New Year’s Resolution

A Cedar Key Fourth of July
Photo by Michelle Pearson

New Year’s Resolution

I have heard many pastors talk about New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve heard some say they are a great thing and some say they are a bad thing. We hear it all the time whether it’s from pastors, or friends at work, or comedians, they are always talking about making resolutions on the first, that we will break on the second. I know, I’ve said it myself.

But, let’s think about just what exactly a New Year’s Resolution is. It’s nothing more than a goal for the upcoming year, and without goals, we will never get anything accomplished. But, we’re not here to talk about what I think, or what popular culture thinks, so let’s look at what the Bible says about goals.

In Philippians chapter 3, Paul starts out, in verses 1 – 5, by talking about what he was before Christ. You see, before Christ Paul was the most religious person around. He was not only a Pharisee, but he describes himself as a Pharisee of the Pharisees. He was circumcised when he was eight days old, he was a pure-blooded Israelite, which was very important in his religious circles. He even says that he demanded the strictest obedience to the law, not just of himself, but of everyone else. He was even, so sold out for his religion, that he persecuted and even killed the Christ followers.

So, before Christ, Paul had some very intense goals in his life. All of his goals were about keeping with the teachings of his religion. I know that some are thinking right now, “Aha, then goals are bad.” But, Paul goes on from here to talk about his goals in life, after Christ.

In verses 7 – 11, Paul starts talking about his new goals, his New Life Resolutions, if you will. He says in verse 7, “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.” Once he realized that all his old goals were worthless, he took a step back and set new goals. This is something we all need to learn from. Maybe you have goals for this next year, or maybe even goals for the rest of your life. Step back for a minute and determine whether these goals match up with God’s purpose, or if they are worthless. Because, if our goals don’t align with God’s purpose for our lives, then those goals are worthless. In fact, Paul says in the beginning of verse 8, “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

So, what new goals did Paul set? He sums up his first goal at the end of verse 8 when he says, “For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.” So, his first goal was to throw out all his old goals and count them as garbage. The Greek word translated here as garbage, and in other translations as dung, is the word skubalon, which means, “any refuse, as the excrement of animals, offscourings, rubbish, dregs; of things worthless and detestable.” That’s how he looked at his old goals, so when we find goals in our lives that don’t align with God’s purpose for us, that’s how we need to see them, as skubalon. From the end of verse 8 and into verse 9 he says, “so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ.” This should be our end game, our ultimate goal, to gain Christ and become one with Him! The Bible calls us the bride of Christ, and it also says that when two people get married they become one flesh, so that must be our goal, to become one with Christ. Now, I feel I need to say again that salvation is not about works, it’s about faith, but faith without works is dead. So, you will never be good enough to get to heaven, but if there is nothing to back up your faith it is worthless. James 2:19 even tells us, “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.” And, Paul ends verse 9 by saying, “For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.” And, we know from Hebrews 11:6 that it is impossible to please God without faith.

Paul goes on with his goals in verse 10 when he says, “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death.” He starts out by saying that he wants to know Christ. The Greek word translated as “know” is ginosko, which means, “to know, understand, perceive, have knowledge of” and it is used as an idiom for intimacy. So, Paul was saying that he wanted to become intimate with Christ. There’s a song that I love called Your Love is Extravagant, and its lyrics say:

Your love is extravagant
Your friendship, it is intimate
I feel like moving to the rhythm of Your grace
Your fragrance is intoxicating in our secret place
Your love is extravagant

You see, that’s how we need to know Christ. We need an intimate knowledge of Him. Paul continues in verse 10 to say that he wants to experience the mighty power that raised Christ from the dead, but he doesn’t end with the good stuff. Paul ends by saying that he wants to suffer with Christ and share in His death. That’s powerful! When was the last time that any of us prayed to suffer with Christ, or share in His death?

So, why does Paul have these goals? He tells us in verse 11, “so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” Paul wasn’t suicidal, he wasn’t looking to die, he just saw his ultimate goal as being with Christ in Heaven. As he said just a couple of chapters earlier, in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.” You see, to the true Christ follower, death is not scary, because we know that it isn’t the end, it is the beginning of a new life.

