say to Jerusalem,
“Do not fear, Zion;
do not let your hands hang limp.”

Zephaniah 3:16

 

Have you ever been so discouraged that you are just about ready to give up? Everything is not going your way. Someone told you that the Christian life would be easy and you believed them, now it feels like the world is against you, you must be doing something wrong. Many around us are discouraged, they have no one willing and able to build them up and encourage them. Here in this time in Israel’s history they were exhausted, defeated and ready to give up. God was sending them a battle cry to not give up. Keep working away, do not be discouraged. Letting their hands fall limp would be a sign of defeat, an outward sign of an inward change. If the people began falling into depression and giving up any of their enemies would take advantage and destroy them.

 

One of the issues we find is that Israel was unrepentant for their sinful actions. Earlier in this chapter, they are reminded of this and the importance of asking for Gods forgiveness for the actions of the people. They had dabbled in the rituals of their neighbours partaking in the worship of other god’s. This rightfully upset God who was leading them and showing them the direction they need to take to live a fulfilled life. Unrepentance puts up roadblocks to God’s blessings in our lives. This not only includes unrepentance towards God but towards our fellow man who has done offence to us. This is not easy for us as we have been taught that revenge is expected. For us to forgive without expectation of remuneration is not the norm but is what we as believers are called to. Society demands justice and remuneration, just look at the number of lawsuits out there over the littlest things. This all stems from greed where man has learned if you complain loud enough and play the right cards you can be compensated for being offended. The courts have played into their hands fueling this engine of greed.

As believers, we need to stand up over this system. Taking a hard stand on forgiveness. Loving our enemies, not letting our hands fall limp by our side in defeat, but ready to help our enemy in moving forward.  God will deal with those who do not accept our forgiveness and love, let Him deal with the justice, we must raise our hands in a show of love. We do not have time to worry about holding grudges and making things right in our own eyes. We are called to the mission of reaching the lost in which none are excluded, your enemies are part of your mission to be told the love of Jesus. You can do this in how you respond to their attacks. Many a story is told about persecuted believers overseas that love their captors and eventually their captors receive Christ. We may not have enemies as harsh but we can love those who are here in our midst. Will you rejoice and not be discouraged? God is ready willing and able to help you push through your fears and reach those around you. Will you let Him?

 

Father, many are discouraged in their faith. Maybe they have tried to share your love and have been laughed at or threaten if they continue. Strengthen them in your love and give them boldness to keep on. Let them not let their hands go limp in defeat but help them to raise them up in a show of love and determination to be a strong force for the kingdom. Help them experience a win by guiding them to lead someone to you. Give them the wisdom to speak directly to the heart of someone they know a friend, family or enemy, even today Jesus. If we are holding on to forgiveness show us how we need to let it go and love those who have hurt us. Use me today. Amen