Mountain-Top Experience

Today’s reading is from Matthew 17.

Are you familiar with the expression “Mountain-Top Experience” or “Mountain-Top Moment?” They typically refer to a time where you experienced something impactful, usually a big victory or success you accomplished, which you will remember the rest of your life. One of my mentors and coaches, Kurt Dorner, uses recalling “Mountain-Top” moments daily as a big part of his What’s Possible Coaching. Why? Jason Selk, one of the world’s top sports psychologist, and now business coach, says, “Confidence is the number one variable in success.” Reminding ourselves of past successes breeds confidence and leads to peak performance again because we remember what’s possible and what has been done before knowing we can do it again.

Today we read about Peter, James, and John both literally and figuratively having a “Mountain-Top Experience” with their presence at Jesus’ Transfiguration on the top of a mountain (again..both literally and figuratively). How awesome must this have been to be there for this?! Much of my writing today is from notes in my Bible from a sermon Pastor Mike Baker did on this topic on 2/17/2019.

First, Pastor Mike discusses how Peter, James, and John missed Jesus’ superiority and what was going on right in front of them. How? Peter won’t be quiet and just observe what’s going and just listen. In Matthew 17:4, he immediately starts trying to plan and take action. Pastor Mike discussed we must be quiet to observe God’s presence and role in our “Mountain-Experiences” and lives.

Second, Pastor Mike discusses how in the midst of the Transfiguration and traveling with Jesus and taking part in His ministry, they still missed seeing God’s plan. In Matthew 17:9, Matthew 17:12, and Matthew 17:22, Jesus says He must suffer and will be raised from the dead. Yet, they kept misinterpreting the Old Testament scriptures as the Messiah being an earthly king. Despite how many times Jesus told them what was going to happen, they were still fearful when Jesus was captured and killed thinking His mission and purpose died with Him. They ran and hid. They forgot everything Jesus told them and forgot this past “Mountain-Top Experience” with God the Father, Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. Would they really have felt this way if they remembered the Almighty God who is in control of all things was with Jesus and with them? Did God the Father not have a big plan for Jesus? Did God the Father not have a big plan for them if He included them in such a significant moment as Jesus’ Transfiguration? How different might they have reacted and felt after Jesus capture and death if they just remembered their “Mountain-Top Experience?” How often do we fall into the same trap and not recognize the awesome things God has done and will continue to do in our life? As the saying goes, we can’t see the forest through the trees.

So, how do we recognize the things God is doing in our life? Pastor Mike says we do 3 things. First, we fall to our knees like they did in Matthew 17:6. We can see Him better this way which leads to the next thing we do which is focus only on Jesus. In Matthew 17:8, when Peter, James, and John looked up after falling to their knees..all they saw was Jesus. Lastly, we follow the empty tomb. Despite things looking as bad they possibly could for 3 days with Jesus dying, we know that ultimately Jesus conquered death and the tomb was empty.

Remembering our personal past “Mountain-Top Experience” is great to remind us what God has done in our lives and can do again and then some. As Ephesians 3:20 says, He can do more than we can ask or imagine through HIS power working within us. And let us also remember Romans 8:28, which tells us He has a plan through all of our troubles to work it for His good. But above all things, let us remember the empty tomb. Romans 8:37 says because of the empty tomb defeating sin and death, “we are more than conquerors” through His love. The same power that conquered sin and death lives within us as well (Romans 8:11). Let us the recall in the midst of all our “Mountain- Top Experiences” and troubles that we fight from victory and not for victory (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Enter His Gate

When Jesus finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching. 

