Immanuel

I remember one night, when I was very young that I had a terrible nightmare.  I had dreamed that my dad passed away.  I was in such turmoil, I woke from my nightmare, tears streaming down my face.  My heart was in such pain and agony.  I laid there looking into the darkness.  The dream was so real, that I didn’t know if it had actually happened or if it was just a dream.  I laid there and cried.  I wanted to get up and go to my dad’s room, but I was afraid he wouldn’t be there.  Even remembering the dream now, brings tears.

Finally I got up and walked to my parent’s door.  There room was right next to mine, but it seemed forever as I slowly crept into the hallway.  I stood there for a long time, wiped my eyes and took a deep breath. Gently I grabbed the handle and twisted the knob.  If he was there I dared not wake him up.  Quietly I opened the door, there was my mom lying asleep, she slept closest to the door.  I looked over for my dad.  My heart fell, he was not there.  I stood there frozen.

Then I heard him whispering from the kitchen, “Hey little buddy, what’s wrong?”  Man! I turned and saw him standing in the entrance to the dining area, and ran and put my arms around him and cried.  He picked me up and held me tight.  I told him about my dream.  He took me and laid me back in bed, and told me, “You don’t need to worry, I am with you, right here.”  Then he laid beside me until I fell asleep.  When I awoke the next morning, he was still there.  He was late to work, just to let me know he was with me.

I never miss the point in that.  It may seem silly, but every time I read in Matthew 1:23 where the angel tells Joseph that Mary is having a baby sent by the Lord and that he will be called Immanuel (God with us), I can remember the security of the feeling of my dad saying that he is with me and his big arms holding me, and how good it felt to wake up and know that he loved me enough to stay with me through the night.

This is the same love that our heavenly father has for us.  This year when you read the Christmas story and read through the verses, remember that God not only came here to be with us while Jesus was incarnate , but that he is risen from the grave, and that He is still with us.  When your done reading about the wise men and the shepherds, and the little baby in the manger turn over and read Matthew 28:20 where Jesus says, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Kiss your loved ones, and tell the Lord, thanks for always being there, even when He didn’t need to be.

Merry Christmas,-Harvey

 

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Come and Hear

Psalm 66:16-17

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul.  I cried to Him with my mouth, and He was extolled with my tongue. (ESV)

The psalmist said we should share, with the saints, all that the Lord has done for our soul, and how He has answered our heartfelt prayers. We should share what God has done in our hearts, in our way of life, in how we see life, and how we live life.  He is not talking about our material possessions.  We cannot take material things with us into the next world.  No, he means what has God done for you inside? Not as a measure of godliness on our own part, but rather to show the faithfulness of God.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”  Sharing what the Lord has done for us has great positive reinforcements in our spiritual walk. Sharing what the Lord has done, brings remembrance of what we have been through.  We have been delivered from death, and bondage.  Do you remember what life was like before you came to life in Jesus?  Do you remember the uncertainty in life?  Were you inhibited by fear, depression, or feelings of quilt and fear? What sins beset you?  How were you tied up with the superficial?  How selfish were you?

Now the security of the sure foundation in Jesus Christ brings peace and joy that no matter what happens in life, God (Jesus) is in control.  Knowing that the Lord chose from the foundation of the world to provide a way for you to be with Him.  Knowing that you don’t need to be good enough to earn you way to please Him.  Your salvation was bought by the blood of the Lamb of God.  These are the things we should share.  No one really cares if you got a new car.  No what did God really DO for you?  How did Jesus change YOUR life?

The changes brought in our life encourages fellow believers.  Looking at the changes God has made in my life are important to me keeping my motivation to take up my cross. You know sometimes it feels like I haven’t made progress.  Sometimes I feel defeated when I see others who don’t believe in Christ doing so well.  However, listening to others who have already been where I am, or have been, and seeing where God has blessed them for being faithful and serving Him in their daily life and I receive encouragement.  Hearing where they once were and now seeing their spiritual maturity in the Lord reinforces my desire to seek the Lord daily.  Hearing how God has been faithful to another believer, reminds me that He is still in charge of my life also.

I have been through periods of rejection, and humiliation because I stood up for Jesus.  I have been abandoned by friends, I have been rejected by loved ones.  During those times, the Lord sent me another saint, someone who had been through the feelings of isolation.  They encouraged me and lifted me in prayer.  They gave me living examples of the Lords provisions I their life.  Why do you think that Paul says we are not to forsake the gathering of one another?

