Tag Archives: Faith

Whose Report Do you Believe?!

Whose report will you believe

But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke:

“Lord, who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:

“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts,
Lest they should see with their eyes,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.”

These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.

John 12: 37-41(Isaiah 53:1 ) NKJV

But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Romans 10: 16-17 NKJV

Faith is such a simply thing that it can easily be overlooked. We set an alarm before we go to sleep never doubting it will wake us. We say good night to loved ones without a worry that we (or they) will rise tomorrow to see them again. We turn on a faucet and expect the water to flow. So many things in our life we take for granted yet we have faith (assurance, trust, no doubt) that they will be there just as before. Even if we have no clear understanding as to how they work – microwaves, computers, plumbing or electrical infastructures, we believe that will be just the way they have always been when we need them.

Salvation is based on a very simply concept as well.

But what does it (the righteousness that is by faith) say?

“The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Romans 10:6-10 NIV

So, it is all about what we believe in our hearts. Whose Report will You Believe?? CNN? The CDC? The Word of God? The Lord Jesus Christ Himself? It is a very simple question you see because our beliefs shape our thoughts and our thoughts shape our actions and our actions have consequences.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”;

Proverbs 3:5 & 1 Cor 3:19 NKJV

People who know me know that I am an emotional, passionate and maybe dramatic personality. I am an open book as the saying goes. I also can be trusting to the point of gullibility. Therefore the sensational and dramatic can catch my eye. With the pandemic upon us I have seen and read many websites promoting the theory that we are in the end times. Honestly, I can’t help but agree that these unprecedented events we see each day playing out are a cause to reflect, pray and appreciate what is truly important – but with a clear head.

To those of us who already believe in Jesus and have placed our lives into His Hands these events should act as a call to action. Now more than ever we believers must be the light He called us to be. A beacon of stability in a world being blown around by fear and sensationalism and uncertainty. Like Jesus Who slept in the boat (Matt 8:23-26) while the storm tossed it about we should be calm and undeterred by the events unfolding around us. As we stand strong during this crisis others will want to know why we aren’t worried as they are. This will be the opportunity for us to share the faith in and love of God with them.

In this uncertain time, as always, we must remember that God is on His throne. Jesus told us this is how it would be so we should not be surprised. the Bible talks about “great signs and wonders” as the end draws near.

I heard a great analogy of this scripture I’d like to share. When a traveler is in a foreign land and comes to a cross street. They look around and can not understand what they are reading because it’s in a language different from their own. But to the locals who live there it is a sign which gives directions that they clearly understand.

Likewise, these signs we see today (pandemic, hoards of locusts, earthquakes, cyclones, famine, sickness, volcanic eruptions, etc) tell us clearly that the end is near. They are a sign to us who believe because Jesus told us they would come and they they would be the birth pangs of the end. To those who do not believe these events are a wonderland a cause for concern and fear.

Having said all of that –

Whose Report Shall You Believe???

Good Morning

Good morning!

Today is Tuesday. Just another day during this new normal called the covid-19 shut down. I can look out my window and see the sun shining on the flowers in the yard. A breeze blows the branches on the trees and the flag waves in the sunlight. For all intents and purposes it is a good morning.

But that is the problem with superficialities. Things don’t always appear as they are. A duck floats along on a pond looking calm and at peace but below the surface its feet are franticly paddling! Likewise, outside my window the sun shines, birds sing, flowers grow and all appears to be well on my street.

But.

But within the walls of the brightly lit homes on my block are people who are locked down. Locked down, sheltered in place, quarantined, staying safe, flattening the curve, whatever you want to call it, they are not going about living life as usual. It is obviously the same almost everywhere around the world and maybe we can take solace in the fact that we are not the only ones suppressed by this.

And.

“And how are you holding up?”

“Well. We are doing well thanks, considering. It is an inconvenience but we will get through it. Together, of course.”

“Well, be safe and stay well. Please tell everyone at home I said hey!”

Platitudes. The things that we have come to learn are appropriate to say in ever circumstance. We know what to say when someone gets a promotion. What to say when someone looses a loved one. We know what to say to encourage each other when we face an unusual and stressful time such as this.

Why?

Why be superficial and just keep up appearances? Why speak in empty platitudes? Would being real really be so bad? Would it really be so bad if we said how we feel?

Fearful

Frustrated

Broke

Angry

Stressed

Worried

Tired

Hungry

Hot

Cold

Dirty

Defeated

Rejected

Lonely

Overwhelmed

Unemployed

What if we showed ourselves as we are? Drop the facade. Allowed ourselves to be real.

Yell. Cry. Rest. Take five. Take a nap. Call a friend. Hug someone. Ask for help.

Yes, ask for help! How many times have you been willing to help someone? Friend or stranger, have you been ready to help out without a seconds thought? Many people in our world can be so caring and giving. Yet, so many people will not ask for help. They hold it in. They “man-up” or “push through” or “press on” or whatever ridiculous thing they tell themselves just so they don’t have to swallow their pride and be real.

Jesus told us to ask. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7 Take note of the words Jesus used – Ask, Seek, Knock – “A” “S” “K”!

The Word of God tells us the we have not because we do not ask. James 4:2

We are also commanded many times to help each other.

Love our neighbors as ourselves. Carry each others burdens. Look after the widows and the sick. Just to name a few. Mathew 22:39, Galatians 6:2, 1 Tim 5:3

But the point I wish to make here today is to be real! Superficialities and platitudes help no-one. Be Real! Be You. Let someone in during these difficult times and let yourself be refreshed by their love and support. After all wouldn’t you be loving and supportive of them if they needed it?

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.        John 4:23-24 NIV

If this scripture isn’t calling for us to let down our superficial ways of approaching God (and each other) then I know nothing and should stop writing. Don’t be locked into platitudes in life and especially not in your prayer life. Be real and be transparent. Love and encourage everyone but also allow yourself to be loved, encouraged, lifted up or even carried if that’s what you need.

I’ll stop now. I’ve obviously gotten carried away with this thought for today. Just be encouraged today and if you need help ask. Ask God. Ask a loved one. But ask. Because pretending you are ok when you are not will not help.

 

Be Blessed A&B

The Seven Deadly Sins – Conclusion

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.

In previous posts we have looked at Pride and Greed in depth. Here today I will attempt to sum up the remaining five – lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. As insidious as sin in general can be I believe that some of these seven to be greater traps than others. Pride, greed, lust, envy and wrath are exaggerations of our natural emotions. Kind of like a highjacking of our emotions if you will.

After all we all feel good about doing well and accomplishments we have achieved but pride can be blinding if we fail to see our shortcomings or if we inflate ourselves above others around us. Jesus always pointed to The Father. He said He did the works of Him who sent Him. He humbled Himself as a servant and didn’t even respond to threats and accusations during His trial. Just as God the Father acknowledge Jesus, Jesus sparks of the Father and the Holy Spirit speaks of Jesus. Humility among the deity of the Trinity.

Likewise with greed we see our natural desire to have our basic needs met but when we begin to want more than reasonably necessary it a problem. This, I believe, could be said for the remainder of the seven. Natural instincts going too far even if we are helpless to the insidious spiral.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of GodRom 3:23 NKJV

All have sinned. Yes, all. That means me. That means you. That means everyone.

But what is sin? Who is to blame for the sin condition? Can’t we fix or stop it?

Sin – by definition is a transgression of divine law/ an act regarded as such a transgression, especially a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principal. (1)

It has also been said that Sin is simply missing the mark. The “mark” obviously being the standard set by God.

Who is to blame can be a more contentious topic than what sin is. the Bible tells us that by one mans disobedience (Adam) many were made sinners. (2) This speaks to what is commonly referred to as original sin. What about the sins we accumulate in our lives? Adam can’t be blamed for my lying, stealing, lusting or hoarding – can he?

Paul talks about the human condition when he tells us that the flesh and the spirit are at odds. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. Gal 5:17 NKJV This means that we have to put an effort into obeying or listening to the Spirit of God in order to have victory over the flesh/human condition to sin. So does this mean we are to blame for our sins? Yes! But only to a degree.

Paul also explains to us that there is an invisible battle going one around us. He explains that there are forces at work behind the scenes that influence behavior. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Eph. 6:12 NKJV

When Jesus met with people who were considered insane or suffering from seizures He cast demons out of them. When Peter told Jesus that he would protect Jesus from those that meant to harm Him Jesus rebuked the devil behind Peters words. Now, I know what you’re thinking. This is 2020 and you’re talking about demonic possession? I know you are probably thinking that we are past all that silly way of thinking. But are we? Pick up the paper. Turn on the news. Surf the internet and see the degree to which society has spoiled. Like a jug of milk left out in the hot sun we have spoiled and gone rancid in our decay. The degree of depravation of man against man is a testimony to the darkness that influences our world. The extreme cases exemplified by not only these seven deadly sins but all sin should be a wake up call to how far we have fallen and also how close we must be to the Lord’s return. Paul told us that this day would come – But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,  2 Tim 3:1-3 NKJV

Road rage, abortion, sexual immorality, the desensatation to blood, gore and death, the applauding of lifestyles and ideals that only a generation ago would have been shamefully looked down upon are only a few examples of just how far we have fallen and it shows the finger print of the one who is behind it. It is not all our own sinful fallen nature but also not all demonic. It is more closely a little of both.

After all, if we had it within us to be victorious over sin then Jesus didn’t need to die for our sins. That is unless you think He died for “Their sins” because you don’t have any or you have conquered those little sins that troubled you when you were young and foolish.

The biggest sin is the one we can not see. Jesus rebuked the religious people who pointed out the small sin in others lives while not clearly seeing the huge sin in their own lives. This brings us back to Pride. (3), (4)

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud,But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.*                                                                James 4:1-7NKJV

*I heard a great sermon years ago called ‘Formula for victory over sin!’ based on this scripture. the finer point of the teaching was how we need to use the entire formula and not just try to resist the devil. I need to be reminded of that sometimes. Be Blessed A&B

 

Earth Day @ 50!

50 Years ago the First Earth Day was celebrated! 50 years ago I was 12 and my classmates and I were tasked with cleaning up a huge corner lot which later became the new high school. ahhh the memories!

