Sunday, December 28, 2008

GOD as SON Word-Study Devotional


If God had sent His only begotten Prince, would we have felt better about worshipping Him? Or, perhaps, if He had sent a Sovereign Lord, wouldn’t we have better understood God as the Almighty Sovereign ruling over us, conforming us into obedient servants of his domain? Or what about a gladiator or a general? Couldn’t we have comprehended His leadership better—His instructions for discipleship?

But He didn’t; God sent His only begotten Son…a Son? What’s so incredible about that? There’s nothing special in the Greek language to bring out of the word, “son”. The word is used thousands of times in both the Old and New Testaments. It’s even used for the “foal” of a donkey! (Matt. 21:5; Zech. 9:9)

Maybe it would have been more believable had His Son been born through the Levitical priesthood or born into a royal family. But He wasn’t; He was born of a peasant virgin in an obscure village announced only to a few lowly shepherds and a few foreign magi. How much more difficult could God have made His Son believable as Israel’s Messiah—an international Peace-keeper—proposing an eternal kingdom? Why did God do it this way? Think about it.

Now add to your thoughts His upbringing. Jesus was subjected to a quick flight into a foreign land—Egypt, of all places! (Mt. 2:13-15) How would Joseph, a carpenter, survive in a desert country that hated his ethnicity? Fortunately Joseph, Mary, and Jesus did not stay very long in Egypt.

Our next information on Jesus says that He grew up in a typical Jewish home, “in favor with God and men” (Lk. 2:52). This had to mean that He was well disciplined, both physically and spiritually. Yet, He was still a boy, growing up and learning obedience. His only growing up story we have is when He wandered off from His kinsmen and was missing for about three days.

Then His life story jumps to about thirty years old, when Jesus was ready to be ordained by His Father: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” said God, when introducing Jesus to His ministry. Then immediately He led Jesus into a wilderness to be tempted by the devil (cf. Mt. 3:16-4:11). For forty days He, as Son of Man, hungered and thirsted in His flesh. Satan was allowed to feed on the limits and lures of the flesh to try and destroy the mission—the ministry—of God as Son. It appeared as if the flesh, the world, and the devil were against His Son’s success.

So why—why did God subject Himself as Son in such a way? There is a simple answer found in two simple words: “love” and “obedience.” God the Father so loved the world that He subjected His Son to the frame of a physical being, that He might experience your pain, your feelings, your situation, and still say, “I know where you are and how you feel; I have been there.” Don’t think otherwise, because He has! (cf. Phil. 2:5-8)

God as Son lived full of the love of His Father and in full obedience to His will. Yet this close communion with the Father did not eliminate Him from suffering. He was rejected by His own kindred; He was falsely accused even while helping people with disease and death. He walked over a 70-80 mile region, doing good, proclaiming the gospel, and teaching a few followers. And His reward: Jesus was arrested during His quiet time, pushed through a questionable judicial setting, and sentenced to death by the Jewish religious leaders. After that, He was cruelly beaten and humiliated, forced to carry a portion of His death apparatus, and nailed to a cursed cross for public display. (cf. 1 Pet. 4:12-13; 5:1; 2 Cor. 1:5; Phil. 3:10; Heb. 5:8)

Think about it: the head that brought forth words of life—a crown of thorns was thrust down upon it! The hands that healed blind eyes and cripple bodies and embraced little children—nails were driven through them! The feet that walked on water and were bent as He stooped to wash His followers’ feet—nails were driven through them! The heart that offered hope, peace, and love—a spear was thrust into it! Yet the Bible says God as Son, endured the suffering and despising the shame, did and allowed all the above “for the joy that was set before Him” (Heb. 12:2).

