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For God So Loved…

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John 3:16-21 (KJV)

16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

This verse is probably the most famous verse in the bible.  Yet recent surveys reveal that nationwide, seven out of ten adults feel that they know don’t know what it means.  Just posting the verse on your bumper of your car, or parading it around on your shirt is not evangelism. However, getting our there and actually talking about this verse is evangelism.

This saying of Jesus’ was so radical for the time he said it, and it still is a radical concept… God loves. SO…much…that HE… gave…

Much like the changes in the church that brought the Protestant Reformation, do to the corruption and burdens the church had laid on its parishioners. The Jewish synagogue with its additions to the law made it totally unbearable to the average Hebrew.  They were afraid of God.  Afraid of being caught and punished.  They didn’t serve God out of love, but out of stringent tradition, fear, and burdensome loads.  In fact, it had been around 400 years since they even last heard from God.

They were living in an oppressed society, with no real sense of identity as a nation, or as individuals.  I would imagine a lot of the Hebrews had probably given up on God a long time ago.

So this… God loved me?  What a different tune this was, and still is.

FOR GOD

I think it is wonderful that Jesus chose to start this statement on the grace of God, the same way the very scriptures begin in the old testament.  He said “For God so loved…”  In Genesis 1:1 the scripture reads, “In the beginning God….”

There is no debate on whether:

  • God exists
  • God has all authority
  • Or that God initiates the first move

You would be a fool to thing otherwise.  Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool hath said in this heart, There is no God” 

Psalm 19:1-3 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth knowledge.  There is no speech not language, where their voice is not heard.”

SO LOVED

Probably this word is one of the most misused words in the history of language.  What does it mean?  Does anyone know?  We use it to describe our car, or some heart-throb for an entertainer, even how a new toy of tool works or feels.  Merriam-Webster has a whole lot to say on love.

Merriam-Webster: LOVE

(1) : strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties maternal love for a child

(2) : attraction based on sexual desire

(3) : affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests

These are only a handful of the meanings in the dictionary.  If we tried to apply any of these terms we would be sorely mislead on the LOVE of God towards us.  You see in this verse it actually says, “God SO loved the world.”

This is then a demonstrated measure of the LOVE of GOD towards us.  Let’s look at it this way, If I said I love Americans, that would be true.  Americans are my favorite people on earth.  But that does not mean I would necessarily die for just any American.  Let’s face it even the apostle Paul said, “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.”(Romans 5:7)

However, if you pulled a gun on my wife, I would definitely get in-between you and her.  I would gladly die in her place, because I cannot see life without her.  You see that is the kind of love God has for each of us.  God loves us ALL because he loves EACH of US! In saying “God so loved the world” – we can say the he loves every single person in the world.  SOOO Much!  That he gave his one and only son.

My wife and I have 3 sons and once again, I cannot imagine that I love someone enough to ask any one of my sons to die in their place.  I know that God loves his Son, Jesus.  What a hard thing to have to ask.  To look into the eyes of your only begotten son, and tell him.  There is something I need you to do… and its gona hurt… a whole lot, and it is going to kill.  But I don’t see another way for it to happen.

He (God the Father) loved the world so much that he gave his only begotten son.  This means that is was not Christ’s death that turned God from hating and being angry, but that God’s love for us compelled Christ’s sacrificial death.

God so loved….. that he gave.

But why did Christ have to die?  The was a debt that had to be paid.  Remember way back in Genesis when God warned Adam not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, because when he did, he would surely die?  Well guess what… he ate from it…. And he died, not only that, all of his decedents died.

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” 

Then God so love the world that he gave his own Son, Jesus Christ to pay the wage for sin.  That is he gave him up to die on your behalf.  Romans 5:8 explains, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

THAT WHOSOEVER

Whosoever means anyone.  There is no limitation.  No “elected” amount.  No special selection process, where only certain people are allowed in.  In fact there is not mystery here at all on whom it means.  There is not even any guess to the assurance of the promise. Whosoever means me, it means, you!

 

BELIEVETH

1 John 4:15 tells us, “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.”

Belief means that you accept something as truth, that you trust in it.  You have confidence in it for faith.  Listen salvation is not found in believing in the preacher, or in getting baptized as an infant.  In fact, Baptism does not save someone at all.  You cannot be a “good” person and be saved.  Popular movies like to portray some rich arrogant guy who passed away and then when he meets St Peter at the pearly gates, Peter tells him he cannot come in until he corrects some of the wrongs he committed and then sends him back down in a borrowed body so he can get busy.  You cannot earn your way into heaven by good works, and you cant get in with good looks either!  You cannot buy your way into heaven with all the money in the world, or your charitable contributions.  Your mother or father being saved does not save you either.

