Is there Christianity without our Living, Loving, the Life of Christ? John 13:34-35

John 13:34-35 Amplified Bible

34 I am giving you a new commandment, that you [a]love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.”

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

There is something Jesus said that I want you to seriously think about.

Jesus said to those who followed Him: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

As we see a war-torn nations–a nations which are economically, socially, and politically sick and pained with out of control poverty, oppressed, confused and bewildered–we have to believe that this is the hour for the church to speak out.

This is the hour for the the Body of Christ, the church, to show forth the love and grace of God in Christ!

This is the hour for the nations to hear Christ saying throughout the church, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

There is something Jesus said I want you to seriously, severely think a lot about.

Jesus said to those who followed Him: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

That verse of Scripture is tremendously important at this hour in history.

In another part of the Bible we find the same thing stated by John:

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:7-10).

The Bible repeatedly declares in no uncertain terms we who follow Jesus Christ should be just as much in love with each other, without exception, as God was in love with us when He sent His Son to die on the cross.

I want you to see what it means to love as God loves, because the Bible says, “God is love” (1 John 4:16).

The basic attribute of God is holiness, but love is another basic attribute of God.

It is a part of God’s nature to love, and all who know Jesus Christ as Savior also have this supernatural love instilled within their hearts by the Holy Spirit.

The greatest demonstration of the fact we are Christians is we love one another.

1 Corinthians 13, we have first a description of a man who does not possess love.

The Apostle Paul emphatically says,

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1).

The Late Reverend Dr. Billy Graham puts it succinctly ….

“In other words, suppose I could speak with the oratorical strength of a William Jennings Bryan. Suppose I could speak with cryptic language like Winston Churchill. Suppose I could speak with the power of Franklin Roosevelt, in which he used to sway an entire nation in war and in peace. Suppose I could sing opera like the great Enrico Caruso. Suppose I had a thousand tongues that could speak a thousand languages all at the same time. The Bible says all that is nothing, and I am nothing, unless I have this divine, supernatural love that God gives.

The apostle Paul goes on to write,

Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge … but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2).

“I could be a man of tremendous knowledge; I could understand all the mysteries and all of history, and be able to put all the patterns together. I could know the Bible from one end to the other; memorize thousands of verses of Scripture. I could be a great Bible teacher; I could even be a preacher from the pulpit–and have not love. I know people in this country who are conservative in their theology–people who would die contending for the inspiration of the Bible–and yet there is so little love. I might know the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, but if I had not love, it would mean absolutely nothing in the sight of God.

“I might be a man of great faith. The Bible says that I might have faith so that I could move mountains, but if I have not love, it is nothing. Suppose I could stand here today and say to that mountain, “Move into the sea,” and it would move! You would say, “Well, Billy Graham is certainly a man of tremendous faith to pray a mountain into the sea.” The Bible says that is absolutely nothing unless my faith is tempered with love.”

“I could be a man of great charity. The Bible says, “though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor … it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3) unless I have this divine love that God gives. I could give everything I have to charity, but if the motive were not divine love, it means nothing in the sight of almighty God.”

Here in this country we give billions of dollars away, but sometimes I wonder if our motive is not selfish. We are always asking the other nations and the other people, “What return is America going to get?” The motive of all giving and all charity should be love. I could also be a man of consuming zeal. Paul continues, “though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3). Suppose I were like many Korean pastors during the Korean War. Seventeen hundred Korean pastors paid with their blood for their faith in Jesus Christ. Suppose I died at a stake or was shot for my faith in Jesus Christ. You would say, “Billy Graham is a man of consuming zeal. He died as a martyr.” God says it is nothing, unless I am filled with the love of God.”

What a brilliant life this man lived–this mythical man the Bible describes. He was a man of eloquence, knowledge, power, charity, zeal, but the Bible says he was absolutely nothing without love.”

“What a powerful thing love must be! How much stock God puts in love.”

“You say, “Well, Billy, what do you mean by love? What is a demonstration of love?” We have it demonstrated in 1 Corinthians 13. This might cut some of us to the heart. It is going to probe down deep, because one thing that the church of Christ in America lacks is the demonstration of love, and Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

This love that the Bible is talking about in 1 Corinthians 13 “suffers long” (verse 5). In other words, it is patient. It is kind. It “does not envy.” There is no jealousy in this divine love that God gives. It “does not parade itself.” It is “not puffed up,” gives itself no airs. It is a love that demands humility. It never pushes itself to the top, never tries to promote itself, never tries to advertise itself. It is always in the background, truly humble. The thing that we need in the church today is genuine, old-fashioned humility.

Then, again in 1 Corinthians 13:5, the Bible says love “does not behave rudely.” It is always courteous and gracious at every turn. It “seeks not its own,” is never selfish. God looks after you, and you are to look after others, the Bible says. It is not easily provoked–not touchy or irritable. If people have to handle you with kid gloves, have to watch out what they say to you, you don’t know anything about this love that God is talking about.”

Love “thinks no evil” (1 Corinthians 13:5). It never holds a grudge–never has malice. It rejoices not in iniquity, but in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). It is never glad when another falls. I know so many Christians today who, when they hear that another Christian has fallen, say, “Isn’t that too bad?” but they don’t mean it! They are happy that the other Christian has fallen because that places them just a little higher on the ladder of estimation in other people’s eyes.”

“Then the Bible says that this love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). It is slow to expose the evils and faults in others. It is eager to believe the best, and it is always hopeful and optimistic concerning the future. The Bible teaches that love is greater than faith and hope (1 Corinthians 13:13). Love is the greatest thing in all the world.

I will never forget when singer and composer Redd Harper came to Christ in Hollywood. He said that to him the most amazing and thrilling thing after he came to Christ was this fact: “I found that I loved everybody, no matter what race or color or creed they might be. I just wanted to go hug the whole world.”

“When radio broadcaster Stuart Hamblen came to Christ, he said the same thing: “I fell in love with the whole world. There were certain people who had different racial characteristics from myself that I did not like before I was converted, but after I gave my heart to Christ, I fell in love with every one of them.”

Only this divine love that God gives will make us love others, and before we have revival in America we must have that kind of love among God’s people.”

However, the greatest demonstration of love was God sending His own Son to die for you. You did not deserve to have Him die for you. You are a sinner!”

“The Bible says that you know nothing about this love if you are outside of Christ. It is impossible for you to have this divine love, because it is a gift of God only to those who love Christ.”

But–God loves you! It makes no difference how deep in the mire of sin and transgression you have gone. God loves you today! He proved it by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for you on the cross.”

“At this exact moment you can receive Christ into your heart. God will give you this supernatural love until you too love the whole world. That is the solution to the international problems that we face at this hour. It is the solution to your personal problems–to let Jesus Christ come in. When Jesus Christ comes in, His love comes in, His Life enters in, the love of God shines out everywhere you are.

Romans 5:8-10Amplified Bible

But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Therefore, since we have now been justified [declared free of the guilt of sin] by His blood, [how much more certain is it that] we will be saved from the [a]wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, it is much more certain, having been reconciled, that we will be saved [from the consequences of sin] by His life [that is, we will be saved because Christ lives today].

I am reminded of the comprehensiveness of these words by so renowned a preacher, teacher, the stature, influence of Late Reverend Dr. Billy Graham.

Indeed, when I remind myself of them from time to time by reading, listening to his evangelistic crusades on the internet and You Tube, I am reminded of one more truth – as much as these words continually reach me, and I pray would too reach you the reader of this blog, “If I had not the love of Jesus in my heart ….?”

The same love of Jesus which He had in His Heart to do what He did for us …..

Even though we were at constant enmity with each other and with Him too …..

What then is “My Christianity?”

What then is my “Sermon in Shoes?”

— Turn the Volume of Your Computer or Your Phone to MAXIMUM! —

MY CHRISTIANITY ABSENT MY LIVING THE LOVE OF CHRIST.
MY CHRISTIANITY ABSENT MY LOVING THE LIVING CHRIST?

Christianity absent Living and Loving the Living Love of Christ is pointless! 

It is infinitely worse than nothing, it negatively affects the world around us. 

Have you ever had someone talk at you? 

Not talk to you or with you, but at you. 

Where it becomes evident that the person that is supposed to be conversing with you is not actually involving you in the exchange. 

They are just expressing their love of and preoccupation with themselves all over you. 

It is like a verbal vomiting attack. 

They have no interest in any response from you or your feeling about what they are saying.

They are just in getting their “two cents worth” out of what they want to say.

How does that make you feel?

It is really hard to have any interest in the subject that person is talking at you about, right? 

You want to pull the ripcord and get out of there as quickly as you can. 

Loved is just about the last emotion that comes to mind, isn’t it? 

This is Christianity without love. 

It is lots of words and thoughts coming at people, but it is missing the part that makes it alive and vibrant.

Have you ever heard a really unpleasant noise? 

Like hearing someone scratch their nails on a chalkboard or the sound of a dentist’s drill in your ear as they stand over you and drill out your tooth. 

It is terrible, terrifying, annoying and effects you down to your very bones. 

The louder it gets the worse it is.

This is the picture of religion without love from the Bible. 

Christianity is no exception. 

It is an expression of selfishness that comes off as really monstrously bothersome, unpleasant, unsettling and unnerving to those around. 

Yikes, it sounds kind of harsh, doesn’t it?

1 Corinthians 13:1-3Amplified Bible

The Excellence of Love

13 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not [a]love [for others growing out of God’s love for me], then I have become only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal [just an annoying distraction]. And if I have the gift of prophecy [and speak a new message from God to the people], and understand all mysteries, and [possess] all knowledge; and if I have all [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love [reaching out to others], I am nothing. If I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body [b]to be burned, but do not have love, it does me no good at all.

This is the idea that Paul is getting at in his first letter to the church at Corinth.

Paul is often called the Apostle to the Gentiles but it is even more obvious from his writings in this thirteenth chapter, that love is equally as important to him.

SAVIOR JESUS WITHOUT LOVE … IS NOT SAVIOR JESUS

Religiosity without love is nothing! 

It is also really annoying! 

This is what Paul says in these verses.

C’mon, say what you really mean Paul!

He compares loveless Christianity to two really annoying discordant sounds of his day.  

We don’t hear noisy gongs or clanging cymbals much today but the idea is something making a ton of noise and is deafening, jarring and irritating. 

Think of perhaps a fire engine’s siren, though less rhythmic. 

If the Apostle was writing today, he might have written if you don’t have love it is like a thousand nails moving up and down and all over upon the chalkboard. 

It is a sound that is clear and not easily misunderstood. 

One that is so wrong that no matter how loud you make it doesn’t come close to getting any better or less bothersome and irritating – it is just louder bad noise.

Paul was writing to Christians who were noisy gongs. 

Their lives had become so caught up in themselves they had lost sight of love in the following of Jesus. 

Their church was acting like 1000 ancient religious nails on the chalkboard.

Much like a person talking at you, they had made everything about them and their expressions of self. 

They were supposed to be following Jesus but in fact, their church was about their pride. 

Their faith was self-centered and self-serving.

Church became a contest to see who could speak the loudest or in the best tongue.

Without His Love, No One Sees Jesus…Even in Church

Since they made life all about them rather than Jesus, it was impossible for them to demonstrate true love for others. 

Loving yourself that much precludes loving others with any authenticity. 

You just care too much about taking care of yourself to care much for others.

The flesh is a greedy beast to feed.

