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God’s riddle!

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     What is something that can be understood by babes, but hidden from wise men?

     Well, according to Jesus it is Himself for He stated in
Matthew 11:25 “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.”

     First question that comes to mind is what are “these things” that Jesus is referring to? In the following verses (vs. 27) He declares that “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Jesus is revealed to us by divine revelation from God The Father, and when Jesus is revealed to us then God’s very nature of Himself is also revealed. It isn’t the other way around. We don’t find Jesus, God reveals Him to us according to His will. There is so much to this, but I love that this is how God operates because it eliminates all pride that could otherwise be involved in the salvation process because there is absolutely nothing I did. God revealed Himself through Jesus Christ; God saved us through the blood and resurrection of Christ and all I did was be the recipient of His grace. Amazing!

     The next question is an obvious one: “why does He reveal Himself to “babes” and “children” and not the”wise” and “prudent?” Well, proclaiming to be wise suggests personal achievement. God alone gives wisdom, not by schools or reading or teaching. In proverbs 26:12 it says ” Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” When we claim to be wise we are claiming independence of God, but we should be completely dependant of God. Paul even admonishes the Romans speaking of the unrighteous “Claiming to be wise, they became fools.”

     You see, just like Satan himself, our pride and deceitfulness that causes us to believe we are more equipped than we are or more powerful will drive us and keep us away from God. It is when we become babes in our faith in Him and realise that we are solely dependant on Him for EVERYTHING that we can humble ourselves to come to The Father.

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#SaveSaeed and #BeHeard

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     As an American I-and all who share the same freedoms-appreciate the privilege of so many things that should be a standard way of life throughout the globe, but I also realize that I often take everything for granted. It’s so easy to feel a sort of entitlement of the gifts of God and the things that patriots have given their lives for, both past and present. The freedom of speech, the right to vote, and all the opportunities that are present in America for employment are just a few of the many privileges we enjoy here. But there is one I am most happy for and that is freedom of religion. It is that very freedom that allows me to express my heart here on this page, and openly pray and read my Bible in public. For thati an most grateful.

     Unfortunately, that is not so in a large portion of the world. Iran is one of those places where freedom to choose and express ones own religious views are not acceptable. A man named Saeed Abedini found this out the hard way. He is an Iranian-American pastor from Idaho whom converted from Islam in 2000 and has been loyally and lovingly serving The Lord ever since. Saeed has a heart for his culture and has put his faith to action and spent some years in the early 2000’s establishing house churches in Iran. In fact, he is credited with establishing about 100 house churches in 30 Iranian cities with more than 2,000 members.

     Saeed Abedini was placed on house arrest at his family’s home in Iran for a few months when suddenly he was violently taken from their residence and thrown in an Iranian prison where he was held in solitary confinement for weeks at a time. Rations scarcely given and beaten under interrogation with the intent to cause Saeed to recant his faith in the One true God. These beatings have resulted in serious untreated injuries to the point where infections have set in, yet with no medical attention. As a convert to Christianity he is considered to be “unclean” so doctors and physicians have refused to treat him for his illnesses.

     Through all this he has boldly and courageously refused to give up the name of Christ. What an inspiration he has become especially to us whom think WE have it bad. We don’t know the half of it, yet this man stands strong on the hope of The Lord. In recent weeks Pastor Saeed Abedini has made a small paper cross to hang in His cell for in remembrance of the birth, life, and death of our savior Jesus of Nazareth, but the guards at the prison threaten him to take it down. He refuses to denounce the name of Christ still amongst all the danger and pain that He suffers.

     Am I just trying to tell you a sad story to evoke empathy for a fellow man? Am I trying to encourage those whom have it better than he not to complain and grumble? NO! This is a call for ACTION! There is a fellow man; a fellow American; a fellow child of God in need of prayer and support and we mustn’t just sit back and thank God we’re not him. Pray for Saeed Abedini my brothers. He has a wife and two wonderful children whom all miss him deeply. They need prayer my brothers. Pray for them! Tell others of his situation and the courage he has displayed. Let it be an example to our daily lives and not be so self-centered that we miss opportunities to share God’s love with those around us.

     Pray for him and the many others that are in his situation. To find out more visit http://savesaeed.org/ 
http://beheardproject.com/
Sign the petition to #beheard and #savesaeed !

Amen!

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The Little Drummer Boy

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     I love Christmas time and all the beauty that goes with it. The trees, the holly, the lights, the Christmas carols. But one particular Carol I have noticed goes a bit under the radar I think. You’ve probably already read the title of this entry so you probably also already know that I’m talking about “the little drummer boy.” It’s a very catchy song with all the “pa-rum-pum-pum-pum”s and all, but that’s what causes the message to get lost a bit in the shuffle.

     Let’s look at the song with out all those little hooks. Basically, I just copied and pasted the lyrics and deleted the lines that said “pa-rum-pum-pum-pum,” which clarifies the message dramatically.

