Saturday, April 29, 2017

April 29, 2017

"Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:" Psalms 37:3-5

Desire is a combination of emotion and intellect. 

Desire is part want and part will. Temptation is a battle over where we will aim our desire.

The First Adam aimed his desire at a lie and we have been a deceived race since.

Jesus, the Second Adam, aimed His desire at God and remained holy.

What about you? Are your desires being steered by your wants or by your will?

The Psalmist knew about desire. He wrote some of the most personal, poignant, and passionate poetry ever written. Few people have chased God harder than David. He gives us some insights here in Psalm 37 that you could benefit from. The Psalm promises that if you, "delight yourself in the Lord" the Lord will "give you the desires of your heart".

So, the question becomes, how do you do that? How do you delight yourself in the Lord?

Before we explore that, let me point out something even more obvious - you must first desire to please God. You must decide that God's desires are more important than your desires. You will not be delighted in God if He is not your chief desire.

What does that look like?

"Trust in the Lord...." The word picture painted here means "to rely on", "to be confident", "to lean your full weight on" Him.

The first way to delight in the Lord is to WANT Him more than to want anything or anyone else. Aim all of your desire at Him. Make it the purpose of your life to meet His desires. Don't even make it about your desires - focus on satisfying His!

When you want the Lord more than anything, temptation loses it's strength against you! I doubt if the devil will tempt you toward desiring God.

Will you aim your desires at God today? 

Will you make Him your chief desire? 

Will you confess and surrender any misplaced desires?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Chief Desire

"Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:" Psalm 37:3-5

The more I study this Psalm the more insight I gain into the relationship between desire and temptation. And make no mistake, there is a strong relationship! Temptation happens at the intersection of your desire and your will. If you have no desire for something then you can't be tempted by it. It really is that simple. For the most part, people end up doing what they most desire to do.

So, that is why desire matters and that's why if you have any hopes of defeating temptation you must be in touch with and in charge of your desires.

But this morning, the issue I want to address is this, what should you desire? The answer is simple - you should desire what God desires. Or even better than that, you should desire God! God should be your chief desire! The fact is, unless God is your chief desire - HE IS NOT YOUR GOD!

So what is it that God desires and what do we need to desire in order for Him to be our God? The Psalmist mentions three things. 

But for now I want to focus like a laser on your chief desire. What is it? Is there something you desire more than you desire God? Do you love God because He is your chief desire or do you love Him hoping that He get you what you desire? Are you serving Him or are you trying to get Him to serve you? Only you - (and Him) - know the true answer to that. And ultimately you will answer to Him for that.

As I conclude this thought for this morning I want to tie together several statements that I have made during this series on temptation. First, "we are tempted because we are sinners and we sin because we're tempted". In other words, when our desires are wrong and when our desires are not lined up with God we will be tempted more! Second, "temptation is a test that reveals what we love most". What you desire will be exposed by how you are tempted and where you yield to temptation.

Adam sinned at the moment God ceased to be his chief desire. 

Jesus resisted sin because God was His chief desire! 

How about you?

The "Good" Thing

"Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:" Psalm 37:3-5

Temptation happens at the point of your desire. That is abundantly clear in the temptation of Adam and Eve as it is in the temptation of Jesus. Adam and Eve were controlled by their desire and sinned against God. Jesus controlled His desire and remained sinless. So, it seems that you are confronted with an option, "either you control your desires or your desires will control you". Therein lies the battle of temptation. Will you be controlled by your emotions or will you exercise your will to control your emotions?

There are some who believe you cannot control your desires and that you are a slave to them. No thanks to Adam and Eve, it is difficult to gain control over your desires. Once they exercised their will against God it perverted their desires. That is the nature we inherit from them.

So, how do you get control of your desires? How do we keep your desires from controlling you? The Psalmist, who is very open about his struggles to gain control over his desires, shares some insight into how he does it.

