Rebellion comes from a wrong view of God. All the troubles of mankind can be traced to this one thing: a skewed understanding of who God really is. In the Garden of Eden our first father rebelled against God by taking of the forbidden fruit because the Serpent said, “Did God really say?” He inspired doubt in Eve and in turn she fed it to Adam. Once they believed God was possibly withholding something from them they disobeyed.

In the book of Deuteronomy we find a similar instance as the Children of Israel stood on the border to the Promised Land. The heads of each tribe came to Moses with the idea to send in spies to check out the land and Moses agreed it was a good idea. When they returned with a mixed report saying, “It is a good land which the Lord our God is about to give us.” They weren’t willing to go in because there were giants also. I want you to notice what Moses said to them he said, “Yet you were not willing to go up, but rebelled against the command of the Lord your God; and you grumbled in your tents and said, Because the Lord hates us, He has brought us out of the land of Egypt to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites to destroy us” (Deuteronomy 1:25-27). Did you catch that? The Children of Israel had the wrong viewpoint of God, they thought He hated them, so they rebelled.

When I was a child I went to church all the time with my dad and sisters but my understanding at the time was God was a giant Fun-sucker! I’m not saying He was or is, I’m just saying my viewpoint at that time in my life was that God was a demanding, rule-making, nit-picking, no fun having God. All I heard was boys aren’t supposed to have long hair, you shouldn’t listen to that kind of music, etc. I had a wrong impression of who God was, and what He was all about, therefore I rebelled. Don’t misunderstand me, the people in that church didn’t necessarily teach God was that way but it was what was translated through my young ears at the time.

So, like the Children of Israel, I didn’t enter into what God had promised either. Instead I set out to have fun. When I say fun, I mean once I was old enough to drive, as far as church goes, I was out of there! So I spent approximately the next fifteen years of my life partying and enjoying the pleasures of the flesh with the best of them. I never gave God or church any real thought until my world finally caved in and He seemed to be the only one I could turn to. Isn’t it funny how even though I had always seen God as a fun-sucker once the fun had run out of the fleshy life I was ready to give Him a try. I have shared my story several times in this blog so I’m not going to rehash it here. What I wanted to share today is how important it is to have the correct view of God.

One could make the argument that one of the main reasons Jesus, God in the flesh, came here was to reveal God’s true nature to us. Without Him coming to us in the flesh we would probably continue to rebel because we would still think He hated us. This is why the believer is instructed throughout the scriptures to look to Jesus. When we look to Jesus we see who God really is. Although life may throw all sorts of troubling things our way, we can face them with confidence when we understand how much God loves us. He loves us so much He sent His only begotten Son to die our death in order for us to receive everlasting life. Only a God who loves us would do such a thing, right? I encourage you today to get into the Word and discover who God really is apart from all of what you’ve thought and heard in the past. I’m sure as you look to Jesus you, like I, will start to see Him clearer and learn to trust Him more and more. It is only when we trust Him that we begin to walk in all He has promised.



We’ve been doing a study through Genesis lately and I have been amazed. Abraham truly is the father of the faith. He really didn’t have anything to go by other than hearing and believing God’s voice. He didn’t have anyone to disciple him or show him the way he had to move step by step in faith getting to know God along the way.

When you get to the New Testament you discover the Apostle Paul harkens back to Abraham on many occasions to make his argument about what the New Covenant is all about. For instance in Romans 4 he points us to Abraham to show us how he was declared righteous by simply believing God. He then goes on to explain how Abraham was actually declared righteous before he was circumcised which means he’s the father of all who believe whether they were Jew or Gentile. He tells us circumcision was actually a seal of the righteousness of faith not the reason for it.

You see Abraham lived way before the Law was ever given therefore Paul uses him as an example. The Law was only given as a temporary keeper until the real keeper came along namely Jesus. “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).

The whole point of the Galatians letter was because those churches had been infiltrated with Judaizers, a group of Jews, who moved in telling them they had to be circumcised and follow the Law of Moses. Paul vehemently opposed them with some pretty harsh language. He said, “If anyone preaches another gospel let them be cursed!” He then asked the Galatians “who has bewitched you?” It was as if the Judaizers had put a spell on the Galatians by pushing the Law on them. Paul was not going to stand for it for one minute!

Just as in Romans 4, Paul in chapter 3 &4 of the Galatians letter points them back to Abraham. He reminds them Abraham was reckoned righteous by his believing God and not by his circumcision. He then does a brilliant job of explaining how the Promise God had given to Abraham wasn’t cancelled out by the giving of the Law with Moses. The Law in fact was given to lead us to Christ not add to Him.

What has occurred to me is there are significant portions of the New Testament dedicated to teaching believers to keep their eyes on Jesus. It seems we all live with the ever present threat of drifting back to our pre-Christ lifestyle. The book of Hebrews for instance admonishes the Jews to not go back to the Law. I suppose it’s not too difficult to imagine their dilemma. Their whole history was filled with stories of Moses, the commandments, the Temple, priests, sacrifices, etc. Now they’re being told to turn away from all of that and turn to Jesus. For some it was tough to let go.

On the other hand the Gentiles or pagans had their own past to deal with. Most of them came from backgrounds filled with idols, fleshly living or both. Once they came to Christ they had to be told not to return to their idols or heathen lifestyle’s. On top of that there was the added element of some of the Jewish religious leaders trying to convert them to Judaism.

Ultimately the answer is rather simple. Keep your eyes on Jesus! Whether Jewish or Gentile the answer is the same. “Turn your eyes on Jesus!” Make the final decision He is enough. The Law, idols, etc. cannot add anything to Jesus and in fact if we attempt to add anything to Him we will find ourselves turning from Him entirely. This is what Paul meant when he told the Galatians “You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law (or anything else for that matter); you have fallen from grace.” You see falling from grace means you are looking somewhere besides the finished work of Christ for your salvation. I don’t think it would be too much to say God has done all He’s going to do for us in His Son Jesus Christ!



There are many Bible passages that can cause apprehension at first glance. Thankfully upon further investigation we can receive some fresh light and discover there’s actually encouragement to be had in place of fear.  The 15th chapter of John and Jesus’ parable of the vine and branches used to be one such passage for me.

Jesus tells us, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-dresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” (John 15:1-3). I have to admit I have struggled in the past attempting to understand what Jesus meant by “He takes away”, and “He prunes.” The good news is I think I’ve finally come to some understanding of these statements and found peace and even encouragement in them.

“He takes away” can also be translated as “He lifts up.” Whew! That changes everything don’t you think? I mean there’s a big difference between taking the branch away and lifting it up, right? You see Jesus is talking about how the vine-dresser might find branches laying on the ground from time to time. He would come along, lift them up, and put them back on the trellis.

Jesus’ talk of “pruning” brought its own touch of fright because all I could think of when I heard the word “prunes” was those particular branches were to be cut off. Thankfully I discovered “He prunes” also could be translated another way. If you look at the verse immediately after the pruning statement, in verse 3, you’ll see where Jesus said, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” The term “He prunes” and “clean” are the same. So you see what’s really happening here is the vine-dresser comes along, discovers some of his branches are lying in the mud, so he lifts them up and cleans them off.

Ultimately what Jesus is saying in this passage is His Father is the vine-dresser and His goal is to produce the most fruit He can possibly get in His vineyard. In fact Jesus said, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit…” (verse 8). So you see our role in all of this is to simply “abide.” That’s it! All we have to do is abide in Christ; and He will produce the fruit through us.



“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48 NASB).

Matthew 5-7 is what is commonly known as the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus lays down some pretty heavy things to describe what God’s kingdom is like. For the most part it is filled with things that sound completely opposite to the world in which we live. For instance He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…Blessed are those who mourn…Blessed are those who hunger and thirst and my favorite: Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you.” I don’t know about you but at first glance these things don’t sound like blessings.

Jesus was a bit misunderstood in His day because He spoke of a heavenly kingdom and his audience didn’t have ears to hear. You see Jesus lived and spoke from the Spirit while His hearers were attempting to interpret Him with only earthly ears. So what He saw as blessing appeared to be a curse to most. Jesus understood how much the world needed Him and that the poor, mourning, hungry, thirsty and persecuted ones would be the ones to come to Him because they would recognize their need. Jesus knew how to see through things to the source and goal; whereas we tend to be blinded by the immediate.

So when we come to Matthew 5:48 and its command to be perfect we think to ourselves “How can I be perfect?” If we look at the immediate context for this verse we will see Jesus had just said we are to love even our enemies. He made the point that anyone can love those who love them back but we are to love even those that don’t. This is God’s kind of love. Essentially Jesus is telling us to love with God’s perfect love. Well, the question still remains can we be perfect and love others with God’s kind of love?

