Category Archives: Religion

Hoarding

Some people are serious hoarders. We’ve seen the shows about them on television. Over the years, they have stacked books, newspapers, and magazines from floor to ceiling and collected weird junk.

Now people are hoarding other commodities: toilet paper and cleaning supplies.

I think Christians, too, can hoard. I’m not talking about stockpiling reading material or paper goods, however. I’m talking about when they look at church and think, “What’s in this for me? How are you meeting my needs?”

Jesus said of Himself, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

A real mark of spiritual maturity is that you no longer perceive church, thinking about how you can be served. Instead, you look for ways to serve others. You have skin in the game. And that indicates you’re growing spiritually.

I guarantee that as you focus on helping others and ministering to others, you will be blessed.

Things You Might Not Know About Noah’s Ark

The point is, the story of Noah is well known in our culture (and well-commercialized). But we bet there are some things about this intriguing story documented in the Bible that you haven’t heard before.
Here are seven little-known facts about Noah’s Ark:

  1. NOAH IS A 10TH GENERATION DESCENDANT OF ADAM.
    While Cain and Able are probably Adam and Eve’s most famous (or infamous) kids, it’s no surprise that the couple instructed by God to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28) went on to have more children. One of these—and the only other child of Adam and Eve mentioned in the Bible by name—was Seth. In a passage of Scripture often referred to as the “Generations of Adam,” Noah is listed among the tenth generation to be born from Adam and Eve, descendants of Seth.
  2. LIFE FOR NOAH GOT PRETTY INTERESTING AFTER HIS 500TH BIRTHDAY.
    Shortly after turning 500, Noah became a father. While he was raising his family, God told him to build the ark. Shortly after turning 600 Noah, along with his wife, sons, and daughters-in-law, entered the Ark as God literally opened the floodgates.
    By the way, before the flood, people appear to have lived a very long time—many hundreds of years. In fact, Noah’s grandfather Methuselah, who died in the same year as the flood, is the oldest man mentioned in the Bible at 969 years old!
    Granted, Noah’s life in his 600’s was pretty interesting, too, since that’s when he and his family spent about a year on the Ark then disembarked to a fresh new world. But we still think that raising three boys while single-handedly building a boat a third the size of the Titanic made for a memorable century in the life of Noah.
    And speaking of the Titanic…
  3. NOAH’S ARK WAS A THIRD OF THE SIZE OF THE TITANIC.
    The Bible records the measurements of the ark in cubits. At 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high, the volume of the ark is estimated at about 1.5 million cubic feet, which is about a third of the volume of the Titanic. (By the way, bet you didn’t know that a cubit is not an exact measurement, but instead is the distance from a man’s elbow to the tip of his middle finger, typically between 18 and 21 inches).
    Some people argue that there’s no way Noah’s Ark could have held two of every kind of animal, but the numbers suggest otherwise. According to ark measurements, the big boat had about as much space as 250 railroad stock cars, which some folks have calculated can hold between 20,000 and 40,000 animals roughly the size of sheep.
  4. ARPHAXAD WAS THE FIRST POST-FLOOD BABY.
    At least he’s the first post-flood baby mentioned in the Bible. According to Genesis 11:10, Arphaxad, the son of Noah’s son Shem, was born two years after the flood.
  5. NEARLY 300 CULTURES AGREE THERE WAS A CATASTROPHIC FLOOD.
    According to scientist Dr. Duane Gish, there are more than 270 stories about a catastrophic flood from cultures around the world. Most of these stories bear similarities to the biblical story of Noah and the ark.
    Eight humans survived the flood and provided eye-witness accounts to future generations. So how did there come to be so many similar versions of the biblical account of the flood? It makes sense when you consider that in addition to the passage of time, language was confounded during the building of the Tower of Babel a couple hundred years after the Great Flood. These two factors undoubtedly contributed to the development of variants of the story.
  6. THE BIBLE TELLS US WHERE NOAH’S ARK LANDED. SORT OF.
    According the Genesis 8:4, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat, a mountain range in Turkey. Many expeditions have searched for the ark on Mount Ararat itself, while other expeditions have focused on nearby mountains in Iran.
    References to sightings of an ark in that region of the world go way back. In fact, his book, The Travels of Marco Polo, Marco Polo wrote: “In the heart of the Armenian mountain range, the mountain’s peak is shaped like a cube (or cup), on which Noah’s Ark is said to have rested, whence it is called the Mountain of Noah’s Ark. It [the mountain] is so broad and long that it takes more than two days to go around it. On the summit the snow lies so deep all the year round that no one can ever climb it; this snow never entirely melts, but new snow is for ever falling on the old, so that the level rises.”
    Bob Cornuke, president of the Bible Archaeology Search and Exploration (BASE) Institute, cites Scriptures that support idea of the Ark settling in the nearby Elborz Mountains, which stretch from the borders of Armenia to Afghanistan. In fact, during an expedition there in 2007 Cornuke and his team discovered an unusual rock formation in the side of a hill, 14000 above sea level, that has the appearance of fossilized wooden beams. The formation is about 400 feet long, which fits the size of the Ark as described in the Bible. In addition, Cornuke’s team discovered sea life around the object—including thousands of clams—which suggests that the object was once in the ocean.
  7. PEOPLE WHO HAVE SEARCHED FOR NOAH’S ARK INCLUDE HISTORIANS, AN ASTRONAUT, AND A FORMER SWAT TEAM MEMBER.
    Expeditions to find Noah’s Ark have been underway since times of antiquity and have included people from many professions and walks of life.
    For example, did you know that former American astronaut, James Irwin—the eighth man to walk on the moon—led two expeditions to find the ark in the 1980s? During the 1982 expedition, Irwin was badly injured by falling rocks and was carried to safety on a donkey.

