Sympathy in Our Weaknesses: Surviving Temptation

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“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

(Hebrews 4:15)

Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Greetings and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! I pray all is going well with you and that you continue to experience the abundant blessings of God.

In this article, I will share on a subject that I believe is often overlooked in the basic teachings of Christianity. Because of this oversight, Christian’s are often left to “fend” for themselves, thus the flock scattered and seemingly left without hope or answers. This is tragic because the end result is often discouragement heaped with a healthy dose of condemnation.

The subject I refer to is “temptation” and believe it or not, it is not a dirty word. Every child of God faces, and will face, temptation numerous times while upon this earth. It is of utmost importance that believers understand that temptation in and of itself is not sin! What we do with the temptation we face determines it becoming sin or not. All temptation, regardless of form or how it is received, comes from the enemy! God never tempts anyone with evil!

Our enemy knows well the weaknesses of humankind! He is not referred to as the “most subtle” without good reason. Like any good shoulder going into battle, knowledge of the strategies of your enemy gives great advantage. Through the scriptures the Lord has prepared the Christian soldier for warfare.

First of all, the enemy always cheats, and will attack by appealing to the desires of human nature! These desires include appealing to our love of beautiful things, pride, and hunger. We can call these areas of attack, “the lust of the flesh”, “the lust of the eyes,” and “the pride of life”. (I John 2:16) Every temptation that comes at us will appeal to one or all three! In the Garden of Eden, Eve was tempted with all three and so was Jesus during His period of temptation in the wilderness! This brings me to the main point, the temptation of Jesus and how that relates to us.

Our enemy holds no punches and will attack from all directions. Sometimes multiple directions in one assault! He tempted Jesus from multiple directions! We find the account concerning the three ways Jesus was tempted in Matthew chapter four (4). The serpent of old hurled three vicious temptations at Jesus: “command these stones to turn to bread”, appealed to His hunger; “throw yourself down”, appealed to His pride, and “all these things I will give you if you will fall down and worship me”, appealed to His like of beautiful things, all three fall under the desires of human nature, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

Now, we have learned the strategy employed by our enemy in assaulting us, but what about our counterattack and weapons of war? Let us go back to Matthew chapter four (4) and see how Jesus handled the situation. In corresponding order, let’s listen to Jesus’ reply to each assault: “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”; You shall not tempt the Lord your God,” and “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve”. Alas! Jesus used His Sword, the Word of God, to counterattack the enemy! What was the end result? “Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him”.

Temptation is a serious matter and can bring great distress to the believer. The attacks are often very intense and always strike at our most venerable weaknesses. That said; we are not left orphaned without the care of our Shepherd. It brings us great comfort to know that “we have a High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses, was in all points tempted as we are, yet remained without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

Of equal comfort are the words of the Lord in I Corinthians 10:12-13: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” This scripture does not indicate that God is the tempter, satan is, and God will not allow him to go beyond what we are able to withstand.

Beloved, God, in His mercies, has taught us the strategy of attack employed by our enemy, as well as, the weapon we use to overcome him. Remember, temptation of itself is not sin; it is how we respond that births sin. I pray that in our time of temptations, we use them as a means to strengthen our Lord’s overcoming power in us, and not allow them to merely be the exposure of our weaknesses. We are engaged in the battle, but the enemy has already lost the war! Beloved, “fight the good fight of faith”!

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The Mercy of the Father: An Underserved Gift

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“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Greetings and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! The love and beauty of God within the scriptures never ceases to amaze and leave me awestruck! Even in the seemingly harsh encounters we read of in the Bible, I am still able to see His love and mercies abound. Oh, what a treasure He is, and a life lived without Him is certainly void.

I wish to share with you one of the greatest, if not the greatest, acts of mercy that the Father has bestowed on us. The merciful act I speak of concerns our redemption as well as one of the first major prophecies of the Bible.

Please join me on a journey back to the Garden of Eden. Here we find the creation of the heavens and the earth, the birds, animals, and more importantly the creation of mankind. Isn’t the garden wonderful, so much beauty to behold and lovely scents to smell? Do you see it? Even the birds and animals are at peace with man and all creation is in harmony! The presence of God fills the garden as sweetly as the aroma of a gardenia shrub on a summer’s eve. No wonder this place is called “paradise”!

God has demanded obedience to one major rule; “of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat”! He even provided a reason for His demand; “in the day that you eat of this tree you shall surly die”. In these scriptures alone we find that God recognized man as a free moral agent.

Now we find trouble in paradise! The serpent has deceived Eve into eating from the forbidden tree and she shares her bounty with Adam. In an instant, mankind is fallen, made aware of good and evil, inherited a sin nature, and died spiritually! The two that would have lived forever, now later experience a physical death. Although conditional on obedience or disobedience, the death of mankind was among the first major prophecies of the Bible.

