Witnesses

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:12‭-‬13 NASB

I’m tempted every day, and many times I think that I can handle it instead of looking for the way God wants me to deal with it. My biggest? Not talking about Jesus.

What is it that makes it so difficult to speak about my Saviour? I believe in Him. I know He is the Son of the Most High God, and that He is alive. When I say He is alive, I mean He is alive. He died, yes, a horrible death on a cross, one of the cruelest ways known to kill a person. His body was annointed with the normal spices for burial, and then wrapped in strips of cloth, as was the custom in His day. His body was in the tomb, with door sealed shut, for three days. After all that, Jesus walked out of that tomb and was with His friends, His disciples, and was seen by over 500 people. Eyewitness accounts.

And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” Luke 24:38‭-‬39 NASB

Easter Sunday is approaching. Now is the perfect time to talk about Jesus. Let’s be part of the ”

“Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12 NASB

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, ….” Hebrews 12:1 NASB

New Life


Read 2 Peter and Jude. (They’re short!)

The author is Simon, or Simeon, Peter, called “the Rock” by Jesus. Peter writes to emphasize his 2 lives, his before and after of meeting Jesus, the Christ. He shows us the difference in our old lives and what we can become through Jesus. Simon Peter describes himself as a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ. An Apostle is ‘one sent with the delegated authority of the one who sends him.’ We know that Jesus sent His Apostles out to spread the Gospel and to preach Salvation.

Peter writes “To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours” – for there are no 2nd class Christians, we are all equal in the sight of God, “by the righteousness of our God and Savior.” That’s One person, GOD and SAVIOUR, Jesus Christ, not multiple beings but One. Peter reminds us that the substance of our salvation is the righteousness given to us by Jesus Christ: GOD, SAVIOUR, SPIRIT, One person. In his letter to the Romans, he quotes King David: “Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD will not take into account.” (Romans 4:8)
Grace, the free, unmerited favor of God, Righteousness, and Peace are ongoing subjects for Peter. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; ” Ephesians 2:8 NASB He knows these intimately through his own personal experiences, and his desire is that everyone learn to know them, too. To that end, he spent his life traveling and writing, sharing the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Grace and Peace be multiplied” [grow and increase] “to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; ….” Our part, our work, is nothing; all we bring to the table is our sin. We grow through the knowledge of His Word, and full of experiential knowledge, we become God explorers, learning about Him throughout our lives. We all are all born into His kingdom as babies. There are no great Christians born; everyone must grow into their own personal relationship with the LORD.

“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:17‭-‬18 NASB
2 Peter is all about being learning, knowledge and growth – and that you have to know to grow. These books call Christians to spiritual growth to combat false teachings through the knowledge of the LORD. He was writing to the believers in modern Turkey against false teachings just as we are faced with today, such as there not being a literal hell, gender confusion, and Christ not being the Son of God. All we have to do is listen to what’s going on around us to see these falsehoods in action. Our knowledge of His Word will help prevent us from becoming like these Galatian Christians:

“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” Galatians 1:6‭-‬9 NASB

Faith and salvation both come from the LORD. As  A.W. Tozer said, “God is never found accidentally.” My prayer is that you have found God, and that you are learning His Words so that you are not deceived by the father of lies and deceit.

“To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

40 Fails

The number 40 appears around 146 times in scripture, and is used to indicate a time of testing or trial. For 40 days and 40 nights it rained and the waters came up out of the ground to cover all of the earth, while Noah and his family took shelter in the ark. (Genesis 7:12)

Moses spent 40 years living in Egypt before moving to the land of Midian, where he spent another 40 years (Exodus 2) before he returned to Egypt and led the Israelites away from captivity. He spent another 40 years with them, wandering in the wilderness. During that time, Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights, on two separate occasions (Exodus 24:18, 34:1 – 28), receiving God’s laws. He also sent spies, for forty days, to investigate the land God promised the Israelites as an inheritance. (Numbers 13:25, 14:34).

The prophet Jonah powerfully warned ancient Nineveh, for forty days, that its destruction would come because of its many sins. The prophet Ezekiel laid on His right side for 40 days to symbolize Judah’s sins (Ezekiel 4:6). 40 days in the wilderness. That’s how long Jesus was there.

For me, I wandered in and out of my own personal wilderness for 40 years. I walked away from a home of spiritual safety, into the sinful ways of the world. There is another story from the Bible that I want to share as an example that God can overcome if we allow it.

From the devotional “Epic Fails” by Brittany Rust: “Samson’s epic fail was a thirst for the things of this world, fulfilling lust, and not learning from his past mistakes. His story shows us that pursuing these things will only bring us down and hurt us. That refusing to learn from our past will be our fall. Take cues from your pitfalls and draw boundaries that will protect you from repeating the past. I’m thankful to see that Samson finished strong; he connected with God and went out victoriously. Even though he didn’t steward his gift well, God still graciously blessed him for His purposes and, in the end, used him greater than ever before.”

“Then Samson called to the LORD and said, “O LORD GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O GOD, ……”
Judges 16:28a NASB

I failed as a follower of Jesus for 40 years. I still stumble and fall, and fail, constantly; I’m sure at least 40 times a day. My saving grace is that Jesus is my Saviour. His Mercy covers me. Have you received His Grace and His Mercy and Forgiveness? Ask Him today, right now. He’s waiting patiently.

The Rescue

“GOD rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the Kingdom of the Son He Loves so much, the SON Who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.” Colossians 1:13‭-‬14 MSG

I don’t know about anyone else, but this verse resonates deeply with me. I’ve been in those dead-end alleys, the dark dungeons, the black pits. That’s what happens when we do what we decide is right.

No matter how deep you are in trouble, or how much you despair of ever seeing the light, I promise you this. Lift up your head and your hand, and Jesus will be there. It doesn’t take much, just make the effort. It’s all that He’s waiting for, and He will lift you out of the trouble, and carry you until you can walk again.

No worries. No doubts. He will never, ever leave you. Never. Ever. Always by your side. Forever and ever and a day. Just call out His Name and the devil will run!

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind
Sight, riches, healing of the mind
Yea, all I need, in Thee to find
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Just as I am, Thou wilt receive
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve
Because Thy promise I believe
O Lamb of God, I come, I come

AMEN!

Moral Excellence, Take 2

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.” 2 Peter 1:5‭-‬7 NASB

We start in verses 1-4 with “We have received a Faith….” and follow with the attributes we want to model as followers of Jesus Christ. Our Justification and our Glorification are all God, but our Sanctification is for us and God. It requires diligence on our part. God does His work but ours MUST follow, and we should be working on them simultaneously, not separately.

Moral excellence isn’t an attitude, and it doesn’t mean Christians are any better than anyone else. We sin just like non-Christians. The difference should be that we are consciously working towards a “cleaner” life; getting rid of the “rocks” and “weeds”, the trash and detritus, the people and things that separate us from our LORD.

We search out knowledge. It is how we grow, and is essential to a healthy spiritual life, learning and knowing God. Our knowledge must be applied and lived out in our lives. We gain it through Bible studies, by meeting together in small groups, and in our personal reading and study of God’s Word in a daily quiet time. Knowledge of His Word helps us by intensifying our worship, and it sustains us in time of crisis.

Self Control – this is a trait that is laughed at by many who are out in the world. Get hold of yourself? Reining in passion and desire? What happened to “If it feels good, do it”? In controlling our desires rather than being controlled, we exhibit one of the fruits of the Spirit: “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13 (also verses 19-21) NO ONE and NO THING should control me other than the Master. (Proverbs 16:32, 24:16)

As Christians, our perseverance can be evident in a “Never give up” attitude. Perseverance produces maturity. Perseverance prevails. “….. knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” James 1:3 NASB We live one day at a time; just for today – doing the next thing; refusing to quit or to give up what God has called us to do with our life. When we surround ourselves with encouragers, it is much easier to persevere. (Recommended reading: “Suffering is Never for Nothing” by Elizabeth Elliot)

Godliness means literally “God likeness, becoming like God/ Christ.” We are to emulate Christ, and to do that, we must spend time with Him. The Rev. Adoniram Judson said “Don’t compare me to other men, compare me to Jesus.” Will people say that of me – or of you?

How do we show brotherly kindness? The word Philadelphia means literally to “love your brother.” It’s our attitude towards people. Brotherly kindness isn’t just about our physical, familial brother or sister, but it’s about all of our human “siblings,” regardless of color, nationality, or proximity. True brotherly kindness prays for each other, forgives, and is generous to others. This naturally leads to the last of the fruits of the Spirit, love.

Love for others is the capstone, crowning glory; the willingness to sacrifice ourselves for the higher good. All we have to do is look at the example set by Jesus; His sacrifice starting with leaving Heaven’s throne and coming to spend a lifetime on the earth. His sacrifice lead to the offering of His life on the cross, and culminated in His victory over death with His resurrection. I’m thankful that He doesn’t require that of us! As we bask in and revel in God’s love, we can love others. There are many Scriptures on loving others: John 13:36, 1 Corinthians 13, Galatians 5 for just an example.

“We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” 1 John 4:19‭-‬21 NASB

Moral Excellence

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.” 2 Peter 1:5‭-‬7 NASB

Strive for moral excellence, knowledge of our Saviour, self control, perseverance. Live one day at a time; just for today – do the next right thing. Surround yourself with encouragers. Refuse to quit or give up on what God has called us to do with our life. Live with godliness – literally God likeness; becoming like God/ Christ. Emulate Christ, spend time with Him. Our attitude towards people shows our heart. We should be the kind of person who prays for each other, forgives each other, and is generous to others. Over all, we show love: it is our capstone; our crowning glory when we sacrifice of ourselves for the higher good. As we bask in and revel in God’s love, we can love others.

“Don’t compare me to other men, compare me to Jesus” – Adoniram Judson, missionary to India.

“For it is because of these things that the Wrath of GOD will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—” Colossians 3:6‭-‬10 NASB

I need to watch my mouth. I may not be cursing or using expletives, but I can do a lot of damage to my witness with my words. Ever hear the phrase “Don’t be a Negative Nancy”? (Yes, I know it’s my name, but it was around before I was!) I’ve been around a few “Negative Nancy’s”, and they can spoil an entire day with their attitude. As Christians, I think it’s important that we keep positive things coming out of our mouths. I need to pay more attention to what I’m saying.

More Questions Than Answers….

“There is more Mercy in Christ than there is sin in us.” Romans 5:8

Instead of running around, searching for in abstract for God’s Will for my life, be mindful of what He says to do. Rejoice. Pray. Be thankful. Have an attitude of gratitude. Give thanks always, for all things. ALWAYS. For ALL things: the good, the bad, the ugly. ALL THINGS. I need to pay more attention to what I have, and less attention to what I don’t have. Be thankful, even when I’m not.

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16‭-‬18 NASB

I’m not good at this looking “at the things which are not seen…” It’s much easier to focus on the now and the seen. Maybe our problem is that we have so much, and we are surrounded by so much, that we can’t see past all the stuff. We hear stories of missionaries who go into areas of abject poverty and bring hundreds, even thousands, of souls to belief in Christ. Here we are are in the midst of affluence, and churches struggle to survive. Are we truly thankful for what we have? Are we cognizant of both the seen and the not seen; the now and the eternal, and the difference between them?

Our challenge today is to look at all that surrounds us. Are the momentary afflictions taking precedence over the greater picture? Am I serving the LORD in spite of the good and the bad in my life? Am I showing the mercy to others that God has shown to me?