It’s Friday but Sunday’s Coming

 

It’s Friday but Sunday is coming!

It’s Friday

Beat, bleeding, betrayed and berated Jesus is sentenced to death!

But Sunday is coming

It’s Friday

They nail Him to the cross and watch for Him to die as the sky turns black

But Sunday is coming

It’s Friday

The Son of God

Creator of All things

Takes the sin of the world

But Sunday is coming

It’s Friday

The punishment for my sins are laid on Him

God the Father turns away

The Son of God

Let’s out His last breath

But Sunday is coming

It’s Friday and the mourners cry

The apostles flee

The world is dark

Hope is dead

But Sunday is coming!!

Sunday is the day of Promise

The Day of Fulfillment and Joy

The Day that Death lost it’s sting

And the Grave lost it’s hold

Jesus, The Lord of All arose

And left the burial cloth behind

Jesus, The Risen Lamb that was slain

Lives so that we may live with Him

To those of us who believe

To those who call Him Lord

There will be troubles and trials

These will be our Friday’s

But if we believe

But if we call Him Lord

There will be victory

There will be Sunday

God Bless You on this Resurrection Sunday

John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Rev 1:4-8 nkjv

This is a reposting of something I wrote years ago but in light of the Cover-19 pandemic these words and the sentiment they convey are even more relevant now. Be encouraged. Trust in Jesus and Love one another.

Denial, Fear or Faith!!

Dear God help me please!!

If God had a social media presence His phone would be blowing up!!

Global Pandemic! The number of sick growing daily almost hourly! The dead being stored in refrigeration trailers because funeral homes can’t keep up!

Add to that the healthy people that are out of work. Businesses that can’t operate or operate in a limited fashion. Unemployment claims being placed by the millions in America alone. Families sheltering in place. The elderly isolated in nursing homes.

Where are you in this storm?

Whose side are you one? Are you trusting God or blaming Him?

What?! Whose side? What kind of question is that to ask at a time like this!?

Granted, it’s strange question. But the truth is that each of us are on a side. Maybe we have even changed sides a few times since this started. Maybe since you got up today.

What are the sides?

Team Denial! “Yea this is pretty bad but I’ll be ok and it’s gonna be over soon so why the fuss. Let’s play ball or have a party!”

That may sound like a crazy comment to imagine anyone saying given the current state of this situation. But, how many times since this began have you seen people ignoring the social distancing rule? How many times have you or someone you know ignored the stay at home order for something other than food/med shopping or going back and forth to work? Just how seriously are you taking this? Think about it? Either our appointed leaders are giving us the best possible advise concerning our health and well being or they are just playing a sick joke. I don’t think anyone is joking here.

Team Fear! “Oh my gosh! It’s the end of the world!! Hospitals and first responders won’t be able to keep up! The stores will run out of food and supplies! Rioting will break out as the infrastructure crumbles!”

This mentality is equally as destructive as the previous one. Blinded by fear is just that – Blinded! Fear never motivates a positive response just ask anyone that works saving lives of people drowning. They know that they are at risk of drownding by being climbed on by the very person they wish you save. The frantic fear filled person will never think rationally and their actions will reflect that irrational mindset. Going down a rabbit hole of fear and what if’s will drain your strength and destroy the spirit.

Team Faith! “God will provide! Don’t worry just pray and trust in the Lord. He will be glorified in this storm you wait and see!”

There’s a saying I heard many years ago (If you have been reading my posts you know that I have a bunch of these) that goes like this – Don’t be so heavenly-minded that you are no earthly good. I think this applies here. At face value the rallying cry of Team Faith is good. It’s scriptural. It’s a faith statement so to speak but it can be flippant and superficial if your level of Faith isn’t there. It can be alienating to others at a time when being supportive and compassionate is needed most.

The Gospels are full of examples of the level of faith people had and how it affected their lives. The woman with the issue of blood believed that she need only touch the hem of His garment to be healed. The Centurion beloved that Jesus could nearly speak the words and the servant would be healed. Juries believed that if Jesus touched his daughter she would live. In contrast, Jesus was unable to do many things in His home town because of their unbelief. See Luke 8:40-55,  Matthew 8:7-10, Matthew 9:26-29, Matthew 13:53-58

We should not expect anyone to have the level of faith that we have. Whether we have a small level or a huge level of faith in God it is ours and it is a reflection of the relationship we have with Him. Furthermore we should exercise our Faith in God responsibly. Ever see those people that play with snakes because the Word of God say that a believer shall be able to take up serpents? Their show of faith (I can’t judge) almost mocks the Word of God and creates a sideshow atmosphere.

Let’s not be blinded with naive denial or frantic with fear or superficially spiritual.