To extol is to praise something or someone very much.  Another way to understand this is to say that He (God) was greatly praised by me. Allot of times when someone gives a good reference to someone about someone who helped them they say, “I just couldn’t say enough good things about him.”  This is the same meaning.  As sharing the great things the Lord has done for us, we should vividly express our gratitude.  Genuine heartfelt gratitude is hard to hide.  The simple honesty in a gracious awareness of the sacrifice and love that God has shown towards your is what God wants from you.  He wants you to love and appreciate Him, as He loves and appreciates you.

Expressing that to someone else, another believer, should be as easy as bragging about your mom or your dad.  I remember when I was in grade school all the kids would boast about how their dads could beat up all the other dads.  Boy we were proud of our dads.  They made us feel secure.  We know nothing could hurt us along as dad was nearby.  Well now you have a Father that can literally move mountains, part the seas, command the stars, and appoint kings over nations!  Amen!  Get out there and tell somebody what God has done for YOU!

Exposition: Joshua 1:1-9 The First Step

Exposition: Joshua 1:1-9 The First Step 

Moses is dead- then what? Was God’s plan ruined?

No man is indispensable. God’s work does not go unfinished just because there is a change in servants. The same as the carpenter who changes tools while building a house. First he uses a shovel, then a ruler, then a saw, and then a hammer. The tribes were not lost with the death of Moses. Instead the change in leaders rang in a new phase of God’s plan. “Therefore arise and go over this Jordan.” Is what God commanded.

Now this does not mean that Moses was forgotten or that he was not honored and missed. The scripture refers to Moses as “the servant of the Lord”; clearly this is an honored title. Let’s take a second to look at this man’s life. He was at one time an oppressor of his own people, then a murderer. By his own admission he was not a cleaver or charismatic speaker. Yet the Lord used him, because he was obedient. Now in his death he is remembered by the scriptures as the Lord’s Servant.

His life was redeemed by the Lord. Moses heard the voice of God and was obedient, and the Lord changed his life. I look back on things I have done and wonder how God could ever love me, but in this simple scripture I gain hope. Because I hold faith in Jesus, he had redeemed me from my previous life. Because Jesus died and shed His blood for an atonement for my rebellious and self-serving immoral life, I have been made a new creature in Christ. I can think of no greater honor then to be found, by God, to be faithful. To be referred to as the Servant of the Lord, is something I don’t deserve, but bless God He enables me to be. – Amen!

Joshua had some big shoes to fill. I certainly don’t envy him on this. He received the same great promise the Lord gave to Moses, he had to obey the same Law the Lord gave to Moses, he was assured of the same presence from God that Moses had. There was a change in leaders, but nothing else changed in the circumstances. God was still God and God was still in charge.

In verse 2 Joshua receives his first test. “Go over this Jordan”. This seems like a simple charge. However; this was an immediate test of Joshua’s faith in God. God had already found out that Joshua was a good servant to Moses. In verse one it says “the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister”. Joshua has served Moses faithfully for over 40 years. He was a great soldier, and dedicated to the Law of Moses. But sometimes when there is a change in management, subordinates do not react well.

Sometimes when a subordinate is promoted, they lose perspective, and their egos inflate beyond what is helpful. So the Lord had to check Joshua to see if he would remain a good servant. So he gave him a small test. In addition this tests his leadership skills. Some soldiers, even officers are great at taking orders, but do not know how to actually lead. Leadership is a skill that is developed over time.

In the corporate world, business owners and CEOs give tests to new managers in order to develop their skills and confidence. Successful accomplishment of smaller tasks leads to an increase in responsibilities and instills faithfulness and confidence. The process of being lead through difficult tasks and challenging circumstances builds a unique bond between mentor and student.

In Joshua 3.15 we read that the Jordan was overflowing its banks. The Lord didn’t tell Joshua, “build an ark”, like He did Noah. The Lord didn’t tell Joshua to “stretch forth his staff over the waters” like he did to Moses. No the Lord at first didn’t give Joshua any indications on how this feat should be approached. Let us consider also the enemy situation. This situation was not like when God parted the Red Sea for Moses so that the tribes could get away from Pharaoh’s army. They weren’t escaping an enemy. The tribes were crossing over into enemy territory, probably being observed doing so. Later we can read that the crossing was in broad daylight. This was not some secret thing that God was doing.

When I was in the Army, we did not cross a river in daylight if it could be helped. We would wait until nightfall and cross under the cover of darkness. In addition, we would send scouts to ensure that the enemy was not able to observe us crossing. We called these linear danger areas, and many lives could be lost if the enemy attacked you while crossing a linear danger area, especially one that took as much time to cross as a flowing river. This was an extremely dangerous and time consuming maneuver to undertake.

So maybe now you can understand what a test of faith this was. Joshua was to cross the entire nation over the river Jordan, and had not received any indication of how this was possible. Joshua had seen what God had done for Moses. Joshua had been trained by Moses to trust in the Lord. Joshua had seen with his own eyes the penalty of unbelief in God. Joshua know the penalty for murmuring against God, and how much it displeased God. Joshua did not display any of these things. In turn Joshua commanded the people. He did not question God.

What Joshua had was a command and a promise from God. We also have some tasks that God has commanded us to do. We sometimes cannot see how God would expect us to complete. We cannot see how to carry through, but if we do, it we obey, it we take that first step in faith, God responds to our faith. God is faithful and we begin to see a path through the waters. We find a trail in the wilderness, a step up the mountain. It might be narrow, and dangerous, but it is enough to let you through – Amen! That’s what God means when He says, “My grace is sufficient.”

The Lord told Joshua in verse 3, “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.” The lord has given us the victory. His word is a lamp unto our feet. We are to have our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Jesus said in Matthew 28 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Ghost; Teaching them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

Joshua 1:5 says, “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee, I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee:” Does this sound familiar?

This is the same command and promise we have today. “Go” and “I am with thee” are what Jesus reaffirms to us who believe. The promise in verse four is almost verbatim of the promise given to Moses in Deuteronomy 2.24. Now these boundaries as outlined in the text were not actually achieved until late in history, but they were achieved. Does this mean that God failed Joshua? No, the promises were conditional. In verses, 6-9 the Lord laid out the conditions to Joshua. The Lord told him to be strong and of good courage, and also to not let the Law depart from out of his mouth, but to meditate on them daily. The Israeli’s failure to keep the directives of God had a direct consequence on their receiving the promises of God.

God always has more good in store for us than we can ever realize. The problem is that we turn away from God. Following the Law does not give us salvation. Faith in the atonement provided through the blood of Jesus does. However, adherence to the principles of the Law will have positive effects on our lives. For instance if you commit adultery you stand to lose out on a lifelong relationship with a spouse that would have otherwise been committed to you the rest of your life. Someone who would have enriched your life and grew with you daily in love and given you peace in your heart and mind. In addition, adultery opens you and your spouse up to sexually transmitted diseases, and health related issues. In addition, even if you don’t lose your spouse, you lose the sacred bond of trust with your spouse, friends and family members.

Your testimony becomes worthless, and you become useless to God for your intended purposes. The spiritual ramifications to everyone involved are immeasurable. Unbelief and sin turn a great evangelical Christian into an eyesore and a point of shame. That is why God gave Joshua encouragement. That is why God gives us encouragement. That is why Paul tells us over and over in his epistles to encourage one another.

Jesus told his disciples while they were in a boat, in a storm in the middle of the night, “It is I, be not afraid”. He told Joshua, “be strong and of good courage.” So we know that Jesus said, “I am with you always.” We know that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. God’s nature does not change. Knowing this we know that Jesus is with us, we too can be strong and of good courage. We are not in the storm, in the middle of the darkness, all alone. When the waters of stress and fear are rising up and trying to choke the light out of us, He says, “be not afraid.” – Amen.

Be strong! Be courageous! Our strength is the fruit of our faith. That is why Ephesians 6.10 says “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Christ has given us Himself and thus supplied everything we need. His Word will prove to be definitive, and practical enough if we honestly try to apply it to our lives. – Amen

Psalm 1:1 Guard Your Company

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, not standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful (Psalms 1:1)

The key words in this text for today’s message are:

  • blessed
  • ungodly
  • sinners
  • scornful

In order to move ahead with this message, we have to make sure we all have the same understanding of these words.  What the intent of the writer is and how the ancient Hebrews would have most likely interpreted the meaning of these and then put them into context.  I will attempt to do this for us.

*References are from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. 

