Archive for the ‘Salvation’ Category


Prodigal GodThen drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. Luke 15:1-10

Luke 15 begins with the religious leaders noticing something—that Jesus seems to attract and befriend “tax collectors and sinners,” moral outcasts of respectable society.

In the Lord of the Rings we find a weird creature named Gollum. He is always offering riddles for the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins to solve. One of them I will offer for you:

Voiceless it Cries
Wingless it flutters
Toothless it bites
Mouthless it muttters

(Answer – the Wind)

We read in verse 2 that they “murmur” to one another about this. “to mutter, murmur, grumble, say anything in a low tone” The air was stirring with their murmurings! We can almost hear them saying: “He welcomes sinners! This kind of person never comes to our meetings. This must be because he is telling them what they want to hear. He is not calling them to repent or change.”

This murmuring prompts Jesus to tell the three parables of Luke 15.

  • Parables of the Lost Sheep
  • Lost Coin
  • the Lost Sons.

Jesus Seeks the LostBy listening carefully to all three parables, and especially to the last one, traditionally called The Parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus challenges his listeners’ fundamental assumptions about God, sin, and salvation. He gives them an entirely new way of thinking about God, themselves, and the whole world.

Most people think of religion as “humanity’s search for God.” We like to think of ourselves as spiritual seekers, as honest inquirers. We look at the religions of the world and, while giving somewhat different directions about how to do so, they all seem to agree that if we sincerely search for God we will find him. Millions of people the world over believe that by believing and obeying God’s law in the Bible, they can find God.

The problem is that anyone who feels they have searched for and found God will naturally disdain those who seem to be making no effort at all. They will look at “sinners” and say, “I found God! If you try, you can. I did.”

And here is the first great blow to the “religious” people of the world. Religion and religious behavior is NOT the way to God! Jesus is telling us that God had to come down into the world to seek and save us. Salvation must be by His grace, not our achievement.

The end of each parable challenges not just the categories of the Pharisees but their heart and attitude. A theme through all three parables is the joy of finding the lost. God does not look at spiritually lost people the way the Pharisees do. Because the Pharisees do not see themselves as lost sinners saved by grace, they disdain “sinners”. They feel superior to them. But heaven rejoices when “sinners” are reached and found.

Jesus New CommunityJesus is declaring to the religious establishment that He is creating a New Community of People. A Community of People bonded together by the experience of Death & Life. To Understand this New Community, we will look closely at the first two parables. In the next four weeks following we will examine the Parable of the Lost Sons.

This week we look at the first two of these parables. Let’s notice three sets of characters:

  1. the listeners
  2. the lost things
  3. the joyful seekers.

1. The listeners—verses 1-3.

Jesus and the ListenersThere are two groups of people around Jesus—“tax collectors and ‘sinners’”, and “Pharisees and the teachers of the law.” The ‘religious’ group is especially offended that Jesus eats with sinners. In the Middle East an offer of a meal is an offer of Friendship. It is an offer of Community. Table fellowship was considered a sign of acceptance and friendship. How, they thought, can he be so open to them? Doesn’t he realize that they are the “bad people”— who are the real trouble with the world? (And, therefore, that we are the “good guys”?)

jesus with sinnersJesus does not give a direct, compact answer. Instead, he responds with three stories or parables.It is important to realize that these parables were not spoken in a vacuum. The purpose of all three parables was to challenge the “Religious Peoples Point of View” of what Jesus was wanting to do.

When we get to the final parable, we will realize that BOTH groups of people—“sinners” and “religious people”—are actually in the parable. That is why the last story, the story of the prodigal son, is Jesus’ final answer. But that is to come later. For now, let’s notice how he begins to challenge our attitudes and categories of thought in the first two parables.

2. The lost things—verses 4-5, 8.

The Lost SheepJesus uses these “Lost” things to teach us religious types what He is all about. Why He came to this planet, and what He is accomplishing. The impact of these parables is lost on us because we do not look at them from a Middle Eastern viewpoint. These teach us about the community that Jesus want to build within His body – the church.

In order to understand and grasp the meaning of parables, I find it helpful to meditate on the visual images Jesus uses. People of the middle east are very visual in their thinking. It comes from a long line of oral history. That is why God painted very visual images of His miracles in the hearts of His people. That is why all the Jewish feasts and Holy Days are very visual.

The Sheep, the Search, & the Shepherd.

First, Jesus confronts their View of themselves and their Righteousness. The Pharisees thought they had it made. They were children of Abraham. They were children of the Covenant. They were chosen. They followed the Law. But Jesus says none of that is important to him. If we are to be important to Jesus, we must realize we are sheep.

In the parable of the lost sheep, the shepherd leaves the 99 sheep to go looking for the one lost sheep. We think that being a sheep is a warm fuzzy huggy type of description. We think of Mary and her little lamb, or Little Bo Peep. Being called a Sheep is an INSULT!

Sheep are StupidA Sheep is a stupid animal. It loses its direction constantly, in a way a cat or dog never does. Even when you find a lost sheep, the sheep will rush to and fro, but will not follow you home like a dog or cat might. So when you find it, you must seize it, throw it to the ground, tie its feet together and carry it over your shoulders.A sheep is a stupid animal that is completely helpless when lost. We need to view sheep like these people did.

  • Sheep will go after grass no matter how impossible the place is.
  • They will go onto the most dangerous place to eat grass.
  • They will need to be rescued, or they will fall to their death.
  • In the second parable the lost object is a coin, even more incapable of finding its way home.

The three lost “objects”—the sheep, the coin, and (in vv. 11-32) the son—all represent people who are spiritually lost, far from God. This is Jesus characterizing the people the Pharisees view as “sinners.” They are lost, yet they are lost in quite different ways. The sheep is lost through foolishness, the coin through thoughtlessness, and the son through willfulness.

But no matter the ‘Lostness’, they are each valued by Jesus, because of their condition.To have value to Jesus, we must realize to the depths of our soul that we are LOST, with NO HOPE of ever being saved.

The Sheep Teaches us We Need to be rescued

Communion2In liturgical churches sometimes the Pastor will administer the Lord’s Supper by saying this:

May the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for you, preserve your body and soul to eternal life. Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for you and feed on him in your heart by faith with thanksgiving.

It implies that your soul is feeding on something. And of course, this is true, no matter your spiritual condition. We all cling to something.The deepest hopes of your heart for security and love are resting on something. It can be image, status, wealth, career, position, family, Mr X or Miss Y.

If you are feeding on anything but Jesus for your peace, well being, satisfaction; You are like a sheep feeding on the ledge of a mountain. Say you are dating Mr. X, and decide he is the “one”. You rest your hearts deepest hopes on that person or that relationship. You believe you are valuable because this person loves me.

The truth is that if you are relying on anything or any person other than Jesus, you are in danger of an emotional and spiritual plunge off the mountain side.

You are like a stupid sheep, searching for sustenance in dangerous places, without any sense of your impending doom. You are headed for a spiritual and emotional plunge.

You will have no self worth, no hope left, for you have fed your soul on the wrong person, the wrong things.

We are all like sheep, we have all gone astray

Sheep need rescuingWe all need to be rescued. We can contribute nothing to our salvation. The shepherd has to walk the sheep all the way home. We are utterly lost in sin. We must be saved totally by the grace of God.

Salvation is not a process of cooperation. Our shepherd is not telling us how to live, not giving us self-help pointers. Being a Christian is not trying to live like Jesus. Not wearing a wrist band “What Would Jesus Do?” We must be asking ourselves What is Jesus Doing for Me at this very moment? Jesus must be our life!

We try to be a dog or a cat, but we are sheep. A Teacher is not enough, we need a Savior. We need someone who is able to do everything that we have to do, but are unable to do. He lives the life we should have lived, He dies the death we should have died. Everyone is utterly lost in sin.

The Search Teaches Us:

The Search for the LostJesus is friends with those who need rescuing. The community of Jesus is with the broken, the lost, the sinners, the failures of society. Jesus is building a faith community with these people in it. Normally these people are excluded-they can’t be included.

The Pharisees shake their fingers at them and say “These are the type of people we are NOT supposed to be like! But Jesus says these are the very people I want in my community. Jesus is creating a new faith community that includes publicans and tax collectors.

No Matter the Source of your sin, You Must realize your Lostness.

Here’s an example. Mr. Smith has a problem with abusive anger—he often flies off the handle and is verbally abusive and sometimes physically so. Why? Is his problem genetic? Is it a matter of brain chemistry? Is it just part of his inborn nature, as in the example of the sheep? Or is his problem the result of a bad environment? Perhaps the result of poor parenting and family life? Was he, like the coin, mismanaged by his “supervisors”? Or does his problem stem from selfishness and pride, as with the prodigal son?

We Have ALL Gone AstrayThe answer is that usually, in varying degrees, it is all of the above.

Sin is deeply complex. It is inborn in you, it is magnified by sinful treatment, and it is deepened and shaped by your own choices. Jesus’ view of sin is more comprehensive and multi-dimensional than that of many psychologists, sociologists, and many religious leaders. It is certainly more comprehensive than the view held by the Pharisees listening to him.

Jesus’ view is that no matter your sin, you must realize it is sin, that you are lost and you need saving, or you will die out on a ledge somewhere.

The Shepherd Teaches us

He is the only one who can rescue the lost. The lost are worth rescuing. The coin was the woman’s dowry, livelihood. The shepherd is not complete til he finds all of his sheep.

3. The Joyful Seekers—verses 6-7, 9-10.

The Joyful ShepherdJesus confronts their categories about salvation. He reveals that He comes from a community in heaven that is this way. “I come from a community in heaven that celebrates sinners saved by grace” It does not celebrate righteous people who don’t realize their lostness. I am creating a community like this here.

Community – bonded into a body through an intense common experience.

The more intense the experience, the stronger the bond. The Karen People are being brought into the United States by our State Dept. They have suffered persecution and death at the hands of the Myanmar Military Junta. No matter where they are placed in the United States, they quickly form a close-knit community with fellow Karen. What is the bond-it is their shared death and life experience. The persecution and killing has created an intense bond amonst the Karen in the US.

We all have “identity” factors that create bonds with other people. Black, white, College, No, Good school, acheivements, all come to represent our identity in the world. This identy is our self worth, self image. It is hat makes us distinctive. It is the foundation of who we are.

Christians should have an intense bond that forms the basis of our identity and how we relate to one another. Ephesians 2 begins with Christians who are dead in trespasses and sin, but who share the bond of being made alive by Jesus. Ephesians 2 ends stating we are all like living stones that are fitted together to build a temple in which God’s spirit will dwell.

Other religions aspire to make you better so that you might be like God. In otherwords they treat you like a dog or a cat. Take you to the groomers, to obedience school. You’ll be fine.

The Gospel is for sheep-we must realize we can do nothing to be saved.It is a life and death experience. I am infinitely lost, but I am infinitely loved and infinitely treasured. I am infinitely valued. The Shepherd will do anything to bring me home. It blows your complete identity factor away.

WHO I THINK I AM DOESN’T MATTER

I can be from an IVY league college, be moral, come from a big family. I can derive joy from these things and even feel superior to others. Certain things automatically make us feel better than other people. That joy excludes people who are worse off than we are. It excludes publicans and tax collectors.

Jesus declares that these things don’t matter, that TRUE JOY comes when these Lost people are FOUND! His community doesn’t look down on people, but welcomes all with open arms!

This community has the common bond of death and lostness, but now we are found and saved!

THE QUARRY

quarry rocks for templeThis is the Community of “1 Kings 6”. When building the Temple, the Quarry masons worked so well preparing the monstrous stones for the Temple that on the Temple Mount the stones needed no further hammering, the stones fit together perfectly. So the temple went up in silence-no need for hammering, no need for mortar!

If you have been to the quarry, if you have been through life and death, nothing matters, not your pedigree, your accomplishments, your wealth, nothing matters. You have a bond – a Life and death bond.

Jesus knocks down all barriers to seek those that are lost.

Shepherds aren’t consultants, they aren’t trying to improve the sheep. Sheep are absolutely dependent upon the shepherd.Sheep should give themselves to the Shepherd COMPLETELY!

Jesus New Community1Jesus desires to do two things with His Church:

  1. Build a community that is filled with His beautiful, unified difference – acceptance for sinners!
  2. Provide a place where sinners are free to admit they are sinners.

Christians need to stop eating their wounded. We need to be able to confess our faults one to another without fear of condemnation. Religiousity permits no one to be a sinner, but Jesus welcomes all sinners. Masks will do no good before Jesus. He knows, so we all should know. We are all sinners.We are all lowly sheep who have been rescued by our loving shepherd.

Jesus our ShepherdJesus is the Great Shepherd, even more intent and joyful than the shepherd of the parable. For Jesus knew that he would have to die to bring the lost home, but “for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame” (Heb. 12:2). The joy he had in doing his Father’s will, and the joy he had in finding us, was so great that he was willing to endure the cross.


Congratulations! You have made a life-changing decision! Perhaps you are asking, “Now what? How do I begin my journey with God?” The Six steps mentioned below will give you direction from the Bible.

1. Make sure you understand salvation.

1 John 5:13 tells us, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

God wants us to understand salvation. God wants us to have the confidence of knowing for sure that we are saved. Briefly, let’s go over the key points of salvation:

  • We have all sinned. Our sinful nature means we are separated from our Holy Righteous Creator God. (Romans 3:23).
  • Because of our sin, God has declared us “guilty” and the punishment for our sin is eternal separation from God in Hell. (Romans 6:23).
  • Because God loved us, He sent His only son Jesus to die upon the cross to pay the penalty for our sins (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus died in our place, taking the punishment that we deserved. His resurrection proved that Jesus’ death was sufficient to pay for our sins.
  • God grants forgiveness and salvation to all those who place their faith in Jesus – trusting His death as the payment for our sins. Faith means that we have opened our heart to believe that which is unseen, yet we know in our hearts is true. (John 3:16; Romans 5:1; Romans 8:1).

Jesus-Salvation-in-No-One-ElseThis is the message of salvation! If you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are saved! You have entered into a Covenant with God sealed with the blood of Jesus His Son. God will not break His Covenant. All of your sins are forgiven, and God promises to never leave you or forsake you (Romans 8:38-39; Matthew 28:20). Remember, your salvation is secure in Jesus Christ (John 10:28-29). If you are trusting in Jesus alone as your Savior, you can have confidence that you will spend eternity with God in heaven! Salvation is entirely because of what Jesus did for you. It is a totally free gift. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

There is nothing that you can do to make you good enough or worthy enough to enter into heaven. You are “saved” ONLY by what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross. When your heart is opened to believe in Jesus as your personal Savior, you are born again and the proof of you being a new creation, a child of God, is the seal of the Holy Spirit who now lives within you.

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22

2. Find a good Church that teaches the Bible.

churchDon’t think of the church as a building. The church is the people. It is very important that believers in Jesus Christ fellowship with one another. That is one of the primary purposes of the church. Now that you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ, we strongly encourage you to find a Bible-believing church in your area and speak to the pastor. Let him know about your new faith in Jesus Christ.

A second purpose of the church is to teach the Bible. You can learn how to apply God’s instructions to your life. Understanding the Bible is key to living a successful and powerful Christian life. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

A third purpose of the church is worship. Worship is thanking God for all He has done! God has saved us. God loves us. God provides for us. God guides and directs us. How could we not thank Him? God is holy, righteous, loving, merciful, and full of grace. Revelation 4:11 declares, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”word

3. Set Aside Time each day to focus on God.

prayerintimacyIt is very important for us to spend time each day focusing on God. Some people call this a “quiet time.” Others call it “devotions,” because it is a time when we devote ourselves to God. Some prefer to set aside time in the mornings, while others prefer the evenings. It does not matter what you call this time or when you do it. What matters is that you regularly spend time with God. What events make up our time with God?

(a) Prayer. Prayer is simply talking to God. Talk to God about your concerns and problems. Ask God to give you wisdom and guidance. Ask God to provide for your needs. Tell God how much you love Him and how much you appreciate all He does for you. That is what prayer is all about.

(b) Bible Reading. In addition to being taught the Bible in church, Sunday School, and/or Bible studies – you need to be reading the Bible for yourself. A good place to start is with the Book of John. John presents the majesty and beauty of Jesus in the flesh. In John you will discover the Love of Jesus for His disciples.

The Bible contains everything you need to know in order to live a successful Christian life. It contains God’s guidance for how to make wise decisions, how to know God’s will, how to minister to others, and how to grow spiritually. The Bible is God’s Word to us. The Bible is essentially God’s instruction manual for how to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to Him and satisfying to us. You have a new Teacher living within you – the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to teach you as you read the Bible.

4. Develop Relationships with people who can help you spiritually.

friendswalking1 Corinthians 15:33 tells us, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” The Bible is full of warnings about the influence “bad” people can have on us. Spending time with those who engage in sinful activities will cause us to be tempted by those activities. The character of those we are around will “rub off” on us. That is why it is so important to surround ourselves with other people who love the Lord and are committed to Him.

Try to find a friend or two, perhaps from your church, who can help you and encourage you (Hebrews 3:13; 10:24). Ask your friends to keep you accountable in regard to your quiet time, your activities, and your walk with God. Ask if you can do the same for them. This does not mean you have to give up all your friends who do not know the Lord Jesus as their Savior. Continue to be their friend and love them. Simply let them know that Jesus has changed your life and you cannot do all the same things you used to do. Ask God to give you opportunities to share Jesus with your friends.

5. Be Baptized.

baptism pictures death burialMany people have a misunderstanding of baptism. The word “baptize” means to immerse in water. Baptism is the Biblical way of publicly proclaiming your new faith in Christ and your commitment to follow Him. The action of being immersed in the water illustrates being buried with Christ. The action of coming out of the water pictures Christ’s resurrection. Being baptized is identifying yourself with Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4). Baptism also makes you a part of a local church, and assures you of the watch care of a group of believers who will have your best interests at heart.

Baptism is not what saves you. Baptism does not wash away your sins. Baptism is simply a step of obedience, a public proclamation of your faith in Christ alone for salvation. Baptism is important because it is a step of obedience – publicly declaring faith in Christ and your commitment to Him. If you are ready to be baptized, you should speak with one of the Pastors at the church you attend.

6. Allow Christ’s Holy Spirit to Control Your Life.

Realize you can chose how you will live your Christian Life. These two diagrams illustrate in a simple way the struggle we will have to allow Jesus to lead our life, or to follow our own ways:Christ-Directed-versus-Self

In order to live a Christ-Directed Life you need to be filled (controlled) by the Holy Spirit. We must realize that this is what God designed us for when we are “Born Again”.

1. God Has Provided For Us an Abundant and Fruitful Christian Life

  • Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (John 10:10).John10_10
  • “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
  • “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22, 23).
  • “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
  • The Spiritual (Holy Spirit Controlled) Man – Some spiritual traits which result from trusting God:Holy-Spirit-Directed-Life

    The degree to which these traits are manifested in the life depends upon the extent to which the Christian trusts the Lord with every detail of his life, and upon his maturity in Christ. One who is only beginning to understand the ministry of the Holy Spirit should not be discouraged if he is not as fruitful as more mature Christians who have known and experienced this truth for a longer period.

    • Why is it that most Christians are not experiencing the abundant life?

    2. Christians who follow the Flesh Cannot Experience the Abundant and Fruitful Christian Life

    The self-directed man trusts in his own efforts to live the Christian life: He is either uninformed about, or has forgotten, God’s love, forgiveness, and power (Romans 5:8-10; Hebrews 10:1-25;1 John 1; 1 John 2:1-3; 2 Peter 1:9; Acts 1:8).

    • He has an up-and-down spiritual experience.
    • He cannot understand himself – he wants to do what is right, but cannot.
    • He fails to draw upon the power of the Holy Spirit to live the Christian life. (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Romans 7:15-24; 8:7; Galatians 5:16-18)

    The Fleshly (Self-Directed) Man – Some or all of the following traits may characterize the Christian who does not fully trust God:Self-Directed-Life

    The third truth gives us the only solution to this problem…

    3. Jesus Promised the Abundant and Fruitful Life as the Result of Being Filled (Directed and Empowered) by the Holy Spirit

    The Spirit-filled life is the Christ-directed life by which Christ lives His life in and through us in the power of the Holy Spirit

    • One becomes a Christian through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, according to John 3:1-8. From the moment of spiritual birth, the Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit at all times (John 1:12; Colossians 2:9, 10; John 14:16, 17). Though all Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, not all Christians are filled (directed and empowered) by the Holy Spirit.
    • The Holy Spirit is the source of the overflowing life (John 7:37-39).
    • The Holy Spirit came to glorify Christ (John 16:1-15). When one is filled with the Holy Spirit, he is a true disciple of Christ.
    • In His last command before His ascension, Christ promised the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to be witnesses for Him (Acts 1:1-9).

