The Noble Man

Sermon video

Before I begin, I want the ladies to know that while I’m referring to this person as the “noble man,” I really mean noble person,

Last week, my sermon and blog were on John 2, when Jesus turned the water into wine.  I mentioned that the wine in the Bible was nothing like the wine we have today.  You can read that here.

That was the first of seven miracles that John used to prove that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and by believing in Him you could have eternal life.

This is the second one.

John 4:46-54 (MEV)

46 So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick in Capernaum. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him, pleading that He would come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” 49 The nobleman said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go your way. Your son lives.” And the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. 51 While he was going down, his servants met him and told him, “Your son lives!” 52 When he inquired of them the hour when he began to heal, they answered, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 Then the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” So he and his whole household believed. 54 This was the second sign that Jesus did when He had come from Judea to Galilee.

The Noble Person

I have titled this “The Noble Man”.  The above scripture reads “nobleman.”  What does being a noble man (or woman) look like?  I’ve been thinking about it.  I want to encourage everyone to be a noble person.

What is a Noble Person?

Being noble means having a good reputation. The man in the verses was looked up to in society.  The Bible says that a good name is rather to be desired than great riches. (Proverbs 22:1)

Nobility makes me think of royalty.
Nobility makes me think of royalty.

Also when I think of nobility I think of royalty.  I think back to the fairy tales when the young lady desires her prince to come, marry her, and take her to a place of bliss.  

This particular noble man may have been related to Herrod.  Not the Herrod that was king when Jesus was born, but some descendant down the way.  He may have been related to him and that’s why he was a noble man.  In those cases, the babies were born into royalty.  

You also think of reputation when you think of nobility.

Nobility also has with it the idea of having high and lofty thoughts.  I think of William Carey who went to India.  He made the statement, “Expect great things for God.  Attempt great things for God.” 

While William Carey was in India, it wasn’t all sweetness and roses.  While there, his wife suffered some troubles.  In spite of that, and other difficulties, he was able to translate the Bible into the language of the people there.  Some people call him the father of modern missions.

I also think a noble person carries with him or her the idea of righteousness. Of course, it’s not perfect righteousness. 

The man in the scripture showed that he cared for his son.  He was a man who knew where to go to find answers for his son: He went to Jesus for the answer.

Jesus sort of rebuked him, and the crowd, when He said, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”  Jesus was happy to show the signs and wonders, but He didn’t want people relying on that.  

Think about Thomas, one of the apostles.  He missed “church” and didn’t see the risen Jesus the first time He appeared in front of the rest of them.  The rest of the apostles tried to tell him that Jesus had been there, but he refused to believe them.  He said, “Unless I see the nail prints in His hands, and put my finger in the nail prints, and put my hand in His side, I will not believe.” 

Thomas needed visual proof.
Thomas needed visual proof.

Eight days later, all the apostles, including Thomas, were together again and Jesus came.  Thomas didn’t have to put his finger in the nail prints to believe.  He looked at Jesus and said, “My Lord and my God.”  

Jesus said, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen, and have yet believed.” (John 20:25-29)

You go through life on a matter of faith.  Sometimes, you just have to believe.  Sometimes, God will do amazing and wonderful things. Sometimes it’s your faith that carries you through.

This nobleman was undeterred in his mission, though.  He had heard the statement Jesus had made.  But he told Jesus that his son was sick and pleaded with Him to go to the boy and heal him.  Jesus told him to go home, that his son was alive.  Then he believed and did as Jesus told him to do. 

He went home without Jesus accompanying him because it wasn’t necessary.  As he was traveling home, his servants came to meet him and told him, “Your son lives!”   He asked when he got better, and they told him the fever broke at the seventh hour, and the nobleman realized that was the exact time that Jesus had said, “Your son lives.”

Why Should We Aspire to be Noble People?  

When we think of righteousness, it is required, in a certain form, to enter into Heaven.  There is a barrier to getting into Heaven.  The barrier is that sin can not come in.  The problem is we have all sinned.  So righteousness is required to enter into Heaven.  It has to be 100% full and complete. 

We should aspire to figure out how to get this “credited to our account.”

Then we have the example of Jesus.  He was 12 years old and He and His parents had gone to the temple and they lost Him.  They went back and found Him in the temple, talking, asking and answering questions, and astounding everyone who heard Him. He went back with His parents and the Bible says He found favor with God and man.  (Luke 2:41-52)

His time for ministry was going to come later.  The opening chapters of the book of John show Him coming into that ministry. 

Half of the book of John goes through these seven miracles, but the second half goes through the last week of Jesus’ life; the crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  

One of the reasons to aspire to be a noble person is because you can find favor with others. You can find your relationships improved. If you are a noble worker, your employer will probably take notice of that.  If you’re a business person and you are a noble person, word of mouth will spread and people will come to you.  

How Do You Become A Noble Person?

Since we aren’t, we’ve all sinned and come short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23) is there any hope for us at all?  Of course there is!

When we think about nobility, we are a “Kingdom of Grace.”  When you accept Jesus as Savior, you are born into God’s family and become royalty.  You are joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.  All the inheritance of His Father is ours, too.   

The Kingdom of Grace is on earth.
The Kingdom of Grace is on earth.

If being born into the family is too difficult to comprehend, the Bible also says that He adopts us as sons and daughters. (Ephesians 1:5)

How Do You Get Adopted By God?

The Bible says that Jesus came to this earth in the flesh.  (John 1:1-5)  Whoever puts their trust in Him has the power and authority to become the sons of God. Come to Christ.  Believe, and by doing that you become a child of God.  

Isaiah says that our own works of righteousness are as filthy rags because of sin. (Isaiah 64:6)  But we come to Christ, realizing that we need a Savior, and we call on Him.  He comes into our hearts and we are born again, born into the family of God.  We become children of God and Jesus puts His robe of righteousness on us.  When that robe is put on us, the other robe disappears and we put on the righteousness of Christ. That’s how we’ll be able to enter into Heaven.

Bible study is critical.
Bible study is critical.

We need to study the Word.  One place where the word “noble” is mentioned in the Bible is in the book of Acts.  Paul was preaching at Thessalonica and they didn’t like his preaching.  They tried to kill him and they ran him out of town.  He went to a place called Berea and preached the Word of God to them.  The Bible says that these people were nobler than the Thessalonians because they searched the Word daily to see if what Paul was saying was true. (Acts 17:1-12)

We should study the Word.

Erma Bombeck is one of my favorite authors.  She once said,

“I received a letter from a single mother who had raised a son who was about to become a dad. Since he had no recollection of his own father, her question to me was “What do I tell him a father does?”
When my dad died in my ninth year, I, too, was raised by my mother, giving rise to the same question, “What do fathers do?” As far as I could observe, they brought around the car when it rained so everyone else could stay dry.  They always took the family pictures, which is why they were never in them. They carved turkeys on Thanksgiving, kept the car gassed up, weren’t afraid to go into the basement, mowed the lawn, and tightened the clothesline to keep it from sagging. It wasn’t until my husband and I had children that I was able to observe firsthand what a father contributed to a child’s life. What did he do to deserve his children’s respect? He rarely fed them, did anything about their sagging diapers, wiped their noses or fannies, played ball, or bonded with them under the hoods of their cars.
What did he do?
He threw them higher than his head until they were weak from laughter. He cast the deciding vote on the puppy debate. He listened more than he talked. He let them make mistakes. He allowed them to fall from their first two-wheeler without having a heart attack. He read a newspaper while they were trying to parallel park a car for the first time in preparation for their driving test.
If I had to tell someone’s son what a father really does that is important, it would be that he shows up for the job in good times and bad times. He’s a man who is constantly being observed by his children. They learn from him how to handle adversity, anger, disappointment, and success.
He won’t laugh at their dreams no matter how impossible they might seem. He will dig out at 1 a.m. when one of his children runs out of gas. He will make unpopular decisions and stand by them. When he is wrong and makes a mistake, he will admit it. He sets the tone for how family members treat one another, members of the opposite sex, and people who are different than they are. By example, he can instill a desire to give something back to the community when its needs are greater than theirs.
A father has the potential to be a powerful force in the life of a child. Grab it! Maybe you’ll get a greeting card for your efforts. Maybe not. But it’s steady work.”

Fathers, I encourage you to be noble men.  Mothers, I encourage you to be noble ladies,  We can’t do it on our own, but aren’t you glad that you can come to Christ and you can be born again and you can receive the righteousness of Christ.  It’s put into your account. You’re born into a royal family.  You become a noble person.  If you’re a Christian, you’re a noble person. 

The word “Christian” means to be like Christ.  We sometimes have a little bit of a problem trying to live up to that.  But I want you to understand that if you’re a Christian, you’re in a royal family, and you ought to live like it. 

Being a noble person requires prayer.
Being a noble person requires prayer.

You can be a noble person.  Do your best and commit the rest to God. The more you do that more you’ll realize that it’s not your best that does it, it’s when God takes over. 

You can be a noble person.

The First Miracle

The First Miracle

John 2:1-12

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. The mother of Jesus was there. 2 Both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” 4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” 6 Six water pots made of stone were sitting there, used for ceremonial cleansing by the Jews, containing twenty to thirty gallons[a] each. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the water pots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 Then He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water that had been turned into wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who drew the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 and he said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and after men have drunk freely, then the poor wine is served. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of His signs, Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and He revealed His glory, and His disciples believed in Him. 12 After this He, and His mother, and His brothers, and His disciples went down to Capernaum. They remained there a few days.

Sermon Video

The Great I AM

This passage in the Gospel of John is the first of seven miracles that Jesus performed that help us know that we have eternal life.  

It’s also organized around 7 statements, called the “I AM” statements.  When God told Moses to go get the children of Israel from Egypt, Moses asked God, “Who should I say sent me?”  God responded, “Tell them ‘I AM’ has sent you.”  So we know God as being the Great “I AM.”

God told Moses He was "I AM"
God told Moses He was “I AM”

In the Gospel of John, there are seven times when Jesus says, “I am…” and concludes with seven different things. This is the first of the seven miracles that are mentioned there.  

The Event

It was a wedding.  Weddings then weren’t like weddings today.  They were very long, drawn-out events. It all started with a betrothal.  That lasted for a year. During that time, the groom went and prepared the home for his new wife. 

Weddings in Jesus' time were much different than they are today.
Weddings in Jesus’ time were much different than they are today.

Then on the day of the wedding, he would go get the bride.  A group went with him.  There was a procession as the bride was brought to the wedding.

Then there was a feast.  If the family could afford it, they would have a master of the feast.  

I know this one was a big wedding based on the number of water jugs that Jesus had the servants fill.  It was between 120-180 gallons.  

So, the bride and groom had a problem. They were out of wine.  Mary said, “If you have a problem, go to Jesus.”  Good advice.

At the time of this miracle, Jesus’ ministry had not yet come to its fullness.  At first, only the servants knew about the miracle.  The celebration continued and none of these events took away from the couple’s time together. 

Of course, the servants didn’t keep it quiet for long.  Maybe some of the disciples were watching, or maybe Mary was.  I don’t know who was looking on, but many people knew that this miracle had taken place, and word got out.

So as Jesus got ready to come into His ministry, there was already a foreshadowing of the miracles to come.  

The Substance

There has been much debate over the “wine” mentioned here.  Even the Old Testament sometimes mentions wine as an intoxicating beverage. Noah drank some and became drunk. (Genesis 9:21)

But I want to make clear that the wine here is not like we think of wine today. The word wine in the Bible is the word “winos” which means fruit of the vine.  Modern-day wine comes from distilleries. Those did not even exist at the time this wedding took place.  When they distill the wine, it becomes more concentrated and the alcohol content is much higher.  The wine at this event was not like that. 

Fruit of the vine did mean the “wine” they had then, but it can also be grape juice.  Many churches, including mine, use grape juice for the Lord’s Supper.  

It wasn't wine like we think of it today.
It wasn’t wine like we think of it today.

Paul told Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach. (1 Timothy 5:23)  This was not so he would become intoxicated, but for medicinal reasons.  A little wine for health reasons is OK.  I know of a lady who was a strong Christian.  Her doctor advised her to drink a small amount of wine daily to help with her blood pressure.  She did do that.  Again, that was fine.

Some churches I’ve attended have their covenant hanging on the wall.  These covenants often include a phrase like, “refrain from the sale and use of alcohol as a beverage.” That’s probably the position of many churches, whether they have that hanging on the wall or not.  

We’re told to be filled with the Spirit and not drunk with wine.  (Ephesians 5:18)  Those who are drunk with wine act differently than they would otherwise.  When we are filled with the Spirit we act differently than we would otherwise.  We ought to be bolder. 

It’s possible that in Biblical days, they had issues with the purity of the water.  Mexico is a good modern-day example.  When you visit there, you’re told not to even brush your teeth with the tap water, but to use bottled water instead.  Many countries have this problem.

In Biblical times, they had a process where they would take an amount of wine, and 5 equal amounts of water and mix it with the wine.  You can see how that would help avoid drunkenness by diluting the wine and the alcohol content. 

It’s possible that any of these drinks were what they had at the wedding.  I just want to be sure you understand that the word “wine” has a much broader meaning than what we think.

Whatever it was, they had wine and then ran out.  Then they filled the water jugs to the brim and Jesus caused it to become the wine, and it was the best.  The master of the feast said it was the best.

The Reason

Why did this miracle take place?  The New Testament is not the only place where miracles appear in the Bible.  

Mary knew who Jesus was.  She knew that he was the Son of God.  She knew that He could take care of this problem.  

There are seven miracles recorded in the Gospel of John.

Why?

To show that Jesus was more than just a man who was considered to be a great teacher.  He was a man who went about doing good.  But He was more than that.

He was the Divine Son of God.  The Bible says that He was God in the flesh.  He was God and He was with God.  That’s beyond our human comprehension, but I believe it as fact. 

Jesus was fully God but also fully human.  He got tired.  He had flesh.  When he was whipped by the Romans, His flesh was torn from His body so that He barely looked human.  He experienced physical suffering. He even knew what it was like to die.  He also rose from the grave.  

Many miracles are recorded in the Bible.
Many miracles are recorded in the Bible.

These miracles show who He was.  

After Jesus ascended into Heaven, there were more miracles.  Peter, John, and Paul all witnessed miracles.

Why were they so prevalent then?  First, it was to show that Jesus was truly God.  Second, it was to show that the disciples, who would write down the words that became the New Testament, were genuine Gospel writers, and that the writing was coming from God.   Once God decided everything He wanted to be recorded was written down, there was no need for the abundance of miracles.

That doesn’t mean that there are no miracles anymore.  The miracles in the Bible are there to show us that He’s a miracle-working God.  

We aren’t Gospel writers and we aren’t God in the flesh, but we are people who can pray. We can pray and God will come and answer prayers.  

At the end of His earthly life, He was put in the grave, but the grave could not hold Him.  That gives us hope. Some of us have faced death.  We’ve been in car wrecks and survived, or had a serious illness.  But there was a peace from God that passes all understanding.  For those of us who are Christians, that’s so encouraging.  If you’re a child of God, Heaven is what awaits you.

There is a story about an old evangelist named John Rice. A man pulled out a pistol, pointed it at the preacher, and said, “I’m going to blow your brains out.”  His reply was, “Son, you can’t scare me with Heaven,” 

Heaven is for real!
Heaven is for real!

Some people say that we talk about Heaven so much that we’re no earthly good.  I say that we talk about Heaven so much that we ARE earthly good.  We talk about Heaven so much that we know we have a miracle-working God, we can pray and sometimes see unusual miracles take place. We know that the grace of God is sufficient for us and that even if we don’t get the answer we want when we want it, Heaven is for real.  We know that when this life is over, we’ll go into eternity and this will just be like a drop in the bucket.  

If you don’t know Jesus, you ought to.  You can call upon Him today.  I can help you find the way.  Contact me here and I’ll be happy to talk to you about your relationship with Christ.

Serving God Under Difficult Leaders

Serving God in DIfficult Times

Have you ever wondered how to serve the Lord when you have someone over you who’s not a committed Christian?

Sermon Video

Maybe it’s a college professor trying to challenge your faith.
It could be in grade school or high school with difficult teachers.
Perhaps you have a difficult boss at your job.
Maybe your company is going to be taken over by another company, and it has a bad reputation.  You may worry about restructuring and new management.  

We don’t know how all these events will turn out.  What we do know is that no matter where we are or what circumstances we find ourselves in, we are to serve God to the best of our ability. 

In Jeremiah chapter 27, Jeremiah had the difficult task of telling the kings that they were going to come under the rule of another nation.  

Jeremiah 27 (MEV)

 In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 Thus says the Lord to me: Make bonds and yokes and put them on your neck, 3 and send them to the king of Edom, and to the king of Moab, and to the king of the Ammonites, and to the king of Tyre, and to the king of Sidon, by the hand of the messengers who come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah. 4 And command them to go to their masters, saying: Thus says the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel: Thus you shall say to your masters: 5 I have made the earth, the men, and the beasts which are on the ground by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and have given it to whom it seemed good to Me. 6 Now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant. And also I have given to him the beasts of the field to serve him. 7 All nations shall serve him and his son and his son’s son until the time of his own land comes; and then many nations and great kings will make him their servant. 8 It shall come to pass that I will punish the nation and kingdom which will not serve Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, says the Lord. I will punish that nation with the sword, and with famine, and with pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand. 9 Therefore do not listen to your prophets, or to your diviners, or to your dreamers, or to your enchanters, or to your sorcerers who speak to you, saying, “You shall not serve the king of Babylon.” 10 For they prophesy a lie to you in order to remove you far from your land. And I will drive you out, and you shall perish. 11 But the nations that bring their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him, those I will let remain still in their own land, says the Lord, and they shall till it and dwell in it. 12 I spoke also to Zedekiah king of Judah according to all these words, saying: Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him and his people, and live. 13 Why will you die, you and your people, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, as the Lord has spoken against the nation that will not serve the king of Babylon? 14 Therefore do not listen to the words of the prophets who speak to you, saying, “You will not serve the king of Babylon,” because they prophesy a lie to you. 15 For I have not sent them, says the Lord, yet they prophesy a lie in My name, so that I might drive you out and that you might perish, you and the prophets that prophesy to you. 16 I also spoke to the priests and to all this people: Thus says the Lord: Do not listen to the words of your prophets that prophesy to you, saying, “The vessels of the house of the Lord will now soon be brought again from Babylon.” For they prophesy a lie to you. 17 Do not listen to them; serve the king of Babylon, and live. Why should this city be laid waste? 18 But if they are prophets, and if the word of the Lord is with them, let them now make intercession to the Lord of Hosts, that the vessels which are left in the house of the Lord and in the house of the king of Judah and in Jerusalem not go to Babylon. 19 For thus says the Lord of Hosts concerning the pillars, and concerning the sea, and concerning the bases, and concerning the rest of the vessels that remain in this city, 20 which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon did not take when he carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah from Jerusalem to Babylon, and all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem. 21 Indeed, thus says the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, concerning the vessels that remain in the house of the Lord and in the house of the king of Judah and in Jerusalem: 22 They will be carried to Babylon and they will be there until the day that I visit them, says the Lord. Then I will bring them up and restore them to this place.

Jeremiah was a prophet in the Old Testament.
Jeremiah was a prophet in the Old Testament.

The Prophesy

Jeremiah prophesied judgment on God’s people who had been disobedient.  It had already happened to the northern kingdom.  

He told the kings that the world was going to come under the rule of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.  He advised them to cooperate and live.  He told them not to listen to the lying prophets, and that even the vessels of the temple that hadn’t been carried away before would be taken away.  They were going to stay until the Lord delivered them.  It turned out to be a period of 70 years, so there were going to be 2 generations who lived most of their lives under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar.  

Timing is Important

Now, before I get into the “meat” of this, let me say that there are times to fight and times to stand.  Not always do you acquiesce to those that are coming against you. You need to know when God is telling you to act.  Fight when it’s time to fight and resist when it’s time to resist.

When the Roman soldiers captured Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, He allowed it to happen.  But another time they came for Him, He walked into the crowd and just disappeared. (Luke 4:30)  All of the apostles were imprisoned for taking a stand for their faith, but there were times when they didn’t allow themselves to be captured.  Acts 9 tells of Paul being lowered over the city gates in a basket to escape capture.  

I’m talking here about when God tells you to give in.

As we look at Jeremiah’s message to the kings, let’s think about three considerations that may be applied to us today.

God’s Judgment

Time and time again, God’s people had been warned that they needed to repent,   They had been turning from the Living God to idols.  They were disobeying God.

Life is sacred.
Life is sacred.

The United States has been warned time and time again.  The U.S. has turned away from God many times.  For example, over 63 million innocent lives have been lost to abortion since 1973.  There are consequences for sin. 

I believe that we are under judgment already.  Empty store shelves are similar to a famine.  The recent outbreaks of disease can be compared to pestilence. There are consequences for sin. Just because we are in the United States of America, it doesn’t mean we’re immune from those things. 

But we also need to realize that the bondage is not always of our own making.  There were people who were faithful to God in Jeremiah’s time; not everybody had turned away from the Lord. There were those who wanted to serve Him.  However, they were still going to be facing the same consequences as everyone else. Not all bondage is of your personal doing, but we all have to suffer the consequences of national sin.  

In years past, we had the national sin of slavery and racism, and we’re still making up for it. 

In Jeremiah’s day, there was no United States.  There was no nation that had the type of freedom that we have.  The nation of Israel wanted a king.  God gave them what they wanted, but had a warning.  He told them that the kings would take their livestock, much of their goods, and a lot of their riches.  Sometimes they had a good king, but sometimes the king was wicked.  

My point is life under Nebuchadnezzar may not have been any worse than under a local rule that was wicked.

They were there because of the judgment for their past sins.  Now God was telling them He was going to add to that.  

Serving God in Difficult Times

You can serve God in captivity.  You can serve God when you’re under foreign rule. 

There’s an example of that in the Bible. Joseph, in the Old Testament, was very loved by his father.(Genesis 37-50)  His father gave him a special coat of many colors.  That caused jealousy among his brothers.  One time when they were out tending the flocks, the brothers conspired to capture Joseph.  They took him and put him in a pit. Then they took his coat, tore it, and put animal blood on it,  They took the coat to their father and made it appear that Joseph was dead.  

When the brothers returned to the pit, rather than kill him, they decided to sell him to a group of Midianites that was passing by.  They then sold Joseph to a high-ranking official in Egypt named Potiphar.

Joseph was betrayed by his brothers.
Joseph was betrayed by his brothers.

Joseph had been betrayed by his brothers, taken from his homeland, and sold into slavery.  He did the best he could in those circumstances.  Over time, he was given positions of responsibility.  The slave became like a chief administrator over Potiphar’s house.  

Then, Potiphar’s wife attempted to seduce Joseph.  When he refused her advances, she became angry and falsely accused him of assault.  

Faithful Through the Trials

The roller coaster of Joseph’s life continued.  After the accusation, he was thrown into prison.  But he was a cooperative prisoner and became a trustee of sorts.  He organized the other prisoners and together they cleaned up the prison.  

Before long, Joseph became high in authority in the prison.  

Then, a couple of Pharoah’s officials were put into prison.  While there, they had some dreams and Joseph told them what the dreams meant. He said one would be released and the other executed.  It happened just the way Joseph said it would.

The one who had been released forgot all about Joseph…until the Pharaoh had a dream that nobody could explain.  When he heard about the dream, he remembered Joseph and said he was in touch with God and could interpret dreams.  

Pharaoh sent for Joseph and God revealed to him what the dream was and its meaning.  Joseph told the king that famine was coming and that he should build storehouses during the plentiful years so there would be food when the famine came.

The king was so impressed that he put Joseph in charge of storing up the grain for the coming famine.  The man who was once a prisoner was now in a place of high authority in Egypt. 

Even in captivity, you can serve the Lord.  

Shadrach, Mesach, and Abednego

Think of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. (Daniel 3:16-28)  The king had erected a statue of a false god and ordered everyone to bow whenever they heard the music.  The king commanded that anyone who would not worship be thrown into the fiery furnace.  

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would not do it.  Their refusal was reported to the king.  The king had a dilemma because during their captivity, the three had found favor with him.  He didn’t want to execute them.  

The king confronted them and asked again if they would bow.  They all said no.  The king asked if their God was able to deliver them.  They said they knew He was able, but even if He chose not to, they still wouldn’t worship the false god.  

So, the three were thrown into the furnace.  When someone looked inside, they did not see three people…but four!  The Son of God was in that furnace with them.  They were delivered.  

Even when faced with execution, they were faithful to God.
Even when faced with execution, they were faithful to God.

During Daniel’s captivity, the king decreed that no one was allowed to pray for a period of time.  Daniel defied the order and prayed three times a day, as he always had.  He was thrown into a den of hungry lions.  The lions’ mouths were shut and Daniel was delivered.  (Daniel 6)

Naaman

In 2 Kings 5, we find the story of Naaman. He was a great warrior, but he had leprosy.  A slave girl who was serving his wife talked about the prophet Elisha in her homeland.  Naaman trekked to Jerusalem for healing.  Elisha didn’t even come out to greet him.  He sent word that Naaman should go wash in the Jordan River 7 times.  He was healed.

You can serve the Lord in captivity.  You can serve the Lord when things aren’t going well. You can serve the Lord if your government becomes corrupt.  

We still have a responsibility to serve God to the best of our ability.  We still have a responsibility to do that which is right and to be honest.  

Our treasures are not on earth.
Our treasures are not on earth.

Do things for God, and your treasures will be laid up in heaven.  We need to make sure that our friends and family have the promise of heaven, regardless of what the future holds.  Remember, we’re just passing through.

What to Do When Life Gets Hard

What To Do When Life Gets Hard

The year was 1635.  John Elliott had just finished a long day riding his horse in the rain.  Just as he had the past few days, he removed his boots and socks. He wrung the water out of his socks only to put them back on again.  He was concerned about his health after the trip. But he had a mission.

John Elliott
John Elliott

John Elliott was born in England in 1604. Like many others, he had attended Cambridge University.  

He came to America and after a couple of years, was sent to Boston, Massachusetts, which, at the time, was a rural and wooded town.  He became the pastor of Roxbury Church. 

Why America?

Why did people come to America?  It certainly wasn’t for an easy life.  Many had to learn how to farm, something they had never done before. Indians taught them how to farm.  

Some new settlers came seeking gold.  We’re told that’s why the Spaniards came. But the ones that came from England were escaping religious persecution.  They wanted to worship God in the way they felt they should according to their hearts.

Many that came over were already pastors.  John Elliott was one of them. 

A New Mission Field

He had a heart for the Native Americans.  He wanted to share the Gospel with them.  There was a problem, though: they didn’t speak the same language.  So John decided to learn their language.  He discovered what a difficult task it was going to be when he learned that a two-syllable phrase in English translated to a 12-syllable phrase in the Wampanoag (the local Indian’s) language.  He began learning the language, but also had an interpreter who knew enough English so they could converse back and forth.  

The apostle to the Native Americans
The apostle to the Native Americans

There were a few stumbling blocks in the process of sharing the Gospel because the two had to sometimes clarify what the other was trying to say.  But they eventually got the message out.  

They began telling them that all people had sinned and come short of the glory of God. That Jesus Christ had come to this Earth as the Son of God, He lived a sinless life and died on the cross to pay the penalty for sin.  Then He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 

John went on to tell them that Jesus was coming again and it will be as a Judge.  But the ones who accept Him as Savior will escape the judgment.

That is the message he presented to his neighbors.  They were open and many of them wanted to receive Jesus as Savior.

In fact, there were so many that they decided to start their own village.  They called them Gospel Towns.  

In Europe, he was known as the man who printed the first complete Bible in the United States.  It was a Bible written in the language of the American Indians he was ministering to.  

He had preached to so many Native Americans (Algonquins) who then began preaching to their tribes themselves that he wound up with 24 villages.  They weren’t small, either.  The villages had populations of 2,50 – 4,000.  

Endure Hardness

John Elliott was traveling to these various towns when the relentless rain hit and he had to wring his socks out each night.  He may have gotten some shelter in a tent for a time, but again and again, went back out into the weather.  He wondered if he’d develop pneumonia or something worse and wind up dying from it.  While having these thoughts, he was reminded of the verse 2 Timothy 2:3 which says, “ Endure hard times as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

It had been raining for days.
It had been raining for days.

What do you do when hard times come?  There’s your answer.  Endure hardness.

That’s what many of the people who came to America decided to do in those early days.  

There’s a book by Robert J. Morgan called “100 Verses That Made America: Defining Moments That Shaped Our Faith.”  I’ve gotten several stories from it, including the one here.  I would recommend you take a look.  

John Elliott said that when things got hard, Jesus stepped in and brought to his mind the verse in 2 Timothy: “Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

Why Endure Hardness?

Why should we endure hardness?  Because hardness is going to come.  The Bible says it rains on the just and the unjust alike.  (Matthew 5:45)  Sometimes it doesn’t rain enough, sometimes it rains too much.  It’s just a fact of life.  Some things are hard. It’s not all easy.  

I think of newly married couples.  The hard times are bound to come.  It’s so important that you endure the hard times and stick it out.  It’s not always you causing trouble with one another, sometimes it’s just the difficulties of life.  

Disappointment comes.  It could be illness, the sudden death of a loved one, financial hardship, or something else.  If you make it through the hardness together, when you come out on the other side, somehow, you’re stronger.

Of course, you wouldn’t ask for those difficult times to come to make you stronger, but you can be thankful that you have become stronger.  

We’re to endure hardness. It will come.

Preparation for battle
Preparation for battle

When a soldier goes into the service, they start off in basic training.  They have a drill sergeant who is usually pretty tough.  One person said, while he didn’t remember his drill sergeant’s name, he did remember that he was always there. At first, he didn’t like that he was always there, but then he grew to appreciate that the officer was always around when he was needed.

The training is preparing you for the hardness of battle. 

The soldiers are sometimes given a backpack to carry.  It may weigh as much as 50 pounds.  Then they’re told to go on a run or hike.  They’re being prepared physically, pushed beyond their limits.  

I once took a class called “physical fitness” at a local community college.  When we started, they brought us all in and had us do different physical tests.   We did pushups, situps, and chin-ups.  They didn’t tell us why we were doing them, so we all did our very best.  

In the next class, they told us that they were going to take our best and cut it in half.  We were all happy with that.  Then they said we were going to do each exercise three times.  We weren’t quite as thrilled then. But we went on, and at the end of the semester, we did the same tests again and found that we had gained in all the areas we had been working on.

We were pushed to our physical limits and grew as a result.

Endure Hardness as a Good Soldier

Endure hardness as a good soldier.

Soldiers are required to make their beds daily.  An officer once said that it’s to establish a routine and develop good habits.  It’s part of being disciplined.

What is a follower of Christ called?  A disciple, which comes from the word discipline.  In Luke 14:26, Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”

The part about hating family members is by comparison.  Your love and devotion to Jesus should be so much more than that for your family that it isn’t even close!

Discipline

To be a disciple of Jesus.

A Good Soldier

Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

The verse says to be a good soldier, not one that goes in and destroys the countryside.  A good soldier doesn’t go in and pillage and plunder.  

We're called to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ.
We’re called to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ.

A while back, I heard that many people in Afghanistan were coming to Christ. Why?  Because of the good soldiers that were sharing the Gospel. 

Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

We have Jesus as our great Commander.  He’s the greatest leader ever.  Our Earthly leaders will do the best they can but they can only do so much. They have to deal with their limitations.  But when you have Jesus Christ as a leader, He is the Lord of the universe.  He knows everything.  He will make the best decisions.  So as a good soldier, you follow Him.

Even if you don’t understand what your leader is doing, a good soldier completes the mission and sees in the end how it all works out.  That’s how God works with us sometimes.

Joni Eareckson Tada

You may have heard of a lady named Joni Eareckson Tada.  In 1967, she misjudged the depth of a river and dove in headfirst.  She suffered a fracture between her fourth and fifth vertebrae which left her paralyzed from the shoulders down.  She has very limited use of her hands and is able to lift a little bit, but that’s all.  

Joni Eareckson Tada
Joni Eareckson Tada

But she’s painted beautiful pictures by holding a paintbrush in her mouth.  She’s given speeches all over and has been an inspiration to many.  She has endured hardship and come through it. 

Sometimes God allows us to endure hardness so we can help someone else.  

Unbroken

The prisoner could not be broken!
The prisoner could not be broken!

A group of soldiers had been captured and were prisoners of war. One of the camp guards did everything he could to break their spirit.  It was hard to break the spirit of one of the soldiers, though. He had such determination.  At one point, this solder was about at his physical breaking point.  The leader of the camp ordered him to lift a log.  Even on his best day, the soldier couldn’t have lifted it, and now he was ready to drop.  But somehow, he managed to hoist the log over his head.  The camp leader who was trying to break this man wound up the one who was broken and defeated.  

We’re to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

One day, Jesus is coming back.  One day, there will be a war.  All the forces of good and evil will come to battle. Jesus’ forces, including those of us who are Christians, will fight with Him.  It’s called the battle of Armageddon.  (Revelation 16:16)

How will it end?  God, The One who spoke the world into existence will win the battle!

Whose side will you be on?

Armor of God

The Bible tells us to put on the whole armor of God. (Ephesians 6:11-17)  You begin with the helmet of salvation.  If you don’t have the helmet of salvation, the rest of the armor is useless.  But the verses also talk about the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, and feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.

Ephesians 6:11-17
Ephesians 6:11-17

I want to encourage you, as John Elliott was encouraged, to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

If you have never put on the helmet of salvation, or even if you’re not sure.  You need to be sure!  Feel free to contact me here and I can help you and answer any questions you may have. 

Payday, Someday

Payday is coming

Proverbs 26:27 “Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone, it will return upon him.” (MEV)

I picture someone digging a deep pit or moving a huge boulder when I read this verse.  Perhaps a stone-like those used to seal graves.  It took many men or an amazing feat of engineering to get them moved into place. 

Sermon video

That’s why the women who were going to Jesus’ tomb wondered who would move the stone for them.  Of course, we know that their concern wasn’t necessary.  The angels had already moved the stone.

The verse above shows the negative side of how things happen sometimes.  There’s a positive side found in the New Testament.

The Golden Rule

Going back to my youth, a positive side was presented to me by none other than Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.  At the end of their program, they would sing, “Happy trails to you, until we meet again.”  They were Christians.  Dale Evans went around the country talking about the Bible.  My wife and I actually heard her speak in Kansas City, Missouri.  

Roy Rogers & Dale Evans
Roy Rogers & Dale Evans

One of the things they would say before singing their signature song was, “Remember, boys and girls, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  You probably know this as “The Golden Rule.”  It’s actually Biblical.  The verse can be found in Matthew 7:12. 

Jesus said that there were two commandments.  The first one was the greatest, which is to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  The second one is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  (Matthew 22:37-39)

Pressed Down, Shaken Together, and Running Over

That’s the positive side of the verse in Proverbs.  The Bible says that what you sow, you reap.  (Galatians 6:7)  If you sow good things, you will reap good things.  If you give, it will be given to you with good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. (Luke 6:38)

Running over
Running over

We had a friend who told of how he had moved to a new community and they arranged for a trash pickup.  The first week, something went wrong, and the trash wasn’t picked up. 

My friend checked and figured they could get by another week until the pickup came.  He looked around to make sure no one was watching, and he climbed on top of the trash pile and began to jump on it to compact it and make some more room.  

However, the following week, the trash service forgot again.  He climbed up on the pile and began to jump to compact it even more.  It was then that the verse, “pressed down, shaken together, and running over” came into his mind.

Haman

On the negative side, if you try to dig a pit to bring harm to someone else, you will fall into your own pit.  If you have a boulder set to ambush someone, be careful because it may roll down on you.  

The story of Haman, beginning in Esther 3, tells how Haman was jealous of Esther’s cousin, Mordecai.  Haman had a gallows built with the intention of seeing Mordecai hanged on it.  

Through a series of events, it was discovered that the wicked one was actually Haman.  The king was so enraged that he ordered Haman to be hanged on the gallows he himself had built!

Be careful what you do.  It can come back to you.  Good can come back good, but evil can come back evil.

Payday, Someday

Dr. R.G. Lee (1886-1978) was the pastor of Bellview Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee.  Dr. Lee was a very well-known Southern Baptist preacher and preached all over the country.

Dr. R.G. Lee
Dr. R.G. Lee

He had a sermon that was very well known.  It was often requested that he preach it.  I read that he had preached this sermon over 1,000 in his lifetime.  It was called “Payday, Someday.”  (I borrowed the title.)

I’m going to share some ideas from that sermon with you, but I’m going to put my own take on it.  

I’m going to tell you about 2 modern characters, 4 Biblical characters, and the day to come.  

Nick

There was a man named Nick who lived in the 1960s.  As he was growing up, he wasn’t doing well.  In fact, his parents had a difficult time raising him.  It was so hard, in fact, that they sent him from Puerto Rico, where he was born, to New York City to stay with relatives.  

While living in NYC, he began to run with crowds that were similar to the ones he ran with when he lived in Puerto Rico.  He discovered the street gangs in New York. Before long, he had become a member of one of them.

It wasn't long before Nick joined a gang.
It wasn’t long before Nick joined a gang.

The gang was involved in all sorts of illegal activities, including drugs.  The gangs would fight one another. They made homemade guns.  They killed members of rival gangs.  Nick had killed people and narrowly escaped death himself.  

At the same time, there was a ministry in New York that wanted to try to help the gang members and drug addicts, and other youth in crisis.  They decided to rent out a building and have a church service. They used school buses to go around and pick up the various gang members. They didn’t realize that they were putting together two gangs that fought against each other.  At least two rival gangs were at that church service that night.

The kids were making a mockery of the service.  During a solo, some of them began to dance in the aisles…not in the Biblical way!  But they heard the Gospel.  

 Nick was one of the people in attendance that night.  He had heard the Gospel and had a decision to make.

Tom

Next, we have Tom.  Tom wasn’t involved in drugs or gangs.  He just lived a regular life.  But Tom needed Jesus just as much as Nick did. How do I know?  Because everybody needs Jesus that much!  Seven years old or seventy years old…everyone needs Jesus.

Tom had been invited to church and he occasionally went.  He had heard the Gospel.  He even understood the Gospel.  He was like the man that Paul spoke to in Acts who told Paul to go away and he’d call for him later. (Acts 24:25)

"Tom" could be anyone.
“Tom” could be anyone.

Tom didn’t want to change his life or his friends at that time.  He said he’d do it later.  

Those are the two modern-day people.  Now I want to talk about the four from the Bible.

Naboth

The first is Naboth. His story is found in 1 Kings 21:1-16.  Naboth owned a vineyard.  He was a good man.  He had been schooled in the law of the Hebrews.  The law said that they could not sell land with the idea of it being a permanent sale.  The land would come back to them after a period of time.

Naboth was committed to upholding that.  

Ahab and Jezebel

At that time, Ahab was the king of Israel.  He was the son of Omri, one of the most wicked kings that Israel had ever had.  Ahab was actually worse than his father.  

Ahab’s summer palace was located right next to Naboth’s vineyard.  The king asked to buy the vineyard, but Naboth refused, as a permanent sale of the land went against scripture.  Ahab was very upset and returned to the palace. 

Ahab’s wife was a woman named Jezebel. She was not of Jewish descent.  She was a foreigner and worshiped Baal.  She was very dedicated to her religion and would do anything she could to take out the competition.

Upon his return to the palace, Ahab went to his bed and pouted and refused to eat.  His wife went to him to find out what was wrong.  He told her about his conversation with Naboth and his refusal to sell the vineyard.  

Ahab wanted Naboth's land.
Ahab wanted Naboth’s land.

Jezabel said, “Aren’t you the king of Israel?  Get up and eat something.  I’ll get that vineyard for you.  I just need to borrow your ring.”

So Jezabel, pretending to be Ahab, wrote a letter to the elders and nobles in Naboth’s city.  She instructed them to proclaim a fast on a certain day.  On that day, they were to bring Naboth to the seat of judgment for a trial.  The charge was blasphemy, which was punishable by death.    

The day arrived and the elders and nobles did as they were instructed.  Naboth was put on trial.  Jezabel had hired two “sons of Belial” to bear false witness against Naboth.  (Belial is another word for the devil.)

Before he even had a chance to defend himself, he was taken out of the city and stoned to death.  

Elijah

The fourth BIblical character is Elijah.  He was a spokesman for God and had said that it wouldn’t rain until Elijah said it would. (1Kings 17:1)  So, Ahab already hated him.  Because of that, Elijah had gone into hiding, which further enraged Ahab.  When Elijah, alone, went up against 450 prophets of Baal and won, that angered Jezebel.  (1 Kings 18:16-40)

Elijah heard what had happened to Naboth and he met with Ahab.  He told Ahab that the dogs would lick up his blood in the place where he killed Naboth.  He also said that dogs would consume his wife, Jezebel.  

Ahab returned to his palace. He and Jezebel would sometimes eat food that came from Naboth’s lands.  After a time, when nothing happened to them, Jezebel began to mock what Elijah had said.  She believed nothing would happen to them.  

Payday Always Comes

With God, there’s always a payday.  It’s just not always on Friday.

Ahab and Jezebel lived on happily for 3 years. 

Then the king of Judah came to visit Ahab and the two decided to go to war in an effort to claim some land. Ahab planned to go into battle in disguise; wearing the disguise over his royal armor.  

The captain of the opposing army instructed his men to only go after Ahab, no one else.  Because Ahab was in disguise, no one could find him.  Finally, a soldier shot an arrow randomly into the air. It went into an opening in Ahab’s armor and wounded him.  They made their way back in the direction of the palace. Ahab’s blood was pouring from the chariot, and, just as prophesied, dogs licked it up in the very place where Naboth died.

It happened exactly as Elijah had prophesied
It happened exactly as Elijah had prophesied

Jezebel, however, still lived.  She lived through many kings. Then, King Jehu came into power.  He came to the wall of the palace where she was and asked if any within were on his side.  There were some, and he ordered that Jezabel be thrown from the wall. He trampled her with his horse.  

When they later went to bury her, all that remained was her skull, feet, and palms of her hands.  The dogs had eaten the rest.

There’s always a payday.

Chief of the Kangaroo Court

Dr. Lee said that he would sometimes receive hate mail.  One of the letter-writers would sign the letters “The Chief of the Kangaroo Court.”  

One day while sitting at home, a nurse from a Memphis hospital called Dr. Lee and said that a man was requesting his presence.  He refused to give his name to the hospital, but said to tell Dr. Lee that he was the “Cheif of the Kangaroo Court.”

When he arrived at the hospital, Dr. Lee encountered a young man with the wildest, weirdest eyes he’d ever seen.  The man may have been large at one point, but his boy was ravaged by disease. 

He said to the man, “Hello.” 

“Howdy do?” he answered. 

“Is there something I can do for you?” Dr. Lee asked as kindly as he could. 

“No. Nothing! Not a thing. Nothin’ ‘tall! — unless you throw my body to the buzzards when I am dead — if the buzzards will have it!” he said.

Then his voice lost some of the snarl — and he spoke again. “I sent for you, sir because I want you to tell these young fellows here something for me. I sent for you because I know you go up and down the land and talk to many young people. And I want you to tell ’em, and tell ’em every chance you get, that the Devil pays only in counterfeit money.” 

R.G. Lee would have loved to lead that young man to the Lord, but it wasn’t to be.  He sat by the bedside and two hours later, the young man died.

There’s a payday coming someday.

Eternal Consequences

Back to Tom.  He had said, “Someday, I will come to to the Lord.  I will get saved someday when I’m older.” Before that “someday” came, Tom had a stroke.  Pastors came to visit, but Tom was unresponsive, unconscious.  Payday had come for Tom.

David Wilkerson and Nicky Cruz
David Wilkerson and Nicky Cruz

Nick, better known as Nicky Cruz, heard David Wilkerson preach and gave his life to the Lord the night of that service, as did another gang leader.  Several members of the gang followed in their footsteps and became Christians,

Payday is coming someday!

If we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, at the end of our life when that payday comes, it won’t be a bad one, it will be a wonderful one. All wrongs will be made right. Maybe not in our timeline, but it will happen. 

What will your payday be?
What will your payday be?

What is the way out for us as humans?  It’s simply the fact that God loved us so much that He sent His Son to this world to be crucified. Jesus had the weight of all the sins of all the world, past, present, and future, put upon Him.  The answer for your payday is what you have done with Jesus.  Have you accepted Him as your Lord and Savior?  Or, like Tom, are you putting it off until a more convenient time?

Payday is coming.  I hope you’re ready. If you’re not, I invite you to come to Jesus.

How to Know That You Are Making Good Decisions

How to Know That You Are Making Good Decisions

Jay Austin was, on the surface, a successful used car salesman. Unfortunately, his sales techniques were less than honorable.  He made promises he couldn’t keep, cheated people, and said whatever was necessary to make the sale.  

Sermon video

Jay’s Problem

Two of his employees had learned well how to use those same dishonest techniques.  

Jay needed money!
Jay needed money!

As I said, it looked like he was doing well on the surface.  He was moving a lot of cars and bringing in a lot of money.  But he was buried in debt.  

One day, the bank called him and requested a meeting.  Jay was told that he had 30 days to pay off his loan or the bank was going to foreclose on the business.

Not only were there problems with the business, but there were struggles going on within his family as well.  He was too proud to admit it was his fault.  He wanted to blame others for his problems, 

But his wife and son both knew that they could not trust his word when he said he was going to do something.  They knew about his dishonesty.  He pridefully tried to cover it up.  Occasionally, he would attend church with them, but not often.  Other times, he mocked the idea of going to church.  

But the bottom was dropping out.  It looked like he was going to lose his business.  But his wife had been praying for him. 

On the Right Path

A televised sermon changed his life.
A televised sermon changed his life.

One day, he saw a church service on TV.  He decided that his way of doing things wasn’t working, so he confessed to the Lord.  He admitted his dishonesty, and his lack of support for his family, and told God that he wanted to change.  

He thought he was done, that God would be merciful and he could move forward from that point. 

But something happened inside of Jay because he really had changed.  He realized that he couldn’t continue with his dishonest business practices.  Would the Lord rescue him?

Psalm 37:1-5

(KJV) Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. 2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. 3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. 4 Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 5 Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

Scriptures for the blog.
Scriptures for the blog.

Proverbs 3:5-6


(KJV) 5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Lean Not on Your Own Understanding

So Jay started off by following the steps in the passage in Proverbs.  He told God that he didn’t know how, but he was going to quit cheating people and instruct his employees to stop as well. 

Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”  The Bible says that the greatest commandment is “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”(Matthew 22:37)  With everything within you.

You can come to Christ just as you are, but if you really meet Him, you don’t leave the same as when you arrived.  Something starts working in your life.  

The Bible says that there’s a change and we start to bear fruit.  It also says that some do better than others.  Some thirtyfold, some sixtyfold, some a hundredfold.  

Sometimes the change is obvious and immediate.  People see the change and want to know what’s happened.  Other times, depending on past challenges, the fruit takes longer to ripen.  

Lean not on your own understanding.  

Trust God

Jay was trusting God with all his heart.  But he didn’t know how to glorify God in bringing in money. His former practices of lying and scheming weren’t going to work anymore.  

His employees were doubtful.  They knew that there wouldn’t be as much money coming in as before. They also realized that they’d be losing money on their commissions.  That was a big concern for them.  They didn’t want to go along with this new plan, but Jay pushed for them to be honest.  

If it happened that they were not honest, Jay would go to the customer himself and make it right. He continued his new practice of being honest.  In some cases, he realized he had to go back and return money to some former customers. 

Even though he had 30 days to come up with the money for the bank, he continued in his new course of honesty.  He had made a commitment to God and intended to honor it.  He decided to not lean on his own understanding.

That’s something we all need to do.  Our understanding is shaped not by the Bible, but by the world.  That’s why it’s so important to study the Scriptures.  It ought to become a part of our lives.  We need to get away from our own understanding and into God’s understanding.  

Study the Scriptures to learn the mind of Christ.
Study the Scriptures to learn the mind of Christ.

When you become a parent, you have this tiny human who has been given to you, and it dawns on you that this is an enormous responsibility.  Where’s the instruction manual?  What you do is fall back on what you know, what you have seen, or how your parents raised you.  That can be good.  Your parents may have been instructed in the ways of the Lord and had the mind to follow Him.  

But maybe you had parents who didn’t follow God’s leading and just muddled through and didn’t make good decisions.  

Then there are parents who the world may say that they have no business being parents. Then your resolve will be not to be like your parents.  The problem there is that you keep focusing on them and whatever you focus on affects you.  So lean not on your own understanding but lean on the promises of God.

Good News/Bad News

A local news outlet decided to do an undercover investigation of used car dealers.  They sent a reporter in to pose as a potential employee.  The employees who weren’t happy with Jay’s new system got fed up and left and began working for a competitor.  

The news outlet went and interviewed the two and they told stories of how Jay used to run his business and how dishonest he used to be.  

So the report came out.  It wasn’t good.  Jay told God, “Lord, I’m trusting you.  I’m changing my life.  I don’t understand how this is going to work.”

How to Know That You Are Making Good Decisions

Years ago, in the first decade of our marriage, we were living in Georgia.  We had several decisions to make.  Our desire was to always be in God’s will.  

A flyer came to our house about a conference that was going to be in Atlanta.  One of the bullet points was “how to know you’re in the will of God.”  While I was looking at the new material, that one point really stood out to me.

That one session was the main reason I went.  It was a week-long conference.  Day after day, they didn’t cover that one topic.  Finally, Thursday night was the day for the “Will of God” session.  He spoke for 30 minutes or so on most of the advertised topics, but when he came to this one, he was running short on time, and he only spoke on it for a few minutes, probably only two or three; however, it was long enough and I got the answer I was seeking.  It was the verse, “In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:6)

Make Christ Known

The speaker said to make Christ known in every area of your life.  Acknowledge that He is the Miracle Worker, the One who cares for you and loves you. If in all your ways, you are trusting Him, He will direct your paths.  

That may not seem like a very “deep” answer, but it’s served me well for 40 years. When you continue to do this, you begin to develop a sense of when God is speaking to you.  You’ll feel a little tug on your heart, mind, or spirit.  It may not be thunder and lightning, but there’s that little tug you feel and know that it’s Him speaking to you. 

If you acknowledge Him in all areas of your life, you can trust that He will direct your paths.  

Does that mean that you’ll always make perfect decisions?  Probably not.  But the Bible covers that as well.  “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.” (Romans 8:28) 

Results of Change

So, the report had been released.  In it, Jay’s former employees talked about how unfair and dishonest he had been in the past.  It didn’t look good.

Then, people started speaking out.  They talked about how Jay had come to them, admitted his dishonesty, and made things right.  They told of how he’d given money back and apologized to them.  

Jay's commitment to God was successful.
Jay’s commitment to God was successful.

Psalm 37:4 says that if we trust in God, He will give us the desires of our hearts.  Sometimes, though, we don’t get what we want.  One clue may be in James 4:3 where it says, “you have not because you ask not.”

Another reason we don’t always get what we want is that what we want may not be good for us.  We ask amiss, and God, in His wisdom, says no, because He knows what’s best for us.

Good Things

I believe that God delights in giving us good things.  

When we lived in Georga, I was the principal of a Christian school and we had weekly staff meetings.  They were different from any I’ve been in before or since.  We’d start off by spending up to 15 minutes strategizing what we could do to make things better.  We then went around the table and each prayed.  I remember one particular woman who was a prayer warrior.  She and another lady decided her son needed a good wife.  They began to pray and that son now has a wife and children.  

Another time, I recall her praying that God would meet the needs of my family.  The school wasn’t able to pay much, so she prayed that our needs would be met. She prayed that God would give us something that would simply bring us joy.  Her prayers were answered time and time again. 

Prayer warrior
Prayer warrior

Her husband was a dairy farmer, and they were audited by the IRS.  While most people would have been nervous, they were completely at peace.  They got their tax professional, went to the audit, and wound up getting money back!

Around that time, Rhonda was expecting our second child (Ralanna).  We had decent health insurance, but it didn’t pay everything.  We were going to have to pay some of the medical expenses out of our own pocket.  Those people got that money back from the IRS and paid those bills for us. We say that Ralanna is their baby as well as ours. 🙂

God will give you miraculous things.  Lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him.  Trust in Him.  Delight in Him and He will give you the desires of your heart.

I mentioned that sometimes we ask God for the wrong things.  Once you get closer to Him and get to know Him better, the things you ask for begin to change and you start asking for proper things.  

Delivered!

I recently heard a man testify that God was blessing him in his business.  But, he was a functional addict.  Like Jay, it looked like the man was doing well on the surface.  But he was an alcoholic and was addicted to cocaine and ultimately to crack cocaine. 

He really wanted to serve God.  One night he prayed for deliverance from his addiction and that the desire for the drug would be taken away.

When he woke up the next morning, the desire was gone!  Many years later, it has not returned. 

Delight yourself in the Lord and He’ll give you the desires of your heart.  If your desires are wrong, He’ll tell you as long as you acknowledge Him in all ways.

Back to Jay.  The negative news report had come out, but then so many people came and spoke about all the good things he had done.  Because of the positive reviews, more and more people started going to his business to buy their cars.  By the end of the month, enough money had come in that Jay was able to pay the bank the money he owed them. 

Jay’s Story

A little disclaimer: The story of Jay is based on a movie written by the Kendrick brothers.  You may recognize their names from movies like Facing the Giants, Fireproof, Courageous, War Room, and several others.  The story of Jay Austin can be found in their first movie, Flywheel.  (You can Google some interesting trivia about the movie.)

Flywheel Movie
Flywheel Movie

Flywheel is actually my favorite of all the movies they’ve made.

In Closing

How do you know that you’re making good decisions?  Are you acknowledging Him in all your ways?  If you are, you can trust that you’re making good decisions. You can also trust that if you aren’t, God will let you know.

What’s A Mother to Do?

Today, I’ll be looking at three different passages of scripture.  The main one will be 1 Kings 17.  I’ll also discuss Luke 4 and Matthew 6. I’ll begin with Matthew 6.

Many times, a mother will ask herself, “What’s a mother to do?”

My wife worried, but our daughter was ok.
My wife worried, but our daughter was ok.

When our second child was about 2 years old, my wife was preparing a salad.  She was tearing off the bits of lettuce that were browned and not edible.  She heard a noise, turned around, and discovered our daughter eating the scraps.  We panicked a little, but she was fine.

I heard of a mother who went into her child’s room and found that the child had “decorated” the walls with crayons.  In a flash of insight, the mother grabbed an empty picture frame and framed the child’s artwork, and just left it there.

I want to tell you about a mother who was in dire straits.  She was wondering what she was going to do.  

Matthew 6:25-34

25 “Therefore, I say to you, take no thought about your life, what you will eat, or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they do not sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much better than they? 27 Who among you by taking thought can add a cubit[a] to his stature? 28 “Why take thought about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: They neither work, nor do they spin. 29 Yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not dressed like one of these. 30 Therefore, if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is here and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore, take no thought, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 (For the Gentiles seek after all these things.) For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be given to you. 34 Therefore, take no thought about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take thought about the things of itself. Sufficient to the day is the trouble thereof.

History Lesson

First Kings chapter 17 tells us about a woman who was in dire straits.  The economy was very bad.  She lived in ancient Israel.  The time was after David the great king and his son Solomon.  Solomon’s son Rehoboam was the successor.  He went to the counselors and asked what he should do for the people.  They gave him some good advice, telling him that his father had gotten pretty harsh in his old age.  They recommended that Rehoboam help the people and they would love him forever.  

However, he went to some younger people and was told that if he gave too much to the people, they would take advantage of him.

So he followed the counsel of the younger people and announced that things were about to get much more difficult under his reign.  Ten of the 12 tribes decided they would not go along with that and left.

What had been a united kingdom was now split between the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom.  The northern kingdom kept the name Israel.  The southern kingdom went by Judah.  

The prophets came and said that if they didn’t repent, they would be taken into captivity.  That did happen later.  The Assyrians came and took the northern tribes into captivity and they pretty much disappeared.  You don’t hear about them much anymore.  If you’ve heard of the “ten lost tribes of Israel”, it’s most likely about those tribes taken by the Assyrians.

What remained was Judah.  Jerusalem was in that country.  That’s where the main Jewish temple was.  Assyria’s power began to wane, so Babylon came in and took Judah captive.  So, in the end, they all wound up in captivity, just as the prophets had said.

Before the captivity, there was a series of kings.  All the kings of the northern kingdoms, beginning with Rehoboam, rebelled against God.  He created idols such as golden calves, for them to worship.  In the Bible, it says that the nation continued to do evil in the sight of God.  

The southern kingdom had a mix of both good and bad kings.  King Ahab was known as the worst king ever. The mother in our story lived during his reign.  There was a drought and famine in the land, so food was very scarce.  

What’s A Mother to Do?

The mother’s problem was that she was alone.  She had a son, but she was a widow.  She was doing her best to make ends meet.

One day she was out gathering twigs for a fire.  She had looked at her food supply and discovered that she had only enough left to make one meal for herself and her child.  

Then a man of God came along.  It seemed to the woman that it was just a chance encounter.  In their culture, they were supposed to care for strangers and travelers.  The man asked for a drink and the woman obliged. As she turned to get it, the man asked for a piece of bread as well.  The woman was devastated.  She told the traveler that she had enough supplies for one bit of bread for her and her son to eat and that they would then most likely starve to death.  

What's a mother to do? She barely had enough for her son and herself.
What’s a mother to do? She barely had enough for her son and herself.

You may think that this man of God took pity on the woman and told her to keep the bread for herself and her child.  He did not.  He told her to go ahead and make the bread and bring it to him when she brought the drink.  

What’s a mother to do?  She’s gotten instruction that seems to make no sense, and goes against her every instinct!

Sometimes, God does that with us.  Sometimes while you’re reading the Bible, you will come across something that doesn’t seem to make sense.  Why?  Because we’re thinking in the ways of the world.  We don’t know what the future holds, but God does.  

The man of God was named Elijah. He gave the woman the instruction and she was supposed to follow it.

What’s a mother to do?

A mother, and everyone else, needs to have her ears attuned to hearing God speak to her.  Keep your mind open when reading the Bible.  If the Scriptures say it’s wrong, it’s wrong.  No discussion is needed.  

God's voice to us
God’s voice to us

It doesn’t matter how you try to rationalize it, if it seems too harsh, or if it doesn’t make sense to you.  If God says it’s wrong, it’s wrong!

Now, I do believe in a certain amount of tolerance.  I won’t kill you for your opinion, and I certainly hope you won’t kill me for mine.

But today, there seems to be a movement that says, “I can have my opinion, but you can’t have your (BIblical based) opinion.”  That’s not tolerance. 

For me, on this Earth, the only one who can get me to change my opinion on Biblical matters is God.

Obedience and Miracles

Back to our mother: Elijah told her to do as she said, to make the bread for herself and her son, but first, bring him some of it. She was in a quandary.  She wrestled with the idea of just leaving the man standing there instead of feeding him as he’d asked.  She made the decision to do as he had asked.

She reached down into the flour barrel, and a few grains fell out of her hand. She thought maybe there was a little more than she had thought.  Then she poured the oil and noticed she had a few more drops than she had realized. But there wasn’t enough to make another cake. She went ahead and made the cake and took it to Elijah.

Feeling hopeful, she reached back into the flour barrel and found that there was enough to make a cake (bread)for herself and her son.  She discovered the same thing with the oil.  That in itself was amazing.

The next day, however, she went back to check the supplies and found that there was enough flour and oil to feed them that day. The next day was the same, and the next, and the next!  God provided for that widow and her son. 

Luke 4:24-27 mentions the widow:
24 He also said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. 25 But I tell you truthfully, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were closed for three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land. 26 Yet to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, a city of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet. But none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”

So out of all the people in need during that time, the one widow heard and obeyed, and was given a miracle.  Why was it only her? 

I don’t know.

What I do know is that God is good all the time.  I know that the Apostle Paul had seen countless miracles.  It’s called a miracle because it doesn’t happen all the time.  If it happened all the time, it would just be something we expected. A miracle is when God does something unusual and supernatural.  He did that for the widow.  

What Are We to Do?

Now it comes to what are we to do?

We are to look for God and listen for God all the time in our lives.  We are to watch for the miracles and when they happen, rejoice and testify about them. 

Maybe you’re like Paul, who had an infirmity of the flesh.  Three times he asked God to remove it from him, and probably thought He would, but God did not remove the infirmity.  However, Paul continued to praise and serve the Lord.  

Sometimes God does something miraculous, sometimes He doesn’t.  But he told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you.”  

So what’s a mother to do?  What’s a person to do when in dire straits?  

First of all, you pray and look for God to work.  When you see Him working, allow it to happen. But, you also need to trust God when you don’t understand what’s going on.  

Another Miracle

After the blessing of the flour and oil, the widow came to a point where she didn’t understand what was going on.  After some time, her son became very ill.  It looked like he was near death. 

The widow's son became very ill.
The widow’s son became very ill.

So the widow sent word to Elijah that her son was gravely ill. She asked if he was just going to continually remind her of her sin.  She sarcastically spoke to Elijah.  He ignored her sarcasm and asked that the child be brought to him.  She carried her son to the prophet and he took him to an upper room and began to pray. Three times he asked God to bring the child’s soul back.  After the third request, the child began to breathe again. Not only was he breathing, but he got up and was well.

She had trusted God with the food, and He provided.  God had healed her son. 

What’s a mother to do?

Listen to God to see where He’s going to work.  Read and believe Scripture.  Trust God in the everyday things of life.

The Final Action

There’s one other part of the mother and son’s story.  It’s not written in 1 Kings 17 but I know that it happened.  At some point, they both died.  I believe that the woman trusted God, and at her death, she went to be with Him.  I also like to think that she told her son the story as he grew, and he came to trust God as well.  If he did, he also went to be with God in the end. 

So, the most important thing that ANY person can do is to know that you know that if death comes your way, you’re ready to go and meet the Lord.  It will be a wonderful thing for you.  It will be a time of joy, with no pain or suffering. 

Invite Jesus into your life today.
Invite Jesus into your life today.

What’s a mother to do?  Trust God.  Most of all, make sure you’re ready!  How?

Believe in the promises that are in God’s Word.  I’d be glad to show you some.  You can contact me here and I can share them with you.  I’m not asking if you’ve attended church, or even said a prayer once.  Do you KNOW that you’re ready to meet God?

Easter is Real! You Received the Gift. Now what?

Easter is real.

Sermon video

Saul, a man in the first century, had a problem. He thought he was right, but he wasn’t. He was sincerely deluded. He needed to change his mind, which is another way to describe repentance, and Saul needed to repent!

On his way to Damascus, Saul met a guide. The Lord Jesus Christ came into his heart. It actually knocked him off of his horse! Do you think that got his attention?

Attention Grabber

Sometimes God needs to get our attention
Sometimes God needs to get our attention

It’s kind of like the farmer who had the mule. He talked to his neighbor, also a farmer, and the neighbor said, “How do you get your mule to do what you want him to do?” The other farmer said, “You have to be gentle with him.” His neighbor said he’d give it a try. A few minutes later, the first farmer climbed up into his wagon and gave the mule the “go” command and snapped the reins. The animal just stood there. The farmer climbed down from his seat, grabbed a 2×4 and whacked the mule between the eyes. The neighbor, having seen all this, said, “I thought you said you had to be gentle with him.” The other farmer answered, “Yes, but you have to get his attention first.”

Saul/Paul

That’s the way it was with Saul as he was going along the road: God had to get his attention so He knocked Saul off of his horse. He was also struck blind and would not remember that day, nor the next two.

A man named Ananias had gotten a word from the Lord that God had been working in Saul’s life so he came and prayed for him. Saul’s blindness was taken away.

The beginning of a new life!
The beginning of a new life!

That day, Saul’s name was changed to Paul. He was the apostle Paul and was to be Jesus’ messenger to the Gentiles. The word apostle means a messenger. Think of it as our modern-day missionaries.

Easter is Real!

I know sometimes we’re told the history of the word “Easter” has to do with Ishtar and pagan religions. But that is NOT what we worship. Christians redeemed the day. They took a festival that was not honoring to God and decided to turn it into a celebration of Jesus. That’s why we celebrate the resurrection when we do.

For those of us who are Christians, that overshadows the former pagan celebrations. Even those who are students of history, when they hear the word “Easter,” the first thing that comes to mind is the celebration of the resurrection.

Christmas also had pagan festivals going on during that time. The church came in and decided to remember the birth of Jesus. Although they didn’t know when He was born, they knew that he was born, so they decided to use that day to remember His birth and the reason for it. God became flesh. That is the meaning of the word Emmanuel: God in the flesh.

Easter is real because it reminds us of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Luke 24:4-7

While they were greatly perplexed concerning this, suddenly two men stood by them in shining garments. 5 As they were afraid and bowed their faces to the ground, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen! Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, 7 saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ ”

That’s Easter. That’s why we celebrate. Because of that, we can understand that we have sinned, that we need a Savior, and Jesus offers a gift.

Matthew 28:5-6

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid. For I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here. For He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay

That’s why we worship. That’s why we worship on Sunday: the first day of the week. It’s the day when Jesus was resurrected. Easter is a remembrance of the resurrection for us. It’s a reminder of what Jesus did for us.

Facts!

There is a lot of proof of the resurrection of Jesus. The angel told the women to see where He had been. Peter and John went later and looked. (John 20:4) They all saw the empty grave clothes.

He appeared to the disciples twice, once when Thomas wasn’t with them, and again when he was.

Thomas had said that he needed to see the nail prints in His hands, and touch the wound in His side. But when Thomas saw the risen Savior, he knelt down and said, “My Lord and my God.” (John 20:24-28)

Easter is real
Several saw the empty tomb

So you have the empty tomb, seen by many people. Several people who knew Jesus well testified to the fact that He was no longer in the tomb, He indeed is alive!

You’ve Received the Gift

You received the gift.

Saul met the living Christ, and the living Christ called him to action and he was called to be the apostle to the Gentiles. He received the gift.

The gift is there because Jesus paid the penalty. You and I are all under the penalty of death. The penalty is being separated from God. If you end this life in that state, you will stay that way forever. That’s why it’s so important for everyone in this life to understand that salvation is a free gift. Accept it now!

The greatest gift of all!
The greatest gift of all!

If you’ve accepted the gift, even in the valley of the shadow of death, you will fear no evil, for you know that God is with you. His rod and staff will comfort you. (Psalm 23:4)

Any Christians who have faced death, if it had come, we would have just slipped on over into Glory. It’s a wonderful thing to know that!

Jesus offers the gift, and you receive it by faith. You come as a little child and receive it by faith.

But then, what happens? You have joy and hope for the future, but something happens in that moment.

Now What?

What happens now?
What happens now?

2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away. Look, all things have become new.

Christ came into your life. You have new things happening; some that you may not understand. You have new desires.

The Bible tells us that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart. (Psalm 37:4)

There are 2 different ways of looking at that verse. One way is that we have certain things that we would like, or desire. We would ask our Heavenly Father for those things and He would not turn us away, He loves us, He delights in us, and He gives us what we desire.

But sometimes, our desires change. What we wanted before we don’t want anymore because we delight ourselves in the Lord and He gives us the desires of our heart.

I think both of those are true. You can find scriptures that tell you that if you pray and ask God for things, he will give them to you. (Matthew 7:7-8)

God will make you new.
God will make you new.

God comes in and works in our hearts. He makes a new creature out of us, and there is a change that comes into our lives. The change may be in our attitudes, our speech, our actions, or where we go. We may have immediate victory over something.

I know a man who was heavily addicted to cocaine. He prayed for God to remove the desire for the drug away, and even after several years, that man’s desire is still gone!

I know others who suffered with addiction, and the Lord came into their lives, but they still struggled with the addiction. They endured and struggled through the addiction. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 24:13)

I don’t know how God chooses how He does what He does, but I do know that sometimes He wants us to learn something. He wants us to grow and not be exalted above measure.

Paul had an affliction; the Bible doesn’t tell us what it was. He called a “thorn in his flesh” he asked 3 times for the Lord to remove it, and God chose not to. Paul may have wondered why. He came to the conclusion that it was so he would not be exalted above measure. God told Paul that His grace was sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Easter is real. You received the gift.

Come As You Are

You can come just as you are. You don’t have to go out and make amends to people you have wronged and then come. You can come right away, just as you are, but you won’t leave the same. If you really meet Christ, you won’t leave the same as you came. There will be a change.

For some, it’s a dramatic change. For some, it’s less. But no matter what, there is a change, because you have met the living Lord. You’ll begin to experience the change as you travel along in your Christian walk.

Easter is real. You received the gift. Now what?

Realize that there is a change going on and you need to nurture the new creature that you are becoming.

How do you do that?

In order to grow, you must be fed.
In order to grow, you must be fed.

Well, if you’re a baby in Christ, you need to be fed. How do babes in Christ get fed? By the Word of God. That’s how Jesus speaks to us. We allow Him to speak to us and we listen to Him. Not only that, though.

We have the wonderful privilege of speaking to God. Some new Christians may be unsure about prayer. They’ve never done it before and aren’t really sure how to do it.

Praying in public is one thing. But you need to find a quiet place where it’s just you and God, where you can talk to Him. If you’re mad, tell Him that! He can handle it, and may just come back and straighten you out. Ask Him for help. Just talk to God.

Some people use Elizabethan English in their prayers. It’s beautiful and from the heart. Even though I’ve been a “man of the cloth” for many years, I just speak to God using my regular words. It doesn’t matter if you use big, flowery words or simple ones. Just speak to Him in a way that is meaningful to you.

Acts 1:1-8

This passage was written after the resurrection. It’s believed it is Luke who wrote this because it’s addressed to a man named Theophilus and the Gospel of Luke mentions a man of the same name. (Luke 1:3)

The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, concerning all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 until the day when He was taken up, after He had given commandments (one of which was 18 Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. {Matthew 28:18-20}) through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom He had chosen, 3 to whom He presented Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, appearing to them for forty days, and speaking concerning the kingdom of God. 4 Being assembled with them, He commanded them, “Do not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, of which you have heard from Me.[a] 5 For John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. 6 So when they had come together, they asked Him, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or the dates, which the Father has fixed by His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Easter is real! Jesus rose from the grave. He conquered death. You received the gift by faith. Then you began to grow in Him and He makes a new creature out of you. Be sure to talk to God and listen to Him.

Go and Tell

Then He said “When the power of the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be My witnesses.”

Go and tell someone what the Lord has done for you. That’s the very next step after receiving that gift.

Tell people what God has done for you.
Tell people what God has done for you.

Many times, we will receive the gift of salvation in church, so that’s easy. People will go forward at the end of the service and pray, and will either say themselves that they’ve accepted the Lord, or ask the pastor to do it for them.

Everyone in the congregation rejoices. But it’s not only them. The angels in Heaven rejoice as well. (Luke 15:10)

Go and tell someone! One of our grandchildren once called us, excited to tell us that they had accepted the Lord. I’m so thankful for that.

Baptism

The next step, after telling someone…or everyone…is to be baptized. That’s a symbol of the change that has taken place in you. It’s representative of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. You were buried with Him, and rose again to walk in newness of life.

The Holy Spirit

The Bible says that when you receive Christ, you receive the Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:9, 1 Corinthians 12, 2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:13) The apostles received it on the day of Pentecost. There was a Great Power that came through them. (Acts 2:1-3) Christ will empower you to tell your story to others.

You have friends who don’t know this wonderful Truth that you know. You can tell them, in your own words, that Easter is real. Tell them that there was a time in your life when you didn’t know Christ, and then you came to Him and the story of what that was like for you. Tell them how it’s been different, how God made a new creature out of you.

Go and tell someone what the Lord has done.

The apostle Paul changed his name (to Paul, the Greek version of Saul) since he was going to preach to the Gentiles. He faced many obstacles. The persecutor became the persecuted. At the end of his life, he wrote, “I have fought a good fight. I’m ready to be delivered.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8) The day came, and Paul went to be with Jesus.

Paul changed his future destination.
Paul changed his future destination.

Paul avoided the terrible destination that he was formerly headed to.

As Saul, he really thought he was doing what God wanted him to do. He thought he really knew the Father. But Jesus said if you really know the Father, you would know Me. If you really knew the Scriptures, you would know who I am. (John 14:7-14)

Saul/Paul was changed and successfully established many churches. Many say that he’s one of the greatest preachers who ever lived. When his life ended, he entered into Heaven and eternity and met the One who knocked him off his horse on the way to Damascus. He met Him and got to talk to Him. Maybe he thanked God for getting his attention.

It’s Your Turn

You can meet Him today!
You can meet Him today!

Have you ever accepted Jesus as you Lord and Savior? If you haven’t, I invite you to do that today. You can reach me at the contact information on this blog and I will be happy to tell you how. The Bible says that if you, by faith, receive Him, you will become a new creation.

The Surprising Foundation for America

Thomas had to prepare another sermon for another midweek service. He had the intimidation that came with having to do something at least once a week, and sometimes more than once weekly.

Sermon video

Every preacher will know what I’m talking about. Sometimes the hardest thing to discern is what God wants us to talk about.

There’s an old joke that says every preacher knows what it’s like to be sitting on the front row on Sunday morning, flipping through a songbook, trying to find a sermon.

First of all, that’s the wrong book to be flipping through. Although, I have gotten a sermon from a song sometimes.

Thomas' dilemma
Thomas’ dilemma

But Thomas was working on the sermon and was able to go to the guide. The guide of course is the Scriptures. Like he had done many times in the past, Moses was going to guide Thomas. God called him to apply the scripture for the midweek service, not the (as we think of it) big Sunday service.
Thomas probably thought, “I just have to try to get through it.” So, he spoke on Deuteronomy chapter 1.

The Surprising Foundation for America


But what came as a result of this was the surprising foundation for the United States of America. Not only did he find something that would help him have the midweek sermon, but he also found something that would affect the United States of America.

The surprising foundation for America
The surprising foundation for America

As you read on, you’ll realize that Thomas was going to be instrumental in the establishment of a town. You’ll also see the significance of the scripture from Deuteronomy that he spoke on in that midweek service; not only in Moses’ time but also in Thomas’ time and our time. The fact is that this sermon that he came up with contained the surprising foundation for America.

So Thomas went into the book of Deuteronomy, the first chapter, and focused on verse 13.

The Significance in Moses’ Time

Before getting into the scripture, let me give you the back story.

Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, had asked what Moses did all day. He went on to observe the day-to-day work that Moses did. He would go to a tent, and the people would line up and, from morning to evening, bring him their problems and disputes that they had with their brethren. Moses spent all day judging those matters.

Jethro was able to tell Moses that what he was doing wasn’t good. He said Moses was going to wear himself out. (Exodus 18:13-18) I’ve heard people say, “I’d rather burn out than rust out.” But, either way, you’re out.

God will give you discernment in learning how to balance your life so you can continue to minister for another day.

That’s what Jethro advised Moses to do. He told Moses that he needed to get some help. That’s exactly what Moses did. (Exodus 18:19-26) He wasn’t able to bear all the complaints and problems, so he chose wise people to come and help. If the matter was more difficult, the people would be sent to Moses. He heeded the word of his father-in-law, and God allowed it to be good.

That’s what Moses was talking about beginning in verse 9 of Deuteronomy chapter 1.

In verse 10, Moses makes mention of the number of Israelites. Conservative estimates say that there were between 1.5 and 2 million people making the trek through the wilderness.

Although he doesn’t yet know it, Moses is coming to the end of his life. He may have felt it but didn’t know it. He knew that Joshua was going to be his successor, and wanted the situation to be good when he handed it over to him. In verses 11 and 12, Moses says, “May the LORD, the God of your fathers, make you a thousand times more numerous and bless you, just as He has promised you! How can I myself bear your load and your burden and your strife?”

When Jethro first suggested that Moses get some help, Moses was able to choose the people on his own, because he knew them all. Now, the Nation had grown so large that he wasn’t able to make the decisions on his own. That’s why, in verse 13, he said, “Choose wise, discerning, and knowing men, among your tribes, and I will appoint them as leaders over you.”

Deuteronomy 1:13
Deuteronomy 1:13

This is something that has become the foundation for the United States. It has made us one of the greatest countries in the world. It has made us one of the happier countries in the world because we focus on freedom: The freedom of people being able to choose our own leaders.

So Moses told the Israelites to choose “wise, discerning, knowing men” and he would confirm them as leaders.

In verses 14-17a, Moses goes on to say, “You answered me, and said, ‘The thing which you have said is good for us to do. So I took the leaders of your tribes, wise and well-known men, and appointed them as leaders over you, leaders over thousands, and leaders over hundreds, and leaders over fifties, and leaders over tens, and officers among your tribes. I charged your judges at that time, saying, ‘Hear the issues between your countrymen and judge righteously between every man and his fellow countryman, and the foreigner that is with him. You shall not show partiality in judgment, but you shall hear the small as well as the great. You shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for the judgment is God’s.’”

This is how it works when you have a proper judge. He (or she) seeks the wisdom of God. We know that there are unjust judges because, in the New Testament, Jesus spoke of one. (Luke 18:1-8)

But here, Moses said how they are to be great. Verses 17-18 say, “’ You shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for the judgment is God’s. The case that is too hard for you, you shall bring it to me, and I will hear it. At that time, I commanded you all the things you should do.’”

Moses was going to wear himself out. His father-in-law told him he needed to divide up the responsibility and have the other leaders find capable men to take care of things. Then, it was getting too large for Moses to go himself and pick out men from the different tribes so he spoke to each of the tribes and said, “You get together, you choose people; honorable and noblemen, and then I will appoint them (so he still had final say) as leaders over you.”

Moses led the children of Israel through the desert for 40 years.
Moses led the children of Israel through the desert for 40 years.

What you see here in this passage of scripture is the basis of a phrase that’s used in the U.S. and not much anywhere else in the world. It’s called the consent of the governed.

In the United States, we have the privilege of being able to choose our leaders. We have the privilege of being able to elect representatives who are supposed to represent us and make good, righteous, Godly laws. That doesn’t always happen, but we can at least make an attempt.

We have the choice to allow people to stay in power or not.

Moses was setting up the system of government with instructions for judges. He did that to help himself and also to help Joshua, who would succeed him.

The Significance in Thomas’ Time

Thomas Hooker
Thomas Hooker

Let’s go back to Thomas. He is an actual person in American history. His name was Thomas Hooker. He was a preacher. In fact, he was deemed to be one of the best preachers of the 17th century.

Thomas’ background was: he was born in 1586 in England. He went to Cambridge University. Many early leaders of the United States went to Cambridge, came over to the US, and were preachers who formed the basis for the United States of America.

Some people want us to forget that. Some people want us to cancel that out of our minds. Some people want to shout about the separation of church and state. Well, the phrase separation of church and state is not in the Constitution.

In fact, the first amendment to the Constitution guarantees us freedom of religion. It gives us the freedom to exercise our religion. If someone were to say you could only meet together during church services, that is a violation of that right. That is not free exercise.

Perhaps I want to go visit a Christian friend at his home and have a Bible study. That’s free exercise. But if someone tells us we can’t do that, it’s not the free exercise of religion.

Thomas Hooker became a pastor. If you recall, the Church of England had pulled out of the Roman Catholic Church. Many preachers and Bible scholars saw that as an opportunity to return the church to the principles of God’s Word. It was called the Reformation during that time. They were trying to reform the Church of England.

Some of them thought it would take too long, so they began to form small congregations in different areas. It was like forming several small independent Baptist churches, or several Churches of God. There was no hierarchy dictating what they could and could not do. Those people were called Separatists, but they were part of the Puritans.

Puritans
Puritans

There was another group that decided to be patient and change the church from within. The ones who tried that often ran into trouble.

Both groups began to get pressure from the government. They didn’t want them to be out from under their control, so they had to flee.

In the case of Thomas Hooker, he fled to Holland. It’s said that he had to disguise himself in order to leave. But, he and his family, like many others, got on a ship and came to America.

They came to a place where they had the opportunity to worship God according to the dictates of their hearts. It was a blank slate, a new land. It was a time of opportunity to figure out new ways to do things and ways to govern fairly. Aren’t you glad?

Now, I may have fictionalized the part about Thomas having the consternation about the sermon, but it absolutely was a midweek service. It absolutely was based on Deuteronomy 1:13. That verse, again, says, “Choose wise, discerning, and knowing men, among your tribes, and I will appoint them as leaders over you.”

Hartford, Connecticut today
Hartford, Connecticut today

In 1633, Thomas became a pastor near Cambridge, Massachusetts. Three years later, he, his wife, and 100 men from their congregation went south to establish a town. You’ve probably heard of it: It’s called Hartford, Connecticut.

The midweek service was in 1638 and he found the passage of scripture. I don’t know if he had a manuscript of the sermon, but if he did, it did not survive the passage of time. There was a man who took notes and had 13 short paragraphs. It is said that he took notes in shorthand. The note taker was Henry Wolcott, Jr. He wrote out the key points of Thomas’ sermon.

The first one was, “The choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people by God’s own allowance.”

The second one: “The privilege of election which belongs to the people must not be exercised according to their whims but according to the blessed will and law of God.”

Number three: “Those who have power to appoint officers and magistrates have it in their power also to set the bounds and limits of the power and places unto which they call them.”

Four: “Because the foundation of authority is laid firstly in the free consent of people.”

So, they decided they were going to establish the government of Hartford, Connecticut, and use the above principles in doing so.

Just a year later, in January 1639, they began setting up the constitution for Connecticut. These principles, “the consent of the governed:”, and the subsequent constitution paved the way for other colonies as they were establishing their constitutions.

The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut
The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut

Later, those same principles were the foundation for the establishment of the Constitution of the United States of America.

Today, Connecticut is known as “The Constitution State.”

That midweek service changed the course of history.

The Significance in Our Time

This is not only a piece of our history. It’s significant in our time as well.

We have the importance of free and fair elections. No one has to know how you vote. We still have secret ballots.

While some in power may overstep their authority, we do still have the consent of the governed.

We vote for judges, among other offices
We vote for judges, among other offices

During a mandated business shut down, one of the local restaurants where I like to go for coffee shut down for a brief period. The next time I checked, they had a sign on the door stating that they were going to remain open and gave the number of their attorney. I’m thankful that they chose to stand their ground against over-reaching governmental interference.

You may be thinking, “Aren’t Christians supposed to be good citizens? Aren’t we supposed to be obedient to authority?”

YES!

We are supposed to be obedient to legitimate authority over us. We do not have to be under the hands of tyrants or tyranny. I hope that we have the strength of character to stand. The Bible says, “…having done all to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13b)
We have the freedom to be able to disagree. We should have the freedom to be able to disagree and debate.

There is the force of medical things. It’s amazing to me that I can turn on the TV and see an advertisement for some drug. The commercial will begin to expound on all the benefits of the medication being advertised and that will go on for about 30 seconds. Then, all at once, a laundry list of possible side effects will begin playing.

It should be a choice.
It should be a choice.

Now we have a drug that is authorized for emergency use, and we ought to have the right to decide whether or not we want to take it. There are a plethora of problems with this drug that we’ve not been told about.

The CDC website says that people have been permanently disabled, over 150,000 hospitalizations, and over 5,000 miscarriages as a result of this new medication.

It all comes back to the consent of the governed.

We live in a free land, and a free country

I don’t know what the future will hold, but I’m concerned about what we allow to start happening.

A man was camping in the Arabian desert. After he got set up and started to relax, he heard a noise outside the tent. He looked and saw a camel loitering outside. He shooed the camel away, but soon it was back. He did this again and again but finally got tired of getting up. He allowed the animal to just put his head inside. He patted the camel’s nose, and before long, the whole camel was inside the tent.

To keep the camels out of the tent, it’s going to take people who have the courage to stand.

So, let’s stand for freedom. Let’s stand for the Constitution. It’s not a perfect document as it was written by imperfect men, but notice the foundations from scripture that were put into the early constitutions. Let’s be careful when our liberties are in danger.

Corrie Ten Boom had her liberties taken away and spent time in a concentration camp. She was freed as a result of a clerical error. Later on, she came face to face with one of her captors.

Corrie Ten Boom
Corrie Ten Boom

She had gone to church after church speaking about forgiveness. The man approached her and she recognized him and knew she had said that she had to forgive. He told her that he had been a guard where she was imprisoned. He said that God had forgiven him, and he asked if she could as well. Fighting her personal will, she reached out her hand to shake his, and she felt the forgiveness come.

I hope that we never get to the place where we would be taken captive. We have the consent of the governed. It’s been said that we’ve been given a republic, it’s up to us to keep it.

The fundamental ideas of Connecticut, inspired by the words of Deuteronomy 13:1, preached by Thomas Hooker, said in it’s opening preamble, “For as much as it hath pleased Almighty God by the wise disposition of his divine providence so to order and dispose of things that we the Inhabitants and Residents of Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield are now cohabiting and dwelling in and upon the River of Connectecotte and the lands thereunto adjoining; and well knowing where a people are gathered together the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union of such a people there should be an orderly and decent Government established according to God, to order and dispose of the affairs of the people at all seasons as occasion shall require; do therefore associate and conjoin ourselves to be as one Public State or Commonwealth; and do for ourselves and our successors and such as shall be adjoined to us at any time hereafter, enter into Combination and Confederation together, to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess…”

The Most Important Consent

You and I may debate some topics, and we may not always agree, but there is one area where it’s important that the consent of the governed takes place: That is, that God loved us so much that He gave His Son so we could be forgiven of our sins. He gave His Son so that we could experience salvation.

When we accept that free gift of salvation, we accept Jesus as One who is the Lord and Ruler of the universe. He has the right to rule and reign in all our lives. When we become His child, we consent to be governed by Him.

The most important consent to being governed is to consent to be governed by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Allow yourself to be governed by Christ
Allow yourself to be governed by Christ

If you’ve never accepted Him as your Savior, I invite you to come to Christ today. As I’ve mentioned before, the gift is free. You can receive it by faith. When you do, you will become a new creature. Your life will be changed. The former things have passed away.

Some of the things you liked before, you won’t like anymore. Some of the things you didn’t like before you will begin to like. Some of your friends may not like the changes taking place in your life and you may lose some of them. It’s OK because the best friend you could have is Jesus.

The best decision you could make is to place yourself under His authority and allow your life to be governed by Him.

If you want to know how to accept that free gift, please use the contact information on this blog page to reach out to me. I would be thrilled to help you.

Triumph to Tragedy to Glory!


In my last post, I talked about Triumph to tragedy to what? “Victory” is what all of us who know the Lord want to say.
Today I’m talking about triumph to tragedy to glory.

Sermon video

Luke 24:1-12


24 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices they had prepared. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 But when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were greatly perplexed concerning this, suddenly two men stood by them in shining garments. 5 As they were afraid and bowed their faces to the ground, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen! Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, 7 saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered His words.
9 And they returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. 11 But their words seemed like fables to them, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb. Stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves. He departed, wondering in himself what had happened.

John

John was a passenger in the car. They had been up quite a while, and it was dark. He began to doze off, then he’d raise up. Then he’d doze off again, and then sit up again. Then, all at once, he heard a gasp from the driver, and then it became sort of a shriek. John woke up and saw that they were quickly approaching a tree. He saw the windshield shatter before his eyes. After that…something happened.

You never know...
You never know…

Previous Blog Post

Today I want to talk about the triumph first, the tragedy, and then the glory. In my last blog, I talked about the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. That was a wonderful thing. The crowd cried, “Hosanna! Glory to God in the highest!”

Accused and Tried


But He knew the rest of the week was going to be different, and it was. It became a tragedy.

Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was taken before the High Priest where a fake trial was held. He was found guilty of blasphemy. They did not have the legal authority to put Him to death, which was their ultimate goal. So, they took Him before Pilate, who was a representative of the Roman government.

Pilate completed his investigation and said he found no fault in Jesus’ actions. He washed his hands and said he was “innocent of this man’s blood.”
The crowd cried out and said, “His blood be upon us and upon our children!”
Pilate said, “Yes! His blood WILL be on you, and on your children.” Then he caved to the pressure, turned, and gave the order to crucify Jesus.

Scourged and Crucified

So, they took Jesus and hung Him on a cross between two thieves. It was an innocent man hanging between two definite criminals.


It wasn’t just a man, however. People had seen Him perform miracles. Although they understood that He was fully man, fully human, He was also the divine Son of God.

Jesus was whipped before being crucified.
Jesus was whipped before being crucified.


Before being nailed to the cross, he had been whipped with a cat-o-nine-tails. His flesh was torn from his body and hung in ribbons. One scripture says that it couldn’t be recognized as human flesh. It was the most horrific physical suffering we could imagine. It was so graphic that one movie that was made about the crucifixion had to receive an “R” rating due to the violence. Even though that depiction was awful, the reality was even worse.

More Than Physical Suffering


As bad as the physical suffering was, He also suffered spiritually. He who knew no sin became sin for us. (2 Corinthians 5:21). The wages of sin are death (Romans 6:23), and that’s what Jesus did…He died. Because He was the Son of God, His death was different from any other death.

There is more than one kind of death

We’re all aware of physical death. That’s what we see at funerals. But there’s also spiritual death. It’s much deeper. It’s when we’re separated from God. But you don’t have to be separated from God because Jesus died the death that we deserve. We don’t have to be separated from God. He offers it as a free gift to mankind. I pray that if you’ve never accepted that gift you would do it before this day is over.

A Different Kind of Death

A lot of people die, but their death doesn’t count to me. Of all the funerals I’ve attended, those people’s death didn’t count to me. But because Jesus was the Son of God, His death was sufficient to pay the penalty for all of our sins. He didn’t have to pay the penalty for His sins because He had none. The only way He could “have” sin was for it to be taken from us and, in a way I don’t understand, be placed on Him. So, He became sin and suffered the ultimate penalty of death.

Confused Spiritually?


If you’re in a spiritual state of confusion and you wonder where you are, the thing you need to do most is to not leave that up to doubt and come to Christ. It’s the same answer whether you don’t know Him or you do.

Regardless of your previous church experience, do you know that you know if you were like John in that car wreck, you would go to Glory? If you don’t, there’s no need for you to be in that state. Before this day is over, you can get in contact with me via this blog and I will pray with you. Your prayer is how you will receive the gift. You can go to sleep tonight knowing for sure!

Glory!


So, it’s tragedy to triumph to what can be glory. In the case of Jesus, it was, indeed, glory. The scripture above tells the story.

The women were going to the tomb to prepare Jesus’ body with oils and spices. They were concerned because they knew there was a large stone blocking the entrance and wondered who would roll the stone away. It is believed that it weighed between one and a half and two tons.

The stone had already been rolled away!
The stone had already been rolled away!


It turned out that they didn’t need to worry. When they arrived at the tomb of Jesus, two angels were there and had rolled the stone away.

The Bible tells us that there were Roman guards as well as temple guards watching the tomb. History says it may have been as many as 16 in total. Four at a time would stand at the mouth of the tomb while the others would patrol the rest of the area around it.

They took turns guarding the entrance so no one would fall asleep. If one did happen to fall asleep, the sentence was usually death.

The Rest of the Story


In order to get the whole story, it’s necessary to read all 4 of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). But the Bible tells us that a great earthquake came and the guards were “like dead men” – they were asleep. They didn’t even see the stone rolled away.


After Jesus rose from the dead, those who wanted Him crucified went to the Roman guards and instructed them to tell people that the disciples had come and stolen the body. The guards feared that they would be put to death, but the Jewish leaders assured them that they had great influence and would pay off the leaders to save the Roman soldiers from execution.


That’s the story that was circulated. But, that’s not what happened. Jesus did die, and He was in that tomb, but He rose again, victorious over death.

Jesus is victorious over death.
Jesus is victorious over death.


When the women went and told the disciples, Peter and John ran to the tomb. John arrived first, and when Peter arrived, he looked inside, and then he went in. He found the grave clothes lying in a pile. But the napkin that had covered His face was folded by itself. (John20:7) Jesus had been dead, but now He was alive! It was unimaginable!

Miracles


They’d seen all kinds of things that defied the mind of man. There was the time when 5,000 men, plus women and children, needed to be fed. A collection was taken up, and they got 2 loaves of bread and 5 fish. Jesus was able to feed that entire crowd with that, plus leftovers!


Another time, the disciples were out in a boat. There was a storm on the water. They looked off in the distance and saw Jesus walking on the water. It defies the mind of man. How could He do these things? He was God in the flesh!


But the greatest miracle of all had just taken place. Jesus died, willingly laying down His life. They did not take it from Him. It was His choice. Then, He rose Himself from the dead with the power of the Father.

Proof


To make sure that we “got” it, He appeared to the disciples. The first time He did that, Thomas wasn’t with them. The others tried to tell him that they’d seen the risen Savior, but he refused to believe until he could put his hand in Jesus’ side where the spear had pierced Him and feel the prints of the nails in His hands and feet (John 20:24).


The next time Jesus appeared, Thomas was with them. Jesus turned to Thomas, who fell at His feet and cried, “My Lord and my God.”


He arose victorious!


So, you have the triumph of the crucifixion and the glory of the resurrection.
Think about John. The windshield shattered in front of him. He heard a loud crash. He was about to go through the windshield, but all at once, there was no pain, just comfort. There was bright light all around. Angels? Maybe. I know this: it was good. His body was mangled and would have to be buried.
Triumph to tragedy to glory.

Your Gift

Jesus offers you a free gift.
Jesus offers you a free gift.


That is how it would be if you’ve accepted the Lord’s free gift of salvation. Isn’t it a wonderful and marvelous thing?

We can’t do enough to be good enough. We can’t do enough to make up for all the wrongs that we’ve done in the past. We can’t do enough to erase all the resentments we’ve had in the past. We can’t take care of it ourselves. But Jesus did. He paid it all.


For those who accept His free gift, it doesn’t matter if they die in a car wreck or if sickness ravages their health, they will go on to Glory.

Paradise


Jesus was crucified between two thieves. We know that after He died, He went to what He described as paradise.

Jesus was hung between 2 common criminals.
Jesus was hung between 2 common criminals.

The thief who was crucified next to Him said, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” The other thief reviled Jesus but the first one said, “He (Jesus) is innocent. You and I are guilty.” Jesus turned to the first one and said, “Today, you will be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)


So, Jesus rose again. He arose in a body that could be recognized. When He appeared to His disciples, they knew who He was.

More Proof

He asked them for some fish, and they gave it to Him and He ate it (Luke 24:41-43). That showed that it was a physical body, not just a spirit. It wasn’t a mass hallucination, it wasn’t a hologram, it was a physical body. The disciples saw it.

Two people were walking on the road to Emmaus and Jesus appeared to them and walked with them for a while. It took them some time, but they finally figured out who He was and recognized Him.

They recalled how He spoke about the Old Testament prophecies and how they pointed to Jesus coming, dying, and rising again. They asked, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us while He talked to us…” (Luke 24:13-35)

Because He disappeared from their sight. Yes, it was a physical body but it did some amazing things. He walked through walls, appeared inside, and appeared inside.

Our Hope


He is the first fruit of the resurrection. That’s why you and I can know that when we face death, we’ll rise again, just like Jesus did. We’ll have a new body.


John entered into Glory. What can it be for us?

We will have a resurrected body someday. It will be like the body that was described of Jesus. It will be amazing.

Healing Still Happens


Just think about all the pain and suffering that you see people going through. Sometimes, God will take someone who has a terrible illness and He will heal them.

When Jesus was on Earth, they saw it all the time. Now, it happens in answer to prayer. Healing on Earth doesn’t happen for everyone, and some people get hung up on that.

God still heals
God still heals


But I know that sometimes, God does things that amaze the medical community. I know people have had imaging done, and on those images there are tumors. Then they go back to the doctor and more imaging is done and the medical staff says they can’t explain it, but the tumors are gone! That does happen sometimes. God does that.

What Does Your Future Hold?


But, the simple fact of the matter is, unless Jesus comes back, we’re all going to die at some point. After this will be the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). If you’ve accepted that free gift of salvation, you just sail right on through. If not, you don’t have that promise.


So will it be triumph to tragedy to glory or will it be triumph to tragedy to worse tragedy? Those are the only two options we have.

New Bodies


The Bible says that when Jesus comes back, the dead in Christ will rise first, and those of us who are Christians and are still alive will be caught up with Him in the air and will forever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4: 13-17)


Those bodies are going to be fully realized, resurrected bodies just like Jesus has. What happens between now and then? I don’t have all the answers, but we know some things from scripture.

A Conscious Experience


One thing is: The thief who was on the cross next to Jesus was later with Jesus in a conscious experience.

We know that Jesus talked about a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. Jesus said that they died, and the rich man, being in torment in conscious existence, lifted up his eyes and saw that Lazarus was being comforted. (Luke 16:19-31)

We Will Be With Jesus


Between now and when the Lord comes back and the bodies are brought out of the grave, something happens, but I don’t know what.


What I do know for sure is that God is good and Jesus is good. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8) Whatever “state” that is, it will be wonderful!

Then when the Lord comes back and we rise with Him and “pick up” our resurrected bodies, we’ll be free from pain and disease. The more time that passes, the more I understand that and am thankful for it. There will be no more pain, crying, sorrow, or death. (Revelation 21:4)


I’ve talked about the triumphal entry, the tragedy of Jesus’ crucifixion and death, but the glory of His resurrection!

Do You Know That You Know?


The story of John is based on actual events. There have been people who were in car wrecks and lost their lives. But because they had accepted Christ’s gift of salvation, they entered into Glory. For the ones who hadn’t done that, it’s more tragic.


Earlier, I asked the question, “Do you know that you know?”. It’s not about being self-righteous and thinking “I’m going to Heaven because I’m so good.” No one is good enough without Jesus. If you want the Biblical description of our own “goodness”, it says our good deeds are as filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6) It is the same for all of us.


So, if you can’t get to Heaven based on your own goodness, how do you get there? It’s based on the goodness of God.

As I’ve said before, the wages of sin are death. Every one of us has sinned. We became sinners by choice. We rebelled against a holy God and wanted to go our own way. We all deserve death. That’s why Jesus died.

His Death is Sufficient


He died, and it is sufficient for all of us. That’s why it is the gift of salvation. We didn’t earn it and we don’t deserve it. But we do have to accept it.

$100

Would you accept it?
Would you accept it?


Imagine if I had a $100 bill for each person reading this. Imagine if I offered one to you. Maybe someone reading this works for a bank and wants to verify the authenticity of the bills.

After examination, our banker friend confirms that they are genuine $100 bills. Now, all you have to do is come and get it. It’s all been proven to be real. Are you going to accept it?


A little boy with no inhibitions may run and get the first one. There may be some who will scoff at the offer, and insist that the bills are counterfeit, stay where they are, and miss out on the gift.

Good News


Here is a free gift. It’s called the Gospel. The word “gospel” means good news. It’s unbelievable for some. They may say, “God wouldn’t accept me.” The unbelievable news is that your sin has already been paid for. Salvation is there. Will you come and get it?


How do you do that? By faith. The Bible says the word of faith is near you, even in your heart. If you believe that Jesus died and rose again. (Romans 10:8,9) That’s exactly what I’m talking about here.

Faith


That’s what Easter is all about: That Jesus died and rose on the third day. If you believe that these things are fact, you are very close to salvation. The word of faith is near you. That’s the doctrine.

Child-like faith
Child-like faith

The other thing you need to do is, with child-like faith, come to Jesus and say, “It’s almost beyond belief that I could be saved. It’s almost beyond belief that You would love me that much. It’s almost beyond belief, God, that You would give Your Son for me. But it’s true, and I believe it.” You’re SO close!


The Bible says that all who received Him, to them gave He the power to become the children of God. (John 1:12) To get the $100, you have to receive it!
Many will come and receive it, but some will say, “There’s some catch to it. I don’t believe it.”

Facts


That’s the reality of it. That’s a fact of history. There was a man named Jesus who performed miracles. There is eyewitness testimony of them!

There are eyewitnesses who saw Him alive after he was crucified.

The disciples all saw the resurrected Jesus.

There were 500 people at one time that saw Him after the resurrection.

These are all facts of history.


It changed the disciples’ lives. In fact, they all gave their lives for Christ, because they believed they would live again.

You Can Have the Glory!


You just have to believe it by faith. Come and confess your sins and call upon the Lord. The Bible says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13) That’s how you walk up and get the $100.


If you’ve never been saved or if you’re not sure about your salvation, the answer is the same. If you have some doubt and aren’t sure if you ever really accepted Jesus Christ as your savior, or if you know you never have, the answer is the same.

Invite Christ into your heart and life
Invite Christ into your heart and life

It’s all about Jesus & His death. It is because of what He’s done that we can be sure! Not for any other reason.


If you’ve come to a point in your life where you’ve wandered away from God, just go back to Him. Follow the Lord and He will come into your heart and life. It will be tragedy to glory!