Saturday, April 30, 2011

Heavenly Praise - April 30, 2011

Psalm 19:1-6 (New International Version, ©2011)
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.

As we leave the month of April 2011, we need to pause and reflect on the glory of our God. There is much going on in our homes, our Nation and the world these days, and we might tend to forget that God is still in control. We need only to look at the sunset, that is different each and everyday, and the heavens that spread out from the East as night settles in, to know that we have an awesome and powerful God.

He knows all and He will work out everything to fulfill His purposes. We need to surrender everything we are to our Lord. He will work it out for our ultimate good. He is in control and worthy of all praise!

Photo "Paradise at My Fingertips" by James Calvi, Negril, Jamaica, 12-31-10, from stock.xchng

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Royal Wedding - April 29, 2011

Revelation 19:6-7 (New International Version, ©2011)
6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

“Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.

7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.

By now all of us have seen the spectacle and grandeur of the Royal Wedding of Prince William to Katherine Middleton. Many here in the States got up very early to take part in the excitement, awe and splendor of this occassion. Many were glad and rejoiced with the entire English nation as it celebrated this glorious day, when its monarchy shared this special and historic wedding.

One day soon, I would hope that all of us will be participants in another very glorious day, when our bridegroom Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, comes for His bride the church. We are the church the bride that by the bridegroom's sacrifice, has been cleansed from any spot or blemish, adorned for our wedding. Jesus has made this all possible through His love for us.

If you haven't yet shared in the engagement, why not seek the bridegroom? Why not accept the gift of the Lamb, so that you too may sit with the bride on her wedding day?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Perseverance - April 28, 2011

Romans 5:1-5 (New International Version, ©2011)
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

One of my favorite paintings is one that was painted by Thomas Kinkade, "The Painter of Light". He has a talent for capturing the truths of life as inspiration for many of his paintings. In this painting, he captures his thoughts about perseverance, noted here in his own words:

"I've never set out to create a painting that explicitly illustrates a foundational life value. Until now.

Perseverance, first in my Life Values Collection, is a homily in print and canvas, inspired by a real moment of doubt and determination.

We see that the clouds are about to break. The seas will calm; the sailor's perseverance will soon be rewarded by a return to God's safe haven. Like the dove that flew to Noah as a sign of God's provision, seagulls circle above the boat in my painting as a reminder that safety lay just over the horizon.

Perhaps this painting can assure each of us that if we can simply persevere, God's hand of love will soon disperse each storm we face."

Paul touches on this sentiment when he writes about our persevering through God producing character and hope. All of us have faced difficult times, but as Christians they seem easier to endure. God purposely allows us to go through "stuff", trials and difficulties, to help us build our character. He also helps us go through the "stuff", and because He does, we have the hope that He is always with us through the storms of life..

Have you noticed how anxious non-believers get when they go through trouble? And, have you noticed how quickly God proves Himself as our hope when we turn over our "stuff" to Him? It just seems much easier to take. These days things are tough out there, yet we can be sure that God will work it all out for good. Through the Holy Spirit, we will definately know we will make it through.

For many, this Easter Season just passed has been very difficult. For some, loved ones have recently died; some have recently lost thier jobs, and they don't know where the next dollar will come from; and others are facing a difficult illness or disease without prospect of a cure. These things and many others are the storms of life. If we only look at the waves around us, we may feel that our lives will soon capsize in the midst of the storm.

But if we will turn over everything to the God that loves us, and seek the comfort only Jesus Christ can give, we will soon see that the clouds will break, the seas will calm, and the sailor's perseverance, our perseverance, will soon be rewarded by a return to God's safe haven.

Painting "Perseverance" by Thomas Kinkade, 2000, from

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Midweek Praise! - April 27, 2011

Psalm 9 (New Living Translation)
1 I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.
2 I will be filled with joy because of you.
I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.
3 My enemies retreated;
they staggered and died when you appeared.
4 For you have judged in my favor;
from your throne you have judged with fairness.
5 You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked;
you have erased their names forever.
6 The enemy is finished, in endless ruins;
the cities you uprooted are now forgotten.

7 But the Lord reigns forever,
executing judgment from his throne.
8 He will judge the world with justice
and rule the nations with fairness.
9 The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed,
a refuge in times of trouble.
10 Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.

11 Sing praises to the Lord who reigns in Jerusalem.
Tell the world about his unforgettable deeds.
12 For he who avenges murder cares for the helpless.
He does not ignore the cries of those who suffer.

13 Lord, have mercy on me.
See how my enemies torment me.
Snatch me back from the jaws of death.
14 Save me so I can praise you publicly at Jerusalem’s gates,
so I can rejoice that you have rescued me.

15 The nations have fallen into the pit they dug for others.
Their own feet have been caught in the trap they set.
16 The Lord is known for his justice.
The wicked are trapped by their own deeds.

Quiet Interlude

17 The wicked will go down to the grave.
This is the fate of all the nations who ignore God.
18 But the needy will not be ignored forever;
the hopes of the poor will not always be crushed.

19 Arise, O Lord!
Do not let mere mortals defy you!
Judge the nations!
20 Make them tremble in fear, O Lord.
Let the nations know they are merely human.


Photo from

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Talking Your Way to Heaven - April 26, 2011

Romans 10:9-10 (New International Version, ©2011)
9 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. 10 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.

The Easter Season has come and gone, and many of us have quickly resumed our daily lives. For many, the Season passed without consequence and without making a significant impact, and their lives go on as they always have. Many are "lost" without knowing the grace and mercy that God gave them through Jesus Christ, and the significance of Jesus's death and resurrection has passed them by. Why does this happen? Why do so many still not understand what the true Christian faith is?

The problem is that the "good news", the Gospel, that we have heard never makes it beyond our hearing. I heard a good bible study based on the verses above that really hit home for me. I learned that it takes more for us to be saved than to hear the word of God. It also takes more than just believing it in our hearts and minds. If we keep it to ourselves, it has little value. We need to confess, profess our faith to others around us, which means that we need to tell others about who Jesus Christ is, and what He has done for us. We need to speak out our faith.