The disobedient acts of Adam, Eve, and the serpent did not go unpunished and ultimately the first couple was banished from the garden. Let us look closely at the punishment given the serpent and then Adam and Eve being banished from the garden.

God pronounced a curse on the serpent more than all cattle, every beast of the field, and he was to eat dust all his days. In concluding the judgment passed on the serpent, God reveals His redemptive plan for humanity! “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel”. This prophetic Word of God was fulfilled by Christ Jesus on Calvary’s cross and His resurrection from the dead was the final blow delivered!

Now, let’s consider the first couples banishment from the garden. Was this just part of the justified punishment of God, or was it one of the greatest acts of mercy given to mankind? Carefully read God’s Words: “Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”- therefore the Lord God sent them out of the garden of Eden…”

Beloved, I submit to you that this is the greatest act of mercy bestowed upon mankind from God! Why? If God had allowed Adam and Eve to remain in the garden, eventually they would have eaten from the tree of life. If they had eaten from the tree of life after having eaten the forbidden fruit, they would forever, through all eternity, live in a fallen state, subjected to all the heartaches, pains, disease, sadness, evil, and spiritual death (eternal separation from God) that frail humanity now endures for a short season! Being that Adam and Eve are the beginning of all humanity, and that we inherit our fallen nature from them, we to would have lived in this un-formidable state for all eternity.

The pains, disappointments, and despair we have in this life are only for a short season. We are not destined to live this life forever and we are promised entrance into paradise on the condition of our receiving the sacrifice of Jesus. Beloved, will you join me in raising holy hands to heaven and thanking the Father for His unbound, endless love and mercies? We have indeed received the greatest of mercies and they are new every morning!

“Apostasy”: A Solemn Warning!

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! I have recently found myself looking to the grace and mercies of God afresh. As I watch and perceive the world around me, I notice that evil and calamity abounds globally. No, this is nothing really new for our generation, but has become so much more frequent. We are at a place in humanity where we no longer wonder “if” the next round of destruction will come, but instead wait for “when”. There is no escape from becoming aware of tragic news! The world has been saturated with media in all shapes and sizes!

Throughout the world we have witnessed the rise of hatred, violence, and selfishness. The darkness and gloom have reached unfathomable proportions, and if not for the comfort and love of the Holy Spirit, we would not be able any longer to endure and withstand our present world. Most Christians sense the “antichrist” spirit that is lurking our streets and knocking on our doors. Because of these living conditions, people have become angry, which only leads to further lawlessness and violence. There currently abides in our world hurriedness, suspicion, paranoia, impatience, unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and uneasiness. Tension and stress have become our everyday realities and no longer is there care or concern for “others”.

The attitudes I describe above are not found in the “world” alone. We have allowed the “world” and its influence to infiltrate our churches. The lack of sound doctrine, the love of money, the senseless killing of innocent churchgoers, the rape of our children, the flirting and entertaining of known sin, and a love that has waxed cold, are also among the contributing factors of our evil world. The church is not the “salt and light” that it is called to be. The vision of the church, as given by Jesus has a mission to influence the world, not be influenced by the world. Where is the voice of reason? Where are those that will preach, “Repent and prepare the way of Lord”? Where are the faithful, who love the Lord, our God, and will boldly declare His love and righteousness? Where is the cloud of Christians, that will follow the example of the Apostle Paul, forsaking all to gain Christ?

Beloved my heart hurts! We are watching a dying world headed straight to hell and are not fulfilling the lifesaving witness we are called to be. We, right along with the world have the attitude of “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die”.  Do the words I write resonate within our spirit? Do we still have hearts of flesh or have they turned to stone?

Although what I write may seem harsh, blunt and, smothered in doom and gloom, I write with sincere Christian love. Then why so pointed, blunt, and seemingly harsh you may ask? Because whether we are paying attention or not, prophecy is being fulfilled right before our eyes! The prophecies I speak of were given by the Apostle Paul under inspiration of the Holy Spirit. These predictions are most serious, and therefore lay the reason for my being forthright. Did Moses, John the Baptist, Paul, Peter, and even Jesus “hold any punches”? No, because their message was most serious and demanded our attention!

The Apostle Paul reveals to us certain conditions and attitudes that will exist throughout the world before the return of Jesus. These are not the only ones given, but are major, and will serve my purpose in writing.

