Thursday, February 16, 2017

Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future

      I have heard it said that the past is the past and it can't be changed. This may be true, but your past sins can be forgiven and erased if you accept God's free offer of forgiveness and grace. What we can change is the future, a lot of people get stuck in life's rut and don't attempt to, or don't know how to change it. They just continue down that same old road they are on.

      However, the Gospel of Jesus Christ offers a life changing new start, a new beginning that can overcome what caused all of our problems from the past. The good news in the bible is that God gives to those, who will receive it.....A new life, new goals, a new purpose, new attitudes, A new eternal relationship with God. It can happen, it does happen, everyday a person's heartaches, or past mistakes can be taken away and never put on again.

      Many people dream of being able to start again, and to put off the past with it's mistakes, pains , and failures. The past can have a lot of bad memories that can haunt us in the present as a lot of mine try to do. It is very hard to put the past behind us and not let it affect us today. For some of us the guilt from the past is like a huge weight that you have to carry, pulling you down and never letting you have peace in the present. That is one of the gifts that God can give to us with His salvation. When someone turns their heart to Jesus Christ, when a person realizes the truth that they are a sinner, and unworthy, realizes their true state before God and accepts the freely given grace, then God forgives them of all their sins. It is the offer of hope where otherwise there would be no hope.

      Many people become curious about all the claims about Jesus, and who He is. Maybe they are introduced to Him by the witness of a friend, or in my case by their spouse. Maybe it was a special Christmas or Easter service. In Luke 19:10 it says, For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. Jesus always stops when someone seeks to know who He is. He is always seeking and revealing Himself to that person, knocking at the door.(Rev. 3:20)

      Is Jesus knocking at the door to your heart? Yes, Christians have a past, but that past is covered in the Blood of Jesus Christ. Yes, every sinner has a future. Open up the door to your heart and experience the peace and joy of receiving Jesus Christ as your Savior, and the future of spending eternity with Him in Heaven. The choice is clearly ours to make, and we make that choice by our actions, or our lack of action...... Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future...... Amen !!

   

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

#1

                                              This post is written on Luke 14:1, 7-14.

      I like to watch those real life cop shows and game warden shows, and not too long ago I saw one where a father was arrested on drug charges for pumping his 13 year old son full of steroids, because his son wanted to compete in the Olympics. He wanted his son to be #1. Not too long ago Alex Rodriguez retired, in his desire to be remembered as one of the best baseball players of all time, he used steroids, and now all he will be remembered for is his cheating.  As a nation, even as a world, we have a problem. We have a problem because we will do whatever it takes to be #1. And, as Christians, we have a problem when it comes to living in this world, because in God's way of things, the last shall be 1st, and the humble will be exalted.

      Dale Earnhardt once said, "2nd place is just the 1st loser." Vince Lombardi said, "Winning isn't everything, It's the only thing." We believe this even though our mothers have told us that "it's not if you win or lose, It's how you play the game." Our self esteem, our identity are all tied up in that struggle to be #1, when we win, we feel good about ourselves. When we lose, we don't. The people that Jesus watched fighting for those places of honor didn't do so because those seats were more cushy and comfortable, they did so because they would receive a higher level of respect and honor from those sitting around them.

      Jesus never calls us to be #1, but at the same time, He does not call us to be losers. Jesus calls us to faithful, and humble in service. With the world yelling at us to be #1, and Jesus whispering in our ear to be faithful, humble servants, we're finding ourselves struggling to obey that call. But, Humble, faithful service comes from the Cross of Jesus Christ. Through the cross, we know that we are loved. Through the cross, we know that we have been forgiven. Through the cross, we know that we have a relationship with God, and that we will never be separated from Him. Jesus took away our need to be #1 through the cross. We don't have to be great to please God, We don't have to be #1 to be saved.

