Announcement

As has been our custom, we are taking off the first two weeks of the new year for  a much needed break.  We have written fifty articles per year for the past three years, attempting to be faithful to what we believe God has called us to do.  During this break, we will be seeking the Lord to see what direction He has for 2018.  We are also working on updates to the website.  We expect our first article for 2018 to appear on January 19.

Happy New Year, and thank you for visiting our website. We pray God’s richest blessings on you in the year ahead.

Larry and Kay Peebles

Prophesy Fulfilled by Larry W Peebles

Prophesy Fulfilled   by   Larry W Peebles   December 29, 2017   17.50

Bible scholars say there are over 350 prophesies in the Old Testament that were fulfilled by the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah.  These prophesies came through multiple prophets writing over thousands of years.  These 350 prophesies are in different books of the Old Testament.  Considering these facts, the mathematical odds that any one man could fulfill all of them are infinitely small.  Writing in the book Science Speaks, Stoner and Newman estimate that the odds of one man fulfilling just eight of the 350 or so prophesies would be similar to the odds of finding one certain marked silver dollar out of  a stack of unmarked silver dollars two feet deep covering the entire State of Texas.  There is no way of verifying this calculation, but it does give a graphic visual of the difficulty.

There are studies available on the internet that summarize these 350 prophesies.  All of the prophecies are important because they emphasize that God does speak through His prophets, as He said in His Word (Luke 1:70).  Additionally, and against all reasonable odds, Jesus fulfilled them all.  He did not leave one thing undone that God had told His children would happen concerning the Messiah.  This is how we can know beyond all doubt that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah Savior who came to rescue those who would believe in Him.

As I write this article, we are in the season of celebrating Christmas, the birth of Jesus as a human infant.  Make no mistake however; He is the Son of God, the Messiah planned and promised to mankind since the first man Adam fell into sin.  For purposes of this article, I submit thirteen of these prophesies, a baker’s dozen for consideration, although some of the categories contain multiple prophesies under the same general topic:

  1. Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), in the town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). This was fulfilled in the accounts of the birth in Matthew 1:18 and Luke 2:4-6.
  2. Messiah would come from the line of Abraham (Genesis 12:3 and 22:18), Isaac (Genesis 17:19), Jacob (Numbers 24:17), the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10), and would be heir to King David’s throne (2 Samuel 7:12-13). Luke 3:23-38 records the lineage of Jesus back through all these men, through Noah and even back to Adam.  Since Jesus created all things including Adam, He stands at the beginning and the end of His own human lineage, and is able to say “I AM the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:13).
  3. Messiah would be called Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14). This is fulfilled in Matthew 1:23, which says “they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated ‘God with us.”’
  4. A messenger would prepare the way for Messiah (Isaiah 40:3-5). This messenger was John the Baptist, as Luke documents in Luke 3:3-6.
  5. Messiah would be rejected by His own people (Isaiah 53:3). John speaks of Jesus’ rejection in John 1:11 and 7:5.
  6. Messiah would be declared the Son of God (Psalm 2:7). When Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove on Jesus, and “a voice came from Heaven, saying ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”’ (Matthew 3:16-17).  This was the voice of the Father.
  7. Messiah would bring the authority of the government of the kingdom of heaven to the earth in a new way (Isaiah 9:6-7). Jesus affirmed this in Mark 1:15 when He said “the kingdom of God is at hand.”  All authority (of kings and governments) and principalities (demons) are subject to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (1 Timothy 6:15, and Revelation 19:16).
  8. Messiah would come to heal the brokenhearted, to set the captives free, and to comfort those who mourn (Isaiah 61:1-2).  Jesus established this prophesy as His mission statement when He read this very scripture from Isaiah in the synagogue and said “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:18-19).
  9. Messiah would be high priest after the order of Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20, and Psalm 110:4) and King forever (Zechariah 9:9). We read more about the Old Testament king and priest Melchizedek in Hebrews Chapters 4 and 5, but the best explanation is perhaps the entirety of Chapter 7.  This is where we see the comparison of Melchizedek and Jesus, with Jesus firmly established as The High Priest.  The people welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem as King in Mark 11:7-11, yet crucified Him as “King of the Jews” in Matthew 27:37.
  10. Messiah would be betrayed (Psalm 41:9), falsely accused (Psalm 35:11), and the blood money (thirty pieces of silver) paid His betrayer would be used to buy a field (Zechariah 11:12-13). These three prophesies were fulfilled in Luke 22:47-48, Matthew 26:14-16, Matthew 27:9-10, and Mark 14:57-58.
  11. The prophesies concerning Messiah’s crucifixion were numerous and detailed yet were fulfilled with the same detail: crucified with criminals (Isaiah 53:12/Matthew 27:38); given vinegar to drink (Psalm 69:21/Matthew 27:34); hands and feet pierced (Psalm 22:16/John 20:25-27); mocked and ridiculed (Psalm 22:7-8/Luke 23:35); soldiers gamble for His garments (Psalm 22:18/Matthew 27:35-36); bones would not be broken (Psalm 34:20/John 19:33-36); forsaken by God (Psalm 22:1/Matthew 27:46); pray for His enemies (Psalm 109:4/Luke 23:34), and soldiers pierce His side (Zechariah 12:10/John 19:34).
  12. Messiah would resurrect from the dead (Psalm 49:15), ascend to heaven (Psalm 24:7-10), and would be seated at God’s right hand (Psalm 110:1).We see these prophesies fulfilled in these respective verses: resurrected from the dead-Matthew 28:2-7; ascended to heaven-Mark 16:19; and seated at God’s right hand-Mark 16:19, and Matthew 22:44. Additionally, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:6 that the resurrected Jesus appeared to not only the twelve disciples, but that “He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present [date of Paul’s writing], but some have fallen asleep” [died]. [Inserts mine.]
  13. Messiah would be the (great and final) sacrifice for sin (Isaiah 53:5-12). Romans 5:6-11 speaks beautifully of this when it says -”while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  These verses then go on to explain how we as enemies of God were reconciled again to God through the death of his Son.

At the beginning of the New Year, I find it helpful to reflect and return to the basics—those truths that endure and are worthy places to anchor my hopes for the future.  My hope and my strength rest in the living Savior and Messiah, Jesus, the Son of God.  He extended love and grace to me before I ever came to Him.  He saved me from myself.  Left to go on my own path, I surely would have died.  By His grace, He saved me from sin by offering His blood as atonement, washed away my shame, and made me a son of the Father, an heir to the kingdom.  Once I was saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, His grace continues to call me to a life that honors Him.  Old thoughts, habits and sinful ways are being broken off me.  I am far from perfect, but I am moving in a direction to be more like Jesus.