So, as we set our New Year Resolutions, let’s keep this passage in mind. Let’s ask ourselves if these resolutions line up with Christ’s purpose for our lives. And, let’s start the new year right.

Simeon & Anna

39034170761_af77a379f5_o
Photo by Michelle Pearson

Simeon & Anna

When Jesus was eight days old, His parents did what the law told them to do. They took him to the temple to be circumcised. After that, they went to give their purification sacrifice. While they were doing this, a prophet named Simeon came up to them, took their child from them, and began praising God. Put yourself in their shoes. Yes, they knew that He was the Messiah, but for a total stranger to come up to them and take their child and say, Luke 2:29-32 29 “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. 30 I have seen your salvation, 31which you have prepared for all people. 32 He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” It’s no wonder that verse 33 says, “Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him.” Of course, they knew it, but Simeon realized who He was without being told, even though He was just eight days old. But, Simeon didn’t stop there. He went on to bless Mary and Joseph, and then say, in verses 34 and 35, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. 35 As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”

Okay, so let’s look at what just happened. First, he picks up Jesus and starts praying that God can take him now because he has seen God’s salvation. And, he adds that this salvation is for ALL PEOPLE! This is huge! The Hebrew religion taught that salvation was only for the Jewish people…you had to be born into salvation. This was never God’s plan, He saved Rahab and others who were not Hebrews all through history. But that’s what religion does, it divides. So, Simeon, speaking through the Holy Spirit, said that salvation has come for all people. He then expounds on it when he says, “He is a light to reveal God to the nations”. Some translations say a light to the Gentiles, but the Greek word used here is ethnos, which is where we get our word ethnic. Christ is a light to reveal God to everyone. He then says that Jesus will be the glory of Israel.

So, this is where it says that His parents were amazed at what was being said. Then Simeon blesses Mary and Joseph and it’s great, it’s all good stuff up until now. Then Simeon goes on to say that their child is destined to make many in Israel fall, and many others rise. You see, that was Jesus’ destiny, to make many fall and many rise, and we see this over and over throughout Jesus’ ministry. We see Peter rise from denying Christ, to leading the Church after His resurrection. And, we see Judas fall, even after spending day and night with Christ for three years. We also see most of the Pharisees fall because they are unwilling to let go of their religion and traditions, while we see Nicodemus tell Jesus that he knows He was sent from God. Actually, he doesn’t say he knows, he said we know. Nicodemus was saying that all of the Pharisees knew that Jesus was sent from God, but for most of them, their religion and their place of authority was too important.

Simeon goes on to say that even though Jesus was sent from God, many will oppose Him. He knew the hearts of mankind, and how we seek signs and wonders, but even when we see them, we still don’t believe. I talk a lot about taking scripture literally. Had the Hebrew people taken the Old Testament literally, and not tried to add their own interpretation, they would have seen Jesus as the Christ. All of the scriptures pointed to Him, but they wouldn’t believe.

Simeon says that because so many will oppose Him, the deepest thoughts of their hearts will be revealed. And, then he says directly to Mary, “a sword will pierce your very soul.” You see, Mary had to realize that, yes, giving birth to the Messiah was a huge honor, but it would also be a huge burden. Think about it. Thirty-three years later, Mary had to watch her son be brutally beaten and crucified for crimes he didn’t commit. But, even before that, He was homeless for three years, He was hated by all the religious leaders, He was even hated by her other children. The Holy Spirit used Simeon to remind her of this.

Next up, Anna. Let’s look at her backstory. First, it says she was the daughter of Phanouel. This is the only time that Phanouel is mentioned in the Bible. He isn’t a prominent figure in the Bible, or in history. His name is given here because of its meaning. Her father’s name literally meant, “the face of God”, so Anna was the daughter of the face of God. And, on top of that, she was from the tribe of Aser, which means “blessed”. So, she was the blessed daughter of the face of God…wow. It goes on to say that she was eighty-four years old. It doesn’t say how old she was when she got married, but we know that Jewish tradition was that a girl was usually twelve to fourteen when they got married. So, this tells us that she was probably nineteen to twenty-one when her husband died seven years later. Then it says she lived as a widow, to this point about forty-four years, and never left the temple, but worshiped God day and night. So, it’s safe to say that Anna was pretty dedicated to God.

