The Once-Agains

Jesus claimed to be The Son of God to crowds of people who constantly weighed and tested His Word.  Today humans still ask for credible proof that Jesus is The Son of God.  Once again, His true followers can only point to Bible scripture for Truth and to one word – “Listen”.

Kenai Baseball Field

Suggested Bible reading: John chapter 10

This scripture is all about God’s Promises to three different groups of people.  Picking up the story in John 10:22, the season is winter around the time of Hanukkah, or the Festival of Dedication.  Jesus is walking through Solomon’s Colonnade in the Temple, surrounded by people.  The throng is three camps combined:

  1. One camp contains true believers
  2. The second camp is sprinkled with noncommitted followers and some seekers.  They are leaves blown by the Jesus-is-in-Town-Wind.  They are not entirely innocent.  They desire to be witnesses of Jesus’s demise (should He blunder).   It is the “Where’s the popcorn?” movie crowd.
  3. The third camp is made up of doubters, deceived Pharisees, and Satan’s own: those following primarily to challenge Jesus.  I call these “THE ONCE-AGAINS”:

24bHow long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.

Here is a magnificent example of how perfectly Godlike Jesus is.  He testifies to all three groups at the same time with the same words- and Jesus says what He means and means what He says:

26But you don’t believe Me because you are not my sheep. 27My sheep listen to My Voice; I know them, and they follow Me.

So, Jesus answered the questions on the hearts of all three groups in two simple statements.

Watch now: Jesus goes on to powerfully state the most reassuring scripture in history for true believers and for seekers alike.  It is the oft-quoted “eternal security” scripture straight from the mouth of Jesus.  Notice that He ends His testimony with an even more powerful statement directed to THE ONCE-AGAINS in verse 30:

28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from Me, 29for My Father has given them to Me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30The Father and I are One.

31ONCE AGAIN the people picked up stones to kill Him. 32Jesus said, At My Father’s direction I have done many good works. For which one are you going to stone Me?” (emphasis added)

33They replied, “We’re stoning you not for any good work, but for blasphemy! You, a mere man, claim to be God.”

Well, isn’t that exactly the same silliness going on in the earth today? Instead of reverancing their Powerful and Majestic Creator, people are not listening to the true message of Jesus.  THE ONCE-AGAINS (the lost) continue in their blind  rejection of Jesus as the Promised Savior.

Jesus patiently responds to the crowd in verses 34 – 38, and

39ONCE AGAIN they tried to arrest Him, but He got away and left them. 40He went beyond the Jordan River near the place where John was first baptizing and stayed there awhile. (emphasis added)

Isn’t that just like Jesus?  He leaves the city, leading a few chosen out into the country for some peace and quiet.   For reflection at the river.  The River of Life.

Yes! And the Bible states that many people follow Jesus there, and believe that He is their Messiah.

Why?  Because John the Baptist did not perform signs and wonders.  That was reserved for Jesus’s ministry.  But some of them get to thinking about the testimony of John once they are away from that mind-numbing distraction of THE ONCE-AGAINS:

41beverything he (John the Baptist) said about this Man has come true. (Italics added)

THE ONCE-AGAINS (those who refuse to believe that Jesus is God) are like  wolves in the sheepfold that scatter and devour the flock (John 10:12). They mimic their true father of lies (Satan).  They mock, scorn, and deny all that is Truth.  They still plot to persecute believers worldwide with murder, imprisonment, and unspeakable torture.

Our Almighty Father Above All, I thank You today that Jesus, Your Son, is sitting at Your right hand at Your throne in Heaven.  And that while He walked this earth He gave testimony to all who would listen the Words that You told Him to speak.  Thank You for Your promise to never lose a single sheep who sincerely follows Jesus. Thank You for defeating the agenda of Satan  at the cross of Calvary.   Holy Spirit, help me to be gentle in my dealings with the lost for Jesus’s sake, and for theirs. May everyone who hears Your Word listen and respond with repentance and take into their hearts the love of Jesus that abides within us for eternity. Help us to understand Your Holy Message as we study Your Word each day – In the Powerful Name of our Blessed Lord Jesus, Amen.

Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” ~ John 11:40

Another powerful “eternal security” Bible scripture is found in Romans 8:38-39.

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My Friend The Immigrant

Read Hebrews chapter 11

My friend immigrated to the United States many years ago.  He fled his country of origin, which is communistic and primarily atheistic.  His faith is Russian Orthodox.

While wandering through Europe broke and starving, my friend enlisted in the U.S. military through a program that offered legal U.S. citizenship for military service – so he is a Russian Orthodox legal immigrant, a U.S. citizen, and a veteran.

Along the way of his life he moved to Alaska, married, and raised a family.  He has children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  He built a business with nothing more than motivation and hard work, as he had no investment capital. He is far beyond typical retirement age and is still actively running the business.  Although he has some medical issues as do most seniors, he has not used his veteran’s medical benefits his entire life until just recently.  So he is a Russian Orthodox legal immigrant, a U.S. citizen, a veteran, an employer, a senior taxpayer, and a family man.

My friend’s brother complained that things were better back in the Old Country of their origins.

My friend offered, “I will buy you a one-way ticket back there today so you can leave the USA and be happier in the Old Country”.

His brother did not accept the kind offer of my friend, the Russian Orthodox-legal immigrant-patriotic U.S. citizen-veteran-employer-senior taxpayer-generous family man.

So why am I telling this story about my friend, the immigrant?

Because it reminded me of Someone Else; I have another Great Friend, Who was also an Immigrant.  He was a Foreigner who was the King of Heaven (Royalty) who came voluntarily to be born as a poor homeless naked baby in a strange town during tax time.  Only a few shepherds noticed His arrival.  Even though He was the Son of the Living God, His own countrymen rejected Him because He was not of their religion.  So He was Jesus Christ, the Promised Messiah, Son of the Living God (Founder and Head of the Christian Church), Legal Immigrant and World Citizen (Creator of All), who generously died for the sins of His followers (Veteran of All Wars) who He lovingly called His brothers (Family Man), and, oh yes! – Carpenter (Employed Taxpayer).

Jesus died so God’s children (the Church) would have a free one-way ticket to the Old Country (Heaven) where we truly will be happier than here in the good old USA or any other location on earth.  I am thankful that He so generously offered to redeem me from my sin and reward me with eternity in Heaven – something undeserved nor earned.  I accept the free gift Jesus offered to me by just believing in Him.  I know I will see Him in Heaven when my time on earth is done.  He will call me home and there will be no immigrants there – just holy citizens where Jesus will not be ashamed to be called their God.

Thank You Jesus, my Best Friend the Immigrant!  Thank you for loving me enough to die for me so I can live in Heaven with You forever.  I love you back.

But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. ~ Hebrews 11:16 NASB

Christmas Past

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Dad brought home a Christmas Tree – circa 1965

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.

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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.

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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.

Growing Up

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!god-is-good

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Dan Dyer – Blessed Be

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. ~ I Peter 1:3 KJV

Read I Peter 1:1-9.

The more we praise Abba, our Father, the more we embrace the “lively hope” of our inheritance in heaven, through the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Our praise opens the pathway for love to invade our spirits, and renews our faith.

It is only by the power of God that we are kept strong in faith until the great revealing and salvation of our souls at the second coming of Yeshua Messiah.

Prayer: Mighty are your wondrous works on our behalf, Father, and Your Name is greatly to be praised. You are YHVH, my Elohim. Not just someone else’s god; but I declare to heaven and earth forever that You are MY GOD! Thank you for Your mercy and love for all; for sending your Son Jesus to die in our place and that our sin debt is paid in full. In the matchless name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus; PRAISE! PRAISE!! PRAISE!!! Amen.

If you have not yet received God’s gift of redemption and promise of eternal life through believing in Jesus, the important stuff you need to know is found in God’s Word. He wrote you a love letter to explain what you need to do to escape eternal judgement and it is found in The Bible.  Another helpful salvation guide with more links is found at our home page..

