Archive for March, 2017

TRUTH: Access to the Father

March 31, 2017

In the post Truth or Lies?, I stated that the question is not whether we will face the dilemma between Truth or Lies, but when will we not. So then, how committed are we to the truth? Are we committed not only to telling the truth, but for thinking what is true? If we are not committed to thinking what is true, we will not be committed to telling the truth and certainly not living the truth. Since that is the reality, it behooves us to pursue truth, Jesus the Son and the Word of God.

What TRUTH are we pursuing today? TRUTH: Access to the Father. When I started my new job three years ago, I experienced access in two ways. First, my former employee collected keys to the building and removed me from their email database. Those two acts effectively denied me access to the building where I worked and access to their email system. Conversely with my current employer, I was given an access card to the new building I would be working as well as a new email address where I could communicate with everyone in that organization. Access is a concept that we have some experience, so it is important that we understand the TRUTH: Access to the Father.

For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” Ephesians 2:18

TRUTH: Access to the Father. The Greek word used for access in the verse is prosagōgē (pros-ä-gō-gā’) which is used only three times in the New Testament. According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary, the following is noted about the meaning and the three verses:

Based on prosagōgē, the literal meaning of access is “a leading or bringing into the presence of” (pros, “to,” ago, “to lead”), denotes “access,” with which is associated the thought of freedom to enter through the assistance or favor of another. It is used three times,

(a) Rom 5:2, of the “access” which we have by faith, through our Lord Jesus Christ, into grace;

(b) Eph 2:18, of our “access” in one Spirit through Christ, unto the Father;

(c) Eph 3:12, of the same “access,” there said to be “in Christ,” and which we have “in confidence through our faith in Him.” This “access” involves the acceptance which we have in Christ with God, and the privilege of His favor towards us. Some advocate the meaning “introduction.”

I must admit that I cannot fully capture the truths contained in this one verse in this post nor do I truly possess all the knowledge contained therein; however, the TRUTH I know I will share with you. Jesus and the indwelling Holy Spirit are the means through which I or any follower/believer in Jesus Christ are led or brought into the presence of God. This is contrary to what most people believe. Most people believe that they have access to God on their own merit or means. The blind man whose eyes Jesus open said, “We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.” Furthermore, Proverbs 15:29 says, “The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.” Isaiah 59:2 confirms that fact. Isaiah says, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear

Sin separates us from God. Sin prevents us from having access to God. Sin deactivates your access card. Since that is the case, TRUTH: Access to the Father is only given through Jesus Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Romans tells us that if you do not have the Spirit of God you do not belong to God. We know that when a person expresses and demonstrates faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior that the Spirit is given to that person (Eph. 1:13). Romans 8:9b says, “And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.” We also learn in that same chapter that “14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. ” I think all of us would agree that a child has access to his/her father. Similarly, the follower of Jesus who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit demonstrates this TRUTH: Access to the Father. 

Since you know the TRUTH: Access to the Father is determined by whether one has expressed faith in Jesus Christ as his/her Lord and Savior, have you made that decision? If you have, you enjoy Access to the Father. If you have not surrendered your life to Jesus as Lord and Savior, you DO NOT have Access to the Father. That is the TRUTH. What can you do to remedy your state? Be justified by Jesus. How? Romans 5:1-2a tells us “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand…” Remember John 10:7 “Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.”  John 10:9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” Simply, surrender and follow Jesus as Lord and Savior. Then, you will know and have TRUTH: Access to the Father.

Truth or Lies?

March 29, 2017

Truth or Lies? Despite our societies renewal to shades of gray, misspeaking or alternative truths, life, in the vast majority of our decisions, comes down to a decision between Truth or Lies. As one who has worked with students for almost 27 years and one with my own offsprings, I see how children suffer a barrage of lies about their self-image and their future. Furthermore, I see how adults are inundated with a torrent of lies that rivals the fiercest tsunami. The question is not whether we will face the dilemma between Truth or Lies, but when will we not. So then, how committed are we to the truth? Are we committed not only to telling the truth, but for thinking what is true? If we are not committed to thinking what is true, we will not be committed to telling the truth and certainly not living the truth. Since that is the reality, it behooves us to pursue truth.

Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14

Today begins posts about my pursuits or explorations into The Truth, Jesus. Why? I too face the matter of Truth or Lies. I must be dedicated to filtering my thoughts through The Truth, The Word of God. We know that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10  My enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 Of him, Jesus said, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44

I want to clearly see the difference between Truth or Lies. We know that Jesus opens the eyes of the blind.

Mark 10

46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

“The Lord gives sight to the blind” Psalm 146:8 I want to see The Truth, so I will not believe lies to my detriment. Paul told the Galatians that “We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.” Like Paul, I want to be sure I am not running and have not been running my race in vain. If I am not committed to discerning between Truth or Lies, I may be caught up in a web of lies mixed with a little truth designed to deceive me. “17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. 18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”;1 Corinthians 3:17-19

Furthermore, Jesus said, “Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many.” If that does not tell us why we should be committed to discerning between Truth or Lies, may be Ephesians 5:6 which says, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.” will help.

When we see others and ourselves through lenses other than the Word of God, we are deceiving ourselves. We must be committed to The Truth, The Word of God in order to make progress in this battle between Truth or Lies. What will you commit to – Truth, Jesus, or Lies, satan?

We Built This City

March 27, 2017

There are all sorts of sayings people use to refer to their city. Some times, it is the city where they grew up. Other times, it is a city where they live or have some type of connection. As I began to read Psalm 127 this morning, the phrase We Built This City came to mind. It really was part of the chorus and the name of a song by Starship. Here is the chorus.

We built this city, we built this city on rock an’ roll
Built this city, we built this city on rock an’ roll

Reportedly, Martin Page, the song’s composer, stated “To me, ‘We Built This City’ is live music’s been pulled away from the streets of LA. We want to get back to rock and roll and play it live. When I wrote it, it still had that feeling to me like something’s wrong here. The corporations had taken away great live music. We’re being stamped on, the rock was being stamped on.”

I am not sure why that song popped up in my head, but it is a reference to how one purposes to build a city. We all have motives for the things we do. For me, this is the connection with Psalm 127. Here we learn the true meaning for We Built This City.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
    for he grants sleep to those he loves.

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court.

The passage is a prayer about building that is seen in two parts homes (sanctuary) or children (disciples). The first part, verses 1 and 2, expresses the belief that human effort is futile apart from God which is reminiscent of Jesus’ declaration in John 15:5. ““I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Whether one is building a home or business, leading a school, earning a living or defending a city, it all must be done out of devotion and obedience to God. Colossians 3:17 echos this sentiment. It says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” In a godly manner, We Built This City never relies on human effort.

In reference to We Built This City, the second part of the prayer, verses 3-5, revolves around another meaning of building. Those verses refer to building through the raising children. As we learn here, children are a heritage/gift from God. A parent could be supported during old age by young sons and daughters. Children were a fulfillment of the promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:1–3. The chosen people would become a great and numerous nation as such the house or home is extended to children as the means for God to build His kingdom.

The building of the kingdom of God may be synonymous to We Built This City. Regardless, if we do anything, we must do it out of reverence for God and through His power through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. As it is written,  “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” What are you engaged in today, this week? Offer it to God. Ask God to lead, guide and direct you to His end. Be sure to pause, get quiet and listen to His voice. In doing so, you too can say We Built This City.

Go & Preach

March 22, 2017

There are many complicated matters in our lives. Similarly, there are some very intricate doctrinal truths in the bible that many have debated over centuries. As I sit here now, I am reflecting over many things that Christ commanded His disciples. Of those things, I am convinced that Jesus’ commands, while they may be difficult to execute because of our sin, are very quite simple. There is no clear example of this in the last chapter in the book of Mark. There, Jesus says to us to Go & Preach.

Mark 16
15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

As you probably know, the New Testament was written in Greek. As such, it is prudent many times to identify the Greek word to ensure that we have a sound and/or thorough understanding of what is being said. With that, let me share with you the Greek words for go, preach, gospel, and creation.

Go – poreuō (po-ryü’-ō) – it means to pursue the journey on which one has entered, to continue on one’s journey; “to go on one’s way, to depart from one place to another.”