Let us, the Body of Christ, bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world around us by meeting them where they are. Paul said that he would be all things to all men for the sake of the Gospel. This does not mean that he was disingenuous. To the contrary. Paul was what we would call a “people person”. The kind of guy who could strike up a conversation in the line at the grocery store. Yea. That guy!

When Paul traveled to Greece to spread the Word of God there was a law in place that prohibited the preaching of new gods. Paul saw that there was an altar dedicated to “the unknown god”. Paul didn’t disregard the law of the land. He could have but he didn’t. Instead, he saw an opportunity to inform the people about this “Unknown god” they had but an altar for. He wasn’t disobedient to the law. He didn’t cower in fear and he wasn’t flippant or superficial. He seized a moment and shared the truth of just who this God was. He met them were they were.

With each passing day and ever news broadcast there are opportunities to be in denial or fear or faith. Be confident in the faith in God that lives within you. Share that Faith. Draw on your past experiences with God and tell people what God has done for you. They will get it if you tell it from the heart.

Be Blessed A&B

Passover – Never Forget!!

For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.  Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.

Exodus 12:12-14 NKJV

As Christians we observe many holy days. We celebrate The Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ as well as Passion week when He was betrayed and given over to be tried and crucified. We celebrate the last supper in the form of Communion most Sundays. Some denominations celebrate many other events or persons as they affirm their faith. Obviously we see other Faiths, such as the Jewish brethren, remember important events in history of their relationship with God.

Those of the jewish faith celebrate Passover this week. They remember that God called them out of bondage from Egypt. By the signs of many miracles God used Moses to stand against the pharaoh and speak God’s word. The last sign of Gods’ power was a reversal of a curse that the pharaoh spoke against the children of Israel. Death of the first born!

God prepared His children against this day and instructed them to slaughter a lamb and place the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of their homes. “and when I see the blood, I will pass over you:”  

All those years ago God Almighty poured out His love on His people by saving them from the Angel of Death. He made it possible for them to be saved from what must have been a huge devastating event.

Many years later God made a way of saving His children again.

He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to be the sacrificial Lamb Whose blood will wash away the sins of many and save them from eternal damnation.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 NKJV

We who believe in Him have eternal life. Eternal Life, not here in this sinful decaying world, but in the world to come. So, as these difficult times of Covid-19 play out before us. As the days of Spring bring a rebirth of flowers and trees and gardens. Find courage and Peace because you are not called to death and darkness but to Life and everlasting light with Him.

This post was written in a bit of a hurray before I ran off to work but I think we as Christians should always remember that we have not replaced The Children of Israel in Gods eye but rather we have been grafted into the tree of that God planted many many years before us – His chosen ones – Israel.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.

Ps. 122:6 NKJV

Hope vs No Hope!

“I meet millions who tell me that they feel demoralized by the decay around us. Where is the hope? The hope that each of us has is not in who governs us or what laws are past or what great things we do as a nation. Our hope is in the power of God working through the hearts of people. That’s where our hope is in this country and that’s where our hope is in life.”  Chuck Colson

During a time in my life years ago. Long before I was saved by the grace of God. I was searching for answers and looking for direction for my life. That search saw me go down many dead end roads. Alcohol, drugs, meaningless relationships and various self-help groups. One in particular comes to mind during these days of virus and stress.

Lifespring was one of the dead end roads this lost traveler went down. Without saying anything negative further about this organization I’ll simply say that I found those  involved to be sincere and caring. The trainings brought a short-lived revelation to my confused state. One particular thing that stands out after all these thirty-something years later is the concept put forth that there is “No Hope!” “There is no hope” is a fundamental tenet in the course.

There is no hope! or No hope, as illustrated by a facilitator  kneeling in front of a chair and pleading/begging for help. They taught that praying for help was futile and hopeless practice. In comparison, hope was illustrated as a standing up defiantly against the circumstances of life and proclaiming your victory. Through self-determination and pure grit one could defeat and enemy and overcome any obstacle. This exercise, as was characteristic of their teachings, was very emotionally charged, loud and almost intimidating in its delivery.

Thankfully God doesn’t work through our feelings. He doesn’t rely on our intellect. He doesn’t try to intimidate us or overpower us. He does, however, speak to us in a still small voice. We need only listen.

So, as we look around at this coronavirus pandemic and hear the voices of news broadcasts that calculate the numbers of sick and dead, we can have hope. We can look past the grim forecast by trusting in God and listen for His voice to speak to our hearts.

This is our Hope. The Hope we have is based on the reality of Jesus Christ. His life, death and resurrection are the foundation of our faith and the cornerstone of our hope. Without this foundation we are lost and truly without hope. Standing defiantly shaking our fist at the circumstance of life will not scare them away. Within our own limited ability we can do little but aligned with and trusting in Jesus means anything is possible.

Let’s review! Read this through. Let it sink in. This is our foundation. This is our Hope.

The Resurrection of Christ

15 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importancea]”>[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,and that he appeared to Cephas,b]”>[b] and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

The Resurrection of the Dead

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead,the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.”c]”>[c] Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 

1 Corinthians 15; 1-27 NIV

I am unapologetic for my opinion regarding the reality of Jesus Christ, God’s unending Love towards us and the infallibility of The word of God. My prayer is that you be encouraged by His Love now more than ever. Be Blessed A&B

A Home of Homes!

A home of homes!

Cynthia was growing more and more anxious with each passing day. The continuing news coverage of the virus as it spread around the world was overwhelming. The numbers of sick and dead were doubling almost daily. Doubling!! When will it stop!? Her head was spinning with so many unanswered questions. When will this end? What if it comes to my town? My neighborhood? Why can’t they stop it? Why aren’t people taking it seriously and complying with the stay at home mandates? What if the stores run out of food? What if the hospitals can’t keep up? What if….. she was down the rabbit hole of what if’s, worry and fear.

She shut the tv off and put down her phone. She had to calm down. Her heart was beating so hard she could hear it. Her head was spinning. Her hands shaking.
Closing her eyes and bowing her head she prayed. It had been a very long time since she was in church never mind actually lifting up a prayer to God but this was too much. Not since she lost James had she felt so hopeless and afraid.

“Oh Lord…..” she paused. Uncertain if her time away from fellowship would prevent her words from being heard. “Dear Lord, this is too much for me to carry. I know I’ve been bitter and angry because James died but I can’t find my way here. Where are you in this? Are you there? Are you here?

Her words and thoughts raced back to the day that she heard that knock on the door. It was early and she was still in pjs feeding little JJ. As she approached the door she knew. The obscure glass of the front door blurred her vision but she could make out the two uniformed figures. Breathless and holding back tears she opened the door but before the words were spoken she fell to the floor. “Mrs. Thompson we are very sorry to tell you that your husband Sgt. James Thompson of the third infantry division was killed in action.”

Sitting now at her kitchen table and praying for direction and strength brought her back to that day. That dreadful day when darkness clouded her vision and brought more questions than answers.

“Are you Lord? Are you here? Now? Today? Where? Do you see what’s happening here? Thousands of people are sick and dead! Why? Why? Why do allow this?” Her prayer was turning into an accusation. Her fear turned to anger and hysteria.
Her voice trailed off as she cried and shook her head. She cried herself down from the hysterical height she rose to. Her sobs subsided and she was whispering now. Softly speaking to James now. She often would speak to him as she laid in bed with her head on the pillow facing his side of the bed. She would tell him about her day and how fast JJ is growing and on and on until she fell asleep. Sometimes it was the only way she could fall asleep. Sometimes she couldn’t bare to think of him for the emotions that would flood over her. But those were the rare bad days and they were happening less and less as time past.

She whispered.

She dried her eyes and picked up her head. She whispered. She sat back in her chair and her body relaxed as the tension released her from its fearful fist.

She whispered.

James was a tall handsome but humble guy who lit up a room when he walked in. He was a friendly guy who would go out of his way for friend and stranger alike. He had two passions in life, his family and his faith. He worked in construction before he enlisted. He enjoyed building things. Anything. A home or a birdhouse both received the same attention to detail. He fixed up the house they bought when they first married but always promised he’d build a home for them. He’d tell her about the house. “It’s gonna be a home of homes! The King of homes for you my Queen Miss C! Just you wait and see!” He spoke of how it would sit on a high clearing over looking a lake with a great deck to sit on and watch the children play in the yard. Every little detail was brought to life by his words. You had no doubt he could do it and it would be beautiful.

She stopped whispering. She sat silently in the kitchen. Eyes closed. Hands on her lap. She saw James in her mind. His bright eyes. His big smile. His memory was a peaceful place for her now. She savored it. Breathing him in and praying this moment would never end.
“I‘ll build you a home of home Miss C it’s going to be awesome you’ll see!” She could almost hear his voice. “I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” these words were not James. They were softer but firmer. She felt them inside her like none other.

Cynthia became flushed and weak. She fell to the cold kitchen floor and knelt in humble awe. She knew those words. They were the words Jesus spoke to his disciples before he was crucified.

Now she knelt there sobbing tears of joy. God is here. He is here with her. Reminding her that she need not be afraid. She need not be afraid. He is real! He is here! He will calm the storm raging around her if only to remind her that this is not her home and He has prepared a place for her.

She whispered a prayer of thanksgiving as she slowly rose from the cold kitchen floor. She was grateful for what the Lord has done for her and felt like she had a weight lifted off of her.

She stood to her feet. She stood steady. She stood firm. The winds of fear and uncertainty were gone and right there in the middle of her little kitchen the sun shone on her face. She stood there and really knew deep inside herself that it was going to be ok. Come what may. She and JJ would be taken care of and that brought a peace she never felt before.

Inspired today by John 14 and the encouraging words of Toribear. Fear will not be the legacy of these trying times. Let the Light of Jesus Love shine into the darkness through each and every believer today. To God be the glory!!!

Thanks and be Blessed A&B

Coronavirus, Christ and Common Sense

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. How many times have we heard this scripture in sermons, songs and writings? Trusting in Jesus is so easy when things are going well. When we are healthy, happy and prosperous. When our jobs are secure and our loved ones well. But how do we react to adversity? Where do we turn when life becomes challenging? When the days turn dark and fears attack like arrows? This isn’t how we thought this Christian life would be. Turning our lives over to Jesus and repenting of our old ways was supposed to bring blessings and bounty right?

The truth is that Jesus never promised that we would be exempt from trials and tribulations. He did, however, promise to be there with us through whatever it is we experience. John records how Jesus revealed the events that were about to unfold just before His darkest hour.

Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone.

And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.

In the world you will have tribulation;

but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

In the world you will have tribulations. Notice He never promised to keep us from experiencing difficulties, trials or tribulations . He did promise to be with us always even to the end of this age (Matthew 28:20) and that He would never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5 )
So, as we see the events unfolding around us we as believers should take a stand against the fear and hopelessness that wishes to overtake us. We, now more than ever, are not alone.
There’s an old saying I remember from my early days in my walk with the Lord. It goes – Work each day as if it all depends on you and Pray every day as if it all depends on Him.
Some take offense with such a suggestion but I came to believe that as Christians we must put feet to or faith. After all no man lights a candle and hides it under a bushel.
With this in mind I would encourage the Body of Christ to exercise their faith in a way that shines a light into the darkness of this Coronavirus trial. We are not of this world and so we can wear this life like a loose coat. Hold fast to the love that Jesus has shown to you and share that love with the world around you. Jesus sent His disciples around the world but first He told them to preach the Good News to those in Jerusalem, then Judea. For us that means our homes first, then our town then as far as our influence can reach.
I encourage the use of common sense here. Exercise social distancing, personal protective equipment and hand washing. Stay at home except for essential trips out as directed by those in authority have outlined. Fortunately being home these days does not hinder our ability to interact with the world outside our doors. Social media can be used to spread fear or faith. Use it to shine the light of Jesus and calm fears.
Look at the big picture. History has taught us that unthinkable things have happened in the past and yet the world survived. Currently we can watch endless news coverage of this ever growing crisis but it leads us down a rabbit hole of despair. No one knows what tomorrow will bring but we can look around us at the blessings we do have and be grateful. We can sleep at night while this darkness looms because we know Jesus and we trust Him at His Word. We can live out these days without fear and uncertainty because we know that this world is not our home and that whether we live or die we will live forever with Him. We can defeat this virus together by shining the light of Jesus love into the darkness it wishes to cast.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Be Blessed A&B

Get-it and Don’t Forget-It

   Have you ever sat in service and felt like God was speaking directly to you or your situation through the pastor? Ever been distracted during or immediately after that service and loose the revelation God just gave you? 

Ever notice those people who take notes during church service? Maybe you are one of those people. But why should we need to take notes? Couldn’t we just buy a tape of the sermon or download the message? Isn’t hearing the word preached enough to make the point? 

The short answer is no!

The long answer is found in the Parable of the Sower found in Matthew chapter 13.  

Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 

Matthew 13:3-4 NIV

Later Jesus explained the meaning of the parable to His disciples. 

When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.

Matthew 13:19 NIV

   Here Jesus illustrates how quickly the message can be taken away from us. This can happen many ways; being distracted during service, being sleepy or preoccupied with thoughts about the events after service and even by being in service during service such as working in the nursery or choir for example. 

Call me old school but I learned a long time ago just how to make sure I “get-it and don’t forget-it” when I’m sitting in church. Two invaluable tools needed are a good Bible and good notes.

The First – The Bible. 

The owner of the Bible store I walked into just after getting saved showed me what I believe to be the best Bible ever – The Thompson Chain Reference King James Version!! 

“What you need is the Word of God!” He told me. “No commentary or opinion or doctrine. Just the Word!” The chain reference simply means that the first key word in scripture is connected to every other mention in a chain. Kind of like a topical. No commentary just the Word. No flash just substance!

The Second – Sermon notes

Which is what I want to focus on here. We covered why they are needed now let’s look at what we need and how to take notes that the enemy can’t steal from us.

The Tools:

A Bible, Note book or note pad, Pens, A good seat

  • A Bible

Preferably bring a Bible that is the same version as your pastor usually preaches from. Being old school I’m suggest the King James Version but to avoid the distraction of not being on the same page with the sermon follow your pastors lead. New King James and New International Version are widely used also. 

Having a Bible that you feel comfortable writing in or highlighting the text is best. Also if it falls off of your lap while your taking notes it won’t break your heart. 

  • Note book or pad

This is a no brainer. Whatever you like. Lined or unlined. Spiral bound or loose sheets. Just be sure that you’re comfortable with whatever you choose because distractions are the devil’s thieves sent to steal the Word from you. 

  • Pens

Several pens because one will run out of ink or not write. Just another way that you could be robbed of the message.

  • A good seat

This might be more important then paper and pen because sitting near a door or on the isle where people may be coming and going can be very distracting. Ideally a seat with empty seats around you would be best. 

The Notes

As a rule the following should be noted 

  • The Sermon title 

This may or may not be mentioned up front. It might be in the summation at the end. Regardless of when a title is revealed it should be placed at the top of the notes. This makes it easier to find when you want to revisit it. 

  • Key Scripture verses

During the sermon your pastor will (should) quote scripture. Turn to the verses in your Bible and read along. Make note of at least three key verses that pertain to the sermon. Write down any that you think of as addressing the main point if you think of any. 

  • The Main Point

Hopefully your pastor is getting to a point. The main idea or point that is being taught might be the same as the title and may not. Listen for it and write it down. 

  • Life Application

How can you, personally, apply the point to your life or spiritual journey? Is there something you should do or stop doing? Is there a physical (real world) change that needs to be made or a spiritual inner change? 

  • Selah 

This phrase is found in the psalms. It is literally a pause. Since the psalms are songs it’s said that “Selah” is a break in the rhythm of the music/song. 

In the Hebrew this word comes from the root word meaning to “weigh”. 

Either way you care to translate it, a pause or a moment to weigh/consider, both are equally applicable.

Later, after service, when you have finished with brunch and fellowship, take a moment to pause or weigh the message that you have heard and even more importantly still have. The birds of the air (the evil one) didn’t steal the revelation of Gods Word from you because you captured it on paper. It’s yours to relive, study and put into action.

Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
Blessed are You, O Lord!
Teach me Your statutes.

Psalm 119:11&12 NKJV

Be Blessed A&B

 

“What must I do to be Saved?”

    But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.  And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 

Act 16:25-32 NKJV

Happy Sunday friends. Today I wanted to take a break from the current series on sin and get back to some basics. It can be so easy to become involved with deeper spiritual matters that the very basic truths can be overlooked. Even Jude writes that he intended to write about the common salvation, yet, he in fact addressed a deeper matter of wolves that entered into the church to led people astray. Jude 1:3 So, then as now, there can be many distractions and devisions surrounding doctrine and beliefs from the word of God. Thankfully the basic truth is simple, unchanging and immutable.

What must I do to be saved?

   The question causes some to ask another question. Saved from what? Why do we need a Savior? Why do we need to be saved? What will we be saved from?

I knew a man who, whenever his children asked him a question about the world or human behavior and the obvious inhumanity man inflicts on others, he would answer their questions by going back to the beginning – “Well, children, God planted a garden……” He would start every explanation with this point of reference. Over the years it became a fond memory of their Dad but he made a point. I hope to make the same point here.

God planted a garden. In the garden He made man and from man He made woman. He gave them dominion (all power and authority) over all His creation within the garden. He asked only one thing of the couple. Even warned them of the consequences of disobedience.

“Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Gen. 2:16-17

   One could ask why God placed the tree in the Garden if He didn’t want them to eat the fruit of it. If He hadn’t placed the tree in the Garden He would never know if the couple would obey Him or not. They had free will to obey or disobey. They were not robots. The absence of temptation does not breed righteousness only ignorants. If you don’t have a choice of right or wrong then doing right is the only option. God gave Adam and Eve free will and over time they freely chose to give into temptation. In their disobedience they brought upon themselves the consequences for their actions – separation from God. Gen. 3:24

Ok, ok, ok but what has that to do with me? The sin of disobedience that Adam and Eve brought upon themselves is passed down from generation to generation right down to you and I. Add to that the sins we committed ourselves (yes, you have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard) and we are sinners indeed. But God is a just God. He made the Garden. He created the rules. He also made a way back. That Way is Jesus.