As we read Matthew 6-7 for today, I pray you will pause and see where God wants you to reflect and seek what God wants you to make clear to you on your journey closer to Him.  Jesus provides so much wisdom in these chapters that leave me thinking and praying for continued transformation.  Topics in these chapters include:

  • Giving
  • Prayer
  • Treasures
  • Worrying
  • Judging

These topics are all sections in my Bible underlined, highlighted, and have notes in the margins.  In prayer for open eyes and ears for today, I landed on a few verses that, for some reason, there was nothing.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate, and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate, and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.  Matthew 7:13-14

In the middle of one of the storms we had recently, it took my wife forty-five minutes to make a five drive.  As Jennifer drove back and forth, she ran into roadblocks and flooded streets that lead to some tears and fear.  Eventually, they made it home safely down a side street that led to home.  (prayers for everyone impacted by these recent storms)

What road or path are you on?  There are times when  I think I’m going in the direction, and I need to stop.  It seemed safe, and it wasn’t.  I follow the crowd and realize I’ve gone the wrong way.  God has a path laid out for you.

  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, submit to him, and He will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6
  • The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.  Proverbs 16:9 
  • The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in His way. Psalm 37:23 

The road seemed wide and perfect, but it led to a dead-end, just like Jennifer the other day.  God provides the perfect directions. The road that leads directly to Him.  Will you seek His path today? This world offers a path that can lead you in many directions.  Our Lord offers us one way.  I pray we are all seeking the narrow road that leads to Him.

Matthew 6:10 Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.

 

Picture Source: St. Mary Magdalene Orthodox Church

Keeping It Real

Today’s reading Psalm 42.

I have to admit I struggled a little bit to understand exactly what the psalmist was saying here, as it seemed like he was contradicting himself. Come to find out after reading studying up a bit more, he is.

In fact, I bet as we read this more closely we can all greatly relate to the psalmist struggle.

In Psalm 42:3, he says…

My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”

In Psalm 42:5, he says…

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?….”

Again, in Psalm 42:9….

“Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

Lastly, in Psalm 42:11…

Why are you cast down, O my soul, why are you in turmoil within me?

Can’t we all relate to complaining to God about our circumstances? There are times in our life, or even just certain areas of our life over longer periods (or even our whole life), where things just don’t seem to go our way. When we ask God, “Why?” We cry out to God, “Can’t one thing just go my way? Where are you when I need you? I’m doing everything I think you want, but I just can’t seem to catch a break! Are you still there, God? Do you really love and care about me?” And worse yet, sometimes you feel like there may be others that are happy about your challenges and problems as the psalmist describes in his situation (Psalm 42:3,10.)

Then, in his next breaths he seems to be praising God though…

Here in the 2nd part of Psalm 42:5…

“Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation, and my God.”

In the 2nd part of Psalm 42:11….

Hope in my God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

He talks about in Psalm 42:4 how he would lead the procession to praise God, and then in Psalm 42:6 he remembers past successes God has helped him. Do you remember Psalm 42:9 where he complains from above? Well, he actually calls God, “my rock” in 42:9 before doing so.

The psalmist is facing the struggle I believe nearly all of us face where we are going through tough times, yet we try to still praise God but our heart is just not in it sometimes they way it should be. When we try to say we know God is in control, and He’s got us…yet maybe we wonder or doubt. He’s trying talk himself into coming back to what He knows to be true. He’s trying to remind himself that God loves him. God has him and to trust Him. God is in control. And God has a plan and His will is perfect.

The psalmist is as some would say, ‘keeping it real,” with how many of us feel or have felt at times. Are you feeling this way right now? If so, I would encourage you to check out Romans 8. If you’re in a good spot in your walk with the Lord currently, put a bookmark in Romans 8 because you may want to come back to it in the future. I would love to unpack this more but that’s just too much for today, and I really think these few verses say all that really needs to be said anyway.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with graciously give us all things?

Romans 8:31-32

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?…

Romans 8:35

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who love us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:37-39

Why I Believe – Part 2: Chet Bandy

Today’s reading is Psalm 18 which David wrote when God rescued him from the hand of his enemies and Saul.

I will primarily focus on Psalm 18:27-30.

For you save a humble people,

but the haughty eyes you bring down.

For it is you who light my lamp;

the Lord my God lightens my darkness.

For by you I can run against a troop,

and by my God I can leap over

a wall.

This God- His way is perfect,

the word of the Lord proves

true;

He is a shield for all those who

take refuge in Him.

