PropitiationContinue reading “Christ’s Death”
A look at life from a pastor's point of view
PropitiationContinue reading “Christ’s Death”
That’s my impression from my stroll down the main drag of Gatlinburg, TN, recently.
All this and more in one of the vacation capitols of America!
This is supposed to be “the happy place!” Right?
But, this is the case almost everywhere you go today. Why?
1. Man tries to fill his empty, eternal soul with temporal, earthly things. There is nothing in the world that will ever completely satisfy mankind. There may be momentary satisfaction, but it leaves a desire for more or something else.
In the midst of all this unhappiness, I saw new attractions, new restaurants, a gazillion moonshine stores (Isn’t that what brings great joy, so we’re told????), new stores, new products on the shelves, etc. This should make people happy, full of joy, right?
2. Man without a personal relationship with Christ does not have the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:19-24)
As my wife and I strolled up and back down Parkway, our hearts were saddened and grieved by the thousands who are choosing to live this way without the Prince of Peace, The Joy of Jesus, the Savior of our souls.
May I encourage you to read the three links given in the last sentence above?
When the angel announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds in the field, his first words were “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10). That “great joy” was the truth that the God who had seemed far off had come to them in human flesh. He was to be called “Immanuel,” which means “God with us” (Isaiah 9:6–7; Matthew 1:23). Those who saw Him saw the face of God (John 14:9). He had come to rescue, to save, to heal, and to make mankind right with God (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:17–21). That was cause for great joy! (gotquestions.org/joy-to-the-world)
The only cure for a mad, mad world is the Gospel! The Good News!!
(Photo from trekearth.com)
1 Up Calv’ry’s mountain one dreadful morn
Walked Christ, my Savior, weary and worn;
Facing for sinners death on the cross,
That He might save them from endless loss. [Chorus]
2 “Father, forgive them!” thus did He pray,
E’en while His lifeblood flowed fast away;
Praying for sinners while in such woe–
No one but Jesus ever loved so. [Chorus]
3 O how I love Him, Savior and Friend,
How can my praises ever find end?
Thro’ years unnumbered on heaven’s shore,
My tongue shall praise Him forevermore. [Chorus]
Blessed Redeemer! Precious Redeemer!
Seems now I see Him on Calvary’s tree;
Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading—
Blind and unheeding— dying for me!
In Him (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and understanding. (Ephesians 1:7-8)
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6)
Good Friday – The Crucifixion (Mark 14:53-15:41; 1 Peter 1:18-21; Luke 22:47-53; 23:39-43; John 19:1-37)
[“Blessed Redeemer” written by Avis B. Christiansen]
Why doesn’t it stop? Why doesn’t God do something? Why does God allow this to happen? And the questions continue.
Today’s thoughts are a follow-up to Tuesday’s blog post, Bob Saget, Covid & Bronx Fire.
The “Why Questions” have been uttered for centuries and many without answer. Interesting enough, if our questions were answered, because of the next day of our lives producing more questions, we would never be satisfied.
Instead of focusing on the answers to the “why,” let’s focus today on the following:
Death is certain. You say with perhaps a look of wonder or a scowl, “Wow! That’s an encouraging first point!” Hebrews 9:27 declares, It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment. Man has no power to determine when he is born nor when he dies. Try as hard as you can to survive, the days of your life here on earth are known and determined by God (1 Samuel 2:6; Job 1:21; Psalm 139:16). Since these things are true, you are not ready to live until you are ready to die.
Life is in Christ alone. As I said in the previous post, my heart aches and is grieved by all the sin, tragedies and deaths in the world. I have watched folk die, believers and unbelievers. I have had to console and comfort the broken-hearted. I have preached the funerals of my stillborn daughter, my parents and of friends. The greatest comfort of all is knowing that I will be reunited with these folk in Heaven because of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) and the promises of the Word of God (John 3:16; 14:1-6). Since Christ is life, true life and the assurance of eternal life is only found in Him.
God’s mercy is continually extended. God could have wiped out Covid months ago, but He is permitting it to continue for reasons known only to Him. The same could be said about the Bronx fire and other tragedies. God does not give us explanations. Through each tragedy, He is reminding us of His mercy in giving man an opportunity to consider death, eternity and free gift of salvation through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. As I heard years ago, “The greatest tragedy on earth today is not a tornado destroying your house, or a death in the family or financial loss. The greatest tragedy everyday is that someone died and is in hell because they rejected the person of Jesus Christ.”
