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FOUNTAIN OF MY SOUL By Pst. Victor Okereke (De Edifier)

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I AM LIFE-STREAM

“A fountain of joy alive in you”: How Music Tunes the Soul

I recorded this collection during the month of October 2018. Having a clear calendar for the month, I felt the Lord telling me that there was a reason I had no ministry obligations for the entire month. As I asked the Lord ‘why?’ I felt led to record this project, coupling some of my favorite songs. Worship with me and find rest for your soul as you walk intimately with Jesus through these song. I AM LIFE-STREAM

A fountain that flows from above;
I have passed from the waters of strife
And come to the Elim of love;
I have drunk of the heavenly well,
In the depths of my being it springs.
No mortal can measure or tell
The gladness the Comforter brings.

Fountain of my soul


Oh, come to the Fountain of Life,
The fountain that never runs dry;
Oh, drink of the boundless supply,
For Christ is the Fountain of Life.

I have come to the Fountain of Blood
That for guilt and uncleanness doth flow;
I have washed in its sin-cleansing flood
And my garments are whiter than snow.
I count not my righteousness mine—
’Tis Jesus that lives in my soul.
I partake of His nature divine,
And in Him I am perfectly whole.

I have come to the Fountain of Health,
A boundless and endless supply;
’Tis a secret man’s wisdom or wealth
Can never discover or buy.
But the secret my Lord hath revealed
In the fountain that flows from His side,
In the stripes by whose pain we are healed,
In Himself as He comes to abide.

I have come to the Fountain of Joy;
His joy is the strength of my heart.
My delight is unmixed with alloy,
My sunshine can never depart.

From my spirit within flows a fountain of life—
The Triune God flowing in me;
God the Father’s the source, Christ the Son is the course,
And the Spirit imparts life to me.

And my soul-life at last I lay down;
O Lord, deepen the pure flow of life;
At Your coming may life be my crown.

In the fresh, tender grass Jesus makes me lie down;
He leads me by waters of rest;
No more struggle and strain; all self-effort is vain;
In the flow I am perfectly blessed.

Jesus called me one day to the Holiest Place,
To live in His presence divine;
Hallelujah, I’ve heard an encouraging word:
“Abide—you’re a branch in the vine.”

Who can satisfy my soul, like You
Who on earth can comfort me and love me like You do
Who could ever be more faithful and true
I will trust in You, I will trust in You, my God

Who can satisfy my soul, like You
Who on earth can comfort me and love me like You do
Who could ever be more faithful and true
I will trust in You, I will trust in You, my God

There is, who is a King
(There is a fountain, who is a King)
Victorious warrior
(Victorious warrior and Lord of everything)
My rock, my very own
(My rock, my shelter, my very own)
Blessed Redeemer, who reigns upon the throne, oh yes

There is a fountain, who is a King
(Who is a King)
Victorious warrior and Lord of everything
(Victorious warrior)
My rock, my shelter, my very own
(My rock, yes He is, He is, my very own)
Blessed Redeemer, who reigns upon the throne
(Blessed Redeemer, who reigns)

Who could ever be more faithful and true
I will trust in You, I will trust in You, I will trust in You, my God

I’ve got peace like a river,
I’ve got peace like a river,
I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.
I’ve got peace like a river,
I’ve got peace like a river,
I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.

I’ve got joy like a fountain,
I’ve got joy like a fountain,
I’ve got joy like a fountain in my soul.
I’ve got joy like a fountain,
I’ve got joy like a fountain,
I’ve got joy like a fountain in my soul.

I’ve got love like an ocean,
I’ve got love like an ocean,
I’ve got love like an ocean in my soul.
I’ve got love like an ocean,
I’ve got love like an ocean,
I’ve got love like an ocean in my soul.

Finding the Ideal God

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De Edifier

The world offers many different versions of God – is the God revealed in the Bible the ideal God?

Many of us have in mind the “ideal” God. Maybe we think God should be capable, able to relate to us, care about us. The following qualities are pretty much what the Bible tells us about God…

#1: Is Greater Than We Are

Desiring God

Humanity has made some great strides in recent years. We can live longer than our ancestors, communicate with others faster, and gain helpful information in seconds.

But while we’ve progressed in some ways, we seem to be digressing on many others. Every decade we see rises in violent crime, the divorce rate, and teenage suicide. Thousands of people die daily due to sectarian hatred. Hundreds of millions of people experience chronic hunger.

The list could go on. Some say that we ourselves are God. Masters of our own destiny. If humanity is God, it doesn’t appear that we’re doing a very good job of it. Therefore, wouldn’t it be better to have a God who is greater than humanity, a God who has the ability to take us beyond where we can go on our own?

The God described in the Bible is that God. He claims to be the Creator of the universe — a transcendent, all-knowing, all-powerful being who has always existed and is the sustainer of all things. He says, “It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it. My own hands stretched out the heavens.”1 “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me.”2 “I am…who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”3

#2: Can Be Known Personally

Desiring God

It’s popular these days to think of God as some kind of force-field that exists in all things. But even if all things exist and are sustained, moment by moment, by God’s power, there can be more to God than that. For example, wouldn’t it be better to have a God who is more like a parent, sibling, or friend? Someone you could talk to, share your problems with, receive guidance from, experience life with. What’s so special about a God that’s impersonal, unknowable, distant?

In spite of his grandeur and “otherness,” the God of the Bible is knowable and wants to be known. Though God is not visible, we can talk with him, ask him questions and listen to him, and he will give us answers and guidance for life. He often gives those answers and guidance through his Word, the Bible, which many have called God’s love letter to us.

A person can have the same kind of relationship with God that he or she has with a close family member. In fact, those that know him, he calls his children, bride, friends. So the God of the Bible is anything but impersonal. He gets angry and sad, shows mercy, kindness and forgiveness, and is a wholly emotional being. He is highly intellectual, having personality and wit. We can know more than just merely facts about him, we can actually know him intimately like a best friend. “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God.”4

#3: Can Relate to the Human Experience

Desiring God

Some think of a God as being remote and distant, like he created the universe, then left it alone to operate on its own. Wouldn’t it be better to have a God who is involved in the universe, and specifically, in what’s happening here on Earth? And what about the unique difficulties, responsibilities and challenges that we face as human beings? Wouldn’t it be better to have a God who could understand those things, a God who somehow knows what it’s like to endure life in the harsh world he’s allowed to exist?

The God of the Bible knows what it means to be one of us. Jesus Christ was not only God’s Son, he was God who had taken on a human form and a human nature. “In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word [Jesus] was with God, and the Word [Jesus] was God. The Word became flesh [human] and made his dwelling among us.”5

Of God’s Son, the Bible says, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.”6 He is “the image of the invisible God.”7 He is the “Mighty God, Eternal Father”8 who was “made in human likeness”9 and “found in appearance as a man.”9 In him “all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.”10 And “by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible.”11

Jesus said of himself, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”12 “He who beholds me beholds the One who sent me.”13 And, “I and the Father are one.”14

Though he was fully God, Jesus was also, somehow, fully man. He hungered, slept, wept, ate. He endured every kind of difficulty we face, and then some. Therefore, the Bible says he is not “unable to sympathize with our weaknesses.”15 He was “tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin.”15

So the God of the Bible didn’t remain aloof from the pain, suffering and evil in our world. He endured life as we must endure it. In fact, he had a very humble time while on this planet. He was born into a poor household, was not physically attractive, encountered prejudice and hatred, was misunderstood even by family and friends, and was wrongfully executed.

#4: Really Cares About Us

Desiring God

Most of us want to be accepted and loved. We want people to really care about us, and not just with superficial words. We want their care and concern to be proven by their actions. Wouldn’t the same be true for God? Meaning, wouldn’t it be ideal if God really cared about us and then gave us tangible proof of that love?

The God of the Bible really cares. He has said so in words. In fact, the Bible says that “God is love.”16 But words don’t communicate care and concern as much as actions do. That’s where the God of the Bible is so unique and awesome. He really showed us how much he cares…

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”17 “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”18

The God of the Bible claims to be a perfect and holy being. “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”19 As such, he desires relationships that are clean and pure. Therefore, God sent his own Son to make a way for us to become clean before God. Jesus lived a morally perfect life and then was beaten, tortured, and crucified as “payment” for all the wrongful things we’ve said, done, or thought (called “sins”). In a sense, he died in our place, on our behalf — “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”20 “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity [sins] of us all.”21

God cared for us enough that he sent his Son to die in our place, for our sins. That’s how much God wanted to know us. He was willing to do whatever was necessary…dealing with our sin was necessary. Now we can be fully forgiven and begin an unhindered relationship with God.

#5: Has Things Completely Under Control

Desiring God

All the terrible things in the world prove that a good, all-powerful God doesn’t exist, right? Not necessarily. Even a perfect God might allow bad things to happen for a time, as part of some higher plan. God could know exactly what’s going on all of the time and only allow so much, all as part of his grand scheme.

The God of the Bible is that God. He claims that nothing on Earth happens without his say-so. He is completely sovereign over all things. “Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?”22 “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”23 “The plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”24 “It is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”25

This does not mean, however, that everything that happens is something God likes. For example, Jesus told his disciples how to pray; in that prayer, one of the key statements is: “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”26 God’s moral will is always done in heaven, but not on Earth. While God is sovereign over all things, he doesn’t like everything that takes place on Earth. But for some reason, he allows those things to happen (his permissive will), maybe as part of the freedom of choice we have as human beings.

But the God of the Bible does have a plan, and he will not rest “until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart.”27 What is that plan? God’s ultimate goal is to dwell with people in a totally different environment than what we presently experience. Of that next world, this God says, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. I am making everything new!”28

#6: Gives Meaning and Purpose to Life

Desiring God

If you think about an important task or project you completed, you probably recall the sense of purpose you had when it was all over. Is that what you want your overall life to be like? To amount to something? Could there be a God who created your life with purpose, and can lead you to experience that purpose?

Yes. The God of the Bible can. He promises that he can make our lives meaningful and purposeful. Through a relationship with him, we can “do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”29 We can make a positive difference in the lives of others. We can become part of his master plan.

The God of the Bible also says that, in a moment-by-moment relationship with him, he can direct our steps so that we can do what pleases him, and what’s in our own best interest at all times. “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”30 This is not to say that life becomes perfectly wonderful. There is still illness, problems in life, and personal failures. Life does not become perfect, but it becomes more enriching. The benefits of knowing God, he says, are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”31

#7: Offers True Fulfillment

Desiring God

Like love and acceptance, most of us want to find fulfillment in life. There seems to be something akin to a thirst within us that yearns to be quenched. But that thirst — even though we try — does not get satisfied by things such as money, possessions, romance, or even fun. Therefore, wouldn’t it be great if there was a God who satisfies that “thirst,” a God whose presence brings a constant level of satisfaction to life?

The God of the Bible offers the most fulfilling life possible. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”32 He also said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”33 So, the God of the Bible promises to quench that inner longing that nothing else seems to satisfy. (And he has probably made us in such a way that that is exactly the case!)

Desiring the Ideal God

According to the Bible, there is only one true God, only one Creator of all things. But that God is an ideal God. We cannot wish another God into existence, but even if we could, why would we want to? The true God is already the best possible God.

This article has just scratched the surface on what the God of the Bible is like. If you have a desire to investigate the matter further, you can read the Bible section called “John.” If you are sincere, and if the God of the Bible is real, wouldn’t it make sense that he would reveal himself to you? He says, “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.”34 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”35The true God is already the best possible God.

Are you wondering how you can know this ideal God? Basically, beginning a relationship with God is a lot like beginning a marriage. There is a decision to willfully enter into this relationship. Similarly, with God, it’s a matter of you saying to him, and sincerely meaning, “I do.”

Jesus Christ died for our sins, rose from the dead three days later, and is alive and well today. He now offers new life to us if we trust in him for the forgiveness of our sins: “My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”36

God is no respecter of persons. All people have been created in his image. Thus, his eternal family is described as “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language.”37 And no sin in your life can bar you from beginning a relationship with him. He took care of the sin issue on the cross, where Jesus was crucified. Now it’s a matter of you putting your faith in Jesus’ death on your behalf, no matter what you’ve done in the past.

Once you begin a relationship with God, that relationship is meant to last for all eternity. But it is also meant to be a living and vital relationship today, in this life, a relationship that will grow over time. Like any relationship, it will have its ups and downs, its highs and lows, its joys and pains. But you will be in a relationship with the God who created you for just such a purpose (to know him).

Do you feel God tugging at your heart? Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him.”38 If you would like to invite God into your life right now, here is a suggested prayer to guide you (what’s important, though, is not the exact wording but rather the sincerity of your heart):

Dear God, I confess that I am a sinner. Thank you for taking all of my sin upon yourself in the person of Jesus Christ on the cross. I want to receive your forgiveness and enter into a relationship with you. I ask you to come into my life as my Savior and Lord, to be my God from this day forward, and to make me into the person you’ve intended me to be.

Beyond Blind Faith

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God

Is Jesus God? Every major religion honors him. Was Jesus Christ just a prophet? Or God? See these reasons to believe…

It is impossible for us to know conclusively whether God exists and what he is like unless he takes the initiative and reveals himself.

We must scan the horizon of history to see if there is any clue to God’s revelation. There is one clear clue. In an obscure village in Palestine, 2,000 years ago, a Child was born in a stable. Today the entire world is still celebrating the birth of Jesus, and for good reason. His life changed the course of history.

How People Viewed Jesus

We’re told that “the common people heard him gladly.” And, “He taught as One who had authority, and not as their teachers of the Law.”1

Is Jesus God? Did Jesus ever claim to be God?

It soon became apparent, however, that he was making shocking and startling statements about himself. He began to identify himself as far more than a remarkable teacher or prophet. He began to say clearly that he was Deity. He made his identity the focal point of his teaching.

The all-important question he put to those who followed him was, “Who do you say I am?” When Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,”2 Jesus was not shocked, nor did he rebuke Peter. On the contrary, he commended him!

Jesus frequently referred to “My Father,” and his hearers got the full impact of his words. We are told, “The Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”3 On another occasion he said, “I and My Father are One.” Immediately the religious authorities wanted to stone him. Jesus asked them which of his miracles caused them to want to kill him. They replied, “We are not stoning you for any of these but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”4

What Jesus said about himself

Jesus clearly claimed powers which only God has. One time Jesus said to a man who was paralyzed, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” The religious leaders immediately reacted. “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” So Jesus said to them, “Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say ‘Get up and walk’?”

Jesus continued, “But that you might know that I have authority on earth to forgive sins, he said to the man, “Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And the man was instantly healed to all of their amazement.

Jesus also made statements like this one: “I came that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.”5 And “I am the light of the world.”6 And he said numerous times that if anyone would believe in him, Jesus would give them eternal life. “He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”7 “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.”8

At the critical moment when Jesus’ life was at stake for making claims such as these, the high priest put the question to him directly: “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”

“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

The high priest rendered the verdict. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. “You have heard his blasphemy.”9

So close was Jesus’ connection with God that he equated a person’s attitude to himself with the person’s attitude toward God. Thus, to know him was to know God.10 To see him was to see God.11 To believe in him was to believe in God.12 To receive him was to receive God.13 To hate him was to hate God.14 And to honor him was to honor God.15

Possible explanations

As we face the claims of Christ, there are only four possibilities. He was either a liar, mentally ill, a legend, or the Truth.

The question is, was he telling the truth?

Maybe Jesus lied when he said he was God. Perhaps he knew he was not God, but deliberately deceived his hearers to give authority to his teaching. But there is a problem with this reasoning. Even those who deny his deity will say that they think Jesus was a great moral teacher. They fail to realize that Jesus could hardly be a great moral teacher if, on the most crucial point of his teaching — his identity — he was a deliberate liar.

Another possibility is that Jesus was sincere but self-deceived. We have a name for a person today who thinks he is God. Mentally disabled. But as we look at the life of Christ, we see no evidence of the abnormality and imbalance we find in a mentally ill person. Rather, we find the greatest composure under pressure.

A third alternative is that in the third and fourth centuries his​enthusiastic followers put words into his mouth he would have been shocked to hear. Were he to return, he would immediately repudiate them.

However this does not hold up. Modern archeology verifies that four biographies of Christ were written within the lifetime of people who saw, heard and followed Jesus. These gospel accounts contained specific facts and descriptions confirmed by those who were eyewitnesses of Jesus.

The late William F. Albright, a world-famous archaeologist with Johns Hopkins University, said there is no reason to believe that any of the Gospel were written later than A.D. 70. The early writing of the Gospels by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, is why they gained such circulation and impact.

Jesus was not a liar, or mentally disabled, or manufactured apart from historical reality. The only other alternative is that Jesus was being consciously truthful when he said he was God.

What is the proof for Jesus being God?

Anyone can make claims. There have been others who have claimed to be God. I could claim to be God, and you could claim to be God, but the question all of us must answer is, “What credentials do we bring to prove our claim?” In my case it wouldn’t take you five minutes to debunk my claim. It probably wouldn’t take too much more to dispose of yours.

But when it comes to Jesus of Nazareth, it’s not so simple. He had the credentials to back up his claim. He said, “Even though you do not believe me, believe the evidence of the miracles, that you may learn and understand that the Father is in Me, and I am in the Father.”16

The quality of the life of Jesus

Is Jesus God? Did Jesus ever claim to be God?

His moral character aligned with his claims. The quality of his life was such that he was able to challenge his enemies with the question, “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?”17 He was met by silence, even though he addressed those who would have liked to point out a flaw in his character.

We read of Jesus being tempted by Satan, but we never hear of a confession of sin on his part. He never asked for forgiveness, though he told his followers to do so.

This lack of any sense of moral failure on Jesus’ part is astonishing in view of the fact that it is completely contrary to the experience of the saints and mystics throughout the ages. The closer men and women draw to God, the more overwhelmed they are with their own failure, corruption, and shortcomings. The closer one is to a shining light, the more he realizes his need of a bath.

It is also striking that John, Paul, and Peter, all of whom were trained from earliest childhood to believe in the universality of sin, all spoke of the sinlessness of Christ: “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”18

Even Pilate, who sentenced Jesus to death, asked, “What evil has he done?” After listening to the crowd, Pilate concluded, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” The crowd relentlessly demanded Jesus be crucified (for blasphemy, claiming to be God). The Roman centurion who assisted in the crucifixion of Christ said, “Surely he was the Son of God.”19

Jesus’ miracles – he cured the sick

Jesus constantly demonstrated both his power and compassion. He made the lame to walk, the blind to see, and healed those with diseases.

For example, a man who had been blind from birth was known by everyone as the familiar beggar who sat outside the temple. After Jesus healed him, the religious authorities interrogated the beggar about Jesus. The man replied, “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” He couldn’t understand how these religious authorities didn’t recognize this Healer as the Son of God. “Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind,” he said.20 To him the evidence was obvious.

He could control nature

Jesus also demonstrated a supernatural power over nature itself. He commanded a raging storm of high wind and waves on the Sea of Galilee to be calm. Those in the boat were awestruck, asking, “Who is this? Even the wind and waves obey him!”21 He turned water into wine, at a wedding. He fed a massive crowd of 5,000 people, starting with five loaves of bread and two fish. He gave a grieving widow back her only son by raising him from the dead.

Lazarus, a friend of Jesus’ died and had been buried in a tomb for four days already. Yet Jesus said, “Lazarus, come forth!” and dramatically raised him from the dead, witnessed by many. It is most significant that his enemies did not deny this miracle. Rather, they decided to kill Jesus. “If we let him go on like this,” they said, “everyone will believe in him.”22

Is Jesus God, as he claimed?

Is Jesus God? Did Jesus ever claim to be God?

Jesus’ supreme evidence of deity was his own resurrection from the dead. Five times in the course of his life, Jesus clearly predicted he would die, and in what specific way he would be killed, and that three days later, after being buried, he would rise from the dead.

Surely this was the great test. It was a claim that was easy to verify. It would either happen or not. It would either confirm his stated identity or destroy it. And significant for you and me, Jesus’ rising from the dead would verify or make laughable statements such as these:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.”23 “I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not live in darkness, but will have the light of life.”24 For those who believe in him, “I give them eternal life…”25

So by his own words, he offers this proof, “”The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.”26

Who is Jesus Christ?

Talk is cheap. Anyone can make claims. But when it comes to Jesus of Nazareth… He had the credentials to back up His claim.

If Christ rose, then all that he offers us, he can fulfill. It means he really can forgive sin, give us eternal life, and guide us now in this life. As God, we now know what God is like and can respond to his invitation to know him and his love for us in a personal way.

On the other hand, if Christ did not rise from the dead, Christianity has no objective validity or reality. It is all false. Jesus was merely a man who is dead. The martyrs who went singing to the lions, and contemporary missionaries who have given their lives while taking this message to others, have been poor deluded fools.

Did Jesus prove he is God?

Let’s look at the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection.

Given all the miracles he had performed, Jesus easily could have avoided the cross, but he chose not to.

Before his arrest, Jesus said, “I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord…and I have authority to take it up again.”27

During his arrest, Jesus’ friend Peter tried to defend him. But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its place…Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?”28 He had that kind of power in heaven and on earth. Jesus went willingly to his death.

Jesus’ crucifixion and burial.

Jesus’ death was by public execution on a cross, a common form of torture and death, used by the Roman government for many centuries. The accusation against Jesus was for blasphemy (for claiming to be God). Jesus said it was to pay for our sin.

Jesus was lashed with a multi-cord whip having metal or bone fragmented ends. A mock crown of long thorns was beaten into his skull. They forced him to walk to an execution hill outside of Jerusalem. They put him on a wooden cross, nailing his wrists and feet to it. He hung there, eventually dying. A sword was thrust into his side to confirm his death.

The body of Jesus was taken from the cross, wrapped in mummy-like linens covered with gummy-wet spices. His body was placed in a solid rock tomb, where a very large boulder was rolled down to it, to secure the entrance.

Everyone knew that Jesus said he would rise from the dead in three days. So they stationed a guard of trained Roman soldiers at the tomb. They also affixed an official Roman seal to the outside of the tomb declaring it government property.

Three days later, the tomb was empty.

Is Jesus God? Did Jesus ever claim to be God?

In spite of all this, three days later the boulder formerly sealing the tomb was found up a slope, some distance away from the tomb. The body was gone. Only the grave linens were found in the tomb, empty of the body.

It is important to note that both critics and followers of Jesus agree that the tomb was empty and the body missing.

The earliest explanation circulated was that the disciples stole the body while the guards were sleeping. This makes little sense. This was an entire guard of highly trained Roman soldiers and falling asleep on duty was punishable by death.

Further, each of the disciples were tortured and put to death (individually and in different geographic locations) for proclaiming that Jesus was alive, risen from the dead. Men and women will die for what they believe to be true, though it may actually be false. They do not, however, die for what they know is a lie. If ever a man tells the truth, it is on his deathbed.

Maybe the authorities moved the body? This also is a weak possibility. They crucified Jesus to stop people from believing in him. If they had Christ’s body, they could have paraded it through the streets of Jerusalem. In one fell swoop they would have successfully smothered Christianity in its cradle. That they did not do this bears eloquent testimony to the fact that they did not have the body.

Another theory is that the women (the first to see Jesus’ empty tomb) were distraught and overcome by grief, missed their way in the dimness of the morning and went to the wrong tomb. In their distress they imagined Christ had risen because the tomb was empty. But again, if the women went to the wrong tomb, why did the high priests and other enemies of the faith not go to the right tomb and produce the body?Men and women will die for what they believe to be true, though it may actually be false. They do not, however, die for what they know is a lie.

One other possibility is what some call “the swoon theory.” In this view, Christ did not actually die. He was mistakenly reported to be dead, but had swooned from exhaustion, pain, and loss of blood, and in the coolness of the tomb, he revived. (One would have to overlook the fact that they put a spear in his side to medically confirm his death.)

But let us assume for a moment that Christ was buried alive and swooned. Is it possible to believe that he would have survived three days in a damp tomb without food or water or attention of any kind? Would he have had the strength to extricate himself from the grave clothes, push the heavy stone away from the mouth of the grave, overcome the Roman guards, and walk miles on feet that had been pierced with spikes? It too makes little sense.

However, it wasn’t the empty tomb that convinced Jesus’ followers of his deity.

Not just the empty tomb.

That alone did not convince them that Jesus actually rose from the dead, was alive, and was God. What convinced them were the number of times that Jesus showed up, in person, in the flesh, and ate with them, and talked with them. Different locations, different times, to a variety of different people. Luke, one of the gospel writers, says of Jesus, “he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”29

To write these off as hallucinations doesn’t fit. One reason is the variety of locations, times, people. But also, for hallucinations to occur, one must so intensely want to believe that a person projects something that really isn’t there.

For instance, a mother who lost her son remembers he used to come home from school at 3:30 every day. Every afternoon she sits waiting at the door, until finally sees him and has a conversation with him. She has lost contact with reality.

One might think that this is what happened to the disciples regarding Jesus’ resurrection. However, the opposite took place. They were persuaded against their wills that Jesus had risen from the dead.

Is Jesus God?

All four of the gospel writers give accounts of Jesus physically being alive again. On one occasion when Jesus joined the disciples, Thomas was not there. When they told Thomas about it, he simply wouldn’t believe it. He flatly stated, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

One week later, Jesus came to them again with Thomas now present. Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas replied, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus told him “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”30

What Jesus Christ offers you

Christ gives purpose and direction to life. “I am the light of the world,” he says. “Whoever follow me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”31

Many are in the dark about the purpose of life in general and about their own lives in particular. They are groping around the room of life looking for the light switch. Anyone who has ever been in a dark, unfamiliar room knows this feeling of insecurity. When the light goes on, however, a feeling of security results. And so it is when one steps from darkness to the light of life in Christ.

The late Carl Gustav Jung said, “The central neurosis of our time is emptiness.” We think that experiences, relationships, money, success, fame will finally provide the happiness we seek. But there is always a gap left. They don’t fully satisfy. We have been made for God and find fulfillment only in him.

