Sunday, April 30, 2023
The Apostle Paul had a complex relationship with the churches of Galatia. In the early stages of his ministry, he traveled to Galatia and preached the gospel, establishing several churches. However, after he left, some false teachers came to the region and began teaching that Gentile converts to Christianity needed to follow Jewish laws and customs, including circumcision. This prompted Paul to write a letter to the Galatians, urging them to reject these teachings and hold fast to the gospel he had preached to them.
In his letter, Paul emphasized that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone, not through adherence to the Jewish law. He also defended his apostolic authority and recounted his own conversion story as evidence of his message's authenticity. Despite his strong words, Paul expressed love and concern for the Galatian believers and expressed a desire for their spiritual growth and well-being.
Part of the problem that confronted the Galatians came in one of the arguments made by the Judaizers. These false teachers suggested that to live by grace and in freedom meant to live a lawless and therefore degenerate life.
Instead of understanding the true nature of Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection to atone for our sins and provide us with a way back to the Father, the Judiaizers preached that the only way to the Father was to follow the Mosaic law. This meant that anyone could get in God’s “good graces” by following the law handed down by Moses.
Paul writes, “Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?” (Galatians 3:1-4 NLT)
Paul is expressing his frustration with the Galatians for turning away from the true gospel and embracing false teachings that emphasize the importance of following Jewish laws and customs. He uses strong language, calling them "foolish" and suggesting that they have been influenced by an "evil spell."
Paul reminds the Galatians that they received the Holy Spirit not by obeying the law of Moses, but by believing the message they heard about Christ. He challenges them to think critically about their current behavior and asks them why they are trying to become perfect through their own human effort, rather than relying on the power of the Holy Spirit.
Faith is the only way to salvation. Good works cannot provide redemption. Good works are an outcome of good work. Think about it this way. If we don’t accept the Good News and rely on our good deeds to provide salvation to us, there is no need for God and His plan. Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection are meaningless if we can “win'' our salvation through good works. If we follow the Mosaic law and do not believe, we are in control of our salvation.
And go not to thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity:
Better is a neighbor that is near than a brother far off.
Saturday, April 29, 2023
Friday, April 28, 2023
Thursday, April 27, 2023
Wednesday, April 26, 2023
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." 1 Peter 2:9-10 (NIV)As the school secretary for a new Christian school, it was important to me that the students there had their memories to look back upon just as they would in a public school via a school yearbook. I enlisted the help of parents and teachers to take pictures throughout the school year, then, in the spring, I took those pictures in all the formats that I received them, and compiled them into a yearbook. It was a lot of work as I had never handled such a large scale production before and I did it all alone. It was also fun doing it alone because everyone, students and staff alike, were able to have fun discovering what was in them when we had our signing party. The theme and title of the book for the first year was "Brick Upon Brick."
Just as with building blocks or Legos, our lives come together one step, or brick, at a time. I am not an artist, but those who are have told me that they follow the ideas that are in their heads. If something doesn't work, they make changes, but before any work of art takes shape, the initial mark or stroke or lump of clay has to come first.
If you are familiar with 1 Peter 2, then you know the verses that precede the ones I have chosen today speak of the cornerstone. I did some reading about why a cornerstone is important in a masonry building. That stone orients the entire creation. It is the first stone laid and sets the direction. Before it is laid, a lot of very careful planning is done so that there is no mistake made. After that, one brick is laid upon another until the façade is complete.
Just like in a building, our lives need a cornerstone. We need a strong foundation that supports and directs us. In scripture, Jesus is that Cornerstone. When we receive Him as our Savior and Lord, align ourselves with Him and follow His teachings, then the spiritual "bricks" come together. Our Father knows which "bricks" to allow into our lives to form us into the people that He has created us to be. Just as an exquisite work of art begins with one stroke of a paintbrush, so He begins with one cell and continues building physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually until we become His masterpiece. We may not be able to see what is happening, but the Master Artist is sure and confident in what He is creating.
I have been following several things that are happening in the lives of friends and family that would at first cause me to question why. Sometimes it seems that some of those who live their lives most sincerely for the Lord experience hardships that are dumbfounding. Perhaps you or your family are encountering times of difficulty or suffering as well. My encouragement to you would be the assurance that there is One in charge who is fully aware of the burden you have been given to carry. He doesn't ask you to carry it alone rather He desires that you turn to Him and ask for His help. I cannot tell you why you are encountering this trying time, but I do believe that He will use it for His glory and to strengthen you. Stay close to the Creator. He knows what He is doing. God bless.
Tuesday, April 25, 2023
And forget not all his benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities;
Who healeth all thy diseases;
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction;
Who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
Who satisfieth thy desire with good things,
So that thy youth is renewed like the eagle.
Monday, April 24, 2023
Sunday, April 23, 2023
Yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment;
As a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed:
But thou art the same,
And thy years shall have no end.
The children of thy servants shall continue,
And their seed shall be established before thee.
Brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, let us heed the words of Peter and stay alert. Let us be on guard against the attacks of the enemy and stand firm in our faith. Let us remember that we are not alone in our struggles, and that we have a community of believers all over the world who are going through the same kind of suffering that we are. And let us trust in God's power to give us victory in our spiritual battles.
Saturday, April 22, 2023
Friday, April 21, 2023
Thursday, April 20, 2023
Wednesday, April 19, 2023
From heaven did Jehovah behold the earth;
To hear the sighing of the prisoner;
To loose those that are appointed to death;
That men may declare the name of Jehovah in Zion,
And his praise in Jerusalem;
When the peoples are gathered together,
And the kingdoms, to serve Jehovah.
When I was in the first grade, my family lived in a small two bedroom house. I shared a room with my older brother and my baby sister had a small bed in my parents' room. I still have fond memories of that little house, except for one occurrence. One day my brother and I, whose beds were in opposite corners of the room, were tossing one of my dolls back and forth. This doll was made of hard plastic and dressed like a bride. Being somewhat competitive, we were both trying to throw her harder each time. On his last throw, my brother sent her sailing through the air feet first. I wasn't quite quick enough and those feet hit me hard in the eyes. I saw nothing for awhile after that except for whirling colors. I started screaming that I couldn't see and my poor brother ran and told my parents that he had blinded me. After a few frightening moments and some cold cloths, my vision returned but I can still remember the horrible feeling of being without sight.
We live in a nation that has been blessed with religious freedom and founded on Christian principles. Our right to worship is protected my law. Churches of all denominations are spread throughout the country. The Word of God is available for all who are interested in obtaining it. Believers are tasked by God to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with the world. I know many Christians who take that task to heart and speak openly with all they come in contact with. Then I know many others who assume everyone already knows the truth, therefore there is no reason to offend anyone by forcing their beliefs upon them.
The sad truth is that, even in this nation where Bibles and churches abound, countless precious souls have been spiritually blinded by the enemy. Opposing beliefs, or the belief in no Creator at all, have become pervasive and are growing each and every day. As followers of Christ, we must stop worrying about how we are going to be received and understand that we just might be the one and only person that will approach any specific person with the love and saving knowledge of Jesus. I know it's hard. But how will they hear unless someone tells them? Satan uses lies to blind and deafen. But we have the power of Almighty God and do not have to let him steal our voices.
I will be forever grateful for the person that cared enough about me to introduce me to my Savior. Because of her, and wonderful teachers and preachers throughout my life, I have the assurance of eternal life in the presence of the Lord. That is a treasure that I want to share which is why I write these messages each week. If even just one person finds something meaningful in the words strung together then there is cause for rejoicing. Each week I pray that it will be used to encourage believers and touch the hearts of those who are searching for the truth. Oh, Lord, please embolden our hearts and give us the words to share with those around us and give sight to the spiritually blind so that they may see You clearly and be set free by the truth of Jesus. God bless.
But he layeth up deceit within him:
When he speaketh fair, believe him not;
For there are seven abominations in his heart:
Though his hatred cover itself with guile,
His wickedness shall be openly showed before the assembly.
Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein;
And he that rolleth a stone, it shall return upon him.
Tuesday, April 18, 2023
Monday, April 17, 2023
Sunday, April 16, 2023
One such story of faith being challenged and agitated is the story of Lazarus as told in John 11. This story teaches us about the power of faith and the glory of God. We see in this story that even when all seems lost, God has the power to bring new life and hope.
Jesus and his disciples are called to the town of Bethany, where Lazarus has fallen gravely ill. Jesus is deeply moved by the news of his friend's illness and wept at the sight of the grief of Lazarus' sisters, Mary and Martha. However, he reminds them that this illness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.
Even though Jesus knew that Lazarus would die, he waited for two more days before he set out for Bethany. By the time he arrived, Lazarus had already been dead for four days, and the sisters were grieving deeply. But Jesus had a plan, and he was about to reveal his glory to them.
When he arrived at the tomb, he commanded the stone to be removed, and he called out to Lazarus, "Lazarus, come out!" To the amazement of everyone present, Lazarus came out of the tomb, alive and well. This miracle proved that Jesus had power over death itself, and that those who put their faith in him would have eternal life.
The story of Lazarus reminds us that even in the darkest moments of our lives, God is with us. He hears our prayers, and he has the power to bring new life and hope. When we put our faith in him, we can be sure that he will always be there to guide us and to lift us up.
I want to share a story with you that illustrates this point. A few years ago, a young woman named Sarah was diagnosed with cancer. She was terrified and overwhelmed, and she felt like her world was falling apart. But she never lost faith in God, and she continued to pray for healing and strength.
Despite undergoing several rounds of chemotherapy and other treatments, Sarah's condition continued to worsen. Her family and friends prayed for a miracle, but they were starting to lose hope.