Honesty

Some people love to talk about how well-educated they are or how successful they are or how wealthy they are. If you are having a discussion, whatever your story is, they will top your story. They know more than you do, and on and on it goes. They think they’re God’s gift to humanity.

But, as someone has pointed out, cemeteries are full of indispensable people. We’re not as great as we think we are.

In other words, think clearly. Start with an honest self-evaluation. Have a balanced, realistic view of yourself.

The problem is that we sometimes envy the spiritual gifts that God gives to someone else. Maybe God has called you to preach, but you really want to be a musician and a worship leader. Or maybe you’re a worship leader and really want to be a preacher.

Perhaps you’re working behind the scenes, but you really want to lead the class. Or you’re leading the class but really want to be working behind the scenes.

If God gave you a gift, then develop and use your gift. It’s disobedient not to use it. Don’t think you’re better than you are. On the other hand, don’t think you’re worse than you are. Instead, see yourself honestly.

He has given you a spiritual gift. So, receive the gift, thank God for the gift, and start developing the gift. And be content and thankful with the spiritual gift that God has given to you.

Worry

One must understand that I’m not different than anyone else.

If you worry, what kind of faith do you manifest? “Little faith,” according to Jesus (Matthew 6:30). If you are a child of God, you by definition have a heavenly Father. To act like you don’t, nervously asking, “What will I eat? What will I drink? What will I wear for clothing?” is to act like an unbeliever in God’s eyes.

Christians who worry believe God can redeem them, break the shackles of Satan, take them from hell to heaven, put them into His kingdom, transform their nature, and give them eternal life, but just don’t think He can get them through the next couple of days. That is pretty ridiculous. We can believe God for the greater gift and then stumble and not believe Him for the lesser one.

The Worrier Strikes Out at God

Some might say, “Why make a big deal out of worry? It’s just a trivial sin.” No, it is not. I suspect many mental illnesses and some physical illnesses are directly related to worry. Worry is devastating. But more important than what worry does to you is what it does to God. When you give in to worry you are saying, in effect, “God, I just don’t think I can trust You.” Worry strikes a blow at the person and character of God.

The Worrier Disbelieves Scripture

It breaks my heart to hear some Christians say, “I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture,” but then live as perpetual worriers. That’s blatant hypocrisy. It is incongruous to say how much we believe the Bible and then live in doubt and worry that God won’t fulfill what He has said in it.

The Worrier Is Mastered by Circumstances

When you or I worry, we are choosing to be mastered by our circumstances instead of by the truth of God. The uncertainties and trials of life pale in comparison to the greatness of our salvation. Jesus wants us to realize it doesn’t make sense to believe God can save us from eternal hell, but can’t help us in the practical matters of life. The apostle Paul reflects a similar desire in Ephesians 1:18-19.

John Ensor

This was too good not to share with everyone.

COVID-19 vs. PSALM 91

 

Getting Back to Dangerous Living and Cross-Bearing Work

COVID-19, death, social-distancing, recession, trillion-dollar spending, lost civil liberties, lost income—does not all this leave us sad beyond words? How will we move forward? Can we return to normal? Grieving, a friend wrote to me wondering if the life-saving work of PassionLife would even survive this global disruption.

