Everyone Is A Sinner, But Some Don’t Know It

Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matthew 9:10-13)

Everyone Is A Sinner, But Some Don’t Know It

Jesus never fit the mold of what the Jewish leaders considered a rabbi, teacher, or the promised One, Messiah. People hated by the religious elite flocked around the man from Nazareth. Tax collectors were Jews who worked for the Roman government, imposing heavy taxes that made them very wealthy and powerful men. Rome turned a blind eye if the tax collector imposed larger taxes for their own greed. Jesus had one of the Roman tax collectors as His apostle. Many people lived on the fringe of society that were looked upon as sinners. These people were disreputable men and women despised by the sophisticated and well-respected members of society. Cripples, lepers, and blind men filled the ranks of the cast-aside society of God’s people. The Law of Moses warned against abusing the poor and unfortunate, but the Pharisees hated the people of a lesser degree than themselves.

It offended the Pharisees that Jesus would eat with tax collectors and sinners. They recognized Jesus as a person of importance, considering He was not viewed as a sinner but that He ate with sinners. His perceived station in life should have propelled Him to refuse to eat with the rabble of society. At least the Pharisees gave credibility to Jesus’s work, indicting Him for the company he kept. But why would Jesus eat with such people? Why would He risk the criticism of the religious elite of Israel and compromise His work?

A doctor exists for the sole reason there are sick people in the world. There will always be those who will serve as physicians because there will always be sick people. When Adam and Eve were taken out of the garden, sickness and death came upon all men. The moment a child is born, they begin to die. Disease is not a respecter of persons. It comes upon all ages, male and female, young and old, and without national distinctions. Methuselah lived to be 969 years old but he died. Sick people fill the earth because all men have the same DNA of mortality. There will always be those who help the sick and try to cure disease. If there were no diseases, there would be no need for a doctor. Jesus told the Pharisees healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do. Who among the Pharisees did not suffer from illness? The point Jesus made to the religious elite is that all men have disease, and the greatest sickness is sin.

Jesus came to save sinners. Who are the sinners? The Pharisees did not believe they were sinners. They justified themselves by themselves. It was ironic (and sad) that they called others sinners when they were the greatest of sinners. Jesus did not come to call the righteous or those without disease. If every disease were cured, there would be no work for the doctors. Jesus came to offer to heal those with sin, including the Pharisees. The problem with the Jewish leaders is they did not see their illness. They did not think of themselves as sinners, but they were sinners. Jesus was calling the sinners to repentance as the Great Physician.

The Pharisees were upset Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners, asking the disciples why their teacher would allow those people to eat with Him. Jesus heard them asking His disciples. He tells the Pharisees He came to save them from their pride and arrogance. They could not see themselves as sinners. Jesus pointed out their need for the healing waters of life. The prophet Hosea faced the same problem when he reminded Israel the Lord desired mercy and not the ritualistic religion of hypocrisy. Jesus tells the Pharisees they are the greatest sinners, but they could not see their own sin.

Everyone is a sinner. There is no one that does not need the mercy and grace of God – even the smug Pharisees. The first thing a sick person must do is admit they are sick. When men deny they are sinners, they will die as sinners. Jesus came to heal sinners and offer a way of escape and hope. Without admitting the need for healing, the grace of God can do nothing. Jesus did not come to call the righteous because there were none. We are all in need of Jesus.

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Guilt

At the evening sacrifice, I arose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my robe, I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God. And I said: “O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens. Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been very guilty, and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to humiliation, as it is this day. (Ezra 9:5-7)

Guilt

When a culture begins to feel more self-confident in human wisdom with self-exaltation, the feeling of guilt diminishes for slights or injuries to others and to God. A hedonistic world does not account for responsibility and accountability. The obligations of being a neighbor to others and serving the needs of the community no longer are the primary purpose of the individual. There is a cultural disappearance of guilt. Immorality is an accepted norm. Judging others because of their life decisions is unacceptable in a world of self-identity. Feelings of culpability are not based on the word of God with a view of judgment. Guilt is removed, and remorse for life decisions is replaced with the desire to find happiness in self regardless of the outcome.

The failure of guilt changes the moral compass of society. What was once viewed as an act of dishonor or guilt is accepted as the norm. There is a diminished stigma of unwed pregnancies. Premarital sex is an accepted and often expected part of life with no guilt. Parents accept their children’s sexual identity allowing them to express their carnal needs with the warnings of being safe. Homosexuality is so open the minorities of the alphabet soup society make it seem everyone follows the same persuasion. The agenda of the perverted is to force their ungodliness on others. To ridicule is to face the harsh criticism of a world gone mad. Abortions take place every day because the mother feels no guilt for killing her child and the father often is of less interest. The killing of innocent people is rampant in a world with no guilt for action. One of the primary ingredients of sin is the lack of guilt.

Lying, stealing, dishonesty, and covetousness are not viewed through the lens of guilt. Business is often conducted with dishonesty at its foundation. Pursuing stuff is done by any means and to any limit allowed by law. Stealing from the company is done without guilt. Lying on taxes is an accepted manner to stay ahead of the government. What once served as the character of honesty and integrity is frowned upon as ancient, outdated, and outmoded. There is no more guilt for the actions of the individual. The reason that crime increases, immorality flourishes, and politicians lie, steal, and cheat is because there is no guilt.

In the church of the Lord, the lack of guilt is prevalent. Even in the religious world, there was a sense of guilt, and those days are lost. Now women parade around half-dressed (or less) with no guilt. Missing church services no longer produce feelings of guilt. Hearts seek to justify their actions for not attending. They love church, and they love the Lord, but they do not think it is necessary to attend church and have no guilty feelings about missing time and again. Work is more important, recreation more enjoyable, vacations more necessary, and plain laziness and faithless hearts attribute to numbers of people feeling no guilt. They are being lulled to sleep with the tantalizing hum of Satan’s song to their eternal destruction.

Ezra realized something about the people of God. His heart was torn asunder because of the sin of the people. He tore his garment and robe, fell on his knees, and begged God’s mercy. Ezra acknowledged his iniquities and guilt. His heart was broken because he had broken God’s heart. Guilt is a healthy medicine to cure a faithless heart. Until the heart of God’s people feels guilt at forsaking the word of the Lord, there will be little hope. Losing the feeling of guilt can destroy a soul. Guilt is like pain. When the body experiences pain, it is a signal of danger. A hot stove inflicts pain to warn the body of impending destruction. If pain were not present, the body would suffer and die. Guilt is a reminder of the pain of sin. Without guilt, there is no consciousness of the relationship I have with God. I am a sinner. I am guilty. God help me know that.

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The Lord’s Supper Is Now The Lord’s Snack

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:26-29)

The Lord’s Supper Is Now The Lord’s Snack

On the night of His betrayal, Jesus gathered with the twelve apostles in an upper room to eat the Passover meal. The Passover feast was one of three principal feasts prescribed in the Law of Moses. When God brought the final plague upon the Egyptians, He ordained the Hebrews to kill a lamb or goat and put blood on the doorpost as a sign of faith and obedience. When God saw the blood, He would “pass over” that house and not kill the firstborn of man and beast. While the hand of the Lord stretched throughout the land of Egypt, the Hebrews ate the last meal in Egypt, consisting of unleavened bread, bitter herbs, and the roasted flesh of the sacrificed animal.

Jesus kept the feast of the Passover in preparation of His coming death. He knew He would be betrayed by Judas that night and the next day be crucified. His hour had come. It was the setting of the Passover the Lord chose to institute a memorial to be enacted in the New Testament church as a memorial of the death, burial, resurrection, and return of God’s Son. After the ascension of Jesus to the Father, the early disciples followed the pattern of divine authority as the church continued in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. The breaking of bread was the memorial feast of the Lord’s Supper.

The church at Corinth faced a mountain of problems, including a proper view of the memorial feast instituted by Christ. Paul addressed the carnality of the Corinthians as they abused the supper of Christ as a common meal instead of the sacred fellowship in the body and blood of Jesus. The apostle reminded the saints how Jesus took bread and, when He had given thanks, broke it and said it was His body. Jesus took the cup and said it was His blood. The Lord commanded the disciples to take of the bread and fruit of the vine in remembrance of His sacrifice. The Corinthians had come together for the worse and not for the better. They had made the Lord’s Supper into a common feast. In eating, each one took his own supper ahead of others while some went hungry. The Lord’s Supper had turned into a common meal.

Jesus instituted the memorial as a meal. A meal suggests some level of volume. If the Corinthians were taking of the emblems found in many churches today, it would be barely recognized as a snack. Paul would not have had to reprimand the Corinthians for turning the memorial into a carnal meal because there was not enough bread and fruit of the vine to make any significant notice. The pinch of bread or tiny wafers found in prepackaged emblems belie the meaning of taking of the body and blood of Jesus. It may be the Lord’s Supper has become the Lord’s Snack to counter misconceptions the religious world has about the communion but to do so at the cost of understanding the Lord’s Supper as a meal is worth considering. This is not to suggest the amount of bread or juice consumed makes the Supper a greater event. It is possible the memorial has lost sight of its significance to the lives of those who partake because it is barely on the level of a snack.

Truth should not suffer at the hands of error. Reacting to the false notions the world has about the Lord’s Supper should not drive the people of God to diminish the magnitude of the Lord’s Supper. Jesus said the bread was His flesh, and the fruit of the vine was His blood. The supper must reflect the knowledge of what Jesus suffered. He commanded the supper be done in remembrance of Him. It may be that many do not feel the pang of guilt because there is nothing in their mouths that make an impact on what Jesus did. For clarification, it is not about the amount or size of what is consumed but let us not go so far afield from the meal that we are satisfied with a nearly microscopic supper. What Jesus did must change my life.

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Precision Out Of Chaos?

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, and its circuit to the other end; and there is nothing hidden from its heat. (Psalm 19:1-6)

Precision Out Of Chaos?

