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As the seasons are changing and fall is in the air, I find myself looking at life. How we change from year to year. As I leave Lancaster to follow God into a new arena of life, I wanted to let all of you know I will miss you. My prayer is that God will be with each and every one of you until we meet again.
Recently the Pope visited the United States. While he was here, I saw and heard some things that should disturb anyone who calls themselves a Christian. Every newscast that I saw referred to the Pope as "our Holy Father". I have a real problem with our government and everyone else calling this mortal man a name that the Bible says is reserved for God alone!
In Matthew 23:9, Jesus says, "And do not call anyone on earth your Father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven." I cannot with a clear conscience call some human being "Father" and accept that person in place of God. When one newscast showed religious leaders from other faiths bowing before this mortal man and bringing him gifts, all I could think was how hurt God must have been.
Look in scripture, find the places that angels refuse to let men bow down to them and realize that no man should be bowed down to in worship. The Pope is just a human being. He sins like everyone else on earth. He does not have the power to forgive sins, he must ask God for forgiveness just like every other person on earth.
Study for yourself, don't be deceived. The Pope is no more holy than anyone else on earth. The only good that we have is the righteousness that Jesus gives us so that we can stand before His Father, the only one that we can rightly call our Holy Father.
When it's too cold to get outside and do anything, we have plenty of time for reflection. We can look back over the last few years and plan for the next year or two. I hope that for those of us who believe in Jesus, the time is spent thinking about how we can learn to follow Jesus even more closely than we have in the past. The one thing I have learned lately is that it is not a measure of how much we know or what kind of rules we follow, it is all about how we treat each other.
Once again it is time for school to start. This was always a favorite time of the year for me. I loved school and I still love to learn. I like to read and read several books a week. The older we get, the bigger the challenge is to learn new things. It is harder to remember what we learn without repeating it over and over.
God wants us to really trust Him, to be willing to say, "I accept Your plan no matter what may happen in my life from this point on." This time of year we all begin planning for our vacations or maybe just a weekend to enjoy. God's plan is to provide a perfect place for us to live and the only thing He asks is for us to trust and obey Him.
If you are anything like me, you are getting tired of the cold and snow of winter and looking for any sign that spring is near. In Hosea 6:3, it says,
“So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord.
His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain,
Like the spring rain watering the earth.”
The spring rain waters the earth to refresh and renew it. Spiritually we also have a spring rain. It provides a new life to a dried up soul.
How is your resolution to get to know the Lord better coming? Are you still seeking a closer relationship with Jesus or do you need a spring rain to awaken a new resolve? We are close to the time of year that we look at the sacrifice that Jesus made for humanity. May we find Jesus living in our hearts. Reach out to a thirsty world and show them the everlasting, refreshing rain that renews your spirit.
This is the month of love when people send cards, flowers, and candy to show how much they love someone. This kind of love, brotherly love, is shared among family, our closest friends, and our church family. When Jesus chose to show us how to love, He went much further. Jesus said, "I love you so much that I will die for your disobedience and then will adopt you into my family." Now we are members of the family of God with all the privileges of kinship.
Jesus said, if you love ME, keep my Commandments. How much do you love Jesus? Do you love Him enough to keep His Holy Law? This month let us compare how much we love Jesus with how much He loved us. With the power of the Holy Spirit let our light of love shine as an example of how much we love Him.
As the New Year starts, most of us seek to better our lives by making a New Year’s Resolution. For Christians a resolution often involves our desire for a closer relationship with the one who gave us the gift of salvation. If you have not made a resolution, it is not too late. The words of a familiar hymn may be a good starting point if you do not know where to start.
“I am resolved no longer to linger, charmed by the world’s delights. Things that are higher, things that are nobler, these have allured my sight.
When we set our eyes on Jesus and keep looking to Him, it no longer matters if we miss watching a few programs on television or reading fiction. Jesus truly becomes our best friend. We want to spend the day with Him. We long to hear His voice. We seek Him out only to discover He was right there.
Let’s make 2007, the year that we do all things for the glory of the Lord.
As I was driving out Lithopolis Road a few days ago, I noticed that some of the trees are starting their color transformation. At first it seemed so depressing because I knew that winter was just around the corner. Then I stopped and asked myself how I would feel if the world had no color. I saw a program on a black and white television a few weeks ago that I was used to seeing in color. I realized what a sad place planet earth would be without any color.
