Life…


Your life and mine is a path which we follow all the days of it. Walking in Jesus’ footsteps is the only sure way to Heaven, any other path may be easier but it will lead you astray.

Seeking to find your own way to Heaven will only lead you to an eternity of pain and suffering if you have not followed Jesus in your lifetime. Even if your life here was comfortable and filled with many good things, like the rich man you will burn in hell if you don’t have Jesus as your Savior.

Our good deeds in this life are useless compared to being saved and sanctified by Jesus. Because the works which we do, like giving money and time to charity and helping those who are in need, are useless unless we are doing them in the name of Jesus and with His Spirit loving those that we are helping. Without His love working through us in this world, there is no amount of money or anything else which can make a difference into eternity.

Make sure that you seek Him in all things while you are here because when this life is over and your work for Him is done, eternity awaits you. Make sure of your salvation in Jesus.

AmenVineandBranches

Encouragement


Son of encouragement. That is what Barnabas was called in the book of Acts, in fact, that is what the name means. His actual name was Joseph and he was from Cyprus. He was very prominent in the early church. Why do I mention him here? Because each of us needs an Encourager. Yes, the Lord is also an Encourager and gives us the encouragement we need through the reading of His Word. So, why do we need another to give us more?

Because we have all encountered setbacks and problems along the way. Sometimes it is because of depression or other things which are “bringing us down” and we need someone to cheer us up. We are so bombarded by updates and news today in this world of 24/7 connected devices until it is hard to make sense of it all. Decompression and relaxation doesn’t happen when we take a vacation anymore. Because we are never disconnected from our phones or our tablets or laptops!

God did not intend for us to live our lives like this every day! Years ago the prediction was that computers would make our lives easier and our work would be less. That didn’t happen at all! Now that we have smartphones, which amount to pocket-sized computers, we are never away from news and work-related content! Even when we are in places where there is limited service we feel as if we are in danger because we can’t contact someone or be contacted.

So a bit of encouragement is needed especially today and particularly now. It keeps us going when the times get a bit choppy with troubles and all of the stress which we have in this world. Just listen to someone who is hurting or in need of a friend, don’t offer advice unless they ask for it. Why do I say this? Because it is very likely that you haven’t been in their shoes before. I know that many of us have had loved ones to die or we have gotten divorced or even lost a job, but some people are going through more than one stressor at a time. So..be gentle.

God is there for all of us and He does comfort us in all of our troubles and situations, but sometimes it just takes a sympathetic ear or a shoulder to lean on or even cry on. Nobody can handle all of life’s troubles without God or someone to support them and just be there when things aren’t going the way they should. Yes, Jesus is nearer than any person could be, but until He is here in the flesh we need a friend at times. Try to be that friend because there will come a time when you need one and if you were never there for someone then who will be there for you?

How are we blessed by God?


Anything that falls into the category of an expression of God’s goodness and love toward us. In many ways we may not feel blessed by God, sometimes I don’t feel blessed by God. The apostle Paul likely didn’t feel blessed when he was flogged or put in jail because of his obedience to God, but he was.

How was he blessed?

Look at it the way that Paul did. He said that he was always pressing toward the goal. Paul was looking toward the goal of being in the presence of God. Well, don’t you have to die to see God? Yes, but death is just a stepping stone from this life to our eternal life. Your address changes, just as Billy Graham said about his death, his address changed but he is more alive now than he ever was!

I know, we look at the idea of blessings as being blessed in this life. Why should God give us the best in this life? Do you obey God in all things, every day, all day in every decision that you go through? No, you don’t and I don’t either. I try to obey God daily, but we all fail in some way, even if it is a small way. But, even a small detour or a small wiggle away from God’s will in your life is disobedience.

Can we obey Him in all things in our life? We can try. We can ask Him to give us the wisdom and the strength to obey His will and purpose for us and then listen to Him through the reading of His Word. The blessings which we are given are not the ones which we would choose or even ones which we expect, but they will be something which God has deemed you worthy of receiving right now.

Do you realize that God’s blessings are irrefutable and permanent, even into eternity? They are the only things which we will be able to take into Heaven with us when this life is over. We only take our eternal body and the blessings which God has blessed us with. Nothing which comes from this Earth like shoes or clothes or rings or watches will go with you into Heaven, but those blessings which God has given you in this life will. 

I am not speaking of money or fame or cars or anything which this world sees as part of your success. I am speaking of the joy which you feel in worshiping God, the love that you feel when you read His Word, the knowledge that God has given you a purpose in this life to do that which He has given you to do and accomplish for His Kingdom. Those are the blessings which the world outside of His Kingdom don’t understand and don’t even recognize as blessings.

Psalm 24: 1-5

The Earth is the Lord’s

1 The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
2 For he hath founded it upon the seas and established it upon the floods.
3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
5 He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

There is so much pain…


Not just in Florida or in any of the other towns and cities where a terrorist has used a gun to kill people, but all over the world where people are persecuted for the faith no matter what it might be. Pain in hospitals where children who aren’t old enough to walk are trying to fight cancer of one type or another. There is much pain in any one of the war zones around the world because of the death and destruction caused for reasons which few can even recall today.

Why?

This is the question which so many parents and grandparents ask when their child is suffering from a disease that ultimately will end their life. Many of them are suffering from diseases which have had millions of dollars spent on research and yet there is still no effective treatment let alone a cure. Why? It seems that educators and scientists and doctors all believe that if we throw more money at the problem it will work out better in the end…but it hasn’t. In any of those areas, more money has not fixed the dropout rate or the disease survival rate significantly. I know that more children survive some childhood cancers now than they did thirty or more years ago, but what about the new cancers or those which have evolved as they speak about?

Did they change so much that even the treatments from years past don’t even work or are the drug companies just too greedy and they just raise the price of a drug and change its name? Exactly! Greed has driven this industry for far too long. Greed has driven our medical industry for too long as well.

Why am I bringing this up on my site? Because I have had to buy some medication and it was expensive. I have also talked with some friends who have medication which cost nearly $500 for one inhaler!

God did not intend for us to have to take these things in the first place and the companies are making so much money off of them! If we could go back to growing our own food and eat those vegetables exclusively then our need for medication would diminish. God loves us and did not create our world with GMO things to feed us or to plant in our gardens. When He made it, He said it was good and that means perfection!

Find a diet which follows the Bible’s recommendations. I am not talking about eating insects like John the Baptist, but eating wholesome REAL food, not man-made, modified food. This is the type of diet which will KEEP you healthy or possibly cure some of the problems that may be caused by those man-made “foods”. Seek God’s wisdom in your diet as well as in your life so that your eternity will be declared good in God’s eyes.

Is your church part of the problem?


In many churches today, especially within a fifty-mile radius of my home, many visitors feel unwanted and unwelcome. Why is this? Mostly because our churches have become social meeting places rather than places to meet and worship God and Jesus. My church and yours should be places to fall in love with our Savior, but more often than not we talk more about politics and government issues and who should be added to our prayer list this week. Granted, many who are truly in need of prayer for healing and comfort NEED our prayers each and every day.

But the political issues in our government and how it is being run should be part of our prayer ministry, not a part of the commentary and debate in church or Bible study time.

Is the church part of the problem in America today? In some cases…yes it is. We are more concerned about the color of the carpet in the sanctuary and how it looks than we are about drawing more people into the church to hear about salvation through Jesus! So, what can we do about our relationship with Him? I mean, it is our relationship with Jesus which we are supposed to be giving away or at least showing people a Savior that they need to get to know!

Why are churches turning away from their “first love” and trying to be everything to everyone these days? It seems that some churches are trying to attract more people to church just for the numbers in attendance. Having a large number of people attending church is good, but if the message is more fluff than it is substance pertaining to salvation through Jesus, then the message is wrong!

Having 300 or more people attending church every Sunday is great but if you aren’t preaching the love of Jesus and the salvation which He died to provide for those who will believe, then you just have a full church. IF you aren’t following up with those who have attended your services to find out where their beliefs are or if they need prayer for specific problems in life, then you aren’t doing your job as a church. When I say this, I don’t mean that the preacher has to be the one following up with the people. It is the responsibility of those who are Christians in the church who should be doing this as well as the preacher!