Does this mean that we all need to become street preachers? I don't think we are all gifted that way, but what we do need to do is make sure that everyone that knows us, knows who we are is Jesus Christ; sinful men and woman, who have been redeemed, saved, through Christ's death for our sins. They also need to know that after three days, Jesus stepped out of the grave proving who He was, and He now is in Heaven at the right hand of His Father, acting as our advocate and waiting for us. Nothing short of that will do.

If we are to call ourselves Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, we need to be about the business of letting others know. Every person you encounter if they do not know the true Jesus is perishing around you. No matter how others may dilute that message, the facts are still there. The only hope there is for eternity with God is through our Savior Jesus, and everyone needs to be told. It is through that profession of your faith that you and others will be saved.

Photo from Pastor Jonathan Lewis's Blog, 6-11-2009

Monday, April 25, 2011

Doubts? - April 25, 2011

John 20:19-29 (New International Reader's Version)
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were together. They had locked the doors because they were afraid of the Jews.

Jesus came in and stood among them. He said, "May peace be with you!" 20 Then he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were very happy when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, "May peace be with you! The Father has sent me. So now I am sending you." 22 He then breathed on them. He said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone's sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."

24 Thomas was one of the Twelve. He was called Didymus. He was not with the other disciples when Jesus came. 25 So they told him, "We have seen the Lord!"

But he said to them, "First I must see the nail marks in his hands. I must put my finger where the nails were. I must put my hand into his side. Only then will I believe what you say."

26 A week later, Jesus' disciples were in the house again. Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came in and stood among them.

He said, "May peace be with you!" 27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here. See my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."

28 Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"

29 Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen me but still have believed."

Doubts. We all have had them. Especially about the story of Jesus. It is hard to believe that God came as a man and died for our sins on the surface. It seems inplausable that someone would do that for us. Let's face it, believing in Jesus Christ and placing your eternal faith in Him is difficult to do. It just doesn't make sense, that the God of the universe would thing so highly of us, as to sacrifice His Son for us.

For the disciples, no matter how many times Jesus told them, not one of them had the faith to believe that Jesus would do what He said He would do; die and come back in three days. The events from the arrest to the crucifixion all happened so fast, that they didn't have time to think. Instead it was easier to run away and hide. Only John had the nerve to even be there when He died. For their doubts to become belief they would have to see the risen Jesus Christ, but for Thomas, he had to take it a step further and touch him.

Doubts? It's only natural, because without doubts you can't have faith. What secures my faith and quells all doubts has been the supernatural change God has done in my life, through Jesus Christ. For me it all made sense and by God's grace, I grow every day. Yes, still faced with a few doubts, but now they are just opportunities to grow in my faith.

If you have doubts, it's normal. It means you too are growing in your faith. But, if you have unbelief, and would rather just deny it all happened, then it's time you study the facts for yourself. Your eternity will depend on it.

Painting Incredulity of St. Thomas, by CARAVAGGIO, 1602-03, Oil on canvas, Sanssouci, Potsdam, Germany

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jesus Christ is Risen! - April 24, 2011

Isaiah 53:11-12 (New International Version, ©2011)
11 After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many,a nd made intercession for the transgressors.

Matthew 28:1-10 (New International Reader's Version)
1 The Sabbath day was now over. It was dawn on the first day of the week. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2 There was a powerful earthquake. An angel of the Lord came down from heaven. The angel went to the tomb. He rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His body shone like lightning. His clothes were as white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, "Don't be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here! He has risen, just as he said he would! Come and see the place where he was lying. 7 Go quickly! Tell his disciples, 'He has risen from the dead. He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb. They were afraid, but they were filled with joy. They ran to tell the disciples.

9 Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings!" he said. They came to him, took hold of his feet and worshiped him.

10 Then Jesus said to them, "Don't be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee. There they will see me."

There is no doubt, Jesus Christ lived, died for our sins and lives again. We do not serve a dead prophet or poet pr holy man, we serve a risen Savior. He has gone before us, so that one day we too can hope for resurrection. We too will live again after we die, and we will see all who have gone before us. There is a catch though, this hope and promise is for those who call on the name of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. That is the only way to the Father. Sorry, but this is the only truth!

He has Risen! He has Risen indeed!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Jesus Christ, Goes Before Us- April 23, 2011

Isaiah 53:8-10 (New International Reader's Version)
8 He was arrested and sentenced to death.
Then he was taken away.
He was cut off from this life.
He was punished for the sins of my people.
Who among those who were living at that time
could have understood those things?

9 He was given a grave with those who were evil.
But his body was buried in the tomb of a rich man.
He was killed even though he hadn't harmed anyone.
And he had never lied to anyone.

10 The Lord says, "It was my plan to crush him
and cause him to suffer.
I made his life a guilt offering to pay for sin.
But he will see all of his children after him.
In fact, he will continue to live.
My plan will be brought about through him.

Mark 15:42-47 (New International Version, ©2011)

42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph.

46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.

Matthew 27:62-66 (New International Version, ©2011)
62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

There is an appointment that all of us will have one day. It will be one, that no matter how hard we try to delay it's coming, will ultimately be kept. The appointment will be on the day that we leave this life; the day of our death. This is not a very pleasant thought, and many of us have had to mourn those who have gone before us, but we too will have to keep the appointment with our death.

He was sacrificed for our sins, experienced death, and was placed in the grave. There is no doubt that He went through death, although those who would seek to not accept it, try to minimize this historical fact. Jesus fulfilled a seven century's old prophecy and as He did in life, experienced what we all will go through.

For many this thought brings about fear and trembling, but for the Christian, it should bring us peace and anticipation, because our Savior Jesus has gone before us. The comfort He brings us is that if we acknowledge Him as Savior and Lord, He will be there waiting for us when our body is laid in the grave. He will be there to meet us when we show up for our appointment.

Although we might mourn our Savior's death, we do not lose hope, because He has experienced what we will all someday go through, and is familiar with our ultimate end. He goes before us so that we do not have to fear death.

Photo "Peaceful Graveyard" by Antonioni, 5-8-2007,from stock.xchng

Friday, April 22, 2011

Jesus Christ, Sacrificed for Us - April 22, 2011

Isaiah 53:1-7 (New International Version, ©2011)
1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

Mark 15:1-39 (New International Version, ©2011)
1 Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.
2 “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

3 The chief priests accused him of many things. 4 So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

6 Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

9 “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

13 “Crucify him!” they shouted.