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self- control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (II Timothy 3:1-5) NKJV

Beloved do we not see these things before our eyes? Is not the world drowning in perilous times? Have not some “wolves in sheep’s clothing” crept into our churches peddling “a form of godliness? These traits do not belong to the world alone as the church must acknowledge its intercourse with the world! We are told in the last sentence “from such people turn away”! In this scripture, Paul is warning young Timothy, that his teaching will come under attack as men and women desert the truth for ear-tickling words.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (II Timothy 4:3-4) NKJV

Now, shall we consider the end results of this abandonment of truth and sound doctrine? “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first…” (II Thessalonians 2:3) NKJV

In the above scripture, “that day” refers to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The “falling away” is the apostasy of the church! Apostasy means a total desertion of or departure from ones religion. Beloved there is only one way out of the church of Jesus, by renouncing our salvation. That is the end result of the apostate church and is also known as “the great falling away”!

Beloved I share this warning as it is not the will of God that “any should perish”. I implore you to study diligently the above scriptures and repent where needed, as it would be a most terrible thing to fall victim with the apostate church. God himself has warned us to persevere. He is a merciful and loving God, and He turns none away that come to Him!

The Spirit of the Lord says “Church, awake from your slumber and rise in the power and strength of your God!”

The prophecies of God are as sure to be fulfilled as the rising and setting of the sun! Will we heed His warning or continue in ignorant deception? Jesus has declared that He is “the good Shepherd and His sheep hear His voice.” Will you listen and allow Him to lead you home?

Father it is the prayer of my heart that those with ears to hear and eyes to see will heed Your loving warning. For those that are blinded by deception, I ask that You pour out Your Spirit upon their heart and remove the scales from their eyes. The hour of Your coming quickly approaches as we reach the fullness of the Gentiles. Give us Your strength, power, and encouragement as we press on toward the goal to win the prize and fulfill the high calling in Christ. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for the world at large. Provide fresh waters for Your laborers in the fields. Forgive us individually and as nations for our sins against You. I pray you spare if only one righteous can be found. With love for you and thankful hearts we pray, in Jesus name, ~Amen

Free Will: Blessing or Curse?

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! Freedom is a peculiar word that means something different to each and every person on the planet. In the United States freedom is more or less based on constitutional law depending on the specific interpreter of the law at any given moment. Another term with equally differing opinions is “democratic society”. Although constitutional law outlines a citizens (U.S.) freedoms and liberties, they are still subject to one’s interpretation and application of the law.

In other countries freedom is unheard of and the citizens are subjected to a dictatorship. A “democratic society” is often a farfetched dream and can only be realized by relocating to a free society, and calling it home. As with most things, as pertains to life on planet earth, there are positives and negatives to contend with. A major negative in a democratic society is that often a certain “freedom” is surrounded by a certain moral ethic. One group is opposed and another group is accepting. This causes major divisions in free society that seem to somehow branch off into other smaller sub-divisions of conflict. I suppose this is the equivalent of starting several small fires until you have one huge out of control fire. We should be able to agree, that freedom and free will, are not problem free! Free will is both a blessing and a curse! In its purest form it is a love gift from God. Exercised wrongfully and it can become a weapon of mass destruction in the hands of Satan!

I have laid this small foundation concerning freedom, as freedom and free will go hand in hand. To exercise your freedom is to exercise your free will. We, as humankind, have the capacity to choose to rightfully or wrongfully exercise its use.

I believe we can all agree that we are free moral agents possessing the ability to make our own choices and decisions concerning any matter we may be confronted with. Agreed, but where do we follow the roots of our free will? Contrary to what many governments would teach us, our free will was instituted and given to us by God Himself. Although scripture doesn’t state this verbatim, it is implied, as I will show you.

Let’s journey back to the Book of Genesis into the first few chapters. These chapters teach us of the creation of the heavens, earth, and mankind. Now, let us consider Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God spoke to Adam saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” God then created Eve out of Adam and she became his wife, and the two became one flesh. Therefore, as one flesh, what one chose affected the other and vice versa.

I do not know how long Adam and Eve had occupied the Garden of Eden prior to the appearing of the serpent, but he did appear on the scene and approached Eve. The serpent asked Eve if God indeed said “you shall not eat of every tree of the garden”. Listen to her reply: “And the woman said to the serpent, we may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, you shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.” The serpent sealed the deal of deception by telling Eve that they would not die, and that God knew that if they ate of that tree, they would be like God, and have knowledge of good and evil.

The case for free will is hereby established: If Adam and Eve did not have free will then there would not have been any reason for God to tell them what trees they could and could not eat of. Furthermore, through deceptive tactics, the serpent presented Adam and Eve with the choice to exercise their free will and eat of the forbidden fruit. Also, Eve acknowledged to the serpent that God had told them not to eat of that particular tree. Our free will and freedom to choose originated in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve! As a result of their disobedience, Adam and Eve became aware that they had the ability to exercise their free will for good or bad. The choice they made, opened wide for us all, the knowledge of good and evil, along with the ability to exercise our free will, rightfully or wrongfully! God gave man free will, and I believe that before the “fall” Adam and Eve knew it a pleasure and something easy to do, in obeying the commands of God. Furthermore, if man was not a free moral agent, would God encourage us to choose His will?

So, Adam and Eve, influenced by Satan’s deception, chose to eat the forbidden fruit and their eyes were opened to good and evil.  The first thing they noticed was their nakedness! This should be interpreted in the literal sense, but let’s spiritualize it just a bit. I believe that not only did Adam and Eve realize their physical nakedness; they also came to a realization of their inward nakedness. They also had an epiphany of the inward man (woman) without the presence and Spirit of God. This new ability to choose wrong was overwhelming to them! Up to this point, they naturally chose right, as they just trusted and obeyed God at His Word!

What Adam and Eve do next is the fuel on the fire! They heard the voice of God in the garden and they hid from Him. God called out to Adam asking where He was, not because He didn’t know, but because He knew that Adam had sinned. Adam answered by telling God that He had heard Him and hid because of their nakedness. God in turn asked if they had eaten from the tree He had commanded them to avoid. Now, the “blame game” begins. Adam blames Eve and in a sense God and Eve blames the serpent. Adam and Eve tried to side-step their disobedience, refused to hold themselves responsible and accountable, and attempted to pass the blame forward. In the end God punished all three, Adam, Eve, and the serpent. He held each accountable for their individual actions.

The disobedience of our ancestors has had catastrophic results on humanity throughout generations past, and will continue through those to come. We have seen how humanity inherited the inability to “always” do what is right. Every one of us at one time or another has blamed someone else for our own actions.  Free will started out as a complete blessing, but as a result of the fall of mankind, it has been intermingled with curse. Now, we have what I call “hybrid” free will. Just as gold is not pure before going into the furnace! Think about this, we do not have to teach a child to be selfish and misbehave; we have to teach them to respect others and to behave. The point is that this side of mankind is what comes natural and effort has to be exerted to do differently.

In society today, it seems that accountability and responsibility are fashions of the past. The “blame game” is one of the most used tools for selfishness and the lacking of holding oneself personally accountable. We tend to blame the bad things in life on our parents, grandparents, children, employers, employees, government, police, and who or whatever else we can think of. The most hideous of blame casting is when we throw it at God! Have we forgotten that He is our creator and if He chose to, could wipe all humanity out with one stroke? We are His and He can do with us as He desires. The truth is that He means us no harm, but somehow we still find reasons to blame Him. Maybe finding reasons to “blame” Him is just another way to try and reject Him?

In the United States, and in most states throughout the country, criminal law recognizes misdemeanors, felonies, and capital felonies. This means that misdemeanors are the lowest form of crime and capital felonies are the highest. As we see, man has determined that some crimes are petty and others are heinous. How does God view the law and our behavior? Sin is sin is sin! There are no differences in the eyes of God! A crime of murder is the same as petty theft, and is the same as not doing what we know to do. God tells us in His Word that the lack of belief is sin. Now, is that a misdemeanor or felony? Neither, it is the same as murder!

Another fascinating fact concerning our free will is that God will not revoke it or interfere with our exercising it. It is a gift from Him and the “gifts and callings of God or without repentance. Now, if we have received Jesus, and are considered a child of God, then through His Holy Spirit He will encourage us to do right and guide us in making the right decisions, but will never force us. Our free will is just that, free! Every one of us is responsible and accountable for our own actions and decisions. We have no right, it is never proper, and is always sinful to blame God!

We must all understand that here on earth bad things will happen, evil will exist, and people will make senseless, neglectful, and even evil choices. Jesus never promised any of us an easy ride. In fact, He told us that “through much tribulation we will enter the kingdom of heaven”. Why? Because man has free will, God is just, and therefore He cannot revoke free will or it would make Him unjust and a breaker of His own law!

In this world there has been much tragedy since the beginning of time. There has been domestic and international wars, religious persecution, bombings, shootings, catastrophes, mass destructions, mass taking of lives, and terrorism to name a few. All nations and people of the world have been victims and none are immune. But, beloved, I must be truthful and tell you that God is not the blame for any of this! Mankind, corporately and individually, are the responsible parties! Often, when tragedy strikes, and no answers are found, God is blamed and a torrent of questions rush forth; “Why did God allow it”, and “Why didn’t God stop it” among many others. I can’t tell you the answer to either question, but I do know that a reason exists in heaven and God knows what it is. I can also assure that He is not to blame.

The next time evil and tragedy strike, take a moment to think before you raise a clinched fist to heaven and blame God. He has promised “good to those who love Him” and that He will take the bad in our life and use it for our good. You can find this promise in the Book of Romans chapter 8 verse 28. God cannot be our Savior, Deliverer, and oppressor at the same time.

