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Finished

Posted on December 31, 2019 at 7:47 AM Comments comments (59)
Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:28-30 NIV


It IS finished.  This does not just speak to us about another year coming to an end, but to what Jesus did on the Cross.  It is up to us to recognize that Jesus stopped the madness a long time ago. Let us see clearly in 2020. Only believe.


A Week in Romans 12: Overcome Evil With Good

Posted on June 28, 2018 at 7:49 AM Comments comments (1)
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:17-21 English Standard Version (ESV)


We have all heard it said that "two wrongs don't make a right."  The Golden Rule is to "do unto others as you would HAVE them do unto you" (Matthew 7:12).  Those who claim Jesus Christ as Lord are to always remember that we are not called to vengeance.  That's God's business and He doesn't need our help taking care of His business.  As we follow Christ, we are to be above the evil that surrounds us and not be drawn into behavior that exemplifies it.  Living peacefully with our fellow man means we must always try to take the high road.  Having the last word on a subject will sometimes require just being quiet.  Silence can speak volumes.

Overcoming evil with good wins every time because it pleases God. He has the last word in every situation and when we let Him have His way we are left with the peace He promises that will surpass the understanding of those who seek to harm us.  A smile can completely throw a frown off course.  Love will always trump hate. Why should we forfeit our joy because someone else is miserable?  Love conquers hate. 

When we begin to have feelings like "don't get mad, get even," those who follow Christ are not to do either.  We can just leave it to God. When we are tempted to even the score with someone who has done us wrong, we can treat them as if they are hungry and offer them something to eat. Those growling sounds we hear from them may simply be coming from an empty stomach.  We can trust God to handle the evil.  It is He who will repay.

“No weapon that is formed against you will prosper.”  Isaiah 54:17




A Week in Romans 12: Being Like Jesus

Posted on June 27, 2018 at 7:42 AM Comments comments (1)
If someone mistreats you because you are a Christian, don’t curse him; pray that God will bless him.  When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow. Work happily together. Don’t try to act big. Don’t try to get into the good graces of important people, but enjoy the company of ordinary folks. And don’t think you know it all!

Romans 12:14-16 Living Bible (TLB)


In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught the people many ways He desired those whom He would call His "sheep" to live.  Turning the other cheek when life slaps us in the face(Matthew 5:39) is probably one of the most difficult examples He set for us to follow.  However, He endured a most humiliating death on the Cross for us all.  He was slapped, spit on and murdered for no other reason than to save those who believe in Him from sin.  What we as believers can never forget is that He got up. He defeated death. The grave could not hold Him.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 NLT  

Those of us who follow Christ are referred to as Christians.  Jesus did not give us that name, but it is derived from the title of who we belong to.  God's Word teaches us to be Christ-like so that we may be presented to God the Father as people who believe in His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.  The Bible gives us history of persecutions believers faced then and that many in the world still experience now.  But God has also revealed in His Word that His story has an ending beyond our wildest dreams and imagination. We have a Savior!

We are to pray for those who mistreat us, showing the same humility Jesus demonstrated because as believers we are promised a future to look forward to.  We are to share sorrow with those who weep.  We are to rejoice with those who are happy.  Our hope is in the Lord and we have been given the opportunity to share that hope by how we react to everyone.

We need not be impressed with those who esteem themselves or pretend to know more than they do. Jesus is the most important person we will ever know and His grace is everlasting.  Christ hung out with ordinary people who were hungry for His righteous goodness and He fed them.  As the story goes:  There was plenty of food leftover after all of them were satisfied (Luke 9:17).  We can trust Him to feed us too.


But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.  2 Peter 3:13-14 NIV








 







A Week in Romans 12: Love

Posted on June 26, 2018 at 8:02 AM Comments comments (0)
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Romans 12:9-13 New International Version (NIV)


As believers in Christ, we are allowed to hate only one thing:  evil.  What we view as evil is not found in other people.  God's Word makes it plain where evil comes from, even as we have people judging other people as evil and urging us toward hate and division. 

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Ephesians 6:12 NIV

Our command to love is clear and our obedience must be genuine.  Love must be without hypocrisy (Romans 12:9 HCSB). God loved us first and we are to love Him first.  When we love Him first, we prove it by next loving each other. We are to love sincerely and be devoted to loving each other, even to the extent that we love the seemingly unlovable. This is how we demonstrate our service to the Lord and claim His Lordship of our lives.

Anyone who speaks against God's Word on love is not of God.  Anyone who promotes hate is speaking against God's Word on love.  Period.  When we are encouraged to hate and not help others, we are facing one possessed by evil.  Even then, we are called to pray for the vessel being used by this negative spiritual force, but we are to recognize who we are dealing with. We are definitely not to join them in their divisive quest. 

Those who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and claim His salvation, must love their neighbors.  Who are our neighbors?  Anyone who needs our help and love (Luke 10:27). We don't get to call the shots on who we love. We don't get to say who else should or shouldn't love. And we definitely don't get to hate. To be blessed, we must be a blessing to others. We are to help those in need and even invite them into our lives (Romans 12:13 TLB). This is how we share the Gospel of Christ, our Great Commission.

For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.  Galatians 5:14 NLT


A Week in Romans 12: Good, Pleasing and Perfect

Posted on June 25, 2018 at 7:28 AM Comments comments (1)
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2 New Living Translation (NLT)


It can be hard to grasp the concept of actually giving our bodies to God.  However, when it comes down to it, He freely gave us our bodies in the first place.  He also gave us free will to see if we would freely give ourselves back to Him.  Our worship of the Living God is how we pass this test.

We all live our lives seeking purpose.  Why are we here?  That question is one we long to know the answer to, even though some don't admit it.  We wake up each day from rest and begin the task of living.  We didn't ask for life.  We didn't pray to exist.  We were created to live in this world and serve the purpose our Creator intended.  And He has a plan and purpose for each and every one of us.

We have an enemy who knows this.  God created him too and allows this world to be his playground for now.  Yet, we must never forget that God uses all things for our good and His glory.  We have been given protection through our Lord and Savior, God's only Son, Jesus Christ.  As He lived among us as a man, He knows firsthand what we are up against as we live in this fallen world. As we believe in who He is, He will provide just what we need to overcome the enemy's attacks to thwart God's plans and purposes for our lives.  Jesus gave His life to make sure we would survive because by His sacrifice on the Cross, He has already defeated the enemy of our souls.

As we give our bodies to God and keep our eyes on Christ, we are safe from the dark deeds done in this world.  Our Creator God, who is also able to transform us, will change how we think. He will change our hearts. He will change our ways. Just as He gave us life without request, He has our future planned according to His will: good, pleasing and perfect.





Rescued!

Posted on June 21, 2018 at 7:24 AM Comments comments (1)
I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.

This way of faith is very different from the way of law, which says, “It is through obeying the law that a person has life.”

But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.

Galatians 3:5, 12-14 New Living Translation (NLT)


Most of us try to be good.  Some attempt to be self-righteous, claiming to follow every command while comparing their own behavior to the ways of other people they deem worse than themselves. However, it doesn't work that way. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8). Claiming self-righteousness is also breaking God's law.  We all fall short of God's glory in one way or another because we live in a fallen world where evil is allowed to exist for now. Even our hearts and minds betray us.  God knew the temptations we would face and the obstacles that we would encounter in obeying His commands. So He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to our rescue.

He, who was without sin, died for ours.  He rescued us from the curse under which we lived from our fall into sin.  He reconciled us to our Holy Father. He paid our debt and purchased our souls with His blood.  He allows us to stand in His righteousness before God and He intercedes for us.  When we put our hope and trust in what Christ did for us and follow Him, we receive the Holy Spirit to help us live in this fallen world with the promise of eternal life in the Kingdom of God.  We can now walk by faith and not what we see.

How do we repay Him for rescuing us from the certain death of sin?  Believe Him.


Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. 1 Peter 3:18 NLT

 






Judgment

Posted on June 20, 2018 at 7:51 AM Comments comments (0)
I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.  I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it.  But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken.

John 12:46-48 New Living Translation (NLT)  


Jesus was sent to save mankind from sin.  His mission was carried out as He walked among us and demonstrated love that the world had never known.  Fully God, yet fully man, He experienced our human nature and gave His life to reconcile us to our Creator, God the Father.  Although He showed compassion to the lost, Christ was no wimp.  He recognized everything that was wrong and promised to make it right if we followed His Word.  Christ was the Word made flesh and the sacrifice of His sinless life would first make us right with God and give us a chance to live according to His Word.  We were given a reprieve.  We were given grace.  Those who reject His message now will be dealt with later. 

Like most humans with a mission, Christ was focused on His mission: God's plan of redemption.  Through God's mercy, with the help of the Holy Spirit we are given the opportunity to learn and to grow in Jesus while covered in His righteousness before He returns.  It is then He will judge.  Basically, what this means is that we ourselves are not the judges.  So why do we have so many judges?  If Jesus came from Heaven first to shine His light on our darkness enabling us to see and know the truth, who are all these earthly judges condemning other people?  All of us have fallen short of God's glory (Romans 3:23).

The world is very troubled now but God is still on the Throne.  We have much work to do as we endure our own individual tests and trials.  All we really have time to do as we wait for the trouble God has promised to end is to work on being the people Christ taught us to be, and to love and help each other as we do it.  This will prepare us for our own final judgment by the Real Judge. Living the kind of lives Christ died to save us for should keep us pretty busy.








Romans 13

Posted on June 19, 2018 at 11:07 AM Comments comments (0)
Love Fulfills God’s Requirements

Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.