14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS.

27 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. [28:Luke 22:37 (New International Version, ©2011)
37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’[Isaiah 53:12]; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”]

29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). 35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

Stand at the foot of the cross; look up, your Savior is hanging there, redeeming you from all that has separated you from God. He is hanging there in your place, one innocent of any crime or sin, the spotless Lamb of God, so that you might be rescued from what you have done.

You may deny it all happened, and deny ever knowing Jesus as Peter did, but you one day you will be tried for what you have done in this life. Do not number yourself with the mockers, but humble yourself before God's gift, spoken of long ago through the prophets. Leave your sins at the foot of the cross; He has willingly given up His life so that you can be made right with your Creator. Worship Him as Savior and Lord.

Photo "Wooden cross",by Slafko, 6-11-2007, from stock.xchng

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Jesus Christ, Passover Lamb - April 21, 2011

Exodus 12:21-30 (New Living Translation)
21 Then Moses called all the elders of Israel together and said to them, “Go, pick out a lamb or young goat for each of your families, and slaughter the Passover animal. 22 Drain the blood into a basin. Then take a bundle of hyssop branches and dip it into the blood. Brush the hyssop across the top and sides of the doorframes of your houses. And no one may go out through the door until morning. 23 For the Lord will pass through the land to strike down the Egyptians. But when he sees the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe, the Lord will pass over your home. He will not permit his death angel to enter your house and strike you down.

24 “Remember, these instructions are a permanent law that you and your descendants must observe forever. 25 When you enter the land the Lord has promised to give you, you will continue to observe this ceremony. 26 Then your children will ask, ‘What does this ceremony mean?’ 27 And you will reply, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, for he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt. And though he struck the Egyptians, he spared our families.’” When Moses had finished speaking, all the people bowed down to the ground and worshiped.

28 So the people of Israel did just as the Lord had commanded through Moses and Aaron. 29 And that night at midnight, the Lord struck down all the firstborn sons in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sat on his throne, to the firstborn son of the prisoner in the dungeon. Even the firstborn of their livestock were killed. 30 Pharaoh and all his officials and all the people of Egypt woke up during the night, and loud wailing was heard throughout the land of Egypt. There was not a single house where someone had not died.

Mark 14:12-17; Mark 14:22-26 (New International Version, ©2011)
12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
13 So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”

16 The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

17 When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve.
22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

23 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.

24 “This is my blood of the[new] covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. 25 “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

The Passover Feast commemorates the Israelites freedom from bondage to the Egyptians; He rescued His people by striking down the firstborn of all who did not have the blood of the Passover Lamb brushed on the doorframes of their homes. Death passed over those who had been washed by the blood of the lamb.

We are in bondage and are slaves to our sin, but Jesus has offered up Himself up as the spotless Passover lamb. Through His sacrificial death, we can be washed in the blood of the lamb, and rescued from eternal death.
Have you accepted the blood of the lamb and brushed over the doorposts of your life? Have you accepted His sacrifice so that you will be passed over by the Destroyer?

These next few days will be a time of remembrance and gives each and every person the opportunity to hear once again the offer that Jesus Christ has made for all. If you have not done so, will you let this year be the time that you accept His payment for your sins?

Photo "Communion2/The last supper", by Mart1n, 1-25-2008, from stock.xchng

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Give Thanks to the Lord! - April 20, 2011

Psalm 118 (New International Version, ©2011)
1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
2 Let Israel say:
“His love endures forever.”
3 Let the house of Aaron say:
“His love endures forever.”
4 Let those who fear the LORD say:
“His love endures forever.”

5 When hard pressed, I cried to the LORD;
he brought me into a spacious place.
6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
7 The LORD is with me; he is my helper.
I look in triumph on my enemies.

8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in humans.
9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in princes.
10 All the nations surrounded me,
but in the name of the LORD I cut them down.
11 They surrounded me on every side,
but in the name of the LORD I cut them down.
12 They swarmed around me like bees,
but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns;
in the name of the LORD I cut them down.
13 I was pushed back and about to fall,
but the LORD helped me.
14 The LORD is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.

15 Shouts of joy and victory
resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!
16 The LORD’s right hand is lifted high;
the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!”
17 I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the LORD has done.
18 The LORD has chastened me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.
19 Open for me the gates of the righteous;
I will enter and give thanks to the LORD.
20 This is the gate of the LORD
through which the righteous may enter.
21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
you have become my salvation.

22 The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;

23 the LORD has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 The LORD has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad.

25 LORD, save us!
LORD, grant us success!

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.
From the house of the LORD we bless you.
27 The LORD is God,
and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
up to the horns of the altar.

28 You are my God, and I will praise you;
you are my God, and I will exalt you.

29 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

Photo "Giving Hands" by Lusi, 6-11-2009, from stock.xchng

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Jesus Christ, Foundation Stone or Stumbling Stone - April 19, 2011

Isaiah 8:14-15 (New International Version, ©2011)
14 He will be a holy place; for both Israel and Judah he will be a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare.

15 Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured.”

Matthew 21:42-45 (New Century Version)

42 Jesus said to them, "Surely you have read this in the Scriptures:

'The stone that the builders rejected became the cornerstone. The Lord did this, and it is wonderful to us.' — Psalm 118:22–23

43 "So I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to people who do the things God wants in his kingdom. 44 The person who falls on this stone will be broken, and on whomever that stone falls, that person will be crushed."

45 When the leading priests and the Pharisees heard these stories, they knew Jesus was talking about them.

In the Old Testament it was prophesied that the coming Messiah would become a stone over which men would stumble, and he would aslo be the stone that would be rejected as the foundation upon which everything would be built. Jesus quoted these verses when He was confronted by the hard-hearted religious leaders, who had become so trapped in their reigious rituals and traditions, that they failed to "see" the true Messiah when He made His appearance to them. They were trapped in their own works as the means of obtaining God's favor, or they simply dismissed that there would even be an afterlife, so they would not have to face and eternity.