God’s joy and love were in His Son. Jesus’ joy and love were in obeying the Father. Why? Because both could see beyond time. They saw mankind headed into a hell-bound eternity with no way to stop. So God as Son, was born to live and die for lost mankind—you and me. What love and obedience I see in this! Do you? Has He stopped your hell-bound slide into eternity? If so, then shouldn’t you love and obey Him fully as an adopted child of His? God as Son…you know, when you think about it, it makes eternal sense.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

GOSPEL Word-Study Devotional

May this devotional urge you on in the wonderful task of sharing Jesus Christ. -BJ


“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Romans 1:16 (all verses: NKJV)

“But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all,…” Galatians 2:14a

“Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’” Mark 1:14-15

Euangelion (S#2098, pronounced: yoo-ang-ghel′-ee-on) is a compound Greek word expressing two major themes: eu = good, or well; and aggelos = angel, or messenger. Put them together again and you get the basic definition as “a good message,” or, “a good messenger.” Since it was a proclamation, it has retained the meaning as, “Good News!” The Good News, that is, the Gospel, was the announcement that the Messiah had come to deliver God’s people from their bondage, their sins.

From Mark’s Gospel version (see above), we have Jesus preaching the Gospel as something one must believe in, meaning to “repent (turn away from, in the mind and heart) and believe (turn to in faith and trust) in the gospel (the Good News!).” Paul teaches us that the Gospel is not only the “truth,” but “it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (see above). It was this great proclamation that brought new life into a dead, sinful world—new life into a dead, corrupt, and misguided religion.

Jesus Christ is that Great News!—the Gospel that still “is the power of God to salvation.” So great was this news, that God had it infallibly penned in four different books: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In Matthew, Jesus is revealed as the promised Son of David, King of the Jews. In Mark, Jesus is revealed as a Servant, performing more miracles here than in any of the other gospels. In Luke, Jesus is revealed as the Son of Man, a Perfect Man, tracing His genealogy back to Adam. In John, Jesus is revealed as the Son of God, fully disclosing His deity with the Father. Someone has said that Matthew appeals to the Jews, Mark to the Romans, Luke to the Greeks, and, in John, Jesus appeals to all mankind as the Son of God, the Savior of the world: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” –John 3:16

The resurrected Jesus says to us, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). The Gospel should still be our proclamation of Great News! It is the best news any man or woman could ever hear and understand. He is still the Deliverer—the Savior of mankind. The Gospel is our message from God of a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And we are the “angels” (aggelos), God’s messengers, sent to the world to proclaim that a Deliverer has come to save His people.

Does the Gospel excite you? Do you proclaim it? You may not be a preacher, an evangelist, or a missionary, but you should still find ways to proclaim the Gospel. You have a “Good News” testimony, don’t you? You can still give a Gospel witness through a tract or a Bible or by doing a deed that could lead to a Gospel presentation, can’t you? You can financially support someone who is presenting the Gospel, can’t you? The answer is YES! Find ways to present the Gospel to your world around you. It is still “the power of God to salvation.” Use it for the conversion of the lost!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

GOD as FATHER Word-Study Devotional

Perhaps today, you need to refresh your vision of God as Father. May our Father strengthen you today. -BJ


When God wanted to separate His people from their slavery, He identified Himself as their Father. He called them, “My son, My firstborn.” When He separated them, He reminded them of how He “bore [them] on eagles’ wings and brought [them] to Myself.” (Ex. 4:22; 19:4) The picture painted is one of strength, support, protection, and love. Later, as His “freed” children began to show signs of disobedience, Moses taught His children a song about God: “Is He not your Father, who bought you? Has He not made you and established you?” (Deut. 32:6, in part; full song: Deut. 32:1-43)

God the Father “made” you; that means He is your Creator. How created? “In His image” is the resounding reply. The incredible display of His image is found in the complex DNA of man’s genetic construction. The Father created “in His image” in order to establish His love into Man, thus making him His relational creation. We have a Creator who wants to relate to us as “Father.”

The word, Father, is abab. It is Strong’s first documented word in his Hebrew lexicon. It is said to be the first word spoken by a typical child. (That must prove that a baby’s first word is Hebrew for Da-da; J) It is simple to pronounce, yet hard to comprehend. God, the Creator is called, abab, “Abba, Father,” a term designed to show love, strength, support, and protection. (cf. Mk. 14:36; Rms. 8:15; Gal. 4:6)

In the Psalms, David begins to express his love to God as Father (Ps. 68:5; 89:26; 103:13). In the New Testament, Jesus declares God as His Father and our Father. The Greek word is pater (#3962; pronounced, paht-ayr), from which we get: parent, paternal, patriarch. Each of these English words expands the foundational meaning behind God as our Father. His fatherhood expresses our lineage, our kindred, our family, our spiritual “DNA.” God is our Father; that is, He is Father “to as many as received [Jesus], to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe on His name” (John 1:12).

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5:16). “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes” (Mt. 11:25). “…for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God” (John 16:27). “…one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:6). There are many more “Father” verses that describe His fullness in each follower.

God as Father loves you in your best interest. He knows your physical and mental character. He has created you and fashioned you to fit that special, unique place in the body of His beautiful Bride, selected for His Son. You simply need to learn to yield to Him and His direction for you. You may see your spiritual siblings running all around His feet, doing things to get His attention; but know that He sees you as well and he loves you equally and wants you to see Him, NOT through others, but through His Son, Jesus Christ, who has gained you equal access to the Father. (Heb. 4:16)

Try to envision yourself as a young child before God as Father. See yourself as one who is uniquely set in His presence as a child He deeply loves and cares for. Yes, whom the Father loves, He disciplines, that you might “readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live” (Heb. 12:9b). He is not a bad role model, as some human fathers tend to be. But it is through His loving fashioning and disciplines that He teaches you to respect Him and to be under His rule, His authority.

Can this be said of you? Do you compete with others for the Father’s attention or do you have confidence in Him because you know He sees you? The Bible calls this confidence of position a “rest” (Heb. 3:6 - 4:16). Are you in rest before the Father? Is your confidence in Him? Perhaps there is pain involved in your relationship right now; can you see this as Him fashioning you, as His loving discipline? Remember, God as Father loves His children. Be subject unto Him and bless this wonderful name: “Abba, Father.”

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

SLAVERY Word-Study Devotional

Only when we are "captured" can we fully understand and appreciate this word study. This study is worth your time to read and apply to your Christianity. -BJ


15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. (Romans 6:15-19 NKJV)

Most people think negatively toward the word, “slavery.” But it is this very word used in the New Testament to describe a believer’s “positive” attachment to his God. It is first used to describe our old attachment to “sin leading to death” (Rms. 6:16), but when you “obeyed from the heart” (v. 17) the pages of the New Covenant—the Gospel—“you became slaves of righteousness” (v. 18). Notice the continued use of the word, “slaves.” Remember, also, that he is speaking “to all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints” (1:7).

“Slave” in Greek is doulos (Strong’s #1401), which basically means “to be in subjection.” (It comes from deo = to bind; be in bonds; #1210). A slave was one whose attachment to his master was greater than his attachment to anything else, including his own life. He lived in total submission to his master’s will.

To denote the strength of this word, the New American Standard Bible sometimes translates it as, “bondslave.” It is the word Mary used when she obeyed the angel’s announcement of her virgin birth of the Messiah (Lk. 1:38, 48 NASB). Paul used it to describe Epaphras, “a bondslave of Jesus Christ,” (Col. 4:12 NASB) who labored “fervently…in prayers” (v. 12 NKJV) with a “great zeal” (v. 13 NKJV) for the Colossians that they may stay the course to the completion of the will of God. Peter used the words, “bondslaves of God” (1 Pet. 2:16 NASB) to guide believers’ thinking and actions under their local governing authorities. These honorable believers—and more!—bore the title as bondslaves of Christ, obediently attached to their Master and Savior to do His will, “that you should follow His steps” (1 Pet. 2:21).

Have I described your “Christianity”? Look at the above again. Are you in bonds to Jesus? Are you attached to Him as Mary was to her conception of the Holy Child? Do you go about your day as bound to Jesus in slavery to His bidding, like Paul and Peter described and lived? Do you intercede for your church like Epaphras slaved fervently in prayer over his church in Colossae? Do you intercede for your governing authorities like Peter admonished? (cf. 1 Pet. 2:11-17)

Notice in the Romans passage, cited at the beginning, that we “became slaves of righteousness” (6:18). Well how do you do that? When does that happen? Paul says you must submit to it (Rms. 10:3f), meaning you get attached to Jesus and, therefore, get “saved” (10:9) from the law’s just verdict against your sin nature. So how do you get attached? Well, Romans 6:19 uses a human flesh illustration; Paul says to “present your members [i.e., your bodily attachments, functions, feelings, etc.] as slaves of righteousness.” (If you need more instruction as to what your “members” are and do, go to Colossians 3.)

The failure of the civilized, Western culture’s Christianity lies in its refusal to become slaves to Jesus. We don’t seem to “get it”—that we are enslaved to sin which is death, until we become enslaved into righteousness, which is eternal life in Christ Jesus. Slaves follow behind their Master. It is in this positional “train” that we are led “in triumph in Christ,” that we participate in diffusing “the fragrance of His knowledge in every place” (2 Cor. 2:14) where we are led. May God help us to choose and enjoy His enslavement.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

"FOLLOW ME" Word-Study Devotional

"Followship" needs to be rediscovered and applied in the believer's everyday life. Although a bit more technical with the verb tenses, please read this devotional word study carefully and prayerfully. As always, if it ministers to you, FWD it to your email friends. If it needs clarification, email me. Your servant and His, BJ


“Follow Me.” Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? But I want you to think of the thrust of the verb tense here and in the following verses. In Matthew 4:19, the verb tense is present indicative active when Jesus calls out to Peter and Andrew. Today, we might say it this way: “Come here now;” or, “Get over here, now.” That’s why you read next, “They immediately left their nets and followed Him” (v. 20; NKJV). Next, Jesus comes to two more fishermen, James and John, who were mending their nets. It simply says, “He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him” (v.21c-22). This verb tense, aorist indicative active, is similar to the above, but emphasizes a statement that occurred.

“Follow Me.” Akoloutheo (in Matt. 8:22, and hereafter: Strong’s #190) is a compound command: A = together, union + keleuthos = a road, a way. Put it together and you understand that Jesus is inviting His disciples to come and follow in His way. “Join Me now and follow in My steps,” we would say today. Here the verb tense is present imperative active. The pres. imper. leaves no room for pondering; it means “now.”

His call was not cloudy; it was clear. That’s why when one fellow wanted to wait until his father passed away, Jesus responded, “Follow Me [now] (pres. imper. act.), and let the dead bury their own dead [at the appropriate time] (aor. inf. act.)” (Matt. 8:22). When you are called to follow Jesus, there is no looking back (cf. Luke 9:62). Careers become secondary to the call. Family priorities change. The tax collector left his booth; the fishermen left their nets. Although there were times of doubt, only one of the original twelve betrayed the call.

Today’s “followship” might be what we call, “discipleship.” While some separate the call of becoming a Christian to the call of discipleship, here in the initial calling of Jesus to His disciples, there was no separation, no two callings. The initial call of Jesus to His disciples and to other potential followers was the same: “Follow Me” (Matt. 9:9), to the tax collector Matthew; to all His disciples (16:24); to the rich young ruler (19:21); all these are in the present imperative active, meaning, “Follow Me now.”

What does “followship” mean to you today? In the New Testament, there appears to be two responses: one is like the Jews, who had a religious relationship with God, but despised and criticized following Jesus imperatively and closely; the other is like the disciples (and others) who placed their worldly priorities aside and put Jesus at the forefront of their followship. The difference is recorded throughout the Scriptures. Listen to the following examples and see if you hear the call of followship:

“And when [the shepherd] brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep [immediately] follow him, for they know his voice.” (John 10:4; pres. ind. act.)

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me [now].” (John 10:27; again, pres. ind. act.)

“If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me [now]; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” (John 12:26; here, pres. imper. act.)

Are you a sheep of His? Are you His servant? Then how is your followship? To enter into His followship, Jesus says, “You follow Me [now!]” (John 21:22; pres. imper. act.) Please interpret it the way He meant it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

ABIDE Word-Study Devotional

The message of Jesus to abide in Him is an imperative command that gives the key to spiritual maturity. May this brief devotional spur you on! - BJ


“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth…but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” – John 14:16-17 (in part; NKJV)

“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home [abode – KJV] with him.’” – John 14:23

“Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.”– 1 John 2:24-25

When Peter warned followers of Christ of the destructive nature of the devil, he told them to “Be sober, be diligent;” (1 Peter 5:8) Few followers misunderstand this imperative command about the devil. Yet this sobering, diligent command is the same verb tense Jesus used toward His followers when He told them to “Abide in me, and I in you.” (John 15:4 – aorist imperative middle) This connectivity to Jesus was imperative if anyone wished to have spiritual life and to bear spiritual fruit. I hope this comparison awakens you to the essential nature of the expression given in the command to “abide” in Jesus.

“Abide” is meno (Stong’s #3306) and “abode” is mone (3438). Abide means, to stay, to remain; abode means, a staying, a residence. Abide is sometimes translated as “remain” or “continue.” Abode is translated as “mansions” in John 14:2, and “home” in 14:23 (above). Two major things are taught in the above verses: 1.) to have spiritual life requires you to abide in Jesus; and, 2.) spiritual abiding requires the ongoing presence of the Triune God in you. Both words, in the verb tenses in the above verses, call for an understanding that abiding in Jesus is to be an enduring, ongoing relationship. It is equivalent to a marriage (cf.: Ephesians 5:22-33).

But how is this done physically? How does flesh abide with spirit? A careful reading of each context reveals that followers abide with Christ—that is, have an ongoing, maturing relationship with Him—by immersing themselves in His word. Try it for a moment; absorb yourself in John 14 and 15. Jesus consistently says that you must believe His words, the things He tells you (:2). You must believe that He is teaching you what His (our) Father is telling Him (:10). He says He will send the Holy Spirit to dwell in you to “teach you all things” (:26). Jesus says He is “the truth” (:6) and His Holy Spirit is “truth” (:17); and, “He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me” (:21). John 15 continues this rapid-fire reminder that abiding in the love of Christ is revealed by you keeping His word (15:10). Notice also that the condition of Christ’s “joy” to “remain (3306: abide) in you,” in 15:11, is sandwiched by verses 10 and 12 that say we must keep His commands. “These things I have written to you…” (1 John 2:26).

The word of God produces the works of God (cf.: 14:10-15). Oh that followers of Jesus would fall in love with His word! Our Bibles should be carried with us as our spiritual oxygen because it is our life! Let us understand that to abide in Jesus is to know Him and His word. Everyone has this same abiding access in the Word of God. Go get it now! Read from it. Take it to every church worship service and Bible study.

Friday, September 26, 2008

LOVE - Agape Word-Study Devotional

Trying to describe God's love on one page is like trying to describe a honeymoon in one sentence...impossible! That's the greatness of His love.


In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. – 1 John 4:9 (all verses, NKJV)

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. – 1 John 4:16

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. – 1 John 5:3

God’s “love” is defined as agape (Strong’s # 25, 26, 27). It is a unique word in the New Testament that describes God’s benevolence, grace, and mercy. Agape carries the idea of responsibility, giving out that which is needed—that which is best—for the benefactor. When “God so loved the world,” He gave sinful, disobedient mankind what it needed and not what it deserved. John 3:16 is agape in its fullness.

God’s love is not based on convenience, but sacrifice. He sacrificed His beloved Son so that sinful man might receive His love. It is out of His love that man receives God’s grace for salvation, “to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6). This “praise” is in response to the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said the “first and greatest commandment” is: ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’” (Matt. 22:37; Dt. 6:5). Why? Because, God reveals Himself as love: “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3); “…for God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8). Paul says that God’s love “has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rms. 5:5). It is a merciful action of God that He loves man. It is an expression of His holiness. All that is good, right, and just is expressed in God’s love.

God is love. He loves His Son; He loves His children; and He commands His children to love others the same way. Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34; cf. 15:12, 17). You are commanded to express the very nature of God’s agape love toward one another. But it gets even harder: you are commanded to love your neighbors this way (agape: Matt. 5:43); and harder still, you are commanded to love your enemies this way! (agape: 5:44)—not because they love you, but because God loves you and He wants them to see His love through you.

There are many verses of Scripture that I could share with you describing God’s love, but I simply ask you to read 1 Corinthians 13. This is called the “love” chapter. In it you find the description and the motivation of God’s love, from man’s vantage point. I say that because man cannot fathom the fullness and depth of God’s infinite love. It cannot be fully described; it can only be experienced. Read the love chapter; thank God He is this loving all the time. Pray to Him and ask for the spiritual ability to reflect His nature. Here’s His answer to that prayer: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23). God the Father and God the Son will indwell you, by His Spirit, that you may reflect His nature and thereby express His agape love.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

HOPE Word-Study Devotional

My second Word-Study Devotional is on Hope. I "hope" you enjoy it and that it speaks to your heart. If so, do not forget to share it with a friend. Just tell them how to get to my blog. In Christ, yours, BJ


“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” – Hebrews 10:23 (all verses, NKJV)

“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?” – 1 Thessalonians 2:19

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” – 1 Peter 3:15

“Hope” is a combination of two words that literally mean “confident expectation” (elpis 1680; Strong’s says elpis comes from elpo = “to anticipate, usually with pleasure”; cf. Hebrew # 410: el = strength, mighty (God Almighty = El-Shaddahee) + Greek # 4102: pistis = persuasion, trust, faith). Hope is a confident expectation that what God has done in the past, He will do in the present and future. As you may see in the compound word, “hope” is interrelated to “faith.” In New Testament times, “faith,” “hope,” and “love” seem to have been a triad of eternal virtues. For example: “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father” (1 Thess. 1:2-3, emphasis added; cf. Rms. 5:2-5; 1 Cor. 13:13; Gal. 5:5-6; Col. 1:4-5; 1 Thess. 5:8; Heb. 6:10-12; 1 Pet. 1:21-22).

Hope sees the hurdles of life as stretching opportunities for spiritual growth. History records that those POWs who maintained hope survived their captivity longest. Hope is as necessary to human survival as water is to a fish. Without hope, man loses sight of his future and redefines the word as “wishful thinking” or “iffy.” Without hope, man becomes a dreamer of achievements that could have become reality and treats life as a game of chance.

A believer’s hope is not wishful thinking. Peter gives a definitive description of our salvation as “begotten…to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet.1:3). Through the resurrected Christ, a believer is “begotten” into a “living hope” that produces a confident, pleasurable life of spiritual expectation and anticipation. This “hope” builds his spiritual life through every physical experience. Through hope, a believer sees the unseen spiritual virtues and progresses through his circumstances. Paul says, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Cor. 15:19); and further, “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance” (Rms. 8:24-25).

Hope takes away the uncertainties of our physical life because a follower of Jesus is confident in the providential care of his Lord. This hope purifies us in His presence: “And you…He has now reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard…” (Col. 1:21-23, in part). Did you see the blessing of hope in that verse? The gospel gives eternal hope. It is joined to the foundation of “faith, grounded and steadfast,” and provides the spiritual material for building a strong and mighty, purified life that houses Christ our Lord, “…whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end” (Heb. 3:6). “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Hope settles the believer down into his eternal house and gives him a confident expectation of his future.