This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see.

Romans 13:8-14 New Living Translation (NLT)


Sometimes Scripture can be confusing which is why believers in Christ are called to rightly divide the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15).  Those who believe are charged with the responsibility of knowing God's Word.  The Holy Spirit exists to help us with this and we don't have to rely upon our own understanding.  God knew the enemy would use Paul's words to distort the Truth.  He has done this from the beginning.  That snake in the Garden of Eden knew what he was doing and it is a trick he has used throughout time on every one of us.  But it only works if we don't know the difference.  If we get confused by what we read in God's Word, read what Jesus said (in some Bibles it is printed in red).  Have you noticed that unlike other parts of the Bible, what Jesus says cannot be taken out of context?  He was murdered on a cross because the authorities misinterpreted God's law and unjustly accused Him of breaking it.  But God has a plan . . .

Romans 13:1-5, a very small section of the inspired Word of God, has been used throughout history to substantiate many crimes against humanity. However, those words from Paul are a suggestion of how order in the world should be maintained and God has a word for those in authority as well.  On the other hand, we are ALL COMMANDED TO LOVE, all through the Word of God, by God, by His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and by all who were inspired to contribute to God's Word.  God is love!  When we know Jesus, we are given discernment to know the difference and prompted to understanding by the Holy Spirit who lives in our hearts.

Hate is a powerful emotion.  It causes people to say and do things that do not line up with the will of God.  It is a tool the enemy constantly uses to try to destroy us and it is the antithesis of love.  ALL authority has been given to Jesus Christ, who will return to judge the living and the dead.  We can trust Him when we believe and follow Him.  Those in authority who use God's Word to bring harm to others are already condemned because they have demonstrated they do not really believe God's Word.  God will not be mocked. 

If we are to give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's (Luke 20:25), who do you think comes first?


So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Mark 10:42-45 NLT



 








The Children

Posted on June 18, 2018 at 7:25 AM Comments comments (3)
And the little ones that you said would be taken captive, your children who do not yet know good from bad—they will enter the land. I will give it to them and they will take possession of it.

Deuteronomy 1:39 New International Version (NIV)


One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.

Matthew 19:13-15 New Living Translation (NLT)


There's been some confusion about little children and what is written in the Word of God about what they mean to Jesus and how they are to be treated.  True believers in Christ don't need to be confused because along with loving everyone, He especially loved the little children and He commands the same of us. We are even called to be like little children as we follow Christ (Matthew 8:3).

Then he placed a little child among them; and taking the child in his arms he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming my Father who sent me!” Mark 9:36-38 TLB

The enemy is very busy these days.  He's always been busy because he is a defeated foe, destined to an eternal ending and he is desperate as that time draws near.  His minions are busy too being used to wreak havoc in this world as they follow him to this end. Those who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and claim coverage of the blood He shed on that cross for our sin, are to be busy demonstrating His loving character in this lost world.  Jesus knows those who belong to Him and there is no one that can fool Him, no matter how the Word of God is twisted to condone evil behavior. What the true believer must remember as a follower of Christ is that God don't like ugly and it's getting really ugly.  Better recognize!

For we know him who said, “Justice belongs to me; I will repay them”; who also said, “The Lord himself will handle these cases.” Hebrews 10:30 TLB


"Jesus loves the little children.  ALL the children of the WORLD.
Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world."

By C. H. Woolston [Emphasis mine.]











The Secret is Out!

Posted on June 14, 2018 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (0)
This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people.  For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.

So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.

Colossians 1:26-29 New Living Translation (NLT)


Sometimes it's hard for us to keep a secret.  We promise someone that we won't tell what they have revealed to us in confidence but just about burst open when trying to keep this information to ourselves especially when it's good news.  Gossip is another matter entirely because those who spread rumors they've heard about someone to someone else can't always be relied upon to know and share the truth.  God does not lie (Numbers 23:19) and His Word is Truth.  He kept His secret for a long time and now He has revealed it to us.

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who is, was and is to come, was with the Father from the beginning (John 1:2).  God not only tells us about His Son in His Word, He actually sent His Son to live among us, to die for us and live in us, so that we may live with Him forever in the Kingdom of God.  The secret is out!  The truth has been revealed.  We just have to believe it. This isn't some tall tale we must whisper or murmur as if we are afraid of being overheard.  This is the Good News that God wants us all to know and share.  God sent His only begotten Son to die to save this world from the certain death of sin and He rose from the grave to give eternal life to all who believe and follow Him.  Feel free to tell everyone! 


I have been sent to bring faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know God’s truth—the kind of truth that changes lives—so that they can have eternal life, which God promised them before the world began—and he cannot lie.  And now in his own good time he has revealed this Good News and permits me to tell it to everyone.  Titus 1:2-3 TLB