Blessed

The Hebrew root for the word used in blessed is ashar, meaning to go straight, go on, or advance.  Many scholars translate the intent of this word to mean “level”, or “sturdy”.  We could go on to say that this is a good foundation, in order to move ahead.  That you’re on the “right path”, if you follow what is about to be said.  Interestingly enough, this is the same term that Jesus starts his 1st sermon of his public ministry.  In the sermon we have come to know as “The Sermon on the Mount”, Jesus begins with the “Be-attitudes”.  He says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)  This shows the understanding that God has for us.  Jesus’ first sermon and the 1st Psalm start off with an encouragement to us.  Be happy, you’re on the right path!  Be of good cheer, you are right with God.

Ungodly

The Hebrew root for the word use for ungodly is rasha: wicked, criminal.  A criminal or someone who is wicked, is someone who made a choice to be in err.  The Latin term would be “Malum in Se”, this means that something is just wrong in itself.  No one needs to tell you that murder, rape, burglary, robbery are wrong.  Those that commit these crimes are wicked.

Sinners

The Hebrew root for the word used for sinners is chata: to miss, go wrong, sin.  This is to fall short.  Like a basketball player that just cannot make a basket.  There is a standard and it is not being reached.  The term we are probably most familiar with would be “lost”.

Scornful

The Hebrew root for the word used for scornful is luts: have in derision, make a mock, mocker.  These are those who make fun of the righteous.  Who question the authority of scripture.  Those who elevate their own craftiness, who think they are smarter then God.  Those who believe in their own wisdom.  Those who are arrogant.  The saying goes, “He is too smart for his own good”.  The 1st Cor. 3:19 says, “For the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God.”

So from the Hebrew perspective it would read more like:

Steady or Level is the man that;

                Does not walk in the counsel of those who depart from the path;

                Does not stand in the way of those who miss the mark;

                Does not sit in the seat of those who imitate (mock) the truth.

 We can even say, “At peace with God are those who:

                Do not follow those that have strayed from the true path;

                Do not hang out with those who miss the mark;

                Do not believe there is no God.

 

A sinful man is one who misses the mark, stumbles and fails.  A sinful person makes mistakes.  An evil man is one who is bent on hurting someone and who has a life style of injuring others.  No Christian should ever want to just hurt anyone.  Sin is progressive. “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse…” (2nd Timothy 3:13)

Every evil person was once just a sinner. Sin causes separation from God and hardens the heart. If you hang out with people who have no morals, or have gray areas, or do not have a definite truth, then you will eventually adopt this way of thinking.  Somehow we think that we can hang around evil people, people who take the Lord’s name in vain, who lie, steal, and cheat on their spouses, and think that we will not be corrupted.  Have you not read? “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” (Galatians 5:9 NIV)  We are warned of this fact over and over in the scriptures.

(Proverbs 4:14-16) “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.  Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.  For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.”

Eventually this evil will get inside of you, and you will start thinking about the evil desires and it will grow in your heart.  That is why Jesus let us know that if a man even looks on a woman in lust, he has created adultery already.  This is just one example of how impurity corrupts the heart and mind of a man.  Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) It starts with a suggestion, grows into a thought, then a desire.  This desire may manifest itself in words first, then before you know it, you have committed the act.  James 1:15 says, “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

When someone is living a certain lifestyle contrary to what others perceive as right, they will at first hide this lifestyle.  They will lie and deceive the ones they love, to protect this lifestyle.  Then they will seek out others who live this same lifestyle, this gives them a sense of acceptance.

Even though they still know it is wrong inside.  Then they move on to trying to convert others to their lifestyle.  This is a progressive hardening of the heart.  Once the heart has grown callas then they turn and attack the ones that tried to keep them from going down the forbidden path.  They turn vicious and try to destroy the ones who care about them and who try to show them the way that they should have come.

They will try to say there is no God, because if there is no God then there is not absolute truth.  Without truth there is no moral compass.  Without a moral compass there is no judgement.  Without judgement there is no penalty.

In reality God does exists, man knows it, and has turned their back on Him.  Psalms 14:1 “The fool hath said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’  They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.”  We have all missed the mark, we have as a whole and individually been corrupted.  “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 KJV)  You will die and be judged.  Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time for every, including a time to die. (Ecclesiastes 3:2) After this we will all be judged.  “and as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement:” (Hebrews 9:27 KJV)

What is the judgement?  What is the criteria? Why are you condemned? You have turned your back on Jesus and rejected Him, even allowed yourself to be fooled by the mockers, and you have no excuse.  You are personally responsible to Jesus.  “And this is the judgement, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light; for their deeds were evil.”(John 3:19 KJV)  The consequence of the judgement is that you will be cast out of the presence of God.  Much like those who violate the laws of society, they are thrown into prison and the fellow prisoners do what they will.

“For without are dogs, and sorcerers the sexually immoral, the murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” (Revelation 22:15)

“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men,” (1 Corinthians 6:9 NIV)

If you are on a trip and decide that you no longer want to go to the destination, how do you prevent arriving there?  Your make a decision, and get off the course you’re going and correct your course.  If you hang out with evil men you will become evil.  Paul writes to us, “But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler.  Do not even eat with such people.” (1 Corinthians 5:11)

Hiding from your sin will do you no good, “Whosoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)  Jesus is the only way to be forgiven of your sin and have death Passover you.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

“God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood-to be received by faith.  He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.” (Romans 3:25 NIV)  Turn away from your sins, confess to Jesus your sins, and receive him as the atonement for your sins.  Serve him as Lord of your life.  You have a life debt to Him.

If you are a Christian and not doing what you should, forsake your life and confess, take up your cross and follow Him.  The time for salvation is today.

This is the way to blessings.  Being in fellowship with Jesus, who is God.  The blessings of God are peace, joy, love, forgiveness, and fellowship with the One who created everything that is seen and unseen.  He is a marvelous God who sacrificed all to make a way for you to experience His love.  Hold fast to that which you have been told.  Guard your mind and your heart from the ones who seek to destroy your fellowship with Jesus.

 

Get Back to the Basics

Sitting here watching the rains come down by the gallons, I wondered away in thought.  It is kind of scary how far off our thoughts can get.  Well at least mine.  We have been reading in 1st Corinthians and I wondered.  How could the first century church get to far off from what the gospel was about?  I mean, the Apostle Paul is still alive, and writing to them.  They had Apollos, Cephas, and other spirit filled followers, of the Way, right there with them.  Paul even sent Timothy to follow up with them and make sure that they were following the teachings they had received.

Jesus commanded us, as believers, to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe ALL I’ve commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

The word observe has several meanings, but they all come down to follow with the eyes of the mind and stick to correctly, or conform ones actions or practice to.  So another way of putting it could be that Jesus said to teach them to conform to the commandments I gave you.  This is what discipleship is.  With that in mind.  What are the most important commandments of Jesus?

If we took all of his teachings and commandments, and the way he lived his life and put it all together, what would be the result?  What are we to conform our lives to?  Now I’m talking to believers, those who have repented, confessed Jesus as Lord, taken up their cross and are followers of the Way of Christ.

Does anyone remember what kind of house Jesus lived in?  Wasn’t it the biggest one on the block?  Wasn’t his chariot the newest thing out of Rome?  Does anyone recall when he was on the Mount of Olive and he said, those who are rich are welcome in the kingdom and the poor need to wait outside?  Well if you remember all these things you have a very different version of the New Testament then I do.

No he said that the Son of man has not where to lay his head.  He walked almost everywhere he went.  He said it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven then for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.  He said if you give to the poor and the hungry and visit the prisoners, then you did so to him.

So what is the command?  Couldn’t he just come out and say it?  I can be pretty thick headed.  Hmmm… Well, thanks to Jesus thinking of me, and how I would need to have my hand held all the way, he did tell us very plainly.

When Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?”  He not only answered, plainly, but went the extra mile.  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all our mind.  This is the first commandment.  And the second is like unto it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39, KJV)

Once again Jesus reiterated, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV)  By these two commandment, everything Jesus wanted us to observe is made perfect.

Just to make sure we understood how important these commandments are Jesus tells us in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep my commandments.”  So… In loving the Lord we keep his commandments to love the Lord your God and to love one another.  But how do we love the Lord?  How do we express the way to love the Lord?  We live in a world where all we are taught is how to love ourselves.

Let us start with something basic.  Most of us being selfish, still know how to show love to our children, a spouse, a sibling, a pet, a close friend, or to parents.  I know, not all at the same time, but we have at least a starting point. You can express love to the Lord in the same way you express love to one of these that you do love.  Now this is only a beginning and meant to get you to find your own ways to express love for the Lord.

  • Give Thanks
  • Do Things For Him
  • Spend Time
  • Shut Up and Listen
  • Give Praise and Brag on Him

Give Thanks

Let’s start with being thankful. Expressing thanks to someone you love just for being there is a great way to show your love.  I love the fact that my wife is there for me, even when she doesn’t realize it, her presence lifts me up.  Sometimes I just reach over and tell her, Thanks for no reason.  When my son cuts the grass for me, I tell him thanks, because he did not have to do that.  When my wife brings me diner, and yes she does bring me diner.  I know in this day and age that is not the norm, so I thank her for it without fail.  She is not my servant, but shows her love for me in this manner. The Lord does things for you all the time, even when you do not know.  Show your love and appreciation by thanking him, as often as you need to. You should thank Him, as soon as you think of it.

Do Things for Him

That brings us to another point.  Do things for the Lord that He enjoys.  I help my wife with cooking, and dishes, and other household chores.  I make her little drawings, I by her flowers for no reason.  So what are some things we can do for the Lord?  Funny you should ask, because he told us in Matthew 25: 34-40,

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

Spend Time

I love to just sit on the bed, or go for a drive with my wife and just enjoy being with her.  I love sitting on a peer with my son and fishing, or just being in the presence of my family without the phone in my hand, or theirs.  Just spending time with them lets them know they are important to me.  Spend time with the Lord.  Get up early and go to sit by the water and just enjoy His presence, or have a cup of coffee and meditate on His goodness.  Spend time with him and let him know you enjoy the time he has to spend with you.  Enjoy his voice.

Shut Up and Listen

Most of the time I spend with family is sitting in the living room or at the dinner table and they just talk about their day.  Most of the time they talk to fast I can hardly keep up with the conversation, much less add my own thoughts.  I often have to stop them and make them start over so I can understand.  They laugh at me a little sometimes, and sometimes they even repeat what they said, to make sure I know what was went on with them.  But just taking the time to listen, and try to understand is another way I show my love.  I care about what they are trying to say, even if I don’t always understand it the first time.  Spending time with the Lord in Prayer and study is a very good way to not only learn more about God, but to show Him that you love Him enough to try to understand Him.  Remember the Lord says to Seek and you shall find.  Ask and it will be given.  Set a specific time of day just to spend in prayer and study His Word.

Give Praise and Brag on Him

When my wife gives me a pat on the back, or brags about me to others, “Boy Howdy!”  I love it because I know she thinks about me, when I’m not there.  I will honestly tell you my wife is the best cook I have ever known.  I mean, I will lay money on it.  She knows it and so does everyone else.  I love to brag at work and tell everyone the latest culinary masterpiece that she developed in the cooking channel that is our kitchen.

The same way is with my son’s playing of the trumpet, everyone in the stadium knows that he is the best trumpet player in the band, and it they didn’t know before I got there, they do when I have left.  Or that my other son is the hardest working, biggest hearted man I know, who will literally give you the shirt off his back. The gentleness in his heart makes me cry every single time I think about him.

This is the way we should brag and praise the Lord.  Hey! Your God is the one who SAVED you from death.  Y our God is the one who formed you in the womb. our God is He who provides everything you have.  Your God is He who parted the Red Sea, and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.  He is the creator or all that is see and unseen.  He is coming back to wipe away the heavens and the earth and create a new heavens and earth, and guess what, your gona have a front row seat!  Praise God! Brag in Him. “ I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart;  I will tell of all your marvelous works.” Psalms 9:1

Knowing that someone loves you is euphoric.  We are created in God’s image.  The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit are one awesome God and deserve our love and our outward expression of love. So rejoice in the Lord and brag about being His beloved.  “For the Lord gives to His beloved even in their sleep.” (Psalms 127:2) Don’t take Him for granted.  Tell others how much He loves you and them.

This is only a short list of ways to love the Lord your God.  I am sure you have already thought of many more.  It is time to move away from the milk of the gospel and onto to cereals of the doctrine of love in Christ Jesus.  There is no division in Christ.  If you are a follower of Jesus there is no Jew, Catholic, or Protestant.  We are one church.  We are all baptized in to one resurrection, and by His love they shall know we are one in Him.

What is Repentance?

