Monthly Archives: March 2015

Triumph or Tragedy?

Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

John 1:29 KJV

he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb

Isa 53:7b KJV

   With Holy Week drawing near many of us remember the passion of our Lord. All the pain and sorrow and suffering He endured for our sakes. The humiliation and the mocking and the ridicule.

  I remember the stations of the cross that as a child taught me about that day so long ago. How the processional around the church would stop at each important event to commemorate the disrespectful act performed. The judgement and whipping and the trial. As an adult I remember the first time I heard the name “Via Dolorosa” also known as the Way of Sufferings. The name of that street Jesus walked brings visions of the blood-soaked head and shoulders bent low by the weight of the beam He carried. I can see Him fall each time and hear the anger in the voices of those who pushed Him onward to Calvary. You can almost see the clouds begin to gather as they nailed him to that cross. Such pain. Such darkness. Such despair. Such defeat and utter tragedy.

   As a new born Christian I heard singer songwriter Michael Card perform “This Must Be The Lamb“.

   I was surprised by the turn in the song. It was the first time I heard the crucifixion talked about as a triumph. Well, of course, I understood that Jesus died for my sins. I also understood that He did so willingly. But I suppose I just never fully understood that He was the victor on that hill until He opened my eyes up to His love for me. He defeated hell and death that day over 2000 years ago. Because of His victory I need not worry about death and hell. The devil has lost the battle for my soul.

 Defeated by the Lamb of God satan has no power over all of us who believe. That dark day that saw so many tears will lead to cheers as we all shout out

Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne,

and unto the Lamb for ever and ever

Rev 5:13 KJV

Joyful Noise sil

During this Holy Week take the time to tell someone about the victory of that day. Help them to see Jesus the Victor and tell them how He gave you the Victory so that they can be Victorious also. Jesus can turn any tragedy into triumph if you let Him. That is the Good News Amen?

Saint Patrick’s Day

Ahh the wearing of the green and all that that entails!!

It’s the 17th of March and the celebration of the patron saint of Ireland.

Saint Patrick’s Day is a widely observed holiday dating back 100’s of years the complete history of it can be found on Wikipedia as well as many other sites. There is a lot of history and emotion behind this holiday. More than I can cover in this brief post but I will address one thing here, for better or worse. Sainthood.

Saints, Sainthood and the idea of some believers being “holier” than others.

A search of the word “saint” will show it defined as “one who has been recognized for having an exceptional degree of holinessWiki or “To regard or venerate as extremely virtuousYahoo and many more.

For me the only source used to define things is the Bible so let’s see what the Word of God and Jesus have to say about saints, sainthood and being holier then others.

The Old Testament has many references to saints. Moses and the prophets as well as the Psalms mention saints but in a generic general sense and not to one person or group of peoples in particular. The New Testament refers to saints as those who believe in Jesus Christ. Interestingly, Jesus never used the term saint in any of the recorded gospels.

Jesus did, however, have much to say about righteousness and position in the kingdom of God.

For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20 KJV

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:4

When James and John request places of honor at the Lords side in heaven Jesus answered them –

Mark chapter 10 vss 37-45  

37 “We want to sit on the thrones next to yours in your Kingdom,” they said, “one at your right and the other at your left!”

38 But Jesus answered, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of sorrow I must drink from? Or to be baptized with the baptism of suffering I must be baptized with?”

39 “Oh, yes,” they said, “we are!”

And Jesus said, “You shall indeed drink from my cup and be baptized with my baptism, 40 but I do not have the right to place you on thrones next to mine. Those appointments have already been made.”

41 When the other disciples discovered what James and John had asked, they were very indignant. 42 So Jesus called them to him and said, “As you know, the kings and great men of the earth lord it over the people; 43 but among you it is different. Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant. 44 And whoever wants to be greatest of all must be the slave of all. 45 For even I, the Messiah,[a] am not here to be served, but to help others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.”

Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.

So, we see that the Word of God defines Saints as believers in Jesus Christ who exercise childlike faith and humility while being a servant to others and whose righteousness exceeds that of the Old Testament scribes and Pharisees

A tall order? No, not when you consider the truth that with the help of our Lord we can do anything and that as believers we are cleansed of all unrighteousness by the blood of the Lamb. We are made to sit in high places because we are heirs to His righteousness.  As such we are all Saints. As for Patrick or any of the other officially recognized “Saints” I can not speak. Just as no one can speak accurately about anyone’s relationship with Christ.

What I am attempting to get across on this Saint Patrick’s Day is that we, believers in Jesus, are all Saints and as such we should act accordingly –

With childlike love and faith in service to others and the knowledge of Gods Word in our hearts and minds ever ready to give an account of the joy we hold so dear – Jesus is Lord and He is Alive!!

Thanks for stopping by and be blessed, Al

What Color is That Dress?

Blue and Black or White and Gold?

   As many (if not all) of you recently saw the internet lite up with the controversy surrounding the color of a dress that was posted online. The debate continues even after the explanation of why we all didn’t see the same colors. The New York Times noted the debate and wrote about it extensively here.

   Apparently it all comes down to Light and Perception. But how upsetting it is to find out that we don’t all see the same color of the same thing at the same time. Makes you wonder what else we may not be seeing equally?! After all, if we can see shouldn’t we all see the same?

   But aren’t there many things we don’t see the same. Controversies and differences of opinion are widely apparent across political, social, religious and cultural plains. Yes we see the same thing but the light and perceptions vary greatly.

   Jesus healed many persons who could not see but also referred to those who do not and will not see the truth as being “blind”.  Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Matthew 15:14 KJV

   Likewise the Prophet Isiah wrote (Isa 6:10 and John 12:40) of those who would not accept Jesus saying

He (the devil) has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts,
so that they would not see with their eyes
or understand with their hearts,
and be converted, and I would heal them

   Jesus went on to say that He was the Light and that those who believed in Him would never sit in darkness. In the Old Testament we have a wonderful example of just how blind we are to the world around us.

   The King of Syria was perplexed by the King of Israels ability to out maneuver him. It was as if The King of Israel had a spy within the Syrian army telling him where to strike. In reality, the prophet Elisha was telling the King of Israel what to do and when the Syrian King learned this he sent an army of men on horses to capture him. During the night the Syrian army surrounded the small city where Elisha slept and the next morning’s events are recorded in 2 Kings 6:15-18

And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.  And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the Lord, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.

   Elisha’s servants eyes were opened to the true reality of the world around us. “for they that be with us are more than they that be with them”. I would have liked to see the servants face when he saw the multitude that were ready to defend Elisha! But how is this any different from what the Word of God tells us about “Greater is He (the Holy Spirit) within me (us) than he (the devil) that is in the world. Even if we can not see The Holy Spirit or the multitude of angels that surround us – they are there.

   We need not sit in darkness or struggle with perceptions or variations of light. We need not debate what we see verses what the world sees. We have the Word of God and Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit and all the angels.

Open Book NYPL B&W

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path

Ps. 119:105 KJV

 

The Old Man in a Commercial Van

   For over 30 years of my life I have been working in construction and that has meant that I have been driving some type of truck or van for almost all of that time. Usually these vehicles have been registered as commercial trucks and therefor are not allowed on certain roads or parkways. Even when driving on the roads trucks are permitted on, we are encouraged to stay out of the left lane of traffic.

   Years of obeying these rules of the road create a certain mind set. I plan my trips to and from job sites around the roads and traffic patterns that I am allowed on. It becomes second nature.

   Once in a great while I find myself behind the wheel of my wife’s nice SUV. It has all the bells and whistle. Remote control mirrors, GPS navigation, back up camera and heated seats.  It rides so smooth and the seat is like an arm chair. The radio sounds like a concert hall and it even has air conditioning! It is a world apart from my dusty noisy old work truck and it can go on any road it wants.

Yet I still drive like I am in that van!

Sad to say that this second nature mind set is not always limited to driving.

   Before coming to the Lord I was in a main stream religious organization that had it’s own rules and regulations and interpretation of God’s Word along with it’s own doctrines and dogma.  Being good and following rules was emphasized more than being in right relationship with God or regular direct fellowship with Jesus.

   Just like my truck diving mentality I was ingrained with certain religious beliefs that influenced my behavior. Likewise the early church had old beliefs, rules and regulations that had to be addressed.

   Three times Jesus showed Peter in a vision that what had been considered unclean was now clean and fit for eating. Jesus was using this occasion to teach Peter that the old laws concerning food were to be abolished and that the spread of the Gospel of salvation was to be broadened to the Gentiles as well as the Jew. Acts 10 (emphases on vss 10-16 and 34-48)

   But we are stubborn people and slow to change at times. Paul spoke out against the need for circumcision and following the old law.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.  Galatians 5

   Later in the same chapter, as well as elsewhere, Paul speaks of how this new found liberty is no excuse to sin. Rather this freedom should be the catalyst for good in that we are not bound by countless laws (well, 613 to be exact). Instead we have all the of the law summed up into one – Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Gal 5:14b/Lev 19:18

   Further on Paul elaborates by contrasting the Lawless Old Man with The Free New Man –

   Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,  idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,  envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  Gal 5: 19-25 NKJV

AGAINST SUCH THERE IS NO LAW!

   Ever get in to trouble for being polite? Ever get a ticket for doing the speed limit? Ever get fired for doing the best job ever? I hope not. That’s because there’s no law against doing the right thing. Paul is telling us that as long as we lean on and follow the Spirit of God in our hearts, mind and actions we are not under the bondage of the law.

Live Love Pray

Love is the only Law

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Gal 6:2 NKJV

Let us not forgot what Jesus answered when they tested Him about the Law –

 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 22:34-40

 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

John 8:36 NKJV

Stand in the glorious light of liberty that Jesus has purchased for you and shine that light of Love on all you see today. Thanks for stopping by and be blessed, Al