When Anna heard Simeon, she began praising God, then it says, “She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.” Luke 2:38. After living in the temple for forty years, she knew who these people were. She knew exactly who was diligently looking for the Messiah.

Here’s the thing. The Christmas season is a good time to remind ourselves that we need to be more like Simeon and Anna. First, we need to be like Simeon, we need to listen to the Holy Spirit. John 14:26 tells us, “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” So, the Holy Spirit is teaching us EVERYTHING…we must listen. Second, we need to be like Anna. Once we hear from the Holy Spirit, we must tell

EVERYONE. The world needs God, but they don’t know it. Jesus is as dividing today as He was when He was on earth. So, some people will hate us for what we believe, but that’s okay, we’re not here to please people.

As we go through this last week of 2017 and into 2018, we need to ask ourselves, how can I be more like Simeon and Anna? What is the Holy Spirit trying to say to me? Remember that prayer is a dialog, not a monolog, so when you talk to God, listen to what He is trying to tell you. Then, when you hear from God, go tell everyone. James 1:22 tells us, “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” So, when you hear a word from God, act on it! We have all missed so many blessings because we didn’t act on what the Holy Spirit is telling us. Stop missing out on blessings!

What is a Servant – Part 2

1290535578_642b3598d1_b
Photo by Michelle Pearson

What is a Servant? – Part 2

So, to pick up where we left off last time, what can we bring to the Lord? The prophet Micah asked this question and then answered it, let’s look. Micah 6:6-8 What can we bring to the Lord? What kind of offerings should we give him? Should we bow before God with offerings of yearling calves? (plural) Should we offer him thousands of rams (what a king would offer Him) and ten thousand rivers of olive oil? (what every king put together would offer Him) Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins? Here’s the answer. No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” This is service. Do what’s right, all the time. Bob Jones Sr. used to say, “Do right till the stars fall.” Love mercy! Not just God’s mercy on us, that’s easy, but we need to emulate that mercy on those around us, Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Walk humbly with our God. James 4:10 Says, 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.”  And in James 4:6 it says, But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, ‘God opposes the proud but favors the humble.’” Do you want to know what service is? If we’re always doing right, and showing God’s mercy to everyone around us, and walking humbly with God, WE WILL BE SERVING.

Is there a price to serving God? Of course, there is. Nothing that is worth anything comes free. If it does come free, it’s just a blind sacrifice. Sometimes the price is financial, in fact, it often is. Sometimes it’s your time, again this is often the case. To tell you the truth, it will probably be both and more. But if we love God half as much as He loves us, we will gladly sacrifice for Him. Let’s face it, He gave His life for us, it doesn’t get bigger than that. Let’s look at Matthew 6:31-34 it says, 31 So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Notice, it doesn’t say we’ll be rich. If you’re listening to a pastor or teacher that tells you that you will be wealthy if you are living for God, walk away. The Bible never says anything like that. If that were the case, then Christ Himself wasn’t living for God, because He was homeless. He said Himself, Luke 9:58 But Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.’” The Bible also tells us Acts 14:22 “where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” And again, 2 Corinthians 6:4 “In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind.” And, Paul said about the illness he had that he had prayed three times for God to remove, 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” The verses go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

So, I’m not going to lie to you and tell you the Christian life is going to be easy, but I will tell you that the reward is great. Philippians 3:12-14 12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Believe me, when I say the prize is worth the trial.

We started with the prophet Malachi, so let’s end with him. Malachi 3:16-18 says, 16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name. 17 “They will be my people,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. 18 Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.” We have been called to a life of service. Not serving ourselves, but serving God and serving others. If the Church in America was doing the job that God gave us, we would have no need of government welfare, we’d be taking care of each other and those around us. In the new year coming up, lets purpose in our hearts to stop bringing God blind sacrifices. Let’s focus on serving each other, our community, and the world. The Bible tells us to be a light to the world, so let’s focus on being a light this year. God bless you all in 2018.

