Tune Into the Heart of God

Mark 9:14-29

v.14And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes [Torah teachers] disputing with them.

While Jesus, Peter, James, and John were away, a crowd gathered around the other nine disciples. The scribes saw this as a great time to engage the disciples in a debate. So they attacked.

v.15 immediately when they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him, greeted Him.
v.16 And He asked the scribes,” What are you discussing with them?”
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v.17 Then one of the crowd answered and said,” Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit.
v.18 And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.”
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-Now the key to the Jewish “formula” of exorcism was getting the demon to give up its name.. So, a demon who could make its victim mute was an impossible case. This man had brought his son to Jesus but not finding him there, had asked the disciples for help. They weren’t able to deliver the boy, and that’s when the debate broke out with the scribes.

-So the Torah teachers were pretty hammering away at the disciples saying in their minds, “If Jesus is such a hot shot, then why aren’t His disciples better equipped to deal with the need at hand?” We see here, as in many other areas of the gospels, that Jesus is judged on the basis of how closely His disciples follow His example.

v.19 He answered him and said,” O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.”

-It irked the Lord in the extreme that a father and his child were going through such torment while His disciples and the scribes were debating theology! These guys were supposed to be the godly men of the day - and they stood there arguing over who was right, while a poor boy’s life was literally in danger! Isn’t that so like today though? While brothers and sisters in Christ are arguing over who has the most correct doctrine in regards to how people should be baptized, what day is the most proper day to go to church, if Christ’s sacrifice was meant for all or if He only died for those He knew would accept him…while we are arguing these things, thousands of spiritually dead people around us are in danger of dying to an eternity without Christ.

-Where are our priorities? Making sure our doctrine is the most correct and arguing the points to the death? Or pursuing spreading the message of the cross to a world that is dying!

-In v.19, Jesus cuts through the debate with the words “Bring him to Me.” The solution to the argument was the boy’s deliverance. As the world looks at the modem Church, what do they see, groups of people arguing? Or lives being changed. Are the suffering and the lost being healed? Or are Christians becoming so involved in their own mindsets and churches that they are ignoring the needs of those around them.

v. 20 Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth.
v. 21 So He asked his father,” How long has this been happening to him?”
 And he said,” From childhood.
v.22 And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
 Jesus said to him,” If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

-You see, while the so-called religious experts on both sides were arguing doctrine, this man with the demon-possessed son understood Jesus was compassionate. He didn’t care about fine points of theology. His son was tormented and needed help, and Jesus was just the One to give it. So with the scribes standing on one side, and the disciples on another, Jesus showed them all that it was not about head knowledge, but about simple faith in who He was and what God wanted to do that mattered.

-This is an important lesson for us. Let’s not get so caught up in the pursuit of correct theology and doctrine that we lose sight of the HEART of God. Time in the prayer closet is far more important than that spent in a seminary classroom. A head full of doctrine can NEVER substitute for a heart full of faith.

v.24 immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears,” Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

-The man believed in Jesus, and that faith opened him up to the awareness of just how imperfect his faith was. That’s what genuine faith always does - it reveals its own shallowness. We can only see the Lord when we look in faith, and once we look, we realize how far short our faith comes to really knowing Him.

-The one who can truly say, “Lord, I believe” can’t help but saying,” But not nearly as much as I should.” The one who thinks he/she is a person of great faith has no idea what faith is or Who God is.

v. 25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it,” Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!”
v.26 Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said,” He is dead.”
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v.27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.
v.28 And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately,” Why could we not cast it out?”
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v.29 He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”
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-Prayer and fasting are both means by which our spiritual strength and awareness are developed. Though the disciples had earlier been authorized by the Lord to cast out demons, they’d not continued to hone their spiritual senses. As a result, when they came face to face with this demon, they’d not understood the authority that was theirs in Christ.

-Paul makes it clear in Eph. 6 that our real battle is not with or in the physical realm. Our contest is spiritual. If our battle was physical, we’d concern ourselves with diet, exercise, and weapons-drills to hone our ability to wage war in the natural realm.