 

The night before beginning to write this our family watched the new Disney movie Safety about a Clemson football player who cared for his little brother while his Mom was in rehab so he would not have to go into foster care. As I saw some of the scenes of football practice it reminded me how much I loved football and even the practice..the intensity, the hits, and the sounds of the pads popping. I mentioned in my last post which I’ll call Part I of “Why I Believe” that I had never had a rock bottom moment so to speak that caused me to believe when I didn’t previously. However, that does not mean that I have not had challenges that seemed very great at the time with some making me wonder how I would get through them.

Growing up in the small town of Auburn, IL, high school football is huge. At a young age I asked the coach to be ball boy and my dreams began to be the star quarterback someday. I always picked the teams and played quarterback on the playground and also played quarterback from youth football all the way until my junior year when I had the opportunity to realize my dream to be the starting varsity quarterback. I had not only worked my whole life up until that point for this, but also put in extra work the last year to try beat out my competition in a quarterback controversy if there is such a thing in small town high school football. This dream came crashing down quickly when about a week into practice a broke my elbow throwing a football. Yes…you heard that right..I snapped a growth plate in my elbow just throwing which is unheard of. I had done the same thing to my other elbow the year before and came back later this year only to break a growth plate in my shoulder. If your counting along with me…that’s 3 bones in 2 seasons spending most of my sophomore and junior year first semesters in a cast, and I’m sure you can imagine the “jokes” from high school classmates about my frailty. This also doesn’t do much for a high school boy’s confidence when he’s trying to get a date! The doctor said this was due to weak growth plates and since I was still growing I decided not to play football my senior year. It was crushing. These were the guys I had grown up with and lead as quarterback since the 6th grade.

I played a lot of golf working on the course in the summers, so I thought I would play that in the Fall instead. After the first few days of golf practice, it just didn’t feel right. Fall meant football to me, and I missed being with my football teammates and coaches. Thankfully, Coach Bates let me be a part of the team and chart plays, along with work with the quarterbacks. It was humbling to not be able to put the pads and work with position I always envisioned playing my senior year. We went on that year to complete the first undefeated regular season for our town in 39 years. I can remember taking pictures after winning that 9th and final regular season game and being sad I didn’t have a uniform on like my teammates (I’ll never forget Coach Mark Dudley telling me to get in and making me feel included), but I was also able to find joy by still being a part of it in some way.  I was also happy for my teammates and the 2 quarterbacks who split time that year and remain good friends still.

This may seem like a silly story as you are reading this and you may be thinking..is playing high school football and being the quarterback that big of a deal? You may be going through some very serious “real world” stuff right now. Well for me, it was a big deal at the time. And the challenges you may be going through right now are probably a big deal to you while others may feel blessed to be in your situation. We need to be empathetic and understanding to whatever our kids, neighbors, friends, and loved ones are going through. The main reason I’m sharing this story is because I believe this experience and even the ridicule from high school classmates prepared me for challenges later. The same way I found joy in being a part of the team in some way can relate to the way we can find joy in our relationship with Jesus, even when circumstances don’t turn out like we expected. The subliminal lack of confidence I had at times later in life likely due this and the teasing from classmates allowed God to put others in my life later to build me up and help me realize these events and people affected me more than I realized, but they didn’t define my life and they didn’t mean that life would always turn out this way in future areas. God had big things planned for me in other ways. I wouldn’t trade being high school quarterback for the “victories” He has given me in making me a husband and father of three.

You may read Psalm 18 and be thinking…I’m a good person and may consider myself righteous compared to others like David speaks of, but He hasn’t made me “king” or helped me reach my vision for what I thought my life would look like. It’s easy for David to praise God because he made him king. But, did David know He would be king when he wrote this Psalm or was this before? Maybe God will make you “king” at some point in the area you want or in a different way or areas. Or maybe you are already “king” compared to the alternate path your life could have gone which God rescued you from, but you don’t even know about it. I’m confident God has rescued us from “Saul’s” and our enemy the Devil and made us “king” in ways we don’t even realize.

Regardless of how our life on this Earth goes, if we make God our rock, our fortress, our strength, our deliverer, our refuge, and our shield,  and we humble ourselves as Psalm 18 speaks of by trusting in Jesus and asking for forgiveness for our mistakes….He will in fact make us righteous and blameless in Heaven someday. In fact, we already are in His eyes today.  I believe in God because we have a God who didn’t have to do what He did.  The Creator of the Universe came to Earth as a human and poured himself out and suffered the pains of losing a loved one, temptation of the Devil, facing rejection and being deserted by friends, and ultimately the pain of a Roman flogging and crucifixion that we can’t even imagine. He did this not only to forgive our sins, but lived and suffered in such a way so that we would know He gets us and understands our pain because He lived it and faced the same and then some. This is why I believe. Thank you, Jesus.

The Advent Path for God’s People

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 40:1-5

40 Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.

3 A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord[a];
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.[b]
4 Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Happy Tuesday Bible Journal family,

December 1st, 2020. Our last month of this very different year! Let’s continue our daily journey through Advent and the promises found in Isaiah that point to the celebration of the birth of our Lord.  In verses 1-2 written by Isaiah, it provides us a promise of hope and comfort in a time of unease. How are you feeling today?  Anything have you uneasy this morning? I know I could share a few things if you had time. But instead of letting these feelings grab hold of me and pull me under I can find some timely rest in the assurance of our Lord who promises hope, joy, peace, and comfort while already paying the price for all our sins. Romans 5:8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

In twenty-five days, we will celebrate the birth of our Lord through Christmas.  We can celebrate today and every day to come the victory has already been won through His life, death, and resurrection.  Our comfort can be found in the words spoken to Israel and us. He reminds us “comfort, comfort, my people“.

Isaiah 40:3-5 provides us with a visual and a reminder about preparing a way in our lives it’s the holiday season to focus on the greatness of our Lord.  We are not alone right now or ever.  Does it feel like you are metaphorically walking around a desert (even though today’s weather by me would feel like a tundra), are you in a valley seeking to try to peek over a horizon? Possibly you are standing on the top of a mountain now wondering how will I ever get down? Or maybe just this year has felt like you have been traveling down a rough path.  Take a deep breath.  Take time to read through these promises we are finding every day in His words.  Promises that say that even in 2020 God has us.  That we have traveled some roads during this time and made many mistakes.  This advent can be a reminder that Jesus came to this world born in human form to live a life for an example of us, but also died for us to live and one day be again with Him in His presence.  This advent more than ever before can provide hope and comfort that our Lord is right by your side every on every rough path, valley, or mountain saying prepare the way. I’m coming back one day for you! What obstacles are standing in your way? Don’t try to face them with our own pride.  As children of God, we must prepare a way for Him.  What an opportunity we have to show others our love, hope, and trust in Him this advent season.  Proclaim the coming of our Lord this start of advent! Have a blessed day.

Dear Lord,

We are all in need of comfort. We know that our only true comfort comes from you. As we live out each day in this Advent season help us to recognize and praise you for the love and sacrifice you made for us.  We love you and pray for us each to draw closer to you and the comfort of your love for us.  Amen

Enjoy this song on this brisk morning.

It’s Not About You…

When you wake up, what is the first thing you think about? It is probably something related to what is going on in your day ahead or your personal life right now. Although some days may come with excitement for the day’s events, there is probably also some worry or anxiety about if you will get everything done you need to do and also about what is going, or could go, wrong. It is natural and normal that nearly all our thoughts are focused on ourselves, or as we have children, our family. It is also human nature for us all to have Problem Centric Thinking (PCT). We most commonly focus on the negative or what’s going, or could go, wrong. This is very similar to when you are driving down the road and a bug hits your windshield. Ninety-nine percent of the windshield is clear, but you keep focusing on the one bug…and it can drive you nuts.

Our thoughts tell us that most of us believe we are the main character in our life’s story. However, in his October 25th sermon at Eastview Christian Church, Ben Miller reminded us that we are not the main character in our life’s story…God is. As much as we think it is, our life is not about us. Our life is about how we can live for God’s glory and make an impact for Him while we are here on this Earth. If we take the focus off ourselves and realize God is the main character in our story, then we are better positioned to face whatever curve balls life throws us.

