April 2023

Picture of a US passport


Our Identity is Found in Jesus

As Christians, we exchanged our lives for life in Jesus. If you are a believer, then your identity has been changed. The new ‘you’ is found in Jesus “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God1.

I’m Not Me

In a genuine sense, we die (and are dying) to our desires, worldly beliefs, and ungodly imaginations, exchanging them for the desires of Jesus. If you ask me, “What am I?” My answer is that I am a citizen of the kingdom of God. If you try again and ask me, “To what do I identify?” My answer is that my identity is in Jesus. Daily, through the continuing process of sanctification, I strive to die to myself and live for Jesus.

This dying (taking up my cross2) cannot be accomplished by obedience to the Law of Moses; it comes only by faith. Our new life only comes through faith, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise3.”

What I Will Be

Now you may think I am implying that no one will have their personality in heaven. I am not. In the Revelation of Jesus Christ, we find, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands4.”

God doesn’t want robots; He wants people that are fit for the inexpressible blessing He has in store for them. I am confident that the process of becoming more Christ-like will be complete when we receive our glorified bodies. Our ethnicity, education, and earnings will carry no value in heaven. Our social standing or political persuasion is worthless in the kingdom of God. We will not have a higher standing nor be subjected to a lower ‘class’ based on any natural condition. The only thing that will affect our opportunities and standing in heaven will be what we do right now with the lives God gave us5.

Good News

If we have enough life to fog a mirror, we have enough life to gain a reward in heaven. God, our Father, wants us always to allow the Holy Spirit to glorify Jesus by being Christ-like. God never forgets our prayers6, tears7, and words8 that we do by faith in the work of Jesus. Live for Jesus; that’s what matters.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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[1]: Colossians 3:3 ESV
[2]: Matthew 16:24 ESV
[3]: Galatians 3:27–29 ESV
[4]: Revelation 7:9 ESV
[5]: Romans 14:12 NLT
[6]: Acts 10:31 NIV 
[7]: Psalm 56:8 NLT
[8]: Malachi 3:16 NIV

A person praying for another person.

Not Pharisee or Sadducee but You and Me

The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves.

Hebrews 10:1 NLT

From the law of Moses, God established laws that showed humanity two things. First, no one can be good enough to enter heaven. Secondly, it has been God’s intent from before Creation to have a Champion0 for His created people.

An exciting and vitally important aspect of Christianity is that of Jesus being the 1st, making the way for us to follow Him. Rather than being nagged by my grammar checker for writing a convoluted and difficult-to-read sentence, let me first provide a few examples.

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps..” – 1 Peter 2:21 ESV

The Firsts of Jesus

Jesus is the first fruit of God’s resurrection1, but all who have put their faith in Him will also be resurrected2. Jesus is the 1st to receive a glorified body, but we, too, will receive one3 at our resurrection. Jesus ascended into heaven and “is seated in the place of honor next to God4” God, too, “raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.5.”

You and Me’s

The Messiah, Jesus, was always the answer, was always our hope, always the “way, truth, and life” for the children of Adam. To have God “in” us would only happen when “God was with us” came into the world. Clothed in flesh6, Jesus made the Pharisees and Sadducees obsolete. He became the eternal “first,” and as followers, we became the object of His love; His Church, His Bride. Jesus replaced the Pharisees and Sadducees with you and me’s.

Good News

Jesus uses you and me. Together with all people that belong to Jesus, we tell the world of His Good News and minister to people’s spiritual and physical needs. And we to go into all the world and make disciples in every nation.

Photo by AKT World

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[0]: Hebrews 12:2
[1]: 1 Corinthians 15:20
[2]: 1 Corinthians 6:14 ESV
[3]: Philippians 3:21 ESV
[4]: Hebrews 1:3 NLT
[5]: Ephesians 2:6 NLT
[6]: John 1:14 ESV

Fitness Training Gym Gray Fitness Gray Gym

God’s Testing

Have you ever watched an athlete go through his or her training routine? By the end, all the strength in that athlete’s body is spent. Covered in sweat, veins bulging, and panting for breath, that athlete appears to an untrained eye as a fool that has inflicted, for no apparent reason, suffering upon his or her body, but we know better.

