Sunday, March 31, 2013

Jesus Christ: He Has Risen! - March 31, 2013

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, March 30, 2013

Jesus Christ: He Goes Before Us - March 30, 2013

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, March 29, 2013

Jesus Christ: Sacrificed For Us - March 29, 2013

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, March 28, 2013

Jesus Christ: The Passover Lamb - March 28, 2013

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, March 27, 2013

Jesus Christ: Image of the Invisible God - March 27, 2013

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

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Jesus Christ: Foundation Stone or Stumbling Stone? - March 26, 2013

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, March 25, 2013

Jesus Christ: Cleansing the Temple - March 25, 2013

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, March 24, 2013

Jesus Christ: Redeemer and King - March 24, 2013

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 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 lowest of creatures. For what? Why would the king, prophesied in the Scriptures hundreds of years earlier, 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 into this holy and most important week in history, refect on what Jesus had to go through this coming 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, March 23, 2013

Prepare the Way - March 23, 2013

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!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Is Also For Praises! - March 22, 2013

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, March 21, 2013

He Rescued Me - March 21, 2013

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

He Makes the Way - March 20, 2013

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

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Easily Fallen - March 19, 2013

Genesis 3:8-13 (New King James Version)
8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

9 Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”

12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”

13 And the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

It was so easy, knowingly doing wrong. I don't think I really felt anything when I would; it seemed so harmless. Better yet, I knew no one would ever find me out most of the time. I justified the things I did in my mind and believed that as long as I wasn't hurting someone else, it was okay. I started our small, and everyone who participated with me only made it more and more desirable.

Although I had learned about God, and knew the Bible stories, God was a long way off. I did enjoy hearing about Jesus, but he was a baby in a manger, a guy with his disciples, someone they hung on a cross and who rose again at Eastertime. I went through Confirmation, and actually went through the motions, but they were very easily forgotten. Truth was, I didn't really understand what it was all about.

So it went on and on, and the little things became bigger things. The bigger things slowly caused me to slip into a life of sin, a life of compromise and experimentation. Whatever spark of goodness, was guickly put out by the desire to do the wrong. And the wrong? It quickly seared itself into me until I no longer thought I was doing wrong. How easy it was to fall so deeply and so quickly; how easy it was to betray those early commitments I had made.

It was the same thing with the man and woman that God had made. It was easy for them to so quickly betray the God who had created them; so easy to go a different way, but the little thing they did, would doom us all. And true to our nature and character, the man and woman blamed someone else when they were confronted with their sin. How easy it was to fall; how easy it was to betray the love that had been given them by God.

Photo "Glow" by lumbix2004, 11-30-2005, from stock.xchng

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Good Beginning - March 18, 2013

Genesis 1:1; Genesis 1:26-31 (New King James Version)
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so.

31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

If you are anything like I am, you have spent alot of time in your life trying to figure out this whole "God thing". I really didn't give it much of a thought when I was a kid, but when I became a little older and able to understand about right and wrong, I gave it much more thought.

I often wondered what would happen if I did wrong, and I had the false notion that He was up there waiting to pound me over the head if I got out of line. Then as I got older and really did some bad things, I became fearful that I would be taken out before I had the chance to redeem myself.

From the beginning God has us in mind. He created the world around us that would be suitable for us to live in, and then He created us in His very Image! If you read carefully, God was not a lonely being, because in the God head there was a plurality of persons; more than one personality in the One God. Our God created it all for us, and gave us the responsibilty to rule over the Creation and care for it.

In the beginning, all that He made was good, including us.

Photo "Morning Light" by getwired, 2-13-11, from stock.xchng

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Blessings of Obedience - March 17, 2013

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

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Saturday Praise! - March 16, 2013

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, March 15, 2013

He Is My Rock - March 15, 2013

Deuteronomy 32:4(New International Version)
4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
upright and just is he.

2 Samuel 22:47(New International Version)
47 “The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be my God, the Rock, my Savior!

Psalm 18:2(New Living Translation)
2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.