Jesus said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32)  What then is repentance? Why is it so important?  What does it look like?

I will tell you first what repentance is not. Repentance is not just being sorry because you got caught.  Although, being caught can be a motivation towards repentance.  Sorrow for being caught and apologizing is not repentance in itself.  In truth, repentance does not require an emotional response either.  Yes emotions can be a factor in bringing someone to repentance.

What is required for repentance?

  • Repentance requires an understanding of a wrong that was committed.
  • Repentance requires an understanding of consequences that have a cause and effect from act committed. Repentance requires ownership of the act committed.
  • Repentance requires a sincere commitment not to re-commit the wrong that was committed.

For Christian repentance it requires acceptance that Jesus paid the consequence for the wrong committed.  Christian repentance requires that we commit our lives to God through Jesus.  Acts 20:21 tell us that it is “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ”.  So then, repentance is a decision, a change of mind, resulting in an inward and outward action of turning from your old way of life to a better life in fellowship with God through Jesus the Savior.

Repentance is a gift that God has given us.  We have all been hurt by someone in our past, by someone we really loved and trusted.  We have all felt so betrayed that we didn’t see how we could ever trust anyone again.  No one could make us love again.  No one would ever be allowed to get that close to use again.  We have all felt that loneliness that comes with the anger and isolation of mistrust.  For those of us who have overcome and have someone in our lives we can trust again, how did we do that?  Better yet for those who still struggle with trust issues, how do you overcome?

How do you trust someone again?  Can anyone EARN your trust?  I think the answer is no.  No one can earn your trust.  So then what?  This is the way… you have to give someone your trust.  You have to take a chance.  You have to give it away.  You have to forgive. This is what I mean by, repentance is a gift from God.  We cannot earn Gods trust any more than someone can earn yours, if you have been hurt.  God chooses to give us a way to come into His graces.  God chose to make the sacrifice of blood that was necessary to bring us in to his fellowship again.  Why?  Because like you, God wants to be close to the ones that He loves.  Because God knows that having a relationship with you as an individual is worth the sacrifice.

Repentance is a part of the foundation of Christianity.  Acts 17:30 states, “…but [God] now commandeth all men [women] everywhere to repent.”, and again in Luke 13:13 we discover that unless we do repent, we will perish.  So then the way to eternal life starts with repentance… a choice to change.  Peter announced in Acts 2:38, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Repentance is necessary for salvation.  How can a husband who has wronged his wife expect to be forgiven and trusted if he is still committing the offences that lead to his separation from his wife?  How can an employee make amends to an employer if they are still stealing from the employer?  How can an addict be trusted if they are still using?  It doesn’t make much sense does it?  It is one thing to be sorry, it’s another to choose to change.  Repentance is yet more than these, you have to put your faith in Jesus.  You have to trust that He has the power and the will to deliver you.

In Alcoholics Anonymous, the first few steps to recovery are to admit you have a problem. Know that you are powerless to stop it. You have to take a moral inventory of yourself. Know that you can be delivered from the behavior by a higher power.  Then commit to that power, and continue in the way you are led.  I can think of no better example of repentance.

When you repent, you have to put your faith in Jesus to deliver you from your moral bankruptcy.  You have to commit to Jesus for life.  The phrase “Let go and let God.” Does not mean to quit trying.  It means to submit to Jesus.

“Know ye not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether to sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness:  But God be thanked, that ye were servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.  Being made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” (Romans 6:16-18)

This is the doctrine of salvation – “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who know no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” (II Corinthians 5:21)

Jesus stepped in and took blame for everything you ever did, or will do against God, and paid the price with His life.  You say I didn’t do anything against God.  Well the truth is you have. Every lie, everything you took that wasn’t yours.  Every vile thought, every time you talked about someone behind their back.  Every time you judged the homeless, or ignored a widows tears, or a child’s hunger.  When you chose to use your pain to hold judgement against someone else, you did those and more against God.  Just because you call yourself a Christian doesn’t mean you don’t need to repent either.

1John 1:8-9 was talking to followers when he said, “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  The church of Pergamos was warned, “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” (Revelation 2:16)  Examine yourself today and confess aloud your sin to Jesus and recommit your way.

The Lord Himself commanded us to take up our crosses daily.  This way you can be in fellowship with God today.  “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.  And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” (1 John 1:3-4)

This is a gift from God toward us, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Romans 5:1)