Burdened, Not Amused

The longer I strolled through the amusement park, the more burdened and sad I became. Everywhere I turned, people were trying to fit in, wanting to be accepted, living a lifestyle of sin, provoking their children to anger, flaunting their assumed freedom, living for the moment, trying to buy happiness, bowing down to the idols of their heart, motivated as described in Jeremiah 17:9

Then, the next morning while reading Ephesians 4:17-19, my mind was transported back to the day before and those dear soul’s greatest need . . . the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Why? Because they are living in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness (4:17b-19).

If it were not for the grace of God, Ephesians 4:17-19 would describe me. But, how marvelous is the mercy and grace of God that has transferred me from darkness to light! As an old song written by Rusty Goodman says,

Had it not been for a place called Mount Calvary,
Had it not been for the old rugged cross,
Had it not been for a man called Jesus,
Then forever my soul would be lost,

The change this world needs can only be found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ!! But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:4-9).

Protesting on the street corner, shaking your head in disgust, or responding in anger or arguing will not change sinful hearts. These dear souls, just like you did, need someone to love them enough for God’s glory to share the love of God through the cross work and resurrection of Jesus Christ that can radically change their life for eternity. Real life and adventure is only found in following Jesus Christ!

If you are searching today, my friend, read these scripture verses again and again until your eyes are opened to see your condition before God. Watch the video “How can I go to Heaven?” at the top of the sidebar.

I share this because I care for you. No critical judgment toward you. Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life (John 14:6) Everyone must go by the way of the cross or forever be lost, . . . and Jesus Christ did all that was necessary for you to have a life worth living here and for all eternity!

21 Days of Prayer (Day #6)

God’s Sovereign Compassion in the Midst of Man’s Decisions. (Pastor Andrew)

The book of Jonah is quite an interesting book because there are so many interesting literary uses by the author. For instance God’s prophet, Jonah, twice is willing to be killed but the pagan sailors and the people of the sinful city are found worshipping God after they are spared from death. The pagan sailors and the people of Nineveh worship Jonah’s God. Jonah prays in the whale and most likely repents. However, his actions do not back up his repentance in the chapters following his prayer. He gets angry about the plant dying that covered him, but he cared less about the sailors, people of Nineveh and animals dying. 

Several times the phrase “go down” is used.  He went down into the ship, down to Joppa, down into the fish. Several uses of personification are used as well. In verse 4 the original reflects that the ship was thinking or considering breaking up. It is a very interesting book that uses several literary devices in order to help the reader have certain characteristics of the story emphasized in certain ways

We need to see this theme in Jonah:  God’s sovereign compassion in the midst of man’s decisions.

Think about all the moves Jonah made and then the moves God makes sovereignly:

  • God’s prophet runs.
  • God brings pagan sailors to himself because of Jonah running.

  • Jonah runs.
  • God creates a storm and prepares a fish to be on call to swallow Jonah.

  • Jonah delivers an 8 word message.
  • God uses that 8 word message to bring an entire pagan city to repentance toward God.

  • Jonah sat outside the city to watch the explosion of the city (popcorn and soda in hand).
  • God builds a plant then destroys it with a worm.

God’s Compassion to the sailors. Those poor sailors they have to throw out all the cargo. How are they shown compassion? It could have been worse they could have died even though they were pagan. Pagan sailors acknowledged Gods sovereignty and they feared him with a great fear and offered him sacrifice and gave vowels. They may have really truly come to God.

God’s Compassion to Nineveh. Nineveh is described as a great city that has great wickedness, but God doesn’t destroy them.

God’s Compassion toward Jonah. He spares his life. He also gives Jonah shade. More than anything He shows great mercy even though Jonah is opposing God’s will for his life.

Here is the application for us. God uses wicked and sinful people to accomplish his purposes, like us. He is God and we are not. Often we seek our own wills rather than the will of God. We believe our decisions surpass God’s, so we sin.  However, even when we seek our own will God is continuously compassionate and merciful to us.  He sovereignly overcomes our bad decisions and works good through us. We can be condemning, critical, selfish, and uncompassionate to people around us. Consider the key verses of the book of Jonah which are 4:10-11, And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

Asked another way, Isn’t God a better decision maker than you because His character is better than yours? Who is the god of your life, you or Him?

