“Jesus Christ is the Good News!”

“Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.” Acts 8:35 ESV.

good-news

The Good News is about the person Jesus Christ, His relationship with Father God, and the inclusion of humanity within the Triune God circle.

In the last century, the gospel message has quietly shifted away from the person of Jesus and toward the events of His life. Rather than emphasize his personhood, his incarnation, and his connection with Almighty God, the message we most often hear today reflects the events of his life. Most specifically his death and resurrection. Both acts are significant. However, both events are important solely because of who HE IS.

Again, these last several hundred years, the gospel message has shifted away from the Triune God (Trinity) toward a moralistic Holy God. Today when asked to describe God, many people would first state He is a Holy Being. The Holiness concept though emphasizes a God of righteousness rather than a God of relationship. Today’s main stream view of God has more to do with rules and regulations than unconditional love, unlimited joy, and overflowing peace.  Many people still view God as a stern, faraway grandfather figure rather than a Heavenly Father whose desire is an abiding, familial relationship with His adopted children.

Likewise, the good news of the Incarnation has been displaced by the passion of the Cross. Rather than emphasize the inclusion of the incarnation, today’s preachers like to highlight the god of sin and the accomplishment of the cross. Again, the personhood of Jesus seems to take a second position even at the cross.

As stated, the Good News is more about the person Jesus Christ than an event in his life. For instance, if the Good News was solely about his death, why did he wait thirty some years before dying. Couldn’t he have died earlier as a two year old babe under Herod’s killing of children in Bethlehem after His birth?  Again, the Good News in not just about His resurrection. Yes, like all the events in his personhood, they fulfilled Scripture and His eternal plan for humanity. However, if He wasn’t God become human, all He achieved would be worthless for mankind.

Could there be more about Jesus than you ever realized? Paul writes in 1 Corinthians that God was reconciling the world through Jesus’ life. For example, when Jesus was baptized, he didn’t do it for himself, but for you and I. When Jesus walked in obedience to His Father, again he didn’t do it just for himself, but for you and I. When Jesus exercised faith, again he also did it for you and I. The Incarnation is Jesus wrapping human flesh around his Godhead. From then onward, humanity became permanently connected with Jesus Christ. He entered humanity’s darkness and walked out victorious for your sake and mine. As water baptism pictures, you and I are included with Christ in his life, death, and resurrection.

His ministry also restored the truth of His Father and the mutual submissive love relationship which existed between both.  In addition, His personhood is also the bridge that connects you and I with His Father. And since we are connected with Jesus, everything He has done or will do includes you and me. The Bible states approximately three hundred times that you and I are “in Christ.” Such statements remind you and I that we have a personal union with Him, that we participate with Him in His life, that we are also incorporated with Him in fellowship with others, and most importantly, our identity is found in HIM.

This is the Good News.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Discipleship 360
Author of e-Books:
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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A Vicarious Life

“…that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them…” 2 Corinthians 5:19 (NASB).

recon

The entire life of Jesus Christ is more than any one event or situation. For many believers, we seem to focus on his miracles, teachings, death, and resurrection. All these are important as they reveal what Jesus’ believed as He fulfilled Scripture as the Messiah. Yet when we focus only on portions of a person’s life, we may often leave out the larger impact they leave behind.

As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians, God was reconciling the world to Himself through Jesus’ life. Theologians call this the vicarious life – living life as a substitute for another. In Jesus’ case, God became man clothing himself with humanity’s flesh and blood. He took on mankind’s skin.

What this means is that everything he did he did so for you and I. As he worked, played, prayed,  taught, and served others, he did so as our substitute and for our sake. For example, His obedience toward our heavenly Father’s Will He did for our sake. The faith he exercised, he did so for you and I. The love he shared with others, he did so for you and I. Ultimately, even his death he did for you and I. Everything he did, he did so as humanity’s substitute before the eyes of our Heavenly Father.

So now when our heavenly Father looks at you and I, He does so through the prism of Jesus’ life. It is not solely our obedience or faith he sees, but the obedience and faith of Jesus Christ. Even when we pray, Jesus being our High Priest, takes those prayers before His Father who hears them through the words of Jesus himself. Again, it is not our righteousness that the Father witnesses, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ that He sees.

Jesus Christ lived the vicarious life for you and I. Everything he did, he did so you and I can participate through Him with the Triune God in their eternal plan for mankind.  C.S. Lewis called it the great dance. Two beings, one leading and the other following to the rhythm of the music around life’s dance floor; life the way God originally created it to be. And we don’t have to be expert dancers to enjoy the journey. For He made it all possible. This is why we are thankful for the vicarious life Jesus lived for you and I.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Discipleship 360
Author of e-Books:
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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Copyright 2017 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

 

 

What is Salvation All About?

