praise

Where Did You Meet…

We all have a story of how we met our closest friend, our significant other, a distant relative, or maybe even a favorite pet. Do you remember the details? Can you still picture it as though it happened just yesterday?

Did you see them several times before you actually met? Did you hear someone else say their name? Or maybe you read their name on an office door, maybe even on a name tag or badge. Thinking back on that day, do you remember their clothing, their cologne or perfume? Did you meet them by chance or did you purposely start a conversation?

These are just a few of the details and questions that come to my own mind. Whether you remember the smallest details or not, you usually remember the place or setting in which you met. In an office, on the street, in the market, at work, or at church? These are common places to many meetings.

My question for you is this: Do you remember where in scripture you met Jesus? Do you remember the sermon, the message, the song, or the teaching? Where in His Word did you meet Him? Now, let us go back to the second paragraph and ask some very similar questions with Christ as the subject. Did you see Him in others a few times before you met Him yourself? Did you hear others speak His name? Did you read His name and wonder? Did you purposely meet Him? Maybe you just meant to get some information on Him and ended up meeting Him unexpectedly.

I met Jesus in the twenty fourth chapter of Matthew. I had heard about Him and learned about Him from the time I was a small child. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I met Him for myself. When I met Him in His word, He was at the Mount of Olives telling His disciples what would happen at the time of the end. He gave a detailed, passionate prophecy. It sounded so much like the world I live in. I then thought “how wonderful that Jesus was seeing a place and time where He would meet me, and probably many others, in His word”. Since then I have realized the place, time, setting, details, or circumstance did not hold as much value as the simple fact that we met and I accepted Him as my Savior.

It does not matter which sermon led you to the Savior, Jesus Christ, as long as you accept Him. The songs that were sang are now of little consequence, a minor detail in a major event. I am not trying to downplay sermons or songs or words or prayers, they all play a very important, vital part. Yet, nothing compares to the moment of salvation, the perfect work of Christ being made manifest in the life of a believer. It is of little importance where each of us met Jesus, me in the book of Matthew, another in the book of John, one in the book of second Peter, and another in the book of the Revelation, as long as we met Him and accepted Him as Savior. The one common ground we have is this, we all meet Him at the cross.

Ga:2:20: I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

There was a time, as a sinner, we drove those spikes into His flesh. The sin of man put Christ on the cross. His work defeated sin once and for all, for everyone that will accept Him as Savior. Once you come to the cross by His blood, our old man is crucified to the cross with Him. No longer are we guilty, for it is not we who live from the moment we are saved, it is He that lives within us! There at the cross, it was He who loved me, it was He that loved you. He gave himself for us. If you have not yet met Jesus, He can be found anytime, anyplace. You can arrange that meeting at once, just simply reach out to Him in prayer, in faith believing, confess your sin and ask Him into your heart, accept His atoning blood to cover your sin, and you too can have a time and place, where you met the Savior. Glory to His name!

Down at the cross where my Savior died,
Down where for cleansing from sin I cried,
There to my heart was the blood applied;
Glory to His Name!

Glory to His Name,
Glory to His Name:
There to my heart was the blood applied;
Glory to His Name!

More Than Enough

We can never praise God enough. He is worthy of all praise for everything, for the past, the present, and the future. In sickness, in health, in good times, in bad times, in every season, He is truly worthy of all praise. Be sure to take note, I did not say it was easy nor did I say it was the first thought I have. He is deserving in every situation, we often fall short of recognizing that.

Too often, in our times of trouble, we fail to realize our shortcomings. We can’t always see what our trials and tribulations are leading us toward. In short, we can’t see the victory for the battle, we can’t see the forest for the trees.

There is cause for praise regardless of the season. We do not serve a God of “just enough”, we serve God Almighty, God of more than enough! God gives in abundance. Jesus said it like this:

John:10:10: The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Have you really considered the meaning? It means to “present in great quantity, more than adequate, well supplied”. It does not mean “just enough, only the right amount, enough to get by”. You see, we serve our Lord Jesus Christ, who gives more than enough. Should you need further testimony, consider these verses:

Psalms:23:5: Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. (The cup is not only filled, it runs over)

Ephesians:3:20: Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, (exceeding, abundant above all that we ask OR think, this speaks volumes!)

When Jesus went to the cross, He did not give just enough blood to cover sin, He gave His life for His friends and gave His blood to cover all sin for all eternity to those who would believe on Him. He gave all for all, I consider that an abundance. We should not stop with things present, consider those things yet to come:

Romans:8:18: For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

There are times when things appear impossible, when no one else can help, and all things seem lost. Why do we seem to be placed in these times? So that we can know God is in control and only He is deserving of the praise. All things are possible with Christ, and He is True and Faithful. He is our Provider, our Friend who is closer than a brother, the One who has prepared a place for us, so that where He is, we can be with Him. This life is only the beginning, there are better things to come for those who know Jesus as their Savior.

