No Neutral

A storm in the spiritual realm has been going on for decades now with different strengths. Like Hurricanes when it is out in the ocean gathering strength it can’t be seen by the eye but some other means, the church doesn’t notice the storm with the naked eye. When the storm comes ashore, we are able to see the damage from the wind and rain but then it starts to lose strength as it moves further more inward. The church similarly should see the damage of this spiritual storm as it hits and should start to battle against it pushing it back, but unfortunately in our world today it remains neutral to it.

The problem is that these storms are not only getting stronger and the gaps between events are getting shorter and shorter but they are not fighting anymore. They have taken up a neutral ground!

1Kings 18:21, “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.”

Paul put it his way, Romans 8:6-9, “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” 

 Jesus said in Matthew 12:25-30, “And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”

C. S Lewis wrote, “There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every minute of every hour is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan.”

There has been an argument in the churches for as long as I can remember about if the church should or should not be involved in politics. Some take the position that all we should do is preach Jesus to the point that we don’t follow trends, don’t vote, or take any position on who is running our country both local and nationally. Some take that neutral position that we should vote but it is not to be discussed in the pulpit. Some others think it should be something to be discussed in light of what the scripture says and still others are very bold in speaking about politics.

Gods’ intention for the nation Israel was that He would reign of them, but seeing other nations led by a king, they cried to Samuel, in 1Samuel 8:5, “And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” Vs 7, “And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” 

The Lord even told them the consequences of having a king, how they would lose freedoms, possessions, be taxed, etc., but it didn’t matter. Israel had some good kings and very evil kings and eventually became captives under other nation rulers.

So what is our responsibility to the government, 1Timothy 2:1-3, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;” 

Number one is that we pray not just for our fellow man but our leadership, so the question is, do you”

Romans 13:1-7, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.”

Who likes that? Who wants be subject to the higher powers, who likes to pay taxes?

But we must notice something that the government is to do…to do good, to reward good, to punish evil! We are to submit to God and government until we can’t because they require to violate the word of God, then we submit to God!

Those given authority (state) are responsible to act in the interest of God who has all authority, Government should be a ministry of righteousness.

1Kings 3:6-9, “And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” 

The Apostles give us several examples of what happens with the government abandons God’s purpose for it and goes against His word…

Acts 5:29, “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”

“How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him”

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Dealing With Grief

Romans 8:18, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

In spite of we as Christians have been told we just like every other person in this fallen world go through times of grief. One author put it this way, “Grief never ends, it’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness nor a lack of faith, It is the price we pay for love.”

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” When I was dealing with the loss of my daughter to cancer, I will be honest and say that I didn’t like this scripture very much. How could something so horrible ever work together for any good…ever, and even today it’s a tragedy in my life that I still don’t care to think about but I have learned several things as result of handling grief.

Grief can either destroy you or can motivate you and for me it has allowed me to become more compassionate to others especially those that have experienced loss similar to what our family has. Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” We receive comfort from not only Gid but from others.

It definitely gave me a different perspective on precious, how fragile life, and how short life is, James 4:14, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

Grief has allowed me to not be fearful of showing emotions for I once took great pride in keeping my emotions in check. We are often told and have told our children to not cry or to suck it up and take it like a man. With the loss of my friend Russ, then my son Jeff, and then my daughter Sarah I found that I could no longer control those emotions and you know what? Its Okay! Isaiah 53:3, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Jesus knew grief and likewise understands the grief we suffer as well.

So, with that, I would like to talk about the bit “D”, yes “Depression”. Something that we as Christians ignore and claim that we are immune to it since we are filled with the Spirit of God. After the culmination of the three deaths in a relatively short time even though at the time I would have denied it, I was indeed in period of depression. I was never angry with God, but I was disappointed, because I know our Lord is a healer, but my friend and daughter where not healed.

I thought to myself that how could I ever enjoy life again, what is the point of going on if everything I love is being taken from me. Now I wasn’t suicidal (I don’t think) but I was emotional numb.