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”32

You can begin an intimate relationship with him right now. You can begin to personally know God in this life on earth, and after death into eternity. Here is God’s promise to us:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”33

Jesus took our sin on himself, on the cross. He chose to receive punishment for our sin, so that our sin would no longer be a barrier between us and him. Because he fully paid for your sin, he offers you complete forgiveness and a relationship with him.

Here is how you can begin that relationship.

Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door [of your heart] and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him.”34

Right now you can invite Jesus Christ into your life. The words are not important. What matters is that you respond to him, in light of what he has done for you, and is now offering you. You could say to him something like, “Jesus, I believe in you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I ask you to forgive me and to come into my life right now. I want to know you and follow you. Thank you for coming into my life and giving me a relationship with you, right now. Thank you.”

Is There a God?

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God

Does God exist? Here are six straightforward reasons to believe that God is really there.

Just once wouldn’t you love for someone to simply show you the evidence for God’s existence? No arm-twisting. No statements of, “You just have to believe.” Well, here is an attempt to candidly offer some of the reasons which suggest that God exists.

But first consider this. When it comes to the possibility of God’s existence, the Bible says that there are people who have seen sufficient evidence, but they have suppressed the truth about God.1 On the other hand, for those who want to know God if he is there, he says, “You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you.”2 Before you look at the facts surrounding his existence, ask yourself, If God does exist, would I want to know him? Here then, are some reasons to consider…

1. The complexity of our planet points to a deliberate Designer who not only created our universe, but sustains it today.

Many examples showing God’s design could be given, possibly with no end. But here are a few:

The Earth…its size is perfect. The Earth’s size and corresponding gravity holds a thin layer of mostly nitrogen and oxygen gases, only extending about 50 miles above the Earth’s surface. If Earth were smaller, an atmosphere would be impossible, like the planet Mercury. If Earth were larger, its atmosphere would contain free hydrogen, like Jupiter.3 Earth is the only known planet equipped with an atmosphere of the right mixture of gases to sustain plant, animal and human life.

Evidence for God - Photo showing the earth's perfect distance from the sun and its relative size to the sun.

The Earth is located the right distance from the sun. Consider the temperature swings we encounter, roughly -30 degrees to +120 degrees. If the Earth were any further away from the sun, we would all freeze. Any closer and we would burn up. Even a fractional variance in the Earth’s position to the sun would make life on Earth impossible. The Earth remains this perfect distance from the sun while it rotates around the sun at a speed of nearly 67,000 mph. It is also rotating on its axis, allowing the entire surface of the Earth to be properly warmed and cooled every day.

And our moon is the perfect size and distance from the Earth for its gravitational pull. The moon creates important ocean tides and movement so ocean waters do not stagnate, and yet our massive oceans are restrained from spilling over across the continents.4

Water…colorless, odorless and without taste, and yet no living thing can survive without it. Plants, animals and human beings consist mostly of water (about two-thirds of the human body is water). You’ll see why the characteristics of water are uniquely suited to life:

It has wide margin between its boiling point and freezing point. Water allows us to live in an environment of fluctuating temperature changes, while keeping our bodies a steady 98.6 degrees.

Existence of God - Photo from below the water in an ocean or lake, to illustrate that water freezes from the top down, allowing fish to live in the winter.

Water is a universal solvent. This property of water means that various chemicals, minerals and nutrients can be carried throughout our bodies and into the smallest blood vessels.5

Water is also chemically neutral. Without affecting the makeup of the substances it carries, water enables food, medicines and minerals to be absorbed and used by the body.

Water has a unique surface tension. Water in plants can therefore flow upward against gravity, bringing life-giving water and nutrients to the top of even the tallest trees.

Water freezes from the top down and floats, so fish can live in the winter.

God's creation - Photo of rain falling on plants, showing the process of evaporation and water distribution on our planet.

Ninety-seven percent of the Earth’s water is in the oceans. But on our Earth, there is a system designed which removes salt from the water and then distributes that water throughout the globe. Evaporation takes the ocean waters, leaving the salt, and forms clouds which are easily moved by the wind to disperse water over the land, for vegetation, animals and people. It is a system of purification and supply that sustains life on this planet, a system of recycled and reused water.6

The human brain…simultaneously processes an amazing amount of information. Your brain takes in all the colors and objects you see, the temperature around you, the pressure of your feet against the floor, the sounds around you, the dryness of your mouth, even the texture of your keyboard. Your brain holds and processes all your emotions, thoughts and memories. At the same time your brain keeps track of the ongoing functions of your body like your breathing pattern, eyelid movement, hunger and movement of the muscles in your hands.

Is there a God? - Photo of woman thinking, to illustrate the processing power of the human brain, at a million messages a second.

The human brain processes more than a million messages a second.7 Your brain weighs the importance of all this data, filtering out the relatively unimportant. This screening function is what allows you to focus and operate effectively in your world. The brain functions differently than other organs. There is an intelligence to it, the ability to reason, to produce feelings, to dream and plan, to take action, and relate to other people.

The eye…can distinguish among seven million colors. It has automatic focusing and handles an astounding 1.5 million messages — simultaneously.8 Evolution focuses on mutations and changes from and within existing organisms. Yet evolution alone does not fully explain the initial source of the eye or the brain — the start of living organisms from nonliving matter.

2. The universe had a start – what caused it?

Did God start the universe - Photo shows an explosion of light to illustrate the start of the universe referred to as the Big Bang.

Scientists are convinced that our universe began with one enormous explosion of energy and light, which we now call the Big Bang. This was the singular start to everything that exists: the beginning of the universe, the start of space, and even the initial start of time itself.

Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow, a self-described agnostic, stated, “The seed of everything that has happened in the Universe was planted in that first instant; every star, every planet and every living creature in the Universe came into being as a result of events that were set in motion in the moment of the cosmic explosion…The Universe flashed into being, and we cannot find out what caused that to happen.”9

Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate in Physics, said at the moment of this explosion, “the universe was about a hundred thousands million degrees Centigrade…and the universe was filled with light.”10

The universe has not always existed. It had a start…what caused that? Scientists have no explanation for the sudden explosion of light and matter.

3. The universe operates by uniform laws of nature. Why does it?

Much of life may seem uncertain, but look at what we can count on day after day: gravity remains consistent, a hot cup of coffee left on a counter will get cold, the earth rotates in the same 24 hours, and the speed of light doesn’t change — on earth or in galaxies far from us.

Did God design the laws of the universe - Photo of mathematical equations on a blackboard to illustrate the mathematical consistency of natural laws.

How is it that we can identify laws of nature that never change? Why is the universe so orderly, so reliable?

“The greatest scientists have been struck by how strange this is. There is no logical necessity for a universe that obeys rules, let alone one that abides by the rules of mathematics. This astonishment springs from the recognition that the universe doesn’t have to behave this way. It is easy to imagine a universe in which conditions change unpredictably from instant to instant, or even a universe in which things pop in and out of existence.”11

Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize winner for quantum electrodynamics, said, “Why nature is mathematical is a mystery…The fact that there are rules at all is a kind of miracle.”12

4. The DNA code informs, programs a cell’s behavior.

Proof God is real - Photo shows a wall of computer binary code of zeros and ones to illustrate that DNA is like a computer program.

All instruction, all teaching, all training comes with intent. Someone who writes an instruction manual does so with purpose. Did you know that in every cell of our bodies there exists a very detailed instruction code, much like a miniature computer program? As you may know, a computer program is made up of ones and zeros, like this: 110010101011000. The way they are arranged tell the computer program what to do. The DNA code in each of our cells is very similar. It’s made up of four chemicals that scientists abbreviate as A, T, G, and C. These are arranged in the human cell like this: CGTGTGACTCGCTCCTGAT and so on. There are three billion of these letters in every human cell!!

Well, just like you can program your phone to beep for specific reasons, DNA instructs the cell. DNA is a three-billion-lettered program telling the cell to act in a certain way. It is a full instruction manual.13

Proof God exists - Photo of closeup DNA letters of CGTA with a magnifying loop, to illustrate the ordered 3 billion chemicals of DNA within each human cell.

Why is this so amazing? One has to ask….how did this information program wind up in each human cell? These are not just chemicals. These are chemicals that instruct, that code in a very detailed way exactly how the person’s body should develop.

Natural, biological causes are completely lacking as an explanation when programmed information is involved. You cannot find instruction, precise information like this, without someone intentionally constructing it.

5. We know God exists because he pursues us. He is constantly initiating and seeking for us to come to him.

I was an atheist at one time. And like many atheists, the issue of people believing in God bothered me greatly. What is it about atheists that we would spend so much time, attention, and energy refuting something that we don’t believe even exists?! What causes us to do that? When I was an atheist, I attributed my intentions as caring for those poor, delusional people…to help them realize their hope was completely ill-founded. To be honest, I also had another motive. As I challenged those who believed in God, I was deeply curious to see if they could convince me otherwise. Part of my quest was to become free from the question of God. If I could conclusively prove to believers that they were wrong, then the issue is off the table, and I would be free to go about my life.