What Is A Servant? – Part 1

1290535578_642b3598d1_b
Photo by Michelle Pearson

What is a Servant? – Part 1

A few weeks ago, we talked about the Greek word, Doulos. We learned that this word means, bondservant. But, what exactly does it mean to be a servant? We’ve all seen maids and butlers on television shows, but what does it really mean. In Matthew 20:25-28, Jesus told His disciples this, 25 But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Wow, so if we want to be great in God’s eyes, we must serve each other. That isn’t exactly the message we are getting from the mainstream media, is it? But, it doesn’t stop with simple service, because our perfect example is Jesus, who gave His life for us.

First, we must ask ourselves who we are serving. In Matthew 4 we read about the temptation of Christ. This is the story of when Christ was fasting in the wilderness and Satan came to tempt Him. In verse 10 Jesus said, 10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” In this passage, Jesus was referencing Deuteronomy 6:13 which says, “You must fear the Lord your God and serve him. When you take an oath, you must use only his name.” Christ made it clear that we are to worship and serve, only the one true God. So many people today, including many that consider themselves to be Christ followers, serve Satan by serving themselves. We are a selfish generation looking only to please ourselves. We even see it in many popular pastors who preach that, if you are truly following Christ, you will have all you want. This message goes directly against what scripture tells us. In fact, 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Do you see what it says there? It doesn’t say we might suffer persecution, it says we will suffer persecution!

This leads us to the second thing. Where is our treasure? Jesus told us in Matthew 6:21, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Notice that He didn’t say that we’ll put our treasures where our heart is, He said that our heart will be where our treasures are. For example, if someone asked you about Aids in Africa, you probably wouldn’t know a lot about it. But, if you are giving your hard-earned money to Aids relief in Africa, you’ll probably be somewhat of an expert on the subject. You see? Where you put your treasure, that’s where your heart will be.

Take a minute to read Malachi 1:6-14. Malachi told the Israelites that they had defiled the Lord’s sacrifice by offering blind animals. Now, obviously we don’t offer animal sacrifices today, so how do we as 21st century Christians offer blind sacrifices and therefore defile the Lord’s sacrifice? For one thing, the Israelites didn’t like the expense of serving God. They were supposed to offer the most expensive sheep they had, but they were offering their junk, sheep that were worthless. They were giving God a worthless sacrifice. God expects our best, and He deserves nothing less. Stop and ask yourself, am I giving God my leftovers? Am I giving God my Junk? I know that I am often guilty of this.

Now, when we think of service, we often think of financial giving and that is definitely part of it, but there’s much more to service. The Old Testament is full of instructions to give at least a tithe, which literally means a tenth of your income. The New Testament goes even further when it tells us that the Church gave everything. If there was a need, they gave it, no matter what it cost them. In fact, they would even sell personal property and give that money when there was a need.

But, service doesn’t stop with money. Christians in America believe that as long as I give God an hour or two a week that we’re good. That is exactly why I have a problem with the concept of Sunday being “The Lord’s Day”. The Bible never declares Sunday to be the Lord’s day, a fourth-century pope did that after taking Acts 20:7 out of context. When that verse says, “on the first day of the week, we gathered”, it was not a declaration that Sunday was the Lord’s day, it was leading into a story, and talking about that particular service. If you go back eighteen chapters, you’ll see where it says, Acts 2:46 “They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity.” Did you get that? They met daily. Psalm 118:24 tells us that every day is the Lord’s day. This one belief has caused many Americans to offer God blind sacrifices. We think, “well, as long as I give God His day then I’m good and the rest of the week is mine.” And, of course, giving Him, His day means going to a church service for an hour. This belief is absolutely untrue. Every day is His. Every breath we take is His. Every beat of our heart is His. If we were to only give God a tithe of our time that would be almost 17 hours a week. Compare that to the TV. Now, I know that some of you are saying, “I don’t watch much TV” and that may be true, but according to the A.C. Nielsen Co., “the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day.” Do the math, that’s 28 hours per week or 2 months of nonstop TV-watching per year. In a 65-year life, that person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube. Here’s a crazy thought, what if we gave God the 28 hours a week we give to the media, that’d be a start anyway. Oh, and by the way, that’s just TV. It doesn’t take into account the time we spend on the internet, social media or our smartphones.

