Tag Archives: prayer

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

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

What Is God’s Will For Me?

What is God’s will for me?

A question that many believers ask at some time. Along with;

Why am I here? What is my calling? What should I do with my life?

Life is full of so many choices. Crossroads appear at ever turn. Schools, activities, friends, choices, choices, choices. What if we make the wrong choice? Go to the wrong school? Pick the wrong career? Move to the wrong town? Marry the wrong person? Oh My!!!!! I can be overwhelming! But does following God’s will really need to be so difficult? Do the choices really matter?

Break it down

Looking into The Word of God we see that God tells us what He desires for and from us.

John 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. What this tells us that God loves us and sent His Son (Jesus) to us so that by believing in Him we can have everlasting life.  This means it is God’s will that we believe in Jesus and have everlasting life.

Likewise, 1 Timothy chapter Two, tells us that living “a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior

And

“Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth”

So I believe it can be said that God’s will for everyone is to be saved and live a quiet and peaceful life.

Ok, but what about all the choices that we face? What is God’s will for those decisions? Does he care about those choices we make and if so can we make wrong choices? I would say both yes and no in that if salvation is God’s will for everyone, then as long as these other choices do not distract or conflict with that prime directive then His Grace is sufficient.

Some believe that there is one perfect almost predestined plan that God has for our lives and that we should seek that out earnestly. Prayerfully seeking God’s direction before making any important decision is always a good thing to do but being anxious about a decision or regretful about a past decision because one believes they are outside the will of God is defeating.  Certainly, God wishes us to do well, be happy, live long and use our gifts to glorify Him.

Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth  3 John:1-2

God saw that it was not good for man (Adam) to be alone. God made Eve as a companion for Adam and it is safe to say that He wishes that single people find someone to be a companion to. He cares about our happiness but cautions about being unequally yoked (paired with someone that is not of the same faith). Some say that this scripture verse relates to marriage and business/career relations but we are in the world even though we are not of the world and as such we should shine a light especially on unbelieving co-workers and the world in general.

Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of your heart. Ps. 37:4

Prosperity, health and happiness and our eternal salvation of our souls are a concern to God and the reason He sent Jesus to make a way for us all but that’s not all.

He wants us to tell others the good news! The Gospel of Jesus is The Good News!! Death has been defeated and the grave is not the end. We will all pass from this life to the next but our final destination is not a fateful unknown. We can choose our destination and as previously pointed out – John 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. What this tells us that God loves us and sent His Son (Jesus) to us so that by believing in Him we can have everlasting life.  This means it is God’s will that we believe in Jesus and have everlasting life.

But if we must believe in order to have everlasting life then how can anyone believe that does not hear? This is why Jesus commands us to go, and share the Gospel. Matthew 28:19

In summation

God’s will for your life doesn’t concern itself with where you live, what car you drive, what school you attended, what career you follow or any of the temporary superficial things we as a society worry and tweet about.

God’s will for your life (everyone’s life) is that you believe in Jesus and receive everlasting life as a result of that belief. Additionally, having received this gift of God, share the Love of God and the Good news of Jesus Christ to a world full of people who will live an eternity in agony if they don’t.

If you surrender to His will all those other things will fall into place or be revealed as useless vanity and be forgotten.

Be blessed A&B

Importunity

Importunity – Im por What?

Im-por-tun-ity

Persistence, especially to the point of annoyance. Boldness.

And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his IMPORTUNITY he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. ( Luke 11:7-8 )

In this example we see that it’s late and people are sleeping. The neighbor has a visitor. He goes next door and asks for food to serve the visitor. He doesn’t just ask. He asks with persistence and boldness with a full sense of expectation. No doubts no hesitation. The Bible is riddled with examples of importunity. Moses at the Red Sea comes to mind. He trusted that beyond the insurmountable odds God would make a way. No doubt no hesitation. Likewise Abraham haggled with God over the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah like a friend would with a friend, an equal. No doubt no hesitation.  Peter dared against the obvious dangers of the tempest surrounding him and bid Jesus call him out onto the water. He stepped out and walked on the water towards Jesus. No doubt no hesitation. (Yes, he sank like a rock when he took his eyes off  Jesus but that’s another post

And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;  Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;  Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. (Luke 18:1-5 )

In this example of persistence (importunity) Jesus uses an unjust Judge to show a comparison. The widows persistence wore down the judge and she received her justice. Yet, Jesus goes on to teach us that if this unjust judge gave in to the persistent widow won’t God (Who is just) answer those that cry out to Him? (Luke 18:6-8)

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: (Matthew 7:7)

Ask, Seek, Knock

Even the acronym for these three words spells ASK!

