Sunday, December 29, 2013

We Can Trust Him, Because He is All Things for Us

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." (Isaiah 26: 3)

This verse has been a signature verse for me for a long time.

Because I had not learned to rest in the finality of the Cross, to receive the Finished Work of Christ Jesus because of cult-like teaching mixed in with the Gospel of God's grace, I used to misinterpret this verse to mean:

If you want to be in peace, then you must keep your mind fixed on God, and on God alone.

In effect, I turned this blessed verse into a work, and one of the most excruciating works which I had ever endured.

When the prophet Hosea wrote "My people perish for a lack of knowledge", there was no joke about that.

If we do not grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord, if we give heed to the counsel of the ungodly, or settle for the seat of scornful, or walk with sinners and call such conduct good, we are ignoring or missing out on the greatest good, which is Christ working in and through us.

He is our life, and he is all things for us:

"Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist." (Colossians 1: 15-17)

This same God who made the world, now lives in everyone of us who believe on His name:

"27To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily." (Colossians 1: 27-29)

Christ Jesus is our life, and He is working within us even now! Exciting stuff.

This part I was never clear on, though.

The reason? Because I did not believe that the work was done. I was raised in a cult-like program which insisted that men and women must continue to review their sins and short-comings every day in order to break free or at least to maintain some quality of life.

Either we have been made righteous by tfiath, r we are not righteousness. Either JEsus did for all my sins, or He did not. Either we are dead in Adam or alive in Christ. There is no middle ground, there is no other way.

So, when I read the verse from Isaiah in the light of the Cross, I find that I can rest in His Work because He took care of everything for me when He died on the Cross.

The word "stayed" is "samak", first used by Isaac when he declares that his blessing of Jacob cannot be reversed, and the God of Heaven will supply all his needs:

"And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained (samak) him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son?" (Genesis 27: 37)

The next few references with "samak" include the priest laying their hands on the head of sacrificial animals:

"And thou shalt cause a bullock to be brought before the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the bullock." (Exodus 29: 10)

and then

"And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him." (Leviticus 1: 4)

and also

"And the Levites shall lay their hands upon the heads of the bullocks: and thou shalt offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, unto the LORD, to make an atonement for the Levites." (Numbers 8: 12)

While our English understanding of "stay" suggests an active element, through the Bible the original Hebrew gives the impression of rest. Moreover, because the word is used in the context of animal sacrifices, which covered the sins of the Israelites for periods of time during the Old Covenant, we need to see "stay" not as merely a lack of activity, but resting in our conscience, that we have received His righteousness because of the final sacrifice of the Lamb of God, who does not merely cover, but takes away the sins of the world (John 1: 29)

We have a perfect sacrifice who has perfected us forever (Hebrews 10: 14), whose blood cleanses us even now and forever from all unrighteousness (1 John 1: 7).

We can trust Him because He has cut a new covenant for us, through the eternal blood of His Son:

"10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
"11And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
"12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." (Hebrews 8: 10-12)
While I was stressed out thinking that I had to think about God all the time, the truth is that there is no one better on whom to rest my mind than Christ Jesus, because through Him I know that I will receive all things (Romans 8:32), and that through Him I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8: 37).
Furthermore, because He has accomplished all things through His death on the Cross, Jesus is our peace (Ephesians 2: 14), and He keeps us in perfect peace, or Shalom Shalom, superlative peace, and this is not just a cessation of war, but consummate wholeness is all things that we need for life and godliness.
Peace speaks of financial and physical well-being, not just a status of right standing before God for all our sin and our sins.
This perfect peace He leaves us through His Holy Spirit:
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:" (Romans 5: 1)
"For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." (Romans 14: 17)
"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." (Galatians 2: 16)
For me, as for many Christians, our understanding of all that God is and has for us is just too small, and our knowledge of the Lord is so frustrated because we do not meditate and draw from all that He did for us at the Cross.
The more that we rest, or that we stay on Him, we find that we can trust Him for all things in this life, and can face Him with greater assurance in the next!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Secession in CA

The Secession Movement has reached an apex in 2013 in the Golden State, with a Silicon Valley libertarian now pressing for California to be divided into six separate states.

California, with thirty-eight million residents and growing, has become too big not to fail.

Government pension liabilities remain unsecured and underfunded. Public sector unions and well-lawyered lobbyists funded by corporations and interest groups have taken control of the levers of power and legal process. The Inland Empire, the Central Valley, and the coastal urban centers have disparate interests, and leaders despair of ever resolving them any time soon.

One potential state in Northern California, Jefferson, has returned as a viable political possibility.

Here’s a better idea: Why not create “The State of Sacramento”, a failed enclave overrun by all those political influences, and allow every other city to run its affairs, free of the frustrations and follies of the state capital?

About Eye and Tooth

"38Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." (Matthew 5: 38-39)

Where does the statement about rendering an eye for an eye, or a tooth for a tooth come from?

First reference is found in Exodus:

"And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 24Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe." (Exodus 21: 23-25)

But before eye or tooth, there is the mention of life.

Guess what? Jesus gave up His life that we may receive His life!

"As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep." (John 10: 15)

Paul later writes:

"3For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." (Colossians 3: 3-4)

Referring back to Exodus 21 again, the first subject in the chapter has nothing to do with retribution, but a Hebrew servant:

"1Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them.

2If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. " (Exodus 21: 1-2)
This Hebrew servant is a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ, who declares:
"I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: 6Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever." (Exodus 21: 5-6)
What kind of servant would first love his master, then his wife and children? Jesus, who obeyed His father, making Himself into the form of a servant (Philippians 2: 7)
The ear represents the entire human body, according to Hebrew culture:
"Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required." (Psalm 40: 6)
Which is rendered in the New Testament, through the Greek translation of the Old Testament:
"Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:" (Hebrews 10: 5)
And the Messiah is depicted in this wise regarding the opening of His ear:
"The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back." (Isaiah 50: 5)
The passage of eye for eye and tooth for tooth should most of all remind us that Jesus took every beating for us, that for ever sin we should have suffered for, He suffered instead!

Jesus Was Smited for You

"38Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." (Matthew 5: 38-39)

When Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount, we need to keep in mind that Jesus was preaching to His disciples.