   For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16 NIV

   “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul and Silas answered the man – “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved”. The apostle John tells us that God loves us all so much that He sent Jesus so that all who believe in Him will not perish but instead have everlasting life.

So, to be saved from eternal separation from God and have everlasting life all you need to do is believe. It’s the most basic, simple, unchanging and indisputable fact of the New Testament.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved

Jesus said I am the Way the truth and the Life,

no man (or woman) comes to the Father except through Me!

In a time when there can be conflicts of doctrines regarding the christian life and what that should look like. This one simple truth resounds threw the millenniums. The next truth is just as important and simple too – Jesus said Go! so if you aren’t saved ask yourself why not? If you are saved then go. Go now. Go quickly. Go tell the world what Jesus Christ has done for you.

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

Mark 16:15 NIV

Don and Wendy Francisco telling the story of Jesus and Jairus – Mark 5:21-43 NIV

Be Blessed A&B

 

The Seven Deadly Sins – Greed

The Seven Deadly Sins are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth.

   We are all aware of the Ten Commandments handed down to Moses by God on the mountain top. They are only a part of the Law of Moses (the first five books of the Old Testament) that all together make up 613 laws covering every aspect of life.

   We all also know how Jesus summed up all the Law and Commandments to just two Golden Rules. Love God and Love your neighbor as you love yourself. The seven deadly sins in their current form are not found in the Bible. However there are Biblical references that address each of them individually and we will look at each of them.

The seven deadly sins are also referred to as cardinal sins or capital sins and as such these names give the impression that there are degrees to sin. The idea that some are not so severe or problematic to the spiritual state of an individual in comparison to other sins. This, I believe, is a slippery slope and can lead people to believe that they are better then others simply by virtue of being considered less obviously sinful. Such as comparing a yourself  (and your easily overlooked short-comings) to someone whose sin is self evident and appalling.  Sin is sin and there is none that is greater or lesser than the other. Given the opportunity to repent and turn away from ones sins – no matter how great, how many or how shocking – all sins will be forgiven.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.   Colossians 3:5 NIV

   Greed which is idolatry!Really?! That’s how God sees it. Being greedy (Excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions – dictionary.com) is the same as worshipping an idol in God’s eyes. God warns us all more than once (repetition in the Word of God is meant to emphasize the importance of that point) that He is a jealous God and will not allow idolaters go unpunished.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, Deu. 5:8-9 NIV

   Greed can also be described as; longing, hunger, avarice, excess, selfishness, gluttony,  covetousness, indulgence, rapacity, voracity, eagerness, intemperance, craving, insatiableness. – dictionary.com

Of that list a few words stand out. such as selfishness, gluttony and covetousness. Covetousness is synonymous with Greed in that it causes you to disregard the blessings you have and concentrate on that which others have. This is one of the reasons I believe that social media can be a tool of the devil. The whole “look at me and what I have” life of instagram, tweeter, Facebook, etc. is a breeding ground for covetousness and greed. Lets keep in mind that in addition to the commandment previously mentioned God also demands that we not covet.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”  Deu. 5:21NIV

   Before I give the impression that I am holier-than-thou let me say that Greed, like many other sins and snares of the devil, are insidious in nature. We all want to do well, work hard and be rewarded for our efforts. We want to live in a nice home filled with nice things. We want to provide for those we love and make their lives better and more comfortable. Thats natural right? Right. Thats where the insidious nature of sin enters the picture. Have you ever heard the analogy of the frog in the pot of water? Well, it is used as an illustration of how slowly and inconspicuous sins eats away at us if we aren’t careful. It goes like this – If you put a frog into a pot of boiling water it will most certainly jump out. But, if you put a frog in a pot of room temperature water and place it over a very low flame he will stay in the pot as the water slowly reaches a boil and it’s too late for him to escape death.

The Apostle Paul calls on us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. The Word of God calls us to guard our hearts for everything you do flows from it. The Sunday school song says “be careful little eyes what you see”!

Perhaps you remember how the angels of the Lord helped Lot and his wife and daughters escape the cities of Sodom and Gomorra before fire and brimstone destroyed them because of their wickedness. But do you recall how Lot and his family came to live in such sin?

As Abram (not yet Abraham) moved from his homeland to the land that God had promised him, he and his family along with his nephew, Lot began experiencing strife between their herdsman. Back then wealth was measured by livestock and land as well as gold and silver. Abram was blessed of God and likewise so was Lot. Their herds grew and so did the herders. Between their sheer numbers and the quarreling it was decided that something had to be done. Abram gave Lot the choice. Wherever Lot choose to live Abram would depart in the other direction. Lot saw the plains of Canaan and chose to live near Sodom. Lot looked towards Sodom. Moved near Sodom. Later he is living in the middle of Sodom. What he saw turned into words, words became actions, actions nearly led to destruction. This is not a new concept. Many scholars, politicians and famous people have spoken about how this scenario can lead to down fall. Gen. 13 

Watch Your Thoughts, They Become Words; Watch Your Words, They Become Actions

Be careful little eyes what you see!