God seeks to know us - Photo of sunset on an ocean shore to illustrate the warmth of God's love and desire for us to know him.

I didn’t realize that the reason the topic of God weighed so heavily on my mind, was because God was pressing the issue. I have come to find out that God wants to be known. He created us with the intention that we would know him. He has surrounded us with evidence of himself and he keeps the question of his existence squarely before us. It was as if I couldn’t escape thinking about the possibility of God. In fact, the day I chose to acknowledge God’s existence, my prayer began with, “Ok, you win…” It might be that the underlying reason atheists are bothered by people believing in God is because God is actively pursuing them.

I am not the only one who has experienced this. Malcolm Muggeridge, socialist and philosophical author, wrote, “I had a notion that somehow, besides questing, I was being pursued.” C.S. Lewis said he remembered, “…night after night, feeling whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England.”

Lewis went on to write a book titled, “Surprised by Joy” as a result of knowing God. I too had no expectations other than rightfully admitting God’s existence. Yet over the following several months, I became amazed by his love for me.

6. Unlike any other revelation of God, Jesus Christ is the clearest, most specific picture of God revealing himself to us.

Why Jesus? Look throughout the major world religions and you’ll find that Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius and Moses all identified themselves as teachers or prophets. None of them ever claimed to be equal to God. Surprisingly, Jesus did. That is what sets Jesus apart from all the others. He said God exists and you’re looking at him. Though he talked about his Father in heaven, it was not from the position of separation, but of very close union, unique to all humankind. Jesus said that anyone who had seen Him had seen the Father, anyone who believed in him, believed in the Father.

Jesus Christ reveals God to us - Photo of a man reading the Bible to learn more about Jesus Christ.

He said, “I am the light of the world, he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”14 He claimed attributes belonging only to God: to be able to forgive people of their sin, free them from habits of sin, give people a more abundant life and give them eternal life in heaven. Unlike other teachers who focused people on their words, Jesus pointed people to himself. He did not say, “follow my words and you will find truth.” He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.”15

What proof did Jesus give for claiming to be divine? He did what people can’t do. Jesus performed miracles. He healed people…blind, crippled, deaf, even raised a couple of people from the dead. He had power over objects…created food out of thin air, enough to feed crowds of several thousand people. He performed miracles over nature…walked on top of a lake, commanding a raging storm to stop for some friends. People everywhere followed Jesus, because he constantly met their needs, doing the miraculous. He said if you do not want to believe what I’m telling you, you should at least believe in me based on the miracles you’re seeing.16

Jesus Christ showed God to be gentle, loving, aware of our self-centeredness and shortcomings, yet deeply wanting a relationship with us. Jesus revealed that although he views us as sinners, worthy of his punishment, his love for us ruled and he came up with a different plan. God himself took on the form of man and accepted the punishment for our sin on our behalf. Sounds ludicrous? Perhaps, but many loving fathers would gladly trade places with their child in a cancer ward if they could. The Bible says that the reason we would love God is because he first loved us.

Jesus died in our place so we could be forgiven. Of all the religions known to humanity, only through Jesus will you see God reaching toward humanity, providing a way for us to have a relationship with him. Jesus proves a divine heart of love, meeting our needs, drawing us to himself. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, he offers us a new life today. We can be forgiven, fully accepted by God and genuinely loved by God. He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”17 This is God, in action.

Does God exist - Photo of a young woman, drinking a cup of coffee and reading the Bible, to learn about a relationship with God.

Does God exist? If you want to know, investigate Jesus Christ. We’re told that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”18

God does not force us to believe in him, though he could. Instead, he has provided sufficient proof of his existence for us to willingly respond to him. The earth’s perfect distance from the sun, the unique chemical properties of water, the human brain, DNA, the number of people who attest to knowing God, the gnawing in our hearts and minds to determine if God is there, the willingness for God to be known through Jesus Christ. If you need to know more about Jesus and reasons to believe in him, please see: Beyond Blind Faith.

If you want to begin a relationship with God now, you can.

This is your decision, no coercion here. But if you want to be forgiven by God and come into a relationship with him, you can do so right now by asking him to forgive you and come into your life. Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door [of your heart] and knock. He who hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him [or her].”19 If you want to do this, but aren’t sure how to put it into words, this may help: “Jesus, thank you for dying for my sins. You know my life and that I need to be forgiven. I ask you to forgive me right now and come into my life. I want to know you in a real way. Come into my life now. Thank you that you wanted a relationship with me. Amen.”

God views your relationship with him as permanent. Referring to all those who believe in him, Jesus Christ said of us, “I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.”20

Looking at all these facts, one can conclude that a loving God does exist and can be known in an intimate, personal way.

Knowing God Personally

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Great man

Find God – What does it take to know God? This will explain how you can personally begin a relationship with God, right now.

What does it take to begin a relationship with God? Wait for a spiritual experience? Devote yourself to unselfish religious deeds? Become a better person so that God will accept you? NONE of these. God has made it very clear in the Bible how we can know Him. This will explain how you can personally begin a relationship with God, right now…

Principle One: God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life.

God created you. Not only that, he loves you so much that he wants you to know him now and spend eternity with him. Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”1

Jesus came so that each of us could know and understand God in a personal way. Jesus alone can bring meaning and purpose to life.

What keeps us from knowing God? …

Principle Two: All of us sin and our sin has separated us from God.

We sense that separation, that distance from God because of our sin. The Bible tells us that “All of us like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way.”2

Deep down, our attitude may be one of active rebellion or passive indifference toward God and his ways, but it’s all evidence of what the Bible calls sin.

The result of sin in our lives is death — spiritual separation from God.3 Although we may try to get close to God through our own effort, we inevitably fail.

find God - know God - God help

There is a distance, a gap between us and God. The arrows show our efforts to reach God…doing good for others, religious rituals, trying to be a good person, etc. But the problem is that none of these good efforts actually cover up our sin or remove it.

Our sin is known by God and stands as a barrier between us and God. Further, the Bible says that the penalty for sin is death. We would be eternally separated from God.

Except…for what God did for us.

So, how can we have a relationship with God? …

Principle Three: Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sin for us. He now offers us complete forgiveness and a close relationship with him.

Jesus Christ took all of our sins, suffered and paid for them with his life on the cross. Jesus died for us, in our place. He did this out of his tremendous love for us.

“…he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”4 Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, our sin doesn’t have to separate us from God any longer.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”5

find God - know God - God help

Jesus not only died for our sin, but after this death on the cross, he physically came back to life three days later, just as he said he would.

This was final proof that everything Jesus said about himself was true. To know him was to know God; to love him was to love God. “I and the Father are one.”6

Jesus said he could answer prayer, forgive sin, judge the world, give us eternal life. His countless miracles supported his words.

Jesus was clear, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one can come to the Father except through me.”7

Instead of trying to reach God, he tells us how we can begin a relationship with him right now. Jesus says, “Come to me.” “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink…out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”8

It was Jesus’ love for us that caused him to endure the cross. And he now invites us to come to him, that we might begin a personal relationship with God.

Just knowing what Jesus has done for us and what he is offering us is not enough. To have a relationship with God, we need to welcome him into our life…

Principle Four: We must individually accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

The Bible says, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”9

We accept Jesus by faith. The Bible says, “God saved you by his special favour when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”10

Accepting Jesus means believing that Jesus is the Son of God, then inviting him to guide and direct our lives.11 Jesus said, “I came that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.”12

And here is Jesus’ invitation. He said, “I’m standing at the door and I’m knocking. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.”13

How will you respond to God’s invitation?

Consider these two circles:


Self-Directed Life
 Self is on the throne Jesus is outside the life Separated from God, life can often result in discord and frustration

Christ-Directed Life
 Jesus is in the life and on the throne Self has a relationship with God The person experiences God’s love, guidance and help in life


Which circle best represents your life?

Which circle would you like to have represent your life?

Begin a relationship with Jesus…

You can receive Christ right now. Remember that Jesus says, “I’m standing at the door and I’m knocking. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.”14 Would you like to respond to his invitation? Here’s how.

The precise words you use to commit yourself to God are not important. He knows the intentions of your heart. If you are unsure of what to pray, this might help you put it into words:

“Jesus, I want to know you. I want you to come into my life. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sin so that I could be fully accepted by you. Only you can give me the power to change and become the person you created me to be. Thank you for forgiving me and giving me eternal life. I give my life to you. Please do with it as you wish. Amen.”

If you sincerely asked Jesus into your life just now, then he has come into your life as he promised. You have begun a personal relationship with God.

Who is God?

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Who is God? What is He like? Six personality traits of God…

God loves us and has chosen to reveal his nature, his thoughts, his heart to us. Here are six characteristics of God that we can count on.