As we should have been taught, and hopefully have taught our children, there are consequences to our actions. Sometimes these consequences are serious and effect many lives. One single incident can have devastating consequences upon the whole of humanity! As we learn not to blame God and to turn to Him instead, let us remember these small and simple definitions: “Obedience” is rightfully exercising our free will and “Disobedience” is wrongfully exercising our free will. Free will can be a blessing or a curse depending on how we choose to exercise it! I pray the God of peace to protect and keep evil far from you, In Jesus name, ~Amen.

“Two Broke Preachers and a Crippled Man”: A Lesson on Giving

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

You were most likely drawn to this article because of the title, right? And, I imagine you are thinking that I am just trying to be funny? Well, a little, but there is also a seriousness about the title as well! You will soon see that a valuable spiritual principal is also implied!

Let’s see if any of these real life scenarios apply to any of us. Have you ever been sitting in church, and the Pastor or other minister pounds heartily on the tithe and offering drum? Ever gone into a grocery or department store and someone is either at the entrance or somewhere in the parking lot soliciting “help”? What about being approached while you pump gas into the family vehicle? Another seemingly popular approach is someone standing at the exit ramp as you exit the interstate holding some sort of sign where the writing usually ends with “God bless”. Have you ever experienced that one?

What I describe above is common in the United States, among other practices to obtain a helping hand. I’m not exactly sure how this is approached in other countries, some are the same, and others similar, but I’m sure that there is no shortage of needy people. Please stay with me here, I promise this is not a badmouthing session against needy people or con artists, although they are out there. No, I have a valuable lesson to teach and some of us may even be set free from the old bags of bondage we have been carrying around!

I’m sure that each of us has experienced at least one of these scenarios in our lifetime. Now, with the above scenarios in mind, consider this: you have been confronted or asked to give whether it is in church or elsewhere and you do not have one cent in your pocket! In fact, we may even find that in actuality, our financial circumstances aren’t the greatest either, and we may be the one that is needy. What do we do? Where do we turn? And what about the need that is before us? The choices are several, but for many Christians, the choice seems to be made for us, condemnation and guilt settles in! We really want to help, but the fact is we are broke and can’t help financially.

Why do these guilty feelings rush us like a tidal wave? Do we really have anything to feel guilty or condemned about? Feelings of compassion and concern are normal, but not condemnation and guilt. Some of the reason we feel guilty, is because we have been conditioned to think that the only thing worth giving is money, and sadly we have somewhat been taught this in our churches! Have you ever heard this old secular saying, “money makes the world go around”? Well, money may make the world go around, but it should not make the church go around! There are many treasures in this life greater than money, and some things are simply priceless! What should make the church “go around”, post salvation, is our good works! God the Father has given Christians the ability to give the greatest gift second to the sacrifice of His Son Jesus, the gift of ourselves! Jesus is the only definitive example, of what it means to sacrifice out of love for humanity. Should we offer Him any less as His hands and feet?

In His life giving ministry, did Jesus walk around handing out cash as a show of His love, hopes, and healing for humanity? Not at all, He invested Himself in the lives of others.

I am the father of three children, and like any other parent who loves their children, wants to offer them the stars. Soon after I was born again, the Lord brought to my attention a Bible verse: “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

Already being a father, this verse really struck a nerve in me. I contemplated the verse a little and immediately asked myself a question. What is the greatest gift that I can give my children? One, which will all throughout life, bring them life, peace, joy, opportunities, love, and remain a constant help in times of trouble, and an ever present guide concerning the fragile and difficult walk of life. Right then, I determined that the greatest gift I could ever offer my children was an introduction to the Creator, Sustainer, Savior and Comforter of their life, Jesus Christ! I went home and shared this with my wife and children. We joined hands and the four of them received Jesus in their hearts that moment! At their request, I then baptized them in the bathtub! God has very much honored that day in our lives. Other than the typical growing pains of rearing children, I have not had one moment of trouble from them. God gifted me with them and I presented the gift back to God.

This is a lesson about giving and no one is gift less, ever! We all have Godly gifts to offer humanity and just need to look deep in our hearts and see what we possess. Money is not always the thing that is needed most. Sure, it is most often the desire of the heart to those of us who are needy, but remember, “Give a man a fish and eats for a day. Teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime”. Sometimes what we think we need is not what we need at all!

We all have something to offer; from a kind word to a friendly smile; an encouraging hug or comforting embrace. We can offer a helping hand, or a leg up; a drink of water, or maybe a full meal; a prayer for healing, or a word of praise. We all have something to offer! There is no need to feel guilty about our giving or that we lack a certain gift. These things are priceless! Money can’t and never will outshine the love of Christ!