A mentor and friend of mine has a great quote he always says, “Nothing happens to us, only for us.” After hearing Ben’s sermon though, I would make a slight adjustment and say, “Nothing happens to us, only for Him.” We won’t ever like and want bad, or even challenging, things to happen to us and in our lives in the same way we don’t want harm to our own physical body. However, when we take the focus off ourselves and know God is in control and He’s the main character in our story, we can better deal with and handle the challenges life brings us. Our life is not really our story, it’s His story. How awesome is it that He has made us a part of it?!

Here are a few questions we might ask ourselves when facing challenging times…

  1. What might God be doing through the challenges in my life right now that can be used for Him and His glory now or in the future?
  2. How can God take my past mistakes and/or current mess and turn it into something not only good, but something great, much like He did for some of the most influential people in the Bible?
  3. What God really wants is more of our heart, how might He be using these challenges to bring me or others around me closer to Him?

 

The amount of joy we will have in our life is in direct proportion to the amount of trust we have in God’s love, will, and perfect plan for us and our life.

 

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

 

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mine is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

 

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

 

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”   Ephesians 3:20-21

Savior

The question is often asked, “What would you do if you only had 6 months to live?” Most people talk about spending more time with family and going and doing things they’ve always wanted to do…checking things off the so called “bucket list.” Let’s change the question slightly to say, “What would you do if you knew the world was going to end in 6 months and Jesus would return?” While most of us may say we would do some of the same things as if we knew we personally would only live 6 months, I would hope some of us would also say we would tell other others about our Savior in Jesus which is our word to describe him today. As we discussed in our small group this week, we often don’t want to think about what will happen to others if they don’t know Him. If we do think about it we often just think they won’t go to Heaven and maybe not even think of the alternative or just think of Hell as a dark place. While I won’t go into any details here, the Bible tells us many times Hell is more than just a dark place and somewhere we shouldn’t want anyone to go.

We see really good examples in John 4:1-42 with the Samaritan women at the well telling others about Jesus saying “come and see” and then in Acts 13 when Paul and Barnabas were in Antioch the rulers of the synagogue asked if they had any words of encouragement, and they had the bravery to tell the story of who Jesus was through referencing the Old Testament scriptures Jews knew by saying, “Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as He promised.” in Acts 13:23.

As has been the focus of some of many recent posts, we are living in really crazy times right now. When people observe how you are reacting to all of this what are they thinking? Are they seeing peace in your heart that God has perfect plan and is in control? Or are they hearing you complain? Are they hearing you are worried and anxious? Are they even hearing you say something like, “If (fill in the blank) gets elected/re-elected it’s going to get really bad, and I’m not sure what will happen to our country and world!” While we are all imperfect humans and can be guilty of this (I know I am), we really need to think about the personal trust we have in God and then in turn the impact our thoughts and words and ultimately actions have on both believers and especially non-believers speaking with and observing us. Charles Stanley said, “Basically, there are two paths you can walk: faith or fear. It’s impossible to simultaneously trust God and not trust God.” What is the condition of your heart? What is the level of trust and hope you have in Jesus for the future?

Paul’s relationship and trust in Jesus was such that he could confidently say in 1 Timothy 4:10, “For this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” Despite how hopeless our life, this country, or the world looks due to sin…we should all strive to be able to say the same. When we do, we will not only be able to confidently tell others about our Savior and that if they seek Him too it will not only bring peace to their heart today, but it will also affect where they will spend eternity. Many will begin to even ask how and why you are so calm and confident despite your personal challenging circumstances or despite the turmoil of the current times.

Once the woman at the well went back to tell others, they came and saw Jesus. And they said in John 4:42, “…..It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world. People will start to observe and begin to “see” God in their lives. Knowing our Savior will not only change the hope they have on this side of eternity, but it will change where they spend the other side of eternity.

