Monday, November 26, 2012

Struck down, but not destroyed.





The Word of God is energized by the Spirit of God. Whenever Scripture goes forth, it never returns without accomplishing the work it was intended to do. This is because the written Word of God is "living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword" (v. 12). As we minister to others, the Bible must be central to all that we say and do. We must always remember that it is the Word which is alive, not our own insights, clever arguments, or interesting stories.

There was a period in church history that extended from A.D. 100 to A.D. 314, during which thousands and thousands of courageous Christian men and women sealed their fate with their blood. Secular historians are in agreement that there were 10 great persecutions—10 major attempts to wipe Christianity off the face of the earth.

It started with the wicked Caesar Nero, who presided over the death of Paul. Christians were fed to wild animals. They were killed in the Roman arenas for sport. They were torn apart. They were tortured. They were burned at the stake. The Roman emperor Diocletian thought he was so successful at eradicating Christianity that he actually had a commemorative coin struck with the words, "The Christian religion is destroyed, and the worship of the [Roman] gods is restored." Well, things didn't turn out as well as Diocletian thought, because the church marches on. And what is left of Rome? What is left of Caesar? A salad, perhaps, but not much else. As Jesus said of His church, the gates of hell will not prevail against it (see Matthew 16:18).

When someone mocks us or criticizes us or wants to do physical harm to us because we are followers of Jesus Christ, we tend to think of this as the worst thing that can happen. But it is also a badge of honor. Because if you are being persecuted, then it means you are doing something right.

God will allow persecution in our lives. The Bible says, "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12).


We're quick to remember God's promises of provision and protection. But we're not so eager to hold on to God's promise of persecution. Yet it can have a positive impact on our lives. (1)

God has been kind enough to trust us with this work. That's why we never give up. We don't do shameful things that must be kept secret. And we don't try to fool anyone or twist God's message around. God is our witness that we speak only the truth, so others will be sure that we can be trusted. If there is anything hidden about our message, it is hidden only to someone who is lost.

God has been kind enough to trust us with this work. That's why we never give up. We don't do shameful things that must be kept secret. And we don't try to fool anyone or twist God's message around. God is our witness that we speak only the truth, so others will be sure that we can be trusted. If there is anything hidden about our message, it is hidden only to someone who is lost.

The god who rules this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers. They cannot see the light, which is the good news about our glorious Christ, who shows what God is like. We are not preaching about ourselves. Our message is that Jesus Christ is Lord. He also sent us to be your servants.

The Scriptures say, "God commanded light to shine in the dark." Now God is shining in our hearts to let you know that his glory is seen in Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:1-6 CEV

It Is Not Ours to Ask "Why?"

  

 “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried: He is a buckler to all them that trust in Him.” 2 Samuel 22:31


When bewilderment enshrouds you and despair looms at your door, when trials storm the beaches of your life, you may want to ask God, “Why? Why? Why?” Friend, you may never understand why things are happening the way they are in your life, but that’s not your job. You see, it is not necessary for you to know why. That is God’s question. Your response is all that matters. When we can’t feel His hand, we must trust His heart. Our job is to simply trust and obey.

Is there something happening in your life for which you have no explanation, but long for answers? Ask God to give you peace and grace to trust Him.

Our Lord goes with us into the dark times of our lives. He holds us by the hand and lets us know that we have nothing to fear. Darkness and light are the same to the Lord. He will lead us through our times of fear and bring us back into the light every time.
 

 Reference:


(1)  Pastor Greg Laurie,"The Church Triumphant" -- Harvest Devotion for 11/22/2012



Blessings,


Raj Kosaraju

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Trinity



We can agree that God is infinite. He is not limited to our space or our time domain. God is also omnipotent. He is able to do whatever He pleases in accordance with His righteousness. When God revealed Himself to man, He did so as a triune being. He is One God comprised of three persons. Each person of the Trinity is distinct, yet all have all the attributes of God and all are considered God.

The Bible clearly speaks of: God the Son, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit. But emphasizes that there is only ONE God.

First, we need to know who God is. The Father is called God in the Bible in Matthew 6:26,30. Jesus is called God in Hebrews 1:6 and John 1:1, 14. The Spirit is called God in Acts 5:3-4. All three are classified as God, but we know there is only one God-being. In order for both to be true, He must exist in three persons.

We also look at the attributes that God alone possesses. God is the creator (Genesis 1:1, Job 33:4, Isaiah 40:28). Jesus is called the creator (John 1:3, Colossians 1:13,16), and the Spirit is called the creator (Genesis 1:2, Psa. 104:30). We know only God is eternal ; and the Father is called eternal (Psalm 90:2) Jesus is called eternal (John 1:1-2, John 8:58) and the Spirit is called eternal (Hebrews 9:14).

