A Prayer

Lord, God Almighty, King and Sovereign of my heart. King and Sovereign over all men. Lord, Creator of all things. To You and to You alone I give all honor, glory and praise.

You sit on Your throne with Your Son at Your right hand. Your Spirit reigns in the hearts of Your creations. Forgive us Father for finding ways to dampen Your Spirit, rather than basking in the Light You give.

We have much to be grateful for, yet we seek more. Many have little and You have assured us that they will be given much. You have declared the least will be greatest, the last will be first. Oh, Father we pray for those with little. Teach us to share our much.

We pray for those who do not have shelter. We pray for those who do not have food. We pray that You will straighten our paths and lead us to be a part of making those who are the least to be the greatest. Show us where the need is and do not let us look away from it, but charge to that place. Lead us to want to help move the last into the first. Show us what service is and then do not let us forsake what You have shown us.

You alone are real. You are love. In Your Grand Plan You will reconcile Your creation to Yourself. You have shown us that is not reason to sit on our laurels and await the fulfillment of Your Plan. Our race is not yet finished. Show each of us our role in Your Work. Show us where the need is that You want each of us to serve. Then, we ask Father for Your strength to carry out the task You have given each.

You alone are real. You are merciful and patient. Give us the strength and the zeal to be as forgiving as You are forgiving. Let us see in Christ Jesus the example of forgiveness and then bless us with Your strength to be as forgiving has He is; as You are. Show us ways to set aside anger and bitter envy. Give us the determination to love as completely as You love us. Draw us near to You so that others will be drawn to You, too.

You alone are real. You are Truth. Many people from many lands have tried to explain You. Traditions have replaced Your Truth. We kneel and humble ourselves before You seeking only Your wisdom. When we know a spiritual thing let us shout it out for all to here. When our traditions push us to demand adherence remind us that only You are Truth. Do not let us spread fear when love covers all.

We have much to pray for Father. People in every corner of the world are sick and hurting. They need a Deliverer. They need Your grace upon grace. They need, we all need, Your mercy.

We know, Father, a time will come when You will restore all things. You will be recognized as All In All.

Bless the messengers Lord.
Bless the hearers more.
Bless the doers of Your Word.
Bless the lost more.

Let the sheep hear
Their Master’s voice.
Lead Your people
To rejoice.

We pray in His Name seeking His intercession. Please hear this prayer. Amen.

Thoughts On Drowning

We Are Drowning

There are few who read this blog. I am confident, though, that the right person will read it when the time is right. “Every good and perfect thing is a gift from God.”

I really appreciate the Lord’s work in my life. For years I was a crude man; a poor example of what a Christian looks like. In fact, my life would be the picture of a life without Christ. For years I could not get all the pain sorted away from the joy. Even today sorrow will sometimes take center stage in the play called “My Life.”

The Lord gives me reason to walk every morning or at least as many mornings as I am able or the weather permits. He has provided technologies…you know those inventions of men…that provide me with things to listen to as I walk. The walks are really long meditative experiences and words of preachers fill my head. Their words are the words of the Word.

This morning I was listening to Peter Hiett preach to his church, Lookout Mountain Community Church. The sermon is entitled “Lost Sheep and Church Discipline.” That congregation had suffered the loss of one of Christ’s sheep to suicide. That body of believers were in shock at the loss and Mr. Hiett preached to address their collective sorrow. Mr. Hiett could not have possibly known that a sermon he prepared and preached in October 2004 would impact a man such as me. Over a decade later and separated by over a thousand miles that sermon would cause a need to preach it again, again and over again.

Mr. Hiett provided an illustration in his sermon that morning. He told of how he was at a gathering in the backyard of friends. They had a pool. Mr. Hiett’s daughter was three years old as I recall the story. She was admonished to stay away from the pool.

His daughter apparently has a mind of her own and a propensity to push boundaries. Mr. Hiett looked out of the corner of his eyes and noticed something at the bottom of the pool. That something was someone. It was his daughter. She was flailing her arms trying to find a way to escape the pool.

Mr. Hiett tells us that he dove into the pool and rescued his daughter. As they came to the surface she gasped a breath of life and he did too. She was saved by her father and they were saved by their Father.

That story should be illustration enough, but there is more. In 1995 my daughter was three. We lived at an apartment and there was a pool in our backyard. The pool was encased by a fence. The fence made the pool even more enticing than the pool itself. My little girl hungered to be at the water’s edge.

She could not open the gate and neither could she scale the fence. Like Mr. Hiett’s daughter mine had a mind of her own. She did not press boundaries often, but on occasion she would show her independence and do a thing she was instructed not to do.

On a special day my daughter begged and cajoled me to take her to the pool. It is hot and humid where I live. In August it is particularly difficult to be outside for long periods of time. I didn’t want to go to the pool. I didn’t want to swim. All I wanted was to read my newspaper, but I could not take any more badgering from my little girl. I relented and we went to the pool.