I surely hope so. We are not embarrassed to pray for people’s employment. We know our reach is limited to our resources. Still, our plan is to grow our team and get back to dangerous living and cross-bearing work. This is what getting back to “normal” means.

In the last 3 months, leaders in Pakistan, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Colombia, have asked for our help to train up an army of good Samaritans in their country to rescue mothers and their unborn babies. Right now, we are rescheduling trips to Zambia and Guatemala. Besides the costs, there are risks to weigh in each of these places. Going back to China, Cuba, and Vietnam—all communist countries—bring additional challenges. But this is normal.

When it comes to decision-making and the will of God, we try to couple faith and good faith together.

As a matter of “good faith,” each member of our team works from home when not overseas, to avoid spending your gifts on rent and overhead. As a matter of good faith, we live on modest salaries and carry no debt. In good faith, our Board created a “rainy day” fund. All these reflect our human responsibility to make a good faith effort to be good stewards of your contributions.

On the good faith side of good decision making, we also list think soberly, deliberate, heed warnings, research, count the costs. Faith is not a substitute for thinking. It does not immunize you from making dumb decisions and taking unnecessary risks.

But we take it by “faith” that whatever good work that God sovereignly has prepared for us to do, he will sovereignly empower us to do, even if that means protecting us from harm, sickness and death in order to accomplish it. The same is true for you! That, I think, is how to read the bold promise of Psalm 91:2-3:

I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.

The Psalm continues with what appears to be an absurd promise that is provably false and open to mockery from this world.

Because you have made the Lord you’re dwelling place—
The Most High, who is my refuge—
No evil shall befall you,
No plague come near your tent. (91:9-10)

Does this teach that God always protects those who trust him from all harm all the time? If so, your human experience proves it false.

Before we address the all harm/all the time aspect, let’s affirm the fundamental claim of Psalm 91. It says that God is a secure defense and a faithful protector of those under his protection. What God determines will not harm you, will not harm you. “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3). When it pleases God to protect you, “under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and a buckler” (91:4). He is Almighty, meaning no other power (spiritual, biological, cataclysmic, military, etc.) can pierce his cover. Or, as Daniel 4:35 says,

His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: “What have you done?”

Seen through the lens of God’s sovereign power, the extent and scope of the promise becomes clearer. Psalm 91 teaches you to trust God to protect you from every evil that would prevent you from accomplishing his sovereign purposes for your life.

Let’s consider a few examples to see Psalm 91 in action. After 400 years of oppression at the hands of the Egyptians, it was God’s sovereign will to deliver Israel and, at the same time, render judgement. Exodus 6:6 says, “God said to Israel, ‘I am the Lord…and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched hand and with great acts of judgement’” (Ex 6:6). To this end, God did not merely allow a deadly pestilence to sweep in, he sent it. But in doing so, he protected the Israelites from all harm. God told them to shelter in their homes and put the blood of a lamb on their doorposts, as a sign of their trust in Him. To this day, to celebrate Passover is to declare that God is able (Almighty) to prevent all harm to those under his protection.

Consider another example. Psalm 91:13 points to being protected from predators. “You will tread on the lion and the adder: the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.”

This bold promise does not make me want to join the snake-handlers (may they rest in peace). But the promise makes me bold to think that in completing God’s purposes for my life, God will protect me, even from snakes and spiders and predators, if need be.

For example, Jesus sent his disciples out on a mission, to go from town to town and declare the coming of the Lord. They returned from their mission rejoicing over the power of God. Jesus confirmed their joy, saying, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you” (Lk 10:19). It was not a blanket promise (as their martyrdom would later show) but it was an application of Psalm 91. I would summarize the Psalm this way:

If you put your hope in God and trust in his commandments, nothing bad can happen to you, that is not good for you.

Acts 27-28 provides another real-life example of Psalm 91at work. As a prisoner, the apostle Paul was being sent to Rome when the ship encountered such a fierce tempest that Luke writes, “all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned” (Acts 27:20). But God informed Paul that he was to testify of Christ before Caesar in Rome (27:24). The terrible storm lasted 2 weeks, yet Paul encouraged all on board to eat and trust in God. “Not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you” (27:34). The story ends, “And so it was that all were brought safely to land” (27:44).

Only the story does not end there, in terms of illustrating Psalm 91. Luke writes,

After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god” (Acts 28:1-6). (Emphasis added.)

Paul was rescued from a deadly shipwreck and treated to a warm fire. While adding sticks to it, a deadly, poisonous viper bit into him. The people expected him to swell up and die. “He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm” (28:6).

Viewed through the lens of God’s sovereignty, Psalm 91 becomes a sweet promise of protection designed to fuel bold obedience to God’s calling.

You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you. (91:5-7)

Again, let’s view these promises of protection in 3-D. Throughout the ministry of Jesus, many people, mostly religious leaders, tried repeatedly to harm him. For example, John 7:30 says, “They were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come” (John 7:30).

Jesus was protected from all evil, right up until the hour when evil—being murdered— fit into God’s sovereign good plan for Jesus. Then, as Peter says, “This Jesus—delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23).

Under the Almighty protection of God, nothing bad was allowed to happen to Jesus until it was good for Jesus (and us).

Last fall, I set off for my 29th trip to China the day after Thanksgiving. I was about 200 miles from Wuhan as the deadly outbreak spread. I returned home in mid-December with a planeload of people from China. I have not had a sniffle from Thanksgiving till now. God has protected me from sickness and death.

Why? I assume, (take by faith) that I am spared for now because he has more for me to do, and hopefully, more for us to do together.

“John, are you saying that you are impervious to COVID-19 simply because you trust in God?”

No, I’m not saying that.

Psalm 91 calls us to trust in God’s protection, not test it. Trusting in God does not make us impervious to dangers and foolish enough to try to prove ourselves invincible before unnecessary dangers.

Psalm 91 simply makes us unafraid in the face of inherent dangers, from faithfully doing, as best as we can, what we perceive God has prepared for us to do for his name’s sake.

You have rightly got hold of Psalm 91 if you say…God will protect me from all that would prevent me from doing what he has prepared for me to do.

Let’s call this the new normal!

Trust

As we allow ourselves to trust God more deeply, we will increasingly find that with Him, we can endure anything.

The key to such rock-solid faith is an intimate relationship with God. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Upon salvation, we are grafted into the vine of Christ, which means that His Spirit lives and works in us and provides a constant connection between Father and child. Abiding in God gets us through hard times.

However, we have to choose to tap into that power. Trying to keep things from God’s control could interfere with His plans and cause our relationship with Him to grow distant. But when we commit to knowing God through prayer, meditation, and obedience, His power flows through us, like sap through a branch, bringing new growth. 

Intimacy helps us trust the Lord when life gets difficult. And the more we abide—especially during hard times—the more we grow into unshakeable “oaks of righteousness” (Isa. 61:3).

God’s Word

God’s Word is clear—believers are not to be given over to anxiety. But it’s not simply a cold, abrupt command to stop worrying. Scripture is clear that we shouldn’t focus on the plans, needs, and uncertainties of tomorrow, but it’s also clear about where our focus should be instead.

This is what Jesus said to His followers, and the same instructions hold true for us today: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

In other words, focus your thoughts and your energy on the Lord’s plans and purposes, and He will take care of your physical needs. God wants to free His children from being preoccupied with the mundane. Colossians 3:2 says as directly as possible, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” A worldly, materialistic Christian is a contradiction in terms.

Seeking God’s kingdom is to be our first priority. It means doing what you can to promote God’s rule over His creation. That includes manifesting His rule in your life through “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). When the world sees those virtues in your life instead of worry, it is evidence of the Lord’s work in you, and it testifies to the priorities of your heart. You can tell people about the gospel all you want, but if your life is marked by anxiety and fear, they will not believe you have anything they need. They will question the power and love of the Lord.

It’s not easy to cast your cares on the Lord and trust Him to supply all your needs. But it’s what He’s commanded us to do through His Word. And in a world consumed with worry and fear, an anxiety-free life adorns the gospel and magnifies the Lord.

Look at your life objectively—where do you spend most of your time? What consumes your thoughts? Where do you put your energy and resources? The daily pattern of your life says a lot about what matters to you, what you hope for, what you put your trust in, and what you truly love.

One way or another, your life is a testimony to those around you. What does yours say about your faith, your fears, and your priorities?

God’s Church

I thank God for the church. I know we’re not perfect, but we’re still the best thing going. There’s nothing like the church. And let’s remember that Jesus started the church.

