Monday, April 30, 2012

Believing That Jesus Is Lord - April 30, 2012

Psalm 110 (New International Version)
1 The LORD says to my Lord:
"Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet."

2 The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion;
you will rule in the midst of your enemies.

3 Your troops will be willing
on your day of battle.
Arrayed in holy majesty,
from the womb of the dawn
you will receive the dew of your youth.

4 The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind:
"You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek."

5 The Lord is at your right hand;
he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.

6 He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead
and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.

7 He will drink from a brook beside the way ;
therefore he will lift up his head.

Over 1000 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, David, inspired through the Holy Spirit, wrote this prophetic psalm about Jesus. Here you can see the relationship between the God the Father (YHWH) and God the Son (Adonai). Even before the time of Jesus, this was thought of as a Messianic psalm by the Jews. It is generally thought that in this psalm David speaks prophetically about the coming Son. It is a coronation psalm for the coming King-Priest, and the later judgement to come as you can read in this passage from the Book of Revelation:

Revelation 19:11-18 (New International Version)

The Rider on the White Horse
11I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.

13He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:


17And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great."

Although difficult to imagine, someday Jesus will be revealed to everyone, those who believed in Him and those who did not. Whose side do you want to be on when he does?

Coppo di Marcovaldo. Majestas Domini (Christ in Majesty). Battistero di San Giovanni. Firenze ITALY. second half of the 13th century

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Godly Confession - April 29, 2012

Psalm 32 (New Living Translation)
1 Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!

2 Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!

3 When I refused to confess my sin,my body wasted away,and I groaned all day long.

4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.

5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.

6 Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.

7 For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory.

8 The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.

9 Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”

10 Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.

11 So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

When it comes to discussing the results of confessing your sins, no one does it better in the Bible than King David. The Bible says that David was a man after God's own heart(Acts 13:22;1 Samuel 13:13-14)and you feel the closeness of David's heart to the heart of God as you read through the various Psalms ascribed to him. Knowing that he had that intimacy with God, we should look to his words when looking for an example in how to pattern our lives.

But what brings David down to earth is that he too was plagued by sin, just as we are. He sinned against God as an adulterer and murderer, yet because of his confession and repentance, God forgave him. Even so, David paid for the "bad seeds" he had sown through the disintergration of his family and the loss of those he loved. If you study the Psalms further, you will follow him through all of these struggles.

If you haven't brought all your "junk" to God and sought forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ, spend time with David. Follow his example and lay out you life to your God and Savior.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday Praise! - April 28, 2012

Psalm 101(New International Version)
1 I will sing of your love and justice;
to you, Lord, I will sing praise.
2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life —
when will you come to me?

I will conduct the affairs of my house
with a blameless heart.
3 I will not look with approval
on anything that is vile.
I hate what faithless people do;
I will have no part in it.
4 The perverse of heart shall be far from me;
I will have nothing to do with what is evil.

5 Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret,
I will put to silence;
whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart,
I will not tolerate.

6 My eyes will be on the faithful in the land,
that they may dwell with me;
the one whose walk is blameless
will minister to me.

7 No one who practices deceit
will dwell in my house;
no one who speaks falsely
will stand in my presence.

8 Every morning I will put to silence
all the wicked in the land;
I will cut off every evildoer
from the city of the Lord.

Friday, April 27, 2012

His Still Small Voice - April 27, 2012

1 Kings 19:11-13 (New International Reader's Version)
11 The Lord said, "Go out. Stand on the mountain in front of me. I am going to pass by."

As the Lord approached, a very powerful wind tore the mountains apart. It broke up the rocks. But the Lord wasn't in the wind.

After the wind there was an earthquake. But the Lord wasn't in the earthquake.

12 After the earthquake a fire came. But the Lord wasn't in the fire.

And after the fire there was only a gentle whisper.

13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his coat over his face. He went out and stood at the entrance to the cave.

Then a voice said to him, "Elijah, what are you doing here?"

Mark 1:35 (New International Version)

35Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Day after day we busy ourselves with many things; we get up, eat, get ready for the day, take kids to school, go to work, pick them up, come home, eat, go to activities or help with home work, watch some TV, go to sleep; did I mention eating? Each weekday morning, we pretty much do the same thing day after day. Weekends come, we get up, eat, go play or shop, eat, relax, eat, come home, go to sleep; on and on it goes.

For those of us who might take the time, we crack open the Bible, and maybe spend a little time with Him. We lift up short abreviated prayers, asking for this, thanking for that; "good morning Lord", "now I lay me down to sleep". Its a wonder that we ever hear God these days. Truth is that even when we reach out in times of trouble, we seldom take time to really spend time with Him. Instead we reach up to heaven in the place we afind ourselves and we lift up our pleas. But do we stop to listen for His answer? Do we sit still and listen? Do we really seek Him?

At a time Elijah the prophet of God to Israel was fleeing from Jezebel, who sought to kill him, God spoke to him in the midst of his trouble. You might want to grab your Bible and read through all that Elijah had been going through, but what is significant is where and how far God had to bring him before Elijah would stop to listen. And how does God speak to him? The Creator of the universe and Master of everything in nature, speaks to Elijah in a whisper, in a "still small voice", in a breeze some translations say. God finally has Elijah's attention when he is still enough, and focused enough to hear God in a whisper.

In our very busy and sometimes troubled lives, we need to take the time to go off by ourselves and listen to God speak to us. We usually don't hear from Him because we have not slowed down or even stopped for Him. We do not give Him priority in our lives, and because of this, we miss out on a tender and intimate relationship He offers to us all. We miss out to timely, God-inspired, solutions to our problems, and we miss out on His direction and guidance. Guys really have a difficult time with this. First of all, we think we can handle anything, and secondly we seldom slow down enough to really listen.

We need to follow after our shepherd Jesus, who being fully man was fully God, yet took the time and secluded himself to talk with his Father in heaven. As you study the four gospel accounts about the life of Jesus, you will find that he did this frequently. Can you imagine that the One who took part in Creation, still humbled Himself to spend time with his Father?

If you are in that troubled place, or you are just needing a guiding hand, make a commitment to take the time, go off by yourself and seek your Father in heaven. Listen for God in the whisper, in His still small voice, in the breeze, and find comfort in His caring embrace.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Living Water - April 26, 2012

John 4:7-14 (New International Reader's Version)
7 A woman from Samaria came to get some water. Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" 8 His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew. I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" She said this because Jews don't have anything to do with Samaritans.

10 Jesus answered her, "You do not know what God's gift is. And you do not know who is asking you for a drink. If you did, you would have asked him. He would have given you living water."

11 "Sir," the woman said, "you don't have anything to get water with. The well is deep. Where can you get this living water?

12 "Our father Jacob gave us the well. He drank from it himself. So did his sons and his flocks and herds. Are you more important than he is?"

13 Jesus answered, "All who drink this water will be thirsty again. 14 But anyone who drinks the water I give him will never be thirsty. In fact, the water I give him will become a spring of water in him. It will flow up into eternal life."

John 7:37-39 (New International Version)
37On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." 39By this he meant the [Holy]Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the [Holy]Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

According to sources at, "Your body is estimated to be about 60 to 70 percent water. Blood is mostly water, and your muscles, lungs, and brain all contain a lot of water. Your body needs water to regulate body temperature and to provide the means for nutrients to travel to all your organs. Water also transports oxygen to your cells, removes waste, and protects your joints and organs."

Since water is so essential for healthy operation of the human body, we have built in mechanisms to regulate and insure that we take in enough water. All of us have experienced the primary symptom from lack of water, thirst. Once we become thirsty, we focus on nothing else but getting something to drink. Nothing is more refreshing than a glass of cold water when you are thirsty, and because we are always active and our bodies are always using up the water that we are taking in, we seemingly have an unquenchable thirst that is never satisfied.

Jesus was used this the example of our unquenchable thirst for his illustration of the spiritual condition. We are born with a thirst in need of satisfaction. This thirst is described in these verses from Solomon:
Ecclesiastes 3:10-11 (Amplified Bible)10I have seen the painful labor and exertion and miserable business which God has given to the sons of men with which to exercise and busy themselves. 11He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men's hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

We are constantly looking for fulfillment in our lives, and to quench this "thirst" for something more. Many of us spend years lost in a pursuit of our own desires, only to find that the things of this world cannot satisfy. The more we pursue these things of the world, the deeper we fall into our sins, and the more desperate we are for relief. It is when we arrive at our time of deepest dispair and greatest "thirst" that we realize that we cannot be satisfied on our own. We have a need for something more and our true desire is to be ultimately loved by God.

Jesus offer us the "living water", the "living water" of the Holy Spirit that convicts us of our lost condition, and brings us ultimate satisfaction by revealing to us that God loves us. It is the spring of "living water" that constantly guides us through this life, showing us God's will and purpose. It leads us into a new and eternal life with God, and quenches our thirst for fulfillment and satisfaction.

But we cannot take the cup and drink from the "living water" until we first accept God's provision for our fallen spiritual condition. Jesus came to take away our sins by dying on the cross, and he rose again to prepare a place for us in eternity. Come and drink from the "living water" and satisfy the thirst in your soul.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Growing Up - April 25, 2012

1 Corinthians 13:9-12 (New International Reader's Version)
9 What we know now is not complete. What we prophesy now is not perfect. 10 But when what is perfect comes, the things that are not perfect will pass away.

11 When I was a child, I talked like a child. I thought like a child. I had the understanding of a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

12 Now we see only a dim likeness of things. It is as if we were seeing them in a mirror. But someday we will see clearly. We will see face to face. What I know now is not complete. But someday I will know completely, just as God knows me completely.

There was a time in my life when I had very little understanding of what I was hearing and occasionally reading. I had no clue of what real Christianity was all about. When I finally understood the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, I began a journey trying to know what God wanted to tell me.

First and foremost, God's Spirit is the One who brings us to the knowledge of what we are before God, and He is the One who helps us to finally surrender our will and accept God's. He "illuminates",reveals, the word of God, and helps us in applying it to our daily lives. He guides us and is the One who "moves in our hearts", convicting us of our shortcomings and prompting us to live a righteous life.

He then becomes the One who helps us manitain our witness and directs us to share what has happened to us. In turn, He then reveals the gospel to the person who sees our example and seeks after God. God's word is living and breathing through believers and assists us in helping others find Jesus.

As far as I have come in understanding God, the more I realize that I have only scratched the surface. I truly only see a "dim likeness of things, as if I were seeing them in a mirror". Although I am no longer a child in the faith, I have to admit that as long as I look into God's word with a child-like faith and I don't try to over analyze it, the more I fully understand what God is trying to show me.

My encouragement to you is to get into the word of God. Take the time to seek God in prayer as you study and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in understanding the will of God. Someday God will make everything perfectly clear to us and answer every question we may have. In the meantime, accept Him at His word and believe His simple offering to us. Accept the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and look forward to someday seeing Him face to face.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Helping Others - April 24, 2012

Proverbs 3:27 (New Living Translation)
27 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it
when it’s in your power to help them.

Galatians 5:14 (New International Reader's Version)
14 The whole law can be found in a single command. "Love your neighbor as you love yourself."—(Leviticus 19:18)

Galatians 6:2,9-10 (New Living Translation)
2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

Alot is made these days of being independent and taking care of yourself, but as a society, I think that we have grown quite callous in taking care of others. Too often we look on the plight of those who are hurting and say to ourselves, "It's not my problem. I have enough on my plate to worry about." This is especially true with our young people. They are more apt to do something to "save the whales" or some other over-exagerated and over-hyped environmental cause, than they are willing to help their fellow man.

For a Christian and follower of Jesus Christ, this is totally opposite of what we are called to do. We are called to love those around us better than as we love ourselves. That means to go out of our way to help someone in need. This is counter to our culture, but we need to start being living examples of the "hands and feet" of Jesus, and we need to pass on this example to our children and others around us.

I even take this a step further when I reflect on the proverb alone. I believe that we "withhold good" by not telling others that they are perishing; that they are lost to their sins without Christ. As we go through our daily lives as living, earthly, examples of the "faith that is within us", be sure that we let those we help know, that it is not in our own power that we do these things we do, but it is because of the power of God that is within us.

Photo: © Marcy Maloy/Getty Images

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bragging That Pleases God - April 23, 2012

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
23This is what the Lord says:

Don’t let wise people brag about their wisdom.
Don’t let strong people brag about their strength.
Don’t let rich people brag about their riches.

24If they want to brag, they should brag that they understand and know me.

They should brag that I, the Lord, act out of love, righteousness, and justice on the earth.

This kind of bragging pleases me, declares the Lord.

It is interesting what we celebrate in society these days. We lift up atheletes, some politicians, and movie stars. We applaud Oprah and the ladies on "The View". We idolize Elton John, John Mayer, and Taylor Swift, and we immortalize players in Cooperstown and Canton. We honor our war heores and those who have reached the pinnacle in business. We brag on our kids and ourselves, and we do all we can for those around us to know that we are important or we have achieved something special. It seems that we lift up every human and personal achievement we can, but we fail to do so with what is most important.

God celebrates those who are the lowliest among us. He lifts up the poor in spirit, the meek and the persecuted. He applauds those who help others. He idolizes those who carry their cross everday for Him, and He immortalizes those who have sacrificed themselves for His name's sake. He honors those who have honored Him and those who serve Jesus with unending devotion. He wants our bragging to be about His business and those who strive for the things of God. We are special when we recognize that we are nothing, but He is everything.

I brag on the fact that He has allowed me to gain just a little understanding of Him, and He allows me to understand more and try to get closer to Him everyday. He has had mercy on me and in His grace, He has acted out of love, righteousness, and justice. I brag on my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who has given everything for a nothing like me. Can you brag about the same thing as me?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day? - April 22, 2012

Psalm 24:1-2 (Amplified Bible)
1THE EARTH is the Lord's, and the fullness of it, the world and they who dwell in it. 2For He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the currents and the rivers.

Romans 1:21-23,25 (New International Version)
21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Okay today is Earth Day. So what! The world has gone nuts about this whole "carbon footprint", "global warming", "Gaia worship", and "Mother Earth" thing. It seems that no matter what you see, hear or read these days, it is all "colored" with the emphasis on being GREEN. It has become the obsessive focus of the world.

Everywhere you turn these days, we are constantly being bombarded by these messages, and sometimes myths, about sustaining our planet. It is a very problematic situation that God is barred from the school house door, and yet this worship of the planet is being spoon-fed to our children. Along with it they are fed an anti-God, anti-U.S., anti-people, pro-environmental, pro-global socialist agenda that will have serious consequences for their futures.

Take a look and read further into a couple of the latest headlines and exerpts of what the "worshippers of the Earth" are suggesting:

"The tab for U.N.’s Rio summit: Trillions per year in taxes, transfers and price hikes" by George Russell,Published April 20, 2012,

"The upcoming United Nations environmental conference on sustainable development will consider a breathtaking array of carbon taxes, transfers of trillions of dollars from wealthy countries to poor ones, and new spending programs to guarantee that populations around the world are protected from the effects of the very programs the world organization wants to implement, according to stunning U.N. documents examined by Fox News."

"A Tennessee Fireman's Solution to Climate Change" by Steve Zwick, Published April 19, 2012,

"Every former addict seems to remember the moment he decided to change: maybe he woke up in prison, or in the hospital; or maybe he injured someone, or lost his job. Whatever the cause, something forces him to accept that his actions have consequences, and that those consequences will lead to disaster for him and others if he doesn’t alter his behavior."

"Let’s take a page from those Tennessee firemen we heard about a few times last year – the ones who stood idly by as houses burned to the ground because their owners had refused to pay a measly $75 fee.

We can apply this same logic to climate change.

We know who the active denialists are – not the people who buy the lies, mind you, but the people who create the lies. Let’s start keeping track of them now, and when the famines come, let’s make them pay. Let’s let their houses burn until the innocent are rescued. Let’s swap their safe land for submerged islands. Let’s force them to bear the cost of rising food prices.

They broke the climate. Why should the rest of us have to pay for it?"

Don't get me wrong, I am all about being a good and faithful steward with what God our Creator has blessed us with. In fact I am probably over zealous about re-cycling and organic gardening, but more for economic, reducing land-fill cost, and backyard bio-diversity reasons than about adhering to some Environmental Agenda.

What we have to watch out for is when the worship of the Environmental Agenda replaces the worship of God, and when everything related to that sets the agenda that eventually displaces the Creator of it all.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday Praise! - April 21, 2012

Psalm 30 (New Century Version)
1 I will praise you, Lord, because you rescued me. You did not let my enemies laugh at me.

2 Lord, my God, I prayed to you, and you healed me.

3 You lifted me out of the grave; you spared me from going down to the place of the dead.

4 Sing praises to the Lord, you who belong to him; praise his holy name.

5 His anger lasts only a moment, but his kindness lasts for a lifetime.
Crying may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

6 When I felt safe, I said, "I will never fear."

7 Lord, in your kindness you made my mountain safe. But when you turned away, I was frightened.

8 I called to you, Lord, and asked you to have mercy on me.

9 I said, "What good will it do if I die or if I go down to the grave? Dust cannot praise you; it cannot speak about your truth.

10 Lord, hear me and have mercy on me. Lord, help me."

11 You changed my sorrow into dancing. You took away my clothes of sadness, and clothed me in happiness.

12 I will sing to you and not be silent. Lord, my God, I will praise you forever.

A psalm of David. May you be blessed as you meditate and give thanks to God. Photo by Brioso, June 8, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

Understanding the Trinity - April 20, 2012

Genesis 1:26 (New American Standard Bible)
26Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

Genesis 3:22 (New American Standard Bible)
22Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"--

Matthew 28:18-20 (New International Version)
18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Now this is a hard one to wrap my head around, but it is essentially the most important doctrine that defines Christianity. Essential, because how you treat this subject determines whether you believe in truth or a heresy.
Understanding this esential of Christianity determines whether or not you are following the truth that saves you, or an inerrant doctrine that condemns you. Wow! That is pretty strong, but it is so important that know the difference between truth and error when it comes to the nature of God.

What I am talking about is the doctrine of the Trinity or Tri-unity of God. For Christians this is probably a term you have heard about, and you may have a limited understanding of the concept. Since I have complete confidence in the inerrant and in fallible word of God found in the Bible, the verses I give above settles the question for me. In every translation and the original languages the contexts are the same. Our Triune God was present at Creation, and Jesus as the second person of the Trinity commanded all disciples top baptize in the names of all three persons of the Godhead.

In trying to explain how the Trinity exists, and I hope you will excuse me in noting this, but I have always used the very weak and simplistic analogy of a chicken's egg (How can you really explain the complex and inexplicable nature of our awesome God?). A chicken egg has three distinct components (actually you might divide an egg even further, but hang with me on this one), the outer covering of shell and shell membrane, the egg's white, and the egg's yolk. Each of these components are separate and essential to the egg. All co-exist together and together they are the egg.

Ben Rast with Contender Ministries puts it this way in an article he writes on the ministry's website,"We may never fully understand the nature of God until we get into heaven. God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and eternal. Our finite created minds are unable to fully grasp these characteristics of God." He further states, "The doctrine of the Trinity can be summed up as follows: Within the one Being that is God, there exist eternally three coequal and coeternal Persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In order to prove this doctrine we must prove the following, there is only one God, the Father is God, Jesus is God, the Holy Spirit is God, and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct Persons."

This doctrine is upheld in the Nicene Creed which we studied a few days ago, and you may want to take a look at the creed and study it further. I have also provided the links to study further the proofs for the Trinity. You will also find information on various cults that call themselves Christian, but do not believe in the same nature of God as we do. These include Mormonism, Unitarians, Jehovah’s Witness, and what I believe is the very dangerous Oneness Pentacostalism, Jesus Only or Holiness Churches.

In fact many well-intentioned evangelical pastors today embrace Oneness pastors, which has been the criticism of T.D.Jakes, and I am concerned that many new Christians may be led astray if they do not fully understand the differences. Before embracing the teaching of any pastor or church, you need to examine their beliefs in reference to orthodox Chritain theology. If you have any questions, please be sure to study the links and to send me any questions that you might have.

Bottom line is this, to be a true Christian, you need to believe that our God is a Triune God, and within the one Being that is God, there exist eternally three coequal and coeternal Persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Any other doctrine out there should be considered as incorrect. Photo of Adoration of the Holy Trinity, by Albrecht Durer,1511,Oil on panel,Vienna, Kunshistorisches Museum

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Blind-sighted - April 19, 2012

2 Corinthians 4:1-5 (New Living Translation)
1 Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. 2 We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.

3 If the Good News (The Gospel) we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. 4 Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

5 You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake.

This is not an easy subject. Sometime it is really difficult. What I am saying is as much as people try to believe in the God of the Bible, and to accept the gift of Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross for mankind's sins, it is a tall order for people who are unbelievers to suddenly give up their skepticism and become believers. Why is this?

The main reason is that the lifestyle that is promoted by the world and the values it espouses blinds people to the wickedness in which they are trapped in. That is what is meant by "Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe". It is as if they are blind-sighted, meaning that although they are looking for the truth; they can't really see it because of the way they are living. Our world has been so blinded by what is called "relativism"("what is right for one person may not necessarily be right for another", "that's true for you but not for me"),that absolute truth and what is morally right and wrong has been distorted, "veiled", from those who are perishing, dying in their sins.

My making the statement that people are "dying in their sins" is considered very controversial in our culture today. Why? Just a few decades ago, especially in the United States, moral absolutes were very easy to identify, and everyone was measured against a Judeo-Christian standard of right and wrong. But because of the failure of Christians to become engaged in the culture during the last several decades, this worship of relativism slowly crept in and the belief in God's absolute truth began to be diminished, until today these Judeo-Christian values are in danger of being eliminated from our culture. We may even see a day when upholding and speaking out for these values in our country will be considered a crime, as it is in many countries in this world.

A good way to test this theory about the erosion of values can be found by watching the Turner Movie Channel. On it you will find screenings of movies from the 1930's,1940's and 1950's. Compare those movies to those made today. The values portrayed by Hollywood then are not the values portrayed by Hollywood today.

And you need only look into the lives of most popular actors of today, and you will see the "fall-out" this has caused in their lives. It has also caused massive fall-out in the lives of those who mimic their lifestyle. Today you also see these same problems creeping into the lives of our politicians, professional atheletes, and other "famous" people that the culture idolizes.

I would probably be safe in saying that the majority of people would not want to see their children or grandchildren exhibiting these lifestyles or behaviors, whether they are believers or not. Today's cultural values, exhibited on television and in the movies, in our schools and halls of government, are not those that will ulitmately sustain our culture.

This is my message. If you are a Christian and you believe in the plan of God, you need to become engaged first in what you believe and then get engaged in the culture. Take this research and study into "What Do You Believe" and answer that question for yourself. Pick up the references and your Bible and become solid in your faith. Know what you should know.

If you are a non-believer, you need to take a close look at yourself and see if the life you are leading is really one that you can be proud of on your deathbed. Hate to sound morbid, but a hundred years from now everyone reading this will physically be in the same situation, but not necessarily in the same place. You have an opportunity to get your life on the right path; the path God has laid out first for your salvation and then for your lifestyle.

As Paul says it in his letter to the Corinthians,"You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake." Turn your life over to Jesus Christ today.

I wrote this post awhile back, but it is just as relevant today as when I first wrote it.

In Praise - April 18, 2012

Psalm 100(New International Version)
A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

We were made to worship. As my pastor always says, we will all worship something, whether it's sports, or career, or school, or God. We will give something our attention and devotion. The One who made us expects us to give our worship to Him and Him alone.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sharing the Gift - April 17, 2012

Acts 2:44-47 (New International Version)
44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Acts 4:32-35 (New Living Translation)
32 All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. 33 The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. 34 There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them 35 and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.

How did we ever lose our way? When did we as believers in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord quit focusing on the right things? Being a Christian is more than a solo pursuit. Unfortunately, many of us dwell only on ourselves and forget that the experience we have been blessed with is meant to be shared. Our faith is not something we should hide and keep to ourselves. The world around us is perishing, and if we could only picture those around us, whether loved ones, friends, or just the person in the next cube, spending their eternity in what is called Hell, we might just have a different attitude about it.

The verses above from the Book of Acts, tells us how the early fellowship of believers shared with one another in a community. I believe that because they embraced one another in their new faith and in love, their witness to the world around them was very attractive. The early church grew quickly because of this, and it was able to survive centuries of persecution and heresy because of they shared and lived out their true faith with one an other.

Imagine what the world would be like if we treated not only fellow believers, but everyone in the manner described above? We were meant to spread our faith and love around, and in doing so offer to those who are hurting and in need a place of rest and peace in Jesus.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Abundant Giving - April 16, 2012

Luke 6:38 (New American Standard Bible)
38"Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."

Luke 6:38 (New Century Version)
38 Give, and you will receive. You will be given much. Pressed down, shaken together, and running over, it will spill into your lap. The way you give to others is the way God will give to you."

Mark 4:24 (New Century Version)
24 "Think carefully about what you hear. The way you give to others is the way God will give to you, but God will give you even more.

Much has been said about giving these days, but for the believer the act of giving takes on a very spiritual meaning. God is aware of everything we do, and the attitude of our hearts during the act that we are doing. He seeks for us to have a generous heart, giving of ourselves in generosity, and with that same generosity it will be returend to us by God. Don't get me wrong, I am not talking just about material possessions or money.

Our giving can take many forms. Let's say that you spend your time serving in a homeless shelter or helping with the children in Sunday School. This is a gift of your time and service. After it is done and you reflect on it, don't you receive as much if not more benefit from your act and gift of serving others?

God wants us to live in abundance. He wants us to have it all. He demonstrated that to us by giving us the greatest gift of all; His Son Jesus Christ as the payment for our sins. In light of that, abundance in living is achieved through the transformation of our hearts, where we freely give everything in thanks and gratitude to God for His unquestionable love. Freely give because of what you have been freely given.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Your Kingdom Come! - April 15, 2012

Matthew 6:9-13 (New International Version)
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
for yours is the kingdom and the power
and the glory forever. Amen.

One of the things I look forward to the most, and I trust what most Christians look forward to is the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of God's Kingdom. If you do any study of the Bible, you will find that not only is God's Kingdom within the hearts of His people, but there will be a literal Kingdom of God called the "Millenial Kingdom" here on earth prior to eternity in heaven. There will be an earthly kingdom over which Christ will reign with believers for a thousand years(Revelation 20:1-6).

When Jesus was with his disciples and the crowd that had gathered for what would be called the "Sermon on the Mount", he not only taught them about what the kingdom of God was like, but he also gave them an example of how they should pray. It is interesting that second to giving God praise declaring His holiness, Jesus instructs them to pray for the establishment of God's kingdom here on earth. He wanted them to realize that the kingdom would only come through prayer and acceptance of his message.

For us too, we need to be about the work of "praying in the kingdom". Not only is it important to tell others about the good news, and help them gain the reign of Christ in their lives, but we need to be sure that we are constantly seeking God an looking forward to HIs ultimate reign here on earth. I don't know about you, but from the news I read on a daily, if not minute-by-minute basis, our world is in need of the reign of righteousness and justice only God can bring about.

I am constantly moved by the cruelty and babarity that mankind inflicts on one another, and the horrific crimes that are commited against women and the weak among us. I am especially saddened by the acts that are perpetrated upon innocent children here in the U.S. and around the world. I say "Come quickly Lord Jesus", and I long for the coming Kingdom of God to this earth. So I would encourage you to daily pray for the coming of Christ, and join me in sharing the good news in the meantime.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday Praise! - April 14, 2012

Psalm 27 (New International Version)

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.

3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.

4 One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.

6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.

7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.

8 My heart says of you, "Seek his face!"
Your face, LORD, I will seek.

9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.

10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.

11 Teach me your way, O LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.

12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.

13 I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.

With boldness David authored this psalm of triumph and victory over those who were against him and pursuing him. This is a great passage to meditate over. David states how God is his light, salvation, and stronghold, and then he describes these as themes throughout this psalm. I have italicized what I feel are important keys listed herein.

As you read through this, personalize it for yourself. Put yourself in David's sandals and select those verses that are important to you. Pick out how God can work in your life, bringing you His light, salvation and sheltering you from the difficulties of this world as your stronghold.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Indescribable Gift - April 13, 2012

John 1:16-17 (New International Version)
16From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

John 14:6 (New International Version)
6Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

2 Corinthians 9:15 (New International Version)
15Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

We can't help ourselves. No matter how much we try, we can't seem to do what is right. We stretch the truth a little bit here; go a little over the speed limit there; talk about someone we dislike behind there back; linger as we stare at someone on the beach. We borrow a few things from work that we never return; decide that church can wait another Sunday as we go the lake; focus on how much money we can make day in and day out; have no problem disobeying our parents; think that we should have the car our neighbor drives; and join in as our buddies curse without a thought.

If we can see ourselves in any of the things that I have mentioned above, we will find that we have disregarded and very blantantly broken every one of the laws of God given to Moses, the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). If we care anything about what happens to us after this life, there will be a day when we finally realize that we cannot keep from doing such things with out outside help. We don't like who we are anymore, because the Law of God acts like a mirror showing us how much we really disobey God. By then we have accumulated so much junk and carry so much bad stuff in our lives, that we one day the burden becomes too much for us to bear.

Thank God that He has a heart for us! Thank God that His love extends beyond what we have done! Thank God that in His grace and mercy that he has given us a way out; someone to carry the burden of our wrongdoing; someone who took them upon his broken body as he hung on the cross; someone who stepped out of the grave to show us the way back into the love of God. Thank God for giving us the gift of Jesus Christ, our Savior, our peace and our comfort.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Goodness - April 12, 2012

Proverbs 11:5-11 (New Century Version)
5 The goodness of the innocent makes life easier, but the wicked will be destroyed by their wickedness.

6 Doing right brings freedom to honest people, but those who are not trustworthy will be caught by their own desires.

7 When the wicked die, hope dies with them; their hope in riches will come to nothing.

8 The good person is saved from trouble; it comes to the wicked instead.

9 With words an evil person can destroy a neighbor, but a good person will escape by being resourceful.

10 When good people succeed, the city is happy. When evil people die, there are shouts of joy.

11 Good people bless and build up their city, but the wicked can destroy it with their words.

Proverbs 11:10-11 (New Living Translation)
10 The whole city celebrates when the godly succeed; they shout for joy when the wicked die.

11 Upright citizens are good for a city and make it prosper, but the talk of the wicked tears it apart.

Do you know what is missing in our society today? It's "goodness". When was the last time you heard that your child's school was teaching about "goodness"? When was the last time you had a seminar at work about "goodness"?

Moral charater, righteousness, right-living, "goodness" is all relative these days, meaning that it is in the "eye of the beholder". You can especially see and hear that in our media and in the orations of our politicians, but I don't only site them. We need only to observe what happens in our normal day, to see how "goodness" is lacking in much of what we do.

What has caused our world to abandon "goodness" for the most part is an unknown, meaning that in society's terms, you can't point to a single factor. Is it because of political correctness that has robbed us of our sensibilities? Is it because what was considered vile and vulgar in the past, is now seen as acceptable? Is it because we have developed a tolerance for wrong and now call it right? Is it the fact that we relegated God to take on a very minor role in our lives? Or is it something else?

I maintain that with good people, there is still alot of room for "goodness", and the result of "goodness" is a better world to live in. The problem is that in the past we did not have to wonder whether or not "goodness" and good things were being passed on to our children. Today, we need to first teach "goodness" at home, by living it out in our families, and extending that to the communities we live in. At the same time we need to hold our educators and our politicians to emulating "goodness" in their teaching and governance.

It is time for good people to stand up for "goodness", and expect it in everything we do. If we set a new standard for a society based on "goodness", we can expect that the world around us will change.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Have No Fear - April 11, 2012

Psalm 27:1-5 (New Century Version)
1 The Lord is my light and the one who saves me.
So why should I fear anyone?
The Lord protects my life.
So why should I be afraid?

2 Evil people may try to destroy my body.
My enemies and those who hate me attack me,
but they are overwhelmed and defeated.

3 If an army surrounds me,
I will not be afraid.
If war breaks out,
I will trust the Lord.

4 I ask only one thing from the Lord.
This is what I want:
Let me live in the Lord's house
all my life.

Let me see the Lord's beauty
and look with my own eyes at his Temple.

5 During danger he will keep me safe in his shelter.
He will hide me in his Holy Tent,
or he will keep me safe on a high mountain.

As you live in Jesus Christ, you can rest in the knowledge that God will keep you safe. Though you may not understand it, God exhorts us to have no fear. As David wrote in the Psalm, this song of praise, Go will keep you safe in His shelter and set you feet on a high mountain. Claim God's promises and HAVE NO FEAR!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Unfailing, Ever Faithful - April 10, 2012

Deuteronomy 7:9 (New Living Translation)
9 Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.

Psalm 25:10 (New Living Translation)
10 The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (New Living Translation)
13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

Philippians 1:6 (New Century Version)
6 God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure he will continue it until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 (New Living Translation)
3 But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.

1 John 1:9 (New International Version)
9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

It is difficult for us to live as Christians, and Satan is always trying to place "roadblocks" in our effort to live a righteous life. Let's face it, life is tough and adding "trying to always do the right thing" makes it a lot tougher. No matter what we do, in our own efforts we will always be doomed to fail.

But thank God that He never tires from helping us make
it through. He is the One who first draws us to Him and He is the One who will complete the work He is doing through our lives. He remains ever faithful with His unfailing love for us, His unfailing love for you.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Go! - April 9, 2012

Matthew 28:18-20 (New International Reader's Version)
18 Then Jesus came to them. He said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end."

Acts 1:1-5,7-9(New Living Translation)
1 In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. 3 During the forty days after his crucifixion, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.

4 Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. 5 John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

9 After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him.

Now that we have been blessed by a gracious and merciful God, what should we be doing? How do we show our thankfulness for what has been done one our behalf? The answer is that it is our responsibility to tell others about salvation in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. This is not a suggestion, or an "if you have time", it is a command. Jesus said,"So you must go and make disciples of all nations". Go means to go and do it.

This is probably the hardest of any of God's commands to follow, because often it is hard to tell others about Christ. We get stuck with wondering what other people might think about us. But I say it is more important to please God. This is what Jesus had to say about it:

Matthew 10:32-34 (New King James Version)
32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

That is a serious statement, and it carries with it serious consequences. To be able to speak about your faith, be sure that you are rock solid in what you believe.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

He Is Risen! - April 8, 2012

John 20:1-18 (New International Version)
1Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!"

3So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus' head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. 8Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

10Then the disciples went back to their homes, 11but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13They asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?"

"They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him." 14At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15"Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?"
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."

16Jesus said to her, "Mary."
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).

17Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' "

18Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her.

We have found as we have traveled with Jesus to the cross and beyond, that the Bible is the reliable and infallible word of God. We have found this through prophecy and the fortelling of events hundreds of years in advance of their occurrence.

We have seen and heard of the miraculous work that Jesus has done, and continues to do in the hearts of people around us. And many of us have laid our mistakes, disobedience, and sins at the foot of the cross, and Jesus has lifted our burdens upon His shoulders, and relieved us from them. Now we stand in front of an empty tomb.

What does this all mean? What is the importance of Jesus' resurrection to us? It gives us assurance that Jesus Christ is who He said He was, God in the flesh, for who else who was dead can come to life and step out of the grave? You may have a hard time believing it, because so did the disciples.

Luke 24:36-49 (New International Version)
36While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you."

37They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."

40When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, "Do you have anything here to eat?" 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43and he took it and ate it in their presence.

44He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."

45Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."

We have the testimony and witness of hundreds that saw the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. This gives us hope that we too will not experience eternal death if we place our trust and faith in Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. Let us celebrate today the work that was done for us. Let us celebrate the Resurrection. He is risen! Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Darkest Night - April 7, 2012

John 3:13-15 (New International Version)
13No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

Psalm 16:8-11 (New International Version)
8 I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,

10 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Hosea 6:2 (New International Reader's Version)

2 After two days he will give us new life. On the third day he'll make us like new again. Then we will enjoy his blessing.

Matthew 12:40 (New International Version)
40For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

1 Peter 3:18-25 (New International Version)
18For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, 19through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison 20who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

The disciples fled and hid from the authorities, and they thought that their commitment to this man, who brought them closer to God than they ever could imagine, had led them only to darkness and dispair. They forgot the words that He spoke that touched their hearts, and they forgot the joy they felt in His presence. They forgot the miracles that freed the oppressed, and they forgot the way he brought joy to the brokenhearted. Now their only companion was guilt and shame, for they had deserted their friend and their Teacher, who had loved them so much.

We too are confronted by the weight of our sins, and we can't imagine anything or anyone could free us from our burden. We cower in the darkness because of the guilt and shame for the things we have done, and we long to be set free from the pit, this grave we have found ourselves in. We look for our Savior who will take it all away, and bring us out to a place of relief.

Although the events of the crucifixion may have seemed like the darkest night, they were only the first step as Jesus set out to overcome the grave. You see He was not only fully man, but He was the Son of God, fully God, and He has set out to prepare the way out for us all. The way to be reconciled to the Father, and to free us from the burden of our sin. Even though Death and Evil sought to keep Him in the grave, He would defeat these foes, and overcome them for us all.

Friday, April 6, 2012

It Is Finished! - April 6, 2012

John 1:29 (New International Version)
29The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Luke 23:33-34 (New International Version)
33When they came to the place called the Skull(Golgotha,Calvary), there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots(Psalms 22:14-21).

Mark 15:33-39 (New International Version)
33At the sixth hour(Noon)darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour(3PM). 34And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
35When some of those standing near heard this, they said, "Listen, he's calling Elijah."

36One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to take him down," he said.

37With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

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

John 19:30 (New King James Version)
30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

This Friday is not just another Friday, because this Friday we remember the sacrifice that was made, and the price for sin that was paid on our behalf. ...

It is a mystery that we can be forgiven because of the act of another, but today you have the opportunity to reflect on what Jesus is offering you. Jesus Christ, fully human and fully God, has finished the work of taking on the sins of mankind as the ultimate sacrifice, and reconciling every person to God.

No other faith, or religion, or number of good deeds can offer you positive assurance that you can be made right with God and spend your eternity with Him. Nothing else can take an empty and restless soul and give it joy, peace and hope. Are you willing to gamble your life and soul on something else?

You have the chance to bare your soul and lay all your mistakes, disobedience and sins at the foot of the cross. Jesus is offering to take them upon Himself. Surrender yourself and pour your heart to Him this day, confess your sins and accept His forgiveness. Believe in the provision that has been made for you; believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Were You There?

By: Anonymous Negro spiritual written before 1865

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?

Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?

Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?
Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?

Within its traditional seven verses, this soulful, powerfully moving, yet nobly restrained spiritual encapsulizes the entire story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus as described in the four Gospels of the Bible's New Testament. It is one of several spirituals in which the people who suffered through the tragedy of American slavery would draw a dramatic parallel between their experience and that of the persecution and torture of Jesus. (excerpt

It is finished!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Betrayal - April 5, 2012

Psalm 41:9 (New Living Translation)
9 Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely, the one who shared my food, has turned against me.

Matthew 26:14-16 (Amplified Bible)
14Then one of the Twelve [apostles], who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests

15And said, What are you willing to give me if I hand Him over to you? And they weighed out for and paid to him thirty pieces of silver [about twenty-one dollars and sixty cents].

16And from that moment he sought a fitting opportunity to betray Him.

Mark 14:10-11 (New International Reader's Version)
10 Judas Iscariot was one of the Twelve. He went to the chief priests to hand Jesus over to them. 11 They were delighted to hear that he would do this. They promised to give Judas money. So he watched for the right time to hand Jesus over to them.

Luke 22:3-6 (New International Reader's Version)
3 Then Satan entered Judas, who was called Iscariot. Judas was one of the Twelve. 4 He went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard. He talked with them about how he could hand Jesus over to them. 5 They were delighted and agreed to give him money.

6 Judas accepted their offer. He watched for the right time to hand Jesus over to them. He wanted to do it when no crowd was around.

How do we feel when we are betrayed by a close friend? How do we react when one we hold dear "sells us out" for personal gain? It is bad enough when a dear friend hurts us, but when they agree to accept personal gain for doing so, that hurts deeply.

Although the betrayal of Jesus by Judas fulfilled prophecy and was orchestrated for God's purposes, I am sure it was extremely hurtful to Jesus. I am also sure that this act probably hurt Jesus more deeply because it was done for money. You really can't get more callous than that.

But before we jump on the bandwagon in condemnation of Judas' act, we need to be sure to look at ourselves as well. How often do we betray our love for Jesus, when we make decisions that involve money and discount what we believe in? How often do we ignore what Jesus would have us do when it comes to our behavior around others? How do you think Jesus feels when we continue to commit sins that we ask forgiveness for long ago, yet we repeat them over and over again?

There are many times when we deny our beliefs when it seems inconvenient to be known as a Christian. Each and every time we sin or behave in a manner that is not worthy of what Jesus has done for us, we are in a sense betraying him and his sacrifice on our behalf. It is important as we approach the final days before Jesus' arrest and crucifixion, that we examine our hearts and ask ourselves if our behavior or character is betraying His love for us.

Photo of the Fresco,Kiss of Judas(El beso de Judas),Giotto di Bondone, Scenes from the Life of Christ: 15. The Arrest of Christ (Kiss of Judas). (1304-06)Current location, Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua, Italy

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Fulfilled Prophecy - April 4, 2012

Isaiah 53 (New International Version)
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 men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten 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 upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his 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 her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

11 After the suffering of his soul,
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,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Matthew 20:17-19 (New International Version)
17Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, 18"We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!"

Its amazing that these events were fortold through the prophet Isaiah almost 700 years before they occurred. If you are skeptical about the Bible or have a difficult time understanding the events surrounding Jesus and the crucifxion, take the time to read these verses and compare them to those from the Jewish Bible, the Tanakh linked here. What other ancient texts or religious writings that you know of have prophecies that were written over many centuries, that were all fulfilled? These were in one person, Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Preparing for The End - April 3, 2012

Matthew 25:31-46 (New Living Translation)
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

What should we be doing as we prepare for our ultimate end in this life? Many of us work on leaving a legacy for our children that will provide them a connection with us once we are gone. Others of us build businesses or invest in real estate to leave something for our children and to provide for their needs after we pass on. What ever we do, we do things in preparation so that those we leave behind are taken care of. But what are we doing to provide for our own spiritual investment and to leave a spiritual legacy when we are gone?

As Jesus was doing his final teaching in the temple prior to facing the cross, he wanted to be clear with his disciples of what to look for in the end times, how to be prepare for these times, and what it would be like at the final judgement. The text above was given to describe what it would be like in the kingdom in heaven, and the things that people would be judged for in the end. These words were meant to prepare the hearer for right living, or as I define it, Next Worth.

As we journey with Christ towards the cross, we should be checking our character and measure it against the standard that Jesus sets above. We need to also be sure that the legacy we leave behind is one that will witness to all who see it that God had a place in our lives, and that Jesus Christ had influence in our lives. We need to be the hands and feet of Jesus today and always.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Wedding Invitation - April 2, 2012

Matthew 22:1-14 (New International Reader's Version)
1 Jesus told them more stories. He said, 2 "Here is what the kingdom of heaven is like. A king (God the Father) prepared a wedding dinner for his son (Jesus Christ). 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited(The Jewish People) to the dinner. The servants told them to come. But they refused.
4 "Then he sent some more servants. He said, 'Tell those who were invited that I have prepared my dinner. I have killed my oxen and my fattest cattle. Everything is ready. Come to the wedding dinner.'

5 "But the people paid no attention. One went away to his field. Another went away to his business(Caught up in the cares of this world). 6 The rest grabbed his servants(The Prophets of God). They treated them badly and then killed them.

7 "The king became very angry. He sent his army to destroy them. They killed those murderers and burned their city.

8 "Then the king said to his servants, 'The wedding dinner is ready. But those I invited were not fit to come. 9 Go to the street corners. Invite to the dinner anyone you can find.' 10 So the servants went out into the streets. They gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad. Soon the wedding hall was filled with guests(The Gentiles...You and Me).

11 "The king came in to see the guests. He noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes(Clothed in Righteousness). 12 'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man couldn't think of anything to say(He was not a true believer).

13 "Then the king told his servants, 'Tie up his hands and feet. Throw him outside into the darkness. Out there people will sob and grind their teeth.'

14 "Many are invited(Those who hear the Word), but few are chosen(Those that Believe)."

Italics and comments mine)

In the last few days before his crucifixion, Jesus spent time in the Temple in Jerusalem giving final rebuke, teaching and instruction. He relayed much of what he was trying to say in parables. He related things that were common to the people, so that they would understand and take to heart what Jesus was saying. I believe that this final week of teaching in Matthew is some of the most important in Scripture, and it speaks to us today and calls us to make decisions in our lives.

The parable noted above is both comforting and concerning, depending on where you find yourself in the story. Here is how I read it:

God has prepared a place in Heaven. He prepared the way to this place in Heaven from the time that man disobeyed Him in the Garden. He has always wanted His most precious creation to be reconciled to Him, made right, with Him.

The first to have be invited where the Jews, who God selected as His chosen people. He sent prophets and teachers to explain what need to be done to be acceptable to God, but the Jewish people got caught up in their own traditons and ways, and they rejected those sent and even killed some of them. So He extended the invitation to all of humanity; to anyone who would listen, and He provided them the clothing(the Way through Jesus) to be found acceptable in His eyes.

God has given us all a choice to make. The story of Jesus as Lord and Savior of mankind has been taught to humanity for two millenia. It is the Way that God has provided for all people to be reconciled and found accetable to God. Almost daily I emphasize this truth, because I feel that too often it is not taken seriously enough in our world. In our society and todays' world Chritianity has been relegated to being "just another religion", and thinking of our faith in that way has huge implications for how people will spend eternity.

Here in the South, many of us might even take being a Christian for granted, because we attend church and say the right things. But it has to be made very clear that we are not truly chosen by God until we fully believe that Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, came down from Heaven and gave himself as a sacrifice for our sins. If we will confess those sins and agree in our hearts that He is the only way that we can be forgiven, then and only then will we be forgiven in God's eyes.

As we look to Jesus' work on the cross, and you prepare yourself for this year's Easter celebration, be sure that you have made the right decision and clothed yourself in the righteousness that God, through Jesus Christ, has provided. At the same time, let us not be too casual with that decision, for ourselves or the loved ones around us. Let us not assume, but be sure, that those we love will be with us at the wedding dinner.