Prayer Questions

  • Are there any Christians I will not forgive?
  • Are there any unbelievers I refuse to love?
  • Is there anything in my life that I am choosing my sovereignty over God’s?
  • Are there any current events that I am struggling to entrust to God over what I think should happen?
  • Who do I need to pray for asking God to bring them to salvation?
  • Talk to God about how you have seen his sovereignty in your decisions recently or in the past.
  • Praise the Lord for his specific acts of compassion and rulership to you over the past years.
  • Specially praise God for the Gospel where He has shown His Lordship and compassion in your life!

COVID Counsel #4

One of the many blessings of vacationing at the beach is the rising and setting of the sun. There is something special about standing on the 20th floor balcony with a fresh cup of coffee in hand and your camera ready to take shots of God’s moment-by-moment creation!

Albeit the month of December does not draw a huge crowd to North Myrtle Beach, there were a few folks gathered Saturday morning on the beach waiting on the same spectacular event! One family in particular had staked their claim to front-row seats with their towels and blankets.

As a ribbon of the sun stretched across the horizon, anticipation began to build. Indeed, it was awesome (Psalm 19:1-2)!! The hues of orange, blue, purple and yellow were all mixed together to present a first-morning vacation sunset that would cause a veteran rooster to be overwhelmed!!

Eventually, the sun rose above the few clouds and was in full sight!

With that, the aforementioned family gathered up their belongings and headed back to their room. For them, it was on to the next thing in their day.

Later on I was reminded, this is how we should be with the promised soon return of Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)! Everyday I have a front-row seat for His appearing. When the Lord descends from heaven in the clouds with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God, I won’t miss it!! No matter where I am on this planet, I will hear it! Beyond His call to me for salvation, this will be the sweetest, most exciting voice I will have ever heard and the greatest event of my life up to this very moment!!

  • Am I sitting on the edge of my seat this morning looking and listening for His return?
  • Does the imminent return of Christ have immediate effects upon my life right now?
  • Does a sermon on the return of Christ stir me and fill my heart with anticipation and as soon as the gathering is done, I pick up my belongings and head on out for the next thing in my day?

Let’s ask the Lord to renew our anticipation of His return rather than being so consumed with COVID, our fears, anxieties, stresses and what we don’t have right now.

Let’s ask the Lord to nudge us when we get so caught up with this world that we forget about being caught up into the eternal world of His presence! (John 14:1-6)

And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16b-17)

That’s good counsel for our weary souls!

(If you are interesting about a personal relationship with Christ and an eternal home in Heaven, please watch the following video.)

COVID COUNSEL

Many years ago, I heard a preacher say, “You wouldn’t say it out loud, but you probably think you are the most intelligent creature on the planet. Why? Because you listen to yourself more than anyone else.” By the way, do you ever have a conversation with yourself or with someone else in your mind?

This preacher went on to say something very needful. “Instead of listening to yourself, you need to preach to yourself! You must preach the Truth to yourself!”

David does this in Psalm 42:5, 11 and 43:5.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

For sure, COVID and 2020 has been filled with inconsistencies, false information, cancellations, deaths, life-altering illnesses, disappointments, fear, anxiety, abrupt changes, and unfulfilled plans and expectations.

Where do you run? Where do you hide? Where do you find rest for your weary soul? Where do you find strength to take the next step, to live the next day? The answer is found in the aforementioned scripture passages. Read and meditate on what David is saying. Put yourself in the passage. Preach the truth to yourself. Do not listen to yourself, your doubts, your confusion, your pain, your sorrow, your fears, etc.

The help of His countenance (42:5) will always be the help of my countenance (42:11; 43:5) as I hope in my God and praise my God while preaching the truth to myself. Counsel your heart.

Are You Listening?

Is COVID-19 the judgment of God? We do not know nor can we know without reservation from Scripture. It may be, but God does not say so. Now, Matthew 24:7-8 speaks of the signs of the times in reference to the first half of the tribulation. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Certainly, the coronavirus could be characterized by pestilences, but we cannot say it is a judgment of God in 2020.

