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Alone

Friday, July 24, 2020

In life there are moments when we feel all alone.  There are a variety of reasons why we experience this feeling.  It could be because of betrayal, a terrible mistake, or a difference in moral living.  Again, there are many reasons for this feeling.

Jesus was no stranger to this feeling of loneliness. It appears that our Lord was no exception to these same feelings of loneliness along with the overwhelming experiences of life. Notice some of the more profound statements found in Isaiah 53:3  “He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”   

 As we open up our Bibles to John 18 we notice that Jesus was betrayed, arrested, and accused falsely for things He did not do.  We know that it is one of His apostles (Judas) who betrayed Him in 18:2.  He is DENIED by one of those closest to Him (Peter) in John 18:15-18 and 25-27.  He is questioned and ultimately REJECTED by the religious

Establishment in 19-24 and sent bound to Pilate.  Pilate is the one person in the process who “finds no fault in Him” (John 19:4) and he is not even religious.  However, Pilate does not do the right thing but rather SENTENCES Him to death.  He is MOCKED and SCOURGED by the Roman soldiers in chapter 19:1-4.  He is finally CRUCIFIED in 19:17-24

There is no place as LONELY and cruel as the CROSS!! His experience at Calvary was unjust, horrible, embarrassing, and ultimately cruel!!  This helps me to understand why Jesus is our perfect example and motivation for life (1 Peter 2:21).

Jesus was PREPARED before the experience at Calvary.  He didn’t wait until that moment to try and figure it out or prepare Himself spiritually.  Rather, He prayed in the garden and walked with the Father anticipating a horrible event.  He was not overcome with fear but rather TRUSTED that His Father was bigger than any experience in this life. While He EXPERIENCED loneliness He was not overcome with it.  

We must be reminded that we too will experience similar feelings, and tragedy but we are not to be overcome by them.  Remember,  “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:17-19 

Remember, when walking hand in hand with Jesus you are never alone!

 

Worship

Friday, July 17, 2020

We are living in uniquely difficult times.  Our current experience is unlike any other that we have faced before.  There are many challenges that we have overcome during this pandemic individually and collectively.  One of the many challenges we continue to face is to remain committed to sincerely and reverently worship our great God.

Worship is essential to our relationship with God.  It should be stated that while our location for worship has changed, the intent and desire of our heart should not change.  

Worshipping virtually has been a blessing in many ways. The challenge is with the fact that we cannot physically be together. We were/are made for fellowship with God and with His family.  In worship we experience these two great opportunities, being together with God and with His people. 

As we worship God together, we must keep in mind that it must be offered in spirit and truth (John 4:24). In worship we must engage our hearts in sincere faith (Hebrews 11:6).  We must offer a sacrifice of praise with thanksgiving in our hearts and on our lips (Hebrews 13:15) when we come together. 

God desires that we worship Him because He alone is worthy of our praise.  We need to understand that our eternal destiny depends on our worship of the one true and living God. He demands, seeks, and requests our worship because He alone deserves it, and because it is in our nature as Christians to worship Him and our eternal destiny depends on it.  

Let’s anticipate worshipping God this Sunday!!

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” — Psalms 100:1-5                 

Freedom of Speech

Saturday, July 11, 2020

We are all aware of our First Amendment rights as American Citizens.  Specifically, we love and enjoy our right to “Free Speech.” We all love to share freely about our opinions, ideas, concerns, loves, interests, stories, politics and religion.  Many times when we share through our speech there is NO filter from what we think to what we say.  A lack of a filter can be a major turn off for others.  When people hear inconsistencies in our speech with the religion we express they begin to doubt our motives, intentions, and love for God, His Son Jesus, and the church for which He died.

God has placed filters on our speech.  In reality, as Christians, we do not have freedom of speech.  We are not at liberty to say everything we think, hear, or read.  We have restrictions in place by God to protect others for the greater good and to elevate His Kingdom and to shine a bright light that brings about a positive response from others toward Him.  God says…

1.  Psalm 34:13-14, “Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.”

2.  1 Peter 3:10-11, “For "He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it.”

3.  Psalm 39:1, “I said, "I will guard my ways, Lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, While the wicked are before me."

4.  Proverbs 21:23, “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue Keeps his soul from troubles.

5.  Proverbs 25:23, “The north wind brings forth rain, And a backbiting tongue an angry countenance.

6.  James 1:19-20, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;  for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

7.  Colossians 4:5-6, “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.  Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

As you can tell God wants us to be FREE from speaking like everyone around us. He desires for us to use the filter of His word and the Love of His Son in our speech and to be different. Jesus would have us to remember that, “...For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34).  We must also remember that our speech can betray us as it did with Peter (Matthew 26:73). 

Let’s be careful!  Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9).

Our Children, Our Hope

Saturday, July 04, 2020

While rising early morning this week, I began to think and pray for our children - all the children in the world and their future, fears, home life, and existence in this present time.  In Mark 10:14 Jesus says, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”

We all know that every child is different, but every child is similar in this respect: he or she is a priceless gift from the Father above and with our Father’s gift comes immense responsibilities. As a father and grandfather, this matter hits close to home. We have a great responsibility to teach spiritual, moral, ethical, and just teachings. It all starts at home.  If we don’t teach our children to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to. “Children are great imitators, so give them something great to imitate.”

There are so many scriptures about rearing up children. We all know Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when is old he will not depart from it”.  Also Deuteronomy 11:19 says “You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Our children are our nation’s most precious resource. As responsible parents and grandparents, we must create homes in which the future generation can grow and flourish.

Today and every day, lets us pray for our children . . . all of them. Let us pray for children here at home and children around the world. Every child is God’s child.  May we, as concerned adults, behave and pray accordingly. If not, the world will take them and mold them into its image. 

Let us look upon our children; let us love them and train them as children of the covenant and children of the promise. These are the children of God. (Andrew Murray) I pray for all children. This world holds countless dangers and temptations. Pray that our children may be protected from harm and that they may discover God’s will vs man. Amen!

The Wind of God

Friday, June 05, 2020

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Here is another way seeing the above scripture: “In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered.”

My grandfather told me something one Saturday morning around 6:30 am while sitting at the table talking, drinking black coffee, and eating dry toast and a banana. This was our routine whenever I visited. With dark brown eyes and deep voice, he said these words. “Every time the wind blows, someone gets angry.”  I am not sure if this is an actual saying in todays time, but it is true!  I read that researchers suspect that the change in ions on windy days contributes to irritability.  Most agree that wind does change the way people feel, and usually that change is negative.

In our owns lives in this present time we are experiencing difficult situations, and like the wind they can make us irritable. However, these difficult situations give us access to resources we may not have at any other time in our lives.

Consider this: “Like water drawn from the ground or power accessed through a windmill, we gain so much strength when we turn to face the wind of adversity and allow it to bring us closer to the one who gives us living water and spiritual strength. God never promised only sunshine. He never promised trouble free days. He promised His love. He promised His provision.”  Psalm 31:7 says, “I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul.”

So in closing … let the wind blow, be encouraged, God is closer than you think - AMEN!

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