Taking the time to Chew…

Wednesday, January 17, 2018.

When is the last time I took the time to chew? When is the last time I enjoyed savoring every morsel? In the face of busyness (YES, BUSYness), have I simply learned to chew as quickly as possible? Or, have I even just by-passed this process altogether ? Have I learned to control my gag-reflex and to simply open wide, swallow and get on with other things? When is the last time I took TIME to CHEW… especially in regard to the Bread that sustains me: God’s Word, “every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (Deut. 3:8; Matt. 4:4, NIV)? Continue reading Taking the time to Chew…

The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus

The Gospel of Jesus is at times rejected because it is scandalous… it IS scandalous!
Think about it. The Gospel of Jesus declares that people are NOT saved by their good deeds. The Gospel of Jesus declares that the people who ARE saved are NOT good people! The Gospel of Jesus declares that HORRIBLE, SINFUL, WICKED, NO-GOOD people CAN BE and ARE saved by simply receiving God’s gift of salvation on His terms (NOT ours). This IS scandalous. Especially when we look at what God’s terms for salvation are.
In order for me to be saved, God DEMANDS these things from me (Yes, like all plea-bargains, there are conditions to receiving God’s pardon in Jesus!):
1) Recognizing I am a sinner. If I am to experience God’s pardon in Jesus, I must recognize that I am not good in and of myself, that I am deserving of God’s judgment. Righteous people do not need a savior, sinners do (see Matthew 9:13; Luke 19:10). The problem is that without Jesus WE ALL are sinners (see Mark 10:18; Psalm 14:1-3; Romans 3:9-20, 23)!
2) Turning away from my sin (which is likely something I enjoy – why else would I do it? – and perhaps I even find my identity in it). If I am to experience God’s pardon in Jesus, I must repent, I must turn away from my sin and turn toward the God who loves me enough to die for me – even when I wanted nothing to do with Him (see Romans 5:8). Only those who repent and confess of their wrongs receive forgiveness. Should I justify or excuse my wrongdoings, there is no pardon, no forgiveness (see 1 John 1:8-10)!
3) Trusting and loving Jesus AND willingly obeying Him BECAUSE of that love! If I am to receive God’s pardon in Jesus, I must trust and love Jesus. If I trust and love Jesus not only will I receive His promise of pardon, but I will also begin to willingly obey Him (see John 14:15, 21-24). If I refuse to lovingly obey Jesus, how can He be my Lord (see Luke 6:46)? Though the Lord paid the price for my sinfulness and willingly extends to me a pardon on His terms, it is TRUE that wicked people will NOT be in heaven! I cannot continue to live doing things that should not be done to you, or to God, or to anyone else and still enter the gates of heaven as if my wrongdoing has no consequence! The Bible warns us of deceiving ourselves by thinking such things (see Matthew 7:21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 6:7-10; 1 John 2:3-6, 3:7-10; etc.).
These are God’s terms and conditions for me and you and anyone else to receive the greatest pardon of all: forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God because of Jesus! These are His terms and these terms ARE scandalous. Why? Because God’s terms allow ALL people an equal opportunity to be forgiven and experience eternal life. Both those whom WE would call “good” (like Mother Teresa, or the person whom we love and delight in) and those whom WE would call “evil” (like Hitler, Stalin, or child rapists and mass murderers) are given an equal opportunity to be forgiven and live. This is scandalous! Of course, as mentioned above, this equal opportunity will only be experienced IF they would accept the scandalous Gospel of Jesus on God’s terms. If not, though a legitimate pardon was extended to all freely, those who reject it remain guilty and will be judged by God for their sin (see John 3:16-18). Yes, this IS scandalous! But this IS the Gospel of Jesus!
The scandal of the Gospel of Jesus continues because it is true, sadly, that those who reject God’s terms and pardon in Jesus may very well be WAY, WAY, WAY better people than those who later repent of their wickedness and receive God’s pardon in Christ! This is scandalous! People may do MANY good things! Wonderful! But those things will not and cannot save them if they choose to reject God’s pardon on His terms, the pardon which was valid enough – executed and extended to us by the very blood of Jesus. Those who reject such a great salvation will be condemned – though this is the very thing the Lord does NOT desire (see Hebrews 2:1-4; Ezekiel 18:23, 31-32; 33:11; 2 Peter 3:9)! Even the best person amongst us has still fallen short of the perfect score required by God to enter eternal life (see Matthew 5:48; Romans 3:23, 6:23; Hebrews 12:14). Rejecting Jesus and His Gospel for us is rejecting the Living God Himself (see John 14:6; 1 John 2:23). I know this is scandalous… but it is the Gospel, the Good News for us all! The Good News for us all is that WE CAN BE SAVED BECAUSE OF THE SCANDALOUS GOSPEL OF JESUS!

Continue reading The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus

Not doing wrong when we are wronged; Putting on the Full Armor of God

It is so easy to give into the flesh and wrong those who have wronged us. But that is not what Christ has called us to. He has set us free from the lives we once lived, and has called us in holiness, to judge the matters of this life that those who are in the wrong may repent and those who have been wronged may respond in righteousness. Let us put on the full armor of God, not leaving it on the hanger in the closet, and engage in victorious spiritual warfare. God has supplied us with everything we need in Christ Jesus our Lord for victory.

Tossing and Turning Seas

The seas are turning…
There are so many disasters taking place throughout our nation and world, and we weep with those who find themselves weeping. We mourn with those who find themselves mourning (Romans 12:15).
Families and communities are facing situations that are life-changing…
Our prayers go to them, for we are told, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:13-16, NIV).
Many people are in need of compassion, in need of comfort…
Praise the Lord Jesus that God is “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5, NIV). Are you in need of compassion? Do you need comfort? Allow the Father of the Lord Jesus to be Who He is to you: the Father of all compassion and the God of all comfort. He does not refuse anyone who comes to Him through His Son.
Many people have their hearts troubled…
Praise the Lord that Jesus is ready to replace that trouble within with a peace that will not be taken away to all who trust and love Him. Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me…Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:1, 27, NIV).
Many people are asking why these things are taking place…
Our Lord Christ Jesus spoke of things to come prior to His return in order that we would not be caught off guard. Jesus said, “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:25-28, NIV).
The news does not need to bring terror or apprehension to us. Because of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done, WE can stand. We can lift up our heads in hopeful expectation knowing that our Redeemer is drawing near, faithful to bring His redemption with Him. Allow Christ Jesus to set you free from fear, and to experience joyful expectation as we long for and speed His coming.
Whether the news coverage is showing us birth pains, the foretold signs signaling Jesus’ return, or whether He is still to tarry in His patient desire that none would perish but all turn to Him in repentance and live (2 Peter 3:3-4, 8-9), either way God has given us TODAY as a gift… TODAY is the day of salvation!
For those of us who are in Christ, as you see these events, it is time to stand up, lift up your heads, do not be alarmed, the Redeemer shall come bringing His redemption with Him!
For those who are not yet in Christ, come to Him and allow Him to be your shield and refuge, hope and joy.
Are you weary? Do you long for true rest for your souls? Come to Jesus! He said, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, 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, NIV).
All who turn to God (repent), acknowledge and admit their wrongs and need of forgiveness (confess their sins), and place their active trust and love in the Lord Jesus (believe, have faith), will be saved (Mark 1:15; 1 John 1:9)!
My dear friends, Jesus bids you to come to Him. He has come first for you… He has already manifest His love for you by dying on the cross… He has removed the sting and fear of death through His resurrection… TODAY He calls all people everywhere to repent and believe in Jesus… He extends to you eternal life, life WITH Him here and now and then forever more… Won’t you come to Him? He will not turn you away.