-Since our battle is spiritual, we need to develop ourselves spiritually. Prayer and fasting are weapons the Lord has given us to secure our position and press into enemy territory. Without these means, we lose our spiritual edge and strength.

-Being a disciple, being a follower of Jesus, doesn’t automatically mean you’re keeping your spiritual edge and relating to life from a primarily spiritual perspective. Why you can even be arguing about doctrine, and still be useless as far as the things of the Spirit are concerned!

-Make sure that in your studies and your acquiring of wisdom and knowledge of the Word, that you don’t become so involved in the nitty gritty of it that you lose sight of the big picture…we can be so involved in putting a microscope to everything, that we ignore what God is trying to say to us…what He is wanting to reveal to us. Be sure that in your study, you do not forget to listen to the voice of God and become in tune with His heart and His will and what He is trying to say to you personally.

-Sometimes when we get involved in disagreements and debates, we read the Word with a mindset to FIND things to tell others…to use as a defense in arguments…like we’ll read and something will catch our eye, and we’ll say to ourselves, “Oh! That would be GREAT to say to this person or to say in that thread…this verse backs up my view perfectly.” We can get so involved in reading the Bible for OTHERS, that we ignore reading it for ourselves.

-Instead of saying, “What is God revealing to me to share to so and so” say “what can God be saying to ME…what is He telling me about my OWN walk; what is He wanting to reveal to me?”

Adapted from a sermon by Pastor Lance Ralston of Calvary Chapel of Oxnard.

The Greatest in the Kingdom

Mark 9:33-42

v.33 Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, “What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?”

v.34 But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest.

v.35And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”

-Jesus is not saying that those who promote themselves will be punished by being made last. He’s saying that among His followers, greatness is not found in seeking the highest position, but the lowest.

-Earthly social status does not translate into the values of the Kingdom. In God’s kingdom, power and greatness are polar opposites to the ideas of the world.

-Billy Graham is seen as a very great man (as indeed he is). But I wonder, if the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven will not be the huge evangelists that we know about”¦.I wonder if the greatest will in fact be those grandmas or those daughters unknown to the media who labored in prayer for these teachers, that the Spirit would use these evangelists and empower their words. I wonder if these “prayer warriors” who worked “behind the scenes” spiritually”¦I wonder if these in fact will be seen as the greatest.

-In the world, greatness is all about how many serve you. In the Kingdom, greatness is about how many you serve.

-And that’s why Jesus is the greatest of all - He is the servant of all.

v.36 He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms,

-Notice this”¦Jesus called for a child then wrapped His arms around the child, making the child feel safe and comfortable in the midst of all these guys.

He said to them, v.37 “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”

-Children were considered by the men of that culture to be a bother. It was the duty of women to keep children away from adult men. Jewish men gave off an air of superiority that alienated children. However, not Jesus!

-We read that parents brought their children to Jesus to be blessed by Him because they knew He loved the little ones. Here He’s seen with His arms wrapped around this child in a tender and affectionate embrace.

-When a crowd of kids was pressing to get near Jesus, the disciples tried to turn them away. They thought that was their job, to keep the riff-raff away from the important Messiah. But Jesus rebuked them saying, “Do not forbid them, for it is of these that the Kingdom of God is comprised.”

v.38 John answered Him, saying, “Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.”

v.39 Jesus said, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me.

v.40 he who is not against us is on our side.”

-While the disciples who followed Jesus had lost their spiritual edge and were unable to cast the demon out in vs. 14-29, they encountered a guy who was not one of the Twelve who had taken the lesson of Jesus to heart and was casting demons out of the afflicted. The disciples told him to stop it since he wasn’t one of the official Twelve. Jesus told them they were incorrect - let the guy go on.

-The kingdom of God was bigger than their narrow experience of it and God has servants in many places they were not aware of.

v.41 For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.

-Anything done in the Name of Christ, that is indeed consistent with the will of God, will not go unrewarded.