The Corinthians were so prideful and self-focused in their walks with Jesus, even their use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit was worthless. 

Paul says it is nothing to prophesy or speak in tongues if we don’t have love.

Even worse, their actions were like the noisy gong or clanging cymbal. 

They were creating an unmistakable, discordant, and annoying impression for everyone around them. 

Paul goes so far as to say that it would have been better if they did not meet as a church for all the damage they were doing.

For their lack of love, they were changing the beauty of God’s own gifts given through His will through His Spirit into something worthless and off-putting.

What was meant to be the Body of Christ moving perfectly together throughout the known world to testify to God’s glory became one uncoordinated hot mess.  

Simultaneous Love for the Lord and love for each other is what is supposed to keep the Body of Christ in harmony. 

Since it was nowhere to be found, the Corinthian church was stumbling around like a newborn colt. 

They were doing a lot but not everyone would call it beautiful at the same time.

The Love of Christ, Love of His Life is Supposed to be our Calling Card

John 13:34-35Amplified Bible

34 I am giving you a new commandment, that you [a]love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.”

We may be shocked by this idea, or not shocked enough by this idea, but look around at some portions of the church today. 

You don’t have to go far on the internet to see pastors preaching with such anger and hatred, that what comes across is quite ugly and lacking in power.

There are others who are doctrinally sound but so intellectually focused that the Gospel that they preach comes across as being cold, aloof and forbidding. 

They have the truth of the Bible but without the love of God, it is creating and introducing and delivering a really confusing picture into where chaos reigns. 

They have lost sight of God’s love so they have completely lost the message brought to us by Jesus Himself.  For God so loved the world He sent His Son.

God is love. 

Jesus is God and is also therefore love. 

Jesus was sent into this world as a man because God so loved the world. 

Jesus said that the greatest commandments were to love God and love our neighbors while we are loving ourselves as God sacrificially first loved us. 

Jesus said that the world would know us as disciples by our love. 

Love is so essential to who God is and to what we are as Christians that Paul makes his really strong statement. 

Without love, even Christianity is nothing. 

We can never lose sight of love and still live the life that Jesus has for us in Him.

God is love. 

A life lived absent the first love of Christ, is a life without God prominently in it. 

So if we have gotten far down a path that looks like Christianity but is not filled with love, do a 180 degree turn – dare to turn around – to face God – facing you. 

If we are working really hard for the church but are doing it in anger and spite and resentment, or out of our “duty and obligation – that is, works” stop it. 

If we are so busy with “serving others” we have no time to love the people we are supposed to be serving…just stop. 

It profits us nothing and creates a jarring discordant sound. 

Only start again when we are able to say for certain that it is the love of Jesus compelling us and the love of the Holy Spirit coming through us.

No matter what it looks like to our eyes, if we don’t have love we are nothing.

Why? 

Great Question … I am very glad you asked it in such a Kairos timely manner!

1 John 4:7-8Amplified Bible

God Is Love

Beloved, let us [unselfishly] [a]love and seek the best for one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves [others] is born of God and knows God [through personal experience]. The one who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. [He is the originator of love, and it is an enduring attribute of His nature.]

Because Scripture is clear – if there is no love then Savior Jesus is not with us. 

He is love and brings love wherever He walks.

He is love and brings love wherever He Talks.

He is love and brings love wherever He Ministers to God’s Children.

We all want to be something, someone like Christ in the Body of Christ, right?

RIGHT?

How do you recognize Jesus’ followers?

How do you find Christians?

Jesus said they love each other just as he loved the disciples.

In the immediate context this means he is willing to give sacrificially and extravagantly by dying for them at the cross, and he is also willing to love selflessly and practically by washing every single one their “filthy” feet.

His ministry reveals he will do almost anything in between extravagant and practical.

Imagine if we all gathered in fellowship to read and study and pray the Gospels and committed to love each other in the same way Jesus first showed his love!

Envision that first Love displayed through yourselves and the Body of Christ.

What do you anticipate seeing?

What do you expectantly hope and pray to see?

What do you actually see?

BETTER YET … WHO DO YOU SEE?

So, for the sake of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Go Live and Live greatly! 

Go Love and Love greatly!

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Father of all Charity and Compassion and God of all grace, I thank you for teaching me to love through the words and teachings and example of my SAVIOR Jesus. May my words and actions reflect his love toward your people today, tomorrow, and until you bring us all home to you. In the name of Christ, my Great Example, I pray. Amen.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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The Divine Order of Things: Seeking the Lord Who Is our God: Walking, Living, Upon the Straight and the Narrow Path. Matthew 7:13-14

Matthew 7:13-14 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Entering the Kingdom

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. 14 How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

To a newspaper inquiry asking what is wrong with the world, the writer and philosopher and Christian Apologist and Literary Critic, G. K. Chesterton sent back the shortest letter the editor had ever received:

Dear Sir, Regarding your article “What’s wrong with the world?”—I am. Yours truly, G. K. Chesterton

This demonstrates a humility that is lacking in most people.

Frankly, most of us would much rather note to the utmost detail someone else’s shortcomings rather than their own.

However, it is worth a minute or two of our attention to note the first step to transformation is for us to discover our own faults and face up to our sins.

Rather than denying our failures and getting too defensive about the foolish choices we’ve made, we must admit we have wandered from God’s pathway.

The road to God is narrow.

The way of heaven is straight. 

I have learned this from reading, studying and praying over and through the Word of God and from personal experience, as well as from divine revelations. 

It is literally a straight and narrow path.

It is straighter, narrower, and more difficult than most Christians realize.

Let’s look at what the Scriptures say about this topic.

Straight is Jehovah God’s Divine Order

As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.'” (Luke 3:4-5)

“They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness.” (2 Peter 2:15)

“Who have left the straight paths to walk in dark ways,” (Proverbs 2:13)

“I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.” (Proverbs 4:11).