Preach – kēryssō (kā-rü’s-sō) – to be a herald, to officiate as a herald; to proclaim; the public
proclamation of the gospel

Gospel – euaggelion (yü-än-ge’-lē-on) – the glad tidings of the kingdom of God, later, the idea of reward dropped, and the word stood for “the good news” itself; the term comprises also the preaching of (concerning) Jesus Christ as having suffered death on the cross to procure eternal salvation for the men in the kingdom of God, but as restored to life and exalted to the right hand of God in heaven, thence to return in majesty to consummate the kingdom of God

Creation – ktisis (ktē’-sēs) – the act of founding, establishing, building etc.; the act of creating, creation; creation i.e. thing created. it also signifies the product of the “creative” act, the “creature,”; its significance has special reference to mankind in general. “the reference is to the creative act of God”

In regards to Go & Preach, He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. The He in the verse is Jesus as we look outwardly in the context of the passage. Jesus, being the risen Lord and Savior, is issuing a command to His followers. He tells them to be on their way to move and proclaim the “good news” that He suffered death on the cross and was raised to life to procure eternal salvation for the men in the kingdom of God.

Go & Preach the Gospel is what we are called to do. We were saved not solely for escaping the wrath of God, but we were also saved to tell others about Jesus. Matthew 28:18-20 has been termed the Great Commission. Listen to what Jesus said to the disciples. “18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”” Furthermore, Luke 24 records “46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” We learn in Acts 1 right before Jesus ascended that He said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.””(^^)

We see Paul as a product of Go & Preach advocating the same message of His Lord and Savior, Jesus, in Romans 1:16. He says, “16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”

If you call yourself a follower of Jesus, the imperative and mandate is simple, Go & Preach the Gospel. 

How to Respond to Hurt and Disappointment

March 17, 2017

Undoubtedly, every person on this earth will experience hurt and disappointment. Therefore, the question is not whether it will happen but, How to Respond to Hurt and Disappointment when it does happen. Weekly, I tell students that we cannot control others, but we can control how we respond. In life, it is our response that will either help or hurt us.

Let’s admit it; we are not naturally at ease when we are hurt and disappointed. When that happens to us, our natural inclination is to reciprocate. As I once heard, “Hurt people, hurt people.” Since my encounter with that phrase and ideology, I have sought to condition myself not to immediately respond in kind when I am hurt and disappointed. My thoughts were to find out How to Respond to Hurt and Disappointment.

Jesus is absolutely clear about conveying and demonstrating How to Respond to Hurt and Disappointment. In comparison to a return on effort, love and the like, there is not anyone who has given so much and received so little back than Jesus Christ. Jesus, as Creator, gave up being worshiped and adored in heaven as God to become a man for the sole purpose of reuniting man with God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Of Jesus, Paul tells us that “13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” I wrote about in the post I am Forgiven because He was Forsaken. What is more important than that is what Jesus said and demonstrated.

Mark 16

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.10 She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. 11 When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.

12 Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. 13 These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.

14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

Jesus had just been crucified, buried and risen from the tomb in the passage above. If you will recall the events that transpired before the crucifixion were that Jesus was betrayed by Judas and disowned by Peter three times. Furthermore, virtually all of His disciples shrunk back during His accusations and march to Golgotha. Being betrayed and disowned by His disciples surely fits under the notion of being hurt and disappointed. This is what He told them “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” Jesus shows us How to Respond to Hurt and Disappointment. 

First, He was aware of human flaws and frailties. He knew man was sinful. After all, that is why He came. He told Judas, Peter and the disciples what they were going to do. I know that we are not God in that we know the future and everything, but we do know that man and those whom we love have the capacity to hurt and disappoint us. Let’s make a decision now to forgive them just as Jesus did. If Jesus had not forgiven them beforehand, He would not have followed through with dying on the cross. That’s How to Respond to Hurt and Disappointment. 

Next, after He had arisen from the cross, Jesus sent a message to the disciples. The angel conveyed Jesus’ message to Mary “But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”” Certainly, this was proof that Jesus had forgiven Peter who disowned Him and the other disciples who fell away from Him. Again, that’s How to Respond to Hurt and Disappointment. 

Jesus’ love and devotion was to God the Father, so He could not get fixated on how His disciples had done Him. He was fixed on living out His purpose. As followers of Jesus, we too are expected to live our lives in love and devotion to our triune God. In Hebrews 12, we are told “…, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” That’s How to Respond to Hurt and Disappointment. 