    How, then, can one be filled with the Holy Spirit?

    4. We are Filled by the Holy Spirit by Faith

    Then We Can Experience the Abundant and Fruitful Life Which Christ Promised to Each Christian.

    holy_spirit1Please remember that this does not mean your life will always be great. The Holy Spirit will take you through times of testing and tribulation, just as He did Jesus, but always with the goal of producing the Character of Jesus Christ in your life. Faith holds on when things are darkest. But whatever God takes you through, He will never abandon you there. He will bring you through the valley and you will find increased faith and strength of character that is more precious than the purest gold.

    You can experience the filling of the Holy Spirit right now if you:

    • Sincerely desire to be directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 5:6; John 7:37-39).
    • Confess your sins. By faith thank God that He has forgiven all of your sins – past, present and future – because Christ died for you (Colossians 2:13-15; 1 John 1; 2:1-3; Hebrews 10:1-17).
    • Present every area of your life to God (Romans 12:1-2)myjobmyrelationshipsmyfinances
    • By faith claim the fullness of the Holy Spirit, according to:

    1. His Command – Be filled with the Spirit. “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

    2. His Promise – He will always answer when we pray according to His will. “And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked of Him” (1 John 5:14, 15).

    Faith is expressed through believing prayer:

    We are filled with the Holy Spirit by faith alone. Sincere prayer is one way of expressing your faith. The following is a suggested prayer:

    “Dear Father, I need You. I acknowledge that I have been directing my own life and that, as a result, I have sinned against You. I thank You that You have forgiven my sins through Christ’s death on the cross for me. I now invite Christ to again take His place on the throne of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as You commanded me to be filled, and as You promised in Your Word that You would do if I asked in faith. I now thank You for directing my life and for filling me with the Holy Spirit.”

    worshipBeing Filled and Controlled by the Holy Spirit is not a one-time event like being Born Again (Becoming a Christian). It is a daily, moment by moment walk with the Holy One who lives within you.


    crowncenterlightsThe FYI section of the KC Star this Christmas Eve morning had an article titled “We are aglow in the Light

    Lisa Gutierrez asks the question: “How could we celebrate anything without light?”

    Take away the birthday candles and all you have is cake. Take away the fireworks and it’s just another steamy day in July. How could the holidays be the holidays without light? We light candles on the menorah and candles on the Advent wreath. We torch the yule log to symbolically carry light from one year to the next. Like the residents of Whoville, we gather ’round trees to admire the lights. Oooh! Aaah! Basking in the kilowatts, our faces shining and eyes sparkling, we are Cindy Lou Who-happy. Light does that to us. Artificial or natural, light chases the blues away by readjusting the chemicals in our brains, a cerebral tune-up desperately needed when winter envelops us. This seasonal shroud makes us so dang peevish, coming to work in the dark, driving home in the dark. As members of the human species, it is our nature to crave light, as do the sunflowers and the mighty oaks.

    She concluded her discourse by saying: “Give me lights at Christmas, I say. And lots of them.”

    Now I love Christmas lights. Sometimes I admit I get so rushed that I don’t even notice them. But the truth is that many people get so distracted by pretty Christmas Lights, that we miss the true Light of Christmas.

    his-life-was-the-light-of-the-worldChristmas is the day we honor God’s Greatest Gift, the birth of the True Light of the World. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

    The truth is that most of mankind does not seek the True Light. Most of mankind does not pay attention to the truth of who Jesus is. John 3:19 says: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.

    In other words, most people choose not to follow the True Light of Christmas, because they want to go their own way and do their own thing.

    Luke 2:25-35 (NIV) Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the light of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

    In Luke 2: 25-35 we find a righteous old man named Simeon. Not much is known about Simeon, but from Luke we do know that he did an amazing thing: Simeon paid attention to God.