“He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.” (Psalm 107:7).

“In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:6).

“Whoever has understanding keeps a straight course.” (Proverbs 15:21b).

“Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” (Proverbs 4:27; cf., Joshua 1:7).

The apostle Paul said the ways of the Lord are straight (Acts 13:10).

The Scripture says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Also see the following Scriptures in the NASB version: Deuteronomy 32:5; Psalm 5:8. Psalm 18:26; 125:5; Proverbs. 2:15; 3:5-6; 8:9; 17:20; 21:8; 28:6, 18; Isaiah 40:3, 59:8; Ecclesiastes 7:13, Jeremiah 31:9, Ezekiel 1:9,12; 10:22; 46:9; Philippians 2:15.

Narrow is Jehovah God’s Divine Order

Rabbi Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But  small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14).

He said this at the end of His sermon on the mount, which summarizes the content of that sermon recorded in Matthew 5-7.

In that sermon, He taught that something you say can put you in danger of the fire of hell (Matthew 5:22).

The sin of adultery can be committed in your heart without even having physical contact with the other person (Matthew 5:28).

He taught the need for radical obedience to God at all costs (Matthew 5:29-30).

Indeed, it is not only our outward actions that must be perfect, but also our thoughts, motives, and words (Matthew 5:48).

As much as possible for any person, self must be denied, the body kept under subjection, corruptions put to death; temptations must be resisted on a daily basis; duties must be carried out that are against our natural tendencies.

We must wrestle, with ourselves, against cultural and worldly ways which morally and ethically distract us from God, we must watch in everything, and walk with care and prudence, wary of that which would endanger our souls.

We must change and transform our attitudes and perceptions of how life works to pass through our many trials and tribulations (John 16:33; 1 Peter 4:12-19).

Radically new attitudes, thoughts and perceptions and new ways of addressing how we approach living life in the presence of God come to the forefront of life.

Fruits of the Holy Spirit

22 For we know that the whole creation has been moaning together as in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only this, but we too, who have the first fruits of the Spirit [a joyful indication of the blessings to come], even we groan inwardly, as we wait eagerly for [the sign of] our adoption as sons—the redemption and transformation of our body [at the resurrection]. 24 For in this hope we were saved [by faith]. But hope [the object of] which is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he already sees? (Romans 8:22-24 Amplified)

16 But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the [a] sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]. 17 For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the [b]sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do. 18 But if you are guided and led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law. 19 Now the practices of the  [c] sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), 20 [d]idolatry, [e]sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], 21 envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23  gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the [f]sinful nature together with its passions and appetites. (Galatians 5:16-24 Amplified)

We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).

We must learn and practice and weave God into our life, discipline ourselves to more fully rely upon God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

This is definitely not the way that the majority of the “self reliant” people go.

Most people go through the wide gate and take the broad road that leads to destruction.

But only a few seek, find, the small gate and the narrow road that leads to life.

All too many are going to their destruction, but only a few are going to heaven.

He also said, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” (Lk 13:24).

If many try and are unable to enter through this narrow door, then it must be very narrow.

It’s difficult to find and difficult to get through, so every effort must be made to do so.

It’s hard but not impossible by God’s grace if we strive.

We will not be able to enter if you are complacent or half-hearted, because there are many Sins that will keep you and me from Heaven.

The devil has set many traps for you to try and capture you into hell.

We must avoid all the side roads.

It’s easy to be lured away from the straight path by the ways of seductive materialism, pride, and sensual satisfaction.

To avoid these and more, we have to name sin for what it is and not allow its evil influence to sidetrack us.

A relatively recent hymn based on Psalm 23 offers divine encouragement:

THE LORD MY SHEPHERD RULES MY LIFE Christopher Idle Hymn Text Words © 1977 The Jubilate Group (admin. Hope Publishing Company)

1 The Lord my shepherd rules my life
and gives me all I need;
he leads me by refreshing streams,
in pastures green I feed.
2 The Lord revives my failing strength,
he makes my joy complete;
and in right paths, for his name's sake,
he guides my faltering feet.

How Jehovah God Brings it All Together For Our Sakes

Alive, we are constantly and continuously staring at an upcoming crossroads.

Alive, we are constantly and continuously confronted by “forks” in our paths.

The Scriptures clearly teach that in everything the straight way is God’s way.

Indeed, the way to heaven is both straight and narrow. 

In fact, it is more so than even either you and I actually think it is.

But even one second, one minute, hour in heaven will make it all worthwhile.

Therefore, we must study and pray and strive to enter the Kingdom of God on the way of righteousness, holiness, and truth.

It’s long past the divinely allowable time we cease from standing in the broad and crooked path of sinners, and going along with the crowd.

It’s high time we consecrate ourselves to our Savior Jesus, and follow Him with pure and simple devotion (2 Corinthians 11:3). 

Continuously Seek Him earnestly (Psalm 63:1), stay close to Him (Psalm 63:8).

Let neither our Hearts nor our Souls be Troubled this day nor any other day;

Cling to God! All you His people, let’s Pray for the Ancient Paths once again.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray …. (Psalm 40 the Message)

40 1-3 I waited and waited and waited for God.
    At last he looked; finally he listened.
He lifted me out of the ditch,
    pulled me from deep mud.
He stood me up on a solid rock
    to make sure I wouldn’t slip.
He taught me how to sing the latest God-song,
    a praise-song to our God.
More and more people are seeing this:
    they enter the mystery,
    abandoning themselves to God.

4-5 Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God,
    turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing,”
    ignore what the world worships;
The world’s a huge stockpile
    of God-wonders and God-thoughts.
Nothing and no one
    compares to you!
I start talking about you, telling what I know,
    and quickly run out of words.
Neither numbers nor words
    account for you.

