Advent Reading Day 23:  Jesus is I AM (Part 2)

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”  “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”  Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.  Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” -John 11:21-26 NLT

Christmas is a time of hope.  Hope because of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.  Jesus brings hope where there is despair, power into difficult situations, and peace that surpasses all understanding.

Lazarus died and was in the tomb for at least 3 days.  Martha met Him and was clearly upset with Jesus.  She trusted Him but wondered why it took so long for Him to return when He knew His friend was poorly.  She had a good relationship with Jesus and therefore was able to share what was on her heart.  Despite the pain that Martha was feeling, she said to Jesus, “I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Martha had faith that Jesus could do what He said He could do.  She believed Jesus was the Christ.

Jesus said “I AM the Resurrection and the Life.  Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.  Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.”

What a blessed hope that we have eternal life and will live forever with Jesus!  Hallelujah!

Jesus is our Hope today.  Hope for life, hope for eternal life, and hope for abundant life.

Our physical bodies will die, no one can escape that until Christ returns.  However, those who believe in Jesus can expect our spiritual souls to never die.  Our souls will continue to live on for eternity.  Jesus proves His claim to Martha of being the Resurrection and the Life as He raised Lazarus from the dead.  He sees her faith and responds out of love for His friend.  Lazarus had been dead for four days.  Mary did not understand either why Jesus did not come sooner. She declared that Lazarus’ body would be smelling awful and it would not be right to open the tomb.  However, Jesus asked several of the people there to open the tomb.  He lifted His eyes toward Heaven and prayed a simple prayer and then asked Lazarus to come forth.  Lazarus walks out of the tomb to the shock and joy of everyone witnessing what just happened.  Of course, we know that later Lazarus died again, but his spiritual body still lives on.

Jesus brought life into a seemingly hopeless situation.  How many times have we prayed for something to happen and it just seems like we are hitting a wall?  Jesus changed the life of Lazarus. Jesus was empowered by God the Father and the Holy Spirit; the power raised (power of faith) raised Lazarus from the dead.  Jesus gives us eternal life, because of His own resurrection.  The power of the resurrection is ours, we can seek God to change seemingly impossible situations.

What situations or parts of our lives can Jesus’ resurrection power change? Are there areas within our hearts that we need to be recharged?  Do we truly believe Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life?

Prayer:

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For further study:

Isaiah 25:8; John 10:10; 1 Corinthians 15:12-58

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Advent Reading Day 22: Jesus is I AM (Part 1)

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”   God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” -Exodus 3:13-14 NIV

“You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”   “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” -John 8:57-58 NIV

Jesus is I AM. He is complete, one with God, and is God. God is the only one who used the name I AM before Jesus was born. The Hebrew for I AM is Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh (I am, will be what I am, will be). When God told Moses what to tell the people and Pharaoh, he told him to say Ehyeh (I am, I will be) has sent you. God is Living, Almighty, Holy, Ever Present, Ever Powerful, Ever Wise. God is Everlasting, our Creator, our Provider, and our King. Jesus declared He is indeed I AM. John starts off his gospel with the words “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).

Jesus was there in the beginning of time, he helped with creation, he saw the fall of man, the flood of Noah’s time, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, and so on. Jesus saw the plight of man and out of love he was sent to earth for us. What an amazing Saviour and Friend!

Winds and waves obeyed Jesus. In the middle of the storm with the disciples in the boat, Jesus stood up and calmed the seas. He even walked upon the seas and told Peter, “Don’t be afraid- It is I” translated as “Don’t be afraid- It is I AM.” Demons bowed down to Jesus acknowledging him as “I Am.” When Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane and the people arresting him asked Jesus to identify himself, he declared “It is I, or I AM.” At this, his enemies fell to the ground because they could not stand in the presence of the Almighty God. James said that demons even believe in God, they know Jesus is I AM, they were defeated by Jesus on the cross and in the resurrection and will be finally put in their place when Jesus returns.

No matter what you are facing today, know that I AM is with you. Despite the storms you are in, Jesus calms the storm and if not, he calms your inner soul. I AM is powerful, he is holy, he is almighty, he is God!

Prayer:
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For further study:
Matthew 16:15-16; Mark 14:61-62; Revelation 1:8, 17; 21:6

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Advent Reading Day 21:  Jesus the Son of God, Son of Man (Part 2)

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.  He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. -Daniel 7:13-14 NIV

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.   -1 John 4:9-12

Jesus is Divine, and he is also human.  Often times we miss out the human side when talking about Jesus.  Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, he grew within his mother’s womb and came as a baby.  Jesus learnt how to crawl, speak his first words, take his first steps, and potty train.  He went to school, on holidays/vacations, and learnt a trade.

Jesus felt emotions, he laughed, he cried, he knew the loss of friends and surely family members, rejection from even his own family, anger at the temple money changers and anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He didn’t float from place to place; he walked everywhere (and he did this without trainers).  He felt hunger.  He felt fatigue.  Jesus felt physical pain.  He felt the thorns on his brow, the blows of the whips upon his back, the searing pain of the nails driven into his hands and feet, and his body being pulled up on the cross.  Jesus experienced death.

Jesus did all of this so he could understand us better.  He came as the Son of Man and gave his all for us so we can have a relationship with him.  He knows what you go through on a daily basis.  Because he was human, he understands our pains, frustrations, sorrows, joys, and much more.  His humanity allowed him to relate to us not just on a spiritual level but on a personal level.

Even though Jesus was human he had 24/7 access to the Father.  He had the power of the Holy Spirit living in and through him.  Because we are connected to Christ and are God’s sons and daughters, we too can have this same relationship with God.

Jesus is the best example we can follow. In his anger he did not sin.  In his fatigue, he still managed to have time with his Father in prayer.  In his hunger, he shared with others.  He was tempted but he overcame the temptations.  He suffered rejection, but he still had love and compassion for the ones who rejected him.

But you say, Jesus was divine, he could do this.  Yes, he could.  But I say to you, we can as well because we have the power of the Holy Spirit in us!  We have constant access to the Father as Jesus did.  When we struggle, we can call upon the name of Jesus and all things are possible!   Jesus intercedes for us daily.  We are the temple in which the Holy Spirit dwells.

This Christmas give praise to God for sending Jesus as the Son of Man to understand our humanity and giving us full access to him.  Ask him to empower us with the Holy Spirit so we too can live a holy life as Jesus did.

Prayer:

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For further study:

Galatians 4:4-7; Matthew 12:38-42, 20:20-28, 25:31-33, 26:64; Revelation 1:12-18

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Advent Reading 20: Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of Man (Part 1)

Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. -Matthew 16:15-17

The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So, he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him!  He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit.   At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.  The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!” -Matthew 27:41-43,50-54

For the next couple of days, we are going to study about Jesus as the Son of God and the Son of Man.  Today we are going to focus on Jesus as the Son of God.  Jesus was divine and human.  Jesus is God – holy, pure, powerful, justice, peace, and so much more.  Jesus and God are one, a part of the Trinity- God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Because Jesus is fully divine, he was very capable of representing God on earth.  Jesus shares God’s nature and intentions- filled with love and compassion for us on earth.  During Jesus’ earthly ministry even the demons recognised Jesus as the Son of God.

Jesus asked the disciples who do they say he is, and Peter quickly declared that Jesus is the Son of the Living God.  Peter’s eyes were open to the truth that Jesus was indeed divine.  Peter of course later on was the father of the church.  His faith in the Son of God and the empowering of the Holy Spirit changed this headstrong man into a mighty man of God.

Jesus was crucified because of his declaration as being God’s Son. It is interesting to note from the scripture above the earth shook at the moment Jesus’ died.  The curtain of the temple was torn in two, the earth shook, rocks split, and tombs opened with men and women coming back to life.  The centurion and those guarding the cross then realised and declared Jesus as the Son of God.  Jesus was laid in a tomb and three days later the power of God raised Jesus from the dead!

Because of what Jesus did on the cross, we too can become sons and daughters of God.  We too can call God – Abba- as Jesus taught the disciples to call God in the Lord’s prayer.  Paul tells us in Galatians “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father'” (Galatians 4:6).

Jesus as the Son of God has divine power which healed many, forgave sins, set captives free, raised people from the dead and enables us to become sons and daughters of God.  Paul tells us not only do we have the same Spirit of God in us as Jesus does, we have the same power which raised Jesus from the dead living in us!  As God’s sons and daughters, we too have 24/7 access to God.  We can talk to him.  We can be confident God listens to our hearts and prayers and he is always there for us.

Sing praises to Jesus today for being the Son of God.  Thank him for coming to earth to save us.  Thank him for allowing us to be sons and daughters of God.  Walk in the knowledge you and I are royalty.  We are princesses and princes of the kingdom of God!  Our dad- Father God is the King!  Hallelujah!

Prayer:

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For further study:

Deuteronomy 33:27; Matthew 6:9-13; Matthew 16:13-21; John 3:16-17; Romans 8:14-17; Hebrews 12:4-11

Happy New Year!

Advent Reading Day 19:  Jesus is Lord

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.   As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”  Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him.  For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” -Romans 10:9-13 NLT

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honour and gave him the name above all other names that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. -Philippians 2:9-11 NLT

Jesus is Lord- every knee will bow on earth, in heaven and below the earth declaring his Lordship.  The Greek word for Lord is Kyrios meaning owner, emperor, king, father, husband or master.  It can also translate the Hebrew words and names of God: Adonai, Yahweh and Elohim.  When we address Jesus as Lord, we are declaring that he is God and has ultimate control of our lives.

Allowing Jesus to be Lord of our lives is not always easy.  It’s about living in holiness, separating ourselves from the world and living pure lives dedicated to God.  Yes, there is salvation and we become Christians when we call upon Jesus but making Jesus our Lord is a step further in our relationship with Him.  As we grow in our relationship with the Lord we progress, as Paul states many times in his letters, by…

Believing in the Lord

Loving in the Lord

Working hard in the Lord

Boasting in the Lord

Being faithful in the Lord

Being strong in the Lord

Hoping in the Lord

Standing firm in the Lord

Rejoicing in the Lord.

Paul teaches us that Jesus is not just our Saviour but indeed our Lord.  In Jesus, we live, work, pray, suffer, walk, and love.  Our joy does not depend on having things our way but relying on the Lord to live in and through us.  So how do we do this? “Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” (Matt. 22:37-40).

Allowing Jesus to be Lord of our lives enables us to love him with all our hearts, souls and minds and then reaching out to others in love.  We are able to do this by plugging into his power- through the Holy Spirit.  Think of a lamp, it cannot glow if it is not plugged into the source.  Jesus as Lord is the source of power enabling us to live holy lives.  We have to be plugged into the power.

Think over the past week- how well did we allow Jesus to be Lord of our lives?  Did others recognise Jesus in our conversations, emails, Facebook posts, actions in how we treated each other?  Are we just hoping to get to heaven with a fire insurance ticket out of hell or are we desiring to be more like Jesus and have a genuine love relationship with him?   Ask Christ to restore the joy of our salvation, ask him to be Lord of our lives and plug into the power living out our love for him in our daily lives.

Prayer:

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For further study:

Deuteronomy 10:14-17; Matthew 7:21-27; Romans 14:10-12

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Advent Reading Day 18: Jesus is the King of kings

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”  “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”  Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.   Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’   The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” -John 3:3-8 NLT

Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war.   His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself.   He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God.   The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses.  From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress.  On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords. -Revelation 19:11-16 NLT

Jesus is the King of kings.  His kingdom will reign forever.  He was born in the tiny village of Bethlehem but he is from the greatest kingdom ever.  The world has never seen a King like Jesus.  His rule is mightier and more powerful than any earthly sovereign.  His kingdom unfolds around us every day through people who show his love and mercy to their fellow man.