Yet Jesus does not want to be our teacher, nor does He want to be our example, for God's ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55: 8).

He wants us to receive His life, and through His Spirit we become sons of God (1 John 3: 1; 4: 17)

Yet during His earthly ministry, Jesus encountered not just the religious leaders who wanted to trap Him, but also self-righteous types who saw Jesus as an example whom they could imitate.

Take a look at the first verses of Matthew 5:

"1And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying," (Matthew 5: 1-2)

Jesus taught His disciples, with the multitudes listening on.

Once again, Jesus is not looking for fans, or followers, but men and women who will allow Him to make them family:

"For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." (Hebrews 2: 10)

When we read the words of Jesus in the Gospels through the Cross, many of the Scriptures which appearing puzzling or even harsh actually demonstrate that Jesus was trying to break through the hard hearts of religious adherents, that they would receive Him as Savior.

So, let us look again at Jesus' precepts and discover the grace which God so richly desires to give us through His Son.

""38Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." (Matthew 5: 38-39)

The word "smite" is also used to describe the beatings which Jesus took before His Crucifixion:

"Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands," (Matthew 26: 67)

Jesus took the beating so that you no longer have to.

At first glance when we read what Jesus said to His disciples, our reaction should be confusion and even shock. What? Take the hit not just on one cheek, but the other as well?

Remember that Jesus is getting His wannabe disciples to realize that if they want to achieve righteousness, then they have to  be willing to be beaten and  beaten again.

Consider also this wonderful prophecy from Isaiah:

"I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting." (Isaiah 50: 6)

This prophecy focuses on what Messiah Jesus would do for us, so that our shame would be taken away forever:

"4Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more." (Isaiah 54: 4)

Paul the apostle later explains what Jesus did for us:

"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Corinthians 5: 21)

We cannot achieve righteousness, but we receive it, and keep receiving it, as a gift which God paid for through the death and resurrection of His Son (Romans 5: 17)

Yet for the disciples during Jesus' earthly ministry, they needed to accept that there was no way for them to earn this righteousness.

Rejoice, Beloved, Jesus took the beating which we deserved so that we may receive His righteousness!

Oh, what a wonderful revelation this was for me! For a long time, I was frustrated by the abuse and self-righteousness of offensive people, as if I was supposed to submit to abuse.

Anyone who is enduring domestic violence, for example, should not assume that they should continue and submit to such evil conduct. Never! Jesus was not in any way telling people that they should be passive in the face of physical abuse and neglect, either.

Receive His gift of righteousness, and for in Christ you are not a lamb to be led to the slaughter, but rather you are more than a conqueror through Him who loves you! (Romans 8: 36-37)

The Lord Finds You the Work

"And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it." (Genesis 2: 15)

The LORD God, the Eternal God with whom we have an eternal covenant because of the blood of Jesus, started Adam on his job by creating the Garden of Eden, then creating man, then putting him the Garden, where he would watch over it and take care of it.

God provided the place and the work.

In the original Hebrew, "put" translates the word "yanach", which means leave, or let go.

In Christ,  we can trust that the same Lord who made all things, who has now redeemed us from all sin through His Son, will not only place us in the right job, but will grant to us greater things than Adam had before he sinned.

In Christ, we have the greater trust that Jesus Christ is holding us, and that He lives in us.

The Second Adam has provided us everlasting righteousness, a purged conscience, and a new identity in Himself.

Not only can we trust that God will bring us to the right place, but that He works within us both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Philippians 2: 12-13)

We can trust that He is everywhere, and that He is with us, so that no matter what challenge we may face, Christ is working with us in every work we take on:

"29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11: 28-30)

No matter what job He leads us to take, we can trust that He is working, and we need merely to trust Him to take us where He is leading us, and know that He has nothing but good in store for us (Jeremiah 29: 11)

If you are struggling to find work, or you do not know what job He wants you to take, abide in Him (John 15: 5), grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord (2 Peter 3: 18), and let His peace rule in your heart to lead you (Colossians 3: 15), for He wants you to prosper and be in health (3 John 2)

If God provided the place and the purpose to the first Adam, rest assured that since you are in the Second Adam, He has nothing but good in you future.

We Love Our Enemies, Because He Loves

43Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matthew 5: 43-45)

This command is one of the most demanding, if not the most demanding, in the Sermon on the Mount.

Love my enemies? Really?

Frankly, that is exactly what our reaction should be.

None of us has the power or the skill, or even the willingness to love our enemies. We have a hard time loving our friends and neighbors, and oftentimes we would just as well pass people by without saying "Hello!" if we could.

When we recognize this passage as Jesus' full and appropriate amplification of God's law, we understand another aspect of Jesus' ministry to His Jewish brethren: to bring man to the end of Himself, that they would rely on Jesus as Savior and provider for everything.

Consider another verse in the above passage.

"That you may be the children of your Father in heaven."

Have you ever heard of anyone doing anything in order to be a child of someone else? Such a concept is just outrageous. There is nothing that we can do to become children of God. We receive this grace to be adopted into a family, or the love of one man and one woman comes together to bring a new life into the world.

We do not make ourselves children of anyone, that is for certain.

We receive a spirit of adoption:

"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." (Romans 8: 15)

This Spirit is shed abroad in us because of Jesus' death. We do not, cannot earn this Spirit of God.

In fact, the love of God grants us this wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit:

"1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." (Romans 5:1-5)

God's love saves us, sanctifies us, and redefines us, too:

"17Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world." (1 JOhn 4: 17)

That Spirit of Sonship brings us into Christ Jesus, and therefore God sees everyone of us in Christ, that we are among the brethren of Jesus, the firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1: 18), and thus through Him we are also sons of God (1 John 3: 1-3)

Then John writes in his first epistle:

18There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." (1 JOhn 4: 18)

We have a perfected love based on our identity, in that we know and believe that Jesus is our mercy seat, our High Priest forever, and that therefore we need never fear judgment or punishment for our sins.

When we understand this love, then look what happens:

  19We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4: 19)

"Him" is not in the original verse. We love anyone, including our enemies, because God first loved us so consummately through His own Son:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3: 16)

and then

"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." (John 13: 34)

It's a new commandment, in that we love because Jesus has loved us so much, instead of out of fear of punishment based on the Old Covenant.


"31Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (Ephesians 4: 31-32)

and also

"Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." (1 John 4:11)

Under grace, we love because Jesus first loved and indeed loves us!

Jesus Gave His Coat and Cloak for Us

"40And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also." (Matthew 5: 40)

When we read these passages from the Sermon on the Mount, understanding that Jesus was presenting the pathway to earn righteousness as an impossible one (Matthew 19: 26).

If someone takes away our coat, why would we want to give them our cloak, too?

How many frivolous lawsuits do we find prevalent in our society today? Most of these legal actions are bitter attempts to stifle competition or punish other people for personal reasons.

What is Jesus talking about, and what point was He trying to bring across to His disciples?

Man needs more than the coat he wears for the weather. He needs the robe of righteousness, which the prophets foretold:

"I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels." (Isaiah 61: 10)


"3Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. 4And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. 5And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by." (Zechariah 3: 3-5)

We cannot earn this righteousness, but can and must receive it as a gift, and a gift which we receive over and over:

"For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5: 17)

When it comes to the law, that is the Ten Commandments, none of us measure up in any way. The Psalms already declares this reality:

". The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good." (Psalm 14: 1)"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good." (Psalm 53: 1)

And even this stern reality:

"And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified." (Psalm 143: 2)

Paul later writes:

"Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." (Romans 3: 19)


"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3: 23)

Even more shocking for some people, the law was never designed to make men holy, but rather to bring out their sin:

"Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:" (Romans 5: 20)

Now, while Jesus was outlining the standards for discipleship, He would later do for us what we cannot for ourselves

Consider what happened to Jesus on the night of His trial and then crucifixion:

"27Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. 28And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. 29And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! 30And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. 31And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him." (Matthew 27: 27-31)

Jesus was not just stripped in front of an entire praetorium of soldiers, mind you, but they spat upon Him, too. Not just one or two soldiers, mind you, but at least one hundred!

Even when the Romans gave Jesus back His original clothes, they ultimately took them back and gambled for the, right under His feet as He hung on the Cross:

"And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take." (Mark 15: 24)

"35And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots." (Matthew 27: 35)

Can you imagine not only being put to death, but the cruelty of your tormentors are gambling for your clothes, right in front of you?

Jesus endured all of this shame for you and me.

Not only were those clothes taken, but Jesus also gave up another robe, one which we now receive through His death and resurrection:

"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Corinthians 5: 21)

Because of His death, we receive His life and standing, at the right hand  of God the Father:

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: " (Ephesians 2: 4-8)

He gave up His coat and His royal cloak of righteousness for you and me.

Do not read the Sermon on the Mount with the idea that you can put His precepts into practice. Magnifying the law to its pristine, impossible standard, He brings all of us to the end of ourselves, that in our lives He can do all things:

"And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible." (Mark 10: 27)

Paul expounded on this wonderful exchange:

"31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8: 31-32)

Give up your self-righteousness, and let Jesus clothe you in full!

Jesus Paid the Full Price

"25Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 26Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing." (Matthew 5:25-26)

Every human being is born dead in their trespasses on this earth.

From Adam and Eve, who ate from the forbidden tree, to the newborns born in this new year, we all have a debt which we cannot pay:

"And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;" (Ephesians 2: 1)

and then

"And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;" (Colossians 2:13)

Man's debt is so great, that he cannot pay it.

Then why did Jesus say on the Sermon on the Mount that we need to agree with our adversary?

His primary audience for this sermon were disciples, people who believed that they could emulate and imitate Jesus, who say Him as a master as a teacher, and not a savior.

For those who believed that they could pay for their sins, make amends for all that they have done, Jesus posited to them that they must agree with the adversary, lest they be cast into prison and pay to the last.

Jesus paid for all our sins, carried all our debt, and redeemed us:

"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:" (1 Peter 3: 18)

Peter wonderfully reminds us "once" Jesus suffered, and His perfect work has brought us to God, that we may receive His quickening Spirit.

Before Jesus died on the Cross, Satan could stand before God and accuse us for our sins. When Jesus died on the Cross, God the Father provided the perfect an forever payment, so that we need never have to bear or carry or pay off any debt ever again!

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10: 13)


"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" (Galatians 3: 13)


"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" (Ephesians 2: 8)


"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;" (Titus 3: 5)

To His disciples, Jesus told them to pay up for every sin, to agree with every adversary, or be taken to a prison where they would have to pay for everything to the last. When we understand that of ourselves we can pay nothing, then we freely receive all that Jesus has done for us, in that God the Father gave the Son, and through Him we receive all things (Romans 8: 31-32)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Five Reasons Not to Read the Los Angeles Times

On June 25, 2013, LA Times copy editor Paul Whitefield splashed a hasty invective Five Reasons Not to Move to Texas Right Now.

His reasons ranged from offensive, to immature, laughable, to self-conflicted, to outright mendacious.

His five reasons for not going to Texas would have better fit under the following heading:

Five Reasons not to Read the LA Times

Analyzing the five reasons for avoiding the Lone Star State, one can tease out the specific reasons why LA Times readerships is seeing hard times.

1. With a faux-angelic pose of prayerful tranquility on the LA Times website, liberal state senator Wendy Davis staged an eleventh-hour eleven hour filibuster against a reasonable bill limiting abortions. Whitefield trumpeted the importance of abortion rights, now on full display in California, while the same privileges face serious opposition in Texas. As of 2014, California medical practitioners besides doctors may conduct abortions reverberations of the Kermit Gosnell trial from inner city Philadelphia may become more common in the Golden State because of this reckless law. How such an erroneous policy honors women, let alone preserves their health, will be a feature of medical research in years to come. To better rephrase, the right to life, from conception to resurrection, is receiving an unprecedented resurgence of respect and honor in our country. Even mainstream media outlets such as the Washington Post have polled and recorded that a strong majority of women support ending abortion after five months, except in cases of the life of the mother.

2. Paul Whitefield hates Texas Governor Rick Perry, whose bold leadership drastically lowed the tax burden for residents, along with tort reform. Furthermore, Perry represents the conservative Democratic population which has swelled the Republican ranks for the past twenty years. And the biggest reason Whitefield dislikes Perry? The abortion issue.

Not only does the LA Times demonstrate a qualitative lack of intellectual variety or reason in its Opinion pieces, but the personal, gossipy snipping have become the mainstay of these editorials. Shortly after the 2012 election, the Times insisted on brazen, false personal attacks against Missouri US Senate candidate Todd Akin, playing the anti-woman card. At least Weekly World News presented no pretense of seriousness.

Plus the fact that the Times has played reliable cheer-leader for Governor Jerry Brown and every progressive politician in the state. At least recently-installed Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti recognized the folly of allowing the Governor of Texas to court SoCal businesses without facilitating them to contact their own mayor.

3. Keeping in mind the main thrust of the piece, why Americans should not move to Texas right now, Whitefield criticizes the state’s consistent application of the death penalty. Such double-standard double-talk displays an inescapable bias, or profound ignorance, and from a copy editor, no less. California still has the death penalty, in case Whitefield had forgotten, and the execution of Pelican Bay inmates has proceeded apace. The editorializing editor neglected to mention that California prisons are overcrowded and under federal injunction to release or realign dangerous criminals back to California’s streets. Instead of holding local and Sacramento politicians accountable for misplaced priorities and dangerous policies, the editors of the LA Times slam successful states like Texas.

For the record, apart from escaped convicts and mass murders, the death penalty is not a reason to resist moving to Texas, people seeking a better way of life and quality future for their children, free from special interest pandering and over-governance.

4. Of all the offensive, or outrageous reasons, provided by Whitefield for not moving to Texas right now, the weather issue is Whitefield’s most relevant. Then again, the editor chides that Texas experiences two seasons, hot and cold, neglecting to mention that California experiences all four seasons, and sometimes at the same time, just in different parts of the state. The only special exception, my South Bay home particularly and Southern California in general, receives a modest change in temperature from day to day, and the occasional heatwave wafts its way through the region during the winter months.

Still, the weather in Texas has varied in its fashion for decades, if not centuries, and thus weather as a “right now” reason not to move is hardly meaningful. Such tactless hyperboles and generalization have come to character LA Times editorials, with grim effect on its once quality journalism.

5. The title for the last reason should alone discredit the column:

What is this, a children’s book? Not just unserious, but infantile. How much lower can the LA Times go?

And what was Whitefield whining about in the last reason not to move to Texas right now?

A fertilizer plant exploded in Texas, fourteen people. A ship with the same explosive nitrate had exploded in 1947, killing six thousand people. In California, there have been earthquakes, riots, rival gangs warring against each other, constricting taxes, thieving politicians, failings schools, sclerotic unions strangling the life-blood out of the state.

But one plant explodes, and no one should move to Texas.

As of now, an average 1,000 people per day have blissfully ignored Whitefield’s warnings.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Gomez Goes Koo-Koo, Calls Red Mass Group "Klan"

Christmas week 2013 has been a bad week for the Republican Party in Massachusetts. Not for conservatives, mind you, but the Republican Party,  and only if one understands the organization as best represented by “Mistah” Gabriel Gomez (per Ed Markey of Maryland/Malden/Medford) and two time (or two-timing?) Gubernatorial candidate Charlie “Half-Baked” Baker.

The party may not be dead, but certain elements are like an aggressive autoimmune disease attacking the very body politic of the conservative movement in the Bay State, with the latest dust-up revolving on the word “Klan” to describe two outspoken leaders of Red Mass Group.

Of course, the aggressive auto-immune dysfunction has some not-so-latent origins.

First, a socially liberal Republican (Richard Tisei, people) loses by one point in MA-6 in 2012 to a Democratic incumbent seared with corruption allegations. Then John Kerry resigns his senate seat to become the Secretary of State, with rumblings of a 2016 Presidential bid thumping slightly in the background (think zebras, not horses, people!) Behold, another US Senate seat opens up. 2012 US Senate incumbent and losing runner-up Scott Brown says “No!” to a third run for Washington, then he says “No!” to a bid for the Corner Office on Beacon Hill; then he says "Good-bye" to his Wrentham home and moves down (that's right, New Englanders, down!) to New Hampshire.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

The metastasizing issue today is the disaster of Gabriel Gomez. One of three candidates who threw his hat (or beret, or whatever) into the ring for the special election US Senate race earlier this year, he had first pandered to "Mister Governor" Deval Patrick for the interim senate seat appointment. He supported Obama in 2008, and even showered him a little campaign cash, so Patrick should have supported Gomez’ desire to get away from the hoi polloi and hob-knob with the hoity-toity of the Beltway. Wow! Can anyone spell "Opportunism"? Perhaps the growing number of students in failing Massachusetts schools cannot, but a picture perfect presentation in the dictionary would have smiling and serene Gabriel Gomez, crew cut and all.

Cut to the US Senate special election. The purple, wounded waffling of the “Republican” was too much for a strong conservative to ignore during the primary. Gomez was indeed “Obama’s Republican”. What’s the point of stumping for a GOP whose heart thumps for the other team, and their standard-bearer? Still, the Navy SEAL turned financier won the GOP primary. Does someone, anyone believe that Dems worked behind the scenes to vault the photogenic Gomez into the limelight? Let’s at least consider, if not embrace the idea. . .

Yes, Gomez paid more in taxes than Markey. He has a wife and kids, and he was for all intents and purposes an outsider. He’s also Hispanic (from my backyard, Los Angeles!) with a rags-to-riches story for the masses. But a great history means nothing without integrity for the present and trust for the future.

Gomez was a no-go on those last two accounts.

Following his loss, Gomez submitted an editorial to the Boston Globe, changing his stance on the assault weapons ban. He was against it, and now he is for it (channeling his inner John Kerry, apparently). Oh my goodness. Can anyone with any sense of self-respect stand by such political grand-standing? Gomez had a change of heart because the people of Massachusetts were right and he was wrong? His wife softened up her former Navy SEAL husband, and made him see the wrong thinking of his view. Right! And Markey still holds the mortgage on a mansion in Malden.

