Sunday, April 30, 2017

Strength training for the Soul

1 Timothy 4:8 - "For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come."

We have been raised on the Message of the faith and have been taught to follow sound teaching. Now pass on this counsel to the followers of Jesus there, and you’ll be a good servant of Jesus. I have been working out daily in the morning for the last almost four years. Sure, I have missed some mornings (like when deployed as a NCBM Chaplain), but generally I seek to have aerobic, strength-training, and stretching exercises to keep in shape. At 65, I know that I need to keep my body under subjection. I have lost 80 pounds, been taken off all but one of my medications, and feel great.

Do I say this to brag? No, but to seek to encourage you to take up daily exercise. It really helps. But, not only in the physical realm, but in the spiritual realm as well. Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart. This is why we’ve thrown ourselves into this venture so totally. We’re banking on the living God, Savior of all men and women, especially believers.

This time today will concentrate on ten spiritual strength-training exercises (or disciplines or Christian habits if your will) that I have found helpful in my Christian walk. Of course, this is not a comprehensive list. Let’s work on this list! I hope that you will share your favorite spiritual strength-training exercises! But here are my top ten (not in any particular order):

1) Prayer 
2) Listening to God 
3) Private & corporate worship
4) Bible-reading & studying
5) Obeying God’s commands
6) Loving (God, ourselves & our neighbors)
7) Stepping out in faith when urged to do something
8) Fasting (of TV or something else poisonous in my life)
9) Service for others
10) Fellowship of believers

Let’s exercise daily in God! Let’s be fit both today and forever! Let’s take it to heart!

Prayer: Father, may I seek to get in shape both physically and spiritually. May I seek to incorporate at least one physical and one spiritual strengthening exercise each day. Take away the flab (physically and spiritually) and make me fit for You. Amen.



Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Godly Man

In 1666, Thomas Watson wrote a book entitled The Godly Man's Picture. In it he gives 24 characteristics of what he believed a Godly Man looked like. One author referred to him as the original Promise Keeper.

Today, I am going to list these 24 characteristics - men, let us measure ourselves to this measuring stick.
  1. A man of knowledge
  2. A man moved by faith
  3. A man fired by love
  4. A man like God
  5. A man careful about the worship of God
  6. A man who serves God, not men
  7. A man who prizes Christ
  8. A man who weeps
  9. A man who loves the Word
  10. A man who has the Spirit of God residing in him
  11. A man of humility
  12. A man of prayer
  13. A man of sincerity
  14. A heavenly man
  15. A zealous man
  16. A patient man
  17. A thankful man
  18. A man who loves the saints
  19. A man who does not indulge himself in any sin
  20. A man who is good in his relationships
  21. A man who does spiritual things in a spiritual manner
  22. A man thoroughly trained in religion
  23. A man who walks with God
  24. A man who strives to be an instrument for making others godly
Read this list again, and again. Men, let us seek to be a Godly Man.

Prayer: Father, make me a Godly man. I want to be a Godly man. I crave to be a Godly man. My desire is to be a Godly man. I can only be this, by the power of Your Holy Spirit working in me. I surrender all, all to You I give, make me a Godly man. Amen.






Friday, April 28, 2017

How to be an Un-leader

John Ruskin has been quoted as saying, "When a man is wrapped up in himself, he makes a pretty small package." 

In John's 3rd letter, verses 9-10 (NASB), he wrote about an un-leader. "I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church."

What is an un-leader? The prefix "un" means not. So, an un-leader is someone who is not a leader. The best definition of a leader is given by Dr. Howard Hendricks, "A leader is someone who leads." A great definition - short, sweet, and to the point. Diotrephes was a first century example of someone who pushed himself as a leader, but in reality in God's view he was an un-leader. What made him so?

Quickly, consider he was an un-servant. He wanted to be first all the time. He was un-teachable. He refused to listen to the teaching of John. He was un-just. He used verbal bombs against those he did not like or who opposed him. And, he was un-hospitable. He didn't like making others feel important because he always sought the importance.

Take a quick inventory today. Honestly. Be truthful. Do any of these accusations fit me, or you? If so, can we learn from this and let God change us. Can we let Him make us into the leaders that He has called His followers to be.

Prayer: Gracious Lord, I want to be what You want me to be. As Your child, You have placed me in leadership for those around me. I may not want to be a leader, but You have saved me and sanctified me to lead others to You. Lord, if any of the above areas are true in me, make it known, cleanse me, and use me for Your honor and glory. Amen.




Thursday, April 27, 2017

Do you have a PhD in faith?

Hebrews 11:1 (Message) - "The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see."

I have been told that there are three kinds of faith. There is the "I'll believe it if I see it" kind of faith. This is a faulty type of faith, because it is based on what can be seen. In fact, we must be careful, because as magicians have proved, we can't always believe what we think we see.

The there is the "believer" type of faith. They can only believe in what they can't see. However, this kind of faith is also faulty, because generally it is a faith in faith itself. 

Finally, there is the PhD type of faith. The faith that relies strictly on God is the only legitimate form of faith. Why is this the Phd faith? The Phd stands for Past Having Doubt. In other words, when you know God is as real as the chair you are sitting in, or the floor you are standing on - then and only then do you have genuine faith.

Another way of seeing this is the way the Amplified Bible translates this verse - "Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]." we have a divine guarantee that is confirmed, even if we can't see it, yet we have no doubts about it at all.

So, today begin to work on your PhD in faith. Memorize Heb. 11:1 (NLT) - "What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead." Muse over it, and begin to apply it. Having a Graduate-level faith can't be upstaged by anything else.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, teach me the fulness of having this PhD faith. I want to graduate from my weak faith to one that is full of the glory and power of God. I am willing, make me able. Amen.



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Building Birdhouses with God



Psalm 127:1 (CSB) Unless the Lord builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain; unless the Lord watches over a city, the watchman stays alert in vain.


Recently, my grandchildren came and stayed while they were on Easter break from school. Wesley, my grandson, had said in the past that he wanted to build a birdhouse when he came. So, what would any grandfather do - we built a birdhouse.

Now, for those who know me, they know that I am about as handy with tools as a blind proofreader. So, my wife and I sought out a kit that I would be able to do with him. we checked all the home improvement stores in the area, and no one had a kit that we could do. So, going to Amazon.com, we were able to find a kit that would work - however, we weren't sure it would arrive in time. My daughter, Grace, was able to order it for us and it did come on Monday, just in time.

Wes and I worked off and on all day Tuesday in gluing, nailing, and putting this little house together. We has a glorious time working together on this project. He did a great job selecting his paints and was able to produce a cute birdhouse to take home with him.

As I thought back over that experience, I realized how much my Heavenly Father enjoys working with me on the projects in my life (and at times, I can really be a project for Him to work on). Will I do everything exactly perfect? No. However, with Him reading to me the directions (the Bible), I can begin to work on the project He has for me. He even let's me choose the right "paints" at time to make it original with me.

I don't know who had more fun, Wes or me, and that made me stop and think, when I work under God's direction, who enjoys it more? Me or Him? Ponder on that today.



Prayer: Father, I want to work on some projects in my life with You. Guide me and give me Your directions. I praise You. In Your Precious Son's Name, Amen.




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Step 5 to Fearlessness

Finishing today our study in the Old Testament account of King Jehoshaphat and his nation facing a vast and unnumbered set of armies bent on their destruction (2 Chron. 2:20). We see a massive challenge - I can truly say I have not had to face such a challenge yet in my life. However, in preparation for any large challenges, I can learn from the 5 steps to fearlessness that this King took.

Step 1 - Take your problems to God.
Step 2 - Turn to God for the answers.
Step 3 - Remember the battle is God's, not yours.
Step 4 - With God be fearless.
Step 5 - Let God be glorified in the victory, and let the blessings flow.

The Lord gave them instructions on what to do. They placed the choir at the front, and when the people started to sing praises to God, then He moved. And did He ever.

Read on in 2 Chron. 20:24-26 (NLT) - " So when the army of Judah arrived at the lookout point in the wilderness, all they saw were dead bodies lying on the ground as far as they could see. Not a single one of the enemy had escaped. 

King Jehoshaphat and his men went out to gather the plunder. They found vast amounts of equipment, clothing, and other valuables—more than they could carry. There was so much plunder that it took them three days just to collect it all! On the fourth day they gathered in the Valley of Blessing, which got its name that day because the people praised and thanked the Lord there. It is still called the Valley of Blessing today."

When God fights the battle, be sure that you give HIm the glory, don't try to take it for yourself. When you do give Him the glory it can be like verse 30 - "So Jehoshaphat’s kingdom was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side."

Want to live a fearless life? Follow the pattern given in this passage of 2 Chron. 20, and watch God reduce your stress and give the victory.

Prayer: Spirit of the Living Word, let me take the lessons I have learned from the Written Word and apply them in my life. May I trust the Living Word to fight my battles and receive all the glory. Amen.




