Jesus’ death began before the cross


Have you ever wondered about the night that Jesus was in the garden? Most of us know the story about Him going to the garden and asking the disciples to pray with Him. He was asking the Father if this cup could pass from Him and He was sweating drops of blood because of the stress and the fear that His humanity felt. He had very likely had an idea or vision of what was coming in relation to the crucifixion. But…even before His crucifixion, He was scourged.

The “cat of nine tails” was usually dipped in resin and then drug through broken glass or pottery and it had metal tips on the ends as well. This whip was about 2 ½ feet long and the Roman soldiers who wielded it did not like being in Judea nor did they like Jews. Most of Rome’s soldiers were well muscled as well so taking all of that into account, Jesus began dying from the loss of blood at least an hour before He was nailed to the cross.

By the time Simon the Cyrene began helping Him carry His cross, Jesus had lost enough blood that He was very close to losing consciousness. So, His death began much earlier than being nailed to the cross. He had felt the betrayal of one of His disciples. He had heard Peter deny knowing Him three times and even though He knew that it was going to happen, it still hurt Him emotionally. Just a few days prior to His “mock trial”, many people had hailed Him as their Savior, their Messiah, coming into Jerusalem. Yet, many of those same people had been paid to bring false accusations against Him during His “trial”.

All of these combined to bring His Spirit to a very low point, so it is not surprising that He cried “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” when He was on the cross. We think about all of the miracles that Jesus performed while He was teaching and preaching during His ministry and those are proof of Who He was as the Son of God. Most of us never consider that Jesus was born as a human baby to a human mother. His limitations and His emotions and fears and His doubts all were part of His humanity so He could identify with us in every way. He knows your depression and fear and heartache. He has felt bruised feet and hands while He was a carpenter with His human father.

He felt hunger and fatigue during His time of testing in the wilderness for forty days. He felt alone even among thousands of admirers because of His mission which was coming to an end. Jesus felt all of these things which we feel but many of us don’t consider this when we read the Bible or listen to a sermon. Because the Bible doesn’t give details about His emotions or His feelings most of the time. So why do I write this now? Because we should think about our Savior’s time as a human being. Every feeling and temptation which we feel or have felt, He experienced during His life on Earth. That is what makes Him so easy to relate to and easy to believe in simply because He lived as one of us until He went back to His throne in Heaven.

Make sure of your salvation and your belief in Him while there is still time because after the church is taken away, choosing to become a Christian will be much harder to do.

Everything that He went through on this day, He did because of His love for humanity.

After the rain…


When the sun shines after the rain…thank God. Even the frogs praise God after the rain.

When life goes on when you don’t feel that it should…praise God!

When tomorrow comes after you have lost someone you love…thank God

When you feel like you have lost your best friend…thank God. Why? Because if you are a Christian your best friend is God and you haven’t lost Him because He never leaves you.

Hope is never gone or absent from our lives regardless of how we feel or the circumstances because Hope lives because of Jesus Christ.

He is the Hope of Eternity and the Prince of Peace. He is your Savior and the One who died for your sins. Don’t despair because today feels dark and yesterday felt worse than today because Jesus is in control of all of it and He will strengthen you to bring you out of your dark place.

Separate, but why?


Separate? Why?

There are two camps in the world today. One is on the side of religion and the other doesn’t believe in any intelligent design or god. Granted, there is a fairly large gray area between those two and that is where many people have their ideas about who God is or who He is not or even whether there is a God at all. The limit of this could be shown by two mountain ranges and a deep valley between them. Our Savior didn’t teach this separation of beliefs so why did it come about?

With time stretching out since the crucifixion of our Lord and His promise to return, mankind has gotten some pretty “out there” ideas about how to serve Him or not. So, in truth, it is our ideas and our desires which have caused all of the divisions between believers and non-believers. Then there are divisions even in churches and denominations also caused by us.

The message of salvation is still the same as it was, to begin with. Believe in Jesus, ask Him into your heart, repent of your “old way of doing things” and follow Him.

Truthfully, believing is the biggest part of accepting Jesus as your Savior. Just think about the day that Jesus was crucified. One of the thieves believed in Jesus as the Savior and asked if He would remember him when He came into His Kingdom. What did Jesus tell him? “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise”.

