Why do we believe in what we believe? What causes us to follow a God we cannot “see” or “touch?” Why are we convicted of a resurrection we were not witnesses to? In order for something to be true, do we need to be eyewitnesses to it? Of course not. Many will deny God and what the Bible teaches according to Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection because they need to see it to believe it.
We believe in history that took place over a century ago, such as World War I, yet, nobody we know is alive today who can testify of it. We can rely heavily on eyewitness testimonials of events in history that were written down and recorded. But why do we trust them? If we must see something in order to believe in it, then we must look at history that happened over a hundred years ago as highly suspect? The problem for that type of logic is, we have the world to testify that World War II happened, therefore, we can be assured that World War I was a true event.
In the New Testament, the 1st-Century church had conviction about Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as one untimely born, He appeared to me also.”
We can know the resurrection of Christ is true, just like we can know World War I was true. Remember, many who professed Christ were brutally murdered. Why would anyone testify to a lie if it meant them being tortured and killed for it? Nobody in their right mind would.
Are we convicted Jesus died, was buried and arose from the grave? To the disciples of Christ, it was real. What is it to us today? How will we respond? If we truly are convicted of the empty tomb it will then show forth in our lives. Our conviction will be in the testimony of how we live as His. We will share the good news of Jesus Christ to everyone we are able to? Conviction shows action. Let’s be active in sharing Christ in our lives.
I am not a big fan of change. I get into my comfort zone and do not like to be removed from it. It makes me uncomfortable. Who likes to be uncomfortable?
The other day I was reading a post on Facebook about age. On this particular meme you would reflect on your youth and post how old you are concerning the era in which you grew up. In order to participate, I went back in time in my mind and reminisced about my childhood in the 70’s and 80’s. And I thought so much has changed in 20 years, let alone 40! I responded on their post, “I am Atari, Stretch Armstrong, drink from the hose, ride in the back of a pick-up truck without a seat belt, rotary phone, ride my bike all over the area until sundown, Ronald Reagan as President old.” As the years go by, many things change: The times change, people change, technology, electronics, & toys are more advanced. And as they try to invent things that make life more sociable and convenient, we get less sociable and so many things seem less convenient and more complicated. Maybe it is just me. Life will always change.
When it comes to the Lord, we always can rely on Him and His Word to never change. The inspired Hebrew writer states this about God, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). We can be strengthened and encouraged to know this eternal truth. Jesus was love from the beginning, and He will always be love (1 John 4:8). The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword... (Hebrews 4:12), it will be until He comes again. Jesus’ blood washes away the sins of obedient believers (Acts 2:38; Ephesians 1:7; Romans 6:1-5; 1 John 1:7); His blood is the agent that will always wash away sins until He comes again. God is everlasting and unchanging.
What about those in the world? Can they go from being a sinner to a saint? Can they be lost in sin to be found in God’s Grace? We do not have to look any further than at ourselves in how we were once lost and then saved by the Grace of God. It is easier to look at others in the world and think, “they would never change, never come to God in obedience” and avoid them. That is never for us to decide. It is our job as Christians to plant and water and allow the everlasting and unchanging God to give the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6). We were once lost and because the unchanging Word of Truth was planted in our lives, we are where we are today, saved. Let us do our best spiritually to get out of our comfort zones to plant the Seed, the Word of God in our communities.
As I reflect on some of the great recent sermons of Matt and on the chaos that is often raging in our federal government, here are a few scriptures that I think about and meditate upon:
Psalm 1: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree, planted by the rivers (channels) of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous. But the way of the ungodly shall perish.”
Psalm 2: “Why do the nations rage and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the LORD shall hold them in derision (shall scoff at them). Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure; ‘Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.’…”
Psalm 11: “In the LORD I put my trust; how can you say to my soul, ‘Flee as a bird to your mountain’? For look! The wicked bend their bow; they make ready their arrow on the string that they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart. If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? The LORD is in His holy temple, the LORD’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. The LORD tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain coals; fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; the upright beholds His countenance.”
John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
Phil 2:7&8: (He) “… emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
1stJohn 1:7: “but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
In a new episode of Last Man Standing, Mike Baxter, who is played by Tim Allen, has a scene in which he is imagining having a conversation with his dad who just passed away from a heart attack. As they go back and forth about how they both viewed Mike’s childhood and their relationship as he was growing up, Mike says to his dad, “you never said you loved me.” Mike’s dad reminds him that he never did either. Mike Baxter responds, “I was going to.” It makes me think back to April 15, 1999 when my mom’s best friend was shot to death in the Mormon library in Salt Lake City. At the time, they were in an argument and not talking. I said to my mom a few weeks earlier that they needed to talk it out and make up. My mom said, “we will, don’t worry.” She never got the opportunity to, and I know it ate at her soul.
In Ephesians 4:26-27, Paul writes, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.”
Anger is a human emotion God has instilled in us. In and of itself it is not a bad thing, although many falsely teach that all anger is sinful. Jesus got angry (Mark 3:5). In Matthew 21:12, Jesus went into the temple to cleanse it as He confronted the money changers and overturned their tables. These merchants were using the temple as a way to sell their products and they were cheating others out of money. Jesus was angry, but He did not sin. What He did was necessary. They were turning his House into a den of thieves. Jesus dealt with a problem that could not wait. Anger at times is necessary.
Here Paul is telling the Ephesian Christians how to handle anger. Using self-control helps to keep anger under control. He states that we cannot allow anger to remain in us and fester overnight. We need to address the problem right away so it does not turn into an angry outburst later. Satan has a field-day on those who allows anger to fester in them.
The anger that my mom and her best friend felt towards one another was never dealt with. The opportunity for restored friendship died that tragic April day. We may not get the opportunity to make things right tomorrow. We may not be able to tell that person we love, “I love you” because tomorrow may never come. So never let the sun to go down on your anger, it is not worth it. What is worth it, is to let others you love to know you love them everyday. Satan has no opportunity when love abounds in our lives.
There are times in life something happens that turns our lives upside down. One minute you are happy and the next you are in such grief you feel as if you never can smile again. Nothing could prepare me for the phone call I got on July 4th, 2006. My dad was rushed to the hospital by ambulance. I thought to myself, “How can this be? I was just having a great BBQ with him and our family and he was smiling and laughing and we were celebrating Independence Day together?” When the doctor told me he had a massive stroke and was going to die, I literally ran outside to the parking lot and fell to my knees, I cried and begged God to give him more time, to give me more time with him. Six days later we took him off life support. My family and I were devastated. I felt like a part of my heart died with him. I did not know how I was ever going to smile, to laugh, to be able to enjoy my family knowing I just lost my best friend and father. I eventually went into depression and allowed Satan to win too many battles. It was not just because I lost my dad, although that was the start of my life spiraling downward. Not good. One day in my house in Brentwood I fell to my knees and wailed in tears, praying to God, how much more do I have to endure? I begged Him to either take me or help me make it through the pain of it all. He did. Here I am today.
Psalm 13 is a lament Psalm. It starts out with asking God a tough question, we all ask when we are in pain. Basically, when will this end? This passage in Psalm 13 gives anyone who is in pain the permission to share it with others, and to go to God for healing. One cannot heal when they hold in pain. At first, David was like this. David asks God, “How long?” How long will he be without God? How long will this sorrow be in his heart? How long will his enemy prevail over him? As we get to the end of the Psalm, we see David do something we must do in our trials and grief. David trusted in God and He praised God for His love. Notice Vv. 5-6, David writes, “But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.” I was a Christian when my dad passed away. I knew to trust in God but I failed to lean on Him and trust in Him. I failed to seek help from my brethren. I allowed the pain to hurt me in many ways and steal my joy.
Like David, we must put our trust in God. We must praise Him every day, especially in the storms that come upon us because He loves us and will heal us. God was right there with me during my pain and I know when I fully turned to Him and gave it all to Him, He helped to heal me and show me the joy I had in my life. God loves you so much. If you are going through pain, He is there. Go to Him and trust in Him, He will comfort you and bring you out of it. We can all rejoice knowing we have a loving God who is able to comfort us in our afflictions.
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