Two total lunar eclipses will take place in the year 2022. The first is on May 15, and the second is on November 8. A lunar eclipse is when the moon moves into the earth’s shadow. Scientists determined the first total lunar eclipse will occur in the central part of Florida at 9:32:05 pm in what is called the penumbral eclipse. This will be followed by a partial eclipse at 10:27:52 pm and the full eclipse at 11:29:03 pm. The maximum eclipse occurs at 12:11:28 am. As the moon moves out of the earth’s shadow, the full eclipse ends on May 16 at 12:53:55 am, the partial eclipse ends at 1:55:07 am, and the penumbral eclipse ends at 2:50:49 am.

Mathematics is a pure science. When Adam and Eve taught Cain and Abel what one plus one equaled, they told them the answer was two. Abraham instructed Isaac that when he took a herd of one hundred sheep and divided it by two, he would get two herds of fifty sheep. Solomon understood the rules and formulas for differentiation and integration are necessary for understanding basic calculus operations. In the 6th century BC, the Pythagoreans coined the term “mathematics” from the ancient Greek word meaning “subject of instruction.” Mathematics is God’s means of divine instruction. Jesus learned his multiplication tables as a little boy. Galileo Galilei was an illustrious seventeenth-century mathematician. In July 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon because the science of mathematics created the ability of humanity to correctly project how to land a module on the face of the moon and return to earth. The planet Mars is 140 million miles away from earth, and on July 20, 1976, a spacecraft from earth made a successful landing in its northern hemisphere. How was any of this possible? The exacting science of mathematics.

God created mathematics in the beginning. It serves as a testimony to the wisdom and power of the Creator. The earth rotates on its axis every twenty-four hours and revolves around the sun once every 365 and quarter days. It remains in constant orbit around the sun at an average of 93 million miles. The moon orbits the earth in a nearly circular pattern every 27.3 days. When a lunar eclipse occurs, the moon moves into the earth’s shadow. The Chinese recorded a lunar eclipse on January 29, 1137 BC. Scientists know that on December 29, 2029, a total lunar eclipse will take place at 10:43:12 in the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia. How do they know this? God’s creation proves that the world did not come from chaos but a divine order.

Skeptics of the Bible use the same mathematics created by God to determine events of the heavenly bodies with such precision they include the hour, minute, and second of the event. When a man denies God created the world and then declares the mathematical affirmation of a singular event, he becomes a fool that does not know God. How can a world formed out of chaos implode itself into an organism of continual perfection that can be charted by the annals of time, whether past or present? The lunar eclipse is measured with exacting precision because the Creator ordained the events in the beginning. Adam and Eve would have seen a lunar eclipse in their lifetime (quite a few in 930 years). The moon turning dark of ancient times is the same moon seen in the eclipses of modern times. God’s handiwork declares His power, glory, and majesty. When the moon turns dark, the light of God shines brilliantly.

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The Joy Of Grace

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

The Joy Of Grace

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve lived in peaceful harmony with God without the stain of sin, wickedness, and moral corruption. Moses describes the world of the garden as a place of pure innocence where both Adam and Eve were naked and not ashamed. The sound of God walking in the garden was a comforting feeling for the man and woman. There was nothing to fear, no threat of death, and no sorrow. And then the serpent spoke to Eve, and the wiles of the devil deceived her heart; the woman took the forbidden fruit propelling humanity into the pits of spiritual darkness.

There were only two people in the world when sin opened its chasm of eternal misery. No children were there, no nations had begun, and there was no disease. It could have been a simple solution to destroy what He so easily created and start anew. Adam and Eve failed God, and the Lord had to power to raise up a new creation from the stones of the earth. It was within the power of God to turn back the pages of time and intercede before Satan did his evil deed. Adam and Eve could have been left alone in their own misery. Instead of casting them from the garden, the Lord could have allowed them to remain and eat of the tree of life. Let the rebellious creation live forever and wallow in their misery. Did God have to be concerned about something He created for His glory and reward them for disobeying Him? Adam and Eve were trifling specks of dust that did not amount to anything worth saving.

God cast the man and woman from the garden. He watched as children were born and the world began to fill with people. Evil entered the hearts of men like Cain, who killed his brother, Abel. Murder became rampant. Hearts turned cold and dark in the putridity of wickedness. It was not long before God saw the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. As the Lord gazed upon the spread of evil in the heart of humanity, He saw one man that merited His grace. Noah was a righteous man and, along with his wife, sons, and their wives, received the greatest gift man has ever known – grace. The Lord came to Noah and told him the world would be destroyed. Evil had so filled the world that it required God’s wrath to intervene. Not knowing how to save himself, Noah was told by God of the divine plan for salvation. He could never have imagined how to find help in the face of such terrible destruction. God told Noah to build an ark, and he and his family would be saved. Grace.

Humanity continued to spiral into darkness. The people of Israel came from the loins of Abraham as a stopgap against the transgression of the human heart. Through the promise of the Seed in the Garden of Eden and a promise made to Abraham, God set forth the final solution for sin. In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, to save sinful man. Jesus Christ died for the sins of all humanity to express the fullness of the grace of God. All men sin and deserve to die. Jesus never sinned and freely died to give life. Grace is Jesus on the cross. The love of God is how grace offers men the hope of eternal life when nothing in the heart of man deserves life. There are no righteous, innocent, justified, and holy men who stand before God without the blood of Jesus. Everyone sins and deserves the wrath of God – everyone.

Grace is knowing that salvation comes by the kindness and love of God alone. There is nothing deserving in the nature of any man or woman that can explain the death of Jesus, God’s only begotten Son. I stand before God guilty of killing Jesus Christ, and I deserve death, eternal death, and eternal darkness and separation. There is nothing I have done that should allow for my salvation. From the pits of darkness comes the beacon of light, Jesus Christ, who shines His light of grace on a condemned man. I have been saved by grace, and it is nothing I have done that deserves His mercy. Adam and Eve did not deserve it. The world does not deserve it. You and I don’t deserve it. God’s grace is without measure.

God has told us of His coming wrath, and we cannot change that. Jesus Christ died to offer a way of salvation that we cannot change. Grace is found in the measure of God’s love desiring to save men and telling them how to save themselves. The true nature of grace is not realized until one believes in the word of God (wrath is coming) and obeys the will of the Father. Salvation is not by grace alone. Noah was not saved by grace only or faith only. He obeyed the word of the Lord. Men are justified by works and not by faith only. The tragedy of grace is that it is refused by those who will not do what God says. God offers hope for hopeless hearts. Come to the grace of God, embrace His love, and obey His word. Grace.

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Let There Be Light

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. (Genesis 1:1-5)

Let There Be Light

Moses must have marveled at the revelation of God about the beginning of time. The first book of Moses was called Genesis as the book of all beginnings. Everything in life and all that pertains to life begins in the book. Ironically, the end of all things is alluded to in the book of beginnings in the flood story. As Moses began to write the Genesis, his mind would have filled with wonder at the evolution of divine creation in such a perfect, declarative manner. The world was created in exact detail with a precision that could only come from a divinely creative hand. There was an order required for life to sustain itself as one day built upon another. Plantlife could not be created before light. The Sun, Moon, and stars were created after grass and trees. Adam and Eve were created last as all things were prepared for them to live. Creation was a symphony of perfection.

The beginning was a very dark and scary place. There was no form to what is called earth. A void hung over the expanse, and darkness covered the face of the deep. Water existed before light. There was no unity or life or light. The division of heavens must wait until the second day. Separation of dry land and the waters would be accomplished on day three. Everything else in creation would wait. There was darkness, and that must be addressed first. Then God spoke, and there was light. That is all that was done on day one. Light. God spoke. Light came out of His mouth. There was light. It was good. Now the darkness was divided with light. God called the light Day and the darkness He called Night. The oldest names in creation are Day and Night. Amazing. God spoke, and light came into the world.

Light is the first particle of creation. Without light, nothing would exist. Light was created three days before the Sun, Moon, and stars. Life on earth is reliant on the Sun, but light filled the earth before the Sun was created. During the first three days of creation, there was nothing in the heavens to look upon. For three days, light filled the earth as the firmament was divided, and dry land and seas were formed. It must have been an incredible thing to stand on the shores of dry land and see no Sun or Moon, yet the earth was filled with grass and trees. But there was light. On the first day, God spoke, and there was light.

The first day of creation was necessary for life to exist. Nothing could have been done in the other five days if light did not exist first. Light does not come from the Sun, but the Sun is a producer of light reflected on the Moon. All things that exist begin with light, and God’s power to allow life to continue is found in light. The world without light is a dead world. Man was not created to be a nocturnal creature but a creation dependent on light. Where light is, man thrives. When a man lives in darkness, he dies.

In the beginning, God spoke, and there was light. Many generations after Adam and Eve, God spoke again, and the world’s true Light came to earth. Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, and while the world did not see the Light that was born that night, eternal life exploded on the earth as it did in the beginning. The world was filled with darkness, and there was a void that filled the hearts of men. Peace could not come from those who sought to be a law to themselves, and peace could not come from those who sought to be keepers of the Law. Jesus came into the world to be the Prince of Peace and the author of eternal light. He is the Light of the world. He was created as the firstborn of light because, like the light of creation, He must exist first for life to continue. All life is found in Jesus Christ, and without Him, there is no life. No light means no life.

Light was created as the foundational element of life. Jesus came into the world of darkness to be the Light that would give all men the hope of eternal life. There is no salvation outside of Jesus because He is the Light. Life is in Jesus because He is the only life. No man can come to the Father unless they come to the Light. Darkness prevails in the hearts of all who refuse to submit to the will of Jesus Christ. The tragedy of rejecting the Light now is the reality that eternal darkness awaits all who reject Jesus. Light or darkness. The choice is yours.