Not much has changed since the time of Jesus. The same attitudes about Jesus Chirst that prevailed in the 1st Century A.D. exist today. Many today feel that their personal works will find them favor with God, and others deny the need for any religion because their is no God, no afterlife, no reason to have to worry about it. For everyone, Jesus Christ is a stone that either becomes the foundation of your personal faith, sealing your eternity with Him, or becomes a stone that gets rejected and becomes the very thing that will trip them up when they have to face God someday.

As I have said many times, the question of "Who Is Jesus?" is significant for everyone. There will be a time in every person's life, when they will have to answer this question for themselves. Make sure you know the right answer!

Photo "Texture 30" by phelle, 5-14-2006, from stock.xchng

Monday, April 18, 2011

Jesus Christ, Cleaning Our Temple - April 18, 2011

Isaiah 56:7 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
7Then I will bring them to my holy mountain and make them happy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, because my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.

Jeremiah 7:1-4;9-11 (New International Version, ©2011)
1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2 “Stand at the gate of the LORD’s house and there proclaim this message:

“‘Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the LORD. 3 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. 4 Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!”
9 “‘Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things? 11 Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the LORD.

Matthew 21:12-13 (New International Version, ©2011)
12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”

One of the iconic images depicting Jesus Christ, that has been rendered in paintings over the centuries, is the image of the cleansing of the Temple. All of the Gospels speak of the event, although the Gospel of John describes it a bit differntly. The others describe the event as an act that occured just after Jesus entered Jerusalem for the final time on the way to His crucifixion. Jesus quotes the prophecies found in Isaiah and Jeremiah as He was driving out those who were turning the Temple courts into a market, profiting from those who were seeking God in His house.

This event has been discussed over the years since it occurred, and many a theologian has sought to analyze why the event occurred. A fulfillment of prophecy? Yes, but most seem to think that what Jesus was doing was attempting to restore the true sense of holiness and worship within the house of God. By the very acts of those who participated in the buying and selling of sacrificial animals and exchanging coins for the Temple tax, the holy ritual of worship had became a mere "going through the motions" for many participants. Jesus was righteously indignant against those who did not have the "heart" of true worship for God.

In reading this account in Christ's life, it came to mind that today, many of us who call ourselves Christians might have the same issue. As a born-again believer, we are inhabited by the Holy Spirit of God, and our bodies become His Temple. That makes our bodies holy, and it is up to us to treat it as such. How many of us need to have Jesus cleanse our Temple? How many of us as believers, allow the things of this world, and ways of this world creep into our daily lives. Over time we allow so much garbage within, that we might find ourselves just going through the motions of worship.

Is it time to do a thorough check of the state of our Temple? He paid for all of our sins;in turn we need to be sure that we treat the Temple of God properly. As we look to the coming cross, let's take the time to clean up the garbage and allow Him to inhabit a holy place.

"Christ Cleansing the Temple" was painted in oil on canvas. Thus, it can be listed as an Early period artwork of Luca Giordano. It is part of the permanent exhibition of Bob Jones University Collection, Greenville, same as numerous other works of the Baroque Art period.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Jesus Christ, Redeemer King - April 15, 2011

Isaiah 62:11 (New International Version, ©2011)

11 The LORD has made proclamation
to the ends of the earth:
“Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your Savior comes!
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.’”

Zechariah 9:9 (New International Version, ©2011)
9 Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Matthew 21:1-11 (New International Version, ©2011)
1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Today marks what has been called for almost 2000 years, Palm Sunday. It mark Jesus Christ's entry into the city of Jerusalem, where He would be ultimately wrongfully arrested, illegally tried, and executed on a wooden cross, taking the place of a murderer, and ultimately taking our place.

He enters being hailed as Messiah and king, only to be treated as the lowliest of creatures. For what? Why would the king prophesied in the Scriptures over hundreds of years surrender Himself to be a lowly sacrifice? Why would our God and King do such a thing? Why would He do this for you and me?

As we enter to this holy and most important week, refect on why Jesus had to go through this upcoming week for you. Reflect, confess, and surrender. He is giving Himself to lift the burden of eternal death from us. He is doing this out of love for us!

Photo "A Donkey" by mzacha, 5-8-2007, from stock.xchng

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Jesus Christ, Equal with The Father - April 16, 2011

Isaiah 9:6-7 (New International Version, ©2011)
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.*

7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.

The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

John 5:16-30 (New International Reader's Version)
16 Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath day. So the Jews began to oppose him.
17 Jesus said to them, "My Father is always doing his work. He is working right up to this very day. I am working too."

18 For this reason the Jews tried even harder to kill him. Jesus was not only breaking the Sabbath. He was even calling God his own Father. He was making himself equal with God.

19 Jesus answered, "What I'm about to tell you is true. The Son can do nothing by himself. He can do only what he sees his Father doing. What the Father does, the Son also does. 20 This is because the Father loves the Son. He shows him everything he does. Yes, you will be amazed! The Father will show him even greater things than these.

21 "The Father raises the dead and gives them life. In the same way, the Son gives life to anyone he wants to.

22 "Also, the Father does not judge anyone. He has given the Son the task of judging. 23 Then all people will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Those who do not honor the Son do not honor the Father, who sent him.

24 "What I'm about to tell you is true. Anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He will not be found guilty. He has crossed over from death to life.

25 "What I'm about to tell you is true. A time is coming for me to give life. In fact, it has already begun. The dead will hear the voice of the Son of God. Those who hear it will live.

26 "The Father has life in himself. He has also allowed the Son to have life in himself. 27 And the Father has given him the authority to judge. This is because he is the Son of Man.

28 "Do not be amazed at this. A time is coming when all who are in the grave will hear his voice. 29 They will all come out of their graves. Those who have done good will rise and live again. Those who have done evil will rise and be found guilty.

30 "I can do nothing by myself. I judge only as I hear. And my judging is fair. I do not try to please myself. I try only to please the One who sent me.

The prophet Isaiah prophesized about the birth of Jesus and who He would be at His birth. Isaiah spoke of Him as being God by the names He would be called. In researching about Jesus Christ and His position in the Godhead as one person of our Triune God, I came across this great article that helps to explain the Trinity. If any of you have been confused about explaining the Trinity, or if you want to know that your beliefs are accurate, please take time to read the article as well.