Have you ever thought about the challenges of those in leadership over their perspective countries?  They have all the responsibility of a whole nation on their shoulders.  They may do things we like and they may not.  There is not one human leader who is perfect.  In order to bring God’s kingdom to earth we need to pray for our national leaders, pray for wisdom, favour, protection, and salvation.

People did not like Jesus and sadly still don’t.  His kingdom is something people do not understand until they are born of the spirit.  Jesus explains this to Nicodemus, a religious leader.  In order to enter to God’s kingdom, we must be born again. Simply this means giving our lives to Jesus and making him King and Ruler of our lives.  It is not about just going to church, singing the hymns, quoting a few scriptures.  This is about giving our lives completely to Jesus, acknowledging him as Lord and Saviour, confessing our sins and then walking a new path following him.

Jesus doesn’t force his Kingdom upon us.  He is a perfect gentleman; he invites us- giving the choice to us to believe and receive him.  As one early Christian writer says, God “was determined to save us by persuasion, and not by compulsion- for there is no compulsion found with God.  His mission was no pursuit or hounding of us, it was an invitation.”  Everyone has to choose whether or not they will be a part of Christ’s Kingdom.  When we accept that invitation, then we are called to spread God’s love to others, so they too may accept him.

Jesus’ birth is one of excitement as the King of kings came to earth to bring his Kingdom here.  One day Jesus will return!  As we have been waiting this Advent for Christmas day, we also wait expectantly for Christ’s return.  We await for his Kingdom to reign forever in peace, love, and harmony. Until then, no matter how violent the world is we must resist the temptation of fighting evil with evil and destructive words.  We are called to overcome evil with love and good.  Today, may we commit ourselves to loving others, praying for each other-including our national leaders and walk humbly with God.  May we be an example of his everlasting Kingdom.

Prayer:

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For further study:

Matthew 6:9-10; Matthew 21:1-9; Matthew 25:31-43: Revelation 11:15, 15:1-4; 17:12-14

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Advent Reading Day 17: Jesus is our Saviour (Part 2)

The Saviour—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!  And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” -Luke 2:11-14 NLT

Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.   Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.  Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honour and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. -Philippians 2:6-11 NLT

Jesus left everything in Heaven- riches, gold streets, glassy seas, no pain, no sickness, no sorrows- to come to earth as a vulnerable baby. Jesus was just a simple baby in a simple manger in a simple town yet all of creation rejoiced.  So why all the fuss? Jesus, the Son of God, humbled himself and broke time and space and came as a simple human. He gave up everything to be our Saviour!  Christ considered himself nothing, so we can have a relationship with his Father.  Jesus came to save us from our sins and eternal death.  He also saved us so we can fulfil the purpose God called us for.

We are saved to minister to others God’s love and mercy.  We are to be humble as Christ is humble, to love others as Jesus loves them, to be a living reflection of Jesus.  This is not easy in a world where self is promoted.  We are supposedly our own gods. The world doesn’t believe that God exists, and it does everything it can to discredit Christians.

Why are people so offended by Christ?  First, they have always been.  Jesus told us they would be. Second, his message is about denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following him.  It is about being humble, putting God and others before ourselves, and it is about victory over the enemy.

Satan trembles at the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour.  He doesn’t want people to follow Jesus.  Remember, he was kicked out of heaven for wanting to have the glory to himself, he thought he was better than God (Is. 14:12-22; Ezekiel 28:1-19).  Satan has always wanted the glory and the praise and people to follow him.  Don’t worry though- Jesus is the Victor!

Jesus won the victory over sin and death via the cross and the resurrection from the grave!  Because of this, he has the place of highest honour and his name has power!  This power is not like a genie in a lamp and just saying his name brings us what we want.  No!  In order to release and live in his power, we must humble ourselves daily and realise he is God and we are not.  Jesus saves, restores, delivers and empowers!  Jesus is indeed our Lord and Saviour.

Prayer:

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For further study:

John 20:30-31; Acts 2: 38-39; Philippians 2:1-18; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

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