Hebrews 2:2-4: “For since the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. This salvations, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.”
You know, today people are looking for an escape. I have no doubt that many are seeking God out of the deepest and darkest pits of their life. And others are looking for something else. They’re turning to idols and those idols will never satisfy them. They’ll never comfort them.
I have friends of mine that are in this boat that the verses above mention. They want to serve Jesus. I have no doubt about that. The problem is that they are missing, or rather ignoring the escape or the salvation that Jesus is extending to them. It’s frustrating because they want to do what is right. They want to get rid of their idols and follow Jesus with everything they are, but they just can’t seem to. As soon as something comes along they decided to put God on the back burner. It’s grievous to me. How can they escape if they ignore such a great salvation? They can’t. Jesus is the only Way out. God isn’t something we run to when our boyfriend or girlfriend other cheats on us. He isn’t something we run to when things don’t go our way. And He’s not something we run to when tragedy strikes. He should be our life. We shouldn’t be able to function properly without first seeking the Lord. Yeah, you’ll have to dump some things you might enjoy. But it’s so worth it.
If you find yourself in this situation, I urge you to come to your senses. God is extending his beautiful grace to you. All you have to do is take it. Surrender your life to Christ completely because he bought you with his life. You will either be a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness. You pick.
If you will please join me in praying for those friends I mentioned. I pray that anyone who reads this is just solidified in the faith. I pray that if you are going back and forth with God, you stop and surrender to Him. You’re fighting a losing battle if you don’t
P.S. Sorry for not being able to post much lately. School is in the process of rapping up (just six days left!) for the summer and I have been busy with other obligations. I’m so grateful God has given you to me as an audience so that I may bring His Word to you.
This is the sermon I preached on Sunday night! Enjoy 🙂
Matthew 27:32-56: 32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”
41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
The Death of Jesus
45 From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. 52 The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.
Jesus went through torture beyond any of our imaginations. He went through personal humiliation, physical pain, and spiritual anguish. The worst of all was probably the suffering that came in verse 46. He experienced separation from God. That is the ultimate consequence of sin. Separation. Spiritual death. I can’t even imagine what he went through at that moment. The weight of sin for everyone who ever lived, was living, and would live was upon him at that moment. That full amount of God’s wrath was on Jesus. Jesus had never sinned, but God made him to be sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). God’s Son, the Creator of the universe, was rejected by His creation and isolated from His Father. The separation had to be the worst suffering of all. The wrath of God was satisfied. Because of Jesus’ suffering, we are restored to a right relationship with God if we accept His FREE gift of salvation.
According to John’s account (John 19:30) of Christ’s death, what Jesus said in verse 50 was “It is finished.” These words mark the end of his suffering. It marks the completion of Jesus’ mission to restore us to a right relationship with the Father. At the time Jesus Christ died, the “curtain of the temple” was torn from top to bottom. This symbolizes that the way into God’s presence was now open. Because of what Jesus did, we have permanent access to God for all those who give their lives to Christ.
Just one person’s sin would’ve been enough to put Him on the cross. He would’ve done the exact same thing if you were the only person on earth. ”A cross, 3 nails, the weight of my sin, loneliness, pain and sorrow. That was on my Savior’s,”to do list”,for that day. I am the cause.”
“He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less.”- C.S. Lewis
“It was my sin that held him there. Until it was accomplished. His dying breath has brought me life. I know that it is finished.”
Jesus did all of this out of love. When He was hanging on that cross He was thinking of you. He gave salvation to anyone who comes into contact with His saving and delivering power. He paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we don’t have to be separated from God anymore. We now can have a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.
I also want to say that through Jesus’ ministry he was rejected by the world. Many mocked him, laughed at him, called him a liar,etc. We, as Christians, can expect the same type of rejection. If Jesus is the center of your life, the world system will reject you. David Wilkerson says: “It is a very costly mercy that;s been shown to us. Jesus paid a price in the human flesh. It’s the same price we are going to pay. We have to pay the cost of total rejection. Society will never accept you if Jesus Christ is the cause and the meaning of your mercy and grace.”
You see, the cost of following Jesus is great. Some of us will be rejected, mocked, beaten, tortured, and even killed for our faith in Jesus Christ. Other religions will be accepted. Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism will be accepted. However, Christianity will never be accepted by the majority of society. Why? Because Christianity is the only true religion. The cost is great, but the reward is even greater- an eternity with Jesus!
Jesus tells us that the world will hate us. He tells us that we will be persecuted. Jesus went through considerable suffering so that we can have freedom from sin and death. Expect to face troubles on this earth, especially persecution. But take heart! Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33).
The Greatest Story Ever, the Greatest Truth Ever does not stop here. There is more.
1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.
9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
On the Road to Emmaus
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
Jesus Appears to the Disciples
36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
As I was looking through all four accounts of the Resurrection, I saw Luke gave the most descriptive telling so I decided you use his account. If you want proof of the Resurrection look at the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. If Christ did not raise from the dead, there wouldn’t be that kind of demonstration of the Spirit’s power.
