Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Good Book - April 30, 2014

Romans 1:16-17 (New International Reader's Version)
16 I am not ashamed of the good news(Gospel). It is God's power. And it will save everyone who believes. It is meant first for the Jews. It is meant also for those who aren't Jews.

17 The good news(Gospel) shows how God makes people right with himself. From beginning to end, becoming right with God depends on a person's faith. It is written, "Those who are right with God will live by faith."—(Habakkuk 2:4)

On cold, dreary outside, for some nothing beats curly up in a chair and reading a good book. A good book allows you to escape into a whole, other world. It allows the reader to get outside of themselves, and become the main character. Probably the best thing about a good book is when, although the there may have been difficulties, there is a happy ending. It makes reading the book all worth it, and it brings a certain satisfaction. For the time that the reader spends with the book, everything seems right with the world.

God has given us such a "good book". It is the Gospel, written in the first four books of the Bible. It is the story of God's gift to us and all of mankind. It is a book that we can place ourselves into as the main character, because what is being done is for us from beginning to end. It is a story about us, and with God, although there are difficulties, it offers us a happy ending. If we will accept the gift that is offered in Jesus Christ, all will be right with our world.

There is only one thing that is required of the reader, and it is that we need to have faith. We need to believe what is written in the book, because it is much more than mere words on pages. It is a living story that can bring the reader new life. It is about Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, stepping into our lives and through His sacrifice, offers us forgiveness for everything that has separated us from God. It offers us relief from our burdens, and comfort for our souls. It is about the Word of life, a good book, the Good News, that redeems us for eternity.

Photo "Woman Reading at Home" by arinas 74, 7-1-2009 from stock.xchng

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Cornerstone - April 29, 2014

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 also 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 religious 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 Christ 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 they believe that their is no God, no afterlife, no reason to have to worry about it. For everyone, Jesus Christ is the cornerstone that either becomes the foundation of your personal faith, sealing your eternity with Him, or becomes a stone that gets rejected and becomes the very thing that will trip them up when they have to face God someday.

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

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

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Pleasing Aroma - April 28, 2014

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 recall 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.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Good and Faithful Servant - April 27, 2014

Matthew 25:23(New International Version)
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Sometimes when I meditate on what I should be writing about, I will take a phrase that comes to mind and look up the definition of the words. The phrase of "good and faithful servant" as stated in the verse above is much spoken of, and it has made an impression on me that I should meditate on what that means.

The word "faithful" means:

1. strict or thorough in the performance of duty; a faithful worker
2. true to one's word, promises, vows, etc.
3. steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant: faithful friends
4. reliable, trusted, believed
5. adhering or true to fact, a standard, or an original; accurate: a faithful account; a faithful copy

The word "servant" means:

1. a person employed by another
2. a person in the service of another

In reading these, what comes to mind is the character and the actions necessary to serve God and others. It is the example given us by Jesus Christ, who was the living example of these definitions to those around Him. It is the attitude God has and means for us to have as we demonstrate God's love to one another.

We are to be thorough in our duty, true to our word and promises, steady in our allegiance to Christ, loyal and constant to the good news of salvation, reliable in our walk for Him, adhering to the truth of the gospel message, and a living example of our Lord to others. We are to be God's "employees" in service to Him.

What is a "faithful servant"? Yes, it is the men and woman that profess the message of salvation in Jesus Christ to the world, as do countless numbers of ministers of the gospel, Christian musicians, authors and others, but more importantly, it is the daily example of Christ of the individual that is devoted to sharing with others the love, mercy and grace of God.

It is the person that confesses their sins, and accepts the forgiveness of God, and His payment for those sins through Jesus Christ, and steps out in joy to tell others that their chains have been broken, and their burdens have been lifted, and that God's gift is available to them as well. It is you, who accept Jesus as Lord, and who will walk in faith to be His enduring servant to the world around you.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Saturday Praise! - April 26, 2014

Psalm 92(New International Version)
1 It is good to praise the Lord
and make music to your name, O Most High,
2 proclaiming your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,
3 to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
and the melody of the harp.
4 For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord;
I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
5 How great are your works, Lord,
how profound your thoughts!
6 Senseless people do not know,
fools do not understand,
7 that though the wicked spring up like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they will be destroyed forever.
8 But you, Lord, are forever exalted.

