Monday, December 24, 2012

Immanuel- God With Us

Isaiah 7:14  "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”

Matthew 1:20-23  But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US."

Immanuel!  God with us. Do we really understand the extent of that name?  The Creator came as a baby to His creation, to be the Savior and bring Salvation, to become the Sacrifice and save us from our sins and God’s wrath, to become our high priest and interceding on our behalf between us and the Father, to become our King, high and lifted up.  These are only a few roles that Jesus Christ took on. Immanuel, God with us. Humility is the first thing that comes to my mind.

 Philippians 2:5-8 “Have this attitude in your selves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (NASB)

Immanuel, God with us in the form of man, with humility, gentleness, love, patience, kindness and many more attributes. The fact that God the Son would come to earth is stunning. Why would God the Son want to take the form of man. It wasn’t that He was forced to, but He desired to take the form of a bond servant and to be made on the likeness of man.  As a man, He humbled himself becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. This obedience and desire to come to mankind as a man, leave us at an incomprehensible thought. We know this in our minds and yet when we think about it we ask why. Why would He do this for us? He created everything and He had everything there was nothing in it for Him. Yet there is so much in it for Him. He created everything to bring Him glory. It shows us the characteristics of Himself. Because of His great and wonderful Sacrifice, we glorify Him and give Him praise and adoration.

Why would God the Son come as a Baby, when He knew He would suffer and die. We as men and women cannot understand this, because we in our selfishness want to get away from everything that will cause us pain. But Christ was not thinking about Himself. He was thinking about us. Why would He desire to do this? Love. Jesus Christ, Immanuel, loved us so much that He was willing to suffer and die an excruciating death in order that we might live. His death was not the end though, three days later He rose again from the dead. This Christmas season is not to just celebrate Christ’s birth, but to celebrate the incarnation of God the Son in human flesh. Unless He took on a body there would be no sacrifice and he could not die. So this Christmas season we should be remembering the reason the Son of God came as a man; to die on the cross for our sins and to rise again. Remember that when He took the body of man, He was both God and man. That by becoming a man was the only way he could pay for our sins and become that amazing sacrifice for us. It is never said to remember His birth in Scripture, but it does tell us to remember His death, because without Christ’s death there is no atonement for our sins. So this Christmas let us remember Christ’s death. For without it we would all be in sin and enemies of God. Praise the Lord that we are now reconciled and now sons and daughters of God and we can call God our Father. Without Jesus’ death, Jesus would just be another baby born to a woman. I am thankful that He was not just another baby, but that He is Immanuel.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

An Aspect of Our Savior's Love For Us

“I saw a very young man close to his bed between the range of 18 to 20 years, one of his eyeballs was no longer there, his head and face were swollen with some injuries on his shoulders, initially I thought he had an accident but it was not, he was flogged with the fulani's walking stick, mostly on the face and the head, so he lost one of his eyes as a result of that. I was wondering the offence he has committed, but the offence was strange to me, what he did was he wanted to get married and according to their custom, you will be flogged mercilessly and whoever can with stand the pain will eventually marry the girl. In his own case they about four of them that wanted to marry one girl and the girl really loves him, so they decided to flog him on his face and make him blind so that the girl will no longer be interested! how wicked, Is so sad that the girl is being forced to marry the last man standing after the flogging. The funny part is that he will still need to go through another flogging again if he is to marry again. His relative said, some people have died in the process of the flogging, that their own case is better that he only lost his eyes. I cannot stop thinking of this babaric way of getting married, I wish there is a way to stop this tradition.”- Ojima Edeh

I saw this post on facebook from my Nigerian friend, Ojima Edeh. She went to the hospital to visit one of the boys from the orphanage. As I thought about this young man that had lost his eye, I realized how much he loved that young lady. He would be beaten by her brothers in order to marry her. He was trying to redeem her and the price was being beaten and not crying out. Unfortunately for him, he was not able to redeem her.

 There is another instance where someone was redeeming his bride, by being beaten and dying.  That person was our Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was beaten and killed in order to redeem His bride the church.  He was beaten and crucified by Romans, gentiles, brothers to us, the Bride of Christ. “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.” Isaiah 53:7   He did not open His mouth when He was oppressed and afflicted. Jesus loved us so much that He would desire to redeem us. He would desire to be beaten and be crucified in order to save us. Christ redeemed us. The anguish and pain He went through in order to save us and redeem us. Now we, as believers, are His bride. Wow, what an amazing Savior we have.