Sing His praises, give your testimonies, and let Him be glorified. It isn’t always easy, and it isn’t usually our first thought, but we must praise Him for He is the God of more than enough!

Where Do You Stand?

There are so many issues within the church today. I am referring to the church in a general sense. As the times change, so do the people within the church. The most important thing is this: The message must remain the same. The Word of God cannot be infringed upon, it is perfect and perfection does not change.

The people in the church change, they grow older, new people come, some people go, others pass from this life to the next. As the church experiences a generational change, which has been occurring for quite some time now, one should expect to see some differences. For example, the implementation of technology, a change in music, a change in the way a physical church building looks on the inside and the outside. Even the order of the services change, the times of service change, but again, the message must remain the same; the message must be the gospel of Christ Jesus.

Mark:16:15: And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

We see the church changing in many ways, but do we see or sense the change within the church? I will not suggest this applies to every church, but I will infer that it applies to many. Maybe one of the most important questions that can be asked is “why do YOU go to church”? Do you go because it is expected from you? Do you go to make someone else happy? Do you go to keep up your appearance? Has the church become your social club? Do you attend so you can sing, so you can feel better, to be seen, so you can lead? What is your true motive?

You see, many people go to church, but not everyone goes for the same reason. This question came to me several days ago, and initially I was shocked that I would ask myself “why are you going to church”. My answer, and I hope many of you who read this can agree, was “to worship my Lord, Jesus”. As much as I go to learn, first and foremost is to worship and praise the One who has offered salvation, to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Secondly, I go to learn of Him, to receive instruction in righteousness, to receive His word.

You see, there is a definite divide within the church. There are those who have a relationship with Jesus, who hunger and thirst after Him. This is where I hope to always be until the day I am with Him. This is what the church should be, in my very humble opinion. A place of worship, instruction, prayer, and praise.

On the other side of this divide are those who have religion. They are there for the ritual. They are there in body, performing tasks as though it is a menial job. Though the body is found in the pew, the heart is off doing other things. Often their joy is found outside the doors of the church, and their pained grimace on the inside. There is a spirit of religion that says “I am here, I am doing my job, I never miss a service which makes me better than most of the others here”.

Religion, by appearance, resembles a relationship with Jesus. Religion is a dangerous game. We must be honest about our intents and reasons.

Proverbs:21:2: Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.

If you have read this and asked yourself the same questions, please take the time to prayerfully think on these things and seek the truth. Find where you stand, then let the Lord order your steps. It can be easy to slide into a rut, but staying there becomes a decision. There is nothing more important than our relationship with Jesus. We must pursue this relationship, truthfully, sincerely, and prayerfully.

Scattered thoughts

This article marks the one year anniversary of my blog. I thought I would try something different to celebrate, through my writing. I like short, pointed, and articulate articles and make attempts to direct my writing toward that style. Today, however, I am going to depart from that and do something a bit different. Through the weeks many ideas for a writing come to mind, are jotted down as notes, then are rarely seen. Most give way to more thorough, comprehensive, structured teachings, illustrations, or encouragement. Today, I offer a peek into my thoughts and ideas from the past few weeks. These are a small collection of ideas, verses, and thoughts. Enjoy!

I had been considering writing an article on “liberal” Christianity. It is hard to imagine such a concept really exists, it appears to be an oxymoron. Can Christians really have liberal beliefs? Are there Christians who believe abortion, same sex marriage, adultery, or baring false witness is okay? Do certain circumstances make these things acceptable? What is the root cause, the foundational belief to allow any of these things to become tolerable? One concern is that true, doctrinal teaching has become too “old fashioned” or “too boring” for the majority of congregations. Is it because people no longer desire to submit themselves to the whole Word of God? Is this part of the apostasy? Many questions, few answers, but very deserving of a good study. Liberal defined as “abundant” and “broad”, reminds me of the narrow way to eternal life, broad is the way to destruction. Verse references would be:

Colossians:2:8: Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
2nd Thessalonians:2:15: Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

A second thought or idea I had been considering began with a title, “The Perception Problem”. The idea began flowing something like this: The church has a perception problem, the way we are perceived and the way we perceive. Perception is defined as “apprehending by means of the senses or mind, it is also defined as “understanding”. The church, in general, perceives worldly ideas and teachings through the lens of the bible, which is the way it should be. The world attempts to perceive God’s truth through a carnal mind, which is not possible. The best description for both sides is “on the outside looking in”. Scripture references are:

John:8:23: And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.
John:18:36: Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

The last few ideas are still in their infant stages and are not quite thought out, but here they are:

If Christ is the author and finisher of your faith, be of good cheer, your story ends “happily ever after”.

Waiting upon the Lord is not easy, patience is a virtue, and if He called you to do something, that time and place is on the way and ready, you are still being prepared. In due time He will lift you up, never forget to give Him the praise, it is His will, His strength, His sovereignty, not your patience that puts you there.

Do you love God? The answer should be yes, easily. Is that answer just lip service? Are you keeping His commandments? According to what Jesus said, if you love Him, you will keep His commandments. Yes, He fulfilled the law, but you cannot live to the flesh and reap a spiritual reward.

Sin must be punished. Why would a loving God send people to hell? Because He is a righteous God and has always punished sin. This is why Christ was beaten, mocked, and crucified. If you accept Christ as Savior, your sin has been punished in Him. Your life is hid in Him, and because He was spotless, because He rose again, you too will be made alive by Him. This is why Jesus is deserving of all praise, today and every day. “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, than when we first begun”.

These are a few of the things I had been considering, yet nothing really stood out. So, instead of giving one line of thought, I wanted to share a few of the things I have been considering. I rarely share partial thoughts or writings because so many things need to be corrected and some things can be taken out of context, yet tonight I throw caution to the wind and let these thoughts scatter. I hope you, the reader, have enjoyed reading these articles as much as I have enjoyed writing them. I am looking forward to another year of writing and watching as the number of readers grow, which is only possible by all of you who choose to share this blog with someone else. Thank you so much for your support, your prayers, and your kind words. Thank you Jesus, for the knowledge, the wisdom, and the understanding which has allowed me to serve You, and because You have given me a desire to serve, I pray the glory be to You, Jesus, my Love, my Friend, my Savior, my Lord, and my God.

Seeking the Kingdom

It is easy to get caught up in the cares of this life, this world. At every turn we are confronted with a new need, whether by necessity or circumstance. When we find ourselves in debt, or for most of us, further in debt, we have a renewed need for more income. We then seek a new job, a better job, or another job.

Should we get sick, we then seek medical consultation. We look for a cure, a medication, or relief from what makes us ill. Perhaps our vehicle breaks down and the better solution is a new vehicle as opposed to sinking money into a sinking ship.

Maybe we just “need” to stay current. Does the possibility exist that, maybe, we need to keep up appearances? Do we create a need before one actually exists? Some of these things can’t be helped, but some of them can. When it comes to these situations or circumstances, who are we trying to please? What is our real motivation? I suppose the real question is this: What are we really seeking? Are we trying to be pleasing to ourselves? Are we attempting to impress? Are we trying to be pleasing to others?

Above all things, we should be pleasing to God. In so doing, we should first and foremost be seeking His kingdom:

Matthew:6:33: But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Colossians:3:2: Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

If we will first seek the kingdom of God, He will add other things to us. By first seeking God, all other things become secondary. When He comes first in your life you have given Him the proper place in your life. If you are willing to put Him first, and you are then given those things which you need or desire, He is glorified. If you seek these things and obtain them yourself, you have put yourself above Him.

God only wants what is best for us, and all things work for the good of those who love Him. If having a right relationship with Jesus as Lord and Savior is not the priority at the top of your list, you are not seeking Him first. Sometimes, things must be removed from our lives so that our priorities are corrected. There may be times when we do not realize some of those things we desire or “need” are the very things we may allow to put separation between us and our Savior.

We must trust Him. We must lean on His word and not our own understanding. We must walk by faith, not by sight. These are the steps that we need to follow. I will be the first to say that it is easier to say these things than do them, however, experience is still teaching me how true His word is. The more I need Jesus, the less I “need” other things, indeed, the less I want any other things.

Let us this day be more resolute in our pursuit of His kingdom. When these other things are added to us, let us praise the One who has provided. Finally, let us encourage others, let us be examples to others and of the goodness that is God. In all things and at all times give all the praise to Jesus who is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Earthen Vessels

Isaiah:64:8: But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

The Lord brought man into existence using the dust of the earth. He shaped man into form with His own hands and is truly the Potter. Just as He is the creator, we are the created, the clay or earthen vessels. We, being His creation, should submit ourselves to Him as such.

He gives us our very shape, He has formed us according to His purpose. We should remain as clay, allowing Him to continue the work He has started. Once we have submitted ourselves as clay, we should take note that our molding by His hands will continue as a work in progress. We will not always understand why we are, at times, pushed, scraped, or pulled apart. We cannot see the finished vessel God is preparing us to become from where we are. Our views are obscured by the flesh, by the intrusion of an increasingly wicked world. Our focus becomes narrowed by concentrating on spiritual battles instead of the war which Jesus has already given us victory.

We see beauty in the art of sculpting. There are many museums with timeless, classic, and priceless sculptures. These works of art evoke many emotions, thoughts and wonders. Through the art we then recognize how gifted the artist is or was. Often we exclaim what visionaries they are or were and give praise to their talents and work.

We, at our very best, are dust. The very best we can create is but a poor imitation:

Matthew:6:27: Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
Matthew:6:28: And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
Matthew:6:29: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

This speaks to the majesty of God’s creation. He being the Master Potter, how much greater is His vision for His children than that which they have envisioned for themselves? We will not always understand, but we must always trust in the One who never fails. Today, let us praise Jesus for all that we are and all that we are yet to be for His sake!