-This is an important word for those of us who like to draw tight little lines around the Kingdom of God, settling in to an Us/Them mindset. Denominations, movements, groups, factions, and labels do not define the Church.

-The Church is made up of all those, regardless of color, culture, ethnicity, and even denominational label, who genuinely believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

-Jesus makes it clear here that we ought to be far more concerned with the things that unite us than the things we disagree on. But, throughout history, it seems the opposite has been the case.

v.42 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.

-Jesus says this as His arms are still wrapped around that child.

-Not only is greatness defined by sensitivity to the weak and needy, the least and last, but those who ABUSE the weak and needy, and who cause them to turn away from God because of their poor example, well, according to Jesus, it would be preferable if they drowned in the deepest sea before such a thing should happen!

-Because our example has such a powerful impact on others, Jesus gives a sobering word of warning about the imperative of practical holiness. This will be covered in another study, “The Danger of Compromise.”

Adapted from a study by Pastor Lance Ralston of Calvary Chapel of Oxnard.

Following Jesus Part 2

-In chapter 1 of Mark, we find that when Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John, their reaction was the same as Matthew’s, they dropped their fishing nets, and left their boats to follow Jesus.

– Like Matthew, they’d not had what it takes to be a disciple according to their torah teachers so they had followed the path that was expected of them – the family business of commercial fishing.

– BUT unlike the rabbis and torah teachers of that time, Jesus didn’t look at what they were in themselves – He saw what they would become by the work of His Spirit in them.

-Remember, the goal of discipleship is to become just like the rabbi. So when a young man began his discipleship, he picked a rabbi to follow by asking, “Who could I be like?” But most of them were turned away by the words, “You can’t be like me!”

-But when Jesus said to Peter and Matthew, “Follow Me” He was saying to them “I know that YOU can be just like Me.”

-What Jesus said to them, He says to you and I. We did not choose Jesus – He chose us! He came to us while we were going about our lives in this world, and He showed us there was a whole new way to live.

-We didn’t go to Him and plead with Him to let us follow Him. No – He came to us and said, “Follow Me – and I will make you just like Me.”

-That’s what the Spirit is doing in us – He’s making us just like Jesus. As it says inRomans 8:29 “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

-Disciples in Galilee followed their rabbi for 15 years, until they turned 30, then if they had accomplished the task of becoming like him, they became rabbis in their own right.

-But after only 3 years of training the 12, Jesus sent them forth to make disciples of the whole world. Matthew 28:19a says “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.”

-Jesus took the narrow doors off of what it takes to be a disciple. Before He came, only an elite few were disciples, based on their skill, talent, and intelligence. But Jesus based the invitation to discipleship, not on our ability, but on His.

-Even to this very day, Jesus comes to men and women who have been beaten down by sin, to those rejected by the authorities, crushed by parents and teachers who have told them they’ll never amount to anything, and He says, “Follow Me, and I will make you just like I am.” Then, even more, He entrusts His mission to us and tells us to go and make disciples who will be just like Him.

-There is one condition though – one necessary thing we must do. Like Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew – we must drop our current identity and occupation if we’re going to follow Jesus. Peter couldn’t follow Jesus and fish at the same time. Matthew couldn’t follow Jesus and collect customs duties at the same time. To be a disciple meant leaving his tax-booth.

– Now, i’m not saying we all should forsake our jobs and live and work in a church…what i’m saying is this, if we follow Jesus, then we must turn our backs on our identity as sinners and drop the things that make for sin…we must shed all those things of the “old life” the “old nature” and embrace the new life, that new nature that Christ offers us in Him.

-In Matthew 16:24 Jesus says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” See, the invitation is open to all – “If anyone” Jesus said.

– But the condition to following Him is to die to self so that Jesus can live in and through us. It’s this indwelling of Christ that brings the power to change us so that we become just like Him.

-Being a Christian today means we follow Jesus in the midst of our careers and vocations and family lives. What we leave behind to follow Jesus is the old man, our identity as people who defined themselves by the things of this fallen world.