That’s not leadership, Mr. Gomez. That’s just sad. And this guy was the face of the GOP for three months this past year? Stage four metastasizing cancer has hit the Republican brand, and now must be removed.

Now to the “Klan” controversy.

Commenting on Facebook, Gomez attacked two leaders of Red Mass Group with the following invidious invective:

“[T]he level of ignorance and intolerance exhibited by them and their small ‘Klan’ are an embarrassment to our civil society. Merry Christmas.”  (Source:

Are you kidding me? How low can one go? Gomez has made quite a mess of things now. Gomez has gone Koo-Koo for kicking his party down. By the way, there is nothing civilized about playing the race card when a dedicated community, online or otherwise, makes the case that the Republican Party should stand for more than playing nice and blending nicely with the Democratic hegemony on Beacon Hill.

Since Gomez is Obama’s Republican, one would think that he had advanced beyond such divisive, insidious rhetoric. The current Presidency ushered in the tide-raising, oceanic post-racial society. Then again, Red Mass Group should appreciate that Gomez’ gainsaying was not nearly as offensive as Florida Democrat Alan Grayson’s outrageously offensive treatment of the Tea Party, complete with burning cross for “T” and Klansmen in the background.

Or is it? Frankly, who can tell, since Gomez stood by the kooky comment on Boston Public radio, then apologized, kind-of.

For the Massachusetts GOP, it’s time to cut the crap, and cut Gomez out for good!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Kingdom of God in Matthew 21: 31, 43

"Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you." (Matthew 21: 31)

and also

"Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." (Matthew 21: 43)

Here, Jesus was rebuking the Pharisees once again.

He had shared that a camel would more easily thread through the eye of a needle compared to a man entering into the Kingdom of God.

In the last two verses of the Gospel of Matthew, the last two with the phrase Kingdom of God, Jesus glorifies the publicans and the harlots, then the Gentiles, who will enter into the Kingdom ahead of the Jewish leaders.


Because they have nothing. They have no standing, no wealth, nothing in the flesh to glory in:

"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:" (1 Corinthians 1:26)

The ostracized, rejected groups, the men and women during Jesus' earthly minister who boasted in nothing: they willingly received Jesus, and everything with Him.

They did not try to earn anything from God. They did not presume anything of themselves. They recognized the grace of God in Christ.

And while the religious leaders would be offended by the phrase "Kingdom of God", those who willingly received Jesus would also boldly receive this Kingdom.


The Kingdom of God is all about His grace, and the Spirit of God quickened Matthew to identify His Kingdom directly as "The Kingdom of God" five times.. Receive God's superabounding grace today!

Kingdom of God in Matthew 19: 24

"And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19: 24)

Jesus says in the prior verse:

"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 19: 23)

The parallelism of the two verses confirms that Kingdom of God and Kingdom of heaven refer to the same place.

Yet why does Jesus say Kingdom of God in the second verse?

The offense of directly identifying with God the Father offended many Jews of Jesus' day, who demonstrated a misplaced reverence for God's name.

To augment the impossibility of man to enter the kingdom of heaven based no his wealth, health, and prestige, Jesus amplified the metaphor with "camel through the eye of the needle".

Camels are unclean creatures, first of all. The notion that anything can pass through the eye of the needle is. . .impossible. We should stop reading into these parables. Jesus is talking about a camel, and the eye of a needle.

A rich man cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God has to come to us, to enter into us.

Receive the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Romans 5: 17), and watch His wealth and health flow into your life!

Kingdom of God in Matthew 12: 28

"But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you." (Matthew 12: 28

Here, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for claiming that He was casting out demons because He was a proxy of Satan.

Such blasphemy would help doom the religious leaders, who rejected the saving grace of Jesus.

In this verse, one of the five in which Matthew refers to the Kingdom of God directly, Jesus specifically mentions the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit brings the Kingdom of God to us.

I submit once again that every time Jesus used the phrase Kingdom of God, He was stressing the offense to religious minds, that the Kingdom cannot be earned, cannot be reached through human efforts.

Furthermore, the Kingdom of God affirms the supremacy of Christ in all things. Even the demons have to bow down and submit to Him.

The phrase "the Kingdom of God is come unto" points out that this Kingdom is not somewhere far away, but is close to us:

"Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17: 21)

Jesus shared this truth with the Pharisees, as well.

They receive it, and this gift comes within us.

Kingdom of God in Matthew 6: 33

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6: 33)

Jesus offers this powerful, intimidating, yet exhilarating exhortation to the Jewish multitudes, including His disciples, in the Sermon on the Mount.

Did he mention the Kingdom of Heaven prior to Matthew 6: 33?

"3Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5: 3)


"10Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5: 10)

Then later on, Jesus says:

"Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

"20For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5: 19-20)
"Kingdom of Heaven" implies distance, separation. In the verses in Matthew 5, the emphasis on separation and emptiness in man stands out. Poor in spirit, persecuted --- yours is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Then Jesus declares the following:

"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness."

We find the phrase Kingdom of God, not heaven.

What's going on here?

Jesus is emphasizing that this Kingdom is not a place which we get to through our efforts.

This is a kingdom which He gives to us through His Holy Spirit.

We receive this gift through grace. For the Jews of Jesus day, they believed that they could work their way to God. I believe that when Jesus specifically and directly stated "Kingdom of God", he heightened the offense for those beset with religious pretense.

We receive the Kingdom of God as a gift, as confirmed in the Gospel of Luke:

"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12: 32)

Jesus wants us to just be His sheep, to identify with God as our Father, and to receive the gift of His Kingdom.

Yet we can only receive the Kingdom as a gift of grace.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Answer to Fear: Righteousness!

Isaiah 54 is the glorious promise for those who believe on the suffering Messiah (Isaiah 53):

"4Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more." (Isaiah 54: 5)

Fear is based not on mere threats, but a compounding element of shame, reproach, and confusion.

I submit to you, Beloved, that for every fear you feel or face in your life, there are five elements of shame, condemnation, and reproach which motivated those fears.

Keep in mind, that most people are more afraid of public speaking than death. Why? Because man fears rejection and shame more than anything else. This need for acceptance is strong in man, that his overriding need to be accepted will push aside wisdom, proper judgment, or his well-being.