For us guys, who are single, would we be willing to be beaten in order to marry someone that we love? For those of you who are married do you love your wife enough that you would be beaten in order to marry the one that you have married?  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:25-27. Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.

Do we love our Savior enough to be beaten for Him? I think most of us would say yes, but when it really comes down to it would we really follow through with what we said or would we not want to go through that kind of pain? How great is your love for the Savior? This is something that we must think about.  There are so many believers around the world who are suffering for the sake of Christ. We need to pray for them and prepare ourselves for the day when we will be persecuted. We should be looking forward to that day and excited that we get an opportunity to be persecuted for our Savior. This desire comes when we love our Savior more then anything else. When we love Him as this young man loved his bride.

Have we left our first love like the church in Ephesus? (Revelation 2:4). Let us continue to pursue our Savior and not lose sight of Him. The way we do this is by spending time alone with Him. Not just doing service for Him, but actually spending time with Him.[1] If you love someone, you want to spend a lot of time with them. Do we really love our Savior like this? Do we desire to spend lots of time with Him? Do we desire to spend every spare moment we have with Him? Let us grow in Love for our Savior. The more we grow in love for our Savior, the more we will grow in love for our spouse or future spouse. Let us desire to spend more time with Him even in our hectic days.

1That is not to say that we never serve Him, but many times we serve Him but we do not spend time with Him. We are like Martha. We get caught up in serving our Lord and forget about spending time with Him.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Announcement: Helena Youth Retreat October 7,8,9, 2012

Hello everyone,
Here is a link to the brochure if you want to download it.
Hope to see you there.

Our Response to Those Who Have Wronged Us

Many of us can think of instances where our brothers and sisters in Christ have wrong us in some way or another. I am sure that I have wronged someone.  There are people, believers and non-believers, that have treated us unfairly, unjustly and some have committed sin against us. (When I say committed sin against us, I mean stolen something from us, deceived us, treated us wrongly, etc.) So the question is how do we deal with this? What is the proper response in this situation? Christ is our example. He was wronged by many people. He was accused of doing things that He did not do. They made fun of Him. If we look at 1 Peter 2 we can see what Christ’s response was to them. 

1 Peter 2:18-24
1Pe 2:18  Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.
1Pe 2:19  For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.
1Pe 2:20  For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.
1Pe 2:21  For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,
1Pe 2:23  and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;
1Pe 2:24  and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

It is talking to servants here, but these things also apply to us. Verse 19  “if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.” This finds favor before God.  First of all what is conscience toward God? It is listening to Him, knowing what He would have you do in a situation and standing by it even if it come to suffering unjustly. To do what is right even if you will suffer for it.

In verse 20  Peter asks a good question. If you sin and are harshly treated, disciplined you know you deserve it and endure it with patience.  When you do right you do not expect to be disciplined for it do you? No! Peter is saying patiently endure it. Patiently endure what people do to you and continue to do right. This finds favor in God’s sight.

Verse 21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ suffered for you leaving an example for you to follow in His steps. What purpose?  To patiently endure harsh treatment, suffering, mistreatment and to follow in Christ’s steps. When thinking about this the question that must be asked is, Was Christ ever mistreated, unjustly treated, or suffer? When we read the account of the time from right after the Lord’s supper until He died, we see many instances where He was mistreated. In fact, throughout His life Christ was mistreated and suffered persecution at the hand of the religious leaders, these so called” Men of God”, yet He did nothing wrong.  Yet even today there are people just as the Pharisees who go by the name “Christian”, so called” followers of Christ” and yet do they actually walk in His steps? Much suffering and persecution that we face comes from people who claim to be Christians, but who live lives with no regard for Christ nor do they desire to walk in His steps.

Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example to follow in His steps. Verses 22-24 tell us of Christ’s example.
1.       He committed no sin.
2.       No deceit was found in His mouth. He never deceived anyone.
3.       While being reviled(made fun of, insulted, taunted) He did not revile in return
4.       While suffering, He did not threaten them
5.       He entrusted Himself to the Father who judges righteously
6.       He bore our sin in His body on the Cross.

1.       He committed no sin. This is His example to us. We are to strive daily to live a life of righteousness before God. Many will say that is impossible. Yes it is. That is why I use the word “strive”. It is something we are always working towards, we are always moving towards. Also, it is to move towards righteousness before God, not before man. We should be seeking righteousness before God, because man’s understanding of righteousness is not righteousness at all. Let us daily strive to commit no sin, as Christ also committed no sin.
2.       No deceit was found in His mouth. He did not lie, ever. He did not do anything deceitful. Yet many people who call themselves “Christians” say it is ok to lie in certain situations or it is ok to deceive people in certain situations. Christ never did so. If we are following in His steps, no deceit should be found in our mouths either.
3.       While being reviled (made fun of, insulted, taunted) He did not revile in return. People made fun of Him, they insulted Him, and they taunted Him, when He was being flogged before His crucifixion and even when He was on the cross. Yet He did not insult them in return. Jesus said,” Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” Matthew 5:11. We are not to insult those people in return. We are to pray for those who persecute us. Matthew 5:44
4.       While suffering He did not threaten them. He did not say He was going to make them pay for what they had done. We should be counting it all joy, when we face trials of many kinds. James 1:3-4. When we are suffering we should be thanking the Lord that He has allowed us this opportunity to face a trial of this kind, knowing the testing of our faith develops perseverance.
5.       He entrusted Himself to the Father who judges righteously. He gave all of these things that people had done to Him to the Father to judge righteously. It is not up to us to get people back for what they have done to us. We should also be entrusting ourselves to the Father and giving all of those things that have been done to wrong us to the Father. The sins that have been committed against us need to be given to the Father. If they are not then it causes us to sin also.
6.       He bore our sins in His body on the cross. He took all of our sins and the sins of those who have wronged us, to the cross with Him. So that we might die to sin and live to Righteousness. If Christ had not died on the cross, take our sins there with Him and rose again three days later, there would be no reason to follow in His steps. He died and bore our sins so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. We are to be living righteous lives and the way we do that is to follow in Christ’s steps.

Coming back to the original question of how we deal with people who have sinned against us and treated us wrongly. We deal with them as Christ dealt with them. He gave those things that were done to Him up to the Father, the righteous judge.  We also are to give them up to the righteous judge and let Him deal with it.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Final Nigeria update Aug 25, 2012

Hello everyone,
I have been home from Nigeria for about a week. On the flight home I was sick with Malaria and a cold which ended up taking a while to get over and I am still working on getting over the cold.  The Malaria is gone, but I am still pretty weak.  On Monday, I will be going back to school again so I would appreciate your prayers on that aspect of things. I don’t feel ready to go back at all. I am excited about the ministry opportunities that the Lord has given me though for this semester. I hope to focus more on Evangelism and international students this semester.

I want to thank you all for your prayers as I was in Nigeria. I learned that another Muslim woman came to Christ from Otutulu last week. Praise the Lord for that. I hope that I can continue my language study here. I have plenty of vocabulary and some resources, but it is still not enough for me to know everything. I am starting to understand part of the grammar. I would appreciate prayer as I am studying it, because it is said that no one can learn the language unless they were born in it or were there from a very young age. I am praying about going back next summer.

In reflecting on everything that happened there I really can’t explain everything that runs through my brain. There is one thing that I feel like was a theme for my summer. That was 1 Peter 2:21-25. I listened to “In His steps” on audio book. I was so thankful for that. We are to follow in Christ’s steps. To think about that and dwell on that was very interesting. I came to a realization that my steps did not always match His and that there were areas that I needed to work on. I love verse 23. Christ kept entrusting Himself to the Father who judges righteously. Even if someone wrongs you or does something not very nice to you or cheats you, you should give it to the Father who judges righteously instead of taking it on yourself to get them back. Christ did not revile people in return nor did he utter any threats. He gave everything including Himself to the Father, who will take care of everything. So also we need to be on our guard to not wrong someone else, because we will be judged by God for what we have done.  Christ bore our sins in His body on the cross for the purpose that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. Have we died to sin? Are we living to righteousness? Is our goal to live a righteous life or are we just doing as good as any other “Christian”? It is hard to live to righteousness, but that is part of walking in Christ’s steps. Many times we make the excuse that we can’t live a righteous life, so why should we even try? That excuse is what Satan uses to keep us from living a righteous life. Are we going to let Satan win this battle or are we going to start living a righteous life and following in Christ’s steps? Christ went through so much for us and we have His great example, but when it comes to living godly, righteous holy life we give up before we even try because we say it is impossible. It is time to start trying to live a life that matches Christ’s life always striving to become more like Christ.

Your brother in Christ,
T.J. Kerttula