Are You Eating a Lot of Fast Food?

As we all know we live in a fast paced society.  Everything must be done fast which probably is the reason so many of us lack patience.  It seems that we are in a big hurry to get nowhere. And one of the fastest segments of our society is food.  Fast food wasn’t fast enough so they put in drive-thru lanes.  Now you don’t have to waste time getting out and going into the restaurant.  You can wait in an automobile line instead!  The point of all this is to say that our eating habits and customs have changed drastically in the last fifty years.

In Biblical times, preparing meals required time and effort.  To eat with someone was to be at peace with him.  It was fellowship. Isaac prepared a feast for Abimelech and his companions, establishing a good relationship between the two men who were previously at odds. (Gen 26:26-31) 

Jesus asks for a drink

In the New Testament Jesus met a Samaritan woman at the well and asked her for a drink.  This was quite unusual and she recognized this when she responded, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?  For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.” (John 4:9)  A simple drink of water would have suggested a friendly relationship existed between them. 

Jesus prepares a meal

But it was most significant that Jesus after His resurrection prepared a meal for His disciples.  He took bread and gave it to them and likewise the fish. (John 21:13)  And according to Luke, He ate in their presence. (Luke 24:43)  In our culture we miss the significance of this. When the religious leaders took Jesus into custody, “then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.” (Matt 26:57)  This was not long after Peter and all of the disciples said to Jesus, “Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny you.” (Matt 26:35)  So the meal certainly was an indication to them that they had been fully restored to fellowship with Him.  Can you imagine how they would have felt?

What about you?  Is there something you think that you have done that has disqualified your relationship with Him?  The disciples fled in fear and Peter denied Him three different times.  And yet they were restored to fellowship with Jesus.

Do you have the peace of God?

Once you are saved, you can never lose your relationship with the Lord. There’s nothing a believer can do to lose the peace you have with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1). But sinful living can affect the peace of God in my life. Ongoing disobedience will cause me to lack joy and the peace of God (I John 1:4, 6). When I am going down the wrong road, God has not moved away from me. I have moved away from Him.

Fellowship with Jesus

All one needs to do is to change your mind (repent) about the direction you are heading. Confess it to the Lord and seek His power and help to correct it. “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:6, 7).

God doesn’t remove the consequences of our sin. But He’s always willing to restore the fellowship in the relationship so that you can experience the peace of God. “If anyone hears His voice and opens the door, I (Jesus) will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20). Now that’s fellowship, peace, and joy!

You can read more about this in Assurance of Heaven, chapter 9, Fellowship with God. Click here for more information about the book. Click here for a free study guide.

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Memorial Day 2010

Early on Memorial Day 2010 I got one of those calls that we don’t want to get.  I was at work. My wife’s voice on the other end said, “I think your dad died.”  Well as the process of events unraveled over the next couple days you begin to hear the many stories of how he touched lives. Some were in a very good way and some not so good; like the time when he shot my grandfather in the posterior with a BB gun.  But you look back on his almost eighty-six years and see many blessings.

He was born on Flag day and died on Memorial Day. He came through WW II having fought at the battles of Normandy and Okinawa as a gunner on the Nevada, a naval battleship.  He made it through unharmed.  Would he say that the day the war was over was the best day of his life?  Or maybe he would say the day he married my mother, his wife of sixty-two years was the best day of his life.  What about the birth of his two sons? 

Though those are great days in all of our lives, I do not believe that any of those days come close to qualifying for the best day of his life.  I’m sure that my dad would tell you that Monday morning, Memorial Day of 2010, was the best day of his life.  Because he had received Christ as his Savior as a young man, Sunday night he went to sleep and on early Monday morning he awoke seeing the face of God – “I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness”  (Psalm 17:15).

All of us have physical life.  To state the obvious we get it at conception.  But we do not receive spiritual life until we come to the Lord Jesus and receive Him by faith.  That’s what Jesus meant when He said, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 It is a spiritual birth. In Him (Jesus) was life and the life was the light of men.” John 1:4 He came – to give life – spiritual life;  “I have come that they may have life, …” John 10:10   

Our sin has separated us from the Lord. But Jesus gave His life, shedding His blood on the cross, and then three days later rose from the dead and offers forgiveness and eternal life to whosoever will come to Him by faith (John 3:16).

My father went into the very presence of God, not because the good things he did outweighed the bad things. No amount of good could ever remove the bad things. He is there because he recognized his sin problem. He had received God’s offer of salvation by faith.  There is no doubt in my mind that he would tell you, Memorial Day 2010, was the best day of his life. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” II Corinthians 9:15

For more about how to begin a relationship with God click here.

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The Majesty of God’s Creation

This is my second blog in a series about God’s amazing creation. Thanks to a sister in the Lord for the ocean pictures and the amazing butterfly photo.

God’s creation is intended to impress us with His magnificence and eternal power (Rom. 1:20). Why do we get a sense of awe from seeing a mountain vista or a brilliant sunrise? It all points to His glory. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

The butterfly is a picture of transformation. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind“. (Romans 12:2) The Greek word for ‘transform’ is ‘metamorphoo’. It’s similar to the English, metamorphosis. The caterpillar changes into a beautiful butterfly. We change into something beautiful when we surrender by faith to the Spirit of God through the word of God, day by day, moment by moment.

Are you worried?

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:25, 26)

You]visit the earth and water it, You greatly enrich it;
The river of God is full of water; You provide their grain,
For so You have prepared it.
You water its ridges abundantly, You settle its furrows;
You make it soft with showers, You bless its growth. (Ps. 65:9, 10)

Then the trees of the woods shall rejoice before the Lord,
For He is coming to judge the earth. Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. (I Chr. 16:33, 34)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (James 1:19)

God’s creation evidences His love for humanity. Read more about His love for you here.

Thank you for stopping by. It’s my hope that God’s word will encourage you during this difficult time that we all are facing.

How are You Spending your Time?

I remember walking with a friend at a local park on a beautiful spring day.  A man on a motorcycle rode by us on the entrance road. He promptly made a U-turn and exited the park. He was obviously taking a joy ride on a such a nice day.  Continuing our walk, we heard a fire whistle about fifteen to twenty minutes later in the distance. A couple days later I learned that the man on the bike was involved in an accident and fatally injured only a few minutes after we had seen him.

All of us have had experiences such as this.  It brings us into focus with our mortality. The world teaches us; “here today and gone tomorrow.”  But God instructs us; “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,  redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15, 16). Our time and how we spend it matters to God.

Life is Short

The Scriptures are very clear that this life is brief.  David asked of the Lord, “…make me to know my end, and what is the extent of my days, let me know how transient I am.  Behold, Thou hast made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in Thy sight.” (Ps 39:4,5)  And again in Psalm 144 David describes our days “like a mere breath; his days are like a passing shadow.”(v. 4)

What are you living for?

Yet in our brevity the Lord desires us to do something of spiritual value for now and for eternity.  Jesus did not save us from our sin so that we might live life for ourselves.  He saved us so that we should serve Him in the newness of life. “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col 3:17)   You do it for the Lord by serving others in love (Gal 5:13,14). Not one of us knows the number of our days, and we could be in His presence sooner than we think. Your life and what you do with it matters to God!

Download the free Assurance of Heaven Study Guide. Although the study guide is designed to be used with the book and the Bible, the guide and the Bible will help anyone grow to a better understanding of salvation.

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Hymn: Great is Thy Faithfulness

A friend recently sent me a Christian song that I never heard before. It was good. An old hymn was next on the list, Great is Thy Faithfulness. That particular day I needed to hear the words of that song. The author wrote it from the words of Jeremiah in the book of Lamentations; “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”(Lam. 3:22, 23)

The Jewish nation had been taken captive by the Babylonians. They no longer had control over their land nor their lives. Yet these words were spoken among such a devastating time when there seemed like there was no hope for them. But there was. In fact, Jeremiah acknowledges in the next verse; The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I hope in Him!(Lam. 3:24)

There is also hope for us. IT’S IN THE LORD AND HIS FAITHFULNESS. God is faithful even in the difficult moments and circumstances of life. He will never leave us or forsake us. (Heb. 13:5) Here are the words of the hymn written by Thomas O. Chisholm in 1923:

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father; 
there is no shadow of turning with thee; 
Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not; 
as Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Great is thy faithfulness! 
Great is thy faithfulness! 
Morning by morning new mercies I see:
all I have needed thy hand hath provided–
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

2 Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
join with all nature in manifold witness 
to thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love. [Refrain]

3 Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, 
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide, 
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! [refrain]

Be encouraged: Watch video of Great is Thy Faithfulness/Medley of This is Amazing Grace

YOUR MERCY O Lord, is in the heavens;
YOUR FAITHFULNESS reaches to the clouds.
 YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS is like the great mountains;
YOUR JUDGMENTS are a great deep;
O Lord, You preserve man and beast. Psalm 36:5, 6

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Danger on the High Seas

After my brother and I moved out of the house, my dad bought a boat.  My brother used it for water skiing and I used it for fishing.

On one of the fishing trips my two boys, their two friends, and a friend of mine were fishing a fairly large lake. The kids were young; seven to ten years old. My mother and wife were with us as observers. We were catching fish. At dusk as it got colder and began to drizzle, we decided it was time to go. There was only one other boat on the lake within sight. I hit the ignition and the boat wouldn’t start. The battery had died.

That’s the closest I ever came to being shipwrecked. When that boat wouldn’t start, my adrenaline started to flow. Frustrated, my mind began to spin. How are we going to get out of this? We weren’t about to perish, but for the captain of the boat (me) it became stressful. Kids were cold. The women were getting wet! Thankfully, by the grace of God, the only other boat that we could see helped us get back to the dock.

Danger on the high seas

What we experienced was nothing like what the apostle Paul experienced on his way to Rome. We had a dead battery. He was on a ship that was about to be torn apart by a hurricane. The crew undergirded it with cables (Acts 27:17). That action became known as frapping. They wrapped the ship with cables to help hold the timbers together so it wouldn’t be broken apart by the wind and the waves. It was a scary time for even seasoned sailors.

Do you have cables for the storm?

The Greek word for ‘cable’ is the same word used in Hebrews (4:16) for ‘help’. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace; that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help (cable) in time of need” (Heb. 4:15, 16). God’s grace and mercy will help us like those cables on a sinking ship.

Storms always come

When they began to sail the sea was calm. But not long afterward a tempestuous wind began to blow. Trouble came. And it lasted for quite some time – weeks! It’s the same way with us. God doesn’t remove the storms of life. He allows them for the purpose of growing us spiritually.

Getting through the Storm

We usually try to figure a way out of the storm immediately. We generally don’t like storms. We want smooth sailing. But God has not promised us smooth sailing. He promises us that He will be with us through the storm (John 16:33).

Who do you seek in the Storm?

When your ship is falling apart, when troubles are coming your way, do you go boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy and grace to help in time of need?  King David did. He said, “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Ps. 34:4).

He will do the same for you and me, if we’re willing to trust Him; if we are willing to come to Him to find mercy and grace to help in the time of need. If we do, His cables will hold our ship together through the storm.

“In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul” (Ps. 138:3).

How to know you have a relationship with God click here.

The Greatest Cold Case of All

I believe it was C.S. Lewis that suggested the following three possiblilities about Jesus: “He either was Lord, a liar, or a lunatic”.  Jesus claimed to be the Lord God. He said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father”. (John 14:9).  He claimed to be “I AM’, a reference to God in Exodus (3:14). The Jews picked up stones to stone him for that reason; “because You being a Man, make yourself God (John 10:33).

Could Jesus have been simply a good man? A good man does not lie about who he is. If He was only a good man as some suggest, He could not claim to be God if he wasn’t. He would be a liar.

Some suggest that maybe He thought He was God, but wasn’t. In that case, He was a lunatic. But that is a most unjustied conclusion. No person in his ‘right’ mind would even suggest that about Jesus.

Well if he wasn’t simply a ‘good’ man, and he wasn’t a lunatic, then there is only one other conclusion. He is who He says He is. He is Lord. That’s the first reason I believe Jesus rose from the dead. He is Lord and can be trusted. He said He would rise and He did (Matt. 16:21). He has power over death.

Secondly, the world is full of complexities. Did it all happen by chance or was it designed by an intelligience beyond our comprehension? For example, could the images of the four presidents on Mt. Rushmore have formed over millions of years by chance? Obviously not. It required intelligence to create. If the making of their image required intelligience, wouldn’t the real four presidents require an intelligent Designer? So if you can believe the first verse of the Bible, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”, then bringing someone back to life is no problem for Him.

Thirdly, Jesus taught His disciples truth. He certainly taught them to be men of integrity and honesty. Why then would they continue to teach that He rose, if they knew it wasn’t true? And why would many of them die for this truth, if they knew that it was false?

Fourthly, there are many prophetic passages, hundreds of years prior to the birth of Jesus, identifying Him as the Messiah. Included in these prophetic scriptures are references to His resurrection (Is. 53:10; Ps. 16:10; Dan. 12:2; Job 19:25, 26). If prophecies accurately identified the Christ, then why couldn’t those concerning his resurrection be trusted also?

Fifthly, the tomb was empty. Even the religious leaders knew the tomb was empty, because they promoted the lie that the disciples stole it (Matt. 28:13). All they needed was a body and this whole movement called the church would have never got off the ground. Find the body and the case is closed.

The angel at the tomb told the women, “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said.” (Matt. 28:6) In the end there is no cold case because there is no dead body to find! He’s alive and coming again. Are you ready?

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No Resurrection; No Hope

“From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day(Matthew 16:21). The death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His bodily resurrection is the event that separates the Christian faith from all other faiths. Most people can accept the fact that Jesus was a real person and that He died a horrific death on a Roman cross.  However, not everyone willing accepts the truth of His resurrection.

But without the bodily resurrection of Christ, there would be no Christianity.  The apostle Paul made this very clear in his letter to the Corinthian church. He wrote to them to refute false teaching that there is no resurrection from the dead. He told them:

1. If Christ has not been raised, you are still dead in your sins. (15:17)

2. Those who have died in Christ have perished. (15:18) They are lost and forever separated from God. 

3. The apostles are false witnesses of God because they taught a lie. (15:15)  And all who have taught that Jesus rose from the grave are false witnesses as well.

4. Everyone who has hoped in Christ is to be pitied because they have believed in vain and have no hope for the future. (15:14,19)

However, there is hope. “Christ is risen from the dead” (15:20). Jesus was seen by Mary Magdeline and Mary. He was seen also by Peter, by the twelve, by 500 brethern at one time, by James, and last of all by the apostle Paul. (15:4-8)

In addition, while defending himself, Paul confronted Festus in front of King Agrippa with the truth of Christ’s sufferings and His resurrection. “For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner.” (Acts 26:23, 26)

The prophets foretold the resurrection of Christ. (Ps 16:10; Is 53:10; Dan. 7:13, 14)  It was necessary to fulfill the Scriptures. (Luke 24:45, 46)  It was proof that God accepted the sacrifice of His Son. (Rom 4:25)  He told His disciples, “Because I live you will live also” (John 14:19).

Those who seen Him were willing to die for this truth. Because He rose, every believer has this hope of bodily resurrection. “The body is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power”.  ” …The first Adam became a living being. The last Adam (Jesus) became a life- giving spirit” (I Cor 15:42-45) .

He is risen indeed!

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The Release of a Murderer

Following is adapted from an article written by C.I. Scofield

Barabbas sat in prison. He was notorious for rebellion and murder in the city of Jerusalem (Luke 23:25). He waited for the day of his crucifixion for his crimes. His sentence was just. The day had come. He would be nailed to a cross in the middle of two other crosses; prepared for two other law breakers.

It was the custom of the Roman authorities to release a prisoner at Passover to appease the Jews (Mark 15:6). Unbeknown to Barabbas, the Jewish leaders would request his freedom so that Jesus could take his place. Barabbas had committed murder and was under the righteous condemnation of the law (Mark 15:7).

Barabbas was guilty. Jesus was not. He had done nothing deserving of condemnation under the law (John 8:46; John 19:4). Jesus was tempted in all points as we are yet without sin (Heb. 4:15).

Jesus was a true substitute for Barabbas. He actually would die in his place. Jesus, as an innocent person, would bear the very penalty which the law had justly pronounced on Barabbas. (2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13; I Peter 3:18)

Barabbas had done nothing to deserve his reprieve.  It was granted to him simply by grace. (Eph. 2:4-9; Rom. 4:4-5).

He knew that if Jesus would die, he would live. The only question before Pilate was whether Christ should die or Barabbas. When it was decided that Christ should die, Barabbas was set free. His assurance was complete the instant that his Substitute (Jesus) said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; Rom. 5:19)

The same could be said of you or me. We are the same as Barabbas. Jesus took his place, but He also took our place. Like Barrabas we are condemned sinners helpless to change our situation. But God in His infinite love, mercy, and grace provided a Substitute to take our place. Jesus’ death paid our sin debt. We have no debt to pay He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). His resurrection proved that God was completely satisfied with His payment (Rom. 4:25).

Have you trusted in Him for the forgiveness of all your sins (past, present, and future)? Have you been restored to a relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ? If you have trusted Christ, Easter time is a great opportunity to share the good news with others. With all that is going on in the world, people’s mortality has become real to them. You can share the hope that we have in Jesus Christ by sharing the following link:

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Many of the people I know are praying. One person’s prayer can have great impact. But it must be done in faith. “And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up” (James 5:15). This does not mean that everyone will get healed. For all prayer is answered according to the will of God (I John 5:14, 15). But this doesn’t diminish the importance of prayer, which is an expression of our dependence on God.

The book of James gives an example of one who prayed and had great results, Elijah. He was a man just like us. “He prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit (James 5:17, 18). This is the example of how an “effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).

In verse 16 one Greek word translates the two English words, effective and fervent. Simply stated, the prayer of a righteous person is effective. Becasue of the circumstance, it led Elijah to pray earnestly (v. 17). Literally, ‘he prayed with prayer’. It was a Hebrew idiom to express intensity. He had no abilty to make this prayer happen. He couldn’t stop it from raining. He couldn’t make it rain. He was completely reliant on God for the outcome.

A righteous man is not a perfect man. But he is first of all in a right relationship with God by faith in Jesus Christ. As a result, he is one who is in a right relationship with others. Specifically, he is walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh (Gal. 5:17). That’s why there is an instruction for the elders to pray for the sick person. Not that all elders walk in the Spirit, but they should be walking in close fellowship with God or else they shouldn’t be elders.

Elijah’s prayer was not only God dependent, but it was also in the will of God (I John 5:15; I Kings 17:1, 18:1). The northern kingdom of Israel had severely departed from worshiping the Lord. Ahab was king. He had married Jezebel, a wicked servant of the false god, Baal. She influenced her husband and the whole nation to worship Baal rather than almighty God.

God would use the lack of rain as judgment on the nation for their evil. A lack of rain caused famine. Famine was one of God’s four severe judgments (Ez. 5:17; 14:21). The judgments were for the purpose of turning the nation back to God.

So Elijah prayed again according to God’s will and God eventually sent rain on the land (I Kings 18:1, 41, 45). That’s the result of one righteous man’s prayer, when prayed according to God’s will.

It’s not about how many people are praying. It’s really about the Lord’s will and the godly energized prayers of righteous men and women; those who are walking in a close relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Christians who love as brothers, are humble, and do not retaliate or revile; but rather bless, have the ear of God (I Peter 3:8, 9). For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” I Peter 3:12

Be a Christian who God hears for the welfare of others and for His glory!

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