Tag Archives: Life

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

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.

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

“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

 

New Year New Day New Start

It’s a New Year

It’s a New Day

It can be a New Start

It can be a New Life

 

Nearly two weeks into 2020 and maybe you made a resolution to exercise, or diet, or save money, or to do, or not do, any number of things like many people do each time the  calendar resets. We have the best intentions as we look forward to the year ahead thinner, richer, or in a new job, home, car, etc.. Why not consider a new life at this time of new starts?

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”                                             John 3:1-4 NKJV

Start a new year with a new life – be born again!!

   Nicodemus was a scholar, a Pharisess, fluent in the word of God and able to quote the Book of Moses and The Law (the first five books of the Old Testament) by heart. He was impressed with Jesus and had questions for Him but as we see in the scriptures he came to Jesus by night.  Under the cover of darkness, hoping no-one would see, he came to ask the teacher questions. Jesus knew what Nicodemus was searching for before the question was asked. Jesus’s answer was not what Nicodemus expected.

   Jesus explains that our birth from our mother is being born of the flesh but that the second birth which He is speaking of is Spirit. We are spirit beings in fleshly bodies and souls and it’s our spirits that must be reborn (regenerated) of God’s Spirit.

But maybe, like Nicodemus, you can’t understand how to reenter your mothers womb and be born a second time. Or perhaps you have been raised in the church and feel these words don’t apply to you. Maybe you’re secure in your relationship with Jesus and you have felt the joy of being reborn into His family. Whatever condition you may be in today as you read these words know that there is a better way, a new way, to live this new year. Become a child of God!

But wait! Isn’t everyone a child of God?

   Unfortunately, the answer to that question is a resounding NO! It is true that Jesus is the creator of all things (that includes you!). But He set you free into this life so that you can exercise your free will and return to Him. Accepting Jesus and receiving Him as your Lord and Savior is how you become a child of God.

He (Jesus) came to His own (the children of Israel), and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.                              John 1:11-13NKJV

   In the first chapter of John’s Gospel we see the power and glory of Jesus. In the beginning was The Word! John opens our eyes to the divinity of Jesus. How Jesus is The Word and how Jesus was with God and Is God. How Jesus made everything and how there is nothing that is made that was not made by Him. How Jesus is The Light of the world and that darkness does not comprehend the Light. John goes on to say that he was able to witness Jesus in the flesh.

In the glorious revealing of the very character of Jesus John also tells us God’s plan concerning all of us. God sent Jesus to earth to live among us as one of us and to die for us all. The sacrificial Lamb of God which under the law in olden times was slain to cover the sins of the worshippers in Israel. Only now, this Lamb, would be slain once and for all. His shed blood would not cover up the sins of the worshippers in Israel but rather, wash away the sins, no matter how great or horrific, of all mankind forever. Heb. 10

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.   John3:16 NKJV

It’s a New Year – It’s a New Day – It can be a New Start – It can be a New Life

   Give your heart to Jesus. Ask for His forgiveness. Let Him cleanse you of your sins. If you think you have no sins ask Him to show you your sins because He tells us that all (Yes all – that means you) have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (seeRomans 3:23!). Then you can become a child of God and inherit everlasting life.

RECYCLE YOURSELF – RETURN TO JESUS

   If you are secure in your relationship with Jesus and know Him as your Lord and Savior then share the good news of Jesus with someone today.  Show them how they can become a child of God.

The Future is Here!!!

THE FUTURE IS HERE!!

He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.  Rev 13:16-17 NKJV

This prophecy speaks of an authoritative entity creating a situation worldwide that will effect everyone’s ability to purchase or sell anything. The thought that a cashless electronic society would be necessary to implement this mark system has long been discussed. Speculation about an RFID chip embedded under the skin, much like those currently in use with pets, could contain the information necessary for transactions at point of sale spots. Today we have many ways of transferring funds or paying for everything from our mortgage, utility bills and even our morning cup of coffee without handling one single piece of cash. Wire transfers, direct deposits, auto pay and Zelle transfers could replace cash and checks. Many places of business already refuse cash payments for the ease of book keeping, avoiding human error related losses and in hopes of avoiding robbery. 

 

Financial Big Brother Is Coming, But Bitcoin Will Remain By Tomas Salles

Earlier this week, news broke that Alex Patelis, the chief economic adviser to the prime minister, is proposing to force the Greek population to spend 30% of their income using electronic payment methods. The measure aims to increase the country’s revenues by €700 million a year by preventing tax fraud.

The threads that would sew these two remnants of today are the CBDC or Central Bank Digital Currency. Learn the concept. 

Yesterday, Christine Lagarde, president of the ECB (European Central Bank), announced the creation of a working committee on the CBDC, intending to advance rapidly towards the launch of this instrument.

China plans to launch its CBDC at the beginning of 2020, Canada is already set to work on it, and every week a new initiative is made public.

What I extract from the three news items is that we are moving towards a society where governments will control the payments that everyone makes. Governments are preparing to implement 100% electronic payment systems, in a quest to eliminate tax evasion.

The CBDC is the specific instrument to impose a financial version of Big Brother will be imposed.

Posted on Yahoo Finace December 13, 2019, 1:10 PM EST

Did you hear that?

   Governments are preparing to implement 100% electronic payment systems, in a quest to eliminate tax evasion.

Eliminating cash would not only eliminate tax evasion but would very well eliminate illegal activities such as drug sales, gun sales, robbery (after all if you don’t have money in hand that’s one less thing a robber could target you for) etc. But it would obviously give the government (all governments – local, state and federal) total insight into what we earn and what we buy and where we do go. Privacy is the first victim of technology today. 

Now, I’m not saying that a cashless society is the mark of the beast but it is a technological advancement which the Antichrist can utilize or manipulate to influence people and control them. 

The prophecy clearly states that those who worship the beast will receive this mark and therefor be able to buy and sell. 

What about those that do not?!?

Rev 13:15 says it all – those that do not worship the beast will die. All true believers will have a life or death decision to make and it may be sooner than we think. 

Leaving a Lasting Legacy

Recently I was in a tradesmen’s shop when I saw a plaque on the wall along with a picture of the company’s founder. 

He came from Europe and started working as a plumber. He established a business that 4 generations later still serves the public and employs many people. That’s a lasting legacy!

There are examples all around us of people who had a dream which became a legacy. Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks. These people who have long since passed away still live on today because of the hopes and dreams that they had. That’s a lasting legacy! 

What kind of legacy will you have? What impact will the life you live make? What mark on this earth will you leave? 

Maybe you’re a politician or a statesman working to make society better for future generations. Maybe a doctor or scientist working on a wonder drug or cure a disease. Maybe you’re in education and shaping the hearts and minds of the next generation. 

Maybe you aren’t any of those things. Maybe you’re one of millions of average people who live each day the same way. Work at a job and go home to family to eat and fellowship before sleeping only to get up the next day and do it all again. Maybe you don’t think you will have a legacy or have an impact or leave a mark. 

What, if anything, does God care about the legacy we leave behind or the impact we have or the mark we leave? 

The Bible says that our works, actions, legacy here on earth will be weighed by God and tried by fire. Somethings we did will burn as if they were wood, hay or stubble. Others will survive like gold, silver precious gems. 1 Corinthians 3:13

What will burn and what will survive? What is the standard for this test? 

What is my life here made of? Wood or Gold? Hay or Silver? Stubble or Precious Gems? 

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthian church is addressing the divisions and clicks that they are experiencing. Some are pridefully saying that they are Paul’s followers and other Apollo’s followers. Paul is explaining that neither he nor Apollo are anything but it’s God who has saved them. He explains that he only planted seeds and Apollo or others watered but it was God that gave the increase (brought about the salvation).

Paul goes on to say that Jesus is the foundation on which he, Apollo and all other believers build on but we should be careful how we build because it will be judged and tried by fire. 

So, are you planting seeds, or watering seeds that others have planted? That is to say, are you building on the foundation Jesus laid? Sharing the good news of the Gospel? Showing the compassion and love of God to others? Willing to lay down your life (humble yourself and or put someone else’s needs before your own) to bring someone to Christ? 

Or, are you a believer who is only concerned with your salvation? Attending church but not planting seeds or watering? Content that you’re saved and let the rest of the world find their own way? Talking about your Sunday at church but not the Word of God? 

Paul goes on to tell us that if our works survive the fire we will receive a reward but if our work is burnt up we will suffer the loss but be saved. So, our personal salvation is not in jeopardy but our pride will be hurt.

What will your legacy be? Political? Societal? Scientific? or Immortal? Will you plant seeds and water seeds planted so that Jesus has the harvest?

Once we have been saved from Hell’s fire the only legacy that lasts will be those we saved as well.

Go, ye into all the world, and search the Gospel to every creature!!! Mark 16:15 KJV 

 

Be Blessed A&B