9 For surely your enemies , Lord,
surely your enemies will perish;
all evildoers will be scattered.
10 You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox;
fine oils have been poured on me.
11 My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries;
my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.
12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the Lord,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
15 proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him. ”

Friday, April 25, 2014

Baby Steps - April 25, 2014

Proverbs 20:24 (New Living Translation)
24 The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?

Psalm 37:23(New International Version)
23 If the LORD delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm;

Psalm 39:4 (New Living Translation)
4 “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is.

Psalm 90:12 (New International Reader's Version)
12 Teach us to realize how short our lives are. Then our hearts will become wise.

Jeremiah 10:23(New International Version)
23 I know, O LORD, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.

I talk to a lot of people, and especially in this economy, more and more people are frustrated with the whole system. You work harder and longer, and you make less and everything costs more. You hear more and more media types and think that the whole system is rigged against the little guy, or for that matter if you are a big guy the system is against you as well!

God has wonderful news for us, especially if you believe in Him and His word. You and I don't have to worry about any of this! He has it all under control. You see with God in control, why not just go along for the ride? Did you catch that first Proverb, where it says, "why try to understand everything along the way?" I really cling to verses in the Bible like the ones above. Our time on earth is so very short that we shouldn't be concerned and frustrated with the process of living.

What is the solution? Give it all back to Him. Let God take charge of your life and He will "direct your steps". How you ask? Start out with seeking Him in prayer. Get into His word and ask Him to guide you through it, showing you what is going on. Pray for His wisdom and His understanding. And, if you do not already know about His Son Jesus, who gave it all so that you could be forgiven and be with Him forever, ask to get to know Him.

Yes, this life isn't easy and often frustrating, and yes, we feel like a baby taking our first steps much of the time, but if you ask for God to guide you, it sure will be much easier and in the end you will know your destination.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

About "Goodness" - April 24, 2014

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 character, 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 a lot 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 23, 2014

Blessed - April 23, 2014

Psalm 32 (New International Reader's Version)
A maskil of David.

1 Blessed is the one whose lawless acts are forgiven. His sins have been taken away. 2 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord never counts against him. He doesn't want to cheat anyone. 3 When I kept silent about my sin, my body became weak because I groaned all day long. 4 Day and night your heavy hand punished me. I became weaker and weaker as I do in the heat of summer.

5 Then I admitted my sin to you. I didn't cover up the wrong I had done. I said, "I will admit my lawless acts to the Lord." And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

6 Let everyone who is godly pray to you while they can still look to you. When troubles come like a flood, they certainly won't reach those who are godly. 7 You are my hiding place. You will keep me safe from trouble. You will surround me with songs sung by those who praise you because you save your people.

8 I will guide you and teach you the way you should go. I will give you good advice and watch over you. 9 Don't be like the horse or the mule. They can't understand anything. They have to be controlled by bits and bridles. If they aren't, they won't come to you. 10 Sinful people have all kinds of trouble. But the Lord's faithful love is all around those who trust in him.

11 Be glad because of what the Lord has done for you. Be joyful, you who do what is right! Sing, all of you whose hearts are honest!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Why Should I Fear? - April 22, 2014

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!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Go and Make Disciples - April 21, 2014

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 20, 2014

He Is Risen!!! - April 20, 2014

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 foretelling 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 19, 2014

The Darkest Night - April 19, 2014

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 despair. 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 18, 2014

It Is Finished! - April 18, 2014

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 encapsulates 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 17, 2014

Betrayal! - April 17, 2014

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 16, 2014

Amazing Prophecy - April 16, 2014

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 foretold 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 crucifixion, 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 15, 2014

The End - April 15, 2014

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 judgment. 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 14, 2014

Our Invitation - April 14, 2014

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 traditions 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 millennia. It is the Way that God has provided for all people to be reconciled and found acceptable 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 Christianity 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.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Yaweh Saves! Palm Sunday - April 13, 2014

Matthew 21:1-11(New International Reader's Version)

1 As they all approached Jerusalem, they came to Bethphage. It was on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent out two disciples. 2 He said to them, "Go to the village ahead of you. As soon as you get there, you will find a donkey tied up. Her colt will be with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them. The owner will send them right away." 4 This took place so that what was spoken through the prophet would come true. It says,

5 "Say to the city of Zion,
'See, your king comes to you.
He is gentle and riding on a donkey.
He is riding on a donkey's colt.' " —(Zechariah 9:9)

6 The disciples went and did what Jesus told them to do. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt. They placed their coats on them. Then Jesus sat on the coats. 8 A very large crowd spread their coats on the road. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Some of the people went ahead of him, and some followed. They all shouted,

"Hosanna to the Son of David!"
"Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!" —(Psalm 118:26)
"Hosanna in the highest heaven!"