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people…” Titus 2:11 ESV.

salvation

Salvation is not a prize, an event, nor a commodity. Salvation is the relationship you have in Jesus Christ with His Father via the Holy Spirit. To realize you are included with Him in his life, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven brings greater meaning to Who He IS and your participation with Him. That you are a new creation in Him. That you have been reconciled (saved)with His Father. That you are now connected with Jesus and the Father via the Holy Spirit – adopted into the Triune God circle. Yet to experience this new life, you need to change your thinking (repent) and yield yourself to His authority (become his disciple). In so doing, you begin to experience the life (sanctification) that Jesus finished for you. The end result is eternal life (glorification) with Him in the new age.

You begin to experience this new life when you realize your identify is bound in Christ. Unlike the world’s response, your identity is not found in yourself but in the personhood of Jesus Christ. Apart from Christ, when we realize something must change in our lives, we usually begin to modify our environment. When that doesn’t make a difference, we then work to change our behavior. When that fails, we move toward increasing our capacity of knowledge or skill. After then, we may begin to clarify our beliefs. Lastly, we come to realize our identity of who we think we are is incorrect and needs adjusting.

However with Christ, we first begin with correctly identifying who we are in Him. We start at the top rather than move from the bottom to the top. We come to more quickly capture the knowledge and realization of God and ourselves in the process.  From our relationship with Christ, our identity is clarified. Our beliefs are aligned with reality. Our desire to grow in knowledge and skill is intensified; not for our sake but for the sake of others. Our attitudes change which leads to our behavior becoming more Christ-like. Then finally our environment becomes the breeding ground for ministry as we express God’s love and Kingdom ways for others to behold. We become a living testimony of God’s workmanship. He is glorified. We reap the benefits. Others are introduced to the God of Jesus Christ.

Salvation is freedom with Christ. Free from loneliness, because you belong to Him. Free from fear, because His love penetrates through you. Free from anxiety, because His faith assures you. Free from sin’s anguish, because His grace abounds in you.

Again, salvation is not a prize, event, nor commodity. Salvation is your relationship with Jesus Christ and His  Father via the Holy Spirit; Salvation is Christ’s finished work.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Discipleship 360
Author of e-Books:
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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Copyright 2017 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

Hypocrisy

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Matt 7:3 ESV.

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Who among us is without sin? Who has never made a mistake in judgment? Who has not made a poor choice from a critical situation? Who among us hasn’t lived up to God’s expectations for us?
When you find that person, let me know. For the fact is, everyone we meet is like you and me, imperfect. They may think they are perfect. They may act like they are perfect. But deep, down inside, they are hiding behind a log in their own eye. Hypocrites.

I can imagine when Jesus spoke these words, he probably brought out a chuckle from the audience. For people who realize and live imperfect lives, know people who live in the illusion of perfection. These super righteous people establish high standards for themselves and expect others to live by them. Though they may forgive themselves when they can’t live up to them, they expound judgment toward those who can’t live up to their higher-than-God expectations. Hypocrites.

In fact, Jesus more than once gave a tongue lashing to the religious leaders of his day for being hypocrites. He even told his disciples to do what the religious leaders say to do, but don’t follow their examples and act like they do. For they don’t do what they teach others to do. Hypocrites.

Hypocrites are blind to their own humanity. Instead of exercising mercy and grace like God does for us, they play the god of religion. They establish standards and regulations that they themselves find difficult to perform but expect others to live by them. Hypocrites.

When Jesus Christ is allowed to express Himself in and through you, you become disdained for the hypocrisy in you and others. Yet you are thankful for the mercy and love that God has bestowed upon you and long to share the same experience with others. You slowly become more transparent in your relationship with others. You gain confidence in your walk with the Spirit and rejoice in the new creation that God is morphing in you.

You recognize the lie of hypocrisy in yourself and in others. However, you first focus on removing the large beam you have been carrying in your eye before you help address the small splinter in your associate’s eye. Isn’t this what we do as we allow Jesus Christ to remove the hypocrisy in us as he morphs you and me into his new creation?

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Discipleship 360
Author of e-Books:
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

Encourage a Friend…Share Today’s Message!


Copyright 2017 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

What Is Worship?

“We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.” John 9:31 ESV.

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Worship is the outer expression of your inner values. Jesus taught “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (MT. 6:21).” Therefore, worship is expressing what you value most. The question is then: Who or what do you worship?

Every person worships someone or something. If you listen to yourself talk, you will quickly discover what you worship. If your conversations are always recurrently filtered with family, money, movies, people, sex, sports, self, business or whatever, you may have a hint toward what you consider most important in your life.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, our primarily focus is Him. As we invest more and more time with Him, we naturally find ourselves speaking about Him or his Domain or his Spirit. We become more and more attuned to his ways and can’t shut up if we tried. We want everyone to know Him and make Him known to others.

Whether we praise him in church services, through our work, or in our relationship with others, Christ-centered worship is simply recognizing God in the situation you are in and giving him the glory He deserves. When He is the center of every aspect of our life, then our life becomes a living sacrifice of worship to Him (Romans 12:1).

We worship Him as we pursue His Truth. We worship Him as we share our testimony with others. We worship Him as we surrender our lives to Him in service for others. As He matures us, we worship Him as His witness before others. Whatever we do in His Will, wherever we do it, and whenever we do it, we do so for His glory. This is our outer expression of the treasury in our inner heart toward Him. This is worship.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Discipleship 360
Author of e-Books:
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

Encourage a Friend…Share Today’s Message!


Copyright 2017 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

Problems, Trials, Obstacles

“…strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14.22 ESV.

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Question: what is one of the biggest illusions faith communities portray to the world? Answer: that the Christian Life is free from pain, troubles, and heartaches.

I remember in my mid-thirties having a heated discussion with Mom about being unprepared to handle the constant problems life throws at us. Growing up under the false assumption that life is a formula when applied will result in favorable outcomes, I came to the slow realization that the only person who prospered from such erroneous thinking were the authors and publishers generating such propaganda. Life involves constant battles of survival, obstacles that need to be overcome, and many activities without guaranteed outcomes.

Yet if someone had told me back then what I now know, would things turn out differently?

Maybe. Or maybe not. But it would have been more focused and life-generating.

Today’s scripture was the outcome after the apostle Paul was left stoned to death a few days earlier. Being left dead, his associates gathered him and brought him back to the city where he arose the next day to preach the gospel to his audience. Did Paul know something we don’t?

His message? “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”

God doesn’t necessary always prevent crap from happening in our life. Most of the time, he promises to walk through it with you and I. As he joins us in the cesspool of life, we come to know him better, learn to communicate with him, and develop a trust in him. In the process of overcoming the turmoil, we also grow in godly character and may even redeem the situation for Him. You may also come into contact with others who will witness your patience and trust in Christ. You become a living testimony. When your Savior and Lord works out the mess you are in, you will discover more of his grace. After you walk through several of these undesirable situations, your faith is strengthen. You begin to realize how much God truly loves you.

Yes your circumstances may stink, but life is good. God not only resides in you, but is actively involved in morphing you into his divine image. You slowly or quickly learn that tribulations are the escalators that Father-Son-Spirit use to strengthen and encourage us and others in our daily walk with Him. Like an Olympic athlete, we appreciate the coach; knowing we are being pushed and trained for bigger purposes. The event: a taste of God’s Kingdom now while we wait for the full completion in the world tomorrow.  The earlier we realize the circumstances and problems this life brings our way are designed to prepare you and me for eternity, the quicker we will turn to our Savior and walk with Him through the ordeal. The process may be unnatural, but the outcome is definitely supernatural. So the next time you face problems, trials, and obstacles – pray, rejoice and learn from the Master Builder and Coach: Father-Son-Spirit. You may  be pleasantly surprised to find yourself rejoicing through the ordeal.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Discipleship 360
Author of e-Books:
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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Copyright 2017 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved

 

Today I Get To…

“Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.” Ecclesiastes 5:18 ESV.

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Experience God’s love…

Play in our Dad’s worldwide sandbox…

Celebrate another day of discovery…

Communicate with the Creator of Life…

Enjoy the beauty of creation…

Serve others through work…

Work for his glory…

Earn income by serving others…

Pay bills…

Drink a cool glass of water…

Eat candy, cake, and cookies…

Smell chocolate covered raspberries…

Hug my bride…

Skype with my daughter…

Ride a bicycle for pleasure and health…

Drive a car to the supermarket…

Plant a shrub…

Wash the windows…

Re-set the remote controller…

Watch football…

Read a book…

Trade the futures market…

Study passages from the Bible…

Attend a small Bible Study group…

Pray for our family, friends, and country…

Rejoice with a friend’s accomplishments…

Grieve over the loss of a friend…

Exercise compassion for another…

Extend God’s love with everyone we meet…

 

What about you? What are you fortunate and blessed to do today?

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Discipleship 360
Author of e-Books:
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

Encourage a Friend…Share Today’s Message!


Copyright 2017 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved