With every season

Seasons change and we’re not always ready for it. But the fact that they change is inevitable. Daughters become little girls overnight. The journey from the hospital room to your little boy’s one year birthday party seems like a flash. People come and go in our lives. Loss happens in an instant. Relationships change and evolve. Pandemics can sweep the world. It’s best to not fight change but to expect it. The only constant in life is the One Who originated life. He is who we cling to in the hard seasons of change. He is who we cling to in the celebrations of life.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭13:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Let Jesus be your constant in the ever changing seasons of life. Peace in Christ brothers and sisters.

Be Refreshing

“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭1:11-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Being around other believers is irreplaceable. We need each other to get through tragedies, bear the weights of life, and move towards Jesus and a more consistent manner. And it’s good to stop and reflect on our own personal impact on others in the faith. I we someone who refreshes and encourages? Our effect on others is not a sub issue of faith, it’s paramount. Our faith is never meant to be kept to ourselves. As part of God’s family, we are a transport of spiritual nutrition to those around us. Jesus compared us to a well overflowing with living water. Never should we be guilty of draining life from one’s heart because we are connected to the author of life Himself. To be refreshing to others, we too must be refreshed in Jesus and through His people.

Peace in Christ

Where am I looking?

It’s easy to look to the things we see or the people we know to be our source of assurance. People are created to have hope. We cling to whatever we can in desperate moments. We seek all our lives to find the things that bring us comfort and confidence in our present circumstances. Be it a person, a place, a thing, a status, a relationship, or even an accomplishment, everyone hopes in something or someone.

There’s always needs arising for people to find hope. At any given moment in history there have been wars, famines, pandemics, economic turmoil, slavery, and the threat of evil ideologies and the effects they have on human life. They may not always look exactly the same but our world is always in need of hope.

God’s people are supposed to be known for finding their hope in one source alone-God. The Bible is full of stories where that did not happen. Look at any believers life and you will see moments when that did not happen. None of us are immune from the plagues of self-reliance and materialism. In my reading this morning I came across one such story. It’s in the book of Ezekiel where the prophet is rebuking the nation for trusting in Egypt rather than God for their security. In chapter 29, God promises to bring down Israel’s neighboring powerhouse so that they will no longer have them as a weak crutch to lean on.

“Egypt will no longer be a source of confidence for the people of Israel but will be a reminder of their sin in turning to her for help. Then they will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.’ ”” Ezekiel‬ ‭29:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God takes seriously His people’s tendency to misplace their trust and hope. Jesus rebuked those who trusted in anything other than God…like those who trust in money (Matthew 6:19-21), in religious heritage (Matthew 3:9), or in their religious ‘goodness’ (Mark 13:1-2). Confidence in anyone or anything other than God’s goodness and faithfulness is an issue of misplaced loyalties. Like the Israelites of old, we have to safeguard our hearts from wandering the path of false security.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalms‬ ‭46:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters

Who is God for?

LetYourLightShine

Have you ever pondered the question of whether or not God was for you? What does that exactly mean? Are we asking if God is in support of what we want or how we would like our lives to turn out? How about during strife with someone else? Do we wonder if God would take our side in the ordeal? Maybe He’s for our career pursuits? In times of war, is He for our nation’s cause or the other?

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  Romans 8:31 NIV

I think its very important to understand the context of this passage in Romans. I hear or read people quote it often and quite a lot it seems to be thrown around pretty loosely to apply to almost anything. Yes, God is for us. But what does that mean? If you read the entirety of chapter 8 (in light of all of the Book of Romans) we are being told that God is for our spiritual transformation and our eternal destination. Those are the two things God wants more than anything for every person in His creation. No matter how much we run away, God wants us back. No matter how much we bring shame to His name or ridicule His holiness with our lives, He wants us back. God is for us in the best possible way. God is always faithful and God is always true. Instead of wondering if God is for us, we should focus on whether or not we are for Him.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters

Jesus: The Passover Lamb of God

the-pre-passover-meal

This Wednesday marked the beginning of an 8-day celebration of God’s salvation. The celebration’s first day is called Passover. It is the day that honors two incredible events in which our God rescued His creation. The first came thousands of years ago when God brought Israel out of Egypt after bringing the world’s mightiest empire to its knees. It came after a series of plagues designed to deface the gods of Egypt and show God’s glory. The second event came about 2000 years ago in the person of Jesus. This was the greater Passover. The target was not Egypt, it was sin and death. It wasn’t meant to free us from just a temporal slavery, but a spiritual and eternal one. It didn’t defeat the gods of an empire but the Prince of evil himself…satan. Both required blood…the blood of a lamb…but the one was far more precious. A couple days later, many around the world come together for what is referred to as Good Friday. It honors the sacrifice and death of Jesus of Nazareth…both man and divine…God in the flesh. Passover is the event on which Good Friday’s sacrifice took place. Because Jesus is the Passover Lamb of God.

The following are parallels between the lamb in the Feast of Passover as described in Exodus chapter 12 and the ultimate Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ. It’s great evidence that the Passover in Egypt was meant to prepare the world for the coming Messiah. Enjoy the study!

Connection Old  New
The Lamb Exodus 12:3 John 1:29

1 Cor. 5:7

Chosen ahead of time Exodus 12:3 1 Peter 1:20-21
Without Blemish Exodus 12:5 1 Peter 1:17-19

2 Cor. 5:21

Thoroughly Examined Exodus 12:6 Luke 22:66-23:15
Killed by the people Exodus 12:6 John 19:12-16
Killed in the evening Exodus 12:6 Mark 15:33-39
The Lamb’s blood was shed Exodus 12:7 Luke 22:14-20
The blood saves us from God’s Judgement Exodus 12:7, 12-13 Hebrews 9:13-14

1 John 1:7

Revelation 1:4-6

Hebrews 10:19-22

Romans 3:21-26

Ephesians 1:7

Romans 5:6-9

ALL of Revelation 5

Neither Ignorant nor Fearful

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I have noticed two very contrasting views of the current pandemic. Some speak out in an apathetic tone almost in a way to scoff at the coronavirus. I’ve heard claims from people about COVID19 not being a big deal or that its a media-driven hysteria that’s not really worth worrying about. These are those who refuse to take precautions and who may even make fun of or ridicule those who do. On the other end, there are those who are in a sheer panic. They’ve stocked up and barricaded themselves. They are the ones emptying the shelves of the grocery stores and feeding the worldwide anxiety. Both extremes shield themselves from reality. and for followers of Jesus, we shouldn’t find ourselves in either one of these camps.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  James 3:17 NIV

Ignorance is never a beneficial approach to…well…anything. People who downplay the significance of this pandemic are simply promoting a lack of respect and compassion for those whose lives have been shattered and the wreckage it has left behind in their families. More than likely, their own convenience is driving much of their attitude. No doubt, many have been forced to make huge sacrifices. This is difficult on so many levels. For Christians, our hearts should be turned towards prayer for the hurting and action to do what we can to help those in need. The last thing Christians should ever be doing is complaining and downplaying while so many have been devastated. The coronavirus IS a BIG deal. Let’s promote mercy and be considerate of others. That’s wisdom from above.

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.  2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

Fear cripples people. It’s so hard to watch somewhat riddled with worry. It consumes their thoughts. They believe that the worst is not only probable but imperative. For a Christian to be paralyzed by fear is contrary to the very Spirit within us. Whether it’s through heavenly wisdom or heavenly power, the believer is driven by compassion and love and the pursuit of peace. Fear prevents people from those things. And so does ignorance. In this time of hardship that’s ravishing the world, let’s not be part of the problem by being ignorant of fearful. Let’s be lovers of peace and truth. Let’s hold fast to the anchor of our faith…Jesus…and share Him with the world. In the darkest of times, the light of Jesus’ followers should shine brightest.

Peace in Christ loved ones

The salvation equation

 

Have you ever tried to “add” to our salvation? What I mean by that is you think you need to accomplish something in order to seal your salvation. There’s a stark contrast between adding to our faith and adding to our salvation. Passages like 2 Peter chapter one and James chapter two can make people think that somehow there’s an equation associated with salvation. Something like Jesus plus…(you fill in the blank) equals me being saved.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

For me, I struggle with a perfectionist mentality. I can’t stand doing something less than extremely well. When I don’t, which is often, I feel a sense of failure. When it comes to my relationship with Jesus, I’ve based my sense of well-being on how well I’m doing as a follower. Some of the factors that affect my perception are things like how often I’m serving those in need, how much prayer time I’m devoting, if I’m keeping up on my Bible plans, if I’ve devoted a lot of time to worship or not, and how well I’ve treated others. No one would argue that those aren’t all great things, right? But nowhere in the Bible does it say that my salvation is based on my relationship with Jesus PLUS how many times I pray or sing worship songs or serve the homeless.

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:12 NIV

All of us have been guilty of pursuing holiness as a means of being in the presence of Jesus. All that amounts to is self-righteousness which is no righteousness at all. The only true righteousness is that which is imparted by faith in Christ. Everything else is but filthy rags according to scripture. It’s being touched by God that makes us holy and it’s because we’ve been made holy that we start acting accordingly. Isaiah, a devout man of God, (probably far more than any of us here tonight) knew that nothing he had done could possibly warrant Him being in the presence of God’s holiness in the temple. That privilege had to be granted by God alone. The same goes for Moses before the burning bush as he stood on holy ground.

“Holiness is not the way to Christ, Christ is the way to holiness.”

Charles Spurgeon

We need a humble heart that knows our need, not a puffed-up spirit built on the backs of all we’ve accomplished. We have to stop thinking that we add to or earn our salvation in any way. And we also can’t be people who seek to push a similar agenda on innocent believers and non-believers alike. The Apostle Paul was appalled by such people. There were those in the first century, and every century since, who were pushing a message of “now that you have Jesus you still need all of these other things in order to be saved.” Paul rebuked these people. Just check out Colossians 2, Galatians 1, and 2 Corinthians 11 if you want to see exactly what I’m referring to.

Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

John 14:6 NASB

It all boils down to this: if we say, in any way, that Jesus plus ___ equals salvation, we are devaluing Jesus. His sacrifice is all-sufficient. His blood cleanses us from sin. His life gives us life. He makes us children, and heirs. It was Him who ransomed you and me from the grave and In the end, it will be Jesus who ransoms this world. That is the message we carry and we need to share with the world, and with ourselves.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB

Jesus plus NOTHING equals salvation. Walk in that freedom brothers and sisters.

Crutch or Cure


I know many people, and I myself have been included in this list, who have viewed their relationship with Christ as a crutch; the idea of grace as merely a “go-to” when they’ve messed up. The Christian life, in the eyes of these misled men and women, is powerless and not that different to the life they had before Christ. Sure, there is thankfulness for the gift of a savior who they can fall back on or “lean on” when their life isn’t going too well or they’re caught up in some bad decisions. However, Jesus is placed in a box, their Christian walk also in a box only to come out in certain settings or around certain people, and there are areas of their lives labeled “off-limits.” These people are surprised when they can’t seem to get out of the addictions that have plagued them or continue to make the same bad decisions day after day or month after month. These people are stuck.


Jesus is not our crutch, He is our cure! A cure is defined as a means of healing or restoring to health and/or a remedy. Accepting Jesus into our hearts is not like buying insurance, it’s like open-heart surgery (Ezekiel 36:26). Grace is not merely a means of being forgiven by God, but a powerful force of change in our lives (Titus 2:11-14). The Christian life is not about covering up the old self but nailing it to the cross (Galatians 2:20). The call by Jesus is not, “I’m here whenever you need me,” it’s more like, “die to your old self and come after me and you’ll experience a life you’ve never imagined possible!” (John 10:10) Jesus came to make us new, to cure us of the old sinful desires, to help us overcome, to give us the power to be more than conquerors! We don’t have to sin, or be passive, or follow after the lusts of this world because Christ set us free from all of that!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

2 Corinthians 5:17

Eyes on the Prize

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What matters most in life? Is it our health and wellbeing?  How about our legacy? Maybe it’s the good things we do for others or the longevity of our time here on earth. All of us answer the question solely based on our worldview. Our worldview informs our place in this world and the purpose of our existence. It’ll determine the things we pursue and how we measure success. It’ll either help us through hard times or leave us blowing in the wind. In the challenging times that we live, we need to be able to answer this question.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  Colossians 3:1-2 ESV

For believers in Jesus, our view of the world and our place in it should never change. Viruses, wars, famines, human trafficking, and all other hardships and evils don’t have to alter our perspectives. When God created mankind, he gave them a place in all of creation. That place is to rule alongside Him. Humanity is ingrained with the calling of bringing God’s kingdom to His creation. The above passage in Colossians reminds us to stay focused on that calling…to keep our eyes heavenward. As people all around the world are suffering, the opportunities for the Kingdom of Heaven to be extended on earth are even greater.  As emotions are reeling and anxieties are rampant, Christians need to be that steady voice of hope and victory.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:5 ESV

Our command to love has not changed. If anything, people are more desperate than ever for sincere love and generosity. As I see people rush to the stores to hoard supplies out of pure self-preservation, the need for selfless love has rarely been more obvious. People are buying things they don’t need and putting at risk those who actually do need them. In tough times our truest character is revealed. The time is now for Christians to rise up and be a beacon of hope and light during these dark days. As people gather all they can, we need to be giving all we can. As people fear uncertainty, we need to proclaim the certainty of God’s love for them. As the pain of loss ravages families all over the world, we need to be sharing the peace that comes through the power of the Holy Spirit. In the face of economic trials, we need to be reminding the world of how God provides for His children.

If it wasn’t before, it should be obvious by now that our lives are in the hands of another. And that’s actually a good thing. We don’t need vaccines nearly as much as we need repentance. Government bailouts are great but what we really need is more humility before our maker.  God redeems lives. God sustains life. And we need to spend our days participating in His mission of love to a hurting world. Let’s do our part to shine for God’s glory because that is what matters most in life.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.    Matthew 5:14-16 ESV

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters!