He is Risen and Every Believer is Special to God!

Have you ever felt that other Christians were special to God, but not you?  Have you thought that other believers were important in the church, but not you?  Cleopas helps us to see the truth that every child of God is special!  Every child of God is important to God’s purposes!  You may be thinking—“Who is Cleopas?”  Good question and we will get to that in a minute.

Who would you have expected Jesus to appear to on resurrection Sunday?  The Bible tells us that Jesus appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34).  You say, “Well yeah, but look who Peter was.  Peter was so important to the church.  He was one of the twelve apostles.  God did special signs and wonders through Peter.  Peter was in Christ’s inner circle.”

Mark records that Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene on resurrection Sunday (Mark 16:9).  This is definitely significant—that Jesus appeared first to a woman.  Why?  Because, in the first century women were not honored consistent with God’s intended purpose for them from creation.  Also, Mary Magdalene had seven demons cast of her when she came to Christ (Mark 16:9).  You may have thought your life before Christ was too bad for God to use you or to honor you with His presence.  Not true!  Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene.  Mary Magdalene is mentioned several times in Scripture and some might say that is why Jesus appeared to her.  That brings us to Cleopas.

On resurrection Sunday two disciples were traveling to Emmaus.  As they walked and talked about the events of the past several days, weeks, and months, they were joined by a stranger.  That stranger was none other than the resurrected Christ!  Not only did Jesus walk with these two men, but He also gave them a Bible study that had to be totally awesome!  Jesus went through the Old Testament beginning with Moses and all the prophets and expounded the things concerning Himself (Luke 24:27).  How would like to have been in on that small group Bible study?  One of the two men is mentioned by name in Luke 24:18—Cleopas.  This is the only place in Scripture where Cleopas’ name is recorded.

You see, Cleopas was important to Jesus.  Cleopas was special to God’s purposes through His Son Jesus Christ.  Both of these men were important and special.  God does not have favorites in His family.  Every child of God is special and important in God’s kingdom.  You, my brother and sister, are special and important to God’s kingdom!  I encourage to pray the next three sentences to God in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving:
“Thank you, Father, for recording the account of Jesus speaking with the two men on the road to Emmaus!  Thank you for loving me!  Thank you for showing me that I am special and important to You and to Your kingdom!”

© 2016, Dr. Robert Franklin

How to have a Heart that Really “Get’s It” and Brings Forth Fruit

Jesus shared the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:1-23. As he sowed the seed, it fell on four types of soil. The first place was the pathway. This was where people walked and the soil was compacted so that it was hard. The seed just lay on top of the hard surface and the birds came along and ate the seed. The second place was a thin layer of topsoil over rock. The seed had no depth of soil to put down roots, so it came up quickly. This was only short-lived, because as the sun shined on the fledgling growth it was burned, then withered and died. Next, there was the soil infested with thorns. The seed was unable to grow and flourish, because the thorns choked the seed. Finally, some of the seed landed on the “good soil.” This seed put down deep root, did not have to compete with thorns and brought forth fruit abundantly.

The four conditions of the soil represent four conditions of the heart. Jesus is the Sower, the seed is the Word of the kingdom. The soil is the heart. When the Word of God is spoken upon the hard heart the devil snatches the Word away. This person has no time for God. He or she is not interested. Some people hear the Word and say, “Wow, this is great!” But they are shallow. They don’t put down roots in Christ. They are not in the Word daily. They do not pray. Because they are shallow, they cannot handle trials and persecution. So, they fall away. The thorny soil represents those who are divided. Christ is not their “all in all.” Their hearts are cluttered with the cares of the world. They have bought into the lie that having “things” is the answer. They are not “seeking first the kingdom of God.” This results in the Word being choked in their heart. They have no fruit. The “good soil” receives the Word—understands the Word. The word “understand” has the idea of “really getting it.” These are the people who really grasp the Word. They are singular in their love and commitment to Jesus Christ. They refuse to let the cares of this world overwhelm them. They cast all their cares upon Christ. They pray and experience the peace that passes all understanding. They know that riches and things are not the answer. Because they are abiding in Christ—the Vine they are fruitful.

Four types of soil and four conditions of the heart—which one describes you?

Dr. Robert Franklin © 2016

Why Do You Come to Jesus?

Matthew wrote in Matt 12:38 that certain of the scribes and Pharisees came to Jesus saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” Jesus responded that an evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign. Mark wrote in his gospel that Jesus sighed deeply before He gave his response (Mk 8:12). Read these two powerful statements regarding this passage and then answer the question that follows.

“They do not explain what they mean by a sign, but it is clear that they were asking him to accredit himself by doing some striking miracle; apparently they did not regard his miracles of healing as meeting their need….They were asking him now for something that unmistakably came from God. In the Old Testament sometimes such signs were given (Exod. 4:8–9; Isa. 7:11), but they were God’s good gift, not the result of a demand from unbelieving sceptics. The Pharisees evidently saw a ‘sign’ as a miraculous happening produced on demand to prove that God was with a person….In that they were testing him out (Mark 8:11), it is plain that they did not expect him to come up with anything that would satisfy them. The kind of miracle they were demanding Jesus consistently refused to perform. His miracles were always directed toward the fulfilling of a need felt by those for whom the miracle was performed. Jesus was no circus performer, gratifying the appetite for wonders on the part of people who were not serious about spiritual things.”

“Jesus’ strong reaction demonstrates his abhorrence of the showmanship his inquisitors were seeking. He castigates them as an evil and adulterous generation, where generation extends the scope of his condemnation beyond his immediate questioners to the sum total of the contemporaries they represent. They are evil (see on 6:23), for their profession of religion is joined to a massive selfishness whereby they impose their own rules on God, and adulterous, for they have turned their proper relation of fidelity to God into spiritual adultery; their demand for a sign showed their failure to trust God and their readiness to try to impose on him a miraculous act of their own choosing where they should have been content with faithful service. People who serve God in faithfulness may indeed see signs, but sensation-seeking unbelievers will not see them. Signs are granted to faith, so how can the faithless ever see them?”  [Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press, 1992), 324-25].

Do you seek Jesus because of who He is by faith or are you seeking a sign?

© 2016, Dr. Robert Franklin

How to Find Rest for Your Soul

We have all had the experience of working so hard that we were physically exhausted. This is when we feel like we will collapse, if we don’t sit down. But what do we do when we are exhausted in our “inner man”—you might say “spiritual exhaustion.” In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus tells us how to find rest for our souls.

In verse 28 Jesus stated, “Come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy laden.” Do you ever feel like you are toiling for all you are worth, that you are burdened down under a great load and you are “getting nowhere”? In these three verses we find three choices we need to make. First, we need to come to Jesus. The word could have an exclamation mark after it—“Come!” We must choose to come to Jesus. Only Jesus can give us rest for our souls.

Having come to Jesus, we must “take up His yoke.” Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you” in verse 29. Taking Christ’s yoke is about embracing God’s will for our lives. We want what God wants for us. We are ready to be yoked together with our Savior. We are coming under His lordship and leadership. We are going to learn from Him.

Finally, Jesus said, “learn from Me.” The word translated “learn” is manthano and means “to learn by experience.” We must know Jesus personally. We must know Him for ourselves. There are things you can only learn by experience. People can tell us about Jesus, but we must “learn from Him” by experiencing who He is as we are in a personal relationship with Him. From Ephesians 4:20-24 we find that learning from Christ comes from hearing Him and being taught the truth by Him. This certainly involves putting off the old way of life and putting on the “new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).

In verse 30 Jesus said that His yoke was easy and His burden light. The yoke of Christ fits us perfectly and is “easy” or “it fits.” Another way to understand this phrase is that when we are yoked with Christ we are no longer trying to live the Christian life in our own strength. The apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” When it is not us, but Christ living through us—the yoke is easy and the burden is light.

Oh Lord! We come to You. We take Your yoke upon us and we are ready to learn from You. Thank you for Your rest for our souls.

Dr. Robert Franklin, © 2016.

Do We See People the Way Jesus Sees People?

How many people do you see in one week, one month, or one year? When we look at them, do we really “see” them? Let’s turn to Matthew 9:35-38 to understand how Jesus “saw” people.
From Matthew 9:35 we find that Jesus had three areas of focus in ministry—teaching, preaching and healing. As Jesus touched people through these three avenues of outreach, what was going on inside of our Lord? Verses thirty-six through thirty-eight help us answer this question. Matthew wrote that Jesus was “moved with compassion when He saw the multitudes.” The Greek word translated “saw” or “having seen” in verse 36 is eido. This word is not about seeing on the surface, but more deeply. Eido is “seeing with knowledge or understanding.” When Jesus looked at people, He looked “at people.” He looked with understanding. In verse thirty-six He saw people who were distraught, bewildered, and scattered. They were “like sheep without a shepherd.” This kind of seeing with understanding that saw not just people, but also saw their needs stirred Jesus in His innermost being.
The word translated “compassion” is sometimes translated “bowels of compassion,” because it is describing the deep yearning and concern within a person. Jesus was moved with compassion toward the crowd of people, because He saw needs—hurting and needy people.
The needs are great, so much so that Jesus turned to His disciples and said “the harvest is much, but the workers are few.” How tragic! So many hurting people—so many needs and so few workers. For this reason, Jesus challenged the disciples to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. This is not casual prayer, but heart wrenching prayer. This word for prayer is used to describe the prayer of a leper who fell on his face before Jesus pleading to be healed (Luke 5:12). This is the prayer of a father whose only child was oppressed by an evil spirit (Luke 9:38). If we can learn to see people the way Jesus sees people, maybe we could learn to pray with this kind of passion for workers in the harvest.
The three areas of ministry focus in our Sunday School classes are: teaching, reaching, and ministering. This follows the pattern of our Lord’s ministry. The focus is right, but how do we see people? Do you see people the way Jesus sees people?

Dr. Robert Franklin, © 2016

What Caused Jesus to Marvel?

There are only two occasions recorded in Scripture where Jesus “marveled” at something. The first occasion is found in Mark 6:6. Jesus was in His own country and the people said where did he get this wisdom? Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? In essence they were saying, “Who does he think he is?” Jesus said, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and among his own kin and in his own house.” In verse 6 the Bible states that Jesus marveled at their “unbelief.”
The other occasion where Jesus marveled is recorded in Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10. Both passages are referring to the same event. A centurion asked Jesus to heal his servant. The centurion said that he was not worthy for Jesus to come under his roof. He asked Jesus to just “speak a word” and his servant would be healed without Jesus coming to his home. The centurion understood that Jesus had “spiritual authority” in this matter. Jesus marveled and turned to his followers and said, “I have not found this kind of faith in Israel.”
When Jesus looks at our lives, does He marvel at our belief or unbelief?

©2016, Dr. Robert Franklin

The Narrow Gate and the Wide Gate

Gate       In Matthew 7:13-14 there are two gates.  A person needs to make a deliberate decision to enter through the “straight” gate. There are two causal clauses that give reasons for this. The first causal clause describes the other gate. The other gate is wide and the way is broad. Furthermore, many people are going through the wide gate and down the broad path. In other words, it takes no effort to go through the wide gate. You just have to follow the crowd. The gate is so wide and the path so broad that you cannot miss it. The tragedy is that this gate and path lead to destruction.
The second causal clause turns the attention back to the “straight” or “narrow” gate. This gate is narrow and thus can be easily missed. One does not blindly stumble through this gate. The word found with “way” translated “narrow” is the Greek verb thlibo and here is a participle in the perfect tense. The word means “difficult.” The translation could be “the way is standing being difficult.” No one “accidentally” goes through a narrow gate and travels the difficult path. The text says that few “find it.” Note the word “find.” This gate being narrow needs to be “found.” The good news is that the few who make the intentional decision to go through the narrow gate and down the difficult path will find life! Have you made the deliberate decision to follow Christ through the narrow gate? Are you traveling down the difficult path?

©2016, Dr. Robert Franklin

The Greatest Lessons Series—Change Takes Place In the Presence of God

            Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines metamorphosis:  “to change into a different physical form, esp. by supernatural means; a striking alteration in appearance, character, or circumstances.”  The Greek word metamorphoo occurs only four times in the New Testament.  Twice the verb is used with reference to Christ being “transfigured”  (Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:2).  When Christ was transfigured, his face and garments shined brightly like the sun.  The glory of God in the body of Christ was shining through him. 

            Most of us are familiar with the term “metamorphosis” from our science class in school.  We learned that the caterpillar becomes a beautiful butterfly through this amazing process of metamorphosis.  There is also a metamorphosis that must happen in our lives to be conformed to the image of Christ.

            The Bible states that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 6:23).  God showed His love for us by sending His Son to die on the cross for our sins (Romans 5:8).  When we put our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9-13), the Holy Spirit comes to indwell our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  The beauty of Christ is in us in the person of the Holy Spirit.  God wants us to change from within by His Spirit.  This spiritual metamorphosis is found in Romans 12:1-2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18.

            Remember the Greek word metamorphoo is only found four times in the New Testament.  Twice we find the word with reference to Christ’s transfiguration.  The only other times are in 2 Corinthians 3:18 and Romans 12:2.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:18 “But we all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord are changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  This verse is about our being in the presence of God with an “open heart.”  We come before God with openness and honesty.  We come before Him with brokenness and submission.  We behold His glory and He changes us into the same image by His Spirit.  This is amazing and wonderful.  The word “change” in 2 Corinthians 3:18 and the word “transformed” in Romans 12:2 are both present tense continuous action verbs.  We are to “keep on being changed” by the Spirit of God.

In Romans 12:1-2 Paul wrote that we are to present our bodies a living sacrifice to God.  This speaks of surrender, honesty, openness—holding nothing back.  We are to stop being conformed to this world, but “keep on being transformed (changed)” that we might know and do His will.

The picture of a Christian who is constantly being changed is one who is surrendered in the presence of God with an open heart and an open Bible.  How is your prayer life?  Is your heart open to God?

©2014, Dr. Robert Franklin

The Greatest Lessons Series—Jesus loves me!

            Love is powerful!  Jesus said, “This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).  Paul wrote, “now abides faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).  Our greatest emotional need is to be  loved by someone.  We all want to be loved and to love.  My life has never been the same since I realized how much Jesus loves me.

One of my favorite passages is Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21.  Here is the passage: 

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.  Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”

In this passage we find Paul praying for the believers at Ephesus.  He was praying that they would be able to comprehend “the love of Christ.”  By comprehending the love of Christ they would be filled with all the fullness of God.  Think about what you just read….  Being filled with all the fullness of God happens in my life as I comprehend how much Christ loves me.

            I encourage you to memorize and meditate on this passage.  Ask God to show you how much He loves you—how much Christ loves you.  Pray that God would strengthen you in your inner person, that Christ would be at home in every area of your heart, that you would be more rooted and grounded in His love, that you would comprehend His love.  His love for us—His children—is broad, long, deep, and high.  Christ’s love for us passes knowledge—only God can reveal it to us.

            Knowing the love of Christ begins by putting your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Bible says that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  The good news is that God sent His Son to pay for our sin (Romans 6:23; 5:8).  Each of us must receive Christ as our Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9, 10, 13).  I put my faith and trust in Christ as my Lord and Savior when I was seven years of age—fifty-three years ago.  If you have never committed your life to Christ, I pray that you will today.

            Thank you God for loving me!  Thank you Christ for the love the passes knowledge!  Thank you for filling me with all of Your fullness!

Do you know how much Christ loves you?

©2014, Dr. Robert Franklin

The Greatest Lessons Series: Lesson One—Who I Am in Christ

            God impressed on my heart to share a series of blogs concerning the greatest spiritual lessons I have learned so far in my life.  I will begin with the lesson of “who we are in Christ.”  Someone has suggested that the book of Ephesians could be divided into three sections:  1. Sit in your position in Christ; 2. Walk worthy of your calling; and 3. Stand against the wiles of the devil—Sit, Walk, and Stand.  In other words we must learn who we are in Christ before we can effectively walk worthy of our calling and walk in love with each other.  Further, as we sit in our position of who we are in Christ and walk worthy of our calling, we will be able to stand strong in the Lord against the wiles of the devil.

            I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior at the age of seven.  When I was fifteen, I surrendered my life to the gospel ministry.  I preached my first sermon at fifteen years of age.  I loved the Lord and wanted to please Him and serve Him with all my heart.  I preached in churches and witnessed on the streets.  What I didn’t realize, at that time, was that I had a drive in my life to “earn God’s love.”  I did not understand that God loved me and accepted me because of the redemptive work of Christ.  I knew that Jesus died for my sins, but I did not understand the full implication of Christ’s sacrifice for me.

            I rose early in the morning to spend time with God.  I was memorizing chapters and serving God with what I thought was all my heart.  I strove to do more and more to please my heavenly Father.  As I studied and sought the face of God, He began to gently show me how much He loved me.  He helped me to understand that I am His beloved—that I am accepted in the Beloved—that I am the righteousness of God in Christ—that I am His holy one.  I am none of these things in myself, but because I am “in Christ.”  Through God’s help the “scales fell from my eyes.”  God set me free from vainly striving to earn His love.  He opened my eyes to who I am in Christ.

            I have many of the same disciplines today that I had in my youth.  The difference today is I no longer serve God to earn His love—I serve Him because of His love!

Are you resting in God’s love for you or are you striving to earn something God has already given you through His Son?

©2014, Dr. Robert Franklin