The Resurrection of Jesus is one of, if not the most central truths of the Gospel. If the Resurrection had not occurred, followers of Jesus would have no hope and their faith would be pointless. In fact Paul says, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:14). As Lecrae says, “That implies that our lives are built around Jesus being alive.” Because Christ conquered death, death no longer as power on those who are in Him either. We can enter Paradise with Jesus. Christianity is the only religion on earth that can say that their “main man” is alive! Enemies of God try to stop the message of the Resurrection because they know the effect that the message can have! They can NOT stop a miracle, however! Without the Resurrection my whole life (and every Christian’s) would be wasted. He is risen!
Once again the Greatest Story ever, the Greatest Truth ever does not end there. It is an ongoing thing. Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit after a ascended into Heaven (Check out Acts chapter 2 for more details on that). Jesus is returning soon! Are you ready?
“Paul said if Christ ain’t resurrect then we wasted our lives
Well that implies that our life’s built around Jesus being alive
Everyday I’m living tryin show the world why
Christ is more than everything you’ll ever try”- Lecrae
HE IS RISEN!
This is a letter from Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is in prison at one of the most brutal prisons in Iran for his Christian faith. Keep him in your prayers. The ACLJ has put his letter onto a video. Here it is:
You can sign the petition for his release here:
Romans 1:16 tells us, “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes–the Jew first and also the Gentile.”
This has been pretty heavy on my heart the past six months. I was always bold in my faith, and never quiet about my love for God or what He’s done for me. People knew I was a strong Christian and knew the passion I shared for Christ. In the past year, I felt myself beginning to slip out of the, “Jesus High”, as many call it. I still prayed and listened to my usual Christian radio station, but I let Twitter, Youtube, friends, music, ect. take a toll on my lifestyle. I picked up friends that supported that kind of life, but weren’t really into it. In a way, that brought me away from…
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WordPress.com prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,300 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.
Thank you so much for everyone who has supported me while I minister through this blog. I look forward to writing for you in 2013!
Romans 1:25: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”
My first question when I used to read this passage of Scripture is “Why would anyone ever exchange God for anything less? It doesn’t make sense!” Then my attention was turned to Israel. Israel seemed to be in a constant stage of rebellion against God throughout the entire Old Testament. At one point, they even wanted to return back to Egypt (read Exodus for more on that). I remember thinking, “Good grief! Why would you continually do things that grieved God? Why didn’t you learn?” Then one day, God told me this in my heart: “Austin, you do the same thing.” That was it. Not anything profound at all. However, I was completely humbled. I realized that so many times I choose worldly things, worthless things over God. The Lord also laid on my heart that often Christians want to return to what I call their “Spiritual Egypt.” We think it was better where we were before we accepted Christ. That’s just our flesh deceiving us though. That’s when I finally realized that God’s grace is so much greater than I had ever imagined. We, as Christians, often rebel against Him and yet He still chooses to love us and take us back when we repent of our trespasses. Our idolatry. Colossians 3:5 says this about our sin:
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”
Paul calls our sin or our rebellion towards God “idolatry.” And it really is. Whenever you put anything before God, that’s idolatry. You’re worshipping something else. As Jefferson Bethke puts it, “What defines you, what do you give ultimate worth, and what, if taken, would bring ultimate hurt. Now see, that is your god.” We often think of idolatry as literally bowing down to something else. That’s not necessarily true. You can worship money, drugs, your boyfriend or girlfriend, you popularity, etc. Anything you put in place of God is idolatry. Jefferson Bethke also said, “Where we exchanged ourselves for God thinking we could be Him, He exchanged Himself for us, absorbing all our sin.”
That’s grace. Even when we are in rebellion against the Creator, God still calls us our of the darkness. He doesn’t care where you’ve been. He wants you now. When Jesus was on the cross, He was dying for each and every individual that ever was and ever would be. His love will never fail you! Call out to Him in repentance and accept Jesus as your Savior! Only then will you be satisfied.
“Counterfeit gods, if you fail them, will never forgive you and if you get them, they’ll never satisfy you. This is the only God who will- Jesus and His resurrection.”- Tim Keller
Are We Losing Focus?
“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed.
If you look to God, you’ll be at rest.” ~Corrie Ten Boom
Sadly, the Christmas celebration came to a predictable end and I was once again forced to begin the drive back to Tennessee from my hometown in Michigan. This year, this also meant trudging through inches of snow lying on the Michigan and (northern) Ohio pavement. Ugh. Let the fun begin…
I decided to make a stop at a McDonalds in Ohio–not only to maintain my caffiene intake, but also to give my dog, Bagel, a much needed visit outdoors. The interior of this McDonalds was quite a suprise. It had a beautiful stone fireplace, chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and a large decorative clock mounted on the back wall. When I was a kid, a McDonalds was considered fancy-shmancy if it had a ball pit or Ronald McDonald statue to shake hands with in the foyer. Now however, fast-food restuarants have apparently become a luxurious place to put our feet up, warm ourselves by the fire, and at the sound of the gong on a grand ole clock, make our way to the next looming appointment in our sometimes grueling days.
