Tag Archives: God

Seek God – Find Life

Seek God – Find Life

The following quotation was read by Dr. Adrian Rogers and taken from an essay by a 17 year old boy.   This boy wrote an essay on the topic of “union with Jesus Christ” as part of his school work in a Christian school.  As you read this, at first it may sound like a terrific essay:

“If we examine the history of man’s nature as an individual, we constantly observe that spark of divinity in his breast. The enthusiasm for what is good. The struggle for wisdom. The longing for truth are being smothered by the flames of desire and greed. The zeal for virtue becomes deathened by the tempting voice of sin and turns into a mockery as soon as we feel the full impact of life. Our hearts reason, history the word of Christ all call out to us loudly and convincingly to tell us that union with Him is absolutely necessary and without Him we would be rejected of God. For He alone is able to deliver us. Once a man has obtained this virtue, this union with Christ, he will awake quietly and composedly, await quietly and composedly the blows of fate. He will bravely oppose the storms of passion. And endure undaunted the rage of the wicked. For who can crush him or rob him of his Redeemer?”

“What’s the problem with all of that? Not a thing in the world, so far as truth is concerned. But if he had been writing an essay on Geography or history he would have done just as good a job because he had a brilliant mind. He knew the answers but he doesn’t know Jesus. Founded atheistic Communism. Can you imagine, a person knowing all of that truth and yet not knowing the Lord?

The person who wrote it was Karl Marx. Karl Marx, the founder of godless, atheistic Communism. The one who wrote the diabolical book, Das Kapital. The one who has caused more misery, more bloodshed, more hatred, more violence, more division, I suppose, than any other man who ever lived. Karl Marx wrote this when he was a seventeen year old boy.”  – The Adrian Rogers Legacy Collection

Jesus said in Luke 12:48 For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

Graduates, purpose to hold the following principles in your daily life going forward.  These principles are taken from Amos 5:4, 6, 8, 14.  For example: Amos 5:4 says, For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:

In fact, each of the above references say much the same thing: Seek God – Find Life.

  • You are leaving High School, but you are not leaving God.
  • Some people walk all alone in life. Israel was walking away from God and Amos warns them that they were walking alone.  Can two walk together except they be agreed?  No! They were all alone because of their sin.
  • No matter what happens in life, we must keep seeking God.

Keep seeking God.

God’s people, to whom Amos was preaching had been worshipping false gods for a long time.  They had a lot of stuff and in many ways they worshipped their material things, possessions, and money.  Read the book of Amos for more details.  Greed, stealing, and coveting was all too prominent in everyday life.  If they were living in our day and age, they would have looked a lot like us; plenty of food, too much stuff, and lots of money.  Possessions and stuff was now controlling them – much like many of us today.  If they were alive today, they would have had the best cell phones, the fastest computers, and the best-looking cars.  They had everything that mattered materially in life because God had previously blessed their fathers and forefathers.  They had enough and more than enough, but they did not have God.

Think of it this way: We do not have much of a life if we live without God.

God’s people had left God.  They were walking through life all alone.  They had stuff, money, families, jobs, land, chariots, and things – but they had left the Lord. Please note the following and examine your heart…

  1. Success Can Blur Your Vision of God.
  2. Stuff Can Weaken Your Value on God.
  3. Situations Can Lessen Your Victory in God.

Current and old chapters of life end, new chapters begin – Keep Seeking God.  Seasons go, and seasons come – keep seeking God. Changes happen in life – keep seeking God.

Follow what Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

When we seek God first – that is when we really find living.

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When Violent Death Hits Home

When Violent Death Hits Home

I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.  Amos 4:10

Could it be that when school and mass shootings take place, that it is an indicator that God is judging that nation?  It is very possible.  Please consider Amos and his warning to the Hebrew people in ancient Israel.

In Amos 4, the Lord sends Amos to give a warning.  He preaches that God would send judgment in an effort to see the people turn back to God.  Read the chapter if you like.  5 times God says: “Yet have ye not returned unto me.”  In each verse, the Lord describes various forms of judgment; taking away food, rain, sending famine, pestilence and more are warned of.  Instead of turning to the Lord, the people of Israel are said to have been led away with a hook and a fishhook in verse 2.  Like a carrot on a stick, they followed what was in front of them to satisfy their perceived need and actual greed.

When Amos ministered in Israel, the people were still very prosperous.  They had wealth.  They had money.  They had stuff.  When God started to take all that away – they kept looking for more material things.  Food, money and stuff.  They had become so “self-sufficient” that they neglected to turn back to God.

Then in our verse above we find God even begins to allow their children to be “slain with the sword.”  This indicates violent deaths for their young people in their land.  Anytime a child dies it is particularly difficult for the parents and family.  When you add uncalled for violence to the mix, it adds another level of pain. Our prayers go out for all those families who have lost children.

When God judges sin, there is collateral damage.  Just like the wind, rain, and sunshine falls on everyone, so does the judgment of God.  Not only are the people He is judging affected, but others are affected as well.  Look back at the 10 plagues that God judged Egypt with in Exodus.  Most of those judgments affected God’s people too.  In Amos 4, the seemingly natural weather events like drought impacted everyone.

Back to the school shootings.  Whenever young people die violent deaths, it could be part of God’s judgment on that nation.  Think of it this way, instead of people turning to God and training their kids to love God (who in turn teaches us to value and cherish human life) we are teaching our kids naturalism, materialism, and humanism.  Instead of telling our kids about God, we are told (as a whole) there is “no God.”  God wanted His people to turn back to Him and He used Amos to give warning, but when they did not turn back, the Lord finally sent His judgment.

It may not be that God is even judging the specific children that die in a mass shooting.  They are the sad casualties of a society that has turned its back on God.  Like the weather patterns, everyone is affected.  I have believed for years now that abortion is also part of God’s judgment on a people who have rejected Him.  Anytime humans start killing the most innocent and needy among us, we are in deep trouble.  Abortion is a violent form of killing and is another example of choosing personal (sexual) sin instead of choosing Jesus.  In abortion, the pre-born baby is paying part of the price for the parent’s sin.  It is a form of judgement on a people who are against God.

Kids are needlessly dying today.  May God help us.  We must follow the admonition of Amos 4:12 – “prepare to meet thy God.”  When homes and families begin teaching the Bible and turn to God through His Son Jesus Christ – then and only then, will lives be changed and human life valued like it should be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God’s Desire for Missions

With our annual missions conference starting Saturday, I thought I would search out several Scriptures that indicate God’s Desire for Missions.  God’s heartbeat should be the heart beat of His church.  The most important indicator of any churches vital signs (indicating good or poor health) is it’s pulse for missions and Gospel witness.

Psalm 67:2 That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.

Psalm 96:3 Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people.

Isaiah 42:4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

John 20:21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

Acts 14:27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.

Ephesians 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

1 Peter 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

These 10 Scriptures give us a glimpse of the will of God for the Gospel to go into all the world.  The Lord uses His people to take His Word and Gospel message to other people.  If you are saved, the Lord used a person to either talk to you, preach to you, hand you a tract or Bible, or you found a Bible or Gospel tract that a person printed.

God can use you to give the Gospel in your local community.  The Lord can use you in global missions too.  Prayer for and giving to missionaries through your church will honor the Lord, help Gospel preachers, and will plant the Seed of the Word into the hearts of men and women, boys and girls, all around the world.

Do you have the same heart beat of God?  Are you doing your part to see the Gospel propagated throughout the world?

Believers and Tattoos

Believers and Tattoos

Should a Christian get a tattoo?  Should we be concerned when someone gets some “ink?”  To answer this, we must understand the origin of tattoos.  Tattoos are nothing new and in fact we see tattoos in the Scripture.

According to a report by NPR, “Tattoos have become more common over the past couple of decades. A Harris poll in 2012 found that 1 out of every 5 adults — 21 percent — has at least one tattoo. An earlier Pew Research Center study found that the number was closer to 40 percent among those ages 18 to 29.”

With the incredible amount of people getting tattoos, you can see why there are so many of these little shops and mall counters offering tattoos.  I saw one shop that sold engraved trophies for sports teams, etc. and they could also engrave your body in their tattoo parlor. How convenient is that?!

Right in the middle of God’s law recorded in Leviticus in between the prohibition for drinking blood, the prohibition for prostitution, and the ban on wizards and witches we find the following verse:

Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.  Leviticus 19:28

Keep in mind the Old Testament Law was multifaceted.  Some Law related to civil government (most of which we continue to follow today), some related to worshiping God, and other parts were practical (like sanitation and diet laws).  The Law was given to show how deficient and sinful humans are and to demonstrate how much we need the Lord.  Jesus fulfilled the Law.  While we do not obey the Law to earn the favor of God, these truths can cause for a more healthy and happy life.  Thank God for grace!

The verse starts by prohibiting cutting the flesh.  That practice was found in pagan religions.  Think of Elijah (1 Kings 18) and the prophets of Baal who were cutting themselves to try to get their false god to answer them.

Apparently, the tattoos were also part of cult religious practices. Stars, leaves, flowers, and other images were inked or burned into those being initiated into the cult.  The tattoos, like today, represented something.

Very simply, tattoos were connected with “dead people” and with cult practices in ancient times.  They were used as identifying marks in groups and activities that were (and are) against the Lord.

Commentator Albert Barnes adds this insight: “The prohibition against marking the skin may involve either tattooing or painting the body as part of a religious ritual. Such markings may have been designed to protect a person from the spirits of the dead or to demonstrate membership in a group. Some evidence for this has been found in the examination of human remains in Scythian tombs dating to the sixth century b.c. The Israelite law may prohibit this practice since it involves a self-imposed alteration of God’s creation, unlike circumcision, which is commanded by God.”

Think of it this way: If a person spray painted a public library, were caught and charged; they would be charged with “defacing” a public building. They would not be congratulated for decorating the building.  Our bodies are the temple of God and is to be wholly dedicated to Him.  Marring or defacing the body is not something we want to do.  Sin has already done a good job in changing mankind and our bodies – because of original sin and its consequences.

If you already have a tattoo, then use it as an example of God’s grace.  When people see it, or you talk with others, make it a point to say “This is who I was, but now I belong to Jesus.” Use the “Before and After” approach of telling others of your Savoir.  The “Old Man Vs. The New Man” is a great way to demonstrate the markedly different life the Lord has made in you.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What will this tattoo identify me with?
  2. What kind of statement will a tattoo make?
  3. Will this help me look more likes Jesus in attitude, actions, or appearance?
  4. Does this make me appear more like the world or less like the world?
  5. Will this point people to Jesus or to something/someone else?

I do not believe that many readers of this article today would like to be associated with a cult or with occultist practices. Take care of your body – do not deface your body.  We conclude with several verses and one key thought for your consideration.

1 Corinthians 6:8-20 says, Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient (Helpful, beneficial): all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.  And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New “Valentines Day Massacre”

The New Valentines Day Massacre

February 14, 1929, seven men were killed in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood by 4 men in a planned attack in a mob war.  According to Wiki – “Two of the shooters were dressed as uniformed policemen, while the others wore suits, ties, overcoats and hats. Witnesses saw the “police” leading the other men at gunpoint out of the garage after the shooting.”

Interestingly enough the student assailant of the February 14, 2018 shooting walked out with others students to try to avoid being captured. What can one say? Sad. Tragic. Needless. My heart goes out to all the students and their families in that school.

The New “Valentines Day Massacre” is a reflection of the human heart.  In Florida, 17 Students are dead and many others are physically wounded.

In addition, the psychological trauma and the emotional distress will be painful for years to come if not properly processed by each student.  Those intense moments of either confronting the assailant, evading him, or even being confronted by the SWAT teams as they secured the area can become horrific memories in the mind of each student.

I read somewhere that since 1999 and Columbine High School in Colorado, that there have been 25 mass school shootings with nearly 100 students killed.  Just shortly after the Columbine event, I walked around the school property, saw the crime scene, and looked at the makeshift memorials on a hillside outside.

Who is to blame?  Why do mass casualty events like this happen?  Why does it seem to be increasing?

The problem of people killing other people is rooted in the cognition level of what people were celebrating on Valentine’s Day – the heart.  While people were eating chocolate hearts, sending hearts on texts, and attempting to express love to their mate, a troubled student in Florida was planning and formulating in his heart a plan of hate and harm.

An old prophet named Jeremiah wrote about the heart 2600 years ago in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

Mankind, at his best is still a sinful being living in a world of pain, suffering, temptations, injustice, and unkindness.  People can be flat out mean.  It is because we are sinners and have a sin nature that is part of our DNA.

Apart from the “regeneration” of the Holy Spirit of God, individual men will continue to sin against themselves, against others, and against God.

When mass casualty events take place in schools, I ask the following questions:

  1. Where were the parents?
  2. Has the dad been a steady influence?
  3. What kind of abuse did the assailant endure as a child?
  4. How long has bitterness, anger and rage been left unchecked?
  5. What was the one “trigger event” or spark that brought this rage to the surface?

Like a chemical reaction, the chemicals can be mixed all together but lacks one ingredient, that when added causes the reaction or explosion.  What was the tipping point event (ingredient) in the life of the assailant?

Anyone with “no future” will be living in the past.  I suspect that this young man endured a difficult home life, did not feel loved and valued, and reacted to the hardships of life by isolating himself from the accountability of friends and family.  This young man had not discovered a purpose or reason for living.  It is possible one attempts to find significance by harming others.  Sometimes it is even posted in social media ahead of time.

The perception that “I have no reason for being alive” is just that – a perception.  It is informed by choices, environment, and the person’s past.  This is a sad way many people are living.  A person desperate for attention, significance, or security could drive himself to the point of insane actions to gain what he believes is lacking in his life – value.

God loves people so much that He sent Jesus to die on the cross, shedding His blood and taking our punishment and paying for our sin with his very life.  Following a person’s belief in Jesus, the Christian has a new purpose and reason for living.  Ephesians 2:10 states, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  Have Hope Today!  Choose New Life!  Jesus values each person and wants to have a personal relationship with each person.

Common denominators and problematic symptoms of assailants seem to include: a wounded spirit, isolation of self from others, a broken family, playing violent games, listening to music with violent lyrics, and a rebellious attitude that is quite and not always evident on the surface. Sometimes the assailants are trying to replicate something they saw in media.  Many times it is the student who is suffering life in silence.  The ones who suffer more vocally tend to get more attention from their peers and teachers.

The prophet Jeremiah, cited earlier, was known as “the weeping prophet.”  He saw the people of his land suffering and was fast to cry genuine tears.  Children in particular were being killed. Jeremiah 31:15 says, “Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.”

The reason for their suffering?  Why were their children being killed?  The Babylonian enemies of Israel were taking the people captive.  Why did God allow the pain, suffering, and even death at the hands of these evil attackers?  The people of God (who knew better) were no longer honoring God with their lives.  They had forsaken God for money and man-made idols.  They had even looked to the government to try to solve all their social and spiritual problems, but it could not help.

Original Sin is the cause of all human suffering.  The bad things God allows into our lives are conditioned to our response and relationship with Him.  Bad things happen to good and bad people.  Good things happen to both too.  One pastor friend of mine knows one of the young people who was killed in the Florida shooting.  Nothing takes God by surprise.

How we deal with the pain and suffering really depends on our perspective of God. Knowing God is loving and believing He does not want shootings like this to happen can give you assurance.  Trusting that God is perfectly Holy, and that mankind is inherently sinful causes us to see the need for God in our lives all the more!  God’s heart is that when people love Him, they will want to love and be kind to other people.  The heart is the issue.

The assailant broke many laws already including a very basic one – murdering people.  He took a weapon(s) onto school property.

Not only did the assailant break current civil laws, he broke the law of God.

  1. He was not loving his neighbor. Romans 13:8, Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
  2. He murdered innocent people. Exodus 20:13 says, “Thou shalt not kill.”
  3. He hated others in his heart. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus likens hating people to killing them.  To God, when we humans hate other humans it is the same as murdering them.  (Matthew 5:21-22)

A few random concluding thoughts…

  • Anytime a person takes the innocent life of another (circumstances of war and self-defense are different) it is a tragic symptom of a heart that does not know God.
  • Until there is a change in each human heart we will continue to see more and more evil in this world. Legislating morality is only on the surface.  The heart must be affected for it to be lasting.
  • Crime can be punished. Even the preventative nature of a swift justice system can be a deterrent, but a person who senses no purpose for life may want to go out “in a blaze of glory” anyway.
  • Evil events can be minimized, but they will not be eradicated in a world filled with sin and sinful people. Personal defense courses teach that “only a gun will stop another gun.”  Talk to your kids about safe responses.  Make them aware of “danger signals.”
  • Pray for the victims to recover.  Pray for the families of the deceased.  Ask God for His peace and comfort to be real to those hurting today.  God cares.  He knows the pain.
  • Above all – give control of your home to God. Teach your kids to love God.  When we love God, we will be kind to others. Develop and mold their hearts to be accountable to the God of Heaven.

I leave you with two statements Jesus made in Mark 12:30-31, And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Attacks like this reflect the heart.  Many times, the heart is a reflection of the home.  Make your home a place that gives meaning and purpose to life with the Lord as the source of that meaning.

 

 

 

 

 

The Direction of the Mind

The Direction of the Mind

Remember the old cartoons on Saturday mornings and some character saying “Which way did he go? Which way did he go?”  Was that Bugs Bunny?  You may remember.

“Which way will you go?” is the question for today.  There are definite paths our minds can go.  The direction your mind is leading you is of incredible importance.

But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?   25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. Romans 7:23-25

There are two paths at the intersection of life that each person faces every day.  One path is going the direction God maps out in the Bible.  The other path is heading in the direction the world/flesh draws up – away from the direction of God.

The Apostle Paul was not exempt from this decision making battle between his natural man (The Flesh) and the Spiritual Mind that was given him when he became a Christian and received the new nature (Spiritual Mind) from the Lord.  The spiritual side of Paul was constantly in a war with the carnal or fleshly side of Paul.  We have the same sin nature and the same spiritual nature he had.

Lewis Sperry Chafer was clearly right when he stated, “Nothing could be more misdirected than a self-directed life.”

There are two possible responses when confronted with the choice of “Which way to go?”  There is no middle ground in between these two paths.  Some believe they can strike out on their own and make their own path back to the Lord, but the terrain is tough and not navigable. It is better to get on God’s path, or when prompted by the Lord, jump back on his path.

Path One:  A Reacting Mind.  This “Reacting Mind” reacts to the desires of the flesh.  Its primary power comes from the engine of lust.  The body can lust for good things such as air, food, water, and even sex.  When moderation or the boundaries are broken for these blessings, it becomes sin.  For example, sex within the boundary of marriage is wholesome, fulfilling, and terrific!  Sex outside of the protection marriage becomes enslaving, and may even cause feelings of guilt and depression.

The Reacting Mind does what it feels like it wants to do.  It is captive to the flesh of the person and to the influences of the world around him.  Have you even been in a car when the driver “jerks the wheel” in attempt to not miss an off ramp off the highway?  That fast reaction is caused by not anticipating, or looking far enough ahead.  The reacting mind is many times impulsive too.

Path Two: The Ruled Mind.  The Ruled Mind responds to the leading of the Spirit of God.  It is not controlled by lust, but by love.  This mind is submissive to the Word of God.  While the Ruled Mind knows it is in a fast paced battle, it is active and fore-thinking to avoid sin, watch out for an arrogant spirit, and to steer clear of pride each day.

The Ruled Mind is determined to live out the Word of God each day in all its decisions and determinations.  This mind is thinking of “how to please Jesus” instead of “how to please self.”  Instead of reacting in tough situations, it is ruled by the patient Spirit of God and calmly makes the right decision.

Ask the Lord to help you have a mind ruled by the Spirit of God and the Word of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gift of Himself

The Gift of Himself

I read about one boy named Alfred who “wrote a letter to Santa which read, “Dear Santa, you did not bring me anything good last year. You did not bring me anything good the year before that. This is your last chance. Signed, Alfred.””

Of course, us humans receiving material gifts is not the purpose of Christmas. Modern thinking tends to focus on gifts to the neglect of the reason for Christmas to begin with.

As the Christmas day approaches news reports always come in about record sales or low sales at the stores.  As soon as Black Friday hit, we heard of the large number of retail sales.  Online sales soared again on Cyber Monday.  Business owners perhaps are thinking “this is the best Christmas ever!”

When everything is said and done – the first Christmas is the best Christmas.  It was on that day, that Jesus inserted Himself into this human experience, took on flesh, and began His mission to seek and save the lost.   He gave Himself to us as a gift.

With all the busyness of the season, please do not forget the reason for this season.  God’s love.  His Gift. God’s Son. His Sacrifice. Our Sins. His Forgiveness.  Thank the Lord Jesus came to earth for us.   Thank God for the gift of His Son and the Salvation He purchased at the cross.

Philippians  2:5-8 is a good Christmas reminder: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.