So, this gets me to the picture of our cat Bullet that I selected for this blog. I always been okay with cats but I could live without them. So, one day my wife decides to bring this kitten home and I was like why? But watching this little ball of fur run around, get into mischief, lay on my feet, purr as it would nibble on my nose, I began to laugh and smile once again, (we ended up with another cat “Duke” as Bullet was supposed to be a boy and turned out to be a girl and I’m okay with that).

Our cats didn’t save my life for only Jesus Christ can do that but they did change me to start enjoying life which is one thing we need to remember when going through grief is that it will be okay to smile, laugh, and have a good time one day and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it!

Psalms 34:18, “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”

The last thing I want to share about grief is that it has made me even more aware of how much I need Jesus in my life, He never left me nor forsook me during my grief or my entire life and one day I will be in His marvelous presence, Revelations 21:4, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

Strange Things

Acts 17:16-20, “Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.”

Can any of you think back to the first time you heard the gospel and what you thought?

Our generation was the last generation that most of us on a Sunday attended service with any regularity. The Gen X kids seem to have very little knowledge of Gods word which seems to be fulfillment of Amos 8:11, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:”

Have any of you ever seen when Jay Leno would go on the streets and ask questions of people and some of the bazaar answers he would get?

This was a series of questions asked of group of 12 college bible students with the first question of “What was the occupation of Matthew before he followed Jesus?” ½ gave the wrong answer as some said he was a fisherman. Another question was, “What is the shortest book in the NT?” many answered Jude but it is 3John, another question was, “What was the Apostle Paul’s occupation?” one said he was a killer of Christians, and still another was is they could name just 7 of the 12 original disciples? With only one being able to name 7.

When many of us in here were growing up we didn’t have any issues with such as Moses crossing the Red Sea, David in the giant Goliath, The Virgin birth or  The Resurrection.

To many of those out in the world today they would tell you that these are “Strange Things”

I didn’t have any issues with any of these things but If I was to be honest there were many times when I first heard of something that was in the word of God, that I to said those are “Strange Things”.

I never heard of the rapture until I read a book by Hal Lindsey called “The Late Great Planet Earth” to me it was a “Strange Thing”. With that I fist heard of “The Mark of the Beast”, that there would be a “New Heaven and a New Earth” someday. “Strange Things” indeed.

Rom 10:14-15, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”       

I had read the bible several times but still found and heard “Strange Things”, I remember the first time I had overheard someone talking about “Speaking in tongues”. Well, I was just like those in Acts 2:12-13, “And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.” 

Many speakers of that time claimed tongues was only for the first believers and I even heard one say it was of the devil not God. There is some bad teaching out in our world today and we have to be not fearful in calling it out. We need to be faithful in what we tell others to be true the infallible word of God and be careful to not put our fallible opinions in. We also as hearers need to verify what we are being told with the word of God.

Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

When I heard tongues explained to me in the context of the book of Acts and Acts 2:38

The Jewish people had everything they needed to become Born Again but had one issue. Romans 9:30-33, “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” The law was a stumbling block to truth for faith was a “Strange Thing” to the learned Jew of the day.

Romans 10:16-17, “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” We have an obligation to tell others of the love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ but don’t be shocked by the response of what you are saying is a “Strange Things”. You may need to explain things slower than how you had received the salvation message because you had some faith in the word of God already.          

As Paul continued ministering to them with “Strange Things” look what happens Act 17:29-34, “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. So Paul departed from among them. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.” Never be fearful to use your testimony as a step to share the gospel, it may sound as “Strange Things” but it may what strikes a cord in the heart of the hearer!

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This Life isn’t Always Wonderful but a Wonderful life it IS!

I won’t take it for granted that everyone has seen, “It’s A Wonderful life” but it is a classic that even after watching it many times I find myself tearing up at certain sections of the movie. Who hasn’t wiped a tear off his or her cheek when Clarence gets his wings! It’s a story of how your life is so important to others no matter how you sometimes feel you had failed and you have no idea what effect you had on others’ lives.

We can at times feel that his life is too difficult, too tragic, or too sorrowful to continue on.

Ephesians 5:15-16, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

I recently listened to Matthew Wests new song, “Wonderful Life” which gave me the title for this message.

Ron from Houston, Texas, Spent three years fightin’ ALS

If you knew all that he’s been through, You’d hardly say he’s blessed

But smilin’ through a phone call, He said “Let me tell you, friend

This life ain’t always wonderful, But what a wonderful life it’s been”

It’ll send you flyin’ high, It’ll bring you to your knees

It’s the heartbreak and the happiness, And everything between

It’s the laugh until it hurts, It’s the hurt until you cry

Can’t have one without the other, It’s how you know that you’re alive

In this broken and beautiful, Gone mad and magical, Awfully wonderful life

It’s a mountain and a valley, It’s a cradle and a grave

It’s a blessing and a battle, And it’s on any given day

It’s messy and imperfect, It’s a thief and it’s a gift

Yeah, this life ain’t always wonderful, But what a wonderful life it is!

Ron went home to Jesus, Got the call the other day

I sat and cried and thought about, The words I heard him say

I know there is a Heaven, Waitin’ for us after this

This life ain’t always wonderful, But this life ain’t all there is

No, this life ain’t always wonderful, But this life ain’t all there is!

My life like so many here has had some fantastic highs and some lows that if it wasn’t for Jesus in my life and the promise, He has for all of us I wouldn’t be standing here today.

Listen I don’t have all the answers but I put my life and faith in the only one who has the answers though He has that absolute right to not to let me know the answer to biggest questions we have in this world.

I do have an understanding of some things such as why are His people being martyred on a daily basis, John 15:18-19, “Jesus said that they hated, If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”

John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

I can also understand the outlook we as those that have Jesus in our lives have will be different for those who don’t have or believe in Christ, Ephesians 2:10-12, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:”

I even know why death and suffering in is our world, Genesis 2:15-17, “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” 

That doesn’t mean that I may accept those hardships with a smile on my face or without getting mad at those events that break my heart…but they will never break my spirit!

THIS LIFE INSN’T ALWAYS WONDERFUL, BUT A WONDERFUL LIFE IT’S BEEN!

In the movie “Jumanji, the Next Level”, Danny DeVito starts out as a bitter, sarcastic, old man and makes the statement to Spencer that “it doesn’t get any better” and “Getting Old Sucks?” but we get to see how the realization of how his bitterness had destroyed his relationship with Milo for so many years. He tells Spencer then that “Getting old is a gift, I forget that sometimes, but it is”

THIS LIFE INSN’T ALWAYS WONDERFUL, BUT A WONDERFUL LIFE IT’S BEEN!

Psalms 23 so completely explains the provision God has given to us when life isn’t so wonderful.

Psalms 23:1 “A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” 

THIS LIFE INSN’T ALWAYS WONDERFUL, BUT A WONDERFUL LIFE IT’S BEEN!

My view of God has changed completely over the years and not because of the good times. It’s the struggles, it’s the hurts, it’s the pain that has made me into the man of God I am today!

I have learned of Gods tremendous value He has place on each of us…

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.:

Isa 41:10, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

THIS LIFE INSN’T ALWAYS WONDERFUL, BUT A WONDERFUL LIFE IT’S BEEN!

Are You Equipped?

Ephesians 4:11-16, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

I’m going on 40 years of being saved and in those years have heard literally thousands of sermons, but if you asked me how many of them, I could quote or recall a significant amount of the message, if I were honest, I would say relatively very little.

This is not to say that a vast majority of them weren’t good or that they didn’t have impact on my life but if we were honest most sermons especially by evangelist are motivational messages.

Many times, I have been in a service that blew my mind and got me very excited to go out and change the world for Christ and the next day I got up as usual, got dressed, ate breakfast, made my lunch, went to work, put my 8 hours, then came home, and nothing happened.

So, this thought came to me, why? Then this question came, what is the purpose of the church, especially it’s leadership?

The reason for us to gather together is found in Acts 2:42, “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Hebrews 10:23-25, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” 

So, the question is, are you being equipped?  1 Peter 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”

Are you able to defend the faith…marriage between a man and a woman?

Hebrews 6:1-3, “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,  Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.  And this will we do, if God permit.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says in the Amplfied, “Every scripture is God-breathed given by His inspiration- and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, and for training in righteousness [that is, holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose and action] So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

In the thousands of messages, I’ve heard in my lifetime I can narrow it down to this problem, most messages tell you that you need to receive Jesus Christ in their heart, that you need to read the word of God to learn who He is and you need to pray to have that communication with our Savior. The problem is many times we don’t tell them the how.

Jesus often with His disciples had to tell them the how, teach us how to pray they asked, when will the time of the end be? Jesus had to explain what the four soils meant and many of the other parables Jesus told those gathered.

Paul told us in Roman 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” But what about the why to this question, 13-16, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 

In the modern-day church, the emphasis has been put on more worship and short sermons not so much on teaching but ironically a recent survey among Evangelicals shows people want the opposite, fewer than 10% want shorter sermons while nearly 30% want more in-depth teaching, the younger adults are even more interested as only 7% wanted shorter sermons.

Just as the bible charges parents to train up a child in the way he should go, we in the church have the responsibility to train (equip) those who God has entrusted us with.

Having the proper equipment is important, when you start sometimes you can have the basics, like screw drivers and hammers, but for me it’s important to obtain better tools to do the job God had called us to do better, battery drivers, table saws, ratchet sets are all tools I’ve added to do a better job but you also have specialty tools, ie, laying concrete, putting in windows, hanging cabinets, etc. we in this church have many different talents as well…

A good example we can find in Eph 6:13-17, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: is what we should do

Ephesians 6:10-12, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Is the why we should put on the armor of God everyday

Ephesians 6:18, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” Is the how we put on that armor.

Ephesians 4:11-12, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting (equipping) of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”

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Without the Shedding of Blood!

Hebrews 9:22, “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”

The first instance of something shedding its blood in the word of God was whatever animal that was killed to cover Adam and Eve after the fall. Genesis 3:21, “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.”

The 1st time we have the blood of man mentioned is when Cain slew Abel, Genesis 4:10, “And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.”

God had designs of when blood should be shed, Leviticus 17:11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”

Atonement, to cover, thank the Lord, for when Adam sinned, we all came under the curse not just of this world but a death, both physical as well as spiritual, Genesis 2:15-17, “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

This was not a blood to be taken eternally, Lev 17:10  And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. 

Drinking of the blood of animals and others was thought to cure disease and offer one longer life, Pope Innocent VIII was dying in 1492 and was allegedly given the blood of three boys in hopes of channeling some of their youthful energy. Many religions (cults) use blood of animals and people in their evil ceremonies.

Bloodletting was also thought to give relief to individuals such as bleeding the veins between the eyebrows to alleviates headaches, or under the tongue for chest pains or tonsillar abscess, or cutting the saphenous vein to ease menstrual problems.

In 1666 we have the 1st mention of a scientific report on transfusions which wasn’t very successful as they would use animals to humans, or just anybody. It wasn’t until 1900 when the discovery of blood types that blood transfusions started to become more successful and thus acceptable.

So, the Bible was true over 4000 years ago when it mentions that the. “life of the flesh is in the blood”

Animal blood was used in covering of sin for the Jewish faith for thousands of years before it was abolished by the Roman emperor Titus destroyed the temple in 70AD. Because of the various celebrations or feasts that Israel was required to have it is said that a minimum of 1367 animals were sacrificed each year, and when Solomon dedicated the temple an estimated 250,000 animals were sacrificed that day.

Hebrews 9:1-7, “Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.  For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:”

This blood however lacked one thing, Hebrew 10:4, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” Acts 2:38, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

So, are we still in our sins since the sacrifice of animals for our sins isn’t happening? We have been given a much better sacrificial animal, a Lamb!

John 1:29, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” 1Peter 1:18-19, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;  But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:”

Hebrews 9:11-14, “But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

Jesus sacrifice only needed to be done once to satisfy the blood requirement! Aren’t you thankful for the blood?  

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Choosing to be Thankful

There was a movie many years ago that had the title, “It’s a mad, mad World” which pretty much describes the time we are living in.

Has anyone watched the news or listened to what’s happening lately?

For the past 2 years we have witnessed a complete change on how we go about our lives, we’ve had businesses close some forever, our kids were required to do school virtually which now many are admitting had caused great harm to their learning as well as mental state (something some had said from the beginning). We have been required to wear mask on our faces until very recently and or been required to get a vaccine that may take years for us to find out the effects it may have on our health.

The latest numbers have over 6 million people worldwide of dying with covid, I say with covid as many died of other reasons but for political reasons if they tested positive it seemed more expedient to list them as a covid death sadly.

Then as soon as we seem to be coming out of that pandemic, we get hit with gas prices going through the roof, 2/20/22 gas was $3.12 a gallon, today the average is $4. We have been seeing the inflation rates go up throughout 2021 and are now seeing 7.9% inflation and if you’ve been shopping lately, it seems much higher than that. Then if you dare to follow politics, well it will make you pull your hair out, and can cause you to lose friends if you express your views.

Free speech is more like you may have to pay a price for your speech with not just being kicked off social media platforms for many times speaking truth (I guess truth is subjective these days).

Oh, yeah, we also have a war that we have no clue from our leaders on how to handle and who knows when and if China will decide to push things further and invade Taiwan.

So, who is with me on trying to find a tall building to jump off of?

With all this it is easy for one to become frustrated, angry, sad, and even depressed with all that is going on, isn’t it?

So, I was pondering on all this lately and as I was sitting, thinking on what I should share with you today…in Chick-fil-a, eating some chicken strips. I started to think about being thankful in spite of all that is happening around us and boom I knew what I would be talking about today, 1Thess 5:16-18, “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

I realized that every day in our life not just during the thanksgiving season we have a choice to make. Just think that the things you had today were as result of you being thankful for them yesterday, would you have anything?

The bible is filled with the thought that we need to be thankful, the word is used some 72 times in the OT and 71 times in the NT.

Just look at the book of psalms, Ps 69:30, “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.”, 75:1, “To the chief Musician, Altaschith, A Psalm or Song of Asaph. Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare.” 107:1, “O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” And 100:4, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” are just a small example to give our Lord, thanks!

Being unthankful is a sign of a world that has turned their back on God and His word, Romans 1:21, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

Its even a sign of the last days, 2Timothy 3:1-7, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Being thankful has some positive health results as well as several studies have shown. The university of Harvard, California, Miami and Pennsylvania have all come to the conclusion that those that have a thankful attitude, sleep better, have better friendships, have more energy, and even suffer less illness, and pain.

It also seems that ones that have endured more suffering and trials in their lives tend to be more thankful, I’m not just talking about possessions… but thankful for their friends, family, and of course the relationship they have with Jesus Christ. Eph 5:20, ”Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;”

Did any of you watch any of the summer Olympics last year?

Did any of you watch the Olympics after the Olympics, (para-olympics), seeing how thankful those who had obvious physical disabilities for just being able to compete was heartwarming.

Shakespeare once said, “I cried when I had no shoes, but I stopped crying when I saw a man with no legs”Col 3:17, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

So, make this day and everyday a time to be thankful for we are truly a blessed people!

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Meditate On The Word

Psalms 1:1-2, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”

Meditation, what do you think of when someone says that word? Sitting in front of a buddha statue with burning incense?

Mediation just like prayer is not an exclusive to the Christian faith but you will find it many different circles and it seems to has become more popular in our crazy world. The world looks toward meditation as meant to relax or calm the mind, breathe control is a large part of it so you can free yourself of your external surroundings to learn to access the wealth of qualities that already exists within us such as goodness and compassion.

This is not what God’s word says about meditation in our life as a Christian!

There is a purpose far above looking into our inward depths to find meaning in our lives, Psalms 119:97. “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” Joshua 1:8, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”

Interesting that its not something that you designate a time to do it, but its both night as well as day, just like prayer 1Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”

Meditation is more than just reading the word of God; reading is primarily the assimilation of facts without application. Mediation is using those facts to transform your life, Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Reading is good but meditation or studying is better!

The word of God also is specific on what you should meditate on, Psalms 119:15, “I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.”

It takes effort to meditate, Psalms 119:99-100, “I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.” 1Timothy 4:11-15, “These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.”

As well as many benefits, Psalms 119:101-105, “I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word. I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me. How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!  Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalms 104.:34, “My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD” Psalms 1:3, “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”

Music can play a huge roll in getting God’s word down into your inner being if you meditate (think) on what’s being said in the song as many songs have scripture interwoven in them. You can just sing the words with little emotion or feeling, or you can meditate on the words and allow yourself to connect to Jesus through them.

Philippians 4:6-9, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

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What is Your Gift?

By Pastor Jeff,

This is the greatest gift you can give Jesus not just today but everyday of your life.

Matthew 2:1-11, “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”

Now I want to point out a couple of traditions that have been added to the Christmas story that the bible doesn’t speak on, one was that there were only three wise men, we see that three gifts were given but scripture doesn’t say it was by just three wise men, there could of been hundreds for all we know. The other is that the wise men came the night that Jesus was born, in fact when the wise men did have their encounter the scripture tells us he was a young child and based on Herod sending his soldiers to kill all the male children two and under, Jesus could of been that age when the wise men did appear before the child Jesus.

With that we will look at the three gifts that the Wise men brought, Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. The gold had a great monetary value and had to help during the upbringing of Jesus as Joseph, Mary, and family had to move more than once until they settled in Nazareth. Frankincense was a resin from the shrubs that grew in the mountain ranges that border Dhofar, Myrrh was also a resin from the Horn of Africa. These were very valuable and may even been more costly than the gold as frankincense was used by Kings and myrrh was used for funeral rites because of its strong aromatic scent. Some speculate that these three items would value in the millions of dollars but of course it that can’t be confirmed.

These valuable gifts were important in the life of Jesus but the question I have for you, is what gift do you bring to Jesus? Some may say our offerings of money, or a vow to pray, read your bible more, and so on it what our gift is, but I tell you that is not what Jesus wants. But you say I have nothing else to give, you say surely wouldn’t want this man of sin, Psalms 8:3-4, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” Indeed!

Thank God, that isn’t the way God sees us Psalms 139:14, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” I contend if you were the only person in this world that needed saving, Jesus would of still of come taken on the form of man, been rejected, suffered, died, buried, and Resurrected just for you. That’s the value Jesus puts on you, Jesus didn’t come for your bank account, your house, your cars, or any other material thing, He came for YOU! The best gift you could possibly give Jesus this Christmas and any other day is your Life, obey Acts 2:38 and become Born Again, don’t delay for we do not know that this may be the last Christmas we have before He returns.

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The Best Gift

By Pastor Jeff,

James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

We are in the midst of Christmas season 2020 as kids all over the world are making out their Christmas lists. I remember when we were kids, we couldn’t wait for when the Sears and JCPenney’s catalogues would be delivered and we would go through them over and over again to mark the things we were hoping for.

I’m sure everyone reading this can remember that one special Christmas or if you were fortunate several Christmas’s that you got the gift that you had dreamed of. You can probably also remember some of the gifts you didn’t ask for as well.

That gift you would probably qualify as the “Best Gift” and you may even smile when you think of that gift or may have it even today.

Acts 20:35, “I have showed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” I personally believe this is true when you have the opportunity to give to someone who could never repay you or if you can do it anonymously. But to be honest, I do like to be the recipient of gifts, and at Christmas we remember the “Best Gift” mankind has ever received.

John 4:10, “Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Because of this gift of God becoming flesh, dwelling among us, suffering, being crucified, His resurrection, and finally ascension we have another promise we receive. Acts 2:38-39,”Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:”

The gift of life that we have been blessed with is truly something to be grateful of, but eternal life that we get through faith in Christ is by far the, “Best Gift”! Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

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