All for one; ONE for All

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/gal.3.28.NASB1995

All for one. One race, the human race. Ordained by God, the Creator. He created Adam, then he created Eve, and he told them to go and procreate and populate the earth.

Because of Adam and Eve’s bad decision, human kind were banished from the garden and placed in the world ruled by the enemy. Not because God wanted us gone from the garden and His Presence, but because man chose to separate himself from it. That hurt God, and we have continued to hurt Him with our bad decisions ever since. But the ALMIGHTY God wasn’t going to let us, His finest creatures, created in His likeness, to be destroyed by the enemy. He sent His Son, His own being, to earth to atone for our sins. ONE for ALL; once for all.

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38‭-‬39 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/rom.8.38-39.NASB1995

All you need to do is accept His sacrifice, and you can never be separated from the LORD ever again.

Righteousness / Sin / Slavery

“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. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” 1 Corinthians 10:13‭-‬14 NASB1995

Warren Wiersbe, in his book Be Daring, wrote, “In 1973, Dr. Karl Menninger, one of the world’s leading psychiatrists, published a startling book, Whatever Became of Sin? He pointed out that the very word sin has gradually dropped out of our vocabulary, as he puts it, ‘the word, along with the notion.’ We talk about mistakes, weaknesses, inherited tendencies, faults, and even errors; but we do not face up to the fact of sin.”

God removes our sins and puts them on Christ. Then he takes the righteousness of Christ and puts it on us, and it’s all done through the cross. And that’s the gospel: how sinners become right and righteous with a holy God. It’s the best news ever.” – from The Core of the Gospel by Jeff Wells

Who is a the descendant of slaves? That’s a big question these days, with the whole question of reparations and who should pay them and who should receive them. Slavery has been around almost since the the beginning of history. It has been in every country and involved every color and ethnicity of humans. Abraham, Father of Israel, had slaves. The Egyptians had slaves of all nationalities. The Romans, Greeks, Gauls, and Picts owned slaves. Many, if not all, African tribes owned slaves. The American Native peoples of the different nations owned slaves.

As much as we want to deny it, slavery still exists today. There are people who deal in human trafficking, maybe in your neighborhood. Instead of focusing on the past and what has occurred, we need to be focused on now. There are many other forms of slavery, and we need to acknowledge that fact. Human bondage is real and present. Slavery to an addiction, and that isn’t limited to drugs or alcohol. If you have personally experienced any bondage, and been freed from it, congratulations! God is GOOD! Be careful about boasting, though. For someone still stuck and fighting to get out, or to the one who can’t see a way out, remember to give Grace. Slavery, just like any addiction, isn’t something we can just choose to walk away from. It requires help from God and from His people.

“Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is ONE. Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.” Romans 3:27‭-‬31 NASB1995

Reach out to someone you know is hurting, and keep in mind that hurts can be covered up and hidden. A smile and a hug can go a long way! (Pandemic aside, it’s time to start hugging people again!)

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.” Colossians 3:23‭-‬25 NASB1995

Are You Watching The News?

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31‭-‬32 NASB1995

Lying politicians. Blatant discrimination. Pornography on primetime TV. Government consumed with elitism. Families divided, fatherless children, abused children. Attack after attack on Christian values, in person, on the radio, on social media, on television talk shows and sitcoms and ‘regular’ programming; everywhere, anywhere, you look. Even from the pulpit.

Is there any common sense left in our country, or in the world?

I attempted to open an online conversation with a professing Christian, who is in fact a church leader, after he came out in favor of abortion. I say attempted, because he, and several other people, refused to hear anything against their beliefs that it should be legal and completely up to the woman. But, what about the baby, I asked? Apparently, there is no “baby” until it can survive on it’s own, so at least 6 to 7 months after conception. It’s a “foetus”. Instead of arguing, I bowed out of the conversation. There is ample evidence available about babies in the womb, but there is no point in arguing with people who are entrenched in their beliefs. That said, I admit that I’m pretty entrenched in my beliefs…. but I try really hard to base them in the Scriptures, without picking and choosing. Am I always right? Not at all!

I’ve come to realize this: people believe what they want to believe, and most will take the most comfortable view. I found this prayer in the devotional Good Morning Easter Devotional, by Compassion. It really touched my heart.

Lord, thank You we can have hope in every situation because You are always faithful. I bring You all the situations in my life that are challenging and the prayers that are yet to be answered. I ask that You renew my hope. Please help me to keep bringing good news, to carry your peace and declare that You reign in every season of my life. Amen.

“How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
Isaiah 52:7 NASB1995

Hold On!

“For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the LORD, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;”
Hebrews 12:3‭-‬5 NASB1995

We have only just begun this battle for our lives and our beliefs. The enemy is alive and well in our nation’s capital, and we must stand against him! Rise up, Christians! Armor yourself with prayer and with Scripture, and with the fellowship of other believers. HOLD ON, for we will prevail in the end!

(I know, because I read the back of the Book!)

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND Lord OF LORDS.”
Revelation 19:11‭-‬13‭, ‬16 NASB1995

Hallelujah! Christ is KING!

Pick up your swords!

HOLY Week

“And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den.” Mark 11:17 NASB1995 (read verses 11-20) Holy Week. Why is this particular week more Holy than last week, or next week, or any random week? Should we be treating it any differently than the other 51 weeks of the year? Should we be acting any differently this week than any other week? I’ve heard the reasons, and it’s a good thing to focus on the life of Jesus and the events leading to His death and resurrection. Shouldn’t we be focused on His resurrection every week? “Also concerning the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your name’s sake (for they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name.” 1 Kings 8:41‭-‬43 NASB1995 THIS. This verse is what this week, this season, is all about: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NASB1995 As Christians, let’s concentrate on the strangers; the people we don’t know, who we see in our church and in our daily lives. Make them welcome. How many times have you been in a situation where you didn’t know the people around you? That man or woman or child who is there by themselves might not really be ignoring you. They might be too shy or insecure to reach out. Reach out. Welcome them – sincerely – into God’s house, and continue beyond a single service. Help them feel like they have come home. If God loved us enough to send His Son Jesus to die for us, can’t we love enough to reach out a hand in friendship?

ZOMBIES!

“It’s urgent that you get this right: The time has arrived—I mean right now!—when dead men and women will hear the Voice of the Son of God and, hearing, will come alive. Just as the Father has Life in Himself, He has conferred on the Son Life in Himself. And He has given Him the authority, simply because He is the Son of Man, to decide and carry out matters of Judgment. “Don’t act so surprised at all this. The time is coming when everyone dead and buried will hear His Voice. Those who have lived the right way will walk out into a resurrection Life; those who have lived the wrong way, into a resurrection Judgment.
John 5:25‭-‬29 MSG

I was absolutely struck when I read this today. We are surrounded by zombies! So many people are obsessed with zombies, and the coming zombie apocalypse. You can even get Zombie Apocalypse signs for your vehicle. They don’t even realize that they are the zombies! Instead of being afraid of the coming Zombie Apocalypse, we all need to be concerned with the coming Jesus Apocalypse! Listen to the words of Jesus, as they come alive in the Message:

“I’m not interested in crowd approval. And do you know why? Because I know you and your crowds. I know that love, especially God’s love, is not on your working agenda. I came with the authority of my Father, and you either dismiss me or avoid me. If another came, acting self-important, you would welcome him with open arms. How do you expect to get anywhere with God when you spend all your time jockeying for position with each other, ranking your rivals and ignoring God?
John 5:41‭-‬44 MSG

This is exactly what we do. We dismiss or avoid Jesus, and embrace the self-important, expansive, all-knowing politicians and so-called leaders of today. Oh, but they are in authority and control. HA! Those people in Washington (I almost said clowns) are not even close to being in control. Our so-called leaders are rife with false prophets, trying to lead the masses away from Jesus. In many instances they are succeeding, sadly. The enemy wants us to think that he and his zombie army are winning, but I promise you, they are not.

God is, has been, and will be in control. Always.

We may have to endure these crazy times for a while longer. Christians, we are charged with sharing the Good News and the Truth of Jesus Christ before He returns. We will survive this “Zombie Apocalypse”! Hallelujah!!

“I Need Thee Every Hour…”

It’s almost as if Daniel is praying for us today:

“I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed and said, “Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers and all the people of the land.” Daniel 9:4‭-‬6 NASB1995

If God is Sovereign, if He already knows and sees all, why pray? BECAUSE He is Sovereign. We pray to adjust our thoughts and desires to HIS thoughts and desires. The greatest kings and Prophets pray for God’s will to be done, not theirs.

“So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.” Daniel 9:3 NASB1995

What we are in secret when we are in prayer is who we really are. Pray out loud, humble, fervent, passionate, HONEST. Prayer is not about me or you, it is about God.

“Now while I was speaking and praying, and confessing MY sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting MY supplication before the Lord my God in behalf of the holy mountain of my God, ….” Daniel 9:20 NASB1995

Daniel owns both his sin and the sin of his people. His prayer is full of his confession. The closer we get to God the more we realize how much we are a sinner.

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8‭-‬9 NASB1995

In praying and acknowledging our sin, we acknowledge how much we need God. Every day, every hour, every minute.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35‭-‬39 ESV

As Daniel continues his prayer, it strikes me how relevant his words are to us today.

“O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.” Daniel 9:18‭-‬19 NASB1995

He prays one prayer, that God be glorified. His answer came through the angel Gabriel. He said to Daniel:

“At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision. Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.” Daniel 9:23-24 NASB1995

Daniel knows that his people (the Israelites) have neglected following God’s command to rest every 7th day and every 7th year, when the land and animals and people are not to labor but to live on the fruits of their labor from the past 6 days and years. These are the Sabbath day and year: every 7th day, every 7th year, is to REST. These are LITERAL days and years, so he knows that the angel Gabriel is referring to that, and 70 sets of 7 means 70 years × 7 or 490 years.

“So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” Daniel 9:24‭-‬27 NASB1995

In verse 25 is the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, which refers to the decree to Nehemiah to rebuild the Temple and the city of Jerusalem that was signed March 5, 444 BC (Nehemiah 2). The 483 year period commenced, and on March 30, 33 AD it ended with the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, 490 years to the day from Daniel’s prophecy (Luke 19:28-40). This prophecy shows that God’s Word is absolutely true and accurate. All of history and the world’s leaders are under His control. His timing is predetermined, accurate, on target, impeccable, carefully calculated. Gabriel also gives us information on the end of this earth as we know it, by speaking of “the prince who is to come”, the antichrist. In verse 26, he tells the ethnicity of the antichrist. He will come from the region of the Roman empire. Right now we are in the interim period between the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the coming of the antichrist.

When God’s countdown resumes – and although we don’t know exactly when that will occur – the antichrist will enter into, or reinforce, a covenant with the Jewish people to rebuild the Temple and resume sacrifices and offerings. This will begin the Tribulation, and will last 3 1/2 years, then the antichrist will desecrate the Temple and rule the remaining 3 1/2 years until Jesus returns.

With all of this coming closer to fruition every day, it is essential to know the Messiah personally! Do you? Are you telling the people you love?

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12‭-‬13 NASB1995

The next event on God’s calendar is the rapture!

Come to Me

“All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls . For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28‭-‬30 NASB1995

We receive Salvation through Jesus Christ alone. Jesus says “Come to ME.” That is the ultimate statement of salvation. HE, Jesus, the Christ, the One and Only Son of the Most High God, will GIVE you rest. We aren’t talking about a church or a creed or a doctrine, but Jesus alone.

Who can receive this gift of salvation? “….ALL who are weary and heavy-laden” – anyone; everyone who is weighed down by sin and guilt and will accept His salvation. We can’t earn it and we don’t deserve it. “Our merits merit nothing, Christ’s merits merit everything.” No matter what anyone else teaches or claims to know, this is fact: Christianity is NOT a religion of scales, it is a religion of the cross.

Jesus says “Take my yoke: submit to my authority.” When we submit to Him, we don’t become like a slave. He wants us to listen and learn to be like Him: Jesus is gentle, humble, accessible, tender, open, accommodating; He is not harsh or “trigger happy”. His yoke is well fitting, not uncomfortable or difficult. By abdicating control, it allows us to rest in body, soul, spirit.

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,” Ephesians 3:14‭-‬20 NASB1995

Begin the new year a new person. Accept His Gift of Salvation today.

I Heard the Bells

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” Psalms 27:13‭-‬14 NASB1995

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells….. I love hearing the church bells as they peal out their songs, especially on Christmas Eve night. There’s something about the sound that stirs my soul. As they ring, it brings to mind the sounds of angels announcing that the Messiah, Jesus Christ has been born and is waiting, even now for us to believe in Him and to love Him. The ringing bells are the sounds of the angels, reminding us that we are not alone on this earth. There is no need to despair, for our LORD is here and in control. The bells remind us that though He came here as a baby the first time, He is coming again as the Lion of Judah, to conquer sin and defeat for the final time! I can’t wait!