The Anointed One…

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 Luke 4:16-21 (KJV)

16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Jesus didn’t go around flaunting His power or greatness.

Since He had come to do the Father’s will (John 6:38), redeeming the lost was His priority and purpose. However, the Lord didn’t hide His identity from the world either.

When necessary, Jesus clearly identified Himself as the Messiah.

One of Jesus’ most beautiful sermons was given to an audience of one—a woman drawing water from a Samaritan well. After listening to Jesus’ teaching on living water and His prophecies of a change in the way people worshiped God, the woman mentioned the promised Messiah. The Lord replied, “I who speak to you am He” (John 4:26).

Her response was to gather as many townsfolk as she could find to listen to this man who knew her life story and offered love and redemption anyway.

When the time came for Jesus to reveal His identity to the priests and religious leaders, He did so by reading the prophecy of Isaiah 61 and then claiming to be its fulfillment (Luke 4:18-21). He announced that He was the One who would preach the gospel to the poor, release the captives, and give sight to the blind. He didn’t use the word “Messiah,” nor did He have to.

All Israel knew that Isaiah’s words applied to God’s “Anointed One.”

Some modern thinkers would like to marginalize Jesus as simply a good man with a message of love. But He was the first to proclaim Himself as more than that.

He is the virgin-born Son of God, who came to bear the sins of mankind and die on the cross. He is the Messiah.

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Our Relationship With Him…

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Matthew 13:18-23 (KJV)

18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Scripture teaches that when one is born from above by the Spirit, that person becomes a child in God’s family.

Such wording expresses the nature of our relationship with God: He interacts with us as a father does, and we should respond like loving, obedient children. God took the first step in the relationship by opening His family to us. Man’s initial response involves saying yes to Jesus and trusting Him as personal Savior.

But even after accepting that invitation, we’re still responsible to respond in a way that keeps our fellowship with Him strong.

Our part consists largely in noticing when the Father is speaking so we can learn to become good listeners and obedient followers. That is why we need to spend time in the Bible, where the Father speaks clearly.

Many pretend to be interested in hearing from God and yet invent excuses for neglecting His Word. Some say, “I read Scripture but don’t understand it.” Do you think God would write us an important message in a way we wouldn’t be able to understand? If you keep reading the Bible, the Spirit of God, who inhabits the believer’s heart, will give you understanding.

Once we are born into God’s family, nothing—not even sin—can destroy our relationship with the Father.

However, disobedience can interrupt our fellowship with Him by breaking communication, in which case restoring broken fellowship is essential to spiritual growth (1 John 1:9).

Do you belong to God’s family?

If so, are you obeying your Father?

Obedience is crucial to a deepening relationship with our loving Creator.

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Mutual Sharing of The Highest Order…

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 John 15:14-17 (KJV)

14  Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
15  Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
16  Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
17  These things I command you, that ye love one another.

As much as our heavenly Father cares about our salvation, He also places high priority on another aspect of our Christian life: He is interested in building a relationship with you and me—the kind that Jesus built with His disciples.

Can you imagine a higher compliment than for the God of the universe to say, “I want a personal, intimate relationship with you?”

What this means is that our heavenly Father wants to make it possible for a mutual sharing of the highest order.

He is interested in genuine conversation and listening. He longs to spend time with you. He seeks openness and transparency with no dark, hidden secrets between you and Him.

God created us in His image, which means that we can reason and experience emotion, free choice, and commitment.

He wants to love us and have us love Him in return. He thinks of us not merely as servants, but as friends in whom He can confide. That is why Jesus said to His disciples, “All things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).

It was a special privilege for the disciples to live, work, and interact with the incarnate Christ.

But we are also privileged because this very day, two thousand years later, the Father desires to build as warm and intimate a relationship with us as His Son did with those first-century followers. Our God is not some distant, transcendent deity. He’s close. And He is ever calling us to greater intimacy with Him.

Won’t you respond to Him today?

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The Plan For Humanity…

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John 14:1-3 (KJV)

1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

The return of Jesus Christ—a vital part of God’s redemptive plan for humanity—was foretold by prophets, affirmed by angels, and discussed by Jesus and Paul.

In fact, more Old Testament passages are devoted to Christ’s second coming than to His first.

And in the New Testament, the Lord mentions His return more often than His death.

The second coming of Christ will be the Devil’s final defeat.

God prophesied Satan’s end when He told the serpent, “He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel”(Gen. 3:15). Satan appeared to have won a tremendous victory when Jesus was crucified. But the Resurrection dealt the Enemy a lethal blow by proving Golgotha to be but a “bruised heel.”

Christ’s return will seal the Devil’s fate because God has promised to remake the earth.

When He is finished, we’ll live in a world as perfect as the Lord intended before Adam and Eve tainted Eden with sin.

The Father wants us excited and hopeful about Jesus’ return because that event is the culmination of His plan for humanity.

Many centuries of Christians spreading the gospel are leading to the moment when all who choose to serve God will be gathered together on a new earth. To keep our hope alive, He has told us what to expect.

Although we don’t know the day or hour of the second coming, Jesus Christ’s final biblical prophecy reminds us to live and evangelize with a sense of urgency: “Yes, I am coming quickly” (Rev. 22:20).

If we are saved and serving, we can say with John, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

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Distorted Impressions…

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 Hebrews 1:1-4 (KJV)

1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

People have all kinds of distorted impressions of God.

As a result, their view of life is awry—for example, they may think life is just a matter of fate. But the Lord of the universe leaves nothing to chance.

Because God wants us to approach life correctly, His Word gives us a clear picture of what He is like. One way He reveals Himself is through the material world.

The Bible says that the heavens “declare the glory of God” and “pour forth speech” about the Author of creation (Ps. 19:1-2 niv). They are telling of His strength and magnificence. Likewise, the wind, waves, and natural disasters show forth the power of our awesome God. And in a similar way, all the cycles of nature, with their vivid colors and changing patterns, tell of our Maker’s creative genius.

Another way God chooses to reveal Himself is through man’s conscience.

Even people who have never heard of God’s laws instinctively know what is right and what is wrong (Rom. 2:11-15). There are atheists who would never lie, steal, or kill. This standard comes from God, who has impressed a moral sense on every person’s conscience.

Many people obey their conscience yet fail to believe in God or recognize that they are accountable to Him.

The fact is that unbelief doesn’t cancel your accountability to the Lord. The evidence for His existence is undeniable, but He will not force anyone to believe. Everybody has a choice to make:

Will I worship a god of my own creation, or will I worship the One who created me?

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The Knowledge of The Truth…

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 Romans 8:14-17 (KJV)

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

The Lord “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4).

In other words, God would like all of humanity to accept Christ as Savior.

Today we will explore certain truths that the Father longs for His children to know.

• Salvation.

It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict us of our sinfulness and bring us to the knowledge that Jesus Christ died for our sin. When we receive the Lord as our personal Savior, we are reconciled to God and accorded full fellowship with Him. This happens the moment salvation occurs. Our sin debt is paid in full so we are free from guilt. Also, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit for eternity and set apart for God’s service.

 Identity.

What is our identity in the Lord? Believers are children of God. The Bible calls us “joint heirs with Christ”—in other words, we share in the wealth of the Lord Jesus. Also, we have been transformed from sinners into saints. We may not always act saintly, but a true saint is someone who has been saved and set apart for the purposes of God.

 Position.

Jesus Christ is always present to guide and provide for the believer. Through Him, we have instantaneous access to God the Father.

 Mission.

Our primary mission in life is to demonstrate Christ to the world. Believers should live in such a way that others see the life of Jesus within us. And because we understand the wonder of our salvation, our identity in Christ, and our position to the Father, we share about the Savior with other people.

God wants everyone to know the truth.

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When You Doubt…

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1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 (KJV)

16 Rejoice evermore.
17 Pray without ceasing.
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
19 Quench not the Spirit.
20 Despise not prophesyings.
21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

Is there something God has told you to do that seems just too difficult?

You can be sure that if He has called you to carry out His will, He’s going to be faithful to accomplish it through His Spirit living and working in you. So if you tell Him, “I can’t do that, Lord—what if I fail?” you’re really saying, “God doesn’t keep His word.” And yet, our total expectation should be in Him—not in our own energy, ability, or experience.

When you doubt God’s trustworthiness, that unbelief becomes a gap in your spiritual armor, and you can be sure that’s exactly where Satan will attack you.

You’ll begin to doubt even more about God’s character, such as His goodness—and that distrust will become a heavy load of baggage you’ll needlessly drag through every area of your life.

You might feel that you do not have enough faith to obey, but the Lord isn’t asking you to have faith in favorable circumstances.

He’s asking you to trust that He is who He says He is.

Do you believe that God is a liar?

It’s really that simple: either He is truthful or He’s not. But if you believe that faithfulness is His character, then you can do anything He requires.

You’ll be strengthened by your dependence on Him—whether a deluge or trials or a flood of blessing comes.

It’s actually when life gets rough and rugged that the sweetness of God’s faithfulness makes itself real in your heart.

As you walk through those storms in complete reliance on His strength, your trust in His character becomes part of who you are and strengthens from within.

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Consider His Claims…

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 John 5:16-29 (KJV)

16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.
17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.
18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.
21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.
22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:
23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.
24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

Jesus has been a subject of contention throughout human history.

Even today opinions about Him vary widely.

One common belief about Him, however, is that He was a good man—but not God.

Those who hold this view usually appreciate some of His teachings, but they are obviously not familiar with His claims.

The religious leaders who came face to face with Christ would never have called Him a good man.

In their eyes, anyone who claimed to be God was a liar and imposter.

Just look at some of His amazing statements from John 5:

• Jesus referred to God as His Father, making Himself equal with God (v. 18). 
• He declared that He did the same works as the Father (v. 19).
• Christ said He would raise the dead to life with just His voice (v. 28-29).
• He claimed that the Father had given Him all authority to judge (v. 22).
• Jesus demanded equal honor with God (v. 23).
• He promised to give eternal life to those who believe in Him (v. 24).

A “good” man wouldn’t make these statements unless they were true.

If Jesus were just a man, His death on the cross would be of no benefit to anyone. But if His claims to be God’s Son are true, your salvation depends upon believing in Him.

Anyone who is serious about finding out who Jesus is must consider His claims.

It’s a matter of eternal life or death. No one who denies His deity will enter heaven, because He is the only way to the Father (14:6)

Now is the time to believe—not when you stand before Him at the judgment.

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