The Word of God tells us to come boldly into the throne of grace. We need nobody to speak for us (even though Jesus Himself is our Advocate, again lets save that for another post). The veil that separated the Holy of Holies in the Temple from the rest of God’s people was torn when Jesus died. There’s nothing and nobody stopping us from entering into the very presence of The Almighty. The boldness, that importunity, is the key. No doubt no hesitation.

Importunity

Im-por-What?

Impor-powermeant!! That’s what.

Religious-minded people may have told you that meekness and a poverty mentality is what God expects and rewards yet here are several examples of the obvious. Certainly God expects and deserves reverence. We are to Fear the Lord. That fear means reverence and respect in awe of His power. We are not expected to cower or tremble when we pray. Neither are we to pray a prayer of wishful thinking not being sure of the outcome because “God works in mysterious ways”! He does not work in mysterious ways. Jesus shared His plans, hopes and mission with His disciples.

There is one thing that this importunity indicates.

Relationship!

The neighbors knew each other. Probably very well considering the closeness of community back then. Likewise, I’m sure that the widow knew that judge and his reputation which is why she was unrelenting. When Jesus instructs us to be persistent by asking, seeking and knocking He is looking for a relationship. I heard a great sermon where the example of ask seek knock was likened to walking across a grassy place such as a short cut. The repetition of walking across that grassy path wears away the grass and leaves the bare earth that’s been beaten down lower that the surrounding turf.

Jesus clearly taught that if we abide(Live, dwell, accept or act in accordance with) in Him and His words abide in us (see the causative relationship?) then we can ask what we will and it shall be done. (John 15:7)

Beat a path to God

Practice IMPURTUNITY

He will hear you!

 

Be blessed, A&B 

 

 

How Time Flies….

How time flies!

As we approach October of 2019 I am shocked to be celebrating our 6th anniversary here at TSP Blog. What first started out as a photography sales website (a colossal mistake on my part but lesson learned) morphed into this blog where we had hoped to encourage the body of Christ and engage in dialogs about The Bible, Jesus, The Faith Walk and more.

As time has gone by there have been lapses of silence here but no lack of inspiration.

So, here we go! Autumn of 2019. Summer is over. Kids are back in school. The leaves are turning and pies are baking! I am committed to put down on paper (figuratively obviously) all these thoughts that bounce around in my head. Some of which have come from wonderful sermons I have heard and books that I have read or revelations that have come to me. As always I have not and will not attempt to act as an authority on these subjects. The Word of God thoroughly and seriously read is the ultimate authority. I simply seek to set the stage for discussion, shine a light on a subject or at the very least cause some self examination and reflection.

Subjects will include

  • Knowing God by His Names
  • Jesus Revealed by His Names
  • What must I do to be saved
  • Salvation? Who, How and Why?
  • Being a Christian – Christ’s example of how we ought to live
  • What is Faith?
  • God’s Will for you
  • Hell! It can’t be real!?
  • Getting Back to Basics – A Fundamentalist’s approach.

Just to name a few

This blog is intended to Encourage, Inspire and Challenge the body of Christ

All content published here represents our interpretation and beliefs. We take The Word of God at face value. We believe it to be the unadulterated and infallible voice of Almighty God to the World. Unchanging and able to cut into the heart of the reader, It is God’s sword.

If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ or you do not believe in or read The Bible, you will probably not enjoy the content found here but please understand that we do not wish to offend or attack the beliefs/ideals of others.

I would like to say that’s to those that followed our posts and would hope that others will stop by, read and speak up.

Be Blessed, A&B

 

It’s A New Day!!

Seize the Day Pana

Happy New Year!!!

    2018 is here and the New Year is in it’s second day. A new day in a new year with hope in our hearts as we head down the road! Why shouldn’t we be hopeful and optimistic? We serve a great God Whose Love watches over us each and every day.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. Lam 3:22-23 NIV

    Does this mean that we will live this year free from suffering or misfortune? Will we be isolated from the pain that life can sometimes bring with it? Obviously the answer is a resounding no. As long as we are in this world we will be subject to the effects this world has on its inhabitants. So, where is this “mercy” that this scripture speaks of? It’s in the power to stand the storms of life. The umbrella in the rain if you will. It’s in the knowledge that although we might be shaken we will not fall because God is on our side.

    Paul talked about the fragility of our lives as we carry the Light of God within us –

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;

perplexed, but not in despair; 

persecuted, but not abandoned;

struck down, but not destroyed.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NIV

    Paul knew too well how hard life can be especially for someone who works to spread The Good News to the world. In a rare moment he boasts of his credentials and lists his sufferings for the Gospels sake in 2 Corinthians chapter 11. He shares that before his conversion he had a zeal for the Lord and goes on to describe what he has endured for Christ.