"Trust in the Lord"The word for "trust" means to "lean on" or to "rely on" or to "put confidence in" God. The word picture portrayed is the idea of putting your total trust into God. It is like when you sit in a chair. You put your total weight into that chair and completely trust it. When you put the key in your car you totally trust it to start. When you lie down on your bed you totally trust it to support you. You must "trust, rely, lean on" God to help you control your desires. By the power of your will you choose to aim your emotions at God.

"do good"When you place your trust completely on the Lord He will guide you and strengthen you to "do good". Notice it does not say that you should desire to do good, it simply says to "do good". People who are controlled by their emotions and desires will only "do good" when they feel like it. But people who control their desires do good whether they feel like it or not!

Jesus probably didn't feel like dying on the cross. But he "did the good" that His Father desired of Him. Jesus probably felt like turning those stones into bread - partly because He was very hungry and partly because he wanted to show the devil that He really could after the devil challenged His "godhood". How do you feel when someone challenges your manhood? You want to show them, don't you? Imagine being God and having some inferior being challenge your "godhood".

So, here it is. Another day, another battle with temptation. Temptation will be there to meet you at your point of desire and you will either control your desire or be controlled by it. You can trust your own strength to take charge over your emotions or you can rely on God and trust Him to help you do good.

The first "good" thing you can do today is to put Him in charge of your emotions AND your will!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

April 26, 2017

"...because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."  Hebrews 11:6

The old saying claims, "You do for love what you wouldn't do for money."

That is proven every Sunday in every church nursery when faithful volunteer workers change stinky diapers of infants who are not theirs. Yep, that's love!

When someone volunteers to sit in a nursery filled with stinky bawling babies, what are they looking for? Why do they do that? It isn't fun or pleasant. It doesn't do much for them.

Motive matters and when you are a nursery worker you are not doing it for the reward you are probably doing it for the relationships.

This verse states that "God is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him".

Are you seeking God for a reward or are you seeking Him for a relationship? Is your faith based upon what you hope to get from Him or are you seeking  to know Him?

Hebrews 11 is the Christian Heroes Hall of Fame (or Hall of Faith). What made these men and women exemplary was not just what they did, but what motivated them to do it.

Noah labored every day for over 100 years building something he had never built before to prepare for something he had never seen before! Why was he doing that? What reward was he seeking? He didn't get paid by the hour nor was he on salary. He not only had to pound the nails into the boards and seal then with pitch - he had to make the nails, he had to cut down the trees and draw the tar out of the trees. There were no Lowes or Home Depots in that day.

Noah wasn't in it for the reward. I believe he was in it for the relationship with God.

You could go through this list of great people and ask, "Were they after a reward or were they wanting a relationship?" I believe the answer would be the same, they wanted to please God through their obedience. And they did! They altered history! They changed the world! They changed lives!

In the end they discovered an amazing truth - God IS their reward! They found that what Who He is far exceeds anything we could ever receive from Him.

Are you seeking God for what you can get from Him? Are you after the reward more than you're after the relationship? God can't reward self-seeking. You run the risk of missing both the reward and the relationship - which, in fact, IS the reward!

April 25, 2017

"After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.  “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.’"  Luke 10:1-9

For the 45 years I have been privileged to serve in pastoral ministry I have read many books and attended many seminars and been exposed to many different plans or strategies of discipleship. Discipleship IS the deal for those of us who claim the Name of Jesus. But it was never meant to be a program or a strategy, it is intended to be a lifestyle. It is what He expects us to do!

In this encounter between Jesus and His disciples He demonstrates the model for making disciples. I invite you to pay close attention to how Jesus changed these followers into disciples.

First, Jesus did ministry and they watched. He preached the gospel and declared the Kingdom, healing the sick, delivering the captives, casting out demons, and doing miracles. While they were impressed and amazed, it often seemed like they really didn't grasp the significance of Who He is and what He came to do. But He ministered in power and authority and they watcher.

Second, Jesus did ministry and they helped. When He fed the five thousand He had them find the loaves and fishes. Then He had them help organize the crowd and hand out the food. Finally, He asked them to gather up the leftovers. He did ministry and they helped.