Excerpt From Loving the Trinity by James R. White from the Christian Research Institute.

Think of what it would mean, for example, to have a nondivine Savior. Put yourself in the position of the Jehovah’s Witness who believes Christ is Michael the created Archangel, or the Mormon who believes Him to be the first begotten spiritchild of Elohim (God the Father), the literal brother of us all (and of Lucifer as well!). Can you imagine trusting another created being for your eternal salvation? Can you picture yourself enraptured in worshiping such a fellow creature? Surely not. The very idea of giving the honor and glory that is due to God alone to any created being caused the redeemed heart to recoil in horror. Yet, to speak of Christ in the words of Scripture is to praise and honor Him as God. Jesus Himself said all are to “honor the Son, even as they honor the Father” (John 5:23). It is natural for us to do this, because we know that only a truly divine redeemer could provide for us the perfect salvation promised in the Bible.

The centrality of this truth to the proclamation of the gospel is well illustrated by the stirring words an ancient Christian penned and preached more than 1,800 years ago. In a sermon on the Passover, Melito, bishop of Sardis, said:

And so he was lifted up upon a tree and an inscription was attached indicating who was being killed. Who was it? It is a grievous thing to tell, but a most fearful thing to refrain from telling. But listen, as you tremble before him on whose account the earth trembled!

He who hung the earth in place is hanged.
He who fixed the heavens in place is fixed in place.
He who made all things fast is made fast on a tree.
The Sovereign is insulted.
God is murdered.
The King of Israel is destroyed by an Israelite hand.

This is the One who made the heavens and the earth,
and formed mankind in the beginning,
The One proclaimed by the Law and the Prophets,
The One enfleshed in a virgin,
The One hanged on a tree,
The One buried in the earth,
The One raised from the dead
and who went up into the heights of heaven,
The One sitting at the right hand of the Father,
The One having all authority to judge and save,
Through Whom the Father made the things which exist
from the beginning of time.

This One is “the Alpha and the Omega,”
This One is “the beginning and the end”
—the beginning indescribable and the end
This One is the Christ.
This One is the King.
This One is Jesus.
This One is the Leader.
This One is the Lord.
This One is the One who rose from the dead.
This One is the One sitting on the right hand of the Father.
He bears the Father and is borne by the Father.

“To him be the glory and the power forever.

Photo "Sun Breaker" by pixelstar, 2-1-2006, from stock.xchng

Friday, April 15, 2011

Jesus Christ, Healer - April 15, 2011

Isaiah 35:3-8 (New International Version, ©2011)
3 Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; 4 say to those with fearful hearts,

“Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”

5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 6 Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.

Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. 7 The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.

8 And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it.

Matthew 11:1-6 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
1After Jesus finished giving his twelve disciples these instructions, he moved on from there to teach his message in their cities.

2When John was in prison, he heard about the things Christ had done. So he sent his disciples 3to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is coming, or should we look for someone else?”

4Jesus answered John’s disciples, “Go back, and tell John what you hear and see: 5Blind people see again, lame people are walking, those with skin diseases are made clean, deaf people hear again, dead people are brought back to life, and poor people hear the Good News. 6Whoever doesn’t lose his faith in me is indeed blessed.”

One of my favorite movies of the recent past is Braveheart
in which Mel Gibson portrays the Scottish knight and landowner William Wallace who led the Scottish rebellion against the English king, Edward I. This depiction from the Scottish Wars of Independence depicts events that occurred over 700 years ago, during the late 1290's and early 1300's.

The true story of William Wallace wasn't as heroic as was shown in the movie, but he was an iconic figure none the less. What is important here is that the movie was able to take us back to a time in the distant past, and when we compare it to our modern age in 2011, we see realize just how long ago 700 years really was.

I bring this up to illustrate the difference between the time that the prophet Isaiah wrote about the characteristice of the Messiah, and the time that Jesus Christ embodied the characteristics of the Messiah. The prophecy we read from Isaiah was written over 700 years before Jesus walked the dusty roads of Judea and fulfilled in spoken word an deed.

Jesus made this statement of confirmation that He was who Isaiah was writing about, when asked by John the Baptist if He was the One, the long awaited Messiah. John would go to his death with the comfort and knowledge that he had fulfilled his obligation to God, preparing the way for the Savior.

Here again we see Jesus Christ, the Messiah, our Savior and our God, fulfilling prophetic Scripture from the Hebrew Bible written centuries before His time on earth. Why not place your faith in the One, as John the Baptist did?

Photo "Hands" by Zoofy The Ji, 2-10-2007, from stock.xchng

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jesus Christ, Eternal - April 14, 2011

Micah 5:1-3(The Tanakh,the Jewish Scriptures, from Neviim - The Prophets, Treisar - The Minor Prophets)
1 But thou, Beth-lehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from ancient days.

2 Therefore will He give them up, until the time that she who travaileth hath brought forth; then the residue of his brethren shall return with the children of Israel.

3 And he shall stand, and shall feed his flock in the strength of HaShem, in the majesty of the name of HaShem his G-d; and they shall abide, for then shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.

John 8:54-58 (New International Version, ©2011)
54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”

58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

John 17:5;24 (New International Version, ©2011)
5 "And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began."
24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world."

Colossians 1:15-20 (New International Version, ©2011)
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

For centuries people have tried to minimize Jesus. They have tried to make Him into something less than who He truly is. Many have said over the centuries that He is but another Prophet, others say He is the spirit brother of Lucifer; then are those who think He is but a son of God, or Michael the archangel. Many views that try to minimze Jesus Christ for who He said He was.

In the passages from the Jewish Spriptures above, the prophet Micah spoke of a ruler that came from the "ancient days", and at times Jesus referred to His existence before the creation. Case in point was the verse above from the 8th chapter of the Gospel of John. No matter what accurate translation you read, Jesus claimed to exist before Abraham was, in fact He used the name I AM, which was mentioned here in Exodus when God appeared to Moses: 14 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”Exodus 3:14(NKJV). That is why the religious Jews wanted to kill Jesus, because He claimed to be God. Anyone, any religion that claims otherwise is denying the truth of the Bible.