Friend, would you click on the verse links and read the following:
Ephesians 2:1-10 – The richness of God’s mercy
Titus 3:4-6 – The mercy of God in salvation
1 Peter 1:2-3 – God’s great mercy
2 Peter 3:9 – God’s mercy displayed
As I said in the previous post, this messed up, sinful world won’t always be this way (Revelation 21:1-4). Today, instead of focusing so much on the why. turn your eyes toward the Who, the mercy of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ! You are not prepared to live until you are prepared to die. Will you spend your eternity in heaven?
On the last day of 2021, Bob Saget reflected on the passing of 99 year-old Betty White by saying, “She always said the love of her life was her husband, Allen Ludden, who she lost in 1981. Well, if things work out by Betty’s design — in the afterlife, they are reunited. I don’t know what happens when we die, but if Betty says you get to be with the love of your life, then I happily defer to Betty on this.”
According to worldomenters.info, as of Monday, January 10, 2022, Covid has been the cause of death of 861, 021 people in the USA and 5,511,396 in the world.
Sunday morning, fire broke out in a Bronx, NY, apartment complex killing 17 people. Eight of them were children. “It was absolutely horrific,” Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro said. “I talked to many veteran firefighters who said it was the worst fire they had seen in their lives. They were doing CPR on people outside. It was absolutely horrific. Members operated with upmost heroism. Unfortunately, not all fires have a positive outcome. It’s horrible. This fire will be with these members forever.” (abc7ny.com)
This world is filled with suffering and sorrow. It is not supposed to be that way.
Then why so much agony, angst, fear, disappointment, and death?
As God created the universe, He saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day (Genesis 1:31). Upon creating man and woman in His own image (Genesis 1:26) and from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7), He placed them in the Garden of Eden, blessed them, and . . . said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).
What went wrong?
Sin. God gave man a freewill to choose and being tempted by Satan, he chose to go his own way and plunged the whole world into sin (Genesis 2:8-3:24). Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world (Romans 5:12-13a). You see, the world is totally broken because of sin.
Is there any hope for us? Is there anyone who can forever correct the sin problem? Will it always be this way? My friend, just as the world is completely broken by sin, Jesus is the complete answer for every sin, every wrong, every heartache, and every act of unrighteousness (Romans 5:14-21).
Covid constantly produces fear and reminds us of death. Man, even in his God-given mental capacity, has not figured out how to eradicate this pandemic. Yet, in the midst of it all, I hear these hope-filled words of truth at the tomb of death, Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live (John 11:25).
Sadly, mankind will continue to face fatalities due to such things as faulty space heaters and apartment doors that are designed to close in case of fire. Remember, the world is broken. Man cannot produce a perfect environment because we are imperfect creatures due to our sin. But there is hope! For where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:20b-21). The answer is the perfect Son of God (John 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:1-10).
Yes, there is immense pain and suffering in this world, and Jesus experienced it all (Isaiah 53; Hebrews 4:14-16). He bore the sin of the whole world, yours and mine (2 Corinthians 5:21), and He rose from the tomb to conquer sin and death (Matthew 28:1-10; Acts 2:24; Revelation 1:18). God wants you to have the security and assurance of eternity in His presence in Heaven (John 14:1-6).
My heart ached as I read Bob Saget’s statement about the afterlife. My friend, you can absolutely know where you are going. You do not need to hope that “things will work out by Betty’s design — in the afterlife.” You must not “happily defer to Betty on this.”
This sinful, broken world won’t always be this way. Please take time to read the scripture passages given above. There is eternal hope (confident expectation based on the promises of God in His Word); there is eternal assurance all found in the person of Jesus Christ. Please defer to Him!
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)
There I sat with my car backed into the parking lot at Target in observation mode. Still in quarantine, my wife made her trek into Target to purchase a gift.
What did I observe? A steady of stream of shoppers entering and exiting their cars and the stores with sad, frowning, hardened faces. Some were walking briskly, some on a mission, others at a snail’s pace. And, what season of the year is this?
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”—Go ahead; sing it! You are hearing it in your head anyway!
It’s the celebration of good news of great joy that will be for all the people (Luke 2:11)!
Isn’t Christmas all about joy, cheer, good news, giving, laughter, family traditions, get-togethers, etc.?