No there is only one way to pay that debt of sin and that is death.  Your avoidance of death comes from believing that Jesus paid that penalty for you, and having confidence in his payment, was payment in full.

I do not know who wrote this, but I saw a poem that said:

For God – the Lord of earth and heaven,

So loved – and longed to see forgiven,

The world – in sin and pleasure mad,

That he gave – the only Son he had,

His only Son – to take our place,

That whosoever – Oh, what grace,

Believeth – placing simple trust,

In Him – the righteous and the just,

Should not perish – lost in sin,

But have everlasting life – in HIM.

 

What Jesus said was in contrast to the traditional, Jewish, acceptance of scriptures that related to the coming messiah.  The Hebrews believed that the Messiah would come and deliver them from the Gentiles by judgement, by judgement I mean destruction of the gentile nations… all of them.

But Jesus said, the Messiah is here to save, and not to judge. He was here to provide that salvation himself.  Not only to the Jews, but for the WHOLE world. By using the term of the “whole word” I mean YOU as an individual, loved by God Himself! Loved so much that he gave his life up so you could live.

Then to ensure the deal would be permanent, he rose from the dead so that he could officiate over the New Covenant between God and man.  Imagine Jesus is saying that he has the power and authority to save the entire world.  He is the deliverer!

We can have confidence in the salvation provided by Jesus, because it is a free gift, given to us in love.  He is the guarantor of the payment.  He is the overseer of the contract.  His blood is the binding signature. The very Son of God himself holds the receipt of payment – in full!  Jesus loves us to much that he holds our salvation himself.  None of it is your responsibility.

Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans; “For I am persuaded, that neither death, not life, nor angels, nor principalities, not powers, not things present, nor things to come, note height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

This is such an amazing gift that has been given to us.  The creator of the universe loves you and me so much that when we failed and turned our backs on him, he found a way to bring us home again. What a blessed assurance we then have that if God, holds our salvation, that we cannot lose it and nothing can separate us from God, ever again… Amen

Waiting on the Messiah

 

Luke 2:25-30

Notes

 “And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.  And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.  And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:  For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,”

Not much is information on who Simeon is.

All we really know about Simeon is what Luke tells us here in these few verses.  Some have supposed that this Simeon was a son of “Hillel,” who was a famous distinguished teacher in Jerusalem, and the president of the Sanhedrin. But not much is really know for any certainty, and who he was is really irrelevant to the story.  However, what he was and how he acted is very important.

First of all, the text says, “Behold”

  • That is to look closely at this!,
  • Study this!
  • “Hey! Check this out!”
  • The author is getting ready to say something very important and he does not want you to miss it.

The author singles Simeon out.  Why? Well lets look at how he describes Simeon.  Luke uses words like “just” and “devout”.

  • Another way of saying this would be to say that Simeon was a fair and sincere,
  • he would be considered a pious man.
  • He would be a man with deep spiritual morals, a man of conviction.
  • A man who lived by his word.

The fact that he was single out by name indicates that everyone knew of this virtuous man.

  • Everyone considered that he was a man that was righteous in the eyes of God.
  • He was a good Jew,
  • He was seen as one who discharged his duties faithfully to man and to God.
  • His reputation preceded him.
  • He was a man of respect among the people.
  • He was probably an elder.

He was undoubtedly a holy man and was divinely inspired.

The text says that the

  • “Holy Spirit” was upon him
  • “Holy Spirit” had revealed things to him.
  • He was “led by the Spirit” into the temple.

This scripture indicates that it was the direct influence of the Holy Spirit that Simeon was told to go into the temple, the text reads, “And he came by the Spirit into the temple”. This makes what he spoke about Jesus a divine revelation by God to Simeon.

When Jesus asked his disciples who is it you say that I am and Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus told him, “Blessed art thou Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:16-18)

You see Simeon wasn’t just waiting for something from God.  Simeon was waiting for something specific from God.  God had made a promise to Simeon. We don’t know when the promise was made. We don’t know how long Simeon had been waiting.  It could have been years, or months, or even days.  It could have been just hours.  However, the reading of the text gives me the feeling that Simeon had been waiting a long time, probably decades.  But Simeon wasn’t the only one who had to wait was he.  Mary and Joseph had waited months to see Jesus.  Israel had waited even longer. It is estimated that there were at least 400 years of silence from God between the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament it self covers a span of approximately 4000 years. All of creation waited in anticipation of the birth of Christ.

Take a look at Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Simeon and Israel were looking for this birth!  Simeon was waiting for the fulfillment of this prophecy.  He was waiting for the arrival of the “Messiah” who is called “the consolation of Israel” because he would give comfort to them by his appearing.  Simeon longed for the coming of the Messiah; and the Spirit prepared him to see Jesus for who he truly is.  The Wonderful Counselor, the Prince of Peace!  The promised Messiah.

This birth was something that the world has never seen.  God put on flesh!  This had never been done since the before creation.

Man had never seen it

No other religion ever recorded such an event

Angels had never seen such a sight

When Moses had asked to see the God’s face, the Lord told Moses he cannot do so because he his holiness would destroy Moses.  See Moses was flesh, and like all flesh he had the sin of Adam.  It would be like trying to put two magnets together where the polar ends don’t match up.  The magnetic force would not allow you to do this.  God says that He reveals himself in nature.  I believe this magnetic principle is one way that God reveals his holiness and it’s inability to mend with sin.  But Simeon had read the scriptures.  Simeon know that God had a way to redeem, not only Israel, but the whole world to him.  Simeon knew that somehow, God would become flesh.  God found away to overcome this spiritual law.  That’s what is so important of the virgin birth.

Some things to know about Simeon and his waiting.

  • Simeon was absolutely sure that the Messiah was coming and that he would see him.
  • Simeon expected the Lord to come at any moment.
  • Simeon lived his life in his belief as a result he was seen as just and devout
  • Simeon lived a life under the direction and in obedience to the Holy Spirit, he was man who surrendered to the will of God
  • Simeon was ready to welcome the Lord into his life. He took him in his arms, he made him feel welcomed and loved. He blessed God for such a special gift.  See he understood that the Messiah was first to come as a sacrifice and then again as a conquering King.  He knew in his heart what John would later record in the 3rd chapter of the Gospel of John when he said, “For God so love the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but heave everlasting life.”  You could say that Simeon was effectively the very first Christian! Simeon believed on Him!  He believed that He was the restoration of Israel, and all of the world!
  • Simeon lived a life who’s whole purpose was the revelation and declaration of Jesus Christ. As a result, Simeon was the first man to declare that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the promised Messiah in the Temple. Then with his life purpose being fulfilled he was ready for the Lord to take him home.  His whole meaning in life was Jesus!

If Simeon would have not been living a life of expecting from the Lord, or in obedience to the Lord, he would have missed his opportunity to perform his part in this miraculous revelation of the birth of the creator, who became a man, to redeem mankind to himself.  If we are not careful, we can miss what God has for us in Christ.

So while Christmas is a great time to look back and to reflect on all that God has done for us, let’s not get so caught up in the lights, and pageantry, or the gifts and credit card abuse, or the food and the wine that we forget that Christ is still alive, and that he is returning to establish His kingdom here on earth.

How are you waiting?

  • Are you waiting like Simeon did?
  • What are you waiting for from God?
  • Are you living a life in anticipation of the return of Jesus?
  • Do you live your life in the belief that Jesus can come at any moment?

Do you live a life that shows?

  • Jesus is coming at any moment to complete the restoration of Israel
  • That the Kingdom of Heaven is indeed at hand.

If we do then, how should we be waiting?

Throughout Scripture we find  admonitions given to us about the Lord’s return:

  • Watch faithfully.
  • Work diligently.
  1. We are to watch.
    1. The Lord said repeatedly that we are to watch for His coming because we do not know the day or hour of His return (Matt. 24:42; 25:13).
    2. In Luke 21:36, Jesus gave this specific instruction: “Keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
    3. We are to stand fast in the faith with courage and strength (1 Cor. 16:13).
    4. We are to watch soberly, arming ourselves with faith, love, and salvation (1 Thess. 5:8).
  2. We are to work.
    1. We are to be the Lord’s witnesses—telling of the love of God and the atoning death of Jesus Christ.
    2. We are to testify about what He has done in our own lives, both with our words and by our example.

While we celebrate this Christmas let us live lives of sobriety, testifying to the truth.  Being fair and honest in all our dealings.  Bearing spiritual fruit in anticipation that our redeemer is nigh.  Living lives in submission to the Holy Spirit and being obedient to the will of Christ in our lives.

Be an Encouragement

Philippians 4:8

I received a push on my computer from a newspaper that I subscribe to and the article it highlighted was one that depicted what they referred to as the top racist moments of 2017.  This article had pictures with little one liners that described with no real details how the picture represented something that someone had done that showed racism.  I was quite taken back.  I remember when was young the end of the year was used to reflect on how adversity had been overcome, and how despite all the odds we had persevered through the hard times, made difficult decisions and shouldered the burdens of those events together.  We looked back and chose to revel in the good of others and the accomplishments that were made by family, friends, and our communities.

Lately it seems a bad virus has spread across our continent.  This sickness has darkened our hearts and made us to hurt and use one another spitefully.  It is strange how in such a short time we went from being on the top of the world, the only super power to survive the cold war, united in a common cause to the mess we see now days.  We have allowed our joy to be taken from us and made to feel vulnerable.  We have allowed the “fear” of racism, sexists, and other unseemly isms to infiltrate our peace for fear of being ostracized from society. Political Correctness and the immoral minority have paralyzed us into inadequacy of action. We have compromised our holiness before God and man.

Remember the words of Paul and Timothy that were recorded in their letter to the Philippians where they wrote, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8).  It is believed that Paul wrote this epistle near the end of his Roman imprisonment around 61-62 AD.  Paul sought to encourage this church who was in a spiritual battle.  He poured out his life as an offering to Christ in many dangerous situations, which included beatings, stoning’s, shipwrecks, and imprisonments and yet he still had joy.  Paul wanted the church at Philippi to know that living a Christ centered life was the key to joy.

So looking here we see that perspective affects our joy.  Paul said that we need to look at things in the proper perspective.  We should think, or deliberately consider, or meditate on these things that Paul mentions.  We should reflect on things that are true.  In other words we should concentrate of things that are correct, or accurate and not give into speculations or hearsay.  Think on eternal truths from the scriptures and see them at work in nature.  We should be honest in all our dealings with God and with man.  Promote the general good, and the good news of the gospel.  We should protect our minds and honor those who are chaste.  We should dress ourselves in integrity.

Good news should be shared and enjoyed with one another.  Take joy in the accomplishments of others and in the blessings that the Lord has given others.  We should share in the blessings the Lord has given us with all love and compassion towards our fellow Christians and the world.  We should publically acknowledge good deeds and be useful in our community to build up our community instead of tearing it down.

Paul knew that true joy comes only through humility and faith that is acted out in the lives of those around us.  Pray for one another, give to one another, and share hope in Christ to one another.  Allow the joy you find in Christ Jesus to share peace instead of quarrels and divisions.  If you pray for peace and restoration then get out be a peace maker, be a restorer in your community.  Let the light of Christ show in your daily walk.  Weep with those who need to weep, then be an encouragement.

Get Out of the Christmas Blues

Luke 2:11 “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

This is part of the message that the angels of the Lord said to the shepherds who were nearby in the fields of Bethlehem.  The whole message is one of joy and celebration.  The long awaited Messiah had finally come.   This birth would change the course of human history.  While this miraculous event was taking place there were shepherds in the fields doing what shepherds do.  There were inn keepers doing what they do.  Some were undoubtable asleep, some might have been eating, some were having fun doing other things, or just unwinding from a long day. Life was happening as normal.

I remember when my dad passed away.  It was a day just like any other.  I had intended to go by and see him that day.  I was in route to see him, when something else came up, so I put it off, intending to see him when I was done. Later when I was starting to head to his house, I received a call from my sister.  My dad had passed away.  I went to the hospital to see him, and as I left I remember looking around and wondering how everyone could just keep going about their business, didn’t they know that he was gone?  That 1st Christmas without him was very difficult.  I had a custom of calling him before the sun came up and singing, “We wish you a Merry Christmas” to him.  Instead I laid in my bed and whispered it softly to him.  I knew that he was in heaven, and that he could hear me, but I missed hearing his voice.

I know that there are some of our ministry family that have lost loved ones this year too.  Some have lost your vehicles and homes and even jobs and had to relocate.  Some are drowning with financial burdens that won’t seem to stop.  Some are dealing with the loss of a relationship.  Some a death of a very close friend or a wife, or a mother, or a dad, or a husband. I know that even though you know they are in heaven, you still have a heart that longs to see them.  I just wanted to take some time to encourage you that you will see them.  You will see them because of the birth of Jesus set forward the plan of salvation that was made before the very foundations of the world were created.  I also want you to know that there are things around you that you can do to ease your pain.

I want you to know this, because I know that grief can be a terrible thing if you let it take over your life.  I want to encourage you to get out and take advantage of this season to have some joy.  Share your love of Christ in your happiness and your sorrow.  Find someone and be intentionally kind.  Invite a neighbor over to watch the Nativity Story or some other Christ centered movie.  Get with your church and find a needy family, and make them Christmas presents.  Call up an old friend and just pray for them.  Everyone can always use a little prayer.  Then take the time to follow up with them on the results of the prayer.  Always pray with expectancy.

Those of you who are social media savvy can take the time to write out what Christmas means to you and how Christ has changed your life and post it.  It doesn’t have to be long and drawn out, but just enough to remind those who read it about the wonderful gift that God gave us in Jesus.  Maybe you can go to a nursing home and read the Christmas story to some elderly.  Maybe get to a homeless shelter and help serve there for a night or two.  Who knows you might find something that you have been missing.

I guess what I am trying to share with you is that we all can lose sight of how amazing this birth is.  That God became man, and lived here among us.  He loved, he laughed, he worked. He ate when he was hungry and drank when he was thirsty.  He even cried for his friends, and for the lost he never quit fighting.  In the end he gave himself, his very life, as a ransom for us all.  Surely there is a reason to enjoy Christmas!  Let your joy come out and share your testimony!

Matthew 6: 26-34 Am I the Lord of Your Life?

Matthew 6:26-34

“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  So why do you worry about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not worry, saying, What shall we eat? Or What shall we drink? Or What shall we wear?  For after these things the Gentiles seek.  For you heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.   Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

I was headed home from church Wednesday evening at about 9 pm.  As I turned down the dimly lit road that leads to my house something caught my eye.  I slowed down to a halt and flicked up my high beams.  There was a field rabbit in the middle of the road.  His eyes stood there a moment and then he turned and desperately hopped away, trying to escape the beams of light that gave away his position.  I slowly proceeded behind him until he jumped off the road.  I remember just seeing him there was a pleasant surprise and I began to think of how God must be trying to tell me something.  Then suddenly something else caught my attention.

There just ahead at the edge of my headlights we two glowing objects.  Once again I slowed down and the familiar form of a young opossum came into view.  I stopped the car and we watched one another for a few moments, then he feeling it was safe, crossed the road in front of me and disappeared into the brush.  Then like a small voice I heard Matthew 6:26 in my mind, “Look at the birds of the air,” or the rabbits in the fields and the possums in the bushes. Do you see how I have cared for them? Can you see how I am caring for you?

I know you are wondering, wow where did he get this from seeing two different kinds of potential roadkill on a dark road?  But you see just a few weeks ago I was trying to wade out of that area in flood waters that were up to my chest.  I had my wife, son, two dogs, and a cat that I had to get safely out of our flooded home and to a place where they could be safe and get dry, and have some food, and a place to sleep.  I did not know what laid ahead for the future.  I did not know what tomorrow was going to bring.  The only thing I knew then and it is what I still know is Matthew 6:26-34.

It is amazing to me that the Lord knew me before I was even born, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” (Jeremiah 1.5).  In Palm 139 David even says that the Lord not only knows us but has an intimate knowledge of us. “You have searched me and known me!  You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.  You search out y path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.  Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.”  You see the Lord not only know us before we were born, but he also stays in complete knowledge of what we do, how we do it, and why we do it.  He supports us, and protects us in all circumstances.  He provides for us under all conditions.  He is not surprised by what we do, or where we are, or what happens in our lives.  Knowing all of this about us and our life, he still chose to save us.

For those of us who have already believed on his son, Jesus Christ, he has already blessed us with all spiritual blessings.  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” (Ephesians 1:3-4)  You see this is our joy!  We praise God for what he has already done!  We already have ALL SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS!  This is not of our own doing but just the complete love of God towards us.

This is how much more important that we are then the birds of the air!  We worry so much about things that we don’t need to.  We allow our joy to be stifled by the cares and concerns of this world.  What is going to happen to my house?  How am I going to get to work?  What will I wear?  What am I going to eat?  All the while the Lord is saying, “Be still, let me be God”. ” Am I the Lord?” “Am I the Lord of YOUR life?  If you have trusted me for salvation, Can’t you trust me with everything else?”