What did Jesus have to say concerning our giving? “…for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.”

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘ Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You? And the King will answer and say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:35-40)

Every one of the above acts of kindness can be done without having one dime in our pocket! It only requires that we purpose those things in our heart. God has given us all something to give. I’ll let you in a little spiritual nugget; when we give of ourselves, the one receiving the gift is not the only one to benefit. God instantly warms the heart of the giver with His approval, and that too is priceless! Please don’t misunderstand my message here. I’m not suggesting that money is never an appropriate gift, only that it is not the greatest gift, and is often, something we lack and can’t give this way. In all of our giving we should follow the leading of the Lord. He knows what the best gifts and greatest needs are concerning all of us! Being that He uses His people to bless others, it stands to reason that we follow His lead, agree?

“Two broke preachers and a crippled man”: I’m going to share a story with you to reinforce our lesson. A man who had been born lame was carried to the gate of certain church every day. His reason for going there was to seek monetary charity from those that passed by or were going inside the church to worship. I don’t think the man ever really made eye contact with those that passed by and he had been doing this same routine for some time. I can only imagine how many people walked by this man each day. He just sat there hoping someone would give.

One particular day two preachers approached the gate so they could enter the church. Strangely, the crippled man spoke to them and asked for alms, but did not look up at them. He definitely had the attention of the preachers as they intently starred at him. One of the preachers spoke and told the man to look at them. The man looked up at them expecting to receive some money. One of the preachers, realizing what the man wanted, and probably considering what the man really needed, spoke to him, “I do not have any money to give, but what I do have I give you; In the name of Jesus Christ rise up and walk!”

The preacher then extended the right hand to the man and helped him get up. Immediately, the man’s feet and ankle bones received strength. Leaping up, the man stood and walked and went inside the church with the two preachers! The formally crippled man praised God, as he had received exactly what he needed, which could not compare with what he thought he wanted! Everyone around that had witnessed this event or that knew that this man had sat at this gate daily, were amazed. They knew him to be a cripple and now he is not!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful is this story were true, as it could all the more prove that we all have something to give, and it doesn’t always have to be money? This story is true! You can read of this history making event in the Book of Acts, chapter 3. The two broke preachers are Peter and John, and not having money, they gave what they had. Praise God! We all have something to give! We all matter in the body of Christ and can make a difference in the lives of others. Lord Jesus, help us all look deep within our hearts and recognize those gifts we have to give. Help us reach out and give to humanity the gift of life in You. Some of our gifts are to plant and others to water, but we all reap a harvest when we invest in the lives of humankind! Jesus said that the greatest gift of all is love. If we ask Him, he will help us give some love every day!

Lord Jesus, I pray, asking that You fill Your people to overflowing with the gifts of heaven. Put those people in our paths daily that need Your help and reveal to us their needs. Saturate us in the same love You have for humanity. We are Your hands and feet, and ask that You walk and touch through us. Forgive us for our sins and release us from the bondage of thinking we have nothing to give. Remind us fresh that in You we have everything. We love you Jesus and it is with thankful hearts we pray,    ~Amen

A Call to Repentance, Church!

Tough on Sins

Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Today, as I was reading over my past articles, I had another “epiphany” from the Lord. I read my own writings occasionally, so that I too may learn something from them. I have found in the course of my spiritual walk with Jesus that He often will teach me through the words I speak and the things I write. This is certainly a lovely experience, as I am assured that the words I speak or write are Holy Spirit inspired!

As I reread my latest post, “The Love Trigger: God or Emotionalism”, I had the “church” come into spiritual view. I here refer to the church of Jesus corporately and not individual denominations. After all, if you have accepted the blood of Jesus as the payment for your sins, then we are one big family sharing the same blood line and Father! Therefore the only division needed is the “believers” and the “nonbelievers”, right? “The Love Trigger” article dealt with humanity seemingly only able to come together in times of tragedy.  If you are curious, please read that article, as here I am going to apply the same observations to the “church”.

I will call this writing a “holy spanking”, or at least a little “church correction”. When the “church” was birthed in the Book of Acts, love, unity, and caring for the brothers and sisters was at the very core of its inception. Church in those days was certainly different than the churches of today! Those of yesteryear promoted equal and fair treatment among the brethren, none went without, and unity and love were the virtues of the day. The church creed was clear and understood by all. In those days they truly lived for each other.

Now, let us look at the churches of our day and see the vast differences. We are not unified, our love has waxed cold, and at best some are only “lukewarm”. Our first love (Jesus) has been replaced with works, programs, activities, love of money, coffee shops, bookstores, concerts, bake sales, bible colleges, and I could go on for a while, but I think you get my point! Jesus told us to occupy until He comes, but I’m sure He had different ideas about what we are to be doing!