Who is God? He is Knowable.

God, who created the universe in all of its magnitude and creative details, is not hidden. He need not be distant, aloof. Somewhere “out there.” Instead, he welcomes us into a relationship, so that we can get to know him in a personal way, as we might a close friend.

Not only can we know about him, we can know him, intimately.

“I am the good Shepherd. I know my own and my own know me…My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”1

“Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,
but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the Lord,
who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.2

Who is God? He is Welcoming.

God invites us to talk to him and bring to him what concerns us. We don’t have to get our act together first. Neither do we need to be polite, theologically correct or holy. It is his nature to be loving and accepting when we go to him.

“The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.”3

“Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”4

What is God like? He is Creative.

Everything we make is put together with existing materials or built on previous thoughts. God has the capacity of speaking things into existence, not just galaxies and life forms, but solutions to today’s problems. God is creative, for us. His power is something he wants us to be aware of and to rely on.

“Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.”5

“…where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.”6

Who is God? He is Forgiving.

We sin. We tend to do things our way instead of God’s way. And God sees it and knows it. God does not merely overlook such sin, but is prepared to judge and condemn people for their sin. However, God is forgiving and will forgive us from the moment we begin a relationship with him. Jesus, the Son of God, paid for our sin with his death on a cross. He rose from the dead and offers us this forgiveness.

“We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done… We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us.”7

Who is God? He is Honest.

What he says, we can trust. What he promises, can be counted on. When God promises us forgiveness, eternal life, a relationship with himself…we can believe. God is telling the truth. Jesus emphasized this by the many times he said, “Truly, I say to you…” What God reveals about himself and about how to live on this earth is reliable information. More sure than our feelings, thoughts, and limited perception, God is totally accurate and honest in what he says. Every promise he makes to us can be trusted, he means it. We can take him at his word.

“The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.”8

“The word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.”9

Who is God? He is Capable.

How would you like to be always 100% right, about everything? God is. His wisdom is unlimited. He understands all the elements of a situation, including the history and future events related to it. We do not have to update him, counsel him or persuade him to do the right thing. He will, because he is capable and his motives are pure. If we trust him, he will never make a mistake, never undercut us or deceive us. He can be fully trusted to do what is right, in all circumstances, at all times.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”10

“No one whose hope is in you
will ever be put to shame…”11

This is who God tells us he is. The following explains how you can begin a relationship with God right now: Knowing God Personally.

God

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God

Explore the complex identity of God displayed in the storyline of the Bible and how the Son, the Father, and the Holy Spirit all work in unity as a Trinity to fulfill God’s plan in the created world.

Who is God?

If you walk into a crowded room and start asking people what they think about God, you’ll get all kinds of answers based on people’s religious or non-religious beliefs. If you talk to someone who respects the Bible, you’ll likely hear about one all-powerful deity, the big guy upstairs who created and watches over us all. But what does the word “god” actually mean in the Bible?

Well, it’s complex.

First of all, the spiritual being that the Bible calls God is transcendent and the author of all reality as we know it. Any knowledge that we have about such a being will always be limited and partial because a Creator by definition is above and beyond that which is created. But the story of the Bible also describes a God who wants to connect with his creation in a genuine partnership to reveal the divine purpose and plan. And so when God appears to people in the Bible, it’s both understandable to them (people can see, hear, and interact with God as a person), but it also breaks their categories at the same time. It’s not just that understanding God is complex; it turns out that this God himself is also extremely complex.

the complex portrait of God in the Bible and how he reveals himself in ways that both make sense to us and simultaneously break our understanding of reality. When God’s attributes are described in the Hebrew Scriptures, or when God’s Spirit is talked about, we find divine beings that are both divine and distinct from God at the same time. When the biblical authors want to talk about humanity’s future partnership with God in ruling the world together, we find a figure called “the son of man” (in Daniel 7) And this figure, like God’s attributes and Spirit, is both distinct from God and also a part of God’s own identity.

A complex God revealed in and through Jesus.

He claimed to be the embodiment of the biblical God in human form. Jesus is presented as both distinct from God and also God. He addressed God as “my Father,” but he also claimed that he and the Father are the One God of the Bible. And when Jesus experienced the love of the Father, it was through the personal presence of the Spirit, who is both one with Jesus and the Father and yet distinct from both. And while our minds aren’t fully capable of comprehending a being who is both one and more than one, this is precisely the portrait of God that is presented to us in the story of the Bible. The Hebrew Scriptures prepared us for the concept of a God who is a complex unity, and the New Testament claims that in Jesus we see the most perfect portrait of this Creator being, who is an eternal community of unified love––the one who is three and one.

This is not an easy concept to understand, but the biblical story isn’t asking us to simply comprehend the idea of God. Rather, in the story of Jesus we are being invited to know and be known by this being, who wants us to participate in his eternal love. The Bible isn’t just giving us some new ideas to think about God. It’s an invitation to know your Creator and discover why you exist in the universe. And the answer, it turns out, is remarkably simple: You exist to be loved, just as Jesus was loved from eternity past by his Father. This video is an introduction to the wonderful and complex portrait of God that leads us to a deeper understanding of Jesus and of ourselves.

Did God have a wife? Scholar says he did

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God

God had a wife, Asherah, whom the Book of Kings suggests was worshipped alongside Yahweh in his temple in Israel, according to an Oxford scholar.

In 1967, Raphael Patai was the first historian to mention that the ancient Israelites worshipped both Yahweh and Asherah. The theory has gained new prominence because of the research of Francesca Stavrakopoulou, who began her work at Oxford and is now a senior lecturer in the department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter.

Information presented in Stavrakopoulou’s books, lectures and journal papers has become the basis of a three-part documentary series, now airing in Europe, where she discusses the Yahweh-Asherah connection.

“You might know him as Yahweh, Allah or God. But on this fact, Jews, Muslims and Christians, the people of the great Abrahamic religions, are agreed: There is only one of Him,” writes Stavrakopoulou in a statement released to the British media. “He is a solitary figure, a single, universal creator, not one God among many … or so we like to believe.

“After years of research specializing in the history and religion of Israel, however, I have come to a colorful and what could seem, to some, uncomfortable conclusion that God had a wife.”

Stavrakopoulou bases her theory on ancient texts, amulets and figurines unearthed primarily in the ancient Canaanite coastal city called Ugarit, now modern-day Syria. All of these artifacts reveal that Asherah was a powerful fertility goddess.

Asherah’s connection to Yahweh, according to Stavrakopoulou, is spelled out in both the Bible and an 8th-century B.C. inscription on pottery found in the Sinai desert at a site called Kuntillet Ajrud.

“The inscription is a petition for a blessing,” she shares. “Crucially, the inscription asks for a blessing from ‘Yahweh and his Asherah.’ Here was evidence that presented Yahweh and Asherah as a divine pair. And now a handful of similar inscriptions have since been found, all of which help to strengthen the case that the God of the Bible once had a wife.”

Also significant, Stavrakopoulou believes, “is the Bible’s admission that the goddess Asherah was worshiped in Yahweh’s Temple in Jerusalem. In the Book of Kings, we’re told that a statue of Asherah was housed in the temple and that female temple personnel wove ritual textiles for her.”

J. Edward Wright, president of both The Arizona Center for Judaic Studies and The Albright Institute for Archaeological Research, told Discovery News that he agrees several Hebrew inscriptions mention “Yahweh and his Asherah.”

“Asherah was not entirely edited out of the Bible by its male editors,” he added. “Traces of her remain, and based on those traces, archaeological evidence and references to her in texts from nations bordering Israel and Judah, we can reconstruct her role in the religions of the Southern Levant.”

Asherah — known across the ancient Near East by various other names, such as Astarte and Istar — was “an important deity, one who was both mighty and nurturing,” Wright continued

“Many English translations prefer to translate ‘Asherah’ as ‘Sacred Tree,'” Wright said. “This seems to be in part driven by a modern desire, clearly inspired by the biblical narratives, to hide Asherah behind a veil once again.”

“Mentions of the goddess Asherah in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) are rare and have been heavily edited by the ancient authors who gathered the texts together,” Aaron Brody, director of the Bade Museum and an associate professor of Bible and archaeology at the Pacific School of Religion, said.

Asherah as a tree symbol was even said to have been “chopped down and burned outside the Temple in acts of certain rulers who were trying to ‘purify’ the cult, and focus on the worship of a single male god, Yahweh,” he added.

The ancient Israelites were polytheists, Brody told Discovery News, “with only a small minority worshiping Yahweh alone before the historic events of 586 B.C.” In that year, an elite community within Judea was exiled to Babylon and the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. This, Brody said, led to “a more universal vision of strict monotheism: one god not only for Judah, but for all of the nations.”

The Sevenfold Holy Spirit: The Spirit of the Fear of the Lord

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fear

One time, and one time only, I thought I was going to die in the presence of the Lord.

