Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Recalling the pain . . . looking forward to the victory dance!

Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne(Revelation 5:6)

From Charles Spurgeon . . ."Jesus continues to wear the image of a slain Lamb — the very image He wore as He wooed our souls and redeemed us by His perfect atonement. Yet these are not simply adornments, but are visible trophies of His love and His victory."

If Jesus thinks it right and good to continue to bear the marks of His suffering, should we not keep them in mind, not simply during this Holy Week, but every day of our new-born lives?

As we, made in the image of our Creator, live day to day, let's keep in mind why we live . . . for the One who suffered, died, rose from the dead. and now lives awaiting our homegoing . . .

Live for the Savior . . . He is coming soon!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Just Another HOLY Week?

No Pain, No Gain

“‘My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me.’ Going a little farther, he threw himself down with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if possible, let this cup pass from me! Yet not what I will, but what you will.’ Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping.
He said to Peter, ‘So, couldn’t you stay awake with me for one hour? Stay awake and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ He went away a second time and prayed,
‘My Father, if this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it,
your will must be done.’ ”
(Matthew 26:38-42 NET)

Recalling the movie, The Passion (Mel Gibson) and how Jesus was in agony in the garden prior to His arrest, I reflect upon the image of Satan right there, still plotting to thwart God’s plan to redeem man’s soul . . .my soul . . . your soul!

He tried to convince Jesus that we were not worth His efforts and that no one man could possibly save all of man. Oh but my Jesus, He slammed His foot upon the serpent, bringing to mind the verse in Genesis 3:15 (NIV):

“…he will crush your head…”

Satan was about to receive a crushing blow; the victory over death through the shed blood of Christ upon the cross. The emotional pain leading up to the cross must have wracked Jesus'soul, yet in no way would it compare to the physical pain leading up to and including the crucifixion. It was all for you and for me.

Thank you Jesus!

There is a familiar saying in the gym: “NO PAIN, NO GAIN”. Without the pain of the cross there is no gain of salvation. There had to be the pain to atone for the sin. There had to bloodshed!

“Indeed according to the law almost everything was purified with blood,
and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
(Hebrews 9:22 NET)

His PAIN (beatings, scourging, spitting, curses, and the crucifixion) was our GAIN. His sacrifice was our freedom. We owe everything we are to Christ. No one could ever do what He did.

All of our work is simple rubbish before a holy God. How deep and wide is the love of God for us for Him to allow Jesus to doo all he did!

He did it for Peter, who promised to follow Jesus through anything, yet denied Him three times in one night.

He did it for the Jewish people and all who cried out “crucify Him!”

He did it for the thief hanging next to Him on the cross.

He did it for me. He did it for you! Why does He love us so?

Jesus cried out while on the cross,

“‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is,
‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”
(Matthew 27:46 NET)

Then He sighed,

"‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”
(John 19:30 NKJV)

The work of Christ was complete. He had received all the sin of every person to live upon this earth. He felt the painful separation from His Father. Every drop of His blood for every sin of mankind! The Old Testament sacrificial laws were now obsolete. His obedience to God the Father’s will was complete and perfect.

The sacrifice had been made. The temple curtain was torn in two making the way clear to the Father. No more atonement was needed. No more rituals. The way of redemption had been paved!

One person: Jesus, the only begotten of the Father, out of love for man and obedience to the Father, took on flesh and became sin for us. No greater love would ever be established than for Jesus Christ to lay down His life for each of us.

Never doubt His love! At the foot of the cross, as we look up and gaze upon our Savior, His outstretched arms show the width and depth of His love.

I wonder what our pain . . . our sacrifice . . . our commitment . . .our obedience can lead to?

One life . . . our life . . .lived within another Holy Week?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Do We Really TRUST God?

“If you love me, keep my commands". (John 14:15)

When it comes to our formal theology, we confess a belief which says that obedience is born out of trust. Yet in our day-to-day life, we're too often disobedient in spite of giving lip-service to trust and obey.

If we really do not trust God at His word, how can we possibly begin to obey Him in our lives? This is the basis of our faith!

Try it today:

"Trust and obey, for there's no other way

to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey."

