A New Birth

Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we received new birth into a living hope. He died on the cross to pay the penalty for the sins of all who believe on Him. However, if He had remained dead and stayed in that tomb as many in the world believe, we would be spiritually dead, without hope and our faith would be useless. We would still be guilty of our sins.

Of course, it was impossible for His death to be permanent because He is God! He and the Father are One. As much as the world denies it, Jesus’ resurrection is well-documented. Paul said that He rose on the third day and that He was seen of the twelve disciples. Later he was seen by more than five hundred people. This miraculous event opened the way for us to experience new birth. Without the new birth one cannot see the kingdom of God. Salvation through Christ involves a transition from an old life of sin to a new life of obedience to Him. The one who is truly born again is set free from the bondage of sin.

By confessing our sinfulness and trusting Him as our Savior, we have become one of His own. Because He is our living Savior we have living hope! One born of God can’t make sin a habitual practice in his life. We can’t remain a child of God without a sincere desire to please Him. Regardless of what one says, those who follow after the things of the world and desire the things of the world demonstrate that they are not truly children of God, but long for the things of the world that Satan can provide.

Just as we can be born of the Spirit by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we can also go back into the world and make ungodly choices and die spiritually. Have you considered your choices?

Larry Cobb

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Faith Without a Doubt

When we come to God for wisdom, He never scolds us for coming, no matter how often we come to Him. Because God is good and generous and gracious, chapter 1 of James says we should never approach Him with doubt. If we fail to trust Him, we shouldn’t expect Him to answer.

The word “faith” is found only twice in the Old Testament, but it’s found sixteen times in the book of James alone.  Hebrews 11:6 reminds us that without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. If we approach God without faith, we’ve decided to live life our own way, to make our own decisions, to separate ourselves from Him. When we come without faith, the reason God doesn’t answer is because of our doubt and lack of faith.

James says that a person who prays doubting is like the sea that is blown and tossed about by the wind. That person is encouraged one moment, discouraged the next. Paul uses the same example for immature believers. He speaks of them as tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, in Ephesians 4:14.

The man of faith is a man looking in only one direction for the wisdom he needs. He knows that the God to whom he prays is able and willing to respond to his need.  God is able to help us in our trials because He Himself chose suffering. As man, He went through all that mankind experienced, from the little irritations of family life, hard work and lack of money to the worse horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death. When He was a man, He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it well worthwhile. Trust Him and come to Him in faith.

Larry Cobb

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Jesus the Son

Hebrews 1:1-3: God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;  who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Hebrews begins with an idea basic to the Bible: God exists, and He speaks to man. Throughout the ages, God at specific times had spoken to chosen ones. Each encounter was different. The revelation given through the prophets was brought in various ways – sometimes through parables, prophecy, psalms, proverbs, and the like. God spoke to Moses by a burning bush, to Elijah by a still, small voice, to Isaiah by a heavenly vision.

Verse 2 says, In these last days Spoken to us by His Son. It isn’t so much that Jesus brought a message from the Father; He is a message from the Father. The Son doesn’t speak in Hebrews; the Father speaks concerning the Son. The book of Hebrews is the Father telling us what the Son is all about.

In His earthly ministry, Jesus constantly demonstrated the power of His word. He could heal, forgive, cast out demons and calm nature, by simply speaking one word.

Verse 3 tells us he Himself purged our sins and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. His position alone set Him above all angels. After Jesus provided the forgiveness of our sins by His death on the cross, He took His place of authority at the right hand of God. Nothing has greater authority than Christ. He’s the only way to eternal salvation and the only mediator between God and man.

Jesus did it all for us and went and sat down at the Father’s right side. He sat down because He finished the job. In fact, it was finished when Jesus made that statement from the cross - it is finished. No one or nothing else purchased our salvation for us, Jesus did it all.

Larry Cobb

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God’s Mysterious Ways

God’s ways are mysterious, but they’re good. When you look at world events with so much evil around us, it’s easy to feel fearful and discouraged. We can’t comprehend why God allows such cruelty and suffering. The problem is that God is infinite and we aren’t. Many things are simply beyond our understanding. However, when we reach the limits of our understanding, trusting God will carry us onward.

We too often demand to know “why”? That’s the wrong question to ask God. We should ask: “What should I do in this situation?” or, “What do You want me to do right now?” We can’t change the past, so we should start with the present and seek God to find our way forward. Proverbs 3:5 says: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Our own understanding is limited and too often, in error. Therefore, we must be enlightened by God’s Word and led by the Holy Spirit. Rather than rely upon our own judgment, we should pray for God’s wisdom and will in all our decisions in this life. Every day we need to live in a close, trusting relationship with God, always looking to Him for direction. When we do this, He promises to direct our paths.

Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 8:17: I observed all the work of God—that no one can grasp what happens under the sun. Those who strive to know can’t grasp it. Even the wise who are set on knowing are unable to grasp it (CEB). Solomon knew that no matter how wise we are; we can’t explain all the works of God by our own wisdom. Like Job, we don’t have to know all the reasons; we simply need to trust in the Lord and believe that He does all things well and we’re in His hands.

Larry Cobb

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The Power of the Cross and The Wisdom of Men.

In 1 Corinthians 1:18, Paul said, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”. In verse 17, he declared the idea that the cross could “be made of no effect” if it were presented with “the wisdom of words”. Then he shows why this is true of the cross and the message of the gospel.

To those who reject the salvation of the cross, the idea of being saved through the work of a crucified man is foolish. The words “message of the cross” sounds totally different to us today, but in the first century, saying “message of the cross” was about the same as saying message of the electric chair – except worse! What message does a cruel, humiliating, instrument of death have? To us who are being saved it is the power of God”. However, it’s “foolishness to those who are perishing”!

It was impossible for Paul to preach the gospel without presenting the “message of the cross”. The gospel is the “message of the cross”.

In verse 20, Paul said: “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world”?

The wisdom of this world is a wisdom that excludes God, emphasizes human self-sufficiency, makes man the highest authority and refuses to recognize God’s revelation in Jesus Christ. God calls this wisdom foolishness because man has failed to find the truth or come to know their creator. The older I get the more I see the frailty of human wisdom and the secular world view.

The gospel and the “message of the cross” must never be made suitable to philosophy, science, or any other so-called wisdom of man. There’s a tendency in the world to think that the smartest and wisest humans will know the most about God. I call these “eminent theologians”. They may look nice and be good orators, but they either forgot the message of the cross or they never knew it. God can’t be found through human wisdom, but only through the message of the cross.  Human wisdom can never bring the true knowledge of the true God.

Larry Cobb

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Evangelicals need to stop being wimps

(From an article by: Larry Alex Taunton)

C.S. Lewis once noted men in the English-speaking world have largely been emasculated, and men in the Church are seldom an exception to this trend.

Few today stand strong for their faith in Jesus Christ and push back against a culture that, in the words of Isaiah 5:20, “calls evil good and good evil”

This is because evangelicals have confused Christ’s command to love others with being likable, as if that were an attribute of God. (It isn’t.)  As such, they endeavor to be, above all else, inoffensive and polite.  This doctrinal malpractice has given us a generation of men who are what Lewis called “men without chests.”

The idea of fighting for things that matter has never been foreign to me.  I fully recognize, as the Athenian statesman, Pericles, observed, “Happiness depends on freedom, and freedom depends on courage.”

I urge you to be offended by the way our God’s name is blasphemed in our country every day; by the 54 million children murdered in the holocaust of abortion since 1973; by the sordid sexual agenda that is eroding the very fabric of Western civilization; by the fact that Christians are dying for their faith, largely at the hands of Muslims, at a rate of 100,000 per year; and, most of all, by the reality that these things are being ignored, trivialized, or celebrated.  These are things that offend me deeply, and I hope they offend you, too.  Righteous anger has a place within the Christian life.  Tap into it.  In the words of Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry and do not sin.”

Evangelical Christians comprise a hefty 26 percent of the U.S. population. I fully believe that if they were to find their voices and their courage, we would see a Great Awakening in America.  Indeed, we would see America become truly great again rather than superficially so.  But it will, as I say, require courage, because the forces opposing us seem determined to burn this country to the ground. That cannot go unchallenged.

When Jesus said to turn the other cheek, he did not mean to turn a blind eye.  The highest calling of a Christian is not to be civil; it is to be salt and light.

Larry Cobb

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It Pays to Forgive

In the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:23-35, Jesus tells us that genuine forgiveness, from the heart, is required of all who have been forgiven. He said, So My Heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.

God has forgiven us such a great debt that any debt owed to us is so insignificant in comparison. No one can possibly offend us to the extent that our sins have offended God. This principle of forgiveness must be applied in both the big things and little things done to us.

When a person is unrepentant or unaware of their sin against us, we must keep our hearts open for reconciliation and keep ourselves free from bitterness.

Luke 17:4 tells us we are obligated to forgive one who repents, and when we don’t, we pay a terrible price for our unforgiveness. Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to yousaying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.

Jesus teaches that the forgiveness of God freely given to repentant sinners remains conditional, according to the individual’s willingness to forgive his fellow man. We might forfeit the forgiveness of god by having a bitter and unforgiving heart. Jesus wants us to have an attitude of forgiveness rather than a spirit of revenge.

Many of the problems that we as Christians encounter can sometimes be due to our hard attitude toward those who offend us. Who knows how much blessing is hindered because of unforgiveness? Those who offend us may not deserve forgiveness, but for our sake, it’s best to forgive. We’re the ones most hurt by our unforgiveness.

Mark 11:26 says, if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.

Can we lose our salvation from unforgiveness? It’s not the “unforgivable sin”, but forgiveness is the mark of one truly forgiven. A habitually unforgiving heart shows a bitterness that may mean that a person’s heart has never really been touched by the love of Jesus. Our salvation may be sure, yet we may be “tortured” by our own unforgiveness towards others.

Larry Cobb

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We Have an Advocate

1 John 2:1 says: And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

When we sin, Jesus is our defender. God didn’t forgive us to later say, “Look what they did now! If I had known they would go and do that, I would never have forgiven them.” His forgiveness is available to us now through Jesus Christ, our advocate.

It’s as if we stand as the accused before our Judge, God the Father, in the heavenly court. In our defense our Advocate, Jesus Christ, stands up to answer the charges: “He’s completely guilty your honor. In fact, he’s even done worse than what he’s accused of, and now makes full and complete confession before You.” The gavel slams, and the Judge asks, “what should his sentence be?”

Our Advocate answers, “His sentence shall be death; he deserves the full wrath of this righteous court.” All along, our accuser, Satan, is having a lot of fun at all this. We are guilty! We admit our guilt! We see our punishment!

But then our Advocate asks to approach the bench. As he draws close to the Judge, he simply says: “Father, this one belongs to Me. I paid his price. I took the wrath and punishment from this court that he deserves.” The gavel sounds again, and the Judge cries out, “Guilty as charged! Penalty satisfied!”

Satan, our accuser, starts going crazy. “Aren’t you even going to put him on probation?” “No!” the Judge shouts. “The penalty has been completely paid by My Son. There is nothing to put him on probation for.” Then the Judge turns to our Advocate, Jesus, and says, “Son, you said this one belongs to You. I release him into Your care. Case closed!”

We may think that our sin sets God against us. But God’s love is so great that in His love He went to the ultimate measure to make us able to stand in the face of His righteousness. Through the shed blood of Jesus, God can be for us even when we’re guilty sinners.

A human defense lawyer argues for the innocence of his client. But our advocate, Jesus Christ, admits our guilt – and then enters His plea on our behalf as the one who has made an atoning sacrifice for our sinful guilt.

Larry Cobb

 

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Greater Works

In John 14:12-14, Jesus told His disciples that when He went to the Father, His work would continue on earth. He said: Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

Jesus expected the disciples to carry on His work in an even greater way. It’s Jesus’ purpose and desire that His followers do greater works than He did. The reason for the “greater works” of the disciples (and Christians today) is that Jesus went to His Father in heaven and sent forth the power of the Holy Spirit. He will answer prayer in His name.

Jesus said, whatever you ask in My name, that I will do. This isn’t like an Aladdin’s magic lamp of prayer. It’s both an endorsement and a limitation. We must come to God in Jesus’ name, not in our own. We have no power other than what god gives us through His Son.

True prayer in Jesus’ name always has this goal – that the Father may be glorified in the Son. To pray in the name of Jesus means to get results. This is prayer God will answer!

The failure of answered prayer today isn’t the failure of Jesus to keep His promises. The failure lies within the hearts of His followers. It indicates a lack of faith, understanding and spiritual dedication. Jesus cast out demons and healed the sick. He desires us to do the same thing through faith, prayer and fasting. He’s troubled when we fail to share His ministry against the forces of Satan.

In Matthew 17:14-17, a father brought his demon possessed son to the disciples to be healed and they couldn’t do it. Jesus said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me. Jesus rebuked the demon and healed the boy. When the disciples asked why they couldn’t heal the boy, Jesus said, Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. Lord give me faith the size of a mustard seed!

Larry Cobb

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A Future and A Hope

Jeremiah 29:11-12: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope; then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.

The Jewish people were captives in Babylon by the will of God.  He had brought judgment on Judah for their generations of rebellion against Him. In God’s plan they would be in Babylon a long time – 70 years. However, even though the Jews had been in captivity in Babylon, exile didn’t mean that God forgot about them or wanted to destroy them.

We may not know Gods thoughts but He says, I know the thoughts that I think toward you. Thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. It was easy for the exiles to think that God was against them; that He intended evil for them. Through Jeremiah, God assured them that His thoughts toward them were of peace and that in His heart and mind He had a future and a hope for them.

This promise expresses the unchanging heart of God toward His people. Although these were Gods thoughts toward Israel under the Old Covenant; He is the same to those who come to Him in faith, through the Messiah, in the New Covenant.

God has a future and a hope for His people even when they suffer and hurt under deserved discipline or judgment. It’s the devil’s deception to rob Gods people of their sense of His future and a hope for them.

God had a special purpose in allowing the captivity of his people into Babylon. It was to scatter the synagogues and the Old Testament, in preparation for the Gospel.

You will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. This helped explain the future and a hope that God had for His people – then and now. Though they were not in Jerusalem and couldn’t perform the temple rituals, God would still listen when they prayed. Their prayer and Gods answer were part of their future and hope.

Although in exile, they were not without God and those God sent to serve them. Ezekiel and other prophets could still minister to them.  Then and now, when we search for God with all our heart He will be there and will listen to us!

Larry Cobb

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