-Jesus invites you to be His disciple today. He doesn’t invite us to be His student. The invitation isn’t even to be a Christian, or a deeply religious person. He invites you to become just like He is and to enjoy the closest possible relationship with Him.

-It doesn’t matter what’s happened to you in this world. It doesn’t matter what sin you’ve managed to immerse yourself in. It doesn’t matter that others have told you you’re a loser, that you’ll never amount to anything.

-Jesus stops before you today as He stopped before Matthew’s tax-booth, He looks you in the eye, holds out His hand and says, “Follow Me.”

-Just as the disciples were called to follow Jesus TOGETHER, so are we. The Body of Christ embraces men, women and children of all colors, backgrounds, and social levels. Our common bond is our relationship to Jesus, and that relationship erases all other distinctions.

-As Paul says in Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Applying that to today, we could say in Christ there is no Caucasian, Hispanic, African, or Oriental; there’s no distinction between ravers, skaters, Goths, surfers, punks, waxheads, preps, minis, silents, jocks, nerds, and geeks.

-As we follow Christ, we invite all, whatever their background, color, or ethnic group – to come follow with us in following Christ.

-And in Christ we are one.

Following Jesus Part 1

Mark 2:13-14 Then He went out again by the sea; and all the multitude came to Him, and He taught them. 14As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him.

-As Jesus was moving along the lakeside, he came to a building occupied by a man named Levi, aka ‘Matthew.’ Because of where Capernaum was located in Galilee, it was the first real city travelers would encounter as they came to Israel, so it was a prime location for collecting customs duties; import and export taxes.

-That was Levi’s job, to collect the 2-3% tax the rich caravans from Syria & Arabia had to pay to ensure safe passage. As a customs agent, Levi worked, not for the Romans, but for the brutal tyrant Herod, the ruler of Galilee; because of this, Levi was despised by the common people.

-Yet as Jesus passed by that day, He saw Levi sitting there in his office, and said to him, “Follow Me.” That’s all it took for Matthew “ he dropped what he was doing and went after Jesus. Now, in order to understand the full implication of this, we need to take a closer look at discipleship and what it really means. Bear with me as I’m going to delve a bit into the culture of the Hebrews of that time…but it really all does set the scene for the entire story and helps us understand why Matthew so willingly dropped all his stuff to follow Christ.

-The whole idea of rabbis who had an official group of disciples was something unique to Galilee. There were 2 kinds of rabbis: 1) torah teachers, and 2) s’mikah rabbis. Torah teachers, or scribes, as they are called in the NT, were men who had memorized the entire, Tanach (the Old Testament) and what many of the great rabbis had said about the scriptures. Rabbis, on the other hand, had also memorized the Tanach, but they had demonstrated the ability to speak with authority about the scriptures and the things of God. S’mikah in fact MEANS “authority.” So, rabbis had s’mikah, torah teachers did not.

-While torah teachers had students, only rabbis had talmidin (disciples).

-In Galilee, all children, both boys and girls, sat under a Torah teacher and memorized entire books of the OT. This schooling went on until they were 12 to 13, at which point education ended for girls. For the boys, if they had proven themselves skilled at memorization, and shown a mind for study, they would go on to another level of work with the Torah teacher.

-Those who didn’t pass to this level began their vocation, usually working in the family business or entering an apprenticeship. For those boys who did move on to the next level of education with the Torah teacher, the lessons became more intense; the entire Tanach was memorized, along with the teaching & commentary of notable rabbis.

-If after a few more years of this the young man still demonstrated a superior level of skill in his studies, then he would graduate from the Torah teacher to following a Rabbi. He would carefully consider the rabbis currently around and which he most wanted to be like.

-You see, that was the essence of discipleship “ a disciple aspired to be just like the rabbi; that was the goal, the singular aim of being a disciple, and that’s why disciples were always with their rabbi. They wanted to watch him as closely as possible, observing how he responded to different situations.

-So as a young man considered which rabbi to follow, he would ask himself who He wanted to and could be like, for his discipleship would see him become just like his rabbi. Once he picked a rabbi, he would go to him and begin following, but at that point, he wasn’t an official disciple yet; he was letting the rabbi know he wanted to be a talmid.

-After several weeks of just following him around the rabbi would acknowledge the young man and begin to quiz him on his skill with the Word of God. For example,

1) “Quote the law of the Nazarite.”

2) “How many times did Ezekiel see the Lord?”

3) “What is the middle word in the Scroll of Isaiah the prophet?”

-This kind of quizzing would go on for days. Then, after all this, the rabbi would usually say to him something like, “Look, you are a bright young man. Go home, get married, have children, and love and serve God as a fisherman. Have a nice life.” Most young men were turned down by the rabbis. Only the cream of the crop were allowed to become official talmidin.

-Now, we go back to Matthew. Where was Matthew when Jesus found him? Sitting in his tax-office. Matthew was a young man who’d grown up like the rest of the children in Galilee, memorizing the Scriptures in hopes to one day become a disciple of a rabbi. But he’d obviously not proven himself skilled in his studies enough to be declared a talmid, and had gone into the family business “ tax-collector.

-As he’s sitting there one day, he looks up to see a huge crowd coming toward him. They all seem to be following the man who’s in front; he realizes this must be the new rabbi everyone’s been talking about and who’d been making such a stir lately “ Jesus of Nazareth.

-As Jesus arrives in front of Matthew’s tax booth, He stops, looks Matthew in the eye, and simply says, “Follow Me.” Now’s where that brief study in discipleship comes in. Matthew understood exactly what invitation meant “ it was the invitation of a rabbi to a new disciple.

-Matthew immediately dropped what he was doing, and went after Jesus.

Got Jesus?

Belief in Jesus Christ as your savior and developing a personal relationship with Him is the ONLY way to get into heaven. In John 14:6, Jesus states, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” God is “the Father” talked about in this passage. The Bible is clear that the only way to get into heaven is through an active belief in God’s son, Jesus Christ.

Every human being since Adam and Eve has been born with sin. We cannot get into heaven by our own merit. There is no amount of good deeds we can do in order to “buy” our way into heaven. The only person who can cleanse us of our sins before God’s sight is Jesus. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew people made animal sacrifices to cover over their sins and to appear temporarily clean before God. But the blood of an animal was only temporary. A perfect sacrifice was required to completely cleanse us of all our sin. This perfect sacrifice came from heaven in the person of Jesus. Jesus is God who came from heaven and was born as a human in order to share in our sufferings and to fully understand what we go through in our struggles. Jesus was fully God and fully human. Since He was fully God, He could not sin, but since He was fully man, He was also able to experience the temptation to sin. He knows and understands our struggles, but He was able to overcome them so that all humans who have ever lived and ever shall live can also be cleansed and overcome sin so we can enter into God’s presence unashamed. Hebrews 4:15-16 states, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are? yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

The first step in accepting Christ as Lord and Savior of your life is to realize that you are sinful and to acknowledge that as a sinful person you are going to hell (which is a place of eternal separation from the fellowship of God) if you do not repent of your sins. Unlike what the media portrays, hell is not a place of partying with Satan and his demons. The Bible clearly says hell is a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” which signifies utter anguish and despair, for all eternity. We as humans cannot be completely separated from our Creator and be well off. Neither can any of God’s creation. Since Satan is also God’s creation, and hell is a place of utter separation from God, Satan and all his demons will also be in complete torment for all eternity. In order to escape such a horrible existence, we must come before God in prayer and confess that we know we are sinful. Romans 3:23 states, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The death spoken of here is not a physical death, since all humans die a physical death, but it is a spiritual death in which we will be eternally separated from God. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

The second step in accepting Jesus into your heart is to acknowledge that Christ died on the cross for you and to make a commitment to follow Him for the rest of your life. Romans 10:9 states, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Also, Jesus says in John 12:26 “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” So you see, it is not just a recognition of what Christ did for us, it is also a commitment to follow Jesus Christ and His teachings through God’s Word, the Bible, for the rest of your life.

If you wish to make this commitment today, here’s a basic prayer you can pray. Feel free to say these words and just end with talking with God about anything you want to talk about. He loves us and wants to hear us talk to him. If you are angry, do not be afraid to tell that to God and tell Him why. He already knows our thoughts and our hearts, but wants us to communicate those thoughts in fellowship with Him. Please pray this prayer:

“Lord, I realize that I am a sinner and I always have been. I know that I will go to hell if I do not believe in you. I believe that you came to this earth, to die for me so that I may appear sinless before the Father and have eternal life. Please forgive me of my sins. I want to follow you and your commands for the rest of my life. Thank you for your sacrifice. Amen”

If you prayed this prayer sincerely in your heart, you are now a new creation and a brother or sister of Jesus Christ in God’s eyes.

2 Corinthians 5:17 ” Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

Hosea 1:10b “They will be called ‘sons of the living God.'”

Welcome to God’s family!

Five Proofs That Jesus Was God

Five Proofs That Jesus Was God

Many people, including professing Christians, deny the existence of the Trinity, the concept that there is one God existent in three Persons. We know the topic well– we often hear it preached in our churches. In church, we sing the hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” which contains the line, “God in three Persons, Blessed Trinity!” But we’re often at a loss to explain the Trinity to others, especially those in pseudo-Christian religions who deny the doctrine of the Trinity. Five proofs…

1. John’s Vision in the Book of Revelation
When the apostle John was exiled to the island of Patmos, he wrote the Book of Revelation, consisting of revelatory visions he had received from the Lord. In Revelation 1:17-18, John wrote, “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.'”

Centuries earlier, the prophet Isaiah had recorded his experience with the Lord– “‘Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and His Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God.”‘” (Isaiah 44:6) Since only God is the First and the Last (also known as the Alpha and the Omega from Revelation 21:6), there is only one conclusion. Jesus was God.

2. The Prophecy of Jesus’ Birth
In Isaiah 9:6, a prophecy of Jesus’ birth was given. It says, “‘For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.'” This passage tells us several things: that a Child would be Born; He would be a Son; the government would be upon His shoulder; and He would be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. The Hebrew name for God here is “El,”– God’s name.

3. “They Will Look on Me…”
Another prophecy of the Messiah is given to us in Zechariah 12:10: “‘And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.'”

Looking ahead to the New Testament, we see the fulfillment of this prophecy in these points: The Holy Spirit was poured out upon several people (Acts 2:4), and the prophecy tells us that the people would look on those whom they pierced. Considering that the events of Acts 2 happened in Jerusalem after the crucifixion, and that the prophecy refers to those in Jerusalem, we see another affirmation. But who was the One who was pierced– God refers to Himself as having been pierced. Another conclusion that Jesus was God.

4. God Knows All Things
In 1 John 3:20, we find this: “For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.” So we see the proof here that our God is omniscient– He is all knowing. Now we go to John 21, the well-known scene when the Lord Jesus restores Peter after Peter’s denials of Him. A piece of the conversation is as follows: “He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ and he said to Him, ‘Lord, you know all things; You know that I love You.'” Peter made this affirmation, that Jesus knew all things. Now if God knows all things, and Jesus knew all things, then what is the conclusion? Jesus was God.

5. The Perfect Sacrificial Lamb
Finally, we look at the depravity of mankind. Romans 3:10 says this: “As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one…’ Romans 3:23 gives further details by saying that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. This means that every person has sinned– you, I, everyone. But has God sinned? Of course not, because He is righteous and holy. An important attribute of Jesus Christ is given to us in Hebrews 4:15: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” If Jesus were an ordinary Man, He would have sinned just like everyone else. But it says in Hebrews that He was without sin. Therefore, what can we conclude? Jesus was not mere man– He was, indeed, God.

Christ: The Ultimate Priest

Hebrews 7:23-25 “23Another difference is that there were many priests under the old system. When one priest died, another had to take his place. 24But Jesus remains a priest forever; his priesthood will never end. 25Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save completely everyone who comes to God through him. He lives forever to plead with God on their behalf.”

-God never intended the Judaism of the past to be the final or full revelation of His plan or will for them. Judaism set the stage for a new covenant, which would be brought in by the Messiah. Until Messiah came, Judaism came short of the bar and was confined to rituals and laws which all pointed forward to the Word of the Messiah who would bring full growth and allow them to enter into what Judaism could only point toward and prepare for.

-Here in chapter 7 of Hebrews, the writer is showing how Jesus serves as a priest from an order of priests which is vastly superior to the priesthood of Israel. One of the reasons Jesus is a superior priest to the priests who had served Israel is because He has risen from the dead and so serves continually, which is not something the Israeli priests were capable of doing. As John MacArthur states, “The . . . priests had what might be called the ultimate disqualification for permanent ministry: death! None of them could serve indefinitely. Each died and had to be succeeded in order for the priesthood to continue.”

-For the Jews under the Old Covenant, their approach to God was only through a substitutionary sacrifice that would be offered by a priest to God on their behalf. But the problem with that were the questions of what if the priest took their offering to God with a distracted mind or cold heart, or what if the priest was tired or ill or just out of sheer boredom used shortcuts in the procedure that would dishonor the holiness of God? Also, not all the priests served with integrity, some were corrupt and defiled the office, thus the priesthood changed from priest to priest, and as a result, the quality of spiritual life among the people changed as well!

-The writer of Hebrews is saying here that because Jesus has risen from the dead, never to die – his priesthood continues on, unchanging. What makes this especially comforting is that His priesthood, His service as our high priest is perfect! The sacrifice He brings before The Father on our behalf isn’t merely the blood of some bull or goat, which just covered over sin temporarily, it is His own precious blood which purges and washes us as white as snow and removes our sin as far from us as the east is from the west!

-Jesus is serving even now as our great high priest and as Christians we can have full assurance that the service He performs before The Father is totally acceptable to Him. Therefore because Jesus continues forever and abides in the office of our Great High Priest – from that office and position – He is able to save! To what extent does His salvation go? To the uttermost, all the way, completely, entirely, without distraction, with nothing left undone. It doesn’t matter WHO you are or WHAT you have done, Jesus is able to save you, completely!
He who framed the universe with one word He is able to save you and I.

-He has the power to affect all that that word salvation means, to heal, to deliver from danger, to protect and preserve, and to make complete and whole.

-The moment we turn from our sin and put our faith in Christ, we are saved from the penalty of our sin. Now, as we abide in Christ, we are being saved from the power of sin and when Christ comes again, we will be saved from the very presence of sin! What a hope and a freedom we have!

-There is no salvation from sin but faith in Jesus Christ! Not only is Jesus the only hope, the only way of salvation, but now that He has risen from the dead, He lives on, making continual and constant intercession for us before the Father. Unlike the priests of old who entered the presence behind the veil, performed their service then left, Jesus has sat down at the right hand of God and from that position of favor He intercedes on our behalf. Romans 8:34 “Who then will condemn us? Will Christ Jesus? No, for he is the one who died for us and was raised to life for us and is sitting at the place of highest honor next to God, pleading for us.”

-There’s a story I heard about a mother who told her son to go into the garden and pick some flowers to make a nice arrangement for his father when he got home from work. The boy collected everything that caught his eye and returned with a mass of both flowers and weeds. But when the father come home, he was greeted by a beautiful bouquet! You see, the mother’s tender care had removed the weeds and arranged the flowers. This story is a beautiful illustration of what Jesus does with our prayers. How often we bring “weeds” in with the “flowers” of our prayers before God, but Jesus knows our hearts and knows the Father’s will, so He arranges our requests and presents them to the Father in a manner the Father is both blessed by and moves to answer. How fortunate we are to have such a wonderful high priest acting on our behalf!

-We need not be so concerned about the wording of our prayers because Jesus intercedes for us always and He takes our prayers and presents them to the Father as a beautiful bouquet!