Thursday, March 26, 2015

At a Crossroads?

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.(John 14:6)


Imagine coming to the end of a long country road after hours of driving and you see this:

Crossroads – Movie: “The tree of wooden clogs”

In our spiritual journey, there is only one way to turn for success . . .        choose Christ!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Do you realize how much God loves YOU?

 . . . so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ . . .(Ephesians 3:17-18) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Eph.3.17-Eph.3.18

We often ask this of our friends and family . . ."How much do you love me?"

Well, imagine being at the cross nearly 2,020 years ago and witnessing the outstretched arms of Jesus nailed to that cross. 

OMG for real!!!!

This is how deep . . . how wide . . . how MUCH God loves you and me! What kind of a response do we give to that kind of love? From my perspective, all we can do is do our best to live for Him!

How much do we love Him?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Reward We MUST Choose

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.                                                                         (Romans 6:23)https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=romans+6%3A23&version=NIV


Continuing with our talk on heaven . . . 

It is definitely . . .

  1. A place where we are rewarded for the things we have done for Christ . . .
  2. A place where we are reassigned to use the gifts God has given us. . . .
  3. A place of release, where we’re free from all pain, suffering, sadness, sorrow, grief, depression, and loneliness. 
  4. A place of reunion, where we are reunited with other loved ones who have accepted the grace of the cross . . .

It will indeed be such a wonderful reward and gift from God and specially designed for each one of us who claim Him as Lord and Savior. 

However, we must accept it . . . on HIS terms!

Monday, March 23, 2015

"What is it going to be like in heaven?"

“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=revelation+21%3A+3-4&version=NIV

"What is it going to be like in heaven?"

I hear this question often in my middle school Bible class discussions.
Well, the Bible tells us what will not be in heaven!
  1. Sickness. (1 Corinthians 15:42-43) 
  2. Sadness. (Revelation 21:4)
  3. Suffering. (Revelation 7:16)
  4. Sin. (Jude 1:24)
  5. Death. (Revelation 21:4)
Yes, we will have personalities and I believe we will recognize one another. It's going to be a real life with Jesus! What;s hard to imagine is a life without sin, suffering, sickness, sadness, and the separation of death!

I so look forward to it . . . but we have a life to live here in the mean time!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Solid Rock!

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  (Matthew 7:25) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew+7%3A25&version=NIV

Just a simple reminder for the weekend: A home (family) built upon THE ROCKwill not fall! Oh, it may sway a bit. It may take in water at times. It might even suffer wear and tear. However, the house bulit upon the SOLID ROCK, . . .Jesus Christ and His Words, will prevail through eternity!

We have been there. We have weathered the storms. We trust in the One who clamed the seas and overcame the rock at the tomb! (Psalm 127)https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew+7%3A25&version=NIV

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Scared of what they might say?

A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 7:37-39, 47-48)


Many, even the disciples criticized this woman for not only wasting expensive perfume on Jesus, but for even touching Him! You see, she was a sinner and Jesus was a holy man. This was unthought of in those days!

But Jesus comes for the vilest of sinners, like me. He offers mercy for even one such as I! He forgives the worst and we offer our best to Him! The more we need mercy, the more we should appreciate His offer of forgiveness.

We cannot worry what people might say or think of us.

Let 's allow our emotion toward Jesus show!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Picking Whom to Serve?

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” (John 13:2-9)

Read the words from Pastor Max Lucado: "You can be sure Jesus knows the future of these feet he is washing. These twenty-four feet will not spend the next day following their Master, defending His cause. These feet will dash for cover at the flash of a Roman sword. Only one pair of feet won’t abandon Him in the Garden. One disciple won’t desert Him at Gethsemane - Judas won’t even make it that far! He will abandon Jesus that very night at the table. I looked for a Bible translation that reads, 'Jesus washed all the disciples’ feet except the feet of Judas,' but I couldn’t find one."

Jesus did not choose whom to serve, but He served them all . . . even serving each of us upon the cross!

Jesus calls us to serve everyone . . . anyone. We cannot pick what or whom is most rewarding or most comfortable.

We simply SERVE!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Top O' the Mornin' to 'Ya!

From Saint Patrick's Breastplate

Christ be with me . . . Christ before me . . . Christ behind me . . . Christ in me . . . Christ beneath me . . . Christ above me . . . Christ on my right . . . Christ on my left . . . Christ where I lie . . . Christ where I sit . . . Christ where I arise . . . Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me . . . Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me . . . Christ in every eye that sees me . . . Christ in every ear that hears me . . . Salvation is of the  Lord.http://www.irishcentral.com/roots/old-irish-prayers-and-blessings-for-you-and-your-family-for-every-occasion-172538071-237790491.html#

One may have their own thoughts about Irish tradition and folklore, but these words ring true in the hearts of evert true Christ-follower. May the words of Patrick be our prayer this day and every day!

It's about Jesus,  not me!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Where is your focus?

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.  Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.  But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (1 Corinthains 9:24-27)

Dr. Charles Stanley reminds us that "when our appetites rule us, we're in trouble. Paul likened the Christian life to that of athletes who are so focused on winning the race that they exercise self-control in every area of their lives."

We must stay focused on the end-goal . . . eternity, not the immediate rewards. We must focus on the finish line!

Where is your focus?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

I am not a FAN of Jesus!

Most of us want to be in shape. We have personal trainers, gym memberships, and ome gyms and exercise equipment. We want to get in shape, but we don't always want to make any personal sacrifices.

It's how a fan will try and follow Jesus. However, Jesus is not seeking fans!

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?" (Matthew 19:21-25)


How do we deny ourself in a culture that says it’s all about "me"?

Friday, March 13, 2015

UHH OHH . . . Friday the 13th!!!!!!

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.  What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:28-31)

There was a silly song they used to sing on the old HEE HAW show: "If it weren't for bad luck, I's have no luck at all . . ."

Then there are all the Friday the 13th movies . . . Halloween  . . . who can forget the many Alfred Hitchcock movies and The Twilight Zone? Better watch out . . . it's Friday the 13th all over again! I used to love scary movies and  late night TV back in the day.

Biblically speaking however, luck has nothing to do with anything. We really choose our own lot in life.  We either know the Lord or we do not. We choose Christ or we don't. God is in control, not fate . . . not luck!

Friday the 13th . . . choose this day whom you will serve! (Joshua 24:15)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Not a Life Insurance Policy!

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”  (Revelation 4:8-11)

As with any good friendship, time and intentionality are necessary to understand God and learn His ways. The more we do that, the more our prayers, behavior, and faith will be impacted.

Are we really trying to know God and understand Him, or just applying for the benefits? He is not a life insurance policy!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Calling out for wisdom!

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you,  turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding . . . indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:1-5)

There is so much knowledge in our world today . . . new discoveries in science and archeology. So much being thought about and written about . . .  but it is all for naught without the wisdom of God!

There are so many self-improvement plans and financial investment and planning guides that it weems that if we just follow these ten steps all will be well. But if not for the wisdom of God . . .

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. (Psalm 20:7)

 From where or whom does your help come from?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Slow Down!

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.(Isaiah 40:28)

We cannot rush God . . . so why try? If God is patient with us, why are we so impatient with our very own progress?

Slow down. Let God have have His way. It all begins with quiet time with Him every day whereby we can rest in Him and His Word. Knowing Him more intimately will cause us to better understand His plans for us!

S L O W    D O W N!


Monday, March 9, 2015

It's Not All Up to God!

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  (Romans 12:1-5)

God's kindness to us is shown by the fact that He doesn't leave us in the condition we were in before coming to faith. He is awlays at work. How tragic it would be if we still thought, felt, and acted the same way we did before receiving Christ as our Savior. We may not see it at the time, but throughout our lives, the Lord uses His choice tools to shape us into the image of His Son.

The question is, "What are we doing to pursue God and actively changing what we do in response?"

It's not all up to God! 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

We are not Christian Vegetables!

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit. 

(1 Thessalonians 4:1-8)

In my converations with youth today, I often remind them (and myself!) that we were not saved by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross just to stay out of hell. That would be "fire insurance".  We are saved from sin in order to have an intimate one-on-one relationship with our loving God and Savior! Such a relationship is active and on-going throughout a believer's life; growing closer day-by-day, month-by-month, and year-by-year.

Dr. Charles Stanley says it this way:
"Did you know that God didn't save you just to keep you from hell and get you into heaven? His top priority while you are here on earth is to shape you into the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). But at this stage of our sanctification, He doesn't do it all for us. We have a responsibility to cooperate with Him and actively participate in the process. Yet many Christians have a passive attitude about the life of faith. They tolerate sin and smooth it over with the age-old excuse, "Nobody's perfect!"
When you received Christ as your Savior, you took the first step in your walk with Him--a walk that will last the rest of your life."


Friday, March 6, 2015

Calling All Radicals, Freaks, and Other Fellow Christians . . .

Jesus was such a radical! Pastor Max Lucado (by the way, I recommend all of his writings!) says it like this:

"Did the atonement for sin demand six hours of violence? No, but His triumph over sadism did. Jesus once and for all displayed His authority over savagery. Evil may have her moments, but they will be brief. The master of death could not destroy the Lord of life. Heaven’s best took hell’s worst and turned it into hope."

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;  rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death . . . even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)

Just as Jesus did not have to do things the way He did . . . He could have accomplished our salvation in a much quicker and less painful procedure . . . we too are called to go above and beyond as a CHRIST-follower. We need to stop trying to find the easy way. We need to make the hard sacrifices. We need to go the extra mile and put in the additional hours.

As we live out loud for Christ and radicalize our walk with Him, others may just see Him and want to follow us as we follow Jesus! We may be called freaks, radicals, or worse. However, this is why He called you and me. This is why He sends you and me.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

A fresh layer of crisp, white snow . . . and BLOOD!

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow . . .(Psalm 51:7)

Like the scenery after a fresh layer of crisp, white snow, the blood of Christ washes us clean. We are pure and holy before a holy God only through the sacrifice of our loving Savior Jesus Christ. Standing before the righteous and mighty Creator, as we stand with Jesus, He finds us perfected by the blood!

Nothing is a fresh, unscathed, unblemished, or spectacular as a sparkling field of fresh untouched, fallen snow. It's the same for a blood-washed, blood-cleansed, blood-bought CHRISTian soul.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. (Isaiah 1:18)

 Are you washed in the blood? Now is the time to decide . . .

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Shhhhh . . . . . . . Don't miss it!

I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. (Habakkuk 2:1)

Again I find myself waiting . . . anticipating with excitement . . . seeking God and awaiting His response.

Be still and know that God is still God and listening. He is working. He is watching. He is caring.

He IS God!

Shhhhh . . . . . . . Don't miss it!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

How are you doing with waiting upon the Lord?

Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided. When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them. Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice. In their hearts humans plan their coursebut the Lord establishes their steps. (Proverbs 16:6-9)

Waiting is not in our human nature. We want things NOW! We want the things NOW . . . we want the money NOW . . .we want people to change NOW !

NOW . . .NOW . . . NOW!  

However, God works within eternity. He has no time frame. He has all the time in the world and then some! What if we lived with eternity in mind?

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

I am learning to wait on God for many things and to put off my desires for His will and others. I fail daily, yet I am striving to please Him and thus please others. What a struggle!

How are you doing with waiting upon the Lord?  

Monday, March 2, 2015

Excuses or Empowered?

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)

The Greek word Paul uses gives the meaning of power, dunamis, which is the root of our word dynamite. Every believer has the inward ability to blow up this world for Christ. Change environments . . . transform futures . . . resurrect dying hopes and dreams . . . bring life and hope to hurting people.

 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength  he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,  far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. (Ephesians 1:17-21)

What are we doing with this power? Do we even possess it? Acts 1:8 tells us we will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon us.

So the real question is if we do know Christ, why are we not using the power of His Spirit?

Excuses or Empowered? You choose . . .

Storms and Faith

Jesus got into a boat. His disciples followed him.  Suddenly a terrible storm came up on the lake. The waves crashed over the boat. But Jesu...