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Troublemakers Take Heed

If you have been foolish in exalting yourself, or if you have devised evil, put your hand on your mouth. For as the churning of milk produces butter, and wringing the nose produces blood, so the forcing of wrath produces strife. (Proverbs 30:32-33)

Troublemakers Take Heed

Strife is as old as the world. Sin introduced the emotions of anger, hatred, wrath, discord, and conflict. Cain killed his brother Abel because Cain had an evil heart and lashed out at Abel with malice. God punished Cain for his transgression as a means to show the consequences of the rash acts of strife and the penalty for sin. Wisdom declares two similes that when milk is churned and tossed, butter is the result. Secondly, if a man takes hold of another man’s nose and twists it in anger, blood will come out, and the man will react violently. What happens next is the consequence of attacking the other person. There are consequences to actions. When milk is tossed about and beaten, a good thing comes forth, but if anger strikes out at another man, there will be no good consequence.

The admonition of the proverb is to warn that whatever a man sows, he will reap. Playing the fool will bring about a host of reactions by those who are not amused by the antics of the initiator. Pride brings about strife. Being stupid will result in others reacting to the folly of the misguided. Speaking without thinking opens the door to insults, cursing, hatred, and then – bodily harm. Unchecked anger comes from uncontrolled emotions. It is best to cover the mouth and thought a fool than to open the mouth and remove all doubt. If a man insists on making trouble, he could receive the worst end of the bargain and get punched in the nose.

Stirring up anger produces strife and quarrels. One of the characteristics of quarreling is the inability of those participating in the foolish endeavor to keep their mouths shut and their minds open. When the volume of the voice elevates, mental acuity shrinks. Pride is the engine that runs the mouth to keep on spouting out words of foolishness, and the more that is said, the higher the emotional temperature of the mind until a breaking point is reached, and conflict ensues. There are many dangers present with an uncontrolled spirit is not reigned in and controlled. Many lives have been lost because of foolish strife and friendships broken with unguarded words.

God created man to be an emotional creature. The apostle Paul wrote that anger is not a sin but the unbridled anger that leads to destruction. Jesus was angry on occasions but never sinned. Unresolved anger leads to strife and discord. The people of God are governed by principles that keep strife in check. James acknowledged the need to be swift to hear and slow to speak, suggesting a divine purpose in having two ears and one mouth. Troublemakers must heed their actions and not be surprised when strife comes. Christians are not troublemakers but peacemakers. The child of God controls his mouth and puts his hand over his mouth if need be. Let strife be left to churning milk into butter. That’s a good kind of churning but learn the lesson from the butter.

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Diary Of An Unborn Child (Author Unknown)

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! (Psalm 139:13-17)

May 5 – Today my life began. My parents do not know it yet. I am as small as a seed of an apple, but it is I already. And I am to be a girl. I shall have blond hair and blue eyes. Just about everything is settled though, even the fact that I shall love flowers.

May 19 – Some say that I am not a real person yet, that only my mother exists. But I am a real person, just as a small crumb of bread is yet truly bread. My mother is. And I am.

May 23 – My mouth is just beginning to open now. Just think, in a year or so I shall be laughing and later talking. I know what my first word will be: “mama.”

May 25 – My heart began to beat today all by itself. From now on it shall gently beat for the rest of my life without ever stopping to rest. And after many years it will tire. It will stop, and then I shall die.

June 2 – I am growing a bit every day. My arms and legs are beginning to take shape. But I have to wait a long time yet before those little legs will raise me to my mother’s arms before these little arms will be able to gather flowers and embrace my father.

June 12 – Tiny fingers are beginning to form on my hands. Funny how small they are. I’ll be able to stroke my mother’s hair with them.

June 20 – It wasn’t until today that the doctor told mom that I am living here under her heart. Oh, how happy she must be. Are you happy, mom?

June 25 – My mom and dad are probably thinking about a name for me. But they don’t even know that I am a little girl. I want to be called Kathy. I am getting so big already.

July 10 – My hair is growing. It is smooth and bright and shiny. I wonder what kind of hair mom has.

July 13 – I am just about able to see. It is dark around me. When mom brings me into the world it will be full of sunshine and flowers. But what I want more than anything is to see my mom. How do you look, mom?

July 24 – I wonder if mom hears the whispering of my heart. Some children come into the world a little sick. But my heart is strong and healthy. It beats so evenly; tup-tup, tup-tup. You’ll have a healthy little daughter, mom.

July 28 – Today my mother killed me.

(Submitted by Kent Heaton)

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The Church Of The Living God

These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:14-15)

The Church Of The Living God

Idolatry is the religion of dead gods. Carving images out of stone and wood are gods created by the hands of men who foolishly create a totem to become their master. The god cannot save, it cannot speak, and it has no power. Folly is the foundation of idol worship because man is greater than his own god. The body of Christ is the church of the living God. Human wisdom did not create Jehovah God. Nothing in human wisdom can create a theology larger than themselves, yet the teachings of the Bible are far beyond the imaginations of any man. The church of Christ was established on the Day of Pentecost in the city of Jerusalem through the power of the Holy Spirit. Twelve men stood before a hostile crowd of devout Jews and accused them of killing the Anointed of God, the Christ. Three thousand repented that day and were baptized into Christ for the remission of their sins. The church of the living God had begun.

Luke records the spread of the church as disciples multiplied and spread the teachings of Jesus Christ throughout the Roman world. Two thousand years removed from its beginning; the church of the living God lives in every corner of the world. Communities spread across the globe will find groups of devoted saints meeting as the people of God in simple worship, dedicated lives, and devoted hearts. There has been an unceasing line of disciples from the day in Jerusalem until the coming of the Lord, who make up the church of the living God. It is the church that thrives on the gospel of Christ, changing lives and saving souls.

The church of the living God is the church of the living. It is made up of those who have been born again. Those who were dead in their sins are made alive through the blood of Jesus Christ. Sin destroys, but grace saves. The church of Christ is a place of life, abundance, hope, and joy. Jesus died to bring those who are willing to obey the Father into the new covenant that gives life to hardened souls, hope to desperate hearts, and joy in the fellowship of God’s Son. Those who are members of the church of the living God are alive in Christ. There is a vitality not found in the world. Christians face hardships with greater promise. Children of the living God know that death is life. Those made alive in Christ live in the knowledge that God has redeemed them from death.

Life is found in Christ. There can be no union of man and God outside the church. On the Day of Pentecost, God added to the church those who were saved because that is where life is found – in Jesus Christ. In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or they would die. Satan lied and told them they would not die. They disobeyed God, ate the fruit, and died. Satan knew what God meant and deceived Eve. Adam and Eve did not die physically but were separated from the living God. When Jesus came into the world, the Son of God brought the man back to the living God to give him life. The church of the living God is where life is found, and death is overcome. Without the church of the living God, there is no life. Satan has fooled many souls into believing they can worship God any way they want. Sadly, most believe the lie that life is found outside the church of the living God. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Salvation can and will only be found in Christ, in the church of the living God. Do you have life?

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Matriarchal Heritage

When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. (2 Timothy 1:5)

Matriarchal Heritage

Family heritage is very important. The lineage of one generation to another can be a powerful influence in the world for change. There are families that established an economic heritage that changed nations. Some families have a heritage that is centuries old that continues to influence world affairs. Political legacies are found throughout American history. While economic, political, and societal influences are rooted in the fabric of society, none surpass the influence of godliness from one generation to another. All generations will fade away and riches lost, names forgotten, and influences cast aside in the passing winds of time, but the families that give each other the gift of God find a lasting reward that is incomparable.

Lois was a woman growing up in a Roman world. She had a daughter called Eunice and they lived in the city of Lystra. Paul had visited the Asia-Minor city on his first missionary journey. It was a place given over to idolatry and pagan customs. After Paul healed a cripple, the people called him Hermes and Barnabas, Zeus, after the gods of men. They could scarcely constrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them. Later, Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and, stirring up the crowds, had Paul stoned and left for dead. He survived the stoning and the next day departed for Derbe. On his second preaching trip, Paul found Timothy, the son of Eunice, at Lystra and wanted the young man to go with him on his journey. After circumcising Timothy, Paul and his companions continued their work of preaching in all the cities.

Luke writes that Timothy’s father was a Greek married to Eunice. Lois and Eunice were devoted to the word of God in a world filled with all things ungodly. Lystra was not just a city with idols but also a society given over to the influences of idol worship. Paganism and immorality were the same things. As a grandmother and a mother, two women worked diligently to embed in the heart of an impressionable young man the faith of Jehovah God. Sometime before Paul’s second arrival in Lystra, Timothy was baptized for the remission of his sins. He thrived in the work of the Lord as the brethren spoke highly of him to Paul. The apostle was so taken by Timothy that he begged him to join in the work of preaching throughout the Roman world.

Faith must begin at home. Timothy grew up in an idolatrous city, but his home was a bastion of godliness, purity, fidelity, truth, the word of God, and the influence of two women who made certain he stayed faithful to God. Lois and Eunice were matriarchs who taught Timothy to love God by word and by example. It was important for the influence of their faith to find itself in the heart of Timothy. When Paul told Timothy he needed to be circumcised, the young man did not disobey. His faith was not weak but devoted to the work of the Lord. It was hard for Lois and Eunice to hear Paul ask to take Timothy with him on his journeys, but the women gave their grandson and son to the work of the Lord. It was a sacrifice they were willing to give.

A godly woman’s work is never done. Lois learned the truth of Jesus Christ and she taught her daughter to love Jesus Christ. Eunice spent many hours teaching little Timothy to love the Lord with all his heart. When Timothy grew to manhood, he kept those teachings in his heart. How often he must have reflected on the voice of Lois and Eunice as he traveled with Paul throughout the Roman Empire. The matriarchal heritage of Lois and Eunice shows the work of a grandmother is never done and the teaching of a mother does not end. Timothy was blessed with two godly women who taught him to love God in a world filled with ungodliness. May God raise up more women like Lois and Eunice, who are women of God passing on their love to the next generation.

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Most People Will Scream After Death

And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’” (Luke 16:23-24)

Most People Will Scream After Death

The story of Lazarus and the rich man is an astonishing examination of a reality that few are willing to accept. Jesus relates the story of two men who had stark differences in life. For one, life was filled with life’s joys, prestige, and blessings. The rich man was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and lived each day in luxury. At the rich man’s gate was a poor man who knew nothing but misery in life. He was diseased, destitute, and had only dogs who would like his open sores. The contrast is not so much how different their lives were before death but what happened after death. When Lazarus died, he was carried by angels to comfort. Immediately upon death, the rich man started screaming. There was no relief, no joy, no comfort, and no hope. As the family prepared the funeral for the rich man, no one thought of their brother and friend as suffering. There were five brothers who lived much like the rich man. The screams of the rich man could not be heard, but scream he did.