In a technical sense, it’s an organization, but it’s actually a family. As believers, as members of the family, we each have a role. Even when we can’t meet in person, we need the church, and the church needs us. It’s here that we discover and develop our spiritual gifts that we can use for God’s glory.

However, there’s a difference between spiritual gifts and natural abilities. We are all born with certain abilities. Some people are naturally athletic while others are artistic or have musical talent.

Some people are good at details or good at crunching numbers, but everyone is born with certain abilities and talents that God gave them. Although, there’s a difference between God-given talents and spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit.

Here’s what the Bible says in Romans: Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well

We are not all the same. Aren’t you glad of that? And we all have a part to play through the church with our spiritual gifts.

Don’t fall

I remember a time when I was coming down some stairs and one of them was a different distance apart than the others and I fell.

The thing was, I wasn’t planning on falling. And a lot of times that happens to us spiritually. People fall, and they weren’t planning on it. But maybe they were setting themselves up for a fall.

I think when a person falls away spiritually, it’s because there’s neglect in their spiritual life. Because they’re failing to move forward, they naturally (but not immediately) start going backward.

Then one day they wake up and say, “How did I end up in this state? How did I end up in this place I’m in? I don’t remember when this happened.” That’s because it happened gradually.

The Bible warns about backsliding in Jeremiah 2:19: Your own wickedness will correct you, and your backslidings will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing that you have forsaken the Lord your God, and the fear of Me is not in you,’ says the Lord God of hosts

Then, in Jeremiah 3:22, God says, Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.

We need to be on guard against this, because the Bible says that one of the signs of the last days will be people falling away from the faith. We want to be very careful that we don’t become those people. And if you’re not moving forward, then you’re automatically going backward.

Holds us back

Sometimes what holds us back from fulfilling God’s command is our limited experiences and understanding. We may act according to logic, but God calls us to obey in faith. For example, rational thought might lead people to avoid missions in a foreign country because it isn’t safe. Or perhaps there’s a language barrier. But Jesus said, The things that are impossible with people are possible with God (Luke 18:27). He is fully aware of our human limitations, so He provides guidance, wisdom, and strength to accomplish His will.

The church is to share the gospel, and God will call individuals to fulfill this commission in different ways. We’re all to participate through prayer and giving, and some are also called to action. Pray for direction and wisdom in communicating the good news of salvation to the world. The Holy Spirit will lead and empower you.

Getting involved

I here people say, I don’t need to go to church, or how is this one? I have a special understanding with God so I don’t need a church. Can you think of more excuses people come up with? I can think of a lot. In fact I was one of them at one time. I had a thousand of them.

That is what can happen to us as followers of Christ. When we’re fellowshipping with God’s people, we move in harmony. Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolating. We still need to pray for one another and encourage one another, even if that means a text message or a phone call.

But when you’re the straggler, when you neglect contact with other believers, you’re “following at a distance.” And that’s where you can get into trouble.

When you get involved with your church family, you develop friendships with Christian brothers and sisters. What’s more, you have accountability and people to pray for you and help you through life.

So, engage. Be a part of what God is doing. Don’t be the person who isolates, the one that has too much of the world to be happy in the Lord but too much of the Lord to be happy in the world. That’s a miserable no-man’s-land. Don’t be the straggler.

Humble

Here’s something to file under “weird but true”: “Humble” and “oppressed” are the same word in the Bible. We don’t usually think of these two concepts as having anything to do with each other. Yet when Israel is enslaved and oppressed four hundred years in Egypt, it’s the same term used as when Israel is called to humble their souls before God, emphasis added. How are these two ideas related?

A humble person puts others first, which Jesus took a step further by laying down His life for us. An oppressed person is afflicted, mistreated, and persecuted. At first glance, these two people seem to have nothing in common, so let’s take a closer look to uncover the connection.
Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, Jesus tells us, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. Jesus is not inventing this idea out of thin air; it’s a major theme throughout the Bible. Pride and humility are often contrasted with one another. Consider these examples from Proverbs:

A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.

When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom

Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, but humility goes before honor

Salvation

We’re all unworthy of salvation. There is nothing we could ever do to merit God’s forgiveness and acceptance. However, He bridged the gap of sin that separated us and Him. We didn’t deserve this act of love; God did it on His own, motivated by His unfailing grace.

It would be a tragic error to think we had to make ourselves more presentable without first depending on Christ to enter our life. Jesus didn’t say, Go clean yourselves up, get some rest, and then come to Me, did He? Rather, He opened His arms and said, Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. (Matt. 11:28).

Jesus didn’t wait until we deserved Him, He knew that we never could. Instead, He gave Himself freely for all mankind and extended an invitation for every sinner, just as he or she is, to come to Him and find rest.

Our heavenly Father

The heavenly Father desires to have an intimate relationship with each one of His children. We get to enjoy this closeness by engaging with Him in His Word and in prayer. Intimacy comes from a deepening fellowship that leads to our greater understanding of God, His Word, and His will for our life. As we spend time with Him and obey Him, He begins to conform us to His image. Then He works through us, and we reflect Him to those around us, like a light set on a lampstand (Matt. 5:14-16).

Don’t allow yourself to be satisfied just with being saved from wrath. The Lord desires that we know Him intimately, and He calls each of us to step out in faith and commitment. He wants us to be characterized like Abraham, who is tenderly described as a friend of God (2 Chron. 20:7).

Good Morning

The official lockdown started March 23 and will likely end on May 1st. That is EXACTLY 40 days.

The Latin root of the word “quarantine” is “forty”.
So what does the Bible say about 40?
The flood lasted 40 days.
40 years Moses fled Egypt.
40 days Moses stayed on Mount Sinai to receive the Commandments.
Exodus lasted 40 years.
Jesus fasted for 40 days.
40 days for a woman to rest after giving birth.
The optimum number of weeks for human gestation is 40.
A group of theologians thinks the number 40 represents “change”. It is the time of preparing a person, or people, to make a fundamental change.
Something will happen after these 40 days. Just believe and pray. Remember, whenever the number 40 appears in the Bible, there is a “change”.
Please know that during this “quarantine” rivers are cleaning up, vegetation is growing, the air is becoming cleaner because of less pollution, there are less theft and murder, healing is happening, and most importantly, people are turning to Christ. The Earth is at rest for the first time in many years and hearts are truly transforming.
Remember we are in the year 2020, and 20 + 20 = 40.
Also, 2020 is the year of the United States Census. Jesus Christ, the savior of the world, was born during a census.
Lastly, 2020 is a perfect vision. May our sight focus on the Lord and living according to His perfect vision for us knowing He holds us in the palm of His hand.

Christianity

We had a wonderful service at our church not to long ago and our pastor started talking about WWJD. Great sermon but it started my mind going in many different ways.

So then, you do probably remember the What Would Jesus Do? trend from the late 90s. It seemed everywhere you looked, plastered across T-shirts, hats, jewelry, and all kinds of other merchandise, the WWJD slogan was a blithe, shallow reminder to live up to Christ’s moral code.


Christianity is not about mere morality.

It’s about the atoning work of Christ on our behalf. With that in mind, we can ask much better and more sanctifying questions, like What did Jesus do? and What did He say? Our ability to avoid and defeat sin comes not from imagining Christ in our circumstances but from obeying His clear commands and following the example of His life in Scripture. Knowing what Jesus said about sin is key to overcoming it.

Jesus commanded His followers, Do not be worried about your life, as to-what you will eat or what you will drink, nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”

Don’t be anxious about this temporal world, and the food, clothing, and shelter associated with it. Jesus said previously, Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21).

Focusing on earthly treasures produces earthly affections. It blinds our spiritual vision and draws us away from serving God. That’s why God promises to provide what we need.

It usually takes some kind of disaster, like the massive storm or even the pandemic, to shake loose the cobwebs of sustained comfort and remind us that our basic necessities are often abundant, but never guaranteed. And even then, such disasters usually amount to only a temporary interruption of our normal routine.

So many people in our society are totally consumed with the body, they decorate it, build it up, extravagantly clothe it, put it in a nice car, send it off to a nice house, stuff it full of food, sit it in a comfortable chair, hang a bunch of jewelry all over it, take it out on a boat, let it swim, teach it to ski, take it on a cruise, and so on. But life is not contained in those things; it transcends all the externals. Life comes from God, and the fullness of life from Jesus Christ.

So where do you stand.

Sharing

To think that God Almighty would speak through someone like you or me is a great privilege. It is an honor to go and tell others about Jesus.

The gospel was not designed to be hoarded; it was designed to be shared. You were blessed to be a blessing. Therefore as you take in, you need to give out that message again so others can come into a relationship with God.

One of the greatest joys you will ever experience, next to knowing the Lord Himself, is when you have the privilege of telling someone about Christ.

It can be intimidating to share your faith with others, even scary sometimes. But Jesus has called us to do it. And His calling is also His enabling.

So what should we do now?

Next few weeks I will share the good news to all who care to know or learn.

Wisdom

James 2: 18-24

I love the book of James. It’s a short one but packed with so much wisdom. So I will outline what he’s telling us. This is the cool part.

James continues making the point that genuine, living faith in Christ results in a believer beginning to participate in good works. That is, Christians begin to obey their Father and love other believers as they love themselves.

James also makes a case that how one acts, their works are a sign of the kind of faith they possess. So called faith which doesn’t lead a person to participate in good works is not a saving faith, it is a dead thing. It is pointless and meaningless to believe, or wish, a poverty stricken person to be well, if such an opinion leads to no action. In exactly the same way, James insists that it is not enough to mentally agree about certain facts of God.

If what a person believes about God does not lead them to act accordingly, then their faith is not saving faith. It is merely opinion. James never says that faith is not essential for salvation. He never claims works are required to obtain or keep salvation. He is, however crystal clear that truly saving faith cannot be separated from the evidence of good works.

If you agree or not please let me know. I want to make sure I’m getting it right.

I want the final word

I felt that I needed to write about this. Everyone always thinks they are right and the other person is wrong. Our country politics and the office the politicians serve in are the worst. I personally have sin in this area a lot myself. Sometimes I say something that I don’t know all the facts about, a certain subject, but then I just go on and say what I think. Sometimes I do know all the facts, and then I try to beat down someone thinking they will see my way. In both cases its wrong.

It feels good to have the final word in an argument, but that sense of satisfaction doesn’t last very long. Usually, everyone involved ends up feeling bad. In such situations, meekness is possible only with self-control and discernment.

Yet living with meekness doesn’t mean that we set aside boldness or action. Instead, it requires us to evaluate when to assert ourselves and when to trust. Jesus doesn’t call us to be silent in the face of injustice. But perhaps He is calling us to understand when we should hold back on our opinions in order to genuinely hear someone. If we want healthy relationships, it’s important to display meekness. This requires that we refrain from reacting too quickly and discern how to respond wisely.

Think about it
• When you’re arguing, it takes a lot of energy to remain humble instead of saying something hurtful or aggressive. This week, ask God to reveal ways you might display meekness in such moments.

• James 1:19-21 offers practical wisdom about listening, taking action, and avoiding anger. How might this advice help you remain meek in difficult situations?

is

It feels good to have the final word in an argument, but that sense of satisfaction doesn’t last very long. Usually, everyone involved ends up feeling bad. In such situations, meekness is possible only with self-control and discernment.

Yet living with meekness doesn’t mean that we set aside boldness or action. Instead, it requires us to evaluate when to assert ourselves and when to trust. Jesus doesn’t call us to be silent in the face of injustice. But perhaps He is calling us to understand when we should hold back on our opinions in order to genuinely hear someone. If we want healthy relationships, it’s important to display meekness. This requires that we refrain from reacting too quickly and discern how to respond wisely.  

Think about it
• When you’re arguing, it takes a lot of energy to remain humble instead of saying something hurtful or aggressive. This week, ask God to reveal ways you might display meekness in such moments. 

Believers or Not

Sometimes nonbelievers have more faith than believers do. And sometimes they understand what we believers are supposed to believe better than we understand it.

It’s a bad thing when a nonbeliever calls us out on our behavior. It’s a bad thing when a non-Christian says, Excuse me, I thought you were a Christian. And the hardest thing of all is when they’re right.

Jesus said, You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men” (Matthew 5:13).

Salt that isn’t salty is, well, worthless. And a Christian who isn’t following Christ is pretty worthless too.

You know, there’s nothing more pathetic than a Christian who has lost their testimony. It’s even worse than a person who never had one.

We Are Under Attack

2 Timothy: 3 1-17
The church is constantly under attack by the enemy, who influences the world to fight against our beliefs. Therefore, we must be willing to stand for our biblical convictions. When we watch the news, whether domestic or international, we can sometimes detect initiatives to bring down the Christian faith.Ideological threats are a very real part of the arsenal used against Christians. As believers, we are under the guidance of Jesus Christ, and the way we fight is not with physical weapons but with the Word of God. We are His representatives, and there isn’t room for compromise with a self-indulgent culture. Instead, we should live in obedience to God and His Word. Therefore, we must be careful not to get caught up in the widely accepted values of our culture and those around us.