I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.  Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea,  I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.  I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.  Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 2 Cor. 11: 23-28 NIV

    Yet, Paul suffered all this and if we look at  2 Corinthians chapter 4 verses 17 and 18 we see that he refers to all those sufferings as “light afflictions”!

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

    So, the mercy of God may not save us from the troubles of this world, it will sustain us and perfect within us a spirit of strength, hope and love if we look past the storm in faith.

Faith in Him Who bore our sins and promised –

I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

Matthew 28:20 NIV

 

 

Ps – Before anyone thinks I am sitting on a high horse as I write this I will share that I dispise the pain of a paper cut! I hate drama and the troubles that can knock on my door. I pray for storms of life to pass quickly and can’t always see that the sun will shine again. But I try, by faith, to preserver and not ask “why me?” Because I know the answer to that question is – So, that I may bring glory to God as I learn from the experience.

Be Blessed in 2018 and thanks for stopping by. A&B

 

The Mega Millions Jackpot is now……

Does your shopping list include bread, milk, cold cuts, lotto tickets and scratch offs? Many people do. Many Christians do too. After all as a Christian we could do so much good with alllllllll that money. Right? Where’s the harm in that?

From cover to cover The Word of God tells us how much God loves us. In the Old Testament we learn the Names of God as He revealed Himself to the children of Israel. He is the God our Provider, The God our Healer, He is God Almighty, The God Who goes before us and so on.  In the New Testament we see God incarnate – God with us. The Creator of the universe left heaven to walk amongst us and even suffer unbearable things and die for us. We need to grasp just how much we are loved and be humbled at the thought of it.

But don’t forget to check your numbers! You gotta be in it to win! Today might be your lucky day! Someday my ship will come in!

But seriously brothers and sisters look at what the Word says about God’s provisions for your life and the trap of riches. God has no problem with wealth. Look at Solomon – the richest man ever – past, present and future.  That’s just one example of people God has blessed with great wealth because He wants to bless us. God promises to open up the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing on us that we can not contain – if we are good stewards of what He has already given us. If we fall into the trap of thinking that we don’t have enough or that we would be better off winning the sweepstakes what we are doing is telling God He is not enough or worse – He lied!

Thou shall not covet! It’s one of the Big Ten! Covet. Such an Old Testament word. Covet – to desire, be envious of, want or lust for. Now I know that none of us do that but there’s plenty of opportunity to if you did. The TV, Magazines, Billboards, Social Media all flash images of things we don’t have, or newer, bigger, nicer, better versions of what we do have, in our face. So naturally we want the newest, bigger, best, whatever. After all look at what we do have! ugh! It’s  old, it’s dull, boring, outdated.

It’s a trap. A trap to get you to devalue the blessings that God has given you – spouse, job, money, home, stuff, etc.,  and lust after something you don’t have and can’t afford to have. But, if I could just win the Lotto my problems would be solved. No they wouldn’t!

Goggle lotto winners and you’ll find many have lost it all. Spent it, gave some away, got robbed, whatever that case. The sweepstakes did not solve their problems. Only God can do that. He may be doing that already and you just don’t see it.

If you are working – you’re blessed! Many people aren’t.

If you’re working but unable to make ends meet. Look at what you spend your money (God’s Blessing) on.

If you are not working ask yourself why. If you’re health prevents you from working – Pray for strength or assistance.

If you are healthy enough to work but aren’t ask yourself why. Pride is a big hindrance to getting a job. “I’m a college educated ________ and I’m not going to work for anything less than $_____ an hour/day/week. Get a job. Any job and pray that God blesses your humility. I have countless stories of people I know who are in great positions but started at the bottom.

Instead of wishing you could win the jackpot and get all those new, bigger, brighter, better things, thank God for what you have right now. Because either God loves you and has provided for you and will continue to provide for you. Or He is a LIAR!

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.                                                                                                                      Phil 4:19 NKJV

God is NOT a Liar. But He told us about one and we should be careful not to fall into the traps set by that liar. He (the devil) comes to kill, steal and destroy.

Give thanks and be blessed, Al

 

Counting the Cost – Part 2 of the Hard Words Hard Work Series

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you

Matthew 5:44 KJV

Really? How? Why? The answer to these questions can be found in the next verse recorded during our Lords’ address which came to be called – The Beatitudes.

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (vs 45-48)

This is also where we find the famous “turn the other cheek” quote as well as “go the extra mile” and, as we see from the verse shown above, if you do these things we will be perfect! Ok, so maybe this doesn’t answer the question of How? and Why? But it does put to rest any doubt that this is a commend from God. Jesus said it and He meant it. Elsewhere our Lord tells us that if someone steal our coat we should find him and give him our shirt also. Yes. Really. Just such an example is illustrated in Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel in which an ex con (Valjean) is taken in by a benevolent Bishop (Myriel) and returns the hospitality by stealing the silver that night.   When the police capture Valjean, Myriel pretends that he has given the silverware to Valjean and presses him to take two silver candlesticks as well, as if he had forgotten to take them. This act of Christian kindness is the catalyst for Valjean to change his life and live for God. This is a fictitious example of what our Lord admonished us to do but an example nonetheless.

So, How do we do such a thing? Well, the answer may be found in the acceptance of the truth that we are incapable of doing such things. Yup, that’s what I said. Hard as it is for us to hear, we are limited in our ability to do anything that the Lord has asked us to do – BUT that’s because we try to do it in our own strength.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

Without Me (Jesus) you can do nothing. Nothing. Hard to hear that isn’t it? So how have we done whatever it is we have accomplished so far? Well, perhaps, with the help of God you have done things you thought you couldn’t do even if you didn’t ask for his help. But to answer angry with love, to give to someone who stole from you and to love those who hate you takes help. Help that is available 24/7 and is only a breath away.

cropped-image21.jpg

But what about the question – Why? That’s an easy one – because He said so. But if it helps, try to remember that we battle not against flesh and blood. Meaning, our fight is not with the people we see. It is a spiritual fight against the invisible forces behind them. Spirits of fear, addiction, anger, poverty, perversion and such can influence and control people to do things that can hurt us. Jesus knew this and encourages us to love because Love will conquer all.

If we can love them we will be the children of your Father which is in heaven

How wonderful is that???

Ashes to Ashes

Ash Wednesday 2014 to millions (or more) Christians today mark the beginning of Lent

  Wikipedia says – Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of adherents as a celebration and reminder of human mortality, and as a sign of mourning and repentance to God. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, alms giving, atonement and self-denial. Its institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the tradition and events of the New Testament beginning on Friday of Sorrows, further climaxing on Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday, which ultimately culminates in the joyful celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

OK, So we have 6 weeks of prayer, penance, repentance of sins, alms giving, atonement and self-denial.

   I have two problems with this concept. The first is the obvious one – just six weeks? What about the other 46 weeks? But I think it’s a given that we should be a witness of God’s love all year long so I’ll leave that there – for now. Likewise, prayer, repentance of sins, alms giving and self-denial (also referred to as self-control) are all good things for a true believer to do year round. But, its the reason that these things are done that align them with the misguided concept of penance and atonement. I am not saying that millions of people are wrong for following their hearts during these next 6 weeks. I am saying that the goals or ideals of such an exercise is not Biblical and misleading. Unfortunately, the evidence of this misguided adventure is heralded at the end of it all – Jesus Christs’ trial, death and resurrection!!

 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:But this man (Jesus Christ), after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Heb 10:11-22 KJV

after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God vs 12

   Jesus carried out the ultimate “self-denial” by suffering and dieing on the cross that WE deserved to be put upon. Furthermore, having done this He put an end to the sacrifices of the Temple and the old way –Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.  Heb 9:12 KJV. The veil of separation in the Temple was ripped in two down the middle from top to bottom when He died on that cross signifying the end of the old and the beginning of the new. As if that wasn’t enough – Jesus’ own last words from the cross should quiet the debate – It is finished. John 19:30 KJV

Still, Paul addresses this –  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:Not of works, lest any man should boast.For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Eph. 2:8-10 KJV or otherwise put this way in the Living Bible – Because of his kindness, you have been saved through trusting Christ. And even trusting is not of yourselves;it too is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good we have done, so none of us can take any credit for it. It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others

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Finally, We can not EARN our salvation. If we could do that Jesus would not have had to come and die for our sins. Having done that though, lets not insult the gift of God by trying to earn it. That would be like trying to pay me for a the present I gave you for your birthday even though you have no money or source of income. As I mentioned before,  prayer,repentance of sins and alms giving are all good things that every Christian should do daily out of a thankful heart towards God but atonement, penance and self-denial as a way of earning salvation is futile because its already been done and can not be added to. Celebrate the fact that Jesus Loved YOU enough to hang on a cross so that you don’t have to and be grateful. Truly, deeply and sincerely grateful.

To obey is better than sacrifice 1 Sam 15:22 KJV

Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifice as much as in obeying the Lord? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better than the fat of rams. 1 Sam 15:22 HCSB