When God speaks a word of direction or wisdom, we would do well to listen.  When He speaks twice, we are without excuse.  When He spoke 350 times through the prophets that Jesus is the Son of God, Savior of the world, He has issued a loving yet firm ultimatum.  The world will one day be judged by what it has believed.  I urge us all to believe and to begin to act accordingly.  We should make this our resolution for 2018– to believe without reservation or hesitation.

Passing the Test by Larry W Peebles

Passing the Test   by   Larry W Peebles   December 15, 2017   17.48

A test is intended to demonstrate how well the student has learned the subject matter of a lesson or course.  I remember tests all through school, especially high school.  Certain scores were required to graduate from high school in order to complete the required public education.  I remember taking the ACT test to qualify for college.  Then there were many tests in order to achieve the grades necessary to graduate from college, including graduate school.  These were followed by tests of professional competency to become a CPA, and a Real Estate Broker.  My oldest grandsons are currently in high school, and are very conscious of their test scores.  They are already preparing for their college entrance exams.  All my grandchildren are in school, where doing homework and studying for tests are a daily practice.  They expect to be tested on what they have learned.  Passing scores on a test mean they can move on to the next level.  Often these achievements are celebrated with grand ceremonies and congratulations from family and friends. I was reminded of this recently when a friend graduated from Bible College.  While I could not attend his graduation, I was able to rejoice with him when I saw the pictures from the ceremony.  I was so proud of his accomplishment, because I knew of the difficulties he had gone through to reach that level of success.

Outside the arena of formal education, there is much to be learned about life itself, and that testing process is life-long.  Formal education results in acquired knowledge, and while much of the material is widely accepted facts, some of it is not necessarily the truth.  It may contain a mix of opinion and contemporary thinking subject to later revision.  Life lessons teach wisdom.  Similar to formal education, life has a way of making us retake the test if we continue to fail what it is trying to teach us.  This is sometimes referred to as “going around the mountain again”.  If we did not pass the test life sent our way, we get to go around the mountain and do it again.  I believe God’s hand is in that, as the test usually has something to do with wrong spiritual beliefs or flawed character traits that need to be overcome or strengthened.

My wife, whom I respect greatly for her wisdom, likes to say that God gives open book tests.  The answers are in His Word, and He doesn’t mind if we look up the test questions before responding.  One of the best examples of this is contained in the Book of Deuteronomy.  Chapter 28 sets forth many wonderful blessings that are promised if we obey the voice of the Lord and His commandments.  It also sets forth many dreadful curses that we become subject to if we disobey.  In Chapter 29 God renewed His covenant with Israel on the condition that they obey him.  God reminded them again in Chapter 30 the blessings for obedience and the curses for disobedience.  Finally, in 30:19-20 He summarized by giving the people the answer- “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days, and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give to them.”  We are to choose to obey, which produces rich blessings, long life, and peaceful security in the land where we are to dwell.

If we need wisdom but cannot find the answer in His Word, the Bible says we are to simply ask for it.  James 1:5 says- “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”  When Deuteronomy says we are to obey the voice of the Lord, it is implied we can hear the voice of the Lord.  James assures if we ask for wisdom, He will either speak it to us or show it to us in His Word.  One of my favorite verses on this matter is Isaiah 30:21- “Your ears shall hear a word (voice) behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left”.  I literally had this happen to me when I heard the voice of the Lord come over my left shoulder. He was alerting me to look in a certain direction as danger was approaching from the left while I was driving a car.  We can hear the voice of the Lord.  One of the favorite things my wife and I try to do on a daily basis is morning worship and prayer time with the Lord, followed by a period of lying still before Him to hear His voice or feel His touch.  It takes some discipline to force all other thoughts and plans out of the mind in order to be totally still before Him, but the results are well worth it.  We are both looking for wisdom and the correct answer in time so we don’t have to make that repeat trip around the mountain.

Abraham passed a huge test of faith in Genesis Chapter 22.  Abraham knew the Lord, and was called out of his homeland and away from his family to follow the Lord and go to a place the Lord would show him.  He had received the promise of a blessing for his obedience.  Though he and his wife Sarah were well past the ages of child bearing, the Lord had personally appeared to them, and promised not only a son, but also that nations and kings would come out of them.  The Lord fulfilled that promise with a son they named Isaac.  The child they had waited and longed for had come to them.

In Chapter 22, the Lord tested Abraham’s faith by asking him to sacrifice Isaac on Mt. Moriah.  Abraham packed all the necessary provisions and set out for the three day journey to the mountain with his son.  Upon arrival, Abraham laid the wood on the place the Lord had directed, and knife in hand, he called Isaac toward the altar.  Isaac observed there was no lamb for the sacrifice.  Abraham responded (v. 8) – “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” He then proceeded to bind Isaac and place him on the altar, and took the knife to slay his son.  The Angel of the Lord (Jesus) called from Heaven and told Abraham not to lay a hand on the boy. (v. 10-12).  Abraham knew the Lord, believed the Lord, and believed that for the promise to be fulfilled his only son would have to be spared.  On that basis he proceeded as instructed until he was stopped. Abraham saw a ram tangled in the bushes, and that lamb the Lord provided became the sacrifice.

Abraham called the place The Lord Will Provide, or Jehovah Jireh.  Listen to what the Lord did to celebrate and commemorate the passing of that test.  Genesis 22:15-18- “Then the Angel of the Lord (Jesus) called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said ‘By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son-blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore, and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.  In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”  Jesus, not Isaac, would be the innocent sacrifice that one day would save the people of all the nations.  Abraham’s willingness to obey God and sacrifice Isaac resulted in that promise.  His score on this test assured every nation would be blessed through Abraham.  Jesus Himself promised it.  As Abraham grew closer to the Lord and continually obeyed Him over a long period of time, His promise of blessing also grew.  What started as a personal blessing grew to a nation that would be blessed, and then expanded to all nations that would be blessed. Each test he passed resulted in the blessing moving to the next level as well.

To avail ourselves of Abraham’s promise and blessing we need make the choice to obey God.  1 Samuel 15:22 says- “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” We must seek and obey the voice of the Lord in every situation, in order to make the correct choice and pass the test.  Jesus is the (only and correct) Way, the (absolute) Truth, and the (blessed and abundant) Life, per John 14:6.  Pass the test; choose life.

If we get it wrong, we can ask forgiveness and try again so long as our heart is to try to get it right or make the necessary change.  God is a patient teacher.  He is also a God of grace and many chances.  For even the most difficult sin habits, He will help break the pattern and advance change when we cry out earnestly for His help.  He wants us to score well, pass the test, and move on to the next level.

The Perfume Counter by Larry W Peebles

The Perfume Counter   by   Larry W Peebles   December 1, 2017   17.46

Why is the perfume counter located near the entrance of the department store?  The marketing concept is to change the atmosphere and to create a sense of arrival for the shopper immediately upon entering the store.  Not only is the perfume counter an aromatic experience, it is also a visual experience thanks to the lighting, colors and images on display.  It announces a fresh start for the cautious weary shopper.  Indeed the message is that the whole store is something special that should not be missed.  More subtly, the diffusing of the perfume smell activates the saliva gland in the shopper, and the salivating causes the shopper to relax and drop their guard.  They become more open to suggestion and impulse buying, and less resistant to the price.

The idea of the perfume counter located near the entrance is credited to a retailer named Selfridge around 1910.  He wanted to set the tone for the shopper immediately upon entering his store.  He wanted the whole shopping experience in his store to be pleasant, and he had the idea to start with the pleasant smell of perfume.  His idea was also a necessity.  Frankly, he needed to cover the smell of the horse manure in the streets, and he wanted it stopped right at his front door.  The new approach was a huge success, and is now the norm for a department store

Not every shopper would agree.  Some perfume smells better than others, depending on personal preference.  Some smells might even be offensive.  With a variety of perfumes offered and sampled at the counter, the scents can clash.  Some shoppers are outright allergic to the fragrances in the air.  At various shopping seasons, the perfume brands become more aggressive in their marketing, and a virtual gauntlet of salespeople at the perfume counter will offer to spray, swipe, or otherwise mark the shopper with their scent.  The very same perfume that was intended to start a pleasant, aromatic shopping experience may then have the opposite effect.  Shoppers entering the store may immediately cut to the right or the left to avoid the perfume counter.

Paul says something similar happens when a believer presents the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to an unbeliever.  In 2 Corinthians 2: 14-16, he writes- “Now thanks be to God, who always leads us to triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.  For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.  To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.  And who is sufficient for these things?”

For the believer, the way we live our lives, the example we set, and the things we say when presenting the Gospel is the very “fragrance of Christ”, according to Paul, “diffused…in every place.”  To some, it is the fragrance of life.  To others, it is the fragrance of death, like the horse manure in the streets outside Selfridge’s store.  The believer carries this fragrance whether they intend to or not.  Paul goes on to say in verse 17 that we must be consistent and honest in the message of Jesus, because “of sincerity…we speak in the sight of God.”

Assuming we are sincere, consistent and honest in expressing our faith and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus, how can the same fragrance have the widely different effect?  We have some obligation to adapt the message to the audience, so long as we do not compromise the message.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:22- “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”  He knew he should do everything and become anything in order to present Jesus to the lost and dying world.  He also knew, that despite his efforts, not all would be saved.  Some would be saved, but some would find the fragrance of Christ offensive, and would reject it.  Today, the believer can only do the best job possible when presenting the message of Jesus, be willing to reasonably adapt to the audience without compromising the message, and then rely on the Holy Spirit to convince, convict, and change the heart.  The outcome is then dependent on the individual(s) to whom the message is directed.

Another example of this comes from the Old Testament prophesies.  David wrote in Psalm 118:22- “The stone [Jesus] which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone”, and Isaiah 8:14 says- “He [Jesus] will be as a sanctuary, but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” [Inserts mine.]  How can the same stone be both rejected and yet a cornerstone?  How can it be a sanctuary yet a stumbling stone of offense?

There is no lukewarm reaction to Jesus.  There is no middle ground for a relationship.  Knowing and following Him is an “all or none” proposition.  He is not someone to tolerate and put on the back shelf until needed.  When the crisis in our lives comes, as it surely will, Jesus is not just our sanctuary, or the person we run to for help.  He must already be our cornerstone.  He must already be the very cornerstone on which our lives are constructed.  Jesus said in Matthew 12:30- “Whoever is not with me is against me.”  There is no neutral zone.

There are a number of places in the Bible where Jesus, the cornerstone, is referred to as “The Rock.”  When studying the story of David and Goliath, I felt I heard the Lord say David did not kill Goliath with a stone or rock (1 Samuel 17, esp. verse 40).  He killed Goliath with “The Rock.”  When David picked up the “five smooth stones”, he effectually picked up or appropriated the power of “The Rock” to kill Goliath.  There is no way to know how long those stones lay there on the ground.  They were available to anyone, but most people passed by without ever picking them up.  They were largely ignored.  Some may have even stumbled on the rocks and cursed them.  David chose to pick them up and use them to take on a powerful opponent.  He knew he could not defeat Goliath without Jesus, The Rock, whom the Bible calls The Commander of the Armies of The Lord.

Similarly, many will pass through life ignoring Jesus, not making the decision to follow Him.  Some will encounter Jesus, but will stumble over Him and curse Him.  Some will be offended and consider His fragrance offensive.  The wise will choose Jesus, and will be counted among those who are for Him.

Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2 that Jesus is the precious living stone, rejected by men, but chosen by God.  Verses 6-10 tell us- “Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a chief Cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.’  Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief Cornerstone.’, and ‘A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.’  They stumble, being disobedient to the word to which they also were appointed.  But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him (Jesus) who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”

We are called to present the light of Jesus to a dark and fallen world.  We must not shrink back even knowing some will reject Him as an offensive odor, and will stumble over Him instead of making Him their cornerstone.  We must proclaim His praises.  There is no neutral ground.  By presenting Jesus, we are presenting the choice described in Deuteronomy 30:19- “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.”

I AM, Part 6 Larry W Peebles

I AM, Part 6   Larry W Peebles   November 17, 2017   17.44

My wife and I have been married over 48 years, and have known each other for over 51 years.  We fell in love immediately when we met, but after we married we soon realized we were more different than we were similar.  The early years of our marriage were a struggle as we searched for our marital identity.  Genesis 2:24 says that at marriage a man and wife “become one flesh”, and while that is certainly true, it can take time before they operate as one.  After years of living together, learning each other’s ways, experiencing trial and error, having intense discussions, and really coming to know each other, we matured and grew into one.  Now in our marriage there is solidarity, dependability, and a trust that is the most precious thing I know.  We have grown to know each other’s preferences, habits, and even thoughts.  More and more we move and act as one.  The deep familiarity has fueled the growth of even more love.  As our faith in Jesus has grown, we have experienced the power of a third person in our marriage.  His presence has added strength to fend off the attacks that come against every marriage.

