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.

Do you know God’s name?


OnlyJesusIf I asked this in church or on the street, most people would just look at me funny. They might ask “What do you mean ‘do I know God’s name?’? It’s God! Well, yes and not exactly.

Names in the ancient Near East often functioned differently than names do today. In addition to identifying a person’s family or lineage, names were thought to reveal the nature of a person as well as some of their character. God’s name in Hebrew does that in many ways and there are fifty-two names referring to God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Many times we read in our English Bible the name of God translated as Jehovah but in the Hebrew it is YAHWEH, although you will not find this written out completely because it is the Holy Name of God. It will be abbreviated. God’s names and the names for Jesus and the Holy Spirit all point to their nature, their innate character being distinct from each other and yet One as the Godhead, Three in One.

Each of them has a specific purpose and power, yet all of them are God. So how can we learn to recognize God in all of these names? By studying the Bible, praying about His nature and His character, seeking Him in Scripture and in everyday life! This is what we are supposed to be living out in our lives as Christians and followers of Jesus after all! So why do people seem to freak out when God’s true name is brought up or the name of God is shown as Adonai, the Lord? Because His nature and character is pure and holy, that is at least one of the reasons!

I won’t go into all of God’s names or the names of Jesus, but all of the names in Scripture describe His character and His attributes, just as many names of people in the Bible described their position or their family tree. Why bring God’s name up now? Because we have abandoned our respect and honor of His name, because we don’t revere names much at all anymore.

God loves us with a love that is boundless and deep and He has this for each of us because He designed each one of us to be or rather to have character traits which reflect Him. Whether we do so or not is our choice because until we choose to follow and believe in Jesus, we can’t reflect God in our lives. Before we are saved by Jesus, we are tarnished by sin, no matter how much good we try to do on our own.

Yes, donating lots of money can help many people in certain situations, if it is given to the right organization. But many who do this are doing it for tax purposes, getting something in return for their “help”. But, does it translate into more eternal rewards? Not unless you are doing it out of love through salvation by belief in Jesus.

The day of His birth…


Most of us celebrate our birthdays, although many seem to worry about them as the numbers get bigger. Why worry about a number? It just means that God has given you another year, another day to live and enjoy your life here with friends and family! Yes, there are some who feel as if their life would be better if they didn’t have so many birthdays piled one on top of another, but let me ask this question: Without killing yourself, what can you do about the march of time and another birthday?

Blunt answer: nothing

God gives us the air that we breathe and the food that we eat throughout our lives, so what will you do with another day, another week or month or even another year? Will you glorify Him in your days, telling others about His grace and His mercy?

This is one of the jobs that we are all supposed to be engaged in, particularly if you are a follower of Christ. Why do we walk as though we don’t know Jesus? Are there some who do this? Yes, there are some who only come to church on holidays or weddings or funerals, what good does it do for you to come at these times? Do you truly listen to the message or did you come to be seen and be in the community?

If you are doing this for your personal gain, it is no good at all for your spiritual well-being. Like the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in the Temple:

Luke 18:9-14 King James Version 

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Jesus’ day of birth is celebrated in December not because that is when He was born but because it was easy to get pagans to celebrate a day that they already celebrated. Jesus was likely born sometime between the middle of September and October, in any case we do celebrate Him by giving gifts to each other, just as He was the ultimate gift to us. He came not to bring a kingdom down or to begin His reign as Lord and King, but to shed His blood as a perfect sacrifice for ALL of our sins! He died for the whole WORLD, not just for the Jewish nation but for all of the people on Earth and His sacrifice was necessary for us to be able to atone for our sins.

God loves us because that is what His Word says! He is not a liar nor a cheat, yet some people seem to feel cheated by Him because He doesn’t magically provide all of their needs or their desires. He provides for exactly what you need, WHEN you need it. Not more than you need or less, yet that is why many people don’t like Christianity. They seem to expect God to provide for them because He owes them something. God doesn’t owe you anything at all! If you are blessed by Him with riches and wisdom be thankful for it and help those who don’t have what you have been blessed with, as much as you can without offending them.

Why do I say this? Because many people don’t like charity. They don’t want you to give them something and to some it is insulting that you would even think of helping them. But, if they truly needed it I don’t believe the offer would be turned away. It is the same with salvation. It doesn’t cost us anything and we don’t have to do anything to get it. Sometimes it is because of this that people don’t see the value of coming to church and accepting Jesus as their Savior.

Do you believe in Jesus?


I could’ve put anything at the end of that sentence, but Jesus seems more appropriate, particularly for this site. Why is this an important question? Because if you do believe in Him and have asked Him into your life then your eternity is sure regardless of the religious climate we live in today. If you don’t believe and have no desire to believe in Him, until you realize your error you will always be searching for something to fill the emptiness in your life.

How do I know that you feel empty and unfulfilled in your life? God designed us to be spiritual beings, not in a nonphysical sense but men and women who desire to know God and have a relationship with Him. If you don’t know Him and you don’t have a relationship with God, then you will feel empty in a way that can’t be explained medically or physically. I know because we all feel this at some point in our lives. Not one of us on this Earth, with the exception of Jesus, was born with God’s Spirit living within us. There has always been a void, an empty feeling, like something is missing but you can’t put your finger on it.

Many of us try to fill that spot with all sorts of things, sometimes we do this for a very long time, but until you find the right “fit” nothing will make the emptiness go away. There is no amount of money, prestige, or fame which will take the ache of the empty space away. No drug or relationship will ease the feeling that something just isn’t right. So, what can we do about this? Well, the only thing that we can do is search for the one thing which will fill that void but if we don’t look in the right place, we will never find Him.

I am speaking of Jesus and He will come into your life and change your heart and make you a “new Creation in Christ“! God loves you and every other person on this planet and He has provided a way for your salvation through Jesus. It is not a salvation through a legal system of things which you have to perform or adhere to in a certain way, it is not a salvation which is based upon your actions or your own beliefs. Faith in Jesus and in His sacrifice for you, believing that He did this to pay for your sins is the only requirement.

Yes, you may get baptized afterward and begin to tell people what He has saved you from but that isn’t absolutely necessary. Think of the thief on the cross, Jesus told him that “today you will be with me in Paradise“, and he couldn’t get baptized or tell anyone about His Savior! Yes, it is wonderful to tell others about Him and what He has saved you from, but isn’t it great that you really don’t have to work to attain salvation on your own merit!

The time for this Earth and the secular governments running it is growing short and we should be searching for our Savior. He is not a man who lives here with might and power and money, but He is the Son of God and our Creator. Be prayerfully seeking Him if you don’t know Him yet. Trust in His Word and His atonement for you and your sins, because there are no other paths to Heaven except through Him, regardless of what you may hear in the media or from the Pope.

 

Why did Jesus come the first time?


It seems that this is the real question that many are wondering, particularly those who attend church but don’t study their Bibles. This is also a rant, in a way, from a pastor to those who come to church. Please don’t take this personally.

We have heard and seen and sometimes read the story about Jesus’ birth. How it was foretold in the Old Testament, brought to reality in the New Testament. The people involved were told by the angel, Gabriel, that this was going to happen to them. All of these Bible facts are there and available to read at any time. Yet, there are so many “blank stares” in congregations which seems to tell me that much of this information is doing exactly what our parents said: “It goes in one ear and right out the other, with no deposit in between.”

If sermons and revivals and going to Bible school don’t plant any of this so that you take it in and believe it, then what do you come to church for? The food and fellowship?

Jesus came because of the love that God has for ALL OF US! Yes, He came first for Israel but God knew before this that He would be rejected. We are always outside of the intended target audience, but when they refused to believe then we, as gentiles, were offered the “prize” from that point on.

What is that prize? The offer of forgiveness and eternal life through Jesus and our belief in Him, that is the prize! It is a gift to us, one that we can’t afford and can’t pay for ourselves! But it is offered to us if we will believe in Him and ask for forgiveness from our sins. From that point, our only purpose is to tell others of His grace and love for them and that it is available to them too.

The scripture of John 3:17 says it best:

john317

The world. Not just a few people from one country or nationality, but all of mankind are offered this salvation. Free for the asking, for those who seek it, for all of us who need it and that includes everyone everywhere. The Son of God didn’t come to condemn us for not understanding the Word of God and He didn’t come to do anything more than to offer us salvation. He healed some people of disease and ailments which only God could do, such as the man who was born blind. Why did Jesus do this? Because it was foretold that He would and because of their hard hearts, it was necessary to get their attention.

There are miraculous healing’s being done today, but not as radical and unusual as some that He did. Some of them today are radical, like a tumor which goes away completely with no medical intervention. That kind of healing can only come from God and by the faith of those involved. We are loved by God and I can’t give you a reason for it, except to say that He loves us because of Who He is!

Seek Him out, look for Him in the Bible, learn about Him through His Word. Even if you don’t like to come to church, read His Word and ask Him to show Himself to you in it. He is there for all to find and know, all you need to do is seek Him out in it. His majesty is around you in the trees, the stars and the entirety of the universe but all of that is His creation, it is the Creator that you should worship and He is available to those who seek Him out!

Seeking Jesus?


Why did I place that as a question? Because, many people don’t realize that they are actually seeking Jesus. We look for all sorts of things and people and even careers or  money to fulfill our lives and make us feel complete and yet none of those can do it. Sometimes each one can fill in for a little while…but not for long.

We tend to look for things which will make our lives feel better in some way and most of us don’t realize that the part of our heart or our being which needs filling only needs Jesus. He is the only Person..the only real person who can fill that area in our life! We feel an emptiness at some point in our life and yet we don’t know what or who should be there…until we find out about Jesus.

Some of us find that we truly need Him early in our life, and some of us don’t realize that we need Him until many years later. Sometimes it may be at a time when we are in need of Him in more ways than for salvation. We need a healing or we may be nearing death from cancer or if we are on death row in prison, we may seek Him because we are afraid of going to Hell.

There are many reasons why people seek Jesus, but the one which brings you to Him is your realization that you are a sinner and that you need Him. Not only that but we are not guaranteed tomorrow morning or even tonight, so what would you say to God if you were to meet Him this afternoon? In reality, you couldn’t say much because He will show you when and how many times you have heard the gospel preached and you didn’t respond. All of your life will testify against you, every word and deed and action that you ever did will be brought forth, and there will be no excuse because you won’t have one.

Standing before God the Creator of all things, you will not be able to mount a defense of your life because He already knows you and all that you did or said during all the days of your life. You cannot hide from Him and you cannot reason with Him because your performance in this life gets you nothing! Only the acceptance of Jesus as your Savior will bring you into the gates of Heaven.

Before your life ends, please ask yourself this question: “Where do I want to spend eternity?” No matter how long your life is here, eternity is a lot longer so make sure before your last breath.

Umber


The color of umber is brown. Not a dark brown but not exactly “paper sack tan” either. Truthfully it is like a lightly roasted coffee in color. Why am I bringing this up on this blog? Because there are discussions and arguments arising about the way that Jesus is portrayed in paintings and in our culture.

Some say that He should be portrayed as white, others say that He is black, actually He is neither one. Jesus was born Hebrew as a Jewish Israelite. If you have ever met someone from Israel you notice that they have skin tones which have an olive complexion. What does that mean? It means that their skin will tan easily in the sun.

Our Savior did a lot of walking throughout Judea in His lifetime, therefore He most likely was very dark-skinned where the sun struck Him. His face, arms, feet, and lower legs were likely very dark. The depiction of Him being white by artists who painted Him or otherwise portrayed Him is a nod to the culture of their day, racist though that may have been.

Our ancestors, the ones who began all of this in Eden, were very olive-skinned so that when their offspring came about a myriad of skin colors and complexions would be genetically possible. God knew then and He knows now exactly what He is doing genetically in this world. He is also giving us the ability to choose our spiritual pathway in our lives and He has been doing this from the start.

God doesn’t care if your skin color is dark or light, olive or even very darkly pigmented, He cares about your soul…your inner man. That is the part of you that lives on into eternity and your culture, your “skin tone” will likely be in eternity as well so we will all be able to see who we really are or were in our previous life on Earth. No one will lose their identity after death. Jesus spoke of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob being alive in eternity and our names and all that we have done in the service of God will follow us into eternity too.

Living here in this life is far different from what we will see or know in Heaven and for those who won’t give their hearts to Jesus, their eternity will be a true living hell. The descriptions of hell are varied but the regrets and the separation from God’s love and all that we have known in this life will be with us through eternity. The color of your skin, your culture, your lifestyle or how much money you had on Earth will mean NOTHING!

I was given a very tiny glimpse into heaven once and the gold streets are pure enough to shine like the Sun and the gold is like glass. Some of the buildings are made of a substance like opals only more pure and clear with walls a cubit or more thick. They reflect God’s glory with all of the colors imaginable but a description would not do them justice at all.

The descriptions found in the Bible are man’s attempt at describing things which our minds can’t comprehend fully, so I can’t either. Race doesn’t mean anything in the end. We are all God’s children and all of us are descended from Adam and Eve, since God cannot lie I don’t understand why we deny that we are all related.

He is our Savior!


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God has done all that is needed through Jesus, our Savior, to save each and every one of us. All that is required of us is to believe like a child that He did it and ask Him to come into your life, into your heart and soul and you will be a new creation in His Image!

It doesn’t take your works or your money or strength to be saved and righteous enough to be allowed into Heaven because nothing that you or I can do in our strength is good enough to bring you into His Presence! He provided all that you need to be saved, all that you have to do is believe it and ask for it.

Unfortunately, many people look at this as being too simple, too easy. They want to help in some way. The problem with us helping is that we get in the way.

So, what will it take for you to believe in Him? People have been teaching that God punishes us so that we will learn certain things when the fact is that Satan is doing that. Of course, he won’t do that unless you are a Christian or you are thinking about becoming one because in the spiritual realm if you don’t belong to God then you are part of Satan’s group. I don’t mean that you worship him, but if you aren’t or you haven’t given your life to Jesus then as far as Satan is concerned you are not dangerous to his cause.

God loves you because He created you for a reason. What that reason is and when you might get busy with it is only known to Him until you are drawn to Him and make your decision to follow Him. The reason that I don’t make a distinction between God and Jesus is that they are part of the Trinity, which includes the Holy Spirit. All of them are part of One Creator. Like it or not they all show up in Scripture.

God has made a way for you to be saved from sin and the consequences of it, all you have to do is claim it. Will you?

Read the scriptures in Romans and John, not just one or two passages but all of them. Pray that God will show you why you need Him and how to come to Him. He loves you and He wants a relationship with you. It is up to you to seek Him, because He doesn’t force faith on you nor does He chase you down.

http://jesusfilmmedia.org/1_529-jf-0-0/

You are with me


youarestillwithmeIn the 23rd Psalm it goes like this:

Psalm 23 King James Version

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

This Psalm of David is an ever-present help, just as the Lord is, it is also a poem of comfort and of thanksgiving. In our world today, we need this because of all the things which are happening around the world. Why? Because of all the strife and the anger and frustration that flows from the news every single day. It seems that we can’t get away from it, even if we turn the TV off and don’t watch it. If we log on to our Facebook account, the news is there; if we log onto Google and look at the news, all of it is there in front of our eyes. We can’t escape it even if we are in the car and turn the radio on…the news, no matter how bad it is, is there too. We need God’s comforting presence in our lives today!

Why do I say this? Because we are not “supermen” and we never will be. It doesn’t matter if you made it through boot camp or SEAL training or any other type of military training, you are not bullet-proof regardless of what they tried to tell you over and over again!

We are normal people with problems, hang-ups and hang-overs. We have all of the problems that they try to recommend medication for on TV, yet most of us don’t want the side-effects of that medication. Most of us don’t want to be told that we are sinners or back-sliders or adulterers or in some cases, perverts. Nobody wants to hear about our personal dirty laundry, but we love to hear about and read about celebrities and sports figures who have problems!

Every church is filled with people who are exactly like those in the paragraph above, no church is immune because we are all sinners! The only difference between those who claim to belong to Jesus is that we….they are forgiven! We claim our forgiveness from Christ when we admit that we need it, just as a person addicted to alcohol or drugs had to admit it before being able to fight it! The big difference is that Jesus already conquered our sin nature, all we have to do is believe in Him and ask for it to be applied to us!

There isn’t anything really special about Christians except for the faith in Jesus that most of us have. The reason I said “most” is that some think because they have been raised in church from their childhood, that makes them a Christian. Many have this belief that because they go to church occasionally like on Easter and Christmas, that this makes them a Christian. Not any more than sitting in a garage will make you into a car!

God created each of us to be in a relationship with Him and the only way we can do that is through His Son, Jesus. There is no other door, and no other “prophet” who can get you into Heaven. No amount of work you can do will help you. No amount of money given to the poor will buy you a brick to build a heavenly mansion. Nothing that WE can do will have any bearing on our eternity EXCEPT belief in and submission to Jesus in faith believing that He did everything necessary for your salvation!

Trust in Him, learn about Him, and come to Him with a heart that knows that He is your Savior and at that point ALL of Heaven will celebrate a new saint that will be coming home!