    Now most people in Israel worshiped God, but very few paid attention to Him. In fact, Simeon was one of only a handful.

    Today, many people in this world worship a God, but very few pay attention to Him. If you are a school teacher, you may know what I’m talking about. You may have a room full of students, but how many really pay attention to you.

    Simeon paid attention to God. God spoke to Simeon and told him he would not die until he saw the Messiah. Now for Simeon to hear that and believe that was a big deal. But he was a big deal kind of guy.

    Now most of you have finished your shopping and you found a LOT OF GREAT DEALS THIS YEAR. But I want to challenge you to pay attention to God this evening, and realize the greatest deal in the universe happened almost 2000 years ago, when Jesus Christ was born as a little baby boy.

    simeon-paid-attention-to-godSimeon paid attention and saw the greatest deal of His life. He discovered the True Light, and that Light gave him Life!

    The Light of God’s Word became real to Simeon. When he saw the baby Jesus, he knew this was the one. There wasn’t a dove, or a flash of light, or a lightning bolt. He knew because he was a man who paid attention. I am praying that this Christmas, more than any other, we would be paying attention to God. He is speaking to our country, He is speaking to the hearts of men. We need to Seek and Discover God’s True Light for this world!

    “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the light of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

    Simeon Saw the Salvation of God

    Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

    the-salvation-of-the-nationsSalvation wasn’t hidden, it wasn’t for a select few, but was for all peoples. Salvation is to be seen. Simeon saw the Salvation of God in the life of Jesus. Each of us can see God’s Salvation if we open our hearts and lives to Jesus Christ. You don’t have to wonder or think or hope. You can see the salvation of the Lord! For God so loved you and me that He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believed in Him should not perish, but have everlasting LIFE! God gives mankind a choice. We can chose the Light of His Son to save us from our sins, or we can chose to walk in darkness. When you chose to give your life to Jesus, you have eternal Life. When you ignore the Light, you will live in eternal darkness.

    Simeon Saw the Light for the Nations

    the-light-of-the-nationsWhen Simeon lifted up the baby Jesus, He was holding God’s True Light for all the Nations. Jesus Christ was the revelation of God to a dark and sinful world.

    2 Corinthians 4:6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

    Jesus Himself declared that He was the True Light of the World:

    John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

    Jesus is the Light for all Nations, for all mankind. Not only did He talk a Righteous game, he walked a Righteous game. Satan tried to cover Him with the darkness of sin, just as he had Adam and Eve, but Jesus defeated Satan with the Light of the Word of God. Jesus is the Word! He is the Lamp unto our feet, the Light for our paths.

    Simeon Saw the Glory of Israel

    the-glory-of-israelSimeon was able to see by faith that this little Baby would someday come in all His Glory as the King of the Jews. He indeed will reign upon Jerusalem as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

    Matthew 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.

    It takes a lot to pay attention to God. You need to set aside what you want to do, and look at what He is doing. You need to give God your heart. You need to see your sins and realize the stupidity of following your own way. You need to realize that this life is either about walking in God’s Light, or walking in man’s darkness. There is no in-between. It is either a life of Light though God’s Son, or a life of darkness in sin. Jesus is either in your life or He is not. You are either a child of God’s by the New Birth made possible by Jesus atonement for your sins, or you are a child of Satan’s, stained by the darkness of sin.

    A couple years back there was a house near the entrance of a subdivision that kept their Christmas lights burning long after the season was past. They burned through January. Even through the first of February those outside lights burned every night. Finally, about the middle of February a concerned neighbor became a bit critical and said, “If I were too lazy to take my Christmas lights down, I think I’d at least turn them off at night.” But about the middle of March there was a sign outside of their house that explained why they’d left the lights on. It said simply, “Welcome home, Jimmy.” The family had a son in Iraq, and they had unashamedly left their Christmas lights on in anticipation of his return.

    the-light-of-jesus-live-in-youLights are a symbol of hope. Christ in You is the Hope of Glory. Do you know with all assurance that when you die, you will behold the Glory of Christ? Do you know that the Light of Jesus Christ has given you eternal Life? Is that your testimony this Christmas? If not, believe in the Light while God is still giving you Light. Jesus is the Light of Revelation for our dark and sinful world.

    John 12:36 (NKJV) While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”