Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith

Jesus and the cross are common symbols today for the meaning of Christianity.

Looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2 KJV

Jesus and the cross are common symbols today for the meaning of Christianity. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines the Cross as ” a sign both of Christ himself and of the faith of Christians.” As we are nearing the time of Easter, many Evangelicals celebrate Christ’s resurrection with a special ceremony. I always find it interesting how pagan themes attached themselves to basic Christian themes and Easter is one of them that has taken root in the theme of the Cross. In truth, Easter comes from the Germanic goddess of dawn. Did you know that Easter is based on a solar calendar? It is celebrated after the first full moon occurring after the Spring Equinox. I only mention this because to some people who view American Christianity have commented how America has become Polytheistic, which means worshiping more than one God. Maybe we should take a closer look at where or what we have placed our faith in.

Thus, the title of Jesus being the author and finisher of our faith should help us on where our faith should be placed. The scriptures tells us that it is impossible to please God without faith, for one must believe in who He is, [see Hebrews 11:6]. In Hebrews chapter 11 we have this long list of examples of the way of faith up to the chapter of 12 of Hebrews and verse 2 where Jesus is mentioned who endured the cross and now is seated at the right hand of God. Jesus who atoned for our sins. Jesus who covered our sin from God’s sight. Jesus who put away sin by the sacrifice of himself [see Hebrews 9:26]. The final sacrifice once and for all Jesus is the only one who can save humanity.

To many it is foolishness, but the Apostle Paul commented that “the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God,” [ see 1 Corinthians 1:18]. This pleased God that the foolishness of the cross became the power of God to save humanity. The power of God for those who are saved is seen through the prayer of faith. The prayer of faith is seen through Christ who covered our sins. Christ who became the author and the finisher of our faith because of His sacrifice on the cross. Christ who is the resurrection and the life [see John 11:25]. Christ who destroys the work of the devil [see 1 John 3:8]. The power of God is seen through Christ death and resurrection.

This is our confidence, Jesus Christ who loved us so much to become our sacrifice for our sins. Jesus Christ who became the way to God, so that we may become God’s children. Jesus Christ who overcame the world and the power of the evil one who is Satan [see Hebrews 2:14]. We need to remind ourselves that we serve a living God and not a dead God. Christ is the resurrection, and the life means we have a destiny. We have an everlasting life because of the resurrection of Christ. That is why the Apostle John declared that “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world [1 John 4:4]. We have a sure foundation in Christ Jesus. Our confession in Christ Jesus is not in vain, instead it is the power of God to break the power of sin and the control of the evil one, who is Satan. The apostle Paul tells us “if Christ be not raised, your faith is in vain,” [see 1 Corinthians 15:17]. Let us remember on Easter where, or who we place our faith in, so that our faith is not in vain. Let our heart not waver in unbelief in departing from a living God [see Hebrews 3:12]. Let us always look to Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith, for it is the power of God.

The following worship song has been sung with exchanging the word blood with the word [Cross]. It’s the Cross that Cleanses me, It’s the Cross that gives me life. My Jesus, God’s precious sacrifice.

The Fruit of the Spirit

Ah! Juicy sweet fruit in a bowl, but how does that relate to the Spirit?

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 KJV

Ah! Juicy sweet fruit in a bowl, but how does that relate to the Spirit? Fruit in this passage of scripture is from the Greek word “Karpos,” which means fruit of the trees. I always find it interesting in deciphering a moral or spiritual lesson of what is written in the Bible. What about the word “Spirit”? The Greek word is “Pneuma,” and in Galatians here the word Spirit is capitalized, so it means it is talking about a personality and character. It is talking about the Holy Ghost the third person of the Trinity. The Christian character is produced by the Holy Spirit working in us and not by our own self-effort. The Apostle Paul is talking about the character of the Holy Spirit, which should be a reminder to us that the true Spirit always points to Christ and has the character of Christ; therefore, love, joy, peace, along with self-control will be the character of a true Christian.

We are to be conformed to the image of the Son [see Romans 8:29], so we will have the Son’s character working through us to reveal good fruit ready to be picked from the tree. The Spirit helps us to become free from our sinful habits and to become more like Christ. This is part of the sanctification process of every Christian. The continual renewal by the Holy Ghost to be set a part for Christ. 1st Thessalonians 4:4 states, that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor. This is the will of God. We are set apart for the Lord and being changed from glory to glory into the image of Christ. Paul tells us where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. We must not abuse that liberty we have in Christ and go against anyone and do them harm [see Galatians 5:13]. We are not to be consumed by doing evil to one another. What did Paul say in verse 14 of this same chapter, “for all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

In order to bear the good fruit of the Spirit one must receive essential nutrients. Conditions of a fruitful life for a Christian are cleansing, abiding, and obedience.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

John 15:4 KJV

We abide in Christ through faith. And it is through faith that we ask for help to have our heart cleansed on a daily basis. There is not a day that I do not ask God to forgive me for my behavior of complaining, getting angry, or acting selfish. Sometimes we ignore our behavior, but he wants us to take those things to the Lord in prayer. Abiding in the vine is also seeking God’s word. Reading about who He is and what is the will of God should be done on a daily basis. Jesus said, “if you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you,” [see John 15:7]. Jesus goes on to say that we are to continue in His Love. This is where obedience comes into the picture. Read and ask, read and ask and it shall be done. Read, ask for His love to rule your heart, and serve one another through that love He has given us. Abide in Christ and stay connected into the vine and you will fine that love, joy, and peace will come forth in your life.

Take time to read the following scripture: John 15:1-14, and Galatians 5:13-26, and see how they relate to each other. Cleansing, abiding, and obedience are what Jesus is speaking out in John chapter 15. See how the apostle Paul explains the difference between the flesh and the Fruit of the Spirit and that we are called to serve one another in love.

Listen to Abide in My Love by Inge Schultz from the album “Send The Light” at https://ingeschultz.com/single/33191/abide-in-my-love . this song is taken from the gospel of John 15.

Rest in the Lord

How can we rest in the Lord and not become anxious over Covid-19, or what we have witness within our own communities?

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him; fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; fret not thyself in any way to do evil.

Psalms 37:7-8

How can we rest in the Lord and not become anxious over Covid-19, or what we have witness within our own communities? I often wonder myself at the injustices that are taking place every day. Last year we have seen an increase of violence in cities across America and it was anything but beautiful. Maybe we should revisit the song America The Beautiful. We need God to shed his grace upon us all in America.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

There are so many voices that want to be heard that sincere compassion left the office and violence moved in. Anger rises because of unfair practices, criticism, or being threatened. When we begin to not respect other peoples feelings or possessions then we are losing the cohesiveness of humanity. Society needs to work towards the wellbeing of all its members and promote opportunity for everyone and not just a few. That is what doing good is all about. That is what brotherhood means.  It means helping one another. We need God’s grace every day to make it when we are hit with financial issues, health issues, and grieving the loss of someone, or even a pet. We need to remember that there is a higher power we can rely on that has overcome the world. God is for us and not against us.

Can we be a person after God’s own heart like David? In Psalms 37 David is telling us not to “FRET,” or become angry, but to trust in the Lord and do good. David surely has seen violence during his time, and he was hiding and talking to God about it. I am sure David became angry at what was happening around him and against him. He may have even been confused as to why circumstances were against him. Yet, we know that God had a purpose in what was happening, and God did help David through his circumstances. We will get through our circumstances as well if we remember that we are not alone. The Lord told Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:7 not to look at others stature because as man they have the habit of looking at the outward appearance instead of looking at what is in the heart. God sees the heart of man. We are to delight ourselves in the Lord and He will give us the desires of our heart.

Our heart must be pure when we ask for what we need. We do not ask to get something so that we can be better than someone else. We ask with a sincere heart like David who prayed and had a conversation with God. Even the apostle Paul said “be ye angry and sin not” [see Ephesians 4:6]. Paul said, “let not the sun go down upon your anger.” In other words, before the sun goes down our anger is to cease. David is warning us that doing evil is not the way to get even, for the Lord sees the heart of man. We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ on that day, and we do not want to become a stumbling block to anyone. [see Romans 14:10-12] It is better to cool our anger by talking to God about it and or confess it to someone who will pray with you to be healed of the anger. Let us continue to rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him every day. Thank God for His marvelous grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within.

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled

Grace, grace, God’s grace
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace, grace, God’s grace
Grace that is greater than all our sin

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace
Freely bestowed on all who believe
You who are longing to see His face
Will you this moment His grace receive?

Hymnal written by Julia Johnston in 1911

Temptations Common to Man

Temptations common to man such as alcohol, gambling, money, possessions, and making it to the top like a CEO of a corporation seem to be common today, yet these and other types of temptations can lead to an addiction and even death.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not permit you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will, with the temptation, also make the way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

1 Corinthians 10:13 KJV

Temptations common to man such as alcohol, gambling, money, possessions, and making it to the top like a CEO of a corporation seem to be common today, yet these and other types of temptations can lead to an addiction and even death. The simple definition of temptation is a strong pleasurable desire/urge or impulse to do something. It is a short-term gratification that can be harmful in the long-term for it affects others as well as can lead to death such as a person overdosing on drugs. Temptation plays upon an individual’s mind and becomes an obsession. It disrupts your daily routine because you cannot get it out of your mind. If we look at verse 14 of 1 Corinthians the apostle Paul associates temptation to idolatry, which is the worship of an object, or thing. Such as a top-of-the-line car like the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, or a movie idol like John Wayne or Harrison Ford.

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

James 1:14-15 KJV

In the book of James, we can gain a better understanding what temptation does. First, James tells us that every man is tempted. I have not heard of anyone who is not tempted to steal, lie, or cheat, have you? Second James tells us we are drawn away by our own lust. The meaning of lust in James comes from the Greek word “epithumia,” which mean strong desire of any kind. The attraction of pleasure that consumes us can become idol worship.   The object or thing is controlling you rather than you are controlling the object or thing. That is why it brings forth death because you are no longer in control, and many times it really does lead to physical death such as drugs and alcohol. The bible tells us to flee from idolatry, youthful lust, and fornication [see 1Corinthians 10:14, 6:18, 2 Timothy 2:22]. However, the apostle Paul tells us that God will make a way out of any temptation we may find ourselves in.