Success in athletics only comes through consistent, rigorous training. Only when an athlete builds muscle memory can that person compete and win. The same is true for every believer in Christ Jesus.

18 Since he himself [Jesus] has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.

Hebrews 2:18

As for testing, I am confident that if you are a believer, you have been tested many times. Every believer is tested regularly. Temptation is not how God tests people; He never tempts anyone.

Just like an athlete, we are tested by obstacles and resistance and by the absence of each. Finances, health, family, and purity are all areas of our lives that place our will against our “wants.” Sometimes these cause us great physical, mental, and spiritual suffering. And sometimes, the reactions we should have must come faster than we can consider them. We may speak before we think. So, it’s important to train ourselves to ensure that we don’t regret what we say. We must have trained ourselves to be ready to speak Jesus instantly.

Often, our opportunities are only a hair’s breadth1 from passing. Without training, without muscle memory, we may fail God’s test.

Good News

Here is the good news.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” – Hebrews 4:15

Jesus understands “what makes us tick.” He can sympathize with us, and “Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.” I’d call that good news!

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[1]: To perform an action by a hair’s breadth means doing it by a very close margin. This phrase has been around since the 15th century to show the exaggeration of winning, losing, or escaping closely. – Grammarist, https://grammarist.com/eggcorns/hairs-breadth/

A picture of a sad lamb.

Bummer Lamb

This explanation of a “bummer lamb” has circulated throughout the Internet. It is too good to ignore, so here it is.

Every once in a while, a ewe will give birth to a lamb and reject it. There are many reasons she may do this. If the lamb is returned to the ewe, the mother may even kick the poor animal away. Once a ewe rejects one of her lambs, she will never change her mind.

These little lambs will hang their heads so low that it looks like something is wrong with its neck. Their spirit is broken.

These lambs are called “bummer lambs.” Unless the shepherd intervenes, that lamb will die, rejected and alone. So, do you know what the shepherd does? He takes that rejected little one into his home, hand-feeds it, and keeps it warm by the fire. He will wrap it up with blankets and hold it to his chest so the bummer can hear his heartbeat. Once the lamb is strong enough, the shepherd will place it back in the field with the rest of the flock.

But that sheep never forgets how the shepherd cared for him when his mother rejected him. When the shepherd calls for the flock, guess who runs to him first?

That is right, the bummer sheep. He knows his voice intimately. It is not that the bummer lamb is loved more; it just knows intimately the one who loves it.

It’s not that it is loved more; it just believes it because it has experienced that love one on one.
So many of us are bummer lambs, rejected and broken. But He is the good Shepherd. He cares for our every need and holds us close to His heart so we can hear His heartbeat.

We may be broken, but we are deeply loved by the Shepherd.

Image by Ralph from Pixabay

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Empty Tomb Nazareth Israel Nazareth Village Jesus

Jesus, the First Fruit

Today is Good Friday. If we have received Jesus, then today we celebrate the work Jesus accomplished through the cross – His death and burial. By these, we received forgiveness for our sins, reconciliation with God, and restoration to God’s original desire: we are children of God.

Now we anticipate our rejoicing on Sunday, the day Jesus rose from His grave and became the first resurrected man.

The First Fruit

But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.

1 Corinthians 15:20-22 (New Living Translation)

There have been many people that God raised from the dead. Just in the Gospels, we find “The widow of Nain’s son1,” “Jairus’ daughter2,” “Lazarus of Bethany3,” “Tabitha4,” “Eutychus5,” and, of course, Jesus6. However, Jesus did not just return to life as the others did. Jesus was the first “fruit” of the resurrection7.

Everyone that came back to life died again, but not Jesus; Jesus was resurrected by God (Acts 2:24). This act by God was a certification that Christ Jesus’ sacrifice was accepted. And, since Jesus never sinned, His dead body did not experience “corruption” – decay.