Our churches have been turned into New Age country clubs and self-help programs. I assure you that you do not need “The Twelve Steps to a Better You”, you only need one step, choose Jesus Christ if you want a better you! Our churches have become banks and our Pastor’s bank presidents. More time is spent on preaching the tithe and offering message than on the meat of the gospel. Some of our churches are producing selfish and gluttonous Christians with the teaching of “sowing your seed for a large return.”  Of course the seed referred to is money. I have read and reread that scripture numerous times. I’ll let you in on some gospel meat; the seed is the word of God! Are we going to take our money and possessions with us when we leave this earth? Certainly not! Therefore, why strive so hard for the things that hold no spiritual or heavenly value? The Old Testament tithe consisted of fruits and vegetables. Take a bushel basket of these offerings to church next Sunday and watch the response. Green is what is desired, but not cabbage and beans! I’m not suggesting not giving monetarily at all, as I am well aware that it costs to keep the lights on. I do have issue with million dollar ministries not producing Godly fruit!

The house of God is not Wall Street and the only investments we should be making are in the lives of others. We have a hateful and evil world going to hell while our churches get rich and fat. What shameless nonsense! Is this the way Jesus wanted His church? The King of Kings and Lord of Lords came to this earth to serve and save dying humanity! He is the example we should be following, serving others! The very word “minister” means “servant”! The church looks just like the world! Sometimes uglier!

Our churches have become institutions of shameless wounding, and we wonder why people don’t want to go to church. Personally, I don’t blame them at all, but there are those that throw around the “do not forsake the assembling of yourselves” scripture to add salt to the wounds. Has it ever occurred to any of us leaders that these Christian non churchgoers have seen some light that we have failed to see? Have they realized that they are safer and freer to worship God in their own homes? I think this deserves some attention before we pass “judgment” on them! Furthermore, Jesus said that where two or more are gathered in His name, there He is also (or in the midst whatever your preference). Would not this be “church”? Jesus is the object of worship and edification is the goal!

We teach Christians not to entertain the “evils” and “pleasures” of the world, but truthfully, these same things have infiltrated our churches! Could it be that those who choose not to go to church are doing as they are taught, forsaking the pleasures of this world? So why do I point all this out? Plain and simple, the church is supposed to be influencing the “world” not the world influencing the church! Because of our wrong teaching, religious hypocrisy, loss of first love, being lukewarm or just plain dead, and our selfish desires, we are producing the wrong kinds of Christians! Remember church, sheep beget sheep! Our “babies” are replicas of us and their behavior is what we have taught!

If your spirit has not been quickened and thoughts of repentance are not in sight, as you read the things I write, and only anger and disagreement has rose to the occasion, then read Revelation, chapters 2 and 3. The seven churches listed there by our Lord represent the history of the church, past, present, and future, and I assure you that every church in every place all over this world falls under either, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, or Laodicea.

Why does the spiritual condition of the church cause me to reflect on humanity seemingly only able to love and come together during times of tragedy? Because presently, the world, outshines the church, in its love toward humanity, even if it is short lived in times of crisis. The church should be leading the charge in love, unity, peace, and selflessness, but has fallen short of its calling! Why do I write so brash and blunt? Because, I love the church, and those that are my brothers and sisters that make it a church, a family unified with the common will to serve and worship Jesus. It is a call to reflection and repentance before Almighty God! It has been prophesied in the Bible that the church will be in deterioration before the Lord’s return. It has been written that there will be a “great falling away”.

We can’t alter or dismiss what God has decreed, but I do ask, do you have to go down with it? Can you not repent and ask the Lord to steer you upon proper course? What say ye Christian, Pastor, Minister, Evangelist, Elder, Deacon, Prophet, and all of God’s people? It starts individually one heart at a time, and as sheep begat sheep, so one clean heart produces another. All is not lost; God is the God of second chances! I pray for our repentance and that God has mercy on His church. Help us Lord to be that salt and light you have called us to be. Help us Lord clean our own house before we clean another’s. Help us Jesus! Help us!  ~ Amen

The Love Trigger: God or Emotionalism?

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

I am compelled to write this article in light of the tragedy in Boston Massachusetts, United States. Not because I feel I must “weigh in” with my opinion or to add to the ever present rhetoric that has already flooded main stream media and social networks. I write because I have made some observations that caused me to “think” before the Lord.

The tragic event that took place in Boston yesterday caused me to reflect on violence, hatred, and calamity globally. I must admit that only in the last twenty or so years has the United States been plagued with large scale violence and attack. Sadly, it is not only from those that hate America internationally, but also from those within our country. Yes, sadly, we are domestically attacking and killing each other including our children! Evil has no boundaries and Satan has no conscience!

