Friday, December 29, 2017

Forgive Them

 Forgive Them
Luke 23:34
. . . Father, forgive them . . .

On December 7, 1941, Mitsuo Fuchida of the Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force led a mission of surprise to destroy the United States’ Pacific Fleet on the islands of Hawaii. Mitsuo Fuchida, with 179 fighter planes behind him cried, “Tora, Tora, Tora!” as they attacked the mighty fleet of American ships. In less than two hours, over 3,077 American Navy personnel lost their lives or were missing and 150 planes were destroyed.

Mitsuo Fuchida would live through two narrow escapes. An emergency appendectomy put him in the ship’s hospital where he was ordered to stay. Disobeying this order, Mitsuo walked out of the ship’s hospital to the top deck. The Battle of Midway was unfolding before his very eyes. Within seconds, the enemy planes blew a hole in the hospital side of the ship. All were lost. On August 5, 1945, Mitsuo left the city of Hiroshima for a military conference. Several hours after his departure, America dropped the atomic bomb on this city. Mitsuo was devastated and bitterness filled his heart.

After the war, Mitsuo was handed a tract that read, “I Was a Prisoner of Japan.” The pamphlet was written about a man named Jake DeShazer, who in revenge for what had happened at Pearl Harbor, participated in an attack on the city of Tokyo. He was captured in battle, put into a prisoner of war camp and brutally mistreated. He began to hate everything and everyone Japanese. While in captivity, he was given a Bible. As he read the Bible he realized that Jesus Christ was his only hope. Jake DeShazer had gone from hating the Japanese to become a missionary in Japan. 

Mitsuo, now filled with hatred for America would experience God’s amazing Grace. He was given a Bible and soon would trust in Christ. Through the providence of God, Jake Deshazer and Mitsuo Fushida would meet. They lovingly forgave one another, as God in Christ had forgiven them and became friends (Ephesians 4:32). Only God can mend the heart of man and create in him the joy and peace of forgiveness.

Lord, forgive me as I forgive them.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Is There a Dark Side to Christmas?

Is There a Dark Side to Christmas?
Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2

Most people, when they think of this time of year, only think of the beauty of Christmas. They are surrounded by the lovely trees with bright lights, decorations, colorful ornaments, flickering candles, wreaths, snow scenes, warm fire places and a heart filled with joy. Some are dreaming of a “White Christmas” and others sing the songs that convey the feelings of joy and wonder. Christmas is the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” but we must look at Christmas and it’s true meaning: “. . . He shall save His people from their sin” (Matthew 1:21). The true splendor of Christmas is to understand the ugliness that it cures (I John 4:14; I Timothy 1:15). 

Remember the night Jesus was born, can you picture the stable, the smells, the sounds coming from the animals? Picture Joseph clearing a small place in the hay to lay poor Mary down to give birth to the Christ Child. What a humble site and yet, chosen by God as Jesus’ birth place. The sky explodes with amazement as the angels sing of His birth. Humble shepherds hear the angels’ voices proclaiming this marvelous prophecy. They must go and see this new born King the angels are declaring. Recall King Herod, a horrible man, who feared he would lose his power and control because of this new born King. He made a decree to massacre all the baby boys 2 years and younger in that region. Christmas does have some dark aspects that are not thought about during this time of the year but they are still there.

The Bible says Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners and is the true reason for His coming. Sin is the dark side of Christmas and brings us to the actual point of its real beauty. The magnificence and glory of Christmas is Christ’s willingness to come to earth and die on cross for our sins. This truth, the power of the Gospel is what makes Christmas so alluring.

Lord, thank You for Christmas.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Born a King

Born a King
Luke 1:26-33
We sing the wondrous songs of Christmas and declare that the baby born in a manger has come to be the King of Kings. The song "Joy to the World"  says, "The Lord is come, let earth receive her King." The wise men asked, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?"  This question emphasizes the great reality of the birth of Christ, that He is in fact born a King. In the book of Revelation John says, “...for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings:” (Revelation 17:14). He is the greatest, the most supreme of all kings.
Matthew gives an account of Christ’s lineage through His father, Joseph. Luke gives us His lineage through His mother, Mary. Mary was a descendant of King David and came through David's son Nathan who never reigned, but nonetheless was of royal blood. It is through Mary that Jesus is the real son of David. Christ was born of a virgin meaning, Joseph had no part in His conception. God’s seed was planted by the Holy Spirit of God in the womb of Mary. It was essential that she also be out of the line of David or He would have carried no royal blood. Joseph's line is the legal right to the throne which always comes through the father. Jesus received His royal blood from Mary and the legal right to the throne from Joseph. When people referred to Jesus as the Son of David, they meant that He was the long-awaited Messiah, the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies.
Every detail has been worked out for the world to see that Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. His birth was supernatural and his lineage amazing. As the excitement of Christmas approaches, may we be amazed at His magnificent birth and reminded of the honor and glory fitting His name. Christmas is to be commemorated with great exuberance and rejoicing that Christ,  the “New Born King,” has come.

Lord, You are my King and Savior forever, Amen!

Friday, December 8, 2017

A Reflection of Christmas Past

A Reflection of Christmas Past
Romans 15:1-4

Far to the north in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow reflected on the days of Christmas past. The tragic death of his wife, Fanny, in the summer of 1861 brought grievous memories. Fanny dropped a match on her summer dress and it burst into flames. Henry tried to extinguish the flames with a small rug but failed causing him to sustain serious burns on his face, arms, and hands.

The coming of the holiday season in the Longfellow house became a time of sorrow. He tried to provide a happy time for the children left at home but was quoted as saying, “A ‘merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.” His oldest son, Charlie, joined the Union Army during the Civil War against his father’s wishes. Charley later came down with typhoid fever and malaria and was sent home to recover. He did not rejoin his unit until after the Gettysburg battle of 1863. 

At the Battle of New Hope Church, the young Lt. Longfellow sustained serious disabling injuries. The following spring, Longfellow’s lifelong friend Nathaniel Hawthorne passed away unexpectedly in his sleep. These had been difficult times for the poet; but sometimes it is only through our adversity that hope makes itself known to us. 

The Civil War brought wounds to the heart and minds of the American people and they were in need of hope through their long journey to recovery. In Longfellow’s plight for peace and joy, he penned these words that touched the spirit and soul of a war torn nation.

“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, 
With Peace on earth, good will to men.”

Perhaps you have struggled in times of deep despair, remember the words Longfellow composed, “God is not dead, nor does He sleep.” Trusting God with all things will give you the hope you so long for and the peace you desire (Romans 15:13).

Lord, may I abound in Your hope.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Telling God's Story

Telling God’s Story
Mark 4:35-41

The greatest hope of all Christian parents is to see their child one day come to the saving knowledge of Christ. Most parents would climb the highest mountain or fight the fiercest giant if it would assure their child’s salvation. As parents, we have the awesome privilege of being able to tell our children of the powerful, life-changing message of the gospel. The Bible tells us that the gospel is the power of God unto Salvation  for everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).

The gospel story is filled with breathtaking adventure, suspense and drama. Every young child loves a story that is filled with excitement and anticipation. Recall with me the the story of Jesus after spending much time ministering to the multitudes became weary and tired. Being fully God but fully man, He withdrew Himself to the stern of the boat to sleep. While He was sleeping, there arose an immense storm and the disciples became fearful that they might perish. The wind and waves were most likely reaching gale storm proportions. (A gale is a very strong wind. Not a hurricane but forceful. A storm may include rain, thunder and lightning, hail, sleet, snow or wind-––or a combination of them). If this storm was not of such an enormous magnitude, why were the disciples, who were experienced fishermen, so afraid?

We understand that the storm was to try the faith of the disciples and cause them to cry out to God. Their confidence was appearing weak and our Lord was assuring them that He had the power to calm any storm that they may find themselves in. His words to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” They were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” God’s wonderful, mighty power was made obvious to them that storm filled day. 

We, too, can share with our children the magnificent power of Christ found in the gospel.

Lord, thank You for Your incredible story.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Am I Thankful?

Am I Thankful?
I Thessalonians 5:18 
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

In everything, refers to everything that occurs in our life. We are to demonstrate and express thanks for everything no matter the circumstance or trial that may come our way. God commands us to find reasons for thanking Him. Have we been unsuccessful in thanking Him for all He has done for us? If we are saved, and living for God, we have one thing left to do in order to follow God’s will—be thankful.

When the love of my life passed away over fifteen years ago, the verse that rang out in my heart and mind was (I Thessalonians 5:18). Certainly, I was not thankful for his death but through his death it taught me to be thankful in all things, even with death. There is no greater teacher than the Instructor that educates through life’s experiences. Through the finality of death, God guided and restored my broken and weakened heart. How could I be thankful for such a time as this? I realized it was the will of God for me and for my children. I learned from this life altering experience–––God makes no mistakes.