We have come a long way as a society. Perhaps the progression of a fast-food restaurant’s aestheic design isn’t the best example of this, but it does however paint a picture.
* * *
Each year, I see our American culture becoming busier, more advanced, and surprisingly maintaining an increasing “need” for acquiring more “things.” We have more toys, gadgets and fantastically tantalizing thingamabobs then we’ve ever had before. Practically everything seems to exist in a digital format, presented with the help of multiple digital devices that constantly remain in the race for which is the smallest, fastest, and containing the most storage space. As a result, information is more readily available, efficiency is improved, and yet…why is it that we still seem to maintain, and even amplify those busy schedules? Perhaps one reason is to continue paying for those gadgets that are supposed to make our lives so much easier??
Regardless of the reason, it’s happening. Our pace is in over-drive. Our destractions are rolling in with unstoppable force. And where does that seem to leave us? Most likely, this type of lifestyle does and will only continue to steal our time and focus from God, our provider of wisdom and rest.
We lose focus. We struggle. We’re surrounded by harsh realities on the evening news and we fear what our children and grandchildren will see on their televisions when the time comes. When does it end, and what can we do to stop it? I hate to admit this, but as long as each of us has a pulse here on earth, it won’t end. Devestating news reports will continue to roll in and technology will continue to steal our attention.
We may not have control over everything that happens in this world (we were never meant to), but we do have control over our focus. God hasn’t gone anywhere. He is our sturdy, picturesque oak tree maintaining the strength in His limbs for our protection. However, the further we stray from His shade, the more susceptable we are to destractions and self-destruction. Now more than ever, it is necessary to remain close to His branches, despite the rough weather in our midst.
Moreover, no matter what state our world is in, or where our personal footing lies, we must never forget the image we were created in and our purpose to shine for Him. Today, here and now, we’re not finished yet. There’s still time. There’s still hope. Dwelling on shortcomings won’t bring us or our nation any closer to God; it’s only one more distraction in our world of “things.”
Lets keep our focus where it should be, on His guiding Words, and His withstanding branches. If we focus too much on the distress, we may miss the beauty.
Provoking Thought: Have you recently been swept away by the world’s distractions? There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a smartphone, iPad, or eReader. (God knows I do!) However, perhaps consider loading a Bible app to one of these devices during your next use. A little reading goes a long way.
**Do you have any suggestions to share on how you maintain focus? We’d love to hear!
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 (NIV)
Alicia M. Smith
Brody Barcus (my 15-year old cousin):
America is nearly exactly like Israel in every aspect. Just like Israel, our founding was one of the most miraculous this world has ever seen. And, just like Israel, our society was to be centered around our God and not ourselves. Our nation was designed to be set apart from all others in the way it was run and the God that it served. But after all of this was set into place, we failed to teach younger generations of those miracles which led to Israel’s demise and will lead to ours.
How did this happen? A blind man could see that our country has a moral standard that changes every time that it is opposed. Laws that used to be based on morals are being considered “unconstitutional” and are being thrown out of the legal system. Moral values are now considered opinion and are no longer considered honorable but are instead made out to be intolerable and, in a way, dangerous to our society. But, unfortunately, this is our fault. We are letting this happen and it’s time for us to stand up, take off the diapers, and start making others aware of what’s happening and start doing something about it instead of idly complaining.
Note: I also asked my pastor to write a piece on this topic. However, circumstances have arisen and he will take a little longer to write his piece. I’ll post his piece in a part 3 when he sends it to me. For now, I will continue with my blogs as usual. Thank you everyone for your help in writing about this topic!
It’s time America turns back to God. I can’t promise that if we turn back to God we won’t implode. But if we don’t turn back to the Lord, wake up, and start running this country has it was originally intended; we face a guaranteed collapse.
It’s time to wake up! Time is of the essence.
I posted this over a Inspirational Christian Blogs. Check it out!
I wanted to write an article about how America has tried to moved beyond God. It seems this nation has almost turned it’s back completely on God. Given, there are still many, many strong believers in this nation, but as a majority, I fear this nation is collapsing from the inside. Imploding. We have pushed God to the side and have told Him that we don’t need Him any longer. We think we can take care of ourselves, but we can’t. Don’t get me wrong, I love America. I am extremely blessed to be a part of this country. I just feel like unless the United States turns back to the Lord, we will continue to collapse until this nation is no more.
As Mike Huckabee puts it, we have “personally escorted” God out of our society. It’s like the majority of the nation wants nothing to do with him…
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