“Why Should You Die?” A Deeper Look at Ezekiel 18:31-32

יחזקאל 18:31-32 (WLC):

הַשְׁלִ֣יכוּ מֵעֲלֵיכֶ֗ם אֶת־כָּל־פִּשְׁעֵיכֶם֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר פְּשַׁעְתֶּ֣ם בָּ֔ם וַעֲשׂ֥וּ לָכֶ֛ם לֵ֥ב חָדָ֖שׁ וְר֣וּחַ חֲדָשָׁ֑ה וְלָ֥מָּה תָמֻ֖תוּ בֵּ֥ית יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

כִּ֣י לֹ֤א אֶחְפֹּץ֙ בְּמ֣וֹת הַמֵּ֔ת נְאֻ֖ם אֲדֹנָ֣י יְהוִ֑ה וְהָשִׁ֖יבוּ וִֽחְיֽוּ׃ פ

Ezekiel 18:31-32

“Cast off from upon you all of your transgressions which you have committed! Then make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in anyone’s death!” says the Lord Yahweh. “Now repent so that you may live!”

 Biblical Context: Yahweh called and appointed Ezekiel as a prophet over the house of Israel after he had been carried off into exile. Much of Ezekiel’s ministry was warning God’s people of their sin and Yahweh’s coming judgment (i.e., the destruction of Jerusalem and exile) so that they could repent, turn from their sin to the Living God. Within Ezekiel 18, Yahweh addresses an Israelite proverb which accused Yahweh of injustice! The people declared they were being punished for their ancestors’ sin(s), not their own (v. 2)! Yahweh answered His people by saying that each individual is judged for their own sin or righteousness and He declared two truths: 1) The righteous shall live, but the sinner shall die (vv. 5-20); and 2) The sinner who repents of their sin shall live, but the righteous who repents of their righteousness shall die (vv. 21-29)! In light of these things, in Ezekiel 18:31-32, Yahweh commands His people Israel to act! Continue reading “Why Should You Die?” A Deeper Look at Ezekiel 18:31-32

Desire to HEAR God? P.S.O.A.P. may help!

There are so many times that I speak with people about hearing God. The good news for us is that we CAN actually HEAR from Him! Not only that, but we CAN actually engage in CONVERSATION with Him! Below is a devotional tool, P.S.O.A.P., which has been a help to me and to many others over the years to begin to engage in meaningful conversation with the Living God.


Question (Q): What is P.S.O.A.P.?

Answer (A): P.S.O.A.P. is a devotional tool that was developed by a man who served as an associate pastor for many years at New Life Church in order to help people engage in meaningful and transformational devotions with the Lord.

Christianity is not merely a religion but also a relationship with the Living God through faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is important that we individually and corporately learn how to engage and grow in our relationship with God! All relationships grow through time spent together and through conversation with one another. P.S.O.A.P. is a tool to help us grow in our relationship with God by spending time with Him through genuine conversation.

Q: Who should want to do P.S.O.A.P.? Continue reading Desire to HEAR God? P.S.O.A.P. may help!

Rejoice Exceedingly! A closer look at Zechariah 9:9

זכריה 9:9 (WLC):

גִּילִ֨י מְאֹ֜ד בַּת־צִיּ֗וֹן הָרִ֙יעִי֙ בַּ֣ת יְרוּשָׁלִַ֔ם הִנֵּ֤ה מַלְכֵּךְ֙ יָ֣בוֹא לָ֔ךְ צַדִּ֥יק וְנוֹשָׁ֖ע ה֑וּא עָנִי֙ וְרֹכֵ֣ב עַל־חֲמ֔וֹר וְעַל־עַ֖יִר בֶּן־אֲתֹנֽוֹת׃

 Zechariah 9:9

9 Rejoice exceedingly, O Daughter of Zion! Raise a shout, O Daughter of Jerusalem!

Behold! Your King shall come to you! Righteous and having salvation is He!

He is lowly and riding upon a donkey, upon a male donkey, a son of female donkeys.

 Biblical Context: The prophet Zechariah was a contemporary of the prophet Haggai (cf., Hag. 1:1; Zech. 1:1),  was among those who returned from the exile, and was instrumental in calling people to finish the rebuilding of the temple. Yahweh gave Zechariah an apocalyptic message to proclaim, a message which pointed toward the coming of the Messiah (Christ Jesus). Zechariah 9:9 is just one of those Messianic proclamations and is explicitly identified as such in the Gospels (cf., Matt. 21:1-5; Jn. 12:14-15). Within this verse we see an emphatic command to praise! Continue reading Rejoice Exceedingly! A closer look at Zechariah 9:9