If we look at another section of the Sermon on the Mount we discover Jesus mentions the Ten commandments but not to set them aside, He actually seems to tighten down on them a bit. He says things like, “You have heard it was said, Do not commit murder; but I say don’t even be angry with a brother.” Again He said, “You have heard it was said, You shall not commit adultery; but I say you will be guilty even for looking at a woman with lust.”

When we look at what Jesus had said prior to His command for perfection it seems to make a little more sense. You see I believe what Jesus is doing in this sermon is backing us all into a corner. He is saying to us in so many words that God is perfect, and He demands perfection from us. For those people standing in front of Him that day it must have been tough to hear and even now I think most people attempt to rationalize what Jesus said by saying things like “Well, what He really meant was…” Essentially we end up saying something equivalent to God just wants us to do our best and that’s all He asks of us. I say Phooey!

I think Jesus meant exactly what He said and has a right to demand perfection, but the good news is He already knows apart from Him we cannot attain it. So really what He’s doing here is pushing us in the hopes that we will give perfection a good try, because He knows if we do we will eventually come to the same conclusion He has and we might cry out to Him for salvation.

In Hebrews 10:14 we read, “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” Wow, there you have it! God does in fact demand perfection but He then goes on to fulfill it in us. You see God is perfect and His Law is perfect therefore He rightfully demands perfection from His creation. God gave us His law on tablets of stone through Moses then Jesus came along teaching us the Spirit behind the commandments. Not only that, but He fulfilled it too. “For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4). “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:3-4).



Our Sunday school class has been studying Galatians lately and today we were in chapter 3. The chapter starts out pretty strong with Paul asking them “who has bewitched you?” Apparently the Judaizers, who came in telling them they had to be circumcised and obey the Law of Moses, had them all types of confused.

Paul, on a past visit, had preached the gospel to them, and miraculous things started to happen among them through God’s Spirit, but now they seemed to be wavering a bit, actually being tempted to put themselves under the Law of Moses. So Paul asked them “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” He then went on to ask, “does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?”

The next thing Paul does is to point the reader back in time to Abraham the father of the faith. He says, “Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” You see Abraham simply heard God and believed Him that’s it! Abraham is Paul’s go to man when it comes to illustrating a life lived by faith and rightfully so. After all, God gave Abraham a promise and he simply believed. Abraham had no Bible, sacrificial system, temple to worship in, history of believers in his family, and there didn’t appear to be any priest or preacher he could consult. He simply heard God and believed Him. Amazing!

You see the Apostle Paul is telling the Galatians, and we who live by faith, that is exactly what we’re called to do. We don’t live according to a set of laws or traditions but by the promise of God. In fact anyone attempting to live according to Law is charged with observing every bit of it. The life lived according to the Law actually ends in a curse because none of us are capable of perfect obedience. The good news is Jesus Christ became the curse for us by hanging on a tree so that we could be made righteous.

I think God has always wanted people who would simply hear Him and do what He says. The Law was only given as a keeper, or schoolmaster, until Christ came. Now that Christ has come we are no longer under the authority of the schoolmaster in fact it has actually served it’s purpose because it’s whole reason for existing was because of transgressions until the way of faith in Christ was opened. Now that Christ has come, we place our faith in Him and live according to the promises of God, not a set of laws.

Many don’t understand our true predicament as fallen people. According to the scriptures we aren’t simply bad people who need to be good, we’re actually dead people who need to be enlivened. In fact that’s what Christ came here to do. He didn’t come to make bad people good, He came to make dead people live. With that in mind we can agree with Paul when he said, “If a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law.” The truth is “we are all shut up under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” Don’t you love the simple yet wise plan of God? Jesus is the seed of Abraham and through Him all nations truly are blessed.



For the past two weeks the guys in the jail Bible study have brought up how they don’t want to go back into their cell after our time together. It’s as if the Bible study is an oasis for them to take a deep breath and receive peace, an all too quickly passing moment of rest, before having to face the other more unruly men sharing their cell with them.

This peace and rest they were feeling wasn’t exactly what the topic of discussion was for the day but I thought it worth while to follow it through for a minute. I told them, “In a sense being in here (jail) isn’t any different than being out there (the world).” Everyone needs a place to go from time to time in order to regroup, think, breathe and receive peace. The good news is, while a physical place on a map is good, God’s Word tells us He is our peace and resting place.

Throughout the Old Testament we are told how God communicated to the Children of Israel through Moses and his teaching them by way of the Tabernacle, the Ten Commandments (Sabbath rest), sacrificial system, dietary laws, etc. But the truth has always been God wants us to come to Him for real rest. The rest and peace God intends to give us is only found in His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus did say, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” So you see it isn’t simply a day the Jews see as the “Sabbath”, being Saturday, or to most Christians, “Sunday” that is a day of rest.

In the letter to the Colossians, Paul wrote “No one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day–things which are a mere shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” So you see the “Real thing” is Christ!

In the Gospel of John, Jesus told His disciples “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” The world’s version of peace is a peace that can only come when war has ended and the guns have stopped firing. Jesus’ version of peace isn’t based on this at all. His peace is a peace that we have based on His Spirit dwelling within us whether there is noise and turmoil all around us, such as these men are dealing with in the cell, or if we are in a room that is quiet and still such as our time of Bible study.

As we wrapped up our time together I prayed for them and the men in their cell. I prayed that the men would be a light to those back in the cell. I asked that God would shine through them so the others might see the peace and rest and be drawn to want the same for themselves. One thing is for sure, when you’re in jail you come to appreciate the little things in life such as the ability to find a place to simply sit still, and enjoy a bit of peace and quiet. Have you taken Jesus up on His offer of rest?



“He ever lives to intercede”, “He is the life”, the “I AM”, “the same yesterday, today and forever”, “slain from the foundation of the world”, ” He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.” These few verses quickly came to me while pondering the timelessness of our Savior.

We are creaturely and therefore limited by time, but God being the Creator isn’t confined to time. Eternity, instead of being what we might call a long time, really can’t be defined by time at all. Sometimes we say things like “in eternity past” or “eternity future.” The truth is eternity is simply eternity. It is a timeless realm where everything simply “is”. This is where our God, the Great “I AM” resides.

You may be asking, “why is he talking about this?” Well, the question will inevitably arise, “How does Jesus Christ dying 2,000 plus years ago affect me today? How can what He did on the cross, on a hill called Calvary, in a place called Golgotha, at a specific time in history that many years ago include me?”

While there may be many ways to go about answering this question, for now let’s look in Numbers 19. This chapter is dealing with a red heifer and how it provided cleansing for the Old Testament worshiper. Without attempting to define all of what this means, let me just say the red heifer was in fact killed and burned at a particular point in time yet its ashes were sprinkled on the worshiper at a later date. For instance the heifer could have been killed and burned to ash on a particular day of one week, but then sprinkled, or applied, to the worshiper a week later. So we see, while the death of the heifer did in fact take place at a very specific time and place, yet the worshiper is declared clean days later. In the same way we can see Christ crucified on a specific date, in what we call the past, and yet even now His death, burial and resurrection is sufficient and can be applied to us, by way of His Spirit, on what we call today.

As you read through the letter to the Hebrews, you will see that all of what came before Jesus Christ such as the Old Covenant, Temple, sacrifices, priesthood, etc. were what are known as types and shadows. In fact Hebrews 8 tells us “Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

So we can see that everything used in the work of the Old Testament priesthood to cleanse the worshiper was temporal at best. These were simply tools God gave Moses in order to reveal Heavenly, timeless truth to humans living an earthly, time-based existence. The good news is we now have a better Covenant with better promises. The Old Covenant was only put in place till Christ came; so now, through His Spirit, we can enjoy not only the cleansing of our flesh, but we can actually enjoy a cleansed conscience. Unlike the ashes of a heifer, the blood of Jesus Christ enables us to enter the Holy Place with confidence. We can now “draw near with sincere hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:19-22).

Jesus Christ was God in the flesh. He came here to offer “whosoever will” an eternity with Him in Glory. Even though the Lamb was slain from before the foundation of the world, It was manifested through Jesus’ perfect, sinless life being given as an offering for many on the cross. So, essentially what had been ordained from before the foundation of the world, in eternity, was worked out in the life of Christ in a specific time and place. What an amazing God we have that He would go to such lengths to save us!

Jesus Christ is “The Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). 

“Jesus is now our High Priest forever”; and He “has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life” (Hebrews 7:16-17).