If you call yourself a follower of Jesus Christ, you need to understand who you are serving. He is not one who's name should be casually thrown out as a curse, or one who should just be worn on our clothes. He is who He said He was, God before the world was, Son of God, redeemer of man, risen Savior, and soon coming King. We need to honor and praise His name, and realize He is a very BIG deal! If you don't believe what you read above, pick up your own version of the Bible and read it. You owe it to yourself, because as you wait for Easter this year, you may be called to stand before your Maker before you plan on it. Make sure you know who Jesus is!

Photo "Beach Sky 2" by shortsands, 9-28-2005, from stock.xchng

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Exaltation - April 13, 2011

Psalm 30 (New Living Translation)
1 I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me.
You refused to let my enemies triumph over me.

2 O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
and you restored my health.
3 You brought me up from the grave, O Lord.
You kept me from falling into the pit of death.

4 Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones!
Praise his holy name.
5 For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.

6 When I was prosperous, I said,
“Nothing can stop me now!”
7 Your favor, O Lord, made me as secure as a mountain.
Then you turned away from me, and I was shattered.

8 I cried out to you, O Lord.
I begged the Lord for mercy, saying,
9 “What will you gain if I die,
if I sink into the grave?
Can my dust praise you?
Can it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me.
Help me, O Lord.”

11 You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, 12 that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.

O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jesus Christ, Son of God - April 12, 2011

Proverbs 30:4 (New International Version, ©2011)
4 Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
Whose hands have gathered up the wind?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is the name of his son?
Surely you know!

John 1:1-5 (New International Version, ©2011)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Matthew 3:13-17 (New Century Version)
13 At that time Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan River and wanted John to baptize him.14 But John tried to stop him, saying, "Why do you come to me to be baptized? I need to be baptized by you!"
15 Jesus answered, "Let it be this way for now. We should do all things that are God's will." So John agreed to baptize Jesus.

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he came up out of the water. Then heaven opened, and he saw God's Spirit coming down on him like a dove.17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love, and I am very pleased with him."

John 3:16-17 (New King James Version)
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Romans 1:4 (New International Reader's Version)
4 By the power of the Holy Spirit, he was appointed to be the mighty Son of God because he rose from the dead. He is Jesus Christ our Lord.

Probably the most controversial claim that Christians make is the very claim made by Jesus himself, that he was the Son of God, and as such God in the flesh. The Bible narrative begins to speak of this from Genesis, and if you keep the coming of Jesus in mind as you read through the Old Testament, you will find it pointing to Jesus Christ. The Jewish people waited for a coming earthly king, a Messiah that would rescue them from oppression, but in the coming of Jesus all mankind would be rescued from the oppression of sin.

If people would only realize that the offer of Jesus Christ is very simple and easy. It doesn't require anything of you but to acknowledge your a sinner, that you can't be made right with God on your own, your acceptance of Christ's death on the cross as payment for all your sins, and your acceptance that Jesus is who he said he was by rising from the dead. You don't have to go to a particular church, wear any particular clothes, say any particular chants, bow this way or that, do anything special but accept God's free gift of salvation.

For human beings that is almost too easy. We think that we have to do something to get something; we have to work to earn something. We are controlled by the saying that nothing in life is free. This is not always true when it comes to God. He made all things, provides all things, and can give us what is pleasing to Him. Why would we rather make it hard on ourselves? Why would we rather turn our backs on what God offers us freely?

Every year there are a couple of times when the gift of God takes center stage in our world. That is during Christmas and Easter. He gives us the opportunity each and every year to remember what He has done for us. No matter how society would love to kill that reminder, it remains as the two most significant days in all of the world, celebrated and remembered by most all cultures and religions. How many non-Christians put up a Christmas tree and exchange presents?

Now is the time to accept the wonderful offer that God is making to us all. Jesus Christ is here; will you accept what he has done for you?

Photo from

Monday, April 11, 2011

Preparing the Way - April 11, 2011

Malachi 3:1-2 (New International Version, ©2011)
1 “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty.

2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.

Isaiah 40:1-5 (New International Reader's Version)
1 "Comfort my people," says your God. "Comfort them. 2 Speak tenderly to the people of Jerusalem. Announce to them that their hard service has been completed. Tell them that their sin has been paid for. Tell them I have punished them enough for all of their sins."

3 A messenger is calling out,"In the desert prepare the way for the Lord. Make a straight road through it for our God.

4 Every valley will be filled in. Every mountain and hill will be made level. The rough ground will be smoothed out. The rocky places will be made flat. 5 Then the glory of the Lord will appear. And everyone will see it. The Lord has spoken."

Much is written these days trying to dispute the historical Jesus in an effort to diminish the effect of Christianity and to minimize its influence in our world today. This is especially true in the Western world, where "anything but Christianity" seems to be in vogue these days.

You don't have to go very far to see the effects on our own culture, where I heard today that in order to preserve "the separation of church and state" a number of communities are changing the name of the traditional "Easter Egg Hunt" to something else, because it contains the word "Easter". (This is not in the Constitution, but taken from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802, that contained the phrase "wall of separation between church and state," which led to the short-hand for the Establishment Clause that we use today).

If anyone that is curious about Jesus Christ would do a little research, which is relatively easy thanks to the internet, they would easily find enormous support for what the Bible says about Jesus Christ. Unlike many other religious texts, the Bible contains many prophecies that were written about Jesus that were written hundreds of years before he walked on the scene.

As we approach the commeration of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ, all of us need to search our hearts about what we believe about Jesus. We need to be sure who we believe he is, because it will make a difference in our lives, both now and into eternity. If we already believe, then it is important that we are armed with the facts to share with others. If you are one who doesn't yet believe, but are interested in knowing if Jesus is who he said he was, it is important to find out the answers to your questions.

The verses above are a case in point. The Book of Isaiah was written between 701 and 681 B.C. and the Book of Malachi was written between 440 and 400 B.C., and both of these texts speak of preparing the Way of the coming of the Lord, meaning preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ to the planet. How many predictions or prophecies have been written about in modern history that have come true? It is hard to even get an accurate weather forecast.