Look again at verse four:

"Fear not for

1. Thou shalt not be ashamed

2. neither be confounded

3. for thou shalt not be put to shame

4. thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth

5. Thou shalt not remember the shame of the widowhood any more.

There are five mentions relating to shame. The answer to all our fears is a growing revelation of God's grace, which we receive through Christ Jesus (2 Peter 1: 1-2)

The fears in our lives are based on

1. being ashamed:   בּוּשׁ
The first mention of "bosh" occurs in the Genesis 2: 12, in which Adam and Eve are both naked in the Garden, but they were not ashamed. They were not looking at themselves at all. They were looking at God, aware of their standing in Him.

2. confounded: כָּלָם
Kalam speaks of receving dishonor from other people. The first mention of this word appears in Numbers 12, when Miriam is afflicted with leprosy because she spoke against her brother Moses, and the Lord afflicted her for speaking against him. Once again, the theme of white as expressing shame, or a lack of blood, appears again.

3. put to shame: כָּלָם
This word chaper speaks of disappoint which makes one look bad, too. The first mention of this word appears in the Book of Job:

"They were confounded because they had hoped; they came thither, and were ashamed." (John 6:20)

The context of this verse, and thus the word chaper, speaks of a profound disappoint. In Christ, hope does not disappoint (Romans 5: 5), since by His death and resurrection we receive everlasting life and reign with Him (Romans 5: 17) more than conquerors in Christ (Romans 8:37)

4. The shame of thy youth

shame: בֹּ֫שֶׁת
Boshet first appears in 1 Samuel 20: 30 --

"Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said unto him, Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother's nakedness?"


This shame speaks of the bad things which we did in our past, in our youth, which we fear may rise  up once again and drag us down. God assures that we will forget this shame, and it makes no difference if other people attempt to remind us of these shameful moments from our past.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Mourdock's Mistakes, and Reflections for 2014

A year to the day of the article’s publication, I discovered a USA Today editorial by Indianapolis Star editorial writer Tim Swarens, who assessed Tea Party upstart Richard Mourdock’s loss to Democrat Joe Donnelly in true-red Indiana at the end of the 2012 election cycle.

For some background on the contest, state treasure Mourdock issued a primary challenge against thirty-six year US Senate veteran Richard Lugar, an aged senator whom critics had dubbed “Obama’s favorite Republican.” He had voted to raise the debt ceiling five times and supported Obama’s US Supreme Court nominees. Lugar’s willingness to work with the other side on key issues, plus the fact that he no longer remembered his Indiana home address, motivated Hoosier voters to hose Lugar out of office. Despite the bitter results of the 2012 primary, Lugar endorsed and campaign for Mourdock. Washington Post syndicated columnist George Will recognized the will of Indiana voters to change their representation in Washington.

The change which Indiana Republicans had voted for in the primary did not turn out the way which they had hoped.

Into the last two months of the 2012 campaign, Mourdock’s tough message on cutting the spending and ending the debt-dealing dance and compromises which never were started to turn off Midwestern calm, cool, and collected conservatives.

Ignoring the candidate’s personal failures, I had commented  in this media forum that near-certain US Senate wins in 2012 were compromised by a compromised national standard-bearer, Willard Mitt Romney. A centrist Republican in deep-blue Massachusetts, Romney helped no Republicans gain traction in Beacon Hill. Furthermore, he sponsored the state-mandate health insurance plan RomneyCare, the blue print for the disastrous, gargantuan federal mandate ObamaCare (which incidentally enough, is forcing Massachusetts’ recipients off of their state-run plan as I write this column). He was a the best candidate out of a bad bunch, but not a good candidate to begin with.

Looking over the 2012 election fallouts in Missouri, as well as Indiana, North Dakota and Montana, this judgment against Romney seemed all the more justified. When considering Swarens’ take on Mourdock’s loss, however, including a measure consideration of in-state statistics and Republican gains across the Hoosier State, Mourdock’s loss revealed more complex sources.

Swarens claimed that Mourdock ran an arrogant, disorganized campaign.

Granted, state treasurer Mourdock, who had fought to protect the pension funds of Indiana’s retired teachers and police officers during the Housing Crisis, described true bipartisanship as “Democrats coming over to the Republicans’ point of view.” Putting aside partisan vigor and fiscal restraint, such an argument is both disingenuous and incredulous. Not content with winning his own Senate seat, Mourdock was contemplating a grand sweep of Republicans over the next two cycles to end the defict-spending and national debt explosion in Washington. Couting the hen house before the eggs were hatched, one could argue that Mourdock’s expectations had outpaced his more present need to win his own seat first.

Diminishing the national debt and reining in federal spending are all worthy causes, yet every candidate has to make his case to the voters, and Mourdock did not do this well. Even the conservative-leaning Rasmussen Reports polling firm acknowledged that Mourdock was maintaining a mere five point advantage of his Democratic opponent Joe Donnelly up to October, 2012.

Then came Mourdock’s disastrous comment about rape and God’s will.

“I don’t care what people may think,” Mourdock proudly announced, then pronounced his affirmative support for every unborn child, acknowledged that he supported abortion only if the life of the mother was endangered, then shared that the child conceived in rape was “God’s will.” Liberal media outlets pounced. Reconsidering these misplaced statements and columnist Ann Coulter’s unrepentant venom toward Mourdock and Missouri’s Todd Akin, I understand her frustration. The perceived arrogance of “I don’t care what people may think” simply has no place in a debate for federal office. For the record, Mourdock’s stance, minus the rhetorical flap, did not doom his campaign. Keep in mind that Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain also opposed abortion except in the cases of the life of the mother, and he had admitted this view on the uber-feminist daytime program “The View”. Cain’s proper phrasing of the issue, without spending significant time on the subject, prevented the issue from derailing his campaign.

So, reviewing Swarens’ indictment of Richard Mourdock further, one can conclude that Mourdock’s many mistakes, besides the rape comment, did undermine his candidacy. The Republican results throughout Indiana, aside from the US Senate loss, affirm that conservatives, not just Republicans, actually did very well and turned out for their own. Congressman and former Presidential candidate Mike Pence won the governor’s office, bringing in his victory wake Republican supermajorities into the Indiana state legislature. Seven out of nine Congressional seats went to conservative Republicans, as well, so obviously the fiscal and social conservative message was not a turn-off for Indiana voters.

Entering 2014, Republican and Tea Party operatives must respect each other’s interest by supporting well-financed and disciplined candidates, not just ideological partisans with unbending political convictions.

Will future conservative US Senate candidates learn from Mourdock’s mistakes? One can only hope.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God in Matthew -- Introduction

In the Gospel of Matthew, the writer refers to "The Kingdom of Heaven" frequently, yet also writes about "The Kingdom of God."

In the three other Gospels, there is no mention of "Kingdom of Heaven", but frequent references to "Kingdom of God".

In Paul's Epistles, there are no references to "Kingdom of Heaven", but Kingdom of God.

The Gospel of Matthew was written to the Jewish People. The Gospel writer makes no references to unclean animals when discussing the birds of the air. The genealogy provided establishes Jesus' kingship as a descendant of Abraham and the Kings of Israel, including Solomon.

The genealogy in the Gospel of Luke follows through another son of David, not Solomon, yet the two different lines establish that Jesus is the Son of God, the Son of Man, and a direct kingly descendant of David. Jesus: the Root and Branch of David!

At any rate, most pastors will assert that the Gospel of Matthew refers to God's reign in our lives as "The Kingdom of Heaven."

Many assert, and I agree with them, that since Matthew was writing to a Jewish audience, he recognized their misguidance reverence for the name of God, and therefore He records "Kingdom of Heaven" for His reign and His rule.

Yet there are five instances in the Gospel of Matthew in which Jesus refers to His reign as "The Kingdom of God".

Why did Jesus refer to His kingdom as ""The Kingdom of God" in these five instances?

Let us submit right now, that since the Scripture cannot be broken, and that there are no insignificant details in the Bible, and the most of all the Holy Spirit inspired Matthew to write with the Jewish reverence in mind as well as a direct reason for referencing the Kingdom so directly, let us allow the Holy Spirit to minister to us more about Jesus and what He has done for us!

In the next five posts, let us take a look at the five verses in Matthew where Jesus says "The Kingdom of God".

Five verses about "The Kingdom of God": five speaks of grace in the Bible.

Matthew was writing to a specific community which defined itself, which identified with God's law, with Moses. Matthew was writing to people who were acting under the Old Covenant, who were proud of their ethnic status as Israelites, which they therefore believed to establish them as righteous.

Yet from the Book of Genesis to Jesus' death on the Cross, man is dead in his trespasses and needs a Savior -- Jesus the Messiah! Man needs to be cleansed of his sins and given life to restore him to righteous standing before God.

So, Jesus came to His own, who did not receive Him, preaching the fullness of the Old Covenant and the incoming New and eternal Kingdom.

I submit, therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven references God's holy rule and power through the Holy Spirit as based on law, merit, and works. When Jesus speaks of "The Kingdom of God", He is affirming the grace of God, that the Kingdom of Heaven, which is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14: 17), is not something that we reach for or enter by our efforts, but is a gift which receive by grace through faith.

Through Christ's Poverty, You are Rich

"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich."

Oftentimes, "Word of Faith" people will tell people to claim this verse over and over.

Most times, people will say "Jesus became poor that I might be rich."

Once again, faith turns into a work, and grace becomes void with such an emphasis on what we do in order to receive God's blessings.

We are called to inherit blessings from God, which has everything to do with who we are in Christ, and nothing to do with what we do.

Take another look at this precious verse.

It all starts with the grace of God, which we receive by faith (Ephesians 2: 8-9). Faith is the recognition that He has done all that He has said (Hebrews 11: 1-2), and this faith is borne in us as we hear the word of Christ (Romans 10: 17)

Then we must receive that He was rich.

Most theologians, and pastors in traditional church communities, will claim that Jesus was poor.


Paul describes Jesus thus:

"5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:" (Philippians 2: 5-6)


"16For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist." (Colossians 1: 16-17)

Even the Gospel accounts, we find examples of Jesus' great wealth: the feeding of five thousand with fragments (Mark 8: 19).

Jesus told Peter to fish for their tax money, and Peter ended up pulling out of the first fish caught ten times the amount needed (Matthew 17: 24-27)

Jesus wore a beautiful robe woven in one fabric. Instead of parting the robe in pieces, the Roman soldiers gambled for the cloth right beneath Jesus' feet (Matthew 25: 35-37)

This final example of Jesus' wealth is very telling.

So, we have the grace of Christ, we receive the truth that He was (and is!) rich. He became poor.

How do we see this poverty? At the Cross, of course.

Jesus lost everything. All clothing was removed from Him, and everything that He did wear, up to the moment He was crucified, impoverished Him more. The purple robe which mocked his majesty was ripped off, opening up the fresh wounds on His body from the Romans' whipping. The crown of thorns not only mocked his majesty, but took blood away from Him.

This blood, by the way, speakers health, wholeness, fullness, and wealth: better things than the blood of Abel (Hebrews 12: 24)

Now we come to the part "that through His poverty you might be rich."

We do not get rich by saying over and over "Jesus became poor."

We need to discern the poverty which He endured in order to make us rich. The Holy Spirit invites us to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord our God (2 Peter 3: 18), and we receive this knowledge as we read His Word and understand all that He has given us through His death and resurrection.

As I meditate on "through His poverty", I recognized further that for many people, including myself, the issue of poverty, of not having enough money, all too often hinged on a sense of shame, guilt, or condemnation.

Jesus became sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5: 21)

Before Jesus died on the Cross, He instructed the Israelite multitude to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, then everything else would be added to us (Matthew 6: 33)

Without the Kingdom of God, without His righteousness, we remain poor.

We receive both kingdom and righteousness through His Holy Spirit:

"For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." (Romans 14: 17)

We must reckon ourselves dead to sin, to shame, to condemnation, that His life by the power  of the Holy Spirit may live through us (Romans 6: 11-14)

The poverty which Jesus took upon Himself at the Cross is noteworthy not for the material losses, but the shame and condemnation which He endured. Jesus was naked on that Cross, completely exposed, and He watched as His own clothes, His royal robe woven in one fabric, were gambled away, right beneath His own feet.

