Almighty God speaks out against idol worship in Isaiah chapter 45. He states over and over that “I am the Lord, and there is no other”.
By Myself, I have sworn, My mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before Me every knee will bow; by Me every tongue will swear. They will say of Me, “In the Lord alone are deliverance and strength.” All who have raged against Him will come to Him and be put to shame. ~ Isaiah 45:23-24 NIV
When that day comes, it will be an unprecedented event like no other on this earth. I don’t know about you, but I pray that it will be a joyous day for as many people as possible instead of a shameful one.
God next turns His attention to the gods of Babylon in chapter 46:
Remember this, keep in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” ~ Isaiah 46:8-10 NIV
Friend, if you have not already done so, now would be the perfect time to turn your life toward the cross and accept God’s Son, Jesus, as your personal Savior. It is so simple and it is totally FREE.
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When they had crucified Him, they divided up His clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over Him there. Above His head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. ~ Matthew 27:35-37 NIV
This morning Pastor Jon preached about “Passion FOR the Christ”. He pointed out through scriptures how passionate Simon Peter was when he acted by cutting off the right ear of the high priest’s servant, Malchus, when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the garden. He believes it was Peter’s intention to kill Malchus, but that Malchus may have ducked the sword swipe aimed for his head, thus losing only one ear. In any case, Jesus quickly restored the ear whole again to Malchus, for Jesus was not about to have one single event disrupt God’s perfect plan of redemption for man. Jesus must be sacrificed and scripture fulfilled.
I like the pastor’s phrase “One and Done” to sum up Hebrews chapter 7. Jesus competed our salvation completely – once and for all:
but because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need – One who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, He does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness, but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. ~ Hebrews 7:23-28 NIV
High Priest Caiaphas, You are Fired!
Yup – One and Done.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! ~ Philippians 4:4 NIV
The Apostle Paul wrote these words in his final message to the church at Philippi from prison. I have become so negative in the past year I realize that I need to practice rejoicing. What a difference I can make in God’s kingdom if only I will remember Paul’s message to believers:
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:5-7 NIV
On Resurrection Day, the victory belongs to Jesus. He conquered the grave, and the angels proclaimed to the women who discovered the empty tomb, “Do not be afraid! ” “Do not be afraid!”.
Jesus appeared to the women near the tomb and to His disciples later with greetings of “Do not be afraid!” and “Peace be unto you!”.
Today we can rejoice in our faith that Jesus is a Living Savior. There are no decayed remains of Jesus in a tomb or grave somewhere in Jerusalem. We can rest in the knowledge that God’s Word records a world shattering event when Jesus rose from the darkness of the grave. Jesus broke the chains of the penalty for our sins, and therefore salvation is free to all who believe in Him. Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father in Heaven today. PRAISE GOD FOR SO GREAT SALVATION!
Even though the church is under attack and believers suffer persecution for following Christ (over 900,000 Christians killed per year); don’t let anyone steal your joy as you observe Resurrection Day. Celebrate the fullness of life in Jesus with family and friends and remain steadfast in your faith that Jesus is Risen.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. ~ Philippians 4:8-9 NIV
“I will practice, Lord. I will practice rejoicing and enjoy your gift of peace.”
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Some of the greatest people I know are seniors. I enjoy their frankness and their willingness to share themselves with others. They give me hope.
I think that by the time the baby boomer generation reaches the Oldest-Old stage, that whole chapter of human development will be rewritten possibly more than once. Humans are living longer. If this trend continues, humans may live to be 200 years old by the end of this century. Regardless, I think that my generation is much too absorbed with trying to defeat the aging process. Why not just accept it, enjoy it, and live it?
We are blessed to be living in the greatest age in human history. Now seniors live longer and can enjoy a relatively high quality of life compared to our ancestors. Many diseases of this life stage are treatable, if not curable; and despite the harsh living conditions of some third world countries, life in these United States “ain’t that bad”.
I certainly could go for becoming one of the Oldest-Old. It sure beats the alternative. I am not making light of the prospect of aging and all of the related declining health issues; but there is always something to look forward to each day. Put a bit differently; the human spirit is indefatigable, and does not seem to age.
This brings me to the subject of spirituality (you all knew it was coming). Some studies show that religion can be a positive factor in longevity. There is more to life than just the mortality of it. No matter what a person’s faith persuasion is, faith gets a person a lot further down the road. Faith is self-defining. With faith comes hope. Faith believes in more. If you believe and hope there is more than just this life, then there is.
It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the One who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. ~2 Corinthians 4:13,14 NIV
The key is to embrace what you have. I would much rather dance closely with a partner than in an open embrace. The dance is much more fluid and graceful when the intimacy is there. I plan on embracing my late adulthood stage as gracefully as possible; for life is a dance and the last dance is always the best.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV
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Palm Sunday reading – Luke 19:28-47
Jesus enters Jerusalem riding not a lowly donkey, but the lowliest of the low – a donkey’s colt. How Messiah’s feet must have dragged the ground as the foal struggled to carry the weight of the Son of God! Perhaps the colt staggered at times along the road to Jerusalem. No matter. The people were wild with anticipation of their liberation from oppression by the long promised Messiah:
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey. ~ Zechariah 9:9
Have we not heard this story many times of how Jesus entered Jerusalem as a triumphant king in the minds of the people? How they yanked off their coats and threw them on the ground in front of the colt as it carried Jesus down the road? Others cut branches from trees and paved the road with them in a show of honor to Jesus. Multitudes sang, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”, and celebrated His coming (Matt. 21:9). Yes, it appears that they believed in the Messiah, but only as a liberating earthly king – the one who would free them from persecution by the Romans – not The One who had come to be crucified on the Cross at Calvary in less than a week.
As the procession neared the point in the road that led to the Mount of Olives, a whole crowd of disciples shouted,
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” He replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” ~ Luke 19:38-40 NIV
True believers will not keep quiet. We do not rely on the stones to cry out for us. Despite more bombings of Christian churches in Egypt today, believers focus on remembering our Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem two thousand years ago. Whether Pharisees or Isis rebuke, we will not be quiet. We continue to shout, to glorify, and to worship the Name of our King, Jesus in the Highest.
“Father, we pray for those who have lost their lives, indeed, been martyred today for the love of your Son, Jesus. Forgive those who continually persecute your church. We pray as brethren today for those injured in these bombing attacks that they would be healed by Jesus’ wounds and that the families of those fallen will receive love and peace through your merciful Holy Spirit, our Comforter. In the Holy Name of Jesus, our Messiah, amen.”
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Dream the impossible. Go out and make it happen. I walked on the moon. What can you do? ~ Captain Eugene A. Cernan, Commander of Apollo XVII, “The Last Man on the Moon”
I am haunted by this quote after recently watching “The Last Man on the Moon” documentary. Afterward, I visited a memorial website to honor one of our nation’s most revered human treasures, Captain Gene Cernan (1934-2017). Like so many others, I sought to find out more about the man behind the astounding achievements recorded in his book and documentary, “The Last Man on the Moon”. To me, his life symbolizes sacrifice and perseverance in the face of daunting perils associated with exploring the unknown reaches of space. He faced such challenges with unwavering resolve and great faith in himself and in countless others who worked behind the scenes to place him in orbit around the earth and, ultimately, on the moon. His story empowers me to ask the same question he did:
What Can You Do?
Or more importantly, What Can I do?
What can I do with God’s personal and precious gift of mysterious energy we call life?
On my own, I realize that my life’s achievements are insignificant in the eyes of the world. I am a mere speck of dust – or perhaps less. On the day of my departure from this world, I will be missed by a few friends or family members briefly and then – nothing…. but Captain Gene Cernan will live on in the hearts and minds of Americans far into the future. In recent years Captain Cernan wanted to leave us a piece of himself while he still lived among us. He wanted us to know that we should never give up on ourselves. His message was to strive for our dreams and never give up on us.
Today I choose to take that advice literally both as an individual and also as a nation. Even though we live in times of negativity, division, or defeat, I am encouraged – no, inspired – by the exemplary life of a national icon who reached out to the stars and beyond for answers to questions about our universe. What he achieved is really BIG when you think about it.
So back to, What Can I do?
The strangest thing happened to me this morning as I pondered this question. I felt a spiritual spark begin to pulse within me. Do you ever get ignition – right out of nowhere? – that moment of thought conception that tugs and stretches until it becomes realization? I’m talking about the sort of realization that comes from the gut; who knows – from the Holy Spirit? It is the gripping realization of some genetically placed truth that I have known from before the womb. In my case, it is the knowledge that “I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me”, confirmed in God’s Word in Phil. 4:13. If my obedience pleases God through Christ, it has all been accomplished under the direction and strength of His Holy Spirit. That’s a ton of power and God-Given No-How. Therefore, it will be remembered for eternity.
I guess Gene Cernan was right. There is unlimited potential in each one of us, and since our Heavenly Father never gives up on me, then I shouldn’t either.
They will still yield fruit in old age, They shall be full of sap and very green, To declare that the Lord is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. ~ Psalm 92:12-15 NASB
The Lord reigns… For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts… ~ Psalm 93:1a, 95:7-8a NASB
“Father, please guide me by Your Spirit to live up to my potential for service to You and Your Kingdom. Give me strength to perform Your will and the wisdom to understand it. Glory and Praise to You for Your everlasting love toward mankind. Thank you for planting Your Greatness in me before the earth and moon were ever formed; in the powerful and matchless Name of Yeshua, our Messiah, Amen.”
I guess that brings us back to Gene’s question, “What Can You Do?”
God Bless and keep you all.
Photo credit: NASA