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus made another startling statement of truth. Most people will not be saved. This is hard for the world to accept. It is easy to think that everyone that dies finds comfort. Often the expression “RIP” shows how sadly people view death. Resting in peace is not something most people find in death. Most people see darkness, horror, eternal pain, and screaming in death. Jesus was asked by one of His disciples if few were saved. The Son of God said there was a narrow gate to eternal happiness, and many will seek to enter and will not be able. Think deeply about that statement. Jesus says that most people will scream after death. Many will plead for God to admit them, but He will tell them He does not know them. They will say to Him they were good people, religious people, and honest people. It will do no good. They will be in a place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. It will be eternal horror.

Most in the world do not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. They will be screaming after death. Many more who believe Jesus is God’s Son refuse to obey His will. Tragically, they will be screaming after death also. Being religious does not guarantee eternal life. Many will tell God how religious they were and how they followed in the name of His Son. The problem they face immediately in death is they will be saying these things through screaming. Jesus will tell many religious people He never knew them. It will be too late. Refusing to obey the will of the Father will cast the soul into outer darkness and screaming.

Denying eternal punishment does not make reality go away. There is joy and peace in knowing the grace and mercy of God, but the Lord is a wrathful judge who will punish those who do not obey His word. Jesus taught that most people who live on the face of the earth would scream after death. The screams will come from a lake of fire and brimstone, unimaginable darkness, and eternal hopelessness. There will be no relief. Satan will be with them, screaming as the author of eternal damnation. Life is important, but life determines eternity. If you do not obey God’s word, you will scream after you die, and you will never stop screaming. Believe it to be true – Jesus said you will.

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Biblical Dating

Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. On the fifth day of the month, which was in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, the word of the Lord came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the River Chebar; and the hand of the Lord was upon him there. (Ezekiel 1:1-3)

Biblical Dating

The Bible is a book with many internal pieces of evidence proving the veracity of its claims. Critics of holy scripture must contend with the content of the book, examining the harmony and consistency of the Bible, the unity of diversity, its profound and rational doctrine of God and man, purity of ethics, and agreement of archaeological claims. Fulfilled prophecy is one of the strongest arguments proving the Bible to be divine. Another means of showing the Bible to be authentic is the frequent use of dating Biblical events. There are many instances of dates proven accurate in a historical setting. Others are sometimes vague for modern man in their setting but nonetheless are used to establish authenticity to those who were the first readers of the word.

Ezekiel begins his book by dating the message as the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month. He further says the word of the Lord came to him on the fifth day of the month, which was in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity. Scholars disagree on the setting of the thirtieth year. Different views are presented to determine what year this signifies. The setting of the book of Ezekiel follows the captivity of Judah in Babylon. Judah was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar in 606 B.C. Jerusalem was captured, and a second group was taken into captivity in 597 B.C. In the year 586 B.C. Jerusalem was destroyed along with the Temple. It would be seventy years (536 B.C.) before the people of God returned to their homes. Ezekiel was taken to Babylon in the first days of the Babylonian conquest. The first part of his book warned the Jews of the impending doom of Jerusalem due to their sinfulness. When Ezekiel heard Jerusalem had fallen (586 B.C.), he proclaimed a message of hope and restoration through a remnant that would return to Israel.

The audience of Ezekiel understood the significance of the dates. Using the road signs of time, Ezekiel impresses upon the hearts of the people God’s plan to punish Israel and to save His people. The prophet Jeremiah declared the captivity of Israel would only last seventy years. Daniel would later realize the time was drawing near for God to fulfill His promise to return His people to Israel. In the first year of the reign of Darius, Daniel learned from reading Jeremiah the prophet, that Jerusalem must lie desolate for seventy years. The time was drawing near for God’s word to be fulfilled. Daniel knew this because of the biblical dating embedded in God’s word.

Luke would use extensively the art of dating to validate his book. He begins with the days of Herod, the king of Judea. The birth of Jesus was during the days of Caesar Augustus. Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth but had to go to Bethlehem to be registered according to the census that took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. John the Baptist began his ministry in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene. Luke is the only writer that says Jesus was thirty years of age when He began His ministry. Dates were important as road signs to show the validity of scripture on the history pages.

Isaiah prophesied during the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Jeremiah lived in the days of Josiah, the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. Jeremiah continued to preach throughout the reign of King Jehoiakim, Josiah’s son, until the eleventh year of the reign of King Zedekiah, another of Josiah’s sons. His work continued up to when the people of Jerusalem were taken away as captives. The book of Daniel begins by dating the events in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, when Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem and besieged it.

Biblical dating is not arbitrary. There are many references given in scripture confirming the stories of the Bible are not myths but events based on historical, geographical, and archeological significance. The Holy Spirit places these road markers throughout scripture as silent witnesses to the proof that the Bible is God’s divine word. These dates are part of the complete package of knowing God has revealed His word, and it is true. Take time to examine the dates. It will help to affirm your faith.

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Remember Lots Wife – Now

Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. “In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. (Luke 17:28-33)

Remember Lots Wife – Now

There have always been cities filled with immorality and wickedness since the fall of man. The world became so wicked in the days of Noah that God destroyed all life with a flood. Only Noah and his family were saved from the wrath of judgment. During the days of Abraham, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were so wicked they became the focus of God’s wrath. It takes a lot of cruel wickedness to bring the Lord to the decision of obliterating a place on earth. Sodom and Gomorrah came into the periscope of the anger of the Lord, and He determined to destroy them. The only thing standing in the way of God’s judgment was the mercy the Lord extended toward Abraham and his nephew, Lot.

Lot and his family joined Abraham on their journey from the Ur of Chaldee. When Abraham came into Canaan, he pitched his tent between Bethel and Ai. Both Abraham and Lot were very rich in livestock, flocks, and herds. After a time, the land could not support both herds, and Abraham allowed Lot to choose the choice land. However, the plains of the Jordan had the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. These cities were already known as very wicked. Lot would eventually move his family into the city, and this decision would cost him everything dear to him. He was vexed about the city’s immorality but never removed his family. The influences of Sodom and Gomorrah began to break down the righteousness of Lot and his wife.

One day, two men appeared in the city of Sodom. Lot was a leading member of the community as he sat at the gate of Sodom. Realizing the danger for the two men remaining in the city unprotected, Lot took them into his home. Later that night, the men of the city surrounded the house demanding the visitors be given to them. It was the intention of the men of Sodom to rape the visitors and use them for their pleasure. God delivered Lot and his family through the hand of the two men who were angels of the Lord. After striking the men blind, the angels warned Lot of the impending doom, telling them to flee the city. Lot lingered. He and his wife hesitated. They were conflicted about what to do. Finally, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city. Only for the mercy of the Lord were Lot and his family rescued.

The angels warned the family to escape to the mountains and not look back. God was going to destroy Sodom, Gomorrah, and the cities of the plain. When Lot and his wife fled from the destruction, she looked back, and God killed her. She turned into a pillar of salt. Disobedience cost Lots wife her life because she looked back when the Lord commanded her not to look back. There was nothing of value to look back for, but she did not obey. The immediate destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah came as sudden upon the people of the city as it did for Lot’s wife. There was mercy given to deliver Lot and his family, but that mercy was denied when she disobeyed God. A warning of disobedience is engrained in the story of Lot and his family.

Jesus tells the story of Sodom and Gomorrah to reveal the manner of God’s destruction of all humanity. There was no warning to the people of the cities. They went on with their lives of drinking, buying, selling, planting, and building as if they had many years left to enjoy life. Then suddenly, without warning, the sky rained fire and brimstone, and they were dead. When the Son of Man returns, life will continue as it has for centuries. Then suddenly, the brilliance of the Son of God appears in the heavens, and the world is destroyed. Judgment begins. Souls saved and souls lost. Sadly, Lots wife looked back to something of no worth and value. She had set her heart on things of this earth, and it was destroyed. Lots wife was killed because her heart longed for the world.

So many people live every day seeking possessions that will be burned up in a greater conflagration than what rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah. When the Lord returns, all the lost will be looking back, wishing for another moment to find salvation; but will find none. The peril of looking back is believing that life is found in the abundance of things we possess. What will it profit a man when he gains all the world has to offer and lose his soul? The mercy of God has provided a way of escape. Without taking hold of the hand of Jesus Christ, there is no hope. Looking back to this world will destroy you. Look to Jesus. He will save you.

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Jesus Was Homeless

Then one of the teachers of religious law said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:19-20)

Jesus Was Homeless

Located about midway between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean, Nazareth was a small town in Galilee of no importance. One of the disciples of Jesus, Nathanael, remarked that nothing good came out of Nazareth indicating a view many of Israel had about this southern town of Galilee. In Nazareth, Gabriel appeared to Joseph and Mary to declare the birth of God’s Son. Some months later, near the time of her delivery, Mary joined Joseph for the trip to Bethlehem because of the census required by Caesar Augustus. Arriving in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to Jesus in a stable because there was no room in the inn. Shortly after that, Joseph secured a house where the family stayed for a few years.

When Jesus was around two years old, wise men came to bring gifts and worship the young boy. After the wise men returned home, an angel of the Lord warned Joseph that Herod would try to kill Jesus. The angel of God told them to flee to Egypt and remain until the word of the Lord came. Joseph took Mary and Jesus to Egypt, where they stayed until the death of Herod. The family wanted to return to Bethlehem but hearing the son of Herod, Archelaus, was reigning over Judea, Joseph returned to Nazareth. The first few years of Jesus’ life were filled with a king trying to kill him, the long trip to Egypt, and growing up in a foreign land. All of this was according to the will of the Father, who spoke of the travels in the prophets. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, raised in Egypt, and grew up in Nazareth. He would become known as Jesus of Nazareth.

Joseph and Mary had other children. Jesus had four half-brothers and at least two half-sisters. As a young man, Jesus grew up in Nazareth following his earthly father’s trade to be a carpenter. His other brothers probably followed a similar trade. Life for Jesus was as placid and peaceful as any other Jewish boy growing up in the Roman Empire. There was a uniqueness about Jesus that was evident to all, but only Joseph and Mary knew the real reason. Sometime in the life of Jesus, it seems clear Joseph died. As the elder son, Jesus would have taken the family’s leadership role.

Luke is the only writer that tells the age of Jesus. The Lord was thirty years of age when He began His ministry. This would be a remarkable change in the life of Jesus. For three decades, He had lived with His earthly family in the relative comfort and security of a home. Jesus had a place to lay His head, a place at the table to eat His meal, and a place in the community. His custom was to go to the synagogue every Sabbath and read from Moses’s scrolls. Everyone in Nazareth knew Jesus. He was one of five sons of a carpenter.

When Jesus began His ministry, He never had a place to call His own. Capernaum would become a central part of His ministry, but the ministry of Jesus took Him from one end of Israel to the other. For nearly three years, Jesus walked, rode, shared a boat, and traveled the length and breadth of Israel. He was known as a man from Nazareth, but His fellow citizens became enraged at His teaching and tried to kill Him. The preaching of Jesus was nonstop. He seldom had time to Himself. Often He would escape to a mountain to talk with His heavenly Father. Traveling by ship was more relaxing for Him as He had a respite from the surging crowds. Jesus had no home, a place to lay His head, a place at a table that was His, and the security of belonging. The pace of His work was frantic, unending, and grueling. Following Jesus was not an easy life.

The purpose of Jesus’ ministry was not to establish a home, and pray men would come to Him. Jesus went out among the people, walked with them, talked with them, healed their sick, comforted them, and took children in His arms to bless them. The animals had dwelling places but not the Creator of the world. Jesus had come to provide a spiritual home, and He had no time for a home of His own. The Son of Man had nowhere to lay His head. Understanding the life of Jesus is to see Him from the viewpoint of a homeless man on a mission. His sacrifice was not just at the cross. The ministry of Jesus was a sacrifice. A homeless man died for all men to give them a home with His Father.

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She Gave All

And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.” (Luke 21:1-4)

She Gave All

The Law of Moses gave protection for widows not to be treated unjustly and to be cared for through tithes. It was very difficult to be a widow in Biblical times. Protected under the Law of Moses, widows still faced a difficult and uncertain future. Without a source of income, the daily lives of widows were a meager existence. Jesus was in the Temple observing how the people came in to offer their tithes into the treasury. Men of wealth deposited their tithes, and the common man put in much less. It was the widow that caught the eye of the Lord when He saw her putting her two mites in the treasury. The sound of her coins was barely heard. No one took notice of the poor woman in torn clothes hobbling along quietly, putting in her small gift.

Nearly a millennia before, when the prophet Samuel was seeking to anoint the next king of Israel, God reminded the prophet that He does not look at the outside of a man but rather what is in the heart. As Jesus stood watching those who brought their gifts to His Father, He saw an offering of poverty as a gift of immeasurable treasure in the poor widow. The rich people dropped their gifts in the collection box, but it was a poor widow that became the object lesson of the day. Out of her poverty, she put in all the livelihood that she had.

The poor widow’s story is not about the two mites or the coins of the rich. It was about the heart of a woman who was so fully devoted to the Lord she gave more than anyone. Wealth is not determined by the size of the bank account but by the abundance of the heart that is seeking the favor of God. Nothing is known about the woman after she returns home. Her stomach may not have been full, but her heart was overflowing. God is not interested in the size of the gift. The rich gave much out of their abundance, and that was easy. There was much remaining after they gave their gift. The poor widow was poor before she gave and remained poor after giving. What made her story different is she was rich before she gave and remained rich after she gave. Her treasure was in heaven.

Men measure success outwardly. God seeks loyalty from the heart. The widow’s story does not suggest all men must divest themselves of all of their wealth to prove faithfulness. Giving two mites did not make her righteous no more than a rich man giving twenty gold coins made him righteous. God looks on the heart when it comes to worship. He seeks what is in the spirit of a man to know his worth. Everyone is measured by the willingness to devote themselves to the Lord fully. What Jesus saw in the woman was complete, unfailing, total devotion. That is what made her gift so amazing. The Lord is seeking such to worship Him.

Honor for God is found in the humble hearts of fully devoted people, putting God first in every part of their lives. Nothing comes before their service to the Lord. They are not seasonal warriors in the cause of Christ but dedicated soldiers for the kingdom of God. The poor widow trusted God would care for her, and He did. Trust comes from knowing the Lord will care for His own. This releases the worries of men to trust in themselves or their own power. All things can be accomplished through the power of God when we allow the power of God to work in our lives. Have a trust like the widow. It’s not the amount. She had the heart to serve her Lord. That is what Jesus saw. What does He see in you?

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Freedom Of Religion Means Any Religion

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

Freedom Of Religion Means Any Religion

Democracy is a wonderful experience enjoyed by few in the world and seldom found in the history of men. The early colonial days of America were not tolerant of other religions. Long before the Pilgrims arrived in America, a group of French Protestants established a colony at Fort Caroline (Northeast Florida). Florida was governed by the Spanish, who were predominantly Catholic. In 1565, Spanish troops massacred everyone at Fort Caroline for being followers of the “odious Lutheran doctrine.” In 1791, the First Amendment was passed that reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Freedom of religion is a valued part of the American culture. As a melting pot of many cultures and races, the United States is a place where freedom of religion allows anyone to worship in any manner they desire. A recent bumper sticker touted the ideal of religious freedom, meaning any religion. It is clear the author of the phrase seeks to impress upon others the fundamental right under the constitution of the United States to worship after any religion they may choose. Legally, they would be correct in their assessment. Religiously they are blatantly wrong.

Religion is the idea of man worshiping a higher being, whether singular or plural, including a system of belief and a body of faith. Everyone has a religion. The atheist may deny the existence of a living God, but his religion is the worship of self. His god is what he makes himself to be in his own image. Some religions have multiple gods, like the Greeks and Romans. Buddhist worship Buddha. Hinduism includes an assortment of gods with diverse beliefs and practices. Islam follows the teachings of Muhammad and the teachings of the Koran. Judaism still maintains a devotion to the Old Law but varies with the traditions of Jewish halakhic and theological discourse. One source puts the number of 4,300 religions in the world.

God created man to be a creature of worship. Cain and Abel evidenced the first record of worship when they offered sacrifices to the Lord. Noah built an altar to the Lord after the flood. Abraham can be traced by the smoke of his sacrifices to God. The Lord established a law through Moses to fulfill the Seed promised in Christ. Jesus came and established His church and, after His ascension, ordained the apostles to establish the church in the city of Jerusalem. During the ministry of Jesus, the Son of God made a shocking statement. The night before Jesus was crucified, the Lord told the eleven there was only one way to the Father. Jesus said He was the only way to God, the only eternal truth, and He was the only life whereby men could be saved. That eliminated all others. Jesus declared there was only one way to God.

Freedom of religion is the freedom to follow any religion but the only way to the Father is through Jesus Christ. The United States will allow a man to follow any religion he chooses because that is his democratic right. However, the One who established worship (religion) determined there was only one way, one path, one truth, and only one Savior – Jesus Christ. There is no democracy in the kingdom of God. A man can choose to attend whatever church he desires, but there is only one church where the saved are found. On the Day of Pentecost, three thousand souls were saved and added to the church (the only true religion) by the grace of God. There was no freedom of religion. It was either the church of Jesus Christ or none. Jesus died for His church, His Kingdom, and His Bride. Freedom is in Christ, but there is no freedom to worship any way a person may desire.

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As The Deer Pants For The Water

As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:1-2)

As The Deer Pants For The Water

Water is necessary for life. It is possible to survive without water for only a few days, after which the effects of dehydration begin to shut the body down and then death. Seventy-one percent of the earth is covered in water. God created the world to sustain humanity with a sufficient quantity of water. Earth is a unique planet for the survival of the human race because of the presence of the nourishment essential for life. The body has mechanisms protecting the body from harm like thirst. The warning of dehydration is highlighted by the intense thirst created when the body does not have enough water. Studies have shown men need to drink at least 15.5 cups of water daily and women 11.5 cups.

Among the animals, water is an essential ingredient for survival. The sons of Korah used the deer or the antelope to illustrate a heavenly message of depending on the Lord for survival. A deer will seek water after being chased or hunted by predators. In the heat of the day, the watering hole becomes the assemblage of many different types of animals seeking the same relief in the cooking water. The deer will pant or cry for the water, knowing his survival depends on it. Drinking deeply from the water, the deer is refreshed, renewed, and full of life. There is a need for the people of God to hunger and thirst after the righteousness of the Lord because it becomes a matter of survival. Like the deer who pants for the water, so must the child of God earnestly desire for the water of eternal life.

Thirst is a strong desire for the quenching waters of relief. It is a craving, a hunger, a deep desire for water. Seeking the Lord can never be sipping water; it must be a thirst that is never satisfied. The physical body can drink plenty of fluids one day but will require more the next. There must be a constant flow of water to sustain the bodily needs of hydration. Without the constant awareness of quenching thirst, the body would shrivel and die. So it is with the heart when it does not grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Many souls are dying from spiritual dehydration without the nourishment of God’s water. Thirst cannot be filled unless the man comes to the water of life. God will not force the spiritual water upon anyone. He has provided the abundance of spiritual nourishment that will satisfy the soul, but men must come to the fountain to drink. God will not sustain men intravenously. They must long for the manna and come to the fountain to drink freely.

