New start

Psalm 25

“Oh Lord I give my life to you”

That is how Psalm 25 starts. That is the very best way to start a psalm or a day or a new chapter in life. I have a friend who recently said something like that. He gave his life to Jesus. He became a follower of Jesus.

Psalm 25 seems to be a good place for a new believer to read and study. 3 times in the psalm the writer requests forgiveness.

“Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love, which you have shown from long ages past. Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth. Remember me in the light of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O Lord. For the honor of your name, O Lord, forgive my many, many sins. Turn to me and have mercy, for I am alone and in deep distress. My problems go from bad to worse. Oh, save me from them all! Feel my pain and see my trouble. Forgive all my sins.”

Psalm 25:6-7,11,16-18 -NLT

God wants to lead us and teach us how to live our best possible life.

“The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.”

Psalm 25:8-10 – NLT

God wants the best for us. He offers us forgiveness, blessings, relationship and protection.

“Who are those who fear the Lord? He will show them the path they should choose. They will live in prosperity, and their children will inherit the land. The Lord is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant. My eyes are always on the Lord, for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.”

Psalm 25:12-15 – NLT

I will suggest reading and ingesting this psalm to my friend who is now a new member of my God family.

How about you? Have given your life to God yet?

Not my will…

The next story in Matthew 26 is about the garden of gethsemane. I don’t like this story. It pains me to see Jesus suffer and to see his friends fail him in his hour of need. I guess I identify with his sleepy disciples.

“Matthew 26:36-46 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”’

What happens if you pray for a problem to go away and it doesn’t go away?

Mercy Me has a song that I think deals with this.

Even if you don’t.

“They say sometimes you win some

Sometimes you lose some

And right now, right now I’m losing bad

I’ve stood on this stage night after night

Reminding the broken it’ll be alright

But right now, oh right now I just can’t

It’s easy to sing

When there’s nothing to bring me down

But what will I say

When I’m held to the flame

Like I am right now

I know You’re able and I know You can

Save through the fire with Your mighty hand

But even if You don’t

My hope is You alone

They say it only takes a little faith

To move a mountain

Well good thing

A little faith is all I have, right now

But God, when You choose

To leave mountains unmovable

Oh give me the strength to be able to sing

It is well with my soul

I know You’re able and I know You can

Save through the fire with Your mighty hand

But even if You don’t

My hope is You alone

I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt

Would all go away if You’d just say the word

But even if You don’t

My hope is You alone

You’ve been faithful, You’ve been good

All of my days

Jesus, I will cling to You

Come what may

‘Cause I know You’re able

I know You can

I know You’re able and I know You can

Save through the fire with Your mighty hand

But even if You don’t

My hope is You alone

I know the sorrow, I know the hurt

Would all go away if You’d just say the word

But even if You don’t

My hope is You alone

It is well with my soul

It is well, it is well with my soul

Songwriters: Bart Marshall Millard / Benjamin Glover / Crystal Lewis / David Arthur Garcia / Tim Timmons

Even If lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Music Services, Inc

I see two things to learn here. The first is that God said he will hear our prayers. He has said that we can move mountains if we pray. But if the mountains don’t move, will we still trust in God? Jesus prayed that there be another way to save the world but he trusted God and God’s best plan.

“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me, yet not as I will, but as you will.”

The second thing for me to learn is that Jesus knew what was coming, the whipping, the hitting, the spitting, the mocking, the beating, the thorns, the nails, the hanging by the nails, the pain, the spear, and did it anyway. He loves us so much he continued on in the plan that would destroy him but make a way to save all of us.

And now the offer is open to all of us, “if you will confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that he was raised from the dead, you will be saved”.

(Originally posted 10-03-17)

What’s my availability?

When I was a manager at a local fast food chain and we were looking to hire someone, one of our main concerns was what the person’s availability was. Finding someone who was willing to work any day at any time was like finding gold.

 

Reading Colossians 4 I came across the name of a guy that shows up 4 other times in the New Testament, Tychicus. When Paul found him, he found gold.

 

“As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information. For I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts; and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of your number. They will inform you about the whole situation here.”

Colossians 4:7-9 – NASB

 

Paul was sending Tychicus to the Christians in Colossi as a messenger-and servant. This guy was committed to Paul and to the Gospel. He had that golden quality- open availability. He would go wherever Paul sent him, faithfully serve and then return to support Paul whenever needed. We don’t get many details about his life. How was he able to be so available? Was he young and single? Was he old and single? Was he married with a patient wife? Or an adventurous wife? Was he independently wealthy so travel and work were not an issue? Or was he like Paul and able to be content with whatever he had at the time? It didn’t seem to matter who he was sent to help or how much help was needed, he would just go.

 

I have a lot of stuff. My stuff needs to stay warm and dry. I need to stay warm and dry, (Need or want?) I work to pay for a place to keep myself and my stuff warm and dry. I have a wife who likes to stay warm and dry and safe. We both like to have food and clothing. This means more space, more stuff. My wife is very good at making our simple things look nice and be warm and welcoming. But because of our stuff, we are home bound.

