Archive for January, 2010

The True Christ is the Christ of Truth

Daily God Walk for Monday, January 18, 2009

Jesus answered, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” – Matthew 24:4-5

 There were religious zealots when Jesus walked on earth just as there are today. The Jews had their share of radical zealots who claimed to be the Messiah and who had caused such a stir that Rome had to send in troops to subdue their followers. Jesus was not the first to be executed for claiming to be Christ.

Rome’s tolerance for local religions was a two sided coin. On one side it helped appease the people and on the other side it inspired radical zealots to attempt overthrowing the government.

We have seen our share of those claiming to be the Christ in modern times and have seen the devastation that has caused. In this passage Jesus was warning that there would be no more deliverers to come after him. All who claimed to be who he was would be false and would be considered antichrist.

One of the reasons Jesus didn’t go around claiming to be Christ, except when he was questioned, was that he wanted to show the people that he was more than just a man making claims. At one point he said, “If you don’t believe me for the words sake, believe me because of the miracles you see me do.”

We have been setting the stage for getting an understanding of the political times into which Jesus was born, but in truth, there was little difference between then and now. We must be just as careful today that we are not carried away by the doctrine of some religious zealot who leads people away from the simple saving message of Jesus, the Christ of Redemption.

Just as Jesus reached the people with a simple message that was confirmed by signs and wonders, so we must today influence our generation. Not with eloquence, or better arguments, but with the power of the Holy Spirit.

 Principle:  Jesus was the Christ of truth and power.

 Affirmation:  I am convinced that Jesus is the true Christ of God.

 Prayer:  Lord, help me to be aware of the false Christs around and their doctrines that can lead me astray. In Jesus name, amen.

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The Temple Herod Built

Daily God Walk for Sunday, January 17, 2009

  Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another, every one of them will be thrown down.”    – Luke 21:5-6

 There had been three temples in Jerusalem. The first was Solomon’s and it was the most magnificent. Next was Zerubbabal’s temple that was built at the end of the Babylonian exile. That temple was desecrated and destroyed by the Greeks and the Romans. The third temple was built by Herod, often called Herod the Great.

It was the custom of Rome to encourage people they had conquered to continue practicing their religion. Roman leaders felt that if they granted religious freedom it would give them more control over the people. That strategy led Herod to rebuild the temple as a memorial to his leadership and commitment to the people.

Unfortunately, he was not as gracious as he might seem. Even though he had built the temple he was wicked and intolerant. It was this Herod who ordered all of the infants in Bethlehem killed after his visit by the wise men from the east.

Jesus was standing near the temple with his disciples and they were speaking graciously of the temple that was dedicated to God. But Jesus knew this was not the true temple of God. In fact, this temple represented all that religion is. It was the work of man to make a show of his respect for religion.

Jesus knew this temple was nothing but a gathering of stones and the true temple of God was about to be destroyed, but it would be rebuilt after three days. From the resurrection of the Christ the temple of God has not been made with stone and mortar but his true temple is built in the heart of man.

Man’s temples can be destroyed, but the temple not made with human hands is eternal; such a temple we are.

 Principle: The true temple of God is in the hearts of believers.  

 Affirmation: I have believed in Christ therefore I am the temple of God

 Prayer:  Lord, help me to be a vessel worthy to be your temple. Amen.

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The Stage Is Set For The Christ

Daily God Walk Saturday, January 16, 2009

 Although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.    – Romans 1:21

 Nebuchadnezzar’s dream tells the story of the inability of human government to sustain lasting peace. It outlines the political ages of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. The final part of the statue he saw was the feet made of clay and iron. Many believe that was the Roman empire divided and about to crumble.

Under the rule of godless leaders, many of whom set themselves up as gods to be worshiped, the world had fallen into a terrible state of debauchery. Not only was wickedness rampant, there were whole religious societies that practiced despicable sexual depravities.

Paul, in writing to the church at Rome, was addressing the wicked state man had fallen to. Read the progression of man’s fall:

V21 – Although they knew God they didn’t recognize him.

V22 – Claiming wisdom they became fools.

V24 – God gave them over in the sinful desires of their heart.

V25 – They exchanged the truth of God for a lie.

V26 – God gave them over to shameful lusts.

V28 – God gave them over to a depraved mind.

This is the world that Jesus, the Christ of Redemption was born into. It was a world where mankind had fallen far from grace. Even the Jews, who maintained doctrinal purity, had lost the truth of their calling. Jesus called their leaders, “Whited sepulchers full of dead men’s bones.”

It is no wonder Jesus wept when he saw Jerusalem steeped in religion and the rest of the world ruled by their sinful desires. The stage of the world had been set for the coming of one who would be the Christ of Redemption and who would reconcile mankind to God.

Jesus, the Christ of Redemption, is the answer to world peace. Men have failed to bring lasting peace – But God has offered eternal peace through Christ. His government is a government of peace.

 Principle:  Jesus, the Christ of Redemption is the answer to world peace.

 Affirmation:  I seek peace by seeking God through Christ.

 Prayer: Grant me wisdom to seek peace through you and not through human means. In Jesus name, amen.

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Daniel Sees The Eternal Kingdom

  Daily God Walk Friday, January 15, 2009

 In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.                    – Daniel 2:44

King Nebuchadnezzar had a disturbing dream that he felt needed interpretation. None of his astrologers or wise men could bring an acceptable interpretation. He had sent out the order to kill all of the wise men who couldn’t interpret his dream and Daniel had heard about all of this. The entire second chapter of Daniel tells this story.

Daniel prayed and God revealed both the dream itself and the interpretation of the dream to him. The dream was of a huge statue that had a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, and legs of iron. The feet were mixed clay and iron. This was a disturbing dream indeed.

God revealed to Daniel that the statue represented four major kingdoms. The first was that of Nebuchadnezzar, the second would be his successor, who many scholars believe is the Medo-Persian empire. The bronze portion of the statue was thought to be Greece and the Iron was believed to be Rome.

The final part of the dream revealed that a rock would come rolling down and destroy these kingdoms. This rock would become a mountain that filled the entire world and the kingdom it established would be an eternal kingdom.

The message we get from this story is that Jesus, the Christ is the rock that destroys all those forces that oppose the living God and that he has established an eternal kingdom, one that endures through all of man’s kingdoms and governments.

Jesus, the Christ of Redemption, has established his kingdom in a place that cannot be reached by enemies of the kingdom. His  kingdom is in the hearts of those who will believe  him.

 Principle: The kingdom of Christ is in the hearts of believers.

 Affirmation:  My life is hid in the life of Christ and in his kingdom.

 Prayer:  Lord, grant me the grace to continue steadfast in the principles of your kingdom of the heart. In Jesus name, amen.

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A Star Is Born

Daily God Walk for Thursday, January 14, 2009

 Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”      – Matthew 2:1-2

 The birth of Jesus, the Christ of Redemption, was so significant that it was marked by a star in the heavens. Wise men from other countries saw the star and determined that something so significant had taken place that the makeup of the universe had been altered.

There cannot be enough emphasis placed upon the importance of the birth of Jesus, the Christ. He was not only the hope of Israel but he was, and is, the hope of the entire world. Yes, indeed, a star was born.

We must not only realize the value the birth of the Christ but we must also realize the value of the work he would do. His purpose was not just to be a star, but it ws to enable every believer to become a star.

Peter wrote of the hope of the morning star rising in our hearts (2Peter 1:19). Paul writes in Philippians, “So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the univers as  you hold out the word of life” (2:15-16). These men were writing of the value that God places in believers and the hope he has in them.

It is true that no one person has affected mankind the way Jesus, the Christ has. Without the Christ of Redemption there is no hope of becoming the people God originally intended us to be, but with him we become the very reflection of the heart of God.

Because of faith in Christ countless millions have been helped through the ages. Hospitals have built in his name; orphanages have been built in his name; universities have been established to train men and women to be Christ to the world; millions of hungry people around the world are fed in his name. A star was born in Bethlehem.

Yes, a star was born in Bethlehem, but the purpose of that star could not be realized without the millions of stars who follow him.

 Principle: The star of Bethlehem has produced many stars.

 Affirmation:  By grace I am becoming a star of righteousness.

 Prayer:  Lord, I humbly accept the calling to hold out the 

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Bethlehem, A Village With Promise

Daily God Walk for Wednesday, January 13, 2009

 But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come forth one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.   – Micah 5:2

 

Jerusalem is the center of Jewish influence. That is where the palaces of kings were. Jerusalem is where the temple was built. The Christ should have been born in that place which is easily recognized as the center of Judaism. But he was born in Bethlehem.

The Christ was not only born in Bethlehem, a small, rural village, he was born in a manger. He did not have royal attendants and royal cloths to be wrapped in at his birth; rather he was born in a stable where animals were kept and was wrapped in whatever could be found to cover him.

We should not be amazed at the way he entered the world because it was in keeping with the way God has approached man. It is the way of man to choose the best and reach for status; it is the way of God to choose the least and demonstrate to the world that his work does not depend on great men, just faithful men.

Look at who God chose to lead; Moses a reclusive shepherd, David, just a boy tending his father’s sheep, Esther a Jewish girl held captive in a foreign land. The list is long but over and over again God chose the weak things of this world to confound the wise.

So, Jesus the Christ of Redemption was to be born in this small and insignificant village of Bethlehem. God still dwells among the small and insignificant to demonstrate his own greatness.  In our lifetime there was Billy Graham, a farm boy, Oral Roberts, a country preacher, and others we don’t have space to mention.

What does this mean to you and me? God can use us too. In fact, he is looking for willing vessels, just like you and I to prove to the world that he is great and he desires to restore all men to himself.

 Principle:  God is looking for willing vessels to show himself to man.

 Affirmation:  I am working at being a faithful, willing vessel for Him.

 Prayer:  Lord, I thank you for the Christ who was born in the humble town of Bethlehem. Amen.

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A New Kind of Government

Daily God Walk for Tuesday, January 12, 2009

 To us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.    – Isaiah 9:6-7

 The prophet again speaks of a child yet to be born who would bring peace. And, again, this child would be recognized as God. This child would have the government of the kingdom of God upon his shoulders. He would be the Prince of Peace, the one with the only message that will bring peace to mankind.

Jewish leaders had hoped for peace for many generations. The problem was that they could only see peace through conquering the oppressor with force. They never dreamed of a kingdom being established by offering unconditional peace, but that is what this child yet to be born would offer.

He would bring peace that had no end. This would not be a peace that lasted until another war, or another assault, this was a peace that could not be affected by any circumstances in the physical realm. The peace that he brought was peace with God and peace with our inner person. This peace is spiritual peace.

The only lasting peace is the peace that comes from within a person. As long as my peace depends upon what another does I will not have lasting peace. As long as the peace of a people depends upon the will of a human government there will not be lasting peace.

The American system of government is thought to be the best there is in the world. In fact, many countries have followed this pattern of government. Yet, we are involved in wars on foreign lands. We often negotiate peace that is only as good as the intentions of the next leader. We are filled with inner turmoil.

What hope does the world have if the world’s best government cannot produce lasting peace?  Our hope is in the Prince of Peace.

 Principle:  Lasting peace comes from the Prince of Peace.

 Affirmation:  I have peace because of faith in the Prince of Peace

 Prayer:  Lord, I have no confidence in the ability of this world system to give lasting peace. Bless us with your everlasting peace. Amen.

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It Took A Miracle

Daily God Walk for Monday, January 11, 2009

The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.   – Isaiah 7:14

 God had been trying for over 1000 years to show the descendants of Abraham the way to being reconciled to himself, but they didn’t have it in them to follow his way. He gave them a set of rules to follow, and they couldn’t keep them. He gave them priests to offer sacrifices of atonement for them and the priests became corrupted. He gave them prophets and they were not accepted. He gave them kings and they became self-serving. Was there ever going to be an answer for them?

Even when the Jews were in failure, and in the midst of warning them of judgment to come, God always left a door open of restoration. In times of despair God would offer them hope. In this passage is saying that even though they were in rebellion against his way, he would give them a sign of his intent to reconcile man to himself.