Earth Day, the Environmental movement and Mother Earth have been around for centuries. (1), (2), (3) The worship of the earth as a god or goddess (along with other celestial bodies; sun, moon stars and even animals) is not new. In current times we do not look at Earth Day as a worshipping of the earth but more as an acknowledgment of our impact upon the earth and our combined responsibility to try and preserve it. Reducing emissions, slowing the growth of greenhouse gasses, curbing pollution and various other acts are meant to lessen the impact of mankind to the environment.

What is or should be the Christians stand in all this? Do we appose these ideals because they may have their roots in Earth worship? Do we arrogantly site the Bible which clearly teaches us that this world will be transformed and renewed in some future whether near or distant? Do we comply with any and all mandates handed down by the authorities over us regardless of our religious beliefs? What if doing so violates our beliefs?

Now we all should know very well that our God is a jealous God and demands that we have no other gods before Him. (4) So worshipping the earth as a deity is out of the question. Currently, the earth day ceremonies don’t lean towards worship like they did centuries ago. Our understanding of the prophesies concerning the future of this planet and its condition is good for our own peace of mind and perhaps as a tool evangelism but doesn’t give us the right to be arrogant or irresponsible with the care of the planet/environment.

When questioned about whether or not Jews should pay taxes to the Roman emperor Jesus plainly explained that since Caesars face was on the money the people should give back to Caesar what was his but more importantly to give back to God what belonged to God (their hearts – implied). Other Bible verses tell us to live in peace with those around us and to obey the laws placed over us as long as to do so doesn’t violate our conscience or the laws of God. (5)

So, as long as using a cloth shopping bag rather then plastic or limiting the pesticides used on my lawn or recycling some portion of my garbage, isn’t grieving the Holy Spirit I see no harm. I am secure in the knowledge of the creator of this Earth and my relationship with Him is not in jeopardy by my compliance with local laws regarding environmental concerns.

Let us all remember that Jesus made this earth along with everything in it for us to live with and enjoy. Let us be good stewards of this garden He has given us while we are here. Like any other gift He has placed under our authority and care we want to act responsibly so that we will here Him say “Well done good and faithful servant” (6)

 

Be blessed A&B

Can I Get A Witness?!

Can I get a Witness?

Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works!             1Chronicles 16:9 NKJV

O God, You have taught me from my youth; And to this day I declare Your wondrous works.                                                                                                                   Psalms 71:17 NKJV

Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works!                     Psalms 105:2 NKJV

Can I get a witness? Can you tell me what the Lord has done for you? Or, would that be bragging? In the sight of pain, confusion and stress around us would cheerfully telling people what the Lord has done for you come across as bragging? It shouldn’t!

In fact God commands it!

Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven”.                                                                                  Matthew 10:32 NKJV 

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.                                     Mark 16:15 NKJV

And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.  But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”                                                                                                  Acts 1:7-8 NKJ

In the sight of pain, confusion and stress around us today would cheerfully telling people what the Lord has done for you come across as bragging? It shouldn’t!

At this time, more than ever, we need to spread hope and encouragement. What better why to do so then to recount the dark and hopeless place God saved you from. I, obviously don’t know you, but I am certain that if you believe in Jesus and have accepted Him as your Saviour and Lord, you went through something that only He could have saved you from.

Maybe it was the darkness of self doubt and confusion. Or perhaps some type of sickness or disease. Maybe you suffered from the hopelessness of addiction or the powerlessness of watching a loved one suffer. Perhaps you don’t consider what you went through very significant or great.

I am here to tell you that Did loves you and was with you through all the pain and hurt you experienced. He was there and He did what others could not. From His vantage point He held you up and saw you through even if you didn’t know it at the time. Where you are now is because of His love for you. Where you are now is a testimony of His love for you. Whatever it was that you went through it was meant to bring you back to Him and give glory to Him.

Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth.  And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.                                          John 9: 1-3 NKJV

The 9th chapter of Johns’ Gospel gives us an example of how God intervened in the sufferings of one man and the result was glory to God. The man was born blind and was well known around the city. His parents, when they were questioned about his new found sight, said that he was of age so ask him yourself. This tells us that he was at least 21 years of age. So, this man was born blind and lived this way for 21 years (or more) so that God could be glorified through him. His years of suffering were ended in a moment and his eyes were opened to both natural sight and the truth of who Jesus was. He did not lament the years blind or the what-ifs that past him by for years. He does give a matter-of-fact testimony of what God had done for him. Was this bragging? I don’t think so.

It has always been my opinion that the answer to the eternal question – “why me!!!!”- is that you will not learn from other peoples experience. Admittedly, that a fairly cynical way of thinking. The Gospels show us that people can learn from the experiences of others. That only serves as further proof of the importance of witnessing. Whether you go door to door or stand on a street corner or just share your good news with your circle of friends and co-workers, tell someone what the Lord has done for you. Tell them that He is no respecter of persons (He does not discriminate or play favorites) and if He did it for you He will do it for them.

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.                                     Mark 16:15 NKJV

 

Be Blessed A&B

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

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

 

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