It was during a powerful worship encounter at Fuse Church, and I wrote about it here. Obviously, though, I didn’t die … but I did learn something about the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord.

Over the last couple of months, we’ve been slowly getting to know the Holy Spirit better. We’ve looked at the fact that He is God, how good and generous He is, and how to get the Holy Spirit. Then we started to learn about His character by studying the sevenfold manifestations of the Holy Spirit prophesied by the prophet Isaiah.

Today, we’re going to learn how the Holy Spirit reveals Himself as the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord.

As a reminder, our text for this series is Isaiah 11:1-5, which says:

Start-quote

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.

The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.

His delight is in the fear of the Lord,
and He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,
nor decide by the hearing of His ears;

but with righteousness He shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.

Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins,
and faithfulness the belt of His waist” (Isaiah 11:1-5).

First, we need to understand what the “fear of the Lord” is NOT.

There is a certain kind of fear which dominates many people’s lives. Many people suffer from an unholy, demonic fear–the demonic fear that can only be cast out by an infilling of the Father’s love. This unholy fear is the kind of fear that binds you in chains. It keeps you from having relationships or receiving love. It makes you think the hammer of rejection, abandonment, other people’s bad opinions, physical danger, etc is always about to fall.

If you have this unholy fear in your heart, you need to be healed of it. It is not Papa’s will for your life. First John 4:18 tells us so specifically:

Start-quote

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”

We need to be filled with our Papa’s love in order to be freed from unholy fear.

But fortunately for us, we can be filled with love. When we made Jesus Christ our Savior, the Father adopted us and made us His own children. Because we have been adopted, now we can live forever in Father’s love because of the blood Jesus shed for us. That’s why 1 John 3:1a says:

Start-quote

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!”

So because we dwell in God’s perfect love, we do not have to fear our Father with an unholy, demonic fear.

We do not have to fear punishment or rejection from Him. We do not have to fear His anger. Of course, if we disobey Him, there are always consequences; but He is a good, good Father who loves us. He shows mercy, forgives us, and teaches us–even when we choose to suffer a few consequences as we learn to become like Him.

But we do need to be filled with the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord. Here’s why:

  • Our God, Yahweh, is the Creator of the ends of the earth.
  • He sits on a living throne in an eternal Heaven.
  • He has lived since eternity past and He will go on living into eternity future. Time has no bearing on Him.
  • He exists everywhere at once.
  • He is all-knowing and all-seeing.
  • He is great, powerful, the only wise God.
  • His throne is the governmental center of the universe.
  • He is surrounded by creatures and angels which never cease to cry out “Holy!” day and night.
  • His eyes burn with fire and His feet are like burning brass. His hair is white as wool.
  • Millions and millions of angels worship Him and obey His bidding. Just one of those angels was capable of killing 120,000 people in one night in the Bible.

Our God is awesome. He is terrible. He is Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The word “fear” in Isaiah 11 means to have a holy fear and reverence for the Lord.

It means that the Holy Spirit manifests Himself in us by giving us the holy fear and reverence for the Lord that we ought to have. It is a holy awe. It is a knowing of His terrible-ness, but also of His love.

The Spirit of the Fear of the Lord gives us a holy fear and reverence that brings delight to our hearts, even though we know our Father is so great that someone who is not covered by the blood of Jesus would die in His presence.

And when we are filled with the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord, things change in our lives:

  • We find ourselves obeying Him, just because He speaks.
  • We find ourselves seeking Him, because His beauty and holiness inspire such awe in our hearts that we cannot not pursue encounters with this One.
  • We learn to come to Him as students, seeking His instruction and accepting His Word as fact in our lives.

In short, the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord gives us the reverence toward God that will keep us on the straight and narrow path. When the Holy Spirit teaches us the terrible fear of the Lord, we reverence Him, stand in awe of Him, fear Him in a holy way–and delight in Him, all at the same time.

Do you need to be filled with the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord today? Pray this with me:

Heavenly Father God, in Jesus’ name, I thank You for Your Holy Spirit who lives in my heart. Father God, please let the Holy Spirit manifest Himself to me as the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord today. Fill me with the holy awe and reverence for You that I should have. Help me to hold a holy fear of You in my heart–the kind of loving fear that causes me to obey You, cherish You, and bow to You in all things.

Father God, I am Yours completely. Please let the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord, do such a work in my life today that I never again hold You lightly or in low esteem. Let me never again disrespect or disobey You, but always yield to Your sovereignty and kingship. Thank You, Papa God. I love You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

What Is the Will of God and How Do We Know It?

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GREATNESS IS NOT MADE BUT ACHIEVED. BY PASTOR VICTOR OKEREKE

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1–2)

The aim of Romans 12:1–2 is that all of life would become “spiritual worship.” Verse 1: “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” The aim of all human life in God’s eyes is that Christ would be made to look as valuable as he is. Worship means using our minds and hearts and bodies to express the worth of God and all he is for us in Jesus. There is a way to live — a way to love — that does that. There is a way to do your job that expresses the true value of God. If you can’t find it, that may mean you should change jobs. Or it might mean that verse 2 is not happening to the degree it should.

Verse 2 is Paul’s answer to how we turn all of life into worship. We must be transformed. We must be transformed. Not just our external behavior, but the way we feel and think — our minds. Verse 2: “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”

Become What You Are

Those who believe in Christ Jesus are already blood-bought new creatures in Christ. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). But now we must become what we are. “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened” (1 Corinthians 5:7).

“Worship means using our minds and hearts and bodies to express the worth of God and all he is for us in Jesus.”

“You have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:10). You have been made new in Christ; and now you are being renewed day by day. That’s what we focused on last week.

Now we focus on the last part of verse 2, namely, the aim of the renewed mind: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, [now here comes the aim] that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” So our focus today is on the meaning of the term “will of God” and how we discern it.

The Two Wills of God

There are two clear and very different meanings for the term “will of God” in the Bible. We need to know them and decide which one is being used here in Romans 12:2. In fact, knowing the difference between these two meanings of “the will of God” is crucial to understanding one of the biggest and most perplexing things in all the Bible, namely, that God is sovereign over all things and yet disapproves of many things. Which means that God disapproves of some of what he ordains to happen. That is, he forbids some of the things he brings about. And he commands some of the things he hinders. Or to put it most paradoxically: God wills some events in one sense that he does not will in another sense.

1. God’s Will of Decree, or Sovereign Will

Let’s see the passages of Scripture that make us think this way. First consider passages that describe “the will of God” as his sovereign control of all that comes to pass. One of the clearest is the way Jesus spoke of the will of God in Gethsemane when he was praying. He said, in Matthew 26:39, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” What does the will of God refer to in this verse? It refers to the sovereign plan of God that will happen in the coming hours. You recall how Acts 4:27–28 says this: “Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” So the “will of God” was that Jesus die. This was his plan, his decree. There was no changing it, and Jesus bowed and said, “Here’s my request, but you do what is best to do.” That’s the sovereign will of God.

And don’t miss the very crucial point here that it includes the sins of man. Herod, Pilate, the soldiers, the Jewish leaders — they all sinned in fulfilling God’s will that his Son be crucified (Isaiah 53:10). So be very clear on this: God wills to come to pass some things that he hates.

Here’s an example from 1 Peter. In 1 Peter 3:17, Peter writes, “It is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” In other words, it may be God’s will that Christians suffer for doing good. He has in mind persecution. But persecution of Christians who do not deserve it is sin. So again, God sometimes wills that events come about that include sin. “It is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will.”

Paul gives a sweeping summary statement of this truth in Ephesians 1:11, “In him [Christ] we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” The will of God is God’s sovereign governance of all that comes to pass. And there are many other passages in the Bible that teach that God’s providence over the universe extends to the smallest details of nature and human decisions. Not one sparrow falls to the ground apart from our Father in heaven (Matthew 10:29). “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:33). “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:1). “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Proverbs 21:1).

That’s the first meaning of the will of God: It is God’s sovereign control of all things. We will call this his “sovereign will” or his “will of decree.” It cannot be broken. It always comes to pass. “He does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’” (Daniel 4:35).

2. God’s Will of Command

Now the other meaning for “the will of God” in the Bible is what we can call his “will of command.” His will is what he commands us to do. This is the will of God we can disobey and fail to do. The will of decree we do whether we believe in it or not. The will of command we can fail to do. For example, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Not all do the will of his Father. He says so. “Not everyone will enter the kingdom of heaven.” Why? Because not all do the will of God.

Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.” Here we have a very specific instance of what God commands us: holiness, sanctification, sexual purity. This is his will of command. But, oh, so many do not obey.

Then Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” There again is a specific aspect of his will of command: Give thanks in all circumstances. But many do not do this will of God.

“Immerse yourself in the written word of God. Saturate your mind with it.”

