Category Archives: relationships
The trick to living life is prioritizing: You need to figure out what is most important, and make it the main goal of your life. I personally believe that the gospel is more important than any other pursuit, and therefore my life needs to revolve around the gospel: preaching it, living it, training my children in it. It is nothing to be ashamed of because it trumps all other concerns that we think are important.
The Apostle Paul agrees with me:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16)
The gospel is important because it tells us how to obtain the one thing we all need: salvation. Believing it will save us from sin, selfishness, and the wrath of God. Those who do not follow it are slaves of their own sinful desires, bringing down disaster on themselves and attempting to do so to others.
But the gospel, this simple truth that many people mock and despise, is the answer to our problem. It is “the power of God” and is therefore capable of rescuing those of us who admit that we have no power to save ourselves. When we believe the gospel we believe in God’s capability and willingness to save us, despite of our complete inability to save ourselves. Jesus shed blood is the only thing that can take away sin, and it is applied to “everyone who believes” both Jew and Gentile. That’s a promise that you can take to the bank.
I do not want you to be unaware,brothers and sisters,[d] that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.
I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. (Romans 1:13-15 NIV)
Preachers of the Gospel should not be territorial. What I mean by that, is that we should not be afraid to allow other believers preach the Word of God on our “soil.” After all, the entire world is God’s world, and He desires for His gospel to be preached and re-preached all over its surface.
The Apostle Paul knew this. That is why he does not apologize for wanting to preach the gospel and win souls in the city of Rome, even though he knows that other Christians had gotten their first, and had already reaped a large harvest. He knew that the believers there would welcome his help, not resent him. After all, they were all on the same team.
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1 NIV)
At the opening of the Book of Romans, Paul refers to himself as someone “called to be an apostle and set apart from the gospel of God.” The word “apostle” means “sent one.” So Paul is making the claim here that God himself has chosen him for his unique mission, which chiefly includes being “set apart” to preach the gospel for others.
There is definitely a sense in which all true believers are “apostles.” We have each been sent to this planet for a purpose, but not all for the same one. Our specific roles in God’s plan are diverse. Most of us are not called to be full time missionaries like the apostle Paul was. Nevertheless, we must obey God and do whatever it is He has called us to do. Disobedience is not an option for a mature believer. We do not get to decide what our ministry is: that is God’s decision. He has “set apart” each of us for something, we must be prayerfully honest in finding out what it is and pursuing it. God will equip us with the power and gifts we need to accomplish His will for us. The only way we could miss it is if we are selfishly disobedient.
Therefore, you do not need to roll dice in order to find God’s will for your life. Simply focus on your spiritual walk with God, make sure that you are not being ruled by arrogance or selfishness, and then you will accomplish what God wants you to accomplish. The only thing that will keep you from the right path is sin. So don’t make yourself miserable worrying about the big choices that face you; rather work your hardest to combat sin in your life.
ABOUT EBENEZER LUTHERAN CHURCH
I have been able to learn very little about Ebenezer Lutheran Church from the internet. They are located at 1431 St. Clair Avenue. I have not been able to find out who their pastor is, or if they have a website.
Since I know nothing about this church, let me just say that I hope that they are faithfully preaching as Paul commanded his protege Timothy:
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” (II Timothy 4:1-4)
Be prepared to preach always that Jesus is the only way to God, and that all must repent of their sins (Luke 13:3, II Corinthians 7:10) and believe in Him (Romans 10:9). Those who do not repent are not saved, regardless of whether or not they have been baptized (Mark 16:16).
I have recently posted a new page on this blog to help guide my readers through questions of sexual morality and how the church should deal with such situations. I hope that this will be an encouragement to my fellow Christians to stay firm on these matters in a spirit of love.
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talkor coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.[a] 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruitof the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord.11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. (Ephesians 5:3-13 NIV)
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” (John 20:1-2 NIV)
Mary Magdalene apparently did not realize that Jesus was going to rise from the dead when she visited the tomb on Easter Sunday morning. Her faith was limited enough so that she did not at first recognize the cause of the empty tomb. She thought that “they” had taken Jesus’ body out of the tomb and put it somewhere else.
Nevertheless, despite this misunderstanding, Mary did the right thing by going to the tomb in the first place. Even after Jesus had been crucified and it seemed like all hope was gone, she just couldn’t stay away. And so she had to be near Him even though He was dead. Imagine her joy, when she eventually found out that He had risen! This was a result of her not being able to stay away.
Likewise, those of us who love Jesus should find it impossible to “stay away” from Him, even during times of distress and confusion. We should always go to Jesus through prayer and through meditating on the Word of God. Jesus will help us see the truth at times that we are spiritually blind, and give us hope when it seems like there is no hope. There is no good reason for us to avoid Him. Now that we have been found by Him we ought to spend time with Him.
Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.[e]40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. (John 19:38-42 NIV)
Here John gives a description of Jesus’ death that fits perfectly with Isaiah’s ancient prophecy about the death of the Messiah. Here we see Jesus, who was executed as a criminal, given a grave of a rich man (Joseph of Arimathea). This fulfills Isaiah 53:9
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth. (Isaiah 53:9 NIV)
These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” (John 19:36-37 NIV)
God was remained completely in control when Jesus died on the cross. Even though Satan was allowed to kill Jesus, it was only in the manner in which God fore-ordained for the purpose that God fore-ordained. Satan was never allowed free rein to do what he wanted. He was not even able to break a single one of Jesus’ bones because God did not permit it.
Nearly fourteen hundred years earlier God had sent a sign to the world concerning the Messiah’s bones. Jesus, the “lamb of God: was pictured prophetically in the passover lamb that was eaten yearly by the Jews under the Mosaic law:
“It must be eaten inside the house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones. 47 The whole community of Israel must celebrate it.” (Exodus 12:46-47).
but they are to do it on the fourteenth day of the second month at twilight. They are to eat the lamb, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 12 They must not leave any of it till morning or break any of its bones. When they celebrate the Passover, they must follow all the regulations. (Numbers 9:11-12)
Jesus Christ is our Passover lamb. The blood that he spilled on Calvary protects us from God’s vengeance on sin, just as the Israelites who spread the blood of the passover lamb on their doorposts were protected from the angel of vengeance 3,400 years ago. In the rituals of this passover lamb we see the prophecy that Christ’s bones would not be broken when He would come to atone for the sin of the world. This may seem like a minor detail. And yet, it is very important. The fact that it was predicted over a thousand years in advance emphasizes the fact that God was completely in control of every detail of Christ’s death. This should be encouraging to all of us when we go through trials and difficulties, because God is still in control over what happens to us as well. Even the slightest detail is part of His divine plan. Therefore, we need not worry and panic about the future. Our job is to believe and trust Him.
Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”
22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” (John 19:19-22 NIV)
In this passage we see God’s sovereignty at work, in that Jesus is rightfully proclaimed as “king of the Jews” even as he is being crucified. Jesus is indeed the King of the Jews whom the Old Testament prophets predicted would come to rule over the Jewish people. Here is some evidence from the Old Testament prophets:
First of all, it is predicted that the coming King would be a descendant of David:
“‘In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.
16 In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it[c] will be called:
The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’ (Jeremiah 33:15-16)
The New Testament tells us that Jesus is indeed a king from David’s line. When Jesus comes the second time He will bring peace to Jerusalem:
I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you[a] this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:16,20)
Furthermore, we know that the coming King would be born in Bethlehem:
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans[b] of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)
Notice that this ruler who would come to reign over Israel would have “origins… from old, from ancient times.” In other words, He would exist long before He would be born. That is Because Jesus is not only man, but God, existing from eternity past. In fact there is another prophecy that states explicitly that the “son born” would also be God from eternity past:
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
Finally, we know that the coming king would be executed (yes executed) around the time that Jesus died, about 30 AD (Daniel 9:26). There is plenty of evidence that Jesus is King of the Jews for those who are willing to examine it. Some day He will come back to rescue His Jewish people from annihilation by their enemies. Then they will realize that Jesus is their Messiah:
And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit[a] of grace and supplication. They will look on[b] me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. (Zechariah 12:10 NIV)
When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.
2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.3 So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.” (John 18:1-9)
It was always Jesus’ plan to be captured and delivered to death, and for His disciples to escape death at that time. The situation may have seemed precarious as the disciples were surrounded and outnumbered, but God had everything under control. Everything that took place that night was part of God’s eternal sovereign plan. Likewise, everything happening to you today is part of God’s plan too. Do not be afraid: He is in control.