BELIEVING

BELIEVING THE FACTS ABOUT JESUS IS THE BEGINNING:

•That he was a historical figure

•That he actually lived

•That he died on the cross

•That he paid the penalty

•That he is God clothed in human

flesh

•That he exists somewhere today

Under the windows of a modern stucco house is something called a check throat. It is there, ostensibly, to prevent water from hitting the wall under the window, but usually for decorative purposes.  It looks strong and stable.  On newer homes it is made of foam with stucco plastered on it.  It has the appearance of a wooden 4X6.

In reality it is foam covered with stucco for appearances.

In many concerts today, the singer/entertainer is only lip-syncing the songs. The music is recorded somewhere backstage.

What does it mean to believe in Jesus Christ?

•First of all, He doesn’t talk to the back of your head

•Make the effort to turn around by saying, “I have sinned!”

•Talk to him and offer yourself to him by saying, “Lord, I may not understand it all, but here I am.”

•“Come into my heart and life, and take control.”

•“I believe you forgive me.”

HE WILL!  You are a newborn baby. Continue to walk in the light.

“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

1 John 1:7 (kjv)

RIGHT BUT OVERWHELMED!

YOU CAN BE DOING THE RIGHT THING, BUT STILL BE OVERWHELMED IN THE MIDST OF YOUR STORM!

I had a church member back in the early 1960’s who had a bomb shelter.  It cost him a lot of money; money he could have used to better his life. He thought he was doing the right thing, but he WASTED TIME AND MONEY ON HIS FEAR!

Many of us, if not most, have some kind of fear; fear of spiders, animals (dogs, cats), elevators, etc.  This is the human condition.

Back in the day, the disciples of Jesus were out on the lake when a huge storm arose. (The first thing to remember about this story is that Jesus wasn’t with them.) When they were near death, they saw something or someone coming near them walking on the water.

“In their fear, they cried out, ‘It’s a ghost!’”

Matthew 14:26 (nlt)

“But straightway Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer; it is I; BE NOT AFRAID.’ [Peter got the bright idea to walk on water, too.]

“But when [Peter] saw the boisterous wind, HE WAS AFRAID; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, ‘Lord, save me.’  And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, ‘O thou of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, ‘Of a truth THOU ART THE SON OF GOD.’”

Matthew 14:27, 30-33 (kjv)

“HE WILL keep you in perfect peace as your mind is FIXED ON him: because you TRUST IN him.”

Isaiah 26:3 (kjv-paraphrase)

NEW AGEISM AND CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY

THE HILL, an online news group, HAS AN ARTICLE OF NOVEMBER 1, 2018, about the growing popularity of “New Age” beliefs.  The elites through the media have now given this belief system legitimacy by calling it a group, a precursor to a Church with its theological authority.   Disturbingly, the Pew Research Center poll “found 62 percent of Americans hold New Age beliefs, such as astrology and the presence of spiritual energy in trees or mountains.”  The Pew poll “found that those who identify as Christian were more likely than atheists and agnostics to hold at least one New Age belief.”

Some of my friends and associates have teased me about how I rail against some of todays Church services replete with acid rock bands, dancing across the stage, no amens and hallelujahs (only a nice little clap as in a broadway show), no basic theology, no creed, in some cases no Bible; just feel good stuff!   With the main attraction being a “Johnny Carson-Jay Leno-Jimmy Fallon-Conan O’Brien” standup comic to entertain the happy-happy crowd, as long as they are entertained  why preach & teach apologetics and basic Christian theology?

In the Old Testament Judges 21:25, “ … every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” In other words, there was no cohesive, basic belief system. They didn’t follow the Mosaic Law ordained by God Himself.

One of the worst teachings today, [in my humble opinion] is the push for prosperity and positivity!  “Send me your seed money” is one of the most recognizable.  You’ll be healthy, wealthy and wise, they say.  Another is the little cherub-angel thingies – “isn’t it so cute!”  How ‘bout Yoga!  Much of what we hear in church today is a biblically based “Tony Robbins” show.  Make sure absolutely nothing is said from the pulpit about sin, repentance, confession, the cross or the redeeming blood of JESUS CHRIST.