God must really enjoy color. He created flowers and rainbows and people of all different colors. How beautiful the newly created earth must have been with its pure colors - colors not dimmed by the stain that sin has left on this earth. I began to realize how thankful I am for the fall colors and the reminder of the beauty of the earth. I look forward to the new creation of earth when Jesus comes. I really want to see what the colors are really supposed to look like.
Stay close to Jesus and let the fall colors lift your eyes toward heaven as we praise the Lord for the beauty that we still see in creation.
The month of September brings back memories of going to school. I have always loved to learn new things, and I looked forward to school each year. As an adult, I look forward to going to school in heaven. I want to ask Jesus our Creator all kinds of questions like the following:
Why do some birds have beautiful songs and others just shrill cries?
Why do whales have to come up for air, but sharks breathe under water?
How did you get all the animals to go to Noah’s ark?
Why do some animals lay eggs and others have babies?
Why does it take a human baby so long to grow up?
Then I look forward to seeing the other worlds Jesus created and seeing things I can not even imagine. Jesus will answer questions that I cannot even dream of asking. Questions about creation and salvation and why our world was the one to fall? But I really look forward to saying thank-you for all the lessons that Jesus has taught me every day of my life. Seeing the circle of life each year as the seasons come and go and the leaves fall off the trees. Seeing the pain of death and realizing this was not part of the plan for planet earth.
Take time this month to think about the things you would like to ask Jesus.
But, more importantly, think about all the things you have to thank Him for.
A few days ago I heard a pastor on the radio share the following idea. It went something like this: We must bury the mustard seed of faith deep in our lives to keep it. I thought about this idea for a long time and I have to say that I cannot agree with my fellow pastor. You see Jesus does not want us to bury our faith. He wants us to use it. If you bury a seed very deep it cannot grow. As a matter of fact, it dies and rots.
The seed of faith that Jesus compared to a mustard seed is no different. The light of the Son must be able to reach it to help it grow. The rain of the Holy Spirit must help the mustard see branch out roots that help it hold strong when the trials and storms of life come our way. The mustard seed, if left to grow, can become a very large, very strong tree. Don’t bury your faith too deep. Keep your faith where God can give it light and moisture so it can grow and produce fruit. Only a mature faith can be shared with others.
We need to get back to the plain truth of the Word. God is the Creator. Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus died and rose again. The Ten Commandments are vital to a Christian society. Homosexuality is a sin. Sex outside the bounds of marriage is a sin. Lying is a sin.
There are hundreds more truths found in God’s Holy Bible. Have you studied it to find the truth or are you still following some human’s master plan? God’s master plan ends with those who are willing to let Him direct their lives as they are moving to the New Jerusalem in Heaven. Those who continue to follow their own master plan will be destroyed by God when the New Jerusalem descends to this earth.
Whose plan are you following?
While in my teens the singing group, The Osmond’s, was very popular. They sang a song that often made me stop and think about life. The song went like this: “It could all end tomorrow, then where would life be? Does it go on or will it be the end of me? Seems a bit unfair to think that all I’ve lived and done belongs to no one. Why should I cherish living if there’s no so called plan? I would have no future if it were let to man.” The song goes on, but I want to stop and think about what the song says beyond the words. I’m glad God did not leave the future in man’s hands. God does have a PLAN! His plan was in place from the foundation of the world. God in the book of Jeremiah says that He knows the plans He has for you. We humans have this idea that we need to make plans for everything. We have short term goals and long term goals. We have a master plan for the future and how we want our life to be during our retirement years. By making our own plans, how many times have we blocked what God really intended for us. Have we blocked the blessings and lived in despair because nothing was going to get in the way of our plans. Has our country moved so far from God’s master plan that we will continue to see things that shock us as Christians moving to the accepted norm of society?
A few years ago I heard a pastor preach a sermon on what to trust. He used one phrase over and over throughout the series that he presented. “What does the Bible say that must my question be; the teachings of men will often mislead, what does the Bible, God’s Holy Word say to me? I remember my frustration when taking my Bible classes in college. All of my teachers but one used a textbook to teach about the Bible instead of using the Bible itself. The one professor that used the Bible was a favorite teacher, not because his classed were easy, but because he challenged us to see what the Bible actually said.
Here is one example that I challenge you to look at. Most Christian churches teach that when a believer dies they go straight to heaven and an unbeliever straight to hell. The Bible states that our God is a God of love. Not just any love, but love that is willing to die so that we can have eternal life. If my grandparents went to heaven when they died, would it be a place of no tears for them while we are still living on earth. NO! They would not have been happy watching two of their children suffer with cancer and one of them dying. Instead death is a sleep from which Jesus will awaken believers at His second coming. “The dead in Christ will rise first, and then we who are alive and remain will meet them in the air.”
What about hell? Would a loving God torture people in the fires of hell for hundreds or thousands of years, again I say NO! The Bible teaches that God is a God of mercy.
Would it be fair for Cain who killed his brother to suffer for thousands of years and yet Hitler who killed thousands and thousands has not even been burning for a hundred years. The Bible gives a clear answer in Jude verse 7 “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha and the cites about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” Since I cannot go watch these cities burn, I must conclude that hell fire is not yet burning.
I would like to challenge you to search a concordance to study death, heaven and hell. See what you learn, you may be surprised. If you would like to know more about these or any other Bible topics, please contact us
I find it very interesting that the churches in the
The Bible tells us that sin is the transgression of the law and that if there was no law there would be no sin. To me it is clear that God’s law is very important to God, because Jesus came to pay the penalty of transgression, death. If you look at the story of Cain and Able you can see that the law was known by them. If there was no law at the time that Cain killed his brother, then the punishment given by God is unfair. Adam and his family knew the law of God and accepted the penalty that God placed on Cain. The Sabbath was a part of this law and was kept from creation. It was so important to God that He used the giving of the manna in the wilderness to teach the people how to keep His Holy Sabbath, since they were forced to ignore it during their slavery.
I believe that Jesus is weeping over the choice of people that claim to love Him; the choice to only keep nine of His Ten Commandments. He told us in scripture “If you love ME, keep my commandments.” The Ten Commandments were written by the very finger of God. He wrote them on stone so that man would know that they were not to be changed. You cannot erase a message that is put in stone, and you cannot nail stone to a cross. The moral law of God was active at creation and it will be active throughout eternity. Isaiah 66:22-23 says “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.” Jesus expects us to keep the Sabbath here on earth as a pattern of the behavior we will have in heaven. Jesus told us what to do to honor His death when He said to keep the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Him. Neither Jesus nor His followers changed the day of worship to Sunday. Sunday is just another work day it is not the Lord’s Day, Jesus said that He was Lord even of the Sabbath Day.
The church that I belong to sees that the Sabbath is a way of showing Jesus how much we love Him and that we want to obey all that He taught and commanded. If you are interested in finding a deeper relationship with Jesus and learning more about His Holy Sabbath, please contact us. We would be happy to answer any questions you have.
Luke 8:18 poses and interesting question: “However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” As a Christian, my first answer would be yes but I need to consider that since Jesus asked the question a possible answer is no. In order to really answer this question we need to know what Jesus is looking for. In Corinthians we read “now abidith faith, hope and love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” In order for us to have faith we must also have a deep abiding love. Without love it is not possible to have true faith. We first love Jesus, and then we have faith knowing that He will care for us far better than we could ever love ourselves.
Jesus himself says “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” My understanding is that if we Love Jesus and we have faith in Him then we will obey what He commands. We will keep ALL of His commands, not just the ones that we want to or that make us feel good. We also need to keep commands that every one else are ignoring. The best example is the Sabbath. The Bible gives very clear evidence that the Sabbath has not been changed since creation, yet churches worship all over the world on a different day. These churches have decided to hold a ten commandment day. However, do they hold it on God’s Holy Sabbath? NO, they have scheduled it for a Sunday. Until we are ready to completely obey the truth we find in scripture, faith will not be found on the earth
I am praying that each person who reads this message will study what the Bible has to say about obedience to God’s Holy Law. Remember that Jesus said He did not come to change it.
When I was a teenager, still in high school, I had my first opportunity to teach. I was assigned the 4 and 5 year old class at
Have you ever wondered if God hears you and why He does not answer? Planet earth is a very noisy place, and sometimes we are so busy listening to the noise around us that we miss the still small voice of God. It has been close to thirty years since I taught that class, but I still remember the lesson I learned about listening for the still small voice of God.
This month remember how much God loves you and longs for you to hear His voice. Take time to turn off all the noise around you and listen for God’s still small voice. If you are quiet long enough, perhaps you will hear God speaking to you.
Many years ago I saw a cartoon in a Christian publication; it showed a shepherd leaning against a tree asleep with his hat over his face. Standing to one side of the picture were two sheep, one looked at the other and said “Don’t tell old straw hat over there, but the Lord is my Shepherd.” When a new year begins we start thinking of all the things we can do to change our lives. We make bargains with ourselves about losing weight, exercising or some other thing that we see wrong with ourselves.
We need to start thinking like the sheep in the cartoon. If we put the Lord first in our lives, all the other things that we were worried about will take care of themselves. For the year 2006, put God first. If you need to make a resolution, make one that will improve your relationship with God. Resolve to respond in kindness and never in anger all year. Resolve to read and study your Bible every day. Resolve to be a joyful Christian so that people will ask where your joy comes from and you can tell them about Jesus. Resolve to pray for the people you meet. Resolve to get involved in your local church.
There are hundreds of other things you could resolve, so I guess it’s all up to you. Do you want to get closer to Jesus?
For example, the shepherds were out with their flocks at night. During the night it was common practice for shepherds to bring several flocks of sheep together and drive them into a ravine or pen. Then the shepherds would build a fire and sit together watching the sheep rest and keeping them safe. Think about what they may have been talking about. (Remember that Caesar Augustus had already sent out his tax decree.) I’m sure one topic around the fire was complaining about the new tax (wouldn’t you). I’m sure that at least one shepherd would have expressed a longing for the Messiah to come and deliver them from all the taxes and other Roman ideas.
Suddenly an angel appeared, lighting up the whole sky, telling the shepherds that the Messiah was born and that they could find Him wrapped in strips of cloth in a stable in
This year when you celebrate the memorial of the Messiah’s birth, leave behind all the turmoil and pressure of this world and really seek the Savior this Christmas.
The ninety second Psalm begins with the statement, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord.” In November, especially on Thanksgiving Day, we pause to give thanks to the Lord for the things we have. The rest of the year we human beings struggle with the concept of giving thanks. We even expect God to give us certain things like food, shelter, and clothing. When something happens and these things are missing from our lives we blame God, even though we did not thank Him for providing what we had. As a matter of fact in our human weakness we fail to even notice the basic things God provides. We all take our homes, food, fresh water, clothes, and even our families for granted. When we see a disaster like hurricane Katrina, we feel sorry for those living in that area and we pray for them, but we still take these basic needs for granted. The instant they are gone we cry out to God to help us get back the things we were not even thankful we had.
A book I have read many times really helped me understand what being thankful is all about. Betsy Ten Boom was a woman who lived during Hitler’s time of terror. She and her family hid Jews in their home and helped them escape from Hitler’s army. When Betsy and her sister Corrie ended up in a prison camp, Betsy told Corrie that they needed to pray and give thanks. Betsy began to pray a beautiful prayer thanking God for the Bible they were able to smuggle into the camp, the fact that they were together, and then she thanked God for the fleas and lice that were in the back room where they had been assigned to sleep. Amazed Corrie told Betsy that she couldn’t do that. Betsy reminded her to give thanks in all things meant all things. Later they found out that the bugs kept the prison guards out of the backroom, and they were able to share the story of Jesus with hundreds of women in that prison camp using their smuggled Bible. (You can read the whole story in The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom.)
For the month of November, start a list and add to it all month the things you are thankful for. When you sit down with your family for Thanksgiving dinner, instead of sharing one thing you are thankful for, share your list.
I heard a song when I was in high school in the late 1970’s. The song was recorded by a Baptist Mission team to
I have learned through the years that God truly inhabits praise. He lives for the times when we lift our voices in praise to Him, not because what He has done, but because of who He is. Hebrews 13:15 says, “let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God.” When I praise God, I feel His presence in a special way. This is especially true when things are bothering me or I feel depressed. When I offer a sacrifice of praise, my own problems just seem to melt away. We should go about our daily lives with a song in our hearts and praise on our lips. We need to praise God for being a God of love, truth, and life: a God who gave His all to save each and every person who ever lived or will live on planet earth.
For the month of October, see how many ways you can find to Praise God.
(Example: Open a song book and sing praises to your God and King. - - By the way, God does not care if you can carry a tune, He just wants your praise.)