Your sins are forgiven

Luke 5:20-26

Why is forgiveness so important to God, and why can’t we be joined to Him, except our sins be removed? First of all, God is holy, and cannot be joined to that which is contrary to His very being. The glory of God shines bright, and His righteousness exudes with holiness, but sin stains that which is holy, and makes it defiled in the eyes of God. The Bible teaches, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In order for God to get the most out His most prized creation, He had to make a way for them to be cleansed spiritually, and redeemed back to Himself.

Sin separates man from God, and causes Him to turn a deaf ear to them. Forgiveness is important for many reasons, but most importantly, to keep man in a position to be used by God, and receive His goodness continually.

In our text, Jesus was presented an opportunity to put the power of God on full display, as His fame began to spread across the lands. During a time when He revisited Capernaum, Jesus took a moment to teach in the midst of a mixed crowd, including Pharisees, doctors, and men from every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. Verse seventeen of this chapter mentions, “the power of the Lord was present to heal them.” That’s an interesting verse on many levels, and I’d love to break it down, but I’ll digress on that topic until another lesson. As Jesus taught, with God’s healing power present, His environment was abruptly disturbed by men who broke through the roof of the house, so that they could lay their paralyzed friend before Him, to be healed. The men tried entering the house through other ways, but were unable to, because of the multitude of people surrounding the place. They were fully convinced, by faith, that if they could only reach Jesus, then their friend would be healed. How many friends do you have, who would go to the extreme, so that you could be delivered from something? Are you that friend who would break through tradition, and social barriers, so the ones you care for can find peace and relief? After the men lowered their friend from the roof, and in the middle of where Jesus was teaching, He saw THEIR faith, then told the man his sins were forgiven. Jesus knew the man needed healing, but more important than physical healing is soul salvation. Once the soul is saved, God can work wonders in the physical. There are countless men and women who have excellent physical health, but will find themselves in eternal damnation. After gut-checking the scribes and Pharisees for doubting that Jesus shared the same power as God the Father, He then told the redeemed man to rise up, carry the couch that once carried him, then go home. The man immediately sprung up, took his couch, then glorified God on the way to his house.

These are the type of feel-good stories in Scripture that should inspire all men to reconsider how they’re living. Salvation was made available to everyone, and God doesn’t have favorites, so all can receive redemption. God has the power to save, and to heal, because nothing is too hard for Him to do, but our faith in His power is what makes the difference. While you may be seeking God for healing manifestation in your natural body, check to see if your soul is healed first. Once you have confirmed your salvation with God, through Christ, then you can freely receive all the benefits that come with His absolutely amazing power!

Walk in love,

Ell

God’s salvation for all people

Isaiah 52:7-10

The prophet Isaiah revealed many things that are yet to take place, including the millennial period, when the Jewish missionaries will go from Jerusalem to evangelize the world, telling all men that Christ reigns in Zion. While this prophecy was partially fulfilled in the book of Romans, it will be manifested in full, during that millennial period. During this same period, “all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God” (vs.10b). Salvation is more than simply accepting God in our hearts, but it’s witnessing God’s amazing power, working on the behalf of those who are committed to His will and purpose. The world cannot see the changed lives of all who are dedicated to God, but they will see His “bare, holy arm” manifested in the eyes of every nation.

There is coming a time, when this evil world will be judged, with all the inhabitants in it. God laid the foundation of how man is expected to live, in order to obtain eternal life. While some have taken advantage of the opportunity to dismiss sin from their lives, and exchange it for the mysteries of God, others willingly, and stubbornly reject the only One who can make their eternal existence relevant. God made salvation available for all men, even those who lived consistently in disobedience, because His grace is sufficient, and His love will embrace all who welcome Him into their hearts.

Knowing, and seeing how the Bible has already fulfilled most of what it predicted, men should have a greater desire to only do those things which are pleasing to God. How sad it will be for those who reject God now, to see that His words were indeed true, but on judgment day. In the same way the rich man, who refused to show love to a feeble and destitute Lazarus, asked for help while in hell, I can imagine how many people will beg and plead for God to show them mercy, when it’s too late.

When a hurricane is predicted to hit Florida, I watch how people scurry, and run rampant, in and out of stores to buy supplies that may be necessary to endure the storm, if it hits. People spend money, loading up on food, water, gas for generators, impact windows, and the whole nine yards, just to be sure they’ll last through the storm. I lower my head in sadness, wondering why won’t people prepare the same way for Christ’s return. This life is temporary; more like a dress rehearsal before the main show, so how we live today, will determine whether or not we’ll be on the right side of judgment, during the millennial reign of Christ.

“Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14-15).

Walk in love,

Ell

Jesus heralds the centurion’s faith

Luke 7:1-10

The older I get, the more I see the values of men change. Gone are the days when character meant something; when men praised each other more for rendering acts of kindness, rather than selfish accomplishments. Men today take more pride in flaunting their muscles, money, and influence, rather than allow their godly attributes like faith and love, to speak on their behalf. God is never impressed by things that bring glory to ourselves, but He takes pleasure in watching us work our faith, so that He can get glory out of our lives.

In our text, Jesus was impressed by a man who had greater faith than anyone in all Israel. How honorable it is to be considered one who has the greatest level of faith, than everyone in your country! Even during Bible days, men were known by their wealth and prestige, yet rarely were men praised for their good name. The man responsible for grabbing Jesus’ attention was a centurion, who had a servant suffering from a near-death illness, and was in need of a miraculous healing. Jesus had a knack of always being in the right place, at the right time (the omnipresent power of God probably led Him where He needed to be), and met the needs of all who came to Him in faith.

A centurion was a Roman military leader who commanded up to 100 soldiers. Unlike many who take pride in their positions of power, the centurion felt unworthy to have Jesus enter his home. He also felt unworthy to come where Jesus was. There first step in receiving a miracle from God is, keeping oneself in the state of humility, realizing that the Lord is more likely to bless those who reverence His power and authority, over those who boast in their own. Jesus moved at the words of the faithful centurion, and sent healing where his servant was. 🎡🎢 Faith, faith, faith, just a little more faith 🎢🎡

Walk in love,

Ell

Jesus raises the widow’s son

Luke 7:11-17

One thing society lacks today that continues to sow discord among individuals is, the lack of compassion. The Bible prophesied, “that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection…” Without natural affection can be translated to, lack of compassion. Love moves the believer to become sensitive to the needs of others. Jesus even taught that we are to first love God, then love our neighbors as we love ourselves, but for years men have been desensitized and brainwashed by what’s portrayed on TV and movie screens that have changed the way they are to naturally care for others.

The average TV show or movie supports individualism, over the concept of collectivism. God made billions of people, not to inhabit the earth living in a box, or shell, but to work together as a community, in order to accomplish those things He desires of them. Unfortunately, the minds of men have been changed from showing natural affection to one another, to avoiding each other. How often do you pull over to help someone stranded on the side of the road (I’m aware, these days you have to be mindful of that, because of the changing times)? Even if you are unable to assist someone, does your heart feel for them, when you see they’re in need?

God made us just as He is, capable of feeling for others, but the devil works diligently to change that natural affection by causing men to think more about themselves, rather than the needs of those less fortunate. Jesus, the Son of the living God, and Savior of the whole world, had every opportunity to be selfish, and ignore the fact that many needed His power, but His heart was pure, and He found pleasure in meeting the needs of others, knowing they could do nothing to return the favor.