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up. The people asked, "Who is this?"

11 The crowds answered, "This is Jesus. He is the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee."

Hosanna! Save, Now! Hosanna in the highest! These are the words that were shouted as Jesus(meaning Yaweh saves, Yaweh is salvation, God saves, God delivers) was entering Jerusalem on his way to the week that would end with his crucifixion on a wooden Roman cross. We celebrate it today as Palm Sunday, when the Jewish people celebrated the arrival who they believed to be their Messiah, the King who would save them from their oppression.

Our King has come to save us from the oppression of sin in our lives, and it is up to us to worship and rejoice His coming deliverance, or to ignore Him as just another prophet, another man written of in the history books.
We need to ask ourselves who we will look to as this Holy Week progresses. Will we welcome Him in our lives, and rejoice? Will we join countless Christians in saying, Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest! God saves!

Image from the Assisi Frescoes: Entry into Jerusalem, by Pietro Lorenzetti, about 1320, Fresco Assisi, Lower Basilica, San Francesco, southern transept,Italy

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Redefining Wickedness - April 12, 2014

Psalm 10 (New Living Translation)
1 O Lord, why do you stand so far away?
Why do you hide when I am in trouble?

2 The wicked arrogantly hunt down the poor.
Let them be caught in the evil they plan for others.
3 For they brag about their evil desires;
they praise the greedy and curse the Lord.

4 The wicked are too proud to seek God.
They seem to think that God is dead.
5 Yet they succeed in everything they do.
They do not see your punishment awaiting them.
They sneer at all their enemies.
6 They think, “Nothing bad will ever happen to us!
We will be free of trouble forever!”

7 Their mouths are full of cursing, lies, and threats.
Trouble and evil are on the tips of their tongues.
8 They lurk in ambush in the villages,
waiting to murder innocent people.
They are always searching for helpless victims.

9 Like lions crouched in hiding,
they wait to pounce on the helpless.
Like hunters they capture the helpless
and drag them away in nets.

10 Their helpless victims are crushed;
they fall beneath the strength of the wicked.
11 The wicked think, “God isn’t watching us!
He has closed his eyes and won’t even see what we do!”

12 Arise, O Lord!
Punish the wicked, O God!
Do not ignore the helpless!

13 Why do the wicked get away with despising God?
They think, “God will never call us to account.”
14 But you see the trouble and grief they cause.
You take note of it and punish them.
The helpless put their trust in you.
You defend the orphans.

15 Break the arms of these wicked, evil people!
Go after them until the last one is destroyed.
16 The Lord is king forever and ever!
The godless nations will vanish from the land.

17 Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless.
Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them.
18 You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed,
so mere people can no longer terrify them.

If you ever need to describe the wicked, the psalm above does a good job of it. The wicked are always in opposition to the good. Even so, wickedness is still attractive to the world. All you need to do is look onto the landscape we call the world today.

Do you realize how many things that once were considered wicked are now accepted as normal and good? If you oppose such things that once were seen as wicked, you now become the one who is considered wicked yourself. The world is upside down; it has redefined what is wicked, but that is to be expected in a world ruled by Satan. What seems as a recent event for us is one that has been repeated generation after generation.

God will eventually bring about justice because this ultimately is His world. He is patient in bringing about justice, only because He loves each and everyone of us, and He is waiting for all who are to come to Him to do so. Our responsibility is to make sure that we end up on His side, and that we bring as many people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as we can.

Illustration: Gustave Doré - Dante Alighieri - Inferno - Plate 10 (Canto III - Charon herds the sinners onto his boat); 1857

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Worthy Example - April 11, 2014

Philippians 3:17-21 (New Century Version)
17 Brothers and sisters, all of you should try to follow my example and to copy those who live the way we showed you.