As the deer pants for the water, so must those who seek the Lord come to Him, desiring the only source of spiritual nourishment. The world is a dry land without anything to sustain or hydrate the soul of man. All the enticements of refreshment in the world do not quench the soul. They only make the heart of a man drier and emptier. Jesus came to bring the abundant life, and that life is found in Him, the true water of living life. All men must come to Jesus and receive the fountain of life flowing from His side. Nothing in this world can sustain or replenish the need of men who seek their own wisdom. Jesus is life because He is the fountain of life. As the deer pants for the water, I must thirst for God and long for His word to dwell in me. I’m thirsty – how about you?

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The End Of The Devil

The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Revelation 20:10)

The End Of The Devil

Reading a historical record of wars comes with the knowledge of how the conflict ends. The patriots of early colonial America defeated the British Empire. After the conflict of the war between the States, the northern army was victorious. The Allies defeated the Axis powers in the Second World War. North Vietnam soundly defeated the American forces and the South Vietnamese army. The Gulf War was a campaign where the United States destroyed the forces of Saddam Hussein. History tells the outcome of wars that have plagued the landscape of humanity since the beginning of time. Nothing will change the outcome of the battles fought as they remain locked in the historical archives of yesterday.

The greatest battle in history occurred two thousand years ago when God defeated Satan with an eternal blow sealing his demise and future. Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, arose from the realm of the dead and reigns as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. With the victory of Christ over death, Satan’s future is secured. His power remains in limited force as he has been adjudicated and sentenced for his crime. There is no doubt what the future has for Satan. God has clearly determined the destiny of the devil. The serpent’s punishment is spelled out in indisputable language when John declares the devil will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. His end is certain. Satan knows his fate. There is no changing what will happen to the tempter of all men. The devil is walking a condemned path without mercy, void of grace, and filled with the wrath of the Lord God. His eternal plight is a place of unrelenting torment without end and without relief. Satan will be cast into Hell.

God has declared the end of Satan with certainty. That is not the case for those who walk on the face of the earth. The great paradox is that while the devil knows without reservation, he is going to Hell, men have a choice to seek eternal life, yet they refuse to seek the grace and mercy of God. Everything needed to avoid Hell is given by the Lord through His only begotten Son. Jesus died to save men from the horrors of eternal fire and brimstone. The word of God instructs men to know the will of God and to save themselves. Throughout history, the providence of the Lord has blessed humanity with the opportunity to find redemption in the blood of Christ. Every day is a blessing of a benevolent Father to offer salvation to sinful men. The reality is that most will go to Hell with Satan, and they do not have to follow his path. Satan knows he is condemned and is attempting to take as many souls with him as he can. His work is tireless. It is effective and powerful.

A condemned creature is destroying as many of God’s creations as possible so that Hell will be filled with humanity. The devil, who has deceived all men, will be thrown into a fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Along with Satan, the beast, and the false prophet, countless men and women will scream in eternal horror in the darkness of Hell. There will be no relief and no rest. The devil knows his eternal destiny. You must know your eternal destiny. If you do not obey the gospel of Jesus Christ, you will go to Hell with Satan. He has no choice. YOU HAVE A CHOICE!

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The Valley Of Decision

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. (Joel 3:14)

The Valley Of Decision

Joel was a prophet who preached a simple yet powerful message to rebellious Israel: repent. The setting of Joel’s book is the terrible devastation of a locust plague that became the symbol of God’s wrath against wicked Israel. Joel warns the children of God of greater judgment to come in the coming day of the Lord. This judgment would become a universal message for all men to know the coming of the Lord. Failing to heed the warnings would bring certain destruction. Joel’s prophecies reached into the New Testament as Peter identifies the fulfillment of the prophet’s prophecies to the days of the church. The early Christians’ message echoed Joel’s preaching for all men to repent as Paul warned of the day appointed on which God will judge the world in righteousness.

The day of the Lord has always been something men must face. Adam and Eve faced that decision when they ate of the forbidden fruit. Noah warned the world of the coming judgment through the flood, but only eight were saved when the day of the Lord came. Israel experienced many times the day of the Lord came. First in Egypt, then through the wilderness wanderings, and finally by the hand of the Assyrians and Babylonians. Jesus preached the message of repentance for the coming day of the Lord. The New Testament warns of the coming day of the Lord yet to come. There will be a day when Jesus Christ returns with His holy angels taking vengeance on those that do not know God and those who do not obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. That day of the Lord will be the final judgment.

Joel warns the people of the day of the Lord and challenges them to walk in the valley of decision. The valley of decision is the place all men find themselves. They must answer to God for their actions. No one is unaccountable before the Lord. All men walk in the valley of decision. The valley of decision is where a man decides what he believes and what he will do with his life. Israel needed to turn back to the Lord, and when they left the valley of decision, they chose to rebel. God had granted them every blessing to return to Him to be showered with His grace and love, but they refused. They decide. Their journey in the valley of decision did not move them closer to God; it drew them away.

The valley of decision is where everyone finds themselves as they face the day of the Lord. In the valley are the blessings and mercies of God. The Lord stands ready to receive all those who call upon His name. He has given His only begotten Son to die for the sins of all men. The Bible unfolds the mind of God for men to know and understand the will of the Lord. Every day is an eternal blessing of an opportunity to turn to the Lord in the valley of decision. Sadly, most men leave the valley with their minds made up to serve themselves rather than the Lord. The valley of decision is the grace of God offered for those who are willing to accept and know the redemption of Christ through His blood. A decision must be made, and that choice is made by the heart of men. God has done all that He can do. The heart of man wills to decide whether to accept God’s grace and obey or to seek salvation in self. The latter will fail every time and is the worst decision a man can make. Choosing self in the valley of decision becomes an eternal decision in the valley of Hinnom (Gehenna) or, as Jesus alluded: Hell.

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Four Pillars Of Peace

Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11)

Four Pillars Of Peace

The pursuit of peace has been the longing of men since the beginning. Sin brings conflict. The early world soon crumbled under the weight of wickedness and was destroyed by God. After the flood, the world remained under the darkness of hatred, murder, malice, jealousy, and prejudice. God sent His Son into the world to be a light in a dark world, the message of hope in a place of despair, and peace to troubled hearts. There was a need for redemption so that men could find love and peace, and that was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The pillars of peace are found in how Paul concludes his letter to Corinth. He exhorts the brethren to be complete, of good comfort, be of one mind, and live in peace. Then the God of love and peace would be with them.

The first pillar of peace is learning to be complete or perfected. This comes from having everything in its proper place in life with the goal and purpose of eternal life. Peace and love come from the order as designed by God. The world was formed in completeness to function as the evidence of God’s power. Just as the world is in perfect symmetry, so must the heart of man be complete in the design of its Maker. The idea of perfecting comes from the idea of mending nets back to completeness and usefulness. Peace and love come from lives ordered by the will of the Father.

Paul’s second admonition is for the brethren to be of good comfort. Peace and love are byproducts of the promises of God. There has never been a promise of God that has failed. It is impossible for God to lie. The soul of a Christian can be comforted by knowing the Father is in control and will not allow His children to be tempted more than they can endure. Everything about the relationship of the child of God with the heavenly Father brings comfort. There is nothing to worry or be anxious about as the Father cares for the child and blesses them without measure. Sharing the heavenly comfort gives comfort to others. When the heart settles in the peace and love of God, there is comfort.

The third part of peace and love is the need for brethren to have one mind. Unity is the foundational bedrock of peace and love. One of the reasons that a heart cannot find peace and love is there is no unity with God or the people of God. Disharmony brings division and carnality. There can be no peace without unity as conflict will rule the heart. Seeking peace is seeking unity. A spirit of love is shared by those who are united as one in the body of Christ. This was a strong message for the church at Corinth because of the intense division plaguing the church. Peace and love returned when the brethren shed their garments of selfishness and petty squabbles. Seeking peace comes first by establishing a spirit of unity.

Finally, peace and love come when the heart desires to live in peace. Attaining peace comes from those who seek peace. It does not come on its own. Unity is the effort to remove division. There can be no peace and love if the people do not have a desire for peace. It can be spoken about, wished upon, longed for, and wished for; but there will be no peace until the heart strives to live in peace. Without peace, there will be no love. Peace and love are dependent upon one another. Being complete and of good comfort in one mind is the path to peace. These are necessary ingredients to the peace that passes understanding. Love is the effort of the child of God to be like his Father. A strong desire motivates the heart to remove past slights and hurts. Forgiveness is at the core of peace and love. It helps soothe the wounds of yesterday.

The God of peace and love will bless His children who seek the welfare of others and the blessing of the Father in heaven. Four pillars of peace establish the temple of completeness, comfort, unity and peace. Build upon these pillars and God’s incredible peace and love will abound in the heart. May the God of love and peace will be with you.

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Kingdom Preaching

But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. (Acts 8:12)

Kingdom Preaching

Saul of Tarsus brought a heavy persecution upon the church, scattering the saints everywhere preaching the word. The evangelist Philip traveled to the heart of the mountains of Israel to the former capital of the northern tribes, Samaria. In the days of Ahab and Jezebel, Samaria was the center for idolatrous worship. The devout Jews despised the Samaritans as a half-breed mix of Jew and Gentile. Philip took a bold step by coming to the city of Samaria to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Crowds flocked to Philip eagerly, hearing the words about the kingdom of God and seeing the miracles which he did. There was great joy in Samaria. Philip preached a simple message of hope for the people to hear. He preached the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. As a result, men and women were baptized into Christ.

The early disciples heard a message of the kingdom of God and the name of Christ. Examining the context of what men preached, it is clear the message was to turn the hearts of men to the kingship of Jesus Christ. Preaching the kingdom is preaching the king. Every kingdom must have a lord or sovereign ruler. The people clearly understood the meaning of the kingdom as they lived under the rule of the Roman Empire. There was no democracy in Rome. Caesar was the sole ruler of the empire and had all authority. Preaching the kingdom of God impressed upon the people’s minds that Christ was the sole ruler with all authority.

Every kingdom has a royal covenant or laws that bind the kingdom together. The subjects of the kingdom are required to follow those laws in accordance with the authority of the king. All rights and privileges are contained within that law with measures of security, protection, and blessing. Philip preached the kingdom of God with the covenant of Jesus Christ. The people of Samaria heard the evangelist outline the conditions of entrance to the kingdom. They listened to the word of God, believed the message of the kingdom, understood the authority of the name of Jesus Christ, and men and women were baptized for the remission of sins. Kingdom preaching.

Philip would be amazed at what he would hear preached today. It seems everything but the kingdom of God is the message of the pulpit. Social issues dominate the message of many in the religious world. Politics are often heard from the wooden pulpits of human wisdom. Fun, frolic, and entertainment are the more acceptable modes of preaching. Philip preached the kingdom of God because the gospel is about kingdom preaching. The one who comes to Christ must first accept the authority of God’s Son to rule over their lives. God’s kingdom is not a democracy but a monarchy where the authority only comes from the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Jesus was given all authority by His Father. He rules in the kingdom of God. His word is law. When preaching does not come from the law of Christ, it is a false kingdom with failed promises.

Kingdom preaching involves many things. Philip went to a city most despised but needed the gospel as much as anyone. The evangelist did not segregate preaching to one brand of people. He knew kingdom preaching was needed for all people. Philip did not go to Samaria to impress the people with miracles. Salvation did not come through the many miracles done by the evangelist. Kingdom preaching is where the hope of eternal life would come. Philip told the people about Jesus Christ, His rule, authority, love, sacrifice, and commands. This is the message of kingdom preaching. To be a citizen of the kingdom, one must obey the will of the Father. The name of Jesus Christ was the authority. When the people heard kingdom preaching, both men and women were baptized. Why? Kingdom preaching is about washing sins away, which can only be done in the waters of baptism. Obedience. Authority. Acceptance. Preach the kingdom.

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Learning About Christ

But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:20-24)

Learning About Christ

There is a change when the heart learns about Jesus Christ and accepts His teachings. The first thing that happens is realizing God’s love that He would grant sinful men to share in His glory. On Pentecost, the people were pricked in their hearts when they realized they had killed the promised Messiah. The man from Ethiopia responded to the preaching of Jesus when he realized his need to wash away his sins. When Paul and Silas were in the Philippian jail, and the earthquake opened the doors and released the chains, the jailor came trembling before them, begging to know what to do to be saved. The word of God changes hearts to obedience.

Salvation does not come only in the obedience of the gospel as hearts respond to the message. The three thousand on Pentecost continued in the apostle’s doctrine, learning about the new covenant of grace found in Jesus Christ. As the Ethiopian returned home, he learned more about the Jesus of Isaiah, and there can be little doubt the Lord helped to guide his mind in the teaching of the early church. Paul and Silas continued to teach the jailor and his household the good news of Jesus. Learning about Jesus first opens the heart to the teaching of Jesus and then instructs the mind of the disciple to follow after God’s will.

Paul explained to the disciples in Ephesus that learning about Christ involves many things. It begins with hearing the word that establishes faith. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Learning about Jesus is examining, questioning, searching out, and studying the word to know all that can be known. Truth comes from the word of God, but it has to be mined in a diligent effort of daily meditation. From these studies, the heart will change to be more like the Son of God. As one spends time in the message of Christ, one learns to put away the sinful nature and former ways of life. The heart of a Christian cannot beat to the world’s rhythm. Everything about the carnal mind is subject to deceitful lusts and vanity. Learning about Christ will empty the lusts of the world from the heart.

Putting off the former conduct is a necessary change that transforms the spirit of the carnal man into the devotion of a spiritual man. There are things God demands to be taken out of life. It is not possible to serve God and mammon. Whatever the heart desires will be the driving force in the life of the disciples of Christ. Learning about Jesus removes the carnal mind. Renewing the mind is to put on a new nature, created to be like Jesus Christ. The joy of being a child of God is learning how to look like the Father each day. The change that takes place is when the heart is filled with righteousness and holiness. Learning about Jesus creates a different spirit. Christians do not lie because they did not learn that from Jesus. Anger does not rule the mind of a child of God because they have molded their hearts with compassion. When the word of God changes the heart, many things are removed from the will of men. Learning about Jesus helps combat sexual immorality, stealing, cursing, bitterness, envy, covetousness, hatred, prejudice, and all the sins that shackle the soul. To be free from the wiles of the devil, get in the Book and learn about Jesus. It will change every part of your life. Learn. Change. Grow.

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The Difficult Days

Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

The Difficult Days

One of the paradoxes of the aged is why youth is wasted on the young. The irony of the statement is that all the aged were young once. There is one commonality shared by every man and woman: everyone is born, and everyone dies. In the process of living, the body changes from a steel instrument of youthful vigor to a fading canvas of pain and suffering. It is remarkable that old age surprises people. The young can die, and the old will die, but all men age. Moses describes the oldest recorded man who lived to be 969 years, and then he died. Methuselah faced old age at an odd age, but his body still died. Billions of dollars are spent for youthful pursuits to attain what Juan Ponce de Leon believed existed in a fountain of youth, but he was killed in 1521 at the age of 47. The difficult days come to all men.

Solomon reigned for forty years, and then he rested with his fathers and was buried in the city of David his father. The book of Ecclesiastes is a reflection on the life of an older and wiser man. In his conclusion, the son of David reminds the human soul the human body decays and wears out. He calls them the difficult days. Old age is difficult because of the changes that take place. Sight is diminished, hearing is dulled, and the mind is not so quick. The strength of youth is gone, and the affliction of growing older saps the vigor of youth. Sleep can be difficult. There is an unsteady gate in the walk of an older man and woman. The hair turns white or turns loose. Desire is diminished as the body changes. These are difficult days.

Old age is difficult because the body changes, but it does not always suggest the inner body of man must diminish. Solomon admonished the young to remember God early in life so that when the difficult days of physical limitations come, the spiritual acuteness remains. A man may not be able to leap tall buildings and have the strength more powerful than a locomotive, but his soul should be strengthened with the word of God. Remembering God transcends the difficult days into days of golden glory. What is truly sad is when a man enters old age without God. He may spend all his life grooming his body for a youthful look but to what end? The body will die regardless. Angels are bemused at men who seek to keep youth alive in a fading body of mortality. Difficult days will come to the health conscience, the gym devotee, the puritan, the vegan, the rich, the famous, and the poor alike. It is not a possibility – it’s a reality.

Difficult days are the precursor to a day of happiness. One of the joys of growing older in Christ is the clearer vision of what life has meant and what life awaits. The focus is no longer on the physical body that begins to ache and slow down and lack energy. Disease begins to invade and destroy the body, and through the marvel of medicine, life can be extended, but the body will still die. Remembering the Creator brings a vitality to life that no pill can have. Old men are young and old women rejoice. Life is not difficult. God is the Creator. He has promised that the difficult days will end, and He will wipe away every tear from the eye and take away all pain and sorrow. There are no difficult days in Heaven. Life begins and ends, but eternal life only begins. What a joy the difficult days will be over, and the joy of God’s love is fully realized. Remember the Creator now before the difficult days come (and they are coming). You will be glad you did.

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Who Is In Your Harbor?

But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.” (Acts 17:5-7)

Who Is In Your Harbor?

Paul had come to Thessalonica after his harrowing experience in Philippi, where he had been arrested and thrown into prison. Through the power of God, he and Silas were set free and the jailor and his household became disciples of Christ. Falsely accused by jealous merchants, Paul refused to go away quietly, demanding the officials personally apologize for their mistreatment, especially in light of being uncondemned Romans. The seventy-five-mile trip to Thessalonica included passing through Amphipolis and Apollonia. Paul’s custom was to find the synagogue and spend the Sabbath studying the scriptures with the people reasoning with them that Jesus was the promised Messiah. Ironically, some Jews were persuaded, but a great multitude of God-fearing Greeks also believed. This number included a few of the prominent women of the city that joined Paul and Silas.

The preaching of Paul and Silas did not sit well with the Jewish leaders of Thessalonica. They found it difficult to defend against the arguments of Paul and could not convince many to reject the teachings of Jesus. Paul and Silas were bold in their preaching and many people were turning away from the Law of Moses. The Jews became desperate. Realizing they could not attack Paul and Silas directly, they devised a most unusual plan. The marketplace was a known gathering place for unscrupulous men, troublemakers, and wicked men. Enlisting the aid of certain scoundrels, the Jews led a mob against the house of a man named Jason.

It seemed the home of Jason had been where Paul and Silas had stayed the past few weeks, but Paul and Silas were not there when the mob arrived. Not finding Paul and Silas, the Jewish leaders brought Jason and some of the other Christians before the city council members and charged them with anarchy. They admitted the preaching of Paul had turned everything upside down and caused a lot of problems in Thessalonica. The charge leveled against Paul and Silas was not for something having to do with the Law of Moses but a charge of treason against Caesar. They suggested Paul was acting contrary to Roman law and professing allegiance to another king rather than Caesar. Paul did preach Jesus Christ was king, but as the Lord taught, all men were to render to Caesar what belonged to Caesar and to God what belonged to God.

Nothing came of the charges made against Jason and his fellow disciples. They were required to post a bond and then they were released. Jason and his friends returned to their homes. Paul and Silas left that night for Berea. Nothing more is known of Jason. The church in Thessalonica becomes an example of faith and courage and the Holy Spirit preserves two letters Paul wrote to the saints. When Paul and Silas left and things settled down, the home of Jason became a bastion of spiritual strength. Jason was bold enough to be known by the Jewish leaders as the one who harbored the visiting preachers. His home was targeted as the place the mob came to mete out justice. Jason would always be known as the man whose home was used to keep the troublemakers that preached Christ was king.

A home is a place of security and comfort. When people walked by the home of Jason, what did they see and what did they think? His home was a place of note. It was a place where Christians were welcomed and harbored. Jason’s home would have been first on the list when the persecutions began in earnest years later. The hope and prayer is Jason would have welcomed being first on the list. His home was a place of worship, a place of prayer, and a known harbor for the people of God. If anyone was looking for people of the Way, Jason’s home was where they would begin.

Our homes must be harbors of faith. A harbor is a place of security and commerce. Jason was accused of harboring Christians because the community knew what kind of family lived at his home. The example set by every Christian begins at home. What do people say about your home? Is it a place they would come looking for faithful people of God and disciples of Jesus Christ? Every community must have homes like Jason, harboring godliness, truth, righteousness, and faithfulness. The world is watching. What do they see in your home?

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Mighty Men And Women

These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-Basshebeth the Tachmonite, chief among the captains. He was called Adino the Eznite, because he had killed eight hundred men at one time. And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel had retreated. He arose and attacked the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand stuck to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to plunder. And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines had gathered together into a troop where there was a piece of ground full of lentils. So the people fled from the Philistines. But he stationed himself in the middle of the field, defended it, and killed the Philistines. So the Lord brought about a great victory. (2 Samuel 23:8-12)

Mighty Men And Women

The army of King David had its elite members of soldiers who were the special forces of the day. There was Josheb-Basshebeth, who killed 800 men at one time. The story is not told how this feat was accomplished, but it shows the courage and bravery of what one man can do with the power of God. Eleazar, son of Dodo, attacked the Philistines until his hand stuck to the sword. The people had fled, and he remained to fight the Philistines. The Lord brought a great victory that day. After him was Shammah, son of Agee the Hararite. There was a day the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field of lentils (small reddish beans). The army fled, but Shammah held his ground in the bean field. When the battle was over, Shammah stood over the bodies of the dead Philistines. The Lord brought about a great victory in a field of lentils by one man.

David was a great king fondly remembered for killing the giant Goliath with a sling and stone. He would become a man of war and kill many of the enemies of God. Surrounding himself with mighty men, David united the army of Israel into the most powerful fighting force on earth. There were many who were numbered in David’s mighty men, which included Uriah the Hittite. Abishai killed 300 men with his spear. Benaiah killed a lion in the midst of a pit on a snowy day and also an Egyptian of great size. There were 37 mighty men in the army of David that made a name for themselves. The feats and stories of the mighty men were individual stories of courage, faith, and strength, but each one knew the source of their victory. Victory came about by the hand of the Lord.

Great men and women face the trials of life with faith and courage and the deep conviction that God will bring victory. The work of the Lord does not diminish the courage of the mighty men of David. When the Philistines gathered against Saul and Goliath defied the army of God for more than forty days, no one dared to go against him. It was not until the faith of young David stepped into the valley of Elah and killed the giant. God provides victory, but that can only come when someone stands before Goliath. There was no victory as the army of Israel cowered in fear before the Philistines. Josheb-Basshebeth killed 800 men because he went to war. God gave him the victory. Eleazar fought the Philistines with courage founded on believing that the Lord would grant victory, not him. Shammah defeated the enemies of God in a field of lentils knowing the Lord would bring about a great victory. Great men and women go into battle armed with faith in God.

Victory is not gained on the battlefields of human conflict. Every day, men and women fight against the forces of darkness and heavenly hosts of wickedness on the blackened fields of spiritual conflict. The mighty men and women of God are those who prepare for battle with the armor of God and then go into battle. They fight so hard that their hands freeze to the sword. It matters not where they find themselves, whether in the workplace, the roadways, the home, or the community. If the Christian is standing in a field of beans, he stands with the might of the Lord. Every part of the Christian’s life is a prepared place of warfare against all that denies the power of God. Christians must fight. The armor of God is not a fashion statement, but a way of life and that is war. Mighty men and women fight the good fight every day, winning victories over Satan. The Lord gives the victory to those who are willing to fight. There is no room for the fainthearted and weak. War is inevitable because Satan will not surrender until the Lord comes. His fight is futile, but he will take all those who refuse to fight. Fight. War. Engage. Mighty men and women are mighty soldiers of Christ.

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Jesus – The Word, The Life, The Light

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:1-5)

Jesus – The Word, The Life, The Light

The four gospels of the New Testament are four unique portrayals of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Matthew presents Jesus to the Jewish mind and Mark declares the power of Jesus to the Roman mind. Luke paints a picture of Jesus as a man with a body of flesh and John declares the glory of Jesus as God. In the gospel of John, the deity of the Son of God is formulated with proofs of His eternal nature and godhead. In the beginning of his gospel, John declares the character of Jesus as being the Word. Moses began the story of creation with God speaking to bring everything in the world into existence. God said, “Let there be light,” and it was so. The power of the word begins the history of humanity in creation and John begins the gospel of Christ with the Word that is Light. In the beginning was Jesus, and Jesus was with God, and Jesus was God.

The story of Jesus does not begin in Bethlehem but in the divine realms with the Father.  Jesus was not just a good man who changed the world, but God incarnate who moved the world. He was in the beginning with God. That is an incredible thought to consider. The subject of the gospels is about a man who was born of a woman that was in existence before time began. Jesus became flesh and lived on the earth in the same manner as all other men. He faced the same trials and temptations of the flesh and endured the onslaught of the wiles of the devil as all men. When the Jews rejected the man from Nazareth, they had Him killed on a Roman cross. When the body of Jesus gave out, He died. Two men buried Jesus in a tomb and sealed it with a large stone. The life of Jesus was unremarkable except for three things: He never disobeyed the will of His Father, He performed miracles by the Holy Spirit and the tomb could not keep Him.

Jesus was the Word and in the Word was life. All things were made by Jesus and He gave life to the body when Adam and Eve were created. Life comes from Jesus literally. The creation was the beginning of all life and without Jesus, nothing was made that was made. During the ministry of Jesus, He restored life to the daughter of Jairus, the widow’s son from Nain, and Lazarus. The apostles were given the power to raise the dead. There are stories of resurrection not recorded in the gospels, but life came through Jesus. The Word gives life.

The first thing God created was light because everything depends on light to live. Jesus is the light of the world because everything depends on that light. Satan cast the world into darkness and like the beginning of time, it was a place void and without form. Jesus came into the world to recreate the will of the Father. It begins with light. Jesus is the light of men and He shines in a world of darkness. Sadly, the world could not see the light of God in Jesus and they killed Him. This did not diminish the light but released that light in the resurrection for all men of every generation to see Jesus as the eternal light. The Word was Life who became the Light.

Salvation comes from the Word and there can be no hope without the Life. In the Word and through the Life, the Light of God shines clear to the will of the Father. Jesus is the embodiment of the Father’s word, the promise of life in the promises of God, and the only light that shines on the truth of redemption. There is no other name that men can be saved. What man can find hope without the word, life and light? All three are found in creation and all are found in the new creation of Jesus Christ. The word, the life and the light cannot save unless you come to the Word, the Life, and the Light. Come to Jesus, dying sinner, other Savior there is none.

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The Final Passover Of Jesus

Now on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?” And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.” ‘ ” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover. (Matthew 26:17-19)

The Final Passover Of Jesus

It is impossible to know the emotions of Jesus as he faced the cross. Great emphasis is placed upon His suffering of crucifixion and the incredible pain inflicted by the executioners and rightfully so as it was intense. What must not be lost are the events leading up to Golgotha. The entry into Jerusalem the week before was highlighted by the people spreading their clothes on the road and many cutting down branches from the trees and spreading them across the road. As Jesus rode a donkey into the city of David, the people cried out, saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.” On Thursday, the day before His death, Jesus tells Peter and John to prepare for the Passover. He instructs them to go into the city and they will find a man carrying a pitcher of water. They were to follow him and tell the master of the house to prepare the large room for Jesus and His disciples. Jesus knew He was preparing for His final Passover.

The Passover was one of three principal feasts of the Law of Moses. Passover took place on the 14th day of the first month (Abib or Nisan), followed by the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread. The feast hearkened back to the final night the Hebrews were in Egypt and the night of the death of the firstborn in Egypt. It was a night of death and salvation. God told the Hebrews to sacrifice a lamb and put his blood on the doorpost and lintel of their homes. When the Lord passed over and He saw the blood, He would “pass” “over” and not bring death to that home. The homes of the Egyptians did not have blood on a slain lamb on their door, including the house of Pharaoh. Every firstborn (including animals) died in a home where there was no blood.

God instructed the Hebrews to take a lamb without blemish, kill it, put its blood on the door and the flesh was to be roasted and eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. No bone of the animal was to be broken. Jesus had seen for many years the sacrificial lamb sacrificed during the feast of the Passover. It is probable Jesus would have helped Joseph prepare the offering for their family and, after Joseph died, carry on the work as the older brother. Now Jesus prepared to take on His final Passover and He knew it. The lamb killed that night was unsuspecting. Jesus was not. He was fully aware of what was to take place in less than 24 hours. He would become the lamb sacrificed for the sins of all humanity.

The Passover was a very emotional feast with the singing of the Hallel psalms, eating the unleavened bread and drinking the fruit of the vine. No alcoholic wine was used as all leaven had been removed from the feast. Jesus would later refuse the drink offered by the soldiers to deaden the pain. When Jesus tasted the bitter herbs, did His mind leap forward to the bitterness of the cross He was about to bear? As the lamb was prepared, could Jesus see Himself as the lamb offered by His Father? Could He have comfort knowing none of His bones were to be broken? It would be little consolation considering the horror one faced in crucifixion. The Passover was the last time the Lord would celebrate on earth before becoming the Passover for all men.

It seemed almost idle words for Jesus to tell Peter and John to prepare for the Passover. The disciples did not know what was to occur that night in Gethsemane. Did they see Jesus become reflective during the feast and wonder why? Jesus washed their feet and there can be little doubt the emotion on Jesus’ face was unmistakable. After the resurrection and Jesus ascending to the Father, did Peter and John reflect upon that day Jesus told them to prepare for the Passover and see the glory of Jesus in a clearer light? How often did the eleven share with fellow disciples during the weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper the story of Jesus and the Passover? Jesus went to the upper room and shared the Passover with His disciples – including Judas. Sadly, Judas would never tell the story of Jesus. The Lord knew it was His last Passover, and He learned obedience by accepting the will of His Father. With the thoughts of His final Passover on His mind, Jesus breathed His last and died. The Lamb of God slain. Passover.

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