So, what then is COVID-19 saying to us? Echoing back to Matthew 24:7-8, it is a reminder that such a day is coming; that the tribulation (Revelation 6-18) will occur. Above all, COVID-19 is God speaking to us and calling us to repentance.

Note these words recorded in Luke 13:1-5, There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

How easy it is for us to look at others in world as worse sinners than we are and say, “God is judging them!” Note that Jesus goes right on by that scenario and calls everyone to repentance, I tell you, . . . unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

Unbeliever, wake up to the fact that unless you repent, turn from anything and everything you have been believing in for salvation, you will perish. Jesus says, I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32).

Is COVID-19 the judgment of God? Can’t say, but it is the mercy of God giving you, sinner friend, another opportunity to repent and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior! Don’t delay!

For information on how you can become a genuine follower of Christ, please watch the following:

COVID-19 DISTRACTIONS #2

Yesterday, I was reminded of a statement that has bearing on the COVID world we live in today. During the last few weeks of my mom’s earthly sojourn, she listened to my wife read Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven. One day in particular, she looked appreciatively at Denise and said, “Thank you for reading to me about Heaven. You are helping me prepare to go Home.”

Has the coronavirus so captured your attention that your mind is solely earth-bound? I realize we need to take some serious precautions, but how easy it is to be consumed with COVID at every turn! As I said in yesterday’s blog. it is the first topic of discussion, frustration, fear, etc.

If you can say that you are a true believer in Christ, a genuine child of God, may I turn our thoughts upward?

Mediate on the following:

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Rev. 21:4)

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:1-4)

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8)

Is COVID helping to prepare you for Home? The brevity, fragility and uncertainty of life are indeed real, but when you have complete assurance that eternity in Heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ awaits you, the fear of this virus can be exchanged for the anticipation of Revelation 21:4!!!

I’m goin’ home
Where the streets are golden
Every chain is broken
Oh I wanna go
Oh I wanna go
Home
Where every fear is gone
I’m in your open arms
Where I belong
Home
(Chris Tomlin)

(If you are not prepared, would you take time to watch either of these videos?)

Be sure to watch all the Done chapters.

Grace to Go!

Stretching out his hand and with tears in his eyes, he said, “Soon this hand will touch the hand of my Jesus.”

These words were spoken last Saturday by a dear man of God who has given his life to faithfully proclaim and live out the excellencies of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Pastor Bud Parker has been diagnosed with an inoperable malignant brain tumor that is affecting his mobility and vision. As I sat by his side in his humble mountain home, the affects of cancer were readily seen, but the grace of God was much more manifest. It didn’t take long to realize I was seated in the presence of a man who is ready to go Home to Glory!

There were many more times of rejoicing than notes of sorrow as we conversed. During his lengthy stay in the hospital, the Lord enabled him to share the gospel with many, and three precious souls came to salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). We talked of the ministry joys of past years, the privilege of preaching the Word of God, the joy of mentoring so many men in the ministry, as well as rejoicing in all the folks who had come by to visit.

With his precious wife, Mildred, seated across the room, he looked at me and then her and said, “I am ready to go to heaven, but I don’t want to leave my bride of 58 years. The other night, the Lord spoke to me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid. She was My bride before she became your bride. She is the apple of my eye’.”

Especially at a time like this, the Word of God is the very best comfort, assurance, and hope. While reading 1 Peter 1:1-8, Pastor Parker’s eyes would glisten and then fill with tears. Some of the passages he quoted along with me as best he could. At one point, he raised his hand to rejoice!

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

Near the end of our visit, I noticed that his wife, two of his daughters and other family members were on the front porch. I invited them to gather in the living room, and we sang a medley of songs about heaven. My, what a glorious time we had as we lifted our voices and hands in praise to our great God! Indeed, what a day it will be when our Jesus we will see!!

Watching the grace of God in its total sufficiency from my front row seat was an honor and a blessed encouragement! This dear man of God is living out the words of Tom Hayes’ song, New Grace.

All of grace is my story
All the way from earth to glory,
Since by grace He lifted me from sin and woe;
Living grace He has extended
As on Him my heart depended,
And He’ll give new grace when it’s my time to go.