We are not meant to be separate from God or in our belief about Him and our salvation, so what happened? In the past two thousand years, it has been our ideas and our desires to do things our way instead of truly following Jesus. We have tended toward the belief that “we know better” in our religious practices. Really? How could you possibly know better or more than God our Creator? He placed all of the stars in their galaxies and in the orbits where they are. He formed each of us in our mother’s womb and He knows you better than you know yourself. All of the universal laws and constants were put in place by God so how can we think that we are smarter than He is?

While it is true that many other religions are in the world and have been for thousands of years, God is still in charge of everything. Like it or not, He is the Creator and it is to Him that you will give an account of your life and your decision about your salvation. If you accepted Jesus as your Savior during this life, then it will be to Him that you will account for what you did with your salvation. Did you tell anyone about your Savior and what He did for you? Did you live your life as He would have so that others might see Him through your life?

Many things that we should do in our lives and being a disciple of and an evangelist in some way during our life as followers of Jesus Christ is the least we can do. I pray that many of you who read this will give Jesus a chance to be your Savior.

Is your culture Christian?


In some areas of our country and in some other countries, there are cultures which have had access to a church or a Bible for most of their lives. But, just because you have heard sermons and had access to a Bible, either at home or at church, for most of your life does that really translate into you being a Christian? In America those of us who live in the “Bible belt” of the South seem to be culturally “Christian” just because we have grown up in the church, regardless of the denomination. We have heard sermons and watched crusades on TV and may even watch Christian television occasionally. But are we more like Christ or do we have more in common with the priests and Pharisees of Jesus’ day?

Are we truly Christians or do we just know about Christianity and its trappings?

Reading the Bible at church and singing the worship songs is great but does it mean that you or I are Christians? Have we accepted Jesus as our Savior because we know that we can’t get into Heaven without faith in Him? Or are we just going through the motions because that’s what we’ve always done? Jesus condemned people who think they are Christians and yet they really aren’t. Read it here:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name,drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!’” (Matt. 7:21–23)

Performing good works and going to church and praying “in Jesus’ name” doesn’t mean that you are saved! Giving your life and your heart to Him and repenting of your sinful ways and then growing in that faith is the only real proof of being saved and born again into the family of God. By your faith and your growth in your faith after you accept Jesus as your Savior is the only proof of salvation. Just praying to God every day or so or reading the Bible occasionally is proof of nothing except that you know Who He is and that you have read the Bible.

Satan knows every word written in the Bible and he knows Who God and Jesus are, but he won’t give his life to them or serve them. He can be the best religious attendee at your church or mine but he will cause a rift in the church eventually. He can appear as an angel in light and speak the words of the Bible in your ears but he is not serving God. He is trying to get you away from God and your salvation.

Beware the “feeling” of the experience in a church service because it is deceptive. It can make you feel as if you felt something, but what did you feel? Emotions don’t produce salvation or true repentance from your sinful life. If the Holy Spirit has convicted you of your need for Jesus, please seek Him out at a Bible teaching church or a friend who can lead you to your Savior. Don’t turn away from Jesus and the Holy Spirit’s calling in your life. Just because you have been in church all of your life doesn’t mean that you are saved, it just means that you know about God and Jesus and Who they are. I pray that anyone seeking Jesus will look for Him in God’s Word diligently and make sure of your salvation while there is still time to do so.

One at a time


How can we advance our faith and our church in our community? One person at a time. That is how Jesus did it, at least at the beginning of His ministry. So, what should we do with our own testimony? Should we tell everyone or should we just talk to one person who needs to hear it and pray that it makes a difference in their lives?

Have you ever considered the impact of your testimony about the impact which Jesus had on your life? Few of us really think about this after we have accepted Him as our Savior. Even fewer think about what His influence has had in our own lives. It sounds a bit odd, doesn’t it? Why would you give your life and your heart to Jesus and then rarely think about Him or even the impact He has had in your life?

Although it seems that many people try to live a solitary life with Jesus as their Savior. That is not what He called us to be. We are supposed to be His witnesses in the world and His representatives in the world so that others might see the difference that He made in our lives! You can’t really live a solitary life with Jesus, can you? Yes, but it isn’t a lonely life as long as you acknowledge His Presence in your life each and every day!

John 5:1-18
After this, there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.…

I. THE PATIENT.

1. He was fully aware of his sickness and owned it. He was not like those who are lost by nature, who do not know it or will not confess it.

2. He waited by the pool expecting some sign and wonder. This is how many people wait, persevering in ordinances and unbelief, expecting some great thing, that on a sudden they will experience strange emotions and remarkable impressions, or see a vision or hear a supernatural voice. No one will deny that a few have been thus favored but such interpositions are not to be looked for. Jesus Himself is the greatest of wonders. In regard to this matter of waiting.

(1) That it is not the way which God has told His servants to preach. The gospel of our salvation is “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”(2) This un-gospel-like gospel of waiting is immensely popular. Why? Because it administers laudanum to the conscience. When the minister preaches with power and men’s hearts are touched, the devil says “Wait.”(3) Is not this “waiting” a very hopeless business? Of those who waited how few were healed? What right have you to expect that if you wait another thirty years you will be different?

(4) There lies our poor friend. I do not blame him for waiting, for Jesus had not been there before. He expected some person to have mercy on him and help him to get into the pool when the water was disturbed. Then when Jesus came and He expected Him to help him to get into the pool but Jesus said that your faith has made you whole.

(5) Having been so often disappointed he was growing in deep despair. Moreover, he was getting old; and life is wearing away with you. You have waited all this while in vain, sinfully waited. You have seen others saved, your child, your wife; but you are not. So how can you make a difference in your life? By believing in Jesus for your salvation and living with Him each day expecting Him to give you an eternity like He has promised to do for those who believe.

II. THE PHYSICIAN. (Jesus the Christ)

1. He made an election. This man was possibly selected because he was the worst case and had waited longest of all.

2. Jesus said, “Wilt thou be made whole?” not for information, but to arouse attention.

3. He gave the word of command.

4. There is nothing said in the text about faith, but the whole incident shows that the man must have had faith.

5. The cure which Christ wrought was —

(1)  Perfect. The man could carry his bed.

(2)  Immediate. The man was not carried home by friends and gradually nursed into vital energy.

Did he gradually get better on the way home? No! He was healed right there at the time that Jesus said so according to his expectation (faith).

 

We have been blessed!


How much has our country been blessed? We are not being persecuted for our faith, regardless of your beliefs or which “god” you believe in. So why do we keep looking for something to satisfy a longing within which we can’t identify?

Because there is only One Person which will fill that space in our soul (heart) and it is Jesus Christ. When we invite Jesus into our lives, He also sends the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, to live within our heart and teach us about Him and to help us learn our position in God’s Kingdom. So by accepting the blessing of God through Jesus, we receive the Holy Spirit to be our teacher and our guide through our life with Him! How cool is that?! We receive blessings and wisdom from the whole Trinity of our Creator!

Adam and Eve had that relationship by default before they rebelled and ate from the tree which God had told them not to eat from. The Spirit of God was present in them so that they could have communion with God and with the animals and all of creation around them. Can you imagine how they felt when they lost that? It would have been devastating.

Living daily with God’s Spirit guiding you and teaching you is what we have access to if we have given our hearts to Jesus so why are Christians so messed up today? I mean, we can’t agree on which doctrine to follow or what to call our “religion” so how can we be a unified body of believers? God loves us with a love which is so deep and wide that we can’t figure it out from our perspective yet we have placed all sorts of additions and doctrines between our beliefs and the real Savior in God’s Word until we don’t know how to serve one of them let alone both!

Why can’t we get back to the teachings which Paul taught and John wrote about instead of making a morning service into an “experience” or a performance and actually teach those who come to learn rather than entertaining them? We can’t be Christians without the Spirit in our hearts so why can’t we worship Him without all of the fluff and additions which we see and hear about in some churches today?

Are you feeling broken?


Are you broken? Do you feel broken sometimes?

We are very much like the pottery which God’s Word tells us about.

In Isaiah 30: 14-15

14 It will break in pieces like a potter’s jar, shattered so that no fragment can be found. Not a shard will be found in the dust large enough to scoop the coals from a hearth or to skim the water from a cistern.”
15 For the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel has said: “By repentance and rest
you would be saved; your strength would lie in quiet confidence — but you were not willing.”

In Jeremiah 18

The Potter and the Clay
1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2 “Go down at once to the potter’s house, and there I will reveal My message to you.”
3 So I went down to the potter’s house and saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the vessel that he was shaping from the clay became flawed in his hand; so he formed it into another vessel, as it seemed best for him to do.
5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 6“O house of Israel, can I not treat you as this potter treats his clay? declares the LORD. Just like clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.

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God can do, with us, as He pleases. He can do some things without our consent in our lives but the most useful we are to Him is when we are submitted to Him and obeying Him. Can He break us in order for us to be more submitted to Him? Yes, He can. Will He do this? If He has to He will but I don’t think it is His preferred way of working with us.

God is not a tyrant in that He has to be mean to us in order to get us to do something. He would rather work with us in conjunction rather than having to allow things to happen in our lives which will force us to fall to our knees in submission to Him. So, does God break us sometimes in order to get our attention? I believe He does this sometimes, but it isn’t because He is mean, it is more likely because we are being stubborn and not listening to Him.

God loves His creation and He cares for each of us and He wants the best for us but during the time which we are feeling broken, we may not feel like He cares for us. Sometimes it is during those broken times when we feel down or depressed that we feel that the only way to go from there is up. We should be looking up and keeping our spiritual eyes on Jesus so that the time spent in those low places doesn’t last very long.

Make sure that you are centered in Jesus with Him as your Savior because the times in which we are living are unpredictable and we are not guaranteed tomorrow. So make sure of your eternity while you still live and work here in the present.

 


Life is painful sometimes


We live and work in a world of hurts and pain. Some of it is from painful memories and some of it comes from family members who never talk to each other. Many times the pain comes from the realization that our world is getting worse instead of better. Why is this happening? That is easy, God said that it would get this way before He comes back.

Everything that is happening in the world, good and bad, is happening because of God’s sovereign rule over everything. It isn’t something that is surprising or unexpected, at least it isn’t in God’s sight. He knew that the earthquake which happened was going to happen. He knew about the hurricanes and the mudslides and all of the fires which have ravaged the western U.S. I know that many people are going to say “If God is so loving and good, then why did all those people die in those disasters?”.

I don’t know. God allows some bad things to happen, but why they happen is not given to mankind to know or understand. He knows that some good will come from the bad things, but only He can see that. We aren’t gifted with the understanding of those things which we see as bad or terrible from our perspective. I am sure that God has prevented many bad things from happening in your life and mine and we likely didn’t even know about it.

God looks at us even before we accept Jesus as our Savior, even before we were ever born, and He can see the person that we can be as a saved and sanctified child of His. He knows exactly what we can do and what we will accomplish for Him long before we belong to Jesus! He doesn’t discount us as a “lost cause” nor does He look at us as someone who isn’t useful to Him. Every person on Earth is useful to Him IF they give their hearts to Jesus and continue to mature in their faith.

What does that mean? It means that becoming a Christian is a process. One which takes some time. Yes, you accept Jesus in a moment but that is not the end of it. It takes a walk…a daily walk with Him in faith and prayer and learning more from His Word than you ever thought was contained in the Bible!

Consider it this way, a potter throws a lump of clay on a wheel and takes his fingers and puts a dent in the top. But it isn’t a bowl or a cup yet. It takes more molding and more pressure and more molding until it finally begins to take the shape which the potter knew that it could be. That is the same process which God takes us through after we have accepted Jesus as our Savior.

Some hardship and some pain draw us closer to Him, learning more about Him, cultivating our prayer life and our daily time with Him until we finally begin to take the shape which God knew we could be. The process is never really over until we die and are brought into Heaven. That is our graduation in a way because this life is just the preparation for our eternal life of service with Him and for Him.

The human condition


In our depravity and lack of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, we are totally lost in our sins. It is only by the grace of God and His mercy that we come to the knowledge of our need for salvation. When we are caught on the hook of God’s call toward us we will come to Jesus because we recognize our need of Him. If we were not caught like a fish by God’s love and mercy we would never come to the knowledge of our need for Him. That is what is wrong with our world today. People are more interested in following their own ideas and their paths toward what they “think” is salvation and a pathway to Heaven and they are deceived by their thinking and by the world around them.

WhoisTheChurchMany people today seem to be on a pathway which will take them to a place where they don’t want to go. They mostly think that they are good enough to go to Heaven yet they deny, at times, the existence of God and His grace toward them. Many of them know “about” God or have heard of Him and maybe His Son, but they have never felt convicted of their sins. Many of them don’t attend church services except on special occasions or holidays. Life for them is a trek from one problem to the next and many of them don’t think about God or their need of Him until something happens in their life which they can’t control or even their doctor doesn’t have control of either. That is when they turn to the One Who they have heard which can heal or help when nobody else can.

Turning to God when you truly feel the need for Him and His mercy and grace is a good thing but if you only turn to Him because of an illness or a financial need, that doesn’t do your salvation…the condition of your soul any good at all. Especially when your “need” is met or if your prayer for someone doesn’t turn out the way you were hoping for. Many times when a loved one dies that they have been praying for, that is when their heart turns bitter toward God for not answering their desperate plea for healing.

God hears your prayers and sometimes He will answer them even if you aren’t a Christian but sometimes you won’t like His answer. Healing can take the form of taking your sick partner or wife or child into Heaven if they have given their heart to Jesus. Which may not be the answer you were hoping for, but God doesn’t have to do things the way you want them to be done. Even Christian families don’t get their prayers answered in the way in which they want all of the time.

themissingpieceGod is sovereign and He answers prayer in His way and in His time because He is God. It isn’t because He doesn’t want the best for His children, which we are, but since He is in control of all things He can see the outcome of the answer much better than we can. He can see what would happen if you won the lottery or the sweepstakes and it may not be the outcome that you think it would. Which is why He allows some things which seem bad on the outside to happen to good people. He also allows some people to actually get the good life that they want even when we don’t understand His way of doing things.

God is Holy and it is our sinful heart which keeps us from being in His Presence most of the time. Until you feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit which draws those in the world to come to Jesus, you can’t just “decide” to become a Christian. His Spirit has to hook you into coming by allowing you to see just how messed up your life is in comparison to Jesus. When you do realize this, you will come to Him.

Dear America,


Have you considered that we have never looked at our condition religiously? Our country and its people have never actually thought of Christianity as our religion. Specifically, since our government doesn’t endorse or choose any particular religion for our nation. Our people have many denominations and religions in our country and today we also have many who don’t claim any belief in God or religion.

So have you thought about any of this? Is it possible that we truly need religion? There are so many who commit suicide on a daily basis and we have so many who are struggling with drugs and alcohol on a daily basis too. So…what is the fix or the cure for this emptiness which we seem to be dealing with?

themissingpieceWhether our country as a whole wants to believe it or not, the answer actually is a relationship with Jesus. The empty place in all of our lives which we try to fill with all sorts of things from sex or money or careers and even family is only filled by one Person. Jesus Christ. That is the missing piece of the puzzle which we have been searching for all of our lives!

It isn’t a hard thing to do but in a society which prides itself on its independence, individually and collectively, we don’t want to depend upon any one person whether it is a Savior or even a spouse or a friend. Except when you look at the feeling of hope which He brings into our collective conscience. So why don’t we look to Him for our hope? Why can’t we do this so our country can have more hope?

Hope hasn’t died but to look at the news, you would think it has. Hope is in the Person of Jesus, Love is Jesus and He is Love for all of us because He did love us enough to give His life on the cross to pay the debt which we owed because of our sins. Even those of us where weren’t born when He did this still owe the debt if we haven’t given our hearts to Him.

I pray that those of you reading this will give Jesus a chance in your life. If for no other reason than to fill that empty place and give you hope for eternity and a heart full of gratitude for a Creator Who loves you more than you can imagine. Please, seek Jesus out for your soul and for your eternal hope because it is needed in our country today.