ENTER JESUS…

Life was never supposed to be so hard…full of fears and failures, diseases and disasters, pains and pressures, sorrows and sufferings, worries and wars. Life was never intended to end in death either. But since “The Fall” in Eden, these things have become part of our everyday experiences. This is the way it works with sin. Truth is exchanged for lies, as the devil, the father of lies and chief thief, wrecks havoc upon the earth. Unfortunately, we humans are all too eager to aid and abet him in his dirty deeds.

For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

Perhaps you disagree. Maybe you have been able to “dodge the bullet” so far, and your life has been pretty easy going. But what about those in your extended family? What about your friends? What about your neighbors and co-workers? What about your classmates? What about those people in other counties, other countries, other continents? Life is hard; really, really hard for an awful lot of people. It’s a world of hurt, and all these hurting people need saving from their situations and circumstances, from their brokenness and rebellion, and whether you believe it or not, so do you and me. And as for me, it always seems that the hardest thing I have faced, is the stuff I am dealing with right now.

Enter Jesus…

Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him about what you have heard and seen – the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. And tell him: ‘God blesses those who are not offended by Me.’”  Matthew 11:4-6

Jesus came upon the scene and drastic changes began to occur. Even though miracles still happen every day, we also know that Jesus doesn’t always provide physical healing, and He doesn’t always fix our problems. Instead, He walks beside us through our hard times, He shoulders our sorrows, He carries our burdens, He directs our path.

Enter Jesus…

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10

Jesus came and brought GOOD NEWS. Jesus came to bring life back to its original condition. Jesus came to save us from sin, death, and the devil. He told us where to find salvation, how to receive salvation, and what to do in order to flourish in salvation.

Enter Jesus… 

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying.  John 11:25

Jesus came to help. With Jesus, you and I receive forgiveness for yesterday, courage and strength for today, hope for tomorrow. Rather than life ending in death, Jesus made a way for us to transition into bigger and better life – full, abundant life.

Enter Jesus…and hard life becomes whole life.

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GOD-FEARERS & FOOLS

The wisest and richest human being who ever walked this earth, King Solomon of Israel, said these things:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.   Ecclesiastes 12:13

King Solomon’s father, King David, who is known as “a man after GOD’s own heart” and also a great leader and warrior, said this:

Fools say to themselves, “There is no God.” They sin and commit evil deeds; none of them does what is right.   Psalm 14:1

Thus, human beings who inhabit our planet can be broken down into pretty simple groups: We have males and females, and we have GOD-Fearers and Fools. The differences between males and females used to be as obvious and basic as anything can ever be, but even now that is being dissected, debated, and determined by high courts and science laboratories. So this post will focus on the main differences between GOD-Fearers and Fools:

  • GOD-Fearers acknowledge GOD as GOD and His Word (The Bible) as truth. They proclaim that He is the One, True, Triune GOD who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; our Creator, Savior, and Sustainer of life.
  • Fools make up a god of their own by forming an image, fabricating a notion, or formulating a scheme within their own imagination.
  • GOD-Fearers attribute all that is good, right, beautiful, and true to GOD.
  • Fools give credit to Mother Nature, Father Time, Lady Luck, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy – just to name a few.
  • GOD-Fearers admit dependence upon GOD, openly surrender control to Him, and yield their free will to His will.
  • Fools boast of their independence, strive for power, and force their will upon others.
  • GOD-Fearers accept that GOD is sovereign in all matters – the good, bad, and ugly, as well as life and death. They allow and invite GOD to work through all things for their good and His glory whether or not they agree with or understand why.
  • Fools panic, complain, and attempt to control and manipulate situations and circumstances in order to “fix” things and “avoid” all pain and strain, so they forfeit their opportunities to grow and develop through such happenings.
  • GOD-Fearers worship GOD. They give Him thanks and praise for who He is and for what He does.
  • Fools worship and praise the things GOD created – nature; people who are popular, powerful, and peculiar; and themselves.

So what group are you in – GOD-Fearers or Fools?

GREATNESS

About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Which of us is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”  Matthew 18:1 

It was about that time that the mother of the Zebedee brothers came with her two sons and knelt before Jesus with a request. “What do you want?” Jesus asked.  She said, “Give your word that these two sons of mine will be awarded the highest places of honor in your kingdom, one at your right hand, one at your left hand.”   Matthew 20:20-21

 

James and John wanted greatness for themselves. Their mother wanted it for them (and herself) as well. Jesus’ followers today are no different either. We all seek greatness for ourselves. We want respect and recognition, along with a little applause. But Jesus was (and still is) seeking a different type of greatnessgreatness for His Father, not Himself. It is greatness defined in an entirely different way.

 

“I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is great than John. Yet even the most insignificant person in the Kingdom of GOD is greater than he is!”  Luke 6:28

 

Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two pennies. “I assure you, He said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”  Luke 21:2-4

 

Both John the Baptist and the Widow would not be considered to be great people in our society. They were poor in worldly goods, but very rich in godliness, and that is what made them great. Our culture, and our Church, has a flawed foundational problem in how we define greatness. We think great people are those who hold prominent positions, draw large crowds, write best-selling books, give big donations, get their faces on magazine covers and silver screens, and win the most championships. Thus, our thinking is the problem, and we need to repent (change it) in regards to what greatness really is. We need to turn around and reform our attitudes and actions.

True greatness is not a place of affluence, accomplishment, or advantage. It is not a matter of getting the most, gaining the most, nor grabbing the most. Greatness is associated with sacrificing for, sharing with, and serving others. It is demonstrated by compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness – all traits of Jesus (Colossians 3:12-13). Jesus was also characterized by His meekness, which was mistakenly confused as weakness. But meekness is far from weakness. Meekness is confident, certain, assertive, gentle, humble, powerful control. Meekness doesn’t have to talk or act big, since it has nothing to fear or prove.

Few people thought of greatness when they saw Jesus two thousand plus years ago, and few people think of greatness concerning Him now. That’s because He spent His time touching lepers, healing the disabled, caring for the troubled, encouraging the outcasts, hugging the children, and spreading the GOOD NEWS message of His salvation – all the stuff that we don’t like to do. For we really don’t like Jesus stuff, and we don’t value the people He spent His time serving or spreading the Message He shared.

We don’t even go near the diseased – let alone touch them.

We don’t associate with people who are disabled.

We don’t have time for little kids.

We don’t interact with homeless people.

We don’t inconvenience ourselves by caring for orphans and widows.

 

While we try to flaunt, force, and finagle greatness, Jesus’ example is serving greatness.

 

So Jesus got them together to settle things down. He said, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”  Matthew 20:25-28 

 

In light of Jesus’ perfect example, true greatness seems to be this: willingly and cheerfully looking for opportunities to do the dirty work of sacrificing for, sharing with, and serving those in our society who have been labeled as problems, defined as troubled, and viewed as unnecessary – and do this for the honor, praise, and glory of our Father in Heaven.

 

May you and I strive for greatness today and everyday!

PEACE & HARMONY

I often wonder about the various countries and people groups who live in the Middle East and think: “What’s their deal anyway?”  “Why can’t these people find a way to get along with each other?” “How long are they going to keep this up and continue killing each other and destroying their lands?

Then I look at the Church. Not any particular local congregation, but the universal Church on earth. I believe it is fair to say that nothing on our planet is more conflicted, confusing, and combative; more divided, dissonant, and denominated than the Church.

What happened? Why is the Church like this? How did so many different synods, sects, classis’, cults, bodies, branches, orders, and movements come about and muddy up the simple GOOD NEWS message?

 

For Jesus said:

I’m praying not only for them but also for those who will believe in me because of them and their witness about me. The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind – just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as we are – I in them and you in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you’ve sent me and loved them in the same way you’ve loved me.    John 17:20-23 (The Message)

 

Paul wrote:

My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?    1 Corinthians 1:11-13 (NIV)

 

The GOOD NEWS message is clear… JESUS died on the cross and rose from the dead. 

The GOOD NEWS message is compelling… Believe on the LORD Jesus Christ and you will be saved! 

The GOOD NEWS message is complete… JESUS SAVES!

 

So how did the Church ever get so separated over JESUS?

So why hasn’t the Church listened to JESUS and become one in heart and mind?

So what is the Church going to do about it now?

 

This godless world is waiting for its witness.

HERE, not THERE

Here am I and the children whom the LORD has given me! We are signs and wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells in Mount Zion.

Isaiah 8:18

 I don’t want to split hairs here, but here is a little issue that I think is worth mentioning. Almost daily, I read and hear references to GOD as “He is there” and “He will always be there for you.” So I say to myself, “where is there?”

When it comes to GOD, there is no there, but only here.

The Son radiates GOD’s own glory and expresses the very character of GOD, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command.

Hebrews 1:3a

Our Creator and Sustainer is forever here.

Immanuel, GOD with us, is here with me, here with you, here with all people in all places right now.

GOD has been here, always will be here.  Here as Alpha. Here as Omega.

Here at the beginning; Here at the ending; Here through the in-betweens.

From here on out, try to catch and correct yourself and others, and always refer to GOD as being here with us, here with them…here, here!

WHO IS YAHWEH TO YOU?

All people are born with an intrinsic relationship with GOD, for He is someone to everyone, one way or another. As such, everybody has some level of accountability and responsibility to GOD and is without any excuse in this matter, for He designed, created, and sustains us. HE IS our source of life.

 

But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.

So God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them—the God we bless, the God who blesses us. Oh, yes!

Worse followed. Refusing to know God, they soon didn’t know how to be human either—women didn’t know how to be women, men didn’t know how to be men. Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men—all lust, no love. And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it—emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches.     Romans 1:19-27  (The Message)

GOD is Yahweh, as this the name that He gave to Himself.

 

But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?” God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘Yahweh, the God of your ancestors – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob – has sent me to you. This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.’”  Exodus 3:13-15 (NLT)

 

Yahweh refers to Himself as “I AM”, we tell Him, “YOU ARE”, and when referring of Him to others we say “HE IS.” Yahweh is the one, true, Triune GOD, and Jesus, His Son, is the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

The basic question is then this: Who is Yahweh to you?

What is your relationship to Him? You get to choose. Do you feel close or far way from Him? To you believe you know Him and He knows you in a personal way? How do you approach Him – timidly, boldly, or not at all? How do you communicate with Him – formally, frequently, or never? What exactly is your level of intimacy with Yahweh?

 

HE IS Creator to all people – those of every tongue, tribe, group, and nation – whether or not they choose to acknowledge Him as such (including you).

HE IS is a god – one of many gods – for many groups who welcome and recognize a plethora of deities whom they invoke and appease in order to have their basic needs met.

HE IS God, in one variation to people of the Jewish and Islamic faiths as these recognize and worship the GOD of Abraham.

HE IS King to the nation of Israel, though not currently realized as such, as most Israelite’s today have rejected Jesus as their Messiah, but will one day find out that He is their true King of King’s and LORD or LORD’s.

HE IS is Messiah to millions of the Christian faith who have received His grace – the forgiveness of sins, and a new, eternal life through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection.

 

So, Who is Yahweh to you?

 

If HE IS only the Creator to you, you may feel quite distant from Him and know very little about Him.

If HE IS only one of many little gods to you, you may feel confused by Him and don’t understand how to approach Him.

If HE IS God to you, but a misrepresentation of the GOD who HE IS because of a religion’s refusal to acknowledge Him as He has revealed Himself and related to the human race, you may feel alienated, and humiliated by Him and by the rest of the world.

If HE IS only King to you, you may fear His power and authority, but you limit Him as being responsible for only your provision and protection.

 

But if HE IS Messiah to you, this changes everything. If Yahweh is your Messiah, HE IS your one, true, triune GOD!

HE IS your loving and loyal Father who provides you with affirmation and approval.

HE IS your ever-present and empathetic Savior and Friend who provides you with assurance and acceptance.

HE IS your constant Helper and competent Counselor who provides you with assistance and advice.

 

Again, the question of the day:  WHO IS YAHWEH TO YOU?

TURNING TO THE TRINITY

Who has been, or currently is missing from your life? Are you lacking in regards to having any father or mother involvement, without close friendships, wishing you had some help and counsel to navigate your way through the obstacles in your way? Look no further.

The belief in a Triune GOD, the Holy Trinity, which means there is One GOD who exists in three distinct persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is somewhat difficult to take hold of. Still, it is essential in understanding Christianity and experiencing the life of faith it establishes. And when lived through the closeness and confidence of this relationship, the Trinity makes all the sense in the world. For within the relationship of the Trinity is everything we need to thrive in life – even when our other human relationships may be inadequate, unpleasant, and/or absent.

For GOD our Father gives us His approval and affirmation;

GOD the Son, Jesus, our Savior and Friend gives us His assurance and acceptance;

And GOD the Holy Spirit, our Helper and Counselor gives us His assistance and advice.

Thus, the Trinity provides us with everything we need in order to feel significant, to be satisfied, and to become successful in life. All we need to do is turn to Him and trust Him to give us these things when we need them the most. GOD gives us His all which is more than plenty enough!