As I watched, my finite mind could not fathom all the stories in front of me in this “season of joy.” Perhaps sudden job loss, death of a dear loved one, disappointment in not finding the right gift, the general frustrations of life, cancer diagnosis, home life issues, heart-crushing memories, failing marriages, brokenness, fear, rejection, dread, chaos, thoughts of suicide, sorrow, discontentment, etc.
In the midst of these stories of life, many hoping that this season might bring a little good news, a little cheer, a little “Tender Tennessee Christmas” to take off the edge of the pain, my mind considered my own current “covidness” and was once again reminded that this season is only a mere shadow of the Realty. If my heart is fixed on all the ingredients of the season, I miss the preeminent, transcendent Person of this day, this season, this year, and this life. At that point, I have fallen into idolatry; worshiping the creature (and what the creature creates here) more than the Creator (Romans 1:18-25).
You see, the only Story that can completely deal with the root cause of all “the fears of all the years,” which began in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), is the Reality of the living Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ Who stepped into your life to be your substitute on the cross (Isaiah 53:3-5; 1 Peter 3:18). Life is the Eternal Story, not a temporal season.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9 ESV).
Today, tomorrow, on Christmas Day, and the days to follow, listen to and meditate on the Story of hope and redemption, the salvation of your souls, in exchange for the shadows of the season. No matter how good they may be for now, they are only shadows.
Don’t let the season steal what Jesus came to give and restore!
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).
Additional links for your encouragement today:
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!
Understanding fully that Daniel 9:3-19 is dealing with Israel, there is a much-too-close parallel to our country, the United States of America. For every believer across this land, Daniel’s prayer needs to be the attitude and action of our prayers today and tomorrow for us and our country.
America is not equal with Israel in the eyes of Jehovah, but the same sinful, unbelieving heart that caused God to turn from Israel is the same deceitful heart that has brought such shame to our land; a nation that once was greatly used to declare the gospel at home and around the world as well as stand for the righteousness. Now, look at us!
Believers in every town and city, we need to fall to our knees, repent and cry out to God! Set aside your personal worldly pursuits. Put entertainment, ballgames, and Facebook to death for now. Churches, forego those programs that you think are so important (Prayer is the only thing that gives power to ministry programs anyway!) There needs to be prayer meetings before and after school, throughout the day in our homes, in our small groups, at the office, in our commute to and from work, on our lunch breaks, on the street corner, at family gatherings, etc. Prayer is the declaration of your need and dependence upon God. Prayer is one of the means of appropriating all we have in Christ Jesus. We are in a desperate time of need that ONLY the Throne of Grace can provide (Hebrews 4:16)!!!
The last great spiritual awakening in America occurred in the 1850’s. The first occurred near the time of the birth of our country. Our land and our churches, for the glory of God, must have a sweeping move of the Spirit that brings conviction of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8) that leads to biblical repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10). We must have an awakening of genuine faith, repentance and reception of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior whereby we die to self and live to Christ (Romans 6).
People of God, WE MUST PRAY, AND I MEAN PRAY!! Let Daniel 9 be your guide. You see, no matter who is seated in the White House, they cannot correct our nation’s sinful pattern of guilt and destruction! Only the Gospel changes everything (Colossians 1:13-14)!!!!
See you at the Throne of Grace today!
The worst sin is prayerlessness. (P.T. Forsyth)
God is more willing to be prayed to, and more ready to hear prayer, than we are to pray. (Matthew Henry)
What a man is on his knees before God, that he is, and nothing more. (Robert Murray M’Cheyne)
Daniel 9:3-19 Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. 4 And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, 5 we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. 6 Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land. 7 O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You.
8 “O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. 10 We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. 11 Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. 12 And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem.
13 “As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth. 14 Therefore the Lord has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice. 15 And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have done wickedly!
16 “O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us. 17 Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18 O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. 19 O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”
Heartbroken. Grieved. Hopeful. Concerned. Saddened. Not surprised. Confident. Driven to prayer.
These and other emotions filled my mind and heart yesterday in reference to the events in Washington, D.C. And, there will be more to come, I’m sure. Nevertheless, along with many, many others who will offer their thoughts via social media, blogs, podcasts, etc., I share these with all sincerity of heart and for God’s glory.
May God help us! May God have mercy upon us!
Listening for the shout, the voice and the trump today (1Thessalonians 4:13-18)!
Sincerely, today, from a pastor’s heart.
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: