The Day Jesus Promised The Holy Spirit

John 14 v 16 17

Before Jesus was crucified for the forgiveness of the world’s sins (John 19), he spoke with His followers and comforted them.  He let them know that the Father would be sending a very special blessing to them.  He made sure they knew they were not going to be alone.

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever–the Spirit of truth.  The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.  Because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”

Jesus speaking in John 14:15-20

What Jesus is telling them is that after He is crucified and ascends to the right hand of the Father in Heaven, He will ask God to send down the Holy Spirit to all believers and fill their souls with Him.  Jesus is literally saying He is in God, we are in Him, and He is in us–literally, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

“All this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Jesus speaking in John 14:25-27

Jesus is very clear that the Holy Spirit will be coming!  He is comforting them and He does not want His followers to be afraid.  He knows the evil one (a.k.a. the prince of this world) is coming for Him, and Jesus knows His mission is to forgive the sins of the world and defeat that evil prince.

“I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.  I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming.  He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.”

John 14:29-31

After Jesus died and rose from the dead on the third day, He appeared to His followers and spent time with them for 40 days before He ascended into Heaven.  On one occasion he took the time to promise His followers again that the Holy Spirit was coming soon.

“In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.  After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.  He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.  On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 1:1-5

So, what was it like when the Holy Spirit came down from Heaven?  Great question!  In the next verses, keep in mind that it was 33 A.D. in Roman occupied Jerusalem.  Jesus had just been crucified a little over a month earlier.  Christians were being persecuted by the Romans and the Jews.  The believers were huddled together in an upper room of a house they were hiding in.  Jerusalem was not a safe place for them to be, but they obeyed the Lord and waited.  Their courage and patience was well worth it!  Let’s take a look:

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in once place.  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

Acts 2:1-4

Now, that is not what it was like when I received the Holy Spirit in ’96, but I was filled with an inexpressible joy and peace, and a couple months later I cast out a demon by the power of God inside me.  I did hear that wind though when I stopped breathing and came back in 2012!  Folks, please listen to me, that was the same wind my wife and I heard when I came back after I had stopped breathing from anaphylactic shock!  My wife prayed over my lifeless body that the Lord would bring me back, and just moments later she witnessed my mouth open and our whole bedroom was filled with the sound of a rushing wind!  The wind went into my mouth and I took a huge deep breath, opened my eyes, and I was back in my bedroom again!  I was in the wind and it deposited me back in my body!  Yes, you read that right.  It was swirling all around me, and it was loud and beautiful!  I was completely safe and protected!  That is the Holy Spirit power and we still see the same power and miracles that the Apostles did in their time!  I am testifying Lord!  Glory to Your Name!

I pray with all my heart that everyone who does not know Jesus comes to know Him today!  Please know that Heaven and hell are very real.  Please know that Jesus is alive and He will still fill you with His Holy Spirit when you receive Him as your Lord and Savior!

I am still alive today because I am sealed with the Holy Spirit of God, which I received in 1996 when I accepted Jesus–Amen, Amen, and Amen!  The Holy Spirit is very much active on the earth in our time.  I just wanted you to realize that Jesus is still keeping His promise almost 2,000 years later!

Grace and peace to you all!

33 things the Holy Spirit does

 

 

The Lord Made Today!

Psalm 118 v 24

Grace and peace to you all!  We get another day, rejoice in it!  That verse is full of hope and joy, and we can rejoice because there really is a God in Heaven who loves us all!

Do you know why I can still rejoice today standing 6’1″ tall and only weighing 137 pounds from a damaged small intestine?  If you know me, then you guessed it–because of Jesus!  It’s because of Jesus I rejoice!  In the midst of my suffering and weakness He makes me strong!  No matter my circumstances, I can rejoice in the sealed promise of eternal life in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit inside me!

I can testify that when I am weak I am strong just as Paul did.  I have often wondered if God will not remove the thorn in me for the same reason that He would not remove Paul’s thorn.  I too have lived through extraordinary supernatural events.  Maybe I need the thorn to ground me.  In any case, I understand Paul when he said:

“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

It is important to note that in Jewish tradition three times was the maximum amount of times to ask for something.  If by the third time, the answer was still no, then that was a final no.  What Paul is saying is that God told him very clearly that the thorn was not going to be removed.  God did not say He couldn’t remove it.  Just that He was not going to for the purpose of perfecting His power in Paul.  Nothing is impossible with God and He can heal anytime He wants to!  My thorn has a purpose, and He will see it through.

