Church is hard for the person walking through the doors, afraid of judgement.
Church is hard for the pastor’s family, under the microscope of an entire body.
Church is hard for the prodigal soul returning home, broken and battered by the world.
Church is hard for the girl who looks like she has it all together, but doesn’t.
Church is hard for the couple who fought the entire ride to service.
Church is hard for the single mom, surrounded by couples holding hands, and seemingly perfect families.
Church is hard for the widow and widower with no invitation to lunch after service.
Church is hard for the deacon with an estranged child.
Church is hard for the person singing worship songs, overwhelmed by the weight of the lyrics.
Church is hard for the man insecure in his role as a leader.
Church is hard for the wife who longs to be led by a righteous man.
Church is hard for the nursery volunteer who desperately longs for a baby to love.
Church is hard for the single woman and single man, praying God brings them a mate.
Church is hard for the teenage girl, wearing a scarlet letter, ashamed of her mistakes.
Church is hard for the sinners.
Church is hard for me.
It’s hard because on the outside it all looks shiny and perfect. Sunday best in behavior and dress.
However, underneath those layers, you find a body of imperfect people, carnal souls, selfish motives.
But, here is the beauty of church—
Church isn’t a building, mentality, or expectation.
Church is a body.
Church is a group of sinners, saved by grace, living in fellowship as saints.
Church is a body of believers bound as brothers and sisters by an eternal love.
Church is a holy ground where sinners stand as equals before the Throne of Grace.
Church is a refuge for broken hearts and a training ground for mighty warriors.
Church is a converging of confrontation and invitation. Where sin is confronted and hearts are invited to seek restoration.
Church is a lesson in faith and trust.
Church is a bearer of burdens and a giver of hope.
Church is a family. A family coming together, setting aside differences, forgetting past mistakes, rejoicing in the smallest of victories.
Church, the body, and the circle of sinners-turned-saints, is where He resides, and if we ask, He is faithful to come.
So even on the hard days at church—
The days when I am at odds with a friend, When I’ve fought with my spouse because we’re late once again. When I’ve walked in bearing burdens heavier than my heart can handle, yet masking the pain with a smile on my face. When I’ve worn a scarlet letter, under the microscope. When I’ve longed for a baby to hold, or fought tears as the lyrics were sung. When I’ve walked back in, afraid and broken, after walking away.
I’ll remember, He has never failed to meet me there.
Ephesians 4:11-16, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
I’m going on 40 years of being saved and in those years have heard literally thousands of sermons, but if you asked me how many of them, I could quote or recall a significant amount of the message, if I were honest, I would say relatively very little.
This is not to say that a vast majority of them weren’t good or that they didn’t have impact on my life but if we were honest most sermons especially by evangelist are motivational messages.
Many times, I have been in a service that blew my mind and got me very excited to go out and change the world for Christ and the next day I got up as usual, got dressed, ate breakfast, made my lunch, went to work, put my 8 hours, then came home, and nothing happened.
So, this thought came to me, why? Then this question came, what is the purpose of the church, especially it’s leadership?
The reason for us to gather together is found in Acts 2:42, “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Hebrews 10:23-25, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
So, the question is, are you being equipped? 1 Peter 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”
Are you able to defend the faith…marriage between a man and a woman?
Hebrews 6:1-3, “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says in the Amplfied, “Every scripture is God-breathed given by His inspiration- and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, and for training in righteousness [that is, holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose and action] So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
In the thousands of messages, I’ve heard in my lifetime I can narrow it down to this problem, most messages tell you that you need to receive Jesus Christ in their heart, that you need to read the word of God to learn who He is and you need to pray to have that communication with our Savior. The problem is many times we don’t tell them the how.
Jesus often with His disciples had to tell them the how, teach us how to pray they asked, when will the time of the end be? Jesus had to explain what the four soils meant and many of the other parables Jesus told those gathered.
Paul told us in Roman 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” But what about the why to this question, 13-16, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
In the modern-day church, the emphasis has been put on more worship and short sermons not so much on teaching but ironically a recent survey among Evangelicals shows people want the opposite, fewer than 10% want shorter sermons while nearly 30% want more in-depth teaching, the younger adults are even more interested as only 7% wanted shorter sermons.
Just as the bible charges parents to train up a child in the way he should go, we in the church have the responsibility to train (equip) those who God has entrusted us with.
Having the proper equipment is important, when you start sometimes you can have the basics, like screw drivers and hammers, but for me it’s important to obtain better tools to do the job God had called us to do better, battery drivers, table saws, ratchet sets are all tools I’ve added to do a better job but you also have specialty tools, ie, laying concrete, putting in windows, hanging cabinets, etc. we in this church have many different talents as well…
A good example we can find in Eph 6:13-17, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: is what we should do
Ephesians 6:10-12, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Is the why we should put on the armor of God everyday
Ephesians 6:18, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” Is the how we put on that armor.
Ephesians 4:11-12, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting (equipping) of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”
1 Corinthians 15:12-19, “Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”
If this is true then we have any miserable people in this world for many religions do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ or any other type of resurrection. The Muslims, Orthodox Jewish faith, of course we have Hinduism, Buddhism, and others as well fall into this category. Non-Christians as a whole do not believe in a literal resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
However a 2017 poll in the UK found that ½ of the population doesn’t believe in the Resurrection and 23% of so-called Christians don’t believe it neither.
In America a 2013 poll said that only 64% believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ so that would mean 36% either have no view or don’t believe in the resurrection either.
There is a movement out there that are infiltrating many churches called Progressive Christianity which believe this,
1. Believe that following the path and teachings of Jesus can lead to an awareness and experience of the Sacred and the Oneness and Unity of all life;
2. Affirm that the teachings of Jesus provide but one of many ways to experience the Sacredness and Oneness of life, and that we can draw from diverse sources of wisdom in our spiritual journey;
People most miserable!
1 Corinthians 15:20-23, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.” There is actually 3 parts of the first resurrection, two mentioned here and another in Revelations. 20:4-6, “And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”
If we examine the bible we have ample evidence of a resurrected Jesus Christ as
Jesus over and over told His disciples of the coming trial, death and resurrection, Matthew 20:18-19, Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.””
So, let’s look at some of the reasons some claim that Jesus was not resurrected, the body was stolen, Matthew 28:11-15, “Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers,saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.” So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.” So, you are telling me that these disciples who ran at the arrest of Jesus, were hiding in a room, could of snuck in and rolled a massive stone away quietly so as to not awake these soldiers (who would of been condemned to death from sleeping on the job) and carried Jesus body away somewhere.
The Swoon theory which states Jesus did not die on the cross but lapsed into some kind of comatose state and later revived-John 19:31-35, “Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe.”
It was an Hallucination, right!
That the resurrection and even the death of Jesus was just a non-literal, Myth, I ask you,what person would endure torture, suffering, rejection, and death for a myth?
The resurrection is an integral part of the Christian faith and I contend you can’t call yourself a Christian if you do not believing in the biblical account of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!
Romans 10:9, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
I wholeheartedly believe in the miraculous birth, the life, the teachings, the betrayal, suffering of Jesus Christ. But if ended there, I would be most miserable for I have had dear friends and family that have passed on that If I didn’t believe in the resurrection I would just eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow I die. But I have the hope of seeing my dear friends and loved ones again because the resurrection is true and Jesus has put His Spirit in me so one day I also will be resurrected!
When you are told that you have to do something, what is your usual reaction?
If you’re like me, it’s usual a little like, what? You can’t tell me what to do! Have you ever dealt with a toddler in trying to prevent them doing something? Even if you are protecting them from harm, they will give you a stern look and do what you demanded them not too!
Matthew 28:19, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” I’ve heard from some that this is a commandment that every Christian should make themselves do. Well with our nature of rebellion I think many of us refuse to follow and snub the thought as well. I mean, we would love to see others coming to the Lord but if you saying I have to give of my own precious time, I’m not doing it!
I want to change this to something we have to do to something we get to do. After all, if you had an encounter with Jesus Christ how could you be quiet. Let’s look at Mark 1:40-45, “And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed. And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away; And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.” And Matthew 9:27-30, “And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us. And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it. But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country.”
In both instances after receiving their miracle they were told to not spread the news, but really? How can you not share what God has done for you, if you received a miracle, wouldn’t you tell everyone that you met, I surely would! Jesus Christ has done so much in my life in just dying for my sins that I also can’t be quiet, not because I have to share Jesus with others, it is that I get too. It’s all about Him for without Jesus sacrifice I would still be destined for a horrible eternal life without Him.
So, what is the best way to share the gospel? with humility and maybe even a tear in your eye. Matthew West in his song, “Nobody” says this, “Cause I’m just a nobody, trying to tell everybody, all about Somebody, Who saved my soul” Pride will get in the way of your testimony so don’t let it!
This Christmas season is a great time to share the love of Jesus to our world for like that first Christmas when the angels appeared to the shepherds in the fields, Luke 2:15-17, “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.”
It’s not about having to tell others of Jesus Christ but it’s the privilege of telling others!