It starts with what we see.

The eyes are the window to the soul.

Seeing leads to thinking.

Thoughts become words.

Words become actions.

It’s insidious.

It happens slowly

 

Greed, like all sins, are a trap set by the devil baited by our natural desires turned against us.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8

* “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.    Matthew 12:31 NKJV

 

The Seven Deadly Sins – Pride

The Seven Deadly Sins are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth.

   We are all aware of the Ten Commandments handed down to Moses by God on the mountain top. They are only a part of the Law of Moses (the first five books of the Old Testament) that all together making up 613 laws covering every aspect of life.

We all also know how Jesus summed up all the Law and Commandments to just two Golden Rules. Love God and Love your neighbor as you love yourself. The seven deadly sins in their current form are not found in the Bible. However there are Biblical references that address each of them individually and we will look at each of them.

The seven deadly sins are also referred to as cardinal sins or capital sins and as such these names give the impression that there are degrees to sin. The idea that some are not so severe or problematic to the spiritual state of an individual in comparison to other sins. This, I believe, is a slippery slope and can lead people to believe that they are better then others simply by virtue of being considered less obviously sinful. Such as comparing a person addicted to drug to someone who is a compulsive liar. Sin is sin and there is none that is greater or lesser than the other. Given the opportunity to repent and turn away from ones sins – no matter how great, how many or how shocking – all sins will be forgiven.*

Jesus told the story of the two men in the temple. One, a tax collector, who, in shame and guilt plead for mercy and the other man, a Pharisee, who stood listing his many religious accomplishment and duties completed. The man standing looked smugly down on the humbled man and thanked God that he was not like him. Jesus tells us that the humbled man was made right with God that day and not the self righteous man standing puffed up with pride. See Luke 18: 10-14

It is the sin of Pride, and what I will refer to as Pride’s Children, that we will look at in this post and leave the others for the future. The common understanding of these sins listed is that they are merely our natural passions taken to the excess. Taking pride in an accomplishment is not sinful in and of itself but when pride blinds one to the error of their ways it is sinful and dangerous. The Bible warns us that Pride comes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18) and that God resists the Proud (James 4:6).

Pride, like most sins, is insidious. It’s subtle and slippery in it’s power to overtake it’s victims. We all wish to be acknowledged for doing well. When the accolades begin to pile up we can become proud. When pride has a hold we will see ourselves above others, pat ourselves on the back and be blind to our on faults no matter how blatant.

“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,

‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,[g] I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—  Rev. 3:14-17 NKJV

The Church in Laodicea believed themselves to be rich and in need of nothing. They had become complacent and lukewarm. If this isn’t a picture of pridefulness I don’t know what is. Jesus sees them as they are – naked, poor and blind. He encourages them to repent and reminds them that those whom He loves He chastens.

Pride comes with company or as I put it earlier, children. Pride comes with gossip. After all if you see yourself above others you clearly see their faults, so why not share your knowledge with others? This child can even be seen within the church. How many times have we been approached by someone who asks us to pray for someone only to take that as an opportunity to disclose all the juicy gossip that warrants our prayers. Simply asking for prayers on behalf of someone is enough since God knows what they are going threw.

Pride also comes with Disrespect, Disregard and Dismissiveness. That snobbish way that Pride can make one person loose all compassion or understanding for those around them. Others opinions, feelings, thoughts or accomplishments mean nothing to the prideful.

The last child of Pride is the narcissist spotlight. The “look at me” way in which pride causes its victims to behave whether brazenly or subtly. Pride boasts of plans without regard for consequence or risk. I believe that Satans fall was caused by Pride because of his boasting of his plans to overthrow God Almighty.

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’             Isa 14: 12-14 NKJV

Pride was Satans downfall.

Pride will always be in opposition to God.

Pride will bring destruction.

God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”  James 4:6 & 1 Peter 5:5 KJV

“Finally” Performed by Gary Chapman at the Grand Ole Opry  (Pardon the video quality – It’s one of my favorites and I wanted to share.) Be Blessed A&B

* “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.    Matthew 12:31 NKJV

Grace and Mercy

Both grace and mercy are often spoken of in the Scriptures. So much so we perhaps we glance over them as we seek the point of the verse or passages we read.

But we should take a moment to reflect on these words and consider how they apply to us or more specifically our eternal salvation.

Grace

noun

dictionary.com

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  Eph. 2:8-9 NKJ

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.  Gen. 6:8 NKJV

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.                                          John 1:17 NKJV

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood to be received by faith.                                                                                                   Romans 3:23-25a NIV

What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift (grace) but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.     Romans 4:3-5 NIV

Grace as we see defined and exemplified here can be summed up as unmerited favor or gift of God. It can not be earned so we should stop trying to work at being saved. If we were able to earn God’s favor then Jesus would not have had to die. The Law which was given to Moses was not a standard we were ever expected to achieve but rather a mirror with which we would see our desperate need of a savior. The inability to keep all 613 laws outlined by Moses does not mean that we are free just throw up our hands and give in to sin.

For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?         Romans 6:14-16 NKJV

Likewise Paul tells us that even under grace we will see the consequences of our actions. Even though our salvation has been a gift of God by His grace we should work to be as good as we can within our own frail abilities or suffer the consequences.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.  And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Gal. 6:7-8 NKJV

So if grace is God’s unmerited or unearned gift or favor, what then is mercy? Isn’t it the same thing?

Mercy is, in a simple way of saying it, the other side of the same coin! Let’s look closer.

Mercy

noun

compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence:
Have mercy on the poor sinner.
the disposition to be compassionate or forbearing:
an adversary wholly without mercy.
the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, especially to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty.
an act of kindness, compassion, or favor:
She has performed countless small mercies for her friends and neighbors.
something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing:
It was just a mercy we had our seat belts on when it happened

Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.     Matthew 5:7 NKJV

Then many warned him (the blind man) to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”                                            Mark 10:48 NKJV

For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy.  For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.                   Romans 11:30-32 NKJV

Mercy is simply translated from the greek word(s) “elehos” meaning compassion. In the verses above from Romans we see God’s mercy is mentioned in contrast to the disobedience of others. Mercy is God’s compassion.

Grace is God giving us that which we could never earn.

Mercy is God compassionately not giving us that which we deserve.

Whether we like it or not, we are born in sin and sin is in our nature. As such we deserve death – The wages of sin is death! Regardless of how proud you are of how good a person you think you are – you are a sinner. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Your only hope is to pray for mercy and receive the grace of God.

Mercy and Grace / Grace and Mercy

Two sides of the same coin and both given to us by God.

Without these two we are hopelessly lost and doomed to the darkness of Hell

If you haven’t already, I beg you, cry out to Jesus.

Beg for His mercy and receive His Grace!!

Be Blessed A&B

Friend Me

Friend me

Follow me

Like me

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumbler, are just some ways we are actively connecting with the whole world and sharing what we are doing, watching and interested in. For all these connections it still begs the question – How close are we?

We share what we like and what we are doing but it’s all very superficial and general. There’s no real closeness. At the same time we want to be “liked” and “followed”. It feeds our ego and lifts our self-esteem.

But how close are we with the people that follow or like us!? Does it even matter how close we are with our social media “friends”?

Jesus tells us that there is a day coming when many will approach Him expecting acceptance and be rejected. They will argue that they told people about Jesus and even performed miracles in His name. He will still reject them. But why? let’s look at it closer.

Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Matthew  7:22-24 NKJV

“I never knew you” Those are the words that Jesus said many (yes many) will hear Him say to them even though they professed knowing Him. So it’s obvious that just following Jesus isn’t enough to be known by Him. But what did they lack? What was missing to cause Jesus to reject them? Obviously they “liked” Jesus and they “followed” Him maybe by reading the Bible and they even used His name to perform miracles such as casting out demons, so what was missing?

Intimacy! No, not romantic intimacy but true heartfelt interaction. Daily honest conversations. Sincere worship and adoration. Expressions of gratitude for the daily blessings received. When we get a phone call from a family member or close friend we recognize their voice and we know what their day to day life consists of. There’s no need for them to identify themselves or fill us in on their past history – we know them. This is what those many people Jesus speaks of lack. This is the superficiality that social media promotes.

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”   John 4:23-24 NKJV

….”in spirit and in truth” The Greek word there for truth is aletheia which means truth, truly, true and comes from the Greek word alethes which means true as in not concealed or hidden.

Today we would say “be open” or “honest” but it gets the same point across.

Jesus will reject those who profess to know Him. Those who use His name to gain glory for themselves even while performing miracles in His name. He will reject them because they have not been honest and open with Him. They have not established a relationship that is built on intimacy.

Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord,

I hope you are not one of the many! All it takes to not be one of the many is to be honest, open and talk with Him. Let Him get to know you. He stands at the door and knocks. Let Him in or be left out!!

 

Be Blessed A&B