Sunday, December 9, 2018

Seeing The Invisible

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Most of us live what could be called routine, ordinary lives.

To be honest our approach to life is pretty casual.

We get up in the morning and go to work, many get the kids ready for school. We start our day, do our work, chores and duties, and at the end of the day, we have dinner, rest for awhile, often in front of the television or computer. Then sometime after dark, we hit the pillow, and get up the next day and do it all over again. Day after week after month after year.

Some people read the bible and some may even have daily "devotions" and prayer, although this is not so common anymore.

But I wonder how often the average "Christian" thinks about the spiritual realm, and the unseen battle that takes place all around us every day? From my conversations with people over the last twenty five years, I believe I can say from experience the number is alarmingly low.

In the 1999 movie, "The Matrix", the people of the world are going about their daily lives, where all seems normal to them. However, they are completely oblivious to a parallel reality where an insidious, unseen enemy is actually controlling their minds and using them for its own diabolical purposes. Things are not what they seem.

And that's not all that different from our world today.

Unbelievers rarely will agree there is a "devil" or any kind of real demonic enemy to mankind. Try to share with people what the bible says about demons and the devil and they will typically laugh at you and call you crazy.

And many who profess to be believers will not acknowledge the very real presence of demonic principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness, and spiritual hosts of wickedness, even though we are specifically warned about them in Ephesians 6:12. And elsewhere in scripture.

I believe the reason for this is most people simply refuse to believe in, or acknowledge something they cannot see.

Christians will sometimes argue, "Well, since Jesus defeated Satan on the Cross, I don't ever have to worry about him."

Why then, are we given warnings about Satan, even after Jesus was crucified?

Here are a couple:

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9)

We need to see the invisible. 

And we can and must do that through the lens of the Word of God. 

If we are to successfully navigate these dark times, it is crucial for us to know who our Enemy is and how to do battle the way God directs us to. Therefore, we must put on the whole armor of God.

”Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Entire sermon series can be done on these verses from Ephesians 6. But to sum it up this is saying, put on Jesus Christ. 

Look at the key components to this passage:

1. Be strong in the Lord's power, not in your own strength.

2. Realize our fight is not with men, but with spiritual wickedness.

3. Stand firm in your commitment to trust in God always.

4. Always be ready to speak the Truth. Keep it close to you.

5. Let God's righteousness always guard your heart.

6. Everywhere you go be prepared to share the Gospel.

7. Let your faith in God be your shield against the attacks of the Enemy.

8. Let your mind always be set on the fact that your salvation is in Christ.

9. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, so know it well.

10. Pray always, without ceasing. For your own needs, and for others.

I believe a great daily prayer, first thing every morning is this:

"Lord Jesus, fill me afresh with your Holy Spirit today, and anoint me with Your power from on High to be your witness in this world. I pray for the full hedge of divine protection of Father, Son and Holy Spirit round about us this entire day and night. In Jesus' name I pray, for Your glory, Amen."

Jesus said, "Without Me you can do nothing."

God is Love and Love Never Fails.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Sharing in Christ's Sufferings

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to test you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” (1 Peter 4:12-13)

Suffering sucks.

None of us like it. I certainly don't.

But we're told in scripture to rejoice in fiery trials (1 Peter 4:12-13). Count it all joy when we fall into various trials (James 1:2). And we are joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him (Romans 8:17). 

So why do we need to suffer?

A fellow brother in Christ said, "God is getting us ready for Heavenready for eternity."

The more I suffer the pains and trials of this life and learn that this world is not where it's at, the more I long for Heavento be with Jesus. 

The temporary things of this temporal world cannot bring lasting, complete satisfaction. No marriage or spouse, no child, no other person, no amount of riches, no beautiful places, no material things, no luxury house, no sport or hobby, no mind-altering substance, will ever bring us the lasting joy, peace and happiness that we all desperately seek and need. 

Only Jesus can give us permanent and perfect joy, peace and love.

That's why we are given command in scripture to set our minds on heavenly things, and not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2). To not love the world or the things in the world (1 John 2:15). 

When we step into eternity, a billion years later, the kind of job we had, amount of money we made, brand of car we drove, luxurious house we lived in, or expensive fly rod we fished with will be long forgotten.

But any amount of righteous suffering we endured for Christ's honor and glory in this present life, will be like a red badge of courage for us in eternity. And that will bring us exceeding joy. Peter writes:

"But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy."

Doesn't "being glad with exceeding joy" with Jesus in Heaven sound far better than having the perfect luxury home in the here and now?

Suffering also produces perseverance, character and hope.

“We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)

And suffering for God's will brings Him glory. 

When people in our life see us enduring suffering and trials with patience and faith, it points them to the One who strengthens us in our trials. When non-believers all around us are complaining and crumbling in their trials, but we who follow Jesus Christ embrace and endure our trials with faith and joy, people see that and it magnifies the Lord who saved us. It is a powerful testimony.

When the Lord comforts us in our suffering and afflictions, it gives us more compassion to comfort others who are suffering in their afflictions, with the same comfort that God comforted us with.  

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Suffering is painful and very difficult. Sometimes excruciating.

But fortunately, it's only temporary. And compared to the joys of eternity with Christ, it's a mere blink of an eye. Not even worthy to be compared.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

That little passage in Romans chapter five has been a huge blessing in my life. Often times encouraging me when I had no encouragement. When I felt no hope. When I wasn't sure how much longer I could hold on.

But God has brought me through every single trial. 

And He will bring you through your trials toono matter how fiery they may be. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. He will never leave you or forsake you.

My prayer today and always remains:

"Oh—Lord Jesus, fill me afresh with Your Holy Spirit. Endue me with Your power from on high to be Your witness – here, and always. Amen."

—God is Love and Love Never Fails.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Where Christ Is

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2)

What things are you seeking in your life today?

I continually have to examine my own life and much of the time, I find that I am seeking earthly things, not those things which are above.  

The key to today's passage is:  "Where Christ is."

That's really clear. It doesn't need to be reinterpreted to find some hidden meaning. God clarifies His meaning just in case we don't see it:  "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth."

Consider all the things on the earth that we humans strive so hard to pursue. Status. Beauty. Pleasure. Material things. Lands. Houses. Cars. Entertainment. Riches. Power. Position. Immoral and harmful things. 

Solomon, perhaps the wisest and richest man who ever lived, said this of his earthly pursuits:

“Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor; and this was my reward from all my labor. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11)

King Solomon is said to have had 700 wives and 300 concubines. He had wealth and riches we cannot comprehend. And near the end of his life he said it was all vanity and grasping at the wind. He lamented that all his earthly pursuit of pleasure, power and wealth was worthless and futile.

God has written all these truths and lessons in His Word for our learning. For our protection. For our good.

So why do we so often disregard them?

While spending some quiet time alone with God this morning, He led me to the Book of Ecclesiastes. I read all of it. Couldn't put the book down. It has been a long time since I read this book. God knew exactly what I needed to hear. And what I was to focus on in writing this blog entry.

When looking for deeper meaning and life application to Colossians 3:1-2, please read the wonderful book of Ecclesiastes. 

King Solomon, "The Preacher", carefully lays out the life experiences of a man who truly had it all, and who found that all his earthly pursuits are vanity and grasping at the wind. Vain, futile, and worthless pursuits. And he writes out the wisdom that God taught him.

Chapter after chapter, and passage after passage stood out to me. The book of Ecclesiastes really sums up this entire earthly life. 

The following verses declare the sovereignty, providence, and, at times, the mystery of God:

“What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God. I know that whatever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him. That which is has already been, and what is to be has already been; and God requires an account of what is past." (Ecclesiastes 3:9-15)

Another verse that stood out to me on the mysterious sovereignty of God is this:

“As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes everything.” (Ecclesiastes 11:5)

In Isaiah chapter 55 God declares:

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)

We humans consider ourselves to be very intelligent. We think we have it all figured out. But God says otherwise.

God does everything according to His own will and wisdom, not according to what we think or want. And for that, I will be eternally grateful. And He has foreordained our steps and the direction of our life, that we should walk that path. Here are three verses that speak to this truth:

“A man’s steps are of the Lord; how then can a man understand his own way?” (Proverbs 20:24)

“The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way.” (Psalm 37:23)

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

That last one really speaks to me today. I've always tried to plan my own direction for my life, but God already has it mapped out. It has been foreordained by Him. Sometimes I have tried so hard to change the situation I am in, such as my job. But the Lord would not let me leave. He has a purpose for putting me there and I need to submit to His leading.

As to Proverbs 20:24... "How can a man understand his own way?"  Stop trying so hard to figure out out why you are where you are, and start trusting God that He has you there for a reason. We spend so much energy and emotion on trying to change our position or situation when God has a purpose for us being there. Just because I may be suffering much in a present situation does not necessarily mean that God wants me to get out of it. Perhaps He wants to do great things by using me in that difficult situation? However, I'm certainly not saying that a person who is being physically abused should remain in that abusive environment.

But down through the ages, God's people have endured times of great suffering and persecution for His kingdom. Prayerfully ask God for His wisdom on whatever situation you may currently be suffering through. He will help you.

When seeking the things which are above, start by going to God in prayer. And in reading His Word. Ask Him for wisdom. He has promised to give it to us liberally.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)

I wasn't sure what I was supposed to write today. The book of Ecclesiastes was not even on my radar at all. So I asked God for His wisdom on what to write, and what to say. And the book of Ecclesiastes was what He led me to. I'm still amazed. I have been so blessed by reading this book today. He's given me answers to some things I am going through personally. God is good!

Perhaps this blog is speaking personally to some of you today?  If so, praise God for it! He gets all the glory.

When I look to God in His Word and set my mind on Him, the things of earth loose their appeal. No one or nothing else can begin to satisfy my deepest needs.  

So what are you seeking today?

Set your mind on things abovewhere Christ is.

God is Love and Love Never Fails.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

New Kingdom Purpose

"Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6)

Please prayerfully consider from the Scriptures what I am going to write here.

Consider the crowd that had gathered and asked Jesus the question as we have seen in Acts 1:6:

"Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"

Their expectations in a nutshell, as Jews, was that their conquering Messiah would return and restore the Kingdom back to Israel. That He would put down Israel's enemies once and for all and that they would reign with Him, thus fulfilling a whole bunch of biblical prophecies concerning the future kingdom and Israel's triumphant place in that kingdom. 

But we know from Scripture that His first coming was not to restore the national kingdom of Israel. He was advancing the spiritual Kingdom of God. His first coming was as a Suffering Servant, come to earth to die on the Cross for the sins of man. His Second Coming will be altogether different. He came to earth the first time and rode humbly into Jerusalem on a donkey. His final return will be on a white horse, coming down out of Heaven in power and great glory with all of His angels, and all who dwell on earth will see Him coming on the clouds.

Here is Jesus' response to their question:

“It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8)

We shall be His witnesses. That is our purpose.

This is what being a new kingdom person is all about.

From Scripture and from our own Born Again experience with Jesus, what are we witnesses to?

"That God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son and that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) 
"That Jesus came to preach the Gospel to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, and to set free those who are oppressed." (Luke 4:18) 
"For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) 
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13) 
“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:15-16)

These are just a few of the amazing truths and promises from God to those who will turn and receive Him by faith through His grace. And we are to be Christ's witnesses to the world of His amazing love and grace. 

And we are to be witnesses of His Gospel, which is: 

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

I can testify to you today that my whole life was a train wreck, my marriage was shattered and hopeless, and I had no peace or joy in my life until I met Jesus Christ and He set me free from the downward death spiral I was in due to my own pride, arrogance, unbelief and my selfish, hard heart. He forgave me all my sin and is transforming my life, day by day, by His grace to be what He ultimately intends it to be. My marriage is wonderfully healed and is full of His love, joy and hope.

Getting back to our opening verse from Acts 1:6. 

Jesus said that He did not come to restore a (political/national) kingdom to Israel, even though this is exactly what they were hoping for.

And I would appeal to you from the Scriptures and ask, where in the New Testament does Jesus ever tell us that we as His witnesses are to pursue a place where we can freely worship according to the dictates of our own conscience?

Believe me, I am very thankful that I live in a free country today. I am thankful for our laws and the authorities that were established to protect us from unlawful evil doers. And I am thankful for living in a nation where I have many rights and freedoms. Amen.

But where does Jesus ever promise us this? Or command us to go forth and pursue that?

I cant find it in the New Testament bible.

I do see though where Jesus commands us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to everyone, to go and make disciples and baptize them in His name.

And  I see where we are commanded to love all people, to pray for our enemies, and to bless those who curse us and spitefully use us.

I see where He commands us to give to others in need and not worry about our own needs.

I see where He commands us to not love the things of this world.

I see where He said He sends us out as sheep among wolves, as lambs to the slaughter.

 I see where He promises that all who desire to live godly in Jesus Christ will suffer persecution.

I see where we are commanded to submit to the government authorities.

I see where we are to forsake all that we have if we truly want to be His disciples.

 I see where He commands us first to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, and all of our soul, all of our mind and all of our strength. Then He commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves.

But I cant find where He commands us to fight to the death in defense of our rights.

What I do find is that He has translated us out of the kingdom of darkness into His Kingdom. Into His marvelous Light. Into His way of doing things. 

I do find where His Word says, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 19-20)

When we breathe our last breath and step into eternity none of the earthly things we hold so tightly to today will even be remembered anymore.

So I will leave it at thatfor you to search the Scriptures for yourselfand see for yourself what it means biblically, to be a new kingdom person.

What it really means to be His disciple...

To be His witness.


God is Love and Love Never Fails.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

New Kingdom People

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

I love the image above. 

A man set free who was previously in chains. His hands are raised proclaiming his new found freedom. And he stands atop a hill, the sun rising at his back. Glorious. Grateful. Free.

I can easily see myself in that photo.

Our Savior, Jesus, called us out of darkness, and into His marvelous light.

So why do so many of us live like we're still in chains? Bound by the things of this world?

An old preacher once said to me, "You can't live with one foot in God's kingdom, and the other foot in the world." That's sort of like straddling a barbed wire fence.

We have to be all-in. 

We are ineffective and of no use if we still have one foot in the world—the kingdom of darkness.

 Prayerfully contemplate the following passages of scripture:

“Then Jesus said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)

“So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:33)

Those are just three of many extremely challenging passages from God's Word that require us to be all-in if we want to be disciples of Jesus Christ, and used by God.

We cannot serve two masters.

“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and has translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” (Colossians 1:13)

We have been delivered from the power and kingdom of darkness, into the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

We're no longer old kingdom people—we're New Kingdom People now.

Think of all the things that rule, divide and consume the kingdom of this dark world: political bickering, the lust for power, material things, idolatry, covetousness, sex, drugs, alcohol, wicked entertainment, perversity, pornography, inappropriate relationships, pride, position, money, greed, dictates of the immoral culture, etc.

And yet, so many people who claim to be God's people—New Kingdom People—are ruled, divided and consumed by the exact same things as the kingdom of darkness.

We will never truly be free if we try to live with one foot in God's kingdom, and the other in the kingdom of darkness.

There are a lot of things that Christians today hotly defend or pursue. But I see no such things defended or pursued by Jesus or His disciples in the New Testament.

I believe God is sending the Church today a wake up call to each of us, to examine our own hearts, and repent of the things that are holding us back, keeping us bound, and preventing us from being all-in.

The Apostle Paul wrote:

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

We argue over, debate, defend and pursue so many worldly things that will be absolutely meaningless and forgotten once we leave this earth and stand before Jesus. Just let them go.

Be all-in.

We're New Kingdom People now.

—God is Love and Love Never Fails.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A Letter From My Father

“All scripture is God-breathed.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

Too many people treat the Bible like a college text book. 

And they seem to know a lot 'about' God. 

But I wonder if they really know God personally, intimately? Like a child knows his own father?

So I prefer instead to look at the BibleGod's Wordas a Letter from my Father.

Here's how a note from my Dad might have looked when I was younger:

"Mark, don't forget to take out the trash. And be kind to your Mom and your brothers and sister. Take care of the house while I'm away. I'll see you when I get home. Love, Dad."

That short note says a lot.  

First, I know that my Dad loves me. Nothing can ever change that. He's my Dad. I'm his son. The foundation of my childhood was my parents incredible love for me. I will never forget that.

Also, nothing in his note is merely a hypothetical suggestion. These are all my father's directives. They must be carried out. And even though my Dad loved me, if I ignore his directives, there will be consequences. He could be a very strict disciplinarian at times. And I had the utmost respect for his authority as my father. Taking out the trash was one of my chores. It was not negotiable. And though I did obey his directives knowing there would be consequences if I disobeyed him, more than that, I loved my Dad and wanted to please him. 

And more than anything else, if I was not especially kind and respectful to my Mom, but also to my siblings, there would be swift consequences. You simply were not disrespectful to my Mom. There was never any excuse for that. And retribution was very painful. Not that I wanted to be disrespectful to her. She was such a wonderful mother. She loved us so much. And she constantly gave of herself for our good. But I was an obstinate and rebellious little sinner. And when I mistreated my Dad's wife... oh boy, look out! Punishment was soon to follow. And you always got what was coming to you. "Just wait till your father gets home young man!" Those words instilled fear into us when we were disrespectful brats to my Mom. 

As the oldest son, Dad put a lot of responsibility on me to look after the house while he was away hunting, or camping with his friends. "Take care of your Mom while I'm gone" was something I heard from time to time as a young teenager. And I did my best to honor the trust and responsibility he placed upon me to do so. 

But within all of this, I always knew my Dad would come home as he said he would. And though he was not a perfect husband or father, I never once doubted my Dad's love for me, or for our family. He was a man with true integrity, and was always faithful to love us, protect us, and provide for us. I always felt safe with my dad. And that always instilled a peace and assurance in our hearts as a family that Dad was always there for us. There was never a doubt about that. My Dad was absolutely trustworthy.

So when I read the Bible as a Letter from my Father, I see in page after page, His incredible love for me. I see His absolute faithfulness and trustworthiness. I see His amazing grace, forgiveness and mercy towards me. I see His care, protection and promises to me. And I see that He will, just as He has promised to do, come back to take me Home, where I will be with Him forever, in the place He has prepared for me, and for all those who love Him and call Him; "Father."

Jesus said:

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” (John 14:1-4)

In the Letter from my Father, I see many commands and instructions. I see lots of teaching and correction. I see admonishment. And I see even more encouragement. I see many examples of how I am not to be. And I see many more of how He wants me to be. I see warnings. I see edification. I see His face and His heart in the pages of this eternal Letter to His children. I see the loving sacrifice He made for us all by dying on that cross. I see His power as God in rising from the dead and defeating death, hell and the grave. I see His glory as He ascended back to His rightful throne in Heaven. I see sin and the devil ultimately defeated and thrown into the lake of fire for all eternity. I see myself and billions of His other children in the new heaven and the new earth He will make one day. I see us all as His eternal family living in the New Jerusalem that comes down out of Heaven, adorned as a bride for her Husband. For her Divine Groom; Jesus.

And I see in His Love Letter to us, a bright shining place where His glory shines so bright that there is no need of the sun or the moon. I see a place where there is no more death, no more pain, no more sorrow, and no more sickness, forever. I see perfect peace, joy, happiness, and satisfied contentment, with Him, forever and ever.

You can't get that from a college text book.

But you can get that from Jesusthe Living Word. He is the way, the truth, and the life; and no one comes to my Father in Heaven except through Him.

—God is Love and Love Never Fails.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Ripple Effect

“And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." 
(Mark 16:15)

The Ripple Effect:

“The continuing and spreading results of an event or action.”

It's been my observation over almost sixty years that people rarely consider fully, the consequences of their actions and choices.

A couple of years ago a high school kid from our community was busted for drug dealing on a scale never before seen in this area. He had several employees working for him in what turned out to be a multi-million dollar operation. He's now serving a well deserved ten year sentence in a federal prison. 

I've read a few comments by people who know him, including one person who said, "I am sorry that this has happened to him." 

Like he's the victim here?

What about the hundreds, possibly thousands of lives that have been destroyed by this incredibly selfish criminal? What about all those people who are now Oxycodone and/or heroin addicts, who have lost virtually everything; their jobs, their income, their homes, their families, some even their very lives? I don't hear anyone who knew this kid saying how sorry they feel for all his victimsfor an entire community that will be affected by this criminal for many years to come. The consequences of his crimes and selfishness are more far-reaching than he could have ever imagined. God can save and forgive even the most notorious drug dealer. But the long term damage to this community has been done.

The divorce epidemic is out of control today. People are throwing away their spouses like yesterday's garbage. Tearing their families apart. Some divorces are sadly unavoidable. But most are not. People simply do not want to forgive each other. Selfishness reigns in this self absorbed culture. And people have no idea how far-reaching the effects of divorce are on their children. They have no way of seeing twenty to thirty years into their child's future, and see how emotionally scarred their children will become from the toxic fallout of their parents divorce. I can speak from experience on this topic.

On the positive side I see the ripple effect of my late Mother's love for God and for people. She shared the love and Gospel of Jesus with me when I didn't think I needed it and didn't want to hear it. She prayed for me for many years until I surrendered my broken heart and life to Jesus. She risked my anger by loving me enough to point me to the only answer to my shattered marriage and broken soul. She loved me unconditionally when I wasn't being very lovable.

“The continuing and spreading results of an event or action.”

Two thousand years ago the humble Son of God named Jesus came to take away the sins of the world by allowing Himself to be brutally nailed to a Roman cross, taking the guilt and shame of all sin upon Himself. He paid for my sin crimes against God by giving His life that day for meand for that drug dealerand for you. 

Will you believe that? 

That "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

Without the life-changing, soul saving, heart transforming love and grace of God, my marriage would never have been saved. I would still be a bitter, unhappy man. I would still be lost and dead in my sins. I would still be without hope. I would still be utterly broken and ashamed. 

But God reaches down and offers all men the free gift of salvation in Himself. Often times, when we least expect it. Or want it.

If you're reading this message, He is reaching down to you today, offering you eternal life in Himself. He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one can come to God the Father except through Him.

Will you let him?

Will you invite Him in?

God is Love and Love Never Fails.