The Miracle of The Cross!

Why do we presume only certain things from God? And why do we not stop for a moment and think of the verse where Jesus said, “God can do things that are not possible for people.” ( Luke 18:27)

We can’t put God in a box and set Him on the top shelf, expecting Him to do whatever our little minds devise.  God can do anything He desires!  Nothing is impossible for Him. We experience His miracles all around us on a daily basis.  Miracles are one of the ways God gives evidence of His power and His Holiness.  Miracles are meant to glorify God and remind us that nothing is too hard for Him.  God displays His sovereignty by healing people miraculously and His mightiness is on display hundreds of thousands of times each day through the miracle of newborn children. If God can create life, don’t you think He could raise a dead person to life?
Who are we to say, “Oh no, God won’t do this or that.” Why not? After all, He is God and we are not. It is beyond our ability to understand God’s mysterious ways. Thankfully, we don’t need to have the answer to all of our questions in order for us to believe in Him. All He wants us to do is to live by faith — a faith that recognizes the miracles happening around us but does not require them constantly occuring in order for us to believe. We can trust Him with our whole heart because He has a purpose for all He has done and will do.

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Based on His unconditional love for us and by His authority, He has done something that no human could do or even hope to understand (except through faith). The world witnessed God’s mighty power in the most important truth in the history – the death of Jesus and His resurrection. Surely it was God’s perfect plan, just as He planned Jesus’ miraculous birth (another event that’s beyond human understanding).  His resurrection has enormous relevance and impact to the lives of all of humanity.
This event was not only predicted by Jesus himself (that He would die and rise again after three days – the description is in Mark chapter 8), but also foretold in ancient times by the Old Testament prophets. Why would God hand His perfect and sinless Son over to religious but blindly misguided people who would harm and kill him?
God’s love and mercy are great, even to the point of His willingness to send His own Son to die on the cross of Calvary to pay the penalty of sinful mankind. He did this so that He, in complete justice, could forgive those who are willing to turn away from self-dependence and sin and turn to reliance upon Christ and His finished work.
As it is clearly stated (in Romans 6), with the death of Christ, our sins become powerless to rule over us. Without the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ as the lamb of God (who was perfect, without any blemishes), we would still be in our sins, unforgiven, unsaved, and unloved. The cross erases our old lives. So the cross is not just a symbol, it is the mark of our salvation.
The story of Christ did not end with his death.  His resurrection is equally vital to the message of the gospel. He rose from death just as He told His disciples he would (in Matthew 16:21).  If He is not risen from the dead, then we would still reside in darkness with no hope.
Because of His resurrection, his promise holds true. He said (in John 14:19), “Because I live, you also will live”. Our great enemy, death, will be defeated.  It is impossible to separate the death of Christ from His resurrection. You can’t believe in one and not believe the other, as that would be a false teaching of the gospel. We are forgiven of our old sins by His blood on the cross and receive our new lives by His resurrection. Now we as believers and followers of Christ are no longer under the power of sin. And that is why we celebrate Easter. Our Lord is risen! Nothing can separate us from the love of God.

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“Have You Seen The One My Heart Loves?”

First I looked for him in my home,
he was nowhere to be found.
From there I went town to town and city to city, there was no sign of him.
Then I went across the world,
I did not find the one my heart loves.
I looked for him in the city there and did not find him,
through its streets and squares. I said;
I will search for the one my heart longs for.
So I continued looking for him, but still did not find him.
The watchmen found me as they made their rounds in the city.
I asked them,
“Have you seen the one my heart loves?” (Song of Solomon 3:3-4)
The answer was “No”.
I asked again, “Have you seen the one who wrote your story and mine?”
They said; “No”.
Scarcely had I passed them, and many more after….
when I heard a voice in the depth of my soul,
saying; “Call on me and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me
when you seek me with all your heart.
I will be found by you.” (Jeremiah 29: 13- 14)

I shouted with joy, “ I found the one my heart loves.”
I held him and would not let him go, and brought him home, telling everyone about him….
How silly of me to look for
the One my heart loves in all the wrong places,
but not in the one place that he calls home —
the same place where his love resides —
deep within me.  My soul was drenched with his love!
I found the one my heart loves — God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

— Parveen Michalow

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Divine Jealousy vs. The Venom of Human Insecurity!

We normally think of jealousy as being a negative characteristic, a sin similar to envy. And we may think that jealousy is rooted in insecurity. Yet there is appropriate jealousy as well as improper jealousy. Righteous jealousy is a Divine (godly) trait.  When we worship false gods (possessions, money, our career, sexual immorality, self-promotion, obsessions with things, self-worship, etc.), we provoke God’s jealousy over our idolatry. You may say, “How could that be?” But God says in (Exodus 20:4-5), “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God….”

19D15932-C69B-4C4B-A196-D27C9F01764D.jpegGod is “jealous” in the sense that He expects full devotion, not a light or lukewarm commitment. Worship belongs to God and He is right to be jealous of it. God alone deserves our worship and praise (Jeremiah 10:6-7). He commanded His children to worship Him alone. He will not tolerate the worship of other gods.
God is jealous when someone takes something that rightly belongs to Him and keeps it for himself or gives it to another. Similarly we can have appropriate jealousy, when someone takes something that lawfully belongs to us.

On the other hand, there is an unrighteous jealousy that gives birth to animosity. This kind of jealousy goes hand and hand with insecurity.  Most people do not readily admit their deep feelings of envy, finding it easier to focus on the jealousy of others.  But if we are honest in our self reflection, we may find uncomfortable feelings beneath our pretentious surface.  For instance, you may say, “Why can’t I be like her/him? How come they have it all, and I don’t?” We may try “to keep up with the Joneses”. There is nothing wrong with desiring to have talents, skills or even nice things. But when our desire for more overrides the will of God, we can find ourselves dissatisfied with what God has given us. This is a dangerous place to be as it can lead to ruin and destruction.

Another problem with improper jealousy is that it can poison our relationships. The venom of jealousy can eventually bring relational separation and pain.
This brings to mind the story of Joseph. Joseph is an important figure in the first book of the bible, Genesis. His life story is at times heartbreaking, but it ends victoriously. Joseph was his father’s (Isaac’s) favorite son.  His jealous brothers planned to kill him, but settled for selling him into slavery in Egypt. How could his own flesh betray him? Sadly, jealousy can blind people to the point that they deny their own family.
As Joseph endured years of slavery and later prison (he was falsely accused of rape by the king’s wife), he continued to believe in God and remained hopeful. He glorified God even in the midst of his darkest hours and he managed to help other prisoners by giving them hope and comfort. God showed His mighty power through Joseph’s life and Joseph eventually became the second most powerful person in Egypt.

What do we learn from Joseph’s perseverance and his servant’s heart? The Bible encourages us to combat jealousy by renewing our way of thinking. We can accomplish this by reading the Bible, praying, obeying God’s commands, and fellowshipping with mature believers. We are blessed to have such great access to the throne of God through Jesus as our advocate.  God’s word can enable us to be joyful for someone else’s success, talents, and achievements.
As we start thinking less about ourselves and instead focus on God and on the needs of others, our hearts will begin to change. We can keep this in the forefront our minds, even in the thick of unpleasant circumstances, because of God’s love for us. He desires to show His power through our struggles.
The Bible clearly tells us that we are to have the perfect kind of love that God has for us. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not ENVY, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)