18 Many people live like enemies of the cross of Christ. I have often told you about them, and it makes me cry to tell you about them now.19 In the end, they will be destroyed. They do whatever their bodies want, they are proud of their shameful acts, and they think only about earthly things.

20 But our homeland is in heaven, and we are waiting for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, to come from heaven. 21 By his power to rule all things, he will change our humble bodies and make them like his own glorious body.

It is hard to find anyone whose life we can hold up as a good character example these days. Just ask any parent whose child follows sport heroes, or someone that follows golf. There was a time that we could hold up our politicians as that "selfless" individual that stepped up to serve their nation, as was portrayed by Jimmy Stewart in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington". Remember how we held up our President as someone that our children could aspire to imitate, like George Washington or Abraham Lincoln? Forget any television personality; we don't even want to go there. Where are we to go to find someone who is a worthy example for our children or us to imitate?

Paul the apostle wrote extensively on the character of Christ, and he often discussed how he struggled to be a worthy imitation of Jesus. The problem is that often we are trapped in trying to be accepted by the world, in order to be seen as one acceptable by the crowd. This is especially difficult for our young people who have to fight this battle daily in school. It is also tough on college students, who when they are away from Christian home and family often fall into the temptations of the world. For anyone that calls on the name of Jesus Christ, getting caught up in following after the world, can become a burden that is too difficult to carry.

The good news is that the only true character example for us to imitate is Jesus Christ. He is really the only example available that we can follow and please God. In our culture we see examples of believers following Christ, imitating him and reaching out into the world around them. They are oftentimes humble people serving in our communities, churches and schools. They are the devoted servicemen and women who risk it all to follow a higher calling for their Nation. They are the lowly missionaries who step into the world to help the poor in spirit and sustenance. They are the leaders in every aspect of life that boldly profess their faith in Jesus to the culture and imitate him in everything they do.

In every corner of our world, those who imitate the character of Christ are loving and serving their fellowman in order to show a better way to live. They are our heroes and examples of godly character that we and our children can be encouraged to follow.

Photo from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington - Directed by Frank Capra; Starring Jimmy Stewart

Thursday, April 10, 2014

All of Creation Praises Him - April 10, 2014

Psalm 148:7 (New International Version)
7 Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,...

The largest creature on the planet is the sperm whale. A full grown male whale can be up to 67 feet long, and it can dive up over 9,800 feet into depths of the ocean; that's almost 2 miles down. During the 18th century it was hunted for it's oil and blubber, and it became the source on many tales from the seafarers that hunted it. You might recall the tale from Herman Melville about Captain Ahab who had an obsession about killing a great white whale that took his leg. Published in 1851, Moby Dick went on to become a great American Novel.

Although this tale popularized this great animal, well before that the whale was a topic spoken of several times in the Bible. We read of it here in the Psalms 104:25-26:

25 There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number—
living things both large and small.
26 There the ships go to and fro,
and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

Such a magnificent creature can only bring praises to its Creator, for in all of creation's many wonders only the sperm whale can boast of being the largest in all the earth. When you wonder at the immensity of His creation, God has truly done a marvelous thing. Yet even the greatest and largest of God's creatures, does not have the opportunity to experience His love as we do. Only man in all creation can receive God's gift of love, our redemption through Jesus Christ.

With such a great love as this, shouldn't we give Him all of our praises?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Prospering Generously - April 9, 2014

Proverbs 11:24-26 (New Living Translation)
24 Give freely and become more wealthy;
be stingy and lose everything.

25 The generous will prosper;
those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

26 People curse those who hoard their grain,
but they bless the one who sells in time of need.

Proverbs 11:24-25 (New Century Version)
24 Some people give much but get back even more.
Others don't give what they should and end up poor.

25 Whoever gives to others will get richer;
those who help others will themselves be helped.

Proverbs 22:9 (New International Version)
9 A generous man will himself be blessed,
for he shares his food with the poor.

2 Corinthians 9:6-11 (New International Reader's Version)
6 Here is something to remember. The one who plants only a little will gather only a little. And the one who plants a lot will gather a lot. 7 You should each give what you have decided in your heart to give. You shouldn't give if you don't want to. You shouldn't give because you are forced to. God loves a cheerful giver.

8 And God is able to shower all kinds of blessings on you. In all things and at all times you will have everything you need. You will do more and more good works. 9 It is written,

"They have spread their gifts around to poor people.
Their good works continue forever." —(Psalm 112:9)

10 God supplies seed to the planter. He supplies bread for food. God will also supply and increase the amount of your seed. He will increase the results of your good works. 11 You will be made rich in every way. Then you can always give freely. We will take your many gifts to the people who need them. And they will give thanks to God.

Do you consider yourself to be a generous person? God has created a wonderful circle of generosity: He gives to us, so that we can give to others, and in turn He continues to bless us, so that we can further bless others...and on it goes.

We serve a very generous God, and He constantly gives to us freely. Our lives, relationships, work, income, joy, music, everything we have has been generously given to us by Him. He has even given His only Son,bJesus Christ, to save us from our sins, and give us the opportunity to be eternally with Him. And Jesus, gives us the Holy Spirit who takes up residence in our hearts, and instructs us how we are to be generous to others around us.

The wonderful thing about having a generous heart is this principle, the more generous we are with what God has given us, the more generously He blesses us to be a blessing to the world around us. But we need to be sure that we adhere to the key to this principle of generosity, which is our attitude in giving. We are never to give just to receive, but we must be directed in love to freely give as generously as we can in thanks and gratitude to God.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Praying in the Kingdom - April 8, 2014

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 "Millennial 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 barbarity that mankind inflicts on one another, and the horrific crimes that are committed 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.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Knowing Completely - April 7, 2014

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 maintain 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.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Joy of Confession - April 6, 2014

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 disintegration 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 5, 2014

Cold Hearts - April 5, 2014

Matthew 24:10-12 (New Living Translation)
10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. 11 And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. 12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.

Romans 1:20-21,29-32(New International Reader's Version)
20 Ever since the world was created it has been possible to see the qualities of God that are not seen. I'm talking about his eternal power and about the fact that he is God. Those things can be seen in what he has made. So people have no excuse for what they do.

21 They knew God. But they didn't honor him as God. They didn't thank him. Their thinking became worthless. Their foolish hearts became dark.
29 They are full of every kind of sin, evil and ungodliness. They want more than they need. They commit murder. They want what belongs to other people. They fight and cheat. They hate others. They say mean things about other people. 30 They tell lies about them. They hate God. They are rude and proud. They brag. They think of new ways to do evil. They don't obey their parents. 31 They are foolish. They can't be trusted. They are not loving and kind.

32 They know that God's commands are right. They know that those who do evil things should die. But they continue to do those very things. They also approve of others who do them.

Each and every day we read headlines and hear of stories of how cold-hearted the society has grown around us. Young women are no longer safe, young men care less about their responsibilities, what was once inappropriate is now mainstream, and what was once wholesome is now a joke. We read of tolerance for things that devalue human life and morals, and anything pertaining to Christianity and faith is now deemed harmful and archaic.

It is amazing that the Bible is always so very clear about what is going on. Those of you reading this, that grew up when I did know that we weren't exactly angels, but we knew what was right and wrong, and we knew about being respectful to adults and each other, and being gentlemen and young ladies, and about consequences. We knew how to protect those weaker than us, and helping those less fortunate, and serving one another.

Why has this happened? What's going on? Is it because progressives in our society think they have a better way than the old-fashioned biblical values of the many generations before and since our founding? Is it because our nation has decided that God has no place in public education and that modern scholars know how to teach about morals better? Is it because education about human relationships was been taken out of the hands of mothers and fathers, and been given to teachers and health clinics?

Is it because our children have now learned that right and wrong is relative, and what's wrong for you may not necessarily be wrong for the other guy? Is it because mothers and fathers now only have to look after their own personal interests, because now they only have to be accountable to themselves? Is it because it is now "my body" and "my rights" and having it "my way"? Is it because all that is important is money, and prestige, and position, and possessions, and politics, and power?

Is it because when you talk about God, "you can't be serious,...what God"? Or, "Jesus? Who's He?" Is it because, "Church? You got to be kidding me! Why should I go to Church?" Is it because, "We have football, or soccer, or swimming, or ice skating, or basketball, or"? And "There is no such thing as heaven, or a hell, or judgment"? Or, "You worship your way and I will worship my way!"