Here is genuine Christian THEOLOGY:

“Going through a long line of prophets, God has been addressing our ancestors in different ways for centuries. Recently he spoke to us directly through his Son. By his Son, God created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to the Son at the end. This Son perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God’s nature. He holds everything together by what he says—powerful words!”

Hebrews 1:1-6 (msg)

“In the beginning the Word [Christ Jesus] already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God.”

John 1:1-2 (nlt)

“God makes people right with himself through their faith in Jesus Christ. This is true for all who believe in Christ, because all people are the same: Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard, and all need to be made right with God by his grace, which is a free gift. They need to be made free from sin through Jesus Christ.”

Romans 3:22-24 (ncv)

“Jesus answered, “Be careful that no one fools you. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will fool many people. You will hear about wars and stories of wars that are coming, but don’t be afraid. These things must happen before the end comes. Nations will fight against other nations; kingdoms will fight against other kingdoms. There will be times when there is no food for people to eat, and there will be earthquakes in different places. These things are like the first pains when something new is about to be born. “Then people will arrest you, hand you over to be hurt, and kill you. They will hate you because you believe in me. At that time, many will lose their faith, and they will turn against each other and hate each other. Many false prophets will come and cause many people to believe lies. There will be more and more evil in the world, so most people will stop showing their love for each other. But those people who keep their faith until the end will be saved. The Good News about God’s kingdom will be preached in all the world, to every nation. Then the end will come.

“False Christs and false prophets will come and perform great wonders and miracles. They will try to fool even the people God has chosen, if that is possible.”

Matthew 24:4-14, 24 (ncv)

“We, of course, have plenty of wisdom to pass on to you once you get your feet on firm spiritual ground, but it’s not popular wisdom, the fashionable wisdom of high-priced experts that will be out-of-date in a year or so. God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest—what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene. The experts of our day haven’t a clue about what this eternal plan is. If they had, they wouldn’t have killed the Master of the God-designed life on a cross. That’s why we have this Scripture text: No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, Never so much as imagined anything quite like it— What God has arranged for those who love him. But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you.

We, of course, have plenty of wisdom to pass on to you once you get your feet on firm spiritual ground, but it’s not popular wisdom, the fashionable wisdom of high-priced experts that will be out-of-date in a year or so. God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest—what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene. The experts of our day haven’t a clue about what this eternal plan is. If they had, they wouldn’t have killed the Master of the God-designed life on a cross. That’s why we have this Scripture text: No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, Never so much as imagined anything quite like it— What God has arranged for those who love him. But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you. The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. Who ever knows what you’re thinking and planning except you yourself? The same with God—except that he not only knows what he’s thinking, but he lets us in on it. God offers a full report on the gifts of life and salvation that he is giving us. We don’t have to rely on the world’s guesses and opinions. We didn’t learn this by reading books or going to school; we learned it from God, who taught us person-to-person through Jesus, and we’re passing it on to you in the same firsthand, personal way.”

1 Corinthians 2:6-9 (msg)

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9 (niv)

“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”

1 Peter 1:15-16 (niv)

“The time will come when people will not listen to the true teaching but will find many more teachers who please them by saying the things they want to hear. They will stop listening to the truth and will begin to follow false stories. But you should control yourself at all times, accept troubles, do the work of telling the Good News, and complete all the duties of a servant of God.”

2 Timothy 4:3-5 (ncv)

YOUR GOLIATH!

GOLIATH WAS A GIANT!  The writer of I Samuel details it this way:  “The Philistines had a champion fighter from Gath named Goliath. He was about nine feet, four inches tall. He came out of the Philistine camp with a bronze helmet on his head and a coat of bronze armor that weighed about one hundred twenty-five pounds. He wore bronze protectors on his legs, and he had a bronze spear on his back. The wooden part of his larger spear was like a weaver’s rod, and its blade weighed about fifteen pounds. The officer who carried his shield walked in front of him.”

‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭17:4-7‬ ‭(ncv)

The army of God was on one hill and the enemy was on another hill with a valley in between. For 40 days Goliath came out in the open and cursed God and ridiculed the Israeli army. The entire army of Israel was intimidated and scared.

ENTER DAVID!  A kid, maybe still in his teens.  A slingshot and 5 little rock’s; oh, and El Shaddai the Great God Almighty who can!  His brothers were embarrassed that he showed up and tried to get him to leave. David’s answer was, “What have I now done? Is there not a cause?”
‭‭1 Samuel 17:29 (kjv)

Goliath came out again cursing, making fun of David, but “David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—… whom you have defied.”
‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭17:45‬ ‭(nlt)

WHAM AND SHAZZAM!  Goliath became a crumbling piece of lifeless human flesh.

So I have a question for you: Are you facing a Goliath in your life?  It may be financial, health, emotional, marriage, children, addiction, spiritual.  Maybe you’re scared. God has a “David” waiting for you!

“Listen to the Lord who created you,  .… The one who formed you says, “DO NOT BE AFRAID, FOR I HAVE RANSOMED YOU!   I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” ‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:1-3‬ ‭(nlt)

PRAYER

“I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray. Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies. Guard me as you would guard your own eyes. Hide me in the shadow of your wings.”

Psalms 17:6-8 (nlt)

MAMA AND DADDY DIDN’T SPEND TIME WITH EACH OTHER ALL THE TIME.  Maybe that’s why we had a happy home. Both of them spent time alone … and with the Lord.

Early, early in the morning, Daddy could be found in his big chair with his Bible and a pen. Then he would get up and turn around.  Kneeling before God, heaven came down and glory filled his soul.

Mama was a rather quiet, sweet lady. She would “sneak” into the front bedroom; the one with the plastic on the love seat and bed (no one ever went in there but Mama).  Oh how she prayed; just she and the Lord. God talked to her and answered her prayers.

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“There is a place of quiet rest,

near to the heart of God,

a place where sin cannot molest,

near to the heart of God.

“O Jesus, blest Redeemer,

sent from the heart of God,

hold us, who wait before thee,

near to the heart of God.”

(Cleland Boyd McAfee)

BROKEN

I CAME CLOSE TO GIVING UP!

Time and again I cried out to God. Satan crushed me into the dirt, but God said to me, “This isn’t the end.  My grace is sufficient.”  But I persisted by singing,

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“Precious Lord, take my hand

Lead me on, let me stand

I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m lone

Through the storm, through the night

Lead me on to the light

Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.”

(Thomas A. Dorsey)

“Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (msg)

The best thing that ever happened to me was when God allowed me to be broken.

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“When I am swept by the tempests of life,

Jesus is all I need.

Peace He imparts, whatsoever the strife.

Jesus is all I need.

“All that I need He will always be,

All that I need till His face I see,

All that I need thro’ eternity.

Jesus is all I need.”

(James Rowe)

OUT THERE/IN HERE

JUST SUPPOSE THAT THERE ARE POWERFUL ALIENS OUT THERE looking at us – maybe walking among us.

JUST SUPPOSE they are watching to see how we conduct ourselves; watching to see if we respect eternal principles of the universe.

JUST SUPPOSE those who live by those powerful principles will someday be transported to a place in the universe where they will live in eternal luxury enjoying blissful joy forever and ever.

JUST SUPPOSE that those who in their bitter hate and skepticism will be transported to a place of eternal stench and filth living with the smell of death forever and ever.

THE ETERNAL GOD OF THE UNIVERSE has it all planned out.  NO ALIENS!  Since people are more likely to believe in aliens and act stupidly, selfish and sinful, God clothed himself in human flesh, paid the price with his justifying blood and for those who believe in him he said,

“There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”

John 14:2-3 (nlt)

“When my way grows drear, precious Lord linger near

When my light is almost gone

Hear my cry, hear my call

Hold my hand lest I fall

Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.”

HOLY COMMUNION

HOLY COMMUNION – what is it?  What does it do?

I saw a film of a tractor stuck in the mud. As it crossed a small stream, another larger machine hooked on to it and both machines working together lifted the smaller tractor up and out to solid ground.  Pardon my rather weak analogy, but to me, Holy Communion is somewhat like pulling me out of the mud of daily life.  However, we must be careful.  Be very careful!  It is a sacred Mystery.  It is “the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.”  It is even more.  It is an unexplainable Mystery!

Holy Communion is not for everyone.  It is only for those who know him, who are devoted to him, who love him.  It is for those who sanctify his holy sacrifice in their life.  The purpose of a gathering together of the people of Christ is to remember and participate in the holy sacrifice of Jesus, God in the flesh.  It is the uniting of the Holy Body and Precious Blood of Jesus Christ and this Holy Mystery accomplished through the Holy Spirit.

What does the HOLY BIBLE say?    I Corinthians 11:23-28 (msg)

“Let me go over with you again exactly what goes on in the Lord’s Supper and why it is so centrally important. I received my instructions from the Master himself and passed them on to you. The Master, Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, took bread. Having given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, broken for you. Do this to remember me.’  After supper, he did the same thing with the cup: ‘This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you. Each time you drink this cup, remember me.’  What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt.

“Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death.  Is that the kind of “remembrance” you want to be part of? Examine your motives, test your heart, come to this meal in holy awe.”

St. John Chrysostom writes: “I believe, O Lord, and I confess that You are truly the Christ, the Son of The Living God, who did come into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first.  I also believe that this is Your Sacred Body, and this is Your Precious Blood.  Therefore, I pray to you, have mercy upon me, and forgive my transgressions, voluntary and involuntary, in word and deed, both know and unknown, and make me worthy to partake of Your sacred Mysteries for the remission of sins and life eternal, Amen.”

The Apostle Peter instructs us,  “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus is revealed at his coming.  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.”

1 Peter 1:15 (niv)

Therefore, Holy Communion or Eucharist is:

  1. A Command
  2. A Reminder
  3. A Covenant
  4. A Celebration
  5. And the warning from the Apostle Paul is: “If you give no thought (or worse, don’t care) about the broken body of the Master when you eat and drink, you’re running the risk of serious consequences. That’s why so many of you even now are listless and sick, and others have gone to an early grave. If we get this straight now, we won’t have to be straightened out later on.  Better to be confronted by the Master now than to face a fiery confrontation later.”

I Corinthians 29-32 (msg)

FEELING HOPELESS?

FEELING HOPELESS?

Is it because you think you should be punished?

In the Philippines just before Easter, men will whip and beat themselves until they are bloodied almost into death. Some have been known to try crucifixion.  It is known as SELF-FLAGELLATION – “the act of hitting yourself with a whip as a way to punish yourself or as part of a religious ritual.”

A guy in South Texas said to me, “Man, I’ve really been an idiot.”  He had no church background. He didn’t understand “churchy” language.  He really didn’t even know what sin was.  All he knew was that he had been an idiot; almost ruined his life.  He felt hopeless because he thought he had been an idiot and needed punishment.

I told him about Jesus, the Savior, but when I tried to take a positive approach for his salvation, he kept coming back to how big of an idiot he was and how he needed to be “smacked up ‘side da hayud.” [Texas slanguage]  He was mentally and emotionally broken.  It seemed that his only answer to peace was self-flagellation.

The two thieves who were crucified with Jesus explored self punishment both knowing they had done wrong. “One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed him: ‘Some Messiah you are! Save yourself! Save us!’ But the other one made him shut up: ‘Have you no fear of God? You’re getting the same as him. WE DESERVE THIS, but not him—he did nothing to deserve this.’

Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.’ Jesus answered, ‘Don’t worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise.’”

Luke 23:39-43 (msg)

You may think you have been an idiot. It may seem as though there is no hope. It may look like God’s forgiveness is too easy – that your sin is too great and your only hope is to have your legs broken.  God’s answer through Christ is, “DON’T WORRY!”  Worry, self punishment, hopelessness, fear, doubt and anxiety are not the answer to “idiocy” and sin!

“It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.”

Ephesians 2:1-6 (msg)

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“Near the cross, a trembling soul,

Love and mercy found me;

There the Bright and Morning Star

Shed His beams around me

“Near the cross! I’ll watch and wait,

Hoping, trusting ever;

Till I reach the golden strand,

Just beyond the river.

“In the cross, in the cross

Be my glory ever,

Till my ransomed soul shall find

Rest beyond the river.”

(Fanny Crosby)