Thursday, April 30, 2015

Divine Assignments - April 30, 2015

 
Hebrews 13:15-16(New International Version)
15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.


What is our greatest reason for being here? Why has God placed us on this planet, in this country, at this time? What is the meaning of our lives? Is it the pursuit of riches or fame? Is it to live out our days and enjoy life as much as possible? What is our true mission in life?

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God has made that all possible, and His instruction for us is to tell as many people as we can about Him. From the moment of our birth, God's ultimate goal for our lives was to be a living, breathing, telling witness to the love of Jesus. It is a Divine Assignment that everyone who calls themselves a Christian is to undertake.

It brings God pleasure when He sees us living out our assignment, forsaking everything else in life to give it all up for Him. It pleases Him when we boldly take on our assignment and tell everyone we know about the love and sacrifice of Jesus. So, as long as we have breath we need to be about praising God and telling about our lives with Jesus. Anything less than that is a waste of what God has equipped and appointed us to do.

Photo from The Family International, Photo Gallery: Relief-Disaster


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Walking Blamelessly - April 29, 2015

Psalm 15(New International Version)
A psalm of David.

1 LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?

2 The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
3 whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
4 who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the LORD;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
5 who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.


Much has been said about bad habits, those things you do over and over again that are either annoying to others or destructive to you. On the other hand, you don't hear about good habits that make you a joy to be around. Maybe its because we often are looking for fault in people, but nothing is better than to encourage someone to gain good habits (and I don't mean brushing your teeth or cleaning up after yourself).

There are habits that identify a righteous man or woman, and identify them in God's equation as "blameless"; these are characteristics that follow after the heart of God. In the psalm above, we learn what some of these are, and we are told that walking in them will bring us into God's "sacred tent", and onto His "holy mountain". Study them; teach these verses to your children and grandchildren, for in following these habits, we will gain the favor of God.

By displaying these characteristic habits, people will know that you are walking apart form the world and with God.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

His Will Be Done - April 28, 2015

 
Matthew 6:8-10 (New International Version, ©2010)
8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 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."

In my many years of following Jesus Christ, and trying to live as I believe God would want me to, it has always been hard for me to always know if what I was doing what God wanted me to do. Soon after I became a Christian, I sort of allowed myself to be on "autopilot" thinking that God would direct me here or there.

Probably the most difficult question that a believer in Jesus Christ has is what is God's will for their life. It was the same for me. I wanted to know what God's will was for me, and what He wanted me to do while I was here to serve Him. For some, God is really clear and gives them specific direction, but for me it wasn't that easy.

For a time I felt that if I only believed, God would guide me here or there. I soon learned that I was abdicating my responsibility in this. I was not some mindless puppet with God pulling the strings. He had already left me a lot of information to follow, and if I was going to know what I was supposed to do, I had to live by the instruction manual He had made available to me, and not just "wing-it". If I was to really know what He had in store for me, I would have to spend time in His word.

Understanding God's will can be difficult, so over the next few days I will look at what His will is, how He reveals His will, and how you can know what His will is for your life.

Photo "Shine Sky" by Flaivoloka, 7-6-2008 from stock.xchng

Monday, April 27, 2015

Chosen by God - April 27, 2015

2 Peter 1:3-4,10-11 (New International Reader's Version)
3 God's power has given us everything we need to lead a godly life. All of that has come to us because we know the One who chose us. He chose us because of his own glory and goodness.

4 He has also given us his very great and valuable promises. He did it so you could share in his nature. He also did it so you could escape from the evil in the world. That evil is caused by sinful longings.
...
10 My brothers and sisters, be very sure that God has appointed you to be saved. Be sure that he has chosen you. If you do everything I have just said, you will never trip and fall. 11 You will receive a rich welcome into the kingdom that lasts forever. It is the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Life is certainly filled with uncertainty. We don't know what each day, week, month, or year will bring. Rumor has it that there are only two certainties in life, death and taxes! So we wake up each morning, not knowing whether it will be our last, and if it is, are we ready to face what happens next?

In 2Peter, in the face of false teachers and opposition, the author was writing to warn followers of Christ to be sure of what they believed. He makes it very clear in these verses that the Creator of the universe, our God, has chosen us because of His own glory and goodness. God is the one who gives us His power, through His Holy Spirit, to live a righteous and holy life.

All the good things that we are given are from Him, but we don't just inherit them because we are His children. We only receive them if we have faith in the One(Jesus Christ), who has chosen(given his life) for our sins, so that we might be reconciled (made right)with God. Our ability to have faith and live a godly life comes from God Himself.

Because God chooses us, we can be certain that we can enjoy living in this world and the next. But it does take action on our part. The action of placing our faith in Jesus as the only one that can save us. Has God appointed you to be saved? Have you done your part?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A New Heart - April 26, 2015

 
Luke 5:27-32;36-39(New Living Translation)
27 Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. 28 So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.

29 Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them. 30 But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?”

31 Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. 32 I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”
...
36 Then Jesus gave them this illustration: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and uses it to patch an old garment. For then the new garment would be ruined, and the new patch wouldn’t even match the old garment.

37 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. 38 New wine must be stored in new wineskins. 39 But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is just fine,’ they say.”

It is always interesting to read about the type of people Jesus chose to be His disciples. In picking the guys who would eventually take His teachings through out the known world, He picked a bunch of un-important guys that where nothing special, and worst of all He picked a guy that was one of the most hated in the Jewish society of the day, a tax-collector. Why didn't He go to the religious leaders of the day to proclaim His message?

It is important to know that in that day, the Jewish leaders were fairly entrenched in their religious traditions, and they had elevated themselves so high above the regular people that they had become stubbornly hard-hearted to anything new in terms of God. They had shut out the spirit of God's message through His word, in favor of following the practices of men. That is what Jesus was trying to say in speaking of new wine in old wineskins. One couldn't just patch up the old worn out wineskin, the hearts of the Jewish leaders, to receive the new wine of Jesus message. New wineskins in the form the hearts of ordinary men were needed to receive the true "heart" of the message of Jesus.

The same is true today. You cannot receive the message of the truths form Jesus Christ unless you have a change of heart; a heart transplant so to speak. A cold stony heart will never warm up enough to take in God's life-saving message. Only the new, receptive heart of can receive it. It is eager for God's word, made tender through humility and contrition. Only a heart that has surrendered itself to God can ever take in His word. Jesus Christ message is meant for new wineskins, and unless you transplant your old stony one, you will deny His gift of grace and mercy.

The world needs God, but it will only see Him if it is receptive to the word and message of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Only in Him can we be saved.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Spiritual Fire - April 25, 2015

 
Romans 12:11 (New International Reader's Version)
11 Never let the fire in your heart go out. Keep it alive. Serve the Lord.

Romans 12:11 (New International Version, ©2011)
11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.


Spiritual fire, a filling of God's Holy Spirit, the reception of Jesus promised "Comforter" is the mark of a follower of Jesus Christ. When you are "saved", surrender your life and accept the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross for your sins, and accept Him as Lord over your life, as the risen, living, Son of God, you are filled with a constant companion. He helps guide you through this Christian life, convicting you of wrong and lifting you up in times of righteousness and joy.

I believe that once you experience a true conversion, you can never lose it, but Paul encourages us to never lose our zeal for God; never get bored with serving Him. After a few years in our Christian lives, we may tire of waiting for our coming Savior, but keep in mind that it is all working out for His purposes. Be about His business, and He will be about yours!

Photo "Worship" by Everywhere, 12-30-2005, from stock.xchng

Friday, April 24, 2015

Pure Joy - April 24, 2015



James 1:2-4;12 (New International Version)
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers(and sisters), whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
...
12Blessed is the man(or woman)who perseveres under trial, because when he(she) has stood the test, he(she) will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
( )Parenthesis mine

There have been many times in my life where the circumstances and the burdens of this life have really weighed me down. During the darkest moments in my life, I reached out to God to find relief and comfort for the difficulty that I was going through. Every time this has occurred, as long as I sought God for shelter, the situation was resolved for the better.

When we become a Christian, this does not automatically give you immunity from the difficulties of life. In fact Jesus told his disciples just the opposite when he said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."John 16:33 (NIV) What we are promised by God is that He will be with us through the situation.

In fact, each and every trial we go through is a test, meant for our own good. It may not seem so while we are going through it, but God has a good purpose that will come out of every situation that a Christian goes through. We need to remember, as I have said several times about Next Worth living, everything we go through has an eternal purpose. Although sometimes we can look back and see where God helped us through a difficult circumstance, and we have been better off for it, the results of the many of the trials we will experience in life will not be realized until we have passed from this life.

If you are facing such a trial or difficulty right now, seek God in prayer. Ask Him to guide you through the situation, and He will provide you the wisdom and comfort you need to sustain you.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hidden Treasure - April 23, 2015

Proverbs 2:1-8(New Living Translation)
1 My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands.

2 Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.

3 Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.

4 Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.

5 Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God.

6 For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

7 He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.

8 He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.


What if you were told that you would have the opportunity to discover a hidden treasure? Most everyone recalls the stories of pirates and buried treasure, and even the Indiana Jones movies that follows the treasure hunter on his quests. We may have even played pirates as children, and drew treasure maps for our friends to find something that was hidden. Treasure hunting carries with it a sense of excitement that we will have a chance to find something that will make us rich.

God has given us the opportunity to find hidden treasure. He has placed instructions and a guide of how to find this treasure in His word. Once we learn to read and understand where we are being guided, we will find riches and treasure that will be beyond measure. The wealth of what He gives is beyond worldly comparison. All we have to do is to accept His book of instruction, open it, and begin our search. Once you do, you will never be poor again, because you will receive riches for your soul.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

God Forgives! - April 22, 2015



Micah 7:18-19 (New International Version)
18 Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.

19 You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

Psalm 103:12 (New Century Version)
12 He has taken our sins away from us as far as the east is from west.

Ephesians 1:7-9 (New Century Version)
7 In Christ we are set free by the blood of his death, and so we have forgiveness of sins. How rich is God's grace,8 which he has given to us so fully and freely. God, with full wisdom and understanding,9 let us know his secret purpose. This was what God wanted, and he planned to do it through Christ.

Romans 4:5-8 (New Century Version)
5 But people cannot do any work that will make them right with God. So they must trust in him, who makes even evil people right in his sight. Then God accepts their faith, and that makes them right with him. 6 David said the same thing. He said that people are truly blessed when God, without paying attention to their deeds, makes people right with himself.

7 "Blessed are they whose sins are forgiven, whose wrongs are pardoned.
8 Blessed is the person whom the Lord does not consider guilty." — Psalm 32:1–2


It is good to know that we don't have to really do anything to be forgiven by God. Jesus has done the work for us through His death on the cross, paying for our debt that we owe God for our sin and wrongdoing.

Because of this, God ignores our sins and sees Christ's righteousness when He looks at us. All we have to do is to ask for God's forgiveness and trust in Jesus' who has saved us, and to acknowledge that He rose from the dead to confirm that He was who he said He was.

You can start over today by leaving it all to Him; admit you have fallen short and are a sinner, turn from your old worldly ways, and give your life to Jesus and be led by Him.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Light of the World - April 21, 2015

John 8:12(New Living Translation)
12 Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”


In our world many are trapped in a life of sin and death. Almost every place you turn, there is an undercurrent of evil that pervades daily life. Many times this remains hidden behind the scenes, but every so often it comes to the surface. Yes, we read and watch daily as bad things are shown happening in the media, but occasionally it boils over and is revealed in a big way. Examples of this would be 9/11 or what is going on with the savage butchering of Christians by ISIS in the Middle East and Africa. Those who live surrounded by evil will eventually reveal themselves out in the open.

Counter to this is exhibited daily by those who follow Jesus Christ. Because He has freed believers from sin and death, and defeated evil, they are free to "walk in the light". That means that the good thing they do can be done freely in the open, bringing God glory, and revealing to others what is available as a follower of Jesus. Life in the light of God brings joy and peace, and this fact brings "light" to every dark corner of this world.

How do we see this? It is seen in the face of those who have been suppressed and abused in places all over the world, where the only real good is brought to them by the followers of Christ. It is seen in the faces of those who come in from the street, to feel the warmth and caring of those who love Jesus and are willing to give them food for their bellies and their soul. It is also seen in the persistent prayers and smiling kindness of those who bring comfort in hospitals and hospice.

No matter where you turn, the darkness of tragedy and evil can be illuminated through the love of Jesus. Be sure that His love shining in your heart is shared with all of those who come in contact with you.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Your Kingdom Come - April 20, 2015

 
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.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Good Habits - April 19, 2015

 
Psalm 15(New International Version)
A psalm of David.

1 LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?

2 The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
3 whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
4 who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the LORD;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
5 who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.


Much has been said about bad habits, those things you do over and over again that are either annoying to others or destructive to you. On the other hand, you don't hear about good habits that make you a joy to be around. Maybe its because we often are looking for fault in people, but nothing is better than to encourage someone to gain good habits (and I don't mean brushing your teeth or cleaning up after yourself).

There are habits that identify a righteous man or woman, and identify them in God's equation as "blameless"; these are characteristics that follow after the heart of God. In the psalm above, we learn what some of these are, and we are told that walking in them will bring us into God's "sacred tent", and onto His "holy mountain". Study them; teach these verses to your children and grandchildren, for in following these habits, we will gain the favor of God.

By displaying these characteristic habits, people will know that you are walking apart form the world and with God.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

He Knows Me - April 18, 2015



Psalm 139 (New International Version)

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

5 You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.

19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!

20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.

21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD,
and abhor those who rise up against you?

22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.


There is someone who knows us completely. He has known us since we were conceived and determined what we would do, where we would live, and when we would leave life. Before our mother's felt us move, He had knit together our intelligence and our vocation, the families we would someday have and raise, and the work we would eventually do for Him. He loved us from the moment He decided that we would be a part of His plan, and He included us as a unique part in something beautiful. He allowed us the opportunity to come to Him and express our ultimate love for Him, and He set our future destination to be with Him in heaven.

As I think upon all the years that have passed, I wonder what He has in store for me. I look forward in excitement to those I have yet to meet, and I am anxious to tell the story of Jesus Christ to those He will eventually choose for me to befriend. He has blessedly taken me through the valleys and lifted me to the mountain tops. He has given me gifts that far outweigh anything the world has ever taken from me. He has restored my soul and redeemed from the pit, and He has set my feet upon the Rock, my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

On this day as I look back over the landscape of my life, I give Him praise and all the glory and honor that He is due. He has taken me and turned me into something for His purposes, and I give thanks and look forward to the life He has in store for me.

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Dim Likeness - April 17, 2015



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.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Salt Worthy - April 16, 2015

 
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.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Salvation 101 - April 15, 2015

 
Ephesians 2:1-10(New Living Translation)
1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Okay, here it is. No mumbo jumbo, no colorful rhetoric, just the facts. Here in a few verses is the entirety of salvation; the "Cliff Notes" of what happened that saved you from eternal damnation. It is a truth that is so simple that even the illustration of it is simple. The fact is that there is nothing that mankind can do to be saved; only God could have done it for us. Then why is it so hard for people to believe?

Here we are living in a world, that would rather deny the truth of Jesus Christ than to accept a simple message and simple path to being saved from our sinful selves. Why is it easier for us to hide or deny our sin than it is to accept God's message? There are even faiths that call themselves "Christian" that still cannot accept the truth of the message above? They would rather teach that you can be accepted by God for stuff you do, than to accept the truth that He did it for us.

I know that there are those who read my postings that feel that I have "gone off the deep-end" sometimes, but above my post is a "Once Upon a Time..." story with a happy ending. Isn't it time you believed the message that God is trying to give you as a free gift?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Paradise Restored - April 14, 2015



Isaiah 65:17-25 (New International Version)
17 "Behold, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.

18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
and its people a joy.

19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and of crying
will be heard in it no more.

20 "Never again will there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years;
he who dies at a hundred
will be thought a mere youth;
he who fails to reach a hundred
will be considered accursed.

21 They will build houses and dwell in them;
they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them,
or plant and others eat.
For as the days of a tree,
so will be the days of my people;
my chosen ones will long enjoy
the works of their hands.

23 They will not toil in vain
or bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will be a people blessed by the LORD,
they and their descendants with them.

24 Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.

25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
but dust will be the serpent's food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,"
says the LORD.


When you consider what the future time will be like, you need only study references in the bible to how things will be. As much as we want to believe that we are in control of our own destiny, we really have no clue how things will really be in the future.

Someday everything will be made new, and as the Bible says, the old things will be remembered no more. God will remake the earth to be the paradise he originally intended. Before the fall of man, God created a perfect world and populated it with every creature imaginable. He then placed mankind in the garden to tend it and dwell with God.

We will one day join our God in the new paradise, spending our time in worship and praise to the One who made it possible for us to be with Him once again and forevermore.

Painting Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, by Wenzel Peter, c 1800

Monday, April 13, 2015

Agent's of Reconciliation - April 13, 2015



2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (New Living Translation)
18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

Colossians 1:19-20 (New King James Version)
19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

Christianity involves Christ's work of reconciliation between us and God. Through the sacrificial death of Jesus, through the shedding of His blood as payment for sins on our behalf, our relationship with God has been re-established. When we believe and accept this, we are restored to friendship with God. As Jesus Christ said, "I do not call you servants anymore. Servants do not know their master's business. Instead, I have called you friends. I have told you everything I learned from my Father." John 15:15(NIRV)

Since we have been given this gift of reconciliation through Jesus Christ, it is our responsibility to seek reconciliation in all things. It is our mission to be God's ambassadors, sharing Christ and helping to bring into harmony all of those who are separated from God. As Christians we do nothing in our own power, but the Holy Spirit brings about the reconciliation as a new believer surrenders to Jesus Christ. Our job is to represent what has already been done for us; we are to reflect God's work of reconciliation.

We are to seek reconciliation in all things, always striving for restoring Christ-like relationships with everyone we encounter. There is nothing more important than for us as Christians to reflect Jesus Christ, as we reach out in the present and to those damaged relationships in our past. This might mean stepping aside accepting correction that we felt was misplaced, or subordinating ourselves to a co-worker that has taken our positions. It might mean re-engaging with alienated family members, extending forgiveness to those who have betrayed us, or humbling ourselves to those who have taken advantage of us.

In these acts, we become agents of reconciliation, God's ambassadors of reconciliation, and help to promote the healing and restoration that God desires. We need to make it a point to follow what Jesus Christ has begun on our behalf. Make sure that you seek reconciliation in all things and with all people.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Living Right While Waiting - April 12, 2015



Titus 2:11-14(New International Version)
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.


Each and every day we get up and face the onslaught of the world around us. The pressures and cares of this life are there for us to face head-on as we try to make the day worth living. It is almost impossible, if your not a Christian, to handle life's challenges and retain a certain measure of happiness and sanity. Try tuning into the latest television or radio broadcast, or bringing up the news on your computer without being overwhelmed by the grief, turmoil and anxiety that bombards society every day.

Thank God that He has taken care of this problem. If you are a Christian, you have a "Hope" to look forward to. You know that every new day will be one day closer to being with your Savior. Because Jesus stood in your place and paid the penalty for your sin, you have the opportunity to wake up to this "Hope". All you need to do is accept the free gift of Jesus Christ. What makes it even better, in addition, once you give your life to Jesus, the Holy Spirit of God takes up residence within you. He will equip you to withstand everything the world throws at you, and He will bring you comfort and "Hope", while you wait for the day you finally meet Him.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Seeking Your Tonto - April 11, 2015



Proverbs 27:17 (New International Version)
17 As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (New International Reader's Version)
24 Let us consider how we can stir up one another to love. Let us help one another to do good works. 25 Let us not give up meeting together. Some are in the habit of doing this. Instead, let us cheer each other up with words of hope. Let us do it all the more as you see the day coming when Christ will return.


Many of you reading this remember the Lone Ranger. Although he was a hero of the old west, he didn't go very far without his sidekick Tonto. Tonto was there to support him when he got into a jamb, and he was always good for a little Indian sage advice when the Lone Ranger was trying to figure things out. Where would our hero have been without his trusty friend?

The same goes for Christians. We really have a tough time if we try to be a "lone ranger" when it comes to our faith. We are at our most vulnerable when we are alone; that's when Satan really tries to mess with us. Nothing brings him more delight than to pick off lonely Christians one at a time.

What's even more problematic is when we don't have other like minded people around when we are in need of advice and guidance. Christian men need other Christian men, and the same is true for Christian women. If we are married, no one is more important in our relationship with God than our spouse, but there are times when we just need the company of someone of the same gender.

So I would encourage you to seek out other believers, and make sure you get together often. There is nothing better than to have a strong Christian friend behind you that you can trust, It will help you become the hero of the faith that God means for you to be.

Friday, April 10, 2015

God Forgives - April 10, 2015



Micah 7:18-19 (New International Version)
18 Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.

19 You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

Psalm 103:12 (New Century Version)
12 He has taken our sins away from us as far as the east is from west.

Ephesians 1:7-9 (New Century Version)
7 In Christ we are set free by the blood of his death, and so we have forgiveness of sins. How rich is God's grace,8 which he has given to us so fully and freely. God, with full wisdom and understanding,9 let us know his secret purpose. This was what God wanted, and he planned to do it through Christ.

Romans 4:5-8 (New Century Version)
5 But people cannot do any work that will make them right with God. So they must trust in him, who makes even evil people right in his sight. Then God accepts their faith, and that makes them right with him. 6 David said the same thing. He said that people are truly blessed when God, without paying attention to their deeds, makes people right with himself.

7 "Blessed are they whose sins are forgiven, whose wrongs are pardoned.
8 Blessed is the person whom the Lord does not consider guilty." — Psalm 32:1–2


It is good to know that we don't have to really do anything to be forgiven by God. Jesus has done the work for us through His death on the cross, paying for our debt that we owe God for our sin and wrongdoing.

Because of this, God ignores our sins and sees Christ's righteousness when He looks at us. All we have to do is to ask for God's forgiveness and trust in Jesus' who has saved us, and to acknowledge that He rose from the dead to confirm that He was who he said He was.

You can start over today by leaving it all to Him; admit you have fallen short and are a sinner, turn from your old worldly ways, and give your life to Jesus and be led by Him.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hidden Treasure - April 9, 2015

Proverbs 2:1-8(New Living Translation)
1 My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands.

2 Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.

3 Cry out for insight,and ask for understanding.

4 Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.

5 Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God.

6 For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

7 He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.

8 He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.


What if you were told that you would have the opportunity to discover a hidden treasure? Most everyone recalls the stories of pirates and buried treasure, and even the Indiana Jones movies that follows the treasure hunter on his quests. We may have even played pirates as children, and drew treasure maps for our friends to find something that was hidden. Treasure hunting carries with it a sense of excitement that we will have a chance to find something that will make us rich.

God has given us the opportunity to find hidden treasure. He has placed instructions and a guide of how to find this treasure in His word. Once we learn to read and understand where we are being guided, we will find riches and treasure that will be beyond measure. The wealth of what He gives is beyond worldly comparison. All we have to do is to accept His book of instruction, open it, and begin our search. Once you do, you will never be poor again, because you will receive riches for your soul.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Then Hannah Prayed - April 8, 2015



1 Samuel 2:1-10 (New International Version)
1 Then Hannah prayed and said:
"My heart rejoices in the LORD;
in the LORD my horn(strength) is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
for I delight in your deliverance.
2 "There is no one holy like the LORD;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.

3 "Do not keep talking so proudly
or let your mouth speak such arrogance,
for the LORD is a God who knows,
and by him deeds are weighed.

4 "The bows of the warriors are broken,
but those who stumbled are armed with strength.

5 Those who were full hire themselves out for food,
but those who were hungry hunger no more.
She who was barren has borne seven children,
but she who has had many sons pines away.

6 "The LORD brings death and makes alive;
he brings down to the grave and raises up.

7 The LORD sends poverty and wealth;
he humbles and he exalts.

8 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
and has them inherit a throne of honor.
"For the foundations of the earth are the LORD's;
upon them he has set the world.

9 He will guard the feet of his saints,
but the wicked will be silenced in darkness.
"It is not by strength that one prevails;

10 those who oppose the LORD will be shattered.
He will thunder against them from heaven;
the LORD will judge the ends of the earth.
"He will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn(strength)of his anointed."


Have you ever been in a difficult situation that day after day, month after month, continued on without a favorable outcome? You may have sought God in prayer and cried out to Him for relief, but the situation continued without God's help. After awhile, you grew so tired of your trouble that you raised your voice in anguish, wondering why the Lord had forgotten you. You began to doubt that God would ever help, and you may have resigned yourself to the fact that maybe God had closed His ears to your plea, and that nothing would ever change.

In the Book of 1Samuel in the Bible, Hannah found herself in that same situation. She was the favored second wife of her husband, but for some reason she was unable to bear any children. In those days, a woman's value in society many times determined by her ability to bear her husband sons. In Hannah's case, she had to stand by in shame while year after year the other wife had child after child for her husband.

Instead of giving up, Hannah appealed to a higher authority. She poured her heart out to God and He remembered her plea:

10 In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. 11 And she made a vow, saying, "O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head."
...
20 So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, "Because I asked the LORD for him."- 1 Samuel 1:10-11;20(New International Version)


In thanksgiving for God remembering her plea, Hannah lifted up the prayer posted above. She gives God all of the glory for remembering His humble servant, and she characterizes the goodness of God as she prays.

If you have been troubled for along time with a difficult situation, don't give up hope, learn a lesson from Hannah. Lift your heart to the Lord. God hears and loves you, and in His perfect timing He will bring you relief from your trouble. He knows the beginning from the end and He will remember your plea. Be patient and always lift Him up in praise, and when your difficulty comes to an end, be sure to give Him the glory, praise and thanks that He is due.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Indescribable Gift! - April 7, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 6, 2015

Go Means Go! - April 6, 2015

 
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 5, 2015

He Has Risen! - April 5, 2015


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 4, 2015

The Darkest Night - April 4, 2015

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 3, 2015

It is Finished! - April 3, 2015

 
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 fromAnswers.com)

It is finished!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Betrayed - April 2, 2015

 
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,...now 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 1, 2015

Prophecy Foretold - April 1, 2015

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.