Archive for September, 2011

JESUS CHRIST THE SAME(Pt. 4)

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven”(Acts 1:11 NKJV).

As we have been considering some of the basic teachings from the New Testament regarding the person of Jesus Christ, one of the most basic messages regarding Jesus message to His disciples is that He would return to them and they would be with Him forever. “I will come and receive you to Myself, that where I am there you may be also”(John ?). What a blessed hope we each have in knowing that Jesus has promised to come for His people. This hope is an anchor that keeps us looking up, as it were, rather than down around us in a world of chaos, as if we have have no hope. Jesus did not leave us forever; He promised to come to us.

The writer to the Hebrew Christians amplified this teaching when he wrote, “Christ appeared the first time to bear the sins of many. He will appear a second time,not to bear sins, but to bring salvation to all who look for Him”(Hebrews 9:28?).

First: He Went Up Bodily. He will come back bodily. In Acts chapter one, the disciples watched Jesus physically go back to heaven. The angels that stood with the disciples in some manifest form tell them that the same Jesus they had seen go up would one day reappear in the same bodily form they saw Him depart. He was not a spiritual apparition; He left in a physical body and so He will return.

Second- He Went Up Visibly. He will come back visibly. The prophet Zechariah who gave the second most Messianic predictions (Next to the prophet Isaiah) tells us “They shall look on Me whom they have pierced”(Zechariah 12:10).

Third- He Went Up on a Cloud. He will come back on a Cloud. “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other”(Matthew 24:30-31). John the Revelator, hears, “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will SEE Him”(Revelation 1:7).

Fourth – He Went Up to Reign. He will come back to Reign! The prophet Daniel was given a vision of Christ’s ascension, “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom shall not be destroyed”(Daniel 7:13-14).

“All authority has been given to Me in HEAVEN and ON EARTH”(Mt. 28:20). GO TELL IT! TO THE NATIONS.

Fifth- He went up to be Enthroned for Judgment. He will come back for Judgment. David wrote in the Psalms,”The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool”(Psalm 110:1). The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “The Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom”(2 Timothy 4:1).

This is the Lord Jesus Christ, THE SAME, Yesterday, Today and Forever!

He is the unique Son of God Who STANDS….Who SHOWS….Who STAYS…and one day will RETURN to take up His physical reign upon the earth. He will sit upon the throne of David. And the nations shall come up yearly to worship the king (Zechariah 14:16).

This is the reign of which the Psalmist refers in Psalm 72: “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth. Those who dwell in the wilderness will bow before Him, And His enemies will lick the dust. The Kings of Tarshish and of the isles will bring presents; The kings of Sheba and Seba will offer gifts. Yes, all Kings shall fall down before Him; All nations shall serve Him.”(Psalms 72:8-11)

As the hymn writer, Isaac Watts, wrote:

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun

does it’s successive journeys run.

His kingdom spread from shore to shore,

till moon shall wax and wane no more.

Copyright(c) 2011, Walter Fletcher Jr., All rights are reserved.  This article may be copied free of charge provided that it is not altered in any way from it’s original content.  Send any correspondence to:Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

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JESUS CHRIST THE SAME(Pt. 3)

 “Thou art the Same and Your years never come to an end”(Hebrews 1:12).

 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever”(Hebrews 13:8).

When the woman of Samaria came to the well she was not prepared to have her life opened up and turned inside-out. She was about to become the person she always wanted to be, but was never seen for who she really was. Her village would see her perhaps as a six-time loser, always looking for love in all the wrong places. But our Lord Jesus saw her differently. He did not see her as a loser, but rather He saw into her heart a winner, someone who truly valued and thirsted for a life worth living.

Although she had been trapped and exploited for being a woman, she longed for a true relationship with God. “Where shall we worship?”(John 4:20).   Jesus assures her that God is too Big to be worshipped in one location, “The heaven of heavens cannot contain thee”(2 Ch 6:18).   He has declared, “Heaven is My throne. The earth is My footstool. Where is the house you will build for Me?”(Isaiah 66:1).  Jesus gives her one of the greatest insights into the heart of God in the Scriptures. The nature of true worship is not religious performance based, but must come from the hidden person of the heart according to His Word. “The hour is coming and now is, when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him”(John 4:23-24).

