And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" NKJV
I think that one of the most dreadful feelings in all of the world is that feeling that you have been forsaken by God. And I think that all of us (some less and some more) have experienced at times in our life that feeling that God has forsaken me. There have been times that we have had desperate needs. We've cried unto God, we've prayed, sometimes even fasted and nothing seems to change. And we've cried: "Oh, God, why have you not answered my prayers? Why am I still going through this?" And we feel so hopeless, so helpless, when we think that we've been forsaken by God. Because so many times, God is our only resort, there's nowhere else to turn.
When a love one of ours has been stricken and we see them as they are dying. And we pray: "Oh, God, heal them, touch them, work Lord within their lives". As we watch them as they die, we sometimes feel: "Oh, my God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are you so far from hearing?"
There are experiences that each of us go through in life that we cannot understand. It is sure foolish to pretend to understand everything that God does for us. Peter said that we are near-sighted; we cannot see the things that are far-off. And so often God allows things that we cannot understand. And in those times in which we find this difficulty in trying to figure out why God has allow certain things; we are apt to cry out: "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me." We know that God loves us! But it is impossible to reconcile God's love with some of the circumstances of our lives.
Years ago, myself and my mother we're in the hospital room where this 25 year old took his last breathe and died of cancer.
His father holding him and crying unto God....."Why God, Why God". Then he went into the empty room across the hall and we could hear him crying and crying without ever stopping. He really believed that he had been forsaken by God.
Again in the Hospital Ministry, a one year, three month old beautiful baby boy (Jeremih) gets a terminal illness. The child of loving parents dies on September 30, 2012. From one day to another, no rhyme or reason. How can you explain - the whys or why this happened. You can't! I couldn't! Because our minds cannot put this together with the love of God. And when some tragic event like this happens within our lives or the lives of our love ones, we ourselves cannot understand it. We cannot put it together in our minds and we are apt to cry: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" And we feel that we've been completely forsaken by God.
And what a desperate, hopeless, helpless feeling that is. To feel that God has let us down. That God has forsaken us.
And yet in reality, God never does forsake us. We don't always understand the "whys". And it is best not to fall into that deep pit of "whys".
But it is true that God does not forsake His people! David said in Psalm 37:25, "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." KJV The Lord said in Hebrews 13:5, "for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." KJV That is His promise and I must believe it! And though at times because I have a limited vision of the whole and total picture. Though at times I feel forsaken of God and feel that God has forsaken me. Yet, I know in my heart that God has never forsaken me. He's always there. And He is always working, though I may not understand the work that He is doing. David said in Psalms 37:25 "I have never seen the righteous forsaken". And yet we hear the cry of the most righteous one from the cross in Matthew 27:46, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" And we see the righteous One being forsaken by God. And the question comes: Why did God forsake Him at such a time as this? At such an hour when He was submitting Himself unto the will of God. When He was submitting Himself even unto the death of the cross. Why would God in that hour forsake His only begotten Son?
We can only find the answer in the scriptures. And in order to understand Matthew 27:46, "when Jesus cried out:
"My God, My God why has thou forsaken Me?", we have to go back to the Garden of Eden. And there, we start understanding what really happened.
Back in the Garden, God had said to Adam in Genesis 2:16‑17, "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." KJV And God was talking about spiritual death; which is "separation from God". Anytime a person is separated from God; he is spiritually dead. His life is dead from the consciousness of God, from the love of God, and from the presence of God. Separation from God is spiritual death. So Paul writing concerning Adam tells us in Romans 5:12, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:" KJV By Adam's sin, the whole world became separate from God. God through the prophet Isaiah cried out in Isaiah 59:1‑2, "Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. KJV That is always the effect of sin. Sin brings a separation between you and God which is Spiritual Death! Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death" KJV The Bible tells that the ultimate consequence of sin is to be forever banished from the presence of God. 2 Thessalonians 1:9 tells us, "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;" KJV To be placed out from the presence of God forever. That's the ultimate consequence of sin within a person's life. But you say, "Jesus was sinless. Why is it that He was separated from God? Why would He cry out, "My God, My God, why has thou forsaken Me?" And though it is true that Jesus was sinless. It is also true that God laid on Him the iniquities (sins) of us all. The Bible says exactly that in Isaiah 53:5‑6, "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." KJV I am certain that it is impossible for us even to imagine the tremendous shock it must of been for Jesus when as righteous, as holy, and as pure as He was; suddenly every vile, filthy, rotten, sinful act that has ever been committed by man was placed upon Him. And He tasted of the filth of the World. And there Jesus was tasting death of sin for us. He tasted the horrible, empty feeling of being forsaken by God. It’s a cry that certainly reveals to us the awful consequence of sin.
My mind went kind of into shock when I read about that man that cut his own 3 year old's throat or stabbed him and then let him bleed to death because he was crying for his mother who was in prison. How can a father do something like that to his own child or even if it wasn't his own child. We see around our city today and we see child abuse, child rape, by their own parents at times. Hard for us to believe or even conceive. Our minds can't handle it. It's no wonder what Paul the Apostle tells us about these people who do these things in Romans 1:31‑32, "Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." KJV So those that take pleasure in pornography are just as guilty as the ones that are doing it according to Romans chapter one. And our minds can't understand this. We say: "it can't be, it can't be." But yet it is. And this kind of filth was laid upon Jesus who was pure, holy, and righteous. Imagine how He must have been so repulsed by it. How His body must have just been repelled by the whole thing. As God laid on Him the iniquities of us all. And because God laid on Him the iniquities of us all and because the result and consequence of sin is separation from God, Jesus there tasted death for every person in this world. And we hear His cry from the cross in Matthew 27:46, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" KJV And we see the Holy, Righteous Son of God forsaken as He bore the guilt, the responsibility, and the judgment of our sins. Isaiah 53:4‑5 tells us, "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. KJV And you need to realize your responsibility in regards to the cross of Jesus Christ.
Matthew 27:46 reads, "My God, My God why has thou forsaken me" In this cry we began to understand a little bit of the agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. The word "Gethsemane" means "olive press". Where they would bring the presses on the olives and press all of the oil out of them. This was the place where Jesus was so pressed that even His life ran out or emptied Himself. There in the Garden of Gethsemane He tells His disciples in Matthew 26:37‑38, "And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me." KJV And we see Him crushed with the thought of what was to happen the next day. Luke tells us about Jesus there in the Garden in Luke 22:44, "And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground." KJV At the thought of having to take upon Himself all of the filth of the human race and the consequence of being separated from the Father, it says "his sweat was as it were great drops of blood". Then we hear Jesus praying in Matthew 26:39, "And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. KJV If What Is Possible? If the salvation of man is possible through any other method, through any other means. If man can be saved by being good, by being religious, by following a creed, by doing sacraments, or any other method. Jesus was saying, "Oh, God let this cup pass from Me!" The "Cross of Jesus Christ" spells out only one thing to all man-kind and that is that there is only One by which your sins can be forgiven. There is only one way by which you can have fellowship with God. There is only one way you can approach a Holy Righteous God and that is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ that was shed upon that Cross. For if it were possible for you to be saved by any type of meditation or good works or any other way; God would of taken the cup from away from Jesus! Jesus was now pleading for an alternate way. Jesus was now shying away from the cross. Turning from the cross in this hour. There being in great agony even unto death, Jesus cried out in Matthew 26:39, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." KJV As He sweat these great drops of blood falling to the ground. We cannot even imagine the horror that He felt. Holy and pure as He was and knowing that the filth of the world was to be laid upon Him. And when this happened, when all pass, present and future sins of the whole world were laid upon Him, Jesus cries out in Matthew 27:46, "My God, My God why has thou forsaken Me." KJV He cried out those words so you and I would know and understand how far God's mercy has been extended to everyone in the World. From the beginning of time there had not been broken fellowship between the Father and the Son. God almighty could have said "no" to that separation between Himself and His Son but instead He heard His righteous loving Son cry out those words as that separation took place. In John 1:1 we read, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." KJV 1 John 1:2 says, "(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)" KJV But now in one awful moment as He hangs there on the Cross, as the sin of the world is laid on Him. And because sin separates from God, there came that awful horrible separation and forsaken by the His Father. No one can enter heaven who has sin in his life. That sin has to be done away with before a person dies physically. And a person's sin can only be wiped away by the precious blood of God's Son when we trust in Jesus.
It's interesting how that Jesus was silent when His disciples forsook Him and fled. Jesus was silent when He was brought before Pilate and falsely accused. Jesus was silent when they placed the Crown of thorns on His head. Jesus was silent when they beat Him with 39 stripes. Jesus was silent when they drove the spikes through His hands and feet. Jesus was silent when the crowd mocked Him. All of this Jesus could take. All of this Jesus could endure. But when our sins were place upon Him and His fellowship with the Father was broken, His silence was also broken. It's here that we hear: "My God, My God, why has thou forsaken Me." I can understand the disciples forsaking Him because they're human filled with fears. They don't know what's going on. But until a Christian understands why God the Father had to forsake God the Son, then only can a Christian be fully committed in their heart to God. Jesus was forsaken by God as He cried that awful cry in order that we would not have to be forsaken by God. Jesus was forsaken by God for a moment, so that He might bring you into fellowship with God for all of eternity. And it's there in that moment in that dark day that you began to understand the bitter cup that Jesus was drinking. And because of the cry of Jesus: "My God, My God why has thou forsaken Me", it is not necessary for us to ever have to make that same cry. I never need to cry: "My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me" because of what Jesus did for us on that cross as I come to that repentance and acceptance in trusting Jesus as my Savior. God will never forsake me when I trust in His Son for my salvation. In Jesus Name. Amen
29 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.
30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom Hejustified, these He also glorified. NKJV
When we come to God, we are coming to an omniscient God. When we say "God is omniscient", it means that God knows all the facts. All the facts that are to be known. The Bible speaks of God as being omniscient in His understanding. Psalms 147:5 tells us, "Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite." NKJV Job 36:4 declares, "For truly my words are not false; One who is perfect in knowledge is with you." NKJV Now it would be sheer idiocy for me to pretend to fully understand God. There are people who have come to me asking: "why does God...". I stop them at that point and answer them: "I don't know". I don't know the "whys" of God. I don't understand all the ways of God. If I could understand God completely, then I would be God myself. No one understands God completely but God. The Bible says that who can know the mind of God except the Spirit. Isaiah 55:8 tells us, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. NKJV Again, Romans 11:33 declares, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!" NKJV One of God's attributes is "omniscient" or "knowing all things". If God know all things then it's impossible for God to learn anything. Because if God can learn something then He didn't know, thus He didn't know all things. Again, God is not in the process of learning things. If there is any knowledge that is to be known; God already knows it and has known it from the beginning. And if God does learn things as they happen, then He is not truly omniscient (all-knowing) and He did not possess all knowledge. Now how would it be to think yet knowing everything? Do you have to think? You know everything! I cannot even think of how it would be to think about a subject, already knowing everything about it. You have no questions in your mind at all because there is no question on the outcome of any matter. You already know everything that there is to be known from the beginning and you even know the end result. Jesus said in Matthew 10:30 "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered." NKJV It's saying more than just knowing how many hairs on your head. He knows you inside out. He knows you outside in. He knows everything about everyone. And God doesn't know it as it happens but He knew it before it happened. God has demonstrated His omniscience in the prophetic aspect of His Word. God prophesied about things that were going to happen hundreds of years before they did happen. He knew they were going to happen in the future. From the beginning, God has known everything. Romans 8:29 tells us, "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." NKJV Therefore, if God is ever to know who is going to be saved, then God has always known who is going to be saved. When you arrive in heaven, God isn't going to say: "What a surprise to see you here!" Or "I was wondering if you were going to make it!" Or "Awe, that's great that you were able to pull through and make it in." But on the contrary, God is never surprised because He knows all things. And God knows beforehand what my future holds. He knew me before the world was ever created. Ephesians 1:4 says, "just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love," NKJV This is the amazing thing in God's omniscience (all-knowing): that knowing me before the foundation of the World, He chose me. Knowing who I was and what I was, He still chose me. Talk about the grace of God in salvation! No wonder the Bible says that salvation is a gift of God. But that's exactly what happened. Romans 8:29 tells us, "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined". So that we see that His predestined (appoint beforehand) or His omniscience (complete knowledge) is related to His foreknowledge (prior knowledge). They all work together. In other words, God having known all things from the beginning, He made His choice from the foreknowledge or complete knowledge that He has and that was the basis of His choices. Not that He has to wait to see what would happen in seeing the future but He knew it all along.
Now, life could be very interesting if we possessed this capacity of complete knowledge or fore-knowledge. If we could only know the end from the beginning. Think of what you could do in Las Vegas! If you have this kind of knowledge: knowing what was going to happen before it happened. I use to fix the pay phones for ATT in Selma, Texas at the Retama Park Horse Race Track. At times, I spent all day working there. I'd hear the announcers say: "They're off!" There were big screens showing horse races all over the United States. Don't get me wrong, I also spent time fixing pay phones! But if you had the capacity of knowing in advance which horse was going to win that particular race before the race started, you'd be a wealthy person!!! Well, enough with dreaming and back to predestination. Seeing the horses line up for the race, would you bet on a horse that you knew was going to come in last place in the race. Of course not! That would be like Forest Gump would say: "Stupid is as Stupid does". But you would choose the horse that you knew was going to win the race. That really excites me on how God seems to choose. The word "foreknow" may or may not mean that. There are many views on this scripture, that why I said "it seems" to say that (some theologians disagree). But for now we are taking this view of God's foreknowledge meaning "He chose me because I chose Jesus". God chooses winners! Romans 8:29, tell us, "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." NKJV I've been chosen in Christ on the basis of His foreknowledge because He knew that I would respond to His call and I would respond to His grace. I love that! But here is where we run into some difficulty. And let me be truthful with you. Again, this doctrine of predestination or election is beset with many difficulties and many views by theologians. Here I've given you the easiest view with less difficulties. Theologians as Calvin and Arminian which oppose each other in their predestination theories where Calvin believed that God chose us to salvation, end of story. Calvin then carries this to a very literal extreme of no need for evangelism. God has already chosen who is going to be saved. Problem with that theology is that Calvin is also saying that God has chosen who is going to be lost. Arminian teaches that we chose God, therefore God chose us which is our view. But then Arminian carries this view into a very literal extreme of losing your salvation once it was acquire through faith in Jesus. The scriptures teach against losing your salvation once you really have it. We don't have to wait until we get to heaven to find out if this is true or not. It's true, you cannot lose your salvation, if you have really trusted in Jesus with your heart. Fruits or no fruits! Some denominations believe in a mixture of Calvin and Arminian theology. Whichever view you choose, I really don't believe that we will ever get to understand God's predestination fully this side of heaven. Both views sounds very logical. But when Christians start seeing predestination logically, they'll very soon come to a conclusion that God isn't fair. Simply because God is now choosing who is to be saved and who is not going to be saved (Calvin's theology). And simply because you don't know at what point you lose your salvation (Arminian theology). The difficulty comes when a person takes a part of a scriptural truth that we read in the Bible as "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined"; then carry it to a logical conclusion, instead of a scriptural conclusion. Yes, it is true that God knows who is going to be saved. And it is true that God has chosen only those that are going to be saved. And it is true that God being omniscient doesn't have to wait on us to make our choice of whether we are going to choose Jesus or not. So in a way, God chooses those that are going to be saved even before they are saved. But it is also true that God has opened the door of salvation to everyone. So that no one can blame God for the fact that they are not saved. You say: "Wait a minute, I can't put that quite together in my mind". God has predestined but yet we have a choice. As I said: "if you could understand God completely, you'd be God". I for one cannot understand how these two truths come together. God predestined me to be saved but God also gave me the freedom to choose to be saved or not. God has made me a free moral agent. I can choose yes or no. He will not disrupt the freedom that He has given me to be free to choose Jesus or not. Both predestination and the freedom of one's choice are scripturally and biblically supported because the Bible teaches both of them. But there is not one single scripture that tells us how they work together. Theologians can only make them work together by literal thinking but not scripturally. Nevertheless, again both are true Bible Doctrines. How they work together we do not know. I hate to say it but the horse race theology has some literal theology in it and isn't a solid scriptural one. But we know scripturally that God's predestination does not rule out anyone from trusting in Christ. God knocks on the door of everyone's heart. Revelation 3:20 says so, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me." NKJV 2 Peter 3:9 tells us, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." NKJV Jesus said in John 6:37, "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." NKJV No one that has come to God saying from his heart: "Oh, God be merciful to me a sinner, I receive Your Son Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior", and then the door of salvation is shut in their face. That will never happen! God never says to a repentant sinner who trusts in Christ: "I'm sorry about that, un-fortunately, I didn't know you were going to respond, and you are not on the list. And there's no way I can change this. Therefore for you there's no way I can receive you because you were not predestined". Even though Malachi 3:6, says, "For I am the Lord, I change not;" KJV. You see, the truth never closes the door to anyone. And that's the mistake some have made in trying to carry out predestination to a logical conclusion. We in our logic would close the door to people but God never does that. God is always knocking on the door of people's hearts but people don't open the door to salvation. They themselves choose not to open the door when God knocks. Romans 8:29 tells us that God knew before the foundation of the World which would open the door and which would not. That's the best view we can come out with in reading Romans 8:29 and other scriptures that mention predestination.
So now that God has predestined us. Then for what purpose has He predestined us? Romans 8:29 declares, "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." NKJV This is the reason for the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. To make us again into the image of Christ. Adam lost it but now in Christ we can have it back. Genesis 1:26 says, "Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;" NKJV Our image, our likeness. I believe that this is spiritual. I believe that this is moral. I do not know that it is physical. In other words, I have been made in the spiritual image of God with the capacity to love. I have been made in the moral image of God with the capacity of self-determination. I have been made in the emotional image of God with that love characteristic. Genesis 1:26 tells us, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;" NKJV But man fell from that image of God. So when we look around today and see mankind; we do not see God's intention in creation. And this is a mistake that many people make in their unbelief in God and their denial in the existence of God. Because they look at the fallen world and they think: "how could a God of love create the evil in the world today?" But it's because we do not see man's creation in the image of God. But instead because of sin, we see the fallen nature of the human race, we see all the evil result of that fallen nature. Now through His Son Jesus, it is God's purpose to restore man back into that image from where he has fallen. Paul tells us in Romans 8:29, "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." NKJV And God has predestined that I be one of those that He brings back from that nature of sin into the new nature in Christ; restored into the image of God. Paul says, Romans 8:29 "to be conformed to the image of His Son,". That's the purpose of God working in His Church. Ephesians 4:11-13 tells us, "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;" NKJV God tells Jeremiah this in the illustration of the Potter and the Clay in Jeremiah 18:3-6, "Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?" says the Lord. "Look, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!" NKJV So what is true for Israel is true for each of our lives. Because of sin our lives were marred in the hands of the potter (God). We had been created in the image of God but we fell from that. So God brought us back to zero and God has begun His work in us. God began to conform me back into the image of His Son. Identifying the Christians as the clay, the clay has no concept what the potter has on his mind of how he's going to mold me. And even if the clay had a concept of how the potter was going to shape and twist and turn me, the clay has no capacity to change how the potter is going to do it. But the clay as the believer, the clay should be pliable rather than stiff. The clay should be receptive rather than rebellious. The clay should be grateful rather than resentful. If the clay responds to the potter's touch, the process can be easier for the clay and have success earlier. But the clay as the unbeliever, the clay being stiff, rebellious, resentful to the potter's touch. It's marred and thrown into the potter's field. Not because God wants it that way but it's the unbeliever's doing. He wants it that way. In Romans 9:20-21, we are told, "But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, "Why have you made me like this?" Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?" NKJV But again for the believer as the clay, the lump of clay is pretty much dependent upon what the potter has in his mind. And the clay can't say to the potter: "hey, that's not how I want you to do this". One way or another, the clay is going to respond to the potter. The easy way or the hard way. Does the believer as the clay have the power to determine its own destiny? And the answer is "NO". And if I didn't know that God loved me; this would terrify me. But because I do know the potter loves me and He has given His life for me, I know His work in me is a positive thing. I might not know how He is going to do it but I do really know what the potter's intent is. I know what I'm going to be like when God finishes. Because I can look at Jesus Christ and He is the model that the potter is fashioning me to. Romans 8:29 says, "He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son," NKJV 2 Corinthians 3:18 reads, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." NKJV As the clay and as a believer; my chief characteristic should be my pliability (flexibility). Being pliable in the potter's hands. And only as I am pliable in the potter's hands; can I know what is in the mind of the potter (God's plan begins to work in my life). I've got to yield my life to the work of the Holy Spirit. Being alert to my circumstances (no coincidences in God's plan), sensitive and most of all believing that God is guiding me. Then I begin to see the reasons of God's work in my life. This doesn't happen in a moment but I've got to do one of the hardest things that a Christian is asked to do. I've to wait on the Lord. It sounds simple to "just wait on the Lord". Try it and you'll find out that is the hardest. But be patient. Believe that God has things under control. Trust Him. Even before you believed in Jesus, God had already predestinated your life in Him. Your part is only to believe in His plan for your life. 1 John 3:2 tells us, "Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." NKJV So if your God is the true and living God; then your character and attitude will become like your God. You'll find the description of that God like character in Matthew 5:3-11. It speaks of love, glory, and grace. You become as your God. For the unbeliever, he is also becoming like his god. Psalms 135:18 declares, "Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them." NKJV Psalmist speaks of those that worship other gods. They become as their god. That's why it's so important to discover the true God by trusting in His Son Jesus today. The sooner the better, so that once being a born-again believer, God can predestinate that person to start becoming like Jesus. God's plan starts!
Again, Romans 8:29 reads, "Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified." NKJV So many times through-out the years that I've been preaching and teaching salvation by the grace of God (simply believing in Jesus), someone comes to me saying: "Pastor, if you teach it that way, that all you have to do is say the "sinner's prayer" and you go to heaven, isn't that person once he knows that he has gained access to heaven, then just keeps on living a sinful life?" They must have asked Paul that say question because he answers it in Romans 6:1-2, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" NKJV Paul is saying that a person who thinks, the more I sin, the more God's grace comes my way is not only wrong but could be they haven't really trusted in Christ. Whichever the case, that's not God's predestination plan for the believer. When you truly accept Jesus, you are now justified in that your sins have been forgiven. Justified means just as you never did it. The Holy Spirit comes in and seals you as a child of God because now you have been applied not your own righteousness but the righteousness of Jesus. Now God only sees the righteousness of God in you. That keeps you saved. Philippians 3:9 tells us that: "and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;" NKJV Then starts the sanctification which is the same as "growing in the Lord" or "spiritual maturity". A true believer that has trusted in Christ will want to do God's will. He might trip and fall at times; but nevertheless, he will stand through the power of the Holy Spirit which is in him. Remember, we have been predestinated for this as we now follow after our example Jesus Christ. We've been separated unto God. Where before we stood with the World, now we stand with Jesus our Lord. This is why it's important to make this stand with Jesus as we follow His command to be baptized. As we are being baptized in following the command of God, we're singing in our heart: "I have decided to follow Jesus". And then one day we will be glorified (this is one of the hardest parts of predestination for the Christian to believe). This happens when we enter heaven. Right now, the sin nature that's still part of us is giving us trouble. But again, if God said that one day the believer will be glorified, it's going to happen. And it's all because of the cross of Christ. Romans 8:29 says: "we have been predestined to justification and glorification. So God with His foreknowledge has chosen and predestined that you should be one of those who would be restored into the image of God or conformed into the image of His Son - Jesus! Now remember, the other side of the coin is the call of God in salvation has gone out unto the whole world. Jesus said in Matthew 20:16, "So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen." NKJV The call is to all is to repent and be saved. Romans 10:13 declares, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." KJV Again, that call goes out to all but specifically the way God puts it, it's only limited to certain people. To those in His foreknowledge that would respond to that call.
Romans 8:30, "Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified;" NKJV My record is clean. There is no indictments against me whatsoever. That's a work of God! Impossible for us to do this.
Paul starts the eighth chapter of Romans with Romans 8:1, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. NIV So when we get to Romans 8:29, "Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified." NKJV The security for the true believer in Jesus is not only tremendously positive but tremendously victorious. Simply because this verse is in the past tense. It's already happened. It was predestined by none other than God Himself. God's Word never fails. And though it hasn't actually happened yet because we are in time. But God is outside of time and that's why this verse is in past tense. So if God said it, it's not going to change. And though this glorification has not yet happen to me. As far as God is concerned, it has. He sees me in eternity. He sees me glorified. So when we read this, we can rejoice. Paul tells us in Philippians 1:6, "being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;" NKJV Actually this verse is saying: "God didn't bring me this far just to dump me". One day you're going to see Pastor Mike in his glorified state. I know it's going to be because God said it. He called me, He justified me and He will glorify me. Signed, sealed and delivered! Paul starts ending this chapter with Romans 8:31, "What shall we then say to these things?" What things? The things he said in Romans 8:29-30, "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. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified." NKJV
Romans 8:31 continues, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" KJV
Someone outside of Christ reading Romans 8:29-30 may think:
"Maybe God didn't predestined me, He didn't choose me, and He didn't justify me nor glorified me". All you have to ask them is: "You want to know for sure if God did or didn't choose you?". Then choose to believe in Jesus right now! And when you do, you'll know that God chose you before the foundation of the World.
In Jesus Name, Amen.
Importance of Relationship with God
1 Chronicles 4:9-10
9 Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, "Because I bore him in pain."
10 And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, "Oh,
that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!" So God granted him what he requested. KJV
From 1 Chronicles 1 through 1 Chronicles 9, we have a listing of the families of the Israelites from Adam to King Saul. When reading through the Bible, you have my permission to skip through these chapters because we are not from the Jewish race (just kidding - even though most readers do). The reading through these chapters goes on and on family after family, one right after another. But then we have a break in the listing in 1 Chronicles 4. There we have a brief introduction to a man named Jabez and a few facts concerning him.
He is a man who is outstanding from the others because he is a man of prayer. A Christian that will devout himself or herself to prayer will always be outstanding above the others. And so is this man Jabez.
1 Chronicles 4:9 tells us, "And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow." KJV The name “Jabez” means “born of pain” or “born of grief”. Evidently when he was born, his mother had a tough pregnancy and a hard delivery. So she called him “Jabez”, "born of grief" or "born of pain". That's a terrible tag to put on a kid as far as his name. In Genesis 35:18, when Jacob’s wife Rachel had her second son, she called him “Ben Oni” which means "son of my pain or son of sorrow". She named him that because while delivering him she had such a tough delivery that she died. And her dying words were the name of her son “BenOni” – “son of pain”. Jacob his father had mercy on him and changed his name to Benjamin which means “son of my right hand". He didn’t want him to live under the shadow of the name “son of sorrow” or "son of grief" so he changed it. Somehow the name “son of grief” stuck with Jabez.
1 Chronicles 4:10 tells us, And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed KJV The basic or most important part of Jabez prayer is that of blessing. Asking God to bless him. I have met very religious people who want to express their righteousness through their selflessness. In otherwords, they want to express their righteousness (doing the right thing) in not wanting or asking anything for themselves. They want to seem very pious. Even to the extent of taking scripture out of content. Paul said in Acts 20:35, "I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. KJV Here it speaks of a truth of giving gives you greater satisfaction than receiving. Thank God that you are in a positon of giving but this is not speaking of being someone that should not want to receive. And yet, some take it that way. They say with pride: “Well, I never pray for anything for myself”. Well, aren’t you righteous!
All you do is pray for other’s needs but you are so un-important that you never ask God for anything for yourself. First of all, I think it’s not biblical and secondly “it’s a bunch of baloney”. But I’ve had people tell me that and other self-sacrificial acts that are full of self-righteous kind of feelings. I have found that people who try to live this way by never asking God for anything, soon become very un-obligated people. They do what they want when they want. They seem to think that they owe nothing to God because they’ve never received anything from God because they’ve never asked anything from God. And usually to begin with, they just don’t know God. They don’t want any obligations. I pray for myself all the time. I see no problem in praying for myself. At times I have one of the Pastors (usually Pastor Ysidro) pray for me at the altar call. Luke 11:1 tells us about Jesus, "And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. KJV Jesus answering him gave them the model prayer. And there are many personal petitions in that model prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread", “And forgive us our sins; “Lead us not into temptation; and “Deliver us from evil. All are personal petitions and there's nothing wrong with them. How can I be of any value to God in ministering to others; unless I have first of all been ministered by God? 2 Timothy 2:6 says, "The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits. KJV Here, Paul encourages Timothy to keep working for in due time you will reap or receive. Galatians 6:9 declares, "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap or receive, if we faint not. KJV It’s like the measles, you can’t give them unless you got them! So you need to be blessed of God in order that you might be able to impart the blessings of God to other people. If you want the blessings of God upon your life, ask for them. I’ve always asked God to bless me with wisdom and judgment. We're going to need it when we minister to someone that's going through a tremendous trial. The decisions, the responsibilities; how I desire the wisdom and good judgment of God. In Colossians 1:9-11, Paul prays a tremendous prayer for the Church at Colossi. Paul prays for them to be filled with knowledge, wisdom, strength and joy. That they would grow into Christian maturity so as to walk before God, pleasing Him and producing good works. That they would be empowered by the Holy Spirit so they could wait patiently with longsuffering in a joyful attitude on God's answer and deliverance. I copied that prayer on a sheet of paper and placed it in a place that it would be the first thing I see every morning. I pray that for myself every morning. I’ve always also asked God to bless me with good health. Even in getting prostate cancer, God delivered me in so many ways when going through that trial through all the medical procedures. Though it was not easy but after years of being cancer free, I've ministered to a few of those facing the same treatments. When you pray for God to bless your life and things that did not look very good but all of a sudden come out good; you began to understand praying blessing for yourself works. You don't see it as coincidence but as blessings of God. It’s your prayer of blessing being answered. Paul the Apostle verifies that there are blessings of God even in your trials. In 2 Corinthians 12:10, Paul says, "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." KJV Paul is saying that God allows those weaknesses in order for him to rely on God's strength and not his. So there can be a value in trials if you take them in the right way. I’ve always asked God to bless my physical and spiritual family and friends when they go through trials of this life. And I ask blessing upon blessing and could go on and on in how I ask for God’s blessing but I’m always careful to thank God for His blessings. Because as I've said, once you become a Christian by trusting in Christ there are no more coincidences. And so many times we take the blessings of God for granted. We eat without even given thought of thanking God for what He has provided. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, "in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." NKJV People often want to find the will of God for their lives. Well, this is a good place to start by giving thanks unto God in everything. Not for the trial but in spite of the trial. God will see us through.
There were 3 basic blessings that Jabez asked for. The first one is found in 1 Chronicles 4:10, "And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my border," ASV We have a basic instinct toward inwardness. We are so involved in ourselves. We come into this world basically naturally self-centered. I am very interested in those things that affect me. If a person becomes too inward, he sooner or later becomes miserable. Because he sees everything in a subjective way of – me, me, me… and having only to do with you. Even to the point of becoming almost paranoid. This inward person persist in thinking: "Those people in that group, I know they're talking about me. That person over there, I know he/she doesn't like me." They really believe that they have this special gift of perception of people's thoughts. But God wants to change our inwardness to outwardness. Jabez prayer in 1 Chronicles 4:10, "And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my border," ASV I pretty sure that God answered his prayer more than just "territory" as the NIV translates it. Because as Jabez, we also need to let the Spirit of God deliver us from being self-centered. So as I pray, "God enlarge my territory" or "God enlarge my borders", God answers in not letting us be self-centered. All of us have that tendency of being self-centered and we’re all prone to that character. And it comes out, especially if we’re in a hurry driving down the street. As we're coming down on Pleasanton Road. It being a four lane street. Two lanes going each direction. And there are two cars going 20 mph side by side in front of me. There's no way to pass them by and I’m in a hurry because I'm going to the Restaurant to have breakfast. And it's 11:45am and breakfast ends at 12noon. And I'm shouting in my mind: "what’s wrong with them, don’t they know that there are other people in the World besides them. Why do they drive so slowly? The speed limit has to be 30 or more and they are going 20 mph". Finally one moves over and as you pass them by, you give him the non-Christian glare. And there are many examples of real life self-centered experiences. 1 Chronicles 4:10, tells us, ""And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my border," ASV Some people only have their border enlarged to their family and are very family oriented. And everything is toward the family and how it relates toward the family. And we've all heard: "God first, family second and so on". And that's a good thing. But there are some Christians that live: "God first, family second and that's it". There are also some people who become very community oriented. They are for their neighborhood. They become strong in the community. So strong that they become very tight-knit. Everything is for their tight-knit community. There borders become very narrow. Northside, Southside, Eastside, Westside. I use to work in a place that was divided by the function that you did in your work place. They were also divided by the different crews inside those functions. There was alot of envy inside that workplace. Very territorial in this is mine and the heck with everyone else. Sort of "get at the end of the line" I'm first. But God's character is not that way. The Bible says in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son," KJV. And in God’s eyes, we are all equal. If the man comes from Honduras or England or any other country (legally without breaking any laws) that man is just as important as we who have lived here all our lives. And as a Christian, we need to pray that God would give us a broader vision. I need to have the vision like God has and not to just see things within our narrow limits. “Lord, enlarge my borders”! Enlarge my heart where I can have compassion not just for my family; not just for my community but for all whom God loves. We find this very much in the Church circles. We speak so often of my Church. We are so interested in seeing the prosperity of my Church. Rather than to see prosperity in the Kingdom of God. Long time ago, a sister in Christ that had been coming to Saved By Grace Church for quite some time went MIA (missing in action). She was a good down to earth sister in Christ that I had many great spiritual conversations with while she was attending our Church so I gave her a call. I thought: "maybe she's sick, maybe she's going through some type of trial. Come to find out that she was now going to Community Bible Church. I'll confess that I was a bit disappointed in her transfer because she lived closer to our Church than CBC. But because I'm a Pastor, I need to say that I was playing around with her on the phone call as I told her "SBG Church can pray better than your CBC". My wife got after me for playing around with the Sister like that. But I was only playing around with her (I think?) But then maybe not, as I thought of how big that Church is compared to ours. Jealousy and her transfer got the best of me. But then, I remembered Jabez prayer and immediately prayed: "God deliver me and help me to have a broader vision. Help me Lord to be more concerned with others in their spiritual health then in what their earthly status is. And Lord, even if they are not from my Church or group or community or whatever; help me to be more concerned with all the Churches in our City that are proclaiming God’s Salvation through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Deliver me, Lord, from narrow denominationalism. “Lord, enlarge my borders” that I not have that tendency toward inwardness".
Jabez next blessing that he desired, we find in 1 Chronicles 4:10 "And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, "Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me," NKJV I desire the hand of God upon my life because just knowing that God’s hand is there because I've accepted Jesus, brings to me great comfort. When you ask some people: "If you were to die tonight, do you know that you would go to heaven?" Most say: “Nobody knows that until after you die”. But that would be an awful time to find out especially if you opened your eyes and were in that other place called hell. But even just not knowing one way or another if you are going to make it into heaven would bring you distress. Especially if all of a sudden you were diagnosed with some terminal illness. That's why the Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 6:2, "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. KJV 1 John 5:13 declares, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know (right now) that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." KJV Knowing that the minute I trust Jesus as my Savior, I'm bound for heaven is very comforting for us children of God. And then knowing that because of my trust in Jesus, I now can ask for God's blessing upon my life of His hand upon my life. And that brings great comfort to my heart. It just brings great comfort to me. And how desperately I need that. Especially in days like now where the whole world is in great distress! Even more, God's hand upon my life checks me when I tend to take the wrong turn. God's hand upon my life leads me in the right direction. As I said before, when God’s hand is upon your life; bad situations turn into good endings. And it’s not coincidental! It’s because you’ve asked God’s hand be upon you. Paul the Apostle said in Romans 8:31, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" KJV And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “that thine hand might be with me,” KJV
The last blessing that Jabez asked God for is in 1 Chronicles 4:10
"and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!" KJV This is one of the petitions that Jesus gave us in the Model Prayer in Matthew 6:13, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:" KJV He told us that we should pray that. Because the natural bent in us is toward evil. Proverbs 22:6, says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it." KJV Proverbs 29:15, "The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. KJV You’ve got to teach your child what is good. You’ve got to train your child in moral values. You’ve got to instruct him in doing what is right because left to himself; that child will slowly but surely go toward evil. That’s just the fallen nature of man! It gravitates toward evil. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?" NKJV The human heart is just bent on evil. That's why 1 Corinthians 11:28, advises us, "But let a man examine himself," NKJV But for this type of examination, one has to be honest with themselves. Because even as Christians, we can invent all kinds of excuses where we want people to think that we are better than we really are. The knowledge of ourselves is perhaps the hardest knowledge in the world for us to come by. But should you come by it, you will find that it’s the most painful knowledge you ever had. The better examination is in Psalm 139:23-24 where David said: "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. KJV Jabez prayed: 1 Chronicles 4:10, "and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!" KJV Again, his name, Jabez means “born of grief”. Jabez prayer was: “God I don’t want to be grieved by evil”. Solomon said in Proverbs 14:12 "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. KJV The initial path of evil often seems exciting and fun as Satan holds up the temptation to you. It's always so enticing and people follow that path for the reasons of excitement, fun, and enticing temptations. But what they don’t realize is that to walk that path in the end is that it always leads to pain and grief. Not only for you but all of those around you. Those that will be affected by what you have done. This world is full of misery and pain. Not because God made it that way but because man’s sin has made it that way. Drugs, alcohol, fornication, adultery and the list goes on. Jabez prayed: 1 Chronicles 4:10, "and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!" KJV
1 Chronicles 4:10, ends with "And God granted him that which he requested." KJV There’s a lot about Jabez we don’t know. We don’t know who his parents were. We don’t even know the names of his brothers. But we do know, 1 Chronicles 4:9, "And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren:" KJV We do know that he was a man of prayer. We do know that he was a man blessed of God. We do know that he was a man who had the hand of God upon his life. A man who God enlarged his borders with no self-centeredness there. A man who walked in righteousness because the Bible says in 1 Chronicles 4:10 "And God granted him that which he requested." KJV
Let me tell you this right now to end this Bible Study. If you would pray these same petitions, God will grant you these same blessings. It's guaranteed, you know why? Because the Scripture tells us in 1 John 5:14-15 "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." KJV It is God’s will to bless you. It is God’s will that you not be inward but rather be broaden in God's love for all. It is God’s will that His hand be upon your life. It is God’s will that you be kept from evil that it not grieve you. And if you will pray these petitions unto God, you can also be assured that God will grant you your petitions. In fact, every morning, pray these blessings upon your life. Your life would be transformed like never before. Your life would be so exciting and your life would be so blessed.
Prayer: "Lord, let us learn from this man that stands out in this list of names. Bless us Lord as You did Jabez.
In Jesus Name, Amen."