“Come they told me
A new born King to see
Our finest gifts we bring
To lay before the king
So to honor Him
When we come
Little baby
I am a poor boy too
I have no gift to bring
That’s fit to give our King
Shall I play for you
On my drum
Mary nodded
The ox and lamb kept time
I played my drum for Him
I played my best for Him
Then He smiled at me
Me and my drum”

Oh my goodness! This is a picture of God’s divine love for us through the birth of His Son. We have nothing to offer God but ourselves and He desires nothing less, and nothing more. Our talents are to be used to shout His praises; our time is to be spent serving Him; our love is meant for Him; our bodies should display His grace. He wants you and nothing else. After all He did purchase us with His blood.

Merry Christmas and God bless you all!

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What IS the true message of Christmas?

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     Every year I find myself in the hustle & bustle of Christmas with the shopping, the beautiful light displays, the parties, and the traffic that I often find myself needing to remind myself of the true meaning God intended for this season. So what did God intend? To celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ? No.

     Already I feel the heat of glares from legalistic religious folks, but hear me out. Christmas is sooo much more! Yes, we celebrate His birth, but not like we celebrate birthdays of one another today. We celebrate because Christmas is a total and complete display of God’s very being. The grace; the humility; the love that it requires to watch your own Son be bruised and bludgeoned sacrificially. He chose to show Himself through this miraculous event. He is what we celebrate.

     First we see His humility. To be omniscient, omnipotent, sovereign, yet hand it over to become vulnerable as a baby. He couldn’t care for Himself. He needed a mother and father for nurturing. Not only a helpless baby, but a baby from a family now with a reputation of immorality because people didn’t Mary was a virgin. They concluded she was unfaithful. He wasn’t rich either. Jesus Christ our Lord had to work for a living as a carpenter or a builder. He saw none of this as below Him but rather loved to serve rather than be served.

     Next we see His amazing grace. What could be more a gracious gift to the world than His own Son? We don’t deserve Him. We can’t deserve Him. Yet His grace provided eternal life to us. What more needs to be said?

     Most of all, we see His love for His creation. He is not willing that any should parish so He lit up the most loving way to life imaginable. By sending His Son to Earth He was saying to you and to me “Come to Me and we can live for eternity in heaven together. I love you more than you can fathom and i want the very best for you, so I have you my very best. My Son.”

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that anyone who believes in Him well not parish, but have everlasting life.”
           -John 3:16

“In this is Love. Not that we loved Him, but He first loved us and sent His son as propitiation for our sin.”
           – 1 John 4:10

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A Plea for Repentance!

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    Jeremiah 46:3-10.
  3 “Prepare your shields, both large and small, and march out for battle!
  4 Harness the horses, mount the steeds! Take your positions with helmets on! Polish your spears, put on your armor!
  5 What do I see? They are terrified,they are retreating, their warriors are defeated. They flee in haste without looking back, and there is terror on every side,”   
              declares the Lord.
  6 “The swift cannot flee nor the strong escape. In the north by the River Euphrates they stumble and fall.
  7 “Who is this that rises like the Nile, like rivers of surging waters?
  8 Egypt rises like the Nile, like rivers of surging waters. She says, ‘I will rise and cover the earth; I will destroy cities and their people.’
  9 Charge, you horses! Drive furiously, you charioteers! March on, you warriors—men of Cush and Put who carry shields, men of Lydia who draw the bow.
  10 But that day belongs to the Lord, the Lord Almighty— a day of vengeance, for vengeance on his foes. The sword will devour till it is satisfied, till it has quenched its thirst with blood.

                                                                    

     That dreadful day of The Lord will most certainly come when He comes to judge His foes. Vengeance for rebellion and a lack of repentance of their sins. So many Christians today water down the wrath of The Almighty God, but be not deceived, it burns with a fury on His adversaries. Those which choose not the grace of God; that is His salvation through His son.

     You and I are criminals against God’s law, the Ten Commandments, and He must punish justly. How would you feel if a murderer was let free because he said “alright I did it, but I know you’re a loving judge and I won’t do it again?” What a travesty it would be to release him! Justice must be served.

     But fear not, for He desires that we be saved through His grace that He may be glorified. You see, God’s wrath burns against unrighteousness, yet was satisfied in the sacrifice of God perfect Son Jesus Christ and He received our punishment if we believe, repent, and put our faith in Him. So I make a plea to you, please repent (turn away from your sins) and put your faith in Jesus Christ and He will forgive your punishment for He has taken it already on the Cross, but you must repent.

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The most basic of truths.

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     After years and years of education from preschool, to elementary; middle, to high school and beyond, concepts and ideas stacked upon previous concepts and ideas and formulas… I still forget the basics. I know the equation of the lengths of the sides of a right triangle is a squared plus b squared equals c squared. I know the area of a circle is pi r squared. I know these things, yet still I get tripped up with a simple problem like 8 times 7.

The same is true of my spiritual life. I yearn to grow in knowledge and in spirit of my Lord and I study hermeneutics and eschatology and the difficulty things thereof. I have noticed that as I do grow in knowledge that I tend to rely on my knowledge of Him and of His Word instead of just Him Himself. To let Him guide me, not what I know of Him. So I must remind myself of such simple truths often, and I remind you as well, like the most basic, yet profound, truth there is. Jesus loves me! Jesus loves you!

     The actual fact that Jesus loves you and me deeply and intimately is the absolute most life-changing truth there is to know, unfortunately one of the easiest to ignore our forget. Jesus loves you so much He died for you even if there were no others to be saved. He still would have died for you alone. How amazing is His love! Let’s live today in Him aware of His unchanging eternal love for us and share with others what He has done for us.

     Remember, because God IS love and is infinite, He can infinitely full us with His love. Amen!

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Mercy and grace, one and the same?

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     Is God’s mercy and His grace the same? Do they contradict each other, or is there any correlation what so ever? The Lord has clearly displayed His mercy and certainly His graciousness, but what do they mean and aren’t they kind of the same?

     Absolutely and positively, no, they are not the same concept. They are quite opposites in reality. Let me explain giving a few examples.

     Mercy, though we cannot fully grasp the depth of God’s great mercy, is not receiving something which we do deserve. My favorite example of this is in the new testament where Jesus tells Mary Magdalene’s accusers “whomever is without sin may cast the first stone.” He is making such huge statements with his request.

     First off, He is reminding these hypocritical Pharisees that they are no better than this prostitute. They are condemned of God’s law just the same, and as James divinely states “for whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10).

     Secondly, Jesus is displaying His mercy quite profoundly. He knows He is the only one without sin, thus He is implicating that since He is without sin that He alone has the right to cast the first stone, but does He? No! We get to see His mercy and love and compassion for His children. Also, as an important side note, it is key to note that this is how He draws people to Himself which leaves us a perfect example of how we are to lead others to Him.

     Grace, on the other hand, is getting what we don’t deserve. Easiest example? Heaven. We can see this in the thief on the Cross beside Jesus. He cried out to Jesus to remember him in heaven, but Jesus graciously surprised him by telling him that he will be in heaven with Jesus before sundown. He is so gracious to have mercy on us forgiving our sins if we repent and trust in Him, but also in giving us the most precious alternative to hell there can be. Eternal life spent worshipping our great Lord.

     As you can see, two very different concepts yet they run parallel to one another. God’s mercy relieves us of the punishment, that is hell, that we deserve and His amazing Grace grants us the entrance to Heaven for all eternity.

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God’s law is vital for evangelism.

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     “How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?” Those are the words of celebrity magician Penn Gillette, half of the famed duo Penn & Teller.
He is not a follower of Jesus Christ, in fact he is an outspoken atheist whom even recently has called fellow atheists “out of the closet.” Regardless of Penn’s stance on religion he still appreciates evangelical christians who “practice what they preach” and share what they believe to be true. If we have the knowledge that others are going to spend eternity in endless torment then how awful is it not to share the salvation of God?
    The fact alone that Jesus Himself called his followers to evangelize telling His disciples to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) is enough of a reason to share God’s love and goodness with others. However, let’s look at it from the heart. Evangelism should be driven purely by love for one another in order to-at all costs-prevent people from being condemned to hell for all eternity.I certainly don’t want anyone to be hit by a car so I would do what I have to if I saw a car pummeling toward somebody. Why not warn them from hell? A much worse fate than death.
     So, what saves a person’s soul? Good works? Being a good person? Going to church? It is our sinful human nature that teaches a young child to lie to his or her parents without having to be tought to do so. Our sinful nature that causes us to be selfish and cruel. It is rebellion against The Almighty God.
     The problem is this: how is one to be rebellious when there is no law to rebel against? Paul makes that point to the Romans when he said “I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” You see, the law sheds light on our sinfulness creating the need for a savior, not creating the want for a God to love you. We first must come to the Lord in repentance and faith for forgiveness of sins, then we worship Him for His exceeding goodness and mercy and grace.
     If I don’t see a need for a savior then I won’t seek one. When the Pharisees criticised Jesus for eating with sinners He retorted saying “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” You and I are plagued with a disease. A terminal virus spread throughout the human race. Luckily for us God is a just judge. He cannot and will not allow crime to go unpunished. That would be an apathetic judge, but fortunately for us he brings justice to an unjust world. This truth unfortunately sent Jesus to the Cross to pay for wickedness that should have been accounted to us, but “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whomever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” How gracious is our God!
     Unfortunately it is our pride that denies our sinfulness, but the law cuts through the bog of pride. So others must first see the law and their sinfulness according to it, then they can clearly see the goodness of God’s most loving act on Calvary. Likewise, a man wouldn’t understand if a doctor came up to him and told him he has a cure for him. If, however, the doctor first told him he has a terminal illness in which a slow and painful death will be his fate, then the man would quickly beg for a cure. That is God’s goodness indeed.

     Law to the proud, grace to the humble.

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