There’s more to say on this subject, so we’ll pick up from here next time.

Making Hard Times Count

 

31727357914_d47893af4e_z (2)
Photo by Michelle Pearson

 

Making Hard Times Count

Has anyone else gone through a hard time in their life? I see those hands, I’m sure we all have. If your hand isn’t up, you’re either under 8 years old, or you’re not being truthful with yourself. I know I’ve had my share of them; financial, physical, emotional, you name it. When I was 8 years old my grandmother committed suicide, when I was in my 30’s my brother committed suicide, my dad died at 64 of brain cancer, when my kids were in high school we lost everything…and I mean everything, and just last May, I lost my only remaining brother to a car accident. But, I know that everyone reading this has been through similar hard times. Check out this video Francis Chan “Balance Beam”.

The question isn’t, “Have we been through hard times?” The real question is what do we do about it and how do we handle it? The first thing we must remember is this, the hard times don’t have to last. Let me give an example; You lose your job. Being without a job is hard, but it doesn’t have to last. If you put all your energy into job hunting, I’m talking about making job hunting your job, you will find a new job, quickly. But if you go home saying woe is me, my life is over, and just sit on your butt for weeks on end, that hard time will last and get worse as bills start to pile up.

Here’s the kicker. Everybody…I mean everybody, whether they are a Christ follower or not, goes through hard times. So, what this means is, if you are not going through hard times now, brace for it, they are coming. The problem is, so many churches out there are teaching that, if you follow Christ, your life will be a bed of roses. Oh yeah? Check out the life of Christ Himself, or His disciples. None of them had easy lives! In fact, Christ told us that we will have hard times, but as Christ followers, we can overcome them. John 16:33 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” I love that last line, “take heart, because I have overcome the world”. You see, there’s nothing to worry about if we trust in Him. 1 Peter 5:7 “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” He not only cares about you, He sings over you with joy, Zephaniah 3:17 17 “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

I know what you are thinking right now. I didn’t title this, “How to Cope with Hard Times”, I titled it “Making Hard Times Count.” So, how can we make them count? I’m glad you asked.

Matthew 11:28-30 28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” For us city folk, a yoke isn’t talking about the yellow an eggs. A yoke is that big wooden thing they put on the necks of oxen or workhorses. A yoke is a burden, they are awkward and heavy and rub you the wrong way. So, what Christ is saying here is, if you are tired and carrying a heavy burden, give it to Him. But, notice He doesn’t say that you won’t have a burden, He just says that His burden is light. Even though we will still have a burden, He will teach us and we will find rest in Him.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” The second point is, when those hard times come, just remember, God’s Got This! He has a plan for your life, and it’s to give you a future and a hope, so we need to look at these hard times as temporary and learn from them. Ask yourself, how does this hard time fit into God’s plan for my life? What is He trying to teach me? And, then…Grow.

Jeremiah 17: 7-8 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” The Bible often compares us to trees planted by a river, and that’s such a great analogy. When we trust in the Lord, we are like a tree planted by a river. What does it mean to trust in the Lord: Psalm 1:1-3 tells us, Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” So, to trust in the Lord, we need to first, think about who we are hanging around with. That doesn’t mean we can’t be friends with non-Christians, Christ Himself was, but who do we look to for advice, who influences us? Secondly, we must delight in God’s word and meditate on it all the time. We all give our time and energy to what, or who, we are passionate about. As Christ followers, we get passionate about God and His word.

Psalms 9:9-10 The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. 10 Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.” When those hard times come, run to Christ. He alone is our shelter and our refuge, and He does not abandon those who seek Him. Matthew 7:7-8 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Notice it says, “Keep on seeking, and you will find.” We must seek Him with all our heart. Again, we need to be passionate about Him.

Isaiah 41:10 says, Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my  victorious right hand.” That’s it…don’t be afraid, don’t be discouraged. I love that the Bible tells us not to be afraid 365 times, one for every day of the year. I said it before, I’ll say it again, God’s Got This!