Resurrection Is Unique

Resurrection, for us, is the act by God of allowing the death of a person’s physical body, the body we inherited from Adam. And then that person being raised in a glorified body, one that will never die, will always be filled by the Holy Spirit and be acceptable to enter heaven. Our resurrected body will be:

(1) Glorified, acceptable to be in the presence of God in heaven8.
(2) Incorruptible and powerful9
(3) Similar to the glorified body of Jesus10
(4) Immortal11

Good News

“20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.1 Corinthians 15:20

Image by TC Perch from Pixabay

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[1]: Luke 7:11–17 ESV
[2]: Luke 8:40–56 ESV
[3]: John 11 ESV)
[4]: Acts 9:36–43 ESV
[5]: Acts 20:7–12 ESV
[6]: Mark 16:1–9 ESV
[7]: 1 Corinthians 15:20
[8]: 1 Corinthians 15:44 NLT
[9]: 1 Corinthians 15:54 ESV
[10]: Philippians 3:21 ESV
[11]: Revelation 21:4 ESV

cartoon picture of a brain blowing up.

Do This for Me

Today I would like us to think about the man, Jesus. Often, we focus on Jesus, the Son of God. As the Son of God, Jesus is 100% God. And as the Son of Man, Jesus is 100% man. That’s good as the apostle Paul wrote to his “son” Timothy, “For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus1”. Let me just say that this nature is difficult to understand; this is good. God is not like us. If He (the trinity) were then, He would be untrustworthy; He could not be above and beyond us. But God’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not like our thoughts. This is especially evident when it comes to Jesus.

As we remember, when the Holy Spirit made a divine appointment between the disabled beggar and Peter and John, the beggar was healed when Peter looked at the man and said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” Did you catch that? Peter didn’t say Jesus, the Son of God, or Jesus or the Son of Man. Paraphrasing, Peter said, “In the name of the Messiah, Jesus, the man from Nazareth.”

Jesus, the Man

As God’s beloved son, the man Jesus takes who we are and what we need. Then using His relationship with God, Jesus intercedes for us. Jesus takes our heart’s desires 2 – the ones that are in God’s will – and He says to His Father, “Do this for me.” Mind blown! Yes, Jesus loves us that much. It was the man Jesus that paid for our salvation. Of all the options available to the infinite God, why allow His only begotten (intimately brought into the world) 3 son to be treated the way Jesus was treated?

Paying What was Due

Sin requires death. For doomed humanity, Jesus was the death in the family. He was the dearly loved son4. Jesus was perfect in everything he did5; he never sinned6. He always did his Father’s will7. God used the perfect man’s blood to pay what was due8. Perfect blood paid the price.

Then the man Jesus, who was dead, came out of his grave9, not just alive, but his body was transformed, one that could live in heaven and earth. The man Jesus was the first resurrection10, and by his resurrection – eternal life, never to die again – he made resurrection available for all who put their trust in him11. He did this as our “kinsman redeemer.” Jesus, as our blood relative, bought our salvation.

Just Like Jesus

Just like Jesus, we will receive a new body at our resurrection12. The resurrected Jesus could eat fish13, pass through walls14, and move from place to place unhindered15. He was completely unobstructed by anything. The Pharisees, Sadducees, or Scribes were in his rearview mirror! And it was the man Jesus who announced, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me16” No one can give authority to God, but God gave all authority to the man Jesus.

Good News

We must never forget that Jesus is divine; he is the Son of God, the 2nd person of the Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit17. He has ascended into heaven, from where he came18.

As Good Friday and Easter draw near, a time for us to celebrate Christ Jesus’ crucifixion, which purchased our salvation, and His resurrection, which gave us our hope for resurrection19, we should know that these works by God were done with and by Jesus, the Son of God, Son of Man, The Bread of Life, The Redeemer, The Rock of our Salvation.

That bumper sticker is correct: No Jesus, No Life. Know Jesus, Know Life.

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[1]: 1 Timothy 2:5 NLT
[2]: Psalm 37:4 [3]: John 3:16
[4]: Matthew 3:17
[5]: 1 Peter 2:22 ESV
[6]: Hebrews 10:14 ESV
[7]: John 5:19
[8]: Colossians 1:19–20 ESV
[9]: Matthew 28:5–6 ESV
[10, 11, 12]: 1 Thessalonians 4:14 ESV
[13]: Luke 24:40–43 ESV
[14]: John 20:18–20 ESV
[15]: Luke 24:13–35 NIV
[16]: Matthew 28:18–19 ESV
[17]: Matthew 28:19 NIV
[18]: John 16:28 ESV
[19]: John 11:25 ESV

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