All the other attributes of God are ascribed to each of the Trinity. They are all considered omnipresent and omniscient. Each has the unique ability to forgive sins; a power that is possessed by God alone. Each is considered sovereign. Each is considered completely righteous. These are God's inherent attributes. They are part of the nature of God, as all humans have a natural desire to survive etc.
 


Thus the term: "Tri" meaning three, and "Unity" meaning one, Tri+Unity = Trinity. It is a way of acknowledging what the Bible reveals to us about God, that God is yet three "Persons" who have the same essence of deity. Some have tried to give human illustrations for the Trinity, such as H2O being water, ice and steam (all different forms, but all are H2O). Another illustration is an egg having a shell, egg yolk and egg white, but this egg illustration shows that there would be "parts" to God, which isn't the case.

God the Son (Jesus) is fully, completely God. God the Father is fully, completely God. And God the Holy Spirit is fully, completely God. Yet there is only one God. In our world, with our limited human experience, it's tough to understand the Trinity. But from the beginning we see God this way in Scripture. Notice the plural pronouns "us" and "our" in Genesis 1:26 -- Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

But here is the solid biblical evidence that points to the Holy Spirit as a distinct person in his own right and performs functions we attribute to personhood. The Holy Spirit appoints missionaries (Acts 13:2; 20:28), he leads and directs them in their ministry (Acts 8:29; 10:19-20; 16:6-7; 1 Corinthians 2:13), he speaks through the prophets (Acts 1:16; 1 Peter 1:11-12; 2 Peter 1:21), he corrects (John 16:8), comforts (Acts 9:31), helps us in our infirmities (Romans 8:26), teaches (John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 12:3), guides (John 16:13), sanctifies (Romans 15:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11), testifies of Christ (John 15:26), glorifies Christ (John 16:14), has a power of his own (Romans 15:13), searches all things (Romans 11:33-34; 1 Corinthians 2:10-11), works according to his own will (1 Corinthians 12:11), dwells with saints (John 14:17), can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30), can be resisted (Acts 7:51), and can be tempted (Acts 5:9).

 

Jesus Is the Christ - God and Man in One Person

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.  

Colossians 1:13-16 NIV

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  

Philippians 2:5-11 NASB


Though not a complete list, here is some other Scripture that shows God is one, in Trinity:

    "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!" (Deut. 6:4)

    "I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God." (Isa. 45:5)

    There is no God but one. (1Cor. 8:4)

And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." (Matt. 3:16-17)

    "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." (Matt. 28:19)

    Jesus said: "I and the Father are one." (John 10:30)

    "He who has seen Me has seen the Father." (John 14:9)

    "He who beholds Me beholds the One who sent Me." (John 12:45)

    If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. (Rom. 8:9)

    "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit." (Matt. 1:20)

    And the angel answered and said to her [Mary], "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:35)

    [Jesus speaking to His disciples] "And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you." ... "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him." (John 14:16-17, 23)

Jesus’ Sonship extends to us. All who are in union with him share in the privileges of his Sonship. And our union with him is made possible by his uniting with us by taking on our nature. Being the son of God involves a promise of eternal enjoyment of God in heavenly glory, a possession of full and abundant life by the Spirit, and power to live in joy, love and peace.

Jesus then reveals God to us. He makes him known and brings him into immediate contact with us in our humanity. The Spirit carries on this work upon the ascension of Jesus into heaven. Jesus having departed, the Spirit is sent to continue to make known the presence of God and apply the benefits of Christ’s intercessory work on our behalf.

Our knowledge then, of both Father and Son is mediated by the Spirit. It is the Spirit who reveals God to us through Jesus Christ. It is the Spirit who takes what Jesus has done on the cross and makes it a reality in our lives. It is the Spirit who speaks to our heart the truth of Jesus and allows us to receive the word spoken by Spirit. It is this Spirit, who filled the prophets who have written what becomes for us the Word of God, the Bible. It is the Spirit whom we encounter in faith, who sets Christ before us that we might see him, resurrected and ascended, now ruling over all the earth. The Spirit makes God tangible for us, sensible for us.

Further to this, God is able to sympathize with us in our weakness. He experienced human suffering in Jesus. And having done so provides in Jesus an advocate for suffering humanity. Having faced every temptation that is common to the nature of humanity, Jesus knows us, he understands us, not simply as mechanic understands a machine he has designed and manufactured, but by experience and identification. He knows intimately what weaknesses are inherent in the human soul and is able to provide for those weaknesses.

Jesus, identified with us in our human plight, is able to author salvation for us. He is able to go before us and make ready a way that we might follow him into the presence of God. He atones for us and reconciles us to God, because he is God. We experience that reconciliation through the indwelling of the Spirit who unites us to Christ and God.


Blessings,


Raj Kosaraju