I took my newspaper with me and my little girl held my hand. The gate opened and together we stood at the edge of the pool. I told her she could play at the shallow end and that I would sit near her. Needless to say I sat in a pool chair that was not near the place where my daughter wanted to play.

My little girl found a way to quietly and with great stealth move away from me and toward the deeper parts of that pool. I would look up from my newspaper occasionally and watch over her. I ushered her back to the area of the pool where I sat. I told her that our time at the pool would end if she chose to sneak over to the deep parts again.

That admonishment didn’t matter to her. She was laying on her stomach and chasing waves she was making with her hand. The waves would lead her to reach out and she would scoot closer and closer and eventually over the edge.

God intervened. He caused me to look over the top of my paper just as my little girl fell into the deep end of the pool. I jumped up from the chair and it what seems like a long, long time I raced to where she fell in. I reached my hand into the water and grabbed her ankle as she sank deeper into the pool.

The Lord helped me grab her ankle. He gave me extraordinary strength to pull her from the clutches of the pool.

She was upside down hanging from my grasp. I righted her and pulled her close. Her face was that of an astonished child. Her eyes were huge. She coughed a little water from her throat and sputtered, “I fell into the water.”

The fear in me was overwhelming. The love in me was greater still. I could only hold her and cry. I could only look to heaven and give thanks. Forgive me for not being attentive Lord.

Mr. Hiett continues his illustration. There is a man in the congregation whose name is Ron. Ron was at another spring time party. A young girl came to him and tugged on his pant leg. He looked down at her and asked what she wanted.

“Hey mister. Will you hold me?” she said.

Ron told the little girl that he would later. Moments passed and that little girl was back tugging on his pant leg.

“Hey mister. Will you hold me?” she asked him.

He told the little girl he would in a little while. He watched her as she walked away.

Moments later there was a commotion at the pool. That little girl had fallen in. There was no one to jump in after her. She died at the bottom of that pool that day.

Ron was upset and could not sleep that night. He got out of his bed and determined to find out who that little girl was. Who were her parents? Where were they? Maybe he could say something to console them.

Ron walked the neighborhood and he learned where that little girl lived. He learned her story.

The little girl’s mother was single. She had recently come to know a man. That man would be with her, but only if there were no children attached.

The little girl’s mother walked from neighbor to neighbor. She walked to other family members. The little girl’s Mom asked if any of those would take her daughter and raise her. None would.

Ron learned that the little girl was only a few days ago in another backyard where there was a pool. The little girl fell in. She was rescued and she was hugged by her rescuer. She was cared for by that family. She was loved.

The stories are true. The outcomes are true. Two little girls saved and one lost after having been saved.

Is there a moral to this story? The pools are sin and each of us will drown if we fall in. We will die unless our Father steps in to rescue us. We are all little children.

Thoughts On… “Golden Toilets”

It is my habit to walk every morning. I walk in my neighborhood which is rural. From my front door through the little town of Orchard, Texas I’ll walk about three miles. The walk takes an hour or a little more. My pace is sometimes quick, but more often leisurely. I don’t really like to walk, but I do like the benefits walking gives me. I’ve lost over forty pounds because I walk daily. The walk is good. The benefits are good. But, the real reason I walk is because I listen to preachers preach.

While I walk I listen to my former pastor, David Hodges, preach the Word. His lessons in First and Second Samuel, both Chronicles, First Peter and miscellaneous sermons teach me. I listen to John MacArthur. He has thousands of sermons that can be downloaded from the Grace To You website. I’ve listened to hundreds of his sermons. A quick search reveals greater than 100 sermons in which The Revelation of Christ Jesus is featured. I’ve listened to more than half of those.

On my walk I’ve listened to sermons delivered by Ray Steadman, who is now deceased. Chuck Smith from Calvary Chapel at Costa Mesa, California and Tom Luitwieler, Pastor at Calvary Chapel at Reno/Sparks, Nevada. I’ve listened to sermons delivered by J. Vernon Magee and Jack MacArthur. I cannot recount the numbers of single sermons by numerous teachers I’ve listened to on my walks.

I do not walk alone in the mornings. My Lord walks with me. He causes me to hear His Word from many men. He leads me to experience wondrous joy and He allows me to experience woeful sorrow on these walks. For certain He reminds me in these walks and by these sermons that He is Lord of all and He will be “all in all.”

Recently I’ve been experiencing a change in major points in my theological underpinnings. The Lord has led me to hear the sermons of a steward of His Word. His name is Peter Hiett. Mr. Hiett’s testimony is both joyous and heartbreaking. Mr. Hiett is not finished giving his testimony. He is still preaching, but even he will tell that he is not preaching as the man he was, but now as the man he is.

I am not Mr. Hiett’s biographer and he certainly has not licensed me to speak for him or about him. I do find his testimony to be relevant to my own. God changed me first, then He led me to hear sermons delivered by Mr. Hiett and others to help seal the change for His Name’s sake. I will not pretend to know God’s course for me aside from a straight and narrow path. He could call me home today, tomorrow or even decades from now. One thing of which I am spiritually certain, I am changed today.

I heard a sermon given by Mr. Hiett during this morning’s walk. This was one of those leisurely paced walks. It’s a good thing, too. This was a sermon message Mr. Hiett presented to his flock in 2002. He could not possibly know this sermon would be for my benefit over a decade later.

Mr. Hiett provided an illustration. I’ll paraphrase it for the sake of brevity here.

Mr. Hiett, early in his career, served as a Youth Pastor. He found an old toilet and determined the old toilet could be put to good use. He did not say that he cleaned the old commode, but we should assume he did. That old toilet was painted gold and put on a platform. An old plumber’s plunger was discovered and it, too, was painted gold. The “golden throne and scepter” were brought to the youth and it became a symbolic reward for them. Do something well, do something scriptural, learn a lesson or just be a good kid and that child would be rewarded with time on the throne.

The “Golden Toilet” was used for a time until a child went home to his mother, Rita, and asked, “Why do those kids worship a toilet?” Rita was perturbed and sent the Youth Pastor a letter spelling out all the reasons he should not allow such celebrations in their church.

Needless to say Mr. Hiett was hurt by Rita’s accusations and he reluctantly agreed to put the “Golden Toilet” in storage. The “Golden Toilet” was put in a closet, at the back of that closet, in the darkest regions of that closet. It was covered by a tarp and left to be forgotten.

Mr. Hiett believed the matter to be over until he received another letter from another mother, Paula. Paula and Rita were in the same Women’s Bible Study. Paula reported that she was in the closet, the back of that closet, in the darkest regions of that closet and discovered under a tarp that old “Golden Toilet.” Paula complained that “Golden Toilets” should never be allowed in their church.

Mr. Hiett instructed one of his young assistants to go into that closet, the back of that closet, in the darkest regions of that closet and take the “Golden Toilet” from under the tarp. The assistant was instructed to destroy the “Golden Toilet” and place it in the dumpster with the other trash. The assistant did as he was instructed.

Mr. Hiett on the other hand remained miffed and upset that his “Golden Toilet” was the cause of such division. Rita and Paula did not have the same understanding of the “Golden Toilet” Pastor Hiett had. He grew angry and thought to leave the church for the sake of his “Golden Toilet.”

Mr. Hiett suffered a crisis of faith. He raced out of the church heading nowhere in particular. He was running from nothing in particular but from everything in general. His flock was challenging his “Golden Toilet” and he was reluctant to give it up. He became resentful because others did not see the “Golden Toilet” as valuable as he perceived it to be.

I may have missed a broader meaning to Mr. Hiett’s “Golden Toilet” testimony or I may have narrowed it too much. I see the “Golden Toilet” as my theology. What do I hold to be so valuable that I will grow resentments toward others because they do not agree or do not see my “Golden Toilet?”

There was much more to Mr. Hiett’s sermon, but it was the “Golden Toilet” illustration that impacted me most. I suppose I have my own “Golden Toilet.” I am confident the preachers I’ve mentioned above have theirs, too.

My theology has changed and for the better. Mercy will not be shown to those who are not merciful (James 2:13). It is not possible to be merciful when resentments are harbored. It is not possible to be merciful when hatred is stronger than love. It is not possible to be merciful when you are looking down your nose at another.

Mercy is the answer. After all it was His mercy bestowed on us all when Christ was obedient to the point of death on the Cross. It was His mercy given to us all when He looked out to heaven and said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” It was His mercy shown to us when a blade was pushed into His side and His blood covered the sins of the world.

Mr. Hiett finished his illustration by telling of his dash into darkness at breakneck speed. He went to the other side of Diablo Mountain and pondered his future. Mr. Hiett met Jesus there.

I’ve rushed headlong into the darkness too many times to count. I’ve met Jesus there. Many times I didn’t know it, but looking back Jesus always met me there.

My theologies have changed. The “Golden Toilet” has been destroyed and placed in a dumpster. From this day forward I pray the Lord will lead me to build no more “Golden Toilets.” I pray He will help me recognize the “Golden Toilets” of others and to give them latitude by way of mercy to display their “Golden Toilet” in ways that bring glory to God.

You can hear Mr. Hiett’s sermon. It was given on July 7, 2002. There is a great irony in this sermon. Mr. Hiett did not know when he gave this sermon that a “Golden Toilet” would eventually lead to a change in his theology and where he preached it. Read Mr. Hiett’s testimony here.

We can make our theology an idol. We can grow so proud of our opinions and of our Biblical interpretations that we lose sight of greater Truth for the sake of our “Golden Toilet.” Pray with me that our beliefs do not keep us from knowing the Truth. Pray that our minds remain open to hear Him even when we think we hold the last word on this or that. No one person knows it all and it seems to me fool hearty to defend vigorously what might not be scriptural or true.

Thoughts On… Denying Christ

Watch on YouTube

Mat 10:32, 33

32 `Every one, therefore, who shall confess in me before men, I also will confess in him before my Father who is in the heavens; 33 and whoever shall deny me before men, I also will deny him before my Father who is in the heavens.

This statement from Christ Jesus has some remarkably serious consequences. Taking the verse by itself it reads as if any person while under duress could deny Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and consequently be lost because Jesus would speak against him before the Father.

This subject comes to light today because of the witness testimonies surrounding a mass shooting in Roseburg, Oregon. Witnesses report a young man entered a community college classroom and lined the students there against a wall. He reportedly asked each if they were Christians. If the student’s answer was in the affirmative, then the murderer shot that student in the head. If the student’s answer was that he was not a Christian, then that student was wounded by a gunshot.

Imagine the courage of the first student who confessed he was indeed a Christian. Now imagine the second, third through ninth student who confessed their belief in Christ Jesus. Nine were killed that day. The only thing the nine had in common is that they are Christian.

What about the students who were wounded? Were any of them Christian, but too fearful of the assailant’s intent to murder those who would confess Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior. We don’t know and more importantly I don’t think we need to know.

Let’s make that assumption that there was at least one of the wounded who confessed a faith in Him, but on this fateful day chose to deny Christ Jesus in order that his life might be spared.

Do we take the scripture above literally and know concretely that Jesus will deny that student before the Lord Who is in the heavens? Did that denying student’s eternal salvation get scrubbed away because he was humanly afraid? Will that hypothetical student now be punished by our Eternal Father because that student denied Christ that day?

In Matthew 10:1-15 we read that Jesus prepares His Disciples to go out. He is sending His Disciples on an evangelical mission to proclaim the Gospel as He taught them. He gives them instructions to preach the Gospel. He gives them the power to heal and the power to preach. Jesus tells them to take nothing with them that will sustain them; not even spare sandals. Jesus tells them to seek out people who are worthy and who are loving. The Disciples are instructed to stay with those good people.

Jesus then says something remarkable about the houses they come to. “Bless the family in that house with peace if that household receives you and is hospitable. If it is not then let your peace be restored to you.” Jesus was not denying the household peace and blessing, but He was telling His Disciples that staying there would be contentious. Restoration of God’s people to the Father is the overarching precept of Christ’s Gospel. Discontent and contentiousness are not.

Jesus then says to His Disciples that the unwilling household has another problem that they will have to face. God’s judgment will be put on those who reject the Word. He defines the pain of the Father’s judgment to be greater than the suffering experienced by the inhabitants of Sodom when it was destroyed by God.

In verses 16 through 29 Jesus warns His Disciples that there will be many in the towns to which they are going who will strive to harm them. He tells them to be wise and discerning. Jesus tells them that the people will complain about them and turn them over to the authorities. The Disciples should expect to be scourged at the order of the Sanhedrin. Because of this the Disciples will be brought before governors and rulers. They are to use this opportunity to advance the Gospel.

Jesus cautions the Disciples that they will be hated for the Name of Jesus. Brothers will testify against brothers. Families will be broken up because of the message they are bringing to the people. He tells them not to worry about what to say. The Holy Spirit will give the words.

He then tells them that when the persecution starts in earnest leave that city. The Gospel will not make it to every town because of the need to flee, but Christ Jesus will eventually get the Word to them all.

Jesus encourages them to go out for they are His. They are to be like their teacher. They are to be like their Lord. Jesus cautions them that if a household is the servant of the devil then that household will be like the devil. Do not fear these kinds of people. Teach the Truth. Jesus says the Light will overwhelm and destroy the darkness. Teach the Light. Shout the Truth from the rooftops.

Be encouraged to teach the Truth. Do not fear the man who can kill you. Do fear the Power than can kill your body and your soul. We see from these scriptures that God has great care for even the birds of the air. How much more does He care for us. He knows us so intimately that He literally knows the number of hairs on our heads. He knows our innermost thoughts. He knows every deed done and every deed we will do.

Now to the question at hand; Will Jesus deny the hypothetical Christian student who denied Him on that day of massacre? The simple answer is He will.  The better answer is that He will not.

It is my belief the student’s denial of Christ on that day will be the subject of Christ’s denial of Him to the Father on that day…for that incident alone.  That hypothetical student will not be denied his place in Christ’s Kingdom.

Keep this in mind as you answer these questions. Have you ever slandered a brother or sister in Christ? Have you deliberately sought to cause any person harm by your thoughts or words? Have you looked at a woman (not your wife) and wanted to have sexual relations with her? Have you wished your husband was like that other woman’s husband? Have you condemned a person because of their sexual proclivity? Have you called another person a heretic or blasphemer because that person holds an opinion of God contrary to your own? Have you wished someone dead? Do you call those who do not believe in Christ “fools?”

God knows your heart. We can deny Him in any of a myriad of ways. When we do it will be only just that He denies us to the Father who is in heaven.

Let’s be honest with ourselves at least. I’ll be honest with you. In my lifetime I have denied Him. I have denied Him in ways and in times that cause me great sorrow: Godly sorrow. Even after knowing Him and wanting to be like Him I have still done things that for all intents and purposes deny Him.

Let’s also say we have confessed our faith in Christ. Being honest with you I have reached to heaven as a reprobate and begged for forgiveness. I have been defeated to the point of wanting death. I’ve cried alligator tears confessing to Him my sins not once, but on multiple occasions. Not only for a sin committed once, but for a sin I’ve committed multiple times. I’ve gone to Him with a repenting contrite heart. I’ve been so serious in my intent to live for Him and Him only. Still being honest I’ve broken my promises. My contrite heart healed or scarred over the pain. I have gone to the Lord hating myself and He always restores me. I’ve denied Him and He will deny me before the Father, but the sin of my denial has been forgiven.

Let’s examine the story of two or three Biblical men. Perhaps in them we can find an answer to the question will Jesus deny the person who denies Him before our Father Who is in heaven?

Paul is an Apostle chosen out of season. He says of himself that he was a wretched man. He confesses that he hated Christians. He confesses he hated those who would follow the radical Rabbi named Jesus. It is safe to say Paul denied Jesus to the point he murdered, imprisoned and persecuted those who believed Him.  How do we know these things about Paul.  He confesses them in his testimony to us.

Paul’s denial was forgiven in repentance. Jesus met Paul on the road to Damascus. Jesus taught Paul and Paul’s heart changed.

Peter is an Apostle chosen by Christ Jesus to be the foundation of the Church. On the day Jesus was betrayed Peter denied Him three times! Jesus told of it before Peter’s denial. Jesus knew Peter would deny Him.

Luke 22:31-34
31 Simon, Simon, behold, Satan asked to have you, that he might sift you as wheat: 32 but I made supplication for thee, that thy faith fail not; and do thou, when once thou hast turned again, establish thy brethren. 33 And he said unto him, Lord, with thee I am ready to go both to prison and to death. 34 And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, until thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.

We read later that Peter was there when Jesus was confronted by the temple guard in Gethsemane. Peter slashed out at one of them and cut off an ear. Jesus commanded Peter to put away his weapon. He healed the guard’s ear. Judas approached and kissed Jesus identifying Him as the One the guards were seeking to arrest.

Peter and the other Disciples ran leaving Christ alone in the hands of those who wished Him ill. Did Peter and the others deny Him there in Gethsemane?

Luke 22:54-62
54 And they seized him, and led him away, and brought him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed afar off. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the court, and had sat down together, Peter sat in the midst of them. 56 And a certain maid seeing him as he sat in the light of the fire, and looking stedfastly upon him, said, This man also was with him. 57 But he denied, saying, Woman, I know him not. 58 And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou also art one of them. But Peter said, Man, I am not. 59 And after the space of about one hour another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this man also was with him; for he is a Galilaean. 60 But Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.

61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how that he said unto him, Before the cock crow this day thou shalt deny me thrice. 62 And he went out, and wept bitterly.

We can be sure Peter denied Christ Jesus three times. We can also be sure Peter was stricken in his heart and in his spirit when Jesus “turned and looked upon” him.

There are many scriptures that proverbially “hit me in the gut,” but this one is particularly moving. My breath is taken away. The scene in my mind’s eye is immeasurably sad. Jesus looks upon Peter and Peter realizes just how worthless he is and just how magnificent His Lord is. Too many times I’ve been in the same circumstance as Peter. I denied Him and immediately realize He is looking upon me. My heart aches in my worthlessness. My heart rejoices in that He lifts me up in His glory!

Finally think of Judas Iscariot. Here is a man called to be a Disciple by Christ Jesus. Judas learns the same lessons from Him as the others have learned. Peter, James and John competed to be the greatest among the Disciples. James’s and John’s mother campaigned that her sons would sit on Christ’s left and right. Peter was quick to act and to react. We’ve seen some of that earlier.

For roughly three years Judas walks as a Disciple with Christ. Then on one fateful day Satan enters into him.

Luke 22:1-6
1 Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. 2 And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might put him to death; for they feared the people.

3 And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.

4 And he went away, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might deliver him unto them. 5 And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. 6 And he consented, and sought opportunity to deliver him unto them in the absence of the multitude.

We have no reason to believe Judas was impacted by Satan at any other time. It is at the time of this Passover that Satan enters into Judas. I ask this; How is it Satan can enter any man unless God would allow it or deem it? Consider how God allowed Satan to impact Job. Is it too much to say when Satan or his minion horde of demons attack any of us that it is God Who allows it? Even to help discipline His children?

Judas was paid to betray Christ Jesus and that is what he did in Gethsemane on that Passover night, but before that betrayal Christ Jesus shares a meal with His Disciples which includes Judas.

Matthew 26:24-28
24 The Son of Man will go as it is written about him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would be better for him if he had never been born.” 25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus replied, “You have said it yourself.”

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it, gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat, this is my body.” 27 And after taking the cup and giving thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, that is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

It is clear Christ Jesus points out Judas as the man who will betray Him. There is to be great “woe” on the heart of Judas for his betrayal. Shall we put words in the mouth of our Lord and say that the great “woe” is eternal damnation? I have suffered great “woe” for my sins. As mentioned earlier I have denied Christ by my sins.

Note, too, that Jesus celebrates the Last Supper with His Disciples. Do we have reason to believe Judas Iscariot was not present or that he did not take the bread and wine from Christ’s hand? Is it possible in our zeal to avenge Christ’s betrayal in our own hearts that we have condemned Judas?

Christ Jesus leaves the place where He shared the Passover meal with His Disciples. He goes to the Garden in Gethsemane to pray. It is here where the temple guard find Him and it is here where Judas betrays Him with a kiss.

Matthew 26:48-50
48 (Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I kiss is the man. Arrest him!”)

49 Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi,” and kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you are here to do.” Then they came and took hold of Jesus and arrested him.

“Friend, do what you are here to do!” “FRIEND!” Yes, “Friend.” There is no doubt Christ Jesus knew Judas would betray Him with a kiss. And He still calls Judas, “Friend.”

What I see here is God’s overwhelming mercy being poured over Judas. Will you see it too? We know of scriptures that teach us that God knew us before He created the world. We have scriptures teaching us that God knows our hearts thoroughly and absolutely. We know that God destines all things for His glory. Even this betrayal was determined by God for His glory. His mercy is written all over this scene.

Jesus is betrayed so that He will be falsely accused, prosecuted and condemned. His is betrayed so that He will be sentenced to the Cross. He is betrayed so that He will be savagely beaten, mocked and murdered. He is betrayed so that He will be placed in a grave. He is betrayed so that He will be resurrected from that grave. He is betrayed so that His blood will be shed for the sins of the world. He is betrayed so that His mercy will be upon all.

Mat 27:3 – 5
3 Now when Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus had been condemned, he regretted what he had done and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood!” But they said, “What is that to us? You take care of it yourself!” 5 So Judas threw the silver coins into the temple and left. Then he went out and hanged himself.

Can we say Judas exercised his free will to betray Jesus? Will we say he was chosen by God for this task, that his whole life boils down to one kiss of betrayal?

Judas repented of his sin. He repented to others and he repented before the Lord. Nothing escapes His attention. “Woe” of such magnitude fell upon Judas that he could not bear to live under the shadow of what he had done. Did he exercise his free will to hang himself? Did God choose him to hang himself?

No matter. God’s mercy is infinite even on those who betray Him.

Paul called himself “chief” among sinners, yet God saved him. He denied Christ. Peter denied Christ three times that night Christ was arrested. Judas denied Christ and betrayed Him with a kiss. Can any of us say we are better or worse than these three?

If Paul is chief among sinners I am not far behind. Peter denied knowing Jesus only three times. I have denied Him by my sinful behavior far more than that. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. How many times have I ignored God’s Word and paid mere lip-service to Him? Too many times to count.

Agree with my assessment or disagree. One thing we can all be certain of is His mercy. His mercy is in His shed blood. His life was given for the sins of the whole world. May we all remember Him Who gave His life for us all.

 

 

Thoughts On Psalms: Asking for God’s Judgment

Psalm 7:6-9

Arise, O Lord, in your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies. Awake, my God; decree justice.

Let the assembled peoples gather around you. Rule over them from on high; let the Lord judge the peoples.

Judge me, O Lord according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High, O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure.

David is being falsely accused and here he is calling out to God to convene Court. David is asking the Lord to sit in judgment over a trial in which there are many people gathered to watch the proceedings. “Judge us all,” says David. “From Your throne, Lord. ‘Judge the peoples.’”

Then David lays his case before the Judge. David isn’t declaring himself to be righteous in all things. “Judge me according to my righteousness.” David’s point is that he is innocent of the charges laid out by his accusers. David knows God reads the hearts and minds of all men.

David’s plea, “End the hatred directed at me. Protect the innocent.”

Many of us, if not all of us, have been unfairly accused of horrible things for which we are not guilty. However if we are honest we have probably committed other sins that are equally heinous. Perhaps we will be exonerated from the current charge. We still have to face the consequences for the charges not leveled on us.

We have a benefit of life after our conversion from worldly humans being to Christ-like humans doing. David did not get to enjoy a life after the advent of his Messiah. Yet he knew to seek God’s judgment. He was wise to ask God to condemn and to punish. It would have fool hearty to mete condemnation and punishment to his enemies by his power.

We believe Jesus. Because we have heard and responded affirmatively to the Gospel of Christ we are already made righteous in God’s sight. Our sins have been erased to be remembered by God no longer. We have the Holy Spirit inspired words of the Apostle who said:

We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

Forgive those who have caused you harm, today. Be a blessing and pray for them. Call out to God and ask for Holy Justice.

Be blessed.

Thoughts On Psalms: Refuge In The Lord

Psalm 7:1,2

O Lord my God, I take refuge in You; save and deliver me from all who pursue me, or they will tear me like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.

This particular Psalm is to be a loud and wandering song. It is directed to God concerning Cush. Cush is a Lieutenant in David’s army. Cush is also seeking to unseat David. It appears Cush is unnerving David. David has many other enemies attacking him aside from Cush. He wants rest from the persecution and their pursuit of him.

David has great confidence in the Lord. He knows the only place of refuge is in God’s care.

We all have a Cush-like nemesis; someone we know bent on taking us down. If not a person our Cush-like pursuer is a hidden, secret sin. The world and the ways of the flesh are always attacking. The enemy knows our various and many weaknesses. It is through those that he seeks to destroy.

David appeals to God. He declares safety and security in God’s embrace. David’s confidence in God’s protection is strong. There is no other that can save David.

There is no other that can save us! Seek God today and ask Him to protect you from “Cush.” Seek God’s wing and move under it and know you are protected from any attacker. Pray God will rescue you.

If your nemesis is another person pray to our Father. Ask Him to bless that person. Forgive, love and pray. If your attacker is sin pray to our Father. Confess, repent and pray.

Be a blessing today and be blessed.

Psalm 7:3-5

O Lord my God, if I have done this and there is guilt on my hands – if I have done evil to him who is at peace with me or without cause have robbed my foe – then let my enemy pursue and overtake me; let him trample my life to the ground and make me sleep in the dust.

Cush, a Lieutenant in Saul’s Army, seems to have made a list of strong allegations against David. Saul was predisposed to distrust David and Saul was easily convinced David was making attempts at usurping the throne. David was accused of crimes including attempts on Saul’s life. He was alleged to have attacked Saul’s supply lines and depots. But, it wasn’t true.

David appeals to God that he is falsely accused. The charges made against him are wrongly assigned to him. David insists, “I didn’t do it!” In fact, David throws himself on the mercy of God. “Father, if I have done these things I am accused of then let him catch me. Let him destroy me.”

There are days in our lives when we are falsely accused. Someone we love accuses us of an unspeakable thing. How do we handle the accusation? Do we stop and take it to God and ask Him for the way out? Or, do we confront our accuser?

This is a good day to go to God and ask, “Father, what is my role in this discord with my friend? Help me see my part, Lord. Lead me; lead us to reconciliation.”

What if we inadvertently cause harm to another. Perhaps we said something we should not have said. Maybe we are guilty, but not consciously aware of our sin. Today is a good day to ask the Lord to help us see where we have harmed others unintentionally. It is a good day to make amends.

Be a blessing today. Be blessed.

Tearful, Sorrowful Prayers

Psalm 6:6,7 I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.

My friends, David is reaching the depths of despair. He moans and groans in his misery. His condition, perhaps an emotional exhaustion, is taking from him any semblance of joy. He has no peace. His sorrows are so great that he is burdened to the degree he has become weak.

Have you ever cried to the degree David does? I have. At the time I really believed death would be better than what I was living. Like David my pillow was drenched in tears.

Have you cried with wrenching pain? Has the sorrow been so deep that your pillow was soaked in tears? Have you been so despondent that getting out of bed or off the chair was a challenge too great?

David’s sorrow is likely the result of the rebellious acts of Absalom, his son. David’s family was torn to many pieces because of Absalom’s sin. Recall Absalom’s sister. Tamar, was raped by their half-brother, Amnon. Absalom cautioned Tamar to keep quiet about the rape, but inwardly Absalom seethed with anger. Two years later Absalom exacted revenge upon Amnon by having him killed during shearing season. (2 Samuel 13).

David was not blind to the ways of his sons. He knew Amnon had done this terrible thing, yet he did nothing to Amnon. Now the consequences of that act were laid at his feet. His family was tearing apart before his eyes.

David’s vision is failing. His eyes are sunken. There is so much going on in his life; enemies chasing him into the hills, his king wanting him dead, no place to rest, a debilitating sickness. He is overwhelmed!

Are we different than David? Have we allowed the world and the devil the opening to attack us and to overwhelm us? We know folks, perhaps some of us in this group, who are drenching their pillows at night. It would be my blessing from God to pray with you about those things that are troubling you.

Let’s all be a blessing today. Pray for those you know who are so troubled. Lift them up to God.

Psalm 6:8-10 Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. May all my enemies be ashamed and dismayed; may they turn back in sudden disgrace.

Think about what has transpired here. In the previous verses David was in such agony that he screamed out to God for mercy. His despair was so overwhelming he “drenched” his bed with tears. But, now the Lord has heard his prayer!

David demands his enemies depart from him immediately. Why? “The Lord has heard the voice of my weeping.”

Scripture teaches the Holy Spirit knows our hearts; He knows what we should pray for and how. The Spirit takes our innermost, heartfelt desires to God. The Spirit shares those with God.

My sorrowful, weeping prayers have been answered in this same way. David received an assurance that God heard him and that He would act. I have received the same kind of assurance from God. He heard my prayers and He gave me assurance that all would be well.

God knows the hearts of evil men, too.

David is encouraged by God’s answer and orders his enemies to disengage; to disperse! David realizes that God’s hand will cause them shame and confusion. God will disgrace them in battle. The Victory is surely His.

Don’t we spend a great deal of time wallowing in our defeats and sicknesses? Isn’t there a better answer than to pity ourselves? There is!

Praise be to God. Honor Him with your prayers of thanksgiving. Bless Him with your supplication. Pray for those who hate you. May they be “ashamed and dismayed” and turn to God in repentance. Do not harbor resentment. Give an offering to God that He will find fragrant and pleasing. Be conscious of your place in Heaven where treasures are already stored. (Ephesians 1)

Be a blessing to someone today. Pray for them.

Thoughts On Righteous Paths

Proverbs 10:29
The way of the LORD is a stronghold to the blameless, but destruction to evildoers.

A stronghold is a refuge. It is a place that cannot be easily attacked. It is a place where strength and power are stored or regained.

The blameless are those striving to walk a righteous path. A righteous walk with God is too often riddled with obstacles and forks. The righteous man discerns those places in his walk with the LORD and avoids them.

Proverbs 10:17
Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.

It is the practice of believing men to seek heavenly wisdom and to seek the LORD’s counsel in every aspect of their lives. Seafarers understand the currents of the oceans. They trust those currents to be consistent and reliable. A slight course deviation will take their ship far off course.

Think of the numbers of men who worked for years plotting the course of rockets and manned spacecraft that eventually led them to plot the course for a landing on the moon. One misstep, however, led to Apollo 13 and another misstep led to the Challenger. We cannot rely on our own devices. When we do there is almost certainly a bad end.

There are hundreds if not thousands of denominational theologies presenting themselves as the “true way.” Millions of people have followed charlatans and false prophets seeking a special kind of enlightenment. Millions follow deceivers because of personal agendas or political schemes.

Too, too many good minded people have taken paths that were not of God. Their paths are contrary to His will. Their efforts under their own power have been rendered useless. Many have been destroyed because they chose to ignore the instruction the LORD gave them.

There are many questions we should ask of ourselves. Are we seeking our personal agendas or is He the LORD of our lives? Are we following the instructions given to us by the LORD or is satisfying our personal goals our idol?

Thoughts On Psalms: Persevering Prayer

Psalm 6:4,5
Turn, O Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.
No one remembers you when he is dead. Who praises you from the grave?

We need first to understand God is unequivocally sovereign in all things. In these verses the Psalmist may be feeling as if God is indifferent to his pleas. The sickness that has overtaken him has challenged his confidence in the Lord. He is not receiving the healing that he expects from our Lord.

The Psalmist continues to recognize, however, that his deliverance from sickness and death can only come from God.

Then he takes a unique approach to God; “What good am to you if I am dead, O Lord. No one will remember you. After all what kinds of praise can I give from death; from within the grave.” The Psalmist’s argument with God is this; “If I am absent from my body, then my soul cannot praise You!”

As reverent as the Psalmist could be he did not have the full advantage of the revelation of Christ Jesus. Paul wrote, “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to be depart and be with Christ, which is better by far…” (Philippians 1:22,23). And there is this; to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

We know from Whom our spiritual inner strength comes. Let’s endeavor to call on Him. Some of us are ill. We are all dying. Some of us are suffering great pain in our sickness. Some are not. In all of our fleshly trials call on Him to carry you through.

See His glory. Be a blessing today. Pray for your friends. Ask God to carry them through.

Thoughts On Psalms: How Long Oh Lord

Psalm 6:1-3

O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger or discipline me in Your wrath. Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how Long?

The Psalmist became ill. Perhaps he felt as if he was dying. He certainly believed that his God was behind the sickness maybe causing it. He seeks the LORD’s favor and begs the condition be removed from him.

We can do that to ourselves; bring on sickness. We might attribute our sickness to God. It might be. Perhaps there is a sin that is not addressed. One in which we fail to humble ourselves and seek forgiveness. Scripture teaches that some of us drink from the cup of the Lord and eat at His table yet fail to recognize Him.

1 Corinthians 11:27-30
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.

It is important to confess all our sins. God knows our innermost secrets.

David agonized. It seems the Lord was moving slowly. “How long, O Lord, how long?”

As long as it takes. God teaches we are to count trials and tribulations as joy. For in the end He gives persistence and patience to the believer.

We all know someone who is very sick; perhaps one of us. Be a blessing today. Pray for them and with them to clear the slate with God.

Thank you Father for this day. Lead us to do Your will. In the Name of our Savior, Jesus. Amen.