Monday, April 24, 2017

Step 4 to Fearlessness

Continuing in our study in the Old Testament account of King Jehoshaphat and his nation facing a vast and unnumbered set of armies bent on their destruction (2 Chron. 2:20). We see a massive challenge - I can truly say I have not had to face such a challenge yet in my life. However, in preparation for any large challenges, I can learn from the 5 steps to fearlessness that this King took.

Step 1 - Take your problems to God.
Step 2 - Turn to God for the answers.
Step 3 - Remember the battle is God's, not yours.
Step 4 - With God be fearless.

"Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!” (2 Chron. 20:16-17, NLT). We can face our problems with a strong courage when we understand the fact that when we are following His plan and He is leading the fight.

Don't take back the control, follow Him even when we may not understand how this will work (remember Joshua and the Battle of Jericho). We can walk without stress when we truly place it in the Lord's hands.

Prayer: Jesus, Captain of the Hosts, I place my trust in You. I place my problem of ____________ in your hand, and I leave it there. I will follow Your lead, I will go with You. I need not fear anything, because You are fighting the battle for me. Amen.



  

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Step 3 to Fearlessness

Continuing in our study in the Old Testament account of King Jehoshaphat and his nation facing a vast and unnumbered set of armies bent on their destruction (2 Chron. 2:20). We see a massive challenge - I can truly say I have not had to face such a challenge yet in my life. However, in preparation for any large challenges, I can learn from the 5 steps to fearlessness that this King took.

We have viewed steps 1 and 2 - Take our problems to God, and turn to God for the answers to our problems. Next, let us see the 3rd step that Jehoshaphat took toward fearlessness - Remember the battle is the Lord's, not ours. Look at what 2 Chron. 20:15 (NLT) says - "He said, “Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s."

Do you realize that the battles we face on a daily basis are not designed for us to fight? We need to see that in the great cosmic battle for our souls, the battle is God's battle. when we are faced with trials and problems that begin to stress us out, we need to turn to God and give Him the control of the battle. He is more than willing to fight for us - if we will let Him. The Psalmist in Psalm 91:14-15 states it so clearly - "The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them."

Why do we so foolishly take on God's battles, when He is so willing to fight them? we need to recognize the truth of the matter and let Him be God.

Prayer: Father, You are God, and I'm not. Today, I relinquish my control over my life, my problems, my issues. The battle belongs to You, I let You have control. Amen.



Saturday, April 22, 2017

Step 2 to Fearlessness

Continuing in our study in the Old Testament account of King Jehoshaphat and his nation facing a vast and unnumbered set of armies bent on their destruction (2 Chron. 2:20). We see a massive challenge - I can truly say I have not had to face such a challenge yet in my life. However, in preparation for any large challenges, I can learn from the 5 steps to fearlessness that this King took.

Yesterday, we studied the fact that the first step that Jehoshaphat took, was to take his problem to God. Today, we see that he turned to God for the answers to his problems. Listen to 2 Chron 20:12 (NLT) - "O our God, won’t you stop them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.”

Jehoshaphat understood his (and his people's) limitations. They were incapable of facing this vast army and being successful. They held no false visions of grandeur. They honestly knew their limitations. I like the humble approach where he admits, "We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.”

How often do we turn to God in humility and seek His plan and solution? Don't we have the tendency to come before Him and say "Here is what I am going to do, please bless it." If we truly want to develop a God-given fearlessness when facing the problems of life, we must humbly admit our lack and seek His plans and answers.

Prayer: God of all Creation, Designer of the Univers, the One Who know all things, sees all things, and has all power, I come to You today, not with my feeble plans and schemes, but with an open heart and mind to hear from You the solution to the issues I face. Amen.





Friday, April 21, 2017

Step 1 to Fearlessness

In the Old Testament, we find recorded the account of King Jehoshaphat and his nation were faced with a vast and unnumbered set of armies bent on their destruction (2 Chron.  2:20). Talk about a massive challenge - I can truly say I have not had to face such a challenge yet in my life. However, in preparation for any large challenges, I can learn from the 5 steps to fearlessness that this King took.

The first thing he did (and so should we), was to take his problem to God. In 2 Chon. 20:3-4 (NLT) we read, "Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the Lord for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting. So people from all the towns of Judah came to Jerusalem to seek the Lord’s help."

When informed of the approaching destructive forces, Jehoshaphat went immediately to God. Question: Is that what we do? How often do we seek to handle all things by ourselves? We almost can be heard saying, "That's OK God, I've got this." And the results? Well, we usually fail, and our stress levels sky-rocket. When we feel stress build, when we are facing a challenge, no matter how small we might think it is, how big it is, we should always start by going to God first.

Today, as you go through the day, pause and see how many times you face trials and struggles on your own. Perhaps, if we turned to God first, we might find the fearlessness and faith to combat the issues.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, You care for me. You want me to bring everything in my life before You. Help me to learn to come to You first. To bring all my stress and challenges to You, and You alone. And then, help me have eyes to see how You work on my behalf. Amen.




Thursday, April 20, 2017

Steps to being Fearless

Dr. Ben Lerner in his book Body by God gives a great set of lessons on being fearless in life today. If you battle stress (like I do) on a constant basis, these tips are instrumental in reducing that stress and living a more peaceful life.

Dr. Lerner reminds us the "The problems ahead of you are never as great as the power behind you." God living in our lives is far greater than any problem we will ever face (1 John 4:4). Does that mean we will always defeat all the problems? No, at least not in this life. However, remembering this truth will help us overcome the many trials that we will face.

God never allows a problem that HE has not developed the solution. Again, that is not a carte-blanche statement that we will never fail in THIS life, but as a believer, the ultimate victory is always there. Our lives come with built-in problems, but we can face life heroically because we know God has our backs. God told Joshua (1:9, NLT), "This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” He made that promise to Joshua, and we see how He kept it. That same promise holds true to believers today. Previous to this promise, God gave Joshua some advice in 1:8 (NLT) - "Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do..." The same holds true today, we are to study the Bible, meditate upon it, and then obey it.

Tomorrow we will look at the account of King Jehoshaphat and how he used 5 important steps to being fearless.

Prayer: Lord of Hosts, I come to You today seeking to receive the promise that You gave to Joshua - the promise of Your continued presence wherever I go. I face challenges that are greater than I am, give me the ability to meet these challenges with fearless determination. Amen.



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Colossians 3:8 part 2



Paul also calls the believers at Collosae (and us) to put away from ourselves language that is not appropriate for a person who claims that they are in Christ. He gives three examples to explain his position. He starts with blasphemia or to slander. The Greek word is derived from blapto (to hurt, harm, or injure) and pheme (speech), thus it is injurious speech.[1] In a number of translations, it is transliterated as blasphemy. As McGee says in his commentary, there are two kinds of blasphemy – blasphemy to defame the name of God, and saying things that are untrue about a fellow man or Christian brother.[2] Neither of these two forms of slander are acceptable for the believer.

His second form of language is what is translated here as obscene talk from your mouth (Greek aischrolog√≠a). In some translations they call it abusive language or filthy communication. The word in the Greek is from aischros (filthy, baseness, dishonor)[3] and logos (speech).[4] It is vile or obscene language or foul talk. This not only includes particular words, but also obscene (dirty) jokes and any type of offensive language. None of this type of communication should be a part of any person who claims the name of Christ. Paul in his letter to the Ephesian believers also stated, “Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear” (4:29 ASV). And, in verse 4 of chapter 5 in his letter to the Ephesians, he explains it as “nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, or jesting, which are not befitting.”

Prayer: Cleanse my mouth, make it a fitting vessel to be used by You. May I only speak holy and righteous words. May I be used by You in all I say. Amen.

_____________________________
[1] Thayer. StudyLight.org (2017) 
[2] McGee. (1983). Page 357. 
[3] Thayer. StudyLight.org (2017) 
[4] Ibid.








Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Colossians 3:8 part 1


The Greek word nuni carries the image of “at this very moment.”[1] Paul is emphatically stressing to the Colossian believers the importance of what he is about to say. The word apotithemi[2] or as translated put them all away, is the way that Paul is creating the image of removing all the old sin nature and habits being cast aside as one would do with clothes that no longer fit or were beyond the ability of being clean. He says they are to put off all of the evil deeds and habits (Greek ta panta). The word for all could also be translated as each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything – in other words it includes every possible item that can be included. If one is left out, then it is not all.

In the Scriptures, we find behavior or character being represented as clothing or garment in passages like Job 29:14, “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: My justice was as a robe and a diadem.” The Psalmist stated in Psalm 35:26, “Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor that magnify themselves against me.” And Paul uses it in 1 Thess. 5:8, where he says “But let us, since we are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation.”[3] Paul extended the idea in 1 Cor. 15 and 2 Cor. 5 to include the concept of our putting off the old terrestrial body and putting on a new celestial body.[4]

Paul then goes on to make a list of repulsive habits and the language which would accompany them that they apparently were guilty of. He starts the list with the word that previously was translated as wrath in verse 6, orge. In this case, it carries the image of an uncontrolled temper, a deep seated emotion of ill-will, a habitual feeling of hate and seeking revenge. While there is such a thing as “righteous anger” over the things that are against God, there is more readily seen the wrong type of anger. Anger that is generally experience is about things that affect us personally and is not developed and displayed in a correct form. Anger that is left to fester can turn into the following term – wrath.

Wrath (Greek thumos) has been explained as being a boiling agitation, a fiery outburst of temper, a violent fit of rage, or a passionate outburst.[5] Vine calls it a “hot anger.”[6] Anger becomes wrath when we develop an unforgiving spirit.[7] Malice (Greek kakia) is wicked depravity. As it has been said, it is badness in quality.[8] A person with malice has a vicious disposition with a willful desire to injure. They are cruel and rejoices in evil that comes to others. Someone had once said that malice was congealed anger. The bearer had nursed their anger along to the point of seeking revenge and getting even.

We can see a progression in this line of Paul’s writing. He moves from anger to malice. From the least to the most vicious. It is reminiscent of Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount where he equates murder and anger. In Matt. 5: 21-22 (ASV), Jesus states “Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, that every one who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of the hell of fire.” Someone may say that their anger is very bad, a short blast and it is over, but consider a shotgun – a short blast and it is over – but what waste it leaves in its wake. As followers of Christ, we are not to have any of this type of lifestyle. Paul says “put them all away.”

Prayer, Your Word has shown me over and over the tie between the outward and inward. What I harbor in my heart will eventually come out. You are more concerned about my inward thoughts and feelings than in the outward show I make. Cleanse me. Heal me. Use me. Amen.
___________________
[1] Perschbacher (1990) Page 286 
[2] The ethical use of this term in the New Testament can be found in Rom. 13:12; Eph. 4:22, 25: Heb. 12:1; James 1:21; 1 Pet. 2:1; as well as in this context. The literal meaning of changing clothes can be found in Acts 7:58. 
[3] Some other places that we see this in the Scriptures are: Psa. 109:29; 132:9; Isa. 11:5; 59:17; and Rom. 13:12, 14. 
[4] 1 Cor. 15:53-54 and 2 Cor. 5:2-4 
[5] Falwell (1988) Page 2463. 
[6] Vine. (1996). Page 688 
[7] McGee (1983) Page 357. 
[8] Vine. (1996) Page 388







Monday, April 17, 2017

Colossians 3:7


Paul is seeking to remind the Colossian believers (and in turn, us) that before they had received Christ as their Lord and Savior, they were also “sons of disobedience.” It can become so easy for us who have been believers for a period of time to “forget” that we also were just as the pagans around us. In fact, many of the Colossian believers practiced these very acts listed in the previous verses. There are a number of locations in the New Testament where, after listing the catalog of sins, the reader is reminded that they were also marked by these very things prior to their conversion.[1]

Many of Paul’s critics in his day found him foolish in espousing gospel liberty for all in the church. They felt that this liberty might be okay for those of Jewish background, having been trained in the law of God, but for those who came straight out of a pagan background, they felt that a probationary period should be in place before their acceptance into the church.[2]

Paul on the other hand, had a different policy in respect to this idea. He believed that although they had been pagans, they now were in Christ and Christ was in them. If they looked to themselves as dead to the former way of life, then the Christ-life would manifest itself in them and they would mature, just as the Colossian believers had been doing.

The Greek word pote translated here as once literally means “once upon a time,” or “formerly.”[3] And the word translated “walked” (Greek peripateo) is used figuratively here to encompass the whole round of activities in an individual's life, whether they are unconverted or believers.[4] This was the way that they had lived (Greek zao) prior to their conversion and indwelling of Christ. It was also a reminder to them that their life should also show a difference from those around them. They were to no longer live as the pagans around them lived, nor should they accept the ways of the pagan world as being acceptable.

Prayer: Father, let me never forget from where I have come, as i muse upon how great my salvation is, I realize how much it cost You and Your Son. I must remember where I have come from to be able to encourage and help those who are new to walking in Your way. Help me to be a help to those who are growing in Your Truth and Way. Amen. 
______________________
[1] Refer to Rom. 6:19-21; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Tit. 3:3; and 1 Pet. 4:1-5 for other examples of this. 
[2] Bruce. (1984) Page 145. 
[3] Perschbacher. (1990) Page 330. 
[4] Vine. (1996) Page 664.




Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Passion Week - Sunday!!!!!!

UP FROM THE GRAVE HE AROSE!

Friday was awful. Saturday painful. But, had they knew, had they understood what He had told them - Sunday was coming! And when it came what a glorious day it was! Our sin debt had been paid! The payment was accepted! And our great High Priest stepped from behind the veil and our sin was gone! GONE! Never to be held against us again. We were accepted in the Beloved. Words pale to express our great and glorious release. To celebrate this day, join me in singing this grand old hymn, this fantastic reminder of what transpired that day over 2000 years ago! 

Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Savior,
waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!
Up from the grave he arose;
with a mighty triumph o'er his foes;
he arose a victor from the dark domain,
and he lives forever, with his saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Vainly they watch his bed, Jesus my Savior,
vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!
Up from the grave he arose; 
with a mighty triumph o'er his foes; 
he arose a victor from the dark domain, 
and he lives forever, with his saints to reign. 
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose! 

Death cannot keep its prey, Jesus my Savior;
he tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!
Up from the grave he arose; 
with a mighty triumph o'er his foes; 
he arose a victor from the dark domain, 
and he lives forever, with his saints to reign. 
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose! 

Prayer: Father, words fail me as I consider that day, that wonderful day. I can live forever with You because of what Jesus did. I am set free. I am forgiven. I am restored. I am alive, I am alive, I am alive because He is alive! My praises cannot contain themselves. I worship You with my whole being. Amen.



Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Passion Week - Saturday

We are continuing our study in this time of year that we Christians celebrate the Passion of the Christ. The Gospel accounts give attention to this important event. Of the 89 chapters in the Gospels, only 4 record the first 30 years of His life. Yet, they give almost 1/4 of the chapters to the final week to His resurrection. Obviously, this is vital and important for us. Over the next few days (until Easter Sunday), we are going to walk with the Master. Using the timeline as developed by Dr. Harold Willmington, let us remember and be ministered to also.

On this day of the week over 2000 years ago, a group of followers of this Rabbi were in deep mourning. They were restricted by the Sabbath rules. They were afraid of the Cheif Priests and Romans. They were in shock, their beloved Rabbi, the One they were sure was the Promised Messiah was dead. He was in the tomb. The Romans had sealed the grave - it could not be opened under the threat of death. Everything they had hoped, all their time, all they had seen, all they had learned, all they....... gone!

In the quiet of that day, they thought how they had seen their hopes and dreams put to death. What future did they now have? Where would they go? Was it all a sham? But it seemed so true. He had power and authority as no other person ever had. Yet, gone.

We often can find ourselves in the same position. We had been sure that God was telling us to do a certain thing, to go to a certain place, to trust Him for the answer to our prayer, to - well, you fill in your own blank. And, just when it seemed that it was about to be the perfect timing - gone. Gone. The answer didn't come, or at least not the way I thought it would. What I thought was God's leading lead into a dead end. The promises disappeared in smoke. I am left sitting and wondering, mourning the loss.

We know today, that that Saturday that the Disciples mourned was not the end of the story. You see, just when we think God has ended the storyline, He writes another chapter. Where they only saw defeat and conclusion, God was about to write the most glorious and beautiful chapter yet! While they were pining away in the Upper Room, Jesus was preparing the most majestic display of the Love of God yet! 

If your life seems to have come to an end, if it seems like God has deserted you, if all your hopes and dreams are dashed, remember, God is about to write the next chapter.

Prayer: While I can't see the future, God, You have already planned the storyline. I may feel that it is all over, but You have not displayed Your full Power yet. Give me the strength to hold on and wait for Your glorious conclusion. Whatever I might think it is, You will show me that Your way is more glorious, more majestic, more wonderful than I could ever imagine. Amen.





Friday, April 14, 2017

The Passion Week - Friday

We are continuing our study in this time of year that we Christians celebrate the Passion of the Christ. The Gospel accounts give attention to this important event. Of the 89 chapters in the Gospels, only 4 record the first 30 years of His life. Yet, they give almost 1/4 of the chapters to the final week to His resurrection. Obviously, this is vital and important for us. Over the next few days (until Easter Sunday), we are going to walk with the Master. Using the timeline as developed by Dr. Harold Willmington, let us remember and be ministered to also.

Friday.

The Disciples and Christ leave the Upper Room, they cross over the Brook Kidron to the Mount of Olives. Nothing too unusual at this point, Jesus and those with Him often would spend the night amongst the Olive trees. He prays for His Disciples (John 17). He takes the inner circle (Peter, James, and John) and goes off to the side. He leaves even those three to go and pray. Three times in great agony He comes to the Father. Three times He finds His disciples sleeping. Judas betrays Him. Arrested, tried in 7 "kangaroo" courts. Denied by Peter. Scourged and Crucified. What a horrific day - the creature killing the Creator.

The first truly "Black Friday" was one of disgrace and humiliation for mankind. Refusing to accept their Savior, man put Him to death. Yet, this was the plan of God from the before the beginning of time and space. The only way that God's most beloved possession - His crown of Creation, Man could be restored from their fallen state was by this.

Are we too busy today to take the time to ponder and delve into the depth of the sinfulness of ourselves and to muse over the magnitude of His sacrifice? Will we once more miss the glory that came from the hill in Jerusalem called Golgotha? Join me in a time of silence and meditation upon the wonderful provision of God through that Old Rugged Cross. The horror of the sacrifice pales in comparison to the beauty of the provision.

Can I ask you one thing today, have you come to that saving relationship with Jesus Christ? Do you understand that we are all sinners separated from a Holy, Loving God? Do you see that Christ came to die, to pay the penalty of eternal separation from God with His own life? Do you believe that? Do you truly repent and turn from the way you have been living to the family of God? If you do, have you taken the time to ask Him to come and cleanse you, to become your Lord and Savior? Are you assured that you are restored by the Blood of the Savior?

Prayer: "So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down. I will cling to the old rugged Cross, And exchange it some day for a crown." Father, that is my prayer today. I praise You for the wonder of the Cross. I exult You for the provision You have made. I magnify Your Name, I glory in Your Majesty. My sin is all washed away. I am clean. I am pure. I am Yours. Amen.




Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Passion Week - Thursday


We are continuing our study in this time of year that we Christians celebrate the Passion of the Christ. The Gospel accounts give attention to this important event. Of the 89 chapters in the Gospels, only 4 record the first 30 years of His life. Yet, they give almost 1/4 of the chapters to the final week to His resurrection. Obviously, this is vital and important for us. Over the next few days (until Easter Sunday), we are going to walk with the Master. Using the timeline as developed by Dr. Harold Willmington, let us remember and be ministered to also.

Thursday is a very busy day. Jesus knows His time is fast approaching and He must finish preparing His Disciples for what is to come. The day sees Jesus makes preparation for the Upper Room events and He presides over the Upper Room events. The Jewish day went from sundown to sundown (approximately 6 pm to 6 pm the next day). So, We find Jesus and the Disciples in the Upper Room during what we would call Thursday afternoon to evening.

We find Jesus teaching and giving His last minute instructions to help prepare those there for what is about to happen. They had argued over who was the greatest, and He washed their feet to demonstrate true greatness in the Kingdom. He used the Passover meal to teach about His broken body and shed blood.

Can you imagine the sorrow that they must have brought to Jesus that evening? His mind is on the upcoming sacrifice for sin that He is about to make, they are arguing over who is most important. Their "self" was being an idol that would stand between them and the Savior. Status was more important than the One who was about to be slaughtered. Position in the Kingdom took up more of their thoughts than the Person who made up the Kingdom. Yet, in His humble and loving way, Jesus took off His robe, wrapped a towel around His waist, and bowed and washed their feet. I believe that until Peter speaks, you could have heard a pin drop. How many mouths were hanging open in surprise? How many heads dropped in humble resignation? How many hearts were pierced through with the act of service given by their Rabbi?

On this day, are we more concerned with our status and position than with the Savior? Are we focusing more on how to get ahead instead of looking to the Holy One? Will we miss the impact of the Crucifixion because we are not listening to Crucified One? I am not important, Jesus is. I am not worthy, Jesus is. I deserve the Wrath of God, but Jesus deflected that Wrath on Himself. Will I miss the true message of this week because I am too wrapped up in myself and what pertains to me?

Prayer: Jesus................. I want to take my eyes off of me and put them wholly on You. I want to feel and understand the full impact of what You have done for me. Give me a servant's heart to minister to others as You have ministered to me. Amen.




Wednesday, April 12, 2017

THe Passion Week - Wednesday


Here we are again, facing the time of year that Christians celebrate the Passion of the Christ. The Gospel accounts give attention to this important event. Of the 89 chapters in the Gospels, only 4 record the first 30 years of His life. Yet, they give almost 1/4 of the chapters to the final week to His resurrection. Obviously, this is vital and important for us. Over the next few days (until Easter Sunday), we are going to walk with the Master. Using the timeline as developed by Dr. Harold Willmington, let us remember and be ministered to also.

Wednesday has generally been referred to as "silent Wednesday." Most Commentaries and Harmonies do not attribute anything to this day of the week. Considering the importance of the week, the closeness of the Crucifixion, knowing that Jesus knew the path He was taking, I am sure that much must have happened on this day as well as the others. For whatever reason, God did not seem to disclose the instruction and preparation for us.

Dr. Willmington takes this day to say that this is the day that Judas secretly betrayed Jesus to the chief priests (Luke 22:3-4; Matt. 26:15-16). He also believes that this is the day that we find the confession of Peter - "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matt. 16:16)."

In light of this, as I look at my life, which one of these two men do I most resemble? Judas or Peter? Before you answer too quickly, remember that they both wound up betraying Jesus. Judas by a kiss in the garden, and Peter by the fire in the High Priest's courtyard. Each betrayed their Lord. However, we know more of the story - Peter in humble and contrite confession and repentance sought forgiveness, while Judas in an apparent rejection of the grace of God went to his death unforgiven. Now, which am I? I too frequently betray my Lord like Peter - denial by word or deed - and do I come back and seek to be cleansed?

Looking to the Cross -------

Prayer: Jesus, I have so failed You. I love You, yet I can act like I don't know You. Draw me close, give me strength, cleanse my sin, give me a backbone and guts to stand for You - no matter what or who I am confronted. Amen.





Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Passion Week - Tuesday


Here we are again, facing the time of year that Christians celebrate the Passion of the Christ. The Gospel accounts give attention to this important event. Of the 89 chapters in the Gospels, only 4 record the first 30 years of His life. Yet, they give almost 1/4 of the chapters to the final week to His resurrection. Obviously, this is vital and important for us. Over the next few days (until Easter Sunday), we are going to walk with the Master. Using the timeline as developed by Dr. Harold Willmington, let us remember and be ministered to also.

On this day of the Passion Week (Tuesday), Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees (not that of an unusual circumstance). However this time we find them confronting Him about His authority, about paying taxes to Caesar, in reference to the resurrection, the greatest commandment, and the deity of the Messiah. Jesus very knowingly responds to each of the confrontations and then roundly condemns the Pharisees. He proceeds to commend a poor widow at the Temple treasury. He leaves Jerusalem for the day and stops to weep over what He knows will be the future for the city and people. Stopping at Mt. Olivet, He proceeds to give a prophetic view for His followers.

Ponder over the Greatest Commandment as pointed out by our Lord (Mark 12:30-31). He skillfully takes the 615 commandments in the Old Testament (which can be condensed into the 10 Commandments in Exodus) and distills the full essence into just 2 - Love God with everything you have, and love your neighbor as yourself. The first statement is vertical in nature - between God and man (Ex. 20:3-11, the first 4 of the commandments) and the second statement is horizontal - man to man (Ex.20:12-17, or the final 6 commandments). Ask yourself, do I really (and the emphasis here is on the word really) live out these two commandments? Are they embedded deep in my heart of hearts? Are they what I see daily? If not, where can I change? What can I change? How can I change?

Prayer: Father, I truly seek to love You with my whole being, with all I am and have. I want to love those You place in my path with a love like Yours. I fail miserably, over and over again, and I come humbly pleading for You to rectify this in my life. May I live out what is in me - and may that which is in me be You. Amen.





Monday, April 10, 2017

The Passion Week - Monday



Here we are again, facing the time of year that Christians celebrate the Passion of the Christ. The Gospel accounts give attention to this important event. Of the 89 chapters in the Gospels, only 4 record the first 30 years of His life. Yet, they give almost 1/4 of the chapters to the final week to His resurrection. Obviously, this is vital and important for us. Over the next few days (until Easter Sunday), we are going to walk with the Master. Using the timeline as developed by Dr. Harold Willmington, let us remember and be ministered to also.


Today, We find the accounts of Jesus cursing the Fig Tree (Matt. 21:18-19), the second cleansing of the Temple by Jesus (Mark 11:15-18), and the request by some Greeks to see Jesus (John 12:20-32). It was a busy day.

The cursing of the fig tree brought Jesus great pain and sorrow. In fact, it took Paul three entire chapters in his letter to the Romans (9-11) to explain the theological implications of this miracle. The overriding lesson from this account is obvious - God desires fruit. His chosen nation failed to bear fruit (Hos. 10:1) and His present plan is for believers to bear fruit (John 15:8).

This causes us to pause and meditate upon whether we are bearing fruit for the Master? Are we living our lives to be able to deliver fruit for God? And then, if not, why not? Jesus taught that He was the vine and we are the branches - and it is the function of the branch to bear fruit. As any horticulturist will tell you that branches of the vine that do not bear fruit are pruned by the gardener.

Prayer, Father, I want to be a fruitful branch. Prune whatever is in my life that keeps me from being that fruit-bearing branch of the vine, Jesus. May I be used by you, and to the fullest. Hide me in the Vine. Amen.




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