This is what I saw when I saw the rabbit and then the opossum.  I saw the Lord showing me that he took care of those two critters that were somewhere fighting to survive in the same waters that my family and I was trying to survive in.  They were alright.  They were being provided for.  So were we, thanks to the Lord of our life and the God of the universe who cares enough to know what my need is and provide for it.  That makes me feel confident it Him.

Behold, God is my helper… (Psalm 54.4)

In the 4th verse of Psalm 54 it reads, “Behold, God is mine helper:  the Lord is with them that uphold my soul.”  The simplicity of this verse overwhelms my heart.  This Psalm was penned out concerning the occasion when the men of Judah betrayed David to Saul.  They did this twice, the first is recorded in 1 Samuel 23.19 and the second in 1 Samuel 26.1.  While this is often used as an archetype to Judas betraying Jesus, today I want to discuss the portion that just deals with God being our helper.

Hurricane Harvey was a Category 4 storm that entered the Texas coasts centered on Rockport in August 25, 2017.  It has so far gone down in history as one the 2nd largest natural disaster in U.S. history.  It has so far been estimated that the cost in damages in Texas and Louisiana alone is 180 billion. Hurricane Harvey is only topped by Hurricane Katrina from 2005 that caused an estimated 108-250 billion dollars in damage in Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. It affected millions of people from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

On September 14, 2017 the Washington Post reported that Texas Officials put the Death Toll for Hurricane Harvey at 82.  Hurricane Harvey made landfall three separate times across a three day period and caused over two feet of rain to fall in some areas in less than a 24 hour period.  This broke National Record Rainfall levels for a Single Tropical Storm, by dropping an unprecedented 51.88 inches in Cedar Bayou, located in the Greater Houston Area. The total effect of Harvey on people’s lives will be felt for decades.

I, my neighbors, and my family and friends know the effect of this storm 1st hand.  At around 1 am we awoke with water coming into the house.  Within minutes my wife, oldest son, 2 dogs, a cat, and myself were all piled in my bed with water up to the windows.  I remember later that morning posting on Facebook the lyric from a song along with a picture taken of the water from on top of my bed, “Even if you don’t… my hope is you alone… give me strength to say… it is well with my soul!”  I will spare you the tale of how we made it out to dry land, with the exception of saying that I know of one of my neighbors who did not make it out alive, and that I was amazed at the provisions that the Lord made for retrieving us to safety.

Since we have begun the slow process of recovery.  I can surely say that God is my helper.  We have had such an outpouring of love and compassion towards us and our neighbors that I have been quite speechless in taking it all in.  Even now as I recount how neighbors reached out to help neighbors in blow up mattresses, canoes, small boats and anything that would float.  Strangers opened their homes, gave up their clothes, and food in support of those who needed it.  Sure I lost everything I had.  We had vehicles that were paid off years ago that were destroyed, my son had to move out, my home I just bought earlier this year is ruined.  But through everything God has been my helper.

He has been faithful.  He has provided us a place to sleep and rest.  He had provided us food.  He has provided us clothing.  He has provided us with transportation.  He has provided us with financial assistance as we have needed it.  The relationship between me, my wife, and our Lord has all been strengthened.  You see I, and my family have willingly submitted everything to God.  There is such a release in knowing that we can trust Him to provide for all out future needs.

We know this because looking back over the past year, I can actually see where He has prepared us for this event.  In teachings received throughout the year from our Pastor, to people that have been put into our lives, to the financial and physical healing He has performed in our family this past year.  Even events where certain people were removed from our lives, that if they were still with us during the storm they might not have survived and thus relieved us from that burden of guilt.

So he has been faithful in our past.  He has been faithful now in the provisions I shared with you already.  So we can have confidence that He will remain to be faithful.  He is our provider.  Not only, that He will make it so that we can also assist others.  We held church services from my home for all our neighbors.  Yes all walls torn out and with free A/C and heating provided by, you guessed it, God himself… LOL.  We look forward to seeing how God is going to move in our community, and how He is going to restore our lives.  I’m not only confident in Him, I am excited! – Amen

Study into 1 John Chapter 2

I thought I would re-share this nice study on 1st John. It is very observant and tidy. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Young Adults Bible Study

1 John 2:1-29 is the focus of this week’s study. Below is a copy from the KJV from which I use. Study guide and notes begins after.

1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even…

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