The disciple John and Jesus grew that close.   John, Peter and James were the three disciples closest to Jesus, and they were the three disciples who not only witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration, they also saw Moses and Elijah with Him.  (Matthew 17:1).  They were the only ones invited into the house of the ruler of the synagogue when Jesus prayed for his daughter who had died and brought her back to life. (Mark 5:37).  These were also the three disciples Jesus asked to go further into the Garden of Gethsemane for more intense prayer as Jesus’ betrayal approached.  (Mark 14:33).  They clearly were the inner circle of disciples who were closest to Jesus.

In the Gospel of John, however, it is John who is referred to six times as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”  It was John who laid his head on Jesus’ breast at the Last Supper.  (John 13:23).  Following His resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples and spoke to them about what was to come.  He said Peter would be bound and “taken where he did not want to go”, meaning imprisonment and death.  Peter then asked Jesus “What about this man?”, referring to John.  Jesus responded “If I will that he remains until I come, what is that to you?”  (John 21:22).  John explained in verse 23 that this did not necessarily mean he would not die, but church history teaches that he was the only disciple to die a natural death.  Although he was lowered into a vat of hot oil at Ephesus, he did not die.  He was exiled by the Romans for a while to the island of Patmos, but his faith was not silenced at the hands of man.  Although ready to die for the Gospel he had received from Jesus, he in fact died peacefully of old age.

In writing the Book of John, he wanted the world to know Jesus as intimately as he did.  John 20:31 says- “these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”  He desperately wanted to reveal the identity, character, and deity of Jesus to the world.  He used the “I AM” statements of Jesus to do that.  All of the “I AM” statements we have studied in this series have come from the Gospel of John and Book of Revelation, books written by John:

  1. I AM the bread of life. John 6:35.  Part 1.
  1. I AM the light of the world. John 8:12.  Part 1.
  1. I AM the gate/door. John 10:9.  Part 1.
  1. I AM the good shepherd. John 10:11.  Part 2.
  1. I AM the resurrection and the life. John 11:25-26. Part 2.
  1. I AM the way and the truth and the life. John 14:6.  Part 2.
  1. I AM the true vine. John 15:1. Part 2.
  1. I AM the Alpha (Beginning) and the Omega (End). Revelation 1:8 and 1:17-18, Revelation 21:6, and 22:13.  Part 3.
  1. I AM the Root and Offspring of David. Revelation 22:16.  Part 4.
  1. I AM the Bright Morning Star. Revelation 22:16.  Part 4. 
  1. I AM before Abraham was. John 8:58.  Part 5. 
  1. It is I AM; do not be afraid. John 6:20.  Part 5. 

One reason John carefully recorded these I AM statements of Jesus was so the world would come to know the great expanse of His character and nature.  When we know Jesus and believe in Him as John did, we become one with Him.  Ephesians 5: 30-32 speaks of the strength of this unity- “For we [believers] are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’  This is a great mystery, but I [Paul] speak concerning Christ and the church.”  [Inserts mine.]  1 Corinthians 6: 16-17 adds- “For the two [husband and wife], He says, shall become one flesh.  But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.”  [Insert mine.]  His desire was we become one with Christ, as Jesus prayed in John 17: 20-22- “I do not pray for these [disciples] alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You Father are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.  And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one as we are one.”  [Insert mine.]

Again, when we know Jesus as John knew Him (intimately, as the I AM), we become one with Him.  When we pray in His name (I AM), and we pray allowing His spirit to pray through us, we pray effective and powerful prayers.  In John 16: 23-24, Jesus issued a new instruction to the disciples- “In that day you will not [need to] ask Me about anything.  I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whatever you ask the Father in [the merit of] My name [presenting all that I AM, and as the representative of I AM], He will give you.  Until now you have not asked in My name; but now ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy may be full and complete.”  Amplified version.

When we know Jesus as John knew Him, and we allow His spirit to pray through us, we also are one with and pray on behalf of the King.  We are issuing decrees and commands in the name of the King.  As a representative or ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20) of the King, we speak in prayer with the granted authority from the throne.  Even devils know and recognize that authority, and must obey.  Declarations must be followed, and commands obeyed.  Failure to obey the commands of the King will result in certain death.

It is not enough to teach and follow the faith.  There must be evidence of a power flowing out of that faith through a connection and oneness with the Spirit of Jesus.  Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2: 4-5- “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”  When we know Jesus (the I AM), believe in Him, and pray through His spirit, the power of prayer will be there.  Then lives and situations can be impacted, and the world will believe and be changed.

I AM, Part 5 by Larry W. Peebles

I AM, Part 5   by   Larry W. Peebles   November 3, 2017   17.42

My daughter has become quite successful in the Human Resources profession by being able to efficiently fill open employment positions for her clients.  She is able to quickly look at a resume, and determine if there is a potential fit for the open position.  If there is potential, a telephone interview will then reveal if this candidate should be recommended to the client for the position. If the client accepts her recommendation and conducts a face-to-face interview, a high percentage of her recommendations are ultimately hired for the position.  A big reason for her success is the quality of the initial questions she asks the candidate in the phone interview, along with her ability to listen to the answer and pursue with instinctive and appropriate follow up questions.  Her process is intended to dig into the basic question of who the candidate really is—what are their strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, etc. relative to the requirements for the position.

In this I AM series, we have been looking at the statements Jesus made regarding Himself—who He was/is, and His qualifications.  I can only imagine the look on the HR interviewer’s face if he or she asked Jesus who He was—to tell something about Himself.  The I AM statements we have studied thus far (Parts 1-4) are listed below, and they are not the average interview-type responses:

  1. I AM the bread of life. John 6:35.
  2. I AM the light of the world. John 8:12.
  3. I AM the gate/door. John 10:9.
  4. I AM the good shepherd. John 10:11.
  5. I AM the resurrection and the life. John 11:25-26.
  6. I AM the way and the truth and the life. John 14:6.
  7. I AM the true vine. John 15:1.
  8. I AM the Alpha (Beginning) and the Omega (End). Revelation 1:8 and 1:17-18, Revelation 21:6, and 22:13).
  9. I AM the Root and Offspring of David. Revelation 22:16.
  10. I AM the Bright Morning Star. Revelation 22:16.

These are some very weighty answers, but Jesus in the flesh was also Deity, and He had a big job to do while here on earth.  He came to save the human race from sin’s death and destruction.  This job required some unusual and divine qualifications.  He could not just be a “star,” He was the bright Morning Star.  He would not be a mere “leader”, He was the Way.  He was more than “honest,” He was the Truth.  He was above a “self-starter,” He was the Beginning and the End. He was better than a good “manager”, He was the good shepherd.   His qualifications would leave the interviewer speechless.  In Part 5 of this series, we will study more of these I AM statements.

I AM before Abraham was-

This might sound a bit tricky, but we begin with the background to the statement.  In John Chapter 8, verse 48, the Jews had a dialogue with Jesus to find out more about Him, and they accused Jesus of having a demon (being possessed by a demon).  The conversation became more intense when in verse 51 Jesus said- “Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word he shall never see death.”  In verse 52, the Jews pointed out that Abraham was dead, and the prophets were dead (both assumed to be greater than Jesus), and therefore they felt justified in saying that Jesus was demon-possessed because of His statement.  In verse 53 we read- “Are you greater than our father Abraham, who is dead?  And the prophets are dead.  Who do you make yourself out to be?”  Jesus responded that the Jews did not know Him or His Father (God).  Because the Jews claimed Abraham was their father, Jesus then said in verse 56- “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad.”

This had to really confuse the Jews.  How could Abraham, who was born and died before Jesus, have possibly seen the day of Jesus’ coming on the earth and have been glad for it?  Verse 57 says- “Then the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”’  Jesus concludes that part of the interview with this statement in verse 58- “Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’”  The Jews were so infuriated they were ready to stone Him, but He slipped away through the crowd.

There was no doubt Abraham was the father (ancestor) of these people.  God promised it in Genesis 12: 1-3- “The Lord said to Abram (later Abraham), ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.  I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’”  As we discussed in Part 4 (I AM the Root and Offspring of David), Jesus’ human heritage also traced back through David and Abraham, all the way back to Adam.

When did Abraham “see Jesus…and was glad”?  Genesis Chapter 14 tells of Abraham’s encounter with Melchizedek, king (jeru) of Salem (peace), or of Jerusalem (king of peace).  He is also referred to as the “priest of God Most High”.  Abraham honored this king and priest with a tithe from the spoils of battle, the first tithe in Scripture, and Melchizedek blessed him.  In addition to this strong symbolism, Jesus is King and High Priest forever according to Hebrews Chapters 6 and 7, and is from “the order of Melchizedek”.  Hebrews 7:3 says Melchizedek “had neither beginning of days nor end of life, but (was) made like the Son of God.”  It was Melchizedek’s assistance in battle against five other kings that saved Abraham’s life.  Abraham was very glad and grateful to meet this “Jesus”.

Abraham also met Jesus in Genesis Chapter 18.  The Lord came with three angels to prophesy a child for Abraham and Sarah (v. 10), and to warn Abraham of the coming destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (v. 20-23).  In this encounter Abraham bowed to the ground to honor the Lord (v. 2), called Him “Lord” (v. 3), washed His feet (v. 4), served Him bread (v. 6), and shed blood to serve Him meat (v. 7).  The symbolism here is also strong, and again Abraham was glad and grateful to meet the Lord Jesus.  He received the good news that a child would be born, and that his nephew Lot would be spared from the coming destruction.  Jesus was not referring to a figurative meeting with Abraham, He was referring to an actual meeting.

Jesus was not disputing that Abraham was the father of this nation.  He was pointing out that if the Jews knew Abraham as father without knowing Father God, they could not know Jesus, whom the Father sent.  Further, if all their attention, admiration and pride focused on Abraham as being the greatest they would also miss Jesus, who was greater than Abraham.  Jesus declared He was the I AM of Exodus Chapter 3, the eternal and almighty one who revealed himself to Moses.  He was not just present at creation, He was the Creator (Colossians 1:16-17- “by Him all things were created…all things were created by Him and for Him…He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.”)  He created all things, including Adam, and therefore was before Abraham.  Though Abraham was great, Jesus was greater.  The man Jesus standing before the Jews in flesh came after Abraham, but they did not recognize Him as the eternal Son of God who had always been.

 

It is I AM; do not be afraid-

Following the feeding of the five thousand in John Chapter 6, Jesus went onto the mountain to be alone.  After dark, His disciples got into a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee to get to Capernaum.  A great wind came up across the sea.  After rowing over three miles in the rough waves, they saw Jesus walking on the sea, coming toward the boat.  They were afraid.  In verse 20, Jesus said – “It is I (I AM); do not be afraid.” (Amplified version.)  They took Him into the boat, and immediately they were at the land where they were going.  They were through the storm.

I have seen the lion in Africa on several occasions.  This animal is so calm and self-assured.  It is fearless, powerful and composed.  The locals say its paw can break the back of a cape buffalo, and its jaws can crush its prey.  How much more powerful and fearless is the Lion of Judah.  Jesus is saying the “I AM” is with us, we do not need to be afraid.  He will get in the boat with us in the midst of a storm.

Consider Isaiah 43: 1-4- “But now, thus says the Lord, who created you O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.  For I AM the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior….you were precious in my sight, you have been honored, and I love you.”’

The Bible is full of examples where God tells us not to be afraid.  Joshua was told this a number of times when the Israelites were ready to move into the Promised Land and conquer the inhabitants.  The women who came to Jesus’ tomb were told not to be afraid.  After Jesus’ death and resurrection, He appeared to the disciples and said “Peace be with you.”  There is no need to worry or be afraid.  The Eternal One, the one who conquered death, is on our side.  In the Old Testament, He is the “Commander of the Armies of the Lord” (Joshua 5:13-15).  He is powerful and fearless, yet He is the Prince of Peace.  He goes before us in every storm and battle.  Before he was anointed king, David wrote in Psalm 27:1- “The Lord is my light (I AM the light of the world) and my salvation (I AM the resurrection and the life) -of whom shall I be afraid?”  (Inserts mine).

Isaiah 41:10 says- “Fear not, for I am (I AM) with you: Be not dismayed, for I am (I AM) your God.  I will strengthen you, yes I will help you.  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Inserts mine.)

Both of these I AM statements give us great insight into the omnipotent, eternal, and faithful Son of God who has always been involved in the affairs of mankind.  Taken together with the ten I AM statements from the preceding parts to this series, we see deep into the divine character of Jesus.  He is the literal center of the universe as its Creator, Sustainer, and absolute Focus.  Everything and everyone is by Him and for Him.  Yet with all the vastness of His creation, including the billions of people on this earth, He still comes for the one, you and me.

I AM, Part 4 by Larry W Peebles

I AM, Part 4   by   Larry W. Peebles   October 20, 2017   17.40

When Jesus described Himself to the world, He used unconventional words and phrases.  Terms that related to earthly things were not relevant or adequate to describe Him.  Though He appeared in the flesh, He was God, an eternal spirit.  He then demonstrated that He was/is God with miracles that defied the natural world.  In this series of articles, I have used Jesus’ own statements to pull out the super-natural qualities He wanted the world to examine and remember.  These self-descriptions are in the form of “I AM” statements recorded in Scripture, spoken from His mouth.

  1. I AM the bread of life. John 6:35.
  2. I AM the light of the world. John 8:12.
  3. I AM the gate/door. John 10:9.
  4. I AM the good shepherd. John 10:11.
  5. I AM the resurrection and the life. John 11:25-26.
  6. I AM the way and the truth and the life. John 14:6.
  7. I AM the true vine. John 15:1.
  8. I AM the Alpha (Beginning) and the Omega (End). In the Book of Revelation this was spoken four times (Revelation 1:8 and 1:17-18, Revelation 21:6, and 22:13).

All of these have been discussed in the previous parts to this series.  In addition to these eight, The Book of Revelation contains more of these “I AM” statements.  This article will explore Revelation 22:16, where Jesus spoke to John in a vision and said- “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches.  I AM the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

I AM the Root and Offspring of David-

Addressing the first part of this I AM statement begs this question– how can someone be both the root (ancestor) and the offspring of the same person?  The answer is that Jesus is both God and man.  In His deity, He is David’s Creator and God.  In His humanity, He is the offspring of Jesse, David’s father, and the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 11:1- “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch from his roots will bear fruit.”  (See also Romans 1:3, 4).  Luke takes an interesting approach in tracing Jesus’ genealogy.  He begins with Jesus, and goes backward through David, Jesse, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, and Noah, all the way back to Adam (Luke 3:23-37).  Adam is described there as the (first) son of God.  Since Jesus is the Creator, He is Adam’s father, and therefore is the Beginning and End of His own human genealogy.  This answers the questions raised by the Jews in John 8:48-59 where Jesus said “before Abraham was, I AM”.  It also speaks to Matthew 22:41-46, where Jesus points out to the Pharisees that David said (Psalm 110:1) the Lord (Jesus) was his Lord.  That is, the Lord who would come after him was also above and before him as Lord.  David, the shepherd/king was a fore-shadow of Jesus.  Jesus is truly son of David and son of man (Adam), yet Creator of both.

 

I AM the bright Morning Star

Luke called Jesus the Dayspring (Luke 1:78), the only time in the Bible this term is used.  The Hebrew word is “anatole”, which means the place of rising, the dawn.  Like Venus, the first planet/star to appear at dusk and the last star to be seen at dawn, Jesus is the guiding light to show us the way.  He is the point of reference for all life’s journeys and decisions.  Scientists say that if we could look down on our solar system, we would see Venus is the only planet to rotate clockwise.  This makes Venus unique, as is Jesus, the one and only Lord and King–son of God and Savior of the world.

Jesus fulfills Balaam’s prophesy in Numbers 24:17- “A star will come out of Jacob.”  It was a star that guided the wise men to His place of birth in Matthew 2:2-9. As the Word (John 1:1), Jesus is the lamp to our feet and light to our path (Psalm 119:105).  As previously studied in this series, He is the light of the world (John 8:12).

It is interesting that Isaiah says Satan is the “morning star” in Isaiah 14:12, an angel “fallen from heaven”.  He has lost his light, and is now associated with lies, darkness and death.  In sharp contrast, Jesus is the bright Morning Star, sitting in heaven at the right hand of the Father.  He is superior to the angels, the source of all truth, light and life (John 11: 25-26, and John 14:6).

2 Corinthians 4:6 says- “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of the darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the glory of God in the face of Christ.”  That light of the bright Morning Star is the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus.  Revelation says that light will never go out when it says in 21:23- “The city (of God) does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.”

When Moses was in the presence of the Lord, his face shined with such radiance he wore a veil (Exodus 34: 29-35).  Jesus called the believers “the light of the world.”  Our relationship with Him should be such that the radiance of His glory should shine on our faces when we have been in His presence.  Consider this from Hebrews 1:3- “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by His powerful word.”

Jesus is the bright Morning Star we can depend on, and the light of the world.  We must be so filled with Jesus that we too are a light into a dark world.  Jesus must shine on our faces. The beacon of our lives should reliably point others toward Him.  This is the only I AM statement we have studied where Jesus asks us to be a participant.  He says in Matthew 5:16- “So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

As the morning star closes each day and opens the next, Jesus is our hope for a new day, new life, and a fresh beginning.  Lamentations 3: 22-23 says- “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  Jesus as the bright Morning Star stands as the guaranty of this verse.

Our challenge is to be a conduit of the light of the Morning Star.  2 Peter 1: 17-18 tells us this is possible- “For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’  We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.  And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

The fate of the peoples of the world lies in the balance.  I close with Isaiah 60: 1-3- “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.  See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you.  Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”

I AM, Part 3 by Larry W Peebles

I AM, Part 3   by   Larry W Peebles   October 6, 2017   17.38

Before I retired, and while I was still in the workforce, I kept a current resume on myself.  If my address, phone number, or place of employment changed, I updated the resume.  If I received a promotion or change of title, it was noted in the resume.  Any significant life event that should be included in a resume was documented in case I had need to quickly present information on myself to any interested party.  I updated the resume more than I needed to, but I was always ready to describe myself and my business credentials.

Jesus did not use a resume to tell the world who he was.  His attributes were beyond description in conventional words and terms.  Information that might appear on a resume today, such as address, phone number, education, work experience, etc. was just not adequate to describe Jesus.  As we discussed in Parts 1 and 2 of this series (see archives July 28-17.28, and August 11-17.30), when Jesus began to tell the world who He is/was, he used a number of powerful statements that began with the phrase “I AM”.  Seven of these statements are contained in the Book of John, and were covered previously:

  1. I AM the bread of life. John 6:35.
  2. I AM the light of the world. John 8:12.
  3. I AM the gate/door. John 10:9.
  4. I AM the good shepherd. John 10:11.
  5. I AM the resurrection and the life. John 11:25-26.
  6. I AM the way and the truth and the life. John 14:6.
  7. I AM the true vine. John 15:1.