      The scene at the end of this story reminds us that the cross of Jesus Christ is good news for all of us. Most of us would never make #1, we would be stuck in mediocrity, or even failure, accounting for nothing. But, because of Christ dieing on the cross, we will all be given a place of honor, all of us will get gold medals, no matter what abilities, achievements, or limitations we may have. We are winners, because we are loved, and forgiven by God.

      By knowing who we are, we can strive for excellence, and forget about being perfect. Knowing that we are loved, and forgiven, we can now concentrate on humble, faithful service that will touch lives and transform the world we live in. We must be the change in the world we want to see..... Amen

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Compassion....Just Do It....



    Matthew 9:35-38
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

      Jesus saw the people, He saw what was going on around Him. He didn't turn His back on the people who were hurting. He didn't pretend that they weren't there. He didn't ignore the realities of our world. He gave them His attention, and made Himself aware of their needs. Time after time I see people, including myself sometimes, Judge the people who are begging on the streets. We make up excuses in our heads, like they are probably going to buy booze or drugs. I see people cross the street or go in a different direction just to avoid them. We can't look them in the eye and tell them we don't have any change, when our pockets are full of it.. We make up justifications like we don't want to enable their drug or alcohol habit. They are better off without my money, it's just too easy to ignore the problem. But, Jesus doesn't call us to take the easy path. He calls us to step out of the comfort zone and see directly, the brokenness of our world. He wants us to look and see the helpless, the broken, and the oppressed. Jesus spent most of His ministry with these people, and so should we.

     Jesus had compassion on them, He didn't isolate Himself from their pain and suffering, He let down His guard, and let Himself get emotionally vulnerable. He did not push away those emotions that were brought out. Feeling compassion isn't some kind  love dovey pity party. Compassion goes straight to the heart and creates that gut wrenching feeling in which we empathetically identify with the brokenness of another person. Those who choose to do nothing are choosing to be emotionally absent. Those who choose empathy choose to become emotionally involved.

     We are constantly bombarded with things today that pull us away from the love and compassion of Jesus Christ and slowly pushes us towards apathy. Thoughts of who cares, or whatever start to dominate us. That apathetic attitude blocks us from seeing the  helpless, the broken, and the oppressed. It insulates us from feeling their pain and suffering. Jesus gives us a simple model to fight against apathy. He opened His eyes to see the need of others. He doesn't cross the street when He sees someone in need. He didn't pretend to not notice to avoid a difficult conversation. He confronted head on the harsh realities of this life. He shared their pain with gut wrenching sympathy, He gave himself permission to be emotionally involved. Their pain became His pain. He took action, He didn't say that is not my problem. He wasn't a benchwarmer, He wasn't watching from the stands. He was out their in full uniform, playing hard, getting bruised, and ultimately defeats the opposing team. Jesus could have worn NIKE sandals, because His actions clearly lead us to 3 words, just do it. The love and compassion of Jesus Christ can turn this world upside down. Now is the time to act on God's example. No more coasting, no more excuses. It is time for action. Compassion, just do it......Amen
      

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Heaven is watching

There is a hope in us that our loved ones passed on are watching over us. Looking over a beautiful balcony rail from Heaven. I have found in my limited studies that there are some who say no, but I have also found there are some who say yes.

 In discussions I have be told to look at the parable used in Luke 16:26. It says,  And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ I believe though that that chasm is between Heaven and Hell, not Heaven and Earth.

 I have been told that Heaven is a completing of the race and the struggles of this life, that the end of this life is seen as crossing the finish line and putting the race behind you, we should rejoice that they’ve been released from the problems of this life.

 In my limited studies of the Bible and discussions I have had, I have found verses that suggest that there is someone other than God and His Angels watching over us.  First Luke 15:7, it says I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:10 says In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. Notice it says "In the presence of the angels of God, who is celebrating in the presence of the angels? I believe it is the saints who have gone before us populating Heaven. And if the saints can rejoice over  seeing a sinner repent, how could they know it unless they were watching over us?

 Hebrews 12:1 says Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. The term " cloud of witnesses" suggests that there are many watching over us.

 If those in heaven are watching over sinners who need repentance and also "just persons who need no repentance," then who is left? We're all either saints or sinners, either we have already repented and been saved or we need to repent to be saved. So therefore, if heaven is watching over both categories, we are all being watched.






Thursday, February 2, 2017

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven

In Mathew 5:10 -12, Jesus tells us 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

      I have taken a little time to write this post. It is very uncomfortable to think about persecution as part of God's plan for Christians. I would like to believe that by becoming a Christian, and with enough faith, I could live a comfortable life without any problems. However, This message of prosperity and comfort is for the T.V. preachers, but it is not the message of Jesus. He doesn't promise us a cushy, comfortable life, He promises us that one day we will live with God in Heaven.

      If you read these verses closely, you will notice that Jesus has put some qualifiers in His statement. Christians are called to live model lives, the accusations of evil against us must be false. I have seen in my life time a lot of church leaders, and teachers fall back into sin and have been disgraced, and ridiculed publicly. That persecution my friends is not worthy of being blessed. The persecution that is blessed comes from mirroring our lives after Jesus. Jesus tells us to let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Mathew 5:16) In the church's history, those who have been unjustly persecuted in the name of Christ have demonstrated the good deeds of which Jesus speaks.

      Because we are living in a sinful world, everyone, Christian and atheist alike, must face trials and hardships. How we deal with those trials and hardships is a sign of where our faith and hope is placed. When we as Christians are falsely accused as a result of our faith, God can use our response as testimony of His power to change lives. While we may wish that we could live cushy, comfortable lives. We should not be suprised if we find ourselves being persecuted because of our relationship with God. In John 16:33 (NIV) Jesus tells us, "In this world you will have trouble , but take heart I have overcome this world....... Amen


     

     

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God

       In Mathew 5:9 Jesus says "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God." We are sent into an ugly, sinful world filled with violence and hate, to be peacemakers. He doesn't give us a choice of whether or not we want to do this, nor are we given the choice of the kind of world we live in. So, as bad as things may get, this is the only world we have right now, and if we are to be true to our Lord, we must be peacemakers.

       Peacemaking is different than peacekeeping in that you don't need guns or weapons to be a peacemaker. Being a peacemaker isn't necessarily about actions you may do, but about an attitude you may have towards others. It's not about coming into a situation and forcing cooperation, assuming that will bring peace. Jesus is not talking about inner peace, like feeling good about situations. He is talking about the reconciliation at all levels of human engagement, at all levels of our relationships. The Hebrew word for peace is shalom (שלום), meaning one who has, or has been provided, what is needed to be whole or complete. http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/27_peace.html. This is the kind of peace Jesus is talking about.

      We live in a very divided world, but Jesus did not delight in division, bitterness,
or a divide and conquer world. He delighted in making peace whenever and wherever possible. To truly make peace takes a very special person, one who recognizes they are poor in spirit, one who mourns along with God about the sinful broken world, one that hungers for righteousness, and one who has, through God, been made pure of heart. It takes a very special breed to be peacemakers.

       The God we serve is the God of peace. Through His Son, He has brought peace. It is our job to repeat what He has done. The world sees peacemakers as the ones who go to war and fight for the rights of their own people, they take sides and through violence try to come out on top. but, Jesus says wait a minute, I am not that kind of King. I am a peacemaker, I am not here to take sides, I am here for all people, I am the Prince of Peace. So, if we really want to be called children of God, then we need to truly be peacemakers.

       The whole idea of making peace comes from actively seeking to do it. Not just looking for conflict and trying to fix it, but always staying aware and always being the hand and feet of Christ, to actively bring peace and perspective to all situations for ALL people. Picking sides is for those who refuse to see themselves in need of God. Peacemakers are those that make peace through their own humility and need for the other.