Revelation 21:4 says…

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

 

My prayer today is that you take a few minutes to listen to this song and have the hope that Aaron Shust describes, as well as share that hope you have in our Savior with others….

 

Resurrection and Life

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall live,…”

John 11:25

Today’s words to describe Jesus are the resurrection and life from John 11:25. Here it is actually Jesus himself calling himself this as He comforts Martha from the death of her brother Lazarus who He ultimately brings back to life later in the chapter after being dead for four days.

It’s not too often that we don’t attend church (now virtually) on Sunday morning during the planned service time, but this week because of some family circumstances we did not. I also typically write my Biblejournal.net posting on Saturday or Sunday, but here I am writing it Tuesday morning after watching the sermon Monday morning. As I watched the sermon Monday, God yet again left me in amazement as the central focus of Pastor Mike Baker’s sermon was the resurrection of Jesus. Yes, all sermons are about Jesus and typically come back to the hope we have in Him because of the resurrection, but this was the central theme of his entire message. I believe there are no coincidences, and apparently God wanted a few more people who may read this but who not attend Eastview Christian Church to hear some of Pastor Mike’s nuggets.

The central verses for Pastor Mike’s sermon were 1 Corinthians 15:3-11 where Paul discusses the resurrection. Pastor Mike said, “What’s weird is not someone dying for a cause which has been done for years, what’s weird is someone rising from the dead.” Paul adderesses in these verses that Jesus was undoubtedly alive after His crucifixion as He appeared to Cephas (Peter), the twelve (all the disciples), five hundred at one time (Paul does not give the exact event but many believe this to be the ascension in Luke 24:50-53), His brother James, the apostles, and to Paul himself even though Paul states he was not worthy because he himself persecuted and killed Christians. We know in Luke 24 Jesus was with the disciples and asked for something to eat in Luke 24:41-43. Pastor Mike brought to light the fact that five hundred people don’t hallucinate and a dead person or a ghost does not eat. As I’ve written about before, what is most convicting to me about the resurrection is the fact that the disciples went from running away and hiding in the room Jesus ultimately appeared to them in as they feared for their own lives to spreading the Gospel at all costs knowing they would likely be killed for doing so as nearly all of them were. Would they have done this if they had stolen the body themselves or if they didn’t actually see and talk to Jesus? Not a chance. Well, maybe Jesus wasn’t actually dead? Much has been written on this topic to debunk this which not only speaks to how the description of crucifixion event in the Bible prove He was dead, but also the fact that the Romans were killing machines. This is what they did. They didn’t make mistakes when it came to killing someone. If this topic is something you are interested in exploring further beyond the greatest source in the Bible itself, I recommend reading the book Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. Lee was in investigative reporter and atheist who was out to disprove the Gospel. He now has written many books and travels the world spreading the Gospel.

So why does the resurrection matter to each one of us? Pastor Mike says there are two central questions we must all answer and move beyond. First, how do I get past my wrongdoings and sin? Second, what happens to me when I die? Jesus is the resurrection and also the life because He is the answer to both these questions. Believing in Him and that He was without sin yet was sacrificed for us and our sins and that He was raised so we who believe will also be raised (John 11:25) means that we can all answer both these questions and ultimately have life.

Last week I was meeting virtually with a client and as a part of our initial chit chat we were talking about all the craziness going on in the world today on many levels and especially with him being in healthcare. Although He was satisfied from our financial review, I didn’t really know how to wrap up the call to say goodbye as I knew there was still some discontentment with the world today in general. The only thing I could think of to say was that we know who’s really in control and that He has a plan. He responded by saying honestly that is only way he is getting through all of this. The only thing we have to fear is death, but as 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 says, “’O death where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through the Lord Jesus Christ.” We have nothing to fear because we are ALL undefeated through Him. He is life…eternal life.

As the song “Great Are You Lord” says…

 

You give life, You are love

You bring light to the darkness

You give hope, You restore

Every heart that is broken

Great are you Lord

 

It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise

We pour out our praise

It’s your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise to You only….

https://youtu.be/ZZqV6i98SkA

Our Peace

Our world has changed over the past few months. Currently, we are dealing with social and racial issues that are splitting the country apart. COVID-19 has changed the economic, physical, and emotional tides of the country. Each day, in the United States, we hear on the news about everything that is going wrong in the world around us.