We all would agree that we are flawed. We are not perfect, so we too will hurt and disappoint others. When we are hurt and disappointed, our response should be that of Jesus who realized that man is flawed, forgave them beforehand, fixed His eyes on God and His purpose – for Him who had no sin to become sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. God does not expect us to become sin, but He expects us to imitate Jesus in love and forgiveness. That’s How to Respond to Hurt and Disappointment. 

The life of a follower of Jesus is not easy, but it is fulfilling and rewarding when we obey.

What Does It Take for You to Have Faith in Jesus?

March 15, 2017

Belief or Faith is a very personal matter. There are many factors that contribute to a person believing or having faith in something or someone. One’s personal background of life experiences surely is a major factor of how easily one places his/her faith in something or someone. A person who has repeatedly experienced a lack of one keeping their word would more than likely struggle to have faith than one who had not. Certainly, those who have endured a number of crisis where the outcomes did not match their expectations would struggle with faith. An over emphasis on a personal challenge, weakness or inability impacts a person’s faith. Fear and shame also impact whether a person has faith. Lastly, I am sure the object of one’s faith is one of the largest determinant of faith. People place their faith in things, themselves and other people, and gods. Why? All this leads me to ask What Does It Take for You to Have Faith in Jesus?

If you are struggling, you are not alone. At some point and at various points in our lives, we all struggle with the issue of having faith in God. Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah and Rich Ruler are a few who demonstrate that to us. What about you? Where have you struggled to believe? What Does It Take for You to Have Faith in Jesus? 

Mark 16

When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.10 She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. 11 When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.

12 Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. 13 These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.

14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

In the passage above, we see Mary Magdalene, two disciples and the eleven main disciples struggle in their faith in Christ Jesus. In Mark 8:31-33, Jesus told the disciples “that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.” The prophecy about Himself came true. Jesus had suffered and was crucified at the hand of the chief priests, elders and teachers of the law. Now, they get word that He had risen, but they were apprehensive at best and down right obstinate in the disbelief. While He certainly knew, their actions left Jesus asking the rhetorical question What Does It Take for You to Have Faith in Jesus?

What Does It Take for You to Have Faith in Jesus? This question is asked because we must examine the evidence and artifacts of our lives in order to make a wise and sound decision. The disciples, like many of us, have observed God’s hand at work for us and others many times over. We too have witnessed miracles; yet, we struggled to believe. When will God’s work overcome our sinful, unbelieving hearts. In fact, we are encouraged in Hebrews 3:12 to  “12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.” In Mark 8, Peter answered Jesus question about “Who do you say I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Messiah.” Despite Peter knowing that, He was rebuked by Jesus a few seconds later when Jesus told them that He must suffer, die and be raised from the dead. How many of us are like Peter? We hold the truth but deny it. 

What Does It Take for You to Have Faith in Jesus? We simply need to believe or have faith alone in Jesus. The Centurion in Luke 7 modeled that for us. He understood authority and Jesus had ultimate authority. If Jesus gave a command, it was done. Mark 5:36 says, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” He has commanded us to believe; now believe in Him. What Does It Take for You to Have Faith in Jesus?

Fear or Amazement

March 14, 2017

My son often tries to scare me. He walks like a cat. I can never hear him even on floors that creak. The latest was on this past weekend. I had made a run to the store to pick up a few items. I was taking items out of the van door. Suddenly, I felt someone pressed against me as if I was about to be mugged or robbed. I was about to make a defensive response, then, I heard his voice and laughter. At that moment, Fear or Amazement were thoughts that ran across my mind. The human mind thinks quickly. I had just formulated a plan to respond to what appeared to be an unfriendly person in my space. Once I heard my son’s voice, I was amazed at his stealth-like ability to approach me.

There are times in life when we will be faced with Fear or Amazement. The two Maries in the passage below experienced that as they sought to anoint Jesus in the tomb. Let’s see it.

Mark 16

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

The Greek word for alarm in verses 5 and 6 is ekthambeō (ek-thäm-be’-ō). It means to throw into terror or amazement; to alarm thoroughly, to terrify. Just as the sound of my son’s voice lowered my level of concern, the angel tells Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome “Don’t be alarmed,” In those moments of  Fear or Amazement, we all need a settling or calming agent. For those ladies, it was the angel. It was the Words of God through the angel that provided comfort from Fear or Amazement For the follower of Jesus in this day, it is the Word of God and the Holy Spirit who comforts us. Listen to what Paul tells Timothy about comfort in 2 Corinthians 1

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

God does not want us to be controlled by Fear or Amazement in circumstances that alarm us. He wants us to TRUST in Him. He wants us to seek comfort in Him because that situation, if we are not killed by it, is designed to conform us to the likeness of Christ. That was Christ’s goal for the disciples including Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome. Jesus confirmed the prophecy that He would rise after three days which is what we should truly experience Fear or Amazement over. Nevertheless, God wants us to TRUST Him in every circumstance of our lives. They are designed to bring about His will, His kingdom come, if you will, in our lives.

Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome heard and heeded the voice of the angel. For believers, do you hear and heed the voice of God through the Holy Spirit? If not, ask God to open your ears, so that you might hear Him and respond to Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Are You Worried About?

March 13, 2017

What Are You Worried About? Dictionary.com defines worry as to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; fret or to torment with cares, anxieties, etc.; trouble; plague. I have concluded from my own life that worry is the result of one or two thoughts. First, I have sinned and am fearing the consequence of that sin, or I have assumed the sole responsibility for something that God never intended me to be solely responsible. One classic example of the latter is my children. Naturally, God has charged me with being responsible for them; however, He has not held me solely responsible for them. Children are a heritage or gift from God, but God also promises me that He will never leave me nor forsake me which includes the responsibility of being a father. Yet, I tend to ignore that and find myself having to respond to God’s question of What Are You Worried About?

God always fulfills His responsibilities in our lives. If one falters, it is us not God. For God has declared, “I am faithful.” Let’s see God’s faithfulness to His purpose, promise and people in the text below.

Mark 16

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

Mary and Mary desired and decided to go anoint Jesus’ body. Out of honor and worship, they wanted to serve Him in this capacity. Like many of us, they expressed worry about how they would be able to anoint Jesus’ body. Why? “They asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”” The matter of concern was the weight of the stone in comparison to their ability to move the stone to get inside to anoint Jesus’ body. The matter was simple. Either God would enable them to fulfill their righteous desire or not. If our desires are aligned to God’s will. He more than likely will make provisions for us. What Are You Worried About?

In this case, God had something greater in store for them. Jesus’ body did not need to be anointed because he had been resuscitated and resurrected. Jesus had told them that He would be raised in three days. When they expressed their concern about rolling the stone away, they were being concerned about something that God never asked them albeit well-intended. Then, they got to the tomb and discovered the very thing they were consumed with was not an issue. The stone had been rolled away already. As God normally does, He takes care of tasks that seem insurmountable to us but got something they did not expect. More than that, they encountered something they more than likely never had – an angel. He assessed, assured and assigned their hearts/minds. He said, ““Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” Jesus did just as He told them. ” What Are You Worried About?

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) Today, Jesus is the same as He was for Mary and Mary – He is Risen and Resurrected. Save now, He is seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for us. As a result, I am asking you What Are You Worried About? Jesus will be there for you in your worship and pursuit of Him just as He was for Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome.

What Are You Worried About? Write it down. Offer it to God in prayer and release yourself from being solely responsible for the outcomes or results. Don’t torment yourself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts. Remember, God is faithful and never changes. You can count on Him to take care of His part just as He did in this passage and throughout the Word of God.  What Are You Worried About?

 

 

 

 

It Was Not For Him But Us

March 10, 2017

When it comes to spiritual matters, the phrase It Was Not For Him But Us has many applications. Perhaps, the greatest of those would be the crucifixion. As the text tells us in Mark 15, Pilate exclaims “Why, what evil has He done?” Pilate, whom the Jews brought Jesus to judge and convict, could not find any wrongs that Jesus had committed. Despite that, the people still shouted “Crucify Him!” The fact Jesus is God and committed no sin is pervasive in the scriptures; however, in Mark 8, we peer into why It Was Not For Him But Us. Jesus said, “31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.”

Mark continues to reveal why we can confidently say about Jesus that It Was Not For Him But Us.

Mark 16

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

From 1 Corinthians 15, we know that Jesus not only died but rose from the grave to be the first fruit of those who have fallen asleep. Jesus did not rise from the grave for himself, It Was Not For Him But Us that Jesus arose from the grave. We were powerless at the grave. The two Maries wondered who would roll the stone away for them as they went to anoit Jesus’ body. Like us, they did not realize that God had already taken care of that for them. In the text above, we know that the stone was rolled away from the tomb for Mary and Mary and the rest of the followers of Jesus. In regards to the stone, It Was Not For Him But Us. Jesus did not need the stone to be rolled away to allow Himself out of the tomb. Being God, He had the ability to pass through any material, including rock, that He desired. Again, It Was Not For Him But Us that Jesus had the stone moved away. He wanted to show Mary, Mary, then Peter and John that He was not in the grave, but had risen just as He told them He would. In fulfilling prophecy, It Was Not For Him But Us, so we could believe.  In John 10, Jesus told the Pharisees “11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” He went on to say “17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again.18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”” Jesus did not die for Himself. He died for us who believe. It Was Not For Him But Us.

As a husband or parent, I can slightly attest to the notion that one gives himself sacrificially for the good of one he loves. Many of us have heard John’s testimony of It Was Not For Him But Us. John shares what Jesus said, “14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3

It Was Not For Him But Us. Will you ignore Jesus’ sacrificial death for the payment of our sins and the power of His blood to cleanse us? Remember that “18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” John 3

Play Beyond the Echo of the Whistle

March 8, 2017

I started playing football almost as soon as I could run. I remember playing football at the age of five. I began playing organized football when I was eleven. I played for two legendary coaches in Atlanta’s youth league – Charles Rambo and Melvin Douglas Sr. One of the things they taught us was to play beyond the whistle. They wanted us to finish the play every time. We commonly hear that termed as Play Beyond the Echo of the Whistle. It simply means that the play isn’t really over at the start of the whistle. It is over when you fail to hear the remotest sound of the whistle – the echo if you will. In life, there are moments that come and go, but where do they really end. In the matter of faith in Christ, we get a real-life example. In the post The Paradox of Three Ladies Named Mary, we see three women who by name were supposed to be rebellious, but in practice, they were devoted followers of Jesus down to the end. They were there at the cross when He was crucified, died and was buried. For us, that is the end. That is the blowing of the whistle. Play over. For Christ and His followers, that is not true. Of the three ladies named Mary, we see them personify Play Beyond the Echo of the Whistle to a whole new level.

Mark 16

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

Mark 16 picks up after Jesus had been buried in the tomb by Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Council. Jesus was buried on Friday. As you know, Saturday was the Sabbath for Jews. According to Jewish law, no work was to be done on the Sabbath. Consequently, the text tells us “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.” This is the example to Play Beyond the Echo of the Whistle at a whole new level.

Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James and Salome, demonstrated what it means to Play Beyond the Echo of the Whistle in a spiritual or faith sense. While it is clear from the stated purpose of going to the tomb, Mary and Mary did not expect to find Jesus alive. They remained faithful for caring for Him even in His presumed death and burial. They went to anoint Jesus’ body as an act of honor and worship. They wanted to perfume His body.

When we Play Beyond the Echo of the Whistle spiritually, it means that we forge forward in our devotion of God even when the results do not turn out as we expected. None of the followers of Jesus expected Him to die nor to rise again despite Him telling them so. Often, our faith requires us reflect or recollect something that God has told us. Just as my coaches did not expect us to give up on the play, God does not expect us to give up on Him even when it looks like we should. Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James and Salome, demonstrated what it means to Play Beyond the Echo of the Whistle. 

Furthermore, they, the disciples and we are blessed because they continued to Play Beyond the Echo of the Whistle. They saw God’s power and faithfulness in the empty tomb. God’s angel communicated to them that though that play was over the Jesus had more plays in Him. He was not in the tomb. He had risen. Jesus is the object of our faith and salvation. For it is in Christ that we learn the true meaning of to Play Beyond the Echo of the Whistle. 

13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15

I am not sure what seems over in your life, but God is inviting you today to Play Beyond the Echo of the Whistle.