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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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.”
Photo Credit: ©Canstock Photo Inc/zatletic
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
Many people experience sadness or actual depression during the Christmas season. When this happens to me, I search my memory bank for past Christmases that were joyful – hoping to lift my spirits. The Christmas Past that I chose this year is the Christmas of 1965. Nothing sets it apart from other Christmases except for the changing times. It has become remarkable to me only because 51 years of Christmases have come and gone since then; so I have a lot to compare it with.
Life was so simple in 1965. Our family lived close to the land in a very humble home that my parents built mostly by themselves. We lived far from the nearest town and the winters felt even more isolating as darkness spread over the northern landscape. We seldom had visitors but our parents made sure they took us to town for church and school activities. We would join up with carolers and walk around the community singing all of the classic Christmas songs. People would come to their front doors to hear us sing and then invite us in for hot cocoa to warm up. Christ was always the center of Christmas, thanks to my parents, and I wish it was more like that in our nation today.
My brother and I were in our early teens in 1965 and certainly did not appreciate how special that Christmas was. Looking back now, I could not appreciate it more.
Undaunted by our adolescent apathy, my parents did everything in their power to bring cheerfulness into our home at Christmas. We trimmed the tree with ornaments that we made at school in our elementary days and smothered the tree in lights and silver icicles popular for the times. It may have looked gaudy, but we loved to plug in those lights and sit for hours in the evenings eating popcorn while we played checkers or old maid. I don’t remember if we had a television then, but if so, it only had one military channel with very limited programming. Dad made sure it was off most of the time. He was against TV. He wanted reality and his focus was always on the people in his life.
I remember our parents gifted us with snow skis that Christmas; including all the gear we needed to begin learning how to ski. This must have been a big financial sacrifice for them at the time. Of course, we were excited to be able to join our peers on the local ski hill, and within days we abandoned Mom & Dad for the slopes.
I never became a good skier, but it was fun. We spent some of our Christmas school vacation ice skating on the frozen ponds near our house, too.
This trip down memory lane may not seem relevant to your Christmas, but I guess the Lord put it on my heart to show that even though over half a century has passed since this Christmas Past, the true Christmas story as recorded in the Gospels never changes. Nowadays it seems that Christmas is celebrated far differently than in 1965. Jesus is not the center of the season and even the word “Christmas” has disappeared from most greeting cards. No wonder some people feed sad at this time of year! Rejoice in the belief that Jesus is our divine Messiah who became flesh in order to redeem mankind from a sin debt we could never pay. That is the true joyful message of Christmas.
I hope that your Christmas 2016 is one to be remembered as a happy time spent with family and friends; that is spirit-filled, and full of peace and hope that only the Holy Spirit imparts. Regardless of your circumstances, may your hearts be lifted up this Christmas with the knowledge that our divine Savior came down to earth as a tiny baby who chose to be born in squalor in order to bring us hope, love, and peace.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. ~ Luke 2:10-14 KJV
MERRY CHRISTMAS PRESENT and may God bless you all.
I recently read a post that stated simply, “The first 50 years are the hardest part of growing up.”
Can I get an amen?
After living over half a century my response is, “Still working on it!”
I used to think that growing up was so complicated. I took life’s challenges seriously and wore myself out trying to live up to public opinion instead of what God’s Word has to say about it. My moral compass was skewed by the changing times. I was more intent on meeting expectations of the world system than I was on finding out what God’s plan was for my life. Decades passed and after my nest emptied I began to realize that getting an education, raising a family, and making a living was just getting me older. I did not feel as grown up as my image reflected in the mirror each morning.
Thank God for not giving up on me!
He has not given up our nation, either. Nations also struggle with growing up. Our United States is groaning under the stress of moral decline. It’s time to grow up! We as believers are part of the problem, but we can be part of God’s solution, too. I want to be part of God’s plan for my own life and for that of my nation. I want my nation to turn away from foolishness, repent, and place our government once again under God. Our loving, faithful Father has delivered us and shown us the way:
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. ~John 16:33
It starts with me. It’s time to grow up spiritually. It’s time for me to be His Voice and spread good cheer in a time of national tribulation. His promise is that in Me you may have peace. Praise and thank you, Lord!
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. ~2Chronicles 7:14 NIV
According to this verse of scripture, it is not necessary for unbelievers to repent of evil and turn to God in order for God to forgive their sin and heal their land of drought, locusts, or plagues (read preceding verse 13).
The often quoted biblical If my people verse is not a salvation message for individual unbelievers. Why would the unsaved bother praying to a God that they do not serve, or repent, or turn from sin? Truly, 2Chron 7:13-14 is a healing message from Almighty God to His own people – the believers of a nation! Are we American believers praying that others are repenting, praying, turning, or humbling themselves instead of ourselves?
What do you think?
“If my people” = Old Testament Hebrews New Testament Christians
This tells me that if the Christians of a nation repent of their own pride, sin, and hypocrisy, that God will hear, forgive, and heal their land. The whole population does not have to participate. However, God calls all nations including the U.S. to righteousness. I know that thousands of believers are praying for our nation daily.
But what are we praying?
GRAMMY-winning and multi-Platinum selling group Casting Crowns performs “Good Good Father” live.
Yahweh is so perfect in all of His ways. Sometimes the best way to worship Him is in song. He must love to hear this song of worship and praise. I know I do.
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God’s question of “Where were you when?…” in the Book of Job, chapters 40-41, is basically pointing out that He is Almighty, All Powerful, and deserves our reverence.
Does He owe us more than he has already done? Quite the reverse is true. Chapter 41:11 indicates that He owns everything, and owes nothing to anyone. He created everything. His perfect Son, Jesus, paid our penalty on the cross (free of charge); and all He asks of us is to trust and follow Him. He only wants a relationship with us.
How terrible is that?
“Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me.” ~Job 41:11 NIV