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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Whom Do We Please?

In Galatians 1:10, Paul states, For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

His gospel didn’t come from a desire to please man. His first obligation was to please God. He didn’t shape his message just to please his audience. He was more concerned about pleasing God.

I think Paul was making a contrast between himself and those in verse 9 who brought the different gospel. Apparently, in some way, that different gospel was built around the idea of pleasing man.

There have always been preachers who have desired popularity, fame and fortune above all else, and there are some still. It’s part of fallen human nature that even those charged with the responsibility of proclaiming the gospel can fall into the trap of trying to be popular rather than faithful.

Paul said, For if I still pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ. For Paul, it was one or the other. He couldn’t direct his ministry towards pleasing men and at the same time direct it to pleasing Jesus Christ. If his concern at first wasn’t to please Christ, then he wasn’t a servant of Christ.

1 Thessalonians 2:4 says, But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.

I believe every preacher of the gospel faces the temptation to please men by preaching only what wont offend. However, giving in to this temptation may result in tolerating sin and a lukewarm congregation. Flattering speech or failing to preach against sinful lifestyles that may be present in the church in order to grow financially or grow in membership numbers will only lead to damage to Christ’s church. Preaching should always be to seek God’s approval and not man’s.

Although Paul was addressing ministers of the gospel, the same message goes for each of us!

Larry Cobb

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Godly Wisdom

Proverbs 2:1-5 says, My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. 

This is like a prayer. In fact, it’s what we should all pray. To really be able to live a Godly life, we first need to know what God expects. The first part of verse 1 says “receive my words“. The heart is the place for the commandments and the Word of God to be hidden. If we receive the wisdom of God and apply it to our heart, we’ll do the things that are right in God’s sight.

Romans 10:10 says, For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  If we would spend even half the time learning the Word of God as we spend searching for worldly wealth and recognition, we would find the treasures of God. Knowledge is accumulated learning while wisdom is a gift from God. As we learn the secrets of the Bible, we will have a reverent fear of God and be filled with His knowledge.

Proverbs 2:6 tells us, For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. As already stated, wisdom is a gift from God. We read in James 1:5 says, If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Knowledge comes out of His mouth, not ours! The knowledge is in His Word. He is the source of all wisdom and His wisdom brings peace.

Larry Cobb

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Obedient Abraham

Abraham means: Father of a Multitude. He was a man of faith who followed God even in the most challenging of circumstances.

The life of Abraham is a study in faithfulness, obedience, and sometimes blind trust. It’s also the story of a God who keeps his covenant promises.

Abraham and his wife, Sarah, lived in Haran where Abraham owned a great number of livestock. But God changed all that. He said, “Leave your country and your people and go to the land I will show you.” God didn’t mince his words. He didn’t even ask Abraham if he wanted to move. He simply told him to go. To add to the challenge, God didn’t tell Abraham where he was going. He only said, “Go.” And then God made Abraham a promise. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you.”

We can only imagine what went through Sarah’s mind when Abraham told her what God had said. “Leave our home? Go on a journey to nowhere? Have children even though we’re too old?” But Sarah trusted Abraham, just as Abraham trusted God. They said good-bye to their families and, along with their nephew, Lot, their possessions, and their servants, they set out southwest toward Canaan.

Throughout his life, God tested Abraham’s resolve to obey him. And, time and again, God reconfirmed his promise to Abraham—a land, a nation, and a blessing.

Abraham’s name and God’s promise of a nation were even recalled when Mary was chosen to be the mother of Jesus. “God has helped His servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever even as he promised.”

Abraham isn’t honored because he was a perfect man. He wasn’t. Abraham is the most significant patriarch because of God’s call and covenant with him and Abraham’s courage to be obedient.

Larry cobb

 

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Church Discipline

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus tells us what to do if you are sinned against. He said to go and confront the guilty party directly.