Today is the day that you need to discover Jesus Christ for yourself, and prepare the way for allowing him the rightful place in your heart. A good place to start is by reading the propechies above in your Bible( or from an online Bible) and then read how they were fulfilled in the Book of Matthew written below. Once you have weighed the overwhelming evidence, you will easily see why the world doesn't want you to believe.

Matthew 3:1-3;11-12 (New Century Version)
1 About that time John the Baptist began preaching in the desert area of Judea.2 John said, "Change your hearts and lives because the kingdom of heaven is near." 3 John the Baptist is the one Isaiah the prophet was talking about when he said: "This is a voice of one who calls out in the desert: 'Prepare the way for the Lord. Make the road straight for him.' " — Isaiah 40:3
11 "I baptize you with water to show that your hearts and lives have changed. But there is one coming after me who is greater than I am, whose sandals I am not good enough to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.12 He will come ready to clean the grain, separating the good grain from the chaff. He will put the good part of the grain into his barn, but he will burn the chaff with a fire that cannot be put out."
[This means that Jesus will come to separate good people from bad people, saving the good and punishing the bad.]

Photo "Kalahari Desert gravel road" by roospieter, 2-22-2008, from stock.xchng
We are all wandering in the desert of life until we find Jesus along the Way!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Praise! - April 10, 2011

Psalm 145 (New International Reader's Version)
1 I will honor you, my God the King. I will praise your name for ever and ever.

2 Every day I will praise you. I will praise your name for ever and ever.

3 Lord, you are great. You are really worthy of praise. No one can completely understand how great you are.

4 Parents will praise your works to their children. They will tell about your mighty acts.

5 They will speak about your glorious majesty. I will spend time thinking about your miracles.

6 They will speak about the powerful and wonderful things you do. I will talk about the great things you have done.

7 They will celebrate your great goodness. They will sing with joy about your holy acts.

8 The Lord is gracious. He is kind and tender. He is slow to get angry. He is full of love.

9 The Lord is good to all. He shows deep concern for everything he has made.

10 Lord, every living thing you have made will praise you. Your faithful people will praise you.

11 They will tell about your glorious kingdom. They will speak about your power.

12 Then all people will know about the mighty things you have done. They will know about the glorious majesty of your kingdom.

13 Your kingdom is a kingdom that will last forever. Your rule will continue for all time to come. The Lord is faithful and will keep all of his promises. He is loving toward everything he has made.

14 The Lord takes good care of all those who fall. He lifts up all those who feel helpless.

15 Every living thing looks to you for food. You give it to them exactly when they need it.

16 You open your hand and satisfy the needs of every living creature.

17 The Lord is right in everything he does. He is loving toward everything he has made.

18 The Lord is ready to help all those who call out to him. He helps those who really mean it when they call out to him.

19 He satisfies the needs of those who have respect for him. He hears their cry and saves them.

20 The Lord watches over all those who love him. But he will destroy all sinful people.

21 I will praise the Lord with my mouth. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.

Photo "Enlightened Praise" by lumix2004, 7-26-2005, from stock.xchng

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Who is This Jesus? - April 9, 2011

Hebrews 1:3 (New International Version, ©2011)
3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

I love the way the world is discounting Christianity these days, and relegating it to being just another religion. Worse yet, many Christians would rather quietly practice their personal faith, than have any confrontation about Christianity. We struggle today with another religion that claims to be the true religion and calls itself a religion of peace, while many millions of its practitioners supress their own people and murder many others for the sake of their god. Meanwhile, people in our country would just as soon place all religions on an equal footing and ask that we all just get along.

The statement from Paul's letter to the Jewish people is a very radical statement. It was radical then and it is even more radical now, because if it is the truth, as I know it is, then it truly offends many people. Why is it offensive? Because if Jesus is who he said he is, then many people will be left having to answer for their personal life of sin. Either you accept God's gift of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ as payment, or you are left standing alone before a mighty and powerful God who will judge you guilty for what you do in this life.

Most would rather take their chances, or believe that the scales of justice will fall on the "good" side, rather than accept this easy payment plan that Jesus provides. Why not be safe than sorry? Jesus Christ, the exact represenation of God is waiting to offer you his Way out. Why not accept his offer while you still can?

Photo "Celestial Beacon" by Bosela, 12-17-2008, from stock.xchng

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday is Also for Praises! - April 8, 2011

Psalm 150 (New International Version, ©2011)
1 Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.

2 Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.

3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.

6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD.

Our largest venues here on earth need to be places of praise and worship to our Lord and King. Let us praise Him with all that we have, and join in with the chorus of Heaven.

Photo "Concert at Hollywood Bowl" by 1gowerf, 5-15-2005, from stock.xchng

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Blessing of Obedience - April 7, 2011

Leviticus 26:3-13 (New Living Translation)
3 “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, 4 I will send you the seasonal rains. The land will then yield its crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit.

5 Your threshing season will overlap with the grape harvest, and your grape harvest will overlap with the season of planting grain. You will eat your fill and live securely in your own land.

6 “I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear. I will rid the land of wild animals and keep your enemies out of your land. 7 In fact, you will chase down your enemies and slaughter them with your swords. 8 Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand! All your enemies will fall beneath your sword.

9 “I will look favorably upon you, making you fertile and multiplying your people. And I will fulfill my covenant with you. 10 You will have such a surplus of crops that you will need to clear out the old grain to make room for the new harvest!

11 I will live among you, and I will not despise you. 12 I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people.

13 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so you would no longer be their slaves. I broke the yoke of slavery from your neck so you can walk with your heads held high.

The amazing thing in all human history is that our Creator, the God that made us has reached out to us and desires to commune with His people. Long ago as God was laying out the laws under which His chosen people would live under, He told them the blessings that would come from their obedience and the consequences of their failure to do so. What is special about His mention of the blessings is that He promised to live with them someday, and He longed to embrace them.

Centuries before God would send the Son to be our sacrifice for sin, due to our inability to keep the law, He made the promise of what our obedience would bring. In Jesus Christ, God walked among us to tell us what the future would be like with Him. He served as our example of the Way which would be available to all, and that would someday establish God's kingdom in Heaven.