So, how can we make hard times count?

  1. Know that God loves you and cares about you.
  2. Remember, God’s Got This!
  3. Trust in the Lord.
  4. Keep on seeking Him.
  5. Make Him your hope and confidence.
  6. Hide under His shelter.
  7. Delight in the Lord.
  8. Know that hard times are temporary.
  9. Let Christ teach you.
  10. Be like a tree planted by His water.
  11. Rest in Him.
  12. Know that God has a plan for your life and He already knows the end of the story.
  13. Know that, when you pray, He is listening.
  14. Be Passionate about Christ.
  15. Grow!

Names of God – Jesus

King
Photo by Michelle Pearson

Names of God – Jesus

I realize I said that El Shaddai would be the last Name of God that I was going to write about, but I would be remiss in leaving out this name. “Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11.

I grew up singing a very simple, yet profound, chorus by Bill Gaither called There’s Something About That Name, it goes:

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

There’s just something about that name

Master, Savior, Jesus

Like the fragrance after the rain

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

Let all heaven and earth proclaim

Kings and kingdoms shall all pass away

But there’s something about that name.”

Jesus means “Jehovah the Savior”, and as we learned before, Jehovah means I Am, so the name Jesus actually means, “I Am the Savior”. One of the first things we must realize is that His name isn’t Jesus Christ…Christ isn’t His last name. Jesus is His name, and Christ, meaning Messiah, is his title. Technically, He should be called Jesus, the Christ. The name of Jesus is only used in the New Testament, and yet, it is used 1,477 times, while His title, Christ, is used another 537 times. I don’t want to bore you with numbers, I just want you to realize that His name and title are used over 2,000 times in 27 books, that’s an average of almost 75 times per book.

I urge all of you to read Lee Strobel’s book, The Case for Christ. In this book Lee, a former investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune, interviews experts from the fields of science, philosophy, and history about the evidence for Christ. I love this book because it’s full of facts that, first of all, prove that Jesus wasn’t some made up deity, but that He really existed, and secondly it shows Him as the Christ.

But, back to the name. When Mary conceived Him, the angel told Joseph, “And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21. Going back to that first passage I mentioned. Notice that it says that God gave Him a name that was above every name. Okay, I’m going to say this one more time. All religions do NOT lead to the same place. We are not all on different roads to the same God. God gave Jesus a name that was above every other name! His name is above Buddha, His name is above Mohamed, and it goes on to say, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Did you get that? Every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that He is Lord…EVERY…that includes Buddha and Mohamed, and every other false god there ever was will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that will glorify God the Father. Acts 4:12 tells us, “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” There is no other name that will save you! Romans 10:9 tells us, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” And, then it goes on to say in verse 13, “for ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” Salvation only comes through Christ. The world wants us to be all-inclusive, but the truth remains that those other religions will not save your soul.

In today’s society, people keep saying that Christians aren’t tolerant of other religions, but the problem is that they have redefined tolerance. If I tolerate another religion, that means I agree to disagree and go on with my life, it does not mean that I give validity to their belief…that’s lunacy. If I say that all religions are right, then I have just nullified the death of Christ. In fact, Galatians 2:21 says, “I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.” So, other religions aside, even if I try to get to heaven by keeping God’s law, I have nullified the death of Christ. Hebrews 10:29 puts it this way, “Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be one of those people. I don’t want to insult and disdain the Holy Spirit. You see, God loves us so much, that He gave His only Son to die on the cross for us. Jesus, the Lord of lords, the King of kings, died in our place, and to give validity to other religions is a great insult. You see, Buddha did not die for me, Mohamed did not die for me, in fact, Mary did not die for me! Jesus, the Christ…the Messiah was the only one worthy to die for me. He was God in the flesh, He came to earth and lived a sinless life, then He died on the cross. He was the perfect sacrifice. But wait, it doesn’t end there. Three days later, He overcame death and the grave. He rose from the dead and was seen by hundreds of people. This is what I’m trying to say, there is only one name given under heaven, by which we MUST be saved…Jesus!

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, there’s just something about that name.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