I would like to explain my thorn.  Many of you know that I have Celiac Disease and I suffered terribly for the last 6 1/2 years starting on 1-6-12.  I was also sick for 10 years leading up to that diagnosis date.  Because I went undiagnosed for so long, the disease severely damaged the lining of my small intestine.  It killed a lot of the villi, which are the tiny hair-like structures that fill the intestinal lining.  These are crucial for survival because the villi absorb nutrients from the food we eat.  If you lose enough of them, then you become emaciated and die as if you were starving to death.

That is what was happening to me for 10 years leading up to my diagnosis.  I was starving from the inside as my own body attacked my small intestine in a full blown auto-immune reaction to the protein “gliadin” (a.k.a. gluten) found in wheat.  On 1-6-12 I only weighed 128 pounds.  I am 6’1″ tall and I used to weigh around 160-165.  I played basketball, ice hockey, lifted weights, mountain biked, and did a lot more snowboarding than I will probably ever do again.  I was a physically strong and fit guy.

The loss of villi caused a separate condition known as Cachexia or “wasting syndrome.”  I cannot gain weight normally anymore because too many villi are dead.  The Cachexia causes an up and down weight gain and loss cycle every few weeks.  I get up to about 145 at the highest and then over about a week I go all the way down to 134 or 135 pounds.  Then over the next couple weeks I regain the weight, and I go through the whole process again once I get to the top.  Yes, it hurts and it can be maddening…but I press in to Jesus even more!

I am weaker physically now than I once was, but I am also the spiritually sharpest and strongest I have ever been in my walk with Jesus!  For when I am weak, then I am strong, and I choose to rejoice in the Lord and be glad despite my thorn!

If you could feel the love of Jesus like I felt it when I stopped breathing in 2012, those of you who don’t know Him yet would come running to Him right now!  Jesus loves you!  I pray you find that you truly can rejoice in that truth!

Grace and peace to you all!

Jeremiah 29 v 13

 

 

 

 

 

The Awesome Impact Award Goes To…Jesus!

Awesome Impact Award

Last night, I received a very unexpected message from our great brother at J-M’s History Corner here on WordPress.  He nominated my blog for The Awesome Impact Award!  Thank you J-M!

You can find J-M at: https://jmshistorycorner.wordpress.com.  I recommend checking his blog out!

What I am most pumped about is that this Award is really for Jesus!  He is the One making the Awesome Impact in my life, and He can definitely make an Awesome Impact in your life too!  God bless you all!  All glory to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  Without Him this blog would not even exist!

Here is J-M’s Awesome Impact Award (started by Rad Gamer):

https://jmshistorycorner.wordpress.com/2018/08/30/the-awesome-impact-award/

The Rules

  1. Tag the person who nominated you.
  2. Take “The Awesome Impact Award” Picture and add that in your post.
  3. Talk about an incident that impacted your life in a really positive way.
  4. Nominate 10 other awesome bloggers for this award

 

Incident that impacted my life

The number one incident that impacted my life in the most positive way possible was making the wise decision to receive Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in October of 1996 at the age of 18 years old!  I was filled with the Holy Spirit upon receiving Him, defeated a demon in my parent’s house by the power of the Holy Spirit inside me, had two angel encounters in 1998, stopped breathing and came back in the wind of the Holy Spirit in 2012, and I have been preaching the Gospel ever since I got saved!  That is one serious life change folks, and it impacted my life in a really, really positive way!  I highly recommend accepting Jesus and receiving the free gift of eternal life that only He can offer you!

God bless you all!

My 10 Nominees for The Awesome Impact Award (I am following a lot of blogs and I love them all–it is hard only picking 10!)

Beauty Beyond Bones

ChildOfGrace10142001

John Eli

Joel (In The Desert With Jesus)

David A Fischer

Daily Hopeful

Lynn Abbott Studios (Through Ink & Image)

The Godly Chic Diaries

Sixth Seal Christian Ministries

God Made Known

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Romans 10:9

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

Matthew 28 with map

 

The Aroma of Christ

Aroma of Christ

I met a new sister in Christ today here on WordPress and read her post about the fragrance of Christ.  It got me thinking about a crazy supernatural story my Pastor friend Brian in Boulder once told me.  Nope, this time the supernatural stuff didn’t happen to me!  Sit with me for a moment, while I testify on behalf of my friend and tell you a true tale of God’s power and the aroma of Christ!

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.  For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.  And who is equal to such a task?”

2 Corinthians 2:14-16

Now I always thought that was some kind of metaphor, but my friend Brian learned a very different lesson in Mexico.  I met Brian in college at the University of Northern Colorado.  He was an all state champion wrestler on a full scholarship, and he was and still is one of the strongest and most joyful brothers in Christ I have ever known.  He is a Pastor in Boulder, Colorado and has been for many years.

Brian was in my Bible study when he was a Freshman along with a bunch of other young brothers.  I was a year or two ahead of most of them, and I took care of them like they were my younger brothers.  One time, Brian told us about a mission trip he went on during his high school years with his youth group to Mexico.  They were at a bus stop and he went in to use the bathroom.  That is when the weirdest and scariest thing of Brian’s life happened to him!

He was alone in the bathroom, and as he was standing at the stall doing his business a man came into the bathroom, walked right up to him, and said, “You’re a Christian aren’t you?”

Now it is shocking enough that a guy would walk right up to another guy at a urinal and start talking to him–because ladies, we just don’t do that!  That is a big no, no in the men’s room.  You don’t say a word when you are at the urinal and you look straight ahead at the wall in front of you.  Every man knows this, and if you don’t, then please learn it.

Brian slowly looked at the man and said, “Yes.”  What the man said next was the strangest and scariest thing my good friend had ever heard in his young life.  The man was right next to Brian at this point practically touching him, and as he sniffed the air next to Brian he said,

“I can smell it on you!  I came in here to rape and kill you, but I am afraid of what God will do to me.”

After that, Brian ran out of the bathroom and ran right over to his Pastor.  The man came out of the bathroom, and the Pastor walked right up to him.  Once the Pastor reached him, the man’s body jerked and he started looking around frantically asking, “where is it?!  where is it?!”

The man looked over at a corner in the bus station and his gaze froze.  At that moment, the Pastor turned and by the power of the Holy Spirit he could see the demon that had possessed the man hiding in the corner.  It had jumped out of the man in the presence of the Holy Spirit, which was strong inside the Pastor!

The man confessed to the Pastor that the demon had been inside of him for many years making him rape and kill people all over Mexico.  He desperately wanted to be delivered from it.  The Pastor preached to him and prayed for him, and that was the end of that battle.

I will never forget that story.  The demon inside the man could smell Jesus in Brian!  We truly are the aroma of Christ!  And we are most definitely His soldiers fighting an ancient spiritual war that Jesus has already won!

Grace and peace to you all!

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Ephesians 6:10-12

Armor of God

 

 

Jesus Will Not Be Riding On A Donkey Next Time He Comes

White horse verse

Many people around the world know the story about The Triumphal Entry when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey.  A large crowd gathered and they placed their cloaks on the ground ahead of Jesus.  They also cut palm branches and laid them ahead of Jesus.  They did this because they were honoring Him as their King as He entered the Holy City.

“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her.  Untie them and bring them to me.  If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to the Daughter of

Zion,

‘See, your king comes to

you,

gentle and riding on a

donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a

donkey.'”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them.  They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them.  A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of

David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in

the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest!””

Matthew 21:1-9

That is a stirring scene of respect for Jesus!  It is a peaceful scene and very calm.  Jesus came to us gentle riding on a donkey, even though He is the King of kings and Lord of lords!

I am here to tell you today that when Jesus Christ comes back, He will not be riding on a donkey!  The Book of Revelation paints a far more intense picture of His return.  When Jesus comes back, He will be coming back to fight and win a war!  The armies of Heaven will be with Him.  Included in those armies will be people who believed in Jesus.  He will be coming back to defeat Satan at Armageddon and take His rightful place as King of kings and Lord of lords!

First of all, did you know that the Book of Revelation is the testimony of Jesus Christ!  Yeah, it is His testimony, and folks, that is the most important testimony you could ever read!  This Revelation was given to the Apostle John while he was imprisoned by the Romans on the Island of Patmos, which was near Ephesus at that time.  John was very old at this time in his 90s.  He wrote Revelation and finished the Gospel of John while in this prison.  He was eventually released from the secluded prison on Patmos, and history records that he most likely died of natural causes around 100 A.D. in Ephesus.  No, the Romans were never able to break him or kill him!

“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.  He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw–that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.  Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”

Revelation 1:1-3

Island of Patmos, Greece
Island of Patmos, Greece in the Aegean Sea

“I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.  On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

Revelation 1:9-11

7 churches map

 

After John heard this, he turned around and he saw Jesus shining in blazing glory!

“I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me.  And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.  His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.  His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.  In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword.  His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.”

Revelation 1:12-16

John is understandably frightened by all of this, and he reacts as many of us would.

“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.  Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid.  I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!  And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.”

Revelation 1:17-19

And that is exactly what John did!  He wrote down what he saw that day, and I highly recommend reading the entire Book of Revelation.  There is great blessing in it!

So, what did John see when he saw Jesus coming back in the vision?  Let’s take a look.

“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  With justice he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.  He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.  The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.  “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”  He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.  On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS

And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.”

Revelation 19:11-18

Do you understand that when Jesus comes back He is not messing around?  I must warn you, He will not be riding a donkey.  He will be riding on a white horse as The King He is coming to destroy evil on the earth!  Listen to how the battle of Armageddon is going to go down.

“Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army.  But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf.  With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image.  The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.  The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.”

Revelation 19:19-21

That’s right, he said “gorged” folks!  Satan is defeated in one short paragraph and his armies are eaten by a massive swarm of birds.  You do not want to be a part of his army!  You can read more about “the mark of the beast” in my post titled “Don’t Ever Get Chipped!

“And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.  He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.  He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore…”

Revelation 20:1-3

I pray with all my heart that you take to heart what is written in Revelation.  You will be so very blessed if you take heed of these warnings.  I can promise you that with all my heart!  Jesus loves you and He died for you to save you!

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:9-11

Grace and peace to you all!

“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Romans 10:9

Revelation 22 v 12

 

Revelation 22 v 13

 

 

 

 

 

A Good Name

Proverbs 22 v 1

I love the book of Proverbs.  I read it all the time.  No matter what I might be studying, I always like to read Proverbs (and Psalms as well).  Many nights, Proverbs is the Book of the Bible that I read to my son before his bedtime.  It is filled with great insight and wisdom for living a righteous life in everything you do on earth.  God gave this wisdom and insight to Solomon, son of David, king of Israel at that time, and with that wisdom he penned the Book of Proverbs.

My son is eight years old.  He just started third grade this year.  He hit a growth spurt over the summer, and he is much taller and stronger.  He is a smart kid, and very witty and funny.  He likes theater and he can really ham it up!  I love that about my son, but sometimes he has a tendency to not take things as seriously as he should…and that gets him into trouble.

He has been learning hard lessons about respect and a good name at school.  I have told him many times, “Son, salvation is a free gift from God, but you have to earn respect.”  I tell him to act right and listen and watch what you say because people will know you by how you live your life.  I tell him to not hang out with foolish kids who act wild because he will end up getting hurt or in trouble.  Sometimes he hangs out with kids at school that are well known trouble makers, and I have had to share Proverbs 13:20 with him many times.  So much so he knows it by heart now.  I tell him these things because of the mistakes, sins, and trials I have been through in my life, and I want him to be victorious and live in peace with the Lord.

“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”

Proverbs 13:20

He has been doing great and we are very proud of him for his effort and dedication in his school work.  He is not a trouble making kid, and my wife and I make sure of that.  With that said, a few weeks ago, he was caught messing around in the school bathroom and I received a call from the principal.  It wasn’t too bad, and he got off with a warning.  Then last week I received another call from the principal.  Apparently, my son was trying to flush a locker lock down the toilet.  I was in the middle of writing a piece when I got that call around 2 p.m., and I had to go pick him up early because the principal sent him home.  He is blessed he wasn’t suspended.  The principal was mad because he could have damaged the entire plumbing system.

He lost his bathroom privileges at school, and now he can only use the bathroom in the nurses office.  The school security guard and the principal both talked to him about trust, and now they are watching him more closely.  He lost his good name.  It was a hard day for my son.

We were upset with him and disappointed, but he is learning valuable lessons from this.  Mainly, that a good name is worth a lot.  He does not like dishonor, he does not like the feeling of losing the respect he had, and he is working hard to earn it back.  My son is well liked in school by all the teachers and his fellow classmates, and he wants to keep it that way.  He is a kind kid who is nice to everyone (even the foolish ones!)

He has been more focused at school the last week, and he is back on track to earning that respect back.  Last night, I opened the Book of Proverbs and turned to chapters 21 and 22.  I prayed for our time and I prayed over my son, and then I read these Scriptures to him:

“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”

Proverbs 22:1

“A man who strays from the path of understanding comes to rest in the company of the dead.”

Proverbs 21:16

“He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.”

Proverbs 21:21

“Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life.”

Proverbs 22:4

My son was listening intently as I read each verse.  When I had finished, he looked up at me with such a deep look of understanding I knew he was having an epiphany!  I said, “Do you understand now son?”  He looked deep into my eyes, shook his head yes, and smiled real big.  “Keep earning that respect son,” I said warmly, and with that, I patted him on the back, put my arm around him, and prayed for him.

As I prayed for him, I prayed those verses over myself and our family as well.  It is not only eight year old little boys who need the wisdom of God found in Proverbs.  We would all do well to take heed of those verses and strive to live them out!

“May we all keep a good name in Christ, never stray from the path of understanding, fear the Lord with humble hearts, and pursue righteousness and love all the days of our lives, in the Name of Jesus, Amen!”

Grace and peace to you all!

Ben with dolphin

Psalm 23 v 6

 

 

The Death Row Letter

2 Timothy 4 v 7 wood

I love to study the historical context in which the Bible was written.  In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he is writing from a Roman prison cell.  He is nearing the end of his ministry.  The time frame is around the 60s A.D. when Emperor Nero was persecuting Christians after falsely accusing them for the great fire in Rome.  Paul knows the Romans are going to kill him, so he is writing Timothy to encourage him to keep following Jesus and be strong in his faith.

The beginning of the letter is beautiful:

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,

To Timothy, my dear son:

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”

2 Timothy 1:1-2

He comforts Timothy and encourages him to not be ashamed because of his imprisonment.  He also tells him to not be ashamed of Jesus, and gives a powerful explanation of the Holy Spirit.

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.  So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner.  But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God…”

2 Timothy 1:6-8

The persecution in Rome is fierce and the believers are scared and scattered.  Many people who were once trusted friends to Paul have deserted him and want nothing to do with him or Christianity.

“You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me…”

2 Timothy 1:15

Paul talks about his first court hearing where he barely escaped an execution by lion.  At this time, Nero was feeding Christians to the lions in the coliseums as a spectacle for all to enjoy.  Rome was Satan’s playground.

“At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me.  May it not be held against them.  But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.  And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.”

2 Timothy 4:16-17

Paul knows his time is coming soon and throughout the entire letter he impresses upon Timothy the importance of persevering in his faith in Jesus.  He loves Timothy as a father would a son, and he wants him to continue the ministry.  Paul gives him wise advice at every turn of the page.

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

2 Timothy 3:14-17

“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.”

2 Timothy 4:1-2

“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

2 Timothy 2:22

In the last chapter of the letter, Paul pens some of the most heartfelt words any human being could ever write at the end of their life.  He is not scared.  He is at peace, and he is ready to go.

“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

2 Timothy 4:6-8

Paul was never fed to the lions.  When he was in his sixties, shortly after writing that letter, the Romans chopped his head off with a sword.  He never gave up his faith and he preached the Gospel to the very end.  I am very much looking forward to meeting Paul in Heaven someday, and I pray that I can be as strong in my faith to the very end and be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith.”

Grace and peace to you all!

2 Timothy 1 v 7