“The Lord himself will give you a sign. The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” They may not have understood what God was saying, but those on this side of the timeline which marks the birth of Christ know what he was saying.

Immanuel, God with us. God himself was to be born into the family of man from the womb of a woman who had not known a man. In a miraculous birth God would present himself the answer to the dilemmas man faced. God would become a man so that through the life, death, and resurrection of the God-man all of mankind would have access to reconciliation to God.

Through Immanuel, God with us, whom we know as Jesus, the Christ of Redemption, believers from all nations are reconciled to God. Because we are reconciled to right relationship with God the Holy Spirit has been released to us to renew our spirit man so that we can become fully restored to the person God intended us to be.

To that I can only say, “Hallelujah.”

 Principle: Through Immanuel believers from all nations are reconciled

 Affirmation:  I am reconciled through Immanuel, God who is with me

 Prayer:  Thank you for the birth of Immanuel, Jesus the Christ of Redemption and for the work of reconciliation he did for us. Amen. 

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Christ Would Be A Branch From Jesse

Daily God Walk for Sunday, January 10, 2009

 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him…In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.     – Isaiah 11:1,2,10

As is the case with many prophecies this one has at least two applications. When we read Isaiah chapter 11 in its entirety we see an obvious application to the return of Jews to Jerusalem and Judea. As we look more closely we can see that even that event does not address the whole prophecy.

A common phrase with which many prophecies begin is, “In that day…” Often the reference is to a future date when the kingdom of God is reestablished on earth.

This particular prophecy extends beyond the Jews to “the nations.” We have looked at the promised redeemer being born of a woman (Genesis3); he would be from the lineage of Abraham (Genesis 22); he would be born of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49); and in this passage as in other place, from the house of David.

Another factor that is consistent in all of the prophecies is that the blessing would be to the nations. Another common factor is that this kingdom would be one of peace, of rest and the poor would receive justice. It spoke of a time when love would rule.

The Jews missed the Christ because they were looking for one who would conquer with force. They saw the nations subdued and being ruled from Jerusalem. They missed the purposes of God entirely.

The purpose of God is that through faith in Jesus, the Christ of Redemption, all of mankind is reconciled to right relationship with him. Because of that right relationship believers have access to the Spirit of renewal and restoration. God wants to restore man to himself completely and he made that available to us through faith in the finished work of Christ.

 Principle: The purpose of God is to reconcile mankind to himself.

 Affirmation: I am reconciled to God through faith in Christ.

 Prayer: Father, I am grateful for this root of Jesse, this branch from the house of David that has given me access to you. Amen.

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Christ Would Be the Lion of Judah

Daily God Walk for Saturday, January 9, 2009

 You are a lion’s cub. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness – who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.    – Genesis 49:8-10 

There are two pictures drawn in this passage of the promised redeemer. First, there is the picture of the lion; the strong and fearsome beast that is looked to as a king among animals. Then there is the scepter, or the ruler’s staff which was the sign of royal leadership.

This imagery seems to project that at some point one would be born in the lineage of Judah who would be a king that would bring people from all nations into obedience.

Because it is the nature of man to think of peace in terms of the stronger ruling over the weaker the family to whom this prophecy was given began to look for one to come who would be as ferocious as a lion and who would subdue the nations making them obedient to him.

That was the picture of the Messiah/deliverer that the Jews had when Jesus was born. They were looking for one who would by force establish Jerusalem as the place from which the world would be brought into obedience to this lion like king.

The primary reason the leaders of the Jews did not recognize Jesus as the messiah was because he did not come according to their expectation. Christ came to bring peace, but the peace he was bringing would not be established with the sword but be established by love.

Jesus came to be the Christ of redemption, opening the door to man being restored in his relationship to God. Once reconciled to God through faith in Christ, we voluntarily submit to his rule and become obedient to his purposes.

The obedience of faith is from the heart and no act of force or violence can produce that kind of obedience. Faith in Christ releases God’s love and peace to believers.

 Principle: Faith in Christ releases God’s love and peace to believers.

 Affirmation: My faith in Christ has released God’s love to me.

 Prayer:  Lord, grant me grace to accept your lordship in my life. Amen.

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Paul ”Hope Preacher” Smith

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