We get dirty every day


JesusSandalsHave you ever thought about the Middle Eastern practice of washing someone’s feet as they come into your house? It is a respectful and refreshing idea although many people would not like it in a worship setting today. But really why would you feel this way toward a practice which is meant to show humility and the attitude of servanthood?

People are embarrassed to show their feet in public especially during religious services, but we wear sandals and other shoes during the summer which shows our feet to the public. But, that’s different, isn’t it? With those shoes or sandals on, you are not placing your feet in someone’s hands to be washed and dried in public. Our feet today don’t get dirty like the feet of Jesus and His disciples did because we wear shoes or boots and socks and all they had to wear was sandals. On the dusty roads which they walked on their feet would get dirty every day, all day long.

The shepherds who came to see the baby which the angels had told them about had dirty feet. We get dirty in our world by being a part of it. Maybe we don’t get dirt on our hands or feet but we are still part of this world. The anger and fear and frustration and many other emotions build up and cause us to think and feel things, sometimes, which are not the thoughts or the feelings which followers of Jesus should have. But…we do have them.

The only way to be clean in this world of 24/7 news, and most of it is bad news, is to read God’s Word and pray over it while we read it. Why? So that the Living Water of God’s Word can cleanse us! Will it make us holy or sinless? No, but it will give us the wisdom and a word of hope from God to carry us through the problems of the day, each day so that we can carry His message to those who need it.

God gave us this magnificent and wonderful resource and many people who claim to be Christians only read it once or twice a week and even then only during a Bible study or church service. We should be drinking from this Living Water every day, washing our minds and our hearts with it so that we can take it to a world that is hurting. Because they need to hear it as well and if we don’t take it to them…who will?

Life is hard enough without the Hope which comes from knowing Jesus but with that Hope, each one of us can make a difference. Even if we only make a difference in one person’s life, then maybe they will make a difference in someone else’s life or maybe in two people’s lives and if it keeps multiplying like that eventually everyone will at least hear the gospel of Jesus, whether they act on it or not.

Differences


In the church, there are many differences. Differences of doctrine and belief and differences of procedure in the order of service and other things related to our worship of God and His Son, Jesus the Messiah. But…why are there such drastic differences? We are all worshiping the same risen Lord, we mostly share the same Bible, so why are there so many things which are different between churches? This is something which I have wondered about for most of my life and now that I have been a pastor for most of the last decade, I still can’t see a reason for them.

Yes, there are doctrinal differences between Baptists and Methodists and all of the variations of those two denominations. There are differences between Lutheran and Episcopal and Catholic churches as well as differences between Presbyterian and Church of God and ……, the list could go on for a long, long while. My point is this: Why exactly are we so different?

In my opinion, it is because of Satan. He has gotten into church administration business meetings and sown seeds of dissent and anger and strife to the point of splitting churches because of small things which could be resolved but usually aren’t. These little splinters grow into huge logs which split the church into another doctrine or discipline and the church is weakened because of it.

Remember, at first the church had all things in common. Their belief and their doctrine were that which was taught to the disciples and then to the churches and this carried on for a couple of centuries and then the church began splitting off because of disagreements and ideas about how the church should be run. Of course, it is too late to reorganize the Body of Christ into a cohesive whole today but it was never supposed to be split up like it is now.

That is why there are so many “non-denominational” churches today. These people just want to worship God and learn from His Word and put away all of the bickering and petty squabbles which split the unity of the church. We are supposed to be sharing our life with Christ and with each other and our congregations who are unified as believers in Jesus our Savior. Why are we still divided in our worship practices today?

I don’t think an answer that will be satisfactory for the church will be found until Jesus comes back and begins His reign on Earth. This is a sad reflection on our unity as a church but it is likely that we cannot put our differences aside until Jesus is King.

How do we make a difference?


Making a difference in the lives of those around us and for those who might be searching for what makes Christians different is the real reason which the church is still here. Yes, there are many in the world today who don’t like the message, regardless of which church or denomination it comes from, but if we could just show the love of Jesus in everything we do then hopefully it would make a difference.

God’s love for all of us is deeper and more alive now than it ever has been, not because there is more sin in the world but because the time is growing short. All of the prophecies in God’s Word have come to pass except for those which happen in the book of Revelation. We should be speaking to those that we know about His love for them and His offer of grace and mercy through Jesus and your belief in Him.

You may ask “Why?”; its simple…because God loves you!

Nothing in the Bible happened because of God’s hate because He doesn’t hate people, He hates the sins that they are living in! God loves the whole world, not just a small part of it or a certain country or people group! Yes, He chose the Jewish people as His people but during all of the Old Testament He tried over and over again to bring them to a place of loving Him and of following His laws and they would for a while. But eventually, they would turn away from Him and go in their own direction.1533312427253_image.jpg

The Old Testament is a reflection of all of humanity, not just the Jewish people and not just Israel either. All of us, whether we have given our heart to Him or not, we get disillusioned and we stray from the path. The good news though is this: we are the ones who have moved, not God. He is still patiently waiting for us to realize that we need to come back to HIm and when we do and we ask forgiveness for our stubborn streak…He forgives us and we can start again.

Making a difference in the world begins with one person. You or me telling the story of Jesus’ love and compassion for every person in the world. Giving your life to Him and living it out in front of those who see your witness, not just hear what you say but see how you live it out day by day. That is the greatest sermon and the greatest witness of all. Show people, family, and friends, that Jesus loves them with their warts and their faults and their struggles too. Jesus came to bring salvation to all!

God knew that this was needed and necessary for the whole human race, not just a few here or there. But, it is usually our pride and our stubbornness which gets in the way of every step that we think we are taking for Jesus and those steps turn out to be steps that we are taking alone. Especially if we have been in the church for most of our lives! We have been in church services and heard about all that Jesus did for us and what God tried to do for Israel.

Then sometimes we will begin thinking that we can forge our own path and that God will approve of our efforts. Those efforts which we are attempting will not succeed until we are following Jesus’ path and not our own. The thing which many people don’t understand is that God will let you think you are doing His work, even if it is by your own decision and strength until you fail. Then you will wonder “What happened?”!

The biggest problem in our world today is that if God isn’t in it, Satan may be. He will try to help you be successful just to show God that he can bring someone down by letting them succeed. You may not fail in this life and you may live luxuriously by your “success”, but at the end of your life when you stand before God you will find out that your “religion” was based on a lie.

We have to tell people about Jesus’ love for us so that they can tell the difference between fake religion and faith in Jesus Christ.

What are you chasing?


Have you ever wondered exactly what you are doing in this life or why you are doing it? Many people seem to be attempting to buy anything and everything that they can afford as if they truly believe the saying “he who dies with the most wins the prize”. How do you figure that? When you die your children will inherit what you had and if there are no children then those “things” which you bought with your money will be sold or given to someone else.

Why do we use up our lives chasing after things which can’t possibly give us any fulfillment or joy in this life, other than bragging rights…maybe? The problem with this kind of living is that when your life is over, what will people say or think about you and who you were? Will they remember you as someone who tried to help those who were in need? Will they remember you as a businessman or woman who chased after as much wealth as you could possibly attain?

Have you ever considered the eternal consequences of your life? What will your life be worth in eternity? Did your wealth, regardless of the amount, do any spiritual good in this world? Was it used for the spreading of God’s Word and His message to those who didn’t know Him?

All of these questions should be answered while you are still living so that you can try to make good use of the time that you have left until you enter into eternity. The larger question and the one which will make the most difference to you is: Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior? God placed each of us here for the sole purpose of truly getting to know Him and being useful to Him in this life. Regardless of the amount of money or influence you may have in your business or in your life and the lives around you.

Everyone seems to wonder, what is my purpose or the meaning of my life, and we think about it almost from the time that they are old enough to know what a purpose is. The reality of the question is this: your life’s meaning and purpose are found in Jesus and serving Him and His purpose in your life. Anything which is outside of that is fluff and nonsense. Although I am sure that many will wonder exactly how am I supposed to pay my bills or save up for retirement by doing that?

God did not say that we had to be preachers or evangelists. We are to use the gifts and talents which we have been given to serve the Lord in our lives and in our businesses, whatever they may be. God mentions many different craftsmen in the Old Testament from woodworkers and carvers to engravers and those who can make jewelry out of gold as well as shepherds and kings and priests.

Your life and mine can be useful to God in many ways and it doesn’t matter what your vocation may be. If you are a nurse then be the best one that you can be and use your talents to serve God while you are at it. If you are a police person, do that as if you were working for the Lord. Whatever occupation you are in, do it as if you were working for Jesus and make sure that your tithes go to charities which actually help people. If you can’t find a charity which does this in your town, then start one which will!

Pray about it, seek God’s wisdom for whatever you are considering and if you feel God leading you in that direction with your money and your time then do it! Saturate your charity or foundation with prayer and fasting if you have to but make sure that it is doing work which Jesus would be proud of. If your business isn’t one which He would be happy with then move to something else which can honor God.

False prophets and heresy!