I am in remembrance of the civil wars that have been fought across the world, Syria to name a current one. I am reminded that Israel receives rocket fire daily, religious and political wars are being fought all across the globe. And, to add fuel to the already uncontrolled burning, we too, in America, add to the senseless and shameful taking of innocent life. These horrendous crimes range from petty theft to a demonically deranged maniac walking into an elementary school and murdering innocent school children. The victims themselves barely potty trained. And we ask why? Some look to heaven and curse God! Others are not even fazed, or use tragedy as an opportunity to promote political propaganda and “campaigning” tasks. And still others see tragedy as an opportunity to mass market violence and tragedy to make fortunes selling t-shirts, souvenirs, and the making movies, which we have the audacity to call entertainment and free enterprise.

The filth and disgusting messages that pours from our main stream media and so called Hollywood heroes has only served to numb us to the tragic realities of our world. Hate and violence are very real problems on a global level and sadly enough there is only one solution, the return of Jesus Christ. Not sad because of the return of Jesus, but sad because mankind has set itself on a course of self-destruction and depravity.

Right now, at this very hour, I offer the cry of my heart before Almighty God and all who read this, and shout wake up world, including America, rise from your slumber and realize your need of a Savior! Not only for our sins individually, also for our sins corporately. None, not even one, are exempt from the need of a Savior. Each and every person on the planet has free will and is free to exercise it as they see fit within the laws of their particular lands. People of the world, you have a choice to make; turn aside my words with a deaf ear laughing me off as a “religious nut”, or heed my words of your need for a Savior and ask Him into your life. In the days of Noah the floods came and the people were living life as usual. We are no different across this world today.

This brings me to my point in writing. Have you ever noticed that when tragedy strikes it brings out love and compassion for each other, even if it is only short lived? Is it, that only tragedy is the trigger of brotherly love? Have we allowed the evil of this world to be the only thing that triggers our love and goodwill toward our fellow men and women? Have we reduced the worth of human life to only expressing love in tragic events? I for one am worn out, with rhetorical comments like “America is resilient”, “United we stand”, and “those responsible will feel the weight of justice”! What political nonsense! Is there really justice for such hate, evil, violence, cruelty, and senseless murdering? Do we really stand united? We fight and disagree violently over various political parties! Is this justice? I think not! Only forgiveness, as given and obtained through the love of God can bring peace and justice! The time has come when the people of the world should listen to the voice of God and not the voices of political leaders and governments concerning the things pertaining to God! “Render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God”!

The time has come, when we as a people globally, should exercise this brotherly love and compassion toward humanity always, not only during tragedy, and the truth of the matter, this can only be accomplished in the power of the love offered through Jesus! Don’t misunderstand me! I am all for love, kindness and compassion throughout the world, but we need the “here stay” love and not the “whimsical” kind that seems to come and go upon the clock of tragedy. We need an abiding love, and that is only found in Jesus! When the smoke clears and the tragic events are entered into the history books, we tend to revert back to self-love. This is because although heartfelt, the love we had at “the moment of crisis” played more on our emotions, and as soon as the “high” of emotions wore off, we were no longer emotionally supercharged, and went back to living life for ourselves. We must realize that although love is emotional, it is also a choice that must be exercised or it dies!

I write this article fully aware that “world love and peace” is only an unfulfilled dream that cannot be had through mere human effort. It will only be accomplished when Jesus takes the throne in His Kingdom on the earth. So why write such articles and make such brash statement? Simply because I know, that lives are changed one heart at a time, and as a result, one changed heart and life will breed another changed heart, and so on down the line. With every person we have contact, an impression is given and a difference made in their life for the positive or negative. It is possible to love without Jesus but it is not abiding and with the guarantee of eternity. We must choose to live life daily in the love we find through tragedy and we must have Jesus to make this choice, one of abiding love. So, what is your love trigger, God or emotions alone?

Some will read this article and scoff over offering Jesus as a solution to all problems, and others will take issue with what has been stated. But honestly, if this article causes one soul to rethink their spiritual state and receive Jesus, the abiding love, then the “hate mail” will be well worth it. My heart then, has helped another heart change, and that heart will find another heart in need, and so goes the process of spreading the “love bug”. Truthfully, I believe the expressions of love we see through tragedy, is God’s response and love, through people. Some just don’t realize that God is not just using them to reach out to another, but reaching out to them also. The scriptures reveal that “God is love” and His love must come full circle.

Father God; open our hearts to this abiding love, and let our loving response to tragedy be our response to our fellow men and women daily, in times of quiet, peace, or unrest. And thank you Father for not loving us as you do, out of emotions, because if that were the case, we could not be loved at all. ~Amen