Archive for May, 2017

Finishing Strong


          “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.  For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it — lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish?’ (Luke 14: 27-29.)


          Following Jesus Christ is not easy.  Fleshly desires don’t just go away; selfishness and lust are lifelong companions; they are indulgences that must be denied daily.  The price for our eternal existence is death in this life; death to self-centered living.  The wants and needs of a disciple are superseded by the wants and needs of others.  The cross is a symbol for every believer; it is a symbol of selflessness; it represents the victory of God’s will over self-preservation.  Shortly before dying on the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.”  His life (and death) exemplified complete servitude.  Every disciple who follows Jesus must follow him to the very end.  There are no points for almost; no congratulations for half-way; and no reward for those who don’t finish.  The calling of God is a race that must be concluded; a work that demands completion; a journey with only one destination.

          Some time ago, I was volunteering at a non-profit agency.  When my time there had come to an end, the staff took me out to lunch; I told them I was leaving to attend seminary.  Immediately someone pointed to the quiet man eating across from me; I was made aware that he used to be a pastor.  He and I began to talk a little bit; he had been a minister for nearly his entire life, and had recently left the congregation.  He was rather unexcited to speak about it and so the subject quickly changed.  Later, I was privately informed of why he left the church; he had given in to homosexual temptations and was living with another man.  After so many years of faithful service, he had walked away to indulge in the lusts of his flesh.  My heart was grieved for him.  On my last day, I went to his office to leave him a note; on a yellow sticky I wrote, “Finish the race” (a phrase an ex-pastor would have easily understood.  Note:  The phrase comes from 2 Timothy 4: Verses 6-8.  Shortly before being martyred, Paul the Apostle wrote, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”)  I signed my name and put the note on his computer; (right next to a framed picture of he and his lover.)  He had spent his whole life serving God and others, only to forsake his maker just near the end.

          Before making the decision to follow Christ you should sit down and consider the cost.  A life of complete selflessness requires a great deal of sacrifice.  You must turn away from sin and deny your own wants and needs daily.  You must esteem everyone else as more important than yourself; and you must continue this life until the very end.  Are you willing to pay this price?  The cost of eternal life is high, but the reward is far greater than anything you could ever imagine.

          “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and commit ourselves to a life of service and selflessness.  We desire to do Your will; we seek to esteem others above ourselves.  We lay down our lusts and take up Your cross.  Please give us strength to complete the task that we have started.  Perfect us by the power of Your Holy Spirit, that we might finish the race, and one day be able to say, “It is finished.”  We love You Lord, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Unity or Division


          “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or household divided against itself shall not stand” (Mathew 12: 25.)


          Division produces strife, which in turn, creates weakness.  There are many forms of conflict, but the most damaging is by far, ‘internal conflict.’  Hatred among friends is often more damaging than hatred among enemies.  Divisiveness breaks the bonds between husbands and wives; it sets parents against their children; it destroys relationships and tears families apart; it defeats armies, and conquers entire nations.  The body of Christ is a divine family and a Holy Nation; made perfect in unity and peace.  Among God’s children, resentment, hostility and hatred have no place; for they lead to division; and division leads to destruction.

          Throughout its brief history, the United States has been involved in many military confrontations.  Despite the numerous wars waged in foreign lands, the bloodiest of all conflicts was fought on American soil.  In the 1860’s the U.S. erupted into a Civil War, which claimed nearly 620,000 lives and produced millions of crippled war veterans.  The property damage was astronomical, and the cost of the war exceeded 6 billion dollars (the city of Atlanta was burned to the ground.)  Railroads were destroyed, homes (and businesses) were vandalized, and whole crops were set ablaze.  As a nation was torn in two, its families also felt the sting of division and opposition.  There are many historical accounts of siblings fighting against one another in battle.

          Much like 1860’s America, the church has historically experienced great disunity.  There have been divisions regarding: differing methods of baptism; the observance of certain holidays; adherence to dietary restrictions; the structure of authority within the church (the recognition of a Pope); priestly marriage; confessional; child baptism, etc.  These divisions have caused weakness to infect the body of Christ.  To avoid division, it is the duty of every believer to place the emphasis upon a common faith in Jesus Christ; and to avoid arguing over ‘uncertain things.’  We are united in our mutual faith, our acceptance of His sacrifice, our desire for obedience, and our hope in His future return.  Love those who love the Lord; fellowship with the body of Christ; draw near to your eternal brothers and sisters; and may nothing divide you or set you apart, for you “are all one in Christ Jesus.”

          “Lord Heavenly Father we desire to be one with our brothers and sisters.  May the things that divide us be removed; that we may love those whom you have made Holy.  Forgive our divisiveness and cleanse our hearts of hatred and resentment.  Strengthen and unite Your body; that we might stand firm in the midst of hardship, and overcome the trials and the tribulations of this life.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You; and we ask and we pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

God’s Emissary


          “He who believes in me, believes not in me, but in Him who sent me.  And him who sees me sees Him who sent me […] He who rejects me, and does not receive my words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.  For I have not spoken on my own authority; but the Father who sent me gave me a command, what I should say, and what I should speak” (John 12: 44-50, condensed.)


          There were no telephones in the ancient world; no telegraphs, and certainly no computers either.  The only way to communicate across any great distance was by letter or emissary.  An emissary was a person responsible for delivering a message from one leader to another.  The messages they were given had to be repeated word for word; all of the words the messenger spoke were considered the words of the king who sent him.  The kings emissary was treated exactly as the king himself would have been treated if he had visited in person.  If the king’s emissary was treated poorly, it meant that they did not respect the king.  Jesus, although distinct in person from God, was God.  He was God’s one and only son and solitary messenger (emissary.)  He had all of God’s authority; all of God’s power, and all of God’s words.  Every word he spoke, God Himself spoke.  Every miracle he performed, God performed; every emotion he expressed, God expressed.

          When Jesus walked along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, he was treated in one of two ways.  Some respected him, invited him into their homes, and honored him as God.  Others treated him as just another man and believed he was crazy and demon possessed.  Those who hated him didn’t realize that by persecuting him, despising him, and rejecting him, they were persecuting, despising and rejecting God Himself.  When they nailed Jesus to cross they crucified God.  Today Christ is still being accepted and rejected; some are crucifying him while others are calling him ‘King,’ ‘Lord,’ ‘Savior’ and ‘God.’

          How are you treating Jesus Christ today?  Have his words found a place in your heart.  Have you accepted his sacrifice, and his message; have you called him master, and Lord.  In so doing, you accept the one true and Living God.  But if you reject Jesus and deny him, you deny God Himself.  If you have never submitted your life to Jesus Christ, and you would like to make that choice today you can.  Accepting him is easy; go to a quiet place, and be still.  Pray that he would come into your life, and into your heart; confess your sins to God and ask him to forgive you in the name of His son; profess your acceptance of His sacrifice upon the cross, and turn to Jesus and make him your new teacher.  By accepting him, and following him, you are accepting and following the living God.  [If you have taken that step, then you need to follow up; you need to get a bible and begin reading it daily; you need to get plugged in at a bible believing church in your area; most importantly, you need to begin following the commands of your Lord and master; for you are now an emissary of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Living God.]

          “Lord Heavenly Father, we accept Your Son and his message.  We call him master and Lord.  Give us the strength to be his disciples, and to be Your messengers in this world.  Father, direct us and guide us, and give us a complete knowledge of Your will.  Also, Father, give us Your words to speak, that we may accurately transmit them to everyone You put in our path.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You; and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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