Jesus is not introducing a new concept, but rather one that had been overlooked even by ancient Israel from the time God took them unto Himself as His people. The LORD God spoke to Moses as soon as they had been delivered from Egypt these words, “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagle’s wings and brought you unto Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel”(Exodus 19:4-6). Notice, He does not identify them as “slaves from Egypt”, but REDEEMED “children of Israel”. Further they are being called to a high privilege as a new nation “of priests”. What is the purpose and function of priests? Worship and fellowship in His presence, and RECONCILING people to God.

The apostle Peter confirms God’s original intent as he writes to New Covenant believers (still predominately Jewish at that time). “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”(1 Peter 2:4-5). Again he writes, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”(1 Peter 2:6). Peter takes the language of the Old Covenant (Torah) to explain the reality of the New Covenant. God was looking for a people who were not connected by ritual performance, but who would be connected at the heart level to God through Jesus the Anointed One.

The prophet Jeremiah further confirms the LORD God’s intent. “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat meat. For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you'”(Jeremiah 7:21-23).

God STAYS in the Midst of those who SEEK HIM

Jesus Christ is the same One who represents His Father’s heart today. If you read the story of the Samaritan woman, you will discover something quite striking.  Apart from Jesus speaking prophetically as to the woman’s past history…there are NO miracles recorded in Samaria.  But what we do read is this, “So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days”(John 4:40). What compelled Him to stay two days longer?  Because they desired TO HEAR THE WORD OF GOD. “And many more believed because of His own word. Then they said to the woman, ‘Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world'”(John 4:41-42).

The same Jesus who spoke His word then wants to speak to His people today. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me”(John 10:27).

This is an hour that God is attracted to a people who desire to both hear and obey His Word. Let us say with the psalmist, “Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”(Ps. 119: 105).

Copyright(c) 2011, Walter Fletcher Jr., All rights are reserved.  This article may be copied free of charge provided that it is not altered in any way from it’s original content.  Send any correspondence to:Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

JESUS CHRIST THE SAME(Pt. 2)

“Thou art the same, and Your years never come to an end”.(HEBREWS 1:12b NKJV)

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever”.(Hebrews 13:8 NKJV)

Nothing should hold our attention like the record of the life of Jesus Christ. Even our modern history recognizes the uniqueness of His person by dividing time B.C. & A.D. We refer to the History of Mankind in terms of the world BEFORE Jesus Christ entered the world and the world AFTER He entered the earth realm. Try as we might, we cannot shake His irresistible presence. The world system as we know it today may not like that, but nevertheless they have to deal with it now (And for all eternity). This was God’s predetermined Plan from the Beginning. “You, LORD, in the beginning, laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; And they will grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not fail”(Hebrews 1:10-12 NKJV).

Along with the awareness of God’s unchanging nature we as believers should take hold of the reality of God’s faithful love and care for His people. Things around us are in a constant state of change. But let us never doubt that our heavenly Father wants to come to our assistance in our time of distress. The psalmist declared, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…. The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge”(Ps. 46:1,11). God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to show the world what He is like. Jesus speaking to Phillip said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father…The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and that the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves”(John 14:9b,10b-11 NKJV).

God STANDS in the Midst of our STORM

When the disciples, in Mark chapter four, were afraid because a sudden storm had come upon the waters, Jesus arose and calmed the storm. “He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. But He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”(Mark 4:39-40 NKJV). Notice that Jesus addresses two situations: First, the storm that was outside or around the disciples. Second, He addresses the “storm” inside His disciples. The storm around them was only to reveal the storm inside their hearts, stealing their faith. Crises don’t make you…they reveal you.

Like our heavenly Father, Jesus wants us to trust Him under all appearances that would suggest that God has abandoned us to some helpless fate. No, be assured that He is the same today in the midst of life’s storms. We do not lose our trust in God bringing us through to our destiny in Him. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us. “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age”(Matthew 28:20 NKJV).

God SHOWS UP in the Midst of our PAIN

Both Matthew and Luke record a typical day in the life of the Lord Jesus (Luke 4, Matthew 8).  Crowds of people had followed Him with a variety of sicknesses, diseases, as well as those who were under demonic powers. Luke captures our Lord’s attitude towards every need along with His actions. “When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid hands on every one of them and healed them”(Luke 4:40 NKJV).

Jesus shows us that God’s attitude toward us in the midst of physical pains is one of compassion. Our personal suffering matters to Him! He is the Great Physician, accurately diagnosing our conditions and wanting to touch us right where we hurt. “In all our afflictions He was afflicted”(IS.63:9).

He is the same today as the One who came in Bible days.   “He was wounded for Our transgressions; bruised for Our iniquities; the chastisement that brought US peace was laid upon Him…By His Wounds we were healed”(Isaiah 53:4-5).

The key to our healing is bringing it to Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.

Copyright(c) 2011, Walter Fletcher Jr., All rights are reserved.  This article may be copied free of charge provided that it is not altered in any way from it’s original content.  Send any correspondence to:Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

JESUS CHRIST THE SAME(Pt. 1)

“Thou art the same, and Your years never come to an end”(Hebrews 1:12b).

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever”(Hebrews 13:8).

We are living in the most challenging and uncertain times in the history of the world. We can truly say as Joshua, ”You have not passed this way before”(Joshua 3:4b). BUT in spite of the many uncertainties, we are not to let this world order set our agenda for these days. The Lord Jesus made it clear that in these last days, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled, for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.  And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. Many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.  Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.  And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come”(Matthew 24:6-7,10-14 NKJV).

The apostle Paul tells us (1 Co 7:31) “The fashion of this world is passing away”(1 Co 7:31). The word “fashion” is used only twice in the New Testament, both times used by Paul. The Greek word for fashion is  “SKEMA” which in English we translate as “Scheme”; or it’s use in our English word is “schematic”.  “Fashion” is the word describing, ”The form or arrangement of a thing”. This world order operates on an arrangement that is consistent with fallen Mankind.  Paul warns that a fashion of this world order can, and often has infiltrated the house of God. We can become so religiously driven that we take on in our worship places “a form of godliness but denying its power”(2 Ti. 3:5).  It’s possible in our haste to fulfill our “religious obligations before God” that we forget, ignore or outright resist the Holy Spirit’s work in the midst of His people.  Religion apart from God is Man’s substitute for a true relationship with God.  We can do all the “right things” in the name of God for all the wrong reasons, and God may be nowhere among us.

Paul further tells us “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine”(Eph. 4:14). In these last days we are seeing more and more strange and unbiblical doctrines preached from pulpits and airwaves, and no one bothers to search the scriptures to see if these things they are hearing are true. Because we are not disciples of the Word of God, we accept easily whatever is the “latest fad of teaching” that blows our way as if it were sound teaching.

We, especially in the West, who have had the Scriptures for hundreds of years will give account on the day of Judgment for our lack of stewardship of the Word of God. How is it that a people who over 70% claim to be “Christian” are so biblically illiterate? We are told that less than 17%(of the 70%) can distinguish the Bible’s teaching from any other “inspired” human literature.  These things ought not to be. The prophet Isaiah declared, ”To the law and the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because they have not light in them”(Isaiah 8:20).

LOOK TO JESUS

The second time the word “fashion” is used by the apostle Paul is found in Philippians 2:5-8. Jesus, though in fashion as a Man, demonstrated the selflessness of a servant of God all the way to the Cross.  He came into this world with an entirely different agenda.  “The Son of man came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many”(Mark 10:45).  Jesus gave his life away in the ultimate self-sacrifice to redeem a people from the fashion of this world.

HOW THEN SHOULD WE LIVE?

Because the Scriptures tell us that “Jesus Christ is the same” and God’s word has not changed, what are we to DO as followers of Christ Jesus in the midst of the uncertainty of this world?

(1st) DO NOT LOSE YOUR FOCUS. Once you have embraced Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior keep Him in your sight. “Let Us Fix Our Eyes On Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith”(Heb. 12:1-2)

(2nd) DRAW NEAR TO GOD. “Let us draw near with a true heart full of assurance of faith”(Heb. 10:22). Stay close to God in prayer. God wants to help you navigate these “storm tossed waters” of life.  Prayer helps us stay connected to God. He’s the Captain of your ship.

(3rd) PERSEVERE UNDER TRIAL. “You have need of patience; For AFTER you have done the will of God you shall reap IF you faint not…For He who IS COMING will not delay…”(Read Heb. 10:32-37). Know that God is a Real time and “RIGHT ON TIME GOD”.  He will deliver you. He promised that no matter what goes down in the world He will never leave you or forsake you.  He is the very same Jesus who loves you and cares for you with an everlasting love.