What is my answer to all this? The answer can be found in Psalm 37:39-40:39 The Lord saves those who do what is right. He is their place of safety when trouble comes. 40 The Lord helps them and saves them. He saves them from sinful people because they go to him for safety.

Friday, April 4, 2014

What Faith Is - April 4, 2014

Hebrews 11:1-3;6(New International Reader's Version)
1 Faith is being sure of what we hope for. It is being certain of what we do not see. 2 That is what the people of long ago were praised for.

3 We have faith. So we understand that everything was made when God commanded it. That's why we believe that what we see was not made out of what could be seen.
6 Without faith it isn't possible to please God. Those who come to God must believe that he exists. And they must believe that he rewards those who look to him.

What do you place your faith in? What is that one thing that motivates your life and gets you up in the morning? What moves you to do what you do and be what you should be? What is it that you believe so strongly in, that you would be willing to give up your life for it?

Thinking of faith in these terms and answering these questions about your personal faith is probably the most important thing that you need to do for yourself. If you do not answer the faith questions for yourself now, you will probably face a time in your life when these questions will have to be answered.

In the 11th Chapter of Hebrews, we read about what godly believers did by faith. We read how their faith so strongly motivated them, that they were willing to move, to give up every possession, to sacrifice those closest them, to give their very lives, for the sake of what they believed in, the promises that God had given them. If you haven't done so, take out a Bible and read this chapter of Hebrews, about those who acted by faith and were commended by God for doing so.

There is a time coming when you will be faced with the faith questions. There will be a time when you will have to stand by faith for what you believe in. You will have to reach deep into your very soul and find what or Who you have faith in. When that time comes, will you be ready to do so?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Plea for Help - April 3. 2014

Psalm 77(New International Version)
1 I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted.

3 I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
4 You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
5 I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
6 I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart meditated and my spirit asked:

7 “Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

13 Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.

16 The waters saw you, God,
the waters saw you and writhed;
the very depths were convulsed.
17 The clouds poured down water,
the heavens resounded with thunder;
your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
your lightning lit up the world;
the earth trembled and quaked.
19 Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.

20 You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

When it seems that you have no place else to turn, cry out to God for help. Remember what He has done for you in the past. Remember His gift of Jesus Christ for you. His greatness can be seen in His caring for you, and every person is important to Him. Remember that He knows you, He loves you, and He wants to help you. Make your plea to the One who made you, and He will show you His mighty deeds.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Life is Short - April 2, 2014

Psalm 39:4-5 (New International Reader's Version)
4 I said, "Lord, show me when my life will end.
Show me how many days I have left.
Tell me how short my life will be.

5 You have given me only a few days to live.
My whole life doesn't seem like anything to you.
No man's life lasts any longer than a breath.

Hebrews 9:27 (New International Reader's Version)
27 People have to die once. After that, God will judge them.

James 4:14 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
14You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. What is life? You are a mist that is seen for a moment and then disappears.

Do you ever stop and think about your future? Are you consumed about trying to live as long as you can? Our whole society is built around the young and staying young. How many commercials have you seen lately that have older people in them, except for the ones selling "little blue pills"?

It has almost become an obsession with our society these days. We try to diet and exercise, workout and lift weights; we have our bodies pulled and tucked and prodded, all for the sake of holding on to a few more years of youth. Is trying to hold on to youth and look young the issue, or are we afraid of what awaits us 100 years from now?

I have always thought that it is a good approach to discuss the Gospel by asking someone where they will be 100 years from now. It causes people to stop and think about where they might end up when they die. Bottom line is that God has limited our lifespan, and everyday we live is one day closer to when we will die. Not that I want to be morbid here, but it is something we really need to think about.

The Bible speaks much about how brief our lives are. Not only has God limited our lives as it is written in Genesis 6(What happened to all those guys like Methuselah and Noah, that lived for hundreds of years? How did we miss out?), but He compares our lives to the flowers and grass, that are here today and fade away tomorrow, and he likens our lives to a mist, a breath, or a vapor. I think what He is trying to tell us is that "life is short"! Our focus needs to be on the answer to the question of where we will be in 100 years from now. Our prayer to Him should be this:

12Teach us to number each of our days so that we may grow in wisdom. Psalm 90:12 (GOD’S WORD Translation)