Even a full-time preacher can’t reach out and touch every person who has visited your church or has asked for prayer. The only way that we, as a church, can take care of those in the congregation and those who have visited but haven’t decided to be a part of your church is for the deacons and the elders in the church to go to them and invite them back. If they are searching for Jesus, they will feel His presence in those who are inviting them back IF you are doing it in the power of Christ and with His love shining through.

Numbers and the amount which is given during the offering are not the way which measures a church and its commitment to following Jesus. Telling others about Him, mentoring those who are new to the faith, Bible study and helping others to grow in their walk with Jesus are the ways which the church continues to be the true church in the world today! Praying for each other’s burdens, listening to their concerns about being a Christian and living your walk with Him every day is the way to walk the walk so others might want to know Him too.

Many of these things are what our churches need to be doing but few actually are doing them and doing them effectively.

Lean not on your own understanding..


Proverbs 3:5,6

5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; What can we learn from these six words? Consider the writer of Proverbs, King Solomon. The wisest man who ever lived and the wealthiest as well, but his wisdom made plain to him that your trust should be in the Lord. Not in money, not in yourself, not in your job. Don’t trust your own wisdom, or your faith or your Bible, but in God alone! Don’t even lean on your own profession of faith in a church but make sure that you are leaning on God alone, on your faith in Him alone!

Living your life every day by trusting in the Lord alone is the very best way to live. If you are a believer in Jesus and His grace for salvation, make sure that you don’t despise His grace and live according to your own ways. God’s wisdom and His grace should lead you in every decision, especially major decisions, but also those that you don’t think might matter to Him. Why? Because every decision in your life should be filtered through God’s wisdom and grace!

Trust in Him in every small thing as well as big decisions. Trust in Him when you are tempted and tried in school or in daily living. No matter what you may be doing, ask Him to guide you in your decision, whether it is a big decision or a small decision. Listen to Him intently and don’t move in a direction which God doesn’t lead you in. God is always near to us and He has the power and the ability to give you the wisdom to accomplish whatever you have determined to follow His lead to do.

Your trust in God the Father, Jesus the Son, and God the Holy Spirit should be with “all your heart”, sincerely and fully trusting in Him to do His work in you and your life fully and completely! He is in charge and on the throne and if you have given Him your heart, then He is in control of your heart too. The phrase “with all thine heart” denotes a deep sincerity of faith, which is complete and total and humble. Not a faith which is jovial and off the cuff, treating God as a friend or your buddy, but a faith which knows its place in the presence of its Creator.

And lean not unto thine own understanding; What does this part of the verse mean exactly? Can we learn from these seven words? YES, we can! The Bible is the inspired Word of the Living God, our Creator, and our Redeemer! Every word is useful to each of us, whether we understand them all or not. Men should not depend upon their own wisdom and understanding, in the conduct of civil life, but should seek the direction and blessing of God, or otherwise will be severely disappointed; and, when they succeed, should ascribe it not to their own ideas and wisdom, but to the goodness and grace of God; for “bread” is not always “to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding” Eccl. 9:11
Men and mankind, should not listen to their own counsel, especially in any spiritual endeavor. Because unless your heart is guided by the Holy Spirit and your mind is set on the things of God rather than the things of mankind, you cannot truly trust your own “understanding”. The natural man, one who has not trusted in Jesus for his salvation, cannot understand the things of God, which is why, to many people, the Bible, and its wisdom don’t make sense at all. The understanding of men is darkened by sin and without the Light given to them by the Spirit of God through salvation, their own wisdom is dark and foreboding like the Earth before God’s light shone upon it.

“In all our ways, acknowledge Him”; What does this mean to us today? Simply put, know the Lord and follow Him in everything that you do. Consider that God is all around us, not like the pagans think of Him being in the rocks and the trees, but He is as close to you as your skin because He is your Creator! You are never far from Him because He is everywhere if you feel far away from Him it is because you moved…God did not.

Remember that He is near you at all times and acknowledge that He is where you are, regardless of the place or time. Develop a listening heart and a mind to listen to His prompting in your life. Go only where He directs you to and be sensitive to His leading in your life’s decisions. Remember “and he shall direct thy paths”; IF you will listen to His wisdom and follow His lead and leading in all that you do.

This is my sermon for tomorrow morning. I pray that you will glean some of God’s wisdom from it and take it with you.VineandBranches

Darkness and light


Cosmic-consciousness-alien-human-encounterHow is darkness defined in our world? In most of the world, it is defined by terrorism and violence and sometimes by the conditions in certain areas of our world. Particularly those which are called “third world” areas, where poverty and hunger is the norm for almost everyone. Life is hard enough in those areas without being hit with terrorism, but that happens all too often today as well.

So, why am I writing about this subject? I don’t live in a third-world country or scrounge for food because I or my family is completely destitute. So…what is the reason for me, a pastor, writing about darkness and light? It is because of the hope which we all have in Jesus. It is also because there are places, even in America, where kids and grown-ups do search through garbage for food. Why is this happening? Why is our culture and our so-called “Christian values” in America allowing this? Aren’t we supposed to help those who are hurting or less fortunate in society?

Yes, we are supposed to help those who are in these situations but many of those who are homeless either don’t want our help or they won’t accept it because of their pride. Homelessness is not new, but today people can’t just keep heading west to the mountains and disappear like they did before the Civil War. Jesus said that we should be His hands and feet in this world which is overrun with poverty and hopelessness. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel“. When He told His disciples and by extension the church to do this, the good news or gospel is that there is hope in Jesus for a new life and a changed life.

We are supposed to take His message of hope and healing to everyone, not just to our friends and family or those who attend church with us or those who live close by. So, why don’t we? Is it because we are uncomfortable telling others about what Jesus has done for us? Is it because we are afraid of what they might think of us?

Jesus gave the disciples and His church the command to go and tell others about Him and the gospel which gives every person hope of eternity and with their repentance they are forgiven of all of their sins. This is our mission, our purpose as Christians in this life. So..why do we ignore His mandate for us? Why do we choose to be Christians by giving our heart and life to Jesus and then sit down on our salvation like a cushion? Like it is a gold pillow which we can’t part with? We didn’t purchase our salvation, Jesus did that with His blood!

Your salvation and the good news of it is a GIFT which God gives to those He calls to be Christians so we can take it out into our workplace or other places in the world and give it away to others. That is our mission and our purpose in this life or at least the only one which makes a difference in each person’s life which accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior!

Please, don’t ignore the commission which Jesus gave to each of us and our church because there are many who still need to hear it and our time is running short.

We are blessed


Blessings from God

We are the recipients of many blessings from our Lord and the Father, God. Yet, many don’t recognize them as such. We are blessed by having the strength to get up and praise Him with our lives each day. We are blessed with our family and our friends, whether they are saved by Jesus or not. We are blessed to live where we are and in the area that we live because God has a purpose for each of us here and now. Those who have suffered the loss of family or friends due to cancer or other disease are blessed because of God’s will in their lives to be here to carry on the work that He has given each of us to do.

11 For I know the thoughts that I think of you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13 And ye shall seek me, and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

This was given to the prophet Jeremiah for the Israelites but the promise it also for us today. We, who are Christians, have been grafted into the family of God. We did not replace Israel as His chosen people, but we have been set apart to do His works on this Earth and in our place until He calls each of us home, whether by death or by taking us up with His church before the Tribulation.

Are we blessed by God? Yes, we are in many ways! By having the Bible, by being chosen as Christians and by being His witnesses in this fallen and angry world which doesn’t want to accept God’s truth.

Philippians 4:19
19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

These and many other verses were written by Holy Spirit inspired prophets and apostles which the Lord raised up in their day to tell people who God loved them despite the situation that they found themselves in. God doesn’t forget those He has called into His family, regardless of how you or I may feel at the time. Each of us goes through suffering and trials each day, yet we are given the strength by God to endure, our family is given the strength to endure to the end and that strength comes from God.

It is not our own will or our strength or money which gives us the blessings which we have..it is given to us by God to show Him to others around us. In our family, at our jobs, at any place where we eat or attend a play or the establishment, we  frequent to enjoy a meal. This is not a new message but it is one which God wants each of us to hear today and every day that we have in this life.

The blessings of God are given to us for His pleasure and for our good and they are given to us in ways that we may not recognize as a blessing at the time, but the blessing will reveal itself by some miracle which we can recognize because it is given by God and not by a physician but maybe through a physician’s hand or treatment in our lives.

Seek Him out in your life, today, because this is the day that you are given. God gives us each one more day to accomplish His will in our lives and through the words which we say or our actions in trials because by living our lives as a testimony to His grace and mercy, others may see Him in us and may come to a saving knowledge of Jesus our Lord.

As it was said by a servant of our Lord in World War 2, “Let me save just one more, Lord”; shouldn’t we be as bold in the days which we live in today? If by our words or actions we can cause someone to be saved by Jesus by seeing Him in our lives, just one more person will be welcomed into God’s family and be celebrated in Heaven by the angels and welcomed by our Lord when that time comes.

This is the sermon that I am preaching this morning. I pray that whoever reads this will seek out the Lord and find Him so that one more might be saved. Amen

Living for Christ


I have seen some teaching online where some people, who may be preachers, are saying that the teaching of “God loves us, regardless of our heart’s position” is a lie. For one thing, God wouldn’t have sent His Son to redeem mankind IF He didn’t love us ALL! Whether we have given our hearts to Him or not, God loves us. Jesus didn’t come to Earth for a few people’s souls, He came to bring the possibility of salvation to everyone. He wouldn’t have come to do this if God didn’t love each person on this Earth.

Remember, God is the Father, Jesus is the Son, the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. So, if God loves His creation enough to send His Son to redeem mankind, I  believe that God’s love covers ALL of mankind. Mankind is everyone, no specific nations or cultures or religions and regardless of time! God’s love includes every person which is why He sent Jesus in the first place.

Another disturbing part of our world today is that we try to label people whether they adhere to a good or bad religion or doctrine. While this may be a good idea for security it is not a good idea for people following Jesus. We don’t live in a world where there is a distinct line separating good and bad (evil), even if that is what Jesus taught. The world sees things as black, white or gray. The problem with thinking like this is that black and white being equal in the world, which they are not, these two sides also don’t mix producing the so-called gray area.

Just as there aren’t skeletons or fossils of the forms of life as they evolve, there also aren’t any demons or angels who aren’t evil or good but somewhere in between.

There is and always will be a distinct line between good and evil, black and white, and I am not speaking of a race but the intent of those in our world. We don’t have an option of sometimes good, sometimes evil…you either are or you are not. While it is true that there are people who aren’t Christians but they do good things with their time and money, that is not the same thing.

Yes, we can be good to each other, regardless of our belief or non-belief in a God, but the difference between the actuality of belief and non-belief is in our core, our heart and that is reflected in our behavior toward those around us. Reflecting our internal beliefs to the world is what Christians should be doing, making sure that others see more of Jesus rather than us.

Carrying Jesus in your heart and in your life is part of living as a Christian, having a belief in Him is part of that. Life as a morally good person is wonderful, but your life could have so much more of an eternal effect if Jesus was a part of it.

 

Who came so long ago?


Nativity-29It was in fulfillment of prophecy that He came. God gave the Word to Isaiah many hundreds of years prior to His birth.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

Our Savior, the Lamb of God, came as a baby into this world to live as we do and to die as a sacrifice which we could not do. He gave His life to pay for all of our sins so that we could have an eternal relationship with God in eternity. Also, because giving our lives and our hearts to Him in believing that He did this for us, we can live for Him in this life and tell others about His sacrifice for our lives.

Jesus, the Son of God, came to place His life in the Father’s hands to pay for our sins and He did exactly that by being a sinless and spotless Lamb give as a willing sacrifice for all of our sins. Here is a link to learn more about the prophecies which He fulfilled in order to be the One prophesied in Scripture.

Salvation comes no other way than by belief in Jesus and the atonement which He provided for us. He did this willingly and not under compulsion so that the prophecy would be fulfilled in His death, burial, and resurrection! Please don’t ignore this gift which was given to each of us IF we will believe in Him and repent of our sins to follow His example in our lives until He returns.