2 Peter 2:

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom, the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

If you listen carefully to the news and the commentary that goes with it, you will notice that we are hearing this type of speech today! Oh, they don’t call themselves prophets but their words are listened to as if they were. Every “false teaching” which is told in the news, from “free medical care” to “free college” and all of the rhetoric about “saving the children” at the border when there are thousands of babies aborted (murdered) each and every day! What about their rights? What about their life that is cut short because of convenience?

God will not look the other way because each of these children was sent here by Him for a purpose. They weren’t accidental and they certainly aren’t just “blobs of cells”! Of course, that is not the way that the media reports it. They try to report it as if a “fetus” is not a human being but if a woman is killed when she is pregnant the person who killed her is responsible for two homicides. Even if she is only a few months pregnant. What changed the “cells” into a person?

Our media wants us to believe that there is a difference and there isn’t. A baby is a baby from conception until birth and even further until they are a toddler. The law is clear about a child in the womb when you read God’s Word and He doesn’t change His view of your child whether you believe in Him or not. From conception onward, that is your child and a separate human being from yourself. Even if it is growing inside of your body.

The heretical teaching and media concentration in our world is brainwashing people into thinking that your body is yours to do with as you please, in all instances. God didn’t tell us this at all in His Word and if more people read it and studied it they would know this. God is our creator and it is He Who placed that child in your care, so unless you repent of this sin and become a Christian and ask Him to forgive you for it, how would you expect Him to treat you when you stand at your judgment one day?

Jesus told His disciples, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

We are known by God even before we are born, as the Psalmist said, “we are fearfully and wonderfully made”!

Every teaching, because that is what the “news” is today, is telling people to be your own god, do what pleases you and helps you with your career. Don’t worry about anyone else. No man or woman is alone in this world, at least not entirely alone, regardless of where they live unless they choose to be. God loves each person on the face of the Earth, but He doesn’t like the sins which we all commit each and every day. No person on the Earth is sinless, not even the Pope.

Serving as Jesus did


Have you ever thought of serving the Lord for your lifetime? We are all called in one way or another when we hear or feel the call on our lives and in our hearts. We are also given talents and abilities which may not translate into much for this world, but they mean a lot in God’s Kingdom. Each word that you use in your life as a Christian has an effect on someone, particularly if it is your children or grandchildren. You may not see the end result of your influence in this life, but God will use your words in ways that you may not imagine right now.

God cares for His Creation, all of it! Each person who has been born and those who are yet to be born into this world, God loves them with a love that only He knows the depth of! We experience only a small taste of it when we have a family. Our children experience a taste of His love through us as we raise and love them and teach them about life, to the best of our ability. Can we learn to be His servants, His disciples while we carry on our lives here? Yes, but we must determine to do it and not just “try” to be better or “try” to learn how it is done!

So, how do we learn to know Jesus and how to be His disciple in this life? Actually, it is simple—by reading the Bible and learning from Him directly! Paul’s letter to the Philippians exhorts us to be like Jesus in all that we say and do in our life with Him. Read here:

Philippians 2:1-11

Being One in Christ

1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

The Attitude of Christ
(Isaiah 52:13-15)

5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

God approved of and ordains each of us to be His representative while we are in this life, this tabernacle as Peter put it. Yet, we are not supposed to sit in our home and read the Bible and pray and attend church! We are supposed to do something with our life in Jesus Christ! Tell others about His work in your life. Tell them about His love which called to your heart and caused you to realize that our life is not all that there is. Your life in Christ Jesus is just the beginning! Living the rest of your life to be the best reflection of Jesus that you can be with His Spirit inside giving you the strength to resist your old temptations and walk in a newness of His Life and His calling on your life until He comes to take the church to Heaven one day!

Our life without Him or the regeneration of our hearts is a cold and lonely place even if you have family and loving people around you. Because, without His love flowing in your heart and then giving it away to the people around you, the “love” that you have before Jesus is a poor imitation of the love that you have as His child. Our hearts don’t know how to truly love until we accept His Love for us because He is love personified!

Living in His Light


Have you considered being a child of God? We are all His creation, regardless of the country we live in or the religion which we claim to serve if we believe in Him at all. God loves each of us, whether you believe it or not. Yet, living in the Light of His Love and Grace is where most of us who believe are right now. How we live in this condition is our service to Him. There are many who simply don’t want to live according to His gospel or in His LIght!

Why? Like the gospel’s say, “they shun the light because they like the darkness“; it is simple and so easy to see it today. Criminals do all of their criminality in the dark where that can’t be seen and it is the same with sinful mankind. They don’t want their sins or their deeds brought into the light, whether it is the daytime or the Light of Jesus! God cares about all of mankind, but He knows which people will give their hearts to Him and His Son and which ones will not.

Your life and the lifestyle that you live is not unknown to God. He knows each person on this Earth and He knows their hearts even if they don’t belong to Him. This has never changed since even the time of Adam and Eve in the Garden. It wasn’t a surprise to God that they could not resist the serpent in the Garden who told them that “they would surely not die“.

When we are tempted by wealth or fame or more knowledge than we are ready for, it is always the Tempter who is dangling it in front of our hearts or our eyes so that we want it for our purposes, not God’s purpose. This part of the equation between man’s temptation and God’s grace toward us has never changed. Actually, the difference has only become more pronounced, except that man doesn’t want to see it or acknowledge it. You can see it every day on the news but unless you are looking at the world around you through your spiritual eyes tempered by God’s Word and His prophecies, it won’t be very apparent to you at all.

This is the very reason that the world doesn’t recognize how the Bible’s prophecies work because they don’t have their eyes turned to the Holy Spirit. You can’t see the working of prophecy unless you have faith in Him and your Spirit is showing you those things around you. As some people on television seem to think that Christians have a mental illness and that they can’t live in the world with “normal” people. Really?

Somehow, I think its a bit more like we are the ones who can see what is really going on around us and the rest of the world is just trying to make sense of all of it and it doesn’t make sense to them. Why? Because the workings of God don’t make sense to those who won’t or can’t see the world with spiritual eyes of faith.

Foolish


Today is two different days all rolled into one. Most importantly it’s the day that we, as Christmas, celebrate Easter as the day when Jesus rose from the tomb. To others it’s April Fool’s day. In any event, today is a special day. So, will you be celebrating Easter today with family worship or will you be sitting in at home?

I will be preaching about our Lord and Savior this morning, I pray that you will come to know Him as your Lord one day soon. God made a way for you to be saved from an eternity of punishment if you will just believe in Jesus for your salvation. There is no other way to be saved.

This pathway to salvation is very simple but many don’t come to know Him because it seems to be too simple. We want to make it harder so that we can contribute something to our salvation, but we can’t. Our efforts only get in the way and make it unprofitable to others who may think that they can work their way into heaven.

Truly life is busy and confusing at times, but we should try to be more like the apostles were. Taking the message wherever we go in life, that is our job. Telling others about our Savior is our vocation because Jesus gave His disciples a command and we are His disciples as well.

What happened on Easter?


The story which is celebrated in much of the world has to do with pagan ritual. Eggs and rabbits and things like that. These have nothing to do with our risen Savior.

Jesus told His disciples that He would rise again on the third day. Many people disbelieve that story today, even in the church. I mean, how can you manage to get three days between Friday and Sunday? Going by Jewish calendars and tradition it is simple. A day begins at sunrise and ends at sunset, at least to us. But, to Jewish people who lived in Jesus’ day, the next day begins at sundown on the day before. So, when the soldiers arrested Jesus in the garden on early Friday morning, part of that day had already passed by.

The sunrise brought the priests and the High Priest before Pilate to accuse Jesus and He was flogged, but that wasn’t enough. They wanted a crucifixion and the Sabbath began at sundown. From about the third hour until the ninth hour Jesus was on the cross, that would be 9 am until 3 pm for us. Counting from sunrise to sunset is the timing that they used because the preparation for the Sabbath had to begin at sundown, counting as the next day.

empty_tomb11He laid in the tomb from just before sundown on Friday, all day on the Sabbath, and most of the day on the first day of the week on Sunday. So Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are three days!

So…what happened on Sunday morning at around sunrise? A miracle to those who witnessed it for sure! A bright light which was brighter than the Sun in its strength, which pierced even the cracks around the rock which covered the entrance to the tomb. The stone which had been rolled over the opening of the tomb and sealed with the Roman seal was rolled away.

We don’t know what the soldiers saw at that moment. They could’ve seen the risen Jesus in His glory or maybe an angel, possibly two angels who told the disciples and Mary that He has risen just as He had told them that He would. I want to believe that those soldiers who were guarding the tomb saw Him in His glory and likely believed that He was the Savior, the King of the Jews and their Messiah. But, until we get to Heaven we will not know for sure what they saw or what they believed.

Our Savior is alive and is at the right hand of Power on High! There is no other name by which we must be saved to be in His Presence! The only requirement is that we believe in Him and in what was written about Him in the Bible, ask Him for your forgiveness and repent of your old way of life and follow Him daily. That is our job, our responsibility as believers and as Christians! To tell others about our Savior Who died to give them the ability to become Christians and partake in His Kingdom too. No amount of money or work to do to be eligible for salvation, just believe in Him.