When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”

He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. 3 Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. 5 When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. 7 When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:1-10
 
During this account in the gospel of Luke we are given some very important information about Zaccheus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was a man who valued money above all else and most likely cheated those he collected taxes from. Tax collectors were the most hated in Israel. Taxes were collected for the Roman empire and it was Jews taken advantage of other Jews.
 
Zaccheus was a short man and needed to climb a Sycamore tree to be able to see Jesus passing through the crowd. A sycamore tree can grow to be between 75 to 100 feet and be 10 feet in diameter. It is a very large tree. As Jesus walked by He stated to Zaccheus that He desired to have dinner with him.
 
The people grumbled because they didn’t understand how Jesus could spend time with such a man as this. But Jesus looked beyond the surface. Jesus looked into the heart. In Zaccheus He saw a man who was hungry for truth and it was the Holy Spirit who drew Zaccheus. When Jesus stated to Zaccheus that He desired to eat dinner with Him Zaccheus responded without hesitation.
 
Zaccheus demonstrates through his actions the faith he has in Jesus. He states to the Lord that he was willing to give half of all he had to the poor and to repay four times anyone he had wronged. The heart of Zaccheus had been impacted by the Living Christ. This is a contrast to the rich young ruler who when Jesus spoke to him about his wealth was not willing to depart with it and walked away from Jesus.
 
Jesus statement that He came to seek and save those who were lost sums up His mission. He came to earth to give His life so that anyone who would place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ would be saved. It is because of what Jesus has done alone that we have salvation.
 
Authentic saving faith impacts the way we live our lives. It affects every decision we make on a daily basis. It is impossible to claim that we are truly saved and not be transformed into the character and nature of Jesus Christ.
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And I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish

and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

John 10:28-30 NASB

It is God who has made the way of salvation possible.  We are saved by the grace of God and it is through placing our faith and trust in Jesus Christ that we are saved.  We are saved by the grace and mercy of God.  It is not by works or by our own efforts.

No one can snatch us out of the hand of Almighty God.  We are not able to lose our salvation.  Many fear that some how they can lose their salvation and it has caused many to go through countless seasons of darkness and depression.  But we are saved by the grace of God and we are kept by the grace of God.  It is the grace and power of God that sustains us.

This is why Jesus is our Lord and Savior.  He not only saved us when He went to the cross and died for our sins, but He saves us on a daily basis.  We are led and guided by the Holy Spirit and it is the Lord who the battle belongs too.  The enemy will try to heap condemnation upon us, but in Christ there is no condemnation.  Our right standing before God is not based upon performance, it is based upon our faith in Jesus Christ because our righteousness is based on Christ alone.

This is difficult for some to understand because our culture is a performance driven culture.  If you desire to accomplish anything in the world it is based upon performance.  But this is not the case with God’s kingdom.  God simply calls us to be faithful stewards of that which we have been entrusted.  He calls us to abide in Him each and every day.  Let us fix our hearts and minds upon Jesus and His love for us.  May we fall deeper in love with our Savior each and every day.

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:55-57 NIV

Our ultimate victory has come through Jesus Christ.  Through the death and resurrection of Jesus we have been set free from the curse of sin and death.  It was impossible to keep the law of God and the law was meant to reveal man’s need of a savior.  It was only Jesus who could perfectly keep the law and fulfill the law.  This is why Jesus said He did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it.

Daily we must fix our hearts and minds upon Jesus Christ.  Daily we face challenges as we follow Christ.  It is through the challenges we face that the Lord produces within us the character and nature of who He is.

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you,which can save you.  James 1:19-21

We are called to be slow to speak and quick to listen.  Many times we get ourselves into trouble when we simply speak without truly listening to someone.  Often when someone is speaking to us we are focusing simply on our point and not what the person is saying.  If we simply will listen to one another many of the issues that cause division and dysfunction would not exist.  This is why the Lord gave us two ears and one mouth.  When we take time to listen we will operate from a place of wisdom.

This includes listening to the leading of the Lord.  Often times we make decisions and make statements without truly listening to the Lord.  The culture of our day causes many to fail to develop an intimate relationship with the Lord.  But when we take time each day to get alone with the Lord we will develop discernment for the Lord’s leading and guidance.

We are commanded in scripture to rid our lives of all moral filth.  The culture and world we live in worships and glorifies the things of wickedness.  Our culture glorifies sex and violence.  But as believers in Jesus Christ we are called to be set apart.  We are called to be a living sacrifice unto the Lord.  The Lord desires to move us from glory to glory but this requires us to walk in obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  For when we walk in obedience to the Holy Spirit we will remove all moral filth from our lives.

 

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the first fruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.”[c] Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him,so that God may be all in all.  1 Corinthians 15:20-28

It is through Jesus Christ that we indeed have victory (1 Corinthians 15:57).  This is the beauty of the cross.  What Satan thought would destroy the Son of God actually brought freedom and deliverance to all those who would put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ.  It is because of what Jesus has done that we are indeed free (John 8:36).

Death entered the human race because of the sin of Adam and Eve.  It is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that has overcome death and redeemed that which was lost by Adam.  God was not surprised by the fall of Adam and Eve.  The plan of salvation was put in place before the foundations of the world (1 Peter 1:19-21).  Because of Jesus Christ we are able to have our relationship restored with God the Father.

There is coming a day when Jesus shall return .  When Jesus returns He will return with the host of Heaven behind Him (Revelation 19:11-18).  He will establish His kingdom and bring all His enemies under His rule and authority (Revelation 20:1-6).  He shall return to rule the earth with a rod of iron.  We who have placed our faith and trust in Jesus Christ will rule and reign with Him in His kingdom.

Once all enemies have been placed under the feet of Jesus Christ, He will turn all things over to His Father in Heaven.  For even Jesus the Son of God is subject to His Father in Heaven.  Our great hope is in what Jesus has done at Calvary.  Because of His death and resurrection we no longer fear death.  Death has been overcome and there is coming a day when death itself will be cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14-15).  Until that time may we live for Christ each day growing in our relationship with Him.  May we keep our eyes fixed upon the Lord in all circumstances.  He will always lead us to victory in all things.  He is continually producing within us His character and His nature (Gal 5:22-23)

 

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Romans 10:9-10 NIV

Salvation is a result of declaring with one’s mouth that Jesus is Lord and believing in one’s heart.  Salvation is a gift from God and is to be received.  It is not based upon works and it is not earned.  But works are a result of true faith in Jesus Christ.  Because if we have come to truly place our faith and trust in Jesus the Holy Spirit has come to live within us.  It is the Holy Spirit who transforms us from the inside out.

As the Holy Spirit continually transforms our lives it impacts the way we live our lives.  We begin to see the world around us as God sees it and we see the brokenness of humanity.  We are surrounded daily by those who are broken and lost and as we have opportunity we must be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Through faith in Christ we are justified before God.  Our sin debt was paid by Jesus as the cross and He took our sin upon Himself.  The wrath and punishment that we deserved was poured out upon Jesus.  Today we are free because what Christ has done at Calvary.

For the message of the cross

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.

1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV

Those who are lost and perishing simply see the message of the cross as foolishness.  We live in a day and age where few believe in God and His existence.  Many have made themselves their own god.  During the apostle Paul’s day many worshiped idols.  But in our time the focus of people’s worship is simply themselves.

The technology of our day has made life easy and comfortable.  Many see no purpose in believing in God because they see no need for Him in their lives.  Because if they believe in God they are accountable for the lives they live and few today desire to be accountable for the choices and decisions they make on a daily basis.

But for those who believe in Jesus Christ the message of the cross is the power of God.  It is the message of the cross that sets us free because our sins have been nailed to the cross.  Our righteousness is found in Christ alone.  When our faith has been placed in Jesus Christ, His righteousness if applied to our lives.  May our eyes and hearts be fixed upon Jesus and prepare our hearts daily for His soon return.

For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands

16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.  Deuteronomy 30:16

There is a connection between obedience and blessing.  If we truly desire the blessing of the Lord upon our lives then we must walk in obedience.  Before we come to Christ we are enslaved to the world and its desires.  We seek to fulfill the lust of the flesh.  But when we come to Christ we are called to repentance.  Repentance requires that we turn our back on the world and its desires and we pursue the Lord with our whole heart.

The Lord gave this command to the nation of Israel.  Throughout its history, Israel time and again walked in disobedience towards the Lord.  They incured the discipline of the Lord.  The Lord sent prophet after prophet, but the word of the Lord was ignored time and again until the Israelites were removed from the promise land.

We today who are in Christ are called to obedience.  But we are called to walk according to the Spirit.  It is the Holy Spirit who leads and guides us in all truth.  As we seek the Lord daily it is the Holy Spirit who transforms us from the inside out.  In following Jesus Christ we are called to make the Lord our priority of our lives.  He leads us one step at a time.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

Romans 13:8 NIV

We are told time and time again in God’s word to love one another.  Jesus exemplified this in the way He lived His life and the way He laid down His life for us.  He didn’t have to go to the cross, but He chose to because of His love for us.  We are created in His image and the offer of salvation goes out to all people.  Those who receive what Jesus has done and placed their faith and trust in Him will spend all eternity in God’s kingdom.

The apostle Paul had to defend the gospel throughout his ministry.  Many tried to distort the grace of God; either treating it as a license to sin or falsely teaching that the gentiles had to keep the law.  The grace of God does not divorce us from walking in obedience to the Lord.  For before we come to Christ we are slaves of this world and the desires of the sinful nature.  But when we come to Christ we have been bought at a precious price and become slaves of the Lord and His righteousness.  Our lives no longer belong to us.  They belong to the Lord.

In loving others we fulfill the law.  When you examine the law it is God’s righteous standard and it is impossible for anyone except Jesus to keep the whole law.  But through the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to walk in love.  For when we come to Christ it is the Holy Spirit who comes to live in our hearts and transforms us from the inside out.  May everything we do on this earth be done in God’s love and done to glorify His name.  For we are called to love God with our whole heart and to love our neighbor as ourselves.