In 1995, I had a dream and though I can no longer remember the specifics but I do recall the scripture that I was led to as it’s interpretation, Luke 17:7-10, “But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”
1 Corinthians 9:16-18, “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.” In 2017 it was said that an average of 1500 ministers left the ministry every month. Some obviously retired but many others just came to the conclusion it wasn’t worth it, it was too much work, to little reward. They didn’t do it for just the obedience to the calling but looked at as a job. Matthew 6:1-6, “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” If they did it to be seen of man, they indeed have their reward!
We should never do anything for the kingdom in order to receive any reward in this world. I do believe that recognition for a job well done is something that needs to be done when warranted but it’s not the goal in our lives. After all we have a great reward to come. Eternal life with Jesus Christ is my goal and it is what I’m running for!
We are living in such a reward desiring generation and you have participation trophies given for just showing up. This has been an issue in our churches as well, as everyone wants to have equal voice, equal involvement, and equal recognition even when they just show up. 1 Corinthians 9:24, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.”
You want a great reward? Then do this, Luke 6:35-36, “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.”
Let’s work for our Lord out of love not worldly gain!
Matthew 16:13-19, “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
When you hear the word Rock, what do you think of?
Verse 18 from the amplified says this, “And I tell you, you are Peter [Greek, Petros–a large piece of rock], and on this rock [Greek, petra–a huge rock like Gibraltar] I will build My church, and the gates of Hades (the powers of the infernal region) shall not overpower it [or be strong to its detriment or hold out against it].”
What in your mind is the most firm, unmovable, undisputable doctrine in the word of God? 1Timothy 3:16, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”
The Revelation of who Jesus is, “God in Flesh!” This doctrine is what separates the nominal church from the church built upon the rock!
So how is this associated with the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven?
Once we understand who Jesus is, we can bind evil Acts 16:18, “And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.” What Name?
Is it enough to use the name of Jesus? Acts 19:13-16, “Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.”
It was clear form the beginning of Jesus ministry that he offended the religious of the day and was accused of using the power of the devil to cast out devils…
Matthew 12:28-30, “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”
After we bind evil, we have power to let loose the power of God which leads to deliverance from sin, Roman 6:22-23, “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The keys we have been given are powerful, but without the knowledge of who Jesus is, they don’t have the eternal effect for it is not built upon the Rock!
John 14:8-14, “Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”
We often say when we meet others of different religious beliefs that there is no denying who Jesus Christ is, right! Then why do they fall on men’s traditions in baptizing in the titles “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?” The earliest reliable source of using the Father, Son, and Holy ghost is in the second century; so did they suddenly become smarter that the original Apostles?
Did they get a better understanding of scripture?
Joseph had many ups and downs in his journey with Lord, some of his ups include receiving the coat of many colors from his father, becoming the head man at Potiphar’s house, and becoming second in command to all of Egypt in the Pharaoh’s kingdom! Some of his downs would be his brothers attempt to kill him, then selling him to the Ishmaelites, being accused of sexual assault by Potiphar’s wife then ending up in prison, and then being stuck in prison for two years. The one thing is that he never waivered for his love of God and rising above the fray.
When Jacob finally died, his brothers become fearful, Genesis 50:15-20, “And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”What a profound statement of faith and love!
We are all well aware that Satan hates us and seeks our destruction by whatever means he can. When sickness, death, suffering are piled on us as result of sin coming into our world we sometimes want to strike out and blame God. But we know He is not the source of evil and if we can real trust in the love of Jesus Christ we will see Romans 8:28 fulfilled, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
I will share for a moment on how I see this being fulfilled in my life. In the last year I have experienced a little more suffering than I would like to, my good friend died last October 20th, then a week later on October 28th my oldest son died as well. In the time between then and now my youngest daughter was diagnosed again with cancer and even though I believe she will be ultimately be healed it was a tough pill to swallow. Though I had experienced an occasional meltdown my faith in Jesus Christ is stronger than ever. This then leads to how God is turning it into a good thing!
A couple months ago our church as well I’m sure many churches received a letter talking about the local Sheriffs Dept. desire to start a Chaplain program for it’s officers. As I sat in the training class recently where the discussion was more about death and death notifications I thought to myself, “Why am I here?” The Spirit of God living in me brought me to the scripture from Romans 8:28 and I realized that those things that happened to me were meant to destroy me. But I would never of pursued this new chapter without it! God changed what was meant for evil to something good to His glory!
If you are going through a tough period, keep on loving God, trust Him and somehow, sometime, Jesus will turn it into something good!
Eschatology, The study of “Endtimes” is one of my favorite subjects of the bible. With that I firmly believe we are living in the greatest decade ever as we are seeing Bible prophecy being fulfilled before our very eyes!
Matthew 24:3, “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” The rest of chapter 24 and 25 Jesus then gives answers to this question, such as vs. 6, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” We see what’s happening in Syria or the joint war games by Russia and China and we can see that this is true, how about vs. 11, “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” I don’t know about you but I can’t watch or listen to those who sell books, tapes, or anything promoting certain events such as the many “Blood Moons” and try to equate that to being the start of the tribulation period. The ultimate sign is found in Matthew 24:32-34, “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” We know this happened May 14th, 1948 when Israel became a nation once again, so without a doubt we are living in the last generation. Interestingly the verse that follows says this, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” So we can’t proclaim a day, but we I believe proclaim a season and the season is here!
Revelation is one of my favorite books and chapter 13:16-18, talks of the “Mark of the Beast”, “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” Three Square Market, a company in Wisconsin has recently offered implants for its employees, at first for fun, but also convenience. I encourage you to look a the video found on YouTube with an interview with the CEO by NBC. No, I can’t be certain that this is the final product that fulfills this prophecy but I do believe this is a step to make us comfortable with this type of technology.
There is a wonderful day coming, Revelations 21:4, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” And Jesus tells us this in Revelation 22:20, “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
The Joy of the Lord is my strength is a verse that has been quoted I don’t know how many times in cards, songs, in paintings, pictures and so on.
But do you know where it comes from in the bible? Psalms for sure, right? maybe Proverbs after all the smartest man that ever was outside of Christ would know of Gods joy!
After the captivity of Israel, the temple, wall, had come under disrepair and under prophets like Zechariah, Haggai and others the temple was rebuilt.
Nehemiah who was the Kings cupbearer after hearing of the condition of the wall around Jerusalem sought to do something about it. After finishing it the wall despite great opposition they had a dedication, 8:1, “And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel.” 5-8, “And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” The reaction of the people must of took Ezra and Nehemiah off guard a bit, 9-10, “And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Interesting wording isn’t it, “The Joy of the Lord” the bible tells us that what happens when one sinner repents? Luke 15:7, “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”
John 15:10-11, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” His Joy!
Joy is a powerful feeling, to those here who have experienced the birth of a child, there is much Joy.
Have you ever been around someone when they have repented of their sins, got Baptized in Jesus name and then became filled with the Holy Ghost? The excitement is indescribable!
But Joy is something pretty hard to have when you are in a trial, witnessing suffering in those around or in you. 1 Peter 1:7-9, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”
Even in struggles if you can someone just begin, somehow force yourself to start to praise God the Joy of the Lord will strengthen you.
The Joy of the Lord is your strength…
It is Joy unspeakable and full of glory…
In 1968 Coca Cola came up with a campaign called “It’s the real thing”. Out of it in 1971 came the jingle, I like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.” The camera pulls up to an aerial view, revealing 200 singers aligned on a green hillside like an open fan, a youth chorus of the world.
“It’s the real thing—Coke is,” they sing in unison, “what the world wants today.”
It was a very successful ad campaign, but then fast forward to April 23, 1985, when Coca-Cola Company announced a change to its nearly century-old secret formula. The new Coke would have a smoother, sweeter taste — similar to Diet Coke, but sweetened with corn syrup. Market researchers and pollsters were sure it’d be a hit. Coca-Cola was number one at the time, but Pepsi was gaining ground and cutting into Coke’s precious market share. It was a bomb, by July 11 Coca-Cola held a press conference to officially announce the return of the old Coke – and to admit it had made a mistake.
Fast forward to today and what is probably the most common phrase we hear concerning our News? Fake News! It’s hard for us even to believe something even when it is the “Real Thing” isn’t it? I mentioned it before that some that study Christianity claim there is over 35,000 different denominations of Christianity that come from this one book!
35,000 different ways to get to Jesus? Matthew 7:13, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Clearly there is only ONE WAY!
How can that be and how would you even try to find the real one?
1 Timothy 4:1-3, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hathcreated to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”
2 Timothy 4:3-5, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”
I grew up on the original Mountain Dew, but like so many soda manufacturers they switched from sugar to corn syrup and I couldn’t stand it, they came out with Throwback in 2011 to my great joy. But if you ask those that grew up with the Mountain Dew made with corn syrup, they don’t like the Throwback, why? Because they are crazy, no (maybe), their taste buds are used to the modern version without sugar. The problem is that many have grown up with not the real thing and sometimes when the Real thing is shown to us we reject it because it doesn’t taste like what we are used to.
There is Only way to Jesus Christ the Real Thing! John 14:4-6, “And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
So how do you find this Jesus? Matthew 7:7-11, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” Proverbs 8:17, “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.” Jeremiah 29:13, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”
Don’t be satisfied with imitation Christianity, seek Jesus Christ the REAL Thing!