Third, Jesus sent them to do ministry and He watched. They discovered that when they went in His Name declaring His Kingdom healing happened and deliverance happened and salvations happened! Not only did they change lives but their lives were changed in the process!

Fourth, Jesus celebrated with them when they returned from their mission trip with stories galore! When His Kingdom came the kingdom of darkness fell!

Finally, as Jesus prepared to ascend into Heaven following His death and resurrection, He commanded these disciples whom He had disciples to go and make more disciples. In other words, they were to do ministry while others watched. Then they were to to ministry together. After that they were to let the others minister while they watched and then all of them would celebrate together!

Disciples disciple! It is what they do! It is how they live. It is why they live!

Who are you discipling? 

Who is discipling you? 

Are you spending your life or investing it?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

April 24, 2017

"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9

Farmer Joe decided his injuries from the accident were serious enough to take the trucking company (responsible for the accident) to court. In court, the trucking company's fancy lawyer was questioning farmer Joe. "Didn't you say, at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine!'?," questioned the lawyer.Farmer Joe responded, "Well I'll tell you what happened. I had just loaded my favorite mule Bessie into the.......""I didn't ask for any details," the lawyer interrupted, "just answer the question. Did you not say, at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine!'"Farmer Joe said, "Well I had just got Bessie into the trailer and I was driving down the road..."The lawyer interrupted again and said, "Judge, I am trying to establish the fact that, at the scene of the accident, this man told the Highway Patrolman on the scene that he was just fine. Now several weeks after the accident he is trying to sue my client. I believe he is a fraud. Please tell him to simply answer the question."By this time the Judge was fairly interested in Farmer Joe's answer and said to the lawyer, "I'd like to hear what he has to say about his favorite mule Bessie."Joe thanked the Judge and proceeded, "Well as I was saying, I had just loaded Bessie, my favorite mule, into the trailer and was driving her down the highway when this huge semi-truck and trailer ran the stop sign and smacked my truck right in the side. I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other. I was hurting real bad and didn't want to move. However, I could hear ole Bessie moaning and groaning. I knew she was in terrible shape just by her groans. Shortly after the accident a Highway Patrolman came on the scene. He could hear Bessie moaning and groaning so he went over to her. After he looked at her he took out his gun and shot her between the eyes. Then the Patrolman came across the road with his gun in his hand and looked at me. He said, "Your mule was in such bad shape I had to shoot her. How are you feeling?" That's when I said, "I'm fine!"

Just like Farmer Joe, we mistakenly declare, "I'm fine!" when in fact, we are not.

The belief that "I am fine" morally and spiritually can lead to several conclusions, none of which are healthy or helpful.

One is comparing with other people, "I'm fine because I am as moral as they are!"

Another is criticizing others in order to bring them down, "Well. I'm fine because I am better than them! Have you seen what they do?"

Denial is another, "I'm fine. I don't do anything that bad. I'm only human!"

Or, some rationalize, "I'm fine, I belong to a church and I have been baptized and I keep most of the commandments."

The fact that we think we are fine is the crux of the problem! We are NOT fine. We are morally corrupt and spiritually bankrupt. Our mind is deceived and our judgment is flawed. There is no goodness in us.

Until we face the truth about our lostness and confess that we are not fine, do we have a chance for redemption. Unless we flee to His holiness and receive His righteousness with we ever find relief.

Come out of your dark denial and walk into the light of His truth:

"If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." I John 1:6-10

Saturday, April 22, 2017

April 23, 2017

"The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. " Psalm 24:1-2

Happy 47th Anniversary!

How did you celebrate?

Celebrate what?

You must be kidding! Yesterday was EARTH DAY!