Thank you for following ImportantStuff.live and God Bless.

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Reaching the Tipping Point

I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation. ~ Psalm 118:13-14 NIV

Even if we think that God has never done anything for us, His Name is worthy to be praised!

Sometimes in the midst of life’s defeats, people may curse God; blaming Him for calamity. When I passed this historical home in Old Town, Kenai, I had to stop and reflect: Who lived here so long ago?  Who cut the trees, and hewed the timbers?  Most likely the neighbors helped out, since that was still the culture when I arrived in Alaska over half a century ago – and this house is much, much older than that.

How did they survive the harsh climate?  There were no modern appliances or conveniences to ease their daily burdens.  Did they attend the old Russian Orthodox Church around the corner?  Were they people of faith?  Old Town is situated on the bluff overlooking Cook Inlet.  It is an old fishing town.  Was God their strength when loved ones perished at sea; or when the hunt for moose produced no meat for the winter?  How many families lived there before it had to be abandoned to the wind and snow?  It most certainly rode out the great Alaskan earthquake of 1964 also.  But finally, it succumbed, and is now teetering on the brink of collapse.

I am thankful to the Father of all, that He sent His Son, Jesus, who is the cornerstone and will never be shaken.  He is my Rock of Salvation.

The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. Lord save us! Lord grant us success! ~ Psalm 118:22-25 NIV

I sat there a long time, reflecting upon my own life’s defeats.  There have been too many to count.  Through it all, the Lord has been with me.  He picks me up, and sets me upright with my feet pointed in the direction I should have been headed – always drawing me nearer to Himself – to safety.  He does not want us to fall.

I still stray into circumstances that test my abilities to cope.  At times I feel that I am reaching the tipping point and only then remember to call upon Jesus to save me!

“What are you doing here?” He lovingly inquires.  He does not accuse me in my desperate state of exhaustion over fighting some battle on my own – in futility, without Him.

“Am I the only one?” I cry to the Lord, “Where were You?” – still casting my cares upon Him; not as an obedient servant, but as an afterthought; the bleating of a wayward lamb who lost its way again.

Are you reaching the tipping point?  Cry out to God – and quickly.  He will not linger, but rush to save us from any circumstance.  Trust in Him, for He is right there; waiting for us to call upon Him.  He is mighty to save and deserves our praise:

You are my God, and I will praise You; You are my God, and I will exalt You. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. ~ Psalm 118:28-29 NIV

 

When Nothing Makes Sense

When nothing makes sense, we can completely trust that God is in control of all that matters.

Reading scriptures Habakkuk 1-3:

The prophet Habakkuk lives in a time around 600 B.C., when Babylon is about to invade Judah.  He is extremely troubled about the time in which he lives.  For him, it is the end times.  Christ followers believe that we also live in the end times.  Habakkuk questions the Lord in chapter one about world evil much the same as believers do today:

How long, Lord, must I call for help, but You do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but You do not save? ~Habakkuk 1:2 NIV

God gives Habakkuk a revelation in chapter two – just as the Apostle John was given The Book of Revelation in the New Testament by Jesus Christ – the last book of God’s Word, our Bible:

Then the Lord replied, “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay… Look at the nations and watch – and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” ~ Habakkuk 1:2,3,5 NIV

As I watch what is going on in our world today, and the perplexing changes taking place in the nations, I am utterly amazed, just as the Lord predicted.  Nothing makes sense anymore, except God’s Word.  We must continue to watch, wait, and pray for strength like Habakkuk.

Easier said than done.  Watching the world crumble is heartbreaking.  Waiting does not mean we should complain as we wait.

Prayer: Forgive my impatience, Father, and replace my complaints with faithful expectations from Your Word. Nothing makes sense anymore but I will rejoice and trust in You. Help me to glorify You with a willing and cheerful heart for your service as I stand watch. Prepare me in Your strength with courage to face battles yet won. May I run with the fleetness of the deer as a herald with Your revelation given to a lost world and seek Your Presence at all times.  In Your Son Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.

The Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him. ~ Habakkuk 2:20 NIV

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