Matthew 18:15-17: Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector

Rather than huddling with others in the church and getting the rumor mill started, we should go to the offending brother or sister first – not griping and gossiping to others. Some use this method under the guise of “sharing a prayer request.” Instead, speak to that brother or sister directly.

This doesn’t mean we should take Jesus’ word here as a command to confront your brother with every sin they commit against you.

Jesus said, if he hears you, you have gained your brother. You’ve gained him in two ways. First, the problem has been cleared up. Maybe you realized that he was right in some ways and he realized you were right in some ways, but the problem is resolved. Second, you have gained him because you’ve not wronged your brother by going to others with gossip and only one-half the side of a dispute.

Others should become involved only if the offending party refuses to listen. If he remains stubborn and unrepentant they are to be refused fellowship. Jesus said, let him be to you like a heathen.

This sense of being refused participation in the body of Christ is what Paul meant when he said to deliver such a one to Satan in 1 Corinthians 5. There’s a sense in which the unrepentant one is chastened by being placed outside of the “protection” of fellowship.

Even so, they must be treated with love in order to bring about a full repentance and reconciliation.

Larry Cobb

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A Time For Everything

Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us there is a time for everything. Even those times in life that we wish would never end eventually give way to something new. Too often, man wants to “do his own thing” in his own time. God wants us to wait upon Him. If we search for His guidance, He will show us the next step on our journey through life. However, He doesn’t always give us the appointed time for us to take that next step. At times, instead of going full steam ahead, He wants us to wait until He shows us when He wants us to move forward. At other times, some hold back even when God clearly directs us to go forward.

For those who don’t like change, moving from their comfort zone into a new situation can be frightening. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Every day we must live in a close, trusting relationship with God, always looking to Him for direction. When we do this, God promises to direct our paths. He will lead us to His plan for our lives and remove all obstacles and enable us to make the right choices.

Larry Cobb

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Darkness to Light

Colossians 2:6-7 says, As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

When we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, that is only the beginning. We then have to continue to grow in our relationship with Him. The relationship with Christ began when God made us free from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his Son, as Paul said in Colossians 1:13. We acknowledged that we were sinners, we repented of our sins, and we accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. As a result, we passed from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God.

When Jesus first appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus in Acts 26:18, He told him that he was to preach the gospel to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God. The lost are blinded by Satan to the reality of their lost condition and to the truth of the gospel.

We aren’t supposed to stay the same way we were when we first believed. Instead, we’re called to grow to be like Christ in every way. Paul tells us in Romans 8:29 that for whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Foreknowledge means that God intended from the very beginning to love and redeem man through Jesus Christ. He took the lead in freeing us from the power of darkness and He also takes the lead in conforming us to the image of His Son.

Galatians 2:20 tells us that we have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Since we no longer live, but Christ lives in us, we should forsake life in the power of our own strength and hold to the life of Christ dwelling within us. We should continue to learn as much as we can about this new life we have in Christ and never stop giving thanks to God. We have much to be thankful for.

Larry Cobb

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Truth

John 8:32 says, and ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. Truth today is a very elusive thing in our society.  Too often, truth depends on how one decides to define it and many have no trouble telling little “white” lies. However, there is only one truth that will set people free from sin, degradation and Satan’s control. The truth of Jesus Christ found in God’s Word.

God’s Word testifies to the truth which frees one from sin, the world and the demonic grasp of Satan. More revelation of “truth” isn’t needed to complete the gospel of Christ. Saving truth is revealed only from God by His Spirit and doesn’t originate from any person or from human wisdom. 1 Corinthians 2:10 says, But God hath revealed them (meaning the things He has prepared for us) unto us by His Spirit for the Spirit searcheth all things, yes, the deep things of God.

The things God has prepared for those who love Him can be understood by the believer through Spirit’s revelation. As the believer reads and studies the Bible, the Holy Spirit helps us understand the truth. It’s only through the Holy Spirit that God’s truth and wisdom were revealed to man. John 14:6 says, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Larry Cobb

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