Earth Day is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment held on April 22. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisconsin) as an environmental teach-in in 1970 and is celebrated in many countries every year. The first Earth Day was in 1970. Earth Day is in spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. The United Nations celebrates Earth Day each year on the spring equinox, which is often 20 March. This is a tradition which was founded by peace activist John McConnell in 1969. The United Nations first celebrated Earth Day on the spring equinox in 1971. This was also the first time ever that the United Nations celebrated Earth Day. The first Earth Day on the spring equinox was also in 1970.

So, Earth Day is a celebration of the earth and it's environment, right?

Then, it would seem logical to honor God, the Creator of the earth on Earth Day! Who better to focus on than Him? Right?


Why? Because Earth Day is the creation of godless people with an anti-God, anti-capitalistic agenda. Granted, not everyone involved with Earth Day or who may celebrate it are like these people. But a thorough study of the origins, purpose, guiding principles and implementation of Earth Day will reveal that there is a definite social and political agenda that drives the movement. If you don't believe me, do the research yourself. These are the people pushing the global warming theories that have been largely discredited. How about getting the 48 hour weather forecasts more accurate before predicting entire climate changes in coming decades?

In my lifetime, there has been dire warnings of global cooling. Then there was panic about global warming. Neither of those have happened. Now they have morphed it into "global climate change". How much credibility do you want to give to a movement that has changed its fundamental premise three times in less than half a century?

Twenty years ago a wise friend of mine told me that the environmentalist movement was the new home of the communist/socialist types. I thought he was a little paranoid or conspiratorial and laughed him off. But time has given credence to his point of view. Again, some study and observation will make it clear to you who the movers and promoters of this movement are.

Pastor Brad, are you saying there is no climate change?

I am not prepared to say that climate changes don't happen, but I am saying that we have only been keeping climate records for a little more than a century. How can you make accurate assumptions or predictions based on limited data over a 100 year span of the ancient planet? And, if it is proven that there is climate change how can we prove that it is man caused?

This all sounds very speculative and quite pessimistic. It sounds like something people with no Godly faith or hope might worry about. It also sounds like a scare tactic that could be used by people who are trying to gain control over your behavior and your emotions.

To me it sounds a whole lot easier and more encouraging to just believe that there is a Creator and that He is intimately involved in our world today. He made it, He sustains it, and He will protect it until He makes a new heaven and a new earth. If you REALLY want to celebrate Earth Day, celebrate God - the Creator of Earth because "the earth is His and everything that is in it...."

Don't buy into the hoax! Buy into HIM!

Friday, April 21, 2017

April 22, 2017

When you are flying at 500 mph and at 35,000 feet hitting turbulence can be a problem. You see the seat belt sign go on and you hear the announcement from the captain hoping it won't be too bad and it won't last too long.

In addition to the problem of turbulence there is the premise that you don't have to be on a plane to encounter turbulence. Life can be filled with turbulence, too. The fasten seat belt sign comes on regularly in everyday life. So, since turbulence is a very real part of life, you'd better learn how to handle it.

In Philippians 4:6, Paul, writing from prison while being chained to a prison guard wrote to the Philippians telling them to pray when life became turbulent and they could find peace from God.

"But, Brad, I am praying!" you say. 

"I have been praying hard for a long time and nothing is changed! I have no peace!"

Here's what Paul says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

I want you to know this is no casual "now I lay me down to sleep" type of prayer. Nor is it a 9-1-1 prayer, "God save me from this turbulence" or "God please turn off the seat belt sign". 

The prayer Paul is prescribing is an intense prayer that seeks to get to the root of what causes you to react with fear when your life hits turbulence. For Paul knows that somewhere in that fear is the deepest desire that God longs to meet when you recognize it and "present your request to God". We used to call it "praying through".

Nobody like the seat belt light to come on during a flight. Turbulence takes away the fun of flying and replaces it with fear. But there is something about fear that can focus you and cause you to sort through the emotions and with the help of the Holy Spirit identify what it really is you need from God so you can encounter His grace at a deeper more meaningful level!

God can help you fly through turbulence! Fasten your seat belt and pray - REALLY pray! Pray through!

April 21, 2017

Once you have experienced turbulence on a flight your attitude toward flying will change. You may choose to never fly again or fly only when absolutely necessary and then take something that will numb your anxiety.

But what if you are a frequent flyer?

What if you have a career that requires you to fly regularly?

People who must fly frequently must learn to make peace with turbulence. They may never enjoy it but they must find a way to cope with it.

You may remind yourself of how safe modern aircraft are with all their technology and back-up systems. The aircraft is designed to withstand violent periods of turbulent air. And you calm yourself in the knowledge that the captain is highly trained and has safely flown thousands of hours. You recall all the other times you flew through turbulence and every time you survived. Then you buckle yourself tightly in your seat and hope for the best.

The truth is life is filled with turbulence. Especially in all the pressures and perils of modern day living. And if you are a Christ-follower and if you are doing faith right you will find yourself on a bumpy ride and you must make peace with that reality.

Perhaps you are flying through some turbulence right now. Well, the good news is you can trust your Pilot and you can buckle yourself securely into His peace.

Remind yourself that all forty writers of the Bible wrote sixty-six inspired books in the midst of personal and often national turbulence. And everyone of them, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote to people who were experiencing turbulence in their lives.

The entire Bible is written to help you learn to live in peace in the midst of turbulence!

Perhaps no one faced more rough air than the Apostle Paul and he was in a Roman prison chained to a Roman prison guard when he wrote these words to the Christians at Philippi:

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near." Philippians 4:4-5

Like the frequent flyer, remind yourself Who your Pilot is and rejoice that you are IN HIM and He is IN YOU in the midst of your turbulence.

Not only are you IN HIM and He is IN YOU but He is in control! He is at the controls of your life AND of the turbulence! If anyone knew that for sure it was Paul!

"Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near."

"Gentleness" refers to a heart that is at peace and confident in God. Gentleness is a steady demeanor that reflects the firmness of your faith. There is no sign of panic or distress as the turbulence bounces and buffets your life.

"Gentleness" is consistent with the attitude of rejoicing in the Lord and knowing the "Lord is near". 

That statement is rich in meaning. It refers to His presence and it refers to His power and it is a promise that this turbulent ride is actually taking you some where good!

So, although life is filled with turbulence and there will be more rough air than calm air in your journey, you have plenty of resources to handle it!

You can fly without fear and even learn to enjoy the ride!

Stay tuned for more help in finding peace amid the turbulence of life!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

April 20, 2017

There are three times in a commercial airliner that the "Fasten Seat Belt Sign" comes on:

  • At take off
  • Upon landing
When there is turbulence

When I am flying I don't mind the seat belt sign on being during take off. I am so used to putting my seal belt on every time I climb into my car buckling up that it's second nature on a plane. 

And of course, when the plane is landing it makes sense to be snuggling buckled in. Actually, if I am on a short flight or a connecting flight I usually stay belted into my seat.

But I, like every other flyer, am not thrilled when the sign comes on with the announcement from a flight attendant or from the flight deck, "The captain has turned on the "Fasten Seat Belt Sign" because we will be flying into some rough air."

No one likes turbulence. And when you see that sign and hear that announcement you begin to wonder who bad it will be and how long it might last. Suddenly you remember that you are packed into a narrow metal tube that is hurtling through space at 500 miles per hour 35,000 feet above the ground and whatever happens is totally beyond your control. 

That is scary!

Except for the 500 mph and the 35,000 feet altitude, life is filled with turbulent moments. You may be in the middle of rough air right now and you are hoping to buckle yourself to something stable. Life is very scary and you have no idea how long it might last.

Perhaps you are not experiencing turbulence right now but the seat belt light is blinking. Your boss has been cutting back your hours at work and he seems to be avoiding you. Or, you lost your job, you haven't had an interview despite sending dozens of resumes and your savings are dwindling. Maybe you have been getting strange vibes from your husband and he seems a bit distant lately. Perhaps your teen-age daughter seems distracted and has apparently loss interest in long-time friends. There is a bad feeling deep in your gut that something painful is on the horizon.

The Apostle Paul, who lived a very turbulent life during turbulent times wrote from prison to Christians living under the reign of the sadistic Emperor Nero. Persecution was ramping up throughout the Roman Empire and no one knew how long it would last or how much worse it would get.

It was in these troubling circumstances Paul wrote this encouragement to the Church at Philippi:

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4

Seriously, Paul?

Rejoice when life is tossing me around like a rag doll and it could get worse before it gets better? And there is no indication it will ever get better so you say, "Rejoice?"


Remember Paul is writing this from prison while chained to a Roman guard, so he may be someone you want to listen to. So, listen!

"Rejoice IN the Lord" or rejoice that you are in the Lord! If you are going to be in turbulence don't you want to be IN turbulence IN the Lord?

Would you rather be in turbulence without Him?

I didn't think so.

So, get it now? You can rejoice because you and IN the Lord not because you are in the turbulence.

I say it again, "Rejoice (IN the Lord)!"

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

April 19, 2017

"About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.  He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”  “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven."  Acts 10:9-16

God was preparing Peter to help an entire new group of people belong to the Faith and particularly, the Church.

Belonging is a very important and necessary thing for everyone. It is essential to the human psyche and soul. The breakdown of the family over the past several generations has only intensified that need.

What is involved in belonging? What needs to happen in order to feel like you belong?

There is a "Me" aspect to belonging and there is a "We" aspect to it. Belonging involves acceptance but it also involves commitment. Here is how it works:

Obviously, you or I cannot belong to something unless we are accepted into that group by the members. Acceptance is a warm welcome. Acceptance is permission to enter the group. You can't really be part of a group until the group allows you to join it.

Of all the groups that are available for people to belong to, a local church should be among the most welcoming. Anyone who comes to worship at a local church should find an immediate and sincere acceptance from the members of that body. No one should ever leave a worship service with the feeling they were not accepted.

Acceptance is essential but it is not enough. No matter how accepting a group is and regardless of how warm the welcome, a person doesn't belong until he is willing to commit to belonging and submit to its ways.

If you were to read on to the "rest of the story" followings Peter's vision of the clean and unclean animals you will see that Peter did extend acceptance to Cornelius and his family as God commanded. That obedience and acceptance allowed God's Spirit to work in a powerful way. But, then it became incumbent on Cornelius and the other Gentiles to respond with a commitment. Acts records that they did! They believed and were baptized and as a result, truly belonged to the Faith and the Church!

Acceptance is the role of the "We" in belonging and that acceptance should be as sincere as possible. But in order to belong, there must be a commitment made to the "We" by the "Me".

In my considerable experience in local churches, those who struggle to belong struggle as a result of a "Me" problem rather than the "We" problem. If you are not willing to commit and to submit to the group you will have trouble belonging.

Does that make sense?

Monday, April 17, 2017

April 18, 2017

"Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"  John 11:25-26

This is quite a claim made by Jesus! Very confident and quite comforting!

If you will live and believe in Jesus, and if you allow Him to live in you by faith, you will never die!

However, there ARE several things that WILL die when you die and I feel compelled to point those out.

When you die, suffering dies. The moment you slip away from your earthly body and into eternity with Jesus - your suffering is over! Forever!

When you die, sorrow dies. At your last breath in this life, you are done with sorrow! Once your spirit enters into the presence of God there will be only joy! Sadness has no place in Heaven! You will shed no more tears. You will know no more heartbreak!

When you die, sin dies. If you die in Christ and enter into His paradise you will enter a safe, secure, sin-free environment. Not only will you be free from sin but you will not have to deal with temptation either!

So, you see, death is final - final for the things that are not worthy of God or right for eternity!

As we wrap up the Easter season I just wanted to remind you of a few reasons why it is the pivotal event in all of human history! You will never die, but all the things that make your life difficult or painful will die!

He's alive! You will live! 

Your heart-ache and hardships won't! 

Your crises and crosses will become crowns!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

April 17, 2017

"If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins" 1 Corinthians 15:17

The Resurrection is reason for rejoicing because the fear of death is gone!

Also, the Resurrection is reason for rejoicing because the freedom of forgiveness is come!

When you wrong another person you make yourself indebted to them because you must right the wrong.  The more important the relationship the heavier will be the sense of indebtedness. That's why three of the most comforting words in the English language are "I forgive you". 

Jesus went to the cross on Good Friday to provide payment for a massive debt. But it wasn't a debt He owed it was a debt owed by you and me for our selfishness and disobedience against God! Your debt against a holy loving God resulted in feelings of guilt, shame, regret, and condemnation in your spirit. This debt was too great for you to ever pay and in fact, you continued running up the debt.

On the cross, Jesus paid a debt He didn't owe and a debt that only He could pay so you can be freed from the haunting feelings of shame and guilt and condemnation!

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."  Romans 8:1-3

"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law." Romans 13:8

That is a reason enough for rejoicing, but it is not the only reason! It gets better!

Not only did Jesus die to pay the price and take the penalty for your sins, but He rose from the dead to prove His power and authority over sin and death! So not can you know His forgiveness you can know the Forgiver!

Rejoice that fear has gone!

Rejoice that forgiveness has come!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

April 16, 2017

"The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. "He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. "Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you."… Matthew 28:5-7

The glorious news of Easter is that Jesus is alive and that makes all the difference in the world!

A Muslim in Africa became a Christian which is extremely dangerous  and even fatal in Muslim countries. One of his friends asked him, “Why have you done such a thing?” He answered, “Well, its like this: Suppose you were going down the road and suddenly the road forked in two directions. You didn’t know which way to go; and there at the fork were two men—one dead, and one alive—which one would you ask to show you the way?”

The glorious news of Easter is that Jesus is alive! He arose from the dead and that makes all the difference in the world!

Max Lucado, in his book, “Six Hours One Friday,” tells the story of a missionary in Brazil who discovered a tribe of Indians in a remote part of the jungle. They lived near a large river. The tribe was in need of medical attention. A contagious disease was ravaging the population. People were dying daily. 

A hospital was not too terribly far away — across the river, but the Indians would not cross it because they believed the river was inhabited by evil spirits. And to enter its water would mean certain death. 

The missionary explained how he had crossed the river and; was unharmed. But they were not impressed. He then took them to the bank and; placed his hand in the water. They still wouldn't go in. He walked into the water up to his waist and; splashed water on his face. It didn't matter. They were still afraid to enter the river. 

Finally, he dove into the river, swam beneath the surface until he emerged on the other side. He raised a triumphant fist into the air. He had entered the water and; escaped. It was then that the Indians broke into a cheer and; followed him across.

Isn't that what Jesus did? He entered the river of death and; came out on the other side so that we might no longer fear death, but find eternal life in Him.

The glorious news of Easter is that Jesus died for our sins and arose on the third day! He is alive for ever more and that makes all the difference in the world!

On Feb. 27, 1991, it was the height of the Desert Storm War. A woman by the name of Ruth Dillow received the worst news that a mom could ever receive. Her son, Clayton Carpenter, Private, First Class, had stepped on a land mine in the Persian Gulf and he was . For the next three days she grieved the loss of her son, and although people tried to comfort her, there just isn’t any comfort that can comfort the grieving mom – no words that can be whispered. Three days after the notification of the of her son, the phone rang. She picked up the phone, and on the other end of the line there was a voice that said, “Mom, it’s me. I’m alive.” She didn’t believe it. She thought it was some kind of cruel joke and as he continued to speak, she recognized his voice. Her son was alive She said she laughed, cried, she rejoiced – what seemed like a hopeless situation was radically transformed into the greatest day of her life. That’s what news from a graveyard can do Today, I’d like you to know that there is still hope from an empty tomb.

He is alive! 

Rejoice in the hope Easter Sunday provides for you!