One more example: “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17). Not all abide forever. Some do. Some don’t. The difference? Some do the will of God. Some don’t. The will of God, in this sense, does not always happen.

So I conclude from these and many other passages of the Bible that there are two ways of talking about the will of God. Both are true, and both are important to understand and believe in. One we can call God’s will of decree (or his sovereign will) and the other we can call God’s will of command. His will of decree always comes to pass whether we believe in it or not. His will of command can be broken, and is every day.

The Preciousness of These Truths

Before I relate this to Romans 12:2, let me comment on how precious these two truths are. Both correspond to a deep need that we all have when we are deeply hurt or experience great loss. On the one hand, we need the assurance that God is in control and therefore is able to work all of my pain and loss together for my good and the good of all who love him. On the other hand, we need to know that God empathizes with us and does not delight in sin or pain in and of themselves. These two needs correspond to God’s will of decree and his will of command.

For example, if you were badly abused as a child, and someone asks you, “Do you think that was the will of God?” you now have a way to make some biblical sense out of this, and give an answer that doesn’t contradict the Bible. You may say, “No it was not God’s will; because he commands that humans not be abusive, but love each other. The abuse broke his commandment and therefore moved his heart with anger and grief (Mark 3:5). But, in another sense, yes, it was God’s will (his sovereign will), because there are a hundred ways he could have stopped it. But for reasons I don’t yet fully understand, he didn’t.”

And corresponding to these two wills are the two things you need in this situation: one is a God who is strong and sovereign enough to turn it for good; and the other is a God who is able to empathize with you. On the one hand, Christ is a sovereign High King, and nothing happens apart from his will (Matthew 28:18). On the other hand, Christ is a merciful High Priest and sympathizes with our weaknesses and pain (Hebrews 4:15). The Holy Spirit conquers us and our sins when he wills (John 1:13Romans 9:15–16), and allows himself to be quenched and grieved and angered when he wills (Ephesians 4:301 Thessalonians 5:19). His sovereign will is invincible, and his will of command can be grievously broken.

We need both these truths — both these understandings of the will of God — not only to make sense out of the Bible, but to hold fast to God in suffering.

Which Will?

Now, which of these is meant in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” The answer surely is that Paul is referring to God’s will of command. I say this for at least two reasons. One is that God does not intend for us to know most of his sovereign will ahead of time. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us” (Deuteronomy 29:29). If you want to know the future details of God’s will of decree, you don’t want a renewed mind, you want a crystal ball. This is not called transformation and obedience; it’s called divination, soothsaying.

The other reason I say that the will of God in Romans 12:2 is God’s will of command and not his will of decree is that the phrase “by testing you may discern” implies that we should approve of the will of God and then obediently do it. But in fact we should not approve of sin or do it, even though it is part of God’s sovereign will. Paul’s meaning in Romans 12:2 is paraphrased almost exactly in Hebrews 5:14, which says, “Solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (See also Philippians 1:9–11.) That’s the goal of this verse: not ferreting out the secret will of God that he plans to do, but discerning the revealed will of God that we ought to do.

Three Stages

There are three stages of knowing and doing the revealed will of God, that is, his will of command; and all of them require the renewed mind with its Holy-Spirit-given discernment that we talked about last time.

Stage One

First, God’s will of command is revealed with final, decisive authority only in the Bible. And we need the renewed mind to understand and embrace what God commands in the Scripture. Without the renewed mind, we will distort the Scriptures to avoid their radical commands for self-denial, and love, and purity, and supreme satisfaction in Christ alone. God’s authoritative will of command is found only in the Bible. Paul says that the Scriptures are inspired and make the Christian “competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17). Not just some good works. “Every good work.” Oh, what energy and time and devotion Christians should spend meditating on the written word of God.

Stage Two

The second stage of God’s will of command is our application of the biblical truth to new situations that may or may not be explicitly addressed in the Bible. The Bible does not tell you which person to marry, or which car to drive, or whether to own a home, where you take your vacation, what cell phone plan to buy, or which brand of orange juice to drink. Or a thousand other choices you must make.

“If you want to know the future details of God’s will of decree, you don’t want a renewed mind, you want a crystal ball.”

What is necessary is that we have a renewed mind, that is so shaped and so governed by the revealed will of God in the Bible, that we see and assess all relevant factors with the mind of Christ, and discern what God is calling us to do. This is very different from constantly trying to hear God’s voice saying do this and do that. People who try to lead their lives by hearing voices are not in sync with Romans 12:2.

There is a world of difference between praying and laboring for a renewed mind that discerns how to apply God’s word, on the one hand, and the habit of asking God to give you new revelation of what to do, on the other hand. Divination does not require transformation. God’s aim is a new mind, a new way of thinking and judging, not just new information. His aim is that we be transformed, sanctified, freed by the truth of his revealed word (John 8:3217:17). So the second stage of God’s will of command is the discerning application of the Scriptures to new situations in life by means of a renewed mind.

Stage Three

Finally, the third stage of God’s will of command is the vast majority of living where there is no conscious reflection before we act. I venture to say that a good 95 percent of your behavior you do not premeditate. That is, most of your thoughts, attitudes, and actions are spontaneous. They are just spillover from what’s inside. Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:34–36).

Why do I call this part of God’s will of command? For one reason. Because God commands things like: Don’t be angry. Don’t be prideful. Don’t covet. Don’t be anxious. Don’t be jealous. Don’t envy. And none of those actions are premeditated. Anger, pride, covetousness, anxiety, jealousy, envy — they all just rise up out of the heart with no conscious reflection or intention. And we are guilty because of them. They break the commandment of God.

Is it not plain therefore that there is one great task of the Christian life: Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. We need new hearts and new minds. Make the tree good and the fruit will be good (Matthew 12:33). That’s the great challenge. That is what God calls you to. You can’t do it on your own. You need Christ, who died for your sins. And you need the Holy Spirit to lead you into Christ-exalting truth and to work in you truth-embracing humility.

Give yourself to this. Immerse yourself in the written word of God; saturate your mind with it. And pray that the Spirit of Christ would make you so new that the spillover would be good, acceptable, and perfect — the will of God.

How Much are You Worth?Find Your True Value!

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Do you sometimes feel worthless? Or, at times, have you been slighted or treated as though you were of little value?
Should we value some people more/less than others?
And how should we set a value upon each other?

Let’s open the Bible and find some answers.
Remember to pray and ask God to give us wisdom before we read His word.

How much does God care for us? And how much does He value us?

Matthew 10:29-31
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

God cares for his creation (the sparrows in this case) so much! In fact not even one sparrow dies and falls on the ground without God noticing it. But to us sparrows seem so small and worthless, in fact in the Bible times two sparrows were sold for a farthing (less then one cent)!
If God values the sparrows so much, how much does He care for, and value us? Are not we of more value than many sparrows? Yes! In fact, God knows so much about us that even every hair on our head is numbered!

But how much are you and I truly worth? And what value should we place upon each other?

Often we’ll look at the work someone is doing, and if they’re doing a poor job, perhaps always making mistakes, then we view that person as of little value.
But is this the correct way of seeing value in someone?

In a friendship, if one person is not showing kindness, sympathy or love to the other, is it because they don’t really value or appreciate that person as they should?

Think about it, if we truly saw the value of people as God does, would we still treat each other the way we do?

What value does God place upon us? Remember the verse we read earlier.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” Think of it, not one of these little brown sparrows that are caroling forth their praises to God will fall to the ground without the notice of the heavenly Father. Not one of these little brown sparrows that the boys so ruthlessly kill, drops to the ground but his eye marks its fall. “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” If God cares for a sparrow that has no soul, how will he care for the purchase of the blood of Christ? One soul is worth more than all the world. For one soul Jesus would have passed through the agony of Calvary that that one might be saved in his kingdom. “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” {RH, May 3, 1892 par. 8}

And this is the key to seeing and understanding the value of you and me and all other people in the world, that is, to see our value in light of what Jesus did to save us!

Isaiah 13:12 I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.

God says that he will make a man, that is you and me, more precious than fine gold! (Ophir was a place famous for its gold). And truly, when we look at the greatness of the price paid to save us it is much, much more precious than gold!

How much Jesus loves us! Think about how Jesus, the great powerful Creator, became a man and walked among us, and then was crucified in the hands of those He had created!! And He did it because he loved and valued us so much, that He wanted to save us from our sins! So are we not of far greater value than anything in this world?

The worth of a human soul can be estimated only by the light reflected from the cross of Calvary. … It was the joy set before Christ in accomplishing so great salvation, that led him to submit to shame, agony, and death. How do all the treasures and the glories of earth sink into insignificance when compared with the value of a human soul! {ST, February 16, 1882 par. 17}

Lets remember how much we are of value in God’s eyes! And remember to be kind and loving to all the people in this world because of what Jesus has done for us, and the great worth He has place on us all.

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