Then one day, Sarah received a call from her doctor. He told her that her latest scans had shown that her cancer was completely gone. It was a miracle, and Sarah knew that it was God who had healed her.
Today, Sarah is healthy and strong, and she is a testament to the power of faith and the glory of God. She knows that no matter what challenges she may face in the future, God will always be there to guide her and to lift her up. Like Sarah, we all face situations that will test our faith and make us want to give up. All of us have faced those situations at one time or another.
In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, Paul writes, "That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So, we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever."
Kurt Warner is a former NFL quarterback who is widely regarded as one of the greatest undrafted players in NFL history. He played college football at the University of Northern Iowa and went undrafted in the 1994 NFL Draft. After a few years of playing in the Arena Football League and NFL Europe, he signed with the St. Louis Rams in 1998.
In 1999, Warner became the starting quarterback for the Rams and had a breakout season, leading the team to a Super Bowl victory and earning the Super Bowl MVP award. He went on to have a successful career, playing for the Rams, New York Giants, and Arizona Cardinals. He was a two-time NFL MVP, a four-time Pro Bowler, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017.
Throughout his career, Warner was known for his strong Christian faith and his belief in the power of prayer. He has spoken publicly about how his faith helped him to persevere through setbacks and injuries, and how it gave him the strength to overcome adversity both on and off the field.
One of Warner's most well-known quotes about his faith is: "My faith is the most important thing in my life. It's the thing that gives me hope and guidance for my life, and it's the thing that allows me to be at peace no matter what happens."
He has also talked about how his faith helped him to persevere through the many challenges he faced in his football career. In an interview with The Christian Post, Warner said: "My faith has been the thing that has sustained me throughout all of the ups and downs of my career. When things were going well, it kept me grounded and humble. And when things were tough, it gave me hope and the strength to keep going."
The stories of Lazarus and Kurt Warner teach us that even in the darkest moments of our lives, we can put our faith in God and trust that He will bring new life and hope. Let us remember that God is always with us, and that He has the power to do remarkable things in our lives. When we have a faith that cannot be shaken, we can stand firm in His grace and weather the storms that we face.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
And where there is no whisperer, contention ceaseth.
As coals are to hot embers, and wood to fire,
So is a contentious man to inflame strife.
Saturday, April 15, 2023
Friday, April 14, 2023
Thursday, April 13, 2023
Wednesday, April 12, 2023
They were born in New York City, the sons of Jewish immigrant parents. In all, there were six of them. One died when he was only a few months old. You may have heard of this family. The Marx Brothers got their start in Vaudeville and four of them went on to make some of the funniest classic movies you will ever see. Though Chico, Harpo and Groucho were the most famous due to making the most movies, all of the brothers were extremely talented and also played at least one instrument.
My favorite part of any Marx Brothers movie is the instrumental scene which features Harpo. Though he was proficient in playing six instruments, he earned his nickname when he chose to specialize in playing the harp. I am always fascinated by the look on his face as his hands work to form the right notes and the beautiful piece comes together. I've seen that when I have observed other musicians, and even some artists as they create. It is a look that I imagine the Lord has as He looks at His creation while He lovingly guides His children.
We don't often think about God creating music. I have heard many sermons likening Him to an artist. Even I have used examples of our lives being tenderly and expertly woven together by His hands. But today's verse, this one verse in Zephaniah, brings us something new to consider. Can you perceive of Him singing over you?
When my daughter was born, I made up a lullaby for her. I wanted her to have a song that was hers and hers alone. I wanted it to be something that no one else would ever sing over their own little one. I have no idea how many times that tune lilted through our home. Sometimes, as she grew, she would ask me to sing it to her and I hope that meant that she considered it special because it was meant to be. I do know that she remembers it still and she is twenty-nine years old now.
Possibly, our Heavenly Father has a special song for each of us. Though created in His image, we are all individuals with our own likes and dislikes, abilities and personalities. I think each blessing from Him is a type of song written especially for the one receiving the blessing.
This I know for sure, no greater love exists than His love for us. No matter where we find ourselves, no matter what we are struggling with, no matter what we are going through at any given moment, that love is real and accessible. We are seeing things in our country that most of us have never seen before and will hopefully never see again. We don't know what will happen tomorrow, next month or next year. But...we do know the One that is never caught by surprise. He already knows how we make it through and all that He is asking from us is that we love Him and love one another.
What song is He singing to you today? Listen, maybe you will hear Him. God bless.
Tuesday, April 11, 2023
They that are mad against me do curse by me.
For I have eaten ashes like bread,
And mingled my drink with weeping,
Because of thine indignation and thy wrath:
For thou hast taken me up, and cast me away.
My days are like a shadow that declineth;
And I am withered like grass.
Monday, April 10, 2023
Sunday, April 9, 2023
Saturday, April 8, 2023
Friday, April 7, 2023
The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 5:8, "But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." This verse reminds us that God's love for us is immeasurable and unconditional. It was because of his love that he sent his only son to die for us, so that we could be saved.