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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

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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

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Yes You Can

But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

1 Peter 1:15-16 NLT

I read this familiar verse this morning and paused to meditate on it. I usually jump to the end where God’s Word states, “be holy because I am holy.” However, the first thing that struck me today was that this is a command, not some ethereal statement. The apostle Peter, by the Holy Spirit, wrote to tell us, “you must be holy in everything you do.” That’s a command.


What does “holy” mean? The Hebrew word for holy is “kodesh,” which comes from the root word “Kadash.” It means to be set apart for a specific purposei. For us to be “holy,” God’s will is for us to be set apart for a specific purpose, just as God, Himself, is set apart for a particular purpose. Our purpose comes from His purpose.

Our Holiness is a Command from God

As Christians, this passage of Scripture is not an item on a buffet; it’s not something we can take or pass by. Yet, few commands from God are more intimidating. In the two verses before this command, we gain an understanding of how we should prepare for such a demanding command.

So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then.

1 Peter 1:13-14

We Must Prepare to be Holy

For us to be holy, we must first prepare our minds. Our world is flooded with corrosive ideas, images, and intellectual fraud. We have no hope for holiness unless we get that stuff out of our thinking and exercise self-control. Christianity is a full-contact sport. If we stay on the bench, we will allow the world back into our thoughts. Only by actively living for Jesus can we build a wall to keep the world from entering our thoughts and actions.

To live for Jesus means that we recognize the world offers a pretty facade behind which is death itself. What we must do is embrace deferred gratification. A savings account is deferred gratification, earning a college degree is deferred gratification, and avoiding sex before marriage is deferred gratification.

To obey God’s command to be holy, we must embrace deferred gratification. We must release the treasures that the world offer and trust Jesus to provide better treasures1 and the salvation of our souls when He is revealed to the world.

The Process for Holiness

If we follow the process that Peter tells us. If we prepare our minds for action, exercise self-control, and trust Jesus by laying up our treasures in heaven instead of grasping things that have no eternal value, then we will be prepared to be holy, to be set apart for a purpose.

We know, from the Old Testament, that Jeremiah2 and Sampson3 were “set apart for a purpose,” and in the opening pages of the New Testament, we find that John the Baptist4 was set apart for a purpose. Also, we find that each of the children of God is set apart for a purpose5.


But how can we be holy? Why should we care?


Holiness is a component of God’s nature. He is God, and there are none like Him6. Since He is unique, He is, therefore, “set apart.” When we are reborn, God the Holy Spirit comes into us7 to be with us forever8. Before salvation, we were dead in our trespasses and sin9. The Holy Spirit provides the spiritual DNA that we never possessed before. We become alive. Just like the dry bones that sprang to life in the Old Testament10.

As we prepare our minds, exercise our self-control, and exchange our worldly desires for treasures laid up for us in heaven, we come into alignment with God’s will. God is like a spiritual chiropractor, adjusting our thoughts, actions, and desires11 so we align with His “set apart” purpose for us.


Only when our being is properly aligned can we begin our journey to holiness. But why should we care? I can give you two reasons, though I’m sure there are many more.

First, to accomplish the work God places in our hands to do, we need God. He never gives us anything that we can achieve ourselves. If we could do it ourselves, then He would be sharing His glory with us; He doesn’t do that. Secondly, if we desire to lay up treasures in heaven (deferred gratification), we need to be useful to God; that means we need Him “to set us apart for a specific purpose.” He did that before Creation, but we can’t enter that purpose until we can receive God’s call upon our lives12.

Yes, We Can

If we circle to the start of this post, we find God’s command, “be holy because I am holy.” Without the context surrounding this verse, it seems unreasonable and impossible. But as we have seen, we can be holy (set apart for a purpose) if we are willing to make the changes in our lives that prepare the Holy Spirit to align us to enter into the purpose God envisioned for us before He created the world.

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

2 Corinthians 7:1

Let’s not allow this truth to roll off us like water on a duck’s back. I’m convinced that one of the questions Jesus will ask many of us when we stand before Him is, “Why weren’t you holy?”

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i: Hebrew Meaning of Holy – Set Apart For A Purpose — FIRM Israel. Firmisrael. Hebrew Meaning of Holy

1: Matthew 6:19-20
2: Jeremiah 1:4-5
3: Judges 13:5
4: Luke 1:13-17
5: Ephesians 2:10
6: Jeremiah 10:6
7: Ephesians 1:13
8: John 14:16
9: Ephesians 2:1
10: Ezekiel 37:1-10
11: Romans 12:2
12: 2 Timothy 2:21

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Being Known

Now, I want to address Christians, much like the Christians in the church in Corinth, that think of themselves as better than others. This statement may seem harsh; that is not my intent. Please hang with me on this.

20 So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish…29 no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

1 Corinthians 1:20,29 NLT

I hope we all seek to be known by Jesus Christ, our Lord, as trustworthy servants dedicated to bringing glory to God. (2 Corinthians 4:15) Education and knowledge are vitally important. Paul, the Apostle, encouraged his “son” Timothy to study so that he could correctly demonstrate a thorough understanding of the doctrine of Christ within the Scriptures. We all should continually strive to increase our knowledge, but the end purpose of knowledge is not for our benefit. Instead, it is to bring others to a greater understanding of the glory of God. Jesus leaves us no room to point some of God’s glory upon ourselves.

A person who loves God deeply and walks humbly in righteousness is more valuable to God than anyone that thinks they have all the answers. And that humble person is one whom God uses. Paul’s 2nd letter to the church at Corinth gives them, and us, a clear reminder: “[Presently] we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV)

God knows us “fully,” and this won’t change when we enter heaven. God won’t have a sudden epiphany about anyone! However, we will find that some of the things we were adamant about in this life, we misunderstood or completely missed the boat. Therefore, let’s study while recognizing we cannot be experts in anything concerning God. And let’s not learn for our ego but let our hearts burn with a hunger to know God more intimately and encourage everyone while calling upon God’s grace and mercy while drawing near to Him so that He will draw near to us.

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God’s Benefits Package

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.Jeremiah 29:13

What an unusual world in which we live! Science is advancing at a blistering pace, technology is evolving so rapidly that new products are obsolete by the time they are available in the market. Once isolated viruses are advancing at unimaginable speeds, and new medical procedures are available to you and me which would have been called magic five years ago.

Truly, the world we called home five years ago is nothing but a memory; it bears little resemblance to the one we live in today. Mercurial social definitions, strange weather patterns, and the unraveling of the delicate balance among geo-political powers stagger our minds. Just the thought that vehicle manufacturing would grind to a halt because of the lack of $2.00 integrated circuits.

Speaking of grinding to a halt, church attendance has significantly contracted. This pulling away is affecting Christians, Jews, and Muslims! According to a Gallup Poll:

  • In 2020, 47% of U.S. adults belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque
  • Down more than 20 points from the turn of the century
  • Change primarily due to rise in Americans with no religious preference

It would seem justifiable for people to throw up their arms and say, “Enough, already!” But, if you are a true Christian, all of these changes and fearful cries can’t move us. We walk in joy because our obedience to Jesus promises joy. (John 15:11) We walk in peace because Jesus promised us peace. (John 14:27). We walk in love because this is Christ’s command. (John 13:34)

How can we be moved by the world? God lives in us. (John 17:20-21) So, here we stand, as guideposts, pointing to the world the way to salvation and all of its benefits. We are ambassadors for Jesus, representing Him in the affairs of humanity. We are love, not lustful love, but the love that comes from God. We are confident, we are bold, we are humble, we are knowledgable, self-controlled, steadfast, and godly. We show brotherly affection and love. (2 Peter 1:5-8)

We have the fruit of the Holy Spirit at work in us. These are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Google; paupers. Facebook; wannabes. Amazon; amateurs. We have the most comprehensive benefits package that has ever existed. So, let’s consider today’s verse.

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

There is no circumstance or situation that we are in bondage to – except that which we bound ourselves to. In a moment, a mere heartbeat, we can find God when we seek Him with all of our hearts. How can life be better than to be known by the creator of everything? He knows us by name. He knows how many hairs are on our heads. He goes beyond knowing us; He loves us. And I’ve not touched on being saved from God’s coming wrath and the promise of eternal life with Jesus. Let’s celebrate and shout for joy for what God does for us!

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Tree Tribe tree Trunk tree Bark thicker Stem root

All Creation Shares a Common Root

I recently watched a documentary about linguistic archeology. This is the study of discovering the branches of a language and finding the root language from which our modern languages developed. Here’s an interesting quote from Dr. Paul Geggarty1, an expert in archaeology and Language:

Human societies don’t just come from nowhere, and nor do the languages we speak. And unlike the archaeological record, our languages are still living lineages, inherited directly from how our ancestors spoke. Romanian is a direct linguistic legacy of Rome, for instance — and so too are Italian, Spanish, French, and various others. Whereas English is most definitely not.

This characteristic found in languages is a good example for us. It reminds us that Jesus created everything, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. (Colossians 1:15-18); everything has its root in Jesus, and all things are held together by Him.

This isn’t a stretch for God’s Word. John wrote concerning Jesus that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) and in the Creation account in Genesis, we find: And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3) Notice the words, “And God said.” These words testify to Christ’s work of creation.

Now consider something C.S. Lewis said, “Birds, flowers, trees, and mankind have all sprung from the same root, which is the word coming forth from the Father.” So, we can say with great confidence that humanity (something visible) and the laws of physics (something invisible) share a common root, Jesus Christ, the Word of God.

When anyone creates something, an artist creates a painting, or a welder welds a joint on an oil pipeline; the creator leaves an invisible part of themselves in everything they create. This is true with Jesus, also.

So, we can say with confidence that birds, flowers, trees, and mankind are not that different since we all share the same root. Does this mean that Jesus created evil? Did he devise lying, cheating, and stealing? Of course not, although many people have difficulty with why evil exists in the world.

Allow me to prove that Jesus did not create evil. Jesus is the root of things both visible and invisible but consider this. Can a lie exist without truth? No, a lie is a perversion of truth, but if the truth doesn’t exist then the lie is irrational. Let’s consider cheating. Can cheating someone exist without objective morality? Of course not. If there are no moral laws to follow then it would be completely impossible to cheat. This same argument is true with stealing. Without an objective moral law, instead of subjective morality, stealing cannot exist. Only when there is a moral law against theft can stealing exist.

Now consider evil. Can evil exist without objective morality? The answer is “no.” Something cannot be evil unless something holy exists. Holiness can exist without evil, but not the other way around. All things that the Bible calls out as wrong are declared wrong because they did not grow from the root.

Evil, lying, cheating, stealing, coveting, and so forth are not from the root. They have not grown from the root; they are not derived from Christ Jesus. Evil and its many devices come from a created being that is “hell bent” on perverting the holy things of God.

So why do bad things happen to good people? Why is there evil in the world? How can a good God allow ethnic genocide? None of these evils are part of creation, their lineage cannot be traced back to Jesus the root. God has revealed His will and what is holy in His Scriptures. We know the fruit of the root. But we are all born sons and daughters of Adam. Our flesh is as hungry for sin as we get when we see Reese’s® Pieces commercial.

In this life, God has called us to be reunited with His creation, to once again be a branch from His root. Through Christ’s sacrifice, we can be free of this world. This world is an artificial, ungodly system; it has nothing to do with planet earth. To serve Jesus, He has given us promises and armor to do His will in this world, a world which we are in but not of. (John 15:19)

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1: Archaeology and Language | FifteenEightyFour | Cambridge University Press. 17 Mar. 2014, accessed on July 6, 2022

The Beam of Light

“Though you have not seen him [Jesus], you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

1 Peter 1:8-9 

A Sunbeam in a Dark Room

Have you ever noticed how a sunbeam shining past a window curtain dominates a dark room? It usually happens when you are trying to “sleep in.” You’ve got a day off from work and no commitments, so you intend to revel in the ambrosia of sleep without demands. But, then, the sun finds a gap in the only window which sunlight can creep through and glare straight into your eyes.

No matter how you try, you can’t find a way to position your body away from that beam of light. Finally, you look straight into the beam, and when you do, you see the beauty of the day; blue sky, puffy clouds, and the sun dominate your view, filling you with awe and wonder at the beauty you see.

C.S. Lewis wrote a similar but exceedingly better analogy about a beam of light shining through a crack in a wall of an old garage. He made a valuable observation. We can either be the person that contemplates the shaft of light or be the person in the beam of light, immersed in the light and enjoying God.

Marinade in the Holy Spirit

Lewis called observing the beam Contemplation and immersion in the beam Enjoyment. For Christians, we need Contemplation – reading God’s Word, listening to a good sermon, listening to an edifying Christian podcast. Contemplation teaches us the tools we need to be effective in the Body of Christ and often leads us into the beam; into the presence of God.

Nevertheless, acquiring spiritual tools is not an end in itself. The purpose of tools is to use them, so that’s where we need to spend the majority of our time. We need to “marinade” in the Holy Spirit, having the Holy Spirit on us, in us, around us, and shining out of us; being in the Light of God is Enjoyment. That is where we need to spend most of our time – in the beam!

Westminster Shorter Catechism has this Q&A:

Q: What is the chief end of man? 1
A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Living in the Beam

There is a considerable difference between seeing the beam and being in it. Before salvation, all we could do was see the beam. We could contemplate it. We’d see the beam, occasionally, in someone. We might contemplate the beam on Easter and Christmas and at funerals. The saved and the unsaved can contemplate the beam, but only a child of God can enter the beam. Contemplation is vital, but Enjoyment is where we should live.

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1: Heidelberg Catechism, accessed on July 2, 2022

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Release from Old Memories 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  

2 Corinthians 5:17

Perhaps it’s just me, but sometimes, I have flashbacks from my past, memories of things I’ve done that were selfish, socially clumsy, or countless other mistakes I’ve made. These memories only last long enough to send me down mental rabbit trails that are spiritually unfruitful. For a long time, I fought against them, seeing them as a spiritual attack. But recently the Holy Spirit showed me how to deal with them. 

I discovered these flashbacks are a two-fold blessing from God. First, the first time an old memory attacks me, I take it to Jesus. If it was a sin, then I confess it and ask Christ for forgiveness. Then I thank God for His mercy and grace that permeates this memory. Mercy, from my Father, is enough to provide a way for me to be forgiven and grace for His great love to extinguish the power of that flashback. Once it’s dealt with, it no longer has power over me. I am free indeed from that memory’s condemnation. 

The second blessing is that, from God’s grace, each flashback shows me my growth in Jesus. That old memory is not the event itself but only its imprint in our minds. It is not the wave but the imprint of the wave on the sand.  

By God’s mercy, His forgiveness drains the power of old memories. Old memories provide me with “one time” to confess and ask for forgiveness; after that, I simply enjoy my new nature. By God’s grace, I see my growth as a follower of Jesus.

These flashbacks become blessings instead of condemnations through God’s mercy and grace. That’s just how good God is to me. His mercy and grace are equally available to you. Let’s all advance with God instead of wasting His grace by putting ourselves under condemnation.

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Would We Council God?


When I was a young man, I had a good friend that was a naturally gifted artist. His specialty was painting murals. I never ceased to be amazed when he’d start sketching out a picture on a roll of butcher block paper that ran the length of a room.

Perhaps the fascinating aspect of his work on murals was that he didn’t start in one corner and work from right to left or left to right. He typically started somewhere entirely unexpected. Maybe he began with the nose of the central character, or he might start by sketching the fender of a car. It made perfect sense to him, but no sense to me.

Image if I’d watched him start a mural and then said, “Tim, I think you are drawing the nose too big.” Ignoring me, Tim continued to draw, and soon I discovered that he’d been drawing the rear fender of an old Chevy pickup!

Council God

Christ’s apostles did this kind of thing several times. Take, for example, when two of the three apostles of Christ’s inner circle suggested to Jesus that He kill some people.

When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?”

Luke 9:54

Perhaps, we should recall when His disciples designated themselves as crowd control and blocked parents from bringing their children to Jesus to be blessed.

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.

Matthew 19:13

We mustn’t forget when the Apostle Peter decided to give Jesus some “sound council.”

Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

Matthew 16:23

The Big Picture

We should consider ourselves before we rush to judge those that laid the foundation for the Church[1]. Do we ever tell God what He needs to do? Have we ever been deeply hurt because we felt that God failed us? Has fear ever won out in our actions?

Here’s the thing, we may look at our life and see what looks like a big nose, but that’s only because we don’t know the picture in which God has included us. Later, maybe only after we are in heaven, we will see God’s mural. That nose wasn’t a nose; it was the rear fender of a classic Chevy truck. Let’s not rush to judge God’s actions.

We can be confident that nothing God does to us, through us, or by us is done so without love, for “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” (1 John 4:16)

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  1. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. Ephesians 2:20  ↩

Who Am I?

It is the Holy Spirit in us that makes us helpful to others. It is our imperfections (not sin) that make us relatable to others. Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote:

13 You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, 14 and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus.

Galatians 4:13-14

Moving on from the fourth chapter to the fifth chapter, Paul wrote:

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

Galatians 5:25

Who Am I?

It is God living in me that makes me valuable to others. Who am I that I would think for a moment that I can guard, encourage, deliver, bless, or in any way benefit someone else from my flesh? I can barely put my socks on in the morning. But when God lives in us, He not only will use us to affect change on the behalf of others, but He will make it clear that the glory that falls upon the ones to which we minister is from God alone.

It is clear that you and I do not possess gems of wisdom but only the sameness of others, things that all can relate to. We may need glasses to read the news or new tires for our car or to pass on a lunch get-to-gather because this month’s expenses are greater than expected. It is this comfort of commonality that people learn that we all put our pants on one leg at a time.

It is in our shared likeness with others that we avoid being off-putting and gain being relatable. And it is in the words of God that come from our lips that proclaim the Truth and Glory of God that feeds people, rescues people, and asks of them to change their direction.

38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:38

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God’s Still Crazy About You

A little boy is telling his grandma how “everything” is going wrong.  School, family problems, bullies, and so forth. Meanwhile, Grandma is baking a cake. She asks her grandson if he would like a snack, which of course he does. “Here, have some cooking oil.” “Yuck!” says the boy. “How about a couple of raw eggs? “ “Gross, Grandma!” “Would you like some flour then or maybe baking soda?” “Grandma, those are all yucky!”

Grandma smiles and replies: “Yes, all those things seem bad all by themselves. But when they are put together in the right way, they make a wonderfully delicious cake! God works the same way.  Many times, we wonder why he would let us go through such challenging times.  But God knows that when He puts these things all in His order, they always work for good!  We must trust Him and, eventually, they will all make something wonderful!”

Just think:

  • God is Crazy About You.
  • If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.
  • If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it.
  • He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning.
  • Whenever you want to talk, He’ll listen.
  • He can live anywhere in the universe, and He chose your heart.
  • What about the Christmas gift He sent you in Bethlehem, not to mention that Friday at Calvary?

Face it, God’s crazy about you!

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