Doing something for you, bringing something to you—
    that’s not what you’re after.
Being religious, acting pious—
    that’s not what you’re asking for.
You’ve opened my ears
    so I can listen.

7-8 So I answered, “I’m coming.
    I read in your letter what you wrote about me,
And I’m coming to the party
    you’re throwing for me.”
That’s when God’s Word entered my life,
    became part of my very being.

9-10 I’ve preached you to the whole congregation,
    I’ve kept back nothing, God—you know that.
I didn’t keep the news of your ways
    a secret, didn’t keep it to myself.
I told it all, how dependable you are, how thorough.
    I didn’t hold back pieces of love and truth
For myself alone. I told it all,
    let the congregation know the whole story.

11-12 Now God, don’t hold out on me,
    don’t hold back your passion.
Your love and truth
    are all that keeps me together.
When troubles ganged up on me,
    a mob of sins past counting,
I was so swamped by guilt
    I couldn’t see my way clear.
More guilt in my heart than hair on my head,
    so heavy the guilt that my heart gave out.

13-15 Soften up, God, and intervene;
    hurry and get me some help,
So those who are trying to kidnap my soul
    will be embarrassed and lose face,
So anyone who gets a kick out of making me miserable
    will be heckled and disgraced,
So those who pray for my ruin
    will be booed and jeered without mercy.

16-17 But all who are hunting for you—
    oh, let them sing and be happy.
Let those who know what you’re all about
    tell the world you’re great and not quitting.
And me? I’m a mess. I’m nothing and have nothing:
    make something of me.
You can do it; you’ve got what it takes—
    but God, don’t put it off.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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Preparation for Advent. Idolatry – all about Our Name or ALL about God’s Fame? Some Hidden Lessons from the ‘ancient’ Tower of Babel. Genesis 11:1-9

Genesis 11:1-9 NKJV

The Tower of Babel

11 Now the whole earth had one language and one [a]speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and [b] bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called [c]Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

I cannot tell anyone how many times I have read this passage, prayed through this ancient text and thought and believed I knew at least a few truths about it.

Yet, as I sit here pondering this text for this devotional about our preparation for Advent with a particular emphasis upon Idolatry – these two verses hit me:

Genesis 11:4-5 NLT

Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.”

But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them!

Many stories in the Hebrew [Old] Testament can be difficult to understand.

From Noah, Abraham to the prophets, sometimes the Bible can be downright confusing. Or maybe we unknowingly misunderstand the lesson of the story.

Take the tower of Babel in Genesis 11, for example. My wife and I were talking about this story this week, and she asked me what I thought it was about.

I told her what I thought I knew, but then I thought I had better look at it again.

It must have been the Holy Spirit nudging me in my rib cage because, although I thought I knew a lot about it, I realized that I had totally missed the main point.

The tower of Babel is not just about a brick tower some people built. It’s all about pride, rebellion, and the importance of being obedient to God’s Word.

A New Covenant

The story of the tower of Babel occurs just after Noah’s death in Genesis 11:1-9.

Noah’s Death: (Genesis 9:28-29 NLT – 28 Noah lived another 350 years after the great flood. 29 He lived 950 years, and then he died.)

But to fully understand what’s going on, we need to turn back a page or two to the part when God had established a new covenant with His creation, the earth.

After Noah and his family leave the ark, Noah builds an altar and raises incense the aroma of which is described as pleasing to God’s heart. He was so pleased with Noah’s burnt offerings that God decided to never flood the earth again.

“And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:21-22

God then tells Noah and his sons about the new covenant in Genesis 9:13-17 including the very telltale sign of His covenant—the hanging of a rainbow:

13 I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. 14 When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, 15 and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. 16 When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.” 17 Then God said to Noah, “Yes, this rainbow is the sign of the covenant I am confirming with all the creatures on earth.” (NLT)

Sandwiched in between God thinking about His new covenant and then telling Noah’s family about it, God tells Noah and his sons to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth (Genesis 9:1).”

Aged Noah only had three sons, but his family had no trouble fulfilling God’s command. They were so prolific that all of Genesis 10 is dedicated to listing all of their children and their grandchildren by name, and there were quite a few.

With the passing of each generation, each son’s family eventually established their own tribe and claimed their own nations.

So, while many were claiming territory, still many other people continued spreading across the earth and filling it.

It was during one of these migrations east that a certain group of people found a great place to build a tower.

Building a Great Tower

In the middle of nowhere in the land of Shinar (historical Babylon and currently Iraq, approximately 60 miles southwest of Baghdad), a group of migrants under the mighty leadership of Nimrod decided to stop there to build, create a village.

Nimrod was the grandson of Noah and the son of Ham.

If you remember, Ham was the son Noah cursed for teasing and making fun of his dad after he found his dad drunk and naked one night (Genesis 9:20-27).

According to the Bible, it was Noah’s curse that created the Canaanites because all of Ham’s family was then considered disobedient.

One day while the people were building the village, someone (perhaps Nimrod himself) suggested they build a tower that reached to the heavens.

When we say “heavens” we’re talking about three different heavens, the highest one being the holy throne of God.

So, these villagers are talking about creating a tower that reaches unto God Himself.

Though they knew they couldn’t actually build such a tower, their intention was clearly to make it as tall as was then humanly possible.

Why would they build such a tall tower?

Let’s look at Genesis 11:4.

“And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower whose top is in the heavens. Let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

Their goal was to create something that represented their great abilities and establish a famous reputation among the other tribes.

They obsessively desired to be the very highest envy of everyone across the land. Their pride was bad enough, but that is not what got God really upset.

Remember,

they were supposed to multiply and fill the earth, but this group of people had decided to stop, put down roots, and show off how smart and skilled they were.

Their pride led the people to rebel against God’s command, to steal His glory.

God was not going to have any part of that, so there was only one thing to do.

The Lord’s Verdict

After the tower was built,

God came down to take a closer look at what the people had created, and He decisively decided he did not like it nor did He appreciate the people’s efforts.

He then had a little conversation with Himself.

“Indeed, the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do. Now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.” Genesis 11:6

God notices exactly how “united” they are, and they all have one language, one vocabulary which allows them to do whatever it is which they wish to do. And respect for the Lord’s commands isn’t important. So, He comes up with a plan.

“Come, let Us [the Trinity] go down and confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” (v7)

God did not destroy the tower, an abandoned monument to monumental pride.

But He did scatter the people.

How He did it the Bible doesn’t say. But they were all driven away, the village construction was never completed, and their language was suddenly changed.

Now, certain groups couldn’t understand each other anymore. Those who could communicate gathered together and created new nomadic tribes, which is why, how some scholars believe is how today’s languages were originally created.

It’s interesting to note that the person who first came up with the idea to build the tower said in verse four,

“Let us make a name for ourselves lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

It turned that his prophecy was fulfilled.

So, God called the tower Babel, which means “noisy confusion” and is where the later kingdom of Babylon was later established by Nimrod ~ 2200 BCE and became an empire which reigned from ~1900 BCE to ~539BCE when they were weakened by several wars with Assyria and Persian Cyrus II conquered the city.

Avoiding the Tower of Babel

With stories like this, it can be hard to understand what the lesson might be. On the surface, it just looks like a historical account of an early nomadic tribe.

But when we take a closer look, we see can observe that God is illustrating for us the critical importance of obeying and respecting Him. We also note the danger of becoming prideful, arrogant, and thinking and believing we do not need God.

God is reminding us (again) of the consequences of sin.

Some consequences are great, and some are not.

In the case of Nimrod’s tribe, their behavior and attitudes were so bad God completely scrambled their language and forced them back upon the road to “multiply and fill the earth.”

This is the power of God and is why we need to be careful about our choices.

Genesis 11:4 NLT

Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.”

One the surface, the people of Babel seem like a stellar example of what humans can accomplish as a team.

They created a gigantic tower in order to stay unified and become a powerful community.

However, to God, this was not good. If they could use their teamwork and build this tower, nothing would have been impossible for them (Genesis 11:6).

Why would God have had a problem with this?! Isn’t this the human flourishing God himself commanded in Genesis 1:28, to fill the earth and subdue it?

Because the people of Babel would take all of the glory and all of the recognition for their own handiwork and not glorify God for his blessing upon them; if God had said nothing, left them to themselves, none of them would have found him.

One must wonder how many ministries or churches with good intentions fall into this trap. We might think an enormous building with our name on it will give God the glory, honor, praise, but bigger isn’t always better in God’s eyes.

Throughout the Bible he used men who had little experience or leadership qualities and guided them to be the Godly men their situation required.

We all struggle with the temptation to rely on our works, glorify ourselves for our hard fought success, those of our congregations, instead of relying on God.

Remember this as we who are the Body of Christ ministers to others. God can use you to do a mighty work without a large following or famous church; you have the same God who created the heavens and the earth working through you.

Matthew 7:13-14 NLT

The Narrow Gate

13 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell[a] is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. 14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

As we prepare ourselves and our churches for this new season of Advent, as we each consider the contemporary relevance or irrelevance of Idolatry – choice of all of the glory upon our name or upon God’s fame as being the only #1 priority,

As Christians, we ought to brutally examine our hearts and minds every day to make sure we are staying on the path of humble obedience while maintaining complete and absolute respect for God’s power.

The road to hell is wide, its gate is quite wide for the many who choose the way.

Straying off the narrow road which leads straight to abundant life, eternal life in God in Christ, creates a tower of Babel— “noisy confusion” —in our lives.

Stick to God’s path.

Please! Take time today to give all of the honor to God in your accomplishments.

Follow His way, and you’ll never go wrong. His way is always the best way.

Psalm 119:105-112 NLT

Nun

105 Your word is a lamp to guide my feet
    and a light for my path.
106 I’ve promised it once, and I’ll promise it again:
    I will obey your righteous regulations.
107 I have suffered much, O Lord;
    restore my life again as you promised.
108 Lord, accept my offering of praise,
    and teach me your regulations.
109 My life constantly hangs in the balance,
    but I will not stop obeying your instructions.
110 The wicked have set their traps for me,
    but I will not turn from your commandments.
111 Your laws are my treasure;
    they are my heart’s delight.
112 I am determined to keep your decrees
    to the very end.

John 14:1-14 NLT

Jesus, the Way to the Father

14 “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home.[a] If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?[b] When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.”

“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is.[c] From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”

Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. 11 Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do.

12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. 13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!

Sometimes getting to where we want to go in life can be incredibly confusing.

After Jesus told his disciples he would be leaving them, Thomas said he didn’t know where Jesus was going or how to get there.

I like Thomas’s honest questions.

He doesn’t hide his confusion.

Sometimes Christians think they need to know all the answers.

But Jesus does not scold Thomas for not understanding.

He gives him directions.

Jesus tells Thomas the way to navigate successfully.

And that way is Jesus himself.

If the goal of life is to get with the Father, to get with God, then Jesus is the way.

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

It might help to think of it this way: each one of us has a God-shaped void in us that only God can fill.

As we long to be filled with the abundant life of God, Jesus is the way there.

The truth of his Word will guide us.

And along the way, his life in us gives us the power to stay on track.

What a wonderful journey!

What a wonderful Lord and Savior!

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Heavenly Father, I pray You would teach me all there is to learn from the wise and foolish decisions made by the post Diluvian people and the rebellious self-centered attitudes they fostered in their heart. Thank You that You are my God and Creator and my center, and that You have given me all I need for life and godliness. Help me to make the wise and right choices in life and to refuse to adopt the sinful ways of the world which unwisely encourage independence from You. May I look to Jesus day by day and rest my hope and future in You. This I ask in His dear name’s sake, AMEN.

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Lets Simply Begin by Entering into His Story: The Beginning of the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: Mark 1:1

Mark 1:1Amplified Bible

The Preaching of John the Baptist

The beginning of the [facts regarding the] good news of [a]Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

We humans love to hear and tell stories.

When our children are young they ask mommy and daddy to read them their bed time stories – they want and desire our presence before they go to sleep.

We tell them, we read to them the same stories which had become our favorite stories which our own parents read to us every night when we were that young.

Sometimes we looked to our Grand Parents to tell us the stories of their youth, when they were the ones who were our age – we love to hear how they grew up.

We love to hear of their experiences, we want to partake of their wisdom, how they had “fun” in their day, what music did they listen to, where did they travel.

Sometimes we go to our Grand Parents first instead of our parents because we have stories we believe in our hearts we cannot or could, should not tell them.

Perhaps we are in a place where we do not trust our parents with our stories.

Telling and Sharing our Stories breaks the monotony of the “ho-hums” and the “hum-drums” of our own thoughts, our excruciatingly boring circumstances.

We tell them at work about bosses who think too much of themselves.

We tell stories to friends who give us feedback with laughter or tears or other stories in return. We tell stories around kitchen tables with families and friends.

The man, Rabbi Jesus entered into the lives of those first century Jews just by quietly walking into the moment, so often without any formal announcement.

What we do not read in the Gospels is this man, this Rabbi Jesus, does not raise his hands, clap his hands loudly together or raise his voice – “Yo! Here I am!”

Subtlety is his hallmark way of introducing himself into the life of the moment.

Matthew 5:1-2Amplified Bible

The Sermon on the Mount; The Beatitudes

5 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and when He was seated, His [a]disciples came to Him. Then He began to teach them, saying,…

Jesus “saw the crowds” and without shouting “Hey, everyone, I see you!” he quietly went up the mountain and he quietly sat down, His went to Him absent any verbal summons from their Rabbi’s mouth, then he began to ‘teach’ them.

Luke 4:14-21Amplified Bible

Jesus’ Public Ministry

14 Then Jesus went back to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and the news about Him spread through the entire region. 15 And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised and glorified and honored by all.

16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

18 
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me (the Messiah),
Because He has anointed Me to preach the good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to announce release (pardon, forgiveness) to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed (downtrodden, bruised, crushed by tragedy),
19 
to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord [the day when salvation and the favor of God abound greatly].”

20 Then He rolled up the scroll [having stopped in the middle of the verse], gave it back to the attendant and sat down [to teach]; and the eyes of all those in the synagogue were [attentively] fixed on Him. 21 He began speaking to them: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing and in your presence.”

Coming out of His hardcore, deeply intimate temptation experience, He walked out of the wilderness, full of the Holy Spirit and straight into earthly ministry.

The “news abut him spread throughout the entire region …”

And he ‘began’ teaching in their synagogues …

He returned to his home in Nazareth, where he had been brought up and raised by His parents, His grandparents … heard their stories told and retold to him.

And “as was His custom …” “he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath …” and without him giving their leadership a chance to introduce him as an “Itinerant Rabbi” … he just quietly stood up … and instantly made his presence known.

Without any verbal or unspoken complaints for “being rude,” they handed Him the Scroll of God’s Prophet Isaiah, and without challenging Jesus’ credentials, they permitted him to take authority and full command of the sacred moment.

The man, Rabbi Jesus, without asking or saying “thank you” exercised that full and complete authority “granted (or surrendered) to him and read God’s Word.

John 1:1-5Amplified Bible

The Deity of Jesus Christ

1 In the beginning [before all time] was the Word ([a]Christ), and the Word was with God, and [b]the Word was God Himself. He was [continually existing] in the beginning [co-eternally] with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him not even one thing was made that has come into being. In Him was life [and the power to bestow life], and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines on in the [c]darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it [and is unreceptive to it].

We have these words from the Gospel Narrative from John …

“In the Beginning [before all time] ….”

Telling us in no uncertain terms, Jesus is THE WHOLE STORY …. has always been THE WHOLE STORY and Jesus will forever remain THE WHOLE STORY!

We have the relating of these stories from ‘the beginnings’ of the Gospel’s of Matthew and Mark and Luke and John in the hopes we will “enter into them.”

God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit place these stories in front of us – in the sure and constant hope – our lives will be changed by entry.

God enters our lives by way of the myriads and myriads of these biblical stories.

We become truly human by taking these Words of Jesus’ stories into our lives.

Author Karen Lee-Thorp aptly remarked, “Most of the Bible consists of stories. Why? Partly because God knew people that like and remember stories better than lists of abstract propositions. And even more important, the stories remind us that all of life is His story, and that God is never an abstract doctrine, but a Person.”

The Narrator Mark begins his gospel account with the story of Jesus, not moral principles or ethical concepts. We enter into life with Jesus by way of the first words of this story, we first find our Jesus in the story of God’s salvation for us.

John the Baptist begins the story by telling us about Jesus.

But John the Baptist is only a part of the preface of this great story that begins quietly but immediately proceeds, is about to not so quietly unfold before us!

So we find that the beginning story quickly moves on to tell about Jesus, the promised Messiah, and his saving message: the good news of God’s kingdom.

Every story about Jesus also helps us recognize our own stories of sin, grace, and blessing. The gospel is the main story, and it shapes the stories of us all.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

God of surprises you call us
from the narrowness of our traditions
to new ways of being church,
from the captivities of our culture
to creative witness for justice,
from the smallness of our horizons
to the bigness of your vision.

Jesus, wounded healer, you call us
from preoccupation with our own histories
and hurts to daily tasks of peacemaking,
from privilege to pilgrimage,
from insularity to inclusive community.

Holy, transforming Spirit, you call us
from fear to faithfulness,
from clutter to clarity,
from a desire to control to deeper trust,
from the refusal to love to a readiness to risk.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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The Beginning of the Facts Regarding the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man. Mark 1:1-8

Mark 1:1-8Amplified Bible

The Preaching of John the Baptist

The beginning of the [facts regarding the] good news of [a]Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written and forever remains in the [writings of the] prophet Isaiah:

“Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You,
Who will prepare Your way—

A voice of one shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
[b]Make His paths straight!’”

4 [c]John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins [that is, requiring a change of one’s old way of thinking, turning away from sin and seeking God and His righteousness]. And all the country of Judea and all the people of Jerusalem were continually going out to him; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair and had a [wide] leather [d]band around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And he was preaching, saying, “After me comes He who is mightier [more powerful, more noble] than I, and I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the straps of His sandals [even as His slave]. As for me, I baptized you [who came to me] with water [only]; but He will baptize you [who truly repent] [e]with the Holy Spirit.”

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

For everything under the sun – there is a time and a season.

For everything under the sun – there is a beginning and there is an ending.

For everyone under the sun – there is a time and a season.

For everyone under the sun – there is a beginning and there is an ending.

And then there is Jesus, the Son of God – the Son of Man who was there in the very beginning, by whom and through whom all things were created, He was continually existing, all things came into existence through Him, and without Him not even one thing was made that has come into being – Fathom all of that!

In Him was life [and the power to bestow life], and the life was the Light of men.

He was there in the beginning of all things – Co-Eternally with God the Father.

And of His Kingdom – there shall be NO END. (Luke 1:33)

He has NO ending – He is Eternal – Forever and Ever – Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

Like all of the Gospel writers – they tried to Fathom the eternal Son of God.

Like all of the Gospel writers – they tried to communicate their understanding of the eternal Son of God, to the everyday men and women of their times, to a specific targeted audience – they desired for the everyday person to know Him!

Like all the Gospel writers Mark introduces us to Jesus Christ, the eternally begotten Son of God and prophesied Savior of the world, but we discover Mark’s specific focus is upon the humanity of Jesus, as servant of all – and the divinely appointed name of “Jesus’, which is specifically linked with His humanity, His name specifically means “God is Salvation’.

Luke 1:26-38 Amplified

Jesus’ Birth Foretold

26 Now in the sixth month [of Elizabeth’s pregnancy] the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin [a]betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming to her, the angel said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was greatly perplexed at what he said, and kept carefully considering what kind of greeting this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Listen carefully: you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and eminent and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob (Israel) forever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin and have no intimacy with any man?” 35 Then the angel replied to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you [like a cloud]; for that reason the holy (pure, sinless) Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 And listen, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 For with God nothing [is or ever] shall be impossible.” 38 Then Mary said, “[b]Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel left her.

The personal name “Jesus’ was given to Him at the time of His birth, for He will be great and eminent and will be called the Son of the most high and God shall give Him the Throne, God and shall save His people from their sin, He himself shall redeem a lost world by means of His sinless life and substitutionary death.

And although the Lord Jesus was the eternal Son of God, and equal in honor and glory with the Father.. Mark announces the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ from the human perspective – tracing the gospel of Jesus from His lowly birth in a lowly stable unto His glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven.

While Matthew wrote his narration to identify Jesus as the Jewish messiah and King of Israel, Mark’s narrative audience was primarily to the Romans, where their connection, relationship to Jesus is portrayed to them as the Servant of all.

John’s principal desire was to emphasize the deity of the eternal Son of God, while Luke’s narrative aim was to bring out the empathetic ministry of the lowly Son of Man – but from the beginning.. Mark’s emphasis is on Christ’s servant-hood, for we read that: even the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:35-45)

The gospel of Jesus Christ continues today and will extend into the eternal ages to come, and Mark simply records the beginning section of this good news.

From the beginning Jesus was the prophesied child of an everyday common woman of her times and her seasons and declared to be the promised Saviour..

Who came at the appointed time to tabernacle in the world with His creation. He came as the suffering servant of God, Whose life, death, burial and resurrection would be good news for all who would trust in His sacrificial death for salvation.

The Gospel Narrator Mark tells us all of Jesus’ historical beginning – when the eternal, uncreated God stripped Himself of the glory He had with the Father and stepped into time, by taking upon Himself mortal flesh and becoming a man.

And throughout His life the man Jesus demonstrated the only way humanity can live in fellowship, relate, connect, with a holy God:- by saying and doing those things He heard from the Father – by abiding in the Father; living in total dependence upon Him – and walking in complete obedience to the Father’s will.

Although Christ was the eternal Son of God… we discover Him to be the humble servant of God, Who walked in spirit and truth, lived in humble submission to the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit and became servant of all – so that by His coming, by His life, His death, His burial and His resurrection, all who believe on Him should not perish but be saved by grace through faith in HIM.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ continues unabated, unhindered, unashamedly, to this day and we who have made our heartfelt full throated confession, came to belief, trusted in Him as Saviour, have been made ministers of this good news.

Let us tell of this glorious truth, locally and abroad, of the glorious truth of the Gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ Who came, gave His life as a ransom for many.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

My Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word and the wonderful truth that it contains. Thank You that Jesus set aside His heavenly glory and took upon Himself the humble status of a Servant of all.. so that He could identify with our humanity and pay the price for our sin – a price that we are unable to pay. Thank you for this Gospel of Mark, through which the common man may find a way to relate and to connect and identify with the deity He has always had. I pray that I may follow in His footsteps and live in humble submission to Your Holy Spirit all the days of my life, and only do those things that I hear from Your – this I ask in Jesus name, AMEN.

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