Have you lost sight of your spiritual hope? Do your hurdles look too high? May I encourage you to start looking “up” instead of “out”? Let your Christian life be clothed in hope. Run its race in pleasurable confidence. Speak of it when others try to drag you down into the dismal uncertainties of this lost world. Put hope back into your spiritual life; make it your pleasurable testimony!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

FAITH Word-Study Devotional

Faith Word-Study Devotional is the first of many that I desire to present to you on this blog. I pray these word studies will be somewhat of a blessing to you. If one does indeed minister to you, please help me by passing it on to others. I have been a minister for over 32 years, but was medically impaired so that I had to stop. I am praying that my writings will become my new resource of ministry that will sustain my wife and I during my time of disability. Please pray for me, that I may have discernment in knowing God's will and honoring Him in all that I write. Thanks for reading it and passing it along. This will help me. -BJ


Go to any Hebrew and Greek dictionary and you will soon discover that the word for “faith” has a root meaning as “that which is stable” (n.) or “that which stabilizes” (v.). This means a follower of Jesus has faith as something (or Someone) upon which to stabilize and establish a spiritual life; it is your secure foundation upon which to build your spiritual life. This is why it is very important for you to grasp the foundational meaning of the word “faith.” (Resource: Strong’s & Thayer’s, Hebrew & Greek lexicons; Faith, Hebrew # 529, 530, 539 (awman); Greek # 4100, 4102 (pistis), 4103; root: 3982 - peitho: to bind; to convince)

Hebrews 11:1 streamlines faith’s definition as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (all references: NKJV). This definition is rich in meaning; let’s look at it. “Substance” in Greek is hupostasis (5287): hupo, meaning “under, beneath, or support,” and stasis, “[to] stand, abide, or set up.” Thus you can illustrate faith’s substance as the formation of your spiritual foundation. It is that upon which a believer builds and by which he is secured. It is also called your spiritual “rest” (Matt. 11:28, 29; Heb. 4:9, 10, 11).

Jesus teaches His followers to have faith and consistently rebukes them for having “little faith” (Luke 12:28, et al.). When He presents the formation of faith, Jesus points to Himself as the “substance”—the foundation—on which faith resides. This same word for “substance,” in Hebrews 11:1, is translated as “person” in Hebrews 1:3, referring to Jesus as the “brightness of His glory and the express image of His person” (hupostasis). Jesus is the substance—the personhood—of God.

When you think of faith, do you think of the personhood of God as your sure foundation on which you rest? Do you think of Jesus as the substance of your faith? Foundations are rarely seen, but it is the evidence of something that is established and securely built upon. Please allow me to paraphrase Hebrews 11:1a: “A believer’s faith is founded in the Personhood of God, that is, Jesus Christ. He is the substance upon which a rock-solid foundation is established for the believer to build his spiritual life.”

Now if Jesus is your faith—your secure spiritual foundation— the word “hope” fits in perfectly in the Hebrews definition. “Hope” (elpidzo 1679) means “to have a strong and mighty trust” in your foundation. Plus, it is a continuous tense participle, middle passive, meaning: as you act on faith, faith acts on you. That means you become the beneficiary of your faith in your foundation. (“Hope” comes from elpis (1680), which literally means “pleasurable anticipation.”)

Hebrews completes its definition of faith with the word “evidence” (elegchos 1650). This is a legal term which means: to have convincing (or, convicting) proof. It is the kind of proof an attorney would present in a court of law that would produce a conviction. So, your mighty trust in the foundation of your faith produces the evidence that convicts you and your acts as a follower of Jesus Christ.

Jesus does not separate Himself from your faith. The building up of your spiritual life is founded upon your “hope,” that is, your strong and mighty trust in Jesus. It is your “evidence” of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). As you put your faith in Christ and He becomes your foundation, your spiritual growth is firm and secure. Think about this: Your spiritual life can be established only as great as your faith in your foundation allows. That’s why Jesus worked on building His followers’ faith and rewarded those who had “great” faith (Matt. 15:28).

Jesus said, “Be of good cheer, daughter, your faith has made you well,” and to two blind men whom He healed, “According to your faith let it be to you” (Matt. 9:22 & 29 in part). In what (or, Whom) was their faith? Faith in Jesus develops a strong trust (“hope”) between you and Him; this trust develops a maturing relationship between the two of you and establishes your faith.

So when your faith is challenged, remember that it is an attack on your foundation. Can you rest and remain secure upon your spiritual foundation? Can you trust Jesus? Always remember that your faith rests upon the Rock of your salvation. Don’t doubt His presence with you and His power to build you up. Have and exercise Faith!