We must ask God through prayer to help us get out of temptation. Jesus tells us to watch and pray that we do not enter temptation because he knew that our spirit was willing, but our flesh is weak [see Matthew26:41].  Now we need to watch and pray to receive a way out.  Confess your sin to God, for He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness [1 John 1:9]. Beware of any temptation with an “if” in it such as If you do this, I will do this, or if you scratch my back, I will scratch yours. Just read about Jesus’ temptation from Satan and the “if” factor to be tempted into pleasure, power, or wealth [see Matthew 4:1-11].  Know that anything or object that takes you away from Jesus as your focal point is directing you down a path away from God. The apostle Paul tells us not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices and many today do not realize the danger they are putting themselves into when following other people or desiring riches and wealth.

We must believe that God will provide for our every need, but at times it seems we want to help ourselves and forget about the consequences of our actions. Our God can help us purge our desires and to help free us from Satan’s hold upon us. Any kind of temptation we fall into is to be considered carefully by watching and praying.

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.

James 1:2

It is hard to consider any temptation as joyful because it just does not feel joyous when we know we are being tempted. James tells us it is the trying of our faith to stay true to the path of our calling in Christ Jesus. That going through temptation will bring patience and that it is God’s perfect work in that we come to a place of not wanting nothing [James 1:3-4]. Have you ever considered the wording “wanting nothing.”? If we are secure in our position in Christ, we should not lack nothing, for He is our life.  This gives us something to ponder upon that when we put our faith in God, we can endure temptation and God will see us through it and provide a way out.  We may need to reconsider by evaluating what we are following today, and if that is taking the place of following our Lord.  May God help us to see what thing or object is holding us and help us to relinquish it into the Lord’s hand.  Cleanse our desire’s Lord and help us to become the people you want us to be.  Help us Lord to watch and pray that we are not lead  into temptation but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, Amen [Matthew 6:13].

The Glory of God

The glory of God is all around us if we are willing to see its majesty. Landscapes and seascapes reveal the glory of God in the images of color and light to which many artists try to capture what they see with the naked eye.

Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

John 11:40

The glory of a majestic sunset

The glory of God is all around us if we are willing to see its majesty. Landscapes and seascapes reveal the glory of God in the images of color and light to which many artists try to capture what they see with the naked eye. How can we see the glory of God? How can we see the splendor, beauty, and magnificence of God’s glory in our life? Have you ever wanted to see His glory? Can we believe to see the glory of God? This is what Jesus said to Martha when he yelled out for Lazarus to come forth out of the grave in the gospel of John chapter 11. Can you imagine witnessing this event? I often wondered what it was like and how many were astonished at what they were witnessing with their own eyes. Whatever we may have done, is nothing compared to what God has done.

To see God’s wondrous works among people is amazing to witness and I have seen it with my own eyes. People being healed during a song I have sung or witnessing healings of people during a crusade I participated in was displaying the glory of God. I remember watching Kathryn Kuhlman television program in Southern California in the early 70’s. Kathryn received so much criticism and skeptics were out to discredit the ministry God had given her. The very idea that God would use a woman was unheard of. Some have said it was sacrilegious. Yet, those behind the scenes saw tears upon tears flowing down her face as she laid on the floor praying to God. Let us remember that Jesus too had skeptic’s out to do him in as well, yet He went about healing sickness and every disease among the people [see Matthew 9:35]. No one really knows how many people were touched by the message of the Gospel during Kuhlman’s crusades, only God knows the truth.

“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”

2 Peter 1:16

Peter exhorting for people to remember the power and glory of God to whom he was an eyewitness of his majesty. We do not always remember the near misses of death we may have experienced, but these are miraculous especially if a tornado missed your house, or a car misses your car in a near accident. In 1974 on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle, I was struck down by a car walking home with several friends. I always looked both ways before crossing the street, but as I step out on the street, I went a little faster ahead of my friends and was hit by a car. My friends witnessed what happened and exclaimed that the car came from out of no wear with no head lights on. I was partially under the front of the car and knocked out while they were in shock as to what happened. I came around and saw I was under the front of the car. My elbow and hip were sore, but I did not seem to be badly hurt. My friends said that the car stop so fast as if a wall was up, so it did not completely run me over. They believed it was a miracle that I was not seriously hurt. I thanked God for keeping me alive and well.

Sometimes we ignore these miracles, but they do happen every day.  Even when we do get hurt physically, God is still able to bring healing to our bodies.  His healing is still available today if we would only ask him. I am amazed at the many times I have received healing for my body. Jesus said, “whatever you shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son,” [see John14:13]. Whatever happens in your life, remember that you are witnessing God’s glory in your life. We need to pass on the glory to God as Andrae Crouch once said before singing the song “My Tribute [To God be the Glory]. Give God the glory today, for all the things he has done in your life.