As we accept the gift of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God looks upon us as being obedient because through the blood of Jesus, we take on the righteousness of Christ. In doing so, our lives will be truly blessed, and although circumstances may not always seem as such, God's promise will assure us that everything will work out.

Photo "Market Stall Fruit" by Scooterboy, 3-21-2007, from stock.xchng

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Under Seige - April 6, 2011

Revelation 12:17 (New International Version, ©2011)
17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.

If you have recently become a Christian, or you may have been following Jesus for sometime, you may have noticed that the "walk of faith" has not always been a happy one. This is contrary to the assumption many people have about following the Jesus Christ. We are also often told that if we do as we are supposed to that things will be always great, and there are some teachers of the "prosperity gospel" that say that you will receive good health, or be cured, or have riches and wealth if you will have enough faith and sow seeds into their ministries.

Not that God does not bring us indescribable joy and many blessings, but if our perspective is just about material or corporial blessings, I am afraid that it is not always so. Life is hard, and the Christain life is harder still. We, who are spoiled by living out our lives in the West, don't have a clue about how much of a sacrifice it is for many to live as followers of Jesus. Many in this world today are giving up all of their earthly possessions and even their lives, just to call on the name of Jesus as Lord and Savior.

If you are a true, obedient, follower of Jesus Christ, you will be constantly under seige. The evil one will do all he can to either distract you or make you ineffective for building God's kingdom. This might mean losing the material things we have, our jobs, our health, loved ones,or everything that we might hold dear. For some of us, it might be losing our very lives. But our God has eternity laid out before us. He sees the end of all things, and He has promised that "he withholds no good thing from those who walk blamelessly"(Psalm 84:11).

If you are have been "under seige", give it over to the Master. He will not only redeem you in time of trouble, but as it says in the New King James Version of Psalm 40:2,"He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock,and established my steps". God will eternally set you upon His "rock of ages", Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

He Rescued Me - April 5, 2011

Psalm 18:6; Psalm 18:16-17 (New International Version, ©2011)
6 In my distress I called to the LORD;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.
16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.

Psalm 136:23 (New International Reader's Version)
23 Give thanks to the One who remembered us when things were going badly for us.- His faithful love continues forever.

It happened when I was "at the end of my rope". I had been lost in my life for so long that I finally had enough, and I was at the lowest point in my life. I didn't think I could take it anymore and I needed help. Just at the time when the pain was so overwhelming that I had not way out, God showed up. He remembered me; He remembered my distress. He remembered that I was His child and He rescued me.

This probably sounds very familiar to you, and if you are reading this, you have already "been there", or you are in that difficult place in your life, and need to be rescued from your deepening distress. In the years that I have been a Christain, I have heard this story many times, and yes, God did reach out to me in my distress as well. For me, He touched my life and set it on the right track. He helped me to find "the Way".

As the man and woman were driven from the Garden, God's plan was already in motion. He would find away to rescue His creation from the depths they had fallen into. As we read through God's word, we find the common thread woven through the many Chapters, written by many authors, inspired by His Spirit. It is the thread that recounts the redemption offered to all, but not to be accepted by all. It is a loving Father reaching out to pick-up His falling child.

You might just be at the lowest point in your life. You might be in need of His rescue. Reach out to Him and accept His offer. Cry out to Him in your distress, and He will hear from heaven and rescue you.

Photo "Lifebelt Near the Coast" by Cruinneog, 7-14-2004, from stock.xchng

Monday, April 4, 2011

Giving God Praise - April 4, 2011

Psalm 67 (New Living Translation)

1 May God be merciful and bless us.
May his face smile with favor on us.


2 May your ways be known throughout the earth,
your saving power among people everywhere.
3 May the nations praise you, O God.
Yes, may all the nations praise you.
4 Let the whole world sing for joy,
because you govern the nations with justice
and guide the people of the whole world.


5 May the nations praise you, O God.
Yes, may all the nations praise you.
6 Then the earth will yield its harvests,
and God, our God, will richly bless us.
7 Yes, God will bless us,
and people all over the world will fear him.

In the midst of life storms, find a way to give God praise. He will be merciful and in His love help you see His light. He will direct you in the way you should go, and He will show you His favor.

Let us give Him praise and thansgiving for what He is about to do, and let us tell all who hear about His goodness. As we praise Him in anticipation of His good hand towards us, we join those surrounding the throne and bring a sweet sound to our God. He will respond with His rich blessing.

Photo "Revelations" by Vinnie Prime, 1-27-2007, from stock.xchng

Today would have been my brother Mario's 59th birthday; sadly He took his own life over 14 years ago. I wanted to take a moment to reflect on a life that tragically ended too soon thanks to abuse and war. I believe God does have a grace and mercy for those who suffer from mental disorders; I pray that he may someday join us in a reunion with our Savior.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

He Will Provide the Way - April 3, 2011

Genesis 3:15 (Amplified Bible)
15And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her Offspring; He will bruise and tread your head underfoot, and you will lie in wait and bruise His heel.

What do you do when you are so lost in your sinful lifestyle that you don't know where to turn? I had messed up and I knew it. I was in a place that I didn't want to be and I needed help. Problem was that I didn't know what to do or where to turn. I had fallen so far, and I was in a desparate place, really needing relief from the hurt and the pain. I needed a Way out, because I could no longer do it on my own.

It was a terrible choice that brought with it fear and shook them to their very souls, and in that fear they knew that they would have to hide in shame for what they had done. It seemed harmless in the moment, but it had really changed everything. No longer would they have the closeness of their loving God as they had in the Garden. The man and woman hid themselves and what was once holy and without blemish, was now ugly and stained in sin.

The peace and tranquility in the Garden had been shattered; a holy and just God could no longer be with His creation. The one who had led them astray for the moment had gotten his way; he had brought down the most precious object of God's love and joy. He had brought them to his level and they had turned away from God. Something had to be done and God would have to be the One to do it.

God would have to provide a Way, and as He dealt out the consequence of the treachery of Satan and the punishment of the disobedience of mankind, He foretold the answer that only He could provide. There would be a time of reackoning where the woman would bear the Way, and although for a time Satan would gloat over his victory, the only Way would soon prevail.

Photo "Double Strike" by Canadakick, 4-26-2008, from stock.xchng