God’s will for you is to be thankful in all things because this is the ultimate expression of a grateful heart. Thanklessness can permeate throughout a church, a marriage, and a home ever so quickly, utterly destroying it. Those who are thankful see the providential hand of God everywhere and say, “God, I thank You for the peaceful times as well as times of extreme heart ache.” I do understand that God will use difficult circumstances for my good and His glory. Start today by cultivating a heart filled with gratitude. Be thankful for all things in all circumstances because this is the will of God for you who are in Christ Jesus.

Lord, help me to be thankful for all things that You may allow in my life for my good and Your glory. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Divorce, A Complicated Life

Divorce, A Complicated Life
Matthew 19:9 
“. . . whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

To say that sin makes a mess of one’s life would underestimate the consequences of our sinful nature.  Sin's outcome can haunt us for the rest of our lives and some may feel it can bring untold ruin upon the family name. Because sin does complicate our lives, we sometimes make wrong choices that bring severe ramifications and devastating after effects. 

The decision to divorce is one of those life changing alternatives. We have found ourselves at one of life’s most important crossroads with an extremely difficult decision to make. Are you thinking no one knows exactly how you feel or understands the pressures shaping your decision?  If you are thinking this, you’ll be relieved to know you are wrong. God’s Word offers a comprehensive guide to answering those questions.

In Bible times, divorce was running rampant and men, especially, were divorcing their wives for any reason. God’s Word is clear in saying the bond between a husband and wife is dissolved only by death (Romans 7:2), adultery (Matthew 19:9), and an unbeliever’s leaving (I Corinthians 7:15,16). When the bond, or bondage, is broken in any of those ways, a Christian is free to remarry. Throughout Scripture, whenever legitimate divorce occurs, remarriage is assumed.

Because God has called us to live in peace (Romans 12:18; 1 Corinthians 7:15), God allows divorce in such a case of desertion. If the unbelieving husband or wife desires to be free from the union because they cannot tolerate the spouse’s faith, it is better the marriage be dissolved in order to preserve the peace of His child. Fighting, turmoil, physical, and verbal abuse disrupt the harmony and peace of the home that God intends His children to have. Therefore, divorce is acknowledged and granted by concession.

It is important to make clear that even if adultery occurs, God forgives, the bottom line of everything is the act of God’s grace.

Lord, in life’s devastation, thank You for Your grace. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

What Happens When I Fail?

What HappensWhen I Fail?
Proverbs 3:5,6
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

What happens when we fail before a Holy God? Are we doomed to struggle in guilt  plummeting into hopelessness and despair? Will we ever be forgiven? Are we without hope or any possibility of God’s mercy? After counseling with many women who have fallen into Satan’s snare, there is one common denominator they all battle with. They have listened to his lies and believed they are far too imperfect and unacceptable for God to ever love or forgive. Women in addiction are especially dominated by self-reproach and depression using any kind of substance to relieve their conscience. Needless to say, substance abuse only makes matters worse and the feelings of guilt stronger. How can anyone ever attain freedom from the pit they’ve descended into or make the shame go away? This is a question so many have asked with no resolve. 

Women struggling with divorce, spousal abuse or just trying to make it as a single mom see themselves as unworthy and undeserving of God or man’s forgiveness. Consequently, they become riddled with shame, remorse and humiliation. Is this condemnation from a Holy God? “No,” it’s from others who have heaped contempt upon these hurting people with immense disrespect. This sort of judgmental mindset is excruciatingly painful and brings with it a defamation of a persons character. 

There’s only one way to rid oneself of guilt and shame and that is by putting your complete trust in the finished work of Christ. Whether you have problems with substance abuse, spousal abuse or other burdens in this life, the answer is still the same. Believe in Christ, repent of your sin, and trust Christ to forgive you. What should you do when you fail before God and man? Trust in the Lord not on your own knowledge or understanding. Have faith in who He is–––the Great I AM!

Lord, I will trust in You.

Friday, November 3, 2017

In Times of Distress

In Times of Distress

Esther 4:1-8

In a crisis situation, how would you say you typically respond? Do you become hysterical, cry, seek counsel, try to run away, or react in some other way? Why do you think you respond in this way? Have you had to make some decisions that required great courage, humility or considerable trust in another? Esther, the Queen of Persia, and her cousin, Mordecai were in an overwhelming crisis in their lives. They must make a life or death decision regarding the Jewish people and their land.

Mordecai and Queen Esther had learned of a formal decree stating all Jews were to be destroyed. Mordecai, realizing that his nationality had been publicly announced, went into mourning. The wearing of sackcloth during mourning was against the law in the king’s gate. This was not surprising in light of the shallowness of spiritual life in the royal court. Esther sent clothes for Mordecai to put on but he, in his anguish and torment, refused them. The betrayal of the people was oppressive and too perplexing to bear. Mordecai knew that Esther was exposed too, and that she must go before the king to humbly beg for the lives of her people and herself.

Communication between Mordecai and Esther had to be done through mediators to protect her during this national crisis. Hathach, a trusted eunuch in the kings palace and one who attended to Queen Esther’s specific needs, had been given special instructions to help Mordecai. Hathach’s good reputation was admirable making the confidence that Queen Esther and Mordecai had in him above suspicion .

When you’re at a crossroads in your life and a crucial decision must be made, to whom do you look to for insight and help? All of us need someone we can trust during times of trouble. We know that there is only One who holds the highest reputation of having perfect wisdom, as well as being the most trustworthy friend, the Lord Himself.

Lord, in times of hardship and despair, may I trust in You.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Why Are You So Fearful?

Why Are You So Fearful?

Mark 4:35-41 
... And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?  And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

Jesus was preaching before a large crowd but needed space between Himself and the crowd of people surrounding Him. He stepped in a boat and pushed off into the water a little bit giving Himself room. Christ, being exhausted by all He had done that day, went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee to rest. While Jesus was asleep in the stern of the boat, a fierce storm arose filling the boat with water. The disciples, being afraid, awoke Him and said to Him, “Master, do You not care that we are perishing? How can you sleep when we are going through this?” They panicked. The disciples knew Jesus had power over the natural world as well as the supernatural world but questioned His ability to save them from the storm.

Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the sea saying, “Peace, be still.” The wind died down and became perfectly calm. He said to the men, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” Immediately, they became exceedingly fearful and said to one another, “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” 

Why are we afraid of the storms of life when the Creator of this world lives within us? How can we be fearful of any circumstance when Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith, dwells in our mortal bodies? The strong winds of fear may invade our anxious minds but, when Christ, the Creator and Captain of the sea speaks, may we surrender full command of the storm to the One who can calm the raging sea and bring PEACE to our troubled soul.

Lord, I surrender full command of the storm in my life to You.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Given His Name

Given His Name
Working in a Pregnancy Resource Center brings three possible decisions into view. Will the client carry the baby, adopt, or abort? The decision to adopt seems to be the hardest concept for some women to accept. The statements I personally have heard are: “I could never do that!” “No, I have heard such terrible stories about children that have been adopted.” “No, I don’t want anyone to know that I was pregnant.” “My parents will disown me.” “No, I would rather abort than adopt.” “This was not in my plans, I have things I want to do with my life.”

Life or death is the final option here. What will the young woman’s verdict be for this innocent human life? Why is adoption viewed as a stigma with dishonor, disgrace, shame and reproach credited to it?  The definition for the word adoption: “the giving to any one the name and place and privileges of a son who is not a son by birth.”  There is no stigma in adoption. It is the banner of love over their life. Adoption means that they were loved with a special love that very few people will ever experience.

To those that have been adopted, your mom and dad loved you before they knew you existed. Not merely the idea of you, but you. If there is any shame in the word “adopted” – it has been covered in the gift of giving you their name. 

SPIRITUAL ADOPTION: An act of God's grace by which He brings men into the number of His redeemed family, and makes them partakers of all the blessings He has provided for them. He has granted to them His precious and very great promises, and through them many may become partakers of the divine nature––having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires (2 Peter 1:3,4). Clearly, adoption is conveyed in a favorable light through God’s Word. Those that have been adopted physically have received a tremendous blessing, a privilege exemplified by our adoption into God’s family.

Lord, thank You for giving me Your name.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Have You Lied to Yourself?

Have You Lied to Yourself?
Matthew 7:1-5
. . .  hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; . . .

It’s not easy coming to terms with your sinfulness. Seeing the beam in your own eye is like coming out of a bad movie and realizing that you were the featured actor/actress. Your part, judging and condemning people. Oh, the pride, in all of it’s corruption protrudes from the realization that you are guilty of being negative, disapproving and judgmental. You have been blinded to your own sin, yet others could not help but see who you really are. The lie you told yourself is finally played out and the truth emerges. You ultimately see the critical, fault-finding spirit that lives in your heart.

When our well kept secret is finally uncovered, things begin to crumble.  Because our foundation has been resting upon a rotten core, the supports of a previous arrogance and confidence will crack and then collapse. The safe covering we enjoyed behind our sin is gone. The more we convince ourselves that we’re better than most the more painful the revealing becomes. Who we are is now in plain view for all to see and we must be wholly dependent on His grace.

As we arrive at this level of conviction, we can no longer pretend or make believe. We thought our sin would never come out, but it did. We have been acting like this for years and it has become a practice that seems impossible to stop. We are under some illusion that through mere methods we have the power to change our path from sin to righteousness. True repentance brings our sin to the throne of grace where real mortification takes place. 

Psalm 51:1-10 says in part, Have mercy on me, O God, . . . blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, . . . I know my sin is ever before me. Against you only, have I sinned . . . Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Lord, I have sinned against You, I repent!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Who Am I?

Who Am I?
Psalm 139:17 
How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

Our identity in Christ is “precious” according to Psalm 139:17 and His thoughts towards us are immeasurable, “. . . they are more in number than the sand” (Psalm 139:18). Oh, how marvelous are Your works for we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). There are many truths about who we have become through faith in God’s Son. How powerful a picture to review when our hearts are discouraged and in need of His grace.

I am a child of God (John 1:12) and a friend to Jesus, no longer a servant to sin (John 15:15). The old man has been crucified with Christ that sin in this body might be destroyed (Romans 6:6). I have been justified and redeemed by His wonderful grace, a gift through Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 3:24). I will not be condemned by God because there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). I have been accepted (Romans 15:7), adopted by Christ (Romans 8:14-17) and sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13).

I have been made complete in Christ and my life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 2:10; 3:3). He supplies all my needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19) and the peace of God guards my heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). Ultimately, I am and forever will be, a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20). These are only a few illustrations of who God says that I am! Only the life-giving blood of Christ can set you free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). In John 19:35, John writes that what he has seen and heard of Christ is true so that we might believe in the Word that came to dwell among us (John 1:14).

Lord, thank You for who I am.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Worshipping Christ

Worshipping Christ

Revelation 4:9-11 
And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him . . . and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”

In the days of the Roman Empire, when Revelation was being written, as kings were conquered by Rome, they were brought before the reigning emperor to prostrate themselves before this reigning magistrate and then cast their own crowns before their conquerors. This was an act of total submission to the ruling empire and complete surrender of their domain. 

The twenty-four elders, in Revelation 4:10, will fall down before Christ, who is sitting upon the throne in Heaven and worship Him. This is genuine worship and where worship is defined so significantly. What a magnificent picture of true submission to the Creator of the universe that lives forever and ever. “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable” (Isaiah 40:28).

Have you ever asked yourself, “What does the word worship mean?” The word worship means to attribute worth to an object or person. When you worship Jesus Christ you attribute worth to Him and to His glorious name. “. . . at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,” (Philippians 2:10).

When ascribing the word, “worthy” to our Lord, we must understand the magnitude of significance it embodies. The word “worthy” means: righteous, blameless, guiltless, reputable, and pure. Jesus Christ is all of these and so much more. He is worthy of all praise, honor and glory due His name!

Lord, only You are worthy.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Will I Be Afraid?

Will I Be Afraid?
1 Peter 3:14  
But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed, AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, 

Psalm 56:4b 
I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?

Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands on May 10, 1940.  As the Nazis took control of most of Europe, Corrie ten Boom and her family began to hide Jews and refuges from the would be Holocaust. They could have assisted the Gestapo and been rewarded for their support, but instead, they chose to conceal as many Jewish people as possible. This put their family at great risk and later they paid dearly for it.

One frightful night, a night they would never forget, their home was invaded by the secret police. This would mark the beginning of many horrifying events that would take place in prison. They slept in beds filled with fleas, and ate stale bread with thin soup. They were not called by their names but by the numbers that were tattooed on their arms. Corrie’s number was 66730, an indelible mark never to be forgotten.

The night they were all taken to jail was the last night that all of them would be together in this life time. Corrie’s father died 10 days after being put in prison from pneumonia and her sister, Betsie, died 3 days before Corrie’s scheduled release. The Lord allowed Corrie to survive all the gruesome and painfully horrid circumstances surrounding her imprisonment. After spending ten long months in the forced labor camp, Ravensbrück, the day came when Corrie would be released. Some say she was let out because of a clerical error, but we know that God had a plan for Corrie’s life and her release was no mistake.

It’s easy to fear man when we do not allow God to strengthen us during times of adversity and tremendous heartache. Remember, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13 KJV).

Lord,  encourage my heart with Your compassionate grace.

Friday, September 15, 2017

In the Garden

In the Garden
Matthew 26:38 
Then saith He unto them, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.”

Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-50; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:1-11

When Jesus entered the Garden of Gethsemane, He knew He would be arrested, shamed, humiliated and put through severe testing. The Word of God makes it clear that Jesus knew all things that would happen to Him and that nothing was a surprise to Him or out of His and the Father’s control. 

This same Jesus understood fully all that His dying would entail. He knew what pain He would bear before He ever set foot in the garden. He knew of the floggings He would endure leaving Him to the point of death. He knew of the metal spikes that would pierce His body–––the most excruciating pain one could experience. That night during His prayer, every sorrow He had ever known seemed to fall upon Him. We could never comprehend the depth of Christ’s agony or the terror of divine wrath He would suffer that night.

The disciples were familiar with the Garden of Gethsemane they had gone there with Jesus before (John 18:2). On this particular night, the disciples were given instructions to, “Pray that ye enter not into temptation” (Luke 22:40). Jesus told them of the horrible trial they would  witness and yet, they fell asleep leaving Jesus to bear His anguish alone.

The prayer of Christ gives us a look into His heart as He suffers the supreme sacrifice and surrenders to the Father’s will. The Holy Son of God never knowing even the most insignificant sin would become sin for us. When Christ finished praying, He had the victory He had sought for during that long agonizing night . In perfect harmony with the will of His Father, Christ would shed His blood for sinful man. May we never forget what our Lord endured on our behalf.

Lord, thank You for Your supreme sacrifice in obeying the Father’s will.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Why Read God's Word?

Why Read God’s Word?
You may be asking the question, “How should I read the Bible?” The answer is clear. The Word of God should not be read as a self-helps manual determining how you are to live out the perfect Christian life. The Bible provides hope through the pages of it’s narratives as well as through the timeless truths which offer grace and mercy to fallen man. It is written about OT people that are in captivity, suffering in misery and crying out in utter despair. Yet, they see and experience the faithfulness of God through extensive hardships and pain. The Apostle Paul suffered many difficulties for the advancement of the Gospel nonetheless, he proclaimed encouragement and comfort through the faithfulness of Christ. A believer, living to the will of God, rests implicitly on his Creator's faithfulness to accomplish what is set before him by faith. 

We need to see the sinful state of our existence as condemned without hope (Romans 3:11-18). Yet, God’s wonderful redeeming love is shown throughout Scripture through the timeless story of His precious Son, Jesus Christ. We are assured of His birth, His death on the cross, His miraculous resurrection and glorious ascension into heaven. The Bible is most advantageous when read through the sorrows of life. But, in spite of all the heartaches, this precious book gives hope to the hopeless, rest to the weary and peace to those struggling in the midst of life’s storm. 

The Bible is clearest when read as a weary pilgrim in need of Christ not being clouded by our own self-righteousness. If we understand who we are and who He is, we will not read the Bible to get a quick fix. Scripture should be read through the lens of the Gospel, seeing Christ’s love bestowed upon mankind in all that He accomplished on the cross. Galatians 1:3-4a says, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins. . .”

Lord, may I read Your Word through the eyes of love and gratitude.

Friday, September 1, 2017

"Thy Will Be Done"

“Thy Will Be Done”
Matthew 6:9-10 KJV

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 

Our Lord instructed His disciples on prayer and gave them an example to follow not as a magical formula, but to commune with God. This prayer is short and to the point never mentioning the time of day in which to pray, how long to pray, or the position in which one is to pray. But, we are instructed to, “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer usually comes from a heart that is truly committed to Christ generating thankfulness for all He has done. 

Prayer demonstrates our faith and trust in God in discerning His will for our lives. There are some who are fearful of God’s plan. The thought of surrendering to His will is overwhelming and at times even terrifying. These dear people are sure that if they were to yield to God, they would suffer painful, uncertain times in some distant and dangerous place. They can imagine themselves wasting away in solitude while being miserable in their existence. Psalm 33:11 says, “The counsel (plan) of the LORD standeth (endures, stands firm) for ever, the thoughts (intentions) of his heart to all generations.” They must understand that the plan or will of God  comes from an expression of His heart. I John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” The will of God works in our lives to bring about His highest goal, glorifying Him through His unchangeable love for us. Our prayer should be that God, by His grace, would transform us making us willing and able to know and obey His will. And may we ever be mindful, that God designs His will, from His heart.

Lord, I pray “Thy will be done” in my life, to bring glory to Your dear name.