CHORUS:
Grace not yet discovered,
Grace not yet uncovered,
Grace from His bountiful store;
Grace to cross the river,
And grace to face forever,
There’ll be new grace I’ve not needed before.

VERSE 2:
There’s been grace for every trial,
There’s been grace for every mile,
There’s been grace sufficient from His vast supply;
Grace to make my heart more tender,
Grace to love and pray for sinners,
But there’ll be new grace when it’s my time to die.

CHORUS:
Grace not yet discovered,
Grace not yet uncovered,
Grace from His bountiful store;
Grace to cross the river,
And grace to face forever,
There’ll be new grace I’ve not needed before.

Grace to go!!

Wonder What Its Like

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Wonder what it’s like to know that you are just hours, days from seeing Jesus face-to-face?

That was the question posed by wife as we drove to see a friend who is living out his last earthly days. Cancer has crept in upon him and left him in a swiftly weakened condition. He is now under hospice care.

As we entered his living room, now serving as a “hospital room,” we were greeted by a sedated, yet peaceful friend who managed a bit of a smile. His weakened voice spoke in soften tones. His dear wife stood on the other side of his bed tenderly stroking his arm and speaking words of encouragement to her longtime companion and friend.

After my wife and I shared, with tears, words of love and appreciation from our heart, I read 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 and Psalm 73:23-26, 28. Our friend drifted in-and-out as I read. His dear wife acknowledged certain truths here-and-there. I watched God’s Word bring sweet reminders and grace-filled assurances to both of these precious believers in Christ.

We concluded with prayer and then we sang two stanzas of Blessed Assurance. Our friend’s wife joined in as she said to her husband, “We know that song, don’t we?”

Before we departed, I reached down and touch my friend’s shoulder and reminded him again what he meant to us, that we loved him, and that we were praying for him. With that, he gave me a wink and softly spoke, “I love you. Praying for you, too.”

To answer my wife’s question, neither of us know personally because we are not in that condition at the moment. From watching my friend and his wife, I can say, there is grace for the journey, peace for the soul, a song for the heart, a balm for the hurt, truth for the mind, a glorious reunion to come, and a Friend that sticks closer than a brother, because blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.

Indeed, precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints (Psalm 116:15).

I’ll see you on the other side, friend; then I too will be seeing Jesus face-to-face.

Watching the Body at Work

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As we entered the hospital room, we were greeted with the sin-curse of death.  Another child of God was soon to “drop this robe of flesh” and rise to meet the Lord.

With hearts touched by the reality in front of us, we surrounded the bed and read Scripture.  Then we broke into song.  “In the Sweet By and By,” “It is Well With My Soul,” “When We All Get to Heaven,”  “Blessed Assurance”  and a few more.

As we sang, one would be overcome by emotion for a bit and their voice would fade or quiver.  It was at that point that someone else would carry the lead.

After a song or two, some other folks dropped by and joined the bedside choir.

Standing there, I was reminded that this is how the Body of Christ operates.

First of all, we are to sing to one another. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him (Colossians 3:16-17).

Second, when a brother or sister is faltering, overcome by emotion, or in various situations of need, we do not criticize them, we just “take the lead” and help them bear their burden.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).

Third, what a  blessing it is when others refuse to just stand back and intentionally join the choir! Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord (Romans 12:11).

May I also add that the lady in the room next to us heard our singing which opened a later door for her to hear the gospel the next day.

To be a member of the Body of Christ and serve with others in His Body is the greatest privilege on earth!!

Helping Children Understand Easter

 

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Golgatha

This is an awesome time of the year!  The apex of history is the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ and His bodily resurrection from the tomb (Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Matthew 26:57-28:10; 1 Corinthians 15).  This event sets Jesus Christ and Christianity apart from ALL other religions around the world.

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Outside the Empty Tomb, January 19, 2017

How important that our children understand the truth about Christ and Easter.  There is no problem with enjoying eggs, candy, bunnies, and baskets, but our younger generation must know the truth, and Christ, Who is Truth.

My wife’s blog will help you accomplish this.  Be sure to take take to read and watch, Helping Children Understand Easter