Psalm 62:2(New International Version)
2 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

One of the best loved hymns of all time is Rock of Ages. "Traditionally, it is held that Rev. Toplady drew his inspiration from an incident in the gorge of Burrington Combe in the Mendip Hills in England. Toplady, a preacher in the nearby village of Blagdon, was travelling along the gorge when he was caught in a storm. Finding shelter in a gap in the gorge, he was struck by the title and scribbled down the initial lyrics on a playing card."*

When I was young I remember many funerals where I heard this hymn played, and I am sure many of you have that same memory. The hymn provided comfort to those who were grieving that their loved one would be received by their Savior and sheltered from the sting of death. It also gave hope to those who attended that they too would have that same protection from the fear of their own death, because of the atoning work of Jesus Christ crucified of Calvary's rock. In the words, we are reminded that we come to the cross empty-handed, and because of Christ's work alone, can we be saved.

God truly is a sheltering rock, under which we can receive protection from the storms of life that come upon us. We can do nothing to secure that protection, and in Christ Jesus we too can claim these words as our own:

"While I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eyes shall close in death,
When I rise to worlds unknown,
And behold Thee on Thy throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee."**

Photo "Rock of Ages" by Phil Thomson, order print from
*Details from Wikepedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Rock of Ages (Christian Hymn)
**Rock of Ages by Augustus M. Toplady

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Smelling Good - March 14, 2013

2 Corinthians 2:14-16(New International Version)
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.

15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?

There are few things sweeter in life than things that smell good. Whether its a pie in the oven, fresh baked bread, the fresh smell of a summer rain, or the fragrant perfume of the one we love, nothing imprints itself on our minds better than things that smell so good! I bet for all of you, whenever you smell something that is pleasing, it usually recalls a time in your past. God has truly given us a wonderful gift of the sense of smell.

Paul likens us who have accepted the good news of Jesus Christ as a pleasing aroma to others we come in contact with. Once we share what Jesus has done in our lives, it becomes a sweet scent to God as well as those we hope to win over to Christ. The work of the Holy Spirit through our lives leaves pleasant memories that help people recal the wonderful work of God.

But this is not the same for all, to those who are evil in God's eyes, the aroma that we carry with us is an irritant, which can only become pleasing once they surrender to the gift of redemption through Jesus.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Don't Grow Weary - March 13, 2013

Galatians 6:9(New King James Version)
9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Galatians 6:9(New Century Version)
9 We must not become tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time if we do not give up.

There are times in this life when we feel like quitting; times when the burdens and difficulties become so large that we don't think we have it in us anymore to survive. We think that as Christians that somehow this would all be easier, that we would be insulated from the "bad" things. But we were never promised that life would be nothing but "smooth sailing", and Jesus warned us that by following Him, we would even have more trouble. Many in this world face constant persecution and some even death because of their love and service for Jesus.

Everyone goes through times of trouble, and if you aren't going through it now, you will very soon in the future. The great thing about following Jesus Christ is that in the trouble, He promises to be with us. God's plan is not that we won't have trouble, but that we will be refined and stronger for it, and that in facing our difficulties, we will be better prepared when future difficulties come. And if our trouble is because of service to Him, then He will have a place for us in eternity.

Whatever you are going through right now, don't give up. God has a plan for your life, and He will help you as you go through it.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Beginning of Wisdom - March 12, 2013

Proverbs 1:7(New American Standard Bible)
7The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 9:10(Amplified Bible)
10The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning (the chief and choice part) of Wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight and understanding.

Job 28:28(New International Version)
28 And he said to the human race, “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.”

Revelation 14:7(New International Version)
7 He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

There are many out there in the world that refuse to "bow the knee" to Jesus Christ. They pursue the lusts of the world and arrogantly snub anything having to do with Christianity. They have disdain for anyone that has a relationship with Jesus, and they would rather ridicule others than to admit their own sinfulness.

This is especially true for young adults that have gone through the brainwashing of today's colleges and are now establishing themselves in their careers and lives. They may have even had introductions to church and "religion", thinking that is what Christianity was all about. These days they would rather have nothing to do with it. They are having too much fun partying and living the "good life", and they have no need for God.

There will come a time in everyone's life when they will have to face up to their sinfulness, because in a 100 years from now, everyone reading this will probably be dead. Believe it or not, we don't end up as nothing but dirt once we die, as the world would hope we would believe. We are eternal creatures and one day everyone will stand before God to be judged for what they have done in this life.

If you believe that your judged by your good outweighing your bad, just exactly when have you done enough to tip the scale in your favor? If you believe that your better than rapists and murderers and that God will take that into account, how do you know He will? Some believe that being an ostrich and sticking their heads in the sand will make it all go away are in for a real surprise. And others that may feel that by being "religious and spiritual" will gain God's favor have to know when they have done enough.

All of these things may seem right, but in the end they lead to destruction. We can never do enough to gain God's favor and forgiveness, because just a single act of disobedience condemns us forever. Only by accepting His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ can we ever be redeemed. Doesn't sound politically correct, but it is the truth. The sooner the foolish in this world figure that out, the better off they will be.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Worthy Salt - March 11, 2013

Matthew 5:13(New International Version)
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

For many centuries salt has been one of the most important commodities in the world. It has been used for preserving foods, for currency, for balancing the blood, for adding taste to foods, and many other things. Our world and our bodies could not function without salt. In fact four-fifths of the world is covered in oceans that are full of salt; it adds to our lives in countless ways.

Jesus used this very important compound to speak of how followers of God need to be engaged in the world around them, while being different from the world. As Christians, this is the directive we need to follow, engaging others by living Christ-like lives, and making a difference in the world around them.

If we fail to be any different from those in the world, then we can no longer represent the difference that Jesus brings into people's lives. We will lose our ability to help bring effective change in people's lives that only belief in Jesus will. He is the Savior of the world, and a person's acceptance of His work on the cross, as payment for personal sins, changes lives.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, don't lose your effectiveness by becoming a part of the world and diluting your witness. Instead, stand upon the Rock who is mighty to save, and be living examples of Christ.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

He Has a Plan - March 10, 2013

Proverbs 19:20-21(New Century Version)
20 Listen to advice and accept correction,
and in the end you will be wise.
21 People can make all kinds of plans,
but only the Lord's plan will happen.

If for a moment you think that you are in control of your life, you are wrong. Yes, you do have a choice and a will to decide what you will do, but ultimately God has a plan and He will make sure that it happens as it should.

Sometimes this is hard to understand, especially when we face hardship or the death of someone we love, but often in His word God tells us that He will make things happen. We might as well focus on trying to do as we should, because the God will make sure we return to the plan He has for us. That is why many of us sometimes experience difficulty; if we are out of His will, He creates the way back into it.

Bottom line is this: listen to those God places in your life, and then commit your own plans to Him. Make sure that you seek Him and pray that what you plan to do is whay He desires. You will be better off for doing it His way.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Who Is He? - March 9, 2013

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, March 8, 2013

Can't Get No Satisfaction? - March 8, 2013

Psalm 49(New Living Translation)
1 Listen to this, all you people!
Pay attention, everyone in the world!
2 High and low,
rich and poor—listen!
3 For my words are wise,
and my thoughts are filled with insight.
4 I listen carefully to many proverbs
and solve riddles with inspiration from a harp.
5 Why should I fear when trouble comes,
when enemies surround me?
6 They trust in their wealth
and boast of great riches.
7 Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death
by paying a ransom to God.
8 Redemption does not come so easily,
for no one can ever pay enough
9 to live forever
and never see the grave.

10 Those who are wise must finally die,
just like the foolish and senseless,
leaving all their wealth behind.
11 The grave is their eternal home,
where they will stay forever.
They may name their estates after themselves,
12 but their fame will not last.
They will die, just like animals.
13 This is the fate of fools,
though they are remembered as being wise.


14 Like sheep, they are led to the grave,
where death will be their shepherd.
In the morning the godly will rule over them.
Their bodies will rot in the grave,
far from their grand estates.
15 But as for me, God will redeem my life.
He will snatch me from the power of the grave.


16 So don’t be dismayed when the wicked grow rich
and their homes become ever more splendid.
17 For when they die, they take nothing with them.
Their wealth will not follow them into the grave.
18 In this life they consider themselves fortunate
and are applauded for their success.
19 But they will die like all before them
and never again see the light of day.
20 People who boast of their wealth don’t understand;
they will die, just like animals.

Do you long after the riches of this world? Are your pursuits after those things that money buys? Is your first aim in life to do all you can to obtain wealth? Do you believe that in doing those things you will have satisfaction? Has God been relegated to a small corner of your life as you pursue after these things? Do we hunger more for power, wealth and riches than for the love and satisfaction found only in God?

Many times in God's word we are warned against worldy pursuits. We are told that by doing so we can never find satisfaction and happiness. Any of us who have spent a little time on this planet knows that this is true. No matter how much we seek after the world and its riches, there is never enough and we can never be satisfied. In God's econnomy, worldly wealth is fleeting and soon fades away, but He gives us supernatural wealth in Jesus that can sustain and satisfy us for eternity.

Only by seeking God first and foremost in our lives can we ever be truly satisfied, and He tells us as long as we put Him first, He will take care of everything else we need. Only in Him can we be rescued from the world and given satisfaction that lasts.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

White as Wool - March 7, 2013

Isaiah 1:18-20(New International Version)
18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the LORD.

“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.

19 If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the good things of the land;
20 but if you resist and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword.”

For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Revelation 7:13-14(New King James Version)
13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?”

14 And I said to him, “Sir, you know.”
So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

I think all of us can identify with the meaning of these verses. All of us have felt the guilt and shame of our wrongdoing, and at times it even makes us feel dirty. How many of us had difficulty commiting to follow Jesus Christ, because we felt unworthy? How many of us were so weighed down by the dirt of our sin, that we longed to be cleaned? It is said that we have been stained with our corruption; what does it take for us to be cleaned up?

The good news is that God has provided us the way; through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross, the sin that has turned us scarlet can be washed away to where we are "white as snow". Though we are stained crimson with because of our sin and disobedience, we can be made "white as wool". Only through the purifying blood of Jesus can we truly be clean. Only through Jesus can we br free of the burden and weight of our sins, past, present and future.

Only with Jesus can we be washed white, holy and pure in God's sight. If you have not accepted the cleansing that God offers, won't you do that today? God wants you to "eat of the good things of the land". He wants you to share in the inheritance that He has waiting for eternity.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Myth of a Self-Made Man - March 6, 2013

Psalm 127:1-2(GOD’S WORD Translation)
1If the Lord does not build the house,
it is useless for the builders to work on it.

If the Lord does not protect a city,
it is useless for the guard to stay alert.

2It is useless to work hard for the food you eat
by getting up early and going to bed late.

The Lord gives food to those he loves while they sleep.

What does it mean to be a self-made man, or woman for that matter? Just how can anyone claim that what they have accomplished has been entirely on their own efforts? Truth is that no one "makes it to the top" without help. If it is not from God, it is because of others around the person that allowed them to be successful. No one can accomplish anything alone unless they live in a vacuum. All the statement means is that the one saying it is arrogant, full of pride, and headed for a fall. There will be a time in their lives when they will be "taken down to size".

The wisdom of this psalm from the Bible tells it like it truly is. Anything built apart from the support and blessing of God ends up as sheer folly. As the Creator of the universe, He has set everything in motion, and as we know though a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, He is intimately interested in what we do. If you want to succeed in life, what better place to start than entrusting the effort to God? He is truly the One you want in your corner to guide you.

Starting a new job or business? Beginning a new project or just moving to another phase in your life, why not assure your success? Start our with turning it over to God, and letting Him help you through the "heavy lifting". Only when it is committed to Him will your plans succeed.

Photo "Heavy Lifting" from Travelpod, Day 3: Ghermu to Tal-640m/2112 ft Ascent (4/24/10)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

An Urgent Message! - March 5, 2013

2 Timothy 4:2-8(GOD’S WORD Translation)
2Be ready to spread the word whether or not the time is right. Point out errors, warn people, and encourage them. Be very patient when you teach.

3A time will come when people will not listen to accurate teachings. Instead, they will follow their own desires and surround themselves with teachers who tell them what they want to hear. 4People will refuse to listen to the truth and turn to myths.

5But you must keep a clear head in everything. Endure suffering. Do the work of a missionary. Devote yourself completely to your work.

6My life is coming to an end, and it is now time for me to be poured out as a sacrifice to God.

7I have fought the good fight. I have completed the race. I have kept the faith. 8The prize that shows I have God’s approval is now waiting for me. The Lord, who is a fair judge, will give me that prize on that day. He will give it not only to me but also to everyone who is eagerly waiting for him to come again.

There are so many things that we are so urgent about. If we have children and grandchildren, we are urgent about them studying hard and getting into the right schools. We want them on the best teams and involved in the right activities, all to give them the best possible opportunity when they get older. As husbands, we are urgent about working hard to provide for our families and save for retirement, and as moms nothing is good enough for out kids and the well-being of the family. These are things that we are urgent about, that "call for our immediate attention", and we have to make sure that we do not fall behind when it comes to any of these things.

It has long been on my heart that there is a far more urgent business between us and those we love. We need to be urgent about how each and everyone we know will spend eternity. The salvation of those around us doesn't get much attention, yet it is a life or death issue that needs to get our immediate attention. You do not know when the next day will be the last for ourselves or one of those we care about, yet the well-being of our loved ones has to be our primary focus.

The Apostle Paul had such urgency in his message to Timothy. As he was preparing for his soon coming death at the hand of the Roman Emperor Nero, he had a message that needed to be conveyed to the ones he loved. If we are Christians, he wanted us to "be ready to spread the word whether or not the time is right" to "point out errors, warn people, and encourage them". He wanted us to be urgent about talking to our family members about Jesus Christ, conveying to each and everyone the importance of being right with God. He wanted us to be sure that we all have an answer to the question of what we believe about Jesus.

Paul knew that is time was short and he was urgent about his message; we too need to know that our lives are short, and in knowing that, we need to be sure that the urgent matter of eternity is taken care of for ourselves and others.

Monday, March 4, 2013

In God's Time - March 4, 2013

Psalm 27:14(New King James Version)
14 Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!

Galatians 4:4-5(New Living Translation)
4 But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. 5 God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.

We are a very busy society, used to things happening at a fast pace. Every aspect of life around us is busy, and because of this we have become increasingly in patient with everything. Nothing can happen soon enough, and we want everything done yesterday. Because of this tendency that has ingrained itself in our lives, we have to have a solution to our problems and difficulties instantly. We can't wait for things to work themselves out; we want it fixed now!

One of the biggest lessons we need to learn from our Christian lives is "how to wait". When Adam and Eve fell, we would have expected that God would turn right around and resolve the issue. Unfortunately, if that would have happened, we might not be here today. He worked through generations and accomplished our salvation at just the right time; His time. God's timetable is not our timetable, and He will accomplish things in the time and manner that He sees fit.

I know that it is easy to be impatient during times of trouble, wanting God to take it away, but what we need to be asking is for God to teach us during this time. We need to learn to wait on the Lord, understanding that in His time He will set things right. In doing so, we will learn that our present circumstances are just temporary and that when we trust in God, He will work every situation out for our good.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday Praise! - March 3, 2013

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. Have a blessed Sunday!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

David's Prayers - March 2, 2013

Psalm 20(New International Version)
For the director of music. A psalm of David.

1 May the LORD answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

2 May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.

3 May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.

4 May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.

5 May we shout for joy over your victory
and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the LORD grant all your requests.

6 Now this I know:

The LORD gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.

7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
8 They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.

9 LORD, give victory to the king!
Answer us when we call!

He was a "man after God's own heart"; he made the main focus of his life to be fully devoted to God. Not that he was always obedient, and not that he never suffered from human failures, but in all things he was totally devoted to God. That is why there are many Psalms from David. He spent his time seeking and crying out to God, and when he was rescued by God, he would give him praise.

I call this psalm "David's Prayer", because each of the first five verses are prayers lifted up to God. These are prayers as simple and substantive today as they were over 3000 years ago when they were written. They are prayers that we can pray for ourselves or for others.

After these prayers, David tells us what he knows about God; he simply states why he has trust in God, and he compares it to those who don't do the same. He tells us that God does good things for His people, and because of this we can ask Him to hear our prayers.