The more that you meditate on Jesus' poverty, you grow in grace, and this grace will enrich you in every way!

Through Christ's poverty, indeed, you are made rich:

"3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:" (Ephesians 1: 3)

Yet these blessings are based on the following:

"According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. " (Ephesians 1: 4-6)

We are now In Christ, free from blame and unholiness, adopted as children of God, infused with grace because as Christ is, so are we in this world (1 John 4: 17).

Here is our wealth -- in recognizing our new identify, free of Adam's death and sin, infused with Christ's life.

For this Jesus became poor, and through Christ's poverty, you are rich indeed!

Jesus Takes Away the Pain, and Graces our Past

"Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more." (Isaiah 54: 4)

Every word of Scripture matters, and every element which the Holy Spirit witnesses to us through the Word should give us great joy and hope.

Like many Christians, I wanted to forget my youth.

I wanted to forget the mistakes which I had made, the missed opportunities, the other shameful things which I had said and done.

When it comes to widowhood, most children of God in the Body of Christ may comment: "I have never been married", or "my spouse is not dead yet", or "I am a male."

Yet widowhood speaks of a status of great loneliness and frustration, despair wrought from losing ky relationships, as well as wealth and power or position.

How many of can think of times when it seemed as though God was one million miles away, as if He did not care what was going on? Much of the time, we were simply operating out of a lie or we misunderstood something. For me, at least, the fullness and finality of the Cross had not been faithfully explained to me.

Jesus did not just die on the Cross for our sins. He married us to Himself, and with Him we receive life, and that more abundantly (John 10: 10)

Regarding the need to forget, we need to understand that God causes us to forget the shame of our youth. We do not have to struggle to forget our youth. He takes away the reproach of our "widowhood".

Regarding the trying events from our past, we find many examples where God not only does not hide them, but rather magnifies the very people who did wrong things and this glorify God's grace.

Look no further than the geneology of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospel according to Matthew:

"And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom." (Matthew 1: 3)

Tamar's account is quite illicit, one which few pastors would preach in many modern churches, for fear of alienating pious, religious individuals in their congregations. Reading Genesis chapter 38, we find the daughter-in-law of Judah, Tamar, waiting for Judah to allow his next son to lie with her and sire offspring for her dead husband. Judah's first two sons died, and he refused to give his third to her.

Frustrated with her father-in-law's refusal to give his third to her, Tamar dressed herself up as a prostitute and seduced Judah to lie with her, all the while without her father-in-law knowing that he was sleeping with his own daughter-in-law. An account of incest, deception, familial strife, and outrageous desperation winds up in the first recorded Gospel of the New Testament, and the children born out of Tamar and Judah's deceptive incest become ancestors of Jesus Christ!

There are also the accounts of Rahab the harlot (Joshua 2, 6), Ruth (see her story in the Old Testament account named after her), and also the wife of David, who had been the wife of Uriah (2 Samuel 11-12). In these respective accounts, a prostitute, a despised Moabitess (a descendant of incest, no less), and an adulteress gave birth to ancestors of Jesus Christ our Lord.

So, we should never feel compelled to run from our past, for fear of the reproach of men, for in our weakest moments, and even in our greatest sins, God's grace superabounds (Romans 5: 20) and provides

Yet many believers try to forget their past altogether still. What's the problem?

The verse in Isaiah 54 spells out what God promises to remove from us: the shame of our youth; the reproach of our widowhood. Too many children of God feel shame, guilt, and condemnation about their past. They still feel that they have to make it right, that they have to correct the mistakes or make up for the sins which they committed. They have yet to learn that when Jesus died on the Cross, He took all of our sins, and the condemnation attached to these sins, and paid for them all.

He also bore the reproach and shame for the things which were done against us, too.

For me, I struggled with painful moments in which I had allowed people to be abusive to me, and I had castigated myself for so long, often wondering what I could or should have done to prevent that abuse.

I have since learned that He is always watching out for us, and we have no need to avenge ourselves of our enemies. For a long time, I had believed that I had to right the wrongs which I had endured, that I had to fight back and "teach people a lesson." God blesses us in spite of the terrible things which we have endured, and He takes away the shame of what was perpetrated against us.

For too long, I had tried to forget the moments in the past, when God had taken away the reproach and shame of those trying times in my life. Because there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Romans 8: 1), we have no reason to be ashamed of anything in our past. We are taken from dead in our trespasses to seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2: 4-8), and we receive all things freely with Christ (Romans 8: 32)

Do not try to forget your past. Rest in the righteousness of God, which you are in Christ (2 Corinthians 5: 21). Reckon yourself dead to all sin (Romans 6: 11), for Jesus has taken away the pain, and He will grace your past and bless you in the present and fill your future full of His blessings.

We must not fall for the lie that we must forget.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Solution to Fear: Righteousness

"In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you." (Isaiah 54: 14)

For so long, I would deal with fears and upsets in my life by thinking through the possible outcomes.

I tried to reason with myself, looking for every reason to dispute every potential concern or fear.

All of that mental anguish, though, produced nothing but frustration. Every reason I would come up with, would only give birth to more fears, more worries.

The answer to any of the threats in our lives, the fears which do not go away, is not to confirm to our minds that such terrible things may or may not happen.

The solution to is to keep receiving the gift of righteousness which God the Father gives us through His Son Jesus Christ:

"For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5: 17)

Take a look at any of the fears which you are facing.

Go one step further, and you will find that it is not so much fear, but rather shame, guilt, or reproach right behind the fear, with an added element which deceitfully implies that God is angry with you, or doe not care about you.

Not at all.

God shows, present tense!, His love for us because He sent His Son to die for us (Romans 5: 8), who was raised from the dead for our justification (Romans 4: 25)

When we rest in the truth that all our sins have been  paid for, that Jesus' death condemned sin in our flesh, too (Romans 8:3), we can rest in the assured promises of Isaiah 54: 17 that no weapon of shame or reproach will prosper against us.

Rest in His righteousness, which we receive because of God's perfect love for us demonstrated at the Cross, and watch every fear cast out of your life! (1 John 4: 18)