-Jesus not only makes intercession for us with His words; He also intercedes for us with His wounds! If you went to the house of a former great sports player, like Joe Namath, and you sat on his couch and he said, “I was a great football player,” there would be no debate…all the trophies surrounding him would prove that. In the same way Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father; His wounds the evidence He is a great Savior!

-Jesus makes intercession for more than just our prayers, He intercedes for us! when we fail, when we fall and sin, He is right there at the Father’s side to ensure we may obtain mercy and find grace. So, Christian, embrace this freedom and this intercession and praise and thank Jesus for His wonderful sacrifice and His continuing work on our behalf!

Why was Jesus Baptized?

Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Baptism was not a new thing to Jewish society back then. It was used in the Old Testament for Gentiles during their conversion to Judaism as being symbolic of sloughing off their old ways and accepting their new faith. However, John the Baptist’s baptism was different than the accepted reason. He baptized Jews to “prepare the way” for the coming Messiah. He told them they WERE living in sin (most of the Jews back then believed that just because they were born Jewish, they would get to heaven) and they needed to recognize the fact that they were not saved and they needed to repent.

If Jesus was sinless, and did not need to repent of any sin…why did He choose to be baptized?

Because He came to this earth to identify with those who were living in sin (all humankind). His baptism was just another way he could identify with those who were living sinful lifestyles and needed repentance. Did He have anything He needed to repent of? No! Did Christ’s baptism mean He had sinned and needed to repent to the Father? No! But, Christ needed to identify with all humankind in all our struggles in order to be fully able to sympathize with our plight and help us (be our intercessor in heaven) after He would die and sit on the right hand of the Father (God). How can someone truly understand what you have to go through or are going through unless they’ve been in your situation themselves? That’s what Christ set out to do. And His baptism was just another example of His compassion for us.

How Should Christians Deal With Suffering?

WHY WE AS CHRISTIANS MUST SUFFER

John 16:33 – This world is full of suffering, we are not exempt. Suffering is a sign that we are alive.
1 Peter 1:7 – Tests our faith to prove it is strong and real faith that gives glory to Jesus.
James 1:3 – When faith is tested Endurance can grow.
Proverbs 3:11-12 – God, being our Father must discipline us to show his love for us. Discipline is a sign of his love.
Hebrews 12:7-8 – God disciplines his children, we are his children.

WHAT SUFFERING DOES TO US
James 1:4 – Develops perseverance.
Perseverance – perseverance = makes one steadfast.
Steadfast = firm in belief, determination, or adherence : LOYAL.

Jesus’s anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane

While Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was in anguish to the point of even asking the Father if there was any other way it could be done. In a sermon I was listening to from my pastor, he brought up something interesting about this. He said that Jesus wasn’t in anguish over the fact that he knew how much physical and emotional pain he was going to have to go through, it was because he knew he was going to (for the first time in eternity) have his fellowship with the Father severed. Knowing that, was almost too much for him to endure. Even though he knew that severing of fellowship from God was going to be brief, it was a pain he could not fathom and did not want to have to experience if there were any other way to save all mankind. Jesus’ biggest fear was evident when the first recorded statement of his from the cross was “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Out of all the pain and torture he went through physically, God turning His face from Jesus was the only thing that made him cry out.

This passage also shows that our sins sever our fellowship with God. If we have unrepented sins in our lives, each of those severs our relationship with God more and more. That’s why repentance of each individual sin the Holy Spirit convicts you of is so important. Repenting of those sins breaks down those walls our sins have placed before God and God’s glory can fully shine through in our lives. It’s important to repent of each individual sin, not just say “God can you forgive my sins”…He wants us to admit each one as it is brought to our consciousness. The severing of fellowship with God that sin brings was never so clear as it was on the cross. As the sins of the world came upon Jesus, God turned His face away, severing fellowship with His son, causing Jesus to cry out in anguish.

Let us be conscious of a severed fellowship with God and repent of those roadblocks in our lives which prevent us from growing in our relationship with Christ!