We need to remain strong regarding God’s truth. Then we’ll know what’s true and what’s not and be willing to take a stand for Him, regardless of the consequences. Genuine convictions are unaffected by the times, the values of the culture, or the popularity of current ideas. Christian beliefs aren’t always popular, and defending them can be uncomfortable. But remember that the Lord promises to be with us.

 

Difficult Times Will Come”

1- But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2- For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3- unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4- treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5- holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6- For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7- always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8- Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. 9- But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.

10- Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11- persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 12- Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13- But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14- You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15- and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16- All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17- so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

 

Noisy Demands

Unless we make an effort to retreat from life’s noisy demands for a moment or two, our ability to hear God’s voice will likely be weakened. Jesus was well aware of this need to pull away regularly to pray and meditate on Scripture. In teaching the disciples how to pray, Jesus told them to go into their rooms and close the door behind them (Matt. 6:6). He knew that in order to commune with the Father, “decluttering” our schedules and thoughts was vital.

You and I are blessed and cursed with constant communication through our phones, tablets, and computers. But true communion with the Lord demands some seclusion. So let’s turn off the TV, music, and phone notifications, and listen for God’s voice. Claim a block of time for the heavenly Father today, even if you start with only five minutes.

Gods Will

God’s will for us includes His fundamental call to stillness. When we are quiet in His presence, we put ourselves in the most teachable position possible. It’s where we are most able to discern His Spirit. 

Are you too busy to hear from God? Remember that He can accomplish far more through a surrendered spirit than we can in 24 hours of frenetic activity—even when our efforts are intended to benefit His kingdom. Acknowledge your dependence on the Lord, and rest. What you’ll discover in the stillness is a Savior who promises He is enough. 

Jesus as Wisdom

Jesus is stated as Wisdom in the New Testament.


The writers of the New Testament often identify Jesus with Wisdom. Paul’s reference to Jesus as the “Wisdom of God” in 1 Corinthians 1:24 may be an explicit statement to that effect. However, in light of 1 Corinthians 1:30, Paul may not have meant to identify Jesus specifically with the Wisdom of Prov 8: “But from him, you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom to us from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”

Paul here simply seems to include Wisdom in a list of theological themes. Since Paul may have derived his notion of Jesus as co-Creator (Col 1:16; 1 Cor 8:6) from other sources, many hesitate to attribute a fully developed “Wisdom Christology” to Paul.
Luke 11:46–51 provides a much more striking example. This text, specifically Luke 11:49, directly refers to the personified Wisdom of God in Prov 8:

True wisdom would be us getting back to reading the Word of God daily. 

Problems

Ephesians 6:18 tells us, Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Even when things are bad, God is still good. So we can give praises to Him because of that.

Maybe you feel like you’re wrapped up with problems right now. You can’t see any way out of your particular circumstances. Know this: Your situation isn’t hopeless. God can come into your life and change your entire story.

** SIN **

For a long time, King David suppressed his sin…the sin of conspiracy to commit murder, and adultery; both sins that were punishable by death in Israel, but even though David took a long time in confessing these sins, and it took Nathan the Prophet to finally penetrate his conscience, David was miserable.

In perhaps one of the greatest prayers of repentance, David wrote, “I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me”(Psalm 51:3), showing that his unconfessed sin was a burden that wouldn’t go away, saying that “when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long”(Psalm 32:3).

He told God, it was like, all “day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer” (Psalm 32:4). Unconfessed sin has similar effects our human relationships, so how much more does it affect our relationship with God?

We All Have A Job

The Bible tells us there will be a judgment when we are in Heaven.

It almost will be like an awards ceremony. But the question is this: How will we be awarded? It won’t be so much about quantity; it will be about quality. In other words, it will be about our motives.

God has given each of us a job to do. He won’t hold me accountable for what He has called you to do. And He won’t hold you accountable for what He has called me to do. But He will hold each of us accountable for the responsibilities, opportunities, and resources He has given to us.

The Bible tells us, “Each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is” (1 Corinthians 3:13 NKJV).

So if you have built on the right foundation and used what God gave you, then you will receive a reward. And if you haven’t done that, then you won’t. We want to be able to hear the Lord say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Jesus Christ could come back at any time. And I believe that we need to make sacred and wise use of every opportunity. I urge you to think about your life. Think about your legacy. Think about what matters.

No one is guaranteed another day. So live the way you ought to be living today. Make your life count. Leave your legacy.