 

I am not free to go like Tychicus. I still want to serve Jesus and be actively involved in expanding God’s kingdom. Since I cannot go there must be other ways for me to serve while I stay and work so I can keep me, my wife and our stuff warm and dry. We look for ways to help and serve.

 

I had a dream last night that a homeless man that in my dream, we had befriended, was pacing outside our house while being covered in snow, he was waiting to be invited in. He wasn’t bold enough to ask. This dream could mean that our warm and dry house may have a larger purpose in God’s kingdom. I don’t know. I do know that Tychicus is a hero of mine and I want to be more like him because he was a lot like Jesus. And he was available.

 

If we can’t be like Tychicus with his unlimited availability, if we can’t just get up and go, then what can we do to serve God’s kingdom while we stay?

 

Use me God, use us.

Plan A includes a tomb

Luke 24

Jesus is alive.

“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.”

Jesus is alive. He died for all our sins but he rose from the dead 3 days later just as he had said he would. Back in chapter 18 of Luke Jesus predicted his death and resurrection. Jesus ‘ arrest, trial, punishment and crucifixion were not an accident but planned by God to give his son to suffer and die in our place.

“31 Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32 He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; 33 they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”’

After raising from the dead he ascended into heaven. He went back into heaven for two very important reasons. The first is so he could send his Holy Spirit to us, the second is so that he can be interceding for us.

Here is what Paul says about it in Romans 8:

“31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We have all sinned. We have all fallen short of perfection. The good news is we have a savior who died to pay for our sins. Not only that but he came back to life and will live forever and his main job is to intercede for us in heaven.

When I mess up Jesus says to God, ” I died for that sin, it’s covered”. He can do the same for all of us if we will accept his gift of forgiveness.

Thank you Jesus for dying for me. For forgiving all my sins. I accept your offer today to be my savior and the one who will be the boss of me because you love me.

(Originally posted 10/01/15)

What does it mean?

Luke 23

“38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews. 39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. ” 43 Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Jesus’ Death

23:44-49pp — Mt 27:45-56; Mk 15:33-41; Jn 19:29-30

44 It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. 47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.”

Good Friday service. I was 17. I was in church but was the furthest from God that I could get. There was a cross erected at the front of the church. It wasn’t normally there. It was made from rough lumber. At the end of the service the ladies of the church draped the cross with a black veil. I couldn’t stop staring at it. Jesus was dead. I had lived my life being told about this man. The healer, the miracle worker, the one who cleansed lepers and gave sight to the blind, who forgave and protected prostitutes and tax collectors. He was dead. What did it mean?

What does it mean? The perfect man was killed. Why? What does it mean?

It means God hasn’t forgotten us.

It means God loves us.

It means that we can be forgiven.

He took my place.

He took our place.

He took all of our sin upon himself and paid the price for it with his death on the cross. Now he offers us forgiveness. For free. For reals. For keeps.

Will you accept his gift of forgiveness today?

I did.

(Originally posted 9/30/15)

Choosing

Sunday morning. I’m so sleepy. My bed is warm and cozy. I’m alone, Mary is already up getting ready for church, I check the clock, 6:30. It is still darkish outside. I hear the wind and the rain. I don’t check the weather app but if had I would’ve seen very near freezing temperatures. Did I mention my cozy warm bed? I doze a little longer then force myself up and out.

Colossians 3 is the spot to read today. I stumble through it, not really gathering anything useful. Then I hit gold. Maybe not gold but confirmation that getting out of a warm bed on the coldest morning of fall, so far is the right thing to do.

“Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.”

Colossians 3:16 – NLT

So now I am up and dressed and in my right mind, sitting on a chair at church waiting for the other worship members to arrive.

God is always worthy of praising and sacrifice so that is what I will do. Will you join me? No matter where we worship we will be worshipping the same God. Jesus is worthy of praise because of what he has done, giving up his life for our sins.

Setting free

Setting slaves free. God is good at that. He did it for Israel when they were enslaved by the Egyptians.

It was a horrible night of death in the land. The first born of every household, animals and people would die.

Exodus 12:12-13 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.”

The blood refers to the blood of a lamb, a spotless blemish free lamb, that was sacrificed. It’s blood painted on the doorposts and lentil.

Exodus 12:5-7 “The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs.”

This activity was to be done by the Israelites every year to remember what God had done back in Egypt to set them free.

This meal is what Jesus was taking part in when we read Matthew 26.

Jesus then interprets what the meal was a symbol of. The meal, the sacrifice of the lamb, the blood, it was all a picture of Jesus. The slavery he was setting us free from wasn’t a human earthly master, it was from sin and death. Jesus came to set us free from our rebellion from God and the consequences of that rebellion; separation, death.

“Matthew 26:17-19, 26-30 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. ”

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the (new) covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. ”

The Passover meal was very real and very important but it pointed to something and someone even more important, Jesus.

Paul says in his letter to Believers in Rome, “Romans 6:8-10 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.”

Jesus has set us free from sin and death, if we accept his substitution for our payment. Today would be good day to start a new relationship with Jesus.

(Originally posted 9/27/17)