An example of Jesus’ compassion took place in our lesson, where He saw a dead man being carried out of the city to be buried, then He changed the entire scene. Picture this (if you’re a woman): You marry the man of your dreams, live a happy life, bear a beautiful son, husband supports you and the family with no issues, husband dies, son grows up as your only means of support and protection, son dies, and is being carried away to the graveyard, as you walk slowly behind in agony and tears. That must have been a hard path to walk, but the widow woman was left to bear the struggles of life alone. Fortunately, for her, Jesus was nearing the gate of the city, then noticed the crowd of people following closely behind the men who were carrying the dead body, and the weeping mother as well. “And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.” In the next verse, Jesus touched the bier, or frame of the bed resembling a coffin, then said, “Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.” The man sat up, begin to speak, then was delivered to his mother. That was love in full force! There are some people who can only off words of comfort, but Jesus offered words, along with action.

Oh, how I love Jesus, because He loves us without condition, and wants the best for everyone! What I find confusing is, those who claim to be Christians, hardly ever show acts of compassion. Too often are they consumed with making their own lives better, while neglecting to help their struggling brothers and sisters they see on a daily basis. Our love is not measured on how often we say it, but how often we show it. Let love lead you to care for others, as you would care for yourself.

Walk in love,

Ell

Faith is expressed through actions

Luke 6:46-49

Just as a fish would eventually die in the absence of water, faith without works is dead. Faith is believing in something, even before it manifests. As believers, we hope for things God promised to bless us with in our lifetime, and our faith is proven through our works. Throughout the Scriptures, God promised to sustain His people, strengthen them when they are weak, renew their strength, give them an expected end, be with them through all trials and struggles, give them everlasting life, and be patient, faithful, and compassionate with them.

Before receiving from God, we must first believe that He is able to do those things which He promised. After believing, the next step of faith is performing works that validate your belief. Farmers don’t plant seeds, then expect them to sprout on their own strength. Instead, they nurture the seeds, giving them fertilizer and water, while keeping them exposed to sufficient sunlight. They have faith that the seed will grow, but they also do the works that make growth possible. In the same sense, believers have faith that God will do what He promised, but their works should prove that faith, until the promise is manifested. For example, God promised that if we ask, seek, and knock then we’ll receive, find, and have doors opened to us. All of the prerequisites for receiving require work. If you prayed to God for a better job, but refuse to search for it, your supposed prayer of faith is immediately nullified. The body of Christ is required to work their faith, proving that they truly believe in the power of God to provide for them, as well as revealing their commitment to His Word.

Our lesson text gives a perfect example of faith in action. Those who obey the Word of God are compared to a man who built a house upon a solid foundation. This house was so firmly established, until even floods, and streams of water couldn’t shake it. When we believe God for a thing, then couple that belief with consistent works, there’s nothing anyone can do to hinder you from receiving your blessings from God. On the contrary, when we say we believe God from our “soup coolers”, but no works are attached, this is compared to one who built his house upon the earth, with no foundation. I’m sure you can picture in your mind what that would look like, and the likelihood of that house withstanding any type of severe weather. Jesus said, when streams of water beat on this house, it fell immediately, and had great ruin.

When a man sincerely trusts in the Lord with all his heart, he’ll never lean to his own understanding, because he’ll make sure to live every day in expectation of the things God promised to give him. When we pray to God, then plan things just in case God doesn’t come through, this proves that our trust isn’t totally in Him. While I’m not against planning, nor preparing just in case, I’m only reaffirming that if God promised to do something for you, and you take efforts to plan until your promise comes, then it’ll fit snug and perfect in your life when He delivers it.

Waiting to receive from God won’t always be easy, but the reward will far outweigh the wait. In those moments when you feel like giving up, or that God may have forgotten about you, consider all the people around the world who have greater struggles than yourself, yet trust God regardless. God never forgets us, but monitors how we respond during our tests of faith. God wants us to be strong and very courageous during our struggles, Just as Jesus was when He hung from the Cross. Our situations may look bad for a season, but after our suffering, there will be unspeakable joy in our hearts, peace in our minds, and strength like we’ve never experienced.

1 Peter 5:10 – But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle [you].

James 1:12 – Blessed [is] the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

Romans 12:12 – Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

1 Corinthians 10:13 – There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].

John 16:33 – These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Walk in love,

Ell

Bartimaeus healed by faith

Mark 10:46-52

If Jesus was here today, walking, teaching, healing, and proclaiming the goodness of God, how would this new generation receive Him? I strongly believe Christ would be rejected the same today, if not worse, than He was during the days of old. Technology has caused men to become lazy, and distracted from staying focused on the things of God, and people have turned away from following after righteousness, to clinging more to things of the world.

Jesus was all God, wrapped in human flesh, so everything He did was only to draw men unto Himself, in hopes of changing their hearts. Some followed and believed the message of Christ, others were healed by His power, while a large number opposed His message, because of selfish and wicked reasons. Despite being rejected by some, even those from His hometown, Jesus had no issue tending to the needs of those who came to Him, but He had moments where His attention was directed solely on certain individuals who exhibited unprecedented faith. For example, the woman who had a blood issue for twelve years, pressed her way through pain, shame, embarrassment, and crowds of people, just to touch the clothes Jesus wore, because her faith led her to believe, the healing power of Jesus could flow even through His garments. The centurion had enough faith to believe that Jesus could pray from a distance, and his servant would be healed. These are just a few examples of Bible characters who had enough faith to make Jesus marvel.

Our text introduces blind Bartimaeus, who heard Jesus was passing by, as he sat on the side of the road begging. It’s not hard to imagine how those who are destitute, and left to suffer, dream of miracles night and day, because most people pass by them often, seeing them holding “help me” signs, and asking for spare change. I often wish I could simply touch each one of them, and rid them of their sickness, disease, and poverty, but I do what I can to help some of them get through the day. Jesus heard the blind man cry loud to Him, then wondered who it was. After being shushed by those in the crowd (I HATE being shushed; I’m a grown man), Bartimaeus cried even louder lol. I love that guy. Never allow anyone to keep you from getting to Jesus, even of it annoys them. Trying to keep the man quiet while he reached out for a blessing proved that the people didn’t mind him being left in his condition. Once Jesus connects with your faith, there’s nothing anyone can do to sever that connection. Jesus called for the blind man, asked for his request, granted that request, then acknowledged that his faith was responsible for his healing.

I often express that faith is what moves God to act on our behalf, so it’s important to grasp this concept, and implement it in our daily lives, so that we can begin to enjoy the full benefits of being a child of the God of all creation.

Walk in love,

Ell

Believers are blessed

Galatians 3:6-9

Belief in God, and the words written in Scripture, allows for one to be justified, so long as that belief is coupled with faith, and good works. Belief in God alone doesn’t bring justification, because even devils believe there is one God, and even tremble at the fact, yet they lack the faith necessary to be counted as righteous unto God. God knows the hearts of men, and whether or not they’ll allow what they believe to push them to go after righteousness.

Abraham believed God, and his belief was accounted to, or equivalent to righteousness. Not only did Abraham believe in God, but his obedience to God’s words validated his confession. Nothing has changed from the days of Abraham, until now, in reference to faith, belief, and justification, so all who believe in the God of Abraham, and have faith in His Word, are also justified, and counted as righteous. We are living in a time where those who are the righteousness of God, fail to see their true value, because of the many distractions in this life, but believers are indeed blessed, despite what circumstances they experience. Unfortunately, many focus more on man’s opinion of who they are, rather than God’s. Although ungodly men can, at times, do good things, they’ll eventually care more for themselves in the end.

God made everyone special, but those who dedicate their lives to Him, will experience life in ways they could never imagine! Throughout Scripture, you’ll discover countless men and women who’s lives were lived to the fullest, simply by staying true to God. A few include Abraham, Esther, Job, king David, the twelve disciples, and many others. Look at your life for a moment, and consider how blessed you really are, since giving your heart to God. You may not be rich, or famous, but in the eyes of God you are wonderful!

Walk in love,

Ell