Many of our families live in fear and dismay over the COVID-19 pandemic and all the other concerns going on. Each one of us is shaken and made to rely on something in their lives for hope and peace.

During all the uncertainty, I keep listening to Christians and Non-Christians’ uncertainty of what the future could be. Each one of us depends on some type of faith. I believe that during all this time, that Christians should portray a peace that passes understanding.

Ephesians 2:14 is our verse today. It says, “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility”. Paul is speaking to the Ephesian church and is addressing the disagreements within the church. He addresses this issue by saying that, Jesus is our only true peace, and He is the only thing that can solve all their issues going on. Also, in Christ Jesus, we are made brothers and sisters in Christ. Therefore, as brothers and sisters, we must represent the sacrifice that Christ has made for us and rally together around that.

How does this disagreement that the church in Ephesians helps us understand peace?

Dictionary.com defines peace as “a state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations:”. As stated above, we can see that we are far from peace in this country and world. There is only one way to obtain true peace, by putting your hope and faith in Christ Jesus for your salvation. Jesus says in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you that in me you have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world”. Our peace is found in Jesus!

Each day we fight, disagree, backstab, and worry all out of the fear of the future. We are looking for some type of utopian society. Because of sin, that isn’t possible, but with Christ, we do have a peace that will surpass all understanding. See Jesus paid for our sin on a cross to provide us the peace in our hearts that we yearn for. The peace that Jesus provides, is the understanding that we have a Savior and God, who loves us so much that the Father sacrificed the Son to pay for all the sin in our lives so that we can live with Christ in eternity.

In the current season of life that we are all living, Christians need to unify under one banner, the cross of Jesus Christ. I encourage each of you to keep your hope in Jesus Christ. Life isn’t easy and there will always be some amount of uncertainty. However, when we are able to band together as believers, we gifted with the Holy Spirit that strengthens us. In Galatians 3:28, Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” There is no distinction that Jesus makes.

Our peace is stronger together as Christians. I encourage you, now is the time to reach out to Christians and Non-Christians, that you know you disagree with on topics. Pray with them, share the Gospel with non-Christians and Christians alike, share a meal together, and overall be together and unify under Christ Jesus, who provides a peace that passes all understanding.

Glory

Today we are focusing on the glory of God with the following reading….

They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass.

Psalm 106:20

And…

Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.

Jeremiah 2:11

Glory as a noun is defined as magnificence or great beauty. The psalmist and Jeremiah are speaking of Israel and how they tried to find glory in earthly things, rather than the one thing that is true beauty..God.

As we live in these interesting times that will probably change in just the few days between writing this and its posting, we are experiencing things that most of us have not seen in our lifetime. Just to name a few there are travel bans/restrictions, schools closing, restaurants can’t be open, a shortage of toilet paper (!), all major sports cancelled or postponed, and extreme volatility in our financial markets. One social media post stated this…”Mankind is so frail and a tiny little invisible virus has disrupted us so much. If we can’t handle this, what do think it will be like standing before God without the blood of Christ on your side?” How can we even begin to think that we are somehow in control and that we are wiser than God?

As a friend at dinner Saturday stated, maybe God is allowing all this to happen for our country and world to stop the busyness and craziness and get our priorities in line. The sovereignty of God is so amazing that he can let Satan and mankind do their thing, and still use it for glory..His glory. He is never perplexed. I love the way the Passion of Christ movie portrays Satan in the background as thinking he is winning with all the evil going on in Jesus’ arrest, scourging, and crucifixion. Yet, God had a bigger plan. He took the worst event in human history, the only innocent person to ever walk the Earth without sin being killed, and made it into the greatest event in human history.

He is glory, and I trust He will use everything that’s happening right now for His glory.

He has made EVERYTHING beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

Ecclesiastes 3:11