John, the disciple and apostle, was very clear (John 20:31) that his purpose in writing the Book of John was “that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”  John used Jesus’ own “I AM” statements to tell us who Jesus is/was.  It comes as no surprise that other writings of John also contain the “I AM” statement.  The Book of Revelation was written by John while he was in exile on the island of Patmos. At that time, Rome was becoming more of an emperor worship cult, and was growing increasingly less tolerant of the Christian worship of Jesus as Lord.  John was imprisoned on Patmos for his Christian missionary work.  While on the island, he received a series of visions and prophetic words (revelations) from Jesus, which he recorded.

Four times in the Book of Revelation, John quoted Jesus as saying “I AM the Alpha and the Omega”.  These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.

  1. Revelation 1:8- “I AM the Alpha and the Omega, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the almighty.”  This speaks to the eternal deity and power of Jesus.  He always was, is and will be.  He was not just present at creation, He is the Creator.  It was His Word and His power that created everything we see and understand as creation.  Colossians 1:16 says- “Everything was created through Him and for Him.”  It all began with Him, it all points to Him, and it will all end with Him.  He has the final say, and He already knows the ending.
  2. Revelation 1: 17-18- “Do not be afraid. I AM the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!  And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”  Jesus died for our sins, and rose from the dead.  All life emanates from Him.  He is the source of all life.  He is not only the author of all life, He has the authority over death.  He raised Lazarus from the dead in John 11, and then announced “I AM the resurrection and the life.”  When He was raised from the dead, He took the keys to hell away from the devil.  We do not ever need to be afraid of death.  If we believe in Jesus, death is merely a graduation from this natural existence into our eternal existence with Him.
  3. Revelation 21:6- “I AM the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.”  This is a promise of the free gift of His Holy Spirit, the One who teaches and comforts us, and gives us power to overcome this world.  Jesus made this clear in John 7:39, which says “by this (living water or water of life) he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive.”  When He says He will never leave nor forsake us, He guarantees that with the indwelling of His Spirit.
  4. Revelation 22:13- “I AM the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” This is similar to the three described above.  To use a contemporary phrase, the “circle of life” is Jesus.  He is life, who like a circle, is without beginning or end.  Each person born has always existed in the mind and plan of God, and once born is already on a path of eternal existence, even as a spirit being after their life on earth is done.  The only question that remains is where they will spend that eternal existence—in heaven or in hell.

The prophet Isaiah adds meaning to this discussion with these scriptures written approximately 800 years before the Book of Revelation:

  1. Isaiah 44:6- “This is what the Lord says-Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I AM the first and I AM the last; apart from me there is no God.”
  2. Isaiah 48:12-13- “Listen to me, O Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I AM He; I AM the first and I AM the last.  My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up together.”

Consider a contemporary term– the “it” factor.  One either has the desired persona “it factor” or they do not.  “It” may be hard to describe, but one “in the know” will recognize “it” when they see “it”.  “It” is cool, very desirable, and having “it” makes everyone else envious.  Some would say “it” is wit, charm, intellect or suave.  I can say without reservation Jesus is “it”.  He is or should be the ultimate object of our desire, the highest we can achieve.  He is the factor we cannot do without.  His value does not diminish or become worn.  He is the one we want to be like—not someone from Hollywood, politics or sports.

Everything true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8) is embodied in Jesus.  Believing in Jesus, following Jesus, and striving to become like Jesus is a serious matter.  It has eternal consequences, but it also has eternal rewards.  He is the beginning, and He is the end.  He is the finishing touch, and an eternity spent with Him should be the medal and ribbon for successfully crossing the finish line of this life.

 

 

Standing Out In A Crowd by Larry W Peebles

Standing Out In A Crowd   by   Larry W Peebles   September 22, 2017   17.36

I had a feeling he was the one when I saw him standing across the street.  He was tall, distinguished looking, and well dressed.  He could hardly hold back the tears.  In a moment, we would know for certain.  My wife and I were on the final afternoon of three days of street evangelism meetings in a small town in Kenya.  Along with our Kenyan friends, the pastor and worship team from a local church, we had set up on the street corner of a busy transportation station, where taxis (14 passenger vans) were coming and going, moving people from one place to another.  These taxis are the principal means of transportation in this part of Kenya.  Cars are expensive, so if it is too far to walk, people use these taxis.    The traffic in and out of this transfer station is quite busy.  The locals had set up a market here also, selling snacks, drinks, fruit and other merchandise to the travelers coming through.  So it was on this street corner out in the open air we had been preaching the good news of the Gospel of Jesus for three days.

Each day we had drawn a crowd bigger than the day before.  The travelers coming and going, as well as the locals working the booths in the market would stop and listen to the message.  They would join the dancing and singing to the lively worship music.  My wife and I both spoke that last afternoon, and our messages were connected.  The messages were similar in theme not because we had planned it that way, as neither of us knew in advance what the other would say.  The messages were similar because God intended it that way.  He often does that when we both speak in a ministry setting.

I spoke from John 14:6, where Jesus says He is “the way, the truth, and the life.”  I was reminding the crowd that when Jesus comes into a new believer’s heart as Savior, He brings real life and truth, and reveals the direction and purpose for that life.  That was when I heard the Lord say He does not come for the crowd, but always for the individual.  The size of the crowd does not matter.  When He looks at the crowd, he sees only the individual.  What I heard in my spiritual ear was so strong I spoke it aloud to the crowd.  I announced that Jesus Himself would be walking into our gathering to receive one soul into His salvation.  At least one person within the sound of my voice would make the decision this very afternoon to invite Jesus into his heart and life to be Savior, Lord, and King.

When we had both finished our messages to the people, we turned the meeting over to the local pastor.  He summarized beautifully, asking if anyone present wished to give their life to Jesus, and begin a new life by making a decision to follow Him.   That was when I saw the one man standing across the street.  He stood out, although he was in the crowd.  His lower lip trembled as he fought back the tears.  When the pastor asked anyone who wanted to make such a decision to step forward, the man broke immediately from the crowd to cross the street.  A large crowd followed.  This man received his salvation, and many others were also saved or touched through prayer.

In my last position before I retired from a career in homebuilding, I was responsible for the entire operation of a Division of a large national homebuilding Company.  One year, that Division delivered 2850 homes in the local market.  That works out as an average of 11 homes per work day that were started, constructed, finished, sold and closed.  Someone asked how we could have possibly built, sold and closed 2850 homes in one year.  My response was quick- one home, one customer at a time.

Jesus works the same way.  He is the Savior of the world.  All of mankind will forever owe a debt of gratitude to Him for His saving work on the cross.  Our very eternal existence with Him in heaven is because He came to earth to pay the price for ours sins so that we can be reconciled to God.  However, He works that salvation one person at a time.  I have seen video of massive meetings in Africa where the crowd, numbered in the millions, came to hear the message of Jesus.  The number of people who came forward to receive salvation was in the hundreds of thousands.  Jesus did not respond to the millions or the hundreds of thousands.  He met each one individually, just as He came for that one man that afternoon in a small town in Kenya.

The man looked healthy and strong, but the tears on his face said his heart was broken.  I do not know if his tears were joy or pain or both.  I do not know his past, or his present situation.  I do know that in that moment of salvation the sins of his past were forgiven and washed away.  The man was given a new life, a second chance, literally a new birth.  Hope and help became available.  The burden of having to carry the weight of one’s own trouble was lifted, and great joy entered into the situation.  Each situation and individual is different, and that is the reason Jesus comes for one person at a time.

Some would say that receiving the initial gift of salvation is only a starting point, and that is true, but it is an important starting point.  Every journey begins with that all- important first step.  There may be memories to deal with, forgiveness to seek from others, and efforts made to break bad habits and behaviors.  Mentoring and study in the word of God will help strengthen the resolve to not go back to old ways.  Prayer will need to become a habit, like talking with a good friend.  Each person is unique, and each salvation experience is unique.  That is why Jesus comes to one at a time to receive His specially created child back home.

On this day, it was more than enough to celebrate one man being born again into a new life of following Jesus.  While much can be said about the process of salvation, here are five things to remember about what commonly happens when a life is turned over to Jesus:

  1. We are a new creation. When Jesus becomes the Lord and Savior of our lives, we are born again.  2 Corinthians 5:17- “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come.  The old has gone, the new is here!”
  2. We are free from past sins. Romans 8:2- “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”  The Bible says our sins are removed from us “as far as the east is from the west.”
  3. We are redeemed and forgiven. Ephesians 1:7- “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”
  4. We are not only free from sin, we are made righteous. 2 Corinthians 5:21- “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
  5. We are alive in Christ. Ephesians 2:4-5- “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved.”  What we formerly considered living was merely the dead walking.  We move from being dead in sin to a new life in Christ.

Not only did the one man stand out in the crowd, but according to Luke 15:7, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”  All of heaven danced and celebrated to the music along with us because of that one man’s decision that day in a small town in Kenya.  Something outstanding happened- a man’s life was changed forever.  That, my friends, is priceless.

Who Am I by Larry W Peebles

Who Am I   by   Larry W Peebles   September 8, 2017   17.34

This is not a riddle.  It is a simple but profound question.  In the “I AM” series, Parts 1 and 2 (July 28 and August 11 in the archives of this website), Jesus answered the question of who He eternally was/is/will be.  He did it without presenting a resume of His name, address, and contact information.  He offered no background information such as education or job related experience.  He did not submit information on past positions and titles held.  There was no offer of character references for anyone to check.  Better than any resume could, He answered any and all questions concerning His true identity in the seven I AM statements recorded in the Book of John.

The beauty of what He said not only successfully and completely told who He was, it also answered a number of other questions that mankind has debated since creation.  These are deep and thought-provoking questions such as “What is truth?”, “What is the purpose of life?”, “Why do I exist?”, and “Is there life after death?”  When Jesus spoke the seven I AM statements, he identified Himself and answered all these questions with such wisdom that a resume could have never explained.

Another of those age-old questions is the question of “Who am I?” Just as Jesus answered the question of who He is, so God also tells us who we are.  We can set aside the normal resume-type questions of where we were born, current address and contact info, education, accomplishments or job experience, hobbies, and goals and plans.  We will not need personality or intelligence tests.  To know the answer to the question “Who am I?”, we should go to the real authority.  We should turn to words spoken by God, as contained in His written word, as His words have power.  Let’s consult with the One who made us to see what He said about us.

I have chosen twenty topics where God has spoken about us.  The list is by no means exhaustive.  These Scriptures are worth reading over and over again until our minds and spirits are renewed with what He says about us as believers.  We must drive out of our minds what others have said, together with what we may have begun to believe about ourselves.

1. God is our loving Father. Matthew 6:26- “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much better than they?”  Jesus said in John 16:27-28- “No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and believed that I came from God.”  I John 4:8- “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  Then consider Romans 8: 15- “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the spirit of adoption by whom we cry out ‘Abba (Daddy) Father’”.
2. God loves me. Romans 5:8- “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
3. We can come boldly and confidently to our Father through our faith in Christ. Ephesians 3:12.
4. We are God’s children. John 1:12- “Yet to all who did receive Him (Jesus), to those who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
5. If we are children, then we are also heirs. Romans 8:17- “Now if we are children, then we are heirs- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.”  Also, Galatians 4:7- “So you are no longer a slave (to sin), but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”
6. Jesus calls us friend. John 15:15- “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead, I call you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I Have made known to you.”
7. We are the temple of God. He lives in us.  1 Corinthians 6:19- “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”
8. We are a new creation. When Jesus becomes the Lord and Savior of our lives, we are born again.  2 Corinthians 5:17- “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come.  The old has gone, the new is here!”
9. I am free from my past sins. Romans 8:2- “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
10. I am redeemed and forgiven. Ephesians 1:7- “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”
11. I am not only free from sin, I am made righteous. 2 Corinthians 5:21- “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
12. I am alive in Christ. Ephesians 2:4-5- “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved.”
13. I can be triumphant. 2 Corinthians 2:14- “Now thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere.”
14. I am more than a conqueror. Romans 8:37- “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
15. I am blessed with spiritual blessings. Ephesians 1:3- “Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.”
16. My needs are supplied. Philippians 4:19- “But my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
17. I am a citizen of heaven. Philippians 3:20- “But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savor from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
18. I am an ambassador for Christ. Not only am I the son of a King, I am an ambassador.  2 Corinthians 5:20- “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.”
19. I am seated in heavenly places. Ephesians 2:6- “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”
20. I have nothing to fear. 2 Chronicles 20:15- “This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God’s.”’

These Scriptures contain the truth of what God has said about you and me.  He cannot lie because His words contain creative power.  If He said it, it is!  If He looked at a white wall and said the wall is green, it would not be a lie.  As soon as he said the wall is green, it would be green.  I